As the Pingjiang officials sat in their seats, they couldn’t help but feel that something was out of place. Just why was the feeling so different? They sat sideways with buttocks gingerly touching the chair, as if thorns had suddenly grown on the chair underneath them. The small officials in Pingjiang were practically all locals. These officials were not taken seriously——it was never their turn when it came to accepting money and neither when it came to important political affairs. But it was these small officials who made up the bones and veins of Pingjiang politics.

You c an fi nd t he la te st cha pte rs at ( th e ir on tr ee bl oo ms. c o m )

In the past, when Pingjiang was still in the hands of the imperial court, they were barely even able to see the sub-prefect in a year, let alone the senior provincial official.

Now, in front of Lin Yuan, aside from nervousness, they all felt an uncontrollable excitement. Although this was the first time they had seen Lin Yuan face to face, they also knew that Lin Yuan was a person who valued ​​people who carried out practical things.

After all, although Lin Yuan’s person might not be here personally, they were still evaluated every month, and those who got excellent marks were able to be promoted. Although it was only a small promotion, for these officials, promotion was never something that they could get a turn at before. Now that they had changed to a different master, promotion was no longer an unattainable goal. So why wouldn’t they feel extremely excited?

“Lord Zheng, it is your turn?” The official who had just sat down said with a smile at Lord Zheng who was sitting next to him.

Lord Zheng stood up. Although he was lazy, his appearance still presented a good bluff. He was a handsome middle-aged man in his forties with a fine beard. Although there were wrinkles on his face, one could vaguely see that he must have been quite the handsome one when he was young. He stood up, tall and straight with a smile at the corners of his lips, to speak of what he had done recently, how he had done it, and what problems he had encountered.

Speaking was also a skill, and if one had shallow speaking skills, then one could only explain things dryly as if reading off a list.

Those with deep speaking skills, such as Lord Zheng, though he clearly didn’t do much, could cause people to feel that he was busy all day when he spoke of his daily work experiences.

Lin Yuan listened to his eloquent speech, and with some difficulty finally managed to understand what he did.

Lord Zheng was in charge of the household registration. In fact, his duty involved reorganizing Pingjiang’s household registration system and integrating the refugees from other places into the common people of Pingjiang. The newly registered people did not have to pay taxes for the first year. It seemed that this was not too difficult a task, but in fact, there were many trivial details involved.

But the problem was that this Lord Zheng…..just assigned tasks to others while he himself only managed the registration of refugees, a job that he performed mediocrely.

Lin Yuan looked at this Lord Zheng. Just by looking at his appearance, everyone would think Lord Zheng was a gentleman. And since he was a gentleman, he must be a man of outstanding ability, noble temperament, and worthy of respect. He said, “Lord Zheng has worked hard, have seat.”

In the presence of so many people, face must still be given, after all people need to keep up appearances at times.

But he still intended to understand the situation clearly and figure out whether this Lord Zheng was just lazy, or was indeed a useless straw bag.

If he was a straw bag, then he couldn’t use him. Being an official was different from other careers. In some other careers, one could do a good job with a little effort as a straw bag, but that was not the case with being an official. No matter how hard one worked, so long as the person was a straw bag then he wouldn’t be able to do anything well and be easily swayed by others. This person might seem like an honest fellow, but in fact he was just stupid and poisonous.

This meeting lasted all morning, with several trips to the public restrooms in the middle. The officials attached great importance to this first meeting with Lin Yuan. Even if they did not understand what he said, they still had to listen attentively, with a smile on their faces or a serious expression and upright sitting posture. Like this, they  did manage to give the appearance that they possessed a strength of character.

Lin Yuan was hungry, and all that needed to be asked was asked. After midday, the meeting ended, though Lin Yuan invited them to stay for lunch.

“I won’t be having the meal with you all.” Lin Yuan smiled, “so as not to cause discomfort.”

Everyone hurriedly stood up and refuted this.

Lin Yuan: “No need to be polite with me, please, at your convenience.”

The servants came in from outside the door and led the officials out. Naturally, the meal was not to be had here.

