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According to the positions of each department, the order of the Great Ming’s Six Ministries went: Appointments, Revenue, Rites, War, Justice, and Works.
The Ministry of Appointments clutched the promotions and appraisals of all officials in its hand; that it was the utmost of important did not need to be said.
Revenue was in charge of money.
The positions of Rites and War were actually not that low, owing to an old adage that had been conveyed for a long time — ‘The major events of the nation lie in offerings and weapons.’ ‘Offerings’ were all sorts of religious rites, sacrificial offers, divinations, and other such things, roles that Rites became responsible for after the Six Ministries came to be. ‘Weapons’ was military matters.
Therefore, when it came to status, Rites was the most pure and noble, and War was indispensable for any nation.
When all was said and done, each of them had a high status, all very important and irreplaceable, so Justice and Works were at the bottom seats. Still, it was not to be believed that lower positions had a lack of greasy bribe money. Were they to be differentiated by how much grease they had, the Ministries ought to be rearranged like so: Appointments, Revenue, Works, War, Rites, Justice.
Such was understandable. Since Appointments was in charge of officials’ promotions, everyone would inevitably send money and gifts for the sake of getting a good position, or to prevent getting written down as an inferior grade in evaluations. Therein, the Office of Civil Selection — in other words, the branch controlling the appraisals of civil officials — was the fattest.
Works’ position wasn’t high, but that was because of everyone’s problematic traditional ideology, not because it had a lack of grease. Wherever palaces needed built, or river dikes needed constructed, money was required, and whenever money was required, they could cheat loopholes by cutting off a piece for greasy profits.
There was no way around this. Being an ordained official of the Great Ming was really too destitute, and not everybody was willing to toil as hard as Tang Fan in writing stories to supplement their income.
In spite of Revenue’s money management, it didn’t have much grease to get. Taxes were dropping and dropping, yet they still weren’t always getting collected, as more and more rich people were evading them. The tax on commerce, meanwhile, had not changed since the country’s founding, and it was so excessively low, it didn’t matter at all. Some areas basically never even collected it.
For this reason, the Great Ming’s Ministry of Revenue had become the most impoverished one in history. The Emperor empathized with public welfare, but even though the tax rate had been made lower, the commonfolk were still miserable, incapable of withstanding exploitation. With all the villains allowed to act amongst central authorities, that money ended up not landing in the hands of the central government.
According to Tang Fan’s own inward calculations, the national treasury’s annual tax revenue from the previous year had been around four million taels — which was quite a lot — and there was only about two million leftover from the various natural disasters the year before last.
However, that money needed to be allocated to the various departments, not inhaled by the Ministry of Revenue alone. War would cry out for wars, Rites would cry out for money for divine rituals and imperial exams, Works would cry out about a dam having collapsed once again somewhere and that they hadn’t the money to fix it…
Following all that divvying up, Revenue would only have so much coin leftover for itself. It was no wonder that officials’ salaries were never raised, because even if the Emperor did have the mind to up wages, he wouldn’t actually have the money to. For the sake of survival and happiness, clean-living officials were getting fewer, while corrupt ones were growing in number. What superiors didn’t care about, inferiors would follow suit, putting the Chenghua Court into complete shambles.
Yet, these things were not for Tang Fan to be concerned over, but the rightful worries of those Ministers and Solons. Even if he wanted to take care of it, no one would listen to him.
To make things brief, and to be brief in things, regardless of whether one was looking at position or greasy money, the Ministry of Justice ranked at the bottom of both.
Even though it dealt with prosecutions all over the nation, any case that could come to the level required for the Ministry to accept it would generally be important and difficult to judge, meaning that no one would dare to bribe for them. Even if they did, it would have no use, since the Ministry didn’t even have the final say on cases — at times, it would have tri-party hearings with the Court of Judicial Review and Inspectorate, suffering the impediments of two additional branches.
As a brother in the same boat, Rites was an unfrequented bureau with not much grease, yet also in charge of the imperial exams, which were grand occasions for the realm’s scholars. Its Minister generally managed Hanlin Academy, too, making its status transcend; it really wasn’t comparable in quality to Justice, a vicious demon of the lowest rung.
And now, Tang Fan was wanting to go to such a department.
Was the Ministry of Justice important? Of course it was. Without it, there would be many major cases with no way to be determined. Plus, after death-row inmates from various locations were submitted to the central government, they had to wait for the Ministry’s approval. Regardless of how important it was, though, there was no way to change the fact that it had no grease to dredge up.
