Chapter 25 – Either gain or loss

“I have seen Aunt.” Fang Yun greeted with a bow.

“We are all family, no need to be so polite. Please sit.” Second Madam smiled and gestured for Fang Yun to sit down, while she herself sat on a high-ranking Tai Shi chair.

Madam did not sit in the main seat, but walked over with a smile and went straight to Yang Yuhuan, taking her hand and saying with a smile, “What a beautiful Jiangzhou Xi Shi. I think you are even more beautiful than Xi Shi. It’s a great bargain for Little Yun to have you as his wife. I didn’t prepare anything for our first meeting, so I’ll give you this bracelet.”

As she spoke, Madam took off the bracelet from her own hand and put it on Yang Yuhuan’s wrist.

Yang Yuhuan blushed and said, “I can’t accept it. It’s too precious.” She was afraid of being laughed at because her hands were rough.

But Madam seemed to be unaware and said, “It’s only right for an aunt to give something to her niece-in-law. You have to accept it.”

Fang Yun politely declined, “Aunt, this bracelet is too precious.”

“Precious? It’s not good enough for Yu Huan. I’ll pick a better one in Yuhai City. Otherwise, it would be a waste of such a beauty. Come, let’s sit together.” Madam reached out to help Yang Yuhuan tidy her hair, seeming to like her very much.

Madam, Fang Yun, and Liang Yuan sat together on the lower seat, while Second Madam sat alone on the main seat.

Yang Yuhuan couldn’t tell, but Fang Yun and Liang Yuan exchanged a glance and found that something was wrong between the two Madams.

Fang Yun was about to speak, but Second Madam interrupted, “Sister-in-law is right. But we have a lot of people to support in our Fang Family, and we can’t just spend money recklessly. Big Brother values Fang Yun, and I also value Fang Yun, but one thousand liang for a one-tenth share in the bookstore is too much, isn’t it? With this one thousand liang silver…”

“Sister-in-law.” Madam interrupted Second Madam and turned her head to look at her, “Aping’s nap time must be over by now. As a mother, you should be there for him when he wakes up. The bookstore’s matter has already been decided by the Master. We should follow it as women. Yuye, go find the steward and let him and Little Yun handle the paperwork for the bookstore contract at the yamen.”

“Yes, Madam.” A maid immediately left.

Second Madam smiled and said, “We can’t say that. Fang Family’s money doesn’t come from nowhere. One thousand liang silver is enough for us to open a new bookstore ourselves. We can’t just exchange one-tenth of it. But Fang Yun is our own family after all, and Big Brother has spoken. I’m not a greedy person, so let’s exchange three-tenths.”

Fang Yun was disgusted in his heart. He had already guessed that this was a struggle between the two Madams of the Fang Family, and it had even burned onto him. If that was the case, he didn’t need the money. He didn’t have to teach at the Fang Family Clan School. He could sell some poems for money and open a bookstore.

Fang Yun immediately stood up and said, “Since Second Madam says so, Fang Yun won’t bother you. Today, I will write a letter to my uncle to cancel the cooperation with the Fang Family. Goodbye.”

Yang Yuhuan and Liang Yuan immediately stood up in panic.

Second Madam immediately said, “This is your own decision. Don’t say that I forced you in front of Big Brother. I won’t admit to anything I didn’t do.”

“Shut up!” Madam suddenly shouted at Second Madam, then stepped in front of Fang Yun with a smile, “My younger sister has a crazy personality. Don’t take it to heart. I run this family, so what she says doesn’t count! Come, Aunt will accompany you to the yamen to settle this matter. Your Uncle and I both think highly of you. Don’t think too much about it.”

Seeing Madam’s attitude, Fang Yun’s anger subsided a bit. After thinking about it carefully, this was obviously Second Madam intentionally finding trouble with Madam, and it seemed that she wanted to destroy the relationship between Fang Shouye and him. At first, Madam didn’t want to make a fuss, but since his attitude was so firm, she had to confront Second Madam.

If he just left like this, he would be doing what Second Madam wanted.

Fang Yun smiled and said, “Auntie, you worry too much. I know who treats me well. How about this? Since Second Madam doesn’t like using the Fang family’s money, why don’t Uncle invest in me in his own name? Within three months, I can at least give back a thousand taels of profit!”

“Don’t hurt your back!” Second Madam muttered under her breath, but she didn’t dare to make things difficult for Fang Yun anymore.

Madam laughed and said, “After all, Master is a fifth-ranked general. It’s not appropriate to invest in his name. How about I invest in my name? That one thousand taels will be my personal money. As for the profit, we’ll talk about it after the New Year. No rush.”

“Alright.” Fang Yun agreed.

At this moment, the steward and the maid walked in.

The steward was an ordinary old man dressed in a black robe, looking serious and respectful. He greeted Madam and Second Madam politely.

Madam smiled and said, “I was going to ask you to represent the Fang family and go to the yamen to sign some documents, but I’ll go myself. It won’t trouble you.”

Fang Yun heard the word “you” and realized that the steward had a high status in the Fang family.

The steward glanced at Fang Yun and the others and said, “I often do this kind of thing. Let me accompany you.”

“Sure, with you, we can save a lot of trouble.”

Then, they all went out. Second Madam cursed under her breath, “You’ll pay for this.” But everyone pretended not to hear.

They rented a house first and then went to the yamen to handle the relevant procedures.

The civil servants of the yamen rarely saw a great lady of a noble family come in person, so they remembered the “Three Flavors Bookstore” and made sure not to offend it in the future.

