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After hearing of his student’s complaining, fire spurted three zhang off of Assistant Liang. He wasn’t angry about Tang Fan humiliating Yin Yuanhua, but rather that the other had clearly known that Yin Yuanhua was his disciple, yet had still dared to do such a thing. He obviously didn’t place any importance onto him.
In this age, reputation was a huge deal. Tang Fan, a minor Chief, had had his first day of entry into the Ministry of Justice, yet before he was even standing steady in it, he had dared to provoke a high official. Did he have no brain, or the guts of a leopard?
With Liang Wenhua’s position, however, were he to rashly call Tang Fan over and reprimand him, it would make him look concerned; beyond that, this had been caused by Yin Yuanhua making the first mistake of not respecting the one above him. Such a huge fuss had done no good to Yin Yuanhua, so Liang Wenhua didn’t do anything immediately.
Two days later, the Ministry was to inspect the state of the completed assignments from the first half of the year. They would call forth each Office’s Chief individually for questioning, then give them encouragement, having them continue to work hard for the next half a year, strive to do even better, and so on. In brief, for these solo face-to-face conversations, one could also take this opportunity to bring up any difficulties they might have run into in their work with a leader. If said leader was in a good mood, they might help with resolutions.
In result, twelve out of the thirteen Chiefs came. Tang Fan alone was not called for.
Were it to be said that the higher-ups had taken the fact that Tang Fan was a newcomer, and thus had not figured out Office affairs yet, into consideration, then they should have called for the Deputy Chief, but there was nobody. The Henan Office appeared to have been entirely overlooked.
No one there was stupid. They all knew now that Tang Fan must have offended Assistant Minister Liang, to not have incurred his courtesy.
There were three bosses of the Ministry — one Minister, and two Assistant Ministers. These days, Minister Zhang didn’t take care of much, and Assistant Peng was just a yes-man. This left Assistant Liang alone in charge of the majority of the Ministry’s actual business. To say that he covered its sky with one hand would not be undue.
Stemming from this, everyone hurriedly drew a distinct boundary with Tang Fan out of fear of implication. Even Lu Tong’guang, who had showered benevolence on him before, was absent with an excuse when the other dropped by, avoiding a meeting with him.
Walls collapsed when crowds pushed them; this was a natural occurrence. Seeing as how Tang Fan had maligned Liang Wenhua, no one knew when he was going to get kicked out of the Ministry. There would not be enough time for anyone to claim that they were avoiding him out of dread, as not kicking him while he was down would be just fine.
“Haven’t you guys seen? Deputy Chief Yin is as pleased as a spring wind, now. Chief Tang is going to get driven out after not too long, right? Will Deputy Yin get promoted to Chief, then?”
In the workroom, three clerks sat together in a circle, with Executive Dai Hongming sitting nearby. There appeared to be some lack of divide between superiors and inferiors.
Yet, there was nothing to be done. Looking on as their Office was about to turn into a forgotten weed, they had all panicked, thus gathering up into a group to exchange info and give themselves a bit of mental comfort.
Yin Yuanhua was not very popular. Nobody in the Henan Office liked him, apart from one clerk that unwaveringly hugged his thigh. Still, their like was just a thought in their heads; with their statuses, they couldn’t contend against him, just like how arms couldn’t twist legs. He was a real second-roll Palace Honorate, and there was Liang Wenhua, his direct superior and teacher, sheltering him, too. His road in the bureaucracy was definitely smoother than their roads.
They had been under the impression that Tang Fan’s arrival could suffocate Yin Yuanhua’s heat, making their lives a little better, but in not even two days’ time, the other’s insult to Liang Wenhua had crowded out even their entire Office.
“That seems to be so.”
