Chapter: 3 .3
The Shen family’s father and son not only went back home unscathed, Shen Yi Bin received the Emperor’s decree, saying that after the investigation was finished, he had to participate in the palace exam. It seemed that if he didn’t seize the champion position, he couldn’t become an official in the future.
This showed the Tian Chen Emperor’s high expectations for Shen Yi Bin. As long as he really got top marks in the imperial examinations, it would be easy to achieve meteoric success and reach the highest official positions in the future.
Shen mother turned several laps around her son, happily saying, “I knew my son was the world’s most intelligent son, since he was small, he was clever.”
Shen father recalled his son’s childhood cleverness, and also sighed for a while. He thought his son was a pitiful Zhong Yong, how could he foresee that he was actually deliberately concealed. Thinking about it, he really didn’t know whether to laugh or get angry.
“Yi Bin, father thought about it, I think you were right, the Seventh Prince is too unrighteous. Since your sister is no longer beloved, we should switch alliance to another prince.” Shen father stroked his beard and sighed.
“But if we don’t help the Seventh Prince, wouldn’t Qiao Dan’s life in his residence be even more difficult?” Shen mother’s eyes were red with worry.
“Mother, you’ve misunderstood, as long as the Shen family doesn’t fall, the Seventh Prince wouldn’t dare mistreat sister. Plus, this son heard that the Seventh Prince now only pampers Concubine Xie-shi, the other women are treated as air. If we support the Seventh Prince, the one who gains maximum benefit will not be sister, but the pampered Xie-shi. So, why should we do such a thankless thing?” Zhou Yun Sheng placatingly patted the back of Shen mother’s hand.
Shen mother thought for a moment, finding his words reasonable. She also thought about how the Seventh Prince refused to help them, and even denounced and confined her daughter. The Shen family was really being kicked while it was down, so she no longer opposed.
Because the palace eunuch stole the exam question handwritten by the emperor, the Tian Chen Emperor unrestrainedly purged the inner palace. He disposed of all the spies planted by every factions, so the Seventh Prince still didn’t know that the earth-shattering tax policy was actually written by the unremarkable Shen Yi Bin.
Xie Yu Rou was reborn, she’d long since made friends with the talented ministers who supported the Seventh Prince in her past life. One of whom was Lin Wenjie, whose proxy essays for numerous imperial exam candidates made him world famous.
When she learned that the emperor had an exceedingly wonderful policy essay in hand, and was searching Beijing for the author, she mentioned Lin Wenjie to the Seventh Prince, only saying that she accidentally found an amazingly talented person, prompting the Seventh Prince to investigate.
The Seventh Prince was trying to please his imperial father , but he was also trying to recruit a talented individual, so he personally searched for Lin Wenjie.
Lin Wenjie was a concubine’s son, and he was quite suppressed by the first wife. He wanted to participate in this session of the civil service exams, but the first wife refused to find a guarantor for him, and also instructed the servants to burn his various correspondence letters, so that he had no way out.
He had a miserable life, and had no choice but to write poetry to earn money. Over time, his name spread to all corners. As the civil service exams neared, people flocked to his door for essays, all on the subject of ‘Zu Yong Diao’. They repeatedly warned him not to publicize the matter, and to never write the same essay in a public context. The price offers were many tens of thousands, and a few thousands.
Lin Wenjie was very clever, quickly discerning the key points. So, he devoted himself to study for a few days and wrote a wonderful essay, then simultaneously sold it to many exam candidates. He did so in order to escalate the situation, so the Tian Chen Emperor would notice him.
Therefore, when the Seventh Prince came to his door, he was already wearing his best scholarly robe to warmly welcome him in.
The Seventh Prince discussed the classics with him, feeling that he was really extraordinarily educated, then he explained his purpose for visiting. Lin Wenjie’s essay had already spread amongst the examiners, then spread around the imperial court, but Zhou Yun Sheng’s essay had been cautiously collected by the Tian Chen Emperor, he’d also warned the examiner who’d discovered the essay to not publicize it, so people with ulterior motives couldn’t perform mischief. As a result, the Seventh Prince only knew about Lin Wenjie’s policy essay, he didn’t know that there was one far more superior to it.
The two men matched essays, Lin Wenjie pretended to be fearful, “The original “Zu Yong Diao” essay was actually written here, cao min is ignorant, cao min deserves death!”
The Seventh Prince quickly helped him up, explaining that his imperial father didn’t blame him, but was actually continuously searching for him, wanting to order him to efficiently serve in the court. Lin Wenjie’s heart was smirking in satisfaction, but he pretended to decline a few times before following the Seventh Prince to the palace.
