My Husband is a Flower

Chapter 64

After the summer solstice, it was already bright at the hour of Mao (5 a.m. to 7 a.m.), and Yong’an Street was at its liveliest.

There were numerous shops along the street, and the vendors at the small stalls were incessantly calling out their wares. After all, it was early morning, and there was no summer heat yet. Both the wealthy and the humble took this opportunity to buy the necessary items for their homes.

Due to its location, Xishui Alley was slightly less bustling compared to Yong’an Street. However, with the addition of the old bookstore, Tingfang Shop, it had become a popular spot for scholars to gather and stay.

Jian Yujue had been at Imperial College for over a month. The Imperial College had numerous rules and regulations regarding the halls, dormitories, dining, and bathing, but fortunately, there was a half-day every week when students were allowed to go out with their passes.

During this half-day, Jian Yujue would always come to Tingfang Shop. When Jian Yujue arrived, it happened to be the shop’s weekly inventory check, so he would help shopkeeper Li organize some old books.

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Today was no exception. Just like every other time, Shangguan Yan would accompany Jian Yujue to the bookstore. Even shopkeeper Li had become somewhat familiar with him.

As usual, Shangguan Yan leaned against the doorframe of the bookstore. He wore a white silk robe that accentuated his handsome appearance. His presence attracted the attention of passersby, but he paid no mind to them, engrossed in playing with a bone fan in his hand and occasionally glancing inside the shop.

He watched as Jian Yujue bent over, stacking old books and moving between the wooden shelves.

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The Shangguan family had been engaged in business for generations, amassing wealth comparable to a country’s. Naturally, they had influential connections within the court. However, the current emperor was weak, and the political situation was turbulent.

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As the legitimate second son of the Shangguan family, it was up to him to step into the court and solidify the intricate web of the Shangguan family’s influence.

From the first moment he saw Jian Yujue, he knew this person had the potential for success. Recognizing such talent early on, if he could utilize it, it would be beneficial in the future.

Originally, he hadn’t been so eager, but after Jian Yujue entered the Imperial College, his desire grew stronger.

The Imperial College had different classes, divided into A, B, C, and Xu Hai, named after the twelve branches of the Ten Heavenly Stems, totaling 22.

Naturally, the top-ranking students were in the prestigious “Yearly Tribute” class, while the last class was for “Contributors.” Within the contributor class, there were further divisions between officials, aristocratic families, and wealthy merchants.

Based on Jian Yujue’s qualifications as the top scorer in Qingzhou, he should have been placed in the highest-ranking “Yearly Tribute” class. However, now that he had been admitted through Shangguan Yan’s contribution, he was placed in the lowest “Earth” class alongside Shangguan Yan.

But at the end of last month’s window and hall exams, Jian Yujue unexpectedly ranked first, even surpassing the top student in the “Yearly Tribute” class. With such talent, how could Shangguan Yan easily let go of him?

After tidying up the books, it was almost time for their scheduled break. Jian Yujue turned towards shopkeeper Li, wearing a warm smile on his face.

“Uncle Li, I’m heading back now. I’ll come back in a few days.”

“Ah, alright. Don’t come back too soon. Study more and rest.”

Shopkeeper Li happily glanced at the two young men and lowered his head to continue calculating his accounts. Tomorrow, Chun Mei, the maid, will come to collect them.

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After Jian Yujue finished speaking, he didn’t wait for Shangguan Yan, who was standing at the door. He walked straight towards the exit of the alley.

“Don’t walk so fast; wait for me.”

Shangguan Yan caught up with Jian Yujue, walking on his left side and lightly tapping his right shoulder with the bone fan. But Jian Yujue didn’t even bother to turn around and respond. Shangguan Yan had to speak up on his own.

“Come with me somewhere.”

“No, I’m going back to Imperial College.”

Shangguan Yan tugged at the corner of his mouth. This person never gave him a face. Though a smile remained on his face, his voice turned somewhat cold. “Heh, your Uncle Li’s shop is still there. Are you planning to have me find more people to hang out at the shop?”

As the words fell, Jian Yujue stopped in his tracks, furrowing his brows as he looked at Shangguan Yan, his gaze as cold as ice.

Shangguan Yan casually smiled and said, “You see, I’m useless. I’ve always been this despicable person. After all this time, haven’t you gotten used to it?”

