FYC 44: Popular

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Character Guide and Glossary

Tang Fan was bedridden for a full half-month, where Sui Zhou thereby came to learn of his popularity.

Those that had been admitted as Palace Honorates of the same year as Tang Fan didn’t need to be explained. The majority of them had since been assigned to abroad posts, while the scant best-of-the-bests were presently simmering their qualifications as they stayed in Hanlin. To be able to simmer in that division was an honor; not everyone was a ‘dumbo’ like Tang Fan, who transferred out of it.

Within this half a month, about five people of Tang Fan’s year had come to see him in succession, some amongst them consisting of Prime Scorer Xie Qian and his crew.

That was already quite a large number of people, since Tang Fan did not have celebrity status; it would be impossible for him to be universally loved. Capital officials were impoverished, too, and those that weren’t too familiar with him would have had to bring gifts upon visiting him. If they couldn’t afford those, they simply wouldn’t come, instead sending a card of respects to fulfill their kind regards.

There was also Shuntian Prefecture, his area of work. Magistrate Wei Yu and Verifier Du Jiang had come to see him, and after having a bit of a sit for a minute, they also brought out well wishes from Mister Prefect, the bailiff Old Wang, and several other such people.

From the Northern Bastion Office, Xue Ling, who Tang Fan was familiar with, had also visited, bringing Pang Qi along.

Those two should have done it more on the basis of noticing the friendship between Tang Fan and Sui Zhou. Getting in good with their boss’s friend was tantamount to indirectly currying favor with said boss, so that connection amongst them was very understandable. However, Old Xue was an extremely humorous man that talked a lot, completely unalike his immediate superior; he had sat there for a very long time, and the sound of laughter in Tang Fan’s room hadn’t ever stopped. Mister Tang’s voice had become hoarse from illness, though, and he coughed whenever he laughed, which made him sound like a quacking duck, wholly injurious to the city’s ambience. On top of that, Sui Zhou had been staring coldly at them from the side the entire time, as if they were hindering Tang Fan’s recovery. In the end, Xue Ling became unable to sit still, and had fled carrying Pang Qi the second he tossed his gift over.

Notably, after them came the inevitable Eunuch Wang of the Western Depot. Wang Zhi was likely up to his ears in work right now, busy wrangling with major Dynasty officials over his northern expedition, as well as busy investigating the possible secret backer that had colluded with Fu Ru, but that didn’t at all prevent him from occasionally sending his subordinates over.

Had Tang Fan been one of the Six Ministers, or a Cabinet Solon, or even a major figure at the Emperor’s side, it wouldn’t have been strange for an unending string of people to come visit him in sickness all his life. The problem here was that he was currently nothing more than a trifling Judge of the sixth rank; everyone coming to visit him was wanting to forge a good relationship by getting into contact with him (at most), or doing their utmost in the capacity as a friend, rather than thinking to get something out of him.

From all that, it was obvious how popular he was.

The Western Depot people had come to visit in the name of their Chief Eunuch’s orders, and were always bearing gifts. Judging by Sui Zhou’s awfully icy complexion, Tang Fan always got the feeling that Eunuch Wang was deliberately ruffling the man up, though… the two didn’t seem to have any grudges, when he thought about it. Was it just because the Western Depot and Brocade Guard mutually hated to see each other?

Taking everything in, Tang Fan found an opportunity to bring something up to Sui Zhou. “Before I’m fully well, how about I find a house and move out?”

Sui Zhou, having not anticipated that he would propose that, creased his brows. “Why?”

“We’re friends, and you let Ah-Dong and I stay for free, but this is still your place, after all. My friends and coworkers have constantly been coming and going, which isn’t great. It disturbs your rest—“

“It doesn’t.” Whatever else Tang Fan had wanted to say was stopped by Sui Zhou, who then asked a completely unrelated question: “In your view, is Wang Zhi a friend, or a coworker?”

The other was slightly taken aback. “Neither?”

Sui Zhou was a bit surprised. “Why do you say that?”

