The Young Master Lived Begging, part 3

   “The enemy is so close by; I’d better not get careless!” He kept reminding himself. 

Finding some coal ashes on the ground, he smeared them onto his face until it was completely black, then huddled up in a corner against the alley wall and fell asleep.

Qingcheng Diciples
Qingcheng Diciples

Lin Pingzhi waited till about ten at night, then took out his long sword and hung it at his waist. He circled around to the back door of the Escort House and listened carefully. After making sure there was no sound from within the walls, he jumped on top of the wall. Inside was an orchard. He jumped down quietly and started creeping slowly along the perimeter of the wall. Darkness engulfed the orchard. There was neither light nor sound; he could feel the beating of his heart. He had his hand out against the wall as he walked, and was dreading the moment he would step on a rock or dry hay and make a noise that would give him away. After walking through two courtyards, he saw light coming from the East Hall window, so he crept a couple of steps closer, when he heard somebody talking. Slowly moving closer and resting under the window, he held his breath and lowered himself, inch by inch, until he was sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall. Just after he sat down, he heard someone’s voice. 

   “Let’s just burn the whole son of a turtle Escort House tomorrow morning, so we don’t have to stay here and make fools of ourselves.” 

   “No! We can’t!” another voice said. “Senior apprentice brother Pi and others just burnt down the entire Escort House Nancang branch, and I heard that dozens of neighbors’ houses were burnt down as well. Something like that won’t be good for the reputation of our chivalrous Qingcheng Sword School. That incident will most likely get them punished by Master.” 

Lin Pingzhi was outraged. Now, there was no doubt that the Qingcheng Sword School was behind these despicable acts. He cursed their hypocrisy for having the gall to still call themselves chivalrous. 

   “Well then, we really shouldn’t burn the house down. But are we going to just leave the house intact?” the previous voice asked. 

The other one laughed. “Junior apprentice brother Ji, think about it. We’ve already hung the sign of the Escort House upside down and also raised a pair of women’s pants on top of their flagpole. The name of Fortune Prestige Escort House has already been totally trashed. We should leave the pants hanging there for as long as possible. Why bother burning down the house?” 

   “You’re right, senior apprentice brother Shen!” Ji laughed. “Ha-ha, the pair of pants is going to bring the Escort House so much bad luck, they won’t be able to regain their reputation for at least another three hundred years.” 

The two laughed for some time, then Ji said, “We’re going to the town of Hengshan tomorrow for Liu Zhengfeng’s ceremony;what present shall we bring? The news of the ceremony came so unexpectedly. If the present isn’t valuable enough, it won’t look very good for our Qingcheng Sword School.” 

   “I’ve got the present ready,” Shen said in good humor, “and relax; I guarantee you that we won’t lose face for the Qingcheng Sword School. The present might even get us a lot of attention at the banquet for the Gold Basin Hand Washing ceremony.” 

   “What is the present? Why don’t I know about it?” Ji asked delightedly. 

Shen was quite content and let out a chuckle. “We are just liberating it, so we can make a gift of it. No need to take anything out of our own pockets. Look, is this good enough?” 

The sound of someone opening a package came through the window. “Amazing!” Ji burst out in a cry of surprise. “Senior brother Shen, do you have magic powers? Where the hell did you get such expensive items?” Ji asked in awe. 

Lin Pingzhi was really tempted to look inside through the crack of the window to see what kind of present it was, but he maintained his discipline, realizing that if he were to stick his head up, a shadow could fall on the window; it would be all over if he let the enemy find him. So, he suppressed his curiosity. Then he heard Shen’s voice, again. 

   “Did you think that we occupied the Fortune Prestige Escort House for nothing? I was going to present this pair of jade horses to Master, but right now, it is probably better to let old Liu Zhengfeng be the lucky recipient.” 

A tide of anger washed over Lin Pingzhi. “So they robbed the treasure from our Escort House and used it for their own advantage. What a bunch of burglars! What treasure would the Hunan Escort House Branch have? It was probably a client’s goods, waiting to be escorted. The pair of jade horses must be extremely valuable. If we can’t get them back, Father would have to be the one to compensate.” 

Shen laughed again. “There are four bags here, one for all of Master’s wives,24 one for all the apprentices, one for you, and one for me! Go ahead, pick one.” 

“What are these?” Ji asked. After a short while, he burst out with another exclamation of surprise, “Wow, these are all gold and jewels! We are damn rich now!!! What a son of a turtle the Escort House is! The hell with them! They really have extorted a lot of money! Senior apprentice brother, how did you find these? I searched all over the Escort House over a dozen times, and I was just about to dig up the grounds. All I found was about a hundred taels of silver. How did you find all this treasure without breaking a sweat?” 

Shen sounded very pleased with himself. “Do you think they just put their gold and treasure anywhere? For the last couple of days, I watched you open drawers, smash boxes, take down walls, and have a good time searching. I knew that you’d be busy over nothing. But you would not have believed me, even if I had told you. Anyway, all that searching wouldn’t hurt you, big boy.”

  “Excellent, excellent! Senior apprentice brother Shen, where did you find these?”   (To be continued)

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