Chapter 38: A Disgrace to the Educated
Translator: Translation Nation/chuchutrain Editor: - -
Pei Zi Yun received the glass of wine and took a subtle sniff. It smelt strange. He instantly knew that something was amiss. He cast a glance at Tang Zhen and realized that the tips of his fingers were stained with white powder. He immediately understood what was happening. Apparently when Tang Zhen served him the glass of wine, he had dipped his finger, which had the drug on it, into the wine.
Obviously, he couldn't afford to poison everyone, as that would cause problems. The implications wouldn't just be limited to the county. Officials from the capital would be sent to investigate. Even the spiritual realm would be shaken by this scandal.
The spiritual realm, which exists just three feet above, boast a considerable strength. Even if one has reached immortality, he shouldn't meddle with the affairs of the mortal realm.
Pei Zi Yun laughed and said, "Although the literary genius Huang Jin Chun excelled in the Grand Examinations, he had wasted a fair bit of time in his youth. When he had finally reached the pinnacle of education, he was already forty-three. So much time wasted!"
Tang Zhen didn't share this view however. He was captivated by the ingenuity of the man, "Eh, so what if he is forty3. He has been an academic his whole life, and brought honour and glory to his name. Even if he doesn't become an official, he has left an unforgettable mark in history."
After saying this, Chen Yi Gui who was standing some distance away chimed in, "That's right, what is being forty-three. Even if he's fifty-three or sixty-three, the ability to become a Grand Scholar isn't something that an ordinary person can achieve in his entire lifetime."
Before Pei Zi Yun replied, he stretched his hand out and swapped his glass with Tang Zhen's, "This performance seems pretty exotic. I've never seen anything like this in the county before."
Chen Yi Gui then replied, "Brother Pei, these performers have been specially trained within their family, they are extremely famous. Although, when brother Pei becomes a High Scholar, his name will be as famous as them."
Tang Zhen laughed along with them, "It's not enough to merely live as an Elementary Scholar. But even if you become a High Scholar, if you don't have a thousand mu of land, you cannot live in comfort."
Speaking up till this point, he suddenly recalled his objective. He then nudged Pei Zi Yun to drink. Smiling as he raised his glass, he said, "Brother Pei, brother Chen, we are different from the way we were in the past, we aren't able to do as we please anymore. Come, let's empty this cup. I shall drink first."
Tang Zhen's words seemed very foolish to Pei Zi Yun as he forced an icy laugh. He picked up his cup and said, "He's right, there are many things that you can't hide. And now we cannot do as we please, and have to do what we don't wish to do."
As he finished, he drained his cup. The alcohol burned his throat as he swallowed it down.
Chen Yi Gui felt something was amiss, hearing these two people speak, but he drained his cup anyway. After they emptied their cups, Tang Zhen said, "Brother Pei, you guys continue. I have a sudden urge. Excuse me."
Tang Zhen walked a few steps forward, with a burning desire for the beautiful miss of Qian house. She exuded a sort of charisma, with a flowery scent that caused many students to turn their heads and admire her beauty.
Pei Zi Yun sniggered, placing her there was the Holy Jail Sect's ploy to trap him. Chen Yi Gui then said, "Brother Pei, you should stop staring at this lady."
"Why is that?"
"The house of Qian has an illustrious history, it had a registrar officer in the previous dynasty. Generation after generation of Qian members had at least one or two Elementary Scholars and High Scholars. They own 1500 mu of land and are the cream of society. So the daughter of this house is naturally a daughter of officials. Unless a wedding pact is underway, she cannot be taken advantage of. In fact, there has been rumours that wedding negotiations for her are already underway."
Pei Zi Yun nodded his head. Wondering how effective the drug was, he checked his surroundings and realized that the only person around him was the lady from the house of Qian. He smiled and stood up, "I shall offer a toast to the Mentor."
Chen Yi Gui felt that this was perfectly normal. Pei Zi Yun walked forward and approached the Mentor. Noting that everyone around had already finished offering their toasts, thus leaving the Mentor alone. He wore a plain expression as he nodded his head.