Just like the other five branches, Justice had one Minister, and two Assistant Ministers. Lower tiers were divided into offices on the basis of regional subdivisions, which specialized in hearing cases each province sent upwards. In addition to those was the Office of Prisons, also colloquially known as the ‘divine jail’, as well as the subordinates of various leaders: all sorts of Office clerks, secretaries, bailiffs, and other such people of no rank.
Tang Fan was the truefifth-rank Chief of the Henan Office — in other words, its leader. He directly faced the Minister’s burden above him, and had to manage all of the Henan Office below him.
On the day he took office, he first went to pay respects to the Minister and two Assistants, as was the norm.
The present Minister was Zhang Ying, who now walked close with Head Vizier Wan An, and also had an attachment to Consort Wan’s faction. That he was duplicitous had no need to be discussed, so he naturally wasn’t a good person, either. In any case, everybody had to scrape by to pass their days; this gent just happened to be one of those ‘Six Ministers that were like clay figurines’, so named by society.
However, Minister Zhang was not around today. Having thrown himself at empty air, Tang Fan could only visit the two Assistant Ministers before him.
Liang Wenhua, the Left Assistant, had a slightly weird attitude towards him. Faced with his self-introduction and greeting courtesy, he only narrowed his eyes. “I heard that you were posted at Shuntian Prefecture previously?”
Tang Fan confirmed this.
“Even though the Prefecture is in charge of keeping peace in the capital, it’s just a local bureau, when all is said and done. It can’t be compared to the Ministry of Justice. When you come here, you’ll have to adapt properly, and not bring that Prefecture narrow-mindedness with you. The Six Ministries are the Six Ministries; Shuntian Prefecture is no comparison at all!”
Tang Fan was bit confused, unable to comprehend where his counterpart’s bizarre mannerisms had come from. Reason told that they had never met each other before, let alone had any grudges between them, for Liang Wenhua to show off his superior might the second he saw him like he owed him a lot of money.
Even as he thought as much, he was ever-respectful on the surface. “I will solemnly observe your instruction.”
Assistant Liang gave a huge pile of lectures, but all he saw was Tang Fan sticking there like a human stake, continuing to be deferential no matter what he said. Feeling this to be boring, he waved his hand to have him withdraw.
Tang Fan then headed for Right Assistant Peng Yichun’s suite. The man had just had his sixty-fifth birthday last month, and he wasn’t in good health, already half-retired. Under such circumstances, his chances of getting promoted again were not that great, and he therefore had no conflict with the rest of the Ministry. Upon meeting Tang Fan, he rambled on and on at him and gave him a spiel of encouragement; he didn’t say anything important, all of it tripe, but it indicated his own good-natured personality, where he didn’t let down his reputation of being a yes-man.
Seeing that he was good to talk to, Tang Fan accordingly asked for pointers. “Assistant Minister Peng, this humble official has never gotten acquainted with Assistant Liang before this, let alone held enmity with him, yet when I went to pay him a visit just prior, there was quite some coldness amidst his words, which caused me confusion. Has he come across some sort of unhappiness, or have I inadvertently offended him?”
The man laughed. “He’s probably just been in a bad mood lately. Don’t you worry, it’ll be fine in a few days.”
Giving plain-spoken words was forever an impossibility in bureaucracy dialogue; one’s counterpart would need to figure things out on their own. With how clever Tang Fan was, he immediately deduced a clue out of his words. “It appears that his bad mood has something to do with me?”
Peng Yichun thought for a time, then ended up saying to him, “He has a disciple that’s currently in the position of Deputy Chief of Justice. When that position in Henan emptied, he had set his heart on his student…”
Tang Fan understood. As it turned out, he had become a halfway-encumbent Cheng Yaojin, stealing a peak seat someone else had been wanting and naturally making them not look at him nicely.
Now that he knew the truth, he felt powerless.
There were only so many official posts, but many that wanted to be promoted to them, one radish per hole. Once you took one up, others could only envy you, and would inevitably see you as an eyesore, unless you agreed to give up your position. The question was: who would be willing for that?
Seeing the helpless look he had, Assistant Peng smiled. “Since you’re here, be at ease. Work well and it’ll be fine.”
As Tang Fan had respect towards this affable old Mister, he promptly answered that he would benefit from his pointers.
