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AIP - Chapter 26: Refusing the Secretary Post

Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr

After resting for ten-some days, Tang Jie finally 'recovered', having completely consumed that bottle of spirit medicine. Embezzlement was something that went from small to big. Tang Jie had grown bored of embezzling worthless things like steel wire and was very happy to see that he could take his embezzlement to a new level.

When the lady heard that Tang Jie had recovered, she had Shi Yue bring him over.

Unlike before, it was not just the lady meeting with Tang Jie, but also Patriarch Wei Danbai and that Spirit Master who had saved Wei Tianchong from falling that day, Lu Chenyang.

Wei Danbai was the sort that you could tell was grim and inflexible at first glance, someone who wasn't easy to interact with. His square face rarely smiled, and he was serious, quiet, and focused on business. It was a perfect face for depicting on a giant portrait to hang from the gate tower.

"Tang Jie pays respects to the master, the lady, and Spirit Master Lu!" Upon entering, Tang Jie first bowed to the three of them.

"Sit." Zheng Shufeng smiled at Tang Jie. She had a very favorable opinion of Tang Jie and thus spoke to him in the kindest manner.

"With the master and lady present, this lowly one does not dare to sit."

"Your injuries have just recovered, so there is no need for you to be polite," the lady said, ordering a servant to bring Tang Jie a stool. It was only then that Tang Jie sat down.

Once Tang Jie was seated, the lady said, "You were mistreated in the previous incident. You did very well, but Chong'er was ignorant. You were called this time so that you may be rewarded."

Yanzhi came forward with a tray upon which were ten gleaming silver ingots.

Tang Jie knew that a single silver ingot was equivalent to ten taels of silver. This was a reward of one hundred taels of silver, a truly generous reward.

Tang Jie was just about to say a few polite words when Wei Danbai said, "It is to reward you, so there is no need to refuse. It is the rule of the Wei Estate to reward merits and punish mistakes. This is your deserved reward."

Hey, is there really any need to state such a simple principle? You think your clan is the only one in the world that knows it?

Tang Jie sighed as he mentally grumbled.

He knew that Wei Danbai was trying to draw a clear line and clearly wasn't planning to make too big a deal of this matter, let alone try to owe Tang Jie a favor. If Tang Jie refused, Wei Danbai would only think that he wanted more, so it was best to just accept the reward.

But this was fine too. With one hundred taels of silver, he could buy some excellent medicine for the Wu couple.

The lady continued, "We have already investigated the situation. It was Shi Mo's idea to drink alcohol, it was Shi Mo who proposed going up the mountain at night, and it was even Shi Mo who called for you to be beaten. This little scoundrel! Rather than supervising the young master's studies, he encourages him to cause trouble every day. It's outrageous! Out of respect for the wet nurse, I have not driven him out of the estate, but he cannot stay any longer at the young master's side."

The lady took a sip of tea and cleared her throat before continuing, "Since Shi Mo will no longer be here, someone must take his place. I plan to make you Shi Mo's replacement."

Tang Jie glanced at Wei Danbai, who was frowning slightly. He apparently didn't like the decision, but knew that it was the lady who had the power to make the decision.

Zheng Shufeng was a rather forceful and intelligent woman. In the estate, she enjoyed the favor of the venerable master and lady, and she also had a significant reputation outside the estate. She herself was from a clan of renown. Though the Zheng Clan was not as brilliant as the Wei Clan, it was still an old clan. Zheng Shufeng was learned in both literature and etiquette, and after her marriage, she had managed the household well and caused the Wei Clan to prosper even more.

This could be seen from how easily she commanded the Spirit Masters of the house. The living expenses of these Spirit Masters were all directly handled by Zheng Shufeng. As the manager of the household, she had managed to seize control of the clan's most important strength. These Spirit Masters probably listened to her even more than Wei Danbai.

It was thus no wonder that Zheng Shufeng had more say over personnel than Wei Danbai.

If Tang Jie had to pick between the master and the lady, he would be more willing to serve the lady.

But when Zheng Shufeng said these words, after some thought, Tang Jie answered, "My lady, thank you for your kindness, but this lowly one currently does not think he is suitable to replace Shi Mo. My lady, please reconsider."

Zheng Shufeng had not expected him to refuse. Even Wei Danbai, Spirit Master Lu, Steward Qin, and Yanzhi were all startled, looking at Tang Jie in shock.

"You're not willing?" Zheng Shufeng asked.

