Zhang Jiarui was a scholar, he felt he was above arguing with Tweety, he calmed down and sneered, “Everyone here knows exactly who is the one really speaking nonsense.”
“I’m sorry, I really don’t know what you’re talking about. When I took over my family business, I didn’t dare to change anything, so I kept the rules set by my father. These past three years, I’ve been charging 50%. But two months ago, I changed it to 30%. My account books can verify it. If little brother says I’ve been charging 60%, then there must be a misunderstanding.” Zhou Yun Sheng slowly opened.
Zhang Jiarui ridiculed, “There is no misunderstanding, just yesterday, Zhu Lao Si came to my house to pick up the rent, 60% of the grain, not one less.”
Zhou Yun Sheng’s face turned gloomy, he looked to one of the guards. This guard was not his, he was sent by Lao Si to guard his youngest son, Zhu Fushun. He’d wanted to hide with his father, but his father had sent him to monitor Zhu Ziyu. He gave him a loyal guard and left him.
Since Zhu Ziyu didn’t keep a tight leash on him, Zhu Lao Si’s holdings could compare to Ziyu’s property. Zhu Fushun was raised in luxury, he looked more like how a landlord should look than Zhu Ziyu.
However, his appearance was like a pig, but his inside was cowardly. Under Zhu Ziyu’s stare, and after the other guards overpowered his guard, he instantly fell limp. He kneeled on the ground and begged, his tongue was in a knot, so his babbling was incoherent.
Zhou Yun Sheng pointed to him and said, “This is the youngest son of Loa Si. I really don’t know about the 60% rent, so when we go back, I’ll take him to find Lao Si for confrontation. He’ll certainly give the villagers an account.”
He didn’t need to say it, the people present could already figure out that something was fishy. Zhu Ziyu said he only took 30% rent, but Zhu Lao Si took away 60%. It was self-evident where the missing 30% went.
Zhou Yun Sheng paused, then continued, “Moreover, in my father’s time we only charged 50%, never 60%. For this extra 10%, whoever was forced to pay it, I’ll return it back.”
His expression was ruthless, his tone cold. They all could figure out exactly who’s pocket the 10% would come out from. Zhang Shulin shivered. Qin Ce gave Zhou Yun Sheng a deep look, then turned to stare at the fire, his thoughts hidden.
Zhang Jiarui had an extreme character, once he hated someone, it was difficult for him to change his mind about them, he sneered, “At the end of the day, don’t you get to decide how much money you ‘received’? After provoking public resentment, you’d naturally need a scapegoat. No matter what he did in secret, he is still your family’s servant, you’re in charge of his life and death. Poor Lao Si has been the tiger on the mountain for so long, I bet he never thought he was just a bow that’s cast away after the birds disappear. How sad.”
Boy, you don’t know how right you are.
Zhou Yun Sheng praised Zhang Jiarui in his heart, but his expression was very gloomy, he assured, “I’m not saying I’m a good person, but I’m not wicked. I didn’t overcharge the villagers or bully away their fish. I dare to swear to God, if I really instigated Zhu Lao Si to exploit the villagers, may thunder strike me down to a painful death, and after death, send me into the eighteenth layer of hell, so that I will never reincarnate!”
The ancients placed a lot of importance on fate and swearing, under Zhu Ziyu’s powerful oath, Zhang Jiarui was speechless. Tweety and Lushi were terrified and angered to tears, they really wanted the guards to drive that aggressive boy out.
Qin Ce, who was throwing in firewood, suddenly crushed the one in his hand, he gravely opened, “Don’t mess around with such a poisonous oath, your words, I … … we all believe you.” In his pause, he’d filled in a ‘we’, it sounded rather unnatural.
Zhou Yun Sheng looked at his lowered eyes, Qin Ce’s mood was obviously uncomfortable.
Zhang Jiarui was even more uncomfortable, but he still criticized, “Let’s put away the rent for the time being, you robbed my family’s recipe, this is an indisputable fact, right?”
