Chapter 503 - Staying in Mingshan Academy

Shang Zhuo's words immediately made his colleague unhappy. Someone bumped his shoulder roughly. "Shang Zhuo, what are you saying? How could you say that of Teacher? We don't speak ill of our own."

"That's right, why are you siding with them?" Other schoolmates all started to scold him, not understanding why he would help outsiders and criticize his own teacher in public.

Lin Shu was already feeling irritable. Upon hearing the criticisms, he immediately glared at the normally stoic Shang Zhuo with gritted teeth and raised a clenched fist. If he were not his study partner, he would definitely give him a severe beating!

In contrast with the fierce criticism of others, Jing Rong looked at Shang Zhuo with appreciation, thinking, this is truly an intelligent man! 

Shang Zhuo didn’t take notice of the criticism but boldly looked Jing Rong in the eye. “Though Teacher has many oddities, willingness to learn starts from good etiquette, being rude to others starts from a sharp manner. Although Teacher follows Confucianism rigorously and meticulously, his strictness represents respect to the Way. Even if one cannot do as one desires, our learning is never outdated and respects ancient literature. Then again, the lofty principles in those books have always been useless and inaccessible, could you then still say that it was poorly taught? Our teacher is wise and knowledgeable - even though he appears arrogant, he is actually a true teacher of the Confucian principles.”

The audience was stunned. 

Shang Zhuo’s work at the Academy couldn’t be considered outstanding, but the philosophical speech he gave was undeniably impressive and attracted Ji Yunshu’s attention. Naturally, she gave him a second look. This man appeared gentle and kind, with the grace of a scholar and without the arrogant airs of those from wealthy families. Additionally, she noticed that the other four in the group were clenching soggy copies of their books - only his had been tucked away in his clothes, stained by nary a single drop of rain. A true scholar!

Shang Zhuo's words had Jing Rong nodding in agreement. "That's right, Teacher Yu is a true teacher of the divine Way. Even though he is eccentric, he's a rare sage. In the last few decades, two of the top three scholars of Great Lin were students of Teacher Yu. Lord Cao and Lord Liu of the current Ministry of Personnel Records Department, Lord Jiang Chen of the Ministry of Rites, Lord Lin Si the scribe of Hanlin Academy, and Lord Bing of the Scribes’ Academy; they all are students of Teacher Yu. Even the current Emperor calls him teacher. However bad his reputation is, he is unparalleled with regard to his knowledge and understanding of literature and philosophy.” 

The crowd was shocked into silence once again. This person is truly weird - before, he was denigrating Teacher Yu, yet turned around to praise him to the skies in the next breath. How incomprehensible! 

Lin Shu gave him a look. "Your opinion certainly changes very quickly."

Jing Rong smiled. 

Shang Zhuo smiled as well. "Actually, it's not that this one's opinion changes quickly, but that he has not finished speaking." 

He cupped his hands and gave Jing Rong a deferential nod. "Shang Zhuo is not talented and prematurely said the second half of what you wanted to express. Please forgive my ignorant interpretation." 

An extremely intelligent person!

Jing Rong was greatly appreciative of his wit and strode in front of him. "Your name is Shang Zhuo?"

"That's right."

"You appear more mature than your colleagues." 

"Thank you for the compliment."

After some contemplation, Jing Rong spoke again, "If I recall correctly, the spring entrance exams originally scheduled for March were delayed until July due to the demise of the Crown Prince. Looking at the date, you should be entering the capital for your exams in less than a month. Why aren't you studying in school then?" 

"Teacher had us go down the mountain to buy some books, precisely because we will head to the capital soon. Who knew that we would be caught by the rain on our way back." 

"Oh…" He nodded and continued, "The palace test is right after the test in July; you are all students of Mingshan Academy's Teacher Yu - I believe that some of you will definitely receive an award for the top three scholars." 

Shang Zhuo modestly replied, "Thank you for your kind words." 

In his corner of the pavilion, Mo Ruo leisurely uncorked his ever-present flask of wine and took several gulps. The fumes from the wine swirled with the fresh scent of rainwater, permeating the air within to create a fresh and sweet fragrance. 

Only Lin Shu wrinkled his brows and pinched his nose, glaring in Mo Ruo's direction with disdain.

Mo Ruo smiled. "I don't think this rain will stop anytime soon. Since Mingshan Academy is just up the road, why don't we travel a little more and spend the night there before setting out again in the morning?"

"Our academy never takes in stragglers," Lin Shu huffed frostily.

"The decision to take in people lies with your Teacher Yu. He may decide not to take in most travelers; but for us, he wouldn't dare to refuse."

"How arrogant."

Mo Ruo laughed and took another gulp of wine without elaborating further.

Jing Rong agreed with Mo Ruo. The Northern terrain was difficult and further complicated by the rain. If they traveled through the night, there would be a high risk of accidents or other troubles. It would be better to stay at Mingshan Academy for the night. Thus, he instructed Lang Po, "We'll set off for Mingshan Academy when the rain eases up."

"Should I inform Teacher Yu in advance?"

"No need. Give him a surprise."


Surprise? It'd be a mercy if you didn't scare him halfway into his grave! Take pity on the old man in his twilight years. 

Jing Rong intended to offer the students a lift in the carriage when the rain let up, but they were stubborn and ran towards the academy, hugging their damp books. Mingshan Academy was not far away; they just took a leisurely ride of half a stick of incense time.

Lin Shu and his group arrived at the academy first. They immediately looked for Teacher Yu once they changed into clean clothes. 

At that time, Teacher Yu was having a nap in the study. He was hunched over in the pear blossom chair, still clutching a long wooden ruler. His head was hanging so low that his face was barely visible - only his snow-white hair and long beard could be seen. 

In the room, the chirping of sparrows could be heard mingling with the gentle pitter-patter of rain. Together it created a perfect soundtrack for an afternoon nap. 

"Teacher," Lin Shu approached him with light steps as he called out. 

No response. 

"Teacher," he called out again. 

Only then did Teacher Yu stir and raise his head. He stroked his long white beard and stared at the person in front of him with slitted eyes.

"You're back." His voice was very low and hoarse.


"Bought all the books?"

"We bought the books...but it was pouring outside and many of the books got wet."

"Oh?" Teacher Yu hummed and cracked his neck lazily, the very picture of a leisurely old man. He glared at Lin Shu again. "Why are you still here then? Hurry up and go dry the books." 

Lin Shu fidgeted for a moment.

Teacher Yu put down the wooden ruler on the desk. "Is there something else?"

"Teacher, there's a group of people from the outside heading towards the Academy, wanting to lodge here for the night."

Lodge here for the night? 

Teacher Yu's wrinkled face immediately darkened. He waved a sleeve in dismissal. "Chase them away."

Lin Shu smiled to himself. "Yes, this student will chase them away right now." He bowed again in farewell and headed outside. 

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

ChouFleur's Thoughts

Bonus chapter! 2 more to come this weekend and an advance chapter if I can figure it out...

Translator: ChouFleur, Editor: Dray