The Tang Dynasty’s Female Forensic Doctor Chapter 66: How about marrying me?
So, I couldn’t explain last chapter what exactly is the position of vice-minister. Well, the traditional imperial system had the so-called Six Ministries, they were: Rites, Personnel, Revenue, War, Public Works and Justice. Each was headed by a Minister who was assisted by Vice-Ministers. The Officials of the government were divided within nine ranks (‘one’ being the highest), and these nine ranks were divided into two classes: zheng (primary) and cong (secondary); the ranks from four to nine were further divided into shang (upper) and xia (lower). So, primary-one-rank can be said to be the highest rank and secondary-nine-rank-low to be the lowest. The rank of vice-ministers varied between primary-two-rank and primary-four-rank. Be aware that this is a very simplified explanation of how the Chinese imperial bureaucracy was divided. I hope you read until here, because this information will be useful when reading this chapter ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ Good read!
Ran Yan hurriedly glued herself to the wall when she saw the group of people getting closer and closer. She lifted her eyes and saw Xiao Song nonchalantly standing at the street’s end. How hateful, she had no choice but to grab and pull him over, otherwise, people will want to steal much more than a couple of glimpses towards this tall and handsome Master! If it were to be like that, there wouldn’t have much difference between hiding and not hiding herself.
“Master Xiao, if you do not intend on leaving, I ask you not to keep standing on the street’s corner attracting bees and butterflies .” Ran Yan firmly grasped Xiao Song’s wrist and lowered her voice to speak.
Xiao Song decided to collaborate and lowered his voice to say, “Miss Ran, our Great Tang has no law that forbids this crossroad from having many people standing on it.”
Ran Yan saw those few people rapidly approaching and answered through her clenched teeth: “Consider as me asking you for a favor.”
Xiao Song acted as if he was taking things very seriously and nodded: “All right then, but you will have to give me something in return for my help.”
“What?” Ran Yan glanced askance to the outside and thought it was better if she could find a way to disband those people.
Xiao Song could obviously see through her idea, “It’s no more than giving me (humble) a chance to send you back home, then we can have a little chat along the way.”
“Ok, it’s a deal.” Ran Yan readily answered. Although she is very displeased with Xiao Song’s blackmail, she has no other choice besides admitting that his demand is not excessive. Moreover, he was very polite with his words, making her unable to reject it.
At the street outside the alley, the group of noble youths surrounded Ran Yunsheng’s carriage. Zhang Fei raised his voice to say: “Seventeenth Miss, there’s a gathering in the Qi family’s boat to hold the Qiqiao ceremony . Qi family’s head had us come here to invite Seventeenth Miss over.”
They had waited for a while only to see Ran Yunsheng come out from the carriage alone. He walked towards all those people and drily replied: “My (younger) sister has just recovered from a serious illness and can get easily tired. She has already returned home to rest. I’m truly sorry for disappointing everyone.”
When Ran Yunsheng got out of the carriage, the whole crowd could see that the inside was empty, there really had no one else. The Ran family can’t be casually offended, so even if they aren’t resigned, they can’t overstep their boundaries.
Actually, if Ran Yan had gone to the boat and stood her ground while they all watched her to their heart’s contents, perhaps their pursue wouldn’t be so relentless and heated. Unfortunately, her anger at that time was too fierce, and she had gone to the deck for a mere moment before soon returning to the boat, leaving them feeling like they had enjoyed a fleeting glimpse of a breathtaking beauty. That’s the reason they are all searching for her – so that they can carefully look at her with no impediments. It must be noted that there aren’t many days like Qixi where they can act so brazenly.
Those many people resentfully took their leave. Zhang Fei said: “Since it’s Qixi, won’t Tenth Master join us on the boat?”
“I (humble) have a pressing matter to attend, it won’t be possible to join in the fun. I hope Master Zhang will have a great time.” Ran Yunsheng bowed, clearly displaying his rejection.
Zhang Fei didn’t want to be forceful and spoke some polite words before going back with the others.
At the alley, Xiao Song lowered his head and could see Ran Yan’s hair whorl and her long fluttering eyelashes, her slightly raised nose that was beautiful and lovely, and her long black hair that was loosely tied at her back. This look produced a much more casual and indolent atmosphere when compared to her usual appearance. Xiao Song’s heart stirred, and he moved closer to her, “Being pursued and sought by others, why do you run away?”
“I do not enjoy this type of stalking and attention.” Ran Yan saw they had gone away and sighed in relief.
