WHICH ONE IS THIS AGAIN?
A Righteous Friend.
Many of the young people who came around didn’t know the name, but some of the older people still had some impressions.
It was created by Zhang Peng, an old boxer in Shanxi. Zhang Peng’s pair of fists was famous in Shanxi, and let him to be known as Zhang Fist.
Zhang Fist was a hero of righteousness and charity. Without any sons or daughters, he adopted a group of disciples, and opened an escort bureau in Zezhou, and after half a lifetime of hard work, his escort bureau was one of the best.
It was fourteen years ago that he was able to stand out in a crowd and be selected by the Fang family as a protection escort. He thought that he could take the opportunity to make a name for himself to go to a higher level. Who thought that the world’s blessings and misfortunes depended on each other, and it was precisely because of this escort that the dozen or so powerful disciples carefully selected by A Righteous Friend lost it all.
Uncle Fang was also seriously injured and died.
Shanxi was in an uproar.
More than a dozen escort bodyguards had been killed by the hands of a group of mountain thieves, and A Righteous Friend became a joke.
Zhang Fist was angry, anxious and sad, and he vomited blood and died. A Righteous Friend withered and disappeared out of sight.
Unexpectedly, after fourteen years, A Righteous Friend opened again.
This was A Righteous Friend, but was it still A Righteous Friend with a fist?
Everyone’s eyes fell on the man who had hung the plaque, and someone shouted out.
“Isn’t this Lao Lei?”
Even if he was inconspicuous, he had been driving carriages for Deshengchang for more than ten years and everyone was familiar with him.
Old Lei, who drove carriages from Deshengchang, hung a plaque here. Was it an escort bureau opened by Deshengchang?
That’s rare, but not really rare.
Other wealthy merchants would run many industries, but Deshengchang only operated banking businesses from beginning to end.
So now that Deshengchang had punished their enemies and the young master had recovered his health, was it necessary to vigorously develop and open up new industries?
“Is this being opened by Deshengchang?” Tongue-in-cheek inquiries rang out.
Lei Zhonglian looked at the crowd and shook his head as he lifted the ladder.
“No, it’s not. This is A Righteous Friend.” He said, “This is the reopening of my master Zhang’s A Righteous Friend.”
It was indeed a righteous act!
Those at the scene with some understanding were both surprised and shocked.
And he said his master was Zhang Fist?
“Old Lei, aren’t you a carriage driver? What does it have to do with Zhang Fist?” Someone asked in confusion.
Lei Zhonglian grabbed the ladder with one hand and looked back at the man.
“I was originally an escort bodyguard for A Righteous Friend, studying under Master Zhang. And fourteen years ago, I escorted Fang’s family, and I never completed the detail. That is, until some time ago when I escorted Young Master Fang and Young Master’s Wife back safely from Ru’nan. At this point, A Righteous Friend had fulfilled its promise.” He said. “So I can also revive A Righteous Friend.”
The people around them were stunned.
This sounded like another twisted and bizarre story.
“The escort? I remember! When Uncle Fang was attacked, three people were eventually dragged out, one of whom was the surviving escort bodyguard.”
“Yes, yes, there was one. The escort bodyguard also yelled about how they had not been robbed by mountain thieves for their wealth, but had been robbed and killed by officers and soldiers.”
“It turns out that the escort bodyguard was you.”
Everyone’s eyes once again focused on Lei Zhonglian.
This was another old matter, and this was also an old man.
“Well, you said you escorted Young Master Fang and his wife back from Ru’nan.” Someone thought of something again and shouted loudly. “Then when the storyteller said that Miss Jun took the sick and weak, with the old and disabled as she trekked back to Ru’nan, is it you?”
Lei Zhonglian looked at him without speaking, and lifted the ladder with one hand and supported it with the other hand. The sleeves slid down to reveal a stiff right hand, wrinkled and twisted.
Those who stood close couldn’t help but let out a low cry when they saw it.
This hand was obviously disabled.
Sure enough, he was the “old and disabled”.