After meeting with the two Assistant Ministers, he returned to the courtyard where each of the Offices were located. They were partitioned in accordance with the Great Ming’s thirteen provinces, making thirteen Offices in total. Since he was a later entry, he had to visit all of his colleagues and seniors on his own initiative.
The majority of them displayed indifference towards this young coworker, even being somewhat disaffectedly polite, which he found dull. Since he had learned the general situation right out of Peng Yichun’s mouth, though, he could understand their attitudes.
Owing to word on the wind in Court, it was said that Zhang Ying was going to enter the Cabinet to fill a vacancy, so his position as Minister would surely be given up. Among the two Assistant Ministers, Peng Yichun was old and ailing, so, as a matter of course, Liang Wenhua — the one that found Tang Fan displeasing to the eye — had his candidacy for becoming the next Minister in the bag.
Was there anyone who didn’t act according to the weather, when mingling in officialdom?
Tang Fan was monopolizing the next Minister’s student’s position with his entry, which made Liang Wenhua quite upset. On top of that, Tang Fan had not a bit of foundation inside the Ministry of Justice; between keeping distance from a truefifth-rank Chief and offending a truethird-rank Assistant Minister, how would anybody choose?
There wasn’t even a need to think about it!
Were anyone to get close to Tang Fan right now, wouldn’t that mean that they placed no importance upon Assistant Liang?
It was for this reason that when Tang Fan paid visits to the rest of the twelve Offices, he received basically the same attitude the whole time.
No one would manifest that too blatantly, of course, but they also weren’t unduly cordial, being politely aloof, and estrangedly giving greetings. It made one unspeakably ill at ease from head to toe, yet also unable to pick out faults with them.
The one exception to this was Lu Tong’guang, Chief of the Jiangxi Office. The old fellow was as generous a person as Peng Yichun — seeing that Tang Fan appeared to be unknowing of the cause of all this, he discreetly informed him via roundabout hints that Liang Wenhua was not an open-minded man. He also suggested that it would be best if he found a time to apologize to Assistant Liang, lest he harbor a grudge and make things difficult for him on the regular.
Tang Fan thanked him for his kindly regards, but pretended not to comprehend his suggestion, because, in his own view, he had done nothing wrong. This post was not one he himself had begged for, but had been allocated to him by the Ministry of Appointments. Assistant Liang was too afraid to seek out Appointments people to settle this debt, so he cast his anger upon his head, which was really unreasonable. Having to frequently make compromises was a reality of being an official, but one could not draw back until there was no room anymore. That would only be letting others bully you to death.
Furthermore, since Liang Wenhua was narrow-minded, then even if he did pour him tea, apologize, and take all of the blame upon himself, the other would certainly keep on bearing this enmity.
As Tang Fan refused to heed him, Lu Tong’guang mentally sighed, thinking to himself that young people were much too prideful and impetuous; one of these days, after suffering a huge setback, he would come to accept the facts. Thus, he persuaded him no further, instead informing him of some minor matters from each Office, based on his mentality of producing good karma.
He had always been a warm-hearted person, also taking it upon himself to give guidance to Tang Fan. “This is your first time at the Offices, so you aren’t familiar with its subordinates, especially not those unranked clerks and bailiffs. Their statuses are the lowest, but they’re also the ones most likely to be slippery. If you want to prompt them into action, you may as well invite them out for meals, first. Keep in touch, get a good relationship with them, and then you’ll have opportunities to understand situations, instead of be kept in the dark about everything that might happen.”
Tang Fan thanked him for the lesson, then tentatively asked, “Before I entered the Ministry, I heard that the Offices have monthly group dinners together, which individuals take turns hosting. Is that true? I don’t fear your ridicule, Brother Lu; my parents passed early, but my daily expenses alone are not few. If there is such a standard, I may as well take out a loan ahead of time, so as to avoid not having the money to treat guests.”
Lu Tong’guang nodded. “We do indeed, but there’s no need for you to worry. The places we go to aren’t huge restaurants like Immortal Guest, but ordinary canteens. We don’t use anyone’s salary for them, either.”
The other was surprised. “Where does the money come from, then?”
The two were deep in conversation, despite being practically strangers. Lu Tong’guang hesitated to speak, but finally told him the truth.
The Ministry wasn’t too similar to how it had been in Tang Fan’s imagination, as it were. Despite being an unfrequented bureau, it was not without grease. Some important cases — given that they had nothing to do with conspiracies — would generally be the Ministry’s to decide once reported to it, and therein laid room for possible discussion.
