Chapter 55: Ancestral Temple
Translator: Translation Nation/chuchutrain Editor: - -
Slow River County
Following the establishment of the dynasty, the world gradually moved toward peace. The government officials started spending more money rebuilding roads and irrigation channels. This new irrigation channel was the latest spending by them.
On both sides were huge plots of cornfield. Corns had already been been planted and were growing. From far, three farmers could be seen farming the lands.
"To bring honor to our ancestors, to return glory to our village!"
Before long, an ox-cart could be seen along the road. The cart driver was all smiles, having the opportunity to transport the latest Master Top Scorer, it was a proud moment. Chen Yuan sat beside the ox-cart driver and turned his head behind to talk to Pei Zi Yun.
When they approached, Chen Yuan immediately asked the ox-cart driver to stop, and pulled apart the windows of the carriage. He pointed to the rows of cornfields and said to Pei Zi Yun, "Young Master, all these lands out there belong to you. Although they aren't linked plots of land, they add up to a total of 50 mu, and are rented by different people."
When Pei Zi Yun heard this, he got off the cart and took a look at the huge stretch of land that was divided by the irrigation canal. There are two seasons to grow corn. The first season would be harvested in September. It was already October and many tenants were getting busy in their fields.
The water within the paddy fields had been released, and been left to dry under the sun for half a month. These tenants were digging up the corn.
"Young Master, although we bought the land slightly late, the tenants are still able to grow and harvest their crops albeit losing out a little."
"And some of them can plant vegetables as well."
One of the tenants was using a shovel to dig into the earth, bringing up soil and crops along with it. As for this particular plot of land, the tenant had already harvested half of the entire field.
When the tenants saw Chen Yuan, they came around the exchange pleasantries with him. These lands were all purchased by Chen Yuan, who made the deals. All the tenants around knew that he was acting on behalf of the Pei household.
In the hearts and minds of these tenants, the Pei household was an extraordinary household. In their older generation, several members of the family were officials. In this current dynasty, Pei Zi Yun managed to reach Elementary Scholar status, and after sometime clinched the High Scholar status. They were really something.
When a few farmers came to say hi, Chen Yuan immediately said, "All of you, hurry pay your respects to Master Pei. Master Pei had just returned from the capital and managed to obtain top scorer in the examination. He will not be staying here for long."
The minute they heard this, the tenants who had come to greet Chen Yuan froze. They snuck a glance at Pei Zi Yun. These tenants were seventeen or eighteen-year-old youths, who wore a prideful look about them. The minute the realized High Scholar Pei was in their midst, they were petrified and immediately acknowledged his presence. They even shouted for the busy farmers to come and pay their respects.
Pei Zi Yun had wanted to stop them, but after consideration, decided not to stop them. He thought about how he was thrown into this world, and was unable to change many things. If he did not let them pay their respects to him, some people might think poorly of him, and so he allowed it to happen.
"My respects to Master Pei."
After sometime, many tenants had gathered around Pei Zi Yun, all to pay their respects to him. Pei Zi Yun's glance swept across them. One look and he could tell that all these tenants were honest people. There were twenty households of tenants, and he accepted all their greetings and allowed them to pay their respects.
When Chen Yuan saw the sight before him, he was envious and said, "The tenants had even taken over the plot of barren land. Since the land was barren now, it couldn't be grow crops immediately. They had to plough the land first, before irrigating the entire plot of land and then digging a canal. They can only start growing crops next year!"
Chen Yuan pointed far ahead. Along the river were some people busy at work. There was a water wheel being constructed at this point. Pei Zi Yun was surprised, "They started constructing it so soon?"
"Young Master, the dynasty has been promoting the use of water wheels. The only problem is that it's expensive, and costs more than 100 taels of silver. There are no families here that can afford one. However, when they discovered that they had the materials to construct one, they had started building it immediately."
Pei Zi Yun looked at it carefully. This water wheel was about 15 metres tall, and wooden axles were supporting the wheel. Every wooden plank carried with it a water pail.
As the river flowed, the water wheel spun too, and every bucket scooped up some water as it rose up gradually along with the wheel. As it came down, it splashed water down onto the crops and paddy fields.
Now there are workers digging up the canal.
"How much water can this water wheel hold?"
"Young Master, water wheels are split into small, medium and large. A large water wheel can irrigate 600 to 700 mu of land. And a small one can irrigate 100 to 200 mu of land. This particular one is a medium sized one and can irrigate 400 to 500 mu of land."