While Fang Yun was handling the procedures for the bookstore, the clerks in the Holy Academy on Dafeng Mountain were also busy.

An accomplished scholar was a significant figure anywhere, even among the aristocrats. However, in the Holy Academy, they had the lowest status. But because they were nurtured by the talents of the Holy Academy, they were more likely to become a presented scholar, and their future was promising. The Holy Academy had a significant influence in various countries.

Two accomplished scholar clerks were carrying two boxes of books and hurrying towards the “Review Hall” of The Path of the Saints monthly magazine.

“Hurry up, hurry up. The county exams have just passed, and there are poems recommended by the presented scholars from various states. These have passed the ‘Holy Selection’ and cannot be delayed.” The older clerk said.

“Yes.” The younger clerk ran with his head down.

The two clerks arrived at the Review Hall and straightened their clothes before pushing the door open.

The Review Hall was very spacious, and the whole room was filled with soft white light.

There were three long tables in the east, north, and west, each with a Confucian scholar dressed in a grand academician’s robe sitting behind it. There was an old man, a middle-aged man, and even a young man in his twenties.

Numerous papers were floating in the air in the Review Hall. When a grand academician had a thought, the paper would either fly away or come to him.

“Full of talent, but meaningless!” The old grand academician snorted, and several pieces of paper immediately rolled into a ball and flew into the wastebasket.

“This poem is good and can be selected. Pass. Take a look, sir.” The middle-aged man said, and a piece of paper flew in front of the old man. The old man looked down and said, “Pass.” Then, the paper flew to the young man.

The young man looked up and said, “On hold.” The paper was put aside.

The other two continued to review.

The middle-aged man looked towards the door and asked kindly, “Are these the county exam poems from various places?”

“Yes. After the presented scholars from 90 states recommended over 2,000 poems, only 67 passed the Holy Selection, and the lowest rank is for county exams.” The clerk said.The elderly Grand Academician grumbled discontentedly, “In the past few years, where have we found any qualified poetry and prose in the county and prefectural examinations? The last of the Four Great Talents of this generation was also an Imperial Scholar five years ago. Truly, each crab is worse than the last. It’s unreasonable to choose poetry and literature from The Path of the Saints in the county and prefectural examinations! I won’t look anymore, you two decide, and I’ll agree.”

The middle-aged Grand Academician waved his hand, and the paper in the two clerks’ boxes immediately flew out one after another, making a clattering sound. In mid-air, they formed a long bridge of white paper and finally landed neatly on his desk.

After the two clerks left, the middle-aged Grand Academician didn’t bother with the pile of county examination essays and continued to select other articles.

Half an hour later, the middle-aged Grand Academician finally started to read the county examination essays page by page.

One page, two pages, three pages…

When he reached the twenty-sixth essay, the middle-aged Grand Academician’s expression changed, and he involuntarily read it a second time and recited it aloud. It was the poem “Spring Dawn.”

The other two Grand Academicians didn’t react at first, but when they finished reading the last line, “How many petals have fallen?” the two Grand Academicians, one old and one young, looked up at the middle-aged Grand Academician together.

“Who wrote this? There’s talent in the State of Ming, it’s rare to be fresh and yet so thought-provoking. It can be included in next month’s The Path of the Saints,” said the elderly Grand Academician.

The young Grand Academician nodded and said, “Passed.”

The two thought that the middle-aged Grand Academician would make a judgment, but he continued to read the border poem “Year’s End.”

“Good, full of righteousness. One person, two poems? This poem also has talent from the State of Ming. Who is it?” The elderly Grand Academician spoke his mind.

“Do you remember the only Child Scholar who passed the Imperial Examination with double honors this year?”

The young Grand Academician, who had been silent all along, widened his eyes slightly and couldn’t believe that a Child Scholar could write such good poetry.

“I’ve heard of him, but those younger generations are not convinced and are asking around about him. I haven’t paid much attention. Did this Child Scholar write these two poems?” The elderly Grand Academician reached out and grabbed the paper, which had “Spring Dawn” and “Year’s End” written on it.

The middle-aged Grand Academician, on the other hand, looked at the next page and said, “So ‘Spring Dawn’ was written in the examination hall. ‘Year’s End’ was only half-written in the examination hall and completed at the Child Scholar’s literary meeting. However, there is one more thing that is astounding. He was dissatisfied with Jing Kingdom’s defeat last year and actually said at the Child Scholar’s literary meeting: ‘When the world rises and falls, it is the responsibility of every man.’ “

“Excellent! With just this sentence, he can leave his name in history! His name is Fang Yun? I’ll remember that. If I have the chance to meet him, I’ll definitely talk with him late into the night. A great talent, a great talent! This person should be a late bloomer, right?” The middle-aged Grand Academician said.

But the elderly Grand Academician was stunned, and the young Grand Academician’s eyes suddenly became extremely sharp.

“He’s sixteen years old,” the middle-aged Grand Academician said.

The elderly Grand Academician was stunned, and the young Grand Academician’s eyes suddenly became extremely sharp.

“So these two poems and ‘When the world rises and falls, it is the responsibility of every man’ will all be included in next month’s The Path of the Saints?”

“Of course,” said the elderly Grand Academician.

But the young Grand Academician said, “However, ‘Year’s End’ is not a first-class poem from the county examination, so it might not be suitable for next month’s issue. Moreover, he is so young, having two poems and one sentence in The Path of the Saints at the same time might be too shocking. Since there are so many poems to choose from this month, it’s better to postpone ‘Year’s End’ for a month.”

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