Don’t Be a Kept Man
Chapter 49: Entertainment District1
The chubby boy came forward to take a closer look, but Chen Miao Ping had already moved the pendant over towards his eyes.
In one quick movement, the boy’s eyes were filled with the enlarged legs of the ant, and each tiny wiggle could be seen clearly.
His eyes were the same, widened in shock from the sudden image.
Chen Miao Ping chuckled before letting go of the ant,
“How was that? Do you want to buy it or not now?”
The chubby boy blinked his eyes, looking quite dumbfounded before furiously shaking his head up and down,
“Yes…… Yes, I will buy it!!!”
Chen Miao Ping said,
“Do you know where the Chief Surveillance Bureau office is? Send your money and the rock crystal there today and you can pick it up the day after tomorrow.
There’s no point in lying to a child, so take my word as truth.
I will take my leave now as I still have my duties to do.”
The chubby boy quickly tugged him back and looked so sincerely at him,
“Ah ah ah.
If I give you the money in a bit, can you give me yours now? The one hanging by your waist?“
“The one I have on me?”
This was something he gifted to Xie Yu Zhi, so naturally that was not possible.
Earning money was important, but his life was worth more than any amount of money.
Chen Miao Ping shook his head slowly and acted as if he was a wise old man,
“That is not possible.
I said it will be the day after tomorrow, so it will be the day after tomorrow.
Those who are too impatient will never get what they want.
Letting you wait a few days is for the heavens to test your sincerity.”
There was no one who was as shrewd as a merchant than Chen Miao Ping.
A very recent example of this was Zhang Yuan Qing.
And now this little chubby boy can be added to his list.
Not only receiving 6000 guan, the original material was also going to be sourced by the boy too.
What a massive gain to his pockets.
Qian Tong did not hear any of the exchange between the boy and Chen Miao Ping, but he respected this newly appointed boss very much after that spectacle with Zhang Yuan Qing.
Chen Miao Ping wasn’t too much of a stingy person and knew to bolster his work relationships.
So after receiving an avenue of money into his pockets, he specifically invited his subordinates to go to Chun Xiao House after their shift for a meal and some alcohol while enjoying some pretty eye candy to foster a good relationship with them.
Yes, that Chun Xiao House.
Chen Miao Ping was still very curious what kind of vibe the “entertainment district” in the ancient eras had.
He thought to himself that Xie Yu Zhi never heads out of the estate anyway, and he probably wouldn’t be so bored as to have someone specifically spying on him.
Besides, he’s just looking.
The capital has a curfew, after around 3am, where commoners were not allowed to walk on the streets, and if they were caught by the Imperial Guards, they would have to suffer through a flogging.
But the entertainment district was an exception, so when the day slowly dimmed into night, the city truly came to life.
The women in these entertainment districts also have their own hierarchy.
The south side was the lowest, considered more as strictly brothels, while the central and the north were the “higher” tiered establishments.
Each and every one of the women in these two areas were knowledgeable in almost anything and everything, from guqin to drawing.
They all had a basic knowledge of the literary arts as well, even if they were not at the level of higher tiered scholars, as they required these skills to stand out, in order to earn money.
And because they were so highly educated and skilled, they had the option to choose their clients, and only when you were picked could you even have a glance at them.
This included high ranking officials and families with high status backgrounds.
The lanterns were burning brightly as the number of horse carriages on the streets increased.
An extravagant carriage had stopped quietly at the end of Yong An Alleyway.
The eyes of the coachman outside the carriage were as sharp as an eagle, and he looked very strong and tall, an entire body with a posture that screamed military man.
Seeing Chen Miao Ping’s shadow disappearing into the crowd, he spoke with a lowered voice in respect,
“Second Master, Gu-Ye has entered Chun Xiao House.”
Xie Yu Zhi took his gaze back and calmly let down the curtain,
The coachman asked,
“Would Second Master like Xiao-ren to drag Gu-Ye back?”
Xie Yu Zhi: “That won’t be necessarily.”
Coachman: “Is Second Master going to let Gu-Ye do as he wishes there?”
