Chapter 31 – The Ghost in the Courtyard

Time flew by.

Finally, the number of patients waiting for care dwindled.

Su Yi rubbed his forehead.
He inadvertently glanced to the side, only to see that one of the servants had already brewed a steaming pot of medicinal tea for him.

“Sir, have some water to moisten your throat,” said the servant.
He was humble and respectful.

Hu Quan and the others smiled when they saw this.

By now, the Apricot Clinic’s old-hands were fully convinced of Su Yi’s abilities.

Their shock was more than words could express.

Huang Qianjun stood not far away.
He’d witnessed their change in attitude firsthand, and waves coursed through his heart. Only true skill can wholeheartedly convince others.

He vaguely understood why his father had been so insistent that he find an opportunity to spend more time with Su Yi.

At first, the staff of the Apricot Clinic had been arrogant and rude, with an air of superiority.

Yet now, all of them had lowered their heads in submission!

Had Su Yi forced them into submission?

No, he’d used his nigh-miraculous attainments in medicine, wordlessly convincing everyone present!

Su Yi picked up the teacup and took a sip.
Only then did he address them.
“Starting today, I’ll take up residence here.”

Hu Quan immediately responded, “Sir, there’s an unoccupied residence behind the clinic.
I’ll send someone to clean it and provide various basic daily necessities.
Will you need servants to wash your clothes and make your tea or a chef to prepare your meals?”

Su Yi shook his head.
“No need for that.
Have them clean the rooms and get the courtyard in order.
That’ll be plenty.”

Hu Quan nodded and made a mental note of this. He’d been the Apricot Clinic’s steward to begin with, and he was responsible for all sorts of chores and trifles.
Now that he was convinced of Su Yi’s skill, he was willing to serve.

“Going forward, you’ll remain in charge of all of the Apricot Clinic’s affairs,” said Su Yi.
“Everyone can continue their jobs as usual; I’ll simply be responsible for expenses and revenue.”

He certainly had no plans of spending all his time and energy on the clinic. He thought about it, then added, “Of course, if you encounter particularly confusing symptoms or life-threatening illnesses, you can call on me.
Leave ordinary illnesses to our physicians.”

As soon as he said this, a man so stalwart, he looked as if he’d been forged of iron walked into the clinic.

Hu Quan and the rest of the staff recognized him at a glance.
He’d been there when the clinic first opened its doors, but when he saw that Wu Guangbin wasn’t present, he’d cursed, turned, and left.

Yet here it was again.
He’d come back.

“Um….
Young Lord Su, I know I was rude earlier, but I hope you can forgive me.” The man awkwardly clasped his fist and apologized.

“You’ve never married, right?” Su Yi’s expression was rather strange.

The man hurriedly nodded.
“That’s right.”

Su Yi took out a piece of paper, wrote a brief message, and passed it to him.
“You’re not sick.
Follow these instructions and you’ll make a full recovery within three months.”

The stalwart man accepted the paper and glanced at it.
Despite himself, he was confused.
“‘Refrain from…’ Uh, what does this character mean?”

Despite themselves, Hu Quan and the rest of the staff were curious.
They gathered around, but when they saw Su Yi’s “prescription”, every last one of them burst into laughter.

“Brother, this character is pronounced ‘nong’.
It has the hand radical on the left, and the radicals for ‘up’ and ‘down’ on the right.
Combined, you get…..
Well, you ought to understand what I’m getting at, right?”

Hu Quan smiled ambiguously as he offered the man his advice.

The man was stunned, but a moment later, realization hit him.
His swarthy face flushed red, and he covered his face and fled in embarrassment. 

“Hahahaha….!” Huang Qianjun finally understood.
He clutched his gut and laughed.
“He looks so big and strong, yet he likes ‘one-handed self combat’!”

 Hu Quan and the others laughed too, ambiguous smiles on their faces.

All men understood this!

After this little interlude, the atmosphere at the Apricot Clinic became far more harmonious, and the air was full of good cheer.

When he saw that there weren’t any more patients, Su Yi rose.
“Take me to my residence so I can have a look around.”

Hu Quan hurriedly called two servants, who led the way.
After passing through the clinic’s back door, they quickly arrived at a clean, silent courtyard.