Pei Zi Yun approached and said, "Junior pays his respects to the Mentor."
The mentor nodded his head. Confucius had said, 'in order to expand one's energy, feelings shouldn't be displayed easily'. But seeing Pei Zi Yun, the Mentor couldn't help but smile in admiration and pleasure, "Come and sit here."
At this point everyone was watching the performance. Among the audiences that have drank wine, some of them were blushing, others had red ears and weren't really paying attention anymore. Pei Zi Yun thus boldly sat next to the Mentor.
"When you arrive home, are you going to study?"
Pei Zi Yun replied, "This disciple has been studying everyday, but have encountered many doubts. Whenever I resolve a doubt, another surfaces."
The mentor sighed and replied, "Life is limited, and knowledge is unlimited. This difference between them is the reason why we always have doubts. We should remain morally upright and realize that we are imperfect, but still strive towards perfection."
Pei Zi Yun then replied, "Mentor is right. This disciple will remember."
The mentor then said, "When it comes to education, regardless of how far the end goal is, the main point is to keep making progress. As long as you are better off today than yesterday, with time, you will become a teacher yourself."
Seeing Pei Zi Yun respond, he said, "Do you know why I didn't critique your essay today?"
Pei Zi Yun looked at him and said, "This disciple doesn't know."
The mentor let out a loud laugh but seemed someone bitter, "This essay highlights the main point perfectly. The ideas are unrestrained and unbridled like the great river flowing."
"With such an perfect essay, who am I to appraise it?" An essay like that is one to be remembered in all history.
Seeing Pei Zi Yun flustered and wanting to thank and apologize, he raised his hand to stop him, "But your identity and status is unfit for such a perfect piece of work!"
Seeing Pei Zi Yun confused, the Mentor then explained, "Your education up till this point is incomplete, yet you have just created such a masterpiece that can instantly make you a distinguished literary person. If word should spread, the county will hear of your works and you can even shake the entire world."
"And it is precisely because of that reason, that an official career would be difficult for you. And it would be even more difficult for you to succeed in becoming a High Scholar."
Hearing these words, Pei Zi Yun was startled but he understood his meaning. In the original owner's life, famous literary persons such as Tang Xian Zu and Xu Wei excelled in literature yet could never pass the Imperial Examinations.
Tang Xian Zu had failed the examinations numerous times. Even after Zhang Ju Zheng's three sons managed to succeed he was still failing. It was only after Zhang Ju Zheng's death did he finally make it. (TN: Chinese history)
Xu Wei's plight was much worse. He had started studying at age six. When he was nine he started writing essays and at ten years old, wrote a popular piece that amazed the entire nation. The local men had dubbed him a child prodigy. Chen Lian Zheng once praised him by saying, "Close the doors to the city, he is the only one that matters."
Yet when it came to the imperial examinations he didn't excel. He became an Elementary Scholar at twenty and only managed to become a High Scholar at the age of forty-one. He had tried 8 times before finally succeeding.
People said the reason he had failed was because they were afraid he would become excessively haughty. Yet the reverse was also possible. But it was likely he had offended the examiners by causing them to be envious of his talents and thus suppressed it.
Pei Zi Yun sighed and said, "This student understands that being capable is more important than fame in order to become an influential official. Yet giving up fame for power is something that few would choose."
Li Bai's words were too straightforward and he was known as the, "poem deity". His works were always unparalleled in elegance and he took the world by storm with his lyrical ingenuity.
Yet Li Bai, too, chased after the Imperial Examinations but failed to pass it before he was sixty-two. Was it really because his political abilities weren't up to standard?
Although he wasn't the most outstanding in his knowledge regarding politics, he was at least above average, yet he was denied a career at being an official.
With a reputation and an academic status, everyone would praise and be in awe. However if a person had a reputation yet didn't have an academic status, it is akin to waging war against the heavens - it cannot be won.
At this point he accepted willingly and said, "Thank you mentor for your wise words."
These words came from Han Yu, who like the few before him, excelled in his literary works yet was unable to pass the examinations.
