It had already been raining for nearly a month, but the relentless pitter patter of rain in Great Jin showed no signs of stopping. Many farms were devastated by the flooding, and in turn the price of rice began to escalate, even for stale rice. In this world, naturally there would not be sufficient provisions for everyone. Other than for the wealthy who were capable of paying premium prices for fresh produce from out of town, the common folk could only watch their provisions dwindle with each pa.s.sing day; there were even some who weren’t able to even have a meal. People were praying fervently for this bout of spring rain to come to an end, but alas the sky did not fulfil mankind’s desires, and the rain showed no signs of stopping.
Jiang Quan had already settled the matters regarding the private temple and had planned for Jiang Su Su to be taken there in a few days time. Although Xia Yan and Jiang Chao had been trying to dissuade him, Jiang Quan was still determined. Since the Xia family had not interceded for Jiang Su Su because of Xia Jun, this matter was to proceed as planned.
As expected, not long after Old Jiang Madame’s longevity birthday celebration, the capital indeed erupted with an increasing number of rumors and gossip regarding the Jiang Family. One top rumor was that of the false prophecy made by Taoist priest, Xu Kong, who, when she was sent to him as a young child, stated that Jiang Ruan had been born under a cursed star. As a result, Jiang Ruan was sent to the countryside residence and made to suffer five years of unnecessary misfortune. Obviously, within the capital there were some from the upper echelon that were neither blind nor deaf. They were wise and insightful enough to see the subterfuge within all of this. The matter regarding Xia Yan’s reputation as the genteel, virtuous and talented lady now required some reflection. That said, based on Jiang Ruan’s performance the other day, it was evident that her disposition was not to be taken lightly. For a while now, the people of Great Jin were aware that the Jiang Family’s di daughter was not one to be underestimated.
Jiang Ruan was lost in thought whilst sitting by the window looking out at the curtain of rain. The hole in the roof of the house had finally been fixed, and on that day, not just the hole, even their monthly allowance had been restored to its rightful amount. In retrospect, it was probably due to Jiang Quan having lost face in the presence of Gu Furen and so he had warned Xia Yan about it.
Lu Zhu carried a flower pot of fresh China Rose and placed it by the front of the courtyard. She was smiling as she entered the house, “Miss, today this servant heard from others that Xu Kong dao zhang was arrested by the city guards because it was said that he was a conniving charlatan, a liar. Furthermore, it appears that while in prison he has received the board as corporal punishment, and it is said that one of his legs has been crippled.” She seethed as she continued, “He surely deserved it. Who gave him the right to be so ruthless and lacking in conscience, and to even go to the extent of fabricating the lie about the cursed star to vilify my young miss.”
Jiang Ruan declined to comment. That day, there were lots of furens present, and it was inevitable that they would spill the beans on Xu Kong dao zhang. Over the years, Xu Kong dao zhang had not been only of service to Xia Yan’s family, and when the other families who had engaged his services came to know of his deeds, naturally it was bound to stir up anger and hatred. In turn, it was to be expected that a formal lawsuit would be submitted to the constabulary.
 Xunbufang ( 巡捕房 ) – (old) police station in a foreign concession.
Lian Qiao followed Jiang Ruan’s line of sight and looked out the window. Sighing deeply she lamented, “Don’t know when this rain will stop.” Then in a quiet voice she said, “Miss, now that the capital has a shortage of provision, why don’t we take some of our provisions to sell. We would be able to make tonnes of money.”
 Pén mǎn bō fān ( 盆满钵翻 ) – literally means pots filled and monks’ earthen alms bowl doubles = tonnes of money.
Jiang Ruan shook her head, and Lu Zhu voiced, “Miss is thinking of waiting it out for a few more days? Who knows when this rain will stop, therefore, the opportune moment is now.”
“Buying those provisions wasn’t meant for resale.” Jiang Ruan smiled.
“Then what’s it for?” Lu Zhu was perplexed.
“To save someone.”
“Save someone.” Lu Zhu deliberated those two words when suddenly her eyes lit up, “Miss is planning to wait a few more days before taking those provisions out to aid the disaster relief, providing for the victims of the disaster, thus saving their lives.”
