Chapter 38 – Not a poetry club

He Yunong said, “To put it simply, it’s just a competition between the commoners and the aristocrats for literary fame. The commoners have always been oppressed by the aristocrats in the past, but now there is a talented commoner like you, Fang Yun, whom Jing Kingdom has never seen before. Naturally, they want to take advantage of this opportunity to make a comeback. However, they shouldn’t have any ill intentions towards you. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have sent so many people. It’s actually a form of respect and they’re afraid that you might misunderstand.”

Fang Yun pondered silently without saying a word.

He Yunong continued, “If you can surpass everyone at this poetry gathering, the people from the Lishan Society will definitely invite you to the Lixia Literary Meeting in the evening to spread your literary fame and thank you for suppressing the aristocrats before.”

“They have a good idea.” Fang Yun said casually, looking out the window with a calm expression.

He Yunong immediately said, “Since you’re not planning to steal the limelight at the poetry gathering, it doesn’t matter. But if this happens again in the future, they must give you enough benefits! They can’t let you take the lead while they reap the rewards.”

Soon, the carriage left the city and arrived at the Five Li Village, which was very close to the city.

He Yunong said, “This kind of literary gathering is often held outside the city. After all, the city is full of houses, and there’s nothing to see in the spring. Five Li Village has beautiful scenery and the Yang River, a tributary of the Yangtze River, which is a favorite of many literati. Of course, the Qinglou and Huafang here are also unique.”

After speaking, He Yunong showed a knowing expression, and Fang Yun smiled slightly.

The two of them discussed the literary gathering along the way, with He Yunong doing most of the talking and Fang Yun listening. He Yunong deliberately mentioned some of the shady tactics used by literati, warning Fang Yun to be careful.

When they arrived at Five Li Village, He Yunong directed Fang Da Niu to Mingyu Tower, the location of the poetry gathering.

Fang Yun smiled and said, “Brother He is a regular here.”

He Yunong was not embarrassed at all and showed a hint of pride.

All ten literati of the nations pursued elegance and freedom. As long as they didn’t wear official robes, even officials could drink flower wine, but they couldn’t stay overnight.

Soon, Fang Da Niu called out, “Young Master, there are too many carriages ahead, and the attendants are directing them not to enter. We can only stop here.”

“Alright, let’s stop here.”

Fang Yun and He Yunong got off the carriage and Fang Yun took out a piece of broken silver weighing about half a tael from his purse and gave it to Fang Da Niu, saying, “Find a place to eat. We don’t know how long we’ll be gone.”

“Thank you, Young Master.” Fang Da Niu was overjoyed.

He Yunong’s eyes lit up, thinking that Fang Yun was indeed worth joining.

The two of them got off and walked, with Fang Yun looking around.

On the right was a river about ten zhang wide, and when the wind blew, the surface of the river shimmered.

On the opposite bank was a dense forest, and on this side of the bank were wooden buildings with two floors, each of them particularly spacious and magnificent.

These wooden buildings faced away from the river and towards the houses of Five Li Village.

Carriages were everywhere along the way.

The two of them arrived at Mingyu Tower, showed their invitation cards, and entered the first floor, which was very spacious and had many dining tables and writing desks. The dining tables were filled with various pastries, cold dishes, and drinks, while the writing desks were equipped with brushes, ink, paper, and inkstones.Six music girls were playing the zither and flute in the hall, and the melodious sound echoed in the air.

Over fifty scholars were scattered on the first and second floor corridors, with many of them holding one or even two women, but more than half of them did not touch any women and gathered together to chat.

The doors of all the rooms on the second floor were open, and the conversations of men and laughter of women could be faintly heard.

“Fang Shuangjia!” Gao Minghong waved to Fang Yun loudly.

As soon as these three words were spoken, all the scholars stopped what they were doing, and even the women looked surprised towards the door.

The music suddenly became chaotic, and the six music girls were also distracted by Fang Yun’s arrival and had to stop playing their instruments.

The people who were originally in the various rooms on the second floor also walked out onto the corridor and looked towards Fang Yun.

Fang Yun helplessly arched his hand, greeting everyone, and then walked towards Gao Minghong.

Only one person saw Fang Yun and quickly walked into the Tianzi room on the second floor.

The music girls continued to play their instruments, and the Mingyue Tower returned to normal.

Many people came up to Fang Yun to chat.

“Fang Yun, you must bring honor to our poor family today and win the first place in the poetry meeting.” Gao Minghong said.

Fang Yun thought that what He Yunong had said before was right. Gao Minghong must have been used by someone as a pawn, otherwise he would not have said such a thing as soon as they met.

“I only brought my mouth today, not my hand, so I cannot write poetry. I’ll leave after I eat.” Fang Yun smiled.

The surrounding scholars did not know what had happened, some were at a loss, and some thought Fang Yun was joking.

Gao Minghong asked doubtfully, “What happened? We just decided that you were the one to win the poetry meeting. Why aren’t you participating?”

“Writing poetry is not like eating and drinking. You can’t just do it when you want to. I am at a loss for words today and really cannot write poetry. I hope everyone can understand.”

“What a pity,” many people sighed lightly.

At this moment, a group of young men dressed in luxurious brocade robes walked out of the Tianzi room and appeared on the second floor corridor, holding onto the railing.

The music stopped, and everyone looked towards them.

