C110 – Can You Screw It up a Little Bit More
Tang Yue remained at the residence of Imperial Doctor Wu for three days. During this period, Crown Prince Zhao summoned Imperial Doctor Wu twice, ostensibly for a thorough examination of his own health, but covertly to inquire about Tang Yue’s condition.
Poor Imperial Doctor Wu, despite his youth, couldn’t help but involve himself in the affairs of young love. Each time he returned, he wore a peculiar expression as he glanced at Tang Yue.
He pondered, “This young lad must have accumulated the blessings of eight lifetimes to enjoy such good fortune in this lifetime.”
After three days, the initial shipment of herbs arrived. Tang Yue, accompanied by his newly hired staff and Imperial Doctor Wu, who held a similar status to Wang Nian, confidently strode toward the herbal store.
The store’s sign was prepared but concealed beneath a red silk cover. Following modern customs, Tang Yue planned to inaugurate the shop with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, unveil the sign, offer three days of free consultations, and then host a modest grand opening celebration.
The warehouse in the backyard was brimming with stacks of herbs. Tang Yue led his team inside, where the intermingling scents of various herbs brought smiles to the faces of the elders.
Elder Chen commented, “I believe our young dandy is now South Jin’s largest herb merchant.”
Business wasn’t thriving during this period; most merchants operated on a small scale. Occasionally, those who dealt in goods from different regions received support from influential nobles.
Currently, there were no substantial quantities of medicinal plants available, leading to an unstable supply. Many small apothecaries could only offer locally sourced herbs for treating minor ailments.
Sparrow approached with a wooden box and displayed a bright grin, revealing a mouthful of white teeth. “Young dandy, I didn’t let you down. I’ve gathered over a hundred types of medicinal plants this time. Here’s the list.”
Tang Yue inquired, “Have you settled the payments?”
Sparrow explained, “I’ve paid it all. The gold you provided has nearly been exhausted.” He hesitated before adding, “There was a mountain covered in mandara herbs. I heard you mention their importance, so I took the liberty of purchasing the entire mountain. It cost me a total of 30 gold coins.”
Tang Yue patted Sparrow’s shoulder firmly and commended him, “Excellent! You’re indeed a capable subordinate who made the right call.”
Land was relatively inexpensive in this era, though this statement applied primarily to nobles. For ordinary people, 30 gold coins was a sum they might not earn in their entire lifetime.
Imperial Doctor Wu, unfamiliar with the term “mandara,” expressed his curiosity and asked Tang Yue, “What is the purpose of this herb?”
Tang Yue provided a brief explanation of the Mandara Seed’s effects and guided him to examine it.
Imperial Doctor Wu expressed surprise, saying, “Isn’t this a mountain eggplant? It’s toxic!”
Tang Yue was aware of Mandara as an eggplant but was unfamiliar with the term “Mountain Eggplant.”
“Mandara is indeed toxic. Its leaves, flowers, and seeds possess medicinal properties. It contains Tasticin, regulates body temperature, acts as an analgesic, and soothes coughs while aiding in respiration. Its primary application is for treating coughs, facial ulcers, hemorrhoids, rheumatism, and injuries. My primary intent is to use it as an anesthetic.”
“Anesthesia?” Imperial Doctor Wu sampled a small leaf, and his tongue began to tingle. With precise dosage control, it might indeed serve as an effective anesthetic.
Nonetheless, he maintained reservations, believing that using acupuncture needles for anesthesia was the safer choice. Mishandling such a poisonous substance could easily endanger the patient.
The use of herbal medicine involved intricate knowledge. As the Shennong Sutra of Herbal Herbalism stated, “Some herbs are toxic, while others are not. Their potency varies with the season, lunar cycle, and the land’s conditions. If combined improperly, they can neutralize each other’s effects or become mutually harmful.”
Many medicinal herbs required specific preparation methods, such as drying, refining, roasting, or boiling. Some needed peeling to remove flesh, while others required the removal of roots or stems, following unique prescriptions.
Take ginger, a commonly known herb, for example. Its raw and dried forms had different effects, as did those with or without skin. The specifics mattered greatly.
Over the next two weeks, a team of experts resided in the herbal shop, meticulously managing all the medicinal ingredients.
Some herbs needed additional drying due to moisture on the journey.
Tang Yue organized the commonly used herbs in an accessible cabinet, storing the less frequently used ones at varying heights. Poisonous herbs were isolated in a separate room, accessible only with approval from three physicians, and their handling had to be precise.
By early December, the weather had turned bitterly cold. Every morning, frost covered the roofs and grass, a stark contrast to Tang Yue’s accustomed warm winters. Surviving winters in this ancient ecological era proved especially challenging.
Wrapped in thick wool, Tang Yue looked ready to brave the harshest conditions. He took a carriage from his residence to the herbal shop, where today marked the opening ceremony. Crown Prince Zhao had meticulously chosen an auspicious time, setting it for the third quarter of the morning.
