The two people froze and stopped walking, doubting their ears. Shao Yunan spoke again. “My husband and I still have things to do, two big brothers if you are willing to wait for me in the place we met before.” The crippled beggar came back to his senses first and spoke, “Thank you for thinking about us, but my brother and I will only cause trouble for you. But thank you for your offer.”
Shao Yunan blinked. “Trouble? You are not wanted criminals of the court, are you?” The man smiled bitterly and shook his head. “No. It’s just that we got into trouble back home. With someone from our hometown and that person has both power and influence, so my brother and I had to leave our hometown and come here to beg.”
“Did you murder, set fire, or commit treachery?”
“Neither.” The beggar who had been hiding behind the crippled beggar whispered. “I caused this.” As he said this, he touched his face.
Wang Shijing spoke. “Since neither, if you are willing to take this job, come with us. My family lives in a village and no outsiders come there. If it really causes trouble for my family, it will not be too late for you guys to leave.” The crippled beggar’s eyes were obviously red, as the other started sniffling. Shao Yunan said, “You guys wait here.”
Then they saw him run into a clothing shop across the street. Soon, he came out with a big bundle and ran over to put the bundle on the wagon, as he spoke to Wang Shijing. “Shijing, let’s go to Yizhang Xuan restaurant first and after we have settled with them, we will go to find big brother.”
“Thank you. Thank you! Your Grace!” The crippled beggar seemed to finally react, pulling the person behind him to kneel with him, but was stopped by Wang Shijing in time. “You do the work for us, we pay for the work. It’s a reasonable thing, so there is no need to do so. Wang Shijing said, “Yunan and I have important things to do, so I will settle you down first.”
“Thank you. Thank you.” Two lines of muddy tears flowed down the faces of the two men. Shao Yunan thought for a moment and said, “Why don’t you go to big brother first Shijing? It would be hard to explain the things in the carriage to shopkeeper Xu, so I will take them with me to see how fourth aunt is doing.”
Wang Shijing thought it was a good idea. “Then go first.” He gave the bundle to Shao Yunan and after getting into the carriage, left first. Shao Yunan took the two people to Yizhang Xuan restaurant, while turning a blind eye to the surrounding gazes. The crippled beggar uneasily said, “Little brother, why don’t you think more about it?”
“My name is Shao Yunan, I am sixteen this year so you can call me Yunan. My husband’s name is Wang Shijing, he is ten years older than me. How old are you big brothers?”
The two men glanced at each other realizing that he was really not afraid of getting in trouble because of them. The crippled beggar said, “My name is Guo Ziyu and I am twenty four this year. This is my own brother, Guo Zimu, he is two years older than you.”
Shao Yunan wondered, “Hearing you speak, it sounds like you studied before. How come you became beggars after messing with the wrong person?” Guo Ziyu clenched his teeth as Guo Zimu lowered his head, also not daring to speak. Shao Yunan finally said, “If it’s difficult, there is no need to say more. My home is in the village and outsiders don’t go there very often. I also have a big house, so if you are afraid you can just stay at home and not come out.”
Guo Ziyu immediately said, “My brother wants to work, so how can he hide in the house? As you can see, I have a foot problem, so why don’t you think some more about it?” Shao Yunan waved his hand. “I have a lot of work to do at home too. You might have a foot problem, but it’s not like you are paralyzed. My son wants to go to a private school next year, so he is now studying at home. I know a lot of words, but I can’t write most of them, so if you can read and write please teach him.”
Guo Ziyu’s eyes were moist. He lowered his head and blinked few times before saying, “Thank you, thank you.”
“Consider yourselves fated with me. My family has a very simple size and there are not many rules. As long as you are sincere and honest, I will also treat you with sincerity.”
“Thank you for your great kindness. These two brothers are now at your disposal.”
“You’re both older than me, just call me Yunan. Everyone in the village calls me this.”
Shao Yunan’s straightforwardness made the two Guo brothers feel touched and moved, but inwardly they were still worried. Would they really be able to live peacefully after all this time?
When they arrived at Yizhang Xuan restaurant, they saw two long rows of people lined up near it. Shao Yunan saw a signboard of ‘meat sandwich bun’ and ‘skewers.’ He grinned. The business was good and the fragrance of stewed meat and skewer soup base spread all around. Guo Ziyu and Guo Zimu covered their noses. The scent was just too appetizing. Shao Yunan, seeing it, just smiled. “When we go to my house, I will make it for you to eat, but first I must go to find the boss of Yizhang Xuan.”
The two brothers did not know why Shao Yunan brought them to Yizhang Xuan restaurant. Without disturbing the two families who were very busy managing their business, Shao Yunan took the two people through the crowd. Since there were two beggars coming, the crowd automatically dispersed. When one of the waiters of Yizhang Xuan noticed Shao Yunan, he immediately ran over. “Master Shao, are you here to find my shopkeeper or to eat?” As he spoke he looked at the Guo brothers behind Shao Yunan, as well as the big bundle in his arms.
Hearing the ‘master Shao’ address, Shao Yunan said, “I have some personal business with shopkeeper Xu. If I can trouble little brother.”
