Don’t Be a Kept Man
Chapter 50: Competition
Chen Miao Ping’s hands were in his sleeves, expressing the immovability of his views towards love through his posture and the expression on his face.
With the warm tone of the burning lanterns, and this ideal image of a timeless man, it created a drastic comparison between the two men, highlighting Liu Zhen Hu as an ugly clown.
Women were naturally more easily susceptible to run with their wild fantasies, and with that undoubtedly attractive face of Chen Miao Ping and his deep poetic words of love, those naive and young girls who had just been sold into the entertainment district were completely mesmerized.
At this time, in a corner of the open space in front of the stage on the first floor, appeared a young man, followed by a group of servants.
Seating himself in the corner hidden by shadows where no one was paying attention towards, his eyes locked onto Chen Miao Ping.
Up on the second floor, covered by translucent curtains that concealed the delicate clientele, were a group of extraordinary beauties looking down at the spectacle below them.
They were the ladies of Chun Xiao House that one could throw away his entire fortune and never be able to catch a glimpse.
One of their maids said out loud, with a face full of yearning and naivety,
“Young Miss, that Flower Seeker is not only handsome, but also a rare man infatuated by love.”
“There are too many men who are cold-hearted and flippant in this world, only using shallow phrases of love to take advantage of us.
A pair of lips that can blur the lines of black and white, lying to girls to tear apart their bodies and use them up.
You are young, and your ears are weak.
You need to know that these words can never be trusted.”
A woman garbed in purple poked her maid’s head as she scolded her, her face as cold as a snowing blizzard.
A nearby young woman dressed in green coldly snorted in response,
“All he has is a mouth that knows how to sweet talk.
Although that Liu Zhen Hu is not a good man, in my eyes that Chen Miao Ping is just average.
Wang Da-Ge did not get on the rankings with his intelligence and broad knowledge, all because of these useless and worthless scholars who are parasites leeching off their in-laws! Just watch how I am going to take care of him!”
The expression of the lady in purple immediately shifted and she quickly held up her hands to block her,
“Xue Yi, no–“
But it was already too late.
The girl dressed in green had already peeled back the curtain and resolutely walked out towards the central hall, bringing a group of maids behind her.
Her lips were bright red, a shining beacon between her white silky skin.
In the middle of her eyebrows was a red beauty mark.
Layered on with a green dress, she looked as if she was walking along lotus leaves, an angel walking on a lake of green, creating massive waves amongst the men.
Every man stopped their movements, dazed by her appearance.
“Ah! It’s Lady Xue Yi!”
“She normally does not show her face in public.
What a rare occurrence today.”
At her presence, even Liu Zhen Hu subconsciously threw aside the literary beauty in his embrace and locked his eyes on her.
If you took a look around, there was only proof of the killing power of this woman.
But Chen Miao Ping was the only one to unconsciously take a step back, feeling like this woman was coming at him with no good intentions.
And as expected……
Never could she have thought that she would be lucky enough to meet him by coincidence like this today.
Indeed, the rumors were not wrong, the Flower Seeker is a man of smarts and good looks.”
This Lady Xue Yi was a weird one.
The entire place was filled with guests higher in rank and status than him, but since she had descended down from the second floor, her eyes fell only on Chen Miao Ping.
A blushing face and a demure but seductive posture, and with the kind of words she spoke, even an idiot could see the spark she was trying to create.
In that moment, the gaze of everyone in the crowd sharpened by ten more degrees, a hard position Chen Miao Ping was now in, and one harder to explain.
Liu Zhen Hu snorted heavily from his nose and narrowed those eyes that were already very small, saying,
“Lady Xue Yi needs to know that there is always someone better out there, always something more out in the world.
Although Brother Chen is an intelligent man, he is only number three.
As the Primus, Brother Jiang’s skills in the literary arts cannot be laughed at, but unfortunately, he is not here today.”
He was not complimenting Jiang Hong Yuan.
Instead, he wanted to say how much stronger he was than Chen Miao Ping, but due to his own dignity, he couldn’t open his mouth to say that.
If it could be said that Xue Yi did not put Chen Miao Ping in her eyes, then towards Liu Zhen Hu, she didn’t even bother giving him the time of day.
She giggled fakely,
“There is no first place in literary arts, no second place in martial arts.
They are all amazing individuals with the skills to back it up.
Why fight for a nameless ranking?”
And then passed by him to stop right in front of Chen Miao Ping.
Liu Zhen Hu knew that he should back away from her cold shoulder, but he didn’t expect that his legs would suddenly weaken and become numb.
For a moment, he was unstable and fell backwards, exposing his butt in the midst of everyone’s mocking laughter.
In the corner that no one was paying attention to, a single peanut dropped onto the floor and rolled deeper into the shadows.
Seeing this, Chen Miao Ping laughed in his heart.
He quickly helped him up from the floor and asked out of fake concern,
“Ah ah ah, Brother Liu, how could you be so careless? If your legs were injured, you should have stayed home.
Why come out to ruin your healing process? It is a small concern to trip yourself, but falling onto someone else would be a big thing!”
