Joy of Life - Chapter 646 - The Black Umbrella In The Imperial Academy And The Light On The Nose Bridge明[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:50:27]
Chapter 646: The Black Umbrella In The Imperial Academy And The Light On The Nose Bridge明
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The black carriage drove past the opening of Dongchuan street. Fan Xian had just drawn back his gaze from his family’s bookstore and medical shop. With a twist of his head, he saw the ancient-looking front doors of the Imperial Academy.
The Imperial Academy was a rather loose collection of buildings. It was not the kind of building with a public hall by the street. There were no tall courtyard walls. Even the large front doors were never closed. Inside, the green trees stretched out. The sound of books being read rang out from various areas. It was filled with a scholarly air.
Like how the Bureau of Military Affairs was once known as the Department for Army Affairs and was still confused with the Ministry of War in the six ministries, the Qing Kingdom had passed new policies numerous times and had changed the name of the Imperial Academy over and over again. Tongwen Institute, the Ministry of Education… In any case, whatever was difficult to say, the Emperor would change it at random to it.
The scholars were used to referring to this area as the Imperial Academy. The court documents also followed the natural course of things and acknowledged this. The scholars from each province and county, as well as the talented disciples recommended by the noble and powerful manors in Jingdou, were all gathered in this collection of buildings, learning the classics and history, as well as the way of governance.
This was the Qing Kingdom’s highest institution of learning. The teachers were the best of the best. For example, the calligraphy master of the Palace’s imperial newspaper, Pan Ling, or the teacher of the present scholar of the Hall of Governmental Affairs He Zongwei, Zeng Wenxiang. A few years ago, Shu the Scholar had been a professor in the Imperial Academy. Even the foremost civil official in the court at present, Hu the Scholar, occasionally came to the Imperial Academy to lecture to these scholars.
With such incredible teachers, in addition to the Imperial Academy’s special status and great futures the students already had, it was inevitable that the students of the Imperial Academy became haughty. Common officials and yamens did not like to interact with the Imperial Academy. The Qing Kingdom’s somewhat open-minded style of learning further made it so that common officials refused to enter, .They were afraid that these students would forcibly question them, then they would have to escape miserably.
Fan Xian never had such fears. His relationship with the students of the Imperial Academy had always been good, particularly after the fourth year of the Qing calendar when he took on a position at the Imperial Academy as a deputy assistant professor. In addition, Fan Xian astounded the world with his talent and also brought back to the Imperial Academy a carriage of books from Northern Qi that belonged to Master Zhuang. Following this, his status in the Imperial Academy rose to a sublime level. He was greatly admired by the students.
The carriage stopped quietly at the doors of the Imperial Academy. Someone had already come out to receive him. Fan Xian got down from the carriage. He looked at the front doors he had not seen for half a year and smiled. The ancient-looking doors were actually built later. A sense of age had been forcibly added in. So much money was spent because the Qing Kingdom always felt slightly inferior from the depths of its heart when it came to matters of learning and knowledge, particularly when it came to certain areas where history was similar.
It suddenly began to rain. Although it was not raining heavily, the scattered raindrops landed on the dark wooden doors of the Imperial Academy. It made it particularly striking as it gradually stained in a mottled pattern. The stone pavement on the ground also rapidly accumulated water.
An official of the Qinian Unit silently took out a raincoat from inside the carriage, wanting to help Fan Xian put it on. Fan Xian shook his head. Although he liked to wear the black raincoat to lead his closest subordinates in a triangular formation and walking out like ghosts through Jingdou’s silent autumn nights, he was at the Imperial Academy. He didn’t want to appear too special and startle the hot-blooded and pure students.
Mu Feng’er raised the umbrella and walked with him through the doors of the Imperial Academy.
It was already afternoon. The sun was moving east. It was covered by a patch of cloud. With the rain sweeping by, the light became dimmer. The entire expansive courtyard was filled with a sense of gloominess. Not a single person could be seen. It was extremely empty and silent.
Thousands of Imperial Academy students were in class. As a professor of the Academy, Fan Xian knew this. However, he furrowed his brows and wondered why the sound of reading had stopped so uniformly.
Like a flock of bees suddenly moving in unison or a mountain wind funneling through a narrow and natural bottleneck, a wave of buzzing suddenly rang out in the Imperial Academy’s silent courtyard. It grew louder and louder. It was the sound of countless people’s discussions and laughing chatter that had mixed together.
Class was over. Hundreds of young scholars walked out from various courtyards of the Imperial Academy at the same time. They walked to the broad path in the center, squeezing tightly together. A wave of new energy immediately filled the entire space.
