Edited by Kiskaiya
Updated on 7 Sep 2019
Chapter 16: Boil The Hound Once The Rabbit Is Caught
The Su family was a large clan that was a level above the other clans as only high ranking officials were able to hold the position of managing the matters of the military horse and their rations.
Su family’s status of managing the military horses was already in place since the founding of Ming Qi and was managed very well. Ping Nan Bo, Su Yu, was no exception. From his perspective, the Su family was splendid and would certainly continue on for a long time. Perhaps loyal officials would have thought that as long as one was to faithfully work, the Imperial family would not treat them unfairly.
But since the ancient times, accompanying one’s sovereign was like accompanying a tiger. In this world, who would be able to predict it clearly?
Su Yu would be forty years old when the year ends and could be considered quite loving to his Furen. Even though he had a few concubines, they only gave birth to daughters. Since there were only two Di sons, he was always very strict with their education.
His eldest son, Su Ming Feng, started to serve in the government at a young age and, similar to him, was in charge of 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 regarding the military horses and because of that, the number of warhorses that died due to plague dropped by half. This was a great merit. After the military statistics were put up next month, Su Ming Feng would definitely be rewarded.
Bestowing rewards was secondary, the main thing was that this represented glory and honour. Su Yu was past his prime, and currently Su Ming Feng was of the right age when the son should succeed his father’s career, thus it was time to expand Su Ming Feng’s reputation. If Su Ming Feng was so 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 compared to his peers, he would be found lacking.
As Su Ming Lang was not the eldest son, naturally he need not inherit the title of heir, so it did not matter if he was a little dumb. But Su Yu had an unbending personality and would not tolerate any deficiency in his own son. In order to correct this, he would test his homework after Su Ming Lang returned from the academy each day. His little son would suffer the reprimands and his Furen would cover up his shortcomings, making it seem like all hell would break loose.
But this day, Su Yu was in the study discussing some things with Su Ming Feng. Both father and son had endless things to talk about on the topic of military horses. Master Su was elated. To have such an outstanding son, what could he be unsatisfied 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 will definitely confer an official title. For the time being, don’t mention bestowment of precious stones or whatever, Father is only hoping your career will be more stable. Now that the Xiong Nu have begun to stir, attention needs to be on the military horses. Ming Feng, as long as you are able to obtain His Majesty’s high regard, 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 an upright and awe-inspiring look to 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 had 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 that time when Second Young Master Su Ming Lang returned from the academy. Every day when Su Ming Lang finished his lessons, he would always be called into Master Su’s study to be tested on what he learnt and there was no exception today.
Master Su was supressing the beginnings of a headache as he first looked at his outstanding oldest son, then looked 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 by the end Su Yu would roll in anger.
Today was no different.
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, silly yet adorable. Su Ming Feng stroked his younger brother’s head, “Ming Lang, did everything go well in 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 had been reprimanded by his teacher.
Master Su put on a stern face and ordered, “Extend your palm out.”
Su Ming Lang shrank back a bit and stretched out his hands in misery. One could see a few red marks on the fair and tender palms. If these weren’t the strokes of a ruler, what else could they be?
Master Su had a look of expectation but it was Su Ming Feng that felt anguished for his younger brother as he asked, “How could this teacher beat this heavily? He is just a child.”
“It is all of your coddling that spoilt him to this level!” Master Su flew into a rage after he heard his oldest son and angrily asked, “What went wrong today?”
Little Su Ming Lang hesitated before speaking apprehensively, “The teacher asked me to write 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 other young masters at your age, which one of them are like you. When your Eldest Brother was your age, he was already reading books on military horses. The face of our Su family has almost been completely thrown away by you!”
Su Ming Feng was about to try to persuade his father when he heard his 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 have 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 raised his head to ask.
“The meaning of ‘the fox grieves when the rabbit dies’ is that the rabbit died and the fox realised that it would suffer the same fate and felt sad. But ‘boiling the hound once the rabbit is caught’ means that once the rabbit was killed and the hunting dog had no more value, it would be cooked. It means to say that once a thing has no more value and is 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 younger brother’s question.
But Su Ming Lang shook his head and still had a look of confusion, “Since both happen 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, “The rabbit is dead?”
“Yes.” Su Ming Lang opened his palm out as his plump rounded face looked innocent yet stubborn, “Anyhow, both rabbits are dead. Isn’t the meaning that once the rabbit dies, the fox and dog will be out of luck? Since everyone is out of luck, then both phrases should 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 a basis on the 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 helped it’s master hunt for the rabbit?
Su Yu’s expression gradually sank.