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This assignment of Sui Zhou’s was half-public, half-private, so he stayed alone in the inn without subordinates.
The second Tang Fan came over, Yan Li and Gongsun Yan naturally followed him in the move.
Despite being close to the capital, this area was ultimately not the capital, meaning the inn had many empty rooms and Tang Fan didn’t have to cram into one room with Sui Zhou like he had before — the bed wasn’t big to begin with, so two grown men sleeping on it would be a bit of a travesty. Staying in a room alone would obviously be the most ideal option. Still, for the sake of ease in speaking with Sui Zhou by nighttime candlelight, Tang Fan chose the room neighboring his.
The difference between an attendant and a master was that while Qian San’r was helping with the luggage and getting the room in order, Mister Tang could justifiably laze around, thus bringing a plate of food over to find Sui Zhou for a chat.
Even though he had been bestowed with a noble title, Sui Zhou had maintained his own daily routine, following simplicity, acting practically, and never spending much time dressing up his outward appearance; the current capital trend of using ribbons strung with jade to tie up one’s bun was unseen on him. The most glittery and valuable item in his room was likely the spring-gilt sabre and its sharkskin scabbard that he had placed on the table.
While he was walking out from behind a screen, having recently bathed, he noticed Tang Fan holding a roubing dripping with oil in one hand and feeling out his sabre that had drunk blood countless times with the other, inquisitively studying the patterns on its surface.
That blade had kept Sui Zhou company through uncountable difficulties and hardships, dithering about the fringe of life and death. He had quite a deep affection for it. This wasn’t to the point where he was someone who lived and died with his sabre, but if anyone else was eating something while messing with it, Count Sui would definitely turn hostile.
This man was an exception, of course.
Sui Zhou looked at what the other was eating. “It’s late. Are you not afraid of stomach troubles from eating something so greasy?”
Tang Fan waved him off. “It’s fine, I told the waiter to bring a pot of hot tea to break up the grease.”
Sui Zhou was a tiny bit exasperated. “When you’re not able to sleep after drinking it, don’t come bug me.”
“If I can’t sleep, then we’ll talk by candlelight,” Tang Fan answered with a grin. “I’m really happy to see you here! Even if I don’t have any tea, I’m almost positive that I wouldn’t be able to sleep tonight.”
Although he knew he was joking, Sui Zhou couldn’t keep down the slight uptick of his mouth, delight spreading through the bottom of his heart.
Tang Fan pushed the plate towards him. “Try one, it’s purportedly Xianghe’s specialty roubing. I think it tastes pretty good. The waiter just had the cook make them, so they’re still warm.”
Sui Zhou hadn’t originally been a glutton, but after interacting with this man for a long time, he had habitually come to eat a bit more whenever he heard his recommendations.
The Xianghe roubing had been fried golden on both sides, a bit crispy when crunched. The dough had clearly been rolled out quite thin, but it was stuffed full with filling, each bite filled with fresh, tender mincemeat mixed with bits of green onion.
In Tang Fan’s opinion, the roubing this inn had was better than the He cook’s. Him moving in overnight hadn’t been in vain.
Soon after, the waiter brought in the brewed tea. The leaves had been bought by Tang Fan outside, since this little inn definitely didn’t have anything good.
A cup of hot tea downed in the belly, a bite of crispy-skinned, tender roubing then taken. Much of human life had this feeling of nothing being better than this.
Of course, someone like He Lin would refuse it, even if he could be like so for a lifetime.
The two ate roubing and chatted by light, which had a special sort of atmosphere to it.
Tang Fan was still slightly confused. “When I was dismissed, His Majesty certainly had a pretty terrible impression of me. How could I contradictorily be promoted in a brief half-month’s time? How did Wang Zhi manage it?”
“It was because of your painting.”
After Wang Zhi had returned to the capital, he had first gone to Huai En, passed on what Tang Fan said prior, and gave him the man’s painting, requesting that he look for a chance to present it and win Tang Fan a good impression in the Emperor’s presence.