Seeing that Pei Zi Yun understood this point, the Mentor consoled him, "Don't feel disappointed. Once you've attained High Scholar status or even Grand Scholar status, you can start writing your amazing pieces and receive recognition."
Pei Zi Yun was about to reply when a shout broke the silence. He turned back and saw that a man had already stripped down his clothes and was almost naked. He was holding the lady from Qian house down. In the disarray, her clothes were in a mess, revealing some skin as well.
When the Mentor turned his head back, the sight before him enraged him to no end. His face hardened and he shouted, "What a disgrace to the educated. This is crazy. What a disgrace to the educated, this is absolutely crazy!"
The had repeated himself twice, and was shaking in anger.
Pei Zi Yun looked up, this man's eyes were red. Who else could it be, but Tang Zhen?
Before long, Tang Zhen was held down by the Qian household's servant. He had cold water splashed on his face in a bid to wake him from this franzy. The mentor's face was flushed red. This was supposed to be a educated event for Elementary Scholars, but such a disturbance has unfolded.
The mentor was in charge of the development and education of the students in the county. Such an incident has left him thoroughly embarrassed. And he could be reprimanded for allowing a situation like this unfold. Should news of this spread to the capital, it could cause criticism. It looks like this year county evaluation would clearly be negative.
The students in the hall were just as alarmed. Tang Zhen had a very composed and steady demeanor about him, why did he get so crazy today?
At this point a student said, "You guys probably didn't notice, but this Tang Zhen probably had one drink too many, and lost his sense of decorum."
At this point another middle-aged Elementary Scholar replied, "Or it could be that he's always this crazy and managed to hide it very well. Clearly the alcohol caused him to reveal his true nature. After this incident, he wouldn't be able to hold on to his Elementary Scholar title anymore. Serves him right."
Everyone was envious and jealous about how Tang Zhen had managed to achieve Elementary Scholar status at such a young age and came from a rich family. Now that he has done something wrong and ruined his reputation, people were on the verge of beating him to death.
A fifty years old Elementary Scholar, stepped forward. Upon recognizing that the scene was becoming more unbecoming he decided to say something, "Why do you people gloat in the misfortunes of others. If you really have to, don't speak like this here. If the Mentor were to hear you, you'd get chided as well. There are outsiders around, if word gets out that you people acted this way, what would they think of you?"
This older Elementary Scholar was more mature, and was thus less envious than the rest of them.
It was unexpected that something like this would happen at such a distinguished event. The mentor was unable to speak for some time before shouting, "Take this idiot Tang Zhen and drag him out!"
The mentor was in fact deliberating whether to cancel out Tang Zhen's title. A few jealous and envious students stepped forward and picked him up and leaving the scene.
Seeing a scene like this unfold before them, many students felt disgraced as well. They knew something went wrong, but couldn't understand why or what.
"What a disgrace, what a disgrace to literature!" The mentor was still fuming as he spoke. He was enjoying the conversation with Pei Zi Yun, yet the scene had turned into ashes in his mouth.
"Oh, this Tang Zhen does have some family connections. However to do something like this is unbecoming, and I shall not stand for it. Once the crowd disperse, I will write a letter to the Minister and cancel off this man's Elementary Scholar title."
The mentor was thinking as he waved Pei Zi Yun over and instructed, "You are a virtuous and dignified student. Drop by my place once more before the examinations. And I forbid you to ever meet this Tang Zhen again. You will spoil your future if you do."
He flicked his sleeve and turned around to leave. At this point of the literary event, nobody was reciting poems anymore. Everyone was discussing the events that had just transpired. Seeing the Mentor leave in haste, everyone started dispersing.
As the effects of the drugs wore off, Tang Zhen looked around. His eyes were hollow as pits. He was trying to find Pei Zi Yun, his eyes sinister and angry.
Chen Yi Gui was there, his mouth still gaping from appalment. He then said, "Ai, brother Tang. You are finished."
Pei Zi Yun laughed coldly to himself. The reason he had walked over to the Mentor was because he didn't want to get bitten by the rabid dog. Using the crowd as cover, he swished his sleeve and turned to leave as well.