Li Yuanying’s excitement lasted for only a short while. Seeing that there were many haggard-looking faces in the queue and all fitting Sun Simiao’s description of those with “ailment in the body”, he followed the doctor around and worked hard.
Doctor Sun is someone with vast experience and so he remained calm despite the long line outside. He slowly explained to the young prince all about discerning illnesses through seeing, hearing, asking, and feeling.
Yuanying nodded. While he was treating patients with familiar symptoms, he can already draw references from previous cases and look into it like how his teacher would have done. As long as Sun Simiao has taught him once, he doesn’t need him to be taught a second time.
The apprentices accompanying them were shocked. The old doctor did not deliberately slow down his pace to explain things to the young prince. He worked at his usual speed and at most would answer questions from the boy.
After one round, Yuanying understood all about the common sickness prevalent in Spring. However, since he hasn’t learned about prescribing medicine, he couldn’t do that on his own.
As for the other apprentices, they were still being restricted by what they have learned in the past and were comparing them to what Sun Simiao has been demonstrating. Still a long way to go before being able to fully digest everything!
It was rumored that Li Yuanying was the little demon king and you should never get involved with him. But today, the apprentices felt that he was far nicer than all the other nobles and dignitaries.
At the very least, they haven’t seen any other nobleman who is willing to help Sun Simiao with such diligence. The young prince even volunteered to wipe his teacher’s sweat and hand drinking water to him from time to time!
This guy seems to have endless energy. Seeing that Sun Simiao was tired, he volunteered to check the patient’s pulse on his behalf. Only when he has difficulties in diagnosing would he ask Sun Simiao to take a closer look.
If this was a normal day, no one would believe the credibility of such a “little doctor” but Li Yuanying was blessed with great features and looked like a child of a wealthy family. Therefore, there was a long queue waiting for the boy who was helping out Sun Simiao.
Don’t underestimate Li Yuanying as just a beginner. With this exposure, he is already able to advise others righteously. “If you feel that your chest is tight and you’re out of breath, don’t just hide under the quilt, it’s better to walk around more.” Others were shocked and asked how he knew.
“Look at your face, there are still red marks left behind from the mat you were sleeping on!”
When others saw that the man really had red marks printed on his face, it became obvious that he got up from the bed just to join in the fun and they all started laughing.
People here could afford to fall sick. Those who are ill would take the prescriptions given and pick up medicines from the medicine hall. Business is booming and the medicine hall shopkeeper greets the guests with a smile.
In the afternoon, Li Yuanying decided to try the food from the surrounding vendors at random. He met many who came from the villages with relatives. It’s obvious that they rushed here after being notified that the old genius doctor Sun is running a free clinic.
Sick homeless people started arriving at noon. At first, they were quite reluctant to approach the clinic. However, when the leader tested the sentiment by walking forward and she was not driven away, they then brought their acquaintances who needed medical treatment.
These people came to get a medical prescription. If they could afford it, they’ll treat it, if it’s too expensive then forget it.
This is the first time the young prince is exposed to so many improvised people with ragged clothing. Li Mountain is not far from Chang’an and it’s not an exaggeration to say that it is located right at the feet of the Emperor. Why then are there so many who can’t afford food or clothing or medical attention?
While Li Yuanying had a good time in the morning, he started to feel uncomfortable and became much more quiet after seeing the group.
Sun Simiao thought that the boy just thinks that the peasants, farmers, and beggars were dirty. He didn’t give it much second thought, after all this is a child who grew up in heaps of gold and jade.
“You must be tired after attending to so many. Take rest, let me take over.” (Sun Simiao)
The young prince had much on his mind and so he meekly obeyed. The only thing he did was ask Dong Xiaoyi to hand over some money to the medicine hall to pay for medicines for those who can’t afford them.
There were several homeless people present who were about the same age as Li Yuanying; all about ten years old. They were so unkempt – barefoot, with loose hair, thin and dirty that it was hard to discern their gender.
Yuanying thought about it and quickly ask Dong Xiaoyi to get new clothes. No need to be luxurious just ordinary ones and then also to buy some hot food. Otherwise, they’ll get sick again even with medicine.
He hasn’t thought about a solution beyond such gestures. After all, he can give everyone here a good meal but he can’t give sustain this if this was every other day.
After quick arrangements, he sat back next to Sun Simiao and was staring at the dirty, black hands that was stretched out towards them.
Most who came here sick were not troubled by serious illnesses. It was due to delays in treatment that had weakened their bodies. If not for the “charity stations” set up by the government around various temples that occasionally feed and treat the homeless, I’m afraid that many might not even survive one winter.
