After four hours, it was the darkest part of the night.
Fang Yuan, who was tired like a dead dog, lay on top of the carriage piled with raw materials and watched Su Li skillfully driving the carriage deep into the mountains. He felt stranger and stranger. Considering Su Li’s place as the miss of the Su Family, how could she have such good driving skills?
In his eyes, Su Li was mysterious and unpredictable like a mist.
He struggled to sit up after a few breaths. Looking at the back of the carriage, he frowned and blurted out, “Little... Su Li, the carriage is so heavy that it would leave a deep rut. We’ll be easily found.”
“Not really.” Su Li answered confidently ahead of the carriage but didn’t say anything more.
Fang Yuan could not help frowning more heavily. He remembered what had happened on the South Street the other day. But he did not ask any questions; instead, he turned back and lay down to recover his strength.
Two hours later, the sky turned white and the carriage finally stopped.
Fang Yuan turned over and jumped out of the carriage. Looking around, he was astonished. The place was so secluded. He did not expect that there was such a place near Dasu Town.
They were in a natural valley, which was extremely narrow. Both the smooth mountainsides, covered with vines, rose straight up covering all the sky. If Su Li had not brought him here, he would not have found it.
“Stop the carriage here. Let’s go back. In a short while, the Su House will be chaotic. I have to go back and join in the fun.”
Seeing Su Li speak in such a light way, Fang Yuan could not help rolling his eyes and say, “You’d better think of a way to cover the ruts.”
Then he walked out of the valley with anxiety, only to find a traceless road.
Fang Yuan was amazed. He clearly saw the ruts left by the carriage along the road. How could they disappear? It was amazing!
“Let’s hurry up and go back.”
Su Li’s face looked normal. She urged Fang Yuan and they left the valley. Fang Yuan came to his sense and immediately followed up. Walking back, he grew more shocked. The ruts left by them were totally gone. Su Li... How did she do this?
“Small skill, don’t ask too much,” Su Li said. She entered the Su House from the back door of the Jinyuan Court and disappeared.
“Is it a small skill?” Fang Yuan smiled bitterly. Such a magic skill didn’t even exist in the Nanjiang, a place known for its cunning.
It was time to get up when Su Li went back to the Jinyuan Court. She changed clothes and did not lie down. Nanny Li came over to wake her up.
Thanks to her cultivation, Su Li did not feel tired despite the fact that she didn’t sleep all night. As usual, she washed her face, ate and went to class. Only when she was alone would she show a little sadness.
“It’s a pity that the rare soil that was so hard to cultivate has been used up…”
She gained access to the rare soil by accident in her previous life. With a little rare soil scattered along the way, no matter how severely the road was damaged within six hours, it would be restored to its original state; in addition, the soil had the effect of covering up all smells.
Six hours later, the rare soil would become ordinary soil and any tracks or ruts could not be detected. In her previous life, she had avoided countless kills relying on the rare soil. So, in this life, she prepared some early in order to prevent any misfortune.
After the class in the morning, Su Li returned to the Jinyuan Court. The Su House was still quiet as usual.
“It seemed that Su Huanli has silenced the news. He is not stupid.”
Putting down the writing brush, Su Li dried the ink on the envelope. Her calm expression showed some coldness.
At the warehouse in the back mountain of the Su House, Su Huanli looked pale seeing the few remaining bags of seasoning in the corner of the warehouse. He banged hard on the wall and shouted in a low voice:
“The warehouse of the Su Family is extremely covert. Who on earth did this? With so little seasoning left, the Baiwei Building won’t last two days!”
Li Yin heavily frowned. How was this possible?
“Master, the guards all passed out due to effect of a knockout incense and knew nothing. And... It’s weird that there are no traces of carriages outside the warehouse.”
Hearing Li Yin’s analysis, Su Huanli immediately said angrily, “Could the seasonings fly by themselves? Butler Li, there aren’t any raw materials in the mountains near the Dasu Town, are there?”
Li Yin quickly leaned down and said, “Master, after our search this month, we found that the maturity period of such spice plants has passed. All the raw materials were collected in the warehouse. Even if we search in the mountains around other towns, we won’t find any.”
“Bastard, there is no such rule!”
Su Huan Li was so angry that he was trembling, “Such a coincidence! There must be a mole in the Su Family! Damn it, without those raw materials, it is impossible to make Beggar’s Chicken, and the reputation of the Baiwei Building will severely fall! Such a clever trick! Who on earth is aiming at our Su Family…”
The more Su Huanli spoke, the more he felt cold and desperate. The enemy’s means were more than smart. It seemed that everything they did was seen. The Su Family, however, had no clue who did this.
Su Huanli calmed down after gasping for a moment. He ordered in a low voice, “Don’t disclose this, otherwise I will not be able to account for it to the Yang and Zhu Families. Go to ask Er... Li if other seasonings could be alternatives. If not, ask her to develop new dishes right away!”
Li Yin sighed softly when he heard the words. New dishes were not so easy to be developed. The Baiwei Building may come to an end.
Li Yin rushed to the Jinyuan Court.
“Raw materials stolen? Develop new dishes?”
