Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 525
“This is a work of art!”
Kim Kyung-sik put a piece of bulgogi in his mouth and rolled his eyes. Mu Ssang’s lunchbox was filled with sublime delicacies.
“I wanna feast until I die of a burst stomach!”
Bae Min-ji took three pieces of boiled beef and put them in her mouth. The seven-tier lunchbox attacked by a pack of human hyenas was turned into ruins in no time. Like the meals eaten by monks at a monastery, no ingredient was left behind, not a piece of kimchi or bulgogi, not a drop of soup.
“Well, it will be easier for Jin Soon to wash.”
Mu Ssang held his chopsticks and licked them. By the time he took a spoonful of rice and a few pieces of boiled beef, the lunchbox was already empty. This occurred daily.
The quality of a dish stemmed from its ingredients. Pork that came from a factory-farmed pig raised in a cage so narrow that it could not even turn its body greatly differed in taste from a pig raised in a farmer’s house. Chickens native to Korea that freely grazed around the neighborhood make for a great dish with some rice, garlic, and salt.
Jin Soon took up her family’s kitchen when she was ten years old. She became a master of cooking after years of cooking up various dishes with limited ingredients.
It was natural for young people around the age of 20 to have seemingly insatiable hunger. To them, the fantastic dishes made by a great cook with quality ingredients were irresistible. In the world of animals, the strong hoard all the food but in the human world, the hungry shall be fed first.
Mu Ssang could not and did not want to protect Jin Soon’s lunchbox from the pack of hyenas. Roh Gil-su and Ahn Dal-su, the regulars, smiled shyly and lowered their head.
“Mu Ssang, you practically sustain us. We will wash the lunchbox now.”
Mu Ssang asked Kyung-sik, the president of the college major, “How many students in our major skip lunch?”
“Three from the countryside who survive off part-time jobs. Two girls who never eat lunch. They are saving for their tuition.”
Mu Ssang looked at the sky. The sky after the rainy spell was clear. The wind pushed a piece of white cloud northward. It was the same sky Mu Ssang would look up at when he was starving himself.
“Their lives are their own responsibilities but we should at least feed the ones who work hard! I earned like a dog, I shall spend like a minister.”
In the dean’s office, Choi Ho-rim’s eyes, as he put down a bag of files, shot to the table. The table was empty after he organized it when he left work yesterday. Now, there was a thick envelope on it.
“What is this? Did the secretary Kim place it here?”
Choi Ho-rim unconsciously opened the envelope and pulled out its content.
Choi Ho-rim’s mouth was agape in awe. There were two bundles of fixed-amount checks each worth 10,000 dollars. At a glance, there seemed to be 200 of such checks. The issuing bank was the Seoul branch of BNP Paribas. Choi Ho-rim quickly checked the currency exchange rates in the morning newspaper.
[Rate: KRW/USD 870/1] The number was starkly registered in his mind. Two million dollars equaled roughly 1,700,000,000 won. It was a tremendous amount. He tapped the envelope with shaky hands. A folded note fell.
[One million dollars are for scholarships. Any student whose GPA is over 3.0 and working a part-time job to pay for their education is eligible. 800,000 dollars are for free meal plans. Of the entire student body, find the students who are in need of free meals. I am not a lunatic. Don’t worry. Humans are different from animals because we share food. The method and procedure will be handled by the intelligent dean. If you need more funds, leave a note on the bulletin board in the college of arts and humanities. I will provide more. Please do not inquire further about this and keep it a secret. – Mr. Non-Attachment]
“Mr. Non-Attachment? What a peculiar figure.”
Choi Ho-rim plopped down on the sofa. The contents of the letter and the writing style revealed the charisma of a philanthropist above the conflict and strifes of the world. They had received various donations and scholarships from the alumni and benefactors but this amount was unheard of. The way it was donated was also peculiar as well.
“Dean, you called?”
A middle-aged man entered the office cautiously. Choi Ho-rim’s name served as a nickname as well. Ho-rim meant “mountain tiger.” If you did not do your best, the mountain tiger will gobble you up.
“Who was the guest?”
The secretary had no clue.