Who understood the Emperor most in the world? It was not his mother, Dowager Zhou, but Consort Wan, else she would not have such a firm grasp on his heart.
However, apart from her, the eunuchs who attended his side all day long also had to be counted.
There had been no need for Wang Zhi to say more, as Huai En had quickly grasped his idea, and nodded to express that he would do his best.
Once he had handed the matter over to Huai En, Wang Zhi then left capital, heading straight for Datong to continue his career as a Military Supervisor. Having undergone that long discussion with Tang Fan, he had already realized that he couldn’t remain abroad for too long and needed to get back to the capital as soon as he could, else the turf he had painstakingly built up would be offered up to someone else.
However, he couldn’t return just because he wanted to, and would at least have to find an opportune moment for him to bring it up. For now, he would have to continue eating sand in Datong.
Two fronts had happened simultaneously. Heeding Huai En’s advice, the Crown Prince had found an opportunity to humbly apologize to the Emperor, stating that he should not have privately established an incense table to venerate his mother. Even though it had stemmed from filial piety, it violated the palace’s roles, and deserved punishment.
He had also harked back to the scene when he had met his father for the very first time, speaking from a place of emotion, unable to keep quiet tears from falling. The Emperor’s own former feelings of badly longing for an heir, yet not getting one for many years were incited, as well. The father and son had wept for a time; the sky cleared after the rain, and everything was over.
Regardless of what outsiders saw, the Crown Prince had finally born through the present crisis, for the time being. Those looking forward to the Crown Prince’s misfortune, and those nearby watching like tigers, had believed that he was going to be finished, only for him to preserve his tottering position while no one was looking.
Great plans sometimes seemed clumsy. What looked to be the most inelegant method had actually been the most capable of touching the Emperor’s soft insides.
Tang Fan had been right — Chenghua was not a terrible person, actually being soft at heart. Someone like that could only be moved emotionally. Consort Wan happened to have set her sights on that fact, which was the only reason why she stood at an untouchable position.
Regardless of whoever tried to plead on the Crown Prince’s behalf, that would be inferior to him going to seek the Emperor out himself.
When Wang Zhi had relayed Tang Fan’s words before, Huai En hadn’t expected that his method would actually work, yet had embraced the idea of giving it a shot, telling the Prince to go along with it. Now that it had actually had results, deeds were to be repaid. He had to fulfill the promise he had made.
Utilizing the Emperor’s good mood on a random day he had taken up a brush for painting, Huai En nonchalantly mentioned that he had a painter friend. His paintings couldn’t be said to have high-reaching messages, but were always abundant with fun, which he himself quite liked.
Despite Chenghua not placing importance on all sorts of things and being negligent towards politics, he was an authentic master of the arts of brush. At the beginning of his ascension, he had drawn A Circle of Harmony, which harbored a ruler and his subjects being of one mind, an attainment in painting major officials have all come to recognize. Were he to one day not be the Emperor, he would probably be able to make a living selling paintings.
His curiosity piqued by Huai En’s statement, Chenghua quickly asked him who the man was. Huai En kept him in suspense for a long time, then let him know that the man’s name was Tang Fan.
Even though he was quite forgetful, the Emperor still had some memory of that name. With a minute of thought, he asked whether or not he was the one dismissed last time.
Huai En had affirmed, then quickly admitted his fault, saying that he knew the rule about internal officials not interacting with external subjects. In the past, he had merely admired the other’s painting, and it was only now that he knew that he had no post that he had felt at ease contacting him.
Chenghua had not reproached Huai En, instead repeatedly requesting that he bring Tang Fan’s painting over for him to see. As the Sealwielder eunuch of the Supervisory of Ceremony Management that had come from an official family, Huai En had first-grade eyesight, those able to receive his praise certain to not be inferior. The Emperor normally wasn’t interested in much, but painting was one such thing — upon hearing that Tang Fan painted well, he had immediately grown antsy, urging Huai En to get him Tang Fan’s newest work from his collection and give it to him for assessment.
