Giving Food and Begging for Food
Wang Lin told Feng Yu Heng: “It’s the end of the year, and the boss of the restaurant next to our Hundred Herb Hall is going back to their old home, and they said that they don’t want to come back to the capital in the new year. This lowly one wanted to ask boss, could we buy that restaurant and change it into a restaurant for food cooked with medicine?”
Feng Yu Heng’s eyes lit up, “Wang Lin, this idea is quite good.”
“Does this mean boss agrees?”
Feng Yu Heng said: “Buying it is fine, and the idea of selling food cooked with medicine is good, but the shop cannot be opened so easily. You need to expand more on the idea.”
Wang Lin continued: “This lowly one was thinking this way, because the number of people who come to Hundred Herb Hall to seek treatment usually ask about food cooked with medicine, and there are some people who come with prescriptions written by other doctors, the number of people who come and go is not few. If we can open a restaurant that serves food cooked with medicine next door to our Hundred Herb Hall, wouldn’t this be very convenient? The food cooked with medicine that we provide will be more reliable, so everyone can be more at ease when eating. Also, the original chefs and clerks can be kept, so everything will be ready to go.”
Feng Yu Heng pondered for a while then said: “I have seen that restaurant before. It is not large, but it is big enough to make food cooked with medicine. I recommend that it only makes congee-based dishes. Don’t make anything else. Don’t take too many customers, and it will only open for half days. Also, you must also consider the wealthy madams and young misses who wish to take care of their bodies but cannot go out. Those are the ones with money and cherish life.”
Huang Quan was entertained by this, “Young miss, you are the daughter of a noble family.”
Feng Yu Heng smirked, “I can come out. Can they? Wang Lin, as I see it, how about this. You can take the medicinal herbs and prepare the raw ingredients. Distribute them in portions. Have the madams and young misses buy them and take them home to prepare congee for themselves. One small bag will be one meal. It will also be convenient.”
Wang Lin nodded repeatedly, “I will not hide it from boss, but the shopkeeper of the restaurant secretly told this lowly one that he hopes we can acquire the shop. That way, he won’t need to discuss it with someone else.”
“Alright, you can go handle it. I will repeat that you need to continue training more people. Just like how I opened up a new Hundred Herb Hall in Xiao Zhou, who knows when I will open another one somewhere else. It is possible that I will come asking you for people at any time.”
Wang Lin said: “Boss, do not worry. There are currently some people training under me. Not to mention shopkeepers, even clerks can be provided at any time.”
Feng Yu Heng was very satisfied with Wang Lin. Not only was this person loyal, he was also smart. He devoted himself fully to Hundred Herb Hall, and this saved her a lot of worries.
She spent half a day seeing patients at Hundred Herb Hall, only leaving with Huang Quan at noon. The two found a restaurant and were about to eat outside. Just after the few dishes they ordered were brought out, they saw a young child about five or six years old squatting next to the door. Staring at the chicken on the table, the child swallowed back some drool.
Feng Yu Heng disliked seeing this sort of thing the most. Asking for some oilpaper, she wrapped up a chicken leg and handed it to Huang Quan: “Give it to the young child to eat.”
Huang Quan nodded. Thinking a little, she scooped out a spoonful of rice from her bowl onto the oilpaper and brought it over to the child.
But the child did not eat it. Instead, the child wrapped up the food in the oilpaper and stuck it into a pocket then squatted back down and began looking towards some other tables.
Unfortunately, there were no other benevolent people who wished to give her food, causing a look of despair to appear in the child’s eyes.
Feng Yu Heng said to Huang Quan: “Take a guess, why does that child not eat? Why did that child put the food away?”
Huang Quan pondered a little then said: “She should be saving it for someone else. Perhaps her family is also living on the street like her. She wants to bring some more food back to eat together.”
“But she is not a beggar.” Feng Yu Heng pointed at the child then continued: “Although the clothes she is wearing are old and worn, that’s all they are. Look at the clothes, the colors are indeed extremely faded, but they were clearly washed many times. Think about the faces and hair of beggars then look at the face and hair of that child. Where is the dirtiness?”
Only then did Huang Quan take notice of these things and think a little longer, “Young miss is correct. If she was a dirty and ugly beggar, the shop owner would have chased her away a long time ago. How could she have been allowed to squat at the entrance for so long.”
Feng Yu Heng waved for the waitress to come over and said to her: “Bring another five chicken legs over. Also, bring some more of your best dishes.”
The waitress clicked her tongue, “The two of you are able to eat so much?”
Huang Quan slapped the table “If we told you to go get it, just go get it. If we can not finish it, we will get the leftovers packed up! We only ordered more because we found this food to be good.”
The waitress quickly put on a smile, thanking them for ordering more food and quickly informing the chef.
Huang Quan then shouted: “Bring another bowl of rice over!”
Feng Yu Heng advised Huang Quan: “Quickly finish with the chicken legs. Eat quickly. When we finish eating, follow me somewhere.”
The waitress very quickly brought Huang Quan’s bowl of rice over, and the two began eating in silence. When the newly made food was brought over, they had already finished eating.
Huang Quan told the waitress to directly pack them up for takeaway boxes. Feng Yu Heng also ordered some more rice to be added.
The waitress was completely dazed. When had their restaurant’s food become so well-liked? Looking at the charming young man with blue clothes, it seemed that he even liked the rice, so she added a full pot of rice.
Feng Yu Heng noticed her misconception, but she could not be bothered with explaining. Handing over a full silver ingot, she successfully stopped the waitress from speaking.
The two exited the restaurant and got back in their carriage with the large bag of food. Only after the carriage had pulled a block away did Feng Yu Heng call for the driver to stop. She then said to Huang Quan: “Go back and bring the young girl to the carriage.”
