Chapter 37 – Poetry gathering and lyric gathering

In front of the Wenyuan Bookstore, it was noisy in the early morning, but Liang Yuan’s shout silenced everyone and they all looked at him.

There were at least six hundred people here, but now it was silent and all eyes were on Liang Yuan.

Liang Yuan was dumbfounded. He was still a young man in his twenties, with a red face. After a while, he repeated in a voice much lower than before, “After reading ‘The Romance of the Western Chamber,’ you talk about love, and after reading ‘The Pillow Book,’ you become a great scholar!” Then he pointed helplessly at the banners and flags on the cart.

Many scholars sneered. They received education from the Path of the Saints and naturally looked down on Liang Yuan’s attempt to win over the crowd. However, the banners and flags were printed with Fang Yun’s name, which made them curious.

“Fang Yun is a Double A and a Saint Candidate. What’s the deal with the Three Poems of the Same Brilliance?”

“I heard from the book dealer that it’s in the Path of the Saints, never seen before.”

“The Path of the Saints hasn’t even been released yet, can it be trusted?”

“Hard to say, let’s wait and see.”

In terms of advertising effect, Liang Yuan’s shout scored full marks. Everyone knew he was selling books, but because the Path of the Saints was about to be released, no one left the line to buy “The Romance of the Western Chamber.”

The Holy Academy’s books were soon on sale, sold by four Child Scholars from the Holy Academy. All four knew that Fang Yun had the Three Poems of the Same Brilliance in the Path of the Saints. At first, they could hold back, but as they sold, they couldn’t help it.

“You came to the right place today! In today’s Path of the Saints, we have four poems from our Jing Kingdom, three of which are from Fang Shuangjia of our Dayuan Prefecture, and there’s even a poem that’s the protector of the nation!”

“After selling the Path of the Saints for so many years, we almost cried for the first time. Fang Yun has given face to our Jing Kingdom!”

“When you get the Path of the Saints, remember to turn directly to page 110, Fang Shuangjia’s Three Poems of the Same Brilliance, one poem is the protector of the nation, don’t bother with the other poems!”

The words of the four book-selling officials were like a spark that ignited the hundreds of people present.

Someone held up the Path of the Saints and shouted, “It really is the Three Poems of the Same Brilliance! Fang Yun from Jixian County, also known as Fang Shuangjia! There really is a protector of the nation!”

“Amazing! Amazing! It’s actually a great scholar’s comment, so rare!”

“Those in front, hurry up and buy, I want to see the protector of the nation’s poem! I want to see the great scholar’s comment!”

“Don’t push, don’t push!”

The people buying books were extremely anxious, and those who got the books were ecstatic. Many people walked out of the crowd and started reading the book.

“Wonderful! Wonderful!”

Some people dressed in Child Scholar or Accomplished Scholar clothes even stayed behind, gathered together excitedly, and started discussing and “imitating poetry” on the spot, which meant changing a few words from “The sound of chickens at the thatched cottage in the moonlight, the traces of people on the plank bridge in the frost” to form new poetic lines.

Someone changed it to “The sound of birds on the trees at the thatched cottage, leaves floating on the plank bridge in the water,” and someone changed it to “The sound of cranes in the rain at the thatched cottage, wild colors on the plank bridge in the spring.” But after everyone changed it for a while, no one thought it could compare to the original poem.Everyone knew they couldn’t compare to Fang Yun, but they still felt satisfied because Fang Yun was from Dayuan Prefecture.

Liang Yuan had been staring at the Child Scholars and Accomplished Scholars. When he saw them about to leave, he shouted, “Fang Yun’s new book is on sale! ‘The Story of the Western Wing’ and ‘Dream Record of the Pillow’ combined into one book, with an early preview of ‘Dream Record of the Pillow’ from May’s ‘The Path of the Saints’! Come and buy it!”