"You are truly capable!" Pei Zi Yun could not help but praise this man's capability. Actually, it was understandable. From the original owner's memories, he recalled that this man was not a despicable dishonest businessman, yet he was still able to become rich in just ten years. That was not an easy feat. Only someone who was capable could accomplish something like this. What was unfortunate was that he failed to see the bigger picture and was sent to jail, and wasted another ten years working for someone else.
Just as he was deep in thought, he heard the sound of firecrackers. One look and he recognized that the Village Chief and all his clan's folks were all present to welcome him. But that was not all, there was a man in black standing before him. It was the Chief Patrol Officer!
"I do not dare, how could I dare to meet you as a senior?" Everyone before Pei Zi Yun had gone down on bended knees to kowtow to him. Since Pei Zi Yun was the top scorer of the Imperial examinations, there was no way he could refuse this show of reverence. However, this Chief Patrol Officer was an exception.
"How can Young Master Top Scorer refer to me as a senior?" The Chief Patrol Officer had always carried a stoic and strict look on his face. Today however, he was all smiles. It was also rather coincidental that the Chief Patrol Officer should be here today, right after hearing that Pei Zi Yun had achieved High Scholar status. He brought his troops to Snail Village to do their rounds of patrol, and could conveniently drop in on the new High Scholar. The new dynasty had been established and Pei Zi Yun was still very young. Should he decide to study further, he would almost certainly be able to make Grand Scholar. When that happens, it would be good to friendly with Pei Zi Yun.
Taking a few steps back, even if Pei Zi Yun doesn't become a Grand Scholar, he was already a Top Scorer and can become an official now if he wishes. He will immediately become a 9th rank official, and that's his starting point. Although their ranks would be the same, the Chief Patrol Officer knew that being at the 9th rank is the highest he can go. That was the difference between the both of them.
Both of them were extremely polite to each other. One was an Excellency, the other was a Master Top Scorer. They both smiled and joked with each other. Cao San stood behind him, and it was apparent that he had just been promoted a rank up and was a County Lieutenant. However, he was unable to hold his head up and look at Pei Zi Yun in the eyes. Staring elsewhere, he said, "My respects to Young Master Top Scorer."
"We are all family of the same village, please get up!" Pei Zi Yun picked up the Village Chief.
"Master, the construction of the Ancestral Temple has already been completed. We are waiting for Master to offer the first sacrifice and open the shrine officially." His clan's third uncle said. Some years back, war and pandemonium were rampant, and their Ancestral Temple had been plundered and damaged. The few households hurriedly packed up and fled to this village.
People who fled their villages are of low standings when they settle down in another village. Thankfully for them, their clan has managed to produce a talent like Pei Zi Yun, who was now a High Scholar. Rebuilding an Ancestral Temple was equivalent to reestablishing their foundations. At this point many members of the Pei clan shed tears.
"This is a big matter, Master Top Scorer, please proceed."
Before long, a large crowd has gathered to see Pei Zi Yun open the shrine for the very first time. The shrine was not far away from Snail Village. Since the Black Wind Sect bandits have already been exterminated, having the shrine built outside the village was not an issue.
A Feng Shui Master had visited this place and chosen this particular plot of land in which the temple stood. After conducting his rituals, and ensuring this was the perfect spot, they then started erecting the temple. The outer walls were washed white, and tiles lined the walls. In front of the entrances were two huge, majestic stone lions. This was especially symbolic, not anyone could display these lions outside their temples. When Pei Zi Yun was an Elementary Scholar, he was pushing it by agreeing to have it built. Now that he was a High Scholar, it was very fitting.
The Village Chief of Snail Village looked on with envy.
When they got nearer, they noticed that the doors were made of stone. Using stone as the door was extravagantly expensive, costing time and lots of energy. Since Pei Zi Yun had left a sum of money directed to the construction of this temple, they maximized the money to the fullest.
On top of the door was a signboard, where the words "Pei Family Ancestral Temple" was written.
The Chief Patrol Officer and Village Chief accompanied them to the front door, but didn't enter. They sat down together at a table outside. This was an intimate and private moment for the Pei family. It was not disrespectful to intrude.
"Mother!" Pei Qian Shi was just instructing people to place additional tables outside of the big doors when Pei Zi Yun ran up to her and knelt down, "Your son has returned."
"My son is back, and brought the honor of being the Top Scorer along with him." The last time Pei Zi Yun returned to bring her the good news, she did not cry in front of everyone. This time, she couldn't contain her emotions. Wiping tears off her cheeks, she said, "Bring your father's tablet into the temple, and place it on the shrine."