Some of the young people had forgotten to bring umbrellas. Yelling loudly, they leapt across the wet stone pavement, breaking through layers of raindrops as they ran toward their residences. More of the students were calm and unruffled. Wearing a calm smile, they opened the umbrellas at their sides. All of a sudden, countless umbrellas of all colors bloomed in the courtyard. There weren’t any bright colors. Blue, grey, simple, and light were the main palette.
Fan Xian, who had not wanted to draw attention to himself, immediately attracted everyone’s attention because of the black cloth umbrella above his head, making him an anomaly amongst the sea of plain and pale colors.
“Sir Fan junior!”
The students crowded around with surprise and bowed toward Fan Xian. Most of the students had only seen him from a distance. Some had been fortunate enough to work with him on editing the writings of Master Zhuang and called out with particular energy.
Fortunately, it did not create a traffic jam. It was probably because the students knew Fan Xian had been busy in court and with the Dongyi matter. They forcibly suppressed the joy in their hearts. After bowing and giving their greetings, they cleared out of the path in the middle.
Fan Xian smiled and nodded at all of them. He said a few words with the students and teachers he was familiar with. He raised his head to look at the fading light. He did not waste any more time giving his farewells. He headed to the hall in the depths of the Academy.
Behind him and the officials of the Overwatch Council, the students of the Imperial Academy could barely contain their excitement. They whispered curiously amongst themselves. They were all guessing as to the reason Sir Fan junior had come to the Imperial Academy. Was the Emperor going to return Sir Fan junior to the Imperial Academy after the Dongyi matter concluded? Was he going to come back and teach?
Closing his black umbrella and putting it by the door, a trickle of cold rainwater flowed down to the tip of the umbrella and left a long line on the ground, wetting the tall wooden threshold. Fan Xian accepted a towel from an instructor and wiped haphazardly at his slightly wet hair. He then entered the room. Bowing to the scholar behind the table, he said with a smile, “I’m here to see you.”
Hu the Scholar took of the glasses on his nose and looked at him suspiciously for a moment before recognizing him. With a smile, he said, “It is rare that I don’t need to be in the corner room today. I had wanted some peace and quiet. Can you not let me relax?”
Hu the Scholar headed the Hall of Governmental Affairs. The Emperor was gradually growing older. His energy couldn’t compare to that of his prime. Furthermore, it seemed that this ruler had become more open-minded and threw many state affairs to the Hall of Governmental Affairs. He no longer attended to everything personally. Thus, the powers of the Hall of Governmental Affairs grew, and it had become busy. In the private words of some sharp-eyed officials, the Hall of Governmental Affairs of the present day was gradually becoming the Prime Minister’s manor of the past. The power in the hands of Hu the Scholar seemed to be approaching that of Lin Ruofu’s day by day.
Fan Xian did not believe this. Since the Emperor had worked so hard to topple his father-in-law, he would not allow another Lin Ruofu to appear. He knew Hu the Scholar toiled all day on affairs of the state. With a smile, he walked forward and bowed again. “If it was not an important matter, I would not dare to come bother you.”
He and Hu the Scholar had a good relationship. During the debate on old and new characters, the two people’s stance had been very similar. Both admired the other’s personality and had become good friends in private. Additionally, during the Jingdou rebellion, Hu the Scholar had done a great favor for Fan Xian. In the end, Fan Xian had taken the lead in rescuing his life.
“Speak.” Hu the Scholar placed his glasses on the table with a gentle clink. After pausing for a moment, he sighed and said, “If it requires you to come personally, it’s probably nothing good.”
Fan Xian smiled and looked at the glasses on the table but didn’t immediately say why he had come. Instead, he said, “Are these crystal lens still good?”
Hu the Scholar was like he always had been. He had a youthful appearance that was completely at odds with his age. Fan Xian knew that this leading civil official had some small problem with his eyes. Two years ago, they happened to talk about it. Fan Xian remembered it and had the palace treasury work on it for a long time. They had found some foreign crystals from Dongyi and made a pair of unique glasses for him.
Hu the Scholar had always been grateful for this. As he was always toiling away at state affairs and auditing memorials, bad eyesight was a big problem.
Ground by hand and without optometry equipment, Fan Xian only knew that Hu the Scholar was long-sighted. He had no idea how much the glasses would help.
“Very good, very good,” Hu the Scholar said with a smile. “Alright, just for the matter of these glasses, I’ll help you with whatever you want. In any case, you wouldn’t make me do any muddled-headed nonsense that was against the law and edicts.”
With these words, Fan Xian almost burst into laughter. He thought that this scholar appeared loyal but was unexpectedly cautious and cunning. Both of them knew that a problem Fan Xian could not resolve with his own powers had to be something concerning the internal workings of the court. Hu the Scholar’s words were extremely sly.
