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Chapter 237: You Clearly Understand, Don’t Pretend Otherwise!
Although Lin Beifan held a position as a local official, he couldn’t take a leave during the New Year, but his official duties were significantly reduced. He dealt with urgent matters first and postponed other tasks until after the New Year.
In this way, he managed to finish all his work within just two to three hours each day, leaving the rest of the time for leisure and preparing for the New Year.
The common people also followed a similar pattern – if there were no urgent matters, they would not bother reporting to the authorities until after the New Year.
During this time, there was an unprecedented understanding between officials and the public.
With great anticipation, New Year’s Day finally arrived.
This New Year’s Day was different from what modern people knew. In modern times, New Year’s Day is the first day of the Gregorian calendar, just an ordinary holiday. However, here, New Year’s Day corresponds to the first day of the lunar calendar, signifying the beginning of a new year.
Every New Year’s Day, the imperial court would hold a grand court assembly.
This grand court assembly was a traditional event that strengthened the connection between the emperor and his officials, enhancing the cohesion of the court. It also allowed the officials to show their gratitude for the emperor’s benevolence and wholeheartedly serve the court.
The grand court assembly consisted of two main parts. In the first half, the officials offered their blessings to the emperor and presented gifts. In the latter half, the emperor rewarded the officials and hosted a banquet for them.
On that day, the officials gathered to offer their blessings to the empress.
Everyone held gifts and, according to their ranks, paid their respects to the empress. Lin Beifan was attending the grand court assembly for the first time and felt a bit anxious. He asked in a low voice, “Master Guo, it’s my first time attending the assembly! Are there any particular customs when paying respects to Her Majesty? I don’t quite understand. Could you enlighten me?”
“With pleasure!” Guo, the head of the Six Doors, smiled and said, “Paying respects to Her Majesty is a matter of great importance, especially when it comes to the gifts!”
“What should be paid attention to regarding the gifts? Please, tell me,” Lin Beifan humbly asked for advice.
“First of all, the gifts must be innovative!” Guo chuckled, “As the ruler of the world, Her Majesty has seen all kinds of wealth and treasures. Therefore, common items like gold, silver, and jewels should not be given as gifts. If you want to give something, it should be something unique and rare, something that Her Majesty doesn’t possess. Only then can you win her favor!”
Lin Beifan nodded, “That makes sense.”
Among the officials who paid their respects earlier, not one of them presented gold, silver, or jewels. After all, no matter how good or valuable the gift was, could it surpass what the palace had to offer? The empress had grown tired of such common presents!
“Secondly, the gifts must be sincere!”
“What do you mean by sincerity?” Lin Beifan asked again.
“The so-called sincerity refers to treasures that are not easily obtainable,” Guo, the head of the Six Doors, said with a smile. “For example, the Jade Guanyin that Lord Gao just presented! This Jade Guanyin is made of ordinary white jade and doesn’t have anything particularly unique about it. However, Lord Gao mentioned that it was crafted by nine skilled artisans and took seven months to complete, which makes it quite rare and shows his sincerity!”
Lin Beifan exclaimed, “That makes a lot of sense!”
“Thirdly, the gifts should cater to Her Majesty’s preferences,” Guo continued. “We should give her what she likes to win her favor. So, I specially prepared this gift to present to Her Majesty!”
Curious, Lin Beifan asked, “Master Guo, what did you prepare?”
“Please have a look, Lord Lin!” Guo gently lifted the red cloth, revealing a glimpse of the gift.
To Lin Beifan’s surprise, inside the cloth was a potted plant with several beautiful and unique flowers. Guo whispered, “I heard that Her Majesty has been fond of flowers lately, and she has cultivated many exotic flowers in the garden. So, I specifically prepared this potted Camellia called ‘Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea.’ It’s a grafted plant, and each flower is different and gorgeous, hence the name.”
“This gift is innovative, sincere, and aligns with Her Majesty’s preferences!” Lin Beifan gave a thumbs-up. “Master Guo, you are truly remarkable, and I admire you!”