Xiao Song nodded in understanding. It is not everybody who enjoys being the center of attention. With Ran Yan’s chilly temper, she probably doesn’t like to mingle with many people.
“Bai Yi!” Xiao Song called out.
A deep voice came from the alley’s entrance, “Master!”
“Bring the carriage over.” Xiao Song ordered.
“Yes.” Bai Li answered and went to fetch the carriage. During the time Ran Yunsheng waited, he had already roamed around the whole market once and came back.
“Vice-minister Xiao, it’s been a long time.” Ran Yunsheng jumped down from the carriage and bowed towards Xiao Song.
Xiao Song politely nodded and said: “It’s been several months, and Master Ran looks even more elegant than before.”
Ran Yunsheng replied: “I did not know vice-minister Xiao had come to Suzhou, is it for an official duty? If you have the time, let me have the honor of inviting you for dinner at the Ran Fu.”
“This time I’m only passing through Jiangnan. I’ll be leaving for Chang’an tomorrow morning. I (humble) appreciate your kind offer but have to decline it. Please send my regards to your father (courteous).” Xiao Song’s face revealed a proper smile, calm and amiable. In addition, he exuded a grandeur already ingrained inside his bones, causing people to be filled with heartfelt admiration.
His manner of speaking was natural and confident, if Ran Yan didn’t know he’s been investigating Su Fu, she would believe him without a shadow of doubt.
“Your (younger) sister (courteous) and I have yet to finish our conversation. With this being the case, we’ll send her back together, so that we can continue talking.” Ran Yan was marveled at Xiao Song acting like an opportunistic and speaking so naturally of the agreement which had just been reached.
Ran Yunsheng hesitated for an instant and glanced at Ran Yan. Seeing that she didn’t have any objection, he smiled and said: “If that’s the case, then I’ll have to trouble vice-minister Xiao.”
At this exact moment, Bai Yi appeared driving the carriage, stopping right at the alley’s entrance. Xiao Song tilted his head and faintly smiled at Ran Yan, “Miss Ran, please.”
“Tenth brother, don’t worry.” Ran Yan stealthily said as she passed by Ran Yunsheng.
Ran Yunsheng rubbed her hair and softly replied: “Master Xiao is a distinguished and renowned person, it’s only natural for me to trust him.”
Xiao Song was standing at the side of the carriage observing this scene. His brows unconsciously wrinkled and he couldn’t help but want to urge her to hurry up, but due to his status and courtesy, he could only wait for her patiently.
After entering the carriage, Ran Yan lifted her eyes and evaluated its interior.
Xiao Song’s carriage was very spacious, it had one small table, a couch-bed and a bamboo mat spread on the floor, a succinct and stylish decoration. The inside was filled with his impression, it wasn’t some kind of sensation you could perceive through seeing or smelling, but a type of feeling.
“Master Xiao wants to ask about the killer?” Besides this, Ran Yan couldn’t bring herself to think of another matter that would make him, a dignified vice-minister, stare at her relentlessly.
“Do you know about all the things he did?” At first, Xiao Song didn’t want to ask about such matter, but since Ran Yan brought it up, he will follow suit.
Ran Yan didn’t answer.
Ran Yan gradually frowned, her petal-like lips pressed together and her eyes hanged down in deep ponder.
“You know how to perform an autopsy. Are you still able to confirm the cause of death if there’s only a pile of bones left?” Xiao Song suddenly changed topics.
Ran Yan temporarily set aside Su Fu’s matter and explained: “Not necessarily. It can usually be verified if it is caused by external forces.”
“What about poison?” Xiao Song’s eyes shined while he questioned even further.
Mentioning her specialized field, Ran Yan became solemn and solemnly answered: “Perhaps, it will depend on what poison it is. For instance, the poison from wutou, datura and nux vomica, are typically not immediately fatal. After they enter the organism, they will destroy the body’s functions…err, you may understand it as destroying the internal organs or the blood circulation. But this type of poison will be metabolized in the body extremely fast and be quickly excreted along with the urine. It would not be easy to find out the real cause of death in a body that had just died, let alone in a pile of bones. This type of poison may as well be called a murderer’s must-have goods.”
Xiao Song chuckled, “A murderer’s must-have goods? That killer also has a profound knowledge of medicine. If that isn’t the case, seeing how you are covering up for him, can I see it as you and him actually being partners?”
“Your suspicion is justifiable.” Ran Yan said.
