Chapter 98: Old employees
Xu Tingsheng’s phone rang. It was not Fang Yuqing who had called but Fang Chen.
“Yuqing’s told me about the matter with your family,” Fang Chen said, “Hey, why did you look for Yuqing and not me? I’m clearly the one who can get things done. Xu Tingsheng, is it that you’re afraid of me?”
However strange and unruly Fang Chen’s words were, Xu Tingsheng still sighed in relief. However arrogant and unreasonable, crafty and scheming Fang Chen was, if she had not been confident of her abilities, she would not be talking to him in such a tone even under such circumstances.
She was saying that it was clearly she who was the competent one. With her relaxed tone, Xu Tingsheng was able to relax a little as well.
“Please state your conditions, oh great beauty Fang,” Xu Tingsheng said.
“You really understand me well,” Fang Chen laughed, “I’ll say this first then. Even if you don’t agree to my conditions, I’ll still be helping you on this. This sis is still not shameless to that extent yet. Still, since you mentioned it yourself, it seems like it would be plain wrong if I didn’t stage a robbery amidst the fire.”
“Say it,” Xu Tingsheng said calmly.”
“Last time, I mentioned to you that I want shares of that Hucheng Education of yours. Relax, I’ll pay. State a price,” Fang Chen said.
“1 million and you can have the entire Hucheng Education,” Xu Tingsheng offered straightforwardly.
“What in the world would I do with the entire thing? It’s not like I know anything about it at all! You’ve got to be clear on this. This sis is investing in you! Without you, what would I want that lousy platform for?” Fang Chen exclaimed in a huff, “Let me put it this way. This sis doesn’t even want the shareholder’s rights, lest you go on all half-heartedly and don’t put in any effort….This sis just wants thirty percent of the shares. State a price.”
Xu Tingsheng had known all along that Fang Chen was very shrewd, but her shrewdness this time was such that it had surpassed even his expectations. If one were to say that there were currently only ten people who could see through Hucheng’s potential, there was only one person who could tell that Hucheng’s true value lay in Xu Tingsheng, and that person was Fang Chen.
Like she had said, what she truly wanted to invest in was the person, Xu Tingsheng, himself. If Xu Tingsheng lost Hucheng, he could build up yet another one, even build up one better than the previous. Therefore, what was truly valuable was actually not Hucheng.
Fang Chen certainly wouldn’t know that Xu Tingsheng had grasped the general direction of the education sector for the next ten over years and still possessed a great amount of knowledge in this area as well. It was because of that that her discernment abilities were truly so terrifying.
Fang Chen having said that she wanted thirty percent of the shares, Xu Tingsheng thought for a while before saying, “My greatest concession is this. 30 percent, 5 million yuan. 20 percent, 3 million yuan. 15 percent, 2 million yuan. If it is 5 percent, you can just lend me 1 million yuan. I’ll return it to you a year later, and you can have the stocks for free.
These prices seemed totally illogical, with fifteen percent of Hucheng’s shares being worth twice as much as the entire Hucheng itself. However, Fang Chen understood. Even for this price, five percent of it would be to repay her for the favour.
“20 percent, 2 million yuan. If you don’t agree, I’ll hang up immediately. I’ll do it all the same, but we won’t have anything to do with each other after this.”
He was being threatened. This was the threatening based on relationships that Xu Tingsheng was the most afraid of.
Thus, he could only say, “Fine, you win.”
“Yay…Still, I’ve got to say this first. I went around cheating and swindling all morning, hoodwinking all of my friends and relatives, but I only managed to gather 1 million. I’ll go to the bank and get it wired to you as urgent later on. As for the remaining 1 million, how about this sis accompany you for a night instead?” Fang Chen asked.
Xu Tingsheng knew that responding to that final line of Fang Chen’s would be courting death. In this area, even ten Xu Tingshengs would be no match for Fang Chen. Therefore, he remained silent.
“Sigh, how pitiable. A night with sis isn’t worth this little bit of money?” Waiting for a while and seeing how Xu Tingsheng was not going to respond, Fang Chen said plaintively, “Fine, sis will think of something else for that remaining 1 million.”
“It’s settled then?”
“Good,” Fang Chen seemed to have heaved a sigh of relief over where she was, yet she did not hang up as she instead turned to yell at someone on her end, “Alright, it’s done! You can let go of Yuqing now.”
“What’s the situation?” Xu Tingsheng asked in confusion.