"Yes!" Pei Zi Yun took his father's memorial tablet and placed it on the shrine. With a wave of a hand, firecrackers sounded as the doors to the temple rumbled open. Behind Pei Zi Yun, every family of the Pei clan were holding on to the memorial tablets of their ancestors.
"Bring the tablets into the shrine!" Someone shouted
The Pei clan followed Pei Zi Yun into the temple. On the highest platform was the tablet of Pei Zi Yun's father. Everyone else placed their ancestral tablet below his.
"Burn the incense!" Pei Zi Yun took an incense stick and placed it into the urn.
"Kowtow three times!" The clansman all kowtowed in unison as the smoke of the incense permeated throughout the entire temple. Following that, third uncle stood before the tablet and started read some mantras before informing their ancestors that Pei Zi Yun has obtained High Scholar status.
Pei Zi Yun looked up as he realized something felt different. The Plum Blossom was pulsating faintly, but it disappeared almost immediately after it started. Pei Zi Yun thought to himself, 'According to the original owner's memories and knowledge, once an Ancestral Temple has been erected, it will transform into a huge mansion in the underworld for their ancestors to live in. Since the old Ancestral Temple had been destroyed, and a new one has now been built, will this new temple appear in the same place in the underworld?'
Pei Zi Yun contemplated, then laughed.
When the rituals were completed, third uncle then said, "The school has already been built as well."
As he spoke, he led the way to the school. The Ancestral Temple was separated from the school, but it was still nearby. As Pei Zi Yun approached, it looked like a big classroom.
The teacher they had hired looked to be a fifty-year-old scholar. He had no dreams of achieving Elementary Scholar status, and thus decided to make a career out of coaching students. Hearing the fireworks outside, he was slightly envious and upset.
Several children from the Pei clan were nodding their heads and reading, yet their eyes were fixed outside as if distracted by whatever was happening. When the old scholar saw that the children were distracted, he didn't take a ruler over and smack them like he usually would, as it would be slightly disrespectful to Pei Zi Yun. But he still held the ruler up as if to warn them to pay attention.
On a normal day, this old scholar would use the ruler as a way to discipline the children. These mischievous students had been punished enough to know what he was capable of, and thus sat down obediently and read their books.
When they walked past the classroom, the old scholar was shocked and immediately paid his respects, "My respects to Master Top Scorer."
Pei Zi Yun immediately helped him up, as he cast a glance around his surroundings before saying, "The clan's school had been built, and we have to tire you out in educating these children. I respect that. Please accept these 5 taels of silver as a token of my appreciation."
These 5 taels of silver shone under the light as the old scholar hurriedly rejected it, "I've already accepted my wages, how can I take money from you as well."
Pei Zi Yun then said, "You are the teacher of my clan's children, and you will have a lot to teach over the next few years. This goes without saying. If you refuse to accept, you will be treating me as an outsider!"
The old teacher then hurriedly accepted the money and saluted Pei Zi Yun in gratitude. His heart was conflicted, there was sadness and yet happiness as well. He had attempted his entire life to become an Elementary Scholar, and did not manage to succeed. And this fifteen-year-old youth was a Top Scorer of the High Scholar examinations. Why was the difference that vast?
Outside of the Ancestral Temple, the Chief Patrol Officer and Village Chief were having tea over the table while chatting. The Chief Patrol Officer then sighed and said, "This Pei family is really blessed by their ancestors. From the last dynasty up till now, their family had been through poverty and tribulations. Who would've expected that today they would produce a Top Scorer, who managed to repay his clan and rebuild his Ancestral Shrine. Even I as a Chief Patrol Officer is envious of him."
The Village Chief then replied, "Yes, this Pei family is really fortunate. They have produced a Top Scorer. I wonder when my Snail Village would produce a High Scholar. That would bring so much honor and glory to my ancestors too."
When the Chief Patrol Officer heard this, he slandered this Village Chief in his heart, 'You're just a poor villager, what kind of High Scholar will you be able to produce. You have to know that this Pei family has a rich history of producing literary talents.'
The Village Chief sighed in his heart. If he hadn't given up Pei Zi Yun's childhood sweetheart, he wouldn't be so distant from Pei Zi Yun today. When Pei Zi Yun was just an Elementary Scholar, he had not felt anything yet. Now that he was a High Scholar, he felt like he could've gotten many advantages out of Pei Zi Yun, yet was unable to now, because of their strained relationship.