At the same time, in a teahouse not far from the Apricot Clinic….

……

“Elder Wu, look at this prescription he wrote! This combination of medicinal herbs and supplements is practically divinely inspired!” sighed a middle-aged man.

His name was Tan Feng, and he was one of the Apricot Clinic’s physicians. 

Two others sat beside him.
One was a white-haired elder, while the other was a dark-skinned, grim-faced man.

The first was Wu Guangbin, a physician famed throughout the city.

The other was called Wei Tong.
Just like Tan Feng, he was one of the clinic’s three practicing physicians. 

However, after learning that Su Yi, the live-in son-in-law, was to take over the clinic’s management, all three of them had come up with excuses to skip work and hide in the teahouse.
They planned to wait there and watch Su Yi get kicked out.

None of them had anticipated that even after waiting for so long, no such thing had happened.

On the contrary, the patients waiting outside the clinic each received a cure!

This surprised all three physicians.
They couldn’t help but call some of the patients into the teahouse to press them for details. 

The result practically made them jump. Su Yi, the overlooked, disrespected live-in son-in-law of the Wen Family, really was proficient in the medical arts!

“Elder Wu, Su Yi’s method for curing ‘Echo Worms’ really opened my eyes,” sighed Wei Tong.

One of the patients Su Yi treated had an unusual malady; every time he spoke, a voice within his stomach echoed every word, as if there were some malevolent entity hidden within his body.

But Su Yi said that the patient had inadvertently eaten an Echo Worm.
He then picked up a Pharmacopeia and had the patient read each medicine’s name out loud. Every time the patient read an ingredient’s name, the worm in his stomach repeated it.

But when the patient said the word “omphalia grass”, the voice within its stomach remained silent.

Su Yi then immediately ordered a servant to fetch a stalk of omphalia grass and have the patient swallow it.
This cured the patient on the spot, as the man coughed up a fingernail-sized bug—the Echo Worm.

Tan Feng sighed along with him.
“Also, the way he used silver needles to treat that patient’s arm was entirely unexpected! Even now, I can’t figure out how he pulled it off!”

Wu Guangbin had been quiet all this time, but he suddenly rose to his feet and strode towards Apricot Clinic.

“Elder Wu, what are you doing?” Tan Feng and Wu Tong hurriedly rose as well.

“I’m naturally going to apologize!” said Wu Guangbin without so much as a second look.

Tan Feng and Wei Tong glanced at each other, then hurried after him.

……

The residence behind the clinic.

Three stand-alone, grey-tiled rooms surrounded a courtyard in the shape of the character “品”.
One side had a vegetable bed and pergola, and there was a mighty locust tree in the center.
A well stood beside it, but the metal was flecked with rust, and chains kept it completely sealed. 

No one had lived there in a long time, so the entire residence was covered in dust and spiderwebs, and the courtyard was full of weeds. 

It was almost noon, and the sun was blazing hot. 

Hu Quan commanded two servants to sweep up and add various accouterments. 

Su Yi, meanwhile, stood beneath the locust tree and surveyed the courtyard.
His brow furrowed slightly.

“Sir, the courtyard has been in disrepair for years, but once we get everything in order, it should be comfortable and convenient,” said Hu Quan with a smile.

“Has anything bad happened here before?” asked Su Yi, seemingly out of nowhere.

Hu Quan froze, scrunched up his brow in thought, then said, “Now that you mention it, yes.
I recall one such incident.

“It was about nine years ago.
One of our clinic’s physicians lived here, as well as two apprentice apothecaries.
But then, one night, all three of them died suddenly.” Hu Quan pointed to the sealed well.
“The physician drowned within the well, but when they pulled up his corpse, his flesh had rotted off.
The two apprentices’ corpses were nothing but shriveled skins, and they were hanging from the branches of that locust tree.

As he spoke, Hu Quan pointed to the tree at the center of the courtyard.

Su Yi’s eyes flashed.
“Shriveled hides? Were their flesh and organs nowhere to be found?”

Hu Quan was shocked.
“How did you know?”

Su Yi didn’t explain.
“The residence has been in disrepair ever since, right?”

