The majestic imperial city stood still, the bell rang in the morning like thunder, the sun was shining, and there were no clouds to be seen.
The hundred officials stood outside the Chongtian Gate dressed in their official uniforms. Song Shizhao stood at the head of the hundred officials, the sun was scorching, and although Song Shizhao was old, at this moment he felt that he had returned to his prime, he never felt so young before!
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These officials were all hurriedly gathered, including many old officials of the Yuan Dynasty. To let them appear was to declare to the world that Lin Yuan was a sage king, a mighty master, so all the old officials of the Yuan Dynasty were willing to bow their heads.
The three generals who entered the city stood right after Song Shizhao. The three wore battle armor and looked straight ahead.
The sound of the bell gradually died down.
Finally, a figure could be seen outside the Chongtian Gate.
This person wore a black robe, with wide sleeves that fell straight down to the sides of the legs. The robe was embroidered with red cloud patterns and a dragon flying amidst them. Its eyes were like torches, and its claws were lit with fire.
He walked like the momentum of the wind and had an extraordinary aura.
Song Shizhao knelt down first, and then the hundred officials knelt down behind him.
No one looked directly at the Son of Heaven.
Lin Yuan stood at the gate of Daming, all the civil and military officials had their heads bowed. At this time, the wind was gentle and the sky was clear.
He looked at the kneeling officials and knew that the ritual to “persuade him to enter” was at this time.
There were three pleas and two resignations, and only on the last plea could it be accepted.
Song Shizhao stood up at this time, and with him leading did the others get up.
Song Shizhao began to speak.
“In times of great chaos in the world, the common people are struggling to live, corrupt officials oppress the people, and the world has been suffering for a long time!”
“Only the King of the South takes the common people as his children and the world as his home, so that the old could be cared for, the young could have someone to depend on, and the people of the places under govern live and work in peace and contentment.”
“Today the world has settled, this official pleads with the King of the South, ascend to the throne as the emperor, and rectify the laws and discipline of the imperial court!”
The hundred officials echoed in agreement.
All kneeling down and pleading.
Lin Yuan spoke at this time: “Yuan is young, what virtue does Yuan have to be able to take on such a big responsibility? There are many people with lofty ideals and wisdom in the world, Yuan cannot.”
Song Shizhao began the second plea: “Although there are many warriors in the world, no one can bear the rise and fall of the world with just one’s own strength. Although the King of the South is young, he is able to unite the world. If the King of the South does not become emperor, this official shall die a ten thousand death!”
Hundred officials: “This official shall die a ten thousand death!”
Lin Yuan spoke again: “You are all the pillars of this country, and with your help, the ruler will surely win the hearts of the people, but Yuan is incompetent and unworthy of being an emperor.”
Song Shizhao pleaded a third time: “In today’s world, only the King of the South could turn the tide and save the people from flood and fire. The King of the South ascending the throne is what the people want. If my Lord does not accept the request of this official, this official can only apologize to the world with my death!”
“Since this is the case, Yuan can only accept your request.” Lin Yuan sighed, “Yuan asks you all to help me.”
The hundred officials spoke loudly: “We shall be loyal to the country and loyal to the monarch!”
The national music was played, its momentum high and mighty.
Lin Yuan: “Everyone, please rise and enter with Yuan.”
The door of the Daming Hall opened wide, welcoming its new master.
Lin Yuan walked up the steps step by step.
In the first year of Mingde, Emperor Yuan of Ming was enthroned, the official name of the nation was Ming.
Mingde, from the “Great Learning” (TN: one of the Four Books), its ancient meaning, if one wanted to make the world virtuous and bright, one should govern the nation first.
The new dragon chair symbolized its new owner. The armrests of this dragon chair were carved with dragon heads, and was made of red sandalwood aniseed, dyed black, and appeared solemn and imposing.
Lin Yuan stood with his back to the dragon chair. After the civil and military officials entered, he then sat on the dragon chair and took the imperial crown. The crown’s hanging decorations consisted of the Son of Heaven’s twelve tassels, the aura of the Son of Heaven appearing suddenly.
Lin Yuan sat on the dragon chair.
The officials shouted, “Long live my emperor! Long live!”
Lin Yuan stretched out his hand: “All ministers, rise.”
“As Zhen just ascended the throne, Zhen do not seek merits, but want no faults. Now, the people of Dadu are all still anxious. Do any of you have any good advice to assist Zhen?” Lin Yuan asked.
“This official has a memorial tablet.” Zheng Qingfeng stepped out.
All the officials looked at him.
Zheng Qingfeng was called over to Dadu by Song Shizhao, and at this moment he stepped forward with confidence.
