Er Liang put a piece of rabbit meat on his rice and added some sauce. He couldn’t even bother to talk, so busy stuffing the delicious food in his mouth. He thought as he ate, if young master was here he would definitely be reprimanded.
“Why aren’t you both eating?” Er Liang discovered Si Niang and Gou zi only added cabbages to their rice, he said worriedly, “This is not right, how can you gain weight without eating any meat? Young master always complain that I am too skinny.”
Er Liang said, pleased with himself, “In the past, only I was picked to be young master’s servant boy because I was the fattest of all of them!”
A pity that after eight years old he had slimmed down, ai~
Si Niang chewed the rice in a cherishing manner. In her old home, even when the harvest was plentiful there was no rice as fine as this to eat.
The most was some white rice mixed in with the bran and beans. And that was on the best of days.
She put on a fawning smile: “I don’t like to eat meat.”
Gou zi also piped up: “I also don’t like to eat meat.”
Er Liang ate another piece of rabbit meat, thinking it the strangest thing ever: “In this world, other than monks, there are actually people who don’t like to eat meat. What a strange thing.”
In Er Liang’s opinion, there was nothing more delicious than meat in this world.
Si Niang asked in a small voice: “Er Liang, does the young master have any taboos? I am an uneducated person, I’m afraid I won’t be able to serve him well.”
Er Liang spat out a bone: “My young master has the kindest heart, the heart of a Buddha. Just do what he asks of you, as long as it is part of your responsibilities, anything else you don’t need to worry about.”
Gou zi swallowed discreetly, looking at the bits of meat still stuck to the bone Er Liang spat out, unwilling to shift his eyes.
Unfortuanately, Er Liang did not catch the look. He only thought that this pair of mother and son were used to not having meat as part of their diet and perhaps as a result couldn’t eat meat. So he ate all the meat with a clear conscience.
After finishing, Er Liang let out a rabbit meat scented burp.
“Si Niang, your cooking skills are quite good.” Er Liang wiped at the oil on his lips, “generous with the oil, makes it taste better.”
Si Niang still now felt a bit dizzy: “Wasted so much oil!”
In her life she had yet to put this much oil in a single dish. That could not be considered pouring oil but pouring money instead.
When she was eating the cabbages she could also taste the oil. Mixed with rice it was unspeakably tasty.
Er Liang waved his hand: “As long as you do the work well for young master, young master will treat you well!”
He thought to himself, once young master’s soybean oil was extracted, even drinking oil like water was possible.
“Oh right, I bought a roll of cloth, it’s for you to make clothes for yourself and Gou zi.” Er Liang said, “it’s young master’s orders.”
Si Niang gaped, saying frantically: “We, we do not deserve…..”
Young master gave them shelter, a bed with blankets and food to eat. Compared to life at her old home where she lived in a grass hut that leaked on rainy days, the life now was much better. And not only that but also receiving new clothes!
In farming families only men received new clothes. Only once they were worn old would the woman patch them up and wear them instead. Once the clothes were too ripped would the woman change them into smaller sizes and give them to the children.
Since birth she had never once worn new clothes. They had always belonged to someone else first.
“There’s no need for new clothes.” Si Niang said, followed by tears falling down. She often could not eat fully as the food must prioritize her husband and children first. Instead, she drank water to stave the hunger and on their way here relied on tree bark and grass roots as sustenance.
She was as thin as a skeleton, skin weather-beaten and stretched thin, arms resembling the bare branches of trees. Her tears had none of the charms of raindrops on a pear blossom or tears on the face of a beauty. It only made people feel sad.
Gou zi also said: “Brother Er Liang, my mama and I we don’t want any new clothes.”
Er Liang looked surprised: “You aren’t cold?”
Unlike them, Er Liang was a family servant, his parents having been the servants of the Lin family before he was born. They had no private property——they lived in the Lin family house, wore Lin family clothes. Their entire life from birth to death was spent at the Lin family. In the hearts of these family servants, they were members of the Lin family.
Therefore, whatever the master gave them they would not have any qualms of receiving or think that they didn’t deserve it.
So Er Liang could not understand the feelings of this pair of mother and son.
Gou zi pulled the collar of his shirt and showed Er Liang the dry hay stuffed within, saying proudly: “I rubbed and stuffed them myself, it’s very warm.”
Er Liang reached out a hand to touch it. The hay had been rubbed and softened, not prickly as expected, and because it was close to the skin it was warm just as Gou zi claimed.
“I’ve never tried this before!” Er Liang looked interested, “later, help me to also make some hay stuffing.”
He treated it as a game.
Er Liang slept in the same bed as Lin Yuan. Since the space was not big he couldn’t have Er Liang make his bed on the floor.
Er Liang was still a child with a small stature and didn’t take up much room. And besides two people sleeping was warmer.
“I should go buy a tangpozi (TN: basically a hot water bottle put in the sheets to warm the bed) for young master.” Er Liang thought he was not attentive enough, feeling guilty, “I actually forgot something this important. If my dad hears this he will definitely scold me.”
Lin Yuan flopped an arm on top of Er Liang, saying sleepily: “Sleep, your dad is not here.”
Er Liang mumbled some more but Lin Yuan did not catch it, having fallen into sleep.
Early the next morning, Si Niang finished preparing breakfast——steamed rolls, fried breadsticks, and even bought soy milk at the tofu shops. Gou zi also woke up early and began sweeping the yard.