Liu Zhen Hu was embarrassed to death, never wanting anything more than to jump in a hole to hide away at this very moment.
When he stood up and stabilized himself, he pushed Chen Miao Ping away.
As if he just caught Chen Miao Ping’s weakness, he coldly laughed,
“I am a cripple.
Xie Yu Zhi is also a cripple.
If you dare, you should say what you said to me straight to his face.
And here I thought how much you liked him, when your heart must also be disgusted and how you must have despised the fact that he is a cripple!”
Everyone’s gaze turned speculative towards Chen Miao Ping.
The conversation was led astray by Liu Zhen Hu and even Xue Yi’s eyes changed, looking at him like he was Chen Shi Mei1, like he was a piece of dirt.
“No, no, these words from Brother Liu are far away from the mark.”
Chen Miao Ping was very calm and composed, despite what he has just been compared to.
He paced back and forth in front of Liu Zhen Hu, looking the other up and down, up and down over and over with his hands behind his back.
Judging him for a while before saying with a very meaningful tone,
“A human and another human, there is always a difference between the two.
Humans can be split into different tiers, so of course, these injuries can naturally have their own hierarchies.
“Second Master Xie has gone out to the battlefield since he was young.
Battling against Dong Han, fighting against the barbarians, protecting our country from the sea to the river.
A wealthy young man, a gong-zi with a powerful backing, crawling and living through freezing ice and snow.
What sort of suffering one experiences in these conditions, only a few people could know.
“And why did he become a cripple? It was because he went to fight Dong Han, leading only forty thousand men riding on black horses to battle Dong Han’s army of eighty thousand.
The very reason why he suffered that injury, the very reason why he is alive now, is from the exchange of laying down his life along those forty thousand men to fight back.”
Chen Miao Ping squinted his eyes at Liu Zhen Hu and shook his head.
He mockingly said,
“And Brother Liu, you? How did you become a cripple? Horseback riding outside the capital, falling off the horse because you yourself didn’t have the skills.
Please, everyone, let me know if this can even be compared? Is this even the same?”
Recalling back through past history, there were some in the crowd with their emotions roused by his speech and so they all yelled,
“Of course it isn’t the same!”
Chen Miao Ping nodded his head slightly in acknowledgement,
“A general dies after fighting a hundred battles, a soldier comes back home only after ten years.
Let’s not say that Second Master Xie is only crippled in one leg.
Even if both his legs were injured, that is still better than you, better than me by more than a hundred times.
Just like how a pigeon and a phoenix has feathers on their body, the two are on two completely different tiers.
So to speak and compare like that……”
He paused and then looked at Liu Zhen Hu with a very serious and solemn face—-
“If everyone is a bird, what feather are you?”
The moment these words were spoken, the entire place was shocked to their core.
If it could be said that Chen Miao Ping was still talking reasonably and backing it up with evidence before, the last word was just straight up trash talking.
Once he had finished talking, the entire building had descended into silence.
And then one second passed before everyone started bursting out in laughter, this outburst created a resonating sound that could blow off the roof of the building.
Some were even hitting their thighs and legs crazily, with tears coming out of their eyes.
Liu Zhen Hu’s eyes were dashing around, looking left and right, and his face was turning green from seeing that everyone around him was laughing at him.
He started to become angry, having never thought that Chen Miao Ping could humiliate him this way and immediately wanted to get revenge.
However, Chen Miao Ping had immediately taken a step back, behind Qian Tong and the gang once he finished speaking.
So when Liu Zhen Hu’s eyes turned into a murderous rage and his fist was slamming into his palm, Qian Tong and the soldiers had instantly pulled out their swords.
As if he were to take just one step forward, he would immediately get schooled like nobody’s business.
Liu Zhen Hu, at the end of the day, was an idiot.
Even if he entered a crazed mode of studying for a few years, it did not change anything.
It just made a useless idiot into an idiot who read some books.
However, not everyone was in for the drama, as someone stood up to help pacify the situation and help Liu Zhen Hu gain some of his dignity back when he saw Liu Zhen Hu getting angered to the point of being unable to talk back.
With a light colored robe on him, this poor scholar stood up from his seat and said,
“Although some of Brother Liu’s words were a bit crude, saints and wisemen have said to not overstep, and to forgive others’ mistakes with an encompassing graciousness.”
Chen Miao Ping could only reply with one word,
That scholar in light colored clothes choked on his anger, staring at him with rage.
Chen Miao Ping lifted his hands with no sincerity in a courtesy bow,
“Apologies, perhaps my phrasing was too crude.
Brother, you must not overstep and forgive this impoliteness with your all encompassing graciousness.”
“Puh ha ha ha ha–“
Surrounding them was another round of thunderous laughing, and the entire place was becoming unruly.
Xue Yi couldn’t help but laugh too, but out of the corner of her eye, she spotted the Madam giving her the stink eye.
She paused and quickly spoke up to pacify the crowd,
“This honorable Chen, you are, of the utmost, a very particular person, and Xue Yi cannot be someone other than one who is most definitely humbled by you.
