☆ Chapter 17: City Gate
时辰 | sichen |time system comprising of 12 two-hour periods of the day; one sichen is the equivalent of two modern hours
Their carriage traveled for approximately half a sichen, but as they arrived at the city gates, they saw a dense mass of other carriages queuing to enter the city.
Yun Shi Yi sent Xiao Shan forward to ask the situation, just to find out that these past few days, a flower thief[a] had appeared in the city. Upon meeting a pretty woman, the rapist would stamp their door, and true to the meaning of the mark, would stealthily enter the woman’s residence at night. After that, a romantic show of I-am-you-and-you-are-me devoid of actual feelings would occur for a long while.
The women of Tian Chu did not care much for purity. For those that were not married, being chaste was something they could consider, but it wasn’t that important. As for those who had married, which one of them did not have three husbands and five other men serving them? Those females knew even less of why being virtuous was supposed to be a thing. That rapist’s methods were exceptional with superb skill, giving the women he ooxx’d with a taste of heaven. This caused the majority of the females to adore him in their hearts, including the wife of the prefectural magistrate, who was considered a person of outstanding talent. Not daring to annoy his wife, the official could only endure it.
But reportedly, last night, the rapist had slipped into the prefectural magistrate’s inner courtyard and knocked him out after the latter had just gotten ready for some pleasant evening activities. Throwing the unconscious man under the bed, the flower thief then pulled the magistrate’s wife for a nice round of lingering passion. After waking, the official flew into a rage. The moment the sun rose, he issued a search warrant for the one that would cause harm to the women of this world and ordered the investigation to be conducted from house to house. Even the process of travelers entering and exiting the city had to be strictly supervised.
With disgust on his face, Xiao Shan described the rapist. What was ‘he humiliated the male population’? This man was shameless and excessively lascivious. Once captured, he should be submerged in a lake, beheaded, and burned at the stake into ashes. Not killing him would not be sufficient to appease the commoners’ anger and resentment, and also would not be enough to give the men of this world face.
With this situation, Ruan Zhu has seen two kinds of situations regarding the men of Tian Chu–fickleness and devoutly safeguarding their virtue. She laughed into her sleeve. Because the prefectural magistrate wanted to get rid of the flower thief, she was afraid that many females would hate him to death and he may even have to sleep on the floor tonight per his wife’s orders.
Seeing that it would still be a while before their carriage could enter, Yun Shi Yi exited the carriage with Ruan Zhu to relieve their boredom. As for Yun Shi Wei, he was actually a pretty lively one and had long ran to the city’s entrance to become another enthusiastic spectator.
“Eldest Young Master, Eldest Lady, how is it that the both of you are also here?” A thin elderly man of around sixty years bowed respectfully at Yun Shi Yi with a happy expression.
“So it’s Manager Li.” Yun Shi Yi nodded his head. Manager Li was Yun family’s previous servant. As a result of his many years of responsible and diligent service, Master Yun thought fondly of him. Not only did he tear up his slave contract, he even gave him the position of a manager.
“Wife, this is Manager Li. The day we married, he was also there, but you might not remember as there were so many people on that day.”
Ruan Zhu had previously heard Yun Shi Yi bringing up matters related to the Yun family so still had some recollection of this Manager Li. If she remembered correctly, he should be the manager of Wan Yue Teahouse and the one that Master Yun had ordered Fourth Husband Wu’s son, Wu Bin, to replace. She slightly bowed her body in respect: “It’s hard to believe Manager Li has already completed sixty years of life as one seems to be all smiles, radiating with enthusiasm and full of spirit.”
“This one does not dare, this one does not dare. Eldest Lady must not be polite to this little one.” Manager Li beamed with joy and repeatedly bowed with his hands in front.
“Literally speaking, Manager Li is also one of my elders so being courteous is what I should do.” Ruan Zhu had just crossed over so the notion of following the strict social ranking was not that ingrained.
“Eldest Lady is very humble.” Manager Li awkwardly laughed: “These two Masters, please excuse this one for speaking out of turn. It will be a long while before entering the city is possible and standing here is very tiring. How about these Masters go to the family’s teahouse to pass the time while enjoying tea and some refreshments?”
The Yun family’s Wan Yue Teahouse was not far, only about a hundred meters away, from where they currently were. After walking a few minutes, they arrived at the entrance and headed into a spacious private room on the second floor. A while later, Wu Bin also entered and presented information regarding the teahouse’s sales after paying respects to his eldest brother and eldest sister-in-law.
It has to be said that the Yun household’s third son did not know how to behave with integrity. Seeing other people live fulfilled and happy lives, he would want to go against them. But against the eldest legitimate son of the Yun family, he was rather apprehensive.
He had been ordered by Master Yun to run this teahouse so he first needed to learn the basic management skills. Without waiting for Manager Li to speak, Wu Bin had instructed the servers to bring in the teahouse’s most famous teas and exquisite pastries.
Ruan Zhu was not used to how the ancients had their tea and refreshments. The boiling method of the tea leaves was not enough to bring out the rich and mellow flavor and instead made it somewhat bitter. Ah, right, the invention of stir-frying tea leaves should have come from the Ming dynasty![b] She remembered that she had read Lu Yu’s《The Classic of Teas》before. Though she had forgotten what he had specifically written, if she invited a few experienced tea experts to slowly develop the technique, it was definitely possible for her to one day create this era’s best tasting tea.[c]
In that case, wouldn’t she replace Lu Yu and become the ancestor of tea?