Cheng Wen sighed on end. He was an old clerk, now over fifty, and had been in the Henan Office for over a decade. After pulling through several appointed Chiefs, he had long stopped seeking promotions, only hoping to pass his life in peace and stability. When Chief Zhou had just died and Tang Fan hadn’t yet arrived, the Office’s work had been temporarily taken over by Yin Yuanhua, but he was one that flattered his superiors and always put on airs with his subordinates — he would eagerly show filial piety to those above for every bit of advantage he could get, practically attending to Liang Wenhua like he was his own father. It was little wonder as to why the latter liked him, but those below him did not, hence why whether it was Dai Hongming or these other three clerks, they didn’t want Yin Yuanhua to be the Chief. Unfortunately, they did not have the final say on that.
“Chief Tang is too young, in the end. He lost his calm for a moment and chided Yin Yuanhua to his heart’s content, but didn’t he think about the future?”
Another clerk curled his lip, not looking favorably upon Tang Fan. “I heard that Sir Tang is a Hanlin entrant. Hanlin ‘lords’ like them all grow eyes on the tops of their heads! They’re so high-and-mighty! How would he know the gravity of things?!”
“Alright, stop being worried for anyone else’s sake! We need to think about ourselves, first!” Dai Hongming fretted. “Sir Tang told me yesterday that for the communal dinner a few days from now, he had reached an agreement with Chief Lu to be the one treating, instead. He told me to go around and notify each Office, but when I made the round, no one paid me any mind, either saying that they were too busy and couldn’t step away, or that there had been a death in their family and they couldn’t participate in the dinner! What does that say? They clearly place no importance upon Sir Tang! Tell me, you all; what should be done about that?”
The other three clerks sighed along with him. “What can be done? Just tell Chief Tang the truth. We can’t exactly forcefully drag them over to it!”
“Over to where?” came a voice from the doorway.
Everyone turned to stare. Speak of Cao Cao, and he would come — Tang Fan walked in, all smiles, with his hands behind his back.
“People really have abandoned me, eh? Is there any good news you all could share with me?”
Everyone laughed dryly, looking awkward. The clerks quickly took their leaves, and Tang Fan nodded, not stopping them.
Dai Hongming was the only one left; this was his workroom, so of course he couldn’t just leave it. He was forced to draw out a smiling face. “You must be terribly busy, Sir. Why did you come here in person? If you have any orders, this humble official could come over myself to take them!”
Tang Fan smiled. “I asked you to send invitations to each of the Office Chiefs for the meal. How did it go?”
The other’s face suddenly crumbled. “It really isn’t that I’m incapable, Sir, but that the higher-ups are all busy, and couldn’t break away from their work…”
Tang Fan’s smile was unchanged. “It isn’t that they couldn’t break away, but because they’re afraid of offending Assistant Minister Liang and think that I’ll be booted from the Ministry soon, so it’d be useless to forge a friendship with me, yes?”
“How could it be… like you’ve said?” Dai Hongming laughed all ‘hahaha’-like, thinking to himself,You knew already, so why did you even ask me?
“I knew this would happen. You just needed to pass word along; whether they go or not is their business, not yours. When the time comes, call Cheng Wen and the rest to have them partake, as well.”
“That wouldn’t be appropriate,” Dai Hongming said with difficulty. “It’s always only been the Chiefs that have been able to attend the banquets. We don’t have enough status…”
Tang Fan waved his hand, cutting him off. “That’s not for you to worry about. I’ll be the host, so things will go according to how I dictate. You and them just need to come together at the right time. Five days from now, by the time the bureau adjourns, I’ll have already made a reservation in Raising Cloud Hall of Immortal Cloud.”
Dai Hongming was speechless. Immortal Cloud… that was among the best restaurants in the capital. Who didn’t know that it had the same owner as Immortal Guest, but didn’t walk the same path, price-wise? The former was even more high-class than the latter; it was said that its ambience was secluded and refined, and officials without high enough rank would fail to get in. Even if Assistant Minister Liang wanted to make a reservation there, he might not be able to. Minor officials like Dai Hongming had only ever heard its name before.
And yet, Tang Fan would be able to book there. What did that signify? It signified that he had wider social connections than Liang Wenhua did!