“Friends will act candidly with each other, treat each other with sincerity, and take blades for each other. Were Wang Zhi and I actually friends, there would be less times where trouble is ignited. As you can see, me living in your house right now is practically a dove taking up a magpie’s nest. If you asked me go live at Wang Zhi’s house to test it out, I definitely wouldn’t.”

Relations between major officials and eunuchs in this Dynasty was not a novel thing, but one had to worry about their effects. For those like Huai En, it would be fine. For one like Wang Zhi, both upright and heinous, the reputation of those he had contact with could easily be influenced, and whenever a reputation went rotten, there would be no future for one’s official voice. Sui Zhou had asked his question precisely due to witnessing how very close they were last time.

Seeing that Tang Fan’s mind was currently sober, clear on all the abstruse therein, he nodded in satisfaction. “Don’t bring up moving out anymore, then. You don’t have to bring it up later, either.”

Mister Tang hesitated. “But…”

“If you want, this can be your home from now on.”

Tang Fan was a little touched. Sui Zhou patted him on the shoulder. “We haven’t known each other long, but the depths of friendships have never been calculated based on their durations. Once you know of each others’ regards, you’re friends. You were born to do great things, not care too much about trifles. If you move out, you might get vexed over rent or some other issues someday, so you may as well just live here in peace. I won’t be getting married for a few years, no need to worry about that. Moreover, with my status, there won’t be any night thieves bold enough to break into my empty home. You staying here will put me at ease some.”

Centarch Sui was not clumsy-tongued at all — he just typically didn’t like to talk much. Once he really started going, his effect was a hundred times stronger than those who were ordinarily of lustrous glib.

Mister Tang was indeed moved to shambles, his ever-finely-eloquent self suddenly a bit unknowing of what to say.

Seizing this time, Sui Zhou handed over the medicine he held. Mister Tang, brimming with cloud-reaching heroism and brotherly affection, took it without thinking, then tilted his head back and downed it like it was regular water.

His face completely twisted up.

What in the hell… you really take advantage of people’s perils, Sui Guangchuan!

Catching sight of his accusatory expression, a faint smile appeared in Sui Zhou’s eyes. He took back the empty bowl, then went to feed him an osmanthus candy, as if he were placating a tiny animal.

Livid, Mister Tang cast his face away, expressing that he was not appreciative of this.

Sui Zhou didn’t mind, taking his hand back to put the candy straight into his own mouth.

Tang Fan: “…”

Right as Sui Zhou left, Ah-Dong came in on his heels.

“Big brother, another person’s come to visit you.”

Tang Fan had been busy dealing with visitors lately, feeling more tired than he would getting off of work normally. “Go on out and say that I’ve already gone to sleep from taking my medicine, then have him leave his name. I’ll go drop by to thank him some other day.”

Ah-Dong agreed, but right as she went to leave, the visitor had eagerly let himself in, an impatient voice sounding out in his wake. “You’re so unkind, Runqing! You’re obviously not sleeping!”

Tang Fan: “……”

Sir, why are you breaking the rules?! How can you barge into someone else’s room without asking?!

Pan Bin was still in his official’s uniform. Noticing the other’s contorted and bizarre look, he waved his hand. “Alright, alright. I came today because I have something to discuss with you!”

“Brother, I’ll be able to go back to the bureau in a couple days. There’s nothing that can’t wait until then to be spoken of,” Tang Fan answered helplessly. “You already sent Wei Yu and them to visit, so why did you make a trip yourself? Ah-Dong, quickly get tea for him. This is Sir Pan Bin, Prefect of Shuntian, as well as our benefactor.”

Ah-Dong had the archetypal mentality of a layperson. In the face of the all-powerful Eunuch Wang, she had no sort of special reaction, but when she heard ‘benefactor’, she was copiously speechless. After sizing up Pan Bin for a good minute like he was a rare creature, she noisily bounded off to brew tea.

Pan Bin didn’t bother with minding her at all. He sat down on a chair besides the bed, speaking anxiously. “Runqing, our teacher might be suffering calamity!”

Tang Fan was caught off guard. “How do you figure that?” he quickly questioned.