Huai En had then gone back, fetched Hen Watching Her Chick, and presented it to His Majesty.
Due to Tang Fan’s painting time having been limited, the brushwork was a bit rushed and certainly missing a degree of sophistication, but regardless of whatever color usage or meaning the above-mentioned had, it was just as Huai En had said; it showed an exuberant vitality, causing one warmth in the heart to see. It was also exactly to the Emperor’s tastes.
At this moment, Wang Zhi’s brilliance was on clear display. He had forbidden Tang Fan from painting harsh snow precisely because, in spite of that style of paintings having lofty symbolism, plum blossoms and chrysanthemums were eternal self-representations of the literati, portraying a scene of themselves being above the norm, and of lofty ambitions. Had Chenghua seen such content, he would definitely have thought that Tang Fan was harboring anger at his dismissal.
Hen Watching Her Chick was different, though.
The vibrant pigment of the wisterias brimmed with life. The hen had walked a little far off, but she was still stopping often and looking back, as if worried that the chick wasn’t matching her pace. As for the chick, it was just raising its head to look at the wisterias hanging above it, trying hard to peck them like it wanted to see how they tasted. Its adorable naivety drew a smile.
Huai En had lamented near him, “The reason why this servant was particularly fond of this painting was none other than the emotions of the hen’s loving care within it. Is that not like the ardent hopes you have for the Crown Prince, Your Majesty?”
Seeing the Emperor’s face slightly shift, he knew that he had heard him, and smiled. “This servant has never been a father, but when I was a child, I grew up under my parents’ guidance. I once skipped classes then, and my father beat me with a rod.”
Chenghua became intrigued. “You skipped classes?”
“Yes. At the time, there was a big annual opera show on the first in our hometown. I and a few friends planned to go see it, then faked sick to skip school, but my father caught me red-handed when I came home. The beating was so bad, I couldn’t get out of bed for three months!”
Huai En’s father had been appointed as a truethird-rank Grand Ostler back in the day, his clan-lineage uncle as Henan’s Magistrate, and his clan-lineage elder brother as the Assistant Minister of War, which had made them a family of officials. However, because that brother had frequently admonished the then-Emperor Xuanzong to not waste his knowledge, which was causing him to be poor, Xuanzong had held a grudge, personally detained, then interrogated him, in order to make him confess his own mistake.
In the end, Huai En’s brother had been stubborn, insisting that he had made no mistake to the Emperor’s face, saying that he should not discard civil affairs for the sake of hunting trips. Enraged, Xuanzong had immediately ordered for corporal punishment to be enacted on him, whereupon he had been beaten to death.
His hatred still not abated, Xuanzong had also seized all of the Dai’s assets and entered them into the ‘untouchable’ registry. As Huai En had been too young, he had been directly supplied to the palace, then castrated to act as a eunuch.
Chenghua knew of that history, and had felt quite sorry for him. “If nothing had happened with your brother, you would never have entered the palace at all. Speaking of which, our grandfather had really gone a bit overboard.”
Emperors rarely said that they made mistakes; even if they were wrong, they still weren’t wrong. Saying that their ancestors had made mistakes was ever scarcer. Chenghua completely differed from past generations of Emperors, though, speaking and acting more like how commoners did.
Therefore, in spite of his multitude of faults, as someone that had watched him grow up, Huai En much preferred this soft-hearted, talkative Emperor. That was because, in his view, this Son of Heaven had a good point that his father and grandfather hadn’t: benevolence.
To compare, Chenghua was most like his great-grandfather, Renzong, who had ruled for but a year.
Hearing this, the corners of Huai En’s eyes had gone damp, but his expression was placid. “The past is the past. This servant dares not comment rashly on Xuanzong. I merely wanted to tell Your Majesty that parents of this world all hope for their children’s success, and fear that they will learn bad habits, such conflict inevitably making their punishments a bit harsher at times. At the end of things, fathers and sons are still fathers and sons, the same as Hen Watching Her Chick; no matter how far ahead the hen goes, she will always turn back to look at her chick.”
