Xu Zhong walked through the corridor. He lowered his head and dared not look at anything. He could hear the birds singing and smell the fragrance of flowers, but he was not in the mood to appreciate any of this. He walked very fast, as if someone was chasing at his heels.
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“What are you doing? Is a ghost chasing you?” The man standing in the front frowned as he looked at him.
Xu Zhong was so scared that he almost jumped a foot into the air. He raised his head and after seeing the man, he then quickly lowered his head. His voice was as tiny as the buzzing of a mosquito: “Brother Lu.”
Lu Zhao sternly said to him: “Raise your head and walk upright, didn’t your family teach you to act the proper way?”
Xu Zhong’s face was flushed with shame, and finally raised his head.
His looks were not bad, with big eyes and a sharp chin, like a little white rabbit. He had clearly come of age, but he was always mistaken for a teenager. He did not have a big temper and neither was he all that courageous. Not many people liked him at home. His brothers felt that he had no masculinity, and his parents felt that he was different from the rest of the family.
He was not good at studying and neither was he very capable at other things. And even in regards to physical appearance——it was not one of the best either.
So he was sent to Lin Yuan.
Lin Yuan had also observed and found that Xu Zhong only knew how to repeat the books of sages on verbatim. Among the scholars there were two types.
The first type was the students taught by a stuffy and pedantic teacher. They don’t do bad things but they couldn’t do any good things either. They hold the books as a golden rule. Whatever it says in the book, then he would follow without question. Completely not knowing to be flexible or apply the knowledge in different and pragmatic ways.
The second type was smart people. They read books, but for them books were only tools. They would not believe everything they read, but neither would they refute everything either. This kind of person was either a capable official or a sycophantic official.
But the first kind of people were common, while the second kind of people were rare.
Xu Zhong was the first type. As for his appearance, it was neither handsome nor ethereal like Chu Lin.
He did not have the vigor of a mature man, nor did he possess the innocence and liveliness of a young man. He had big eyes, but because it was matched with his sharp chin, he did not appear grand or noble-spirited enough.
He didn’t know how to socialize with people, and he didn’t know how to do practical and useful things. If he was born in the modern times, he was the kind of character who would definitely squat at home.
And on top of that he had a very strong self-esteem.
When he first arrived at Lin Yuan’s residence he had tried to committ suicide but was rescued by his roommate. He wept bitterly a few times and even became ill for a few months. Only now did he come out of his room again.
Lu Zhao said: “Just what is this attitude? If your esteemed father and mother saw this, I am afraid that you will be removed from the family tree immediately!”
Xu Zhong was taken aback, and his nose began to sting, tears gathering in his eyes as he said in an aggrieved manner: “I didn’t want to come, it’s not like I chose this…..”
Lu Zhao sighed: “Then you should just hang yourself.”
Xu Zhong didn’t say anything. He looked at Lu Zhao, snot coming out from his nostrils. Combined with that dazed face, it really made him look both pitiful and ridiculous.
Lu Zhao: “Back then, Han Xin was able to endure the shame of crawling through between someone’s legs, but now you can’t even bear this? The South Bodhisattva has never really asked us to sleep with him, so how is this to the point one would want to commit suicide over?”(TN: Han Xin was a military general who served Liu Bang during the Chu–Han Contention and contributed greatly to the founding of the Han dynasty. According to history he was bullied by a hooligan and given an ultimatum to face execution or crawl through between his legs.)
“If you are concerned about your reputation, then you should have killed yourself when you were first notified about coming over. Now putting on such an aggrieved face, who do you want to show it to?”
“Just look at that Chu Lin. He is very different from before.” Lu Zhao’s expression was a little envious. “He is now an official of courtesy, accompanying at South Bodhisattva’s side, and can even attend political affairs! He is just like us, a plaything at the beginning.”
Xu Zhong said in a low voice: “How can beauty last?”
Lu Zhao looked at him and snorted coldly: “Some people don’t even have any beauty to use as a tool. If we’re talking about the face, you may not even be able to match Chu Lin? Putting aside Chu Lin, are you even better looking than Jiang Xu?”
Xu Zhong turned his head and said, “Then South Bodhisattva should let me go home!”
Lu Zhao felt that he was just wasting his energy talking to a wall, and he restrained his impatience as he said: “Not letting you go back is protecting you!”
Xu Zhong: “What reasoning is this?”
Lu Zhao thought, perhaps the Xu family hadn’t bothered to cultivate this son from the beginning. If they wanted to bring calamity to someone else’s family, they only needed to marry Xu Zhong over as son-in-law. In half a year, this guy would be able to throw that family into an upheaval.
“There are so many people who have come, but have you seen anyone who has gone back?” Lu Zhao, “If you go be the first one, don’t even mention you yourself, would your family even still have a place in Taizhou? Others don’t care if you want to or not. When you go back, they will only feel that it was because you had disgusted the South Bodhisattva and so must be a bad character. After offending the South Bodhisattva, would people still give you and give your family face?”
“Even if you want to go back, you must go back honorably.”
Lu Zhao straightened his collar and said with a smile at Xu Zhong: “At least we must reach Chu Lin’s height before we can go back.”
Xu Zhong was taken aback: “Brother Lu…..you…..”
Lu Zhao said with pride: “How do you know I am not the second Chu Lin?”
Chu Lin became a nouveau riche. After he returned to Gaoyou with Hala Zhang he soon became a distinguished guest at Lin Yuan’s side. At first, he was afraid that Lin Yuan would tell Hala Zhang the truth. After all, he was a liar. But he had never been a liar before. In his life up until now, the only time he ever lied was to Hala Zhang.
He could never behave less than a gentleman before.