Lin Yuan smiled and said, “Oh, Zheng qing (TN: term used by the emperor for his subjects), please speak.”
Zheng Qingfeng said: “Opening the market, accepting concubines to the harem, and offering sacrifices to the heavens, like this, Dadu will stabilize and the common people will be at ease.”
“Then according to what Zheng qing has said, open the market and offer sacrifices to the avens.” Lin Yuan, “As for the harem, at this time, the common people have just experienced war, how can we take away their children?”
Zheng Qingfeng didn’t insist either. It was indeed inappropriate to fill the harem as soon as the new emperor ascended the throne. He only just mentioned it as part of ritual.
Lin Yuan sighed and said, “After years of wars, the common people are miserable and suffering. If the people are strong, then the nation will be strong, and if the people are rich, then the nation will be rich.”
“Zhen pity the suffering of the common people, and shall exempt them from taxes for five years. What do Zhen’s officials think?”
Song Shizhao spoke first: “Your Majesty has the world in your heart and loves the common people. It is the blessing of the common people and the blessing of the world! In place of the common people, this official thanks Your Majesty!”
Song Shizhao said everything first, and the officials behind were so angry that they nearly vomited blood.
After the court assembly, Lin Yuan walked to the Yanchun Pavilion which was behind Daming Hall.
Song Shizhao and Zheng Qingfeng followed closely behind.
Lin Yuan invited the two to sit down.
“Zhen want to open a government school.” Lin Yuan said: “And allow all the children of the common people to be admitted to the school.”
“There is no need for tuition, one school to be built at each lane.”
“Starting from the capital.”
Song Shizhao pondered: “Your Majesty, this project will cost a lot, and Your Majesty has just exempted taxes for five years…..”
Lin Yuan: “Do not worry.”
Zheng Qingfeng said: “Your Majesty appears confident and must have a good plan, I beg Your Majesty to teach us.”
Lin Yuan smiled and said, “The aristocratic families from all over the empire, each family can feed an entire city.”
Song Shizhao said abruptly: “Your Majesty is wise! But the aristocratic families may not be willing to hand their wealth over with both hands. If something goes wrong, this plan will not only be useless, but harmful.”
Lin Yuan looked at Zheng Qingfeng: “Qing think so too?”
Zheng Qingfeng said: “Lord Song’s words are not incorrect, but in extraordinary times, extraordinary measures are needed.”
Lin Yuan smiled and said: “Zheng qing knows what Zhen want, so Zhen will entrust this to qing at this time. Zhen has just ascended the throne, and there are very few people of use under Zhen’s hands. The world’s aristocratic families cultivate their descendants, and Zhen will naturally reward them with positions.”
Zheng Qingfeng cupped his hands and said, “This official has received the order.”
The aristocratic families had been frightened and worried for a few months, but they began to rejoice again.
The word had been leaked from the imperial court. His Majesty had just begun to govern the imperial court but was lacking in assistance, and therefore planned to select capable officials from the aristocratic families.
The aristocratic families were now discussing how to send their children to the palace.
The current head of the Zheng family was the eldest son of the Zheng family, Zheng Zihui. After he learned the news, he convened the children of the family for a meeting. His sons ranged of all ages. In a family, the most important thing was people, so besides his official wife, he also took several concubines. The Zheng family had kept a low profile the whole time, just multiplying their children behind closed doors.
The more children, the better, both male and female.
So there were six children of the Zheng family who were over the age of maturity, and eleven who were under the age of maturity.
Young children did not attend, but there were 14 people in total who still attended.
“Today, His Majesty wants to open a public literary gathering and elect officials to fill the court. Our Zheng family’s opportunity is just around the corner.” Zheng Zihui smiled, “Do you all understand the responsibility on your shoulders?”
The sons spoke loudly: “We understand, and will not lose the face of the Zheng family, having studied hard for many years, it is all for this moment.”
Zheng Zihui: “Very good! When writing articles, it must have compliments, and if making a proposal, it must not offend the ruler.”
“The pride and lofty ideals can only be displayed after you’ve become officials of the court. Remember, do not believe yourself to be infallible.”
“If you can get acquainted with the sons of the other aristocratic families, you can get close, but not intimate.” Zheng Zihui said again, “The future of the Zheng family depends on you all.”
“This son shall be loyal to the Lord! Strive to be the best for our Zheng family!” Zheng Zihui’s eldest son declared.
Zheng Zihui slapped the table: “Good ambition!”
“My son will definitely ride the wind and rise up!” Zheng Zihui laughed, “Go! The Zheng family relies on you all!”
The literary gathering was held on time, in the side hall of the palace banquet room.
All the sons of the noble families in the capital came.