All of a sudden, Dai Hongming recalled hearing about how Sir Tang had been a Judge at Shuntian Prefecture for no longer than two years before he got transferred into the Six Ministries, in a full grade-and-a-half of promotion. He clearly had people above him — there were many officials of the realm that had merits, yet he had never seen a single one of them get promoted this quickly!
His mind began to run off, and in a very brief timespan, an unknowable amount of thoughts turned around in his head as his heart also sprang to life in their wake.
He had originally believed Chief Tang to be a bold moron, but it now seemed that he wasn’t a blockhead at all, just confident in his own backing!
Even though whether this fierce crossing dragon could ultimately overpower a snake in its own turf remained to be seen, if he could take the chance to stoke a cold stove, something good might happen for him in the future.
Thinking like so, Dai Hongming’s attitude became less negative than it had been before. He quickly agreed, and even gave his own suggestion. “Sir, most people watch the way the wind is blowing to determine their own paths. They’re worried about Assistant Minister Liang right now, so they’re too afraid to show kindness to you; even if you invite them to dinner, they might not dare to go. Wouldn’t it be better to postpone it for a while, and then bring it up again?”
Tang Fan smiled when he heard that. Dai Hongming was truly an interesting character.
As a new arrival, he indeed needed his own staff, so he had made use of these several days of hostilities with Yin Yuanhua to find successive opportunities for observance. He had noticed that Dai Hongming was not a bad man; he had his own small-minded thoughts, but because he was at odds with Yin Yuanhua, he hoped that Tang Fan could get more influence in order to receive his backing, instead.
The man hadn’t dared to speak up before, as he had felt that Tang Fan’s chances of success against Yin Yuanhua were not great. Now that he had glimpsed the light, he naturally had to be the one to come over and cast his own line first, so as not to be alienated by his new superior.
Tang Fan had also come from a basic-level branch such as Shuntian Prefecture; these folks’ thoughts were inevitably quite clear on who was the lesser rival.
“There’s no need to say as much,” Tang Fan answered. “It’s said to be in a few days, so in a few days it shall be. Call for Cheng Wen, Tian Xuan, and Yin Wen.”
This Office had four clerks, all of whom were subordinate to the three higher officials. Aside from that one Liao Zijun, who scrambled to hug Yin Yuanhua’s thigh, the other three were just observers. In their opinions, it didn’t matter who the Chief was, as they only did odd jobs — that wouldn’t be changing much.
They were all classified as low-key figures in the Office, minor ghosts that had been fully snubbed for many years. Even if they wanted to hug Yin Yuanhua’s thigh, the man might not even give them a glance, so they had to congregate along with Dai Hongming and sigh together.
Tang Fan naming those three was tantamount to excluding the remnant Liao Zijun. Thinking to himself that their new boss had set his mind upon contending with Yin Yuanhua to the very end, Dai Hongming couldn’t help but smile bitterly on the inside.
Seeing him cautiously agree, Tang Fan pat him on the shoulder. After giving him some words of encouragement, he also told him to look for a few dossiers in light of his own demands and send them to his workroom, after which he left in stride.
The Ministry of Justice wasn’t a big place to begin with. Despite Chiefs being managing officials, they were still incomparable to Ministers and Assistant Ministers, and their workrooms were about the same size as Tang Fan’s had been when he was a Judge.
He walked into his new workroom. The plants that had almost withered up a few days prior had already begun to glow with new life, due to receiving attentive care. He had also moved over a few pots of orchid grass from his own home; their slender leaves were as tender and lovely a green as jade, and the pink buds growing from their centers were already showing signs of blossoming, on account of the room’s warmth. A faint, almost non-existent fragrance wafted about, creating a delicate aroma within the workroom that refreshed the mind. All who stepped inside it would be unable to resist taking a deep inhale.