One of the scholars with a carp embroidered on his clothes arched his hand to everyone and smiled, “Thank you all for giving me the opportunity to host this Lixia literary meeting. I wanted to complain a bit, but when I heard that Fang Yun, Fang Shuangjia himself, came in person, all the hardships I’ve endured these past few days have been worth it. On behalf of everyone here, I want to thank Fang Yun. Not only did he show us great poetry, but he also made us scholars of Jing Nation proud!” He then clapped his hands vigorously.

The Mingyue Tower was suddenly filled with thunderous applause.

Fang Yun and a few others felt that something was off.

The person who sets up the stage should not steal the limelight from the performers. This person, who was supposed to host the literary meeting, praised Fang Yun first, elevating him to the sky. It was obvious that something was wrong. Moreover, applauding a scholar like this was a great honor for actors and storytellers, but it was too hasty to suddenly applaud a scholar like this.Gao Minghong immediately said, “He is a big shot in the English Society, Guan Yaoyuan. Although he is only from a prominent family, his uncle holds the position of a fifth-rank official in the Ministry of Personnel in the capital and is the Left Chancellor’s confidant. This person has an extremely good relationship with the Liu brothers from the Liu family.” After speaking, he gave Fang Yun a cautious look.

Fang Yun immediately stood up and arched his hand to everyone, saying, “Brother Guan, your praise is too much. I am just an ordinary scholar who occasionally writes some decent poems. I dare not take credit for it. I am here today just to eat the fresh fish from Yang River. As for the poetry competition, we will rely on Brother Guan.”

After Fang Yun finished speaking, he sat down.

The people noticed Fang Yun’s intention to retreat. Some were curious, some secretly nodded, and some were dissatisfied, but the people around Guan Yaoyuan had a sneer on their faces.

Guan Yaoyuan sighed and said, “Speaking of the poetry competition, I apologize to everyone. Because my family’s servant conveyed the wrong message, the invitation letter was written incorrectly. This event is not a poetry competition, but a ci competition. To show my apology, the rewards for the top three places in this ci competition will be doubled. But since everyone is here to write poetry, they won’t care about such a small matter.”

“Of course, poetry and ci are the same.”

“They are all literary events!”

Everyone helped Guan Yaoyuan explain.

Gao Minghong’s face flashed with anger and he immediately stood up and said loudly, “Brother Guan, whether you announced it earlier or later, why did you change it to a ci competition after Fang Yun arrived? Are you afraid of Fang Yun’s reputation in poetry, so you changed it at the last minute?”

Guan Yaoyuan immediately bowed and begged, “Brother Gao, I was wrong, can’t I? Come, I’ll go down and pour tea for you. I really didn’t mean it. Even a fool knows that since Fang Shuangjia could write three excellent poems, his ci level should also be good. If you don’t believe it, you can ask the boss of Mingyulou and the courtesan Pan’er. I have said before that the poetry competition every year is too boring, and we must have a ci competition this year.”

“Brother Gao, poetry and ci are not separate, you are too aggressive.”

“Yes, since Guan Yaoyuan has begged you, don’t take advantage of the situation.”

“Brother Gao, spare others and forgive yourself.”

Even some poor scholars helped Guan Yaoyuan.

Gao Minghong snorted and sat down, then looked at Fang Yun with a very serious expression.

Fang Yun understood that Guan Yaoyuan’s status was so high, but now he was acting like a helpless person in front of Gao Minghong, like Sun Tzu. He must have some ulterior motive.

“Could it be that Liu Zicheng is trying to ruin my reputation? To attack my literary name?” Fang Yun thought.

Guan Yaoyuan saw Gao Minghong sitting down and said, “When I finish speaking the next piece of news, you should all suspect that I am behind it. If you don’t suspect me, then you are not men. Because, Pan’er has decided to offer her virginity to the champion of this ci competition. End the life of a qing dynasty man!”


“When a presented scholar wanted to redeem her and marry her as his wife, she refused. How could she offer herself for a ci competition?””Is she interested in Fang Shuangjia?”

“Ah, it seems she’s here for Fang Shuangjia!”

The Mingyu Tower was in chaos.

Gao Minghong was stunned. If it was arranged by Liu Zicheng, then the cost was too high. Pan’er was the money tree of Mingyu Tower, proficient in poetry and essays, and could even discuss classics and strategies with some talented scholars. She could earn at least twenty thousand taels of silver for Mingyu Tower every year, and her value was terrifyingly high.

After hesitating for a moment, Gao Minghong whispered to Fang Yun, “It’s hard to say. No matter how influential Liu Zicheng is, he can’t persuade Miss Pan’er.”

He Yunong, who came with Fang Yun in the carriage, leaned over and whispered, “You can’t leave now. Once you leave early, they will definitely spread rumors and say that you are afraid, which will damage your reputation.”

Fang Yun smiled slightly. He had always been carefree, but now there was a subtle change.

“If they want to damage my reputation, they will have to pay a higher price,” Fang Yun said, taking a sip of tea.

Fang Yun didn’t lower his voice, and everyone at the table could hear him. They could only remain silent.

Gao Minghong sighed and whispered, “If your reputation is damaged after today, I will find a way to compensate you.”

“There’s no need, Brother Gao,” Fang Yun said.

Gao Minghong shook his head.

With no more questions, Guan Yaoyuan began to announce the rules of the poetry competition. The rules were simple: write a poem on the spot with the theme of “spring,” and then everyone would judge. If the poet was dissatisfied, they could go to the Academy to test their talent.

The winner of the poetry competition would not only get Pan’er’s first night, but also six hundred taels of silver. The second place would get two hundred taels, and the third place would get one hundred taels. For most people here, this was not a small sum.

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