“No trouble, no trouble. My boss said that master Shao is an honored guest of Yizhang Xuan and can come in anytime.” Shao Yunan said, “I won’t go in. These two are with me, so I don’t want to disturb the customers in your store.”
When the waiter heard this, he turned and ran quickly into the restaurant. Shao Yunan then spoke to the two people who were full of doubts. “I have a little friendship with the boss of Yizhang Xuan restaurant, so you can have a bath here. In this bag are two sets of clothes you can change into after washing.”
The Guo Brothers understood, but were in a bit of a dilemma after hearing him. Shao Yunan said, “If you guys need anything, just tell shopkeeper Xu, he owes me a favor.” Guo Ziyu squeezed his brother’s hand, “Everything is up to you.”
Shopkeeper Xu soon came out. Shao Yunan took two steps toward him and said, “Shopkeeper Xu, I have something to trouble you with.”
“How can brother Shao trouble me? Please go in first.” Shao Yunan didn’t move, but told shopkeeper Xu what he wanted to trouble him with and said, “Shijing and I have to visit the county magistrate today, so I can’t go in and sit down. Please find a place for them to clean up, I have already bought clothes for them. I’ll talk to Fourth Uncle and the others later. If I am not back by the time they close the stalls, tell them to help me bring these people over to the village first.”
The Guo brothers had a strange feeling in their hearts, just now Shao Yunan told them that Wang Shijing went to see his ‘big brother,’ but just now he said he went to visit the county magistrate? Then they remembered that Wang Shijing took out the county magistrate’s jade token when he saved them. The two brothers clasped each other’s hands, could it be that they had really met a privileged person this time?
As soon as Shopkeeper Xu heard that Shao Yunan was going to visit the county magistrate, he immediately said, “Then I won’t keep you. But you and Shijing rarely come here, so you must have a cup of water, wine, or tea with me. There are a lot of things I want to discuss with little Brother Shao.”
“Alright, so Shijing and I will come over when we are done. Sorry to trouble you shopkeeper Xu.”
“There is no need to be so polite.”
Shopkeeper Xu immediately called over the waiter and asked him to take the Guo brothers to the backyard to wash. Shao Yunan thankfully gave the bag of clothes to the waiter and secretly slipped a piece of silver to the other party.
“if its not too troublesome for boss Xie, please also cook a bowl of noodles for each of them, they have been hungry for a long time. There is no need for meat, just clear soup noddle will do.”
Then Shao Yunan said to Guo’s brothers: “You can rest assured.”
The Guo brothers bowed to Shao Yunan and thanked him, then helping each other, they followed the waiter. Shao Yunan let shopkeeper Xu go on with his work as he squeezed through the crowd, squeezing right to the skewers stall, which immediately caused the discontent of the people in line. The busy Uncle Wang looked up at the sound and was immediately surprised. “Yunan! What are you doing here?”
As soon as he shouted, fourth aunt Wang and Wang Xing also looked over. Wang Zhuanghua’s family who were at the meat buns stalls were also surprised as they shouted, “Yunan (little sister-in-law), why are you here, where is Shijing (brother)?” Shao Yunan looked at their stall and pretended to be envious, “Business is good, just look at this line.”
Fourth aunt Wang couldn’t stop smiling. “It’s all thanks to you and Shijing.” Shao Yunan said, “Fourth aunt Wang, I have a favor to ask you. I have two friends here and I just asked shopkeeper Xu to help them take a bath and change their clothes. If Shijing and I don’t come back before you close, can you take them to the village and let them stay at your house first? Shijing and I have an errand to run and I don’t know when we will be done.”
Aunt Wang immediately said, “Don’t worry and leave it to us. I’ll let Xing find shopkeeper Xu later.” Then Wang Xing took over. “Little sister-in-law, just leave it to me.”
“Okay, I’ll leave these people to you. I won’t delay your business either anymore, since I need to go and meet with Shijing.”
“Yunan wait!” Uncle Duoqiu handed over a freshly made meat sandwich bun as Shao Yunan said, “No, I’ll eat with you when I get back. It’s not easy for me to do things with a full stomach. Uncle Duoqiu, Uncle Shuyin, Fourth Uncle, Fourth Aunt, I need to go now.”
Waving to everyone, Shao Yunan squeezed through the crowd again, bid farewell to shopkeeper Xu, and left. On the night after the two families’ stalls opened, the two families came running over to say thank you straight away. In just one hour, all the food they had prepared was sold out. Business was good. Shao Yunan and Wang Shijing could also rest assured, since they didn’t expect the business to be so good. The meat sandwich bun was 25 copper coins a piece, vegetarian skewers were 2 copper coins, while the meat ones were from 5 to 12 copper coins a piece. They were definitely not cheap snacks, but people still stood in a long line to buy them. It seemed that as long as something was worthwhile, there would always be people willing to spend money to buy it. Shao Yunan could even remember seeing someone buying a dozen meat sandwich buns in one breath.
The two families were also not afraid of hard work. Like Shao Yunan said, they only sold for half a day, but they still had to work until dark and got up early to open. Wang Shijing also told them to not rush paying back the money he loaned them, since it wouldn’t be too late to pay it back when they had spare money. Temporarily settling Guo Ziyu and Guo Zimu, Shao Yunan went straight to the Yamen.
Edited by: Jaisland