Chapter 67: Payment
Translator: Translation Nation Editor: - -
The matter had been decided on, they only had to fill in the miniscule details. Pei Zi Yun and Yu Yun Jun were thus discussing these matters and how to handle them. Since Pei Zi Yun was an Outer Disciple, he would not be able to leave the sect, and Pei Qian Shi needed some consolation.
When night came, Pei Qian Shi prepared wine and food for Yu Yun Jun and the little girl. Pei Qian Shi looked at the pair with a weird expression whenever she glanced at them. It was improper for a woman to stay at another man's house for extended periods. However, this woman seemed like she came from a rich family.
Pei Qian Shi served up a variety of dishes for both of them. When they were done eating, Pei Zi Yun arranged living quarters for them, before going into his mother's room and finally getting a chance to talk her.
The minute Pei Zi Yun entered Pei Qian Shi's room, she sighed, "Son, are you thinking of joining a Dao Sect?"
"Mother, where did you hear this from?" Pei Zi Yun looked at Pei Qian Shi, and could tell that she was being suspicious.
"You don't have to hide it from me. You didn't use to have Fighting Techniques like these in the past. The previous time bandits came to attack us, you managed to kill off so many of these bandits. I had initially thought you were just very smart, and managed to outwit all these bandits and defeat them."
"This time when the bandits attacked us once more, I then realized that you had Fighting Techniques. And these techniques cannot be self-taught or acquired just by long hours of practice. All these years you've been visiting Mister Zhao to study, have you been learning Martial Arts from him? There can't be anyone else."
Pei Zi Yun was about to explain when his mother started being relaxed, as if she didn't mind, "All these years I've always forced you to study and achieve Elementary Scholar status, was because of your father and paternal grandfather. When I had just been married into this family, your grandfather repeatedly told me how he wished for his grandson to become a High Scholar. Now that you are indeed a High Scholar, I am contented."
"If you did not become a High Scholar, it would be hard to stand on your feet and be independent. However, once you became a High Scholar, the most viable option would be to begin a political career. Honestly, I was worried that you might want to take up an official post. Being an official is difficult and dangerous with all the politics around. Afterall, I came from a family of politicians and I understand all the plots and schemes that can arise. I've seen my own fair share."
"So now that you wish to enter the Dao, I guess it's a good thing as well. You can peacefully enjoy the wealth and riches of a county, and be safe for your entire life. Who knows, you might even get to become an immortal. When that happens, I will truly be happy."
Pei Zi Yun had initially thought that Pei Qian Shi was upset about this. Although she had said all these, Pei Zi Yun knew that it wasn't this simple. Hence, he was rather confused about why his mother hadn't told him the truth. However, the reason came to him like a bolt from the blue. In his own world, Dao Arts were an unholy practise and deemed as going against the flow. Emperor Qian Long once said, "Those who partake within the Dao are evil and low. The Dao is not suitable for people of higher classes because of this reason."
Hence, a banquet was held by the Emperor for the Dao Masters of various sect regulating the Daoist sects for 17 years. Should they not change their ways, they would not receive any assistance from the imperial courts. A cleanse was thus conducting, removing the Dao sects of most evil people.
Although the Dao sects in this world were not all encompassing and almighty, a person could still become an immortal from this path. Additionally, his future would be secure as well. Thinking this way, she saw past the flaws.
Pei Qian Shi continued, "Today this woman came by with a little girl. And she gave off the same air as Mister Zhao, the same elegance in demeanour. Furthermore she came at so suddenly. This must be fate. I'm certain she's come to fetch you up. As for affairs like these, I have some understanding. That girl from Ye household was like that too. Every since the Black Wind bandits attacked us, she has disappeared. And I noticed that you weren't too affected by it. I guess she must've gone to some place that would not make you worry about her, if not you wouldn't be acting this way."
"It's just that, if you're going to be diligently cultivating the Dao, you should leave some means of support for the Pei family." Pei Qian Shi said.
Hearing his mother speak this way, Pei Zi Yun's expression changed. He realized that he had revealed too much. Maybe he could still cover up with outsiders, however, for someone who had raised him up, it was difficult to explain. Thankfully his mother thought it was Mister Zhao who had taught him all the fighting skills and techniques.
