Chapter 147: Xishan Tower’s Xu Tingsheng (4)
That Saturday at Jianan University, when the coach had allowed his young charges to sleep off the entire morning, Xu Tingsheng hadn’t actually remained in bed. He had gone out, finding the teaching dormitory district of Jianan University and knocking on the door of an old man.
This old man who was named Yan Zhenyu had tried to guide Xu Tingsheng onto the route of history with all his might in his previous life, grooming him painstakingly for four long years. At the end of it all, he had even lowered himself and gone to beg others in order to get him into one of the limited postgraduate studies slots available.
However, having wanted to ease the financial burden on his family by quickly finding a job, Xu Tingsheng had eventually chosen to give up on this chance right at the final juncture. All the effort the old man had put in had gone down the drain just like that.
Afterwards, the guilt-ridden Xu Tingsheng had dared not even bid the old man farewell.
“How do you do, Professor Yan. I’m the one who previously sent you a letter, Xu Tingsheng of Yanzhou University,” Xu Tingsheng gave the deep bow that he truly owed him from back then.
“Oh, it’s Little Friend Xu. Welcome, please enter,” Professor Yan smiled in a kindly manner.
The old man and the young man entered the living room and sat down.
After brewing tea, Yan Zhenyu’s first sentence was, “Since Little Friend likes analysing history, you would definitely know that this old man’s reputation…isn’t really that good. How would you have been able to feel reassured handing such an important discovery over to me? Aren’t you afraid that…”
Seeing Professor Yan bringing up old matters again on his own accord, Xu Tingsheng had to force himself to interrupt the old man’s words, saying sincerely, “Teacher Yan, I feel that…you are first and foremost a father, only being a historian secondary to that. For some things, what is right in principle might not be the entirety of what is right and wrong…Like this, I feel that you are more worthy of trust.”
Yan Zhenyu opened his mouth slightly, yet still did not speak in the end.
Yan Zhenyu had once been a Professor of History at a certain famous university in the northeast. After several decades of hard work, he had established great fame and authority in the world of academia.
Logically speaking, with his identity, he should not be teaching in Jianan University, a mere third-rate university, like this.
All of the problems stemmed from his son, a firstborn child from a scholarly family who had been walking around with a history book in his hand since young. While he had been recognised as a talented and skillful individual since young, he had just insisted on going down the route of business in the end. Thereafter, he had failed in all his ventures, eventually owing a great amount of debt which numbered into the millions.
Because of him, Yan Zhenyu had set aside all his principles. When a rich businessman had wanted him to beautify a sycophant ancestor of his in an article, giving him money for that, he had simply done so. When some rich businessman or other had forcibly wanted his family line to be traceable back to Su Dongpo or some other historical figure, becoming the XX generation descendant of that famous figure, even wanting it officially published, he had done so when the money had been provided to him, writing it and thinking of a way for it to be published…
Scholars were all useless for everything but. Having been a scholar all his life, this was the sole method that had been available to Yang Zhenyu.
In three years’ time, he had wrecked his entire reputation, becoming mocked and despised by countless peers, amongst whom included his colleagues, his old friends, even his former students.
In these three years, he had helped to repay all his son’s debts before leaving the environment that could no longer tolerate him, bringing his old spouse to Jianan University which had been widely regarded as ‘being completely foundationless other than having money’ at the time.
The scholarly have always prized their reputation, yet Yan Zhenyu had exchanged his reputation, his principles, his beliefs and his status all for money. The pain that he must be feeling-perhaps there was only he himself who could understand it.
In Xu Tingsheng’s previous life, there had once been a classmate who told him: The old man’s likely taken you for his son when he was still young, grooming you in much the same manner. He wants to make up for all those past regrets he has with you, giving himself a consolation.
Sadly, the Xu Tingsheng of back then had still disappointed the old man in the end.
In the upcoming discussions, the old man clearly pointed out the naivety and deficiencies in Xu Tingsheng’s thesis, those areas with forced leaps in logic and even where errors had been made. Xu Tingsheng accepted all of his opinions. Cao Cao’s mausoleum had originally not been discovered through theorising and the corresponding verification of such. Instead, its discovery had been an accident, the contention on this having been great till the very end.
However, it was precisely because of this that in the verification endeavours of History experts, they had researched various historical texts and found much proof thereafter that it was indeed Cao Cao’s mausoleum.