Of course not.
Chun Xiao House was located right in the middle of the city, and to get inside the building, you must first pay an entrance fee of around 300 kuai.
Not to mention, food and wine were separate expenses, and you might not even see the beauty of the night.
Qian Tong seemed to be a regular, as once he entered, the head and manager of the ladies, the madam, Yun-Niang2 came with a showy flowery entrance to welcome him,
“Ah, Qian Da-ren, what a rare guest to step through these doors.
Finally graciously decided to come visit……”
She trailed off when she spotted Chen Miao Ping.
A slender hand with its nails painted with color waved a handkerchief in front of him, and a rare demure look came over her,
“What a handsome young man.
This one has never seen him before.
Is this your first time?”
Qian Tong coughed out twice in embarrassment,
“Uh, this is my boss.
The new City Warden Inspector.”
Yun-Niang gave an “oh” in response, as if she was shocked,
“Why have you changed bosses again?”
Qian Tong waved his hand,
“Hah, that last one lost his set of teeth by the youngest main son of Zhen Bei Hou and he’s still lying at home, not daring to step out the door.
Send us all your best dishes and wines quickly.
This old man is hungry after a day of patrolling.”
Right on the bottom floor of Chun Xiao House was a big open space in front of a stage.
Tiny tables were set up, with those considered as lower ranked ladies socializing with the customers.
On the stage were women playing instruments and singing in enchanting voices to set the mood.
Yun-Niang, seeing that Chen Miao Ping, especially with that kind of face, seemed to have a special aura that set him apart from commoners, had a feeling in her heart,
“This one has a new lady that has just come out of her training, named Bing-Er.
She loves writing and reciting poetry which she will show in a little bit on stage.
We hope that this young man will show a lot of support when she comes on.”
Chen Miao Ping looked around him but found that there wasn’t really anything to look at.
He shook his head,
“No that’s alright, I am already taken.”
Yun-Niang chuckled softly, thinking he was too pretentious and pretending,
“Gong-zi3, this Chun Xiao House has so many people who come and go.
Who here does not have a wife? How does that hinder them at all? Bing-Er is a beauty that’s out of this world.
If you wish to be chosen by her, it will be very difficult indeed.”
Chen Miao Ping grabbed some melon seeds off the table and pretended he didn’t hear the mocking in-between the lines.
He disinterestedly asked,
“Beauty out of this world? Is she better looking than me?”
Yun-Niang almost choked from his words and thought to herself that she has never seen such a shameless person before.
She forcefully plastered a smile on her face,
“Since this gong-zi is of a natural beauty, why would you try and compare yourself to a woman?”
And then glided out from here.
A tiny small city warden inspector was not worth her time.
Day after day, month after month, they always change.
There were numerous relatives of the Imperial family here, she had no time for this.
Qian Tong and the others were already seated and had started to play drinking games, creating a very boisterous and lively atmosphere.
Seeing Chen Miao Ping stuff his hands in his sleeves and not moving, sitting straighter than a buddhist monk, they asked him,
“Da-Ren, do you want us to find some pretty girls to come over? A man by himself is quite lonely.”
These few people were smart, but their smarts were not used in the right place considering the fact that they had not even tried to learn the background of this new boss.
Even if they levelled up their confidence by ten times, they still would not dare say what they just said out loud if they knew that Chen Miao Ping was the husband who married into Chang Guo Gong’s family.
Chen Miao Ping lifted his wine cup and said elegantly,
“Are none of you humans?”
The group of men laughed dryly in response and then frantically waved their hands while shifting discreetly away from him,
“Da-Ren, we are not into that.
You may have walked into the wrong place as the male entertainers are just right across from here.”
“Ok then, I will go across and you all can take your merry time here.”
Chen Miao Ping was too lazy to care about them and thought that he had seen enough of the entertainment district.
There was nothing particularly interesting anyway.
He rose up and patted his sleeves, preparing to go home when someone suddenly called out behind him,
“Ah! Is that Brother Chen?”