A few days ago, Yin Feng Jie-Jie2 received a poem from the previous Flower Seeker Meng Zhang Ling, Meng Da-Ren…… Since we have met coincidentally like this, may this Xue Yi have the honor to ask brazenly for Chen Gong-Zi to gift me such a gift?”
A lady from these entertainment houses spending their entire fortune to ask for a reputable man to write a poem for them was a very normal thing.
It was considered a smart and clever move as it would raise the value of your name.
That Meng Zhang Ling was an individual crowned to be one of the best at poetry and drawing, but these kinds of things were privately done.
For Xue Yi to ask for such a favour in front of everyone, in the public eye, it was definitely to cause trouble for Chen Miao Ping.
If the poem he created was terrible, he would be mocked and humiliated; if it was average, it wouldn’t match his title; if it was brilliant…..
how could it be asked from someone with the position of a Flower Seeker?
No matter what Chen Miao Ping did, he was really walking to his own death.
Right as the last word came out of her mouth, a maid immediately presented a calligraphy set to him.
Chen Miao Ping shook his head inwardly.
Ancient civilizations really had no other leisurely activities.
It was either horseback riding, playing pitch-pot3 or competing with poetry.
No matter where you go, you’ll just be surrounded by these.
To gift him with precious and prized calligraphy sets, it wasn’t unacceptable, but Xue Yi was a lady from Chun Xiao House.
To write poetry about these types of girls, he could only do one —
A pair of delicate elbows become the pillow of a thousand humans, a pair of lips tasted by ten thousand humans.4
…… Which if he dares to write that out today, you can be sure that he won’t be walking out of this Chun Xia House alive.
So he blinked his eyes a few times but did not immediately agree.
He only said after mulling it over a bit,
“I have a limited pool of knowledge and poetry is not my strength.
Not to fool this lady here and her passion, but actually, this Master Liu is not bad in the literary arts……”
“But Xue Yi only wants Master Chen’s.”
Xue Yi stepped forward to look at him, her clear dew-like eyes were full of expectation and yearning.
No man should be able to reject those eyes.
But, Chen Miao Ping was thinking in his heart, do I know you? Why would I write poetry for you? He backed up a step and escaped the other’s gaze by pouring himself a cup of wine.
And when he glanced around at this moment, he found a very familiar silhouette sitting in a corner, and he couldn’t help but narrow his eyes–
Xie Yu Zhi?
Why was he here? To sleep with women? Or here to catch him in the act?
Xie Yu Zhi’s senses were still in tip-top shape, and he naturally would immediately sense that Chen Miao Ping was staring at him.
The two of them locked eyes with each other, and Xie Yu Zhi somehow had a second of panic, feeling like he had done something wrong and was caught in the act.
He couldn’t help himself and coughed lightly and then slowly lowered his head.
When Xie Yu Zhi raised his head again, Chen Miao Ping had already looked away.
Perhaps he was agitated from Xue Yi’s performance and Liu Zhen Hu did not want to play the courtesy game anymore.
His chest heaved a couple of times before he pointed his finger at Chen Miao Ping,
“How about we have a competition? See whose poem can snatch Lady Xue Yi’s heart? If you lose, then you will crawl on the floor in a circle three times and bark like a dog.
If I lose, you can choose whatever punishment you want me to do!”
Xie Yu Zhi’s face immediately froze and he silently narrowed his eyes.
He quietly gave a nearby servant of his a command and the other quickly and silently stood up to leave Chun Xiao House.
Hearing this, Chen Miao Ping smiled with his eyes curved up,
“Whatever I want? Whatever way I want to treat you? If I tell you to go die, would you go?”
Liu Zhen Hu’s throat choked up.
He only realized now what he said in his impulsiveness.
But of course Chen Miao Ping would not let Liu Zhen Hu go walk to his own death, as otherwise Wu An Hou would be the first one to knock at his door looking to cause him trouble.
But it was a bit pitiful to not take a gift horse by the mouth.
One should take everything freely given to him, and perhaps a bit more too.
“How about this? If you lose, I won’t do anything to you.
Instead, we will bet 7000 guan, what do you think about that?
*1 Chen Shi Mei is a character from a very old story about a man who was like a white-eyed wolf, greedy and puts himself over everything else, tossing aside his wife the moment he gains what he can, tossing away all the people who helped him the moment their usefulness is gone and he finally met his demise and his judgement by probably the most famous judge of all time, Bao Zheng, the very embodiment of justice.
*2 Jie-Jie: like Ge-Ge or just Ge, it means sister, like how brother is referenced, as an older female who is close to you but is not that old.
*3 pitch-pot: an activity like archery/basketball, where you throw a stick into a pot a certain distance away.
You earn points and if you lose you have to take a penalty like drink a cup of wine (the more you lose, the more you drink, etc).
*4 This is a line from a poem that’s passed down but no one knows who the author is, and it contains crude references to prostitutes and sex, referencing a wife who is lamenting on her complicated feelings and heartbreak at her husband going to the red light district.
And she forgives him for that, but also is very aggressive towards the women doing these activities.
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