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Chapter 86: Shopkeeper Ye of Qingyu Hall
Arriving at the chosen bookstore on Dongchuan Road, Fan Xian’s group took a good look and discovered the location was indeed excellent—convenient for transportation and not too far from the Imperial College. All of Qing Kingdom’s scholars who came to the capital to prepare for the Imperial examinations had to pass by here almost every day. Most importantly, the place wasn’t too rowdy, which meant that the ladies from various manors and official households could send their maidservants here to purchase books in peace.
Fan Xian nodded and walked inside with Fan Sizhe. Upon seeing the few freeloaders inside, he said, "Mister Cui, sorry to bother you."
Mister Cui replied, with a smile, "My two young masters; this bookstore doesn’t earn that many coins a year, so spending this much energy really isn’t worth it."
Fan Xian knew they were all former government officials who naturally wouldn’t take such measly business seriously. He explained, "My younger brother is really fond of the place, so just let him do as he pleases." He didn’t want to hide this from Count Sinan forever, so he asked some freeloaders in the manor for their help. Since his allowed Mister Cui to help them, that means he also agreed to let his two sons do as they please outside the manor.
Fan Sizhe was writing something while biting on the handle of his brush while the others were chatting in the back room. For Fan Sizhe, once he set his eyes on a checkbook, he would block out everything else. While the chatting in the back continued, the shopkeeper they invited from Qingyu Hall also arrived. This shopkeeper wore a loyal expression on his face; his eyes lacked shine, but had a clarity to them. As they say, the eyes are the window to the soul. Fan Sizhe was satisfied and gave the responsibility of running the bookstore to that shopkeeper.
Fan Ruoruo had already gave over sixty chapters of Dream of the Red Chamber to Fan Sizhe, and Mister Cui had sent people over to Wansong Hall to make copies. There shouldn’t be any issues. Fan Sizhe frequently pressured Fan Xian for the later chapters, ready to make a big hit in the capital. However, recently, Fan Xian wasn’t in the mood to copy down books and kept pushing it back.
Once the time of the opening was determined and the permit from the Eighth Bureau of the Overwatch Council was guaranteed, they discovered they had ran out of things to do, so they imported some historical records and classical literature from Wansong Hall and decided on Dream of the Red Chamber as their main seller; it looked as though all that was left was for money to come flowing in. As for the staff and the rest of it, all of those were handled by the shopkeeper from Qingyu Hall; the Fan side didn’t have to worry about one thing.
Fan Xian thought it was strange the way everyone trusted this Qingyu Hall so much. Finally getting the opportunity to talk to the shopkeeper one on one, he kindly asked, "Shopkeeper, may I ask your family name?"
The shopkeeper smiled, "Family name Ye."
Fan Xian was a little bit shaken. He repeated the name, "Your family name is Ye?"
Seeing his surprise, the shopkeeper was somewhat baffled. "That’s right, there are seventeen shopkeepers in total at Qingyu Hall, all with the family name Ye. This is known by all in the capital. Young Master Fan?"
"All?" Fan Xan frowned. "What is your connection with the Ye household from twenty years ago?"
The shopkeeper was very surprised and looked at Fan Xian for a while before showing some feelings of nostalgia. "It’s been so many years. I thought the young ones nowadays had long forgotten about the Ye House. Indeed, we were all once shopkeepers of that Ye household. When it later got in trouble, the entire business was taken over by the palace. We were supposed to find other means of living elsewhere, but for some reason, we were forbidden to start our own

business under Imperial law, leading to this embarrassing scene today. We could only take care of business owned by others, but not start our own. That is also how Qingyu Hall came to be."
Knowing this shopkeeper was his mother’s former subordinate gave Fan Xian a slight sense of closeness. He asked curiously, "After the incident with the Ye house, did the government…" He didn’t finish his sentence, but the shopkeeper understood very well what he meant. To weed something out, you’re supposed to dig up its roots; since the government took over the Ye business, it had no intention of keeping these old geezers around. The shopkeeper suddenly felt close to this young master from Fan Manor as well, and answered, "We also thought it strange. We’ve been living in constant fear these past years—we are not allowed to leave the capital, so we are scared that someday something will happen to us."
"One of these days, please bring me to visit Qingyu Hall." Having suddenly found a place in the capital with direct connection to his mother, Fan Xian couldn’t help but be excited. He grabbed the shopkeeper by the shoulders, "I have many, many things to ask you guys."
After going back to the manor, he went to his father in the book chamber and told the count what he learned. "Is Qingyu Hall really made up of former staff of the Ye household?"
