Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Al shook open the suit and showed it inside and out to Duan FeiZhou, his eyebrows filled with pride at his mother’s handiwork. “Please try it on, and if it fits, make the final payment. If it doesn’t fit, I’ll bring it back for mom to modify.” He paused and added, “There is no extra charge for just altering the size. Our aim at Vilyuy Tailor Shop is to make sure we alter until you are satisfied!”
“Uh, okay…” Duan FeiZhou let Al into the house. The teenager wandered into the house inquisitively, hands behind his back, and surveyed the surroundings like a curious little sparrow.
“Sir, do you live alone?”
Duan FeiZhou glanced at Sword in the Stone, which he had placed on the cabinet. He replied, “Yes, yes…”
“How strange. Don’t you have servants in your house?” Al was confused. “A single gentleman in London has to have a servant to help more or less with the housekeeping.”
“I…I’ve just arrived in London from Aberdeen, and haven’t had time to find a servant.”
“I see. You have come from so far away!”
Just a few days ago, Duan FeiZhou was still living in poverty, and was lucky to be able to feed himself. How could he afford to hire any servants? However, although he had inherited Joseph’s estate and had spare money on hand now, he didn’t have time to find a servant at all.
In the modern concept, it was a strange thing to find a personal servant. But in the Victorian era, middle-class single men not having servants or butlers wasn’t the norm. Even Watson and Holmes treated their landlady, Mrs. Hudson, as their housekeeper!
Duan FeiZhou’s bedroom had a full-length mirror. He took the suit into the bedroom and compared it in the mirror. The style of the suit was to his liking. He was about to try it on when behind him, Al suddenly drew a cold breath.
“Sir, is there a burglar in your house?” The teenager asked in a panic. “Is something missing? Do you need me to call the police for you?”
Duan FeiZhou looked back. “No. Why do you ask?”
The teenager pointed to his bedroom, his fingers trembling as if he had seen the devil dancing, in shock.
Duan FeiZhou looked around. His bedroom…was it that unpleasant?
He had experienced a series of incredible events when he first arrived in London, and hadn’t had time to clean up his house. He had just woken up, so the bed was naturally untended, and the sheets and bedding looked as if a tornado had hit. His luggage was open, and clothes were everywhere. As long as he was comfortable with it, it didn’t matter if the items were messy. Of course, in the eyes of outsiders, this was too unkempt and messy.
…But did Al have to be so surprised?
The young man looked at him with sadness, then shook his head and said with difficulty, “Sir, let me help you put it on.”
He took the suit from Duan FeiZhou and put it on for him piece by piece, while Duan FeiZhou stood in front of the mirror like a puppet, and let Al button it up for him. He saw the teenager’s constipated expression, his face red as he obviously wanted to say something, but was too embarrassed to do so.
“Al, say what you want to say. It’s okay. I can bear it.”
“… Nothing, Sir.” Al face was strained, “My mother said that you can’t just tell people what to do about their habits.”
“…I feel like you have a lot of opinions about my habits.”
Al took a deep breath, and asked apprehensively, “Since you want me to talk about it, I’ll talk about it?”
“Well it’s okay. Go ahead!”
Al straightened up, clenched his fist and yelled, “I can’t take it anymore!”
Duan FeiZhou was stunned. “What?”
“I’m sorry, Sir, I really can’t take it anymore! A London gentleman’s house must not be so disorganized! I’m sorry, just a moment, please!” Al began to clean up the room with stormy speed. With uncanny skill, he smoothed out the sheets, laid out the bedding, rolled up the clothes that were scattered all over the floor, and neatly packed them into the closet. Then, he wiped away the beads of sweat on his forehead with his sleeve and looked at the fruits of his labor with satisfaction, “Sorry, Sir, time is short. This is all I can do. You can just manage for a while.”
Duan FeiZhou stood at a loss, having watched the room become neat and bright like magic. This was called ‘just a little?’ He watched the teenager cautiously. His mother wouldn’t stop until she was satisfied with her clothes, and he couldn’t help but clean up a messy room when he saw it.
“Al, does your whole family have OCD?” Duan FeiZhou asked carefully.
“What is OCD?” The teenager was hearing the word for the first time.
“It’s when you don’t put things in order, and you don’t feel good.”
Al thought for a moment. “It seems so! So this is OCD? Is this some kind of serious illness?” He asked worriedly.
“Well…For people who do certain jobs, it might be beneficial instead.” Duan FeiZhou had mixed feelings.
He tried on the suit and found that the size did fit. He gave the final payment to Al, and sent the teenager out the door.
“By the way, Sir.” Al stood at the door, turned back and said, “Although you rejected me yesterday, I still want to ask, would you like to take me as an apprentice? My mother said that the tuition fee for an occult practitioner like you must not be cheap, and our family may not be able to afford such an expensive fee now. And the more I learn about occult philosophy, the more dangerous it becomes, so I know I can go to a safer job. But…”
He hung his head and scuffed one foot on the carpet. “I still want to be an occult practitioner! How else am I going to protect my mother and the people I love? As for tuition, I can study while I work…” His eyes brightened, as if he had come up with a brilliant idea. “That’s right! Do you need a manservant? I can be your manservant for free, and the money will be used for tuition! Even if you don’t hire me, you’ll have to hire someone else, and they won’t be better than me! I am loyal to you, and will never reveal your secrets!”