“You’ve only got half of it right,” Jiang Ruan smiled in reply, “I’m not planning to save their lives.” The ones that she intended to save were the Zhao family.
Lu Zhu’s eyes fluttered but she did not ask any further. After a moment’s thought, she suddenly said, “Miss, this servant heard that the reservoir in the north of the capital is starting to overflow and the Emperor has ordered Eighth Prince to manage the overflow situation. He has also transferred back the Grand Councillor Li fu’s Young Master Li An to go along.” Lu Zhu was a second-rank servant and would naturally get more opportunities to mingle with people from the marketplace and visit the local haunts of the common people. Moreover, she was good at establishing relationships and connections and had the ability to get firsthand information quickly.
“Ah, Li An.” Jiang Ruan smiled and the gleam in her eyes was rather chilling, “Finally, the wait has brought results.”
Li Dong had two sons. Li Yang, who was l.u.s.tful and a dandy, unwilling to learn martial arts, and a devout follower of the hedonistic lifestyle. Unfortunately, currently Li Yang was handicapped. Undoubtedly Li Dong was not willing to take things lying down, however, he had been biding his time and had not struck out at the Jiang fu yet. This was due most likely to the work of his younger son, Li An. Li An was sinister and cunning, and extremely intelligent. In the past life, Xuan Li had thought rather highly of him, and so at that time his efforts to entice Li Dong were only worth 30 percent for his power and influence, whereas the 70 percent was primarily meant for Li An’s intelligence and wisdom.
Li An was a person who would protect others even when knowing that the other person was wrong, and presently he viewed Li Yang with utmost importance. Jiang Ruan smirked. In her previous life, Xuan Li had told her a secret, a secret concerning Li An. A secret that even Li Yang and Li Dong were not aware of, and this secret would be her biggest bargaining chip.
She said to Lu Zhu, “Tell Lian Qiao and Bai Zhi to come back quickly, and also take out a deck of Ye Zi cards.”
“Miss wants to play the Ye Zi cards?” Lu Zhu chuckled, “This servant will go and return with the other two.”
 Yezi Pai ( 叶子牌 ) : Leaf card is a kind of card , also called “Niang Niang card”, harmony card, evil talisman card. Its gameplay was called ” Leaf Play ” in ancient times. This ancient gambling game is an important part of China’s traditional culture, a traditional Chinese entertainment project, and a treasure of the Chinese nation . The gameplay and algorithm are the same as Mahjong. More.
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The Grand Councillor’s fu in the capital.
Li Dong was sitting on a soft couch in the middle of the main hall. A beautiful concubine was ma.s.saging his shoulders and at his feet, there was another concubine gently pummeling his legs with her fist. Both concubines had scared expressions on their faces, while Li Dong’s disposition was stormy, and his facial expression was fierce, devoid of his usual phoney smiling facade. Given his savage and murderous aura, it was evident that his frame of mind was not good at the moment..
Just then, a boy servant entered, reporting, “Second Young Master has returned.”
From outside the hall walked in a young man who looked to be around 17 or 18 years of age. He was wearing azure coloured jacquard woven silk attire, and around his waist was a yellow tiger patterned belt. His face was handsome and his skin was pale, as if he had not been in the sun for many years, and he had a pair of deep black eyes that was shrouded in gloom.
Upon seeing the young man, Li Dong immediately rose from his seat, “What took you so long!”
“Father.” Li An knitted his brows, “How is Elder Brother now?”
At the mention of Li Yang, a hint of cruelty flashed across Li Dong’s face, “What is there to expect, his life can be considered worthless now. I am determined to see Jiang Su Su buried with him.”
“We can’t act rashly.” Li An shot Li Dong a tumultuous look. Upon hearing him say that, Li Dong retorted in fury, “In your letter to me, you asked me to refrain from taking action against the Jiang fu. What was that all about? Your elder brother is currently bedridden, and yet, we are not able to murder that s.l.u.t?”
“Does Father really think that the Jiang fu’s Second Miss was responsible for Elder Brother’s predicament ?” Li An queried.
“What do you mean?”
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Li An looked at him mockingly, “It is so obvious, yet Father has allowed your rage to cloud your judgement and thus rendered you unable to clearly judge the matter. This whole situation is actually a deliberate provocation of someone, with the sole intent of driving a wedge between the Jiang and the Li families- for only the fisherman will reap the benefit.”