Chen Miao Ping paused in his footsteps when he heard the call.
He turned his head around in suspicion and found that the person who called him was dressed in brocade, red from the top to the bottom.
With a rounded face and tiny slithers for eyes.
In this wealthy looking man’s embrace was a lady with a beautiful face and the aura of a literary arts learner.
One glance and Chen Miao Ping could tell she was not an average tiered entertainment lady.
From his memories, this rounded face with dots for eyes was the Wu An Hou’s eldest son, Liu Zhen Hu, who was also this examination’s second ranking examinee4.
And it so happened that this man and the original host of this body were on bad terms, and Liu Zhen Hu always wanted to find ways to undermine him.
Who could have known that Chen Miao Ping would see him here today?
Chen Miao Ping looked like he just remembered who he was and then casually raised his hands in a loose clasp,
“Oh, it was Brother Liu.
Pardon my manners, pardon my manners.”
He was limping as he did, evidence of an injury he attained from falling off a horse when he went to play outside the capital a few days ago.
He laughed out loud,
“Brother Chen, you sure have been met with double the fortune! First, you married into that Xie family to become Chang Guo Gong’s son-in-law, and then you obtained the rank of Flower Seeker.
It makes this Placard Eye5 really embarrassed by his incompetence.”
These words were spoken with many insinuations.
First to talk about him marrying into another family, and then on how he hit the jackpot in becoming the Flower Seeker.
It was no less than very blatantly telling everyone that Chen Miao Ping got to where he was through connections.
And to top it all off, Liu Zhen Hu even used his own ranking to press down on Chen Miao Ping’s ranking.
Not a quite friendly exchange here.
Liu Zhen Hu’s voice was quite loud and so quite a few people nearby could hear him.
And at this moment, the eyes on Chen Miao Ping were slowly turning into something a bit more aggressive.
The cheating scandal had just been pacified a mere few days ago, and there were no doubt a few scholars here today.
These words and their implication most definitely pushed Chen Miao Ping to the edge of the cliff, and no matter how he answered, it would be considered wrong.
Seeing that Chen Miao Ping was not saying anything, Liu Zhen Hu looked him up and down and put on a surprised face,
“Huh? Did His Majesty appoint you to a ranked position? City Warden Inspector? Patrolling the streets? Puh ha ha ha ha ha! That’s brilliant! Brilliant!”
Qian Tong and the rest of the group was just recovering from the news that Chen Miao Ping was the son-in-law of Chang Guo Gong, and then suddenly hearing the ridicule in Liu Zhen Hu’s voice when he said “patrolling the streets” made them feel like they had been stabbed.
They never had to hold in their temper as they were all recruited as soldiers, so they immediately slammed the tables and stood behind Chen Miao Ping, all angrily looking at Liu Zhen Hu.
Qian Tong excitedly whispered,
“Da-ren, would you like xiao-ren and the rest to beat all these talkers and no-doers up to vent out your anger?”
Chen Miao Ping said,
Knock out his entire set of teeth down for me.”
Qian Tong laughed in embarrassment and scratched his head.
Too embarrassed to say anything else.
Chen Miao Ping laughed coldly,
“I already knew you wouldn’t dare to.
Then he looked at Liu Zhen Hu, smiling quite pleasantly,
“Blessed by His Majesty’s trust in me, I was privately appointed to this position.
To protect the peace on the streets is this official’s fortune and luck.
My eyes were a bit blinded, and I didn’t even recognize Brother Liu at first glance, but a bright red brocade robe is definitely befitting of your elegant style.
One glance at you, and one could even think it was this year’s Primus, Jiang Hong Yuan.”
Implying two things in his words: the first, this position was bestowed personally by the Emperor, which means one cannot mock or ridicule the appointment; the second, Liu Zhen Hu, although merely the Placard eye, was being more eye-catching and attention-seeking than the Primus.
If someone saw him on the streets, they would think he was instead the one who ranked first.
Liu Zhen Hu could hear the meaning beneath his words, and a fake smile tugged at his mouth.
