SPOILERS ... SPOILERS ... SPOILERS
Plot (Not So Summarised)
Be forewarned; it is spoilers galore and whilst it is not a very faithful reconstruction of what was presented in the series as in timeline, names and who uttered what, essentially the story is intact. I have taken liberties in reconstruction of the dialogue but I think they're pretty accurate although my translation may be a bit off. Some events may not follow timeline and some may not be described in full but well blame it on my old age and Pentium II brain. A note. Official A is played by Ai Wai and there is another official of higher rank whose name I can't remember but somehow I named him Official Lee. Not really just officials but you know what I mean. So if he wasn't really Official Lee, it doesn't matter. All other names I followed Black Eyed Susan's review and I believe them to be accurate.
It is the late Qing Dynasty in China, and the business of guards who are skilled in martial arts to escort the goods to the destination intended is still done the old way; via cart, swords, flags, roads and the scream of Hup-Mmm. The significance of this cry of Hup-Mmm is important in this business akin to today's Securicor cum FedEx; it is a call for brotherhood to unite, for friends of the same clan to recognise the call to give way. One company that looks great on the outside, since it is one of the most renowned securicor is Wui Yau Forwarders Company (can also be called Wui Yau Guard Bureau, the terms taken from Black Eyed Susan's review) who is actually facing deficit funds due to the overspending matriach of the family, the highly respected Sheung Ching Tong.
Cheung Ching Tong seems like a peculiar man. Maybe in his heyday he was fearless but in his near retirement age, he seems a bit frivolous, spending money like nobody's business. Of course nobody knows the business like him, and it is because of his intricate knowledge of the business, he knew he had to spend in order to secure the company's business. It is the lack of funds that is driving Ching Tong into a frenzy because he wants to hold a banquet and he doesn't have enough money.
Ching Tong has two wives, the first and much older Sau Ping who has two sons, the eldest Sheung Chung and the youngest, Sheung Yi who is studying in overseas at the moment and teh second and younger wife whose name I didn't catch and she has one son who is 2nd in the family, Sheung Hau, seen as the gentleman and the middle person between the feuding Sheung Hau and the 3rd son of the family, Sheung Chi.
Sheung Chi is an adopted son. His parents were killed when he was very little and he was rescued and subsequently adopted by Ching Tong and his wife Sau Ping. Ching Tong came across a frightened boy whose parents were murdered and took him in. He trained this son to be his assistant and because Ah Chi is very grateful for the opportunity, he never defied his father and worked hard for the family so as to repay a lifetime's debt of gratitude. Ah Chi is also well liked within the family and the business associates as well as the many guards that are under the employment of Wui Yau and although they feared him, behind his back they did not fear loyal to him because he is only the adopted son. Sheung Chi in turn is assisted ably by his trusted assistant, the fearless Fo Yim Hung, who is married but without children.
Ching Tong himself has two brothers, one the older Ching Pang who works in the accounting department and Ching Man who is considered the smartest man in the family and in the town and the laziest as he is reluctant to hold any responsibilities and spend his days having fun. However Ching Tong when in trouble would consult Ching Man who would give a solution without involving himself. Ching Man in turn is married to Yan Ching, who is one of the senior guards within the company who is frustrated at her husband's lack of ambition.
From the outside the family looks wealthy, respected and united. But little do they know the company and the family is struggling.
Everyone in the family knowns Ah Chi and Ah Chung are enemies, as Ah Chung sees Ah Chi as a threat whilst Ah Chi tries not to fight back because of his mother, Sau Ping who obviously favours Ah Chung but is sometimes loving to Ah Chi. But Ah Hau and his wife with his two children have their own clan within the business, assisted by his own brother in law who is useless and a coward. And everyone knowns Ah Chi and Ah Hau are very close as Ah Hau accepts Ah Chi as his brother and they two are in turn close to Fo Yim Hung.
At the meantime Ah Chi met Cheung Fung during one of his trip and not much later asked Yan Ching to take her in as a trainee guard eventhough Cheung Fung looked weak and couldn't really fight but desperately needed a job due to her family circumstances. Cheung Fung was grateful and the more she knew of Ah Chi, at first by reputation and then by personal knowledge, the more she liked him and in the end she fell for him eventhough Ah Chi was slow on this.
Meanwhile, all the problems came to a major standoff when Ching Tong who was going on a banquet I think told Ah Chi before he left that he wants Ah Chi to collect all the debts of the company because the company needs money. Ah Chi, who is loyal to Ching Tong without much question undertook this ardous and thankless task and both Ah Chi and Ching Tong know that.
You see Ching Tong is in a dilemma. He is near retirement age and he wants to handover the keys of the business to one of his sons. Ah Chi was never considered since he is adopted and therefore did not command the respect and the loyalty within the clan. He discussed this Ching Man and Ching Man in turn said the business can't go to Ah Hau, the more sensible choice because this would pit brothers against brothers and that would create disharmony. And yet Ah Chung was not really a good choice but Ching Tong in the end decided if anyone it must be Ah Chung since he is the eldest. But Ah Chung is not only lazy, he talks a lot but does little and even if he could do, he knows little to complete anything important or dangerous. And it is a known fact that whilst the company is owed many debts by debtors out there, the major debtors were the guards and family themselves who borrowed money from the company but slow to repay. Ah Chi had to ask for the money, at first rather nicely with reason. Many were about to pay back until Ah Chung felt threatened since he is the company's biggest debtor and he doesn't want to pay back the money he had borrowed and used to open his father in law's antique shops and other stuff. Ah Chi knew Ah Chung was the culprit but could do nothing. So Ah Chi did all he could, persuade, threaten, pushed and demanded the money, to the point that it became a blinded obsession in his part to complete the task. Ah Chung slyly persuaded his men to riot, and this forced Sau Ping to come out and gave Ah Chi a few advise; that is not to push your family too hard. Ah Chi refused and even Sau Ping called Ah Chi a monster when one old debtor died and his son together with Ah Chung accused Ah Chi of pushing that old man to suicide. It came to a boiling point where Ah Chi was thrown food at, was accused a murderer and even everyone he knows call him heartless. Some stood by him of course. In the end Ah Chi sorted out the problems and even then Ah Chung created more and more mayhem and embarassing the family. However Ah Chi stood by his principle and the task was completed after much anger and accusations with Ah Chi's reputation in tatters with his fellow men. His father returned and happy with the money collected. And to Ah Chi's frustration, Ching Tong used the money to hold a few days worth of banquet, inviting the officials, business partners and even the crime lords for dinner. Ching Tong brushed aside Ah Chi's frustration and the banquet was a success as it reaffirms the friendship and ties of Wui Yau with these people. Ah Chi understood his father's intention; Wu Yau must please the crime lords/bandits so as to buy a safe passage across their controlled lands and must please the government officials, the worst of them because if permits and business. Ah Chi learned a lesson whilst Ching Tong sees in Ah Chi a worthy assistant but not quite a successor. Even Ah Chi knew that.