This was their chance, they would show their abilities in front of the monarch, and then be conferred an official post.
After all, when the new dynasty was just established, there was no time to hold the imperial examinations to find talented people. Now was their biggest opportunity.
The literary gathering was simple, Lin Yuan asked a question and everyone answered.
There was no need to write, just speak orally.
Lin Yuan’s question was not difficult.
He asked, “Why are you all come today?”
Someone below replied: “To serve the country!”
“For the benefit of the country!”
“For the well-being of the people!”
Only one person said: “To be famous all over the world!”
Everyone’s eyes landed on this person, this person had skin as white as jade, a tall and straight physique, like the posture of a bamboo, but what he said was extremely arrogant.
Immediately, someone asked: “What ability do you have? To be so arrogant? All the people who came here today are those who are familiar with poetry and books.”
This person: “Everyone is familiar with poetry and books, but so what?”
Everyone glared angrily: “The sages spoke! The way to govern the country!”
This person said again: “Oh, then you are all amazing, you can learn from books and govern the country on paper.”
“You! Which family are you from? With such a prideful tone, you’re not afraid of biting your tongue!”
This person cupped his hands and said: “The surname of this untalented one is Zhou, Zhou Rong.”
“And I wondered who it was? It turned out to be the famous and talented Zhou Eldest. Known as a genius and became famous at a young age. It’s a pity that one might be a genius when young, but one might not necessarily be a genius when older. Does the talented Zhou Eldest have a nickname?”
Zhou Rong: “The nickname is not decent.”
“Then I’ll give you a nickname, what do you think of Zhong Yong?” (TN: different characters but same sound for the characters that mean ‘mediocre’)
When the words fell, everyone laughed.
Zhou Rong was not angry, but said: “I heard that the tongue could turn into a sword, hurting people invisibly. This humble one has finally seen it in person.”
“Are you hinting that we are all narrow-minded people?”
“Zhou Rong! This here is the literary gathering of the Son of Heaven, there is no place for your impudence!”
“We came here to serve the country, you are here for your own fame and fortune, if I were you, I would be ashamed at this time.”
Zhou Rong: “Having learned civil and martial arts, using one’s capabilities to serve the imperial family, what is there to be ashamed of? You are not here to be officials?”
Everyone was stunned.
Zhou Rong also said: “That His Majesty can conquer the world, proves that His Majesty is broad-minded, and can tolerate the people of the world, and therefore can tolerate such an arrogant person as this humble one.”
Lin Yuan said to Song Shizhao who was beside him, “This person is interesting.”
Song Shizhao chuckled: “It’s grandstanding, but for the chance to attract the monarch’s gaze. I’m afraid that he won’t live up to his name.”
Lin Yuan nodded: “Mister’s words are reasonable.”
“Call him to come forward.” Lin Yuan ordered.
The eunuch led Zhou Rong over.
Lin Yuan asked him with a smile, “Zhou gongzi, do you have any advice?”
Zhou Rong bowed first, and waited for Lin Yuan to excuse him before saying, “Caomin do not dare to speak of advice, but caomin came to relieve Your Majesty’s worries.”
Lin Yuan asked again, “What worries do Zhen have?”
Zhou Rong: “Your Majesty exempted the common people from paying taxes for five years, in order to stabilize the world and allow the common people to recuperate. Caomin is grateful for Your Majesty’s compassion for the people, so caomin would like to share Your Majesty’s worries.”
“The aristocratic families have become entrenched in all areas and have deep roots. When Your Majesty called the sons of the aristocratic families, it is with the lure of illusory titles.”
“The aristocratic families of the capital can be dealt with by this method, but how about the aristocratic families of farther regions?”
Lin Yuan became serious: “Zhou gongzi, please speak.”
Zhou Rong: “Caomin is willing to run errands for Your Majesty, and the Zhou family will gather all our strength to share the worries for Your Majesty!”
Lin Yuan: “What request does gongzi have?”
Zhou Rong’s eyes flickered with a clever light: “Does Your Majesty think caomin has the ability to take the seat of Minister of Ceremonies (TN: in imperial China, one of the Nine Ministers)?”
Song Shizhao: “Presumptuous!”
Lin Yuan waved his hand: “Mister, don’t be angry.”
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“Zhou gongzi possess the ambition to be a great man, and Zhen must respond to it. If gongzi is successful, why not grant you the Glorious Grand Master (TN: honorific title during Tang and Qing times), let alone just the Minister of Ceremonies?”
“If you are not successful, then gongzi will have committed the crime of deceiving the emperor, and it will be difficult to guarantee the head on your shoulders.”
Zhou Rong immediately knelt down: “If caomin doesn’t succeed, caomin shall end one’s life personally!”
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