He sat fidgeting, feeling like there were thorns on the chair under his buttocks.
However, Chu Lin’s uneasiness could not be seen from his appearance. When the servants handed him tea, Chu Lin politely smiled at the little maid. The maid’s face instantly turned red and when she raised her head again, her eyes when looking at Chu Lin were like hooks. They were even misted over, and her overall look became a little more beautiful than before.
It was a pity that Chu Lin was extremely obtuse about this kind of thing. He had been looked at like this since he was a child, so he had always thought that it was a normal thing.
At this time, Lin Yuan was in the same room with Hala Zhang.
Hala Zhang was a Mongolian, but in terms of appearance he was not as rugged as most Mongolians.
He could be regarded as a model of refined roughness, facial features that seemed sculpted by a knife, with deep eyes and high nose. Because of his young age, his physical appearance was not very aggressive. It was likely that there were huren among his ancestors (TN: ethnic groups in the north and west of China in ancient times). Otherwise most Mongolians would not possess such features. It would be more convincing to say that he was a Xinjiang person.
As soon as Hala Zhang entered the city, he was welcomed into the government office. In an instant he had understood what was going on.
He had fallen for a plot, and this knowledge made him angry.
But he turned his head and looked at Chu Lin beside him. Seeing Chu Lin’s completely innocent face, the anger slowly subsided.
When he sat in the study room, he no longer had any anger at all.
His family was no longer part of the nobles now. What were the benefits for the South Bodhisattva to recruit him?
There must always be a purpose for action?
Just when Hala Zhang was puzzled, he heard the young man with a pale jade-like face say: “Your father has been saved by me.”
Hala Zhang’s hands and feet became stiff.
“You…..you…..” Hala Zhang couldn’t believe it, he thought he would never see his father again in this life!
Lin Yuan smiled and said, “But he is really not obedient, so he can only be on house arrest for now. Can you persuade your father for me?”
Hala Zhang stood up instantly and stared at Lin Yuan murderously: “Why are you imprisoning my father?! What are your intentions?!”
He had a bunch of questions: “You had brother Chu deceive me! So why didn’t you have him keep deceiving me? Telling me this at this time, you are not afraid that I will take your life right now?!”
Lin Yuan smiled and said, “Then gongzi, please go ahead. If you can get close to my person, then why not give you this life?”
Lin Yuan looked at this vigorous young man in front of him who was also not lacking in vigilance. He said, “I also sent the people who saved you. If I asked them to bring you here at that time, would you serve me?”
Hala Zhang snorted coldly: “Do you think I will serve you now?”
Lin Yuan smiled: “Gongzi, in the past few months, is it possible that you have developed no feelings or thoughts?”
If he had sent someone to bring Hala Zhang at that time, Hala Zhang would not be grateful to him. And even if he was grateful, he would not do anything for him.
Only making him soberly aware that in such a big world, only Gaoyou could tolerate this pair of father and son. Only then would he lower his noble head.
The places Chu Lin took him to were all impoverished villages. He had seen the world to be poor and miserable, and he had also seen the most rich and extravagant. He saw that Chu Lin was innocent, so he could be his real self in front of Chu Lin.
He had stood high above the people before, and his ears and eyes heard and saw only major national events. When the sudden change occurred, the changes were too great and he was left reeling.
Only in this way could his feet land steady on the ground, and his eyes could look at others.
Hala Zhang looked at Lin Yuan with eyes like that of wolves: “The South Bodhisattva truly has divine calculation, I’m afraid my father and myself have been targeted by you long ago?”
Lin Yuan shook his head: “Not your father and yourself.”
Hala Zhang looked at him mockingly.
Lin Yuan: “Gongzi thinks too much of yourself. In my eyes, I only have regard for your father.”
Hala Zhang regained his calm.
Hala Zhang: “My father will not fight wars for you.”
Lin Yuan shook his head: “I do not want him to. I only want your father to be in charge of farming and irrigation works.”
Hala Zhang’s eyes widened.
He thought that Lin Yuan went to all of this effort to have his father fight battles against the court, but…..farming and irrigation works?
Lin Yuan: “This way, it can not only let him show what he is good at, but also let him live up to his ancestors. Isn’t this good?”
Toqto’a was a capable official. He could lead war campaigns and also made great achievements in agriculture.
But in terms of politics…..
Before, when the Yellow River dam burst, the Yuan Dynasty’s finances simply couldn’t afford the money for repairs. This happened frequently and from the perspective of the people, it should be taken care of. But from the perspective of the court, it should not be taken care of, because the world was already up in chaos at that time. The money should be spent on munitions procurement.
It was Toqto’a who went out of the way and advocated for repairs. But there was no money.
So Toqto’a thought of a way that was easy to say but posed a lot of problems when implemented——he issued new banknotes which directly inflated the already inflated currency even more. From then on, the banknotes became waste paper.
Lin Yuan was not going to let Toqto’a participate in politics. He wanted Toqto’a to become a technician.
After the Yuan Dynasty had no strength left to wage any battles, he would then put Toqto’a on the battlefield. With his presence it would give the Mongolian common people some confidence.
Ethnic integration was a general trend. He didn’t want to be like the Qing Dynasty, who clearly already became the rulers, but still had to pay money and other resources to maintain peaceful relations with the Mongolians.
How many of the princesses who had been married off to the grasslands for peace were able to reach old age?
Lin Yuan sighed, and said to himself in his heart: “Be steady and take things gradually. Things can not be done in a hurry.”
He didn’t know how much he could do in his lifetime, but he would do as much as possible.
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The heavens had him transmigrate to here, and it couldn’t possibly be just so he could be a couch potato who only knew how to eat and waste away his time.
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