So when Ching Tong wanted to make Ah Chung the successor, Ah Chi was the first to protest. He advised his father against it and in turn, Ching Tong who appreciates Ah Chi's advise himself was reluctant to make Ah Chung the successor so everyone knew he was about to make the official announcement one of these days for Ah Hau to be the keeper of the keys. Ah Hau couldn't believe his good luck and he suddenly relished the idea of becoming chief. He had made sweeping plans to fire certain people to which Ah Chi objected because that was nepotism creating more nepotism by firing people he doesn't like. Ah Hau listened but he knew he had Ah Chi and Fo Yim Hung with several experienced guards on his side so his future was secure. Ah Chung was very angry and in turn Sau Ping felt betrayed that her own adopted son, Ah Chi whom she had lovingly took care of had went beyond her back and destroyed her own son's future. So Sau Ping went on a hunger strike. Ching Tong almost relented but Ching Man advised Ching Tong to hold on to this battle of wills because Ah Chung is obviously wrong for the job. Ah Hau is the ideal person. Sau Ping grew weaker by the day and he felt helpless that his mother was slowly wasting away and he couldn't do a thing. Cheung Fung stood by him to comfort him but she too couldn't understand why Ah Chi was so steadfast in denying his mother's demands. In the end he appeared before Sau Ping who didn't want to see him. He asked to be alone with her and fell to his knees. Sau Ping earlier begged Ching Tong to kick whom he called the useless traitor of a son, Ah Chi out of the house. Ching Tong of course refused but didn't have the heart to tell his wife to the face. Ah Chi was on his knees crying and he begged his mother to eat. She refused and he told her why the keys must never go to Ah Chung; "We are in the business of dealing not just with crime bandits but government officials who are both sly and cunning. We need tact and carefulness when dealing with them, if not the company will be in trouble and the lives of hundreds will be in jeopardy. Mother, I can't let Ah Chung take the keys because he would be the cause of the downfall of the business. You want the best for him and the best for him is to stay the way he is, living the happy irresponsible life he is having because I have no doubt, if he were given the keys, he would end up dead one of these days because he doesn't have that ability to deal with such people and you mother will have the burden of burying your own son". Sau Ping heard this and she knew in her heart Ah Chi was right. Tearfully she forgave Ah Chi and made Ah Chi to promise her one thing; "Whatever the outcome may be, you must always protect Ah Chung, you must ensure he is safe and sound, no matter what". Ah Chi agreed and Sau Ping agreed to eat.
I can't remember is this was before or after but anyway Ching Tong accepted a huge business with pits the family's entire fortune as insurance for the goods, which was tea leaves. Ching Tong was too old to escort the tea leaves personally and so Ah Chi as usual was instructed to undertake the burden, which was really a burden. Ah Chung laughs at this as he knew if Ah Chi fails, he would be blamed but if Ah Chi succeeds, no one would thank him since it was expected of him to deliver the good safely anyway. Ah Chi and his troops stopped by one of the bandit controlled area and made friends with the bandits. Meanwhile Cheung Fong who has quit her job at the company was assisting her limping father to escort some goods in the effort to earn some money, much to the disagreement of her disapproving mother. But she and her father was separated after an attack and she stumbled across some villagers who told her to seek help from one of the bandits who is seen as a gentleman. She did, and she ended up almost raped but she got away after stabbing that bandit with the knife hidden in her shoes. The bandit died and he so happened to be the only son of another bandit, one of the sworn brothers whom Ah Chi was dealing with. The man was mad with grief and he went in hunt of the killer that nobody knows how she looked like. Cheung Fung stumbled into Ah Chi and gang and Yan Ching taking pity of her took her in and they tried their best to protect her. She was so scared of dying but when she realised how much trouble she gave Ah Chi who despite everything and never really knowing her was protecting her she wanted to run away and escape but Ah Chi told her not to. That bandit knew she was amongst Ah Chi's goods because Ah Chi helped them in the search but refused to let him search the trunks with the lea leaves in it. So the bandit escorted Ah Chi and his men and Cheung Fung's life is in jeaopardy. Ching Tong was confident that Ah Chi will manage eventhough he didn't know what was going on and the goods was late in its delivery. In the end Yan Ching wrote a letter to Ching Pang with the truth. Ah Chung sees this as an opportunity to kick Ah Chi in the butts by saying what many felt; Ah Chi should have surrendered the girl, after all she did kill the bandit's son. Ching Pang was sick with worry because the entire family's fortune is in the goods. So Ching Man advised Ching Pang to send Ah Chung and nobody else and the matter would be resolved. "Let Ah Chung do 3 tasks; take over the flag of authority from Ah Chi, surrender the girl to the bandits and deliver the good, and make sure you do not deviate from this". Ah Chung was shocked his father would send him but was determined to do well. He went and ended up doing more; he launched an investigation into the girl's story, sent his brother in law as an envoy who ended up with a missing ear and pitted the two gangs into potential fight to death. Ah Chi was so frustrated with the useless Ah Chung that I think he had him tied up. Ching Pang knew Ah Chung screwed up and he had to make this visit personally despite his ill health. He went there full of authority and demanding respect. He assessed the situation and knew Cheung Fung must be surrendered if they were to have a safe passage but Ah Chi stood by Cheung Fung and said no to his father, the first time he defied him. Ching Pang knew what he had to do and he went and faced the bandits. But instead of surrendering the girl like everyone expected him to, he reasoned with the bandits and said it was the bandit's son who caused the problem in the first place. He promised the bandits that if they want a fight, they will get a fight. They will never surrender and they will leave with the goods. And Ching Tong left it at that. In the end the bandits saw reason in not fighting because one of the bandits' trusted advisor came forward to stop the madness and confessed he was the one who killed that son. All were shocked and he said he did it because ... can't remember the exact reason but I think it was because he raped his wife and his wife killed herself or something. The bandits who lived by the code the one should never take the wife of another brother knew the son was wrong and in the end they stopped the fight whilst the father, mad with grief ran away in frustration as he knew his calls for revenge was never to be. Cheung Fung was safe, she went home with her parents deeply in awe and in love with Ah Chi and Ah Chi continued his journey.
When Ah Chi returned, Ah Chi asked Cheung Fung if she would like to be his mother's personal maid and she agrees and so love kinda blossom from thereon.
And so Ah Hau was set to be the new leader and all was well, still waiting for Ching Tong's official announcement. I am sorry to say I missed this part so if someone can help to fill in the blanks please do. Anyway Ah Hau was upset about something and ended up at a motel and met an equally upset Fo Yim Hung's young pretty wife. They ended up having an affair. No one knew and all was ok but then Mrs Fo became pregnant. Yim Hung was very happy but felt his wife was cold and distant. Ah Hau meanwhile couldn't let this jeapordise his eventual position as a leader and told Mrs Fo to continue to pretend nothing has happened. But Yim Hung felt something was wrong and followed his wife into a motel and knew she was with someone. She refused to admit the affair and the last he saw of the adulterer was something stuck on the soles of his shoes. Yim Hung went back to the company and pretended all was well until he saw Ah Hau's shoes and he knew Ah Hau was the adulterer. Yim Hung was very angry but did nothing but to wait. Ah Hau was scared and he knew he had to get rid of Yim Hung. One day a government official requested to meet with the leader of the company and since Ah Hau was teh defacto leader he met the official alone. The official advised Ah Hau that one of the landed route was beseiged with fearless cruel bandits and so he must not go via that road. And that was when it was the downfall of Ah Hau.