But since his hand was damaged like this, surely he couldn’t wield a sword or a spear anymore, right? How could he start an escort bureau? Did the Fang family give him money to open the business and then hire escort bodyguards?
“No.” Lei Zhonglian put the ladder behind the door and replied while turning back. “I won’t be hiring escorts. I will recruit some apprentices, teach them kung fu, and take them as escort bodyguards.”
He? Teach apprentices? Apprentices acting as escort bodyguards?
The people at the scene were even more stunned.
Miracles happens every year, and this year there were especially many.
Can a man with a disabled hand teach his apprentices to be escort bodyguards?
Lei Zhonglian had already walked inside, and the discussion outside the door was chaotic.
“Since he is that old and disabled man that Miss Jun went with, then he must have personally experienced the ambush and staggered through the killing field.”
“What do you mean experience it? Could he still enter the killing field himself like this?”
“I think it’s just Deshengchang rewarding him with money to open a shop and a pension.”
While the discussion was happening over here, there was the sound of horses’ hooves rushing from the street.
“Make way. Make way.” Accompanied by a scolding sound.
The crowd saw four or five soldiers galloping along with a general, and these soldiers were majestic and imposing.
The soldiers who came from this section of Yangcheng had either broken the door of the county or beheaded people, so the people were very afraid, and quick to dodge and avoid.
The soldiers stopped in front of the door of A Righteous Friend, and they dismounted in unison. The weapons and armor rattled, which was very terrifying.
The soldiers stood scattered in front of the door, their faces solemn, and the general at the head did not break through the door, but adjusted his clothes.
“Master Lei.” He shouted.
Lei Zhonglian stepped out from the inside and saw that the soldier’s brow was furrowed.
“General Tian.” He said, “Why are you here again?”
The man who was called General Tian smiled.
“Our lord said that we need to perform three humble visits to the thatched cottage1.” He said, “So I’ve come back to ask you again.”
Even the three visits! To a man with a disabled hand?
The onlookers widened their eyes in disbelief.
Lei Zhonglian was not flattered at all, but a little annoyed.
“General Tian, as I said, I thank the officials for their favor, but I really can’t go to the Huaiqing Road Army to serve them.” He sighed and held out his right hand, “My hand is like this.”
General Tian obviously couldn’t pretend to be gentle, and he took a step forward with a bit of fanaticism in his eyes.
“Master Lei, don’t be modest, I have seen with my own eyes the skills you used to kill the enemy in the Baiheliang Valley.” He said, “I also inquired, and it turns out that originally you were the Dual-Spear Lotus. In this skill, if you say you are second, then no one would dare to say they are first.”
The onlookers were in an uproar and looked at Lei Zhonglian in disbelief.
The fame of the Dual-Spear Lotus was similar to the reputation of Zhang Fist, and there were not only a few people who had heard of it, but no one had associated the Dual-Spear Lotus with the humble driver for Deshengchang Lao Lei.
Lei Zhonglian sighed lightly.
“My lord, my hand has long been unable to wield dual spears. Fourteen years ago when escorting Uncle Fang, we encountered thieves. My hand was injured and I could no longer take up the spear. In the battle at Baiheliang Valley, it was Young Master Fang’s wife who pierced me with a golden needle, so that I could have a last battle. After the fight, my hand was completely disabled.” He said, “So the me you saw in the battle of Baiheliang Valley will never appear again. He no longer exists.”
The noise in front of the door suddenly subsided, and everyone looked at Lei Zhonglian.
Disabled hands, recovery through Young Master Fang’s wife’s golden needles, an amazing battle.
How did it end up being about Young Master Fang’s wife again?
There was too much information in this, and everyone was a little confused to hear it.
“Is this also a shill that the Fang family paid for?” Someone muttered, “Isn’t this too many shills and too many twists?”
Footnotes and Idioms
1 – 三顾茅庐 – sān gù máo lú – “three humble visits to a thatched cottage”; repeatedly request somebody to take up a responsible post. From the Romance of Three Kingdoms: Liu Bei recruits Zhuge Liang to his cause by visiting him three times