SWFM 39

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Chapter 39: Top Scholar for Humanities(3)

 

In his previous life, Xu Tingsheng had checked his results in a small rented flat, his mother and his sister behind him. The three had all been completely silent, because at that time, these results had really been too important to his family.

The first time, Xu Tingsheng hung up before hearing his results.

The second time, he heard an ordinary, average number, having attained just slightly more than sufficient marks to enter a normal university. Not having been happy or sad, just having felt a mild sense of disappointment, Xu Tingsheng had finally chosen to enter an educational college to become a history teacher. What he had thought about was his responsibility to his family; what he had wished for was to attain stability.

This time, Xu Tingsheng pulled out his entry proof, sitting down on a stool with a great, exaggerated flourish.

He yelled, “Everyone gather here, everyone gather here! It’s time for the checking of results!”

“Brother, you’re so childish. When I check my results, I definitely won’t be like you, so embarassing,” Just having finished her entrance examinations for senior high not long ago, his sister, Xu Qiuyi, said.

“…”

While his sister was pouring cold water on him, the rest of his family all gathered over to show him their support. Mr and Mrs Xu, his eldest paternal uncle and his wife, his younger paternal uncle and his wife, his father’s sister and her husband,…as well a few little kids all crowded around Xu Tingsheng, watching him with fiery, expectant gazes.

Xu Tingsheng had thought that he definitely wouldn’t be nervous. However, at that instant in which he dialled the number, he was actually slightly panicked.

The monotonous voice resounded on the phone:

Name of examinee: Xu Tingsheng

Entry Proof No: XXXXXXXX

Language, 122 marks. Mathematics, 94 marks. Combined Humanities, 278 marks. English, 133 marks. In total, 627 marks.”

Please press ‘1’ to listen again…

Xu Tingsheng pressed ‘1’, also turning on the handsfree. This time, he was specially playing out the monotonous voice for all his family members to hear.

Xu Tingsheng awaited the cheers.

But they asked, “So? How’re these results like?”

Xu Tingsheng forgot that no one in his family had ever taken the university entrance examinations before, thus having having no understanding of it at all. Perhaps their impressions still remained with Xu Tingsheng having scored a few 100s back in primary school as well as his sister Xu Qiuyi often getting full marks for a couple of subjects in junior high. They had basically no clue on the concept of getting more than one or two hundred marks in a single exam.

“How are they even higher than the full marks? Great job,” his uncle said.

Mr Xu seemed to understand it somewhat better as he asked, “It should be pretty good. Do you know what the cut-off point for entering a national key university is?”

Mr Xu still remembered the words Xu Tingsheng had said in the student affairs office back then. He was actually fine with it and would not actually ask the two chairmen for an apology. What he was afraid of was Xu Tingsheng feeling desolate.

Mr Xu actually only had just that slightest bit more understanding on the subject than Xu Tingsheng’s family members.

Xu Tingsheng felt very desolate as he could only say rather helplessly, “It’s 541 marks; I passed it by more than 80.”

His family members said, “That’s still fine then; you already managed to get into a national key university.”

Xu Tingsheng vowed that he would never discuss this matter with them again. He decided to find someone who understood to converse with, therefore picking up his phone and dialling Old Zhou’s number.

After eating lunch, like most of the other teachers, Old Zhou remained in the Humanities office, writing end-of-semester reports or the like as they awaited the statistics over from the city.

After seeing that it was Xu Tingsheng calling, Old Zhou hurriedly stood up, “Hey, Tingsheng, you’re finally calling me back. I was almost worried to death. Let me tell you-you don’t have to pay so much attention to your results. With your intelligence and perseverance…”

Xu Tingsheng was rather taken aback by Old Zhou’s words of comfort. What was this?

Xu Tingsheng interrupted Old Zhou’s comforting words, saying numbly, “Mr Zhou, I am here to report my results to you. Are you already aware over there?”

Old Zhou thought for a moment, thinking that Xu Tingsheng might already have recovered from the shock. In that case, however bad his results were, with him deciding to reveal them, there was naturally no reason for him not to listen.

Still, he first reiterated, “Oh, okay. Still, we all know that the process is more important than the outcome. Your diligence over this final period of time as well as your improvements are sufficient proof of your capabilities…”

“Mr Zhou, my results are…, with 627 marks in total,” Xu Tingsheng reported the results for the individual subjects as well as his overall results to Old Zhou.

“Mr Zhou? Hey, are you still there?”

In the Humanities office, Old Zhou suddenly shot straight up, his chair falling to the ground with a ‘plop’ sound. All the teachers present gazed puzzledly at the source of the noise. Could something be the matter? They had all heard Old Zhou comforting Xu Tingsheng just a few moments ago.

Xu Tingsheng could only report his results once more.