"Mother, I will be careful, I wish for you not to worry about me." Pei Zi Yun said. It was still raining outside, and the leaves of the tree were rustling in the wind. A lone fire stood in the middle of the room, its flame dancing around, illuminating the entire room. Next door, the little girl was prancing around, exploring the area. Yu Yun Jun watched her playing around, before laughing and tapping on top of her head while saying, "Little Xia, don't be naughty anymore."
The little girl then replied bashfully, "Aunt, how do you think my junior brother is telling his mother. Will their goodbyes be filled with tears and dripping noses, or would they just be speaking plainly. If they were to be speaking normally, my evaluation of this junior brother will drop tremendously."
"You little imp. Of course it would be good to speak plainly and explain everything. Besides, how would he be able to hide this his entire life. Although cultivating the Dao is not the best route one can take, at least it is one that's filled with a bright future."
"How many scholars have sacrificed their careers and devoted their entire time to cultivate the Dao? Alright, enough talk. Time for you to sleep. Do not oversleep tomorrow morning. If you wake up late, I will have to spank you, and your new junior brother could see how lazy you are when it comes to waking up. When he sees you like that, you won't inspire any respect from him."
"Fine, it's fine if he speaks the truth. You're always threatening me, I shall sleep now." The little girl took off her outer clothes and tucked herself snugly in bed, leaving her small little head outside of the mattress, with her big wide eyes looking around the room.
Yu Yun Jun then blew out the candles, as the room descended into darkness. The only source of light in the room were the stars flicking in the skies. The little girl suddenly asked a question, "It seems like you and him got along quite well today. I remember how we were investigating him the last time he was back at the Fu Mansion. Aunt, what do you think of my junior brother, what kind of person is he?"
Mistress Cloud paused for sometime before replying, "Not simple."
"We've met only once, and I could tell that he does not trust anyone easily. Look at the way he does things, he's firm, decisive and persistent. It can even be said that he's quick, crafty and accurate. Someone like that, do you think he would accept advices easily?"
Mistress Cloud then paused for a moment as though she was thinking of her next few words, before saying, "Brilliant literary talents, decisiveness and follows his heart. Reminds me of the rude and impertinent Daoist Master Xie when he was younger."
She then smiled, as she looked out of the window, far ahead, "But you don't have to worry too much about him. Within the Dao, there aren't many people like that. Then again, there are plenty of people like him all throughout history."
"In reality, accepting this person into our sect has been the intention of our sect leader. It was just a matter of who he would go under."
Pei Zi Yun packed his items and took one last glance around his room to ensure that he had brought everything he needed. When he glanced at his table, he saw a stack of essays.
He picked them up and started reading them. The quality of paper was old and yellow with age. Reading it gave him a sense of nostalgia and sadness.
These were the essays Teacher Zhao had given him, and were the works of an Elementary Scholar from the previous dynasty.
If it weren't for these essays, he might not have gotten the Elementary Scholar status. Reading them further, he decided to pay a visit to the author today.
The old Elementary Scholar lived a short distance away from Snail Village. This village was near by a river, and there would always be patrol officers around the area, hence it was relatively safe. Today, there was an ox-cart making its way to the village. It seemed like it was Master Top Scorer, who had come to pay a visit.
After he explained his intent for visiting today, the village chief sighed, and saluted him, "Master Top Scorer is extremely polite, to still feel grateful for that book after all this time. You really have a heart. This hut in front, is where the old Elementary Scholar's daughter and son-in-law lives."
The village chief then led them along the way, pointing to a tiny straw hut.
Mistress Cloud and Chu Xia opened an umbrella and followed behind him. When the village chief saw the pair, who looked like they came from wealthy families, he assumed that they were relatives of the Master Top Scorer, accompanying him, and thus didn't think too much about them.
Pei Zi Yun walked towards the old hut, although it was made of straw, it was rather large with four rooms. Within a farming village, owning a house like this would mean they were a middle-class family. A woman was busy with the vegetables in her garden. A man, who looked like a student, was ploughing the lands, preparing to grow some vegetables.
"Hi, look who's here to visit you today." The village chief noticed that they were very busy at work, and ignored him. He then shouted loudly, "Our neighbouring village's Master Top Scorer is here!"