"Of course." Fan Jian stroked his short beard, as if remembering the past. He slowly continued, "Each one of them are impressive, to say the least, having been dispatched to various prefectures to head the different branches. Unfortunately, you mother ended up offending the powerful nobles. You knew how glorious and influential the Ye household was back in the day. If it falls, then the entire kingdom would most likely descend into chaos for at least a few decades. For a while, even the Imperial court didn’t know what to do. It ended up with a compromise: let the royal family take over the Ye household, which at least made sure no official would be able to take advantage of its fall, and then…"
Fan Xian cut him off, asking, "The ones who killed mother, how did they die?" He had been wanting to find out for a long time.
Looking directly into Fan Xian’s eyes, Fan Jian said coldly, "You were too young, you probably don’t remember anything fourteen years ago."
"I do." Fan Xian frowned. "Fourteen years ago, apparently someone who wanted a revolution tried to usurp His Majesty, and stirred up all kinds of major problems in the process. There was an entire month of killing in the capital, in which all the original noblemen were slaughtered. Their heads were displayed on the city walls and formed a line half a kilometer long. That month became known as the ‘’The Month the Capital Bled’,. Even though I did not experience it, my teacher Fei Jie spoke of it many times."
"Very good." Fan Jian said in a chilling tone. "It was during that ‘clean-up’ when we killed all those involved in the fall of the Ye house."
Taking notice of "we", Fan Xian asked, "Who do you mean by ‘we’?"
"Myself and Cheng Pingping, of course." Fan Jian smiled. "For over twenty years, we had followed His Majesty. That was our most successful operation."
"That also marked the rise of the Fan household. On the other hand, that incident further established the terror of the Overwatch Council and firmly secured the influence of those government officials." Fan Xian sighed, "Turns out it was due to you and Sir Chen avenging mother."
"And then?" Fan Xian was asking about what happened to the Ye house.
"As was previously explained, all Ye-owned businesses got taken in. During the time, it was the best strategy to stabilize the Imperial court. No better ideas came out from the talented court," Fan Jian explained. "But the problem with those head shopkeepers remained. They were all taught by your mother. While they couldn’t match your mother’s intelligence, if they were allowed to roam free, who knows when a second Ye House would appear? For that reason, they were all rounded up in the capital and ordered to take care of other businesses while not allowed to start any of their own. That was how today’s famous Qingyu Hall came to be."
"You kids wanted to do business; asking them was a good decision."
Fan Xian was saddened. "Those shopkeepers were pretty much imprisoned in the capital for over ten years because of that, how terrible… Father, if all of them were employed at once, wouldn’t that attract the attention of the Imperial court?"
Fan Jian shook his head. "Using them was the preferred method way for various manors in the capital. The Imperial court wouldn’t care. However, I don’t think you need all seventeen of them."
"If the Imperial court really minded, how come those shopkeepers weren’t all killed off early on?"
Looking at his son, Fan Jian explained while smiling, "Back when your mother suffered her misfortune, I was waging a war on the western front. Cheng Pingping was off to Northern Qi boarder on a secret mission and didn’t realize the truth until he was halfway there. You’re underestimating your father far too much if you think he would be killed after returning to the capital."
Lady Liu knocked on the door; father and son stopped their conversation and Fan Jian let her in. Only after seeing the bowl of fruit pulp in Lady Liu’s hand did Fan Xian realize it was already getting late—time for his father to go to bed. He stood up and was about to excuse himself, but Count Sinan beckoned him to stay before asking Lady Liu to go to bed first.
Before Lady Liu left, Fan Xian could see that she held some worry in her eyes. He knew she was concerned for her husband’s health. Knowing this fact only made Fan Xian frown. She probably held genuine sentiments towards his father; too bad her heart was a bit too ruthless, carrying out "those" acts back in the day. Knowing his father must have something important to tell him, Fan Xian listened eagerly.
"Time to talk about the recent happenings in the Imperial court." Count Sinan slowly drank the still-warm fruit pulp. "I know you still held much anger and hatred over the fact that she tried poisoning you four years ago.."
Fan Xian was greatly shocked; he didn’t think Lady Liu would have anything to do with the current developments in the Imperial court, and he was even less prepared to hear his father bring up the assassination attempt so easily. At that moment, he didn’t know what to say.
"The two are, in fact, connected." Fan Jian knew what his son was thinking. "Regarding her motive four years ago, first, Sizhe was getting older but wasn’t acting any more appropriate for his age. And I wasn’t able to set her on the right track, causing her to lose hope and make that decision out of impulse. More crucially, she was granted an audience in the palace during that time. , She was told that with your death, Fan Sizhe would inherit Fan house’s everything."
"The palace? And whose word would make her disregard even Grandmother’s life?" Fan Xian asked coldly.

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