It was currently the middle of the year, so it ought to be busy. The start-of-the-year business had already passed, but Tang Fan hadn’t come here to hold a sinecure, doing no work as he raked in a salary. He always had a load on his mind. Back in Shuntian Prefecture, he couldn’t accomplish much because of its limited structure, but now that he was in the Six Ministries, he was going to take advantage of its convenience to do a bit more within his power.
In not even a minute’s time, Dai Hongming came in carrying a pile of dossiers. Head buried in case documents, Tang Fan had him set them down and excuse himself, never looking up. Noticing the half-chilled tea on Tang Fan’s desk, Dai Hongming didn’t disturb him, and left quietly.
Following another short moment, a clerk, Cheng Wen, delivered steaming-hot tea.
He had since learned from Dai Hongming that Tang Fan was going to treat everyone at Immortal Cloud, and had even called for the clerks to come with for it, so his smile and actions were a bit more solicitous than they usually were. Unfortunately, Mister Chief was currently busy flipping through dossiers, so he didn’t even raise his head to see who was offering him tea, merely grunting out of his throat.
Clerk Cheng had no choice but to conceal his disappointment and leave.
Tang Fan was actually doing something quite important.
After the Great Ming’s founding, the Great Ming Code had been formulated via referencing the Tang Code and Yuan Institution, and ever since then, Ming’s officials had judged cases on its basis. Times had changed, however, as over a hundred years had now passed, and many of the original laws inside it had not much use in present times. There were also many concrete implementation details that weren’t specified. Officials, unable to find precedents inside the Great Ming Code, had thus begun to come to decisions according to their own personal codes of conduct.
In the Great Ming, if one wanted to be an official, they had to rely upon the imperial exams, which tested for eight-legged essays, but not the Great Ming Code. Some officials that got transferred from the Ministry of Rites to Justice, or censors that had been in charge of supervising all officials, would become case-judging prosecutors after their transfer, and there was no need to expect them to have ever studied the Code.
Since the central government was like this, there was no need to speak about the local ones.
Before Tang Fan had taken up office, there had been a famous case over in Zhejiang. There had been Guy One, and Guy Two; they fought, and Two had accidentally ended up beating the other to death.
Ming law had a provision that if one’s grandparents or parents were killed by another, their descendants could avenge them on the spot, and the avenger would be found not guilty. If they killed only after the fact, they would get sixty strikes with the rod. If their foe had already been judged, yet had not been executed due to amnesty, the descendants murdering them in revenge anyways would get a hundred strikes, and exiled three thousand li away.
At the time, One’s son hadn’t murdered on the spot, but reached an agreement with Two in private; Two would compensate him with land, after which he himself would state that his father had died in an accident and petition for the authorities to not perform an autopsy. This had been considered a private settlement.
In this time period, particular focus was given to the veneration of the deceased, while autopsies destroyed the body. Many refused to let such a thing happen, so, whenever the authorities received such a petition, they wouldn’t insist. The will of involved parties and family members prevailed in everything.
This event hadn’t been in agreement with the law, but it also hadn’t violated it. It was no more than a loophole being availed of.
Had it stopped right there, nothing would have happened. At worst, One’s son would have been chastised as unfilial, been unable to raise his head in his hometown, and so on.
But of course it hadn’t.
Two had given land compensation to One’s family, and the latter had received a lot of yearly rent. One’s son had taken the rent to indulge for a few years, marrying a wife and having a child while he’d been at it. When said child was three, he had taken a knife and stabbed Two to death, saying that he had completed his task of continuing his family line, only after which he could think of revenge for his father.
And there had come the problem. The law had long stated that if one’s parents were murdered, children wouldn’t be guilty if they killed the murderer immediately. However, no kill had happened at the time of One’s death, nor had the authorities given a sentence; One had instead been in a private agreement with Two, where he had kept the authorities in the dark. That had thus indicated that the case had already reached a verdict, and because he had killed him three years later, he should have gotten at least a hundred rod strikes and an exile of three thousand li away, as per the rules.
This case had been quite sensational at the time, and had also stirred up the Ministry of Justice. The sentencing officials had been of two main opinions.
