Chapter 137: Second Uncle
A face that was too eye-catching was not a good trait to have.
For Qin Ming Yue, besides the theatre, he tried to avoid things such as accompanying customers over wine as much as he could.
Before he arrived in Yan Cheng, he had always moved around, never staying at one place for too long or he would have been taken in as a boytoy or something lesser by some nobility or powerful family a long time ago.
The opportunity to sing in front of the district magistrate was one to be greatly boasted about, but who knew what kind of monster or trap he would be walking into.
Xiao Feng Wu pulled Qin Ming Yue into his embrace and sighed as he said,
Lowering his eyes, Qin Ming Yue slowly rubbed over the finger that was missing a section,
“Been stupid once, suffered the consequences, so naturally one would be smarter now……”
Qu Jiang Dao was the most extravagant and prosperous area in Yan Cheng.
There would normally be no small number of beggars around, but the soldiers on duty had cleared them all out on the magistrate’s orders, pushing them into an abandoned temple outside the city.
Their cries and wails could be heard all day long throughout the streets.
“Da-ye, Da-ye, I beg of you please.
My mother, she has a leg injury, she cannot withstand a single push!”
Broken pieces and bowls used for begging were tossed onto the floor, shattering into pieces.
A girl whose face was haggard and gaunt was crying as she held up an elderly, grey haired lady who had fallen to the ground.
The mother and daughter pair were wearing extremely old and dirty clothing that looked to have been patched up many times, showing off how destitute they were.
The head of the soldiers was Jiang Ping An.
Seeing how the old woman had an empty pant leg instead of a right leg, he felt some difficulty saying,
“Young girl, these are orders from the district magistrate.
Take your mother outside the city for a few days and when the superior of my superior leaves, you naturally can come back.”
Qian Lang-zhong was just drying medicine outside the door with Xiao Feng Wu when he saw this and he threw aside the basket harshly.
Coldly ‘hmph’ing, he said,
“Always up to no good, doing things that are so inhumane.
What, how have beggars ruffled their feathers and bothered them now?!”
Inside of Hui Chun Tang, it was very humid so quite a lot of the medicine has already grown mold, soaking in too much moisture.
The beams of the structure had also been rotting and they had hired a builder to help reinforce the beams, so Xiao Feng Wu was moving the consultation tables outside.
He was enjoying the sun as he dried other medicine and at this he lazily and hazily said,
“There are too many beggars.
You know the saying, the better the leadership, the less poverty and other bad things.
Everyone here in Yan Cheng has no worries and no suffering, the only situation of which can show how good our great district magistrate is as an official, hmm.”
Qian Lang-zhong’s moustache was trembling from his anger, and he almost ran over to hit his smoking pipe on Jiang Ping An’s official’s hat, angrily saying,
“You bastard! Bring them into my shop.
Her leg’s gone and you’re still making them crawl out of the city! Is this how your mother taught you to behave?!”
Jiang Ping An was about to explode in anger when he saw that it was Qian Lang-zhong and immediately deflated.
He was a filial son, and he still remembered how Xiao Feng Wu saved his mother’s life.
Besides, his personality wasn’t that bad; beyond gambling, he didn’t have many other personality defects.
So with Qian Lang-zhong’s words, he righted his hat again and signalled his underlings to move the mother and daughter pair on a stretcher into the shop.
With an ingratiating laugh, he said,
“We have no other way.
This is all under the district magistrate’s orders.
Qian Lang-zhong, whatever you say, but just please don’t let these beggars out! Once the overseeing official has left, it’ll be fine then.”
Qian Lang-zhong could not stand the sight of what was happening and his moustache puffed up from his huff as he glowered at the soldiers.
He ordered De Gui to take care of the mother and daughter and then immediately grabbed his medicine bag to head off to a neighbouring town to avoid seeing similar situations that would make him mad.
What was left of the leg was already growing boils and rotting to the point where it attracted flies and maggots.
