Don’t Be a Kept Man
ur Majesty to give him a good position.
But Miao Ping had actually rejected it.
And said that no matter what position it is, as long as it is for this country, it was fine.
Indeed, a man that is not greedy for money nor authority.”
Chen Miao Ping followed up with,
“In harsh conditions and poor environments, Miao Ping has studied for more than ten years.
To become known in one night throughout the entire country, Miao Ping is a regular human being, so naturally Miao Ping is elated.
For the rest of his life, Miao Ping was certainly not willing to become nameless, but compared to living forever with a heart of fear clouding the days, well.
Reputation and name, neither of which really matters anymore.
“To become a hermit living in the mountains has its own interest and happiness.
Studying and understanding the literary arts is to understand this world, to open our eyes.
These two deeds are much more important than a ranking achievement.”
The moment he opens his mouth is another vomit of chicken soup to soothe the soul.
But his words did make those in the palace at this moment think that he has an elegance, an elevated quality, a man of honesty and truthfulness.
And the Emperor’s growing rage inside his chest was somehow strangely settling down because of that blathering of words.
Just from the few speeches he was exposed to, Chen Miao Ping did not seem like someone without smarts.
He said so himself that he has not cheated, this much the Emperor believed, so it would not be too much of a stretch to say that he has been dragged into this issue.
The simplest solution was to take away his ranking and to never give him an official position, but to actually do so, with Chen Miao Ping’s eloquence and talent, it made it quite pitiful to let him go like this.
Chen Miao Ping kept his head lowered with a look that made the Emperor see true honesty in his regret, and he waited silently for the punishment to be passed.
But after a while, he could only feel a sudden cold wind blow past him and he looked up in reflex.
The shadow of the Emperor was the only thing that greeted his eyes and his ears heard the eunuch sing out —
“Preparation to return (to the palace)–!”
And no word was ever passed on how to deal with him.
With that cry, the tension in Zhi Feng Palace dissipated.
Xie Su Zhi’s eyes were very convoluted, never expecting that a simple greeting after her little brother’s marriage could turn out like this.
Looking at Xie Yu Zhi and Chen Miao Ping still bowing on the ground, she didn’t want to deal with them and said,
His Majesty has already left, who are you kneeling for?”
Hearing this, Xie Yu Zhi snorted coldly at Chen Miao Ping and flung off his arm.
He pushed himself up to stand and bowed towards Xie Su Zhi,
“It has been the fault of your little brother today, to burden you with such trouble.
It is high time for us to leave.
We will be back another day for our greeting.
We will take our leave now.”
Xie Su Zhi’s head was aching in pain and she waved her hand in approval.
Chen Miao Ping also rose up from the ground,
“Miao Ping will take his leave as well.”
And within a moment’s breath, Xie Yu Zhi had already walked away without leaving a shadow behind.
Chen Miao Ping shook his head and sighed, Xie Yu Zhi must be the fastest walking cripple he has seen.
He quickly followed and not long after, he had already caught up.
On a normal day, Xie Yu Zhi walking would be slow upon slow.
Today, he had dramatically increased his speed, but his disability was still there.
With a face shrouded with darkness, he remembered Chen Miao Ping’s soundless “cut off all ties with me” from the situation then, and he couldn’t help but be more angered.
Chen Miao Ping did not know what he was thinking about however and he quickly ran forward to grab Xie Yu Zhi’s hand.
With a smiling face, he said,
“What is up with you, walking so fast? Are you not afraid of tripping?”
Xie Yu Zhi angrily brushed him off,
“Leave me be to trip to death.”
Chen Miao Ping only realized now that Xie Yu Zhi was a bit unhappy.
He was at first clueless, but then he thought about it and realized what was wrong.
It was indeed something to be angered by.
To think at first that he had found a Flower Seeker to be his husband, but then it turned out that he was a cheating scammer.
Perhaps even in a few moments, his ranking would be taken away.
Who would be happy from this situation?
After “understanding” the problem, he was too lazy to warm up that cold shoulder.
The two of them walked like this, separated by a certain distance, one following the other with a maid following each of them.
The two of them did not interact in any way, perfectly acting as if they were strangers.
Seeing that Chen Miao Ping only pulled him once and no more movement came about, Xie Yu Zhi couldn’t help but turn his head to look back.
The only sight that greeted him was a man with both hands behind his back, looking left and right around the Imperial Palace, whistling as if it was a casual walk.
This side of him was sending all the maids around into a mesmerized daze to the point where they couldn’t walk straight.
Xie Yu Zhi brushed off his sleeves and gave out another cold snort.
The horse carriage was stopped right outside the entrance of the Imperial Palace.
Both of them did not speak to each other as they climbed up and sat on opposite sides.
Chen Miao Ping sat leisurely, lifting one of his ankles to rest on the opposite leg’s knee.
He lifted the curtain to check the activity outside and found that in the span of one afternoon, the poor scholars had slowly stopped their protests.
His heart settled down a bit after knowing that.
Xie Yu Zhi played with the tea cup on the table and mockingly said,
“What are you looking at? Afraid your head will be chopped off by his majesty?”
Chen Miao Ping smiled,
“This crime is too small.
If the punishment is to end my life and all those related to me by nine generations, then I must bring Second Master along with me.
Have you never heard of the saying, to be alive together is to be under the same sheets, and to die together is to be buried in the same hole?”
Xie Yu Zhi laughed coldly and raised his eyebrows to say,
“And who just said that they wanted to be cut off from me? Now you already want to drag me to death with you.”