When it came to sentences of exile, for example, three hundred li and three thousand li were definitely not the same. In sentences of rod strikes, ten strikes versus a hundred strikes were even more different; in lightness and heaviness, the Ministry had the final say. For many crimes, the Great Ming Code only held broad provisions, so if someone pushing for lenience came along, a lighter sentence wouldn’t matter much.
Yet, this also depended upon the region. Zhejiang, Huguang, and Jiangxi were classified as relatively affluent provinces, so they had a lot of wealthy people, and facilitation money was easy to come by. For Guizhou, Yunnan, and Henan, where Tang Fan was, there was a lot less grease.
These were all unwritten rules. Therefore, even though each Office took turns with the hosting, the reality was that the ones that were a little richer would separate out some grease for the others to treat guests, thus preventing the other Offices from being red-eyed with jealousy and running off to tell on them. A period of desperate struggle would be no fun for anyone.
Noticing that Tang Fan had just had an epiphany, Lu Tong’guang continued. “There’s no need to be concerned, really. Everyone knows that the Henan Chief doesn’t get much grease and won’t force you to treat. As you’re a newcomer, though, if you want to have good relations with everyone else, you’d best not be stingy with your bit of money. Should you be worried about not having enough, I have a bit here…”
Acknowledging his generosity, Tang Fan quickly smiled at him. “There’s no need for that, I was only asking. Many thanks for your thought, old chap, but I can still afford to pay for one meal. You saying all this has put me at ease; I was thinking that I would have to be entertaining every single month!”
With this back-and-forth, their relationship had swiftly become closer.
Lu Tong’guang burst out laughing. “How could that be a thing? Not even the higher-ups would be able to afford that!”
“Then, dare I ask; who will be the host of this month’s end?”
The other twirled his beard. “According to the rules, it ought to be my turn.”
“What a coincidence! Since that’s so, can we discuss me cutting in line, so that this month will be my treat?”
Lu Tong’guang, ever easy-going, nodded. “Sure. Since you just took up your post, you can indeed make use of the communal dinners to familiarize yourself with your coworkers and forge relationships. Be careful when choosing the location, however. You don’t need to make a reservation at those big restaurants or taverns, just some good-quality, cheap little places will do. If you stick out too much, those behind you will complain about you.”
This was a conscientious proposal. Understanding the reasoning therein, Tang Fan quickly acknowledged the help. “How many higher-ups should I invite, then?”
The other shook his head. “None. They cherish their plumage, so they won’t mingle with us. Inviting the Chiefs and Deputy Chiefs alone will be fine.”
“Don’t the Executives need to be invited, too?”
Deputy Chiefs were Chiefs’ assistants, while Executives were a rank down. They were truesixth-rank, and each Office had one.
Lu Tong’guang shook his head again. “No, only the other two.”
There was a particularity, here. In the eyes of a directing official like Lu Tong’guang, Executives were classified as supporting roles. Though they had a rank, there was no need to be too close with them, else seniority would be obscured and the disdain of others would be drawn.
Looking at this, the rules of the Six Ministries were stricter than those of Shuntian Prefecture. For dinners at the latter, Tang Fan had typically called patrol leaders like Old Wang over for it, which had showed camaraderie throughout the ranks.
It seemed like every place had its own standards. Mentally jotting down these details, Tang Fan chatted with Lu Tong’guang some more, until he prepared to leave. Speaking of which, he hadn’t even been to his own territory at this point, nor seen his own subordinates; he needed to go and remember some faces, of course.
However, Lu Tong’guang called out to stop him. “Brother Runqing, there’s something I need to tell you, first.”
Seeing that he was serious, Tang Fan felt a bad premonition. “There’s no harm in just speaking, Brother Lu.”
“Your current assistant, Deputy Chief Yin Yuanhua, is Liang Wenhua’s disciple. The one that was going to take over your position.”
Bearing the awful news that Lu Tong’guang had divulged to him, Tang Fan finally arrived at his own workroom.
There was no difference between this room and the workrooms of other Offices, aside from the slight one of the interior decor; there were a lot of flowers and plants here. His predecessor, Chief Zhou, had clearly been fond of gardening. What a shame it was that as soon their owner had left, his subordinates had had no idea what their new superior would prefer, so the plants had been moved out to the porch, where they were soon about to wilt.
