Chapter 168: Disbelief (2)
Twenty years ago, the old man had been sent to Guilin Restaurant to be a bookkeeper. He had toiled away, doing enough careful and conscientious work for a lifetime. Although he should have retired back to the Jing’an Estate at such an age, when he saw how Guilin Restaurant’s business was failing in the hands of the Wang family, he couldn’t bear to just leave.
The old Count had saved Bookkeeper Wang a long time ago, when Bookkeeper Wang had been a wounded soldier. Due to his age, he hadn’t tried to look for a wife after recuperating from his injuries, so he didn’t have any relatives back at the estate. He hadn’t been able to contend against the Wang family in his circumstances either, so he could only continue to bide his time in Guilin Restaurant.
“Please wait here, Third Young Madam.” Bookkeeper Wang walked to the back of the restaurant and soon returned with a small wooden box. He held up the box with two hands and passed it to Chu Lian. “Third Young Madam, these are the accounts that this old servant has been privately keeping. Please have a look.”
It turned out that Manager Wang had stopped letting Bookkeeper Wang handle the accounts for quite some time already. The books that he handed over to the family were merely forged. Since Bookkeeper Wang couldn’t do anything about that, he had secretly made his own copies while waiting for the day that he could hand it to his masters.
Chu Lian hadn’t expected this old man to have done this. Although she knew inside that the accounts he had kept were practically useless to her now, she still received it with gratitude. The fruits of someone’s hard work, whether small or large, sweet or sour, should be received with the importance and respect they deserve.
“Thank you for your hard work, Mr. Bookkeeper.” Chu Lian sincerely thanked him.
Bookkeeper Wang smiled so widely that his eyes turned into slits. “Don’t say that, Third Young Madam, it is this old servant’s duty.”
Following that, Bookkeeper Wang showed her around Guilin Restaurant.
There was a woman over forty who did chores for the restaurant in the backyard. Bookkeeper Wang had been able to stay safe and sound all this time because she had taken care of him throughout the time of the Wang family’s exploitation.
Chu Lian stood in the backyard, examining the layout of the whole building. Although Guilin Restaurant wasn’t very eye-catching from the outside and couldn’t be compared to the majestic restaurants on Zhuque Avenue, it had its own charms.
Guilin Restaurant’s layout was like a gourd. It had a small entrance, but the area inside was huge. The backyard even had two sections, which made up for the lack of a second floor.
The buildings on either side of Guilin Restaurant were both ordinary homes. According to Bookkeeper Wang, ever since the west market had been shifted, the properties on Anle Lane had lost their value. In fact, one of the neighbouring properties had been empty all this time, and nobody was staying there.
Bookkeeper Wang led Chu Lian into the second section of the backyard and explained, “Initially, this courtyard was meant for guests, but ever since the business took a dive, the Wang family took it over for themselves.”
Chu Lian entered the courtyard and noted the elaborate design.
There was some mottled bamboo planted in a corner with a small decorative mountain beside it. Beside the mountain were some stone tables and stools. On the other side, there was a small cluster of banana trees.
The corridor leading up to the main building in this courtyard was covered in wisterias. Interestingly, on the side of the building facing the banana trees, there was a small music room for playing the zither.
Although there were no longer any zithers or incense burners in it and it had long been filled up with junk, Chu Lian could still imagine what Guilin Restaurant looked like decades ago.
This losing business had completely exceeded Chu Lian’s expectations.
Chu Lian chatted with the old bookkeeper for an hour or so before taking the wooden box full of account books with her and leaving in the carriage.