In Qin Zheng Hall, the Tian Chen Emperor was silent, only sizing up Lin Wenjie with gloomy eyes. When Lin Wenjie’s cold sweat was resembling a waterfall, he finally opened: “Since you say that the essay was written by you, can you recite it for me?”
Lin Wenjie composed himself, then recited the essay after a respectful “at your Imperial Majesty’s command”.
The Tian Chen Emperor’s cold expression turned into contempt, followed by a little pity. If Zhou Yun Sheng’s excellent essay didn’t exist, the Tian Chen Emperor would’ve handpicked this essay as the best and brightest. But he had also been very curious about the writer of the other essay, and even planned to place him in an important position if he had good character. However, this person heard that there was an outstanding essay in the municipal exams and hastily rushed to the palace to claim it. Anyone could see that his egoistic heart was very heavy, and he thought very highly of himself. Compared to the free and laidback, pure and natural Shen Yi Bin, he was simply unsightly.
“Enough, this essay is good, but not good enough to impress me. You’ve learned well, but you’re still somewhat shortsighted and hasty.” The Tian Chen Emperor picked the well-thumbed essay off the table and handed it to a nearby attendant, “Gaining knowledge requires humbleness; Let him take a look at this, so he learns where he lost.”
Lin Wenjie knew that something had gone wrong, he fought against his fear to take the essay and scan it, after a while, he paled.
“Young Seven, you look too.” The Tian Chen Emperor waved his sleeves.
The Seventh Prince did according to his words, after reading, he was extremely shocked.
“Expressive, brilliant, elegant, such remarkable work, dare I ask Imperial Father which learned scholar wrote this?” The Seventh Prince sincerely bowed down low.
“Was it not your brother-in-law?” The Tian Chen Emperor laughed heartily and said, “He wanted more time to play, so he actually behaved foolishly in front of Official Shen for a few years. If he was not forced into a desperate situation, I don’t know how long he would’ve stayed hidden.”
The Seventh Prince’s heart jumped fiercely, stunned, he raised his head to look towards the imperial throne.
The Tian Chen Emperor was too lazy to explain, dismissing, “I am tired, you may leave. Whenever you study, don’t forget to cultivate your heart. Remember that there are people beyond people, and heavens beyond heavens.”
Lin Wenjie was deathly ashamed, he repeatedly kowtowed, then retreated while covering his face. The Seventh Prince ordered someone to send him home, no longer concerned with recruiting him. Sitting in the carriage, he carefully recalled that policy essay.
Such a beautiful essay came from Shen Yi Bin’s hand, even if he was beaten to death, he would never expect that. However, his imperial father was wise and brilliant, very decisive, if he said yes, then it was certainly not wrong.
He thought of the disgraceful situation that had just occurred because of his desire for his imperial father’s praise; He thought of his imperial father’s great esteem for Shen Yi Bin; He thought of his cold treatment of Shen Qiao Dan, and how he didn’t lift a finger to help the Shen family. By now, the Shen family must’ve already cast him out of their hearts. The Seventh Prince’s cheeks reddened, like he’d received dozens of ruthless slaps, his cheeks even felt a dull ache.
Shen Yi Bin would receive a high position, and Shen Hui was a first class talented official in DaZhou. To lose the Shen family’s father and son’s support was no different than losing two capable assistants. The Seventh Prince’s regret was insurmountable, he also hated Xie Yu Rou who’d misled him. After he returned to the palace, he naturally rebuked her.
She’d thought she’d ruined Shen Hui’s career; how could she anticipate that Shen Yi Bin would emerge, unexpectedly even more capable than Shen Hui. Xie Yu Rou carefully recalled Shen Yi Bin’s last life. In her memory, he was a true dandy, the slightest bit of talent for learning couldn’t be seen.
Shen Yi Bin loved to play around, in the last life, Shen Hui’s position couldn’t be shaken, so he was naturally happy to live free. In this life, she forced him into a dead end, so he showed off his abilities. Could it be, her unrestrained actions lead to this mutation? Then in the future, wouldn’t more unforeseen events occur? Without the Shen family’s support, could the Seventh Prince still smoothly ascend the throne?
Thinking of this, Xie Yu Rou panicked. She cursed herself for acting too carelessly, she’d actually picked up a stone to crush her own feet. But then she recalled that she’d carved out an escape route with the Crown Prince a long time ago, and because of this, no matter how many courtiers supported the Crown Prince, he would dig his own grave sooner or later. At this, her calm mood returned.
The truth about the fraud case finally came to light, and a large number of the Crown Prince’s subordinates were ousted. The Crown Prince himself was also severely reprimanded by the Tian Chen Emperor in front of numerous court officials, losing all face.
