# 37. Encouraging Learning The capital was as multicoloured and patterned as a brocade, and there were breakfast stalls all along the street. Xu Qi'an solved his need for food and warmth in a breakfast stall two streets away from the county office. The stall owner was a thin, dark-skinned middle-aged man, who wore a dark apron and smiled humbly at everyone he saw. His craftsmanship was pretty good. The only drawback was that the people in Great Feng liked to eat sweets. Not just the soy milk, even the soft bean curd was loaded with sugar. Xu Qi'an didn't intend to compromise with this heretical city. So, he told the stall owner not to add sugar but to add soy sauce, lard, chopped green onion, and minced meat to the bean curd. In addition, there were four fried dough sticks, six meat buns, two steamed buns, a bowl of porridge, and three plates of side dishes. After eating, Xu Qi'an was ready to pay the bill. "Master, you are too polite. It's my fortune for you to come to my place for breakfast." The stall owner looked at Xu Qi'an's uniform and refused to ask for money. Glancing at the plates left by Xu Qi'an, his eyes flashed with distress. "You don't want the money?" The stall owner gulped, Xu Qi'an ate four or five people's breakfast this time. His business was a small business that barely earned him his livelihood. He had to work hard from dusk to dawn to barely eke a living. But he still didn't dare to ask for it, really didn't dare to ask for money. "No, no, no, how could I collect your money." The stall owner looked like he had been severely beaten by society. "Well, I'll sit and eat for a while. Go away and don't disturb me." Xu Qi'an waved the stall owner away. The stall owner obediently left. "The system of the Great Feng has been corrupted for a long time. If the subordinate officials aren't rectified, the lives of the common people couldn't be improved." Xu Qi'an looked at the busy figure of the stall owner and remembered his eyes that were both painful and afraid to ask for money just now, as pitiful as a beggar. "From ancient times to now, It has always been small matters invisible to that are big men that have done the most harm to the common people." He took out ten coins from his pocket, folded them on the table, and left silently. "He's finally gone." The stall owner heaved a sigh of relief and came over to clean the dishes. What misfortune! He thought angrily. When he came to the table, the stall owner was stunned. There was a pile of copper coins stacked on the table. The policeman not only paid the money but also gave more. The stall owner rushed out a few steps in a hurry, only to see the looming work uniform in the crowd, who had already walked a long way. He opened his mouth but his throat seemed to be blocked by something. After so many years, that was the first time he had met a subordinate officer that gave him money for his meal. … After finishing his work, Xu Qi'an went to the back hall and asked County Magistrate Zhu for leave, and Old Zhu readily agreed. Hurrying back to the Xu mansion, he pushed open Erlang's room door. The two brothers nodded tacitly, and Xu Erlang took out a set of moon-white Confucian cloths that had been prepared a long time ago, covered with light grey cloud patterns. Xu Qi'an glanced at the azure-coloured gown with dark patterns on the younger brother's body, and suggested, "The one on Erlang looks pretty good, let's exchange clothes." Xu Xinnian sneered, His expression seeming to say, "You are thinking about shit." For a martial artist in the Refining Body realm, the scholar's Confucian shirt didn't fit well, His full muscles and tall figure filled up the loose Confucian Shirt. The aesthetics of scholars was: Sleeves fluttering in the breeze and flying. The two brothers left the Xu Mansion, rented two chestnut horses for three taels of silver, and left the capital at high speed. The destination of their trip was Qingyun Mountain, sixty li away from the suburbs of the capital. There was an academy in the mountain, the world-famous Cloud Deer Academy! Qingyun Mountain wasn't always named Qingyun Mountain, but its original name had been long forgotten. Ever since Cloud Deer Academy was established there, the sound of reading had been loud and clear there without interruption, and *qing-qi*, azure qi, had been soaring up to the clouds. So, it was renamed "Qingyun Mountain". The two rode side by side on the main road, and after an hour, Xu Qi'an looked far into the distance, where he vaguely saw the outline of Qingyun Mountain and the tiny academy buildings. "Cijiu, Brother has always been curious." Xu Qi'an slowed down the speed of the horse, and after his cousin followed suit, the two horses changed from running to trotting. "Do you think the Sage was a first rank?" He was extremely curious about the major systems in this world, but unfortunately, he lacked the channels to understand them. Xu Xinnian raised his head proudly, "Do you think I know?" *Say you don't know if you don't know it.* Xu Qi'an rolled his eyes and continued, "How long did the sage live, do you know?" Xu Xinnian nodded, "Up to the age of 82." *A dignified sage, the founder of Confucianism, even if he wasn't at first rank, He wouldn't be too weak. And he only lived to 82?