“Wang Zhi had sent a memorial up a few days ago for requesting recovery of the Great Bend. You know about that, right?”

He nodded. Not only did he know about it, but he knew that Wang Zhi had sought him out to discuss it beforehand.

“I heard that the entire Court was very opposed to it. Even the Emperor, who wholly favors him, rejected it, yet he still wasn’t willing to give up on it. Two days back, there happened to be news of Tartars invading the Northern border, and he presented a memorial of war again, requesting that he himself go forth.”

At exactly this moment, someone came in with tea and handed it to him. Without looking at them, Pan Bin accepted it, then took a sip… but via one inadvertent glance, he nearly spat it back out.

The one who had brought him the tea wasn’t that little girl he had just seen, but Sui Zhou, who was in his Guard uniform!

Centarch Sui was in an autumn-colored, fully-embroidered flying fish yesa, a spring-gilt sabre at his waist as he stood in the room. Pan Bin was fine when he hadn’t seen him, but as soon as he had, his scalp promptly went numb, and he couldn’t sit still. Despite his own official’s position plainly being a lot higher than Sui Zhou’s, he quickly stood, smiling dryly. “You’re Sui, yes, old chap? I’ve heard Runqing talk about you many times! Now that I’ve seen you today, you really do look talented!”

Sui Zhou nodded, setting the tea set down. “You two can talk. I have to go the Bastion Office.”

According to how he was speaking, he didn’t see Pan Bin as too important, but beneath his aura, the latter found that to be reasonable, not detecting anything amiss. “Yes, yes. Go on ahead!”

However, Sui Zhou took only a few steps before he paused to speak to him again. “Sir, Runqing just took medicine. He will likely go to sleep soon.”

His implicit meaning being: You can’t chat for too late in the day.

What could Pan Bin still say, other than ‘okay, okay, okay’ with a stiff face?

Once Sui Zhou was gone, Pan Bin finally let out a sigh of relief. He then snapped out of it, feeling that his recent display was a bit humiliating. There were more important matters before him, though. “What were we just talking about?”

“Wang Zhi petitioning for war,” Tang Fan reminded.

“Right, right. The majority of those in Court don’t advocate for war, yet there are still some that support Wang Zhi, which resulted in the two sides starting to fight. This hadn’t been any of our business, but upon watching His Majesty’s stance somewhat slacken like he was about to approve of Wang Zhi’s campaign, a group has now sent denouncements of Wang Zhi upwards. They stated that he was striving for grandiose merits, wanting to engage in war for a selfish desire, and was certain to wipe the Great Ming’s treasury clean. They’ve also said that as a eunuch intending to dip his finger into military power, he’s repeating Wang Zhen’s prior disastrous idea…”

He talked on and on for a good while, yet Tang Fan didn’t interrupt him before he got to the main point, since he could see a bit of the political situation out of the contents of his words.

Wang Zhi directed the Western Depot, and also had the Emperor and Consort’s favor. Like a crab, any path he scuttled across would have every official in it pushed to the side by him. By means of the Marquis Wu’an case he had stuck his hands into, he had stirred up the circle of nobility, seeming practically unrivaled.

However, he actually wasn’t so, still suffering many restrictions headed by the Emperor.

Ever since Ming’s founding, the Chenghua Court had been a comparatively odd reign.

Why? Well, the Emperor didn’t want to work, and the Cabinet Viziers beneath him were not powerful enough to think of throwing him away in order to assume charge and prop the nation up. Everyone merely thought to tightly hug the thighs of the Emperor and Consort, then be satisfied with muddling through life. This was how Chenghua was ultimately still in control of the government, and since Emperors were Emperors, he had a regent’s designs. Fostering people like Wang Zhi, Shang Ming, and Wan Tong to stand-off against civil officials thus set up a balancing tactic that some past monarchs had been fond of.

However, Chenghua wasn’t a very stalwart person, so his decisions would always sway from side to side, like right now; he had been unwilling to go to war at first, hence why he had rejected Wang Zhi’s suggestion in taking back the Great Bend. The major officials under him had all observed the way the wind was blowing, then stepped up to defy Wang Zhi.