“Oh, in truth, I really hadn’t thought that you would be able to get this poor brother of mine to treat you as a friend so, even trying so hard for you.”
“Did you know? 5am in the morning, he began calling our Dad over your matter. I saw how he was nearly even kneeling towards the phone over it…In the end, Dad still ignored him.”
“Still, my Dad actually can’t be blamed for this. After all, Yuqing’s really done too many worthless things in the past. It’s only understandable that Dad can’t believe him.”
“Then?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
“Then, I can’t believe that he actually dared to go beg Grandpa for you, and actually even succeeded in doing so.”
“Xu Tingsheng, I tell you, your matter’s grown great.”
“Because the person dealing with this matter is my Grandpa, I reckon that the phones in your county must nearly have been blown up by calls by now.”
Fang Chen hadn’t said who her father or her grandfather was, but Xu Tingsheng was able to understand from her words that old Grandpa Fang must be extremely, extremely mighty.
Xu Tingsheng also realised something else. It was that Fang Chen herself seemed to have had nothing to do with this matter from start to end at all. All of it had been achieved by Fang Yuqing alone.
Soon, his guess was proven to be true.
Fang Yuqing howled into the phone, “Xu Tingsheng, you freaking fool! You’ve been duped by that old demoness Fang Chen! If I were going to ask her to help in this matter, wouldn’t I already have told you?”
“So, it was actually this bro who handled it for you…relax, Grandpa’s already asked. As long as that Bureau Chief your county has isn’t wrong in the head, there shouldn’t be any problem left.”
“Afterwards, returning from Grandpa’s, I was just about to call you when that old demoness Fang Chen got someone and pinned me down…”
“Yet afterwards, I could only watch on helplessly as she went all around swindling money to swindle you with, next listening to you foolishly being swindled by her just like that…”
“Renege on it, Xu Tingsheng! There’s no need at all to care about things like credence and integrity when dealing with people like Fang Chen. Hurry, renege…”
Over on the other end, Fang Yuqing seemed to have been pinned down by someone yet again amidst his words. It had clearly been perpetrated by the one he called old demoness, Fang Chen.
Fang Chen’s cheerful, triumphant voice returned, “Xu Tingsheng, you won’t go back on your words, right?”
“I won’t,” Xu Tingsheng said, “Please help me to convey something to Yuqing. It’s not thanks, it’s just a single sentence. From this day forth, he’s my, Xu Tingsheng’s, lifetime brother.”
Fang Chen was momentarily silent over at the other end of the phone before she joked, “Can I switch with him? Give him the shares, give me the debt.”
An old demoness was an old demoness indeed. While seemingly having been joking, she had actually just said something else with an actual, great underlying principle.
At this point, Xu Tingsheng could not help but say, “Fang Chen, you old demoness!”
Over on that end could indistinctly be heard the muffled sound of Fang Yuqing struggling to shout out the same words even as his mouth was being covered by someone else, “Fang Chen, you old demoness!’
This world is full of so-called brothers, but living through one’s lifetime, the people one can truly take as a brother are actually very few. Some people, perhaps, might actually not even have a single one. If you don’t treat others sincerely, others naturally won’t treat you sincerely. Of course, the target of your sincerity is also important. Don’t feed your sincerity and goodwill to a dog.
Xu Tingsheng had had two people he could call brothers in his previous life, they being Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng. In this life, he had not lost these two brothers. And now, he had gained another, Fang Yuqing.
Xu Tingsheng didn’t know how imploringly Fang Yuqing had pleaded with his father and grandfather for help. This matter had been forgotten with the ruckus they had created.
Xu Tingsheng thought about how Fang Yuqing as a rebellious second gen who was used to messing and fooling around outside and was therefore not trusted by his family had actually moved to beg the seniors of his family to act, helping Xu Tingsheng who was a stranger who held totally no value at all in their eyes. He could only imagine how difficult, how very difficult it must have been for him.
The more power a person grasped, the more unwilling and reluctant they would be to put themselves into the debt of others with the use of their connections. They would not act lightly, because herein would involve too many, too many things.
Therefore, whilst not knowing specifically how difficult it had been or what exactly it was that Fang Yuqing had done, Xu Tingsheng did not ask. What he knew was that Fang Yuqing treated him as a brother.
Currently, someone was already beginning to cry out in outrage in the front lawn, shouting that the Xu Family had no money left, that the Xu Family was delaying, that the Xu Family wanted to renege on their debt, instigating everyone to go forth and demand for their money.