Chen Miao Ping replied,
“No, no, I said that only in fear of implicating Second Master along with me, that’s all.
Second Master is such an amazing talented individual, why should you hang yourself on only me? Perhaps, even before we arrive back at the estate, the decree from His Majesty would have already arrived, and my ranking is popped like a bubble……”
Before he finished his words, Xie Yu Zhi suddenly kicked him.
He leaned forward slightly and stared straight into Chen Miao Ping’s eyes,
“What is the point of being an official minister? What is the point of being nothing? Am I supposed to be coveting your empty reputation and name?”
Click here to bypass all the footnotes!
*1 So just to explain a little further on the poetry line there:
“A raining day keeps guest day(heavens) keeps I do not keep”
This phrase is usually used to denote how punctuation works/the importance of punctuation, but obviously, Chen Miao Ping is using it for his own agenda here. The meaning of this exercise is to basically see how if you put different punctuation into the sentence (or if you don’t do it), you get a different interpretation/meaning every time.
I tried to keep it as original to the translation as possible so it might sound a bit awkward, but it won’t really work the way it gets intended to otherwise.
Day can be basically synonymous to heavens in this particular phrase as they are two meanings of the character “天” (which you may also recognize this as “sky” which is a more common understanding besides day).
There are 4 explanations here that Chen Meng Piao goes through including the one mentioned by the Emperor at the end of the last chapter (there can be quite a few more actually) but just explaining specifically and briefly the ones he goes through:
1) A raining day keeps guest, heavens keep I do not keep.
A raining day can keep a guest at bay, but even though the heavens want to hold back this guest here, I do not wish to keep this guest here.
(the relative’s perspective, or you could consider it as the “owner’s”, of where this “guest” is staying; this is what the Emperor interpreted)
2) A raining day, keeps guest day; Keep me not? Keep.
A raining day can keep a guest at bay(a raining day, a day that makes guests unable to leave), (guest asking himself) does the heavens want to keep me here? (in the sense that I translate it to day, the guest is asking himself, “is this a day that the heavens want to keep me here?”) I will stay because the heavens want me to.
(This is what Chen Miao Ping said the scholar interpreted).
3) A raining day, keeps guest day; Keep me not keep? (“下雨天，留客天 ; 留我不留？”):
A raining day, a day to keep guests at bay; (guest asking himself) Would the owners let me stay here or not?
4) A raining day, keeps guest day.
Keep? I do not keep! (“下雨天，留客天，留 ? 我不留。”):
A raining day, a day to keep guests at bay.
(owner of place says to himself) Should I keep the guests here? I do not (want to) let them stay!
Plum: I understand it as like the panda eats, shoots and leaves story by Lynne Truss: Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (Click for wikipedia explanation).
Instead of the complicated example above, if you see “the panda eats, shoots and leaves”, it can turn into the story as Lynne says, a panda eats in a restaurant, shoots a gun and leaves versus what it is supposed to mean as a panda eats (bamboo) shoots and leaves.
In this sense then, Chen Miao Ping’s explanation is that without an exact definition, a teacher can explain and interpret that in many different ways based on how they are taught.
Without something more standardized like the education we have or the textbooks we use today (although that also differs by other factors, but just more generally), there’s too much room for interpretations.
Especially given that books and words were written mostly without punctuation, it’s really up to how the teacher interprets it.
Hence it’s very important in that era to belong under a teacher besides their networking (to pass on name and all that Chen Miao Ping had explained) and each teacher has their own, I guess, school of thought and that dictates under that group, the understanding of the texts and the knowledge a student would know.
And thus, this is one of the reasons why in the list of rankings, there would only be mostly those who have an association with higher status families because having the right teacher (and the tools + networking you would receive based on the status of the teacher) or being able to even have a chance to learn under a good teacher, even if you are average, determines almost everything.
This is especially so when the exams are biased in the Emperor’s and his ministers’ viewpoint, and the exams are less structured and more theory/thought based (kind of like an English class where you write an essay debating a point), which an example of this will come up soon!
*2 Tattoo carved on his face: Not quite the modern tattoo practice.
This is literally taking a knife and carving a word or words onto the face of the “criminal”, sometimes as deep as into the bone (which there is a story of where a guy wandering through some village found a pile of bones and he picked up a skull to look at it.
What he found was a carving etched into the skull of a word that signified this was a maid who ran away from her master).
Crimes can range from stealing, running away from the estate as a servant/escaping your responsibility, betrayal of the state, etc.
This is a very painful punishment, so much so that sometimes the person can die while the word(s) are carved into them.
It also depends on the dynasty on what the crime/word being carved on is, where and how.
TL’s tidbit corner:
(´；ω；`) To those who have left me and Plum your kind comments last chapter, I can’t really describe the feelings you have all evoked in me! ｡ﾟ･（>﹏<）･ﾟ｡ I may or may not have had a particularly bad day that day, and some of your comments just… You might be tired of this, but I can never be: I’m so very grateful for everyone who left a supporting comment for Plum and me and please know I treasure each comment very dearly! And even those silent readers and those that keep liking almost or every single chapter, seriously, please know I am very grateful for all of you.
I kind of have no words for what I’ve been feeling these past couple of days, but for something that I started on a whim, I just have to say thank you.
I had never expected so many people to have read this and enjoyed it for what it is (and I’m pretty happy that people like this story that I really like and wanted to share).
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