C32 – Venerable People Came
After a good night’s sleep, Zuo Shaoqing got up in a comfortable mood. He washed his face and rinsed his mouth while listening to Nanny Liu nagging, simply to make him pay attention to his safety on the road, to put on more clothes and eat more. After nagging, he went back to nagging at Luo Xiaoliu.
Zuo Shaoqing had never felt that Nanny Liu was such a irritating woman. In his previous life, when Nanny Liu was chased away, he had never been cared for so much.
Looking at the strands of white hair on Nanny Liu’s temples, he made a decision in her heart. In this life, he would definitely give Nanny Liu the best possible life. She would never let anyone hurt her again.
After eating breakfast, the butler from Zuo’s Mansion sent him 10 taels of silver as a snooker, and also arranged a carriage for him. He said that the Madam had specially taken care of him after considering his “injury not yet healed”.
In his previous life, he didn’t have such treatment, so Zuo Shaoqing’s face was naturally full of gratitude. He coldly snorted in his heart: “This Mrs. Xue is worried that someone will say something after he is seen walking out of the door, right?”
Because he was not fit to be a coachman, Luo Xiaoliu had no choice but to go up in the battle himself, and with strange movements, carried his family’s Third Master Zuo on the road.
When he just came out of Youuxi Town, he saw Qu Changqing waiting there. Qu Family was not very famous in Youuxi Town, it was only the little rich’s home, but from Qu Changqing’s status, he had brought a coachman, two bookkeepers, and a woman with him.
“Sorry for making Brother Qu wait.” Zuo Shaoqing jumped down from the carriage, cupped his hands and said to Qu Changqing.
“No worries, we just arrived too. From here to Changping County, it’s less than a hundred miles. We can reach there before it gets dark if we hurry.”
“This is my first time travelling so I hope Brother Qu can take care of me.”
“Brother, you’re too polite.” Brother, you’re too courteous. Qu Changqing strongly invited Zuo Shaoqing to ride with him in the same carriage. Zuo Shaoqing refused because he didn’t want to get too close to him due to his body’s discomfort.
However, after seeing Luo Xiaoliu’s unreliable driving skills, Qu Changqing still generously gave up the old woman who knew how to drive a car and took over the job.
The two carriages drove on together, and along the way, there were still many poor scholars carrying bags on their back and walking on their legs. Qu Changqing was kind, so he invited a few of them to get on the carriage.
Zuo Shaoqing leaned comfortably on the thick mattress of the carriage as he ate the pastries that Luo Xiaoliu passed to him.
Luo Xiaoliu heard the laughter from the car beside him. He glanced at his master’s lazy look and sighed. If it’s like this, San Ye might not be a good official in the future.
Zuo Shaoqing put down the pastries, took a sip of water and leisurely said, “Hey, I forgot to bring the tea stove along. It’s a big pleasure to be able to make tea on the way.”
“Master, why don’t you recruit a few students and get on the carriage as well? Not only can you build a good relationship with them, you can also create a good reputation.”
“Our car is small. This grandpa needs some rest, where do you want to sit?” Zuo Shaoqing raised his eyebrows and said, “Don’t tell me you want to get off the car and walk?”
Luo Xiaoliu quickly shook his head, “No, no, this servant is joking. We should still be at ease.”
The group of people rested for a while in a teahouse at noon, then ate the rations they brought with them and set off. They hurried along the way until they finally saw the walls of Changping County at night when the stars were very sparse.
Changping County was the largest county in the south, and it was said that this place used to be under the First Prince’s influence. But now, Zuo Shaoqing knew that this place had probably changed hands as he saw the horse carriage enter the city unhindered.
He had heard that there were three difficulties with the Changping County, and one of them was the difficulty of entering the city.
Because of the exam, all the inns in the city were busy with business. Zuo Shaoqing and Qu Changqing had to ask the three families before they found one that was not full. Even so, the price for a night’s stay was still three times higher than usual.
Zuo Shaoqing recently made a few small money, so he played the rich and rented the last small house in the inn. He also sincerely invited Qu Changqing and a few other students to live with him.
His attitude was extremely sincere. It was neither arrogant nor humble. It caused the students who were beginning to complain about him to change their opinion and start to care about his body.
Weak people always attract pity and favour. No matter how strong Zuo Shaoqing was, he had a weak face and a slight frown could affect the hearts of others. Thus, after a few sentences, the older students started to call him “little brother”.
Zuo Family was, after all, the number one clan in Youuxi Town, and had a predecessor like Zuo Houshun. Although there were some people who did not care about Zuo Shaoqing’s status as his concubine son, a majority of the people still maintained a friendly relationship with him.
Zuo Shaoqing was very satisfied with this result, so he generously invited everyone to a sumptuous dinner, then dragged his tired body back to his room.
