Chapter 238 (Part 2): Rampant Bragging
Translated by Gumihou
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Su Nuan Nuan’s jaw fell open as she watched the three men huffed and puffed their way up the stairs. Li Qiushan wiped the sweat off his forehead and gasped out, “Ma… madam, the wine jars are… here. Both are… jars that have been used to contain a few hundred years’ worth of Shaoxing wine. It’s not easy to find a wine shop that actually has this kind of jars, but I managed to find a shop with two of these and bought them both at a very high price.”
“These are great treasures.” Su Nuan Nuan nodded approvingly at Li Qiushan. These were jars that had contained a few hundred years’ worth of Shaoxing wine, ah. Even if one combed the entire country for it, one might not be able to find a third jar like this.
The little marquis’ response was incredibly straightforward. With an arrogant wave of his hand, he said, “Good. Once we’re back at the restaurant, get a good and sturdy carriage for me. Transport both these jars back to the Capital, the second master will reward you greatly for your efforts.” The little marquis shamelessly promised on behalf of Duan Tingye. Well, it’s not like his brother was lacking in money nowadays.
“Lord heir, surely you can’t be so shady, ba?” Li Qiushan was shocked by this high handed behaviour. “This one plans to use both wine jars as part of the restaurant treasures to attract customers. If my lord just takes both back to your estate immediately, well… surely that’s not right?”
“Why not? This lord merely wants a couple of wine jars, you dare say no? Even your master dare not go against me, to think that you actually have the guts to do so?” The little marquis did not bat an eye as he continued to use his social status to oppress the other, clearly bullying a lower-class person by flaunting his own status.
“Please… please don’t be like this, ah. Lord heir, at least… at least leave one of the jars for this humble one, ah. Moreover, if An Le Lou makes money, surely the Marquis family would be the one who benefits the most?” Li Qiushan was nearly in tears.
Su Nuan Nuan suddenly spoke up. “Manager Li is the one who found both of these jars. Even if he could not take credit for making them, he has surely spent great effort in finding them. I’ll be the one to make the judgement. Leave one jar here.”
Li Qiushan really wanted to have both wine jars, but after witnessing and experiencing the little marquis’ tyrant like behaviour, he decided to take two steps back and count his blessings. Having the first madam here to act as the just and incorruptible official to preside in his case was a blessing, ah! While shedding tears of gratitude, he gave thanks to Su Nuan Nuan for her mercy and benevolence…
Suddenly, Su Nuan Nuan frowned, “Wait, Manager Li, don’t tell me you got these two huge wine jars to make Buddha Jumps over the Wall?”
“That’s right, I was afraid that madam would use that first wine jar to make the dish, which is why I had hidden it right after receiving news that the Lu family wine workshop has these two large wine jars at their place. I had been negotiating with them to purchase these wine jars since morning. After finally settling on the price, I immediately had people bring both jars over. Luckily we’re still on time, otherwise, I’d have really messed things up.”
“These large wine jars, could surely contain about 50 catties (25kg) of wine, right? Just how much ingredients are needed to fill it up, are you crazy? Our ingredients are very precious and expensive, you know?” Hadn’t this Manager Li always been a shrewd and careful businessman? Why is he being so reckless now?
Li Qiushan gave a little hei-hei laugh and said in a low voice, “Don’t worry, madam. The ingredients will be here soon. Madam may focus on making the dish. This one has made sure that there will be enough ingredients to make one and a half wine jars of Buddha Jumps over the Wall. This one guarantees that madam would be pleased with the result.”
“What do you mean by that guarantee?” Su Nuan Nuan said suspiciously. When Li Qiushan merely shook his head mysteriously, she spat, “Pei! Enough with your funny behaviour, think I am gossipy enough to pursue this? Humph!” With that, she stormed towards the kitchen, followed by Chu Xiu, Si Ping, as well as the main chefs of An Le Lou.
Duan Tingxuan made to follow, but was halted by Li Qiushan, “My lord, perhaps yourself and His Excellency Long might prefer to stay here and play a game of Go together? This one shall be here to serve you.”
“What are you talking about? Why would we play Go at this crucial moment?” Duan Tingxuan asked suspiciously.
Li Qiushan smiled, “Lord heir is right, this is a very critical moment where all eyes are upon us, it is best if we can provide a calm and dignified countenance for all to see. It would take quite some time for madam to prepare Buddha Jumps over the Wall, and if the crowd downstairs grow restless, who knows what might happen? However, if my lord and His Excellency Long are seen to be calmly playing Go at the balcony, it will reassure the people below us to wait calmly for the result.”
“Even I won’t be deceived by such an excuse to keep us out of the way, you think your lord could be deceived?” Long Pingzhang sneered. Li Qiushan kept his smile, said nothing but stayed in his bowed position. He shook his head and turned to Duan Tingxuan, “Whatever, seeing how meticulously you have taken care of us these past few days I shall let it go. What do you think, Tingxuan? I am currently giving face to your business, how are you going to thank me?”
“In return for your kindness, I shall allow Nuan Nuan to act as the matchmaker for yourself and Chu Xiu.” Duan Tingxuan smiled. At this, Li Qiushan immediately took the opportunity to arrange for a table to be brought out to the balcony and personally set up the Go board for the two men while the mood was still good. He then stationed himself on the side, ready to serve them tea, snacks or whatever else the masters needed.
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About two hours and three games of Go later, the two men watched as Li Qiushan chased away the boss of Fu Sheng Xiang. Duan Tingxuan snorted, “What was that about showing a ‘calm and dignified’ countenance for the people? You little brat, you’ve actually stationed us here as your gate gods. You sure have guts.” In fact, more than a dozen people had tried to push their way in to sneak a peek at what was happening in the kitchen. All had quietly retreated when Li Qiushan ‘discreetly’ revealed Duan Tingxuan and Long Pingzhang’s true identity to them.
“My lord, please don’t be angry. My lord is not this humble one’s gatekeeper at all. The one my lord is truly protecting is the madam. If my lord would deign to think this way, would not this humble one’s sin be lessened?”
“Humph! You sure know how to talk.” Duan Tingxuan snapped with a dark look on his face. He eyed Long Pingzhang for a moment and said, “I’m tired of this game. Since the weather is good, why don’t we do a little painting? With Lin Qing City’s prosperity as the theme, what do you think?”
Long Pingzhang happily accepted the suggestion. Both men were rather average at Go, but were rather good at painting. If the two had decided to abstain from political life, they would have been master painters of their generation.
“My lord, if this humble one might be so bold, this one humbly advance a request for my lord and Your Excellency’s paintings to be hung at An Le Lou. We must not allow such treasures to so conveniently fall into Fu Sheng Xiang’s hands.” There was a certain penetrating light in this crafty Manager Li’s eyes as he conveyed this message. He could already see the green light in his opponent’s eyes even as he rushed away to prepare brush, paper and inkstone for the two masters.
[Gumihou: Yes, Li Qiushan is definitely one of my favourite characters now!]
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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.
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