Chapter 48: What the Heck is This Toy
“…” Huang Yu feels the vision before her spin and she almost faints on the spot.
To not even know Zhennan Wang? Dude, are you really from Tianxuan Kingdom? Are you sure you didn’t pop up from some remote corner!
At this moment, she is starting to regret bringing this fellow here!
Given how ignorant he is, it is likely he will say something wrong and pull her down along with him!
Actually, Zhang Xuan really isn’t putting on an act, he is truly ignorant on this matter.
His previous self is the worst teacher in the academy. All along, he has been occupied with how he could stop himself from being expelled from the school. Thus, he never tried to look into the internal affairs of the kingdom and knows very little about it as well. The previous him doesn’t even know what ting, chu and ke are, so how could he possibly know who Zhennan Wang is.
Ting chu ke is a kind of ranking system for public servants.
Just as she is about to explain the glorious war accomplishments of Zhennan Wang, the door in front of them creaks and opens. A butler-like person appears in their view, welcoming them.
“Uncle Cheng, I am prepared now. I hope to receive master’s guidance again!” Towards the butler he calls Uncle Cheng, the white-clothed gongzi Bai Xun speaks respectfully, the arrogance he had a moment ago absent in his voice.
Gongzi -> Gentleman
“So it is Bai gongzi and Huang guniang! Please follow me to wait at the lounge!” Upon catching sight of the three standing at the entrance of the door, the butler bows and ushers them in.
Gongzi -> Gentleman| Guniang -> Lady/Miss
The three of them follow behind him into the residence.
Zhang Xuan gazes around the surroundings.
The residence may not be extravagant in its renovations, inferior even when compared to certain parts of the academy, but it brings about a wholly different atmosphere. Every moment of stillness and every movement in the courtyard feels like a tranquil ink painting which exudes indescribable elegance.
“What an incredible natural ink painting!”
Zhang Xuan can’t help praising.
“Oh? Gongzi… seems to have some aptitude towards painting?” Hearing his praise, the butler turns around and asks.
“It is just a casual comment!” He didn’t expect that a casual comment that he spoke would attract the attention of the butler. Zhang Xuan hurriedly shakes his head.
In his previous life, he was a librarian, and his job is deeply related to literacy. Even though he had seen many different paintings back then, he had never picked up a brush, needless to say, paint!
“Our laoye used his heart as his brush and the courtyard as his paper to turn the entire residence into a painting. You aren’t mistaken in your words!” The butler nods his head and continues moving forward.
Laoye -> Old master
Soon, they arrive at the lounge.
The lounge isn’t very big but is rich in paintings, giving the room a kind of classical elegance. It has a soothing effect on those who step into it.
It is unlike the other places, where Strength Measuring Rock Pillars can be found everywhere, which makes one feel as though they would be thrown out if they display insufficient strength.
“I will be reporting to laoye!”
After arranging the seats for the three of them, the butler turns around to leave.
“You know a thing or two about paintings?” The moment the butler leaves, Huang Yu looks over curiously.
She seems to have heard the conversation back there. Come to think about it, she doesn’t know a single thing about the young man she brought here.
“I only felt that the arrangement in the courtyard is reminiscent of a painting!” Zhang Xuan replies.
“Xiao Yu, don’t listen to his nonsense. This fellow is just putting on a show to attract your attention!” Bai Xun’s glare is so intense that fire may emerge from it.
“What do you know? My friend here is extremely knowledgeable and talented! Do you think that everyone likes to act mighty the way you do?” Hearing the other party insult the friend she brought, Huang Yu is displeased.
“Knowledgeable? Him? Xiao Yu, you should be careful. I think this lad is just a useless playboy. Despite being young, he is skilled in the art of deceiving to win the favor of girls. He truly has no shame!”
Luoluo, hearing the lady praise Zhang Xuan, Bai Xun feels the rage in him boiling even more intensely and he grits his teeth furiously.
“My friend here is skilled in qin qi shu hua, there is nothing he is incapable of, there is nothing he doesn’t have expertise in. Not only is he outstanding in the younger generation, there aren’t many of the older generation who can match up to him! On the contrary, look at yourself! You aren’t skilled in anything, and your mind is only filled with fighting and killing all day long! You are the one that is useless!”
Qin qi shu hua -> Zither, chess, literature, painting
Huang Yu doesn’t back down.
“Skilled in qin qi shu hua? You mean him? He doesn’t look much older than me. Even if he started learning in the womb, how much can he learn? You are probably the only one who will get scammed by him!” Bai Xun glares savagely at Zhang Xuan.
“Just because he is young means that he isn’t skilled? What if he is talented? Don’t doubt others just because you are untalented!” Huang Yu retorts.
“…” Hearing their argument, the innocent Zhang Xuan who had arrows fired at him frowns.
If you want to argue, just argue among yourselves! Why must you all rope me in? Did I offend any of you?
Qin qi shu hua, you said? I have never touched any of the four in my entire life… If I am talented, how can I possibly be the first teacher in history to score a zero in the Teacher Qualification Examination in Hongtian Academy?
Just as Bai Xun is about to counterattack with words of his own, footsteps sound from the outside and a figure walks in.
It is an elderly man with snow-white hair and beard. He carries with him a unique aura which grants him a majestic disposition.
The butler from before follows behind him.