After two days of rest and reorganization, the Tian Chen Emperor issued an Imperial edict that ordered the tribute courtyard to reopen the municipal exam.
Zhou Yun Sheng took first place without suspense, smoothly qualifying for the palace exam. This time, the topic of the palace exam was still very simple, only three words – the four classes. The enormously complex content, abstract concept, and the difficulty of establishing the topic caused many students to frown in worry. For a very long time, they didn’t dare write.
Zhou Yun Sheng closed his eyes for a moment, and when he re-opened them, his writing flowed like water, finishing in one go- the four categories of people, the country’s pillars… therefore, men shouldn’t hold more than one official post, officials shouldn’t double work, the four classes, different from countryside to province, therefore, the agricultural eloquence of the farmers, intellectual words and deeds of the scholar, the workmanship of the artisan, the skillful tongue of merchants.…
He abandoned the currently popular ‘land owners are noble, merchants are lowly’ views, and comprehensively expounded on the contribution to societal progress the various occupations achieved, especially the major role business development played in the country’s rise, showing off his abilities between words.
Most of the essays written during the palace examinations attached a lot of importance to stability, preferring moderation over poking the emperor’s sore spots. But Zhou Yun Sheng’s analysis through 007 showed him the reason why the Tian Chen Emperor wanted to reform the tax system, it was actually in order to re-open the sea port, preparing to welcome foreign trade. This essay not only didn’t poke his sore spots, it poked his itchy spots.
Sure enough, when the Tian Chen Emperor came to his table, he only needed to read the first two lines before becoming transfixed, waiting until the full text was completed, then he couldn’t help but applaud.
All the other candidates looked over; they could already figure out who was this section’s champion.
When the palace exam had barely ended, the Tian Chen Emperor impatiently summoned Zhou Yun Sheng. They debated in Qin Zheng Hall, until the day turned dark, then he reluctantly let him leave.
Three days later, an imperial edict came down, sure enough, Shen Yi Bin was the campion, furthermore, he was awarded the official position of an academician in the Imperial Hanlin Academy. It was only the first step in his career, yet he already became a fifth ranked minister in the emperor’s inner circle. He was only eighteen, not yet twenty, if he properly learned through experience for a few years, he’d become prime minister someday.
Today’s Shen Yi Bin became the hottest figure in Beijing, the people dropping by to propose marriage almost wore out the Shen family’s threshold.
Zhou Yun Sheng used ‘career first, family later’ as an excuse to reject them all. Shen father and Shen mother were now wishing they could dote on him to death, naturally, whatever he said wouldn’t be rejected.
The Seventh Prince’s residence.
The Seventh Prince was looking through Shen Qiao Dan’s gift list, he felt that it was inappropriate, and increased it by 30%, opening warmly, “After Yi Bin joins the imperial academy, communication with others can’t be avoided. As his sister, you should prepare more things that aid in socializing for him.”
“Concubine understands, concubine will go take a look at the treasury once more.” Shen Qiao Dan smiled sweetly, but her eyes no longer held even a little bit of camaraderie for the Seventh Prince. She already knew that she had been sterilized by drugs, she had long lost her will to fight for favor. But as long as her family was influential, her status in the Seventh Prince’s residence couldn’t be shaken. Rather than trying to please the Seventh Prince, it would be better to increase the affection between her and her brother, that was something she could rely on for a lifetime.
Shen Qiao Dan left the main hall and ran into the haggard faced Xie Yu Rou, she couldn’t help but smile scornfully. So what if you’re favored again? As long as my Shen family doesn’t fall, you cannot surpass me! All your past scheming, sooner or later, they’ll be paid back!
Pitiful Zhong Yong- child prodigy who grew up to be a normal person
Cao min– Wild grass man/ grass roots. He’s calling himself a lowly civilian. I guess the equivalent would be calling yourself a country gal/boy.
Egoistic heart– Changed from utilitarian to avoid confusion. It’s less ‘the good of the many outweigh the few’, and more ‘the good of one outweighs the many’. It means the strong desire for fame and fortune.
People beyond people, and heavens beyond heavens– there’s always someone better than you out there.
Four classes – Wikipedia “…a hierarchic social class structure developed in ancient China by either Confucian or Legalist scholars as far back as the late Zhou Dynasty and is considered a central part of the feudalism social structure” , Wiktionary “the four occupations of ancient China: scholars, farmers, artisans and merchants.”
fifth ranked- the officials are ranked 1-9, 1 being the highest. There’s more to it, but it doesn’t affect the story