Zhou Yun Sheng was getting tired of his aggression, this time, he didn’t hold back, “I have a sensitive tongue, I have no need to rob your recipe, I only have to eat it once to know the cooking method. Why would I order Zhu Lao Si to grab your recipe? It’d be pointless. He brought me the recipe out of his own volition. I rejected it, I even told him to bring it back. If he didn’t return it, that’s his actions, not mine. I don’t owe you a debt, if you want to find fault, find Lao Si. But honestly, those eggs are a menace, the taste and look is unique, but eating a lot of them will harm the body, it’s basically poison. I don’t know why they’re so popular.”
The amount of words really was too much, Zhang Jiarui took a long time to process all the information, but didn’t know where to start, after half-a-day he frustratedly shouted, “What nonsense are you saying, how can my family’s preserved eggs be toxic?!”
“It’s poisonous, don’t you already know?” His beautiful peach eyes peered at Zhang Shulin.
Oh, so some ancients actually knew that you shouldn’t eat too much preserved eggs? Zhang Shulin winced in guilt, he was not adept at hiding his emotions. Qin Ce saw it and his eyes darkened.
Zhang Jiarui looked at his brother, then looked back at Zhou Yun Sheng, his face reddening.
Zhou Yun Sheng didn’t give them a chance to escape, he continued, “The eggs are persevered in a mixture of soda ash, quicklime, salt, and a certain percentage of red lead. The duck eggs are wrapped in a clay and bran husk, and pickled for fifteen or sixteen days. Red lead is a very traditional Chinese medicine ingredient, it’s bitter, salty, cold, and poisonous. It’s used to treat ulcers, mouth sores, ring worms, headaches, boils, epilepsy, malaria, dysentery, vomiting, nausea etc. Unfortunately, it stays in the liver, lungs, kidneys, and brain, causing nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, abdominal pain, diarrhea and other diseases. Children are especially affected if they eat it often. Their teeth will rot and their bones will weaken and easily break. Such a malicious thing, how can I sell it?”
Meaning, Zhang family knew that it was toxic and still sold it, all the money they earned was instantly dyed black.
Zhang father saw his confident look and had already started believing him, he looked at Zhang Shulin in horror. Zhang Shulin’s face was now red like Zhang Jiarui’s, almost glowing, his cheeks stung like he’d received a dozen slaps. He felt uncomfortable and ashamed.
He knew the reasons why the eggs couldn’t be eaten too often, he’d thought that as long as he didn’t sell them to the same person every day, little harm could happen, so there was no need to say it and affect the business. Now, Zhou Yun Sheng had exposed the truth, the people would undoubtedly think he intended to harm them, so an apology would just add ammunition.
After a long time, he said “These things…. I really didn’t know about them. Fortunately, my home stopped selling them.”
Qin Ce saw that he was lying and immediately frowned.
Zhang Jiarui immediately interfered, “Yeah, yes, my family stopped selling those preserved eggs a while ago, but you opened a shop in our place, it’s specialized in selling preserved eggs.”
“Selling dog food like that, whose shop is it I wonder?” Zhou Yun Sheng didn’t need to answer Jiarui, he held a stick over the fire for a bit, then used it to poke Zhu Fushun’s ass.
Zhu Fushun cried, “Boss, please spare me! That shop is my father’s, that recipe was secretly taken by my father, when we go back, I’ll immediately call my father to give you the shop and silver.”
“How free, you coveted the villagers’ livelihoods and the main property, then thought you could just hide it away? That shop and silver can be taken to the government, maybe they will let your father off leniently.”
This wasn’t going to be privately settled, the officials would get involved. Zhu Fushun was scared out of his soul. He quickly rushed over to kowtow for mercy, but was knocked over by a large stone and fainted.
Zhang Jiarui was speechless once again, he resigned unwillingly.
Tweety opened up a package and removed a box of chopped chicken, causing everyone’s mouth to water, she giggled, “This is the Lo Mei my young master improved, it’s marinated in a new sauce. Like my young master said, preserved eggs can be eaten occasionally, but it’s better to stop eating them altogether. Since you didn’t know, we should’ve told you just to be sure. We’re sorry.”