What Xu Tingsheng was doing was turning ‘post-verification proof’ into ‘pre-verification proof’ using his identity as a lover of history. As a result, there were indeed many places with forced leaps in logical progression.
“Therefore, Professor Yan, there might continually exist great contention regarding this thesis as soon as it is published,” Xu Tingsheng said sincerely after hearing that the old man was already working on the publication for him.
The old man smiled kindly, “I did some research and also made some amendments to the thesis. There’s still a chance that we are right. Also, this old man shamelessly put the words ‘Yan Zhenyu’ under the second author heading. Like this, with a scurrying rat like me around, even if something crops up, all the criticism will be directed at me.”
“You can rest easy on this. You’re still a child, after all. It’s already a very remarkable thing that you’ve been able to think and research to this extent. I think that they should still have a rather tolerant attitude towards you.”
“Thank you…Teacher Yan,” In having said Teacher rather than Professor, Xu Tingsheng was actually privately giving expression to that past closeness of theirs.
“You’re welcome, Little Friend. Actually, I have my own selfish wish here as well. If it is finally proven that we are right, this old man can also have been considered as having borrowed Little Friend’s strength in making a comeback from where there can be no further point of retreat. After all, that’s the Gaoling Mausoleum! If I could only personally touch a handful of that soil in my remaining years…”
Facing the northwest, the old man revealed an infinitely yearning expression.
The old man walked Xu Tingsheng outside. Just like in his previous life, this was ever such a kindly old man. He was putting so much effort in helping even a ‘stranger’ like Xu Tingsheng.
“To repay my debts to academia,” The old man said at the end.
Xu Tingsheng didn’t know if the repayment he was trying to give was the Gaoling Mausoleum of Anyang which had remained a millennia-long mystery or if it was Xu Tingsheng, a promising seed for historical research who had gained his recognition as well as approval.
“Really, please don’t let it be me, Teacher. I’m just intending to play here for a bit. I’m just gonna set off a firecracker and run.”
Traditionally speaking, the media was usually lacking in interest in the area of academic research. After all, these things were usually abstruse and hard to understand, not being especially newsworthy. However, this time was different.
The words ‘Cao Cao’ themselves were already the most newsworthy. Adding on the fact that the ‘discoverer’ was a ‘first year university student’, that made it even more newsworthy. The general public just loved novelty. Something unexpected? …There was nothing that could stoke the enthusiasm of the media more than this.
Thus, when the world of academia was still hotly debating about the issue, the media were already beginning to ‘stoke the flames’ without care, the all-encompassing coverage that ensued virtually making it rather impossible for anyone to not know about this issue.
Also, it went off-kilter.
Whether it was the media or the general public, all of them were of the sole opinion, of the sole hope: Dig.
“Hard to identify its veracity? Still being debated?”
“Identify what? Debate what?”
“Just dig it! Won’t everything be fine if you just dig it? If you dig it, won’t everything come to light?”
All of them cared not about the possibly insufficient technology, whether or not salvage archaeology might be needed…At the end of the day, those joining in the commotion were unconcerned with much else. So long as the result remained unclear, all of them would feel greatly impatient.
“Maybe that first year university student is right?”
“If he’s wrong? Even if he’s wrong, so what? He’s still just a kid.”
“Anyway, they should just dig it first.”
Amidst the din, the students of Xishan Academy City discovered to their great astonishment that the one who had stirred up such a great disturbance this time was actually yet again none other than that first year student of Yanzhou University whose name was Xu Tingsheng…
“What wouldn’t he be able to do, really?”
This sentence was not demeaning Xu Tingsheng. It was just that no one could really find a better way to express how they felt at all of it.
And so it was that someone began a totally random thread under the ‘Xishan Tower’ forum. All that was written in the original post was: Xishan Tower’s Xu Tingsheng.
What did this mean? Many people felt bemused until someone followed suit, posting another phrase in the same style of randomness: Foshan’s Wong Fei-hung.
The third guy posted: Mount White Camel’s Ouyang Feng.
All the replies followed this style, being the same brand of random. Those who already understood already understood, while those who didn’t understand still didn’t understand. Fortunately, someone helped to explain using this method:
“Where are you from?”
“The Foshan where Wong Fei-hung came from.”
“Oh, now I know.”
Therefore, Xishan Tower’s Xu Tingsheng.