The fashionably late Song Shizhao walked around from the yard at this time and ate with Lin Yuan. Lin Yuan was not particular about eating, being able to fill his stomach as soon as possible was enough for him, but the cooks gave a lot of thought to meal preparation.

Since they knew that Lin Yuan did not like fancy dishes, they went to the effort to disguise the rare and precious ingredients as ordinary food.

Lin Yuan did not pay much mind to such things, eating whatever was served. Though he did feel that it tasted better than the food he ate in the modern time. Maybe it was because there were no additives in ancient times.

But logically speaking….additives made food more tasty and fragrant.

“That Zheng Qingfeng is interesting.” Lin Yuan said to Song Shizhao while eating, “Looks like a gentleman.”

Song Shizhao almost broke his teeth from gritting it so hard——he was just a few days late, the result being a group of shameless demons having squeezed into Lin Yuan’s line of sight. And Lin Yuan even remembered them. This truly vexed him deeply.

“This official also knows about him.” Song Shizhao pasted a smile on his face, “I heard that he had a virtuous reputation since young, as a young man he was very handsome. I heard that he was involved in a matter with the opposite sex.”

Lin Yuan was a little curious: “Oh?”

Ancient women were concerned about reputation, but it seemed there were actually such a matter involving the opposite sex?

Song Shizhao said: “That Zheng Qingfeng came from a family of officials. Although they only held minor positions, the family teachings were righteous and upright. The only negative thing was that they had too much sense of propriety.”

This was Song Shizhao subtly disparaging the other, basically saying that the entire family was as timid as a mouse.

He also said: “That Zheng Qingfeng was different from others since he was a child. He had an unyielding temperament and hated injustice, which won him a lot of fame. And add to the fact that he possessed a handsome face, when he reached marriageable age, the matchmakers practically trampled flat the threshold of his family house. And this isn’t an exaggeration, it was indeed trampled flat.”

“He…..but he’s a man…..” Lin Yuan was taken aback.

Song Shizhao smiled: “I heard that when he was young, his face was as flawless as jade, appearance handsome and valiant. Although it was difficult for young men and women to see each other, they were not really locked up at home as if they were in jail. Either visiting temples or attending gatherings, there is always a chance to meet up. At that time, there were several daughters from different families who would cry and make a fuss. Although they only saw him once, they all insisted on only marrying him.”

Song Shizhao also said: “Of course, those who dared to say this must definitely be spoiled at home. If they insisted on being stubborn, naturally it caused headaches for their parents who would eventually succumb in the end. That Zheng Qingfeng was from a modest family but too many wanted to marry him——even as concubines they were willing, but with his lack of wealth he couldn’t support so many people.”

“So those women said that even if they were to become his concubines, they would still bring their dowry and didn’t need a betrothal gift.”

Lin Yuan asked curiously: “What then? How many did he marry in the end?”

Song Shizhao shook his head: “He only married one, his natal cousin. After marriage, he became more steady and eventually became like this. Doing less or nothing if he could help it. Don’t hope for success, and instead hope for no mistakes.”

“If he appeared on the street in the past, even if it was an unmarried young lady still in the boudoir, they would all go out onto the streets to see him, practically blocking up the roads. Some people said that it was a good thing Zheng Qingfeng had strong health. Otherwise, in such circumstances he might become a second Wei Jie.” Song Shizhao sighed. (TN: Wei Jie=an extremely good-looking youth in the Jin Dynasty who attracted many admirers. People were so eager to look at him they gathered together and blocked the streets he passed by. According to legend, people’s craze for Wei Jie led to his tragedy. Since Wei Jie had been weak in health since birth, after being watched for several days, he became sick and died later. People described his death as “Wei Jie was watched to death”).

Lin Yuan smirked: “Mister is envious.”

Being pursued by so many women, don’t mention ancient men, even modern men had not experienced such a thing before. It would be a lie to say that one was not envious.

Song Shizhao smiled and said, “This official is truly envious.”

In the whole of Pingjiang, almost everyone knew of Zheng Qingfeng’s name, and the common people talked about him with great relish.

After all, such handsome men were rare, especially even at this age, he was still handsome.