The first had been that the judgement should go strictly according to the law. One’s son had refused an autopsy and hid things from the government, which had undoubtedly been him contemptuously messing with the authorities. Behavior like that needed to be harshly punished.
The second had been that since One’s son had sired a son to pass on the family line, and had only been swallowing his anger at Two down until that point, he had displayed filial piety. That ought to have been handled with leniency, with a reduction in crime probable.
These two opinions had caused a stalemate. The Court of Judicial Review and capital Inspectorate had also joined in on the argument. The Cabinet had to end up givingv written comment: One’s son had had sympathetic emotions, but an abhorrent crime, so, in a compromise, he would get a hundred strikes, minus the exile.
In Tang Fan’s view, this case had been an archetypal manifestation of using filial piety to conceal one’s own misdeeds, and going through a loophole in the laws. That was because, according to regulations, as long as One’s son had killed Two immediately after his father’s death, he would have been exempt from blame, but he hadn’t done that. Instead, he had taken Two’s money to live it up for some years, take a wife, and have a kid, and it was only then that he had run off to stab Two to death in the name of avenging his father.
The Ministry of Justice and Cabinet had not understood the logic, but One’s son had used filial piety as a protective charm. Filial piety governed the realm in the Ming Dynasty — had they done a harsh punishment, it would not have conformed to the doctrine of the times, hence why the Court had ended up selecting a relatively balanced option between law and reason.
Yet, that had also directly let off One’s son easier.
His family had been impoverished. He had only been able to improve his financial situation via full reliance on Two’s land compensation. With this, he had gotten to live, have a complete as well as rich family, and receive a good reputation for being filial, his previous stigma washed clean. He had really gained a lot with just one action.
This event had been a reflection of a couple of issues that existed nowadays.
The current laws in effect weren’t that carefully regulated, giving many the chance to exploit gaps in it. Situations like One’s son were not infrequent by any means. Had the authorities mandated an autopsy back in the day, nothing of what had come after would have happened.
This was a problem that not only Tang Fan had noticed; many similarly had.
For example, in the previous Ministry of Justice, Minister Lin Cong, Dong Fang, and others had explicitly proposed alterations to the Great Ming Code, in order to adapt them to the demands of sentencing that were growing by the day.
However, the Code had been established by the Great Ancestor, and could not be modified even if anyone wanted to. There had been many subjects that had proposed amendments after the Ancestor’s era, but every time someone mentioned it, a vast number of officials would jump out to denounce them in the name of violating ancestral laws. Over the ages, the Code remained the same Code, while many officials could not find guidelines in the process of judgements, thus being forced to decide based on their own knowledge. This had produced many cases of injustice.
Tang Fan also felt that the Code had to be amended, but not directly on its surface. Countless predecessors had already proven to him in practice that that wouldn’t work, only getting one a horrible scolding. If the Code wasn’t touched, though, and a few extra sentencing regulations were to be chosen for additions, there would not be any issue.
Still, it was not currently his turn to care about such things. He was merely a minor, truefifth-rank Chief, not a Cabinet Vizier. A proposal like this getting presented was overwhelmingly likely to get set aside; the present Court was not one that did anything, anyways.
Since he had entered the Ministry of Justice, he at least had a good environment. Here, he could consult a bulk quantity of dossier resources that he wouldn’t have been able to get to in Shuntian Prefecture, as well as initiate his own plan: discover all sorts of cases from bygone years that had had unreasonable sentencings, neatly lay them out somewhere, and compose new judgement protocols with the Code as a foundation.
Should he fail to reach a high position in his life, these would most likely never receive pushes for implementation, but that did not mean that he would muddle through his days in the Ministry like Yin Yuanhua and the rest, nor squander all of his energy on mutual schemes. He had never forgotten his original inspiration for becoming an official, just as he had never forgotten the words of encouragement his teacher, Qiu Jun, had given him before he left the capital.
No matter how dark the world got, there would always be a day that light would reappear. No matter how dark the world was, there would always be a group that would work untiringly to produce a day where that light showed up again.