Ah Hau didn't tell anyone this and gave the task to Yim Hung with his entourage to go through that road to deliver some goods. Yim Hung and gang was attacked and Yim Hung was mortally wounded. But before he died, he managed to see Ching Tong and in his death bed he whispered to Ching Tong that "Ah Hau and my wife is having an affair" and he died. Ching Tong kept his cool but when alone he knew Yim Hung to be an honourable man who wouldn't make such accusations. He consulted Ching Man and even ask Ah Chi to conduct an investigation. Easily enough, Ah Chi uncovered the truth; that Ah Hau often went to a motel to meet someone, that Mrs Fo often received love letters and the boy who delivered them pointed out Ah Hau during the funeral of Yim Hung, that Mrs Fo was pregnant and Yim Hung was very happy at first but grew distant and occupied later on and that the official confirmed he had told Ah Hau of the dangerous route. Ah Chi was shocked by all these and so was Ching Tong. But Ching Tong didn't know what to do as he was still in shock that Ah Hau, the mild mannered educated 2nd son of his was so cruel to have led his own men to their death and even had affairs with a brother's wife. Ching Man calmly gave Ching Tong 2 solutions; "Brother, you can forget about what he did, gave him the keys to the business and let bygones be bygones" but Ching Tong said "How could I do that? I can't ..." and angrily Ching Man said "Well then you can choose the alternative. Never give the keys to this bastard of a son of yours, this useless cold hearted scum, what he did was inhumane!!". Ching Tong finally decided what he was to do.
Meanwhile Ah Chi visited Yim Hung's grave and tearfully related to his old friend of what Ah Hau did but felt he could do nothing to give Yim Hung justice since Ah Hau was his brother who lost his sense in a moment of greed. Ah Chi was confused. But Mrs Fo overheard this and came to a realisation that her husband's death was no accident and blamed herself for his death. She left Ah Hau with the promise she will raise their son alone in another town, feeling guilty over Yim Hung's death whilst Ah Hau knew something was wrong and invited Ah Chi to tea so as to get Ah Chi's assurance of his loyalty. But Ah Chi confronted him and Ah Hau defended himself, I think by saying he was seduced by the wife but Ah Chi wouldn't hear any of it. Ah Chi left heart broken and Ah Hau knew he had lost Ah Chi's loyalty and now must deal with Ah Chi if he ever were to get his hands on the business. Ah Chung felt something was wrong but didn't know what was going on. Basically Ah Hau knew 3 people knew of his deceit but nothing much was done.
Ah Hau continued to delegate the business to each guards until suddenly Ching Tong appeared, sat at the leader's chair and calmly said he missed the job and so he will continue to run the business, thus effectively kicking out Ah Hau. Ah Hau was mad with anger and so was his mother. He told his mother that Ah Chi was the culprit, that he found out about his affair with Mrs Fo who seduced him and blackened his name in front of Ching Tong. In front of everyone he said Ah Chi blackened his name for no good reason and many sees this as a denial of a worthy successor and began to rebel against Ah Chi. Ching Tong by then was having some heart attack and was sick but left instructions that Ah Chi is now the defactor leader and all must listen to him.
What good was that since no one listened to Ah Chi. They stalled the delivery, they sabotaged the business and Ah Hau, now assisted by the devious 1st uncle, Ching Pang planned their move to kick Ah Chi out and gain control of the business. Ah Chi was in dilemma but went about the task as instructed. But it came to a point were everything came to a halt as everyone was fighting within the business and Ching Tong was bedridden. Ah Chi out of desperation to gain some control decided to kick some disloyal guards out and so he made a list with Cheung Fung's help I think. Fuzzy memory here. Anyway some were demoted, much to the anger of these men who are on Ah Hau's side, some were promoted much to their happiness and one and his men were terminated and angrily he asked why and Ah Chi angrily said "I can understand these few men rebelling, because they listened to the wrong person and was rebelling under a misguided reason. But you, you who took neither side didn't do your job dutifully because you are an opportunist; you who said I don't care if this business falls. You said that despite the company and my father was so good to you, when your father was sick who gave you money to seek help? Who nurtured you and now you ungrateful man said I don't care if the business falls. You amongst the many is the worst and therefore this justifies me firing you".
Business continues but troubles looms larger as Ah Hau called for a meeting whilst Ah Chi was away. So he went and Ah Hau took the opportunity and dragged Sau Ping to deal with the munity of the workers who demanded Ah Chi to go before they resume work. Ah Hau said since this is to be decided by the family, each should vote. Ah Chung decided not to vote at all whilst Ching Man could say nothing. I can't remember where he was. Anyway Cheung Fung told off Ah Hau for forcing Sau Ping to sign the retrenchment letter but Ah Hau rudely told her to shut up. Sau Ping's hands were shaking and she almost bowed to pressure when Ching Tong appeared, healthy with red cheeks. Ah Hau knew he was again defeated when the crowd dispersed after Ching Tong told them off for "forcing an old lady to sign of a piece of paper, shame on all of you, for as long as I am not dead I am the keeper of the keys". Everyone left but he and by this time Ah Chi came back asked to see Ah Hau alone. Ching Tong confronted Ah Hau about the Yim Hung controversy and of course he denied it all. Ching Tong was so disappointed at his son's refusal to admit he was wrong that he practically threw his son out of the house and out of the business. And so Ah Hau left, glaring at Ah Chi who told him "Yim Hung and I wanted to support you, we were so glad you were to be the keeper of the keys but you did the unthinkable" and even then Ah Hau refused to acknowledge he did wrong.
And so Ah Chi was kinda running the show now but Ching Tong wanted to give Ah Chung a chance to show some worth and so he had him escort some goods with some of the most experienced men in the business. Secretly Ah Chi were to follow Ah Chung and to make sure the passage was safe. Ah Chung was eager at the opportunity and knew eventhough he didn't quite admit it, he was glad he had Ah Chi to rely on. Halfway through, Ah Chi quietly met Ah Chung and advised him to go another route to reach the river because there were some rebels killing villagers and that they would reach the village soon. Ah Chung listened to Ah Chi but his men advised him otherwise and in a state when he couldn't make a decision, he led his men to the village with the plan to go to the river the next day. But the rebels came and killed all of his men. Ah Chung was shocked and in order to survive dressed as one of the rebels by hacking off his hair and ran for his life. Everyone thought he was dead, and Ah Chi was kinda blamed for failing to protect Ah Chung but not really. A funeral was held and the government, led by top ranking official Official Lee gave Ah Chung a special rank as appreciation for his sacrifice at the hands of the rebels in escorting the goods. But Ah Chung was not dead yet. In fact he was back at his home place and his sons saw him and Ah Chi knew he was alive but said nothing. At night, when everyone left Ah Chi went to look for Ah Chung and brought him home. Ching Man, Yan Ching, Sau Ping and Ching Tong were in the room and they were very happy to see Ah Chung was alive, although looking like a beggar. They asked him why he didn't come home and Ah Chung tearfully said "I should have listened to Ah Chi, but I didn't and I led my men to their death. All of them hacked to death by the rebels and I was alive. I was too ashamed to come home, I was too ashamed to face you and I should have died with them". His father was in tears and told his son he was glad he didn't die. But now there was a delicate situation; Ah Chung should be dead but now he is not and if this is known by the official it would be a mockery since the official gave him a title in view of his death. Ah Chung volunteered to run away but they would not hear of it. Meanwhile Ah Hau's mother was spying on them and suspected Ah Chung was alive. Ah Hau and Ching Pang heard this and laugh. They sat back to watch the monkey show maliciously. Ah Chung was desperate to see his wife and kids and he couldn't hide anymore and went to his wife and at first they were to run to Hong Kong but that was blocked because by then the official heard a rumour that Ah Chung was alive. He was being ridiculed and it was Ah Hau who spread the rumours. The official's final message to Ching Tong was clear; Ah Chung must remain dead, if he is not the official will have him killed because he must not be ridiculed. Moreover the official said he had more urgent business to take care of, like the government's desperate call for funding to fight the Red Rebels instead of being called to revive the dead who must remain dead. Ching Tong knew all hope was lost to revive the dead Ah Chung. Ah Chi thought hard and long and in the end came up with a risky plan that only he could carry out for fear the others might be killed. Reluctant they may have been, they allowed Ah Chi to go.