People were just like this. Most people lacked the ability to think for themselves, being prone to just following the general trend of things. With the first person who wanted to do this appearing, there would inevitably be a second. The pressure that Xu Tingsheng had previously set down was presently in the midst of disappearing.
As the crowd began to jostle forward, Xu Tingsheng’s uncles struggled to bar their path.
Hanging up, Xu Tingsheng told Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng, “Come, let’s go.”
When Xu Tingsheng returned to the front lawn, Mr Xu’s best friend, Uncle Rong, who had also been the first to put in an investment, had just arrived with a few others.
They stood between Xu Tingsheng and the jostling crowds.
From back when the incident had begun the previous night up till now, Xu Tingsheng had not seen him at all, had not even received an enquiring call from him.
In his previous life, after Mr Xu’s unexpected accident and passing, Uncle Rong had accompanied Xu Tingsheng for the following three days. It was only after all the rites were over that he had cried, cried till he had literally keeled over and collapsed. Afterwards, he had also helped the Xu Family as much as possible. In truth, Xu Tingsheng was a little surprised by his behaviour this time, also feeling rather bewildered by it.
Seeing him appear now, not understanding his intentions, Xu Tingsheng asked, “Uncle Rong, you…?”
Uncle Rong did not answer, just directly pulling out a bundle of cash and throwing it into his money bag before only then finally saying, “It’s also unlucky that your father has bros as poor as us. We old bros all work on the soil, being poor, only able to gather just this bit despite having tried hard all morning.”
“Nephew Tingsheng, your uncles are rather useless, not being able to help you and your father much. Still, what I and and these other old employees of your father’s have are a body’s worth of strength. We still haven’t forgotten how we worked together in the brick factory back then, those days when we fought for and protected the factory together…”
“Today, as long as the lot of us are still here, we won’t see the rest of your family being bullied. Otherwise, how will we still have the face to sit together and drink wine with your father next time?”
“Uncle knows that something having happened to your father, you will definitely be busy with many things you have to do. Uncle can’t help you with those; Uncle can’t even speak the common language well. Let’s have it this way. Leave this place to Uncle, Uncle will help you to look after it. Go do what you have to do.”
“My sister-in-law, nephew and niece-I just want to see who dares touch a single hair on the heads today.”
Having said his piece, Uncle Rong moved a stool over and sat down before the crowd, next pulling out a machete that was used to chop firewood from behind him and slamming it down onto the table.
Behind him stood five other men in their forties or fifties, all being Mr Xu’s old employees from back then.
No one dared to move.
Uncle Rong was renowned throughout the surrounding villages for his viciousness. Back amongst those of them who had come together in running the factory before, most famous had been the brains of Mr Xu as well as the viciousness of Uncle Rong.
Back then, law and order had still not been prevalent, people often coming over to stir things up at the factory and fights breaking out left and right. It had been an era when fists had been thrown in order to secure a piece of business. Uncle Rong had been ‘infamous’ as a figure who was able to stand guard over an entire factory with a single machete all on his own.
So many years having passed, many people had already forgotten about this, perhaps even Uncle Rong himself.
Now, however, they could not help but recall this person before them, this machete.
Xu Tingsheng suddenly felt a little like crying. From the previous night till now, however great the pressure, he had not felt like crying at all. Now, however, looking at Uncle Rong seated before him in his tattered and worn out clothes, the authentic, true ties of friendship herein caused his eyes to grow slightly red.
But Xu Tingsheng could not cry. He leaned over and whispered a few things into Uncle Rong’s ear. Some feelings of joy appeared on Uncle Rong’s face.
Afterwards, Xu Tingsheng turned and addressed the crowd, “I’ll just say three things.”
‘Firstly, my father will definitely come back to usher in the new year. At that time, for all those who feel like you can still stand up straight before our Xu Family, you are welcome to come over and have a glass of wine.”
“Secondly, the money. These two bros of mine will continue helping me to return you all your money. Don’t worry about the Xu Family not having enough. After all this has been distributed, there’ll still be sufficient remaining. I’ll be going to withdraw more now.”
“Thirdly, the Xu Family never forgets gratitude, but also remembers enmity.”
As Xu Tingsheng left, two messages successively buzzed on his phone.
The first was from Fang Chen: The money has already been wired over as urgent. 1.2 million, 0.2 million of it being a personal loan. It’s not counted as money for the shares. You can use it first.
The other was from Fang Yuqing: Grandpa says that he’s already got people to make the relevant calls. Go and meet the other side and see what they say before replying me again.