Chapter 14: The Sea Salt Merchant
Translator: Nyoi_Bo_Studio Editor: Nyoi_Bo_Studio
It was early in the morning, and the birds were chirping away. The maids had just finished cleaning the house and were starting to prepare breakfast. The return to the city of Count Sinan’s daughter, Miss Fan Ruoruo, left only one and a half person to answer to, so there wasn’t much to be done.
After having completed all her chores, Dong’er, an older maid, went to wake Fan Xian , but was instead shocked by his poor condition. She called the doctor right away, who informed the maid that it was nothing serious after having checked the young boy’s pulse, reasoning that it was probably something the boy ate, afterwards leaving a prescription and parting with his pay.
After Fei Jie came to Count Sinan’s house, Mr. Xixi, who was a fan of classical literature, left subtly, as if he was the morning wind. Fie Jie looked at the young boy, who had two dark circles under his eye, and chuckled.
“They say that the hearts of youths are like the sun, ignorant to human hardships. But what happened to you? How did you end up so sleep-deprived that you needed a doctor?”
Fan Xian had been thinking the whole night but still hadn’t decided whether he should continue with his zhenqi training. His original intention was to treat this nameless spiritual art as entertainment in this boundless life. However, if it endangered his survival, it was best that he be cautious.
Due to the lack of sleep, he became absent-minded. Having heard his teacher Fei Jie talk about the ignorance of human hardships, he recited intuitively, “I was young and ignorant of hardship and sorrows, and I loved climbing high. I climbed high, I feigned hardship and sorrow to help me create, yet now that I’ve tasted hardship and sorrow, I speak but hold back, I speak but hold back. O how exquisitely cool this autumn day is.”
The study room quickly fell silent. Fan Xian, who had not made a single sound for half a day struggled to pry open his heavy eyelids and yawned, “Don’t be angry, Teacher. I had a late night.”
Fie Jie watched the boy as he stroked his beard subconsciously, and without realizing it, he stabbed his chin with a goose feather pen. Painfully awakened, he questioned sluggishly, “Earlier…that poem…who wrote it?”
“Poor old man Xin”
Without thinking, Fan Xian accidently revealed Xin Qizi’s surname, only to realize his mistake.
Fan Xian stuttered as Fie Jie’s eyes lit up.
“Old man Xin is a two-way merchant who collected sea salt last month.”
“Hmm. Not bad for a merchant. I wonder what his full name is.”
“Xin…Qizi.” Fan Xian snuck a peak.
Fie Jie had already resumed being his normal self and began teaching. There was so much more to teach than just biological points, and so his load was a heavy one.
Fan Xian returned to his bedroom after lunch and was once again faced with the complicated question of whether he should continue with the dangerous zhenqi training. As he held the yellow book in his hand, he began to feel depressed.
More than anything else, he should probably be depressed about the poem he accidently recited in the study room.
The Ugly Page, written on a wall on the way to Boshan, was a poem written by Xin Qizi. After he was criticized, his poems expressed a mellow bitterness. Fan Xian was of course quite familiar with it and had recited it, unaware of the trouble that he would bring upon himself. He wondered if his teacher believed his feeble excuse, but judging from Fei Jie’s reaction, Fan Xian wagered that he probably believed the original author really was a sea salt merchant.
Fan Xian was not obsessively concerned with morals, so to him, there was nothing hateful about plagiarizing poems. From his point of view, to keep the knowledge of these poems to himself rather than making good use of them was equivalent to violating a national treasure.
He had plenty of time in the years that he had lived in this world to come up with ways of making a living. It took no time for the work of plagiarism to secure its place in the top-three position on his list.
During his thoughts, Fan Xian often brainwashed himself. Rather than a poacher, he was a preserver, a mighty idealist, sharing and spreading the cultures of Earth.
However, he had not planned on plagiarizing like this, nor at this moment in time. He had planned to at least use the author’s name as a pen name for their work.
Today, in the same situation as in the study room, if you planned to plagiarize as a five year old, then your choice of work should have been “Song for the goose by Luo Binwang”. The lively imagery of this poem better conveys the model child prodigy image.
If you were caught humming words such as “I speak but hold back, O how exquisitely cool this autumn day is” at such a young age, you would not be thought of as a child prodigy, but rather, as a child freak, one who looked normal on the outside but deep down bore 365 painful scars, conveying the bitter passing of the four seasons.
On the one hand, Fan Xian was thinking about these trivial matters, he was able to rely on these years to stabilize an ever-intensifying biological clock.
When it came time for his daily nap, Fan Xian gradually fell asleep, and in his dreams, he was in the middle of meditating on the immense danger that Fei Jie considered to be the overwhelming power of zhenqi
It was on this day that Fan Xian decided he would accept his fate and continue his training with this overwhelming zhenqi, since all that was needed for the training was for him to sleep anyway, and he’d worry about any issues when they came up.
After Fan Xian’s nap was over, Fei Jie continued with his unfinished letter.
The completely dried writing suggested that the letter was written the night before.
“…this child is prettier, braver, wiser, more determined and mature than anyone. If he were to hide himself among all the five year olds of Qi Kingdom, he would still be easily identified. From my observations this year, I have found that he is more than perfect to inherit the family fortune. The biggest concern is his background identity…”
The writing stopped. It was at that point in the previous night Fan Xian questioned him about zhenqi. Fei Jie sighed, and paused as he remembered the words Fan Xian had said earlier that day. He continued writing.
“… ‘I speak but hold back, O how exquisitely cool this autumn day is.’ How am I supposed to believe that those words came from a five year old boy, knowing that the art of prose has deteriorated these past few years? I find it hard to even believe a merchant may have written this. What’s more, the young master panicked afterwards, and this is something that I have rarely seen happen in the year that I have been acquainted with him. The biggest question here is how Xin Qizi had the opportunity to meet with Fan Xian even though I am with him most of the day.”
At the end of the letter he requested sincerely, “Please ask the people of Dongsan Road to find out exactly who the sea salt merchant Xin Qizi is, and also his reason for making contact with Fan Xian. The answer as to why the young master was so anxious over these words take priority. Please hurry.”
Fei Jie ended the letter with a crooked signature and put down his pen.
A few days later, the overwatch Council of the capital city sent spies out in hunt for a sea salt merchant. Although they found numerous illegal private sea salt traders afflicted with government officials, they could not find a merchant with the surname of Xin. Rumors spread from the city that the director of the council, feared by all, was furious with the lack of results. He punished the spies by taking three months’ worth of their pay. The spies searched everywhere under the sun, their faces thunderous and ready to kill.
May God have pity… on the unlucky man named Xin Qizi in this world.