“Miss Ran.” Xiao Song temporarily restrained his smile, and his appearance didn’t show the slightest bit of playfulness as he looked at her straight, “Would you be willing to marry and leave to Chang’an?”
Ran Yan was stumped. How did the topic develop into this strange state? She was feeling somewhat baffled, but was still able to adapt and answered: “It will depend on who I would be marrying”
“Me.” Xiao Song displayed a faint smile while he looked at her. He honestly wondered, this seemingly indifferent and matchless young lady, how will she respond after hearing these intimate words?
However, he became disappointed. Ran Yan sized him up once and lightly replied: “It needs more consideration.”
Xiao Song swiftly moved his body forward, and his face was so close to her face that they could smell each other’s breaths. His shining-like-stars eyes stared straight towards her pitch-black eyes. This posture was kept for a good time until Xiao Song felt rather frustrated. There has never been a young lady who could face him like this and remain completely aloof. It seems Ran Yan should be consider a special case.
With this enlarged handsome face in front of her, Ran Yan really felt at a loss thinking about how this matter had reached to point. She had seen people with double personalities, but wasn’t this too fast?
“Do you have a gentleman who you like?” Xiao Song slowly sat back.
Ran Yan reclined in her seat, “Are all officials in Chang’an like you, bumming around doing nothing? Having this much time to discuss this kind of topic with an unknown woman?”
“My proposal just now, you might as well think it over. I have a major case in my hands and would be inconvenient to personally go investigate it. If you agree…”
If you could agree to it, then you can get involved in the case as my woman. There will certainly have a big reward afterward.
Xiao Song spoke half of his words and then stopped. Lowering his eyes, he continued: “Forget it. There isn’t a suitable position at my side.”
Ran Yan is Ran family’s di daughter, but the Ran family is simply not worth mentioning when compared with a true aristocratic and influential family. Suzhou is filled with many good suitors to be her husband, one which she can be properly married as the di wife. On the other hand, his family would never allow Ran Yan to become his main wife. He can’t take a concubine before marrying a main wife, so Ran Yan could only become the former.
Xiao Song didn’t even need to ask about this kind of status, only by seeing those deep and cold eyes in front of him, he knew it would be impossible for her to agree… Moreover, he is not any ordinary person…
Ran Yan understood. It was about this official business that he originally wanted to talk about. To go to Chang’an and investigate a case, both are things Ran Yan was willing to do, but it’s a pity that Xiao Song’s meaning was that she had to become his woman in order to get involved with the case. She can’t accept such a thing.
There was no sound again during the journey. Xiao Song escorted Ran Yan to the village and then returned to the city without a single halt.
Ran Yan observed the carriage rapidly disappearing and thought to herself: it seems he is not so idle as she had initially assumed.
“Ah Yan, how did you get to know vice-minister Xiao?” Ran Yunsheng puzzledly inquired.
Even if Xiao Song is the vice-minister of one the Three Departments-Six Ministries, he ought to be a fourth rank official. Ran Yan asked: “He’s the vice-minister from where?”
Ran Yunsheng looked even more surprised, “You don’t know? He is the assistant minister of the Ministry of Justice, Xiao Song, who was conferred the title of Impartial Official of secondary-third-rank. He now occupies a high-ranking position at the age of twenty-six and is considered an extremely powerful and influential personage in Chang’an. Father has gone visit him many times but never got to meet with him. How did you get to know him?”
After Ran Yan briefly explained the process of how she got to know him, she promptly asked: “Twenty-six years old and still haven’t taken a wife?”
Ran Yan’s intuition told her that it was unlikely for him to be a married person. There is always a subtle difference between men who are married and men who are not married, regardless of their age. But here in the ancient times, is really unbelievable that a man of twenty-six years old hasn’t taken a wife yet.
“Ah Yan towards him…” Ran Yunsheng thought Ran Yan had fallen for Xiao Song and couldn’t help frowning his beautiful eyebrows. He was about to speak out his thoughts but ended up switching topics in order to avoid hurting this unmarried girl’s dignity, “It is said in Chang’an that a Daoist priest stated that his fate isn’t balanced and it’s fairly tough: he possesses a mutually destructive destiny with his wife. It is also said that vice-minister Xiao has had two marriages in the past: one with a di daughter from the capital’s Du clan, who mysteriously died on her way for the wedding; and the other, with a Miss from the Lu clan of Fanyang, who also died after three days of marriage.”
 This means “to attract the opposite sex” ↺