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A Nail To A Kingdom (3. Mayor's Legal Clerk)

2007-01-25

3. Mayor's Legal Clerk

Chen felt that his blood stream just froze. He surely knew the outcome of being arrested. Qin2’s laws were unreasonably strict. A minor misconduct could easily lead to an arrest, a conviction, and then off your head. The laws were drafted by Li3 Si1, the bishop, who believed in the effectiveness of strict laws.

“Please, my kind brother, do me a favor. Do not ever sing that poem again in a public place,” the man who grabbed and twisted Chen’s arm whispered to Chen, “next time you won’t be so lucky.”

“Get lost,” as soon as Chen knew that it was Wu Guang3, a good friend of his, who played this sick prank on him, he felt greatly relieved, and kicked Wu, “you scared my soul out of my body already.”

“Where is Di-Fen?” Wu could not stop laughing, and was still proud of his prank on Chen, “are you alone?”

Wu was also from Da-Zhe villiage. He knew that Chen was fond of DF, and DF of Chen, too. But Chen had a rival. He was about 4 stones weaker than Chen. So he looked up to Chen somewhat all the time. Having heard from Chen that Chen lost a Go game to Li and hence this loss might lead to losing DF, he felt pitiful for Chen.

“Let us go to a restaurant, have a few drinks, and have lunch, my treat for you,” Wu said. Without getting Chen’s consent, he already pulled Chen toward the direction of a restaurant.

After entering the restaurant, they picked a table at a quiet corner. It was still early for lunch time, so there were not too many patrons yet. Wu ordered some rice wine, pickles, peanuts, tofu, lots of rice, and a whole steamed fish.

“No need to remove the internal organs from the fish. We like to eat the whole fish with the wine, OK?” Wu instructed the waiter.

“Bottom up, brother,” Wu toasted toward Chen, “Di-Fen or no Di-Fen, may you find a beautiful girl soon.”

“Thank you, brother,” Chen gulped down a cup of wine into his throat, “I have not given up her yet. You and I should find ways to work for our government. When we advance in ranks, become powerful, beautiful girls will line up for us to choose. By then, Di-Fen is nothing.”

“Ai-ya, forget about working for our government,” Wu lowered his voice, “better find something else. Too dangerous, too much politics, like walking on a thin layer of ice. If you are not careful, or if you are not fortunate, off your head. If you lend your ears to me, I will tell you an account that took place in the palace not too long ago.”

Chen gulped down another cup of rice wine. He was silent. He knew that Wu was telling the truth. He looked at Wu, waiting for the story.

Several months ago, one day, the right bishop, Zhao4 Gao1, (Li Si was the left bishop, and they two basically made major decisions for the entire country. The emperor, Hu2 Hai2, constantly indulged himself in wining, dining, and women), ordered his servants to bring a deer into the courtyard. He then summoned all the government officials over.

“Gentlemen, I say, this is a horse. Take a good look at this animal. What do you say?” Zhao Gao pointed to the deer, and looked around at those docile and intimidated officials.

Some could not lie, and told the truth witnessed by their own eyes, “This is clearly a horse!”

Zhao Gao secretly recorded down the names of those who identified the animal as a horse. Soon, gradually, these officials mysteriously vanished one by one.

“This eunuch, should descend into Hell, and be dumped into a pot of boiling oil,” Chen cursed.

The two chatted and complained about the government for a while. Then the waiter brought out the dish of steamed fish. Chen used his chopsticks to open up the body of the fish, and unexpectedly found a piece of silk cloth. He was going to complain to the waiter, but immediately realized that it was Wu who instructed the cook not to remove fish's internal organs. How could you expect the cook to know if there was a piece of un-edible silk cloth inside the fish stomach?

While Chen and Wu spent their time relaxingly inside the restaurant, DF and Li went together to visit the mansion of the town mayor. This visit was planned. DF’s grandfather was a good friend of the mayor. He wrote up a recommendation letter, recommending DF’s boyfriend to work as a legal clerk in mayor’s office.

The mayor was also a Go fan. When he knew that Li was a good player, he was much delighted. He told Li that Li should start reporting to work as soon as possible. If Li wanted to, he could even stay in mayor’s mansion, with room and board taken care of. His monthly salary would be 3 silver coins, after the deduction of his room and board expenses. A maid bowed in, serving them some tea, and bowed out.

“You two look just like a well-matched couple,” mayor smiled, sitting on an armed chair, stroking his long beard, sipping green tea, and looking at DF and Li. DF felt bashful, and blushed. But she was happy to hear such a remark. They were in mayor's study room, surrounded by piles of silk clothes, and bamboo pieces, on which words of Qin's laws were written.

"Thank you, honorable mayor, Li Qiang will study and work hard, so that he will not betray your kindness, " DF took a deep bow to the mayor on behalf of Li. Li hurriedly followed DF, and took a bow, too. The fragrance of jasmine flowers flowed from the sideyard, through the window, into the room.

See, my dear readers, had Chen won that fateful Go game, it would have been him who now would stand in front of the mayor and receive the same remark.

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