Jian Yujue clenched his right hand tightly under his long sleeve, his thin lips pursed. In the end, he turned around and followed Shangguan Yan, but even though Shangguan Yan was walking ahead, he could sense the coldness in Jian Yujue’s eyes that he couldn’t see.

The two of them walked eastward along Yong’an Street until they reached a silk fabric shop with a gilded plaque and luxurious decorations, indicating that it was a newly opened store.

Shangguan Yan looked up and read softly, “Ruiyu Silk Fabric Shop.”

He hadn’t even heard of it before, but he had to make do with it.

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Wearing luxurious attire, Shangguan Yan stepped over the threshold, immediately attracting the attention of the shop’s attendants, who eagerly approached him, unlike the empty surroundings of Jian Yujue.

“Jian Yujue, this is a newly opened silk fabric shop in the capital. The location is great, but the merchandise is not that impressive.” The Shangguan family started as salt merchants but had wide-ranging connections, including managing procurement for the Shangguan family’s branches in the Shangyi Court.

That’s why the Su family’s silk fabric shop seemed quite ordinary in his eyes.

Jian Yujue’s gaze swept over the myriad of silk and satin, showing no interest or excitement. “I don’t need anything.”

He hadn’t expected that Shangguan Yan, through coercion and enticement, had brought him here to get him new clothes. But what difference did it make from the old clothes he bought at the clothing store? Besides, he didn’t need someone else’s charity.

Shangguan Yan acted as if he hadn’t heard and said to one of the attendants, “Measure him and use your most expensive silk fabric.”

The attendant in the shop saw an opportunity to earn money and made a move to measure Jian Yujue, but he frowned and dodged backward.

“I came because you asked me to, but even if you make them, I won’t wear them.”

After speaking, Jian Yujue walked mercilessly out of the shop. The attendant felt a loss for missing out on a big deal and, seeing Shangguan Yan’s displeased expression, couldn’t help but comment, “Young master, this poor and shabby scholar doesn’t know how to appreciate it. Look at his tattered clothes, yet he’s so stubborn.”

The attendant paused for a moment and said with a smile, “Young master, do you want me to measure something for you?”

Shangguan Yan’s mouth slightly curled, but the smile didn’t reach his eyes. “I’m not interested in this kind of fabric.”

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At the end of Yong’an Street, Shangguan Yan finally caught up and stopped Jian Yujue. “What do you want in order to become my retainer? You’re serving as an official just for the salary, right? I can offer you more. How much more do you want?”

Jian Yujue had truly never encountered such a persistent person. He raised his gaze, and the tranquil spring water in his eyes finally cracked a slit. “Shangguan Yan, I will repay the favor I owe you in the future, but becoming your retainer is absolutely impossible. There’s no need for you to waste any more words.”

“You should know that I can get you into the Imperial College, and I can also make you leave right now.”

“You should also know that I, Jian Yujue, have never cared about these things.”

“You… fine, fine!”

Shangguan Yan’s anger turned into a sarcastic smile. He was quite irritated and, for the first time, took a different path, turning into another alley.

There were many ways to get to the Imperial College, and he didn’t have to go with Jian Yujue. The same applied to the officialdom. Since this person didn’t know how to appreciate things, they could go their separate ways and see who would ultimately reach the pinnacle.

***

Song Chenjiu, a student of the Zhu class in the National Academy, walked with two other classmates as they rushed back after leaving the gambling house.

The dejected expression on their faces clearly indicated that they had lost everything.

They could only come to play every few days, and sometimes they won and sometimes they lost. But today seemed to have brought them nothing but bad luck.

“Brother Song, we’ve lost everything. How are we going to pay for our meals in a couple of days?” asked Li, one of the students.

Unlike the tuition fees, the food expenses were paid monthly. They usually had to divert this money to the gambling house for some entertainment. But today, they carelessly lost everything.

“I lost the most, and I don’t even know how to ask my father for money,” sighed Song Chenjiu. His father was a fifth-rank official in the capital, not a small position by any means.

Although he had entered the imperial college through tribute, his mind was not focused on studying.

“Ah, what should we do? It’s worrisome.”

“You know, why don’t we have the same luck as that newcomer, Jian something? I heard someone paid his tuition in advance.”

“With his pretty-boy appearance, who knows, maybe some young lady gifted him the money.”

“Hahaha.”

The joke finally alleviated some of the frustration for Song Chenjiu and his two companions. They laughed for a while, but as soon as they looked up, they saw someone turning into the alley in flashy attire. Wasn’t that Shangguan Yan?

