Drifting – 6

Dear Elder Brothers,

It is your little Gao Wenshi.

I am on my way to Xichang via carriage. It is small but I have ample room to write because the other passengers are dead.

Let me explain.

Not so much as an hour ago we were ambushed by rogues about half way to our destination. I’d have surely died there on the roadside were it not for a hero hidden among the carriage’s passengers.

She is known among the wulin as the Sword Witch. Not a flattering title, but having just witnessed little of her ability, it is an accurate one. One can scarcely imagine a sword in her hand belongs to the mundane world. Her skill is a match to the martial talents of legend.

That we should meet is no mere coincidence. It is the will of Heaven itself and my duty is clear. I must record her exploits so that her legend is not lost. This cannot be done, as I’m sure you appreciate, from a bureaucrat’s office.

It was wise of father and mother to send me to Nanlin Academy all those years ago. I entered the Academy like a wanderer stumbling out of a great desert. I was starving, not for food and drink, but for knowledge and wisdom. And this the Academy provided in ample supply. I was nourished by the Four Books upon which all moral governance is based. And I have consumed them as well as the great histories and the great literature of the world.

If only father and mother were still alive to see their little Gao Wenshi today. To see what a gift this education has been. As it is a gift, I must see that it is put to the best possible use. Father and mother intended for me to enter the civil service, to secure a position in the imperial government, and to use my station to secure some benefit for our family. I realize now what a waste that would be of this most precious gift. After all, our family has done well enough these many generations without such government connections. And, it must be said, connections of this type are quite unethical in any case, according to the very education that was meant to forge them.

Do not think that I am unfilial. Indeed, this is not my decision at all. It is the will of Heaven. The Wanli Emperor rules by the moral authority derived from Heaven, he proclaims Imperial Edicts in accordance with universal moral truth, and the edicts, in turn, are enacted by the court and all subordinate members of government. I, a mere man, dare not to place my will above that of Heaven’s.


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