Chapter 42: Solving the Case
Translator: Translation Nation/chuchutrain Editor: - -
The flow of the river was very strong. The Captain and Elementary Scholars heard Pei Zi Yun's frantic shout and hurried to the deck, where they found a panic-stricken Pei Zi Yun.
The ship captain was the most nervous, and hurriedly approached Pei Zi Yun asking, "Master Pei, who was it that fell overboard? Can you still see him in the water? Please hurry and speak, so I can send someone to rescue him."
The waves crashed incessantly onto the hull of the ship, causing a "woosh" sound every time. Everyone was staring at Pei Zi Yun.
Pei Zi Yun reeked of alcohol and muttered, "I drank too much just now, and felt the need to relief myself. I did not expect to see the sailor standing on the deck, and who would've expected him to fall over accidentally. It must've been that he had drank too much."
As Pei Zi Yun spoke, he pointed to a spot, a hundred meters away, where the man had fallen overboard. The ship captain had long been ready, and hurriedly shouted, "Stop the boat, hurry, stop the boat. A mishap has happened, rescue the man who has fallen overboard!"
Some distance away, a black shadow emerged from the surface of the water. The ripples were undulating and stirring along the surface of the river. The currents of the river were still strong, thus nobody dared to dive in to rescue the fallen person. The only way they could get him out was to lower a rope down, or to send out a small boat so that it can get near, and then use the lifeboat to retrieve him.
The ship captain had anticipated the event and prepared well for something like this to happen. He immediately instructed the ship to steer close the floating body, and immediately arranged for people to save him.
The torrential river continued to stir. Just after a few seconds, the body had drifted further away. Seeing this scene unfold before him, Pei Zi Yun sniggered while his heart let out a huge laughter. Should he have been the one to fall into the river, even if he didn't die, he was sure to fail severely ill, and would be unable to take the examinations. Who knows, it might even cause him some lasting trauma.
The ship went past the body, and used a metal hook to latch onto his clothes, and pulled him out of the water. The sailor brought a substantial amount of water overboard with his soaked clothing.
The captain instantly ordered, "Hurry and scoop the water out of the ship!"
Some members of the crew went to check for his vital signs, and found that he was no longer breathing and his entire body had turned cold. It was clear that this man was not going to make it, but they tried resuscitating him in a desperate bid to reverse the inevitable. This man was sent by the ship owner, it would cause problems if he died.
The body of the sailor was still soft, as they tried to revive him. As they were attempting to bring him back to life, he turned rigid. This man was past rescuing. With a sigh, they allowed him to rest.
The Elementary Scholars who had surrounded the crew felt that this was a freak occurrence and could not possibly be auspicious in any way. How could it be that something like this could happen just as they were on their way to take the examinations and needed all the luck they could get. They then started talking, "This idiot had drank too much wine and lost himself. He deserved to drown."
The ship captain had a mouth, but could not find the strength to speak. He knew that this man had intended to harm Pei Zi Yun, yet could not fathom how he had fallen overboard instead, "Master Elementary Scholars, the death of someone is a big matter. We should stop at the next county, and have the officials from the county conduct an investigation. Only after the matter has been concluded will be proceed to the intended destination."
The few scholars did not have any issues with that. Seeing that they were fine with this idea, the captain rejoiced. His plan was to buy as much time as possible before telling the owner what had happened. When he finally had to reveal the chain of events, he would deny any responsibility. As for the Elementary Scholars, he could only wish them luck on their endeavors.
Pei Zi Yun was lost in thoughts as he let out a cold laugh, "Captain, your words are very unreasonable. You knew that we have an exam approaching, yet you decided to stop at the next county and cause us delay. When we reach the county, officials will come and go as they investigate this death. There might even be a chance that we'll miss the examinations."
The spectating Elementary Scholars were shocked, and realized Pei Zi Yun could be right. They glanced over at the ship captain with an unkind gaze. If what Pei Zi Yun said was true, and there was a possibility of them missing the examinations, they would certainly not allow it. There cannot even be a fraction of a chance that they might miss the examinations.
Yu Guang Mao laughed icily, "You cunning servant. Since you said the province town is only a day away, then why not stop then? There are officials present there as well!"