* Well, it could be considered a long life for ordinary people in this era, but the force value in this world was unusual. *Even the sage can't live forever?* *Well, I can't jump to conclusions. After all, I know too little information.* "Cloud Deer Academy doesn't provide refuge for outsiders. This is a rule. Even I can't get the teacher to agree on this." Xu Xinnian said. "Elder Brother, are you sure?" Xu Qi'an shook his head, "It depends on the effort." They decided to send their female family members to Cloud Deer Academy before beginning the operation, so that even if they were retaliated against by the Deputy Minister of Household, Cloud Deer Academy could protect the female family members of the Xu Mansion. *The Silver Tax case almost made me fall into a trough, Why couldn't this matter pass? If this isn't handled well, It could lead to another crisis of extinction.* Xu Qi’an squeezed his horse’s sides, making it run forward, leaving his brother behind. Not backing down, Xu Xinnian waved his horsewhip and raced with his cousin. Qingyun Mountain was neither majestic nor beautiful. If it weren't for the Qingqi, It would be no different from an ordinary wild mountain. There were courtyards, lofts, squares, and waterfalls in the mountains. The trails paved with limestone slabs were like cobwebs, connecting these places. In an tall building by the cliff, there was an elegant room on the second floor. There was no wall on the side of the cliff. Standing by the corridor, You could overlook the vast plains and the outlines of the distant mountains. The Go Grandmaster Li Mubai, who vowed to never play Go again, stood by the porch with a scroll in his hand, listening to the heated argument between the two friends behind him. "I mistakenly made this step. I want to redo my move, I don’t care." "No regretting moves, this is the rule." "The sage said: Know your fault and make amends. this is the highest virtue." "Is this what the sage meant?" "Is it not?" "Old bastard, you want to argue with me? That's fine, Only one of us can leave alive today." "I wasn't raised vegetarian either." Li Mubai shook his head, "Two baskets of blunders." One of the two behind him was Zhang Shen, a master in military strategy, and the other was an old man in a black robe with a long beard growing to his chest. Chen Tai, courtesy name Youping,[^1] was one of the four Great Scholars in the academy. The four Great Scholars all had their characteristics. Li Mubai was proficient in Go, Zhang Shen was proficient in military tactics, and Ziyang Jushi Yang Gong, the chief envoy of Qingzhou, was good in scholarly research. This Chen Youping had talent in governing the country, and his book "Governance of the Country" was quite popular in the officialdom of Great Feng. Li Mubai turned around and left the corridor to return to the elegant room, and interrupted the two arguing people. "Where's the dean?" "The eldest princess is here, and the dean is with her." Zhang Shen replied casually while staring at the chessboard. Li Mubai said "Oh" and nodded. Chen Tai sighed and said, "The civil service exam is in three months, but the students in the academy aren't very keen on studying. I went around the dormitory last night and found very few hard-working students." "There were only a few lights shining, and even the ones that were were shining on Go boards." He said, stretching out his hand to swipe across the board to disrupt the Go pieces, and said bitterly, "Excess attention to detail ruins one's life." "Shameless old bastard!" Zhang Shen was furious. If he lost, Excess attention to detail ruins one's life. If he won, He will show off his strength. "You're the same as Li Mubai, You can't handle losing." "What does it have to do with me!" Li Mubai was angry. Speaking of the topic, the three Great Scholars fell silent. The students from Cloud Deer Academy had a difficult official career. Even if they passed the examination, it was difficult for them to make a career in officialdom. They were often sent as officials to poor villages or left in a corner of the country to rot. This has dealt a great blow to the enthusiasm of the students for the imperial examination. The elegant room fell silent for a while, Zhang Shen said deeply, "This trend can't last any longer. We must arouse the enthusiasm of the students for the imperial examination." Chen Tai nodded seriously, "Even if you struggle, you have to move on in life. Cloud Deer Academy can't cut off its path in officialdom." Li Mubai muttered, "Let's have a class to encourage learning and motivate the students to act." Zhang Shen twirled a Board Piece, "The dean encourages students each year. Another vigorous effort won't have much effect." Chen Tai stroked his beard and frowned, "We have to find a novel way to let students study hard spontaneously and pay attention to the imperial examination." "How about writing an article?" He suggested. "It's not going to give results." Li Mubai shook his head. "Then there are only poems left." Zhang Shen said, taking a sip of tea, "Since ancient times, poems have moved the hearts of people. Writing a poem is much more effective than giving a lecture on moving the hearts of people." After they finished speaking, the three Great Scholars looked at each other and shook their heads in unison. The poetry of Great Feng's Confucianists had been weak for a long time. --- [^1]: 陈泰,字幼平