T/N: This chapter is longer than the previous chapters I’ve translated thus far. To keep my anxiety levels manageable, I’ve decided to split the chapter into two parts so that it doesn’t feel so daunting. – V. Muse
Chapter 20.1 – Enter the Capital
Seven days later, An Chang De rushed back to An Yuan County.
It took two days by horseback to cover the distance between Yong Zhou and An Yuan County.
However, An Chang De’s family was not rich, especially after An Chang Fu’s death. They used to shamelessly ask An Chang Fu for money. Now that the two families have fallen out with each other, it’s been two months since they’ve asked for money. They couldn’t even afford to care for a horse. In order to get to Yong Zhou, they had to find a caravan that was going there.
The caravans were slower and spent more time on the road than An Chang De and his wife expected.
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The couple came back with Prefectural Magistrate Jiang’s trusted aide. His name was Qian You Hao. He was average looking with sharp, calculative eyes. Jiang Zhong Ting gave his trusted aide full control over the matter concerning the An family.
In the afternoon, An Chang De took Qian You Hao along to the county office to look for County Magistrate Zhang.
When County Magistrate Zhang heard that An Chang De came along with Prefectural Magistrate Jiang’s trusted aide, he rushed out to greet them. Once he heard their purpose for coming, he had an inkling of their intentions and immediately told them one thing.
“Brother* Chang De, Qian da ren**, the two of you are one step late.”
[*T/N: A term of address to indicate a certain level of closeness, not actual blood related brothers.]
[**T/N: 大人 da ren: lit. “big person.” Used as a title of respect toward superiors.]
An Chang De thought the other was trying to shirk away. It was like this last time, too. But this time he was emboldened and immediately became enraged. “County Magistrate Zhang, I know you’re afraid of getting into trouble, but this time we have Prefectural Magistrate da ren as support, what are you still afraid of? Are you saying you don’t even put Prefectural Magistrate da ren in your eye*?”
[*T/N: 放在眼里 fang zai yan li: to attach importance to]
When County Magistrate Zhang heard this, he knew it was a threat to himself. Afraid of Qian You Hao misunderstanding, he hurriedly explained, “Brother Chang De, you misunderstood this county magistrate, what I meant was the young landlord of An family left An Yuan County yesterday. You really did come late.”
“What did you say? He really left An Yuan County?”
An Chang De had yet to express the surprise in his heart. Qian You Hao’s expression became cold.
County Magistrate Zhang smiled. “It’s true. They left just yesterday afternoon. When my people received the news, he had already left with a company of people. I found out that he took everyone in An Chang Fu’s immediate family with him*. There were also a few maids and servants. The steward was left behind, but he is a small person of no importance.”
[*T/N: I’m assuming this means his sister and brother, and the concubines got left behind with their daughters.]
A shadow crossed Qian You Hao’s face. Their plans were mainly to target An Zi Ran. As soon as he left, the plans could not be implemented. The three concubines of Chang Fu had no real power and could not make decisions. It was useless to catch them. They’re not worth much to An Zi Ran. As for that steward, he was but a lowly servant that could be discarded at any time.
“Could your plans have been leaked?”
Translations by www.vmnovels.com
Qian You Hao’s sharp eyes turned to An Chang De. Things can’t happen so fortuitously.
An Chang De’s heart felt panicked to be stared at like so. He stammered, “This should not be possible. The entire plan is known only to me and my wife. Absolutely no third person knows. Moreover, I* think he is only leaving for a short while. The foundation of An family is in An Yuan County. He can’t possibly give it up.”
[*T/N: 小人 xiao ren: “I, me” (used to refer humbly to oneself)]
Qian You Hao meditated thoughtfully. If it was not to avoid them, then did something important happen in the An family, forcing them to leave? With this in mind he looked at County Magistrate Zhang.
“Were you able to find out anything?”
County Magistrate Zhang stared blankly. He did not expect this man to be so keen. Yesterday, when he found out An Zi Ran left, he did indeed send someone to snoop about. He found out the reason this morning. The news should have already spread.
“I heard that the Old Master of the family had once been affiliated with a foreign businessman as a sworn brother. The other party gave half of a jade pendant to the Old Master. The two parties agreed that if there are children in the future then they must become in-laws. The bride-to-be is the Third Miss of the An family, An Yu Zhi.”
“There is such a matter?” Qian You Hao looked at An Chang De.
An Chang De frowned. “When Dad was sixty years old, there was indeed a foreign businessman living in our home. Their relationship was really good. They treated each other like brothers. But this thing about a marriage, I’ve never heard about it from my dad.”
Qian You Hao became thoughtful. “It is but some businessman. Do they think that just because they get marry they can then contend against da ren*?”
[*T/N: He’s either referring to his employer or he’s egotistic enough to call himself da ren in front of others, but it’s most likely the former.]
County Magistrate Zhang let out a laugh. “Qian da ren, you don’t know this, but that foreign businessman is probably not an ordinary businessman. I heard he lives in Jun Zi City. The An family reckons the other side must be a family of importance, which is why the young landlord when to Jun Zi City to find them to uphold the marriage contract.”
When this remark came out, both An Chang De and Qian You Hao’s faces changed.
It was no wonder that they’re surprised. Like Steward Su, they also thought that for businessmen to live in Jun Zi City, they must be familiar with quite a few influential officials.
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Even if Jiang Zhong Ting is a prefectural magistrate, he was still just an official on the outside*. Yong Zhou is not a well-known place. There is not much oil or water that could be collected. As for Jiang Zhong Ting, the number of times he’s been to the capital could be counted with five fingers. If that businessman was really some important person, then he (Jiang Zhong Ting) better think about the black hat** on his head.
[*T/N: appointed to a post outside the capital]
[**T/N: 乌纱帽 wu sha mao: black hat (worn by feudal officials), it represents their post. In this sentence it is saying that if Jiang Zhong Ting wants to target An Zi Ran, who is going to have the backing of some big shot businessman, then he better think twice or else he will lose his government post.]
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