Fan Xian smiled and shook his head. Just as Hu the Scholar thought he would not speak and was stroking his beard to console himself, Fan Xian suddenly narrowed his eyes and said, “The Jingdou magistrate, Sun Jingxiu, is not a bad official…”
Hu the Scholar’s fingers tightened. He almost pulled out his beard. He coughed repeatedly. He had not thought Fan Xian would speak so straightforwardly. Concerning the position of Jingdou magistrate, as the head of the civil officials, he knew the cause for the present situation. However, the Emperor was helping He Zongwei rise, so he could only maintain his silence.
He glanced at Fan Xian probingly and said, “This Sir Sun… Did you personally suppress those rumors in the past?”
Fan Xian couldn’t be bothered to beat around the bush. He sat down next to him and said next to his ear, “I have no connection to his daughter, but I truly want to protect Sir Sun.”
“This is what the Emperor wants.” Hu the Scholar had no taboos in front of him and directly brought the Emperor out.
Fan Xian smiled coldly. “It’s just that He Zongwei is dancing around with a moving youthfulness. What does it have to do with the Emperor?”
Hut the Scholar laughed. He knew that this kid would never admit that the Jingdou government’s problem was the Emperor’s fault in front of anyone. Otherwise, he would be openly setting himself against the Emperor.
Fan Xian continued, “I will just ask you one thing, how are Sun Jingxiu’s examination grades these three years?”
“This…” Hu the Scholar gently stroked his short whiskers and was silent for a moment. He then said, “Two years above average and one year average. It is just average.”
The Jingdou government was indeed an important position, so Hu the Scholar had the recent three years grades well-memorized. They came out easily. Fan Xian laughed coldly and said, “Save your misleading chatter. You know very well that the position of Jingdou magistrate isn’t one for a human. If one does not offend this department, then one offends another. Each year there is an examination, and each year it is below average.”
“In the past, Mei Zhili was, at most, average.” Fan Xian rubbed his wrist. “For Sun Jingxiu to have two years of above average, he is already a very capable official. Furthermore, he is not one to engage in corrupt dealings and form factions. He also does not commit fraud. To have such an evaluation is truly rare.”
Hu the Scholar was silent for a moment. He couldn’t win over his conscience and gently nodded his head. He knew that the position of the Jingdou magistrate was a difficult one. Sun Jingxiu was truly a rare kind among subordinates. If he continued to be responsible for the Jingdou government, it would be much easier for him to complete his tasks, too.
“If he’s actually taken down, who would replace him?” Fan Xian asked seriously. “I am here today not for private reasons or a grudge. I just want to ask if you want to see the Jingdou government go through five magistrates in three years again and end in no one taking the position to the point of swallowing coal and feigning illness?”
Hu the Scholar sighed and said uncomfortably, “I also don’t want Sir Sun to leave his post, but I don’t understand why such a rumor would come out from the Palace.”
He stared into Fan Xian’s eyes and quietly asked, “Did you have an argument with the Emperor?”
In this world, only Fan Xian dared to argue with the Emperor. Fan Xian smiled self-mockingly and said, “It has nothing to do with arguing. In any case, you should be able to see that the Emperor is using this matter to establish He Zongwei’s reputation. Even if Sun Jingxiu is not my man, even if he was an idiot, I would still protect him.”
“Earlier you said it’s not for private reasons. Now, you’re saying he’s your man.” Hu the Scholar shook his head with a bitter smile. “What do you want me to do? If I speak out, the Emperor will certainly guess that you asked me to do this. Sir He is also a talented man, why hold such an anger against him?”
Fan Xian was silent for a moment. He then said in a quiet voice, “I have to hold it against him. In this world, it is either the east wind subduing the west wind or the west wind subduing the east wind. I will not give He Zongwei any hope or chance of succeeding.”
“Why?” Hu the Scholar asked with confusion. He saw Fan Xian was speaking sternly and felt alarmed.
Fan Xian did not reply to this question. It meant he would have to announce his intention to do his best in delaying the Emperor in protecting the power in his hands. He slowly rose and said, “Tonight, I am going into the Palace to argue with the Emperor and force him to not send out an official edict. Thus, the problem of the Jingdou government would be under pressure from the Hall of Governmental Affairs. I need you to help me oppose it from within.”
Hu the Scholar did not comment, as if waiting for a following explanation.
Fan Xian smiled and said, “Sun Jingxiu is a good official. He shouldn’t disappear amidst a meaningless battle for power. The reason is that simple.”
