Chapter 36 A Limerick


“Hmph, what challenging questions? These are nothing but trivial tricks, merely flaunting one's verbal prowess,” grumbled Ji Chang, obviously harboring great resentment towards these riddles.


Qin Guan chuckled twice and said, “Let's not talk about these questions then.
You, Brother Ji Chang, usually claim to be well-versed in literature.
How is it that you can't even compose a simple poem today?”


“I, I…” Ji Chang's face flushed crimson as he stammered, “I just wasn't able to adapt quickly and was a bit nervous, that's all.
Moreover, the topic you drew was easy, while mine was more difficult—”



Observing his expression, Lin Wanrong understood that Ji Chang was likely a product of rote learning, inflexible and incapable of adapting.
In his previous world, he would be considered a product of the exam-oriented education system, remembered well under normal circumstances, but utterly flustered in the exam.


Qin Guan clearly wasn't a saint either.
Hearing Ji Chang belittling his topic in front of others, his face darkened, and he replied with a cold sneer, “Brother Ji Chang, what nonsense are you talking about? The four topics of wind, flowers, snow, and moon, any one of them could be drawn for composing a poem.
I drew wind, and you drew snow, all witnessed by everyone.
How can you say mine was easy and yours difficult?”


As Qin Guan continued, he began to recite his poem with exaggerated gestures, 


“Last year, a gust of wind, so slight,

Hidden deep within an alley's night.

A call unheard, no echo found,

Its shadow came and went, unbound.”


His face was full of smug satisfaction, clearly content with his “performance” during the examination.


Lin Wanrong wanted to laugh but didn't feel it appropriate to do so.
This was considered poetry? With his own talent, he could create three such poems in the time it took to pass gas.


Qin Guan boasted, “Brother Ji Chang, just now in the examination hall, you had a temporary lapse.
I wonder if you've figured it out now, with snow as your subject, can you recite your poem?”


Qin Guan's face held a hint of disdain.
The saying “literati despise each other” rang true, as he knew Ji Chang was only good at rote learning.
Given a few days, he might cobble together a poem, but he surely lacked the quick wit needed in the present situation.


Ji Chang's face alternated between red and pale, evidently still unable to produce a poem with snow as the theme.


Lin Wanrong initially only wanted to inquire about the scholars' job applications.
However, seeing Qin Guan's aggressive demeanor, he felt deeply displeased.
As for Ji Chang, his lack of competitiveness was frustrating.
After hesitating for a long time, he still couldn't produce a single line of verse.


Lin Wanrong himself enjoyed teasing honest people, but he couldn't stand others bullying them in his presence.
He silently recited a few lines in his mind, then laughed heartily, “Such an easy little poem, even a rustic fellow like me can come up with one.
I think Young Master Ji must be modest.
How about this, let me recite one, and please, Young Master Ji, do correct me if I'm wrong.”


Seeing the look of surprise on Qin Guan's face, Lin Wanrong felt delighted, thinking, 'You little fellow, you can't fathom the depth of this true talent.'


Lin Wanrong paced a few steps and recited with a smirk,


“Upon the river, snow enmeshed,

A well's dark hole where black is threshed.

Yellow dogs don white fur attire,

While swollen masses white dogs acquire.”


This was a genuine limerick.
Initially, Lin Wanrong felt embarrassed to present it, but considering Qin Guan dared to call his doggerel a poem, Lin Wanrong shamelessly crowned himself a poetic immortal in his heart.


“Excellent poem, wonderful!” Ji Chang exclaimed, clapping his hands with a small fan, “‘Upon the river, snow enmeshed,' describes the scene of snowflakes covering the river, presenting a distant landscape.
Then, the focus shifts to the well in the courtyard, covered with pure white snow, revealing a deep, dark hole.
As for the last line, it is truly inspired, 'While swollen masses white dogs acquire,' transforming a static snowy scene into living creatures.
This poem has apt metaphors and profound artistic conception.
Although the word 'snow' is never mentioned, it captures the atmosphere of a heavy snowfall.
It is truly a rare masterpiece.
One must never judge a book by its cover, or measure the ocean with a pint pot.
Your depth is truly unfathomable, sir!”


Although Ji Chang couldn't compose poems, his analysis was surprisingly coherent, discussing distant and close-up perspectives, transforming static into dynamic, and contrasting artistic conception.
If he were in Lin Wanrong's time, he would undoubtedly be an excellent commentator.


Suppressing his laughter, Lin Wanrong pretended to be modest, “You flatter me, I am ashamed, truly ashamed—”


A soft giggle interrupted him.
Turning his head, Lin Wanrong saw a pretty young girl standing nearby, covering her lips with a smile, evidently amused by his limerick.


“So, it's you,” Lin Wanrong smiled.
This girl was the one who had bought his booklet the day before.


Upon seeing the pretty girl, Ji Chang and Qin Guan's eyes lit up, hurriedly masking their wolfish gazes.
They approached her courteously, “Miss, my name is Ji Chang (Qin Guan).
May I ask where you are from, your age, and whether you are married—”


Lin Wanrong was astonished, his mouth agape, not expecting these two to be so bold and blunt with their questions.
Were they not afraid of courting disaster while flirting with girls?


The young girl blushed crimson and scolded softly, “What nonsense are you talking about?”


Lin Wanrong laughed heartily and said, “Miss, they are trying to woo you.
Can't you see that?”


The girl's face turned beet red, she pointed at Lin Wanrong and said, “You, you shameless rogue! I will not let you off!” The girl then turned around, picked up her pace, and ran away quickly.


How did I become a shameless rogue again? Lin Wanrong thought, feeling wronged.
Last time when Xiao Qingxuan scolded him, it was somewhat justified since he took advantage of her.
But this time, he only spoke a single sentence and was labeled a rogue again.
Feeling quite aggrieved, he thought, Why didn't she scold those two shameless, thick-skinned men instead of me? What kind of world is this?


In fact, Lin Wanrong had misunderstood the situation.
Though the rule that men and women should not have physical contact was ironclad, opportunities for men and women to interact in this era were limited.
Hence, when talented men with a romantic streak encountered a woman they fancied, they would generally approach and strike up a conversation.
Women's chances of meeting a suitable suitor were even more scarce, so if someone showed interest and they found the person appealing, anything could happen.
The young girl, still inexperienced in such matters, got flustered and angry, turning away in haste.


Unaware of the situation, Lin Wanrong saw Ji Chang and Qin Guan gazing longingly in the direction the girl had left.
Having no fondness for these two genuine “rogues,” he grunted and left without a word as it was getting late.


The household staff chosen by the Xiao family were due to move in the next day.
Today was the time given to them to pack their belongings, and tomorrow they would step through the grand gates of the Xiao family they had dreamed of.
Most of them were excited, for once they joined the Xiao family, they would have a solid footing in the world of household staff.
With hard work, they might even have greater opportunities for advancement.


The only exception was Lin Wanrong.
The thought of serving the elderly master and mistress of the Xiao family from tomorrow on left him feeling extremely disheartened, wanting to find a place to vent his frustration.
If he knew the way to the brothel, he would be lying there with at least three girls under him at that very moment – he swore on God's name.

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