Tang Jie hastily replied, "It's not that I am unwilling, but because I killed the young master's horse, the young master might still hold some resentment against me, thus making it difficult for me to fulfill my duty as a reading partner. The young master's studies are a major concern, and if the young master's studies are delayed, this lowly one would feel ashamed. For some things, if they cannot be done well, they should not be done."

Husband and wife were both startled.

"For some things, if they cannot be done well, they should not be done…" Zheng Shufeng muttered Tang Jie's words. "An excellent saying!"

She suddenly giggled and looked at her husband. "Master, do you still think I've picked the wrong person?"

Wei Danbai said nothing, but Master Lu said, "My lady truly possesses formidable insight. This child does not possess a reserved mindset, but rather an early-matured wisdom. He knows what should be done and what should not be done, when to retreat or advance, and when to give up. Good, very good!"

It was only after Spirit Master Lu's praises that Wei Danbai finally spoke. "But he is right. Chong'er is an ignorant child and will probably hold a grudge against Tang Jie on this matter. For now, it is not proper to have him serve as a reading partner for him. Though Shi Mo has made mistakes, he has done his utmost to serve Chong'er. Let us give him one more chance."

"It's all because of your many misgivings!" Zheng Shufeng rolled her eyes at her husband. "Since that's the case, let's give Shi Mo another chance, but if he dares to make another mistake, I will not show him mercy."

She turned to Tang Jie and said, "You have just recovered and your health is still unsteady. Return and rest for a day before coming back."

Thus, the meeting came to a close.

As he sent Tang Jie out, Steward Qin couldn't help but complain, "Goodness, child, what can I say? So many people are seeking to be the young master's reading partner, but you gave up on it! Truly…"

Tang Jie chuckled. "Are you not worried about delaying the young master's studies?"

"Don't try that on me," Steward Qin snorted. "Talk. You must have had something else on your mind, right?"

Tang Jie rather trusted Steward Qin.

After some thought, Tang Jie answered, "I truly did have a few other reasons I could not openly speak about for not becoming a reading partner. As Sir knows, accompanying the young master in studies is the most tiring and thankless task. If you supervise him, the young master will get annoyed, but if you don't guide him, the lady won't like you."

Steward Qin nodded. While everyone sought the reading partner position, it wasn't an easy job. It took enormous effort to keep both sides happy.

Tang Jie felt that while he could do it, it would require far too much energy.

He was still studying the Dao of Formations every day and making a lot of progress. He had no need to take on such a tiresome role.

Tang Jie continued, "It won't be long before the young master's examination. In the young master's current circumstances, Uncle Qin, do you think he will do well?"

Thinking it over, Steward Qin sighed. "Him? We would have to thank the ancestors if he even managed to write a complete essay!"

"Thus, if I became the reading partner, wouldn't I be taking the blame for Shi Mo?"

Steward Qin began to laugh. "I just knew you had seen something! You're right. Now truly isn't the right time to be a reading partner. But if you want to go to Basking Moon Academy, you'll have to become his reading partner eventually."

"That's not for certain," Tang Jie casually replied. "I don't think there's any clan that has it as a rule that only close servants can become servant students, yes?"

Becoming a close servant was like becoming secretary for a leader.

It was easy to get promotions as a secretary, but did anyone say that only secretaries could get promoted?

Tang Jie, with his merits from landscaping art, was like an official wielding real power who had a good track record. He already had some hope of promotion, so why insist on pursuing the secretary position?

If he really got the post but did nothing of merit, he would only be wiping away all his previous contributions.

Through his understanding of this principle, Tang Jie lost all his interest in the reading partner position.

Steward Qin was taken aback. "That's true, but the close servants are all closer to the young master, and the young master's intentions can directly determine your future. It would be better if you got close to him."

Tang Jie profoundly answered, "While the young master's will is truly important on the matter of the servant students, it is not the young master who wields the true decision-making power, but the lady! So long as I have the lady's support, I could clean the chamber pots and still become a servant student! Thus, I'm not worried about whether or not I can fight for the position. At times, not fighting is the best way to fight!"

Steward Qin was left utterly flabbergasted by Tang Jie's words.

Perhaps because they wanted to be the young master's servant student, many people had made it a high priority to draw the young master's attention, yet neglected to pay attention to the background.

But Tang Jie had not.

As someone who had worked in the bureaucracy, Tang Jie was well aware that one had to understand who wielded the true power!

Only by attaching oneself to the true power holder could one have any chance at future prospects.

Alas, many people couldn't understand something so simple.

While the young master's opinion was very important when it came to the matter of school admission, the only one whose words truly mattered was the lady. Even Wei Danbai had to listen to his wife!