Lin Yuan: “How was he as an official at that time?”

Song Shizhao: “He was not bad when he was young, working diligently. But after having not been promoted for decades, I imagine he has lost any hope in his career. His mindset is that of one who would rather not do anything than make a mistake.”

Lin Yuan asked strangely: “Never been promoted?”

Song Shizhao coughed lightly: “I heard that the daughter of the senior provincial official used to pursue him too.”

So this was hate born out of love it seemed.

Lin Yuan: “It seems that I must trouble Mister to help me have a look, which of these people are useful and which are not.”

Song Shizhao hurriedly replied: “This official will definitely share in my Lord’s worries.”

It was a lie to say that officials did not want to be promoted. The new official implements vigorous new policies, but what if you remained in the same position for ten or twenty years? Time wasted and your will whittled away. Even the donkey needed a carrot as bait in order to walk fast, let alone a person.

Zheng Qingfeng arrived back at his house, took off his official robes, and put on casual robes. He sat in the hall with a cup of tea in his hand. Zheng’s wife was holding a baby and coaxing gently. The couple had been together for a long time, and had rubbed off on each other. Every gesture was similar, and even their expressions were also similar.

Even if one didn’t know them, one could tell that they were a couple.

It was just that the husband had an outstanding appearance, while the wife had an appearance that was nothing out of the ordinary.

“Why did you stay in the government office for so long today?” Zheng’s wife coaxed the child, and then turned to ask Zheng Qingfeng.

Zheng Qingfeng pulled slightly at his collar: “The South Bodhisattva called all the officials, and the minor officials also went. Even if one person only talk for about the time it takes to drink a cup of tea, it still took some time.”

Zheng’s wife asked curiously: “How does the South Bodhisattva look? Does he really have the appearance of an immortal?”

Zheng Qingfeng smiled and said, “If speaking of appearances, it is incomparable to that of your husband.”

Zheng’s wife covered her mouth as she chuckled: “Husband looks as handsome as Pan An, but I wonder what kind of character is the South Bodhisattva.” (TN: Pan An=another famously handsome man in Chinese history)

Zheng Qingfeng’s eyes deepened, and he said: “Based on his actions, I can say that he treats the common people with the heart of a Buddha, but as for others…..”

“A heart so cruel that I am impressed.” Zheng Qingfeng took over the child from his wife.

The wife asked strangely: “Cruel?”

Zheng Qingfeng: “Of the more than one hundred members of the Jiang family, not a single one was left alive.”

Zheng’s wife inhaled sharply.

“Actually…..so vicious?” Zheng’s wife was taken aback.

Zheng Qingfeng: “A small mind makes not a gentleman, a real man lacks not in venom. If he really was like a bodhisattva in the rumors, then that would truly make people worry.”

Zheng’s wife looked at her husband’s expression: “Does husband admire him?”

Zheng Qingfeng: “Many people in the world are burdened by false reputation, just like me, half of my life was restricted by the word gentleman, if back then I…..”

Zheng’s wife: “It happened so many years ago, it’s meaningless now.”

Zheng Qingfeng sighed.

How many hearts did he provoke when he was young? He thought he was a gentleman, but ended up suffering for the word gentleman.

A gentleman was not something a mere mortal could be. Zheng Qingfeng understood this too late, late enough that he became discouraged.

Now finally seeing the man called the South Bodhisattva, how could one not be curious?

They were both people who carried a false title, but how come the South Bodhisattva could live so freely and easily?

The South Bodhisattva killed more than a hundred people that made up the Jiang family, but no one accused him of being cruel and vicious. This was why Zheng Qingfeng was puzzled.

Zheng Qingfeng said: “Interesting, such an interesting person, it is rare to see.”

You c an fi nd t he la te st cha pte rs at ( th e ir on tr ee bl oo ms. c o m )

Zheng’s wife looked at her husband. Her husband was a man with an indomitable spirit, but unfortunately he had been discouraged over these many years. She only hoped that the South Bodhisattva was really a man of discerning eyes who could tell greatness from mediocrity, and could see the heart eager for accomplishment under her husband’s skin.

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