Song Chenjiu’s eyes suddenly lit up. They all knew Shangguan Yan. He used to hang out with Lu Guanlin, and they hadn’t seen them together in a long time.

Leaning on Song Chenjiu’s sleeve, the student surnamed Li said, “Song, his surname is Shangguan. Could he be the wealthy Shangguan from the sixteen counties of the three provinces in Jiangnan?”

Song Chenjiu waved his hand dismissively. “That would be too coincidental.”

He then insisted, “Even if he is, he’s just a wealthy merchant, lower than us. Besides, no one is around here to see.”

Li wanted to say more, but Song Chenjiu had already stepped forward and stopped Shangguan Yan. “Shangguan Yan, what a coincidence!”

In the past, Shangguan Yan would probably chat and laugh with them. But today, because of Jian Yujue’s matter, he wasn’t in a good mood, and his expression showed impatience. “What is it?”

Song Chenjiu didn’t care about his tone and said, “There’s nothing much. We just wanted to borrow some money from you to spend.”

Shangguan Yan glanced at the nearby gambling house and understood.

He suddenly laughed, “The person I want to give it to doesn’t want it at all, but you useless people seem to want it.”

“What are you saying? How dare you say it to me again?” Song Chenjiu’s anger surged, and he grabbed Shangguan Yan’s collar. However, he was shorter than Shangguan Yan, so his actions looked somewhat ridiculous.

Shangguan Yan lowered his gaze at the petty man before him and lightly uttered, “Useless.”

“You, the son of a copper-smelling merchant, dare to insult me!”

Shangguan Yan smirked wickedly, “Don’t you know there’s a difference between having money and having a lot of money?”

The guards hidden in the shadows were about to come out when a voice suddenly sounded. Shangguan Yan waved his hand lightly under his sleeve, and the shadow hiding in the darkness retreated.

“What are you doing here?”

Jian Yujue’s eyes were warm and calm as he looked at Song Chenjiu and his companions. It seemed like he accidentally passed by, and there was no sign of anger in his eyes. However, when he approached, Song Chenjiu still felt somewhat guilty.

“We… we were just chatting. You don’t need to join us.”

Jian Yujue walked closer without saying a word and simply spoke, “Ming Lu Shu Yi Volume 21 states that for those who assault others with their hands or feet, they shall receive forty strokes.”

“When did we fight?” Song Chenjiu insisted.

Jian Yujue glanced at Shangguan Yan, who was caught by Song Chenjiu’s collar, and said, “Assault refers to striking someone with hands or feet, grabbing their hair or collar. The offense is the same. The moment you made physical contact, you became guilty.”

“I can testify in court.”

Upon hearing this, Song Chenjiu immediately became dumbfounded. They hadn’t even fought, yet the judgment was already made? He then looked at the two people behind him with a puzzled expression.

After all, who would be as knowledgeable as Jian Yujue, being able to recite the laws of the Ming Yin dynasty like this?

“Never mind, I don’t have anything to chat about with him anyway.” Song Chenjiu tried to save face and reluctantly let go of his hand; his expression was embarrassed.

Shangguan Yan adjusted his collar and loosened his neckline. Before leaving, he turned his head and whispered to Song Chenjiu and his companions, “You should thank him. He saved your lives.”

After speaking, he ran up to Jian Yujue.

“Why did you come back?”

Jian Yujue handed back Shangguan Yan’s identification token, saying, “You left it with me.”

Oh, Shangguan Yan remembered. Today, he found it troublesome and put it together with Jian Yujue’s belongings in his travel bag.

“Those things you said earlier—were you deceiving them?”

“I never deceive people.”

Shangguan Yan watched as Jian Yujue walked ahead, speaking in a serious manner. Suddenly, he laughed and said, “Jian Yujue, since you refuse to be a retainer, then let’s be friends.”


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hana [Translator]

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2 Comments

  1. Yamiluu
    Yamiluu

    Thank you for the chapters & dedicating! I am glad you’re enjoying your cofffeee 😃
    I would love for more novels!! Will continue to read! I have yet to read the other novel you’re currently working on. I’ll def read it . I’m just waiting for more chapters to binge read 🤭🤭🤭

  2. Melicow
    Melicow

    This man is really dangerous. A future cunning official.
    I can’t wait to see the brother and sister reunited