Bereft of the lady's trust, Shi Mo was merely a decoration in the reading partner position!

She could tolerate Shi Mo because Wei Tianchong was still in the Wei Clan, under her control, and Shi Mo wouldn't be able to cause too much trouble. At the same time, she gave face to the wet nurse.

But when Wei Tianchong went off to school, the heavens were high and the emperor was far away. Her child would have to face many things alone, and the lady could not possibly leave her child in the hands of such an unreliable servant. For something as important as this, face no longer mattered!

Thus, by losing the lady's trust, Shi Mo had essentially already lost the right to be a servant student.

Alas, even now, he didn't understand this. He continued to bitterly struggle for the reading partner post, hoping that clinging to the young master could keep his hopes alive. Little did he know that this only annoyed the lady further.

On this question, let alone those children, not even Steward Qin had noticed, and he had needed Tang Jie's prompting to understand. He regarded Tang Jie in a different light.

Qin Yuan shook his head and sighed. "In the end, I underestimated you."

Tang Jie bowed. "No matter what happens to Tang Jie in the future, I will never forget the kindness shown to me by the two elders and Steward Qin!"

Shrewdness did not mean ruthless callousness.

Though Tang Jie had deceived and used the Wu couple and Steward Qin, he felt sincerely grateful for how they had treated him. Thus, these words came from the heart, and Steward Qin was gratified to hear them.

Life returned to its normal course.

Tang Jie continued to work in the garden while honing his Dao of Formations.

His level in the Dao of Formations swelled, but this primarily manifested in his bewildering formations. As his Spirit Eye wasn't open yet, he didn't have sufficient spiritual energy to lay down formations. Thus, Tang Jie put in even more effort when it came to linking his formation lines, and gradually, he began to develop his own unique style, though it was still difficult to determine in what direction it would go.

Besides that, Tang Jie developed a habit of taking a morning run every day.

He would run from the Wei Estate to Welcoming Dragon Mountain, where he would find a deserted place to lift weights and do squats, circulate the technique of the Visceral Manifestation Classic, and breathe in spiritual energy. Once he was done circulating the technique, he would return to the Wei Estate for the day's work.

Occasionally, when he saw other servants doing heavy labor, he would volunteer to help, using this chance to train his Visceral Manifestation Classic and also obtain the praise of the other servants. As a result, his relations with the other servants of the Wei Estate became better and better.

As the days went by, Tang Jie grew taller and stronger, his body gaining muscle. But these muscles were not as outrageous as those of bodybuilders. They simply made him appear very healthy and energetic.

Whenever the young master was bored, he would come and look at him work, but this was usually restricted to a few glances from a distance before he left.

Their relationship became strange, and no one could say what it was really like.

As for Shi Mo and Shi Meng, they became much more obedient after the horse-stabbing incident, and no longer dared to cause any trouble. The Meditation Garden welcomed a rare moment of peace.

The only bad thing was that Tang Jie had another nickname after the incident: Horse-Stabbing Tang Jie.

This was his second epithet after his entry to the Wei Estate, the first being 'that Tang Jie who gets three strings of cash a month'.

Frankly, Tang Jie didn't like it, as this reminded Wei Tianchong every day that Tang Jie had killed his horse, which made him uncomfortable.

Tang Jie knew that this was a scheme concocted by Shi Mo and the others, but there was nothing he could do.

No—that wasn't quite true.

Since he couldn't wash away his own problems, he could only look forward to his rivals performing even worse.

Wei Tianchong's examination soon arrived.

As expected, the teacher's assessment was blunt and brutal: 'Ignorant and incompetent, making a laughingstock of himself!'

When the lady saw this evaluation and saw the shoddily written and incoherent essay, she gave her son a good beating, and her opinion of Shi Mo fell to the lowest level possible. But Shi Mo knew nothing about this and continued to curry the young master's favor.

In this calm fashion, more than a year went by.

Today, Tang Jie was continuing to care for the flowers and plants of the garden. He knew every plant in the garden well, and a casual stroke of his hand could produce wonders.

At this time, Tang Jie saw Shi Yue in the distance.

"Elder Sister Shi Yue, for what reason have you come to the Meditation Garden today?" Tang Jie asked with a smile.

Shi Yue had a grave expression. She went up to Tang Jie and whispered into his ear.

"What did you say?" Tang Jie paled.

Hypersheep325's Notes:

Poor Shi Mo doesn't even know that he's already lost, but it seems like Tang Jie has another problem to deal with!

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Written by Yuanfen 0 缘分0. Translated by Hypersheep325. Edited by Michyrr.