Seemingly touched, Chenghua had had to nod, sighing. “Through art, the heart can be seen. Someone that could make a painting like this certainly can’t be evil. It seems that our dismissal of his position… was a bit too hasty.”
“Your Majesty’s words are precious,” Huai En had quickly said. “You said that he had fault, so he had fault. Where is there any rashness to be spoken of? All weather is the monarch’s grace. A qualified subject should not be concerned solely of whether he receives a ruler’s rewards or admonishment, but rather should think about what he can do for the Dynasty and its citizens.”
Chenghua had side-eyed him. “That’s enough, you old coot. We smashed an inkstone as a favor to a Deputy Chief named Lin something, so why act in front of us now? Wasn’t this your roundabout way of having us appreciate this painting just to plead for mercy for this Tang Fan? It’s precisely because you’re such a people-pleaser that causes outsiders to believe you to be easy to talk to, thus they all come to make requests of you!”
Huai En had smiled apologetically. “You misunderstand, Your Majesty. It’s different this time around; Tang Fan really didn’t put me up to this, it was my heart that couldn’t bear it. Just like you’ve said, seeing a painting is like seeing the artist. This servant viewed his painting, and despite it being incomparable to yours, when it comes to feeling, it has some whimsicality, a different song with the same effect.”
Chenghua had felt similar. What he liked most in life was to live in leisure, and what he loathed most was being forced to do certain things by others. If one really could see the heart through the art, Tang Fan was, in certain areas, quite a bit similar to him.
The Emperor had too many people he had to meet and things he had to handle every day. Tang Fan hadn’t done anything to make him hate him to the bone, so he would never be that unhappy with him. Now, with this painting, he had quite a good impression of him.
Precisely because they understood the Emperor far too much, this step was one Huai En and Wang Zhi had taken on the right path.
“Where is Tang Fan now?” Chenghua had asked him.
“I heard that he left to visit his married sister. He isn’t in the capital.”
The Emperor had smiled. “Well, last time, Guangchuan ran over here and stood outside all morning for this Tang Fan. We felt it too awkward to see him, but I can now give him a justification. We seem to recall that many have left the Inspectorate?”
“Meng Yangxu announced his retirement, Mu Hongbo departed for Nanjing, and Yan Xi was dismissed.”
Because the Inspectorate was responsible for the duties of inspecting all officials and reporting illegal activities, it had a lot more personnel than other departments, the number of Supervising Censors alone reaching one-hundred and ten. On top of that, none of the few apex positions of Left and Right Capital Censors, Left and Right Deputy Censors, and Left and Right Metropolitan Censors had a set personnel count — in other words, there were no rules limiting them, so the Emperor could set them based on definite needs. Under normal circumstances, there were only one each of the Lefts and Rights, of course.
Ever since the Great Ancestor had founded the censor Branches, their job overlapped with the Inspectorate’s, but the latter was still one of the most important departments in the Great Ming, wielding great power as it ruled on matters big and small.
“Which bureau did Tang Fan work in before?” Chenghua had asked. “We recall… that he was only denounced for bungling an assignment in the Ministry of Justice?”
“Your memory is good, Your Majesty. He was indeed in the Ministry of Justice. At the time, someone denounced him for manslaughter of a subordinate while on a case, but whether it was deliberate or a mistake still warrants discussion.”
The Emperor pondered to himself. “Yuan Weng brought this up to us last time. Having him return to that Ministry would be ill-suited, as I must give Yuan Weng some face… have him go to the Inspectorate, then. Left Metropolitan Censor, of truefourth-rank — that’s not too bad, is it?”
Huai En had smiled. “How could that be bad? It would practically be his boon!”
Chenghua had frowned right back. “We are giving you and Guangchuan face. If anyone else came and begged me, no such wondrous thing would be happening! We know that you are soft at heart, but pay extra attention from now on. Don’t just help anyone that comes to your door with whatever they ask!”