Ah Chi went and met with Official Lee. Official Lee is an honest official but is facing financial crisis due to lack of funding. Normally he wouldn't have lost his temper but the last time Ching Tong met him he lost his temper. Ah Chi didn't want to bribe him personally but decided to bribe him by donating a large sum of money to the government as a bid to do their civic duty, a sum which the company could barely afford to give and pushing the company into further debts and gave official Lee the same invitation he gave other officials; an dinner invitation to welcome back the long lost twin brother of Ah Chung named Ah Mou. The official immediately knew what the money had meant but said nothing and did not confirm his attendance.
Come that day, the officials came but refused to enter the dinner hall, because they knew if they did and Official Lee did not endorse this, they would be in trouble. Ah Hau was silently laughing and out loud he said "Those ungrateful officials! We helped them, we gave them perks and see what they're doing now. One small favour and they won't help" and Ching Tong glared at him to shut up. They waited until Ah Chung couldn't stand it anymore and wanted to surrender when suddenly Official Lee came and congratulated Ching Tong on finding his son. And so from thereon Ah Chung is now Ah Mo and Ah Chung is dead. Ah Mo even remarried Ah Chung's wife and adopted Ah Chung's son as his own, as permitted by the Chinese tradition.
Meanwhile Ah Chi fell for Cheung Fung and really wanted to marry her. But Cheung Fung avoided Ah Chi and told him why. Cheung Fung in a bid to raise money to help his brother who was in jail married a rich man's son. But on the night of the wedding that son gambled away the entire fortune and ran away, without Cheung Fung knowing how he looked like. On her parents seen him, and that was years ago. Cheung Fung couldn't marry another since she knew she was married. Instead of leaving her when Cheung Fung left with her family to go back to her village, he continued to search for her husband to get a divorce and finally he tracked him down in some prison. He took Cheung Fung to go see him and a very repentent man met them and readily signed the divorce. Cheung Fung was free but when Ching Tong knew of her past, he refused to let them marry. Ah Mou suggested Ah Chi marry her as 2nd wife first and the later make her the 1st wife and Cheung Fung was ok with that but Ah Chi refused. This was the 2nd time he defied his father and he wanted to marry her properly. Ching Tong said give him some time to think about it and he left the room where he met Ching Pang who said he heard a rumour. Ching Tong was curious what was the rumour and Ching Pang told him about Cheung Fung's sordid past. Ching Tong laughed it off when Ching Pang said the family has become a fodder for gossips and Ching Pang said "Well let it be known that the Sheung Family is the gossip maker then! What is so bad about all this as long as I gain a good daughter in law?". And with that Ching Tong won over himself with his own argument when Ching Pang angrily left and Ah Mou came to see Ching Tong and said "Father...don't be so traditional in your thinking. Let Ah Chi marry Cheung Fung" and Ching Tong shut everyone up by agreeing to the marriage. Cheung Fung and Ah Chi was then married and her family given a house to live in. The wedding was befitting for a big family's real son as that is how Ching Ting see Ah Chi now. But on the day of the wedding, a young man came shouting that he was cheated, that Ah Chi was marrying his wife. Ah Chung beat him senseless and paid him but the man crashed into the wedding and loudly claim Cheung Fung was his wife. Ah Chi couldn't recognise him and said he was lying and so he was kicked out. But behind the door during the celebrations, Cheung Fung's parents said that was indeed their son in law. Ah Chi knew then the man he met in prison was an imposter and now there was a dilemma. Ching Man said to go on with the wedding and think of the solution later. Not much later the man came back bruised with a young magistrate who received his complaint that his wife was marrying another. Many other high ranking officials were there and asked the magistrate what he was doing. Quietly the magistrate told Ching Pang that he was willing to settle the issue quietly so long Ching Tong could give a just reason. Ching Tong couldn't give any and the man kept complaining. Ah Mou kept having this feeling like he had seen this man before and then he realised. In a loud voice he said "I recognise you!! You were a red rebel! I saw you at the village where you were hacking the villagers! He was a red rebel!!!". Immediately Ah Mou went to him and pulled his hair which was fake and that man had short hair like those rebels. Ching Man immediately added that "My Lords! Everyone knows the Wui Yau had donated a large sum of money to the government to fight the red rebels. Obviously this is a vendetta by the red rebels to discredit our good name!". That man was arrested and all was well. Later I think it was Ching Man who asked Ah Mou whether that was man was indeed a red rebel and Ah Chung laughingly said "No more than I! He was one of those villagers I think and I saw him hacking off his own hair and disgusing himself as a red rebel to escape. I did the same thing remember."
But Ching Tong was troubled. So who was that man in the prison? He went with Ching Man to see that young man who was arrested and offered to ensure his release from prison and so the man explained two men claiming to be from the Sheung Family, one of them the 2nd son who paid him a lot of money to stir up trouble. Ching Tong knew then that this has been a trap that was carefully planned for some time now. Later he suffered another heart attack and was sitting on his bed. Ah Hau didn't bother to go and see him but his uncle I think advised him to see his father and beg for forgiveness. He did and cried like there's no tomorrow and even confessed about the sordid affair with Mrs Fo and his betrayal to Yim Hung. His father listened to all this with his eyes closed and moved his hands away when Ah Hau tried to touch his and Ah Hau knew his case was lost. Ching Tong sat there with a single tear down his eyes. Later that night he forced himself up and with his wife he went to see Official Lee stating he wishes Official Lee to his witness to his will. He wrote a long one, and by himself hid the will up above the ceiling on one of the lanterns. This was witness by Sau Ping and no other. He told Sau Ping she must only open this will when she could no longer take what was going on and Sau Ping agreed. Ching Tong didn't die but went on to live for a few more months having fun everyday with his grandsons and heard the happy news that Cheung Fung was pregnant and that his youngest son, Sheung Yi was finally coming home. And then he sat down and he fainted. On his deathbed he asked to see his sons, but he didn't name Ah Hau. Ah Chi immediately went to Ah Hau who was with Ching Pang and told him to hurry home. They didn't seem to be in a rush. Ah Yi was back and was able to say goodbye to his father. Ah Hau sat beside him and when Ching Tong feebly but repeatedly said "I want Ah Chi to be the new leader..I want Ah Chi to be the new leader" to which Ah Chi heard, Ah Hau and his uncle raised their voices and said loudly "Father, please don't die!!! Please don't leave us!!!" and the uncle said "Ching Tong, don't die yet, you haven't name the new leader!!!!". And then Ching Tong died.
