Chapter 59: The Young Accountant
Fan Xian abandoned his spot after he lost several unlucky rounds. He had grown frustrated and couldn’t deal with aunt Liu’s cheery face. He patted Fan Sizhe. Fan Sizhe glanced meekly at his father, who nodded his head in response. Wild with joy, he squealed and jumped onto the stool.
Fan Sizhe was a timid child in front of his father. Usually, he would have been sent to his study room after dinner and would never have been allowed to gamble with money. He could tell that today was an exception, as his father was in a good mood and wanted to let Fan Xian to save face, and so Fan Sizhe’s impression of this brother from Danzhou changed significantly.
Fan Xian wandered around the garden, and when he returned to the parlor, he was shocked at the scene before him. In front of Fan Sizhe was a mountainous pile of coins, and in comparison, it looked like the other three gamblers were more or less broke.
Fan Xian remembered Fan Sizhe’s passionate show of love for money earlier that day in the carriage, and he realized that his less-than-angelic brother wasn’t talentless after all, that, at least where money was concerned, his brother showed talent.
Curious, Fan Xian stood behind the 12-year-old and observed his technique. After a while, Fan Xian grew a newfound respect for Fan Sizhe as he saw the nimble movements of his hands. Fan Sizhe handled all of his tiles in one hand while his other hand hovered above an abacus and his five chubby fingers worked rapidly.
Fan Sizhe won every round, and as the accounting method was complicated, he ended up calculating everything himself. As Fan Xian watched from the side, he noticed that Fan Sizhe could easily put more money under his own name. It was no wonder that he had a growing pile of coins stacked in front of him.
Lady Liu’s face remained unchanged as she found Fan Xian staring at Fan Sizhe. She sighed to herself, afraid that Fan Xian had caught onto her own son’s ugly greed for money and hence grow even more confident.
She had no idea that Fan Xian was in a state of shock as of this moment. This was because Fan Sizhe’s face showed no hint of play or nonsense. In fact, it radiated the sense and perseverance of an idealist.
Fan Xian was sure that the boy in front of him would grow to be an impressive figure if he was given room to nurture his potential. However, he was also aware that the only way of gaining recognition in this country was through imperial examinations, even if Fan Sizhe received a noble rank due to his family relations. Judging from Fan Sizhe’s current standard of school work it would be impossible for him to get a legitimate job. This was why Teng Zijing said Lady Liu felt pain and hate toward her son.
In this era, merchants were not respected. The ministry of revenue was a different matter, as was the royal market. The public merchants however, were a whole different matter still.
The last round of gambling was over and Count Sinan left the table expressionless. Happy family gatherings didn’t suit his personality, but today felt different. He glanced at Fan Xian before he left.
Fan Xian caught a vague message from the glance. It would seem that he father was not pleased that he had thrown off the guards sent to protect him. Fan Xian laughed and did not respond. He disliked being followed and so decided to use action to emphasize this fact early on.
Lady Liu gazed at her son, her eyes revealing hints of love and helplessness. These emotions vanished in an instant. She stood up and politely bid farewell to Fan Xian and Fan Ruoruo before leaving with her husband. The servants of Count Sinan’s mansion knew that their master liked to drink a cup of fruit pulp handmade by Lady Liu to help him get to sleep, as he had been working all day in the busy Ministry of Revenue.
Fan Xian frowned; he had wanted to speak to his father about some
thing, but it looked like he had to put that on hold. Fan Xian turned round and saw Fan Sizhe still at the table, recording his winnings. He asked curiously, "You still haven’t put the money away? What are you writing down?"
Ruoruo was tired from playing. She circled her wrists and laughed, "Father only allows him to play when guests visit on New Year’s Day, but he won’t allow him to keep the coins he wins. He says that a real man should not be greedy over such little money. Of Course, Fan Sizhe wouldn’t dare go against his father, so he records his winnings instead and says that he’ll gradually come to us to deal with it in the future."
Fan Xian felt a sudden emotion as he thought about the hidden meaning behind the word "deal." He calmed himself and asked with a smile, "Sizhe, I see that you are good at calculations. What do you plan to do when you grow up?"
Fan Sizhe was young, but could not be disturbed when he was counting his earnings. Completely focused on his task, he ignored the question. Fan Ruoruo grew worried that her older brother would be angry at her little brother and was prepared to offer an explanation, but instead, her eyes met with the cheery-faced Fan Xian who was admiring this young accountant at the table.
Fan Sizhe seemed to have registered the question only when the counting was done.
He rubbed his head and frowned in thought before answering, "Of course, I’ll study and become a government official and bring glory to my family."
Fan Xian laughed at him and asked, "Really?"
Fan Sizhe’s vigor quickly drained away, and he answered in a defeated tone, "If mother hears me say otherwise, I’ll get beaten again for sure."
"There’s only the three of us here; why be afraid to say what you really think?" Fan Xian said jokingly.
Hearing these words caused unknown emotions to well up in Fan Sizhe. He had grown up respected by the servants. It was said that the noble boys had strict fathers and kind mothers, but he had a strict father and mother. When his father gave his sister the power to discipline him, it turned out that his sister was even stricter, so he was used to respecting his elders but love and care was something he had never experienced.
In the moment he heard the words ‘what you really think’, Fan Sizhe was somewhat confused. His big brother, who was four years older, was not as scary as mother had described; instead he was kind.
"I...like making money."
"What’s so good about the profits of merchants?" Fan Ruoruo furrowed her brows as she disciplined her brother.
Fan Xian shot her a look of disapproval. He felt disappointed that after all the letters they had exchanged, she still held on to such silly logic. After being glared at, Ruoruo knew she had said the wrong thing and instantly became silent
Fan Xian smiled at his brother, "No matter what you do, you just have to do your best. Even if it is with making money, I will support you."
"And what good is your support?" Fan Sizhe sighed in despair. "I need father’s personal permission."
"Do it secretly." Fan Xian was like the devil on Fan Sizhe shoulder.
Fan Sizhe lit up as something occurred to him. He spoke passionately, "Brother, give me your draft for the book. I have a way of making big money from it." The word 'brother' rolled off his tongue naturally.
Confused, Fan Xian questioned, "Won’t it be a slow way to make money?"
"Oh, so you’re in such desperate need of money?" Fan Sizhe sneered at him, "I’m just testing this out."
Realizing that the little rascal had just sneered at him, Fan Xian replied in annoyance:
"You want the goods? Show me your proposal first!"