Chapter 45 – Envy (1)
Having experienced prejudice in the capital, Lu Shiming left the capital with a heavy heart and lived a secluded life in the Border Town.
He took the imperial examination* at the age of 16. Although son of merchants were allowed to take the prestigious exam, it was never easy to them. Lu Shiming was conceited and talented. He thought that he would be able to enter the top 10, even if he lacked the proper education and wealth.
*T/N : Imperial examinations in ancient China were civil service exams for those who desired to be public servants or officials who represents the interests of the people.
To his surprise, he failed the exam, his name absent on the list of passers. Later, he learned that his name had been replaced by someone else and his eldest brother agreed to it! Turns out, he indeed passed the exam and even landed 5th place among the hundreds of examinees!
The owner of the name which replaced his was the son of a governor of the capital. Lu Shiming was livid and his eldest brother told him of his reason.
He learned that the family’s business was at risk. The governor made clear of his threat of ruining their business if ever his eldest brother refused to let his son’s name be written instead of Lu Shiming’s.
Lu Shiming sacrificed his honor for the family’s sake and everyone believed that he failed the exam.
Three years later, he took another exam. Unfortunately, he failed this time because he was a merchant and the examiners abhorred him for it.
During that time, the said examiners were overwhelmed with greed and took advantage of the exams they held. To gather more silvers from those who were desperate, they sold test questions to the students.
Seeing this as an opportunity to avenge himself, he sold out questions using the name of the examiners who wronged him. Questions with wrong answers which made students flank down the exam.
Thus, the examiners were spurned and mocked by students and their families and they eventually lost their positions. Ah! His sweet revenge gave him bliss and satisfaction. Doing this, he actually felt like he was the top scorer in the imperial exam.
Still in his prime age Lu Shiming took another imperial exam three years later. He was full of youthful vigor and was frivolous in his decisions.
Finally, he ranked 3rd this time but the odds were still not in his favor.
During the court examination, the reigning emperor gave him a small position, almost insignificant. A son of a merchant was truly not given what he deserved, so Lu Shiming made an excuse and took his wife and children out of the capital to open a small clinic in the border town.
Returning never crossed his mind, but when the news of usurpation and the death of the previous emperor who belittle him, Lu Shiming decided to come back.
Now, he was hesitating to become an official again.
“Uncle, I know you have ambition in your heart. My father was sorry for you in those days. After all these years in the border town, haven’t you ever thought of doing something for the people all over the world?” Lu Lingzhi asked sincerely.
Lu Shiming smiled faintly. “Your father didn’t owe me. He did it for Lu family.” He held his temples and finally said, “I will consider what you said.”
“Well, then I’ll wait for good news from third uncle!.” Lu Lingzhi laughed.
By the time his eyes were opened to politics, he wondered how the Old Madam Lu let her son stay far away from her for many years. He also couldn’t help but notice how Lu Shiming was different from the rest of his uncles.
Lu Shiming laughed. “I have one more thing to ask you. I want to find a gentleman for Xiangzhi’s exam next year.”
“Uncle, I’ll take care of it.” Lu Lingzhi said.
“Good.” Lu Shiming nodded with a smile and said to Lu Xiangzhi, “Go on! Thank your eldest brother.”
Lu Xiangzhi scratched his head out of embarrassment but still gave a grateful smile towards Lu Lingzhi. “Thank you, eldest brother.”
“We are brothers. I will do everything for this family.”