In the study, Su Li stood up in surprise and said, “Butler, what on earth happened? Why were all those raw materials stolen?”
Li Yin sighed. When he was ready to explain, he heard the shout of guard outside, “Butler, come take a look at the letter on the gate!”
Li Yin, with a stern look, rushed to the gate. He took the envelope in the guard’s hand and asked, “When did you find it?”
“When I was opening the door, the letter fell from the crack between door leaves.” Hearing the guard’s truthful answer, Li Yin frowned more heavily. He couldn’t get the specific time from such a description.
Li Yin unfolded the note. After he gave it a cursory look, his face changed slightly. He immediately brought the note to the Master.
“I am so lucky to have hundreds of jin (a unit of weight, equal to half of one kilogram) of raw materials for the Beggar’s Chicken! If the Su Family intends to buy, come to the Sanhe Bridge at midnight to trade. The price is 800 taels per jin. Considering financial resources of the Su Family, it should be easy to take out ten thousand taels of silver. Su Huanli, remember: If you come with officers or guards, I will disappear immediately. If you still want the Baiwei Building, come and trade by yourself! I won’t wait!”
Su Huanli read with trembling hands and immediately tore the note into pieces in anger, “This is naked blackmail! Damn it! Damn it!”
Li Yin shook his head helplessly, “Master, the thief is selling the seasonings very blatantly after stealing them! Obviously, he knew that our Su Family couldn’t give up Beggar’s Chicken. One jin of raw materials for seasoning can be used for cooking 300 dishes of Beggar’s Chicken. Plus the precious Beggar’s Chicken made by the Second Miss, the gross profit is only about 2,500 taels. Our Su Family accounts for forty percent of the total, which is only worth one thousand taels of silver. The thief wants 800 taels, which is the bottom line. This is really terrible…”
Hearing the analysis, Su Huanli instantly broke out into a cold sweat. When did the Su Family tangle with such a terrible enemy? Without anyone knowing, this enemy had stolen all the seasonings and had found out the bottom line of the Su Family’s profits. He was not a mole but a roundworm in the Su Family’s stomach!
“However, the thief fails in one aspect.” Li Yin whispered, “The Zhu and Yang Families did not find any abnormalities in the false accounts we gave them before. Thus, the profits of our Su Family is sixty percent. While the Zhu and Yang Families account for, at most, 800 taels, so we do not lose much.”
Su Huanli looked better but was still pale, said, “Tonight, come with me and hide in the dark. If the thief is caught, I’ll peel off his skin!”
Li Yin kept silent for a moment and promised reluctantly.
Su Huanli sighed and said helplessly, “Butler Li, I know that you are very reluctant, but the Su Family is not a martial arts family. In face of such a danger, I can only rely on you. If you can help me catch the thief, you can take half of the Su Family’s property.”
Li Yin was shocked and quickly said, “Master, I have never thought about seizing the property of the Su Family. I just want to live out my life in retirement here.”
Hearing what the butler said, Su Huanli smiled and squinted, saying, “If so, I won’t force you to accept it. But be careful today.”
In the afternoon, the weather was extremely good. The Baiwei Building was busy as usual. Yet Fang Yuan felt something unusual. It seemed that there was a surging undercurrent under a calm surface and that it was hard to predict what would follow.
“How on earth will she deal with those seasonings...” Fang Yuan felt doubtful but didn’t dare to look for Su Li for fear of exposing himself.
In a flash, it was night. The moonlight covered the Sanhe Bridge like a veil, and the calm lake reflected a lonely figure.
In the moonlight, Su Li watched herself in the lake, only to find a black-faced figure in his thirties with a bristly unshaven chin. The figure, with a plain look, was tall but thin like a bamboo pole.
Whoever saw it would never associate it with the most beautiful Miss Su Li in the Dasu Town.
“Fortunately, I have gained the acquired ninth hurdle of cultivation. Otherwise, I may need to recover for a few days due to such severe stress on my bones,” Su Li thought.
At last, a figure appeared on the other side of the Sanhe Bridge. It was Su Huanli who came alone.
Seeing the man’s appearance, Su Huanli instantly felt confused. He never saw such an unfamiliar man.
“Who on earth are you? Do you hold any grudges against our Su Family? Why do you steal the goods of our Su Family?”
Su Huanli asked the three questions in a row. Su Li laughed lightly, creating a low and hoarse voice, “Old guy, cut the crap! Do you want those hundreds of jin of raw materials or not?”
Then Su Li turned around and watched the bridge. In a stern tone, she said, “Old guy, I clearly told you to come alone, but you failed to follow it. Was the note given to you unclear?”
Then Li Yin, who had just dived into the water, was nervous. Was he found out? Or cheated?
“You are talking nonsense!” Su Huanli had a guilty conscience but his face remained unchanged, saying, “I do come alone. Don’t make an unfounded accusation against me!”
Su Li sneered and said, “Unexpectedly, the elder butler of the Su Family is a master of the acquired eighth hurdle. Do you think I will treat you as a fish if you stay at the bottom of the lake? I’ll count from one to three. If you don’t come out, don’t blame me for turning you into a dead fish!”