He covered his nose as he looked towards the door, saying to Xiao Feng Wu,
“Sixteen, her injury’s quite serious.
Come take a look.
I’ve never seen this kind of injury before.”
Anyone with a brain would know that Xiao Feng Wu absolutely would not be taking a look.
He turned his head back to take a glance at the old lady’s leg before turning away with furrowed eyebrows.
He popped open two peanuts and threw them in his mouth before lying back on the rocking chair, swaying as he said,
“Oh little De Gui, what a poor boy, stuck with this kind of master, teaching you nothing.
Today, out of the generosity of my heart, I will teach you something.”
Her type of illness is old rotting boils.
Quite a bit has died due to the wounded area, creating a loss of blood flow below the knee and creating unsmooth pathways between her breathing and her blood throughout the entire body.
Due to the continuous exposure to heat and humidity, the blood has coagulated and created rotten areas of flesh.
Grab some ku fan and iron yam to patch over the wound.1 Once every morning and night, and she should be fine in about ten days.”
De Gui asked in shock,
“It’s that simple?”
Xiao Feng Wu snorted,
“It’s just a torn and rotten boil.
How complicated did you want it to be.”
There were not a lot of patients in the morning, but in the afternoon, it started getting busy.
Xiao Feng Wu was becoming sleepy from the sun’s gentle rays.
It made his face seem quite emotionless and looking quite out of it as one hand held up his head and the other over someone’s pulse to check their status,
“It’s a cold.
A bit serious.”
The woman across from him couldn’t stop her light coughs and an abnormal blush covered her face.
She said with a hoarse voice,
“Physician, I had a consultation over at Bao Sheng Tang, and the prescription’s right here, but even after I followed it, I’m not getting better.
In fact, it seems to be getting worse and worse.
What is going on?”
“This prescription is too conservative, so naturally it will have no effect,”
Xiao Feng Wu lowered his eyes and grabbed a calligraphy brush to add twelve more medicinal herbs to the prescription,
“Besides pueraria roots, purple perilla leaves, saposhnikovia roots, ramulus cinnamomi, angelica root, tangerine peel, platycodon root, liquoric root, raw ginger, when you drink the medicine, also add a Shun Qi Dan.”
The elderly woman hesitated and said,
“But this Shun Qi Dan is not very cheap……”
Xiao Feng Wu said,
“Then it looks like it’s between whether you want money or if you want to keep your life.”
After he said that, he pushed the prescription aside, about to ask for the next patient when an elderly voice suddenly rang out from above his head,
“Shun Qi Dan is not quite necessary, add a fineleaf schizonepeta herb and the effect is still the same.”
Xiao Feng Wu threw his brush aside, splattering the ink,
“This woman has asthma, and needs to drink a specific medicinal soup, Shu Gan Jiu Wei Tang, daily.
Fineleaf schizonepeta herb will clash with the medicinal herbs in that soup so if you add it, not only is there no effect, but it will instead make her illness even worse.
Only Shun Qi Dan can counteract that.
Old man, if you don’t know anything, don’t come around and spout random words like a fool.”
After he said that, he raised his eyes to take a look at the other man, before finding that it was an elderly old man who spoke.
The other was dressed in a simple manner, but his clothes were made of an expensive and top of the line silk.
The man himself also had an aura about him that was not of a normal, average citizen, but from Xiao Feng Wu’s words just now, a look of embarrassment appeared on his face.
Xiao Feng Wu’s thumb subconsciously started to rub over his sleeves and his eyebrows furrowed slightly, thinking that this man looked quite familiar, but he couldn’t place who it was.
It was at this time that two carriages that had been passing through on the streets suddenly weaved back over.
Stopping right in front of the apothecary, two men came out of the carriages one after another.
The leading man was wearing an official’s robe, and who else could this be but the local district magistrate.
Behind him was a man about thirty years old, dressed in a long robe of blue, with a green jadelike waist belt, making for an impressive picture.
