# 53. I Copy Poems for Business, Not For Vulgar Posturing "What should we do? The thirty taels of silver for the drinking game have already been wasted. Even if we sleep with the maids in the courtyard, the three of us will have to spend several more taels of silver." Uncle Xu was anxious, and felt that he had returned to the state before liberation. He frowned and looked at his son. "Cijiu, quick, think of a solution." *Is this a matter of money? The main thing is that we haven't acquired any information...* The two brothers spewed vitriol in their hearts. Xu Xinnian looked at his father, "What can I do? It's just trying one's luck. My older brother and I came for the same matter. Don't you understand, father?" He spoke with a heavy tone, indicating that he was also nervous. *We’ve really lost out this time... Money is secondary, the most important thing is that we haven't found any information yet...* Looking at Mr. Zhao, who was taken inside by the maid, Xu Qi'an suddenly remembered the title of Oiran Fuxiang: *Qinshi Shuangjue*[^1]. He immediately asked for a brush, ink, and rice paper from the maid serving wine to the guests. He cleared some space in the table, and pulled Xu Xinnian over, "Cijiu, you write as I dictate." Xu Xinnian didn't hesitate, and sat upright while holding the brush against the paper. Xu Qi'an quietly recited, "*Among the multitude of fallen flowers, its shining beauty warms; full of grace, the centre of attention, it leans into a little garden.*" Xu Xinnian's brush glided in the paper as if it was flying, writing a strong and elegant cursive. Xu Qi'an continued reciting, "*Delicate, tilting branches reflected on clear and shallow water; its subtle fragrance drifts with the rising moon at dusk.*" Xu Xinnian didn't continue writing. He was stunned there, mesmerised, as he began to repeatedly mutter the two lines. "Write quickly!" Xu Qi'an urged him. Xu Xinnian roused as if he had woken up from a beautiful dream, and continued writing with tense concentration. Xu Qi'an tore away the rice paper and summoned a maidservant, saying, "You can give this poem to Miss Fuxiang. If you can manage it, you can also say that Yang is waiting here for her." The maid didn't want to do the task, but after being stuffed with a handful of broken silver, she trotted away immediately. ... In the master bedroom, four curtains blocked the bathtub, and steam lingered on the roof pillars. Fuxiang was soaking in hot water mixed with rose petals, her fine black hair was long, and her white neck was slender. Her shoulders and chest were covered with water drops, reflecting her charm in the candlelight. Her skin was velvety smooth, and she looked like a jade statue. A personal maid serving by the tub praised Fuxiang's skin, and said, "Young Master Zhao is already waiting in the tea room next door. The guests outside say that he's a Xuicai from the Imperial Academy." "A xiucai is hardly exotic." Fu Xiang smiled and gently stirred the water before saying, "But with Mr. Zhao's talent, there wouldn't be any problem for him to become a Juren." The maid laughed softly and said, "I knew Miss liked this kind of talented young master, unlike that annoying Zhou Li, who just bluffed with his father's official status." "Mr. Zhao is quite talented. If you properly receives him, it could be a good story in the future, and you could also be famous in history. "You can even make fun of me..." Fuxiang poked the maid's head with her finger, and sighed, "It's difficult for a female to go down in history. Even many scholars don't have much hope in this matter." The door of the master bedroom was pushed open, and a maid came in, standing in the hall, and said crisply, "Miss, the guest named Yang outside asked this maid to send a poem." Fuxiang frowned, and the serving maid reprimanded, "Don’t we have rules? The lady has already chosen Mr. Zhao and this won't be changed easily. Do we look like people who take advantage of others?" The little maid bowed her head, She didn't dare to speak up. Fuxiang said lightly, "Put it on the table and, tell the guest that Fuxiang loved the poem." The little maid let out a sigh of relief, put the rice paper on the table, and went out. After bathing, Fuxiang put on a thin cotton skirt that accentuated her graceful figure, her snow-white feet, as she moved towards the table and sat down. "Go and invite Mr. Zhao to come in." She said, while her eyes fell to the rice paper on the table, which she picked up casually. Her eyes froze suddenly as she stared at the rice paper with shock. *Given to Fuxiang in Reflecting Plum Pavilion* *Among the multitude of fallen flowers, its shining beauty warms;
full of grace, centre of attention, it leans into a little garden.