Duan FeiZhou heard a hysterical and wild laughter. He realized that it was Sword in the Stone laughing. “Oh, since it’s free labor sent to your door, you should take it!“
“But he wants me to teach him occult philosophy!” Duan FeiZhou exclaimed. “How can I teach that?”
Al winced, and looked around nervously. “Sir, who are you talking to?”
Sword in the Stone added, “Didn’t Joseph give you some books? Read them to him. If he learns it, he’s a good student, but if he doesn’t, he’s not, and it has nothing to do with your teaching.“
Duan FeiZhou calmed down a bit. Although this broken sword was very out of tune, occasionally it would also provide constructive advice. He had in his hands not only the book Joseph had left behind, but also the notes Z had given him. Recently he was so busy with the blind box thing that he didn’t have time to read it. When he thought about it, it was time to study them.
He glanced at the expectant Al. He was certainly not at the level to be the teenager’s tutor, but maybe they could both be classmates?
Besides, Al was willing to be a free servant. This was what tempted Duan FeiZhou a little. This era had no vacuum cleaners, dishwashers and other technological products to free human hands. If Al could take care of his life, he would have a good reason to lie flat as a salted fish, and wouldn’t that be nice? However what if Al found out his secret and discovered that he knew nothing about occult philosophy?
Various thoughts ran through Duan FeiZhou’s brain in the war of heaven and man. In the end it was the pathetic weakness of human nature – laziness – that prevailed.
“Well then…” Duan FeiZhou trailed off, “I will reluctantly accept you. However, whether or not you can learn the secret arts and how profound they are, it’s not up to me to decide. It depends on your own natural talent. If you don’t have this talent, whoever becomes your tutor will be the same.”
Al’s face lit up and his whole being looked like it was shining. “Of course I understand!” He was trembling with excitement, “I don’t want to learn any advanced secret arts, just to follow you, Sir! No…Master!”
Duan FeiZhou got a bad chill. “Don’t call me master. People will think I have some strange hobby!”
However, Al didn’t listen to Duan FeiZhou’s words at all, and just kept circling him. “Master. Master.”
“Master, do you want me to assist you to change your clothes?”
“Master, what are you having for breakfast?”
“Master, when do we start studying?”
Duan FeiZhou was getting goosebumps whenever he heard the word, Master. He dropped the phrase, “I’ll go downstairs to the restaurant for breakfast,” and rushed into the washroom.
He was about to go downstairs to the Dodo restaurant after hastily washing up, but when he came out of the washroom, he saw that breakfast was already on the dining room table.
Al was wiping down the chairs with a rag, and was smiling at him. “I’ve taken it upon myself to bring you breakfast!” He pulled out his chair, and bowed slightly. “Please sit down, Master.”
Duan FeiZhou covered his chest. Was this the dull and boring daily life of the upper class? The clothes come from the hand and the food comes from the mouth. It was simply…simply his ideal life, ah! He suddenly felt that it wasn’t bad to take in such a small apprentice and little manservant.
Under Al’s service, the dishes of the Dodo restaurant, which always tasted like wax, tasted extra delicious today. No, it wasn’t the food that tasted good, it was the taste of the good and the bad.
After breakfast, while Al went to the Dodo to return the plates, Duan FeiZhou hurriedly took out the notebook that Z gave him, glanced at it and memorized the first few pages.
Duan FeiZhou called him into his study, and pointed to the notes spread out on the table. “This is all basic theoretical knowledge, very suitable for beginners. Since you want to learn occult philosophy, you need to master this knowledge. Sit down and I’ll read them with you.”
“Together? Why?” Al cocked his head. “Does an occult master like you need to learn from beginners?”
Duan FeiZhou racked his brain for excuses. “Well…There is a famous saying in the East which is “learning from the past and learning from the new.” It means that by reviewing what you have learned in the past, you can often gain new insights. Not to mention that this type of basic knowledge is never unimportant, no matter how many times you review it.”
“So that’s how it is!” Al let out a reverent exclamation. “Worthy of the master! So knowledgeable and so modest!”
Duan FeiZhou suddenly felt like he was back in the university study room. He couldn’t remember the last time he studied so hard.
“The first lesson we’re going to learn is the classifications of occult philosophy.” He pretended to know what he had just memorized, “Occult philosophy is divided into seven major disciplines. One is alchemy, the study of the transformation of matter. The second is séance, the study of how to communicate with things that do not exist in this world. The third is divination, also known as prediction, the study of seeing the past, the future and everything. The fourth is the magic of possession, the study of making all kinds of secret items. The fifth is illusion, which can create phantoms, manipulate the five senses, and even control the human heart. The sixth is the grammar of runes, the study of how to use language to control nature. The last is secret geometry. Those who study this believe that everything in the world can be condensed into geometric figures, and through these figures they can control everything. My uncle, the previous owner of the Secret Trading House, was the best at secret geometry.”
Al listened in fascination, “And which discipline are you the best at?”
“I don’t have one.” Duan FeiZhou said. That was true. He didn’t know anything, so of course he didn’t have a specialty.
“In other words, you’re good at every discipline?” Al’s expression grew more and more reverent.
Duan FeiZhou held his forehead. Why did this kid always interpret his words in a different way?