During the funeral, Ching Pang loudly said "How can Ching Tong die without naming a leader?" to which Ah Mou's two sons said "But grandfather said Uncle Ah Chi will be the new leader...". Ching Pang then tookover the funeral arrangements and Ah Chi was very disgusted to see Ah Hau crying the loudest and he knew he was faking it. Even during the burial said loudly "Now the family will pay their respect to Ching Tong. You three biological sons of Ching Tong kneel and pay respect" and when Ah Chi tried to move towards them he was blocked and he was not allowed to kneel and bow. Ah Chi was forced to a corner but he immediately fell to his knees and bowed deeply and crying freely. And then everytime a decision was to be made the uncle who know felt he was the oldest in the family sent Sau Ping away into her room and she was useless anyway. And then he had a meeting with whom he called the 3 biological sons of the family, thus pushing Ah Chi aside. And he went on talking but Ah Mou kept saying "But father already said Ah Chi is the new leader!" and Ching Pang maliciously said "I didn't hear that! Did you all hear that?" and even Ah Mou's wife had to admit she didn't hear it since she was standing far away much to the annoyance of Ah Mou and Ching Pang said "Exactly! Nobody heard him!" but Ah Mou kept saying "I heard father said Ah Chi will be the new leader! I heard father said that!" but Ching Pang refused to listen and went on to delegate the jobs by saying the business is now run by 3 biological brothers. Ah Chi stood there in disbelief and quickly dragged Cheung Fung with him into the accounting room and gave her the keys and the accounting books and the available cash and told her to guard them with her life, no matter what never to release to anyone without his authorisation and Cheung Fung nodded. And then he want to the fellow guards waiting out there and loudly said "Listen up! Father appointed me the new leader and therefore what everyone else says is not important. Authorisation comes from me and if you don't hear it from me, you need not follow that order!". Immediately there was chaos and Ah Hau's mother shouted "You animal! Your father just died and you suddenly just take over! You bastard!" and she started to push around whilst Ching Pang came and said "How dare you! You are an adopted son, you were treated well, how can you betray us all!" and amidst all these shouting and accusations, came the plea of tears and reason by Ah Hau who said "Please! Uncle please, mother please, Ah Chi stop this madness. Father just died, we can talk about this later, please..." but Ah Chi stood there as he always did whenever he was given a task to do; resolutely and unmoving.
Behind the door, Ah Mou was angry. "How can they say father didn't appoint a new leader? We all heard that! How can they deny this?" and Ching Man wisely said "It is only the tip of the iceberg. Don't you see the pattern? Ah Hau's mother does the insults, she plays the role of an angry mother, Ching Pang plays the role of a frustrated uncle whilst Ah Hau plays the role of a benign good son. 3 ways of attacking us. I don't what we should do until we see what's their next move. Meanwhile, let us all be very careful".
Indeed not long after Ah Chi accepted an invitation to dine at some official function as the leader of Wui Yau. He didn't want to go but Ching Man advised him to go, because this confirms his status as the leader. There was chaos everywhere but he had to go. Whilst he was away Ah Hau and his uncle cornered Ah Mou who was weakening under the pressure although he kept saying "Father made Ah Chi the new leader!". Ah Hau and Ching Pang urged Ah Mou to take up the leadership since they all can't agree if Ah Hau should be, Ah Yi is too young and Ah Chi is mad for power and no one is listening to him. Ah Mou is the best person but Ah Mou was reluctant. Even Sau Ping got involved but she refused to comment. Ah Mou was lost for words and didn't know what to do and when Ching Man too fell ill after eating extravagantly and was having diarrhea, Cheung Fung panicked and quickly went in search of Ah Chi to bring him back. Ah Mou who was asked by Ah Chi not to listen to anyone or accept any business given by Ah Hau began to weakened and Ching Man was too sick to give any advice and so no one bothered with him. In the end Ah Mou reluctantly agreed to become the new leader and a date was set.
That night Ching Man was feeling better and got dressed for the dinner party. Yang Ching was surprised he was well and asked what he was going to do about the problem and Ching Man smilingly said "Well now is the time to watch the show".
It was a huge dinner party, the guards were all there and when Ah Mou was given the keys, everyone cheered and they all pledged their allegiance to him as the newly appointled leader. Ah Mou was smiling smugly, Ah Hau and Ching Pang felt they have a puppet to control now. Ah Chi came back and was standing at the back with Cheung Fung, both looking glum and Ah Chi couldn't believe his eyes as Ah Mou played with the keys in his hands. Ah Mou said loudly his speech; "This has been my lifelong ambition. I have always wanted this seat. Remember when I was to be appointed the leader and someone...well you all know who so I am not going to name names..well he said I was not good enough for this position. He dared to say that if I were to be leader of this company, I will lead ths company to ruins and my men to their deaths and that I will get myself killed and my poor old mother will have to bury her own son! Remember that?" and all except the few was laughing and Ah Mou suddenly turned glum and asked "What is so funny about that?" and suddenly all was quiet. Ah Chi was curious what was going on as Ah Hau looked on. Ah Mou glumly said "It's not funny at all because in the end it was all true. I didn't make a good decision, I led my own men to their deaths and I even got myself killed with my mother having to bury me. Ah Chung was dead. Standing here is Sheung Mou! But then this someone is such an idiot. The biggest idiot there is who willingly take the blame for everything this Sheung Chung did wrong. The idiot who accepted all insults by this useless Sheung Chung but at the times of trouble who does this useless Sheung Chung relied on? This idiot whom he calls the outsider. It was this idiot who helped Sheung Chung and gave him a new life. Why would he do all this? Because he feels he owes this family something. This idiot who could have had a more illustrous career with another forwarding company decided to stay. So idiot, where are you idiot? Come forward and take this keys you idiot and continue to be an idiot! Come forward...."
Ah Chi was in tears but he walked forward and some protested and Ah Mou angrily said "I thought you all pledged your loyalty to me? That whatever I say is the rule and you will follow my rules? Well now I am relinquishing myself from this position and I am passing these keys to Ah Chi. Anyone else has any problem with that?!" and Ching Pang walked forward and started to protest but Ah Chung loudly said "Uncle, you seemed to develop a hearing problem when father repeatedly said he wanted Ah Chi to be the new leader. Are you having the same hearing problem now? No worries and listen; (Ah Mou then shouted at Ching Pang's shocked face) I AS THE NEWLY APPOINTED LEADER NOW RELINQUISHES MY POSITION AND HEREBY APPOINTING AH CHI TO BE THE NEW LEADER!!"
Ah Hau and Ching Pang knew they were lost and had no choice but to pledge loyalty to Ah Chi. Ah Chi was grateful for Ah Mou's loyalty to him and as Ah Mou passed by Ching Man's seat, he quietly whispered to Ching Man's ear; "How did I do?" and Ching Man nodded in agreement, smiling.
Life goes on. Ah Hau lived outside and all seems well as brother work together to settle the debt. But Ah Chi now faces an even bigger problem because Ah Yi reminded Ah Chi that the world is now taken over by steam ships and steam trains. No one uses the slow forwarding companies by land anymore and the ways of the hup-mmm was slowly dying and probably will be phased out in a few years forcing Wui Yai to close down. Ah Chi realised the livelihood of hundreds are at stake and so he needed to push the company towards a new direction. They all thought of forwarding by sea which was faster and has far reaching implications. Official Lee recommended a certain Official A who to do what he says. They brought their plans to Official A who seems drunk all the time. He asked them to give donation of $100,000-00 so as to secure the government tender to ship government goods by sea. Unfortunately some time later he came back more drunk as ever and slurring his words said there was some problems and needed another $100,000-00. Ah Mou did asked Ching Man what was his opinion of Official A, whether he took the money for his own use and Ching Man with certainty quietly answered "I don't think he is corrupt".