"What brother Yu is saying, is this servant trying to ruin our chances at the examinations?" Chimed in another Elementary Scholar who was furious.
It was one thing to go up against one Elementary Scholar, and another thing to be disagreeing with seven or eight of them. When they ganged up together, they had strength in numbers and were hard to oppose. The ship captain raised his glance to meet Pei Zi Yun, and it was evident that the captain was terrified.
The sailor had tried to harm this Elementary Scholar and died as a result. Now the Elementary Scholar could see right through his ploy and was very suspicious. It's just that the opposing people were Elementary Scholars, so he didn't dare to argue any further. He instructed the crew to continue traveling to the province as per the initial itinerary.
The afternoon sun was scorching, and a man had drowned. This was very inauspicious, causing several people to have heavy hearts.
The ship captain started puffing on his water pipe, his heart feeling heavy and lost. He pursed his lips, deep in thought. The droplets of sweat began to form on his forehead once more.
Capital city, High Hanging Monastery
Zhang Jie Yu and Li Wen Jing had just reached the capital city, and were staying in a monastery. Li Wen Jing smiled and said, "This monastery used to belong to a family. The owner had met with a misfortune. This place was thus left to rot. The shrubs and grass were overgrown, while wild weeds were scattered over the entire landscape. Foxes and badgers had made this place their home."
"And so our sect decided to purchase this plot of land. We cleared the out the swarms of unwanted foliage and restored it to its former glory."
"We hacked down the old trees, to make way for the growth of new plants. It is now a sight to behold." Tea was boiling in the stove, gurgling as it reached a certain temperature, and the sun shone gloriously. However, Zhang Jie Yu's expression seemed like there was something off.
Looking at Zhang Jie Yu sipping on his tea, Li Wen Jing watched his expression and asked, "Is Young Master still worried about the matter regarding Pei Zi Yun?"
Hearing his name being spoken, Zhang Jie Yun frowned and Li Wen Jing laughed out, "Don't worry anymore about this. I've already sent men to handle the situation. Although he won't be killed, we can hinder his progress and foil his plans."
After saying this, it was apparent that Zhang Jie Yu relaxed and felt a little bit better, as he continued sipping his tea.
The next day, in the afternoon, the ship finally reached the capital after a day and night's worth of speeding through the currents. The captain wore an expression of resignation as he ordered the helmsman to report the incident. The Elementary Scholars didn't look too good as well, since they had a hard time falling asleep. They were all pale, and had dark circles around their eyes. They were in the main hall, sitting around a table, waiting for the constable to arrive.
The ship's helmsman returned about thirty minutes later, and was accompanied by a clamor happening outside. The ship's helmsman was leading the constable as they passed through the crowd and headed towards the ship. The constable had a threatening, hostile look as he walked with his head held up. He held onto a sword, and he was followed by two bailiffs.
One of the bailiffs had a pair of cuffs on him, and the other held onto a dagger. The presence of these men attracted the attention of the surrounding people, as they gathered around, "Move away, stand aside. We're on a case, do not obstruct us."
Within the crowd, there were several people cursing, and others, plunged into deep discussion, wondering what kind of the crime was involved.
"They're definitely here to arrest someone. Didn't you see that one of the bailiffs was holding a pair of cuffs?" The constable had received a report of someone dying aboard the ship. He did not know if the cause of death was murder, or whether he had drowned. Taking his two junior bailiffs with him, he boarded the boat. The sight that greeted him shocked him. He saw several Elementary Scholars sitting around a table. Could it be that one of these Elementary Scholars had been killed?
That would be a major incident.
The constable strolled purposefully into the cabin, and removed the piece of white cloth covering the corpse. The pungent stink of rotting corpse permeated the entire room. Pinching his nose, he took a closer look. So it seems like the deceased was a ship crew, and not an Elementary Scholar. This was a small matter. He looked away from the corpse, as an idea came to his head. All he had to do was to intimidate the captain, then he would be able to earn some bribes off him.
With this thought in mind, he ordered his bailiffs to bring the captain over to him. The moment he said this, he heard one of the bailiffs exploding in anger, "What audacity. You refuse to kneel after seeing the Lord constable."
The constable was not considered an official, since his rank was a grade lower. However, the ferocity of the bailiffs had scared the ship captain witless. He frantically fell to his knees.