A city girl crossing over into the ancient era creating her own career…..relying on a man to survive could not be considered humiliating but it also wouldn’t bring about grandeur. Shouldn’t she also open a teahouse to play with? She could introduce the method of stir-frying tea and then later open modern Western-style restaurants. After a few years, her profits would skyrocket.
“What are you thinking of?” Yun Shi Yi asked with interest after seeing his wife smirking.
“It wouldn’t be fun if I tell you now~” Every transmigrator first handled their affairs well to let everyone in their new world be astonished with their ‘new’ idea while they reaped the profits silently in the background. Then, as people began bad-mouthing and looked down on them, they would finally reveal themselves as having talent that surpasses the other.
The young couple were in the midst of joking around when a familiar voice suddenly issued from the doorway. Because the weather was hot, door to their private room was wide open so the transmitted voice was exceptionally loud and especially distinct. It was a female: “Shopkeeper, send out your shop’s best tea for this old woman. Fuck, this weather is so hot I’m gonna die but they still don’t allow us to enter the city. What kind of morality is this?”
Ma Cui Yun!
Ruan Zhu and Yun Shi Yi looked at each other. It was the same Ma Cui Yun that had crudely mocked her the day they had left the city. It seemed as if from birth, Ruan Zhu was fated to be unable to deal with this woman. Shame that Yun Shi Wei was not here, causing her to lose out on seeing another scene of ridicule.
There was another woman with Ma Cui Yun. She was very tall and her three measurements were very butch. Without looking at her appearance, Ruan Zhu would have thought she was a man. She heard the woman say: “The flower thief is reportedly very handsome. As tender as a young spring scallion with skin as white as mutton fat jade, as if simply touching would be enough for water to seep out. No need to talk about how many have been brought to ecstasy by him, squirting out how much liquid.”
“The way you’re speaking is as if you’ve seen him and you’re reporting to your master. He’s only able to float so high because of all the water that’s been sprayed. This old lady does not value that kind of lousy goods.” Ma Cui Yun curled her lip, her eyes becoming unfocused: “It’s not as if this old woman has never seen a beautiful man before. The Master of the Tian Yi Pavilion is what you can truly call attractive. It’s a pity that he’s like the clouds in the sky–able to see but unable to touch.”
The Second Master was also not bad. The two of them were twins, exactly the same, but Yun Shi Yi’s temperament was more noble so it was difficult to blaspheme him in their hearts.
They’re talking about you! Ruan Zhu gave Yun Shi Yi a meaningful glance, a faint trace of teasing found in her eyes. But the involved person acted as if he hadn’t seen it and unhurriedly picked up his teacup for a sip.
Ruan Zhu was completely disregarded.
The woman that had arrived with Ma Cui Yun was still lost in her thoughts, her face full of admiration: “If I was able to sleep with the flower thief, even if one night cost me ten years of my life, I would be willing. I’ve heard that all of the women he’s slept with say his skill is exceptional and not lacking for anything. Also, he’s able……able to do it seven times in one night……”
Seven times? That long of a period and he wasn’t impotent? Ruan Zhu expressed her sympathy.
Yun Shi Yi eyed her and finally said a sentence: “How many times a night does Wife like?”
Ruan Zhu furiously blushed and looked at him with displeasure. Luckily, this was a private room and Wu Bin and Manager Li had long exited, so other people were not present. Otherwise, she really would have wanted to dig a hole in the ground and hide in it. Outside the room was full of pornographic jokes. She was not yet eighteen so it was really not suitable for her to hear these things! With one move, she pulled the door shut.
Yun Shi Yi lightly smiled and tugged her onto his lap, saying: “I do not object to you accepting a few more secondary husbands, but I do not like men like the flower thief. As for whether or not his skin is tender enough for water to seep out, I do not care about this either. The most important thing is that he is obedient and his background is pure.”
Ruan Zhu extended her hand to whack him: “Your brain has problems. When did I ever say I wanted to accept concubines? I am perfectly content with just you and Second Cousin.”
Yun Shi Yi sighed: “This is the imperial court’s order–every woman must have at least five husbands. This is merely to continue the population and to not let even more men be forced to become Buddhist monks.”
If all the men in Tian Chu entered a monastery, then who would exert their strength for the country if foreign forces were to invade? Could it be that they would send a group of monks to go into battle to kill the enemy?
Ruan Zhu did not comprehend: “I am not willing. Will I still be forced by the imperial court?”
“They wouldn’t go so far as to threaten you. Instead, they will pick some men in your stead and send them to your residence. At that time, it won’t be up to you anymore. You may be sent men that have gone against the law or those with loose morals. Maybe you’ll also receive men like Fifth Father Zhao who already has a child. Rather than being plotted against by the authorities, it’s better for us to look for clean families and accept a man with with high moral qualities and appearance.”
[a] 采花大盗 lit. flower thief, euphemism for rapist.
[b] Recall how she currently believes Tian Chu is a space-time distortion formed after the Tang dynasty (618-906 CE). Ming dynasty is 1368-1644. 炒茶 (Stir-frying/saute tea) is a method of ‘cooking’ tea leaves until they’re dry, I think.
[c] Author actually put 《陆羽茶经》(Lu Yu Classic of Teas). The Classic of Teas is the first monograph of teas in the world, written by Lu Yu. (Wikipedia)