As he stepped outside and made a turn, he spotted the Crown Prince’s Palace carriage parked nearby. Though inconspicuous in its gray appearance, Tang Yue recognized the coachman and accompanying guards.
“Young sir, congratulations on your auspicious beginning,” Hu Jinpeng handed them a pair of golden qilin ornaments. “This is a pharmacy, and I hope that fortune smiles upon you. Otherwise, the people of Ye City might face difficulties.”
“We’re truly grateful,” Tang Yue climbed into the carriage from the Crown Prince’s Palace. As soon as the door opened, he was greeted by the warmth inside.
“The carriage is still wonderfully warm,” Tang Yue exclaimed as he rubbed his hands, his head snugly covered by a furry hat.
“Stay warm and avoid the chill,” Crown Prince Zhao briefly entertained thoughts of holding Tang Yue close but realized he was bundled up like a cocoon, so he refrained.
Holding Tang Yue’s hand and warming it for a while, he inquired, “Why did you decline my offer and send those chefs back?”
“Your household’s chefs shouldn’t be dispatched so casually. If those people become accustomed to such delectable cuisine, they might request your chefs in the future.”
Tang Yue didn’t plan to host a lavish feast at his home. In this era, it wasn’t the time for grand banquets. Moreover, there were no restaurants, just eateries with only a few tables.
Therefore, Tang Yue intended to arrange a buffet in the courtyard behind the pharmacy. He planned to include more roast meats, generous servings of vegetable salads and fruits, along with a few jars of fine wine. He only needed to prepare a few dishes.
It was worth noting that he hadn’t even touched a drop of the king’s tribute wine from last time; he had been saving it for this special occasion.
As Tang Yue arrived at the medicine store’s entrance, he noticed that some guests had arrived earlier than him. Several carriages were lined up at the shop’s doorstep.
Tang Yue stepped out of the carriage and noticed a crowd of onlookers nearby, shivering in their insufficiently warm clothing, their faces turning purple from the cold.
He took a few strides forward and announced loudly, “Dear parents and fellow villagers, today, for the first three days of my shop’s opening, I will provide free medical consultations. On the opening day, I’ll be giving away free frostbite cream, first come, first served. You’re all welcome to join for a celebratory drink as well.”
Tang Yue’s pharmacy had been meticulously prepared, and news of the grand opening had already spread throughout Ye City. Coupled with his reputation as a divine healer, many were eagerly anticipating this day.
Upon hearing about free consultations and medicine, the faces of the gathered crowd lit up with joy, as if the harsh winter cold had suddenly lost its bite.
An elderly man carrying his grandchild rushed forward, dropping to his knees in front of Tang Yue, and implored, “Divine healer, could you possibly treat my little grandson?”
A weary old man had traveled from afar, depleting his resources in the process. Desperate for medical help, he hesitated before deciding to seek the fabled Godly doctor he had heard about. When news of a volunteer medical consultation arrived, he wasted no time.
Standing before Tang Yue, Zhao Sanlang assumed an imposing stance. “Excuse me, old man. This pharmacy has yet to open its doors. Please wait on the side.”
“Young master, waiting isn’t an option. My poor grandson can’t wait any longer. He… he…”
Tang Yue gently pushed Zhao Sanlang aside and knelt down to assess the boy’s condition. The child’s skin felt icy to the touch, impervious to the layers of cloth that barely shielded him from the cold.
Observing that both were barefoot, their feet reddened and swollen with painful cracks, Tang Yue sighed. “Let’s bring them inside. It’s too cold out here.”
He stood and instructed one of his apprentice alchemists to escort the old man indoors. Then, he approached Crown Prince Zhao with a request.
Crown Prince Zhao, clad in a dark red cotton robe and a pristine snow-white fox fur cloak, still exuded a charming aura even without a smile.
Tang Yue, unfazed by the prince’s presence, smiled and pointed towards the plaque shrouded in red silk. “I entrust this task to you, Your Highness. With your esteemed patronage, this establishment will receive the highest honor!”
Crown Prince Zhao extended his hand and agreed. “I’ve asked Ke to bring some assistance. We can’t decline this time.”
Tang Yue nodded briskly, having anticipated a busy day. He had brought along his guards, capable of handling tasks like boiling water and preparing medicines even if they lacked medical knowledge.
Teasing Ke, he added, “Remember not to enter later. If you faint at the sight of blood again, I won’t have the luxury of tending to you.”
Ke blushed with embarrassment, casting his gaze downwards towards his shoes. He muttered softly, “I won’t cause any trouble for Young Master.”
Tang Yue turned and entered the building. Imperial Doctor Wu and the other physicians followed suit, seemingly uninterested in the commotion outside.
Tang Yue ordered more charcoal brought in and changed into a white robe. Carrying a medicine box, he walked into the clinic.
The elderly man, drained from the lengthy wait, wore a worried expression on his frail, yellowed face. It was only upon seeing Tang Yue that he found a renewed sense of hope and vigor.
“Sir, kindly wait outside for a moment. I’ll update you once I’ve drawn a conclusion,” Tang Yue instructed someone to escort the elderly gentleman out. He then donned a pair of gloves and began his examination.