Once Tang Fan entered the workroom, he caught sight of someone in the middle of removing a pot of peonies from it. Upon seeing him, the other immediately placed the flowerpot down and bowed. “This humble official is the Executive of Henan, Dai Hongming! Salutations to you, Sir!”
Tang Fan exempted him from the bow. “Were these flowers left behind by Chief Zhou?”
Dai Hongming affirmed. The former presiding official had died of illness; ordinarily, many would have some avoidance of taboo, so when a new official took up post, everything in here would need to be swapped out once more. He had noticed that the bailiffs were slacking off — they had only switched out the brushes, ink, paper, and inkstone, not moving the flowers out — and that the hour was almost here, as he had seen Tang Fan paying visits to his superiors and colleagues, which meant that he was going to come over. Thus, he had had no choice but to set to task himself in preparing to move all the flowers out, in order to avoid violating taboo with their new boss.
“They’re nice to look at, to me. You don’t have to move them out, move them back in,” Tang Fan unexpectedly said. “No one’s been watering these plants, so they’ll need a bit without delay, lest they dry up and die soon.”
Dai Hongming nearly cried when he heard this, thinking, What in the hell did I waste all that effort moving them all around for, then?
Yet, he didn’t dare to argue. As was said, a new official taking up post would start three fires — perhaps this Chief Tang felt that he was slacking off, so he was looking to inconvenience him. He could only agree hence, after which he put the peony pot back in its original spot, then went to go outside.
Tang Fan called out to stop him, tone very amiable. “Such trivial matters are for others to do, Executive Dai. Don’t busy yourself. This official has something to chat with you about.”
The other was a bit antsy hearing this. “What do you wish to ask, Sir?”
“There’s no need to be nervous,” Tang Fan said with a smile. “I just have casual questions. Apart from you, how many members are in the Henan Office?”
“Answering you, Sir, there are four in total. Two are Secretaries, and the other two are Couriers. If you have any errand work you need run, you can instruct them to do it.” Dai Hongming paused, then showed a small, favor-currying smile. “Of course, if you have something urgent and it wouldn’t be convenient for you to hand it over to them, you can hand it over to me, and I’ll do it!”
Despite entering his forties this year, Dai Hongming was still a truesixth-rank Executive in the Ministry. Ultimately, aside from his own lack of great abilities, he also had no backers — after working for Tang Fan’s predecessor for nine years, he had never stepped off of his original spot.
He didn’t have a great teacher, like Deputy Chief Yin Yuanhua. As a third-roll Palace Honorate, he was only slightly better than a Provincial Honorate, so he could only rely on his superiors for support. Following the death of Tang Fan’s predecessor, he had immediately become a motherless child.
As he saw it, this new boss could have been regarded as a new patron he could rely on, if he hadn’t unfortunately stolen Yin Yuanhua’s position. The man horribly loathed him, and Assistant Minister Liang was backing him, making it difficult to say whether this new boss would be able to sit stably in his seat. This had twisted up in Dai Hongming’s mind, and he had mentally struggled for a long time prior to Tang Fan’s arrival; then, once he had seen how young the other was, his heart had quickly gone cold, as he believed that he would certainly be no match for Yin Yuanhua. At best, he would end up being forcefully reduced to a wooden puppet on display.
Tang Fan smiled, as if not comprehending his implication. “Since it’s the first day of my appointment, go on and call everyone over so that we can familiarize with each other.”
Dai Hongming was a little disappointed, but had to muster up his energy to answer, then part to call for the others.
After fifteen minutes, the clerks had pretty much arrived in unison, and they all bowed to Tang Fan at the same time, introducing themselves in succession.
Tang Fan’s eyes swept a full circle around. “How come I don’t see Deputy Yin?” he suddenly asked.
Dai Hongming inwardly grumbled as he forced a smile. “He said that an old ailment of his flared up that inconvenienced his legs, so he couldn’t walk. He told me to report his offense to you, Sir, and that he would have come, but can’t.”
As soon as that was said, everyone’s expression changed. That was clearly him not taking Chief Tang seriously! They all peered at him, wanting to see how he would resolve this.
Yet, all they saw was a slight look of shock on his face. “Inconvenienced his legs? Is he lame?” he asked with concern.
Why did that sound like he was cursing him? everyone mumbled on the inside; though, upon seeing Mister Chief’s genuine worry, they then felt that that wasn’t it.
Hesitating in his speech, Dai Hongming hemmed and hawed. “…Maybe he has some kind of chronic joint pain?”