Without waiting for Hu the Scholar the speak, he slowly said, “The Imperial Academy is a good place, bursting with youthfulness. These students will all enter the court and be officials. As teachers, not only must we teach them, but we must also use real situations in the court to help them establish confidence.”
“If an official is willing to work then they will be safe and sound.” Fan Xian stared into Hu the Scholar’s eyes. “If Sun Jingxiu is brought down, what will you use to teach these students? What use will the words and standards in their books have?”
Forced into a corner, Hu the Scholar was silent for a long time. He knew that this little Duke was one who would do as he said. If he didn’t agree, he might actually use his reputation in the Imperial Academy to encourage the students into doing something. Unwillingly, he sighed and said, “Alright. As long as the Emperor doesn’t announce an edict, I will try to protect Sir Sun.”
Hearing these words, Fan Xian finally smiled happily. Raising his hands, he didn’t say more and made his farewells.
Hu the Scholar raised the crystal glasses on his table and said with a smile, “Even if I am returning the favor of these glasses, don’t you think I am returning too much?”
Fan Xian was in a good mood and said, “At worst, I’ll have the palace treasury make a few more. One for each of your sons.”
Hue the Scholar could do nothing about his subtle mockery and scolded with a laugh, “What I mean is, the assistant professor said that when you’re done with the Dongyi matter, you have to hurry back to the Imperial Academy to give lectures to the students.”
Fan Xian replied with a smile, “I was going to do that even if you didn’t say it.” These were sincere words. Coming into the Imperial Academy and seeing those young students, Fan Xian felt good. It was as if he had seen his old school days from his previous life. He also knew that these students were the future pillars of the Qing Kingdom. If he could influence them now, at some point, they may become life-saving treasures.
Fan Xian made his farewells and left. Accompanied by the dim light, Hu the Scholar continued his own affairs alone. After an indeterminable amount of time, before the sky had completely darkened, an official walked in quietly and said some things by his ear.
Hu the Scholar was silent for a long time. A bitter smile rose involuntarily to his the corners of his lips. He said in a quiet voice, “So, such a thing happened at the banquet at Sun manor. I really have no idea what that Duke is thinking in making such an exaggerated fuss about all this. It is completely unlike his usually restrained personality.”
The official was Hue the Scholar’s trusted aide. His expression was confused. He said, “Furthermore, this matter seems strange. He knows that this is the Palace’s intention, yet Sir Fan junior insists on opposing it, even to the point of coming to ask teacher for help. For just Sun Jingxiu, is it worth it?”
“It’s not just Sun Jingxiu.” Hu the Scholar sighed again. He waved his hand to dismiss this official and reminded him, “Don’t bring up this matter again. As long as the Emperor does not make an edict, I will help Sir Fan junior save Sun Jingxiu. It should do no harm.”
The official made a sound of acknowledgment and left.
Hu the Scholar’s young face changed expressions under the dim light. He was thinking about what Fan Xian said earlier, guessing at Fan Xian’s true intentions. East wind and west wind? He rubbed his slightly tensed brows and couldn’t help but laugh bitterly. Sir He probably didn’t have the authority to be the east wind. Sir Fan junior was setting himself up against the Emperor.
But, why? Was he resentful of the Emperor’s weakening of his power and venting it here? Hu the Scholar sank deep into thought. He did not think this was the case. It had already been three years. The Emperor’s assault on the Overwatch Council’s powers had been progressing the entire time. Before Fan Xian took any step forward in the Palace, he would have already retreated back a step with great filial piety. He had not seemed unhappy at all with this back and forth.
Why was Fan Xian no longer retreating? Was he afraid that if he retreated too much he would not have anything left in his hands to contend with against others? Other than the Emperor, who did he have to contend against?”
Hu the Scholar’s brows were pulled together tightly, but he could not understand the matter. Suddenly, his finger stroked against his furrows. He quickly used his finger to spread apart the wrinkles and then quietly took out a small porcelain bottle from under his table. Picking out a creamy substance from the bottle, he rubbed it carefully on his face. After slowly patting it, his face became smooth and shiny. The fine lines were wholly unremarkable.
Hu the Scholar put the bottle inside his desk, hid it carefully and smiled self-mockingly. Why should he think so much about the matter between the father and son? It’s not like they would actually become hostile. However, the self-mocking smile on Hu the Scholar’s lips grew stronger. It even seemed faintly sorrowful.
He was not young anymore, so he was particularly careful about taking good care of his face. He knew that his mission in history was to become the Emperor’s backbone in court in a century, so he must not appear old. If the Emperor thought he was old, he would certainly develop other thoughts and leave a younger assistant official for his son.
Each person had their own secret, their own helplessness, and their own sorrows.