He’d had no clue that Wang Zhi was sandwiched in the middle of this, nor that the Crown Prince was involved in it. Huai En naturally wasn’t going to add problems on, so he had simply repeatedly admitted his faults as he coaxed the Emperor into showing a smile anew.
With the matter settled like so, Sui Zhou had learned the news after being summoned into the palace two days later. Previously, he had been preparing for a time when the Emperor’s anger had gone to plead on Tang Fan’s behalf; he hadn’t expected that Wang Zhi and Huai En would act so swiftly, handling it silently.
No matter what, though, Tang Fan having such luck could only make him happy.
After explaining all of that, he said to Tang Fan, “I know that you didn’t kill Yin Yuanhua, but with Wan An, Liang Wenhua, and the rest of them’s prior defamation, what’s right and wrong has already been muddied in the eyes of others. Rather than go back to the Ministry of Justice, it’s better for you to go to the Inspectorate and start fresh.”
Tang Fan smiled. “I understand, thank you. Guangchuan, to tell the truth, me being so happy today isn’t solely because I heard this good news you’ve brought, but because I could see you. It is said that life has four joys, long droughts end with sweet rain, old friends are met in strange places… this won’t do. I’ll get the waiter to order the cook to make two small dishes! It’ll only do if we drink a few cups down tonight!”
Sui Zhou glanced at the completely empty plate. “This is you wanting to eat, right?”
The seen-through Mister Tang put on a face that was as innocent-looking at He Cheng’s. “Such poppycock!”
“I didn’t see you move your chopsticks much at the He’s tonight. That food wasn’t really to my taste either, actually. It was too salty.”
Finding his soulmate at last, Tang Fan immediately started spitting out complaints. “You don’t even know! I’ve long been accustomed to making late-night snacks with Ah-Dong and you when I’m at home, but the He cook doesn’t light the ovens at night, while the restaurants in Xianghe close early because it isn’t as bustling as the capital. I’ll want to eat, but find no place to!”
He likely didn’t notice that he was saying that so spoiled-like, he had crossed over into whining, which caused Sui Zhou some exasperation as well as amusement. He couldn’t resist reaching out and patting him on the head. “It’s so late, the cook must be resting. I’ll go cook for you.”
Tang Fan was a bit embarrassed by that action, after which he thought about how he was on the verge of getting good food to eat, and couldn’t help but start laughing. “This is too shameful. You just got here today, yet you need to act as a cook! If my sister knew of this, she would definitely say that I’m not being considerate to you!”
Hearing Sir Tang’s fake and pretentious tone, Count Sui inwardly rolled his eyes, then got up to head for the kitchen.
There was a lot of foodstuffs leftover. Sui Zhou had Tang Fan get the fire started while he washed and chopped vegetables, planning to make eggplant with minced garlic and kung pao chicken. For the sake of being able to eat a bit sooner, Tang Fan took to stoking the fire with never-before-seen passion and seriousness, not noticing that there were some sly pairs of eyes outside the door that had gotten there who-knew-when.
Seeing Sui Zhou quickly turning around and discovering them, Yan Li, who headed the group of three, quickly showed a toadying smile. “Brother, we didn’t eat enough tonight, either!”
A conventional saying was that good things never left the door, while rotten things would spread a thousand li out. In reality, this good thing spread outside faster than anything else had.
The news that Tang Fan was about to be promoted to Left Metropolitan Censor quickly circulated Xianghe County, where even Sui Zhou’s identity was exposed along with it. The inn they were staying in immediately had its front yard become as busy as a market, Magistrate Weng also scrambling over himself. Tang Fan and Sui Zhou were unbelievably annoyed, forced to hole up in the inn with Yan Li and Gongsun Yan standing as door guardians, blocking all the riffraff.
Still, while Tang Fan could refuse to see anyone else, he couldn’t not see Magistrate Weng, as the man had not only come to get in good, but also for the Wei case.
