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Chapter 46: Offending the Entire Court, I Still Live Freely!
Three days later, at the residence of the imperial censor Yao Zheng, the lights were on and everyone was busy. An old woman was busily directing the loading of quilts onto a carriage.
“Put all these quilts on the carriage! The master’s body is weak and cannot withstand the bumpy ride, so make them thick and comfortable!” she ordered.
“This thing is no longer needed. Sell it tomorrow, and whatever price it fetches is fine!” she added.
“Hey, be careful with that! It’s the master’s favorite calligraphy and painting!” she scolded.
Yao Zheng, with his white hair, stood in front of the main hall with a sad and reluctant expression on his face. He had resigned from his official post and was going to retire in his hometown tomorrow. Leaving this mansion where he had lived for nearly 30 years, leaving this place where he had struggled for half of his life, he felt too much reluctance.
He could have stayed, but since he could no longer hold an official position, what was the point of staying? His ambitions and ideals were all in vain, so it was better to leave this place of controversy and not see or hear anything that would trouble his mind.
Just then, a servant rushed in anxiously and said, “Master, the new top scholar and the director of the Imperial Academy, Lin Beifan, is here to visit you!”
Yao Zheng was taken aback. He didn’t expect his political rival to come and see him before he left.
Yao’s wife, the old woman, was angry and said, “He caused our master to end up like this, and he still has the nerve to come here? Go and tell him we won’t see him! Show him out the door!”
Yao Zheng sighed and said, “Forget it, we were colleagues after all. I’ll see him.”
In a short while, Lin Beifan arrived with a jar of wine and a food box, smiling from ear to ear. He was surprised to see everything packed up and said, “Mr. Yao, are you leaving?”
“Can I stay? I have no official position and no job here. Staying here would only make people disgusted with me,” Yao Zheng sarcastically replied.
“That’s not true! We were colleagues after all, and we may have different political views and debate and argue with each other in court. However, as friends, we can still be friendly with each other!” Lin Beifan said with a smile.
Looking at Lin Beifan’s smiling face, Yao Zheng’s eyes were complicated. “You are the first person to visit me since I resigned,” he said, his voice filled with sadness.
As they say, when a person leaves, the tea cools quickly. But it had never cooled so quickly before. Having served as an official for thirty years, Yao was well-known both inside and outside the court, and had a wide circle of acquaintances. But since he resigned three days ago, not a single colleague had come to visit him. Instead, it was the corrupt official Lin Beifan who had accused him several times who came to visit him. Wasn’t it ironic?
“I am honored beyond words! I have prepared some wine and dishes, would you like to have a drink?”
Yao Zheng pondered for a moment and said, “Sure, I also want to chat with you!”
The two entered the study and set up some snacks and wine. As soon as the wine jug was opened, the fragrance of the wine immediately filled the room, like a hundred flowers in full bloom.
“This is the Hundred Flowers Brew!” Yao Zheng was amazed, he did not expect Lin Beifan to bring such a top-notch wine.
“It is indeed Hundred Flowers Brew, just delivered from the palace today! But good wine needs good company, so I brought it over specially. Let’s enjoy it together!” Lin Beifan smiled as he poured the wine.
“You have some conscience, pour more and fill it up!” Yao Zheng sniffed and was very intoxicated.
“Don’t worry, today I’ll let you drink your fill!” Lin Beifan laughed. After a few glasses of wine, the relationship between the two eased considerably. Lin Beifan asked Yao Zheng about his doubts.
“To be honest, Mr. Yao, I really can’t understand why you have always targeted me,” Lin Beifan asked puzzledly.
“There are so many corrupt officials and scoundrels in the court, why do you come after a newcomer like me?”
While drinking, Yao Zheng replied with self-mockery, “Do you think I don’t want to? I have been struggling for 30 years, from my prime to now with white hair all over my head! The result is that they climb higher and higher, while I am still stuck in the same place! Have you ever experienced this kind of despair?”
“Now you know why I have to fight you so hard!”
Yao Zheng looked deeply at Lin Beifan and said, “Because I am afraid that you will grow up to be another corrupt official and power-hungry person! So while your wings are not fully grown, I’m bringing you down! But instead of defeating you, I lost my official position, and you are even more terrifying than them!”
Lin Beifan shook his head, “That’s because your approach is too rigid and not effective!”
“Are you suggesting that I should be like you, swimming with the tide?” Yao Zheng sneered.
“What’s wrong with that? Look at me now, I’m living very comfortably!” Lin Beifan smiled, “I have good wine, good food, endless money, and even the favor of the empress! Even if I offend all the officials and generals in the court, I’m still living a carefree life!”
“No matter what others do, I cannot do such things!” Yao Zheng poured himself a glass of wine and said, “Sir Lin, I also have a question for you!”
“Please ask, Mr. Yao!”
“Sir Lin, you keep saying that you love the Great Wu, either serving the empress with all your heart or dying for her. Then why did you embezzle so much silver? And what are you going to do with so much silver?”
“Mr. Yao, your question is a bit…”
“What? Can’t answer or too embarrassed to answer?” Yao Zheng mocked.
“Of course not!” Lin Beifan sat up straight, looking serious. “Let me tell you, Mr. Yao. Great Wu, which allowed me to embezzle so much silver, why wouldn’t I love it?”
Yao Zheng: “Cough….”
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