Based on the scenario described by the ship captain, it seems like they had caught a big fish yesterday and thus celebrated the occasion with a lavish meal and some wine. The sailor had overindulged in the alcohol and fell over by accident.
He understood that the initial plan was to report this case at the nearest county, but was forbidden by the Elementary Scholars, and thus had to report it in the capital.
Hearing these words spoken by the captain, the constable sniggered to himself. These Elementary Scholars are rushing to take the examination, why would they wish to be delayed by the captain?
The constable paced back and forth by the corpse, which was covered by the white cloth as he considered the situation before him. He turned around, and his eyes emitted a menacing glare as he shouted in anger, "What audacity. Could it be that you and the sailor had planned to harm the Elementary Scholars, but something happened and he fell into the river. Be honest with me, and when I submit the report, I can plead for leniency on your behalf."
The ship captain was scared witless as his legs turned soft upon hearing this accurate description of the events. He immediately kowtowed several times and begged, "Lord constable, how would I ever dare to harm these Elementary Scholars. It was really that the worker had drank too much, and fallen overboard in a drunken stupor. It's really none of my business."
The constable had just intended to scare the captain, but seeing his dramatic reaction, he was quietly happy. It seems like this captain is a weak pushover, and can be easily exploited. He then shouted, "Follow me into the cabin."
The captain was at a loss for words, and just followed him into the cabin wordlessly. He then heard the constable speaking lightheartedly, "Since the Elementary Scholars are safe, if you give me some silver, I can testify on your behalf, and everything will be alright. However, if you choose not to, you are in big trouble."
The captain was a sharp man and had been afraid that by some way or another, the constable had seen truth. After hearing the constable say those words and asked for bribes, he was relieved. It was true, that the death of a mere ship crew wasn't a big deal. Besides all the Elementary Scholars were safe and sound!
The captain wipe away some sweat and asked, "Sir, how much do I have to pay?"
The constable stretched out his hands and showed five fingers. The captain was appalled, "Five taels of silver?"
He sat down on the floorboard in despair.
Glancing at the dejected captain in apparent elation, he said, "Five taels of silver is in fact not much. When you're sitting in an official's office, the problem cannot be resolved by paying just five pieces."
In an instant, the constable beamed in satisfaction. He walked over to the main hall and bowed to the Elementary Scholars, "Young Masters, you must've been shocked by the course of events. The sailor had fallen aboard due to his drunken state. It's not a big deal. The case has been solved."
"I'll take my leave Young Masters."
He bade farewell as he walked towards the exit of the ship. He was fiddling with the five taels of silver in his hands in excitement. When he had walked far enough away from the ship, he turned around and faced the two bailiffs accompanying him. He took out two small pieces of silver and tossed it over to them, "This is the reward you get for assisting in helping me exploit the situation. Buy yourself some tea. It's understood that not a word of this is spoken."
The pair of bailiffs thanked him profusely, filled with gratitude.
Pei Zi Yun had originally prepared a whole explanation of what happened for the constable. Who would've expected him to close the case without actually determining the actual cause. And he was so polite about the whole situation. He creased his brows, and thought, "Just like that, the whole situation has been resolved. Since I'm not of this era, I actually underestimated the power of the Elementary Scholar status."
"And this is merely the authority of an Elementary Scholar. If I were a High Scholar, he wouldn't even dare speak to me."
He was still deep in thought when he realized the entire situation had been concluded without any implication on him. The Elementary Scholars then packed their belongings, and got ready to leave. It was already in the evening.
Pei Zi Yun disembarked as the sky grew darker. Seeing that people were boarding the ship next to his, his curiosity was piqued. He approached the passengers and asked, "There're ships leaving at this time?"
A ship captain emerged from the other ship. His skin was dark from all the work he had to do out in the sun. Seeing someone approaching, he came up to Pei Zi Yun and replied, "Of course there're ships leaving. The currents flow down the river, back where you came from. Going back to the county would be twice as fast. You'll reach in no time."
Hearing this, Pei Zi Yun thought to himself, "Hey, even the heavens are helping me. I remember that Li Wen Jing stays further down the river, where the current is flowing towards. His house is not far from the pier as well."
He stared into the eyes of the captain before turning around and leaving.