But, as the latter had said many times before, the Emperor would begin to daydream about what would happen with the war won. What monarch didn’t like to expand their own territory?

Such was why Chenghua’s decision had started to waver.

A portion of the officials that closely followed his footsteps got to it, now agreeing with Wang Zhi. Another portion did not, continuing to oppose him. On top of that, ever since Yingzong’s capture, the Dynasty did not have the confidence it had in its earlier years; the concept of ‘keeping watch for danger’ preoccupied the updraft in Court, and many would prefer peace negotiations over engaging in battle.

To sum, all were accustomed to lives of ease, and feared that after the Tartars were enraged, there would be a repeat tragedy of the Tumu Crisis.

Of course, there was also a section of upstanding men that refused to see eunuchs like Wang Zhi hold power, or just opposed war in and of itself, and they accordingly presented memorials of objection. Among them was Tang Fan and Pan Bin’s teacher, Qiu Jun.

In spite of not being an official, he still had the authority to present memorials. He had opposed the expedition, especially in regards to Wang Zhi stepping forth, as he believed that he was continuously inciting the Emperor into war purely to fish for military merits.

(That was exactly what Wang Zhi was doing.)

Chenghua had agreed to Wang Zhi’s proposal at last, two days ago. He appointed the Left Capital Censor of the Inspectorate as Governor of Military Affairs by means of the Minister of War’s title, the Duke of Bao, Zhu Yong, as Deputy Commander, and Wang Zhi as Military Supervisor. They were to lead troops for the Great Bend’s area, oversee the enemy’s positions, and, if border invaders were come across, strike at their discretion.

‘Oversee enemy positions’ was really too gentle a phrase, considering that it was consent for Wang Zhi to go fight.

In any case, the Emperor would be far away in that place, and Wang Yue would be the main faction sharpening his blade. He would never collude with Wang Zhi, so they were allowed to do whatever they wanted to.

Thus came the problem. As the Emperor had already changed his mind, the objectors knew that their dissuasion had no effect, and gradually came to set down their banners. Qiu Jun alone persisted with memorials, his words getting all the more intense, to the extent that he even made quite insulting remarks towards Wang Zhi. This ended up angering the Emperor, who waved his hand to have the old man pack his bags and take up office in Nanjing.

Explaining up to this point, Pan Bin sighed. “This teacher of ours really doesn’t give it a rest. He isn’t even an official, so what was he doing, getting involved? Was peacefully acting as a College Chancellor no good? It’s going to be real ‘great’ for him now, acting as an official in Nanjing. It sounds nice to talk about, since being the Right Assistant Minister of Revenue would be a full grade of promotion, but who doesn’t know that Nanjing is an area for retirement? If he goes there, how could he ever expect to return to the capital one day?”

The Yongle Emperor had shifted the capital to Beijing, thus moving the Dynasty’s troupe there as well, but Nanjing had kept its full set of Six Ministries, being regarded as a provisional capital. Its issue was that, from that point on, it had no authority over finances, nor over appointing officials seventh-rank or higher, its bulk arranged into a nice-looking flower shelf.

For that reason, officials that got dispatched to Nanjing were generally either ones up there in both age and virtue — where the Emperor was reluctant to make them retire, but also found it bad to make them overtired, thus letting them live out old age in Nanjing — or like old Mr. Qiu, who had offended the Emperor, and was getting sent there to feed the mosquitoes.

If one received a wage yet didn’t work, they had no power. Sitting within an unfrequented bureau was akin to an early retirement. Going there was essentially saying bye-bye to your own political career, with your odds of getting reinstated by the Emperor being next to none.

Why else would Pan Bin have dashed over to seek Tang Fan out?

Nevertheless, the latter had a bit of a guilty conscience. He himself had been the one to encourage Wang Zhi to suggest this to the Emperor; even if he wasn’t the main culprit, nor even an accomplice, he had somehow ended up pushing his own teacher into a pit.