He was not the only one that was striving hard, but he was willing to be one of them.
In result, after he was alienated, he was not in an alarmed bind like everyone had anticipated he would be, instead becoming so busy, he itched to bury himself into the high-piled case documents.
This wasn’t a task that could be completed in just one night, however, as it was not only enormous, but tedious. It was also impossible for him to do alone. If several people were working on it together, its efficiency would be much greater.
Even so, he had his own machinations. He did not scramble to call Dai Hongming and the others over to assign them tasks in a test of loyalty, nor did he get anxious over the discussions outside that were about him. After Dai Hongming moved all the dossiers over to him, Mister Tang allowed him to go and do his personal work, while his own daily work became reading dossiers as he casually waited for the good show to kick off.
Following a passage of two days, the time he went to work was as usual. His tea drinking as he looked through the small-mountain-esque pile of dossiers was as usual, too.
He reviewed them very carefully, first looking at the case, then at its judgement. He picked out areas of irrationality from them and carried out additional markings; writing down his own opinions and thoughts was an assuredly slow thing, but he was in no rush. The future was long, and impatience would spoil the results.
At right that time, the sound of hurried footsteps came from outside the door, not long after which Dai Hongming’s slightly anxious face appeared in his doorway. “Sir! Sir!”
Tang Fan looked up. “What is it? Come on in.”
The other came inside, hushing his voice. “The higher-ups summoned all the Chiefs and Deputy Chiefs to attend a meeting, saying that they were going to inquire about the Offices’ circumstances for the latter half of the year.”
“When is it?”
Tang Fan’s brow furrowed slightly. “Why wasn’t this said earlier?”
“This humble official only just learned of it…” Dai Hongming floundered.
Tang Fan understood. Deputy Chiefs were the assistants of Chiefs, so Yin Yuanhua should have been responsible for telling him ahead of time — but why would he do that, when he was looking forward to him making a fool of himself?
He hummed. Not blaming Dai Hongming, he stood up and walked out.
Anxious at heart, Dai Hongming was both afraid that Tang Fan would vent his anger on him, and worried that his lack of preparation would cause the Office to lose face.
After a time of walking, Tang Fan turned to see that Dai Hongming was still following behind him. “What is it? Are you going to take part, too?” he had to wonder.
“No, no! I thought that you would have some kind of order… I’ll just go.” Dai Hongming laughed dryly, quickly slipping away.
This meeting could be described as a routine one. It was congregated every month — typically at the end, but because Minister Zhang had not been in the Ministry for a few days, it had been postponed. There should have been a separate advance notification, but, well, who made Tang Fan be a disliked newcomer? Everybody bullied new arrivals, hence why when he had just learned of it, the meeting was already about to begin.
As was inevitable, Tang Fan was the last to arrive out of every Office, even a half-step later than the Assistant Ministers. He quickly cupped his hands, bowed, and found his own seat.
According to standards, the Chiefs and Deputies of each Office would sit together. His line of sight inadvertently bumped into Yin Yuanhua, who was seated beside him. The latter gave him a smug look.
He answered with a light, collected smile.
Seated close by was Lu Tong’guang. The other had noticed Yin Yuanhua’s demonstration against Tang Fan, and couldn’t help but sigh at heart. Slightly unable to tolerate this, he whispered to the other, “This meeting will not only discuss the previous month, but also mainly discuss plans for the rest of the year. Minister Zhang might question the individual Offices; you’ll have to be prepared.
Tang Fan returned a grateful smile to him. “Many thanks, Brother Lu.”
Regardless of what else Lu Tong’guang wanted to say, Minister Zhang Ying had now come in. He hurriedly waved his hand to signal for Tang Fan not to say any more.
At the host’s arrival, the meeting officially began.
As Lu Tong’guang had said, Minister Zhang first briefly spoke of the general state of the Ministry from the first half of the year. Immediately after that, he stressed talk about a few cases that hadn’t yet received verdicts, urged the various Offices to speed things up, and then began to let them carry out their reports.