Actually, he wasn’t very good at socializing with others, but he knew that it wasn’t enough for an official to rely on his knowledge to become an official. People who were overly straightforward and pedantic would often be a stepping stone for others.
The next day, Zuo Shaoqing did not go out. Qu Changqing knocked twice on the door, the first time inviting him to visit the head examiner and the second time inviting him to join the student poetry meet.
Qu Changqing sincerely exhorted him, “Brother, tomorrow’s exam will begin. Today, you should properly relax.” It’s not right to make a car behind closed doors.
Zuo Shaoqing smiled, “Brother Qu is right. It’s just that I am not strong enough, so it’s better for me to have some energy before the exam.”
Qu Changqing’s face turned slightly red as he apologized: “I didn’t think it through for you!”
After the ninth day of the country exam, Zuo Shaoqing came out of the examination hall exhausted. With his sharp eyes, Wu Tie quickly dragged him onto his back and carried him back to the tavern.
In fact, Zuo Shaoqing was still fine. Many students fainted in the dorm when they finished writing the last word and their families had to carry it out. However, there were still a lot of students who couldn’t keep going and fainted on the way.
After sleeping in the inn for a day and a night, Zuo Shaoqing finally regained some of his spirit. He really wanted to know if Lu Zheng went to the Zuo’s Mansion like in his previous life, and he also wanted to know if the letter he sent to Cao Family was effective.
Early the next morning, Zuo Shaoqing couldn’t sit still anymore. He urged Luo Xiaoliu to pack his luggage and return, leaving only a letter for Qu Changqing.
Zuo Shaoqing immediately knew the answer the moment he got off the carriage and saw the Zuo’s Mansion gate. This wasn’t a new gate that had never shone so brightly in the past thirteen years, even the two crooked trees outside the wall had been replaced with verdant pine and cypress.
Zuo Shaoqing walked into the main hall with quick steps. The maids on the way were all in a hurry, so much so that they didn’t even have time to look at Zuo Shaoqing.
Zuo Shaoqing’s heart was beating like a drum. He had a ridiculous thought and this thought caused his feet to move forward even faster.
Zuo Shaoqing was stunned as soon as he stepped into the door. That man was sitting on the master’s seat with a cold expression and an aura that made people want to avoid him. Behind him was a man dressed in green.
The two brothers, Zuo Yunwen and Zuo Yunyang, stood at the bottom of the group. Even the old man Zuo who was locked in the Buddhist Hall and the man who fought all day long, Zuo Second Master, stood quietly at the side. In addition, Zuo Shaoqing also saw Zuo Shaojin from the second room and Cao Zongguan, a person he had never expected to see.
The hall was very quiet. No one spoke, and even breathing was suppressed. Zuo Shaoqing’s arrival instantly broke the silence.
Zuo Yunwen turned and looked at Zuo Shaoqing as if he were looking at his savior. He first gave a nervous bow to the man in the seat of honor. “Master Lu, this is the third son of the old man. His name is Shao Qing.”
After saying that, he immediately waved at Zuo Shaoqing. “Shao Qing, come and greet Master Lu.”
His original plan was to not let this bastard come out to meet a guest, but the atmosphere in the hall was too heavy, and he couldn’t wait for someone to come out to warm the place up.
There was a rule in Great Yang that when a High Scholar met with an official, they did not have to kneel. However, Zuo Shaoqing was just an Elementary Scholar who had just finished his examinations.
Zuo Shaoqing walked up unwillingly, and greeted Liu Tie with a slow and courteous gesture. He said, “Wu Iron An!” He thought to himself: In any case, I’m still his savior, who knows if my benefactor’s kneeling will end his life.
Just as he was thinking, an emotionless voice came from above, “Yes.”
Zuo Shaoqing didn’t need anyone to tell him to stand up and respectfully saluted the elders. Finally, he stopped in front of another young man and cheerfully greeted him: “Good morning, Brother Cao?”
In fact, he really wanted to call Cao Zongguan “Brother-in-law” in his heart and label Zuo Shuhui and warn her not to eat while looking at the dishes in the pot. However, even if she only cared about the dishes in the bowl, she wouldn’t have the chance because he felt that Zuo Shuhui really wasn’t worthy of Cao Zongguan.
“How did your younger brother do?” Cao Zongguan was not restrained and asked openly.
Zuo Shaoqing smiled and narrowed his eyes, looking like an innocent teenager, “Not bad, but we, Chang Ping, have a lot of talented people, so little brother’s literary talent is not enough.”
“Little brother is being modest.” Cao Zongguan said politely.
“Cough, cough…” Zuo Yunwen coughed and reminded the two not to forget the most important one while talking.
Lu Zheng had been focusing his attention on Zuo Shaoqing ever since he entered the room. Although his expression was calm, there was a strong interest in his eyes, especially after seeing him and Cao Wei talking and laughing, his eyes narrowed unnaturally.