Old Zhou said, “Wait a moment, maybe I didn’t sleep well yesterday, but I’m feeling a little dizzy right now. Let’s do it this way. You tell me your entry proof number and I’ll help to confirm your results for you.”

“Alright, my entry proof number is…”

As Xu Tingsheng had just finished reporting his entry proof number, Old Zhou immediately slammed down his phone on the other end…How much of a rush was he in?

With trembling hands, Old Zhou dialled the verification hotline, entering Xu Tingsheng’s entry proof number. Then, he turned on the handsfree.

Other than nervous breathing, only that monotonous, mechanical voice from the phone could be heard within the office:

Name of examinee: Xu Tingsheng

Entry Proof No: XXXXXXXX

Language, 122 marks. Mathematics, 94 marks. Combined Humanities, 278 marks. English, 133 marks. In total, 627 marks.”

Please press ‘1’ to listen again…

Old Zhou pressed ‘1’.

The voice resounded from the phone once more…

After a moment’s silence.

“What, you want to hear it again?” Old Zhou domineeringly asked the entire office’s worth of teachers in a deep voice.

This time, he didn’t hold back, opening his mouth as he began humming out-of-tune:

“I stand atop the city’s ramparts gazing upon the mountains, listening to the incessant upheaval outside. Tall banners stream high amidst the wind, yet are actually troops sent by Sima…”

The entire room’s worth of cheers and cries of marvel very quickly drowned out Old Zhou’s <>.

Zhang Xiuyun had an unsightly expression on her face. She picked up her phone to call Chen Yulun, but then thought for a while and put it back down again. Having made such a huge error this time, she hadn’t yet thought of how she might be able to give an explanation for it.

Fang Yunyao opened the QQ chat for the entire province’s history teachers and confirmed something before shouting to Old Zhou, “Mr Zhou, Xu Tingsheng scored 278 for Combined Humanities, right?”

Old Zhou smiled, nodding ‘composedly’.

“First in the entire province,” Fang Yunyao said, “First in the entire province for Combined Humanities! Someone in the chat here just happened to send a message; he heard from the Provincial Examination Institute that the highest for Combined Humanities in our province was 278 marks! That’s Xu Tingsheng! Wa…”
……
Suddenly, a teacher asked, “With these results, can he try for Qingbei?”

Everyone began considering this question. If Libei Senior High could produce someone from Qingbei, however much the glory or the reward money, all of them would bask together under its light…

However, no one could say for sure.

Some said that he could.

Some said that he might be lacking by just a bit. It was a pity about his Mathematics.

On the whole, they felt that it was a very close affair. He should just be courageous enough to fill it up on the form and see how things went.

Old Zhou felt that he was currently not in the right frame of mind to be considering this. His head had been spinning about dizzily, his mind just drifting, drifting…aspirations-they could wait.

Old Zhou called Xu Tingsheng back, saying you’re the top scholar, the first for Humanities in the entire province as well as a whole other bunch of things before instructing smilingly, “Remember to come back to attend the post-examination seminar on aspirations tomorrow. Let’s properly analyse your aspirations together.”

“Oh, okay.”

“I’m just surprised-why don’t you sound happy at all?”

“I’m very happy, but perhaps I just haven’t registered it yet.”

“Right, it was also a little the case for me just now…I’ll hang up first then; I’ll make a trip to the principal’s first.”

“Okay.”

Actually, Old Zhou didn’t actually have to go to the principal’s office. In just a few hours’ time, the principal would be obtaining the overall statistical report. Still, Old Zhou thought that if the principal was to learn of it so late, there might not be enough time for the banner…could they already be doing it? They’d better not hang the name of that student from Class 7 up there; that’d be a real screw up.

Xu Tingsheng hung up, thinking for a bit. It was just the top scholar of a county. Even while there was a first in Humanities in the entire province added on to it, it was not to the extent that he might be dragged off to be dissected, right…it seemed that there was nothing to worry about.

Surveying his surroundings, his family members was currently all still bunched up together discussing his university entrance examination results. Xu Tingsheng felt that he could really raise his head up and show off for real this time. Also, this sentence, once said out, would not require any explanation at all. Even if one was illiterate, having seen television dramas before, they would understand.

Xu Tingsheng said to Mr Xu, “Dad, I am the top scholar for Humanities in Libei and first in the entire province for Combined Humanities.”

“Huh? What?”

“I am the top scholar for Humanities in Libei and first in the entire province for Combined Humanities.”
……

As his family members had still yet to react, two ‘the heck’s first resounded over from the doorway as Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng entered together with Song Ni.

As the three ran over to Xu Tingsheng, it was still, “The heck.”

“What’s the situation?” Xu Tingsheng asked.

“Chen Yulun’s told the entire world that he’s the top scholar. He got 592, what about you?”

“I got 627.”

“…”

Xu Tingsheng heard the sound of saliva being swallowed.


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