Yin Yuanhua had long formulated a plan. Due to being completely unprepared and also having been here for not even a few days, when the Office’s turn came, Tang Fan was bound to be unable to answer the vast majority of questions. That period would be a good opportunity for him to flaunt himself.
Even if Tang Fan wouldn’t be getting dismissed or transferred away for a time, as long as he was isolated and didn’t put on a good display, it would be difficult for him in the Ministry, and his authority would be just an empty framework. When the time was right, he really would turn into a puppet Chief, inferior to his precursor, Chief Zhou.
Chief Xian of the Fujian Office spoke up on his end. “Central Min brethren have formed a new trend, its practice becoming convention; even more men are castrating themselves, yet are unable to get into the palace to act as eunuchs. These repeated prohibitions have really been a headache. Fujian’s Department of Investigators has sent several letters requesting for the Court to give an order that bans commoners from self-castration and gives violators heavy punishments, lest this trend intensifies.”
“What’s your opinion?” Minister Zhang asked Liang Wenhua.
“I, too, have once seen a documented correspondence from Fujian reporting about this. In the seventh year of Jingtai and seventh year of Chenghua, the Court already made bans on self-castration amidst the populace, but their effects have been minuscule. To be frank, the authorities never performed strict investigations, so this caused the accumulation of the practice over a long period of time to become a trend, making it persist despite repeated bans. If there is a desire to completely put a stop to this matter, one needs to consider from the source. My suggestion is to have a Court order stipulating that from now on, any citizens that self-castrate will not be allowed into the palace by law.”
Tang Fan nodded inwardly upon hearing this. Assistant Minister Liang coddled his student and was making things hard for him all over the place, but he did have some actual capabilities, making him a little better than all those middling officials.
Minister Zhang nodded, then spoke to Chief Xian. “You can jot that down. After Assistant Liang’s proposal is sorted out, present it for me to look at.”
Chief Xian promptly affirmed, then went on to report some more events. Once Fujian was done, another’s turn naturally came up next.
Meeting statements were not conducted in order of the orientations each district had in contrast to each other, but were differentiated in accordance to everyone’s seats. Lu Tong’guang sat to Tang Fan’s left, while Chief Xian was seated to his right; going in the sequence from right to left, after Chief Xian was done speaking, it would be Tang Fan’s turn, followed by Lu Tong’guang’s.
Minister Zhang’s gaze shifted away from Chief Xian to land upon Tang Fan. “You are the new Chief of the Henan Office? We don’t appear to have met before, have we?”
Tang Fan stood up and bowed. “That is I. A few days ago, this humble official went to pay a visit to you, but by ill coincidence, you were not present, so I could not meet you. I ask for your forgiveness, Sir.”
“Since it was an ill coincidence, what is there to forgive?” Minister Zhang twirled his beard with a smile. He was actually being quite just and reasonable. “Go on and sit. In your view, how is the Henan Office faring?”
Yin Yuanhua was overjoyed the instant he heard this. Tang Fan had only gotten here a few days ago; what the hell would he even have to talk about? Wouldn’t it be up to him to explain things?
Thinking like so, he automatically straightened out his back and opened his mouth to speak.
However, he heard Tang Fan do so first. “This humble official has been in the Office for a number of days, and I’ve discovered that the people here act perfunctorily, with a penchant for procrastination. There are many old, longstanding cases that have been judged wrongly due to negligence, or even bluffed at random. There are truly many areas that deserve improvement.”
…Was this guy nuts? How come as soon as he spoke, he was like a mad dog biting at everyone? Yin Yuanhua couldn’t resist turning around to stare wide-eyed at him.
It wasn’t just him. Everyone else was looking at Tang Fan like they were observing a monster, too.
Only the man in question’s face was as unperturbed as ever, as if all those words had not just come out of his own mouth.
The translator says: Prepare your face for slaps, bucko.