Many people didn’t believe in the Three Poems of Radiance, but the fact that they had April’s ‘The Path of the Saints’ page 110 in their hands was as solid as iron, and they couldn’t help but believe.

People who had bought ‘The Path of the Saints’ went to Liang Yuan and the ten ox carts linked together, half-believing and half-doubting.

“Is it really Fang Shuangjia’s work?”

“Of course, you can see that the Prefect of the Academy of Literature, Zhou Zhubu, wrote the preface. If we dare to fake it, do we still want to live? You can read ten pages for free. If it’s not as good as the previous popular novels, I’ll take my head off and use it as a polo ball for you!”

“Then let’s take a look first.”

More than ten readers picked up the stack of ‘The Story of the Western Wing’ on the cart and silently started reading. When they saw Zhou Zhubu’s preface and Fang Yun’s signature, they no longer doubted and continued reading.

“This sentence is really innovative and convenient to read.”

“Not bad, it’s really different.”

“I think it looks a bit awkward.”

After a while, someone suddenly closed the book and said, “I’ll buy it! I can’t read anymore. If I keep reading, I’m afraid I won’t want to go home!” After speaking, he took out five big coins and threw them directly at Liang Yuan, then left with the book.

“It’s not bad, it’s more interesting than ordinary supernatural novels.” Although this person didn’t admit it, he still counted out fifty copper coins and handed them to Liang Yuan.

“This book is truly rare, sweeping away the supernatural atmosphere of the ten states. Besides Fang Yun, who else could have such great talent?”

“Actually, I believed from the beginning that this was not a scam. Although Grand Academician Jian Mei is now the head of the State Academy of Literature, back then he used a poem called ‘Sword in the Wind and Rain’ to kill the Wolf Savage, and even his sword, which was imbued with his talent, had a few strands of bloodline. Even those old soldiers dared not approach him. The Empress Dowager called him Jian Mei not just because his eyebrows were like swords, but because his talent was like a sword. Even if I wanted to die, I wouldn’t dare to use his name.”

“That’s true. Li Wenying, the Grand Academician, is infamous for his killing prowess, and no one dares to use his name.”

Everyone found that ‘The Story of the Western Wing’ was really good and started actively promoting the book.

These Child Scholars and Accomplished Scholars became the best advertisement, and many people who were not very firm in their beliefs began to buy the book.

Under the influence of Fang Yun’s literary fame, more and more people began to buy ‘The Story of the Western Wing’.

From early morning until after eight o’clock, people kept coming and going in front of the Academy of Literature’s bookstore. These people originally only came to buy ‘The Path of the Saints’ and ‘The Literary Gazette’, but the ten ox carts kept going back and forth, and many people even if they didn’t buy the book, remembered the Three Flavors Bookstore and Fang Yun’s new book.Ten ox carts were parked in front of the Wen Yuan bookstore, and more than twenty book vendors pushed their carts and went to various places in the Da Yuan Prefecture to sell their books.

“The Story of the Western Wing” and “Dream Record of the Pillow” began to circulate in a small scale. In a few days, all the scholars in the city would know that Fang Yun had a new book.

Fang Yun went to teach at the Fang family school as usual, and as it approached noon, he went to the Li Xia Cultural Association with an old teacher, He Yunong, who had also received an invitation.

On Fang Yun’s carriage, He Yunong looked around and said, “Fang Yun, your carriage is not bad. It must have cost a hundred and twenty silver taels.”

“If you were content with being an official in the county and gave up the imperial examination, then one hundred and twenty silver taels would be nothing. But now that you are making a living in the prefecture, although you have other sources of income besides teaching, your expenses are also high. There are not only poor scholars in the Ten Nations, but also few wealthy ones. If I fail to pass the exam after five years and am over thirty-five, I will go back to the county and strive to become a lecturer at the Wen Yuan. If I still fail after three more years, I will work as a small official. I have some connections in the Fang family school and the prefecture, which is the advantage of staying in the prefecture.”