The rich aroma instantly filled the cave, the already hungry people swallowed. Qin Ce was a loyal dog with a black hole for a stomach, when he smelled the dish, his dark eyes couldn’t help but shine.
Sesame paste, sugar, vinegar, chili oil, pepper, sesame oil, fine salt and other condiments mixed into the bowl evenly, drenching the crisped, yet soft chicken. Finally, they were sprinkled with cooked sesame seeds, the light golden red color looked delicious. After the meat touched the tongue, the salty, sweet, nutty, spicy, and sour tastes mixed into one, yet didn’t overpower each other. This thousand flavors taste stuck to the tongue, it was very memorable.
“This craft is comparable to an imperial chef! Zhang Jia’s chicken is not even in the same league.” Qin Ce evaluated out loud.
As each Zhang family member ate their portion, they shared the same red to white, to green, to purple face change, it looked really spectacular.
Zhou Yun Sheng gave Qin Ce a slanted look, “You’ve eaten an imperial chef’s cooking?”
Qin Ce hesitated for a moment before shaking his head, “No, just an analogy.” Then he quickly glanced at the young man’s gorgeous face, then bowed his head and secretly thought: this spicy chicken is good, but your jade like face and watery peach eyes are even more wonderful.
Zhou Yun Sheng no longer paid attention to him, he turned towards Zhang Jiarui and Zhang Shulin and opened, “I’m an epicure, my palate is particularly keen. With just a taste, I can understand the dish’s cooking method and also improve it. I prefer to enjoy the food myself rather than sell it to outsiders. You sell yours, I’ll eat mine, we don’t need to hate each other. If I really wanted to go after your business, I’m afraid your dishes would be filling the gutter once anyone tastes mine. I’ll be honest, your Lo Mei and hot pot taste flat, unappetizing, not even worth my time.”
He paused a little to enjoy Zhang family’s ashamed expressions, then he pulled out a white handkerchief from his pocket, picked up a half-burnt stick, and sketched out a recipe. He shook it at them.
“But, Zhu Lao Si is my family’s servant, after all. Since he grabbed your family secret, although he didn’t have my blessings, I won’t be too strict about it. This is the recipe for the chicken marinade, I came up with it after many adjustments. It’s very satisfactory, so take it as a compensation. In the future, when you meet me on the streets, you better not stare at me with any weird hostile faces. I won’t be as polite as I am now. If someone respects me for a foot, I’ll honor them for ten feet, if someone owes me a dollar, I’ll take back a thousand dollars. I, Zhu Ziyu, am this type of person.”
He threw the handkerchief over, and squinted slightly, his lazy look revealed infinite snobbery.
Zhang Jiarui was very smart, he knew that this recipe would bring a lot of benefits to Zhang Jia, so he fought back his pride and reached out to pick it up, but was blocked by Zhang Shulin. He held the handkerchief and handed it back, he whispered, “We misunderstood you, landlord. You’re not in the wrong, we were. We really wronged a good person. We won’t take this formula, take it back.”
He saw that Zhu Ziyu wasn’t moving, then handed it to Tweety. Tweety didn’t want to do anything to help Zhang family, so she immediately took it back.
Zhou Yun Sheng pointed at him with the tree branch, and coldly laughed, “Hypocrite.”
There was a well-known phrase with that word in modern times –Bitches are hypocrites. Zhang Shulin thought that Zhou Yun Sheng was an ancient, so he didn’t take that meaning from his words, he just gave an embarrassed smile.
After losing face so many times, Zhang Shulin’s modern-man sense of superiority had vanished.
A bow that’s cast away after the birds disappear– something that’s abandoned after serving its purpose.
Red lead – This is the key ingredient here. It was used to make preserved eggs in ancient times, and, as Zhou Yun Sheng says, it’ll kill you. But it’s no longer used, so if you’ve eaten a century egg recently you won’t die. Well, not from the egg.
Bitches are hypocrites- From a popular Chinese drama called ‘Empress in the Palace’. Wikipedia “One particular popular phrase is “Jian ren jiu shi jiao qing,” spoken by the Consort Hua, which literally means “bitches are hypocrites”.”