“How about you convince him to write a new memorial admitting his errors to His Majesty? The Emperor has always been soft-hearted, so he’ll surely forgive him. He holds you in the highest of regards — your words would have the most effect!” Pan Bin pleaded.

Tang Fan shook his head. “You must know how his personality is. If he was a people-pleaser, how could he still only be a Chancellor with his knowledge?”

Hearing that, Pan Bin looked even more troubled. In officialdom, teachers and students were like fathers and sons. The teacher should have been looking after his students, yet that situation had been turned around on them. He had to mentally grumble that Old Man Qiu was way too troublesome, but they were still teacher and student, no matter what. If he could help out, he would certainly do so.

Tang Fan was also remorseful, having wholly not expected that this would wind back around to him. “How about this; tomorrow, I’ll go to his place and urge him to. See if I can change his mind,” he said, with no hope.

“Okay, I’ll go with you. I can’t just watch him get phonily promoted like this.”

Qiu Jun had quite some academic accomplishments, along with many students. Some had been from when he was authenticating provincial exams, such as Pan Bin. Some had visited him to ask to be his student because they admired his knowledge. There were others still that had reminded him of himself, and thus he had proposed taking them in on his own initiative, like Tang Fan.

Amongst all of them, the ones most accomplished nowadays were Pan Bin and Tang Fan. The personalities of the teacher and his two students all sharply differed from each other, however.

Qiu Jun was unyielding and narrow-minded, liable to break from being too rigid.

Pan Bin was sly and world-wise, but often overdid the second bit, liable to be compromising to the ways of the world.

Only Tang Fan kept fixed principles in his heart, but was still willing to appear a bit go-with-the-flow in front of people. This matched up with a noble’s honestly and mildness; affecting squareness on the outside, yet roundness on the inside.

Although Qiu Jun’s disposition was not-too-perfect, he was at least aware of his own shortcomings. He admired the temperament of his youngest disciple very much. Him accepting him as a student back in the day had stemmed from the conduct and motive he could make out from his essays and penmanship — the reason Tang Fan had been able to discern the Crown Prince’s personality from his writings was precisely because he had learned this trick from his teacher.

Tang Fan’s rank was too low, so no one would care if he submitted a memorial begging for leniency for his teacher. If Pan Bin did it as a high truethird-rank, his memorial would still get submerged within a vast swathe of memorials, completely disappearing under subsequent texts. It might even get taken out to pad the leg of a Cabinet person’s desk.

Yet, when all was said and done, this was down to Old Man Qiu himself. His students pleading on his behalf, no matter how emotionally, would have no use if he himself spasmed, then ran off to oppose it again.

After agreeing upon this, they made an appointment to leave at dawn of the next day, proceeding for Qiu Jun’s Estate.

The Qiu family was in the middle of packing up their luggage for the trip to Nanjing. Though they had said they were going to persuade him, Pan Bin and Tang Fan knew on the inside how stubborn Old Qiu was. It would be difficult to change his mind.

Winter was coming soon. The Northlands were cold and dry, while the South side was warm and humid. Pan Bin had brought a few bottles of medicinal wine that could dispel rheumatism for his teacher, while Tang Fan had brought some pastries for the Qiu children to gorge on. They had also bought some commonly-used, ready-made pills, just in case they ever needed them on the road.

Qiu Jun was happy to see them, hurriedly getting someone to make tea as he invited them to sit. However, after hearing of their intentions, he barely had any interest, waving them off. “There’s no need to speak more on this, I won’t be changing my mind. A eunuch that knows nothing of military matters to begin with will be bringing troops up North to fight at random for a stretch, and when the time’s right, he’ll just randomly chop off some heads to fabricate merits for himself. This is nothing new. The Tumu Crisis is still vivid in the eye, yet His Majesty has forgotten the lesson the Late Emperor had taught! Hmph! Must Beijing be reconciled to a defensive fight yet again?”

One’s academic success had nothing to do with their character, just as it had nothing to do with their personality — Qiu Jun was learned, but that didn’t stop him from being short-tempered. Once he had set his mind on something, no one could persuade him otherwise.