As they stepped forward, the district magistrate in front of him immediately bent over, lowering himself by almost a head, very eagerly smiling.
All around them were soldiers bearing swords in hand, so the unknown man’s status must be quite high up.
Upon this commotion, normal citizens immediately hid away to avoid their notice as the blue long-robed man walked in front, talking to the old man who had just interrupted Xiao Feng Wu,
“Xiao Da-ren, did we not set out to go to Tao Tie Lou to eat.
Why have you stopped in the middle of our journey, making us go and find you.”
“Ha ha ha Fan Da-ren, please don’t mind me.
This old man has taken a shortcut here, coming here especially upon hearing that there was a young physician capable of miraculous feats.
Who could have thought that it would have been my nephew that had not been a model young man.
Wouldn’t you say that this is a coincidence.”
The old man before Xiao Feng Wu replied and looked at Xiao Feng Wu who was slightly shocked, and the old man rested his hands behind himself before he sighed.
He smiled and said,
“Oh Sixteen, do you still remember your second uncle?”
Xiao Lao-tai-ye had few children, having only two sons: the eldest Xiao Ping Zhang, the second Xiao Lin Ru.
Ignoring the eldest who had passed away quite early, the second was not quite filial.
When Xiao Lao-tai-ye had been at the head of the physician’s chair in the capital, he had seen through all the schemes and the undergoings of what happened in the Imperial Palace.
He decidedly quit, brought his whole family with him to retire, but never expected that his second son would not be willing to give up the status and the power.
Instead, that second son of his had secretly learned the acupuncture techniques passed down in the Xiao family and used it to cure the Royal Concubine who had been deep in the woes of an illness — who was now the Imperial Empress.
Since then he has been cruising through the ranks, stepping over everyone without much trouble.
Xiao Lao-tai-ye had been enraged beyond all rage and immediately disowned him, taking him off the family tree and declaring that no one from the Xiao family may dare to utter his name again, saying that he never had such a son.
It has been a story from many years ago, and Xiao Feng Wu had quite forgotten such an uncle.
But come to think of it, Xiao Lin Ru, in these few years, had been treading on thin ice considering how he was evidently tired and aged despite his good looks.
Xiao Feng Wu watched him say something to the blue robed man and then lifted his hands in a greeting to ask for forgiveness.
The other man only shook his head with a smile before leaving with the district magistrate
Only two servants were left behind with Xiao Lin Ru, and he looked up at Hui Chun Tang’s old dusty, broken sign, lost in his thoughts before suddenly slowly saying,
“……I had not come to Yan Cheng in quite a few years, Sixteen, if you still recognize me as your second uncle, how do you feel about finding a quiet place to trade a few drinks between an uncle and his nephew?”
Xiao Feng Wu contemplated this for a bit before smiling slightly,
I have the perfect restaurant in mind, and if you are alright with it, let’s go together.”
Xiao Feng Wu did not drink wine with a high alcohol content, and he would always go to the small quaint restaurants in Sycamore Alley.
He frequently visited Pin Yi Pin for their wine, Qin Mei Ren, which was brewed with plums, but it had been a while since he went there that the Zhang-gui had not recognized him.
There weren’t a lot of customers in the restaurant.
Inside was a large steel wok that was stewing perfectly seasoned beef, going ‘gu lu gu lu’ as it emitted hot steam and filling the restaurant with the delicious smell of meat.
Xiao Feng Wu said to the owner,
“Bring up two dishes of beef and two jugs of Qin Mei Ren.”
And then went to a private room upstairs with Xiao Lin Ru.
Rain started drizzling intermittently outside as Xiao Lin Ru picked a table by the window to enjoy the beauty outside.
Seeing Xiao Feng Wu calmly eating peanuts, Xiao Lin Ru’s expression became a bit complicated, hesitating a few times before finally uttering out loud,
“You…… have you all been doing alright?”
Xiao Feng Wu’s movements paused at that.
And then he smiled and said,
“I’m doing alright.
I can at least afford a meal to eat.