Jiang Ruan stood at the front of the main hall, so naturally she was able to take in the whole scene of Jiang Su Su’s bashful act. Her heart could not help the momentary flash of contempt racing across it. Jiang Su Su could really be so naive as to think that the person before her was some affable n.o.ble young master. This particular young master’s intentions were even more poisonous than the most venomous snake.
From the side, Jiang Dan had all along maintained a jittery and foreboding expression. She was pleasantly surprised when she saw Jiang Ruan arrive and exclaimed, “Da Jiejie!”
In accord, Jiang Su Su and Li An turned towards Jiang Ruan. Jiang Ruan smiled as she slowly went up to Li An and offered her greetings, “A pleasure to meet you, Second Young Master Li.”
Li An very quickly sized up Jiang Ruan, and smiled in reply, “Eldest Jiang Miss.”
Jiang Ruan took a seat beside Jiang Dan and looked towards Li An, “Second Young Master Li, is anything the matter?” She was not bothered with superfluous words, so she got straight to the point and asked Li An.
Li An’s eyes flashed with a hint of brilliance as he smiled and said, “It’s not really any matter, it’s just that something happened to my elder brother at your esteemed residence….”
“Oh, then how is Eldest Young Master Li?” her voice expressed her concern, but her eyes were serene.
“Not too good.” Li An’s head drooped and he sighed, “On that day, my elder brother was seriously injured.”
“That is most unfortunate,” Jiang Ruan said. Her intonation was simple and monotonous, but unbeknownst to all when Li An heard those words, they evidently became very acerbic, as they seemed to carry with them a taunting snicker.
“What is Eldest Miss’ understanding of this matter?” Li An raised his voice in query.
“It merely was all a misunderstanding,” Jiang Ruan smiled in reply. “Second Younger Sister is young and ignorant, but Ruan niang thinks, your elder brother is not entirely without fault too.” She had cleanly removed herself, very simply making light of the situation.
Alongside, Jiang Su Su listening in was beginning to rage within her heart, “You….” She forced herself to swallow the rest of her words as earlier in the main hall, she had surrept.i.tiously disclosed some information to Li An, pushing the whole debacle towards Jiang Ruan.
“Only a misunderstanding?” Li An smirked, “I am of the thought that this was intentionally set up by someone, yet Eldest Miss perceives it to be a misunderstanding?”
“Ruan niang personally thinks it’s a misunderstanding,” Jiang Ruan smiled lightly, “However if Young Master thinks otherwise, you could go to the Capital Magistrate to request a resolution. If that doesn’t yield results, you could also have the Grand Councillor accuse Father in court and His Majesty will definitely take responsibility and make a decision on your eldest brother’s behalf in indicting my father. Though Ruan niang is from the Jiang family, one can only adhere to the law. Nonetheless, Ruan niang would like to give Young Master a few words of advice. From the onset, with regards to the cause of the matter, your eldest brother has to bear half of the culpability. However, if the Jiang fu has to suffer under the onslaught of investigation, I’m sure the Li family will not remain unscathed either.”
Li An pinned his gaze directly on Jiang Ruan’s eyes. She obviously was aware that if this matter were to be reported to the Capital Magistrate, then the whole of the capital would know that Li Yang had been castrated. Furthermore, should the news that had remained under lock and key accidently leaked out, based on Li Yang’s character, his whole life would suffer under the weight of humiliation. Besides, if that really happened, there would be a big reshuffle with regards to the Grand Councillor’s office. Thus, if the matter couldn’t be brought up to the Capital Magistrate, it was inconceivable for the accusation to be brought before the Emperor. Jiang Ruan might have seemed to be magnanimous, but in actuality, her every suggestion essentially led to a dead end. His interest was suddenly piqued and he asked, “Then in Eldest Miss’ opinion, what would be the best option to resolve the matter?”
“That really depends on what the Grand Councillor would like to do?” Jiang Ruan softly smiled, “Nonetheless, once this matter gets out, the future of the Grand Councillor’s office might have to depend on Second Young Master.” She spoke calmly, but her eyes communicated profound implications.
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