Si Niang still felt anxious, she felt that cooking was too light work.
After eating breakfast, Lin Yuan had Er Liang stay to watch the house, going out himself to reserve a restuarant booth. The house still lacked people, specifically strong and physically intimidating people to scare away crooks.
If only the original owner’s nanny brother was still here. That muscular body was practically a human weapon.
The hunter he met awhile ago was also good, it’s too bad he wasn’t interested in temporary work much less permanent work of being a doorman/bodyguard.
With the booth reserved, Lin Yuan visited Jiang Gui’s house. The place Jiang Gui rented was even smaller than Lin Yuan’s but not only was Jiang Gui and his wife and child living there but also his parents and parents-in-law.
After finding out that his parents-in-law also lived with Jiang Gui and his family, Lin Yuan could not help but sigh. Although Jiang Gui was far from a gentleman, he also could not be considered a bad man.
His parents-in-law grew older in age but their own sons were reluctant to support their living. Their daughter, wife of Jiang Gui was part of another family since marriage and did not dare to speak of looking after her elderly parents. Jiang Gui noticed his wife secretly crying several times and as a result made the decision to bring them over to his house and be responsible for their care.
He was only one person but he must support six people not counting himself. Lin Yuan truly thought Jiang Gui could be considered a good and courageous man.
“Uncle Jiang, I am a friend of brother Jiang here to send something over.” Lin Yuan called from outside the door.
The door unlocking could be heard on the other side and an old man wearing a cotton coat appeared: “What is it?”
Lin Yuan handed over a message card: “I forgot yesterday, I must trouble brother Jiang to send this invitation to brother Dao.”
The old man could not read. Squinting his eyes at the card he only felt dizzy. He nodded his head: “Fine, you can be going now.”
Lin Yuan: “Great, then I will be leaving first, uncle Jiang.”
Uncle Jiang waved his hand expressing his understanding.
Lunch was eaten at home. Si Niang cherished her current situation so despite her cooking skills being average at least she was generous with oil and salt which tasted better than the food from the food stalls outside.
Lin Yuan took a nap after lunch and then left again by himself to walk around the city.
20 workers was not enough but Lin Yuan had his own plans.
Was that brother Dao fellow trustworthy? What were his subordinates like? Lin Yuan was completely in the dark so he gave Jiang Gui a percentage of future earnings. With shared interests Jiang Gui would treat the issue seriously. After seeing just how much money soybean oil could make he would be completely on his side.
And with the ten percent of earnings there was no need to worry about betrayal.
They were now on the same boat so no matter whether it was keeping from being registered as part of the merchant class or operating the business, Jiang Gui must take part.
Money could shake a person’s will, especially in Jiang Gui’s case with a big family to feed.
From now on they were grasshoppers on the same string.
Only with intertwined interests could Lin Yuan cease his worries. He had been part of workplace scheming for too long and had no belief in brotherhood or friends. Only connections made through interests and benefits were unbreakable.
Therefore, towards these 20 people, Lin Yuan planned to give them managerial duties on top of their own work.
These people had experience mingling among the underworld so with them present, the rest would not dare make any trouble.
As for himself, all he needed to do was to gain the support of the gang leader, brother Dao.
How? Easy. Share another ten percent of the earnings.
If everyone bound themselves in shared interests, then everyone would feel at ease.
Lin Yuan waited early at the reserved booth, wearing a plain cotton shirt as he observed the restaurant’s customers. The business looked to be doing well with the crowds and flittering waiters.
He could also see the manager doing calculations with an abacus, almost frantic at the busy pace.
Lin Yuan’s booth was on the second floor with a view of downstairs so he soon saw Jiang Gui with a muscular man at his side.
The muscular man was only wearing a thin shirt in the winter cold, his hair messy. Even still, he appeared to resemble a knight-errant of jianghu, free and untamed. On his waist hung a small sheathed knife, likely the most valuable thing he owned.
Lin Yuan waved his hand: “Brother Jiang, over here!”
Jiang Gui also hollered: “Coming up!”
Brother Dao had a bigger pace so he arrived first. Lin Yuan’s first impression could be considered quite good. He had a pair of eagle eyes, sharp dark brows, straight nose and sharply defined lips. Though he was a gang leader he had an air of righteousness.
If one was to just look at his outer appearance, then it would be easy to become trustful of him.
“Brother Dao.” Lin Yuan cupped his hands in greeting, “this little brother’s name is Lin Yuan.”
Brother Dao retuned the greeting: “Just call me brother Dao.”
It seemed he was unwilling to reveal his true name.
Jiang Gui said: “What are you all standing for? Come sit quickly, we three brothers should drink alcohol and eat meat while we discuss important issues.”
Lin Yuan was deeply familiar with swaying people in his favor. Before, when facing clients it was talk about this and that, now facing Jiang Gui and brother Dao it was even easier.
“Brother Jiang, sit.” Lin Yuan poured their cups with wine and said with a smile, “first let’s talk about my business.”
Jiang Gui and brother Dao looked at him in askance, wasn’t this about hiring?
Lin Yuan spoke confidently, as if he had a card up his sleeve, thinking privately: if I don’t display a big piece of cake, how would I be able to attract any people?
AN: Lin Yuan: “It has always been me who takes advantage of others.”
Jiang Gui/brother Dao: “…..”
TN: Comments and thoughts appreciated 🙂
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