Can't remember about which time Ah Hau's mother and Ah Hau stole the keys to the accounting room and in the dead of the night copied the accounting books. Suddenly I think the next day Ching Pang returned home, but now a magistrate intent of arresting the men in Wui Yau because he received complaints by creditors that Wui Yau could not repay their debts. Ah Chi, Ah Yi, Ah Mou and Ching Man were all arrested. Ching Man was not worried because their debts were not due yet and they could only be held for a few days. But he was worried that they will be arrested until the final day of the debt and then released only to find the creditors at their doorstep demanding payment and then Ching Pang would return to foreclose the house and the entire business. So Ching Man thought of a plan and asked Cheung Fung to complete it eventhough she was very pregnant. She listened and dutifully completed her task. The task was simple; she had to go to each creditor and must see them as if it was urgent. She must quietly tell them about Wui Yau's impending business with the government and that when Wui Yau is paid and surely soon, that creditor will be paid first in full. And she must first go to the one that made the biggest noise and the stingiest. So she went, one by one, and some took pity on her being pregnant and all sat down and listened and when they heard they would be paid first, they were very happy. And the plan was completed and they were all released. When they went home, they were eating dinner when true enough Ching Pang arrived with his officers and arrogantly said he wanted to close down Wui Yau. They were all dragged to the main hall and Ching Pang sniggered despite Sau Ping begged him to stop this since they were family and he maliciously said "Remember when I begged Ching Tong and you to let me play a part in the business? What did you say? You couldn't help me. So why now should I help you?". But they were all cool and the coolest was Ah Chi, who walked in with a swagger and sat on the leader's chair. Ching Pang couldn't believe he looked so smug and I think Ah Hau and his mom was there too. Anyway Ah Chi said "I have $--- left in the treasury, everything that can be sold or mortgaged has been sold and mortgaged, including this house. So you want to foreclose the business? What more can I do? I can't lose anymore since there is nothing left. Whatever is left each of you will be paid only hundreds. I already said we have a government tender coming ensuring payment to you all but if you insist, what more can I do?". Ching Pang shouted "Don't listen to him, he is lying! He has money! Agre to foreclose now!" but the creditors were reluctant and they protested Ching Pang's action. Ching Pang was again defeated and he fled quickly in frustration and another crisis is over.
By this time Wui Yau was broke and heavily in debt and Ah Chi had to beg and even borrow from the bandits to get the money to pay the salary, eventhough Sau Ping disapproves and scolded Ah Chi. Later she recanted her scoldings and knew Ah Chi was trying to do what is best for the company. Then the official A said the deal was done except they must come up with plans; the plans of ships to be used. This would need further money and running out of money and the guards almost on riot because of no salary paid, even Ching Man had to sell off his favourite toys to raise money. Yan Ching saw the desperate need for money contributed a large sum which she said was the payment for a special delivery which was safe. But it wasn't. It was a dangerous delivery of some corrupt ministers' booty to his homwtown. She and several others were ambushed and she was killed. Ching Man was overcome with grief but then he read his wife's last letter to him hidden in his favourite birdcage and in it she knew she was probably going to die in this mission. But she did so knowing that her husband was a changed man, and that she loved him more because when he was once the smartest and the laziest, he was now the smartest and contributed to the family, having an ambition. Her last words were that she hoped her husband despiter her death will play an important role in bringing the company to a new era and to show to them all why she has such pride in him as her husband. Tearfully he read and saw her say "I know I am not the smartest of the women, and you ended up with me the naggy wife. But honey, will you marry me if we were to meet in the next life?" and Ching Man tearfully nodded his head and said "I will".
So Ching Man became a new man and worked hard to be worthy of his wife's sacrifice but Official A had a major problem they didn't know. And he seems reluctant to talk about it except that his proposal for that new shipping business wasn't accepted by the local minister because the duke did not favour him anymore. They all didn't know this and Ah Mou, in a moment of panic begged Official A to return the money and even accused him of taking the money for his own use since Ah Mou overheard that the Official A was heavily in debt and he was moving out of his big house. Official A was insulted but didn't blame Ah Mou but Ah Mou kept pressing for the money eventhough Ah Chi and Ching Man told him to stop. So Official A had to explain and took them to this tiny little house and said this was his new home. They all stood there in disblief and Official A sadly explained "I was once trusted by the Duke but all those who were corrupt disliked me. I was never the smartest nor the friendliest, I didn't take bribes and I refused to play their game, so when I came forward with this business proposal to privatise delivery service of government goods and shipping business, not only did they all conspire against me, they even bad mouthed me in front of the duke. Now the duke no longer trusts me and the reason why I couldn't get your plan approved is because the minister approving such plans refused to approve it because I was out of the duke's favour." Ah Mou then said with disbelief that "I knew it! If such is the case we should have asked a corrupt official for help!". Ah Chi refused to pressure the Official A and Official A promised he would whatever it takes to get the plan approved because he too believed that the plan was good for the government and the people to privatise it.
But months after months passed and still no news. By this time Wui Yai was definitely broke and Ah Hau stirred up the riots again because they weren't paid. Ah Hau said Ah Chi took the money for himself and since Cheung Fung moved out to live with her parents, surely he was planning to run away. So when Ah Chi was away, they ran amok and searched the house. This was also Ching Pang said in the house Ching Tong buried some gold before he died. The house was ransacked and the men took whatever they could whilst some dug the grounds for gold. Ah Mou couldn't stop them and neither could anyone. Even Sau Ping was begged for money by the older servants and she wanted to give them her own money and jewelery when Ah Chi appeared and with fierceness scolded them "You should be ashamed of yourselves, asking money from an old woman! Mother, please don't give them the money more so when they have worked here for so many years. Surely they know our Wui Yau will not cheat the workers. If you give them the money it would be unfair to the others who did not have any". He then went to the back door and shouted at the men to stop digging. Some looked up and said "Isn't he running away? Why is he back here?"
They all went into the main hall and Ah Chi ordered for trunks and small packages to be brought in. He stood in the middle, the men protesting and loudly he said with a heavy heart; "I never knew how it felt to borrow money from others, to beg for money until today and I can tell you it is the most shameful thing I had to do. These I have begged, so as to pay you all your salary. But I can't pay you all. You all know Wui Yau is going through hardships but you chose to ignore that and believed rumours by those deceitful people bent to destroy us. You may think I am lying, but the sad truth is not just at the rate we are going but at the rate the economy is going Wui Yau will close in a few years and hundreds would lose their livelihood. I didn't study much and I always thought Wui Yau would last forever but the truth is said to my face by a young man, who called me a man with a small town metality. The world out there is changing fast. People no longer use people to push the carts and shout Hup-Mmm. They're using steam trains that can be faster and more efficient. If Wui Yau does not change, we will close in the end. I am trying to save this business and I know you have all been impatient but you have worked here long enough to know Wui Yau's policy. You now have two choices; you can either take whatever you can from this house as payment for your salary and leave thus Wui Yau will be doomed or you can stay and work with me for a better future. Trust me and believe in me. If you do that, today I can pay some of you salary. Due to the money I could get, only those with family will be paid half their salary, those without families I beg you to wait for a month. A month is what I am asking for and I promise you your salary will be paid. So which choice are you taking?".
