Chapter 3: Dispersing Wealth
At Elder Sun’s words, everyone in the busy courtyard stopped their work. They all looked up at Chen Rong and awaited her instructions.
She mulled for a moment before looking around, saying: “Gather all the servants in the estate. Tell them I have something to say.”
“Nurse Ping, have them move everything to the courtyard.”
Nurse Ping stared blankly at Chen Rong. It wasn’t until she repeated herself that the woman replied with: “Aye, miss.” She was more than confused: The lady has changed so much recently. I don’t understand her at all these days.
Although the Chen estate was currently helmed by a young lady, her father had served as the governor of the City of Ping throughout the years. He had accumulated abundant wealth despite being only an eighth-ranking official. At the time Chen Rong’s father and brother left, they had taken with them a large number of assets, yet what was left could still fill this entire courtyard.
In this era, gold and coins were both difficult to circulate. The real money that people worshiped were food and clothes. In precarious wartime such as this, the most popular kind of transaction was bartering.
In only half an hour, the courtyard stood full of servants and maids. Elder Sun had not gone. He and Uncle Wu were standing under a tall banyan tree, curiously looking in Chen Rong’s direction.
Chen Rong knelt on a cushion Nurse Ping had laid out for her. She casually glanced at the crowd and asked, “How many people do we have in the estate?”
Chen Rong nodded and slowly sipped her wine – although she was only fifteen, her every move seemed refined and graceful at this moment due to the noble air she gained from the dozen years of experience in her previous life.
Elder Sun nodded on the side as he startlingly thought: The House of Chen is said to be of noble descent. It is indeed true. Not only is Ah Rong from a subsidiary branch, but she is also a concubine-born daughter whose father is also concubine-born. She is young still, yet she possesses an aristocratic bearing that can only be attributed to the noble bloodline of her clan.
Chen Rong took a sip of wine and casually swept her eyes across the crowd in the courtyard, lightly saying: “War is approaching. The House of Chen will bring our family south. If you want to leave our house and seek your own path, then you will receive one bolt of fabric and five pecks of rice each. If you are willing to go with me, you’ll still receive one bolt of fabric and five pecks of rice.”
The moment these words left her mouth, an instantaneous silence came over the courtyard.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Shocked, Uncle Wu couldn’t help taking a step forward. He nonetheless could not bring his foot down — what right did he have to stop her?
After a long time of receiving no reaction, Chen Rong turned around to Nurse Ping and knitted her brow. “Nurse?”
Nurse Ping was gaping stupidly at Chen Rong. When she saw her fathomless black eyes, she woke up, rushed forward and exclaimed: “We can’t, we can’t. Ah Rong, we don’t have that much rice and fabric in the estate to begin with. We can’t divide them up.”
Chen Rong said offhandedly: “If we don’t have enough then use silk and millet instead.”
“B-but, these are the only assets we have in the estate. If we divide them up among these many people, the estate’s wealth will dwindle into nothing!” With a little shortness of breath, Nurse Ping went on: “Our travel is long. It’s easy to run into problems on the road. Even if we successfully arrive in the south, how will you survive if you don’t have property? Ah Rong, there has been no news of your father and brother heretofore. You must not carelessly drain your family wealth!”
Nurse Ping’s caring words were indeed ones expected from a loyal servant. But she had not considered that her mistress was only a vulnerable woman, or that the estate did not have dozens of stalwart guards, so how would she secure this wealth? Even if she didn’t distribute her wealth today, the road going south was nearly a thousand miles long. If she and her few servants were to parade around with dozens of wagons, she wondered how many people and forces would be eyeing their possessions. By then, even her life wasn’t necessarily safe much less her wealth!
Previously, she had only carried a few gold leaves and had almost lost her life just because she was careless enough to expose them a few times.
Chen Rong moved her gaze to glance at her servants. Among the group, she saw seven or eight as worried as Nurse Ping. The others were suppressing their joy while nervously looking at her as though they were afraid she would take back her words.
Chen Rong withdrew her gaze from the crowd and slightly swept over to Uncle Wu and several young laborers standing among the servants.
With this sweep of her eyes, a chill flashed across her countenance.