Pan Bin gave Tang Fan a look.

“Teacher, we students have something to say, but aren’t sure if it’s appropriate to,” Tang Fan meandered.

Qiu Jun glared at him, scolding him with a smile. “Why are you acting well-behaved in front of me? Say what you have to say!”

Tang Fan smiled, then got serious. “Eunuchs have been placed into important positions since the Great Ancestor’s time. Leaving aside those like Zheng He and Hou Xian, there’s currently Huai En, who can be considered a loyal minister. The Emperor’s assignment of eunuchs is a custom, and that fact won’t be changed even when a Wang Zhen shows up. His Majesty’s trust in eunuchs is greater than his trust in outer officials. That’s one thing.

“Take the Crown Prince, for example. Him being able to wander the palace and survive by a fluke had solely been due to palace-goers shielding him. After he takes the throne, he will assuredly have more confidence in eunuchs. That’s just human nature.

“Since eunuchs grasping power is an inevitability that neither you nor I can alter, if it wasn’t Wang Zhi that was doing this, it would be someone else. Despite arresting and imprisoning many officials after he took control of the Western Depot, none of those people had been commoners in the details of it, which is already much better than the Eastern Depot. With the Western balancing it out, the Eastern doesn’t dare to be too savage. This can be seen as an advantage to having Wang Zhi.

“Furthermore, ever since the Crisis, the Great Ming’s national power has been declining by the day. In previous eras, it wasn’t afraid to strike first, but now it’s too afraid to act even when someone beats on its door. If it goes on being like a tortoise that shrinks into its shell and refuses to fight, it will inevitably encourage foes to get overconfident, and give surrounding foreigners the impression that we’re weak.

“Therefore, I believe that Wang Zhi’s northern expedition is actually something necessary. You shouldn’t have anger spoil your health over this, teacher.”

He had believed these remarks to have reason and precedence. Qiu Jun still wouldn’t agree, but he wouldn’t be as riled up as before, at the bare minimum.

Unexpectedly, Qiu Jun’s face increasingly sank, and once he finished speaking, he shook his head. “Runqing, you’ve really let me down,” he replied coldly. “I had thought that even if you wouldn’t petition to contend against this, you at least wouldn’t oppose my viewpoint, yet you’re actually standing on Wang Zhi’s side! Do you even still have the strength of character to be a civil official? Yes, it is indeed commonplace for eunuchs of this Dynasty to wield power, and the Great Ancestor had set a bad example. Look at recent years, though — what good end comes from being close with a eunuch? Yu Zijun has a good relationship with Huai En, but even he doesn’t dare to so openly talk him up! You really are superior to your teacher! You just get more and more promising!

The more he spoke, the angrier he got. “You know that our nation’s power is now lacking, and it can’t fight even if it wants to. Provisions must march before the troops can move, and all this will cost piles of money; does the treasury have that much right now? You speak so casually of war, but it’s easy to invite a spirit in, and hard to send it away! Once Wang Zhi is set free, him not killing several civilians to fake contributions would be great by itself!”

Pan Bin hadn’t expected that calling on his junior would not only not soothe their teacher’s temper, but actually just fuel his fire. “Calm down, calm down!” he quickly said.

But, Qiu Jun was not yet done. “Runqing, with your personality, if you had just calmed your heart and studied well, you could have become a famed scholar of a generation. Instead, you had to leave the quiet place of Hanlin to toil in the outside world. I heard that something happened in the palace, and you got roped into it? Are you mixing in with Wang Zhi now?”

Pan Bin did all he could to shoot Tang Fan a look, so that he wouldn’t say anything else that would enrage the old fellow. Tang Fan smiled bitterly. “No. It’s merely that while investigating my last case, I happened to get acquainted with him through a series of coincidences. He knew that I was a Shuntian Judge, so he had me go lend a hand, is all.”