The two of them raised their head and saw a young man following behind the village chief. 'He is a High Scholar?' They both didn't expect a Master High Scholar to be visiting them at a time like this, and they didn't know what to do.
Seeing both of them, Pei Zi Yun bowed and they were startled. In frantic confusion they were saying, "This can't be, this can't be. How could I dare to receive a bow from a High Scholar."
"You deserve it, you deserve it!" Pei Zi Yun withdrew the book from the folds of his shirt, "I've managed to obtain an essay written by your father, that inspired me. As such, your father could be considered my teacher to some extent, after all, he did teach me a fair bit."
The woman looked at the essays and recognized them, before pausing for awhile. Her eyes started turning red and teary. Her father had buried himself beneath books his entire life. Just before he had died, he instructed his daughter to sell the books for 10 copper coins. Seeing these books made her recall her father's features and voice as he gave the instructions. After resisting for sometime, she finally broke down in tears, "Father, do you see this? Your disciple has attained High Scholar status after learning from you. Your wishes have been fulfilled."
This woman could still vividly recall the vision her father had before he died. It had always been his wish that someone would read his works and learn from them to become a High Scholar. Seeing her father's wishes being fulfilled filled her heart with inexplicable joy and sorrow.
The old Elementary Scholar's son-in-law saw his wife crying and felt some tears welling up in his eyes as well. His father-in-law had made some efforts to teach him as well, and yet he was unable to perform due to his lack of wisdom.
The village chief looked on, as they were crying. He too, was aware of this matter from years ago. It was a pity that the previous generation had passed on. This old Elementary Scholar had died with a sort of hatred in his heart.
Pei Zi Yun then said, "Will the both of you take me to your father's actual grave. I wish to pay my respects."
"That's easy, it's just here."
Meeting their approval, Pei Zi Yun went to the ox-cart and took up some candles, incense paper and a bottle of wine. The grave was a short walk away from their house.
The woman pointed at an old poplar tree, with a soft voice, indicated to Pei Zi Yun and said, "It's just right here. This tree was personally planted by me. And in the blink of an eye, it had already grown so big."
Pei Zi Yun followed closely, and true enough, after waddling through grasses as tall as a person's waist, a tombstone could be seen. At that point, the sun was shining brightly overhead and there was a river nearby, where a unceasing gurgling sound could be heard coming from the direction of the river.
Standing next to his grave, Pei Zi Yun felt a whirl of emotions in his heart. The old Elementary Scholar's life kept floating up into Pei Zi Yun's heart. Pei Zi Yun was left speechless.
"All these years of hardships, and now all that remains is a lone grave."
"Mister, I am your disciple to some extent, and you already know that. I've come today to visit you." Pei Zi Yun bent down and lighted a candle before saying abruptly, "That year, a senior monk came to visit you and you asked of your fate. Afterward, you cried, since at that time the world was in a flux of chaos and thus, you would not be able to take the Imperial Examinations. However, studying would always be your first love."
After he said this, he scattered some wine over before bowing several times to pay his respects. The woman could barely contain her own tears as she knelt down and paid her respects to her father.
"My fate with your father is very strong. And at least I have visited him today." Pei Zi Yun was not being pretentious. He rose up and looked at the woman, "This money is my payment to your father as fees for being a private tutor to me. Please accept it."
Pei Zi Yun gave her 20 taels of silver and 5 mu of land through a land deed. The old Elementary Scholar's daughter refused profusely, "Master Top Scorer, you are really too generous, I do not dare to accept this."
Pei Zi Yun smiled and said, "Even if a person teaches his student for just one day, he becomes his teacher for life. This is my way of repaying your father. Now that I am a High Scholar, this is important to me, and worth it."
The couple could not find words to say, as they gazed at each other. They then understood that this was meant to be help rendered by the master Top Scorer to their family. After rejecting it once, and being met by Pei Zi Yun's insistence, they accepted it.
Pei Zi Yun heaved a sigh of relief. In actual fact, some people might think of this as snobbish or degrading. However, Pei Zi Yun had lived in two different worlds and understood what this meant, and what it could do for a farming family.
Once he accepted their bows of appreciation, everyone was happy. If they adamantly refused to accept it, Pei Zi Yun would could only sigh and walk away. However, since everything worked out, they smiled and saluted each other, he then turned around and shouted, "Let's leave this place!"