“That’s right.
Everyone says it’s haunted… Uh, sir, it’s not that I want to force you to live here, but this is the clinic’s only residence,” Hu Quan hurriedly explained, feeling a bit frantic.

Su Yi smiled.
“No harm done.
Way I see it, this place looks pretty good.”

Huang Qianjun said ingratiatingly, “Brother Su, won’t you be lonely all by yourself in such a large residence? How about I arrange for some beauties to accompany you? I guarantee both their looks and personalities will satisfy you!”

Su Yi smiled faintly, but it didn’t reach his eyes.
“Do you really think I’m that degenerate?”

“How could I?” Huang Qianjun broke into cold sweats and immediately denied it.
“Brother Su, don’t misunderstand!”

He’d just tried to butter Su Yi up, only to realize that he’d used too much force. 

To his relief, Su Yi merely thought for a moment, then said, “There is actually something you can help me with.
Go to the market and fetch me a rooster, the fiercer the better.
Also, I need some fresh-cut willow branches and a three-foot-long piece of tempered ten-year peach wood.”

What does he need that stuff for? Although he found it strange, the opportunity to do something for Su Yi filled him with delight.
He immediately turned and scampered off.
“Brother Su, please wait a bit.
I’ll be right back!”

His words echoed through the courtyard, but Huang Qianjun had already disappeared.

Hu Quan couldn’t help but sigh. That Huang Qianjun is an infamous hoodlum young master, yet he’s obeying the Wen Family son-in-law’s every whim.
He’s really expanded my horizons. 

“Sir, what do you need all that stuff for?” Hu Quan was curious too. A rooster, peach wood, willow branches….
Don’t the wandering Daoist priests use those to exorcize ghosts? Does he think the residence is haunted?

As soon as this possibility occurred to him, Hu Quan’s heart shook.

A ghost!

Ghosts weren’t at all unfamiliar to the people of Guangling City.
There were countless rumors and elaborate tales of vicious ghosts emerging from Mother Ghost Ridge!

“I’m preparing just in case.” Su Yi didn’t explain any further.

It was then that three figures hurried into the courtyard.
When the white-haired elder at the front of the group saw Su Yi, he bowed on the spot.
“This humble one is Wu Guanglin.
I am ashamed, and have come to apologize!”

When Tan Feng and Wei Tong saw this, they hurriedly followed suit.

Su Yi glanced at them, then instantly understood.
“You didn’t know, so you have nothing to apologize for.
This matter ends here.
Going forward, the three of you will continue to hold down the Apricot Clinic.
You can get up, but I hope this doesn’t happen again.”

The three physicians sighed in relief.

Hu Quan was happy too.
“I won’t hide it; our new manager might be young, but his medical attainments are superb.
You didn’t see it, but…”

Once he started, he kept going, enraptured as he told them all about how Su Yi treated the day’s patients. There were numerous details that even the three physicians didn’t understand, but they too were entranced, and their hearts filled with longing. 

By the time Hu Quan finished, their gaze turned respectful whenever they looked at Su Yi. 

Seth's Thoughts

We're officially launched! Welcome to all new readers, and thanks to everyone who's followed this all the way through the sneak peak phase!

So.

1) The character referenced here is “挊”, which is a variant of the more common “弄“.
In most situations, it’s a pretty generic verb.
It means “to do”, “get”, “make”, or “play.” However, this particular variant is a bit more… visually evocative?

Hand is written “手” by itself, or “扌” when its a component of other characters. 

Up is “上”.

Down is “下”.

Combined, you get “挊”,or “to move the hands up and down.” 

2) ‘One-handed self combat’ is a reference to Zhou Botong’s “technique of ambidexterity” in Jin Yong’s classic novel, “The Legend of Condor Heroes.” Zhou Botong created it out of boredom.
This mysterical art allows each hand to use different martial arts, allowing him to fight himself. 

I know the translation looks a bit different from mine, but “technique of ambidexterity” was likely chosen for clarity or reader appeal; 双手互搏 literally translates to “two hands fighting each other.” The only difference between the terms is the number of hands….

3) Echo Bugs, 应声虫, are a creature of folklore.
In the modern language, the phrase refers to yes-men, but it originally referred to an insect that lived inside people and repeated everything it heard, and that’s what it refers to here.

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