What a joke. Yin Yuanhua was only just thirty years old this year, how could he have any sort of joint pain or arthritis?
But… could he have ever said, ‘he’s deliberately making things hard for you, so he’s putting on a display of power’?
Tang Fan sighed. “Deputy Yin has only just passed thirty. He’s so young, yet has gotten joint pain; how will he fare in the future? Ah, nevermind. Since he’s ill, he ought to recuperate properly. It’s fine if he doesn’t come.”
As expected, he’s one soft persimmon, they all inwardly thought, believing that since he knew Yin Yuanhua’s origins, he was too afraid to have a falling out with the other party.
The next moment, they heard him continue. “Very well. Executive Dai, have someone go out and buy a few things to send to Deputy Yin. Take it as a bit of kind regard from me.”
“What should be sent?” the other asked powerlessly.
Against expectations, their new superior was not only not going to bother with Yin Yuanhua’s impoliteness, but was even planning to bow his head first. What level of dignity was this?! Dai Hongming lamented in secret, mood completely dropping to the bottom of the valley — it seemed like he could already envision his own dismal road ahead.
What kind of gift was that?
Dai Hongming was startled, thinking that he had misheard. “Huh?”
“Did this official not speak clearly enough?” Tang Fan asked, displeased.
“Nono, this humble official will get to it!” the other quickly answered.
He wasn’t sure what effect the rhizomes had, but everyone knew that siler treated joint pain. Dai Hongming was momentarily unclear on whether his superior had actually understood things, or was faking stupidity. Erring on the side of caution, he asked again, “How much of each of those medicines would be appropriate to get, Sir? What do the rhizomes treat?”
Tang Fan laughed. “Ah, sweetflag rhizhomes are mainly for treating senility and forgetfulness, with the effect of sobering the psyche and stimulating the wits. They’re perfect for Deputy Yin’s illness. As for how much should be gotten, as I see it, his illness is quite serious. At least four or five coins worth of it would be enough.”
He was actually mocking Yin Yuanhua! This gentleman wasn’t afraid of him — he was confronting him head-on!
But, once the medicine was delivered… wouldn’t Yin Yuanhua go insane with rage?
Everyone was unable to react for a second, staring at Tang Fan mutely.
“Sir… that wouldn’t be okay, would it?” Dai Hongming asked, face full of suffering.
Tang Fan’s smile was quickly put away. He looked at him coldly. “What? Are you intending to disobey my order?”
The other jolted, subsequently saying that he wouldn’t dare to do so.
He wasn’t going to buy that stuff, of course. After the meeting was disbanded, he took some money and commanded a clerk below him to go purchase the two medicinal materials. Said clerk had been scolded by Yin Yuanhua before, and also had the mind to curry favor with the new Chief, so he bought and brought back half a catty in one go. Dai Hongming’s face went black as soon as he saw that.
He also knew that this was Tang Fan forcing him to stand with a team; if he failed to satisfy him, he would undoubtedly be alienated and removed by him someday. However, Dai Hongming had not been to Yin Yuanhua’s liking to begin with, so even if he didn’t do this, the man would still not find him pleasing to the eye.
After pondering this, Dai Hongming grit his teeth, thought to himself that he might as well go all in, and carried the medicine over himself.
On Yin Yuanhua’s end, he was in the middle of being proud of himself for his powerplay against Tang Fan. All of a sudden, the clerk that was forever currying favor with him ran over to report to him what Tang Fan had said, which made him beyond pissed when he heard it — that Tang Fan had hexed him!
Before his rage hit its end, Dai Hongming then delivered medicine to him.
This was a naked slap to the face!
In less than a day’s time, word spread throughout the Ministry of Justice; Deputy Chief Yin of Henan relied upon having an acting Assistant Minister as a teacher and didn’t take his newly-appointed superior to heart at all, yet hadn’t expected to instead be viciously made a fool of.
Yin Yuanhua had used the excuse of his legs being in pain to not participate in the conference for his new superior, where, in turn, Tang Fan had sent sweetflag rhizomes to ridicule him as having a disease of the mind. Once anyone heard about this, their stomachs would convulse with laughter, after which they would inwardly worry for Tang Fan.
Would a short moment of flaunting bear edible fruit?
Word of this incident very soon reached the ears of the Left Assistant Minister, Liang Wenhua.
The translator says: And then he, too, was angered to death, because Tang Fan just doesn’t fucking care.