Emperor Shen Zhui’s ex-tutor, Lu Chen!
“Paying respect to master!”
Upon seeing him, Bai Xun and Huang Yu dare not bicker any longer and bow simultaneously.
“I heard that someone was able to tell that the arrangement of my courtyard is an ink painting. It is rare to see such a refined youngster nowadays.”
Ignoring the two who are paying respect to him, the moment the elderly man walks in, his eyes is fixated upon Zhang Xuan. It is apparent that the butler has informed him of Zhang Xuan’s previous words.
“Master, this fellow is just spouting nonsense, there’s no need to bother about him. I have already revised beforehand, so master, you can feel free to test me…” Upon seeing the master’s attention fixated on the lad, Bai Xun feels displeased and hurriedly says.
“Did I allow you to talk?”
Master Lu Chen frowns.
Bai Xun’s face turns completely red, but he dares not talk back to him.
He might be of high standing, and his father is formidable as well. However, before the emperor’s tutor, he still pales far in comparison.
After reprimanding Bai Xun, Master Lu Chen’s attention returns back to Zhang Xuan. “Since you are learned in painting, it just happens that I have a work here for you to appraise in my stead!”
After which, he gestures with his hand.
The butler hurries forward and unfurls a painting scroll on the table.
It is a simple and elegant ink painting. The moment it is unfurled, a refreshing aura assaults its viewers. In a peaceful village, children are frolicking around and smoke emerges from the chimneys. If one concentrates, it seems as though one can hear the call of the cicada and see the dance of the tree leaves. It is a painting of a scenery.
“This…” Zhang Xuan scratches his head.
He doesn’t know a single thing about painting. All he can tell about this painting is that it isn’t bad. Asking him to appraise? What is he supposed to appraise about it?
“You must think carefully before you speak. This is a test by the master, he… likes to test others. Anyway, when I first came, I was tested by him too… If you manage to speak well, you will be able to borrow as many books as you like. But if you were to screw this up, you will be sent back instantly…”
Just as he is hesitating, Huang Yu’s agitated voice sounds beside him.
Zhang Xuan smiles bitterly.
If only he knew that Master Lu Chen has such interests, he wouldn’t have said anything when he walked into the courtyard.
Is this considered as courting trouble? However, based on Huang Yu’s words, it is likely that the other party will test him even if he says nothing. After all, this is a habit he has cultivated. He probably can’t shake it off even if he wanted to.
As for appraising it, what the heck is he supposed to appraise!
He isn’t even learned in that aspect, what problems can he see from it? What kind of comments should he be making?
After all, the other party is the emperor’s tutor, a master of painting. If he were to spout nonsense, he might be chased away with a stick even before he is done speaking.
“Why? Is there any problem?”
Upon seeing his expression, Master Lu Chen enquires.
Zhang Xuan scratches his head. Just as he is at a loss on how he should organize his sentences to come up with words that the other party is unable to find flaws with, a thought suddenly flashes through his mind.
“Since the Library of Heaven’s Path is capable of authenticating items, then… is it possible for it to tell the flaws in paintings?”
At this point, he can’t resist stepping forward to touch the painting lightly.
A sound echo in his head and a book appears in his mind.
Zhang Xuan is overjoyed. After reading the contents of it, he raises his head and gazes at Master Lu Chen with bright eyes. Smiling faintly, he asks, “Master really wants me to appraise this?”
Master Lu Chen doesn’t respond, indicating his silent consent.
“I have eight words of evaluation on it!” Zhang Xuan says.
“I am willing to listen to it!” Master Lu Chen looks at Zhang Xuan.
Zhang Xuan nods his head. His eyes scan through the painting once more and he shakes his head, “The eight words are… Downright senseless, what the heck is this toy!”
“Gongzi, please mind your words!” Initially, he was curious on the evaluation Zhang Xuan could give. Upon hearing these words, the butler almost faints on the spot. Flustered, he tries to stop him hurriedly, “This is a painting that was just drawn by the master…”
I know that I use butler, but it is more of housekeeper, head of housekeeper, rather than the western version with a suit etc. So, whenever I use butler, just think of an average Chinese man dressed averagely who is the ‘main housekeeper’ of the household.
Ting, chu, ke (厅,处,科)
They refer to 厅局 (Ting ju), 县处 (Xian chu) and 乡科 (Xiang ke) respectively.
Xiang ke refers to public servants at the section level.
Xian chu refers to public servants at the division-head level.
Ting ju refers to public servants at the bureau-director level. Reference
To put it simply, it just means the various different tiers in the public service system.
琴棋书画 (Qin qi shu hua) Zither, chess, calligraphy and painting.
This is known as the four greatest arts an academic must be skilled in. It is indicative of a person’s upbringing (People who are skilled in these are said to be more cultured)
The chess in it refers to both Chinese Chess and Go (also known as Wei Qi in Chinese)
Every moment of stillness and every movement (动静结合)
This is a phrase used for both martial arts and literacy works.
In the writing sense, it means that if one describes every moment and every movement by itself, one isn’t able to leave a lasting impression.
However, if one uses every moment to interpret every single motion and uses motions to supplement the idea of every moment, one is able to create a vivid interpretation of the situation.
It probably means the same for paintings as well
Remember how Shang Bin is called shaoye by Cao Xiong?
Shao means young
Lao means old
It is like old master, while the other one means young master.