“You’re right.” Fang Yun finally understood the plight of these scholars.

“When I return to my hometown, you will at least be a county magistrate or even a prefect. Maybe I will come to you for a living.” He Yunong said.

“How could I become a prefect in seven or eight years? And you underestimate yourself too much, Brother He.” Fang Yun said.

But He Yunong blushed and said, “I have to plan for my own future and my children and grandchildren. Besides, you don’t have any industry, otherwise I really want to join you.”

“What?” Fang Yun looked at He Yunong in confusion. A talented scholar wanted to join a child scholar?

He Yunong coughed lightly and said, “I may not be as good as you in studying, but I am not wrong in judging people. Even if I am wrong, General Gao won’t be wrong. Not to mention a child scholar, even a talented scholar or a presented scholar is not worth his personal visit. If you need help in the future, don’t hesitate to ask me.”

“Brother He, if that’s the case, I hope you can lend a helping hand when I need it.” Fang Yun didn’t expect someone to approach him so soon. More than ten thousand child scholars participated in the prefectural examination in Da Yuan Prefecture every year, but only fifty to eighty talented scholars were admitted.

“Don’t be so polite, Fang Yun.” He Yunong secretly breathed a sigh of relief.

Fang Yun said, “To be honest, my bookstore is really short of people, especially talented people like Brother He.”

“A bookstore can also be a big industry. The Ten Nations are too fond of literature. Besides food, clothing, and housing, anything related to reading can be expanded and passed down from generation to generation.” He Yunong said.

“Whether I can afford to hire a talented scholar like you depends on how well the books sell today.” Fang Yun said.

“Since you are the one running the bookstore, the books must sell well.” He Yunong said.

“In the long run, I am confident, but I don’t know how the short-term benefits will be.” Fang Yun said.He Yunong frowned slightly, thinking that Fang Yun didn’t seem like a short-sighted person, so why would he say something like that? However, he did not take offense, but instead comforted him, “A bookstore needs to build its reputation slowly and steadily. It will take at least three years to see whether it will make a profit or not.”

Fang Yun understood his implication and didn’t want to talk about the bookstore anymore, so he changed the subject, “I have never participated in the Lixia literary meeting. What are the rules?”

“The rules? They are neither big nor small. The weather around Lixia is similar to spring, so the literary meeting often uses ‘spring’ as the theme for poetry. It is usually a poetry meeting, occasionally a ci meeting, but there hasn’t been a ci meeting for more than ten years. After all, the talents of the Talented Scholars are limited, and it is easier to write ancient-style poetry than ci. The Lixia literary meeting for the Presented Scholars in the evening often has ci meetings. In fact, this literary meeting is used to showcase the talents of the children of prestigious families.”

“Is there such a saying?”

“Think about it. How can ordinary people afford to hold such a literary meeting? They need to choose a venue, provide food and drinks, hire singers and drinking companions, and they always need to have a prize to reward the winner. A literary meeting cannot be held without at least two thousand taels of silver. Even a large family cannot afford to spend so much. Their poetry and ci are all written by famous masters at a high price, with only a few changes made. How can ordinary people compare? Nine out of ten literary meetings have no suspense about the winner, unless someone is unlucky and encounters a strong opponent, like you.” He Yunong laughed at the end.

Fang Yun said, “Thank you for reminding me, since someone else has spent a lot of money on this literary meeting, we should not try to steal the limelight. I will just go and see, and leave after the winner is announced. If I leave too early, it will be disrespectful to the person who invited me.”

He Yunong pondered for a moment and said, “Let me put it this way. The seven or eight Talented Scholars invited by the Lishan Society were probably sent as pawns. It should be the master of the Lishan Society who invited them, otherwise, they wouldn’t have invited so many people just to invite you.”

“What do you mean?” Fang Yun had some guesses, but he had just arrived in the Prefecture and didn’t know the inside story, so he couldn’t be sure.

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