The Dean just stroked his beard with a faint smile, “Little brother Shao is righteous and he wasn’t trespassing, but…?” Now he looked at the two teachers Chen and Guan. Teacher Guan didn’t answer since Shao Yunan originally wasn’t looking for him. But teacher Chen said humbly, “I wish there were more people like Brother Shao to ‘trespass’ into the county school. What I have heard today is like an enlightening experience, which is really a big blessing for me.” Teacher Guan also nodded his head in agreement. “Indeed.”
The Dean smiled and said to Wang Shijing, “If you can have such a wife, you should cherish him.” What Wang Shijing was so worried about was taken care of very gently by the three people. Immediately afterwards, the Dean’s expression became stern as he asked Wang Shijing, “Is what your wife said true?”
Wang Shijing did not answer directly, saying only: “I have no regrets about my family. I already have a deed of separation written that I am no longer related to my family, so the Wang family’s honor and disgrace have nothing to do with me. The deed was written in three copies, one copy each for Zhao Lizheng, my former family, and me. Now, I just want to live with Shao Yunan in peace and raise my two children. The stones were my gift to Yunan, so the proceedings should also belong to Yunan.”
If Wang Shijing, as a Chinese son and brother, directly said that his parents and younger brothers were wrong, even if he was reasonable, it would be easy for people to feel resentful. The psychology of scholars was also subtle. Answering in this way, not only made people believe that Shao Yunan did not tell lies, but also won the sympathy of the people.
The Dean looked at the county magistrate. “This family matter, I think you can judge it.” Teacher Chen also immediately said, “This family matter really should be decided by you. The matter of the eldest son of the Wang family is also a matter of the law of our dynasty.”
The county magistrate nodded, sat down again, and gently patted the stone table beside him with one hand as he spoke. “Then this official will judge this family matter of the Wang family here.” Everyone immediately stood up, even the Dean and the two teachers. This was not a courtroom, so they did not have to kneel to listen to the judgment, but some rules should still be followed.
The county magistrate said, “According to the law of our dynasty, those who served for more than one year would be exempt from military service. If there is a man in the family who needs to perform military service, they should not be replaced. From the date of the signing of the deed, there is a binding effect. Violators will receive no less than 50 boards and heavy imprisonment for one to three years. Wang Shijing served in mandatory labor for two years, so he shouldn’t be forced to do military service. The mother of the Wang family has broken the law by deceiving the Yamen and forcing her eldest son to serve for her second son. But the mother is not a man, so she can’t be punished. However, the person being replaced should be punished by exile of at least 500 miles for three years.”
“In addition, the mother of the Wang family and the second son, along with the second daughter-in-law of the Wang family came to ask for money after the deed was signed, which is also a violation of the law. There is no law in our dynasty that states all property of the children of the undivided family should be used for public use, so the stones obtained by Wang Shijing should be returned to him. The Wang family mother, second son, and second daughter-in-law demanded money, so they committed the crime of violating the deed and robbery. Both crimes should be punished together. The Wang family mother, second son, and second daughter-in-law each should be sentenced to 50 hits with the board after one year of prison. However, considering mother Wang’s old age, her 50 hits with the board and one year of prison, should be given to her second son and her second daughter-in-law.”
“When Wang Shijing was forced to serve in the army, Wang Zhisong was young so he should not be punished. Wang Zhisong was also not present when his mother violated the law of the deed. Since he didn’t know, he will not be punished.” The trembling Wang Zhisong immediately sighed a sigh of relief in his heart and immediately took a few steps forward and knelt down, “Thank you, Your Excellency.”
The county magistrate did not let Wang Zhisong get up as he continued. “Wang Zhisong, this official will not punish you today. But as a scholar, you have not presented the etiquette and filial piety that a scholar should have. You don’t even try to restrain your outrageous mother. It’s not filial piety, but unfilial piety! Your brother has been deceived, your sister-in-law has been humiliated, your nephew and niece have suffered, but your indifference is not worthy of your status as a scholar. As your sister in law said, the virtuous books you read were completely wasted on you. If all child students in this world were like you, the Great State of Yan would be in danger!” Wang Zhisong’s body shook a few times as he sat on the ground.
“For the sake of your youth, you are punished to go home and reflect on yourself. Re-read the virtuous books and re-learn the principles of etiquette and filial piety, as well as fraternal duty. If you change within a year, you can return to the county school. If you still don’t know how to repent after that time, you can go somewhere else to study.” The county magistrate looked at the Dean. “What does the Dean think?”
The Dean nodded. “I don’t accept people who violate virtue here. I won’t allow anyone who was taught here to go out and lose my reputation, as well as the face of the scholars of the Great State of Yan.”