Guo, feeling pleased, chuckled, “Haha, you flatter me, Lord Lin! By the way, what gift are you planning to present to Her Majesty?”
Looking at his own gift, Lin Beifan looked embarrassed and said, “I haven’t prepared enough, so I won’t embarrass myself by presenting it!”
Guo understood and comforted him, “Lord Lin, there’s no need to worry! It’s your first time attending the grand court assembly, and we all understand that you might not have been fully prepared. Moreover, you’ve achieved so much this year, and Her Majesty holds you in high regard. She won’t blame you for this. As long as you have good intentions, it will be enough.”
“Thank you for your consolation, Master Guo. I feel much better now,” Lin Beifan expressed his gratitude.
The line of officials continued to present their gifts, and finally, it was Guo’s turn. He offered the potted Camellia named ‘Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea,’ which indeed pleased the empress.
“I really like this ‘Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea.’ Sir Guo, you’ve shown your thoughtfulness!” praised the empress.
“Thank you for your praise, Your Majesty. I dare not accept such an honor,” Guo humbly replied.
For a moment, Guo became the center of attention with his outstanding gift.
Finally, it was Lin Beifan’s turn. He carried a covered bucket and approached the empress.
The empress and all the officials were curious about the gift Lin Beifan was about to present.
The empress smiled and asked, “Sir Lin, what is this gift of yours that requires a bucket for its presentation?”
“Your Majesty, please have a look!” Lin Beifan unveiled the red cloth, revealing a peculiar and extremely ugly object inside the bucket.
The officials were shocked, and murmurs filled the hall!
One elderly official pointed at Lin Beifan and angrily exclaimed, “Sir Lin, you’re presenting this to Her Majesty?”
“Yes!” Lin Beifan nodded with a smile.
“How can you offer such a humble thing to Her Majesty? It’s obvious that you don’t hold her in high regard!” the other official scolded.
Lin Beifan raised his voice and asked, “What is this?”
“It’s ginger!” the official replied after a moment of thought. “Cooking ginger!”
Lin Beifan asked again, “How does this ginger look?”
The official responded, “Layer upon layer, like a mountain!”
“Exactly! This is the gift I’m presenting to Her Majesty!” Lin Beifan pushed the bucket of ginger in front of the empress and proclaimed loudly, “I present to Your Majesty… a Unified Kingdom (a bucket of ‘Ginger Mountain’)!”
The officials were shocked once again!
The empress rose from her seat, delighted, and exclaimed, “Wonderful! Minister Lin, this gift of yours is truly amazing; it has touched the depths of my heart! I really love it! Quickly, take this ‘Ginger Mountain’ and make dishes with it. I want to consume this unified kingdom! Haha!”
“What Your Majesty said is absolutely right!” Lin Beifan smiled brightly.
The head of the Six Doors, Guo, who was standing beside him, was dumbfounded!
This gift is so thoughtful and ingenious, and it even saves a lot of money!
Even if I wrack my brain, I couldn’t come up with such a great gift!
Guo gave Lin Beifan a resentful glare. “You pretend not to understand, but you clearly understand it very well!”
Next, the empress hosted a banquet for the officials.
Delicacies from the mountains and seas, palace wine, and endless enjoyment.
There was also a palace dance troupe, playing musical instruments, singing, and dancing to entertain everyone.
At this moment, all the officials relaxed. They enjoyed the performances while savoring the delicious food and wine. Even if they were usually political opponents, setting traps for each other, today they smiled and toasted each other.
Grudges were set aside for the moment. They were determined to celebrate the New Year well, and after the New Year, they could deal with everything again!
Even the Minister of Personnel, Gao Tianyao, who usually didn’t get along with Lin Beifan, frequently toasted and drank, his face full of smiles, in a good mood.
Seeing Lin Beifan not touching his chopsticks or wine, Gao Tianyao curiously asked, “Sir Lin, why aren’t you drinking this excellent wine?”