Although Tang Fan had not yet officially taken office at present, Sui Zhou bringing the edict here was the equivalent to his appointment already being in effect.
No progress in the least had been made in the Wei case. Wei Ce had been getting on the Magistrate’s nerves by questioning him every couple of days. Lamentably, the latter clearly wanted to ascertain the truth, but in Wei Ce’s eyes, he must have accepted the Chai family’s bribes to be willing to shelter the murderers — in this day and age, it was difficult to be a good and all-seeing official. The Magistrate had had no other option but to come seek help from Tang Fan.
Before, when Tang Fan had no post, he still had some misgivings, but now that he was requesting aid from a superior official, he didn’t appear to be humiliated at all.
Tang Fan asked him how the case was coming along. Magistrate Weng shook his head. “I can’t find anything out about the Wei son. Explain the Chai siblings to me; since they’ve admitted to murdering Wei Zhuniang, admitting to killing the son would really just be the difference of one life and two lives, yet they won’t for the life of them. There must be something else amiss here. That was why this humble official has stubbornly refused to close the case, but I fear that Wei Ce will lose patience, take a trek across Xianghe County, and report to Shuntian Prefecture!”
“You’ve done well,” Tang Fan praised. “This is how things should be before the details of a case are clear. Only by remaining unshaken by outside forces will one handle things fairly.”
Previously, they had still been peers of the same level, but upon meeting again, the Magistrate had to self-appellate as ‘this humble official’. Such was how officialdom was; those with attainments came in first, and who had seniority in the official’s scene was not necessarily whichever official was older. This blatantly showed that one either had poor luck, or poor skill.
In Tang Fan’s opinion, amongst all the people he had ever met, Magistrate Weng’s skill was fair, at least able to be considered in the upper-tiers, and he also had a principled personality. His official’s luck was just awfully poor, leaving him a common seventh-rank official at forty years of age.
Magistrate Weng smiled painfully. “I won’t have a way to keep going like that, though. Wei Ce is of County Honorate achievement and has been in the business region for many years, meaning he has some connections in officialdom. If the higher-ups send inquiries down, this humble official won’t be able to explain myself easily. I’ll have to quickly rush to get the trail before I’ll be okay. Ah, look at what an official I am… I’m obviously acting for his family’s own good, yet he so very kindly takes me for granted, pressuring me to close the case!”
“We don’t need to ask him for his understanding, we just need to be worthy of the world’s conscience,” Tang Fan consoled. “There’s no need for you to worry, either. The Shuntian Prefect is my senior brother, so I’ll tell him when I get back. Your responsibility won’t get looked into for this. Brother Guangyuan, if you don’t sing, then you’re done, but as soon as you do, you’ll shock the world; if you don’t fly, then you’re done, but as soon as you do, you’ll soar. This is so for officials. Don’t get discouraged because of the difficulties in front of you.”
Thinking through how the newly-appointed Left Metropolitan Censor before him seemed to have faintly divulged his intent to support him, Magistrate Weng couldn’t help but be elated. Quickly, he got up and bowed. “That this humble official could meet you, Sir, is really three lifetimes’ worth of blessings!”
Tang Fan smiled as he helped him up. “What is this? Wherever a pearl goes, it will always shine. If you sincerely put your all into your work, that will always show on the surface, too, don’t you think?”
Magistrate Weng nodded on repeat, no lack of excitement on his face. Having woken up, he did not forget his proper business at last. “Sir, do you have any orders for this case?”
Tang Fan shook his head. “The clues are too few. Even gods wouldn’t be able to do anything about that. Find a time to go to the Wei home for a look; I’ll speak with Wei Ce in passing to make him be a little patient and more empathetic to you.”
“If you’re willing to step forward, Sir, that would be best,” the Magistrate replied gratefully. “This humble official will send someone to let Wei Ce know.”