“Who was the guest that was here before I came to work?” Choi Ho-rim’s voice was raised.
“Except for the head of the office of the student affairs, no one was here.”
Mr. Kim’s neck was buried in his torso.
“Did you ever leave the office?”
Choi Ho-rim’s eyes were glaring. If no one was here, did some ghost come in and place these checks?
“I unlocked the door at eight a.m. sharp and I opened and cleaned your office. I never left the place. Is there a problem?
Kim’s face revealed emotions of mortification and worry. If the tiger dean ever went berserk, his crotch was surely going to be kicked.
“No. Tend to your work.”
The secretary did not seem to know anything. Choi Ho-rim looked down from the window. The ground was 20 meters below and he experienced vertigo. The main building’s story height was quite tall. To climb up four stories up to the fourth floor, they had to be a lizard or a spider.
“It is most mysterious. Could it have been really a ghost? They are a good person regardless. This is precisely why Korea still has compassion and hope. Mr. Non-Attachment? This is quite humbling. Maybe I should sell the land I stashed in Daegu and contribute too. This is quite exhilarating!”
Choi Ho-rim burst out laughing. This world was ruled by shameless people. The people who could yell the vilest swear words gained dominance. As long as it made money, even shame was not considered shame. Yet this kind of genuine person, who donated a great amount to feed the hungry students, still existed.
This is why the world is an interesting place. There are corrupt politicians swindling people’s sweat-soaked tax money. There are silent philanthropists doing what is right. Like this person. They are the kind of person who is aware that the world does not evolve around them.
The next day, simple posters with the dean and the donator’s names were attached across the campus.
[We are seeking recipients for A Good Person scholarship.]
Eligibility: GPA of the previous semester must be 3.0 or higher. Mmust be working a part-time job.
[We are seeking recipients for A Good Person free meal plan.]
Eligibility: Students who are not able to afford lunch at the canteen.
[A good person’s doctrine:]
“Humans differ from animals because we share food! – Mr. Non-Attachment.”
The campus boiled up. The office of student affairs was put under great workload because of the overflowing applications. Students entered a heated debate as to what it means to be a good person and what the name “Mr. Non-Attachment” meant.
Unlike the dean and professors’ expectations, the number of students who applied for the scholarship and free meal plan was not that high. Of all the students whose grade was 3.0 or higher, 30 percent applied for the scholarship. Three thousand eight hundred applied for the free meal plan.
Mu Ssang’s sudden donation elicited a good-person movement across the campus. Let us not highlight the books borrowed from the library. Let us not vandalize the flower clock just to use its hand as lightsabers. Let us not urinate on the walls. Such simple campaigns and projects like active volunteer efforts and fund-raising for fellow students in unfavorable circumstances sprouted competitively across the campus. The campus soon overflowed with good people and Mr. and Ms. Non-Attachments but no one knew who they were.
“Haha! A good person’s doctrine was effective. The number of applicants for the scholarship is half of what we had expected. Students who applied for the free meal plan cards are fewer than our expectations too. This means my students are good, esteemed people too.”
Choi Ho-rim burst out laughing.
“Your ‘A Good Person’s Doctrine’ was highly effective. The consensus that if I apply for the card for no reason, a starving fellow student would not get it, seems to have formed. I highly commend the students’ conscience that they will not ask for a free ride. This is all thanks to your great insight,” The head of the office of student affairs added quickly.
“Stop your flattery. A good person’s doctrine is a good person’s words. Who is that person? I am curious as well.”
The one who made the first ripple was not interested in all the buzz. He had planted the embers. If it burst ablaze or was put out, it was up to itself.
He passed his days enjoying Jin Soon’s dishes, hiking for 40 kilometers every day, going to school, and interfering with the construction with his remarks. He preferred arguing with humans over wrestling with beasts.
The construction ended March next year. It took eight straight months. The main house was a one-story, 3,300-square-meter L-shaped building inside the inner gate. The six outhouses were each 132-square meters and two-storied. There was another 99-square-meter outhouse near the gate. The eight houses had a total area of 1221 square meters and the entire place including the garden was 2,013 square meters. The houses were placed with ample space between each other.