“Your excellency! Dean!” Wang Zhisong was now afraid. Really afraid, so he burst into tears. “I didn’t know. I really didn’t know. Those things were all done by my mother and my second brother and sister-in-law! I really didn’t know! “
It was good that Wang Zhisong didn’t refuse. Refusal would be even more despicable. The most important thing for a scholar was his reputation and face, which was his main virtue. No matter how he was inside, on the surface he should pull his weight on the surface and not let others know his true nature. But Wang Zhisong put all the blame on his mother, brother, and sister-in-law, which was even more shameful, but also confirmed Shao Yunan’s accusations against him. The county magistrate shook his head, full of disappointment. The Dean’s expression also looked extremely bad as he said forcefully, “Go back.”
“Dean!” Wang Zhisong still wanted to beg for mercy, so he knelt down, but one person knelt down even before him. The county magistrate and the Dean, as well as the other people gathered around, looked puzzled.
Wang Shijing gave a kowtow to the county magistrate and said, “My lord, as a son and a brother, I won’t put guilt on my parents and want to be benevolent to my brothers. Now that I’m back alive and separated I have already returned the kindness of my parents and the brotherhood of my brothers. My wife didn’t come here today to punish them, but to let my mother and brothers acknowledge the deed so we can live our lives freely in the future without any further involvement with them. I sincerely ask you to take back the punishment, it will be my last filial piety and righteousness toward them.”
After saying that, Wang Shijing gave a kowtow to the county magistrate. Then the county magistrate asked Wang Shijing to get up and looked at Shao Yunan. Shao Yunan did not kneel, but just bowed saying, “I also only ask that in the future, both sides as written in the separation deed will have nothing to do with each other and have no relation.”
The county magistrate pondered and then nodded slightly as he looked at the hopeful Wang Zhisong and finally said, “You two have mercy and righteousness, but this official cannot decide the case on the basis of friendship. The law is strict and clear, and as a government official of Yongxiu County, this punishment is not only to give justice to the two of you, but also to uphold the strictness of the law for the people of Yongxiu County. If I know there are offenders, but turn a blind eye to them, then in the future, how can I redress the grievances of others and govern Yongxiu County?”
Wang Zhisong’s body shivered again as the Dean spoke. “Your Excellency, this case involves his mother and brothers, and if we want to investigate further it will also involve the whole Wang family and Zhao Lizheng of Xiushui Village, all of whom knew about this matter but concealed it without reporting it. All of them should be punished according to the law. The law is strict, but your excellency should be impartial. Otherwise, these two would never be able to separate from their clans and Xiushui village. According to the judgment of your excellency, I am afraid that they would have a hard time when they return. Three years have passed and they do not want to pursue this matter any more. So why don’t take into account their feelings and give lighter sentences so that they will not be wronged.”
The county magistrate fell silent as if deep in thought and after a while he nodded. Wang Zhisong’s face was once again full of hope and nervousness as the county magistrate made the final verdict. “I can’t leave this matter without punishment, but since the two of you begged for mercy and the Dean’s words are indeed reasonable, this official will compromise the sentence. Your brother and daughter-in-law will be exempted from exile, it will be changed to 4 months of prison and 50 hits with the board, including the ones on behalf of their mother. This punishment will no longer be changed so there is no need for the two of you to beg for mercy anymore.”
The last sentence of the county magistrate showed that the matter had come to an end. Wang Shijing pursed his lips and bowed. “Thank you, Lord.” Shao Yunan also bowed. “Thank you, Lord.”
After the county magistrate’s intuitive sentence, Wang Zhisong wanted to come forward to the Dean. But the Dean just said, “Wang Zhisong, due to your young age, his excellency exempted you from punishment, but your virtues don’t match your identity as a child student. You are not separated from your family so it is chilling that you blame your mother, brother, and sister-in-law for your eldest brother’s situation. Because your brother pleaded for you, I will spare you from this one year of reflection, but you still should stay home at least for three months before going back to school. But if your virtues remain the same in the future and your brother and sister-in-law still have to ask your teacher to judge your family affair, then you should go on your own. I hope you can restrain your family’s behavior in the future to not disgrace your name as a child student.”
“Thank you, sir! Thank you, Dean!” Wang Zhisong kowtowed to show his thanks, lowering his eyes to not show hatred toward Wang Shijing and Shao Yunan.
The county magistrate and Dean however, shook their heads again when Wang Zhisong couldn’t see. In the end, Wang Zhisong did not thank his brother and sister-in-law. This person’s character was already evident. Thinking about the conduct of the Wang family, Wang Zhisong not only failed to persuade his family after so many years of studying, but they were afraid that he would hold a grudge in his heart. There were relatively few scholars in the Great State of Yan, but for the county magistrate and the head of the county school, it didn’t matter because such scholars were not needed.
The two teachers could see the county magistrate’s and Dean’s mind. Some students who paid attention could also see it, but no one mentioned it to Wang Zhisong. On the contrary, they were all very curious about Shao Yunan. Obviously he was a peasant farmer’s son, so how could he say such amazing things that they had never heard of?
Edited by: Jaisland