With the two’s appointment time for their return to the Wei’s set, Magistrate Weng took his leave. The inn’s waiter witnessed that he had come in with a face of worries, yet had left in high spirits, and clicked his tongue in astonishment.
On the He’s side, Patriarch He had formerly planned to drag out the days, and prepared to personally take He Lin over to apologize to Tang Fan. He thought to relinquish his own old dignity, which ought to make the other feel it too awkward to ask for his sister to leave the He’s again.
Unexpectedly, before the one in question even showed up, He Lin had already come over and brought up splitting households on his own initiative.
Shocked, Patriarch He asked him if he had a brain hemorrhage. As was known, He Lin hadn’t even agreed to separation prior to this. This sudden change in attitude was really weird.
However, He Lin made not a peep. No matter how the Patriarch tried to interrogate him, he wouldn’t open his mouth, not mentioning much of the humiliation in his heart.
This matter had been discussed two days ago.
Even though none of the He’s had mentioned Tang Fan’s promotion to him, He Lin was not a woman who couldn’t go out the door; he always went out, which resulted in him hearing about it from the mouths of strangers. How much more depressed he became then did not need to be explained. He had been frustrated over and over again on his own end, while his brother-in-law was getting promoted on his.
Someone being better could infuriate another to death.
In contrast, those friends of his joked to his face, saying that since he was going to have a major official for a brother-in-law in the future, he wouldn’t have to fear not being able to raise his head in the presence of other He members.
He knew well that they probably didn’t know that Tang Yu wanted to separate from him, but every single time he heard stuff like that, he felt like someone was smacking him in the face, the pain burning.
Seeing him sullen, those friends had said that they would take him somewhere that could eliminate the pressure on him. He Lin believed that they were going to take him to a brothel, so he had furrowed his brow and refused, but they had just said that it wasn’t that, insisting upon towing him off.
Once they arrived there, he then discovered that they had brought him to a gambling den.
Sighting this noisy environment that was an affront to culture made him rather ashamed at first, but, very quickly, after some tiny wins, he gradually began to get the thrill of gambling.
Money especially came in faster than all else. As long as he could win a few more times, he wouldn’t need to impatiently wait for that tiny bit of silver issued each month.
As long as he gave thought to the idea that even if the imperial exams were a no-go, he could still be loaded and have repute before his family, he would feel bursts of excitement. That feeling was no lesser than the one of finishing a sage’s tome.
Yet, after a winning streak of over a hundred taels, his luck appeared to run dry, and he started losing money.
Already hooked, he naturally refused to accept this, just like all other gamblers of the world, each one thinking to turn their fortunes around. Embracing the ideology of ‘once I win my money back, I’ll stop’, He Lin lost all of the gains he had won.
At that point, the people in the den offered to lend him money of their own volition, saying that because he was a Don of the He’s, and the He family was renowned in the county, the first three hundred taels he borrowed wouldn’t be charged interest.
Already red-eyed with murder, He Lin hesitated for a good minute, but still grit his teeth and borrowed the coin.
However, once he started with the borrowing, he couldn’t stop. If he won, then he wanted to win more, and if he lost, then he wanted to win it back, not even realizing it. When the gambling den workers set a stack of IOUs summing up to five-thousand taels in front of him, he was struck completely stupid.
Five-thousand taels was not a small amount. He certainly didn’t have it, himself.
But… would he have to request it from his father, or his wife?
He felt like just killing him would be better. When that time came, his prestige being non-existent notwithstanding, he would likely become the laughingstock of Xianghe once word of this got out.
In result, after he said that that charge wouldn’t be paid back unto his death, the den’s owner didn’t kill him, nor even beat him, instead leading him to someone.
Seeing the other’s face, He Lin was first astonished, then beyond angry. “All of this was your plan?!”
The translator says: On this day, we remember Lin Luangua or whatever his name was.
‘Guangyuan’, despite its similarity to Guangchuan, doesn’t share the same character. Guangyuan is roughly ‘distant light’, while Guangchuan is ‘wide river’.