Huang Quan understood her feelings and hurriedly got out of the carriage, quickly returning towards the restaurant.
Not long later, the poor young child, who was waiting outside the restaurant, was brought into the carriage.
The young girl was a little scared. Looking at Feng Yu Heng and Huang Quan, she did not know what to say. Thinking a little, she knelt and kowtowed then said timid manner: “Thank you to my two benefactors for the rice and chicken leg.” Saying this, she sniffed the air. The aroma of the food floated in the carriage, nearly causing the child to begin drooling.
Huang Quan smiled and patted her head, “What is your name?”
The little girl replied: “My name is Shui Ling.”
“Shui Ling.” Feng Yu Heng tilted her head and asked her: “Do you squat outside that restaurant every day for someone to give you food?”
Shui Ling nodded, “Un.”
Huang Quan did not understand, “Why do you not go and ask them yourself?”
Shui Ling said: “If I do that, then I would become a beggar, but Shui Ling does not want to be a beggar.”
“Why?” Feng Yu Heng was a little curious, “What is the difference between asking for food and waiting for others to give it to you?”
Shui Ling said: “There is a difference. If they give it to me themselves, it does not count as me having begged for it, and I would not be considered a beggar. On this street, there are people who control beggars. The things that have been acquired through begging cannot be eaten directly, and they definitely cannot be given to someone else. They must be brought to a gathering place where it is distributed by those in charge.”
Feng Yu Heng understood. This was a gang of beggars.
“Then who are you bringing this food back to?” She continued to ask.
“To a lot of people.” Shui Ling lowered her head and said with a bit of a sob: “The place I live has a lot of orphaned children like me. There are two older sisters who are taking care of us. Previously, there were people who would give us food, but they eventually stopped. We were hungry, so we came to wait for others to give us food.”
Feng Yu Heng’s mind went to work. This seemed to be the result she desired, thus she said to the girl: “Bring me to the place you live. The food I took was meant for you.”
“Really?” Shui Ling’s eyes became wide, as though she did not dare believe.
Feng Yu Heng nodded, “Really. Go tell the driver uncle the address. We will go right now.”
If she had not guessed wrong, the place these children lived should be a place similar to an orphanage. Feng Yu Heng suddenly had a strange idea while she was eating. If she could come in contact with some orphanages, she could begin training the children. She needed manpower for medicine, and her intelligence network also needed more people. In this era where information was underdeveloped, people were truly too important.
The carriage traveled for a little under an hour before finally stopping in front of a courtyard in the North of the city.
The courtyard was neither new nor old. It was very large and should have been left behind by a large family.
Shui Ling pulled Huang Quan and said: “This is the place. Elder brother, elder sister, please come in.”
Feng Yu Heng was wearing men’s clothes, so she naturally would be called elder brother. She did not explain, as she followed Shui Ling into the courtyard. Behind them, the driver busied himself bringing the food out of the carriage over two trips.
When Feng Yu Heng entered, there were a few children in the yard around Shui Ling’s age washing clothes. Two older girls hung the clothes on a clothesline.
Those two girls did not look to be more than 15 or 16 years old. They would not be considered beautiful, but they did show some refinement. Their dresses were faded, but they were also clean.
The Winter days were cold, so the hands of the children washing the clothes were bright red. They would wash for a while then rub their hands together. Some had even developed frostbite, but they endured the pain and continued to wash.
When Shui Ling returned, the children in the yard were filled with hope and looked over. They then noticed that there were a young man and a young miss behind her so they could not help but freeze.
The girls hanging up the clothes felt that the atmosphere had changed, so they quickly came over to look. They immediately noticed that something was off and blankly asked: “To the two who have come, is something the matter?”
Feng Yu Heng smiled and took a step forward, “To this miss, greetings.” She cupped her hands to greet her, and she truly seemed like a young man, causing that girl to quickly bow and salute. She then said: “When we were eating at a restaurant, we met Shui Ling. Hearing her speak of your circumstances, we prepared some food and brought it here. We do not know how many there are here or if there is enough to eat.”
Hearing that there was food, the children’s eyes lit up. One after another, they appeared from all over the yard. Feng Yu Heng looked with stunned eyes, as at least 30 people appeared.
“It seems that there really is not enough.” Smiling bitterly, she pulled two silver ingots from her sleeve and handed them to the driver, “Go find a restaurant nearby. Have them make some food and bring it here. Make it based on the children’s portions. If they can make enough for dinner and bring that over too, that would be best.”
The driver nodded and left without saying anything.
Shui Ling bounced happily. Pulling the two older girls over, she began introducing them: “This is sister Fu Sang, and this is sister Tian Dong. Normally, we rely on these two elder sisters to take care of us. This is…” She wanted to introduce Feng Yu Heng to Fu Sang and Tian Dong, but she realized that she did not even know who Feng Yu Heng was.
Huang Quan took the initiative to say: “This is my family’s young master. He is also a doctor at Hundred Herb Hall, Le Wu You. I am his maidservant. My name is Huang Quan.”
Feng Yu Heng was very satisfied with this introduction.
The reputation of Hundred Herb Hall was too grand. When Fu Sang and Tian Dong heard that she was a doctor at Hundred Herb Hall, they immediately began rejoicing. Repeatedly saluting Feng Yu Heng, Fu Sang said: “It’s an honor to finally meet the reputed sir Wu You. To be able to receive sir today is our good fortune. To have spent money to buy food for the children. This truly is…”
“It truly is too good!” A young child shouted, and the other young children began surrounding Feng Yu Heng.
But before Feng Yu Heng could say anything to the children, she saw the driver who had just left to buy food return. With worry in his face, he said: “Master, there are government officers that have come outside!”
Just as this was said, the door to the courtyard was smashed open, and a group of government officers rushed in!