The Su family was a big clan that was in charge of the military horses and would be superior than others by a level as it was a high ranking official who was only able to hold the position of managing the matters of the military horses’ rations.
Su family’s military horses striking status was already in place since the founding of Ming Qi and was managed very well. There was no exception from Ping Nan Bo, Su Yu. From his view, the Su family was splendid and would certainly continue on for a long time. Perhaps loyal officials would have such a thought like this, as long as one waw to faithfully work, the Imperial family would not treat them unfairly.
But since the ancient times, accompanying one’s sovereign can be like accompanying a tiger. In this world of things, who would be able to say it clearly?
Su Yu would be forty years of age when the year ends and can be considered quite loving to his Furen. Even though he had a few concubines, they gave birth to all daughters. There was only two Di sons so he was always very strict on the education of his sons.
His Eldest Son, Su Ming Feng started to serve the government at a young age and was like him, in charge to the military horses and in fact did better than Su Yu in this half a year. Just some time ago Su Ming Feng collaborated with the veterinarians in the Imperial Medical Court and reformed some guidelines of military horses and because of that, the number of warhorses that die due to plagues dropped by half. This was a great merit. After the military statistics are up next month, Su Ming Feng would definitely be rewarded.
Bestowing rewards were secondary but the main thing was that this represented glory and honour. Su Yu has past his prime and currently Su Ming Feng was of the right age and the son should succeed his father’s career, thus it was time to expand Su Ming Feng’s reputation. If Su Ming Feng was much more outstanding, maybe he would become the next confidant and talent of the heir apparent to the throne.
Su Yu was naturally happy because of his remarkable eldest son but his youngest son gave him a headache. Probably because his youngest son was only born when his Furen was rather old thus his Furen doted him a lot and he developed a spoilt personality. Not to mention about being as outstanding as his oldest son, even when comparing among his peers, he would be behind them.
As Su Ming Lang was not the eldest son, naturally he need not inherit the title of the heir so it did not matter if he was a little dumb. But Su Yu had a unbending personality and would not tolerate any slight in his own son. Thus he would test his homework after each return from the academy, his little son would suffer the reprimands and his Furen would cover up his shortcomings, making it seems a little like all hell break loose.
But this day, Su Yu was in the studying discussing some things with Su Ming Feng. Both father and son had endless to talk about on the topic of military horses. Master Su was elated. To have such an outstanding son, what else could he not be satisfied with. As they discussed, they started to talk about Su Ming Feng’s bestowment in the following month.
“In my opinion, this time His Majesty would definitely confer an official title. For the time being don’t mention about bestowment of precious stones or whatever, Father is only hoping that your career would be more stable. Now that the Xiong Nu has begun to stir, the attention needs to be on the military horses. Ming Feng, as long as you are able to get His Majesty’s high regards, in the future the Su family can only go further. Your younger brother is still young, so you still need to carry the Su family on your shoulders.”
Su Ming Feng nodded his head in agreement. He was in his youth and there was upright and awe-inspiring look in his brows. However, his eyes could not help but reveal a little pride as it was the period where youths were determined not to fall short of expectations. Not only from the affirmation from his father, he was elated that the importance of the matters he managed has been steadily increasing.
Both father and son were in a good mood when the servant at the door announced, “Master, Second Young Master has returned.”
It was just at the time when Second Young Master Su Ming Lang was dismissed from the academy. Every day when Su Ming Lang finishes his lessons, he would always be called into Master Su’s study for a test on his lessons and there was no exception today.
Master Su was holding down some of his headache as he look at his outstanding oldest son, then look at his second son who was as stupid as a little pig and felt that it was somewhat comical. Everyday Su Ming Lang came to the study and at the end Su Yu will roll in anger.
Today was the same.
Su Ming Lang slowly entered the study and his lips curled up as he called out, “Father. Eldest Brother.”
He was just like a little round ball, which was silly yet adorable. Su Ming Feng stroke his younger brother’s head, “Ming Lang, is everything well in the class today?”
Su Ming Lang pursed his lips and did not speak. Every time he did that it would mean that it did not go well, not one bit. He has been reprimanded by his teacher.
Master Su put a stern face on and said to Su Ming Lang, “Extend your palm out.”
Su Ming Lang shrank back a bit and extended his hands in grievance. One could see a few red marks on the fair and tender palms. If these weren’t strokes of a ruler, what else can they be?
Master Su had a look of expectant but it was Su Ming Feng that felt anguished for his own younger brother as he asked, “How could this teacher beat this heavily? He is just a child.”
“It is all of your coddling that spoil him to this level!” Master Su flew into a rage after he heard it and angrily said, “What went wrong today.”
Little Su Ming Lang hesitated before speaking mincingly, “The teacher asked me about ‘the fox grieves when the rabbit dies’ but I was unable to memorise it…”
“How do you want me to scold you!” Master Su had a look of pain in his face, “You can’t even memorise words. Look at the young masters of your age, which one of them are like you. When your Eldest Brother was at your age, he was already reading books on military horses. The face of our Su family is almost thrown away by you!”
Su Ming Feng was about to try to persuade when he heard his own Second Younger Brother sobbing out, “Even though I was unable to memorise ‘the fox grieves when the rabbit dies’, I was able to memorise ‘boiling the hound once the rabbit is caught’ and it is longer by two words (in the Chinese wording 4 words vs 6 words). Since both has the same meaning, isn’t it the same if one were to memorise ‘boiling the hound once the rabbit is caught’?”
“What nonsense.” Master Su simply did not know what else to say. Su Ming Feng smiled and said, “Second Younger Brother, these two phrases do not have the same meaning.”
“Then what do they mean?” Su Ming Lang raise his head to ask.
“The meaning of ‘the fox grieves when the rabbit dies’ is that the rabbit died and the fox felt that it would suffer the same fate and felt sad. But ‘boiling the hound once the rabbit is caught’ meant that the rabbit was dead and there was no more value for the hunting dog so it was cooked. It means to say that once a thing has no more value and of no more interest, then the tool can be discarded. ‘Boiling the hound once the rabbit is caught’ and ‘destroying the bridge after crossing the river’ are somewhat similar.” Su Ming Feng was a good elder brother as he patiently answered his own younger brother’s question.
But Su Ming Lang shook his head and still had a look of confusion, “Since both were a matter of after the rabbit is dead, it should be treated the same. Anyways the rabbit is dead.”
Su Ming Feng was about to explain but saw his father suddenly looked shocked as he softly repeated again, “The rabbit is dead?”
“Yes.” Su Ming Lang opened his palm out as his plump rounded face looked innocently yet stubbornly, “Anyhow, both the rabbit is dead. Isn’t the meaning that once the rabbit dies, the fox and dog would be out of luck? Since everyone are out of luck, then both phrases would still mean the same thing.”
It was the natural order to boil the hound once the rabbit was caught. For a fable to be one, there was definitely base on major principles in life.
The rabbit died but the fox was cleverer than the hound and would have seen his own ending. But who was the hunting hound? What would be the outcome of the hound that help its master to hunt for the rabbit?
Su Yu’s expression gradually sunk.