Delicate, tilting branches reflected on clear and shallow water;
its subtle fragrance drifts with the rising moon at dusk.* The maid had reached the door, and was about to open it to invite Mr. Zhao when she suddenly heard Fuxiang scream behind her, "Slow Down!" After turning around, she saw that Fuxiang was holding the rice paper tightly in her hand, trembling, her face showing an expression that she'd never shown before. That was an emotion that the maid had never seen on her face. The voice of the Oiran miss was urgent and piercing, "Who, Who sent this poem? Which young master? Tell me quickly." The maid was startled, and mumbled, "It seems that his surname is Yang..." The Miss rushed to the door with desperation. "Miss, miss... How can you go out while looking like this? You can't..." the maid grasped her stubbornly. "Let go of me, Let me go quickly." Fuxiang's face was red with anxiety, "Don't let that young master go away. Quickly find him." The maid couldn't understand it. It was just a poem, but it made the miss lose her composure like never before. She completely ignored the knowledgeable, polite, gentle, and elegant temperament she showed in the past. "My lady, please be patient. This maid will go immediately… to invite the young master who wrote the poem." After the maid left, the oiran lady sat at the table with dishevelled clothes; staring at the paper in her hands in a daze. "*On clear and shallow water, its subtle fragrance drifts with the rising moon at dusk... given to Fuxiang, Given to Fuxiang...*" Big drops of tears dropped down her pretty face, as she lay down on the table and began to cry. ... Some of the guests left the lobby while others chose to stay. After the round of Drinking Games, the unsuccessful guests had two choices: One, Go to another courtyard to play another game. Two, if you're drunk and tired, choose a maid to sleep with. "Miss Fuxiang didn't appreciate your poem." Xu Pingzhi looked at his nephew with anxiety on his brows. The poem was sent, but only a light sentence was returned. Xu Qi'an's poem didn't impress the oiran. Xu Xinnian sneered, "How can a mere woman comprehend the essence of poetry." Xu Pingzhi stared at his son to ask, "Is the poem by Ningyan excellent?" The proud Xu Erlang was persuaded of his elder brother's talent in poetry, and sighed, "Excellent, excellent." Xu Qi’an was also puzzled, he had absolute confidence in the poem. This *Qilu* was very famous, very extraordinary. Especially the last two sentences. They were considered the pinnacle of Plum Poetry. Under the lonely frost of that time, these two lines were extended for eternity — These two lines were the ones spoken of. The two lines have been extolled throughout history. "Subtle Fragrance" and "Sparse Shadow" have even become the names of metrics, which shows the status of this poem among ancient literati. Famous historical figures like Ouyang Xiu and Sima Guang all gave high-scoring appraisals of this poem. And the author of this Qilu poem had also become famous throughout the ages... well, Xu Qi’an had forgotten who it was written by.[^2] *She can't reject me without reason... If this poem was given to the two great scholars of Cloud Deer Academy, they would raise me as if I was their own son...* Xu Qi'an thought of the possibility that this oiran known as the best in poetry and Qin was actually like the moon under the lake: fake. Stirring fame to sell one's designed personality, while the interior was a person with little to no culture. But this would be a paradox. If Fuxiang was a vase that sold her fake personality, she couldn't have been recognized by the literati. The oiran of this era also engaged in acts similar to the hype used by artists in his previous life, but the former at least had real skills underneath. The reason was also simple: ancient scholars weren't as easily fooled as the youngsters in the later generations. The maid who served beside Fuxiang walked quickly with small steps, her eyes anxiously scanning through the crowd; When she saw Xu Qi'an, her expression relaxed and she leisurely moved towards him. A cute voice came from her mouth, blessed with good fortune. "Young Master Yang, Is this your poem?" The three masters of the Xu family relievedly looked at each other. "This is mine." Xu Qi'an nodded. The maid smiled and became more respectful. She lowered her forehead and said softly, "My lady wants to invite you." Xu Qi'an nodded calmly and followed behind the maid, walking towards the master bedroom on the other side of the building. This scene aroused the minds of the guests who planned to stay in "Plum Shadow Pavilion", and whispered amongst each other. "Hey, Why did he follow her in?" "This... This isn't according to the rules. How could you take two people in?" "The maid seemed to be asking about poetry just now, and I happened to see him writing a poem with that handsome little brother." A middle-aged man dressed richly walked up to Xu Xinnian and Xu Pingzhi, cupped his hands, and said, "Two gentlemen, do you know of the intent of miss Fuxiang? Why did that brother go in just now? What poem did you write?" --- [^1]: A talent in both Qin and Poetry [^2]: The author is called Lin Bu 林逋 or Master Hejing. He's from Northern Song