My other brothers and sisters, well, I’m not sure about them.
They could be here, or they could have gone elsewhere.”
Xiao Lin Ru sighed quietly,
“It was on me for not being a filial pious son, and also on me for being useless, unable to save the Xiao family……”
Xiao Feng Wu was not very pessimistic,
“There was nothing to save.
It was not a falsity that the Xiao family was selling opium.
To still be amongst the living is already not a bad ending.
Right, second uncle, you have been doing quite well at the capital.
Why have you returned to Yan Cheng?”
Xiao Lin Ru waved his hand in the air, signalling his servants on hand to leave them both before saying,
“It’s actually a long story.
The Imperial Empress is about to give birth but her pregnancy hasn’t been very smooth.
I’m not quite the best at the medicinal arts, and there still wasn’t much of a positive conclusion even after discussing it with my fellow physicians.
So on orders of the Emperor, I have come to Yan Cheng, hoping to find the medical records and teachings of the Xiao family that should have been released to the public treasury after the disbandment, hoping to find something, a cure, for the situation.
Since Fan Da-ren was going to pass by here to check on the districts, I decided to accompany him on his journey.”
The server came to bring up their order, from which Xiao Feng Wu poured out two cups of alcohol.
“What could the Xiao family have? Those that you should have read, have you not already read them, second uncle?”
Xiao Lin Ru downed all the alcohol in his cup before letting out a long exhale,
“I had been prideful at the very beginning, always feeling that Father had been too overly cautious.
Now that I am deeply entrenched in the depths of the Imperial Palace, I have finally understood the delicacies of treading within.
I was also not afraid of others poking and slandering me that I was not a pious son, but Father, he, he truly was vicious hoh.
He had been more willing to burn all the teachings than to hand them over to me.”
Whatever Xiao Feng Wu had been thinking then, it had made him chug down a cup of alcohol as well.
He smiled and said,
“He was indeed ruthless.”
Xiao Lin Ru looked at him and suddenly softened his voice,
“I’ve heard the district magistrate say, amongst his sixteen grandsons and daughters, he had been the most doting to you.”
Xiao Feng Wu also looked back at him and waved his hands with his palms facing outwards,
“And what if he was.
He’s a person of the past now.
But Grandfather had said something before he passed away.”
Xiao Lin Ru’s pupils widened at that and quickly asked,
“What did he say?!”
Xiao Feng Wu thought about it before saying,
“He said, the acupuncture skills of the Xiao family can only be taught to those in the Xiao family.
They cannot be passed to anyone else, or otherwise it will ruin the livelihood of any grandsons after.”
And Xiao Lin Ru, had already been taken off the family registry a long time ago.
Xiao Lin Ru blinked his eyes quickly a few times at that and it was immediately obvious when his face became ashen, evidently understanding the meaning behind Xiao Feng Wu’s words.
He, however, was not willing to let it go just yet and asked,
“Your grandfather he…… has he not said anything about me before he passed?”
“He had,” Xiao Feng Wu put down his cup, “Grandfather had said, out of the line of men in the Xiao family, you were the worst at the art, the most unfilial, unpious one and the one that did not have a future at all.”
A light green alcohol cup suddenly fell from the table, rolling onto the wooden floor.
A light smattering of rain drizzled through the window and Xiao Lin Ru could not stop himself from closing his eyes.
Xiao Feng Wu drank another cup, staring at him unflinchingly,
“Grandfather had been afraid that there would be someone who could steal the Xiao family teachings.
Before he passed, he had burned all the books.
Those that were handed off to the officials are only common medicinal books that you can find everywhere on the streets.
You probably won’t need to go searching for them specifically.”
Xiao Lin Ru finally opened his eyes then, his hands shaking uncontrollably,
“He still…… truly still that vicious…… that selfish……”
Xiao Feng Wu was still smiling as he agreed,
“Indeed, vicious, ruthless.
But he is already dead, so to speak of such matters is of no use.”
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