The seven freaks of Jiangnan.
Original translation by Moinllieon
Just as Yan Lie walked out of the door, he saw a middle aged scholar walking his way in the hallway, dragging his feet and yawning constantly. He was sort of smiling but not really and kept on giving him curious looks, all the while looking very relaxed and lazy. He was covered with dirt and oil and his clothing was a mess. He obviously hadn’t taken a bath in a long time. He had an old broken black oil paper fan in hand that he was fanning himself with as he was walking.
Seeing such an obviously refined scholar looking so dirty, Yan Lie frowned and picked up his pace in fear of getting some dirt on himself. Suddenly the scholar began laughing dryly; a laugh that was very harsh on the ear. As he was walking by him, he casually reached out with his fan and patted Yan Lie on the shoulder. Even though Yan Lie knew martial arts, he was not able to get out of the way in time, this set him off and he shouted: “What do you think you’re doing?”
The scholar laughed dryly again as he kept on walking, dragging his feet all through the hallway. He approached the manager and said: “Hey, fellow, even though I look really rough, I have lots of money. You have to watch out for some people though; they trick people with their nice and refined looks. They put up a show for everyone, seducing women, eat free food, live in inns for free, you know the type, so be on the lookout for them. To be safe, make them pay the bill beforehand.” He didn’t wait for the manager to respond before walking off, still dragging his feet. Yan Lie got even angrier, knowing that that whole conversation was aimed at him.
After that little comment from the scholar, the manager turned his eyes toward Yan Lie; he now couldn’t help but feel a little suspicious. Walking up to Yan Lie, he yawned a little, smiled and said: “Sir, please don’t mind too much, it’s not that I want to be impolite….” Yan Lie knew what he meant as he humphed and replied: “Put this money in the drawer!” He put his hand into his shirt to take the money out and was shocked. There had been at least forty or fifty taels of silver in his shirt, but, now that he was reaching for it, there was nothing there. The manager saw the expression on his face and actually thought that the scholar’s words were true. Immediately his expression became less polite as he thrust his chest out and asked: “What? No money?”
Yan Lie replied: “Wait here, I’m going to get some right now.” He thought that he had forgotten his money because he was in a hurry to leave. As it turned out, when he went back to the room and looked into the bag that he had with him, even the taels of gold he’d had were gone as well. As to where his money went, he had no idea at all. He thought: “Just a bit ago Madame Bao and I both went to the water closet, but that only took several minutes or so, how could anyone have entered and messed around with the room? The thieves here in Jiaxing are really getting good.”
The manager stuck his head in through the door and looked around; seeing that he did not have any money, he got angry: “Is this woman your wife? If you’re doing something indecent, then don’t come here because it’ll bring us trouble as well!” Bao Xiruo was thoroughly embarrassed and her face turned burning red. Yan Lie took one quick step towards the door and swung his arm, slapping the manager so hard that his face was covered with blood and he lost several teeth. The manager had his face in his hands as he began to scream: “I see! First you don’t pay, now you want to fight!” Yan Lie added a kick to his behind and the manager went tumbling out of the room.
Shocked, Bao Xiruo suggested: “Let’s get out of here; we can’t stay here any longer.” Yan Lie smiled: “Don’t worry, if we don’t have any money then we’ll just ask them for some.” He grabbed a chair and sat down by the door. Not long afterwards, the manager came back with twelve or so men, each with a club or stick in hand as they charged into the room. Yan Lie let out a big laugh and shouted: “So you men want a fight?” He suddenly jumped forward and confidently grabbed a stick from one of the men; faking left and hitting right, in a blink of an eye he had already knocked four or five men down. These ruffians usually got by using intimidation and bullying the weak, but seeing that their opponent was actually a match for them, they immediately threw down their weapons and scrambled out of the room. Those who were on the floor were crawling and rolling with all their might in fear of being left behind and hit again.
Bao Xiruo, who had been frightened a long time ago, said in a shaky voice: “Things are getting out of hand and the authorities might catch wind of this.” Yan Lie smiled and replied: “I want the authorities to show up.” Bao Xiruo could not figure out his plan, so she decided to stay quiet and see what happened.
In less than an hour’s time, a ruckus occurred outside as ten or so government officials came bursting in with iron sabers in hand. The rings on the sabers were banging against each other, making all kinds of noise; they shouted above the cacophony: “Not only kidnapping, but assault as well, how dare he? Where is the scoundrel?” Yan Lie sat there motionless in the chair. Seeing his fancy clothing and his proud arrogance, the officials didn’t really dare to charge up to him. The leader of the group shouted: “Ay! What’s your name? What are you doing here in Jiaxing?” Yan Lie shouted back: “Go get Gai Yuncong!”
Gai Yuncong was the governor of the prefecture of Jiaxing; hearing that he dared speak their superior’s name directly, the government officials were both shocked and furious. The leader shouted: “Are you crazy? How dare you shout the Honorable Prefect Gai’s name in public?” Yan Lie took out an envelope from inside his shirt and put it down on the table; he looked up at the ceiling and said: “Take this to Gai Yuncong and see if he comes or not!” The leader took the envelope, seeing the words on it, he took a step back in shock; unsure if it was real or not, he whispered to the other men: “Look after him, don’t let him get away.” He then went flying off. Bao Xiruo just sat there in the room nervously, not knowing what would happen next.
Soon another ten or so government men came running in, along with them came two men wearing official uniforms that scrambled in front of Yan Lie and knelt while saying: “Humble Prefect Gai Yuncong of the city of Jiaxing and District Magistrate Jiang Wen of the district of Xiushui are honored to meet your Excellency. Your humble servant did not know that your Excellency had arrived, so please forgive us for not welcoming you properly.” Yan Lie waved his hand a little and shifted his weight slightly: “I lost a little bit of money in this county and would like to request that you two brilliant judges investigate the matter.” Gai Yuncong immediately nodded: “Yes, of course.” He then waved his arm, two of the followers came walking up with a plate in each of their hands; one of them was glowing yellow because of the gold yuan bao [boat shaped ingot] on it, the other one, needless to say, had silver yuan bao on it.