His brain was flying through all the possibilities he could use to make Chen Miao Ping look worse than he did now.
Chen Miao Ping however was not willing to converse with this idiot.
He knew that the more he dwelled here, the more unfavorable it would become for him.
All the eyes of those scholars that were here to fool around could rip him up into pieces and more if he continued to stay.
He quickly found an excuse to leave,
“Oh, what a bad timing.
I suddenly remembered that something needs my attention at home.
We should get together next time to meet up and talk more.
In a bit, he’s going to fucking get Qian Tong and the others to wait outside the entrance and cover Liu Zhen Hu with a sandbag and beat him until shit comes out of him!
“Ack, why are you leaving? It’s such a pity that you will miss the poetry and singing competition later on with the top two ladies of Chun Xiao House, Ying Feng and Xue Yi.”
Liu Zhen Hu let go of the girl in his embrace and went up to block Chen Miao Ping’s path.
He gave a long “Oh~” as if he just realized something,
“Are you afraid of getting caught in here by that second son of the Xie family? Afraid that he will divorce and forsake you out of anger?”
All around him rose a mocking laughter.
Those poor scholars who had fallen out of the rankings patted their sleeves and one said coldly,
“Afraid! Of course he is afraid.
Otherwise his position would not be safe!”
Chen Miao Ping was without a doubt the center of attention at this moment, but he was not flustered at all.
He shook his head and smiled,
“Brother Liu, that is indeed correct and also incorrect.
I am wedded to the second son of Xie, only because my heart likes him and respects him.
So of course I would not find someone and stab him in the eye, stab him in the heart.
Since today is the first day of my job as the newly appointed official, I am only here to treat my fellow brothers for a meal and have some wine.
If it was not for Brother Liu calling out to me, I believe I would already be back home by now.”
Liu Zhen Hu snorted with ridicule,
“A mouth that can only speak words that sound good.
Perhaps you came here to look at beauties, on the sly.
Even if you can’t taste their delicacy, looking is still good right?”
To exchange blows in a word battle with Chen Miao Ping, that is akin to holding a lantern to go to the toilet6, to dig your own grave.
“If Brother Liu ever has a day where you truly fall in love with someone, then in this world, except for the one you love, no matter how beautiful her skin may be, she can only be a passing cloud.”
*1 Entertainment district: I struggled to translate it directly as red light district or like brothel house or prostitutes, as it’s not just that.
They can and mostly are associated with selling their bodies in sexual activity, but sometimes they are selling their bodies for time.
It’s kind of like… a life companion or life coach? Or escorts that only sell their time to a male, and don’t have sex, just for their companionship.
As referenced in Chun Xiao House where these kinds of activities are their livelihood, these girls are mainly known to converse with their clients, through playing the quqin, talking and discussing literary arts and stuff, with some physical closeness, dancing, or just drinking and eating, etc with a more “higher quality”, rather than strictly having the exchange of sex and money.
*2 Yun-Niang: -Niang is a suffix for older females versus ‘-er’, which you may recall if used as a suffix is for younger children/youth/people
*3 Gong-zi: A way to address a man with high-ish ranking/someone that looks wealthy, or even a boy/younger man who comes into a shop, as to say dear customer, that kind of thing.
*4 As you may have read and gotten confused, I made a mistake at the end of chapter 42 where the maid of Xie Su Zhi (the consort/elder sister) actually says Liu Zhen Hu is the second ranking examinee, not the top ranking.
Apologies about that but for clarification and to be on the same page after this: Chen Miao Ping is third, Liu Zhen Hu is second and Jiang Hong Yuan is first!
*5 Placard Eye: examinee that ranked as second place after the imperial examinations
*6 This is a play on words with the tone of “death” and “poop”.
To go into the outhouse with a lantern is as if you’re going there to look at poop (implying otherwise why would you do that?) And to find “poop”/ “屎” is to find “death” “死” – they have almost the same inflection in tone (I was terrible at linguistics, so I can’t really explain this well, but at the basic level the phrase is using how similar they sound to say like you’re going to find your own death/dig your own grave)
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