And so the spineless idiot includind the trouble makers of course chose work with Wui Yau and so the crisis is settled, for now.
But still Official A is not back yet and Ching Man being worried left town to go to the city to look for him.
We see Official A drinking heavily in his room. Earlier he went to see the duke who refused to see him. So he spent an entire day kneeling in front of the duke's house and when the duke finally appeared he went to the duke and begged "Please my Lord, please listen. This plan is good, it benefits the government and it helps with the economy" but the duke kicked him away and angrily said "Are you telling me to trust you? Are you saying you're the trustworthy one when every other official wrote to me in protest of you and your plan? Are you saying everyone of them is a liar and only you and you alone is trustworthy?". Official A could not answer that but feebly said "My Lord, yes, I am trustworthy, please trust me" but the duke said "You want me to trust you? How can you expect me to trust you and not trust everyone else? You expect me to believe the unanimous criticisms against you by all other officials are lies and you, only you were true? Alright, give me one good reason why I should trust you. Just one". But he couldn't and the duke walked away. Back in his room a sad Official A mumbled "One good reason?" and he suddenly stood up, took his belt and tried to hang himself.
Ching Man arrived at the hotel and heard the official tried to hang himself but was saved by the servants. He went to see the official, now drinking even more heavily than ever. Sadly the official said "I am sorry I can't help you. The duke refused to believe me or even to listen to me. He asked me to give him one good reason why I should be trusted when every other officials have lodged a complaint against me. How can I explain to him in the face of such unanimous vote against me?". Official A drank more in despair and Ching Man looked straight at him and said with confidence "Sir, you can't give up just yet. My wife died to get this plan to work and for my wife we can't give up. For your reputation you can't give up. There is a way you can convince him, with one word". Official A looked up and Ching Man continued; "Well the reason is simple. You must go back to the duke and no matter what you must get his attention. And then you must write him one single word; the word poverty". Here Ching Man wrote the word and stroke by stroke he explained the significance of this word as every component in the word poverty explains why the duke will trust him again. Ching Man writing the first word said "This is you without a home, bending on your back in humility before him without any asset to your name nor any glory or any fame, without any title nor any money and with your wife having left you, you having nothing but just yourself, all these makes the word poverty. And the reason why he must trust you is because you're poor. Everyone else has their own interest to protect and therefore they're rich and powerful but you are not rich, nor are you powerful with many friends. Your poverty is your reason because it signifies that you're an honest official and if he can't trust an honest official, who can he trust?".
Later on a jubilant Ching Man arrived home crying "We got the approval! We got the approval! Here's the seal". Everybody looked on and was very happy but Ah Chi was stony faced. He quickly left the room and they all followed him and saw him kneeling before the altar and his father's name plague and he just cried and cried with relief. Cheung Fung went to him and held him tightly and he went on crying and everyone too had tears and they realised Ah Chi who had been strong and brave was actually very scared of losing Wui Yau and this approval finally saved the day.
I think 2 years has passed since and Wui Yau's business had increased. They had loads of shipments and many boats to accomodate the shipping. Everyone was busy and business was busy as ever like in its heyday but improved for the future. All was great and Ah Chi had a son called Ah Tak. But then trouble looms again.
One day out of the blue 3 granduncles of very high position within the Sheung family arrived and all were greeted cordially but were wary of their presence. Soon enough Ching Pang, Ah Hau and his mother arrived looking like friendly relatives. Then Ching Pang dropped the bomb. He said "Since Ching Tong had died without a will, it is only natural the biological sons in this family should inherit the money, am I right respected elders?" and stupidly they nodded. Ah Chi looked so angry he wanted to kill them and he went on "So I have decided, as the eldest in the family to see Wui Yau and to divide the proceeds between myself, Ching Man and the 3 biological sons. I have already found a buyer who is willing to pay good money". Ah Mou was the first to protest and he shouted "You filthy animal, you scumbag!!!!" and the uncle became very angry and said "How dare you speak to me this way? See! See! This is how Ching Tong taught his son, to disrespect his elders!" and Ah Mou (or it could be Ah Chi, I can't remember) screamed "Respect you?! Why should I respect you! You and that scumbag nephew of yours were not even here when we were at our worst and now that we are good, you want to sell the business and divide the fortune?!" but Ah Hau said "Well I did introduce some business, you just refused my sincere effort". Ching Pang then concluded "Never mind, I will not force you to make the decision now. I will come back a few days later, then you can tell me your decision". And so they left.
Sau Ping was troubled. She remembered her husband's last message to her when he was hiding the will, he said "Remember, you must only open this will when it was your last resort, when you can't stand it anymore. This must be your last resort because whatever I have written in here could destroy Ah Hau and my 1st brother so open it only when they asked to divide the fortune of the family and break the family apart". But she didn't want to do that so she went to see the uncle personally and asked him "How much do you want? Name me a number and I will get the money for you no matter what". But Ching Pang flatly refused and said "That favourite son of yours called me a scumbag!".
So she asked Ah Mou nicely to apologise to Ching Pang. Everyone didn't know why she was asking them to do this, but Ah Chi remained silent and Ah Chung reluctantly went and knelt before the uncle with Ah Hau and his mother looking on. Sau Ping said "First brother, remember when Ah Chung was little and you loved him the most? He was always by your side and you favoured him like your own son. He is respects you, we all respect you, please reconsider my offer" and Ching Pang actually shed some tears as he remembered the past but Ah Hau just looked on with amusement. "Please come to the house for dinner, let us be a family again first brother". So he said maybe he will.
He did. Everybody looked glum but Sau Ping tried her best to look happy and relented to the uncle's every whim and fancy. After dinner, Ching Pang proudly said "Well....this is probably the best way. I have thought about your suggestion but I still insist to sell the business". Uproar ensued and Sau Ping begged "We can pay you.." and Ching Pang said "I don't want money, I want to sell the business" and so they left. Sau Ping disappeared that night and everyone went looking for her, Ah Chi found a man who said he saw an old woman crying pitifully before Ching Tong's tombstone but didn't know where she went.
Ah Chi and gang went home to see Ching Pang, Ah Hau and his mom together with a prospective buyer who couldn't believe his good fortune and asked them "Are you sure Wui Yau is for sale?" and Ching Pang assured him that as the eldest what he said was true. Protests after protests, arguments ensued and then Sau Ping reappeared with Official Lee. Sau Ping asked I think Ah Mou to take a letter from the lantern up at the ceiling and she held it and said "This is Ching Tong's will". Ching Pang laughed and said "Why should I believe you? You could have faked it!" and official Lee stood up and with much power said "I could verify its authencity. I was the witness to this will and the envelope is sealed with my official seal as you can see here". So Ching Pang shut up and Official Lee said "I am instructed that this will must only be read when Mrs Sheung says it to be as such. May I read the will Mrs Sheung?" and gloomily she nodded. So Official Lee began to read a very long will which I can only remember most of it ...
In the voice of Ching Tong...