The gate led to a sweeping green lawn at the front was the main house. To the left were the outhouses. To the right was the bamboo forest. The water from the valley watered the forest and wound around the lawn and exited in front of the outhouses.
The 5,000-square-meter area behind the main house was a back garden. He had many fruit-bearing trees like peach trees planted there. Mu Ssang eagerly wished for his mother to stand under the peach tree enveloped in pink petals and planted the peach tree himself.
The main house was equipped with a living room, a parlor, a dressing room, a shower booth, and a bathroom. The spacious wooden-floored open space between rooms was sealed with floor-to-ceiling double tempered glass at both sides. When needed, it could be completely open again.
On the first floor of the basement, there was a normal storeroom and a secret space for personal things. On the second was storage for treasures taken from Governor Yamanashi.
It took quite a fortune to build a traditional Korean house. The above-ground facilities cost 400,000,000 won. The underground stories cost more than 300,000,000 won. Including the land price and the cost of landscaping, the total cost surpassed 1,000,000,000 won. It was the first time that Mu Ssang financed something for himself.
Mu Ssang sat sprawled on the wide wooden-floored open space in the main house and looked out at the lawn. The sprawling lawn and the outhouses around it made him feel content. He was grateful. He had finally built the tile-roofed house that he had dreamt of.
But he regretted it somewhat. He had splurged 1,000,000,000 won on a tile-roofed traditional Korean house. He donated 1,700,000,000 won to feed the students and regretted spending 1,000,000,000 won on his own house.
“Why did I design it so big?” He muttered as if to ask someone. The house was too big for him to live alone. There were more than 50 rooms. To clean them all, he would be exhausted and collapse. At night, ghosts would likely appear.
The answer was obvious. It was because of loneliness. He resolutely tackled the world on his own. Yet loneliness seeped into him. Even if one gets the whole world, what is the point if one is alone?
When a house is built, there should be a housewarming party. Mu Ssang made a list of guests in a study where the scent of wood filled one’s nostrils. His brush was used by the first king of Joseon, Taejo. His inkstone was from an art gallery from the Goryeo period. His folding screen was a painting by Kim Myeong-guk which depicted traditional social values. His study was a museum of national treasures.
“What kind of life have I led?” Mu Ssang muttered and stopped writing. The thin brush sprinting across the traditional Korean paper came to a halt. Edel, Teacher, Kamdoong, Aunt Hadong, the five sisters of Jin Soon, Lee Sang-han and his parents, the members of Black Culture, Bonipas, Chairman Margerie, Councillor Hamilton… His brush did not move further.
As for Park Mu Ho, his wife and Eminai, he decided he will call them later. The adoption process for Eminai was not concluded yet. He also excluded the people from the French embassy. They are work relations. He did not consider professors and friends from college either. He did not have any close friends among them anyway and even if he did, he wanted to prevent any unnecessary rumors.
He also excluded friends from his childhood and adolescence. He did not want to remind himself of the painful memories. He did not want to boast his riches to the people who knew him when he was most miserable. He also excluded Uncle Samchul. He did not want rumors to spread in Jip-eun Dari.
His relatives and townsfolk in Jip-eun Dari had no real points of contact. He lost contact with many of his childhood friends. His uncle and aunt were his enemies. Except for Sang-han, he was not really close to his friends from middle school and high school.
Read latest Chapters at Wuxia World . Site Only
He unconsciously let out a sigh. Many of the guests were foreigners. There were few from his hometown. Not even one relative. He was going to live quietly in his hometown yet he did not really know anyone here.
A Fiat Panda charged towards the front gate made out of yellow-hearted pine. The wind from the robust engine pushed open the gate doors. The car did not decelerate and passed through like a gust of wind.
The Panda charging like a frenzied warrior made a 90-degree turn and accurately stopped along the parking line. The motion was almost cinematic. Teacher liked to watch the AFKN. He ended up as a reckless driver like a foolhardy teenage boy.
A tall mixed-blood Arab man in a copper-brown monk’s habit opened the driver’s door. A bone-skinny, short old monk got out of the driver’s seat in an arrogant pose.
“Did you see that?”