Owing to it involving the imperial harem, all of what everyone knew about what had happened at the East Palace was that Han Fang’s youngest son had died, and the murderer was his eldest son, which was worthy of a spell of laments. Consort Wan’s suspicion had been cleared, so that mung-lily soup went unmentioned by everybody. In regards to any other rumors, even if they had faintly circulated elsewhere, they ultimately went unverified, all being hearsay.

Tang Fan’s merit in cracking the case had left an impression on both the Emperor and Consort, but his contribution wasn’t prominent to the outside world.

Consort Wan was a special case. She had been infuriated at Tang Fan for questioning whether she was the killer in front of everybody, after which she had furiously complained to the Emperor that the man was careless and wouldn’t be able to withstand the heavy responsibility. But then, Tang Fan had solved the case, and scrubbed away her suspicion in it. That seemed to prove that he was an official of courage and capability.

She had been domineering for so long, that it wasn’t easy for her to place importance on others’ fawning. This time, however, she owed him a huge favor. If she kept it in mind, his promotion would simply be a matter of when.

Luckily, Qiu Jun didn’t know this inside information. If he ever learned that one of his own students had inexplicably received the recognition of Consort Wan and Wang Zhi, he would probably vomit out three sheng of blood. Tang Fan, of course, did not dare to mention that it was he who had suggested the northern expedition to Wang Zhi, because their teacher-student relationship would then likely be over.

And, just like that, their meeting ended on bad terms.

Qiu Jun was disappointed in the both of them, feeling that they had been in the bureaucracy for so long, that they had even lost the fundamental principles of their behavior, transforming into yes-men like everyone else that only knew how to follow the crowd.

When they came out of the Qiu Estate, Pan Bin started grumbling. “You shouldn’t have argued with him. He could have just said whatever he wanted, and you could have bore with it and not engaged with him!”

“I didn’t want this, either,” Tang Fan answered powerlessly. “I couldn’t have known that he wouldn’t hear a word of it.”

“That’s true. Why is he so outdated and obstinate? Given that he was slightly accommodating, he wouldn’t be a mere College Chancellor right now, with his knowhow and qualifications.”

Tang Fan said nothing. In all honesty, this meeting with Qiu Jun had been an immense blow to him.

There were many officials like him that insisted on believing that they couldn’t go to war, and it wasn’t just to echo the Emperor. They had all been terrified by the Tumu Crisis, losing the drive from the Great Ming’s establishment. If this went on, and the Court was nothing but a bunch of such officials, what would the future of the nation be?

He had thought that with his teacher’s knowledge, he ought to have been able to understand his opinion. However, Qiu Jun had not only disagreed with it, but couldn’t even comprehend it.

They parted ways upon coming to the mouth of the street, where Pan Bin didn’t neglect to urge him to come to the bureau for work tomorrow. Tang Fan then walked silently and alone down the street, none of the bustle before him entering his eyes.

He was thinking, Should I just focus on handling cases? Would interfering less with major Dynasty events be better?

He was just a minor, sixth-rank official, after all. That stuff was all so far away from him. There was simply no need to make things difficult for his teacher over this; he cared too much.

Still, another voice was telling him that his viewpoint wasn’t wrong. One had to persist with their own opinions, not easily draw back because an elder dissented. The ancients stated that those of low positions had never forgotten to worry over the country.

He walked along absent-mindedly, but at some unknown point in time, a burst of noise and dispute came from behind him.

Upon blankly turning his head, he was suddenly face-to-face with a fist swinging at him!

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Character Guide and Glossary

3 thoughts on “FYC 44: Popular

  1. I’m glad Tang Fan did not simply shut up and take his teacher’s word as a gospel. Of course, you should hear your elders and teachers’ opinions because they most likely have more knowledge and experience than you. However, our opinions are also shaped by our own biases. It’s expected that the older Ming officials would be extremely cautious towards new wars- wars are fought by the young after all- but Tang Fan is right in his view: if they shut themselves down and hope that nobody attacks them, they’ll eventually find themselves against a much more competent rival. Which is something proven by history, in this case.


  2. I wonder how many more huge Dynasty matters will be planned behind the curtains by Tang Fan..
    Thank you for translation!


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