"This is Sheung Ching Tong and this is my last will and testament. I would like to begin my will with a word for my son, Ah Chi". Ah Chi looked surprised. "Ah Chi, you have often said you owed the Sheung family for what we have done for you and you have often worked hard to repay your debt. I knew this and I knew you weren't my biological son son whenever there was some difficult task I would always say "Send Ah Chi lor! Impossible task? Well there's Ah Chi. Something went wrong? Blame Ah Chi. Need a scapegoat? There's Ah Chi". Ah Chi... Ah Chi.... do not feel that you owe us anything, we in fact owe you our deepest gratitude. Stop saying you owe the Sheung family, you do not. The Sheung family owes you Ah Chi. Remember that." and Ah Chi was close to tears. Ching Tong went on...
"Wui Yau has been a business passed to me by my father and I must in turn pass it to one of my son. I have three biological sons to choose from but none of them were in restrospect suitable at all. Ah Chung is hot headed and at times unreasonable but I must admit despite all that he is a good son with a good heart but he is not leadership material. Ah Yi is too young and does not understand the business. So there left Ah Hau whom I have placed all my hopes and dreams on. I have wanted to give my business to Ah Hau and I have hoped he would run Wui Yau well but Ah Hau..." now Ah Hau looked like he was beginning to panic since dirty laundry out for drying now..."Ah Hau was my biggest disappointment. I did not want to reveal any of this, but I knew if my will is read it could only mean Ah Hau, you unfilial son did not repent. I have struggled with my conscience to protect you Ah Hau, I have even made myself believe that I would forgive you if only you truly repented. But you never did and I feel now it is my obligation to reveal the secret that has been haunting me all these while and I wish to give justice to my loyal servant Fo Yim Hung who died with great injustice done to him. Ah Hau, this useless animal was having an affair with Fo Yim Hung's wife and she became pregnant. In order to protect his own self interest, he lied about a dangerous route and sent Fo Yim Hung and his men on this route, killing them all." There was chaos everywhere and everybody, including thosed trouble makers said with disbelief "You had an affair with Mrs Fo? You had him killed?! Justice! Justice!!!". He continued.."I therefore hereby declare that I officially and formally disown Sheung Hau as my son and he shall not be given any inheritence and shall forthwith be banned from the Sheung house". Even Ah Hau's mother couldn't believe what she heard.
Ching Pang laughed and said "Don't worry Ah Hau. I am the eldest in the family, I will give you a share". Ah Hau looked relieved.
The will continued.
"And now to my brother Sheung Ching Pang". That got his attention. "Before my father died, he had revealed to me a secret which he made me swear never to reveal it but I am left with no choice. Sheung Ching Pang is not really the son of my father's. He is the love child of my father's first wife and her actor lover before she married my mother".
Chaos! Total chaos and Ching Pang screamed "NO! I DON'T BELIEVE YOU! NO! NOOOO!"
Will continued... " My father's first wife was an actress when she met my father. At that time unbeknownst to my father she was having an affair with a fellow actor and she was 2 months pregnant when she married my father. She died from childbirth and my father raised this boy. But some time later he received a letter from her old lover demanding to see his child and that was when my father knew. Brother, you always felt the Sheung family owes you because father refused to let you run the business. But brother, don't you realise it is you who owes the Sheung family so much more."
Ching Pang here screamed "There is no proof whatsover!!" and Official Lee stylishly produced an old letter and said "This is the proof. This was the letter written by that old lover and as you can see the postmark on the envelope is some decades old. I have personally checked this and based on my experience, I can verify with certainty this letter was written back in those days and I hardly believe anyone would make such an audicious claim way back then just so to use it now".
And so ends the will reading.
Ching Pang went beserk, he kept shouting It's not true, it's not true and slumped to the floor whilst Ah Hau and mother left and all others looked with shocked faces. Ching Man quickly went to console his brother because he himself didn't know the truth. Sau Ping walked away sadly whilst Ah Mou walked away with smugness. Ah Chi as usual had an unreadable expression.
Years passed. The business was steady now and Ah Chi was walking on the street with his mother who is old and feeble now and they were discussing doing business with foreigners when they saw Ching Pang's wife begging for medicine. She tried to run away when she saw them but she fell. Later she brought them back to an old shack and she explained life was hard on them, more so Ching Pang did not recover from the shock and became insane and he then suffered a stroke so now he can't even talk or walk. Ah Chi and I think Ching Man was there and they saw him looking like a pitiful invalid and they shook their heads sadly and promised to take care of them. They asked her about Ah Hau but she said she didn't know where he was.
Some more years passed and this time Wui Yau's goods were always attacked by a mysterious bandit that seem to target them only. Many men were hurt and Ah Chi had an idea who he was. A magistrate who was trying to catch that bandit was apologetic and Ah Chi quietly ordered the magistrate not to harm that bandit.
One day during delivery, the bandit appeared with his face covered to steal the goods and as he opened one of the trunks, Ah Chi was in it and fought with the bandit. The bandit ran away but I think he was shot with an arrow on one of his legs and Ah Chi followed. When they were alone Ah Chi cried "Brother, please stop this! Please come back to us" and Ah Hau looked at Ah Chi and with anger he left. Ah Chi stood there and didn't know what to do.
Some more years has passed and Ah Chi was walking towards a tombstone with a young skinny boy. Ah Hau was looking like a mad man, with limping leg was holding an arrow wanting to kill Ah Chi. And then he hid behind the bushes and Ah Chi was talking to the bushes, saying "Sister in law, do not worry about your son. I will take good care of him and give him a good education. I will love him like he my own, after all he is my brother Ah Hau's son, so don't you worry and rest in peace". Flashback, Mrs Fo was sick and dying and she came to Ah Chi and Ah Mou and begged them to look after Ah Hau's son. They promised her. Ah Hau was shocked to see his own son. He followed them to a school and he overheard Ah Chi begging the teacher to teach his son "Please master, I know you only accept children of ministers. I may not have titles but my family is well respected. I never studied much and I have missed out on so many. I hope you can teach this boy, give him an education I never had, so that he has the knowledge to be a better man, a good man that he should be". And the teacher finally agreed. Ah Hau meanwhile was so overcome with emotions he cried silently and finally after so many years of stubborness, he remembered Fo Yim Hung, Mrs Fo, Ah Chi and his father and finally he repented and he limped away alone.
A year or 2 has passed and this time we see Ah Hau bedridden and dying from some disease living in poverty looking like a beggar. Ah Chi, Ah Chung and his young son was there. Ah Chi looked saddened to find Ah Hau like this and Ah Chung, looking glum and sad too. Ah Hau coughed and said "So you're all finally here..." and Ah Chung said "Why don't you come home? We can take care of you". But Ah Hau laughed sadly and said "Brother don't you understand why I stayed away for so long?" and they all understood. He was ashamed of what he did and this was his way of punishing himself. "Come, let me see my son...." he held his son at arms' length and Ah Chi said "This is your father, call father" and the boy said "father". Ah Hau said "My son....listen to your father's advice. Be a good boy and listen to your uncle Ah Chi. Never take the wrong path or you'll end up like your father, like me. Be a good man and remember never to take the wrong path. Never once". And Ah Hau died. They buried him.
Sometime later Ah Mou, Ah Chi, Cheung Fung and the two children (can't remember if Ching Man was there but I think he was) was walking together and the children asked them about the business and they reminiscened about the old times and they asked what is Hup-Mmm. Ah Chi explained "Hup-mm is a call for brotherhood to unite, to give way, the call for a safe passage with all brothers whether the official or the otherside, the call for unity" and the last scene was them on a boat and crying "HUP-MMMMMM, HUP-MMMMMMM, HUP-MMMMMM".
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