Shaking her head, Chen Rong casually said, “Nurse, money and possessions are both useless. In this troubled time, it’s better to have clothes and rice.”
Not wanting to go on, she simply waved her right hand and loudly called: “Uncle Wu!”
All eyes swiftly gathered on Uncle Wu.
With this one look, many began to frown. Nurse Ping called out: “Uncle Wu, Ah Rong is asking for you.”
This translation belongs to hamster428.
At this point, Uncle Wu was looking especially odd. His face had turned purple and blue, appearing to be angry and slightly panicking. His left foot was still in the air; nobody knew if he was going to step forward or if he was going to retreat. Strange, didn’t he feel tired from standing on one foot like that?
Everybody’s gaze finally brought Uncle Wu back to earth.
He met Chen Rong’s eyes.
Chen Rong looked at him and slowly broke into a smile. With her eyes narrowing, she said to him in a crystalline voice: “Uncle Wu, you are a learned person. Since the entire City of Ping commends your fairness, please come out and give Ah Rong a hand.”
“Give you a hand?” Uncle Wu asked foggily.
Chen Rong’s eyes continued to narrow. The hearty laughter she produced was so different from anything else in the past that it made Elder Sun, who always boasted of being a virtuous scholar disdainful of money, continuously nod his head: Only in crucial events can one see a person’s true nature. I had thought Ah Rong was foolish in wanting to distribute her wealth. Seeing her so cheerful at this moment tells me she is indeed indifferent to her money! This child is truly deserving of the surname Chen!
Chen Rong’s crystalline voice carried an air of gallantry when she next spoke: “Yes, Ah Rong asks Uncle Wu to please record and divide these assets. Since you are fair, everyone will trust you.”
At this point, Chen Rong slightly raised her brow and called in surprised: “Uncle Wu, Uncle Wu? Why are you so startled? Or do you not want to do this?”
Uncle Wu quickly put on a smile. He swallowed as his face blanched, stammering: “Of course I want to, of course I want to.”
“Then why have you not come over? It’s getting late.”
“Yes, yes, I’m coming.”
While Uncle Wu stiffly walked forward, Elder Sun heaved a sigh behind him: “Wu Yang, Wu Yang, even a young girl sees money as dirt. You are a scholar, but why do you look so pale? Why are your behaviors so rigid, your eyes so muddled? Tsk, you are much inferior to her!”
People in this era loved to remark on anything and everything. The elders’ opinions often affected a person’s entire life. When Elder Sun uttered his words, a dark ire loomed on Wu Yang’s thin face.
Wu Yang shuffled to Chen Rong’s side.
Chen Rong stood up. She covered her mouth with her sleeve and casually yawned before saying: “Distribute them well. It’s up to each of you whether you stay or leave.”
Then she lazily walked back to her bedchamber.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Seventy-odd people weren’t a large number, but it took four whole hours before Wu Yang finished giving everyone his portion.
Placing the brush down, Wu Yang stood up amid the servants’ laughter. He stared at the mountain of belongings that had shrunk into a small mound, feeling as though his footsteps had cemented onto the ground.
Heaven! Those people aren’t vegetarians! These things wouldn’t be enough to fill the space between their teeth. If they blame me, what am I supposed to do?
Dejected, he didn’t even pay attention to Elder Sun when the older man said goodbye to him.
In his panic, Wu Yang’s eyes lit up: It’s said that the Chen estate has a precious treasure. Perhaps this would satisfy them!
While Wu Yang was thinking of this, from the bedchamber came Chen Rong’s clear voice: “Uncle Wu, Nurse Ping, Old Shang.”
All three answered in surprise: “Aye.”
“How many have not left?”
“Very good. I’ve got something quite extraordinary. I would like to ask the three of you to lead those 15 people and bring it to the Wang estate. Just tell them that my guardians are not at home, and I am only a vulnerable female who cannot take charge. I would be pleased to gift the treasure my father left me if only the Chen house can join the Wang house’s troop and embark on this journey with them.”
At this point, the bedchamber door squeaked open. At the same time, a glassy and sparkling red treasure appeared in front of everyone’s eyes.
At the sight of this object, Wu Yang’s field of vision darkened and he almost fainted on the spot.
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