He instructed an attendant to help remove the young boy’s clothing. Tang Yue initially checked for any conspicuous injuries across the boy’s body. “The patient appears to be approximately 1.5 meters tall, around 13 years old, and is male. His entire body is marked with red and purple discolorations, indicative of frostbite. He has endured prolonged malnutrition, with evident emaciation. His abdomen is severely wasted, suggesting extended periods of starvation. Additionally, there are healed scars on his back, chest, and thigh, raising suspicion of prior blunt force injuries.”
The patient was running a fever, with a body temperature reaching approximately 39 degrees Celsius. This fever may stem from either a cold or an underlying inflammatory condition within his body.
Tang Yue selected two assistants for the task. One hailed from the Yueyang Marquis’s Mansion—He was the first young lad he encountered upon entering the city. The other was Xiang Ann, one of the seven apprentice alchemists, and his father was a renowned coroner in South Jin.
“Both of you must remember every detail I mention, understood?” Tang Yue emphasized once more.
Both of his chosen assistants nodded earnestly. They held bamboo slips and hurriedly transcribed his words, albeit somewhat messily, in their attempt to keep pace with Tang Yue’s rapid evaluation.
Tang Yue gently lifted the boy’s eyelids and scrutinized his pupils. He meticulously examined the nose, mouth, tongue, ears, and limbs.
Imperial Doctor Wu nodded in silent agreement. Tang Xiaolang indeed possessed a discerning eye. He remained uncertain about how to diagnose the patient.
“Fetch the elderly gentleman for me. I need to ask him some questions.”
The elderly man hurried to the bedside with anticipation as soon as he entered the room. He believed that his grandson would experience an immediate recovery with the intervention of such a revered physician. Yet, his grandson’s condition still appeared as if he was harboring resentment, causing his heart to sink.
“Eminent physician, could it be…” He hesitated, fearing he might be deceived.
Tang Yue reassured him with a comforting smile. “Please don’t worry. I’ll start by asking you a few questions. Has your grandson been living with you since he was young?”
The elderly man nodded, his voice tremulous. “Indeed, ever since he was born. My son, who had a short-lived military career, passed away at the border. His mother couldn’t bear the grief and remarried. The two of us have depended on each other.”
“Have you often scolded him?”
The elderly man’s eyes filled with caution, and he vehemently shook his head. “No, never.”
“Sir, if you don’t cooperate, it will be challenging to heal your grandson,” Tang Yue approached the bedside, pointing at the scars on the child’s back and calf. “Can you explain how these injuries occurred?”
“Well… I was preoccupied and failed to attend to him properly. That’s why my grandson ended up getting hurt,” Tang Yue replied.
Tang Yue sensed that there was more to the story than met the eye, but the elderly man clearly didn’t want to divulge it. Furthermore, judging by his anxious demeanor, it seemed unlikely that he was the one responsible for the injuries.
“Let’s start by administering an IV and providing him with warm water. Simultaneously, prepare some diluted rice porridge. Fetch a hot towel to assist in cleaning his body.”
Following Tang Yue’s instructions, two sturdy middle-aged men from the group opened a medical kit, retrieved a bamboo tube, and hung it upside down on an iron stand by the bed. One end of the tube was connected to a thin needle inserted into the back of the patient’s hand.
Imperial Doctor Wu suppressed his curiosity and observed their actions closely, trying to decipher their motives.
“Eh… Young Master, come take a look,” exclaimed the male nurse who was tending to the boy.
Tang Yue approached, his expression changing. He had forgotten to examine the patient’s rectal area, and the current situation indicated that he had been subjected to a violation of a grievous nature.
Considering the various scars on the boy’s body, it was evident that these incidents had occurred over time.
“Sir, please, don’t tell me you are unaware of what happened,” Tang Yue sighed. Regardless of the era, there were always individuals with disturbing inclinations.
The grandfather, tears in his eyes, admitted defeat, “I’m too old to provide for him. That’s why I sent him to work as a laborer among the affluent local families, hoping he could have a decent meal and a chance at a better life.
A few days ago, a neighbor informed me that they saw my grandson being dragged out of town on the road, severely injured. When I reached the scene, I found a group of heartless individuals tossing my grandson into an unmarked grave. He had been wrapped in a straw mat and left to suffer in the bitter cold.
As for the injuries he sustained, I took the opportunity to inquire while he was conscious. It turns out that since last year, the wealthy family’s second son had taken a liking to him and brought him into his service as a clerk. I thought it was a fortunate opportunity, but little did I know that the young master had a cruel and inhumane side, inflicting such harm upon my poor grandson…”
Tang Yue listened attentively as he jotted down a prescription. He advised calmly, “Arrange for the medicine to be prepared. Fetch the anti-inflammatory medication we have ready. The wounds are severely infected. Thankfully, it’s winter; otherwise, they might have festered long ago.”
In such a precarious situation, if the wounds had indeed festered, he wasn’t sure if he’d have the courage to use a scalpel.