“Thank you for your kindness, Lord Gao. But I had some last night!” Lin Beifan smiled.
Gao Tianyao: “…”
Wow, he feels like he’s been shown up!
Even the empress rarely relaxed.
She watched the performances with mixed emotions, thinking that another year had passed. This year was not easy at all!
The demon cult caused trouble, starting an uprising, attempting to overthrow the court!
Two Grandmasters fought in the capital!
The 30,000 soldiers in Tangzhou rebelled against corrupt officials and became insurgents!
There were bandit troubles in the Northern Hebei, with rampant arson and looting!
The Wuxi Duke of the West and the Dayue Dynasty conspired to launch an attack against Wu!
A flood occurred in the south, and the selfish Prince of Southern Jiang led to millions of refugees becoming displaced, leaving the burden to the court!
And the martial world, the Master of Tianmen, had ambitious plans to seize power!
If any of these matters were not handled properly, unimaginable consequences would follow.
The court was on the verge of collapse and could not withstand any further turmoil!
But fortunately, they had him!
The empress couldn’t help but look at Lin Beifan with admiration in her eyes.
It was him who exposed the demonic cult’s manipulation and extinguished the flames of the uprising!
It was him who persuaded the two young martial arts masters to leave the capital, saving it from disaster!
It was him who persuaded the 30,000 rebels to surrender, resolving the internal strife!
It was him who cleverly dealt with the bandit problem!
It was him who strategized and achieved victory from a thousand miles away, severely damaging the military power of the Wuxi Duke and the Dayue Dynasty, resolving a war!
It was him who rushed to Southern Jiang to rescue millions of refugees, using cement to solve their food, clothing, shelter, and transportation problems, compensating for all the losses incurred by the court and making it stronger!
It was him who used ingenious methods to destroy Tianmen and severely weaken the power of the martial world factions!
It was all because of him!
Although this year had been filled with disasters and challenges, the court managed to maintain a stable development and steadily grow stronger. In comparison, the other vassal kings became weaker and posed less of a threat to the court.
All of this was because of him!
With him by her side, she wouldn’t be isolated in the court. She wouldn’t be so passive facing officials who were loyal in appearance but disloyal in heart. Her confidence and power grew, and the officials became more obedient!
All of this was because of him!
He allowed her to have sufficient financial resources to develop her own forces!
With him by her side, she wouldn’t be powerless in the face of the mysterious and unpredictable future!
Without Lin Beifan, there wouldn’t be the current favorable situation!
He was so selfless and fearless, devoting so much for Great Wu!
But what she could give in return was too little!
Thinking of this, the empress felt ashamed. She raised a cup of wine and solemnly said to Lin Beifan, “Sir Lin, I toast to you and thank you for everything you’ve done for me and for Great Wu!”
Lin Beifan quickly lifted his cup, “Your Majesty, your praise is too much. This is what I should do as a subject!”
The empress smiled faintly and shook her head. How could this be what you should do?
Don’t think I don’t know that you, little bastard, have been preparing to run away all this time!
But I won’t let you leave!
Stay here; this is where you belong!
Great Wu cannot be without you!
I, cannot be without you!
In Chinese wordplay, the relationship between “Ginger Mountain” (姜山, jiāng shān) and “Unified Kingdom” (一统江山, yī tǒng jiāng shān) is a homophonic pun.
“姜山” (Ginger Mountain) and “一统江山” (Unified Kingdom) sound very similar when pronounced in Mandarin. The phrase “一统江山” means to unify and govern the entire country, signifying the ruler’s complete control over the land. It is often used to describe an emperor or a ruler who has successfully conquered and united all the different regions of the country under one rule.
By presenting a bucket of ginger and humorously referring to it as “一统江山” (Unified Kingdom), Lin Beifan cleverly plays with the homophonic nature of the words. The pun creates a light-hearted and witty moment during the gift-giving ceremony, amusing the empress and the officials, and showcasing Lin Beifan’s cleverness and sense of humor.