When it was almost the group’s turn to seek medical consultation, Dong Xiaoyi brought over the clothes according to their sizes.
Although it’s quite impossible to tell their gender, most clothes worn by the common people were similar with not much distinction between males and females clothing. Dong Xiaoyi bought the most common and durable ones and gave them to the group according to Li Yuanying’s wishes.
The group was shocked by the gesture but then quickly followed Dong Xiaoyi’s instructions and thanked the young boy by kowtowing in respect.
It’s not a common practice in the palace to perform such a heavy show of respect. Li Yuanying normally does not even bow to His Majesty Li Er!
Seeing them do this with their heads down and their voices ringing with thanks, Yuanying felt a loud knock on his heart which made his chest a little stuffy and painful.
He didn’t quite understand this feeling and so he stood up and personally helped the group up.
He has always been articulate but now he could only manage to say dryly: “Your illness will get better, then life will get better.”
Several thanked Li Yuanying in unison.
After speaking, he quickly pulled them into a sitting position and asked for their arms to check their pulse one by one.
Only after Sun Simiao was done with his patient did Li Yuanying update him about the situation. Their illnesses are not serious. But one person, in particular, has been suffering from cold for too long. Already coughing badly and her body hot. We need to get the temperature down quickly.
Hearing this, Sun Simiao realizes that the boy was not judging these people but was quiet because he was thinking of ways to help them. He began to like Li Yuanying even more. The old doctor happily helped him to review the illnesses and prescribed them with various medical recipes.
Yuanying saw that they obviously didn’t have a roof over their head and so could not boil the medicine themself. He requested Dong Xiaoyi to discuss with the medicine hall and directed them to prepare the medicine for them to bring home.
Since most had Spring related illnesses, their symptoms were not too different. Yuanying left Sun Simiao’s side and went to chat with the homeless and asked about their story on why they were wandering outside alone.
The oldest in the group was actually a girl. According to her, she is 11 but because there isn’t enough food, she looked small and was about a head shorter than Yuanying.
She told him that there was a severe drought in her hometown a few years ago. No one could afford food and had to abandon those who were too young to work. And so she was thrown out.
The one who is now severely ill is her younger sister. Both were abandoned and didn’t know their way home and so they have been begging outside for many years.
The others all suffered similarly; some were thrown out and some had no living relatives. She saw that they were all young and naïve. If she didn’t initiate this they would all starve to death. Unfortunately, her younger sister caught a cold and everyone else is also sick.
Most doctors disliked them because they were dirty and had no money. They wouldn’t even allow them to enter. Seeing her sister’s condition deteriorating by the day, the girl was getting desperate and could only cry by her side. Hearing that there’s a free clinic available, they quickly took turns carrying her and rush here.
Listening to them, Yuanying asked for a string of copper coins and handed it to the leader.
“When you and your sister are better, go to a farm outside of Chang’an called “Sunflower garden”. Just say that you are recommended by the Prince of Teng. They will arrange work for you and if you are willing to work, you will have a place to stay.”
After hanging out frequently with Wei Shu, Yuanying became aware that the golden and silver ingots he used in the palace to reward others were rarely used outside. He also recalls a story about how immersed wealth ruined a man due to others’ jealousy and so he didn’t give the group much but just enough to cover the expenses to reach his sunflower garden.
Li Mountain is not that far from Chang’an. Even if they were robbed, they can still reach the place by walking. No disaster should befall them because of the money he has given them.
The group shed tears of joy when they heard of the boys plans in helping them to survive.
It’s not that they refuse to work, it’s just that no one was willing to teach them or take them in. They kept Li Yuanying’s words firmly in their hearts and knelt to pay him respect twice.
The boy felt restless seeing their gesture. He secretly decided that no one will ever be allowed to do this to him in the future. This action is not good at all!
The commotion of giving away gifts and the serious show of respect caught the public’s attention and they all looked toward them.
Sensing the crowd, the accompanying guards immediately guarded the prince. Their serious yet dignified uniform and shiny swords made the people terrified. The masses quickly withdrew their prying eyes.
Seeing this, Yuanying motioned for the guards to step down. He then got up and said to the people surrounding the medicine hall: “I’m the Prince of Teng whose title is conferred by the Emperor himself. My land is in Teng province which is large and close to water making it a place where many can make a living. If you are homeless and want to make a living, go towards the Sunflower Garden outside of Chang’an after recovering. I know many have lost their fields because of bad times. As long as you are willing to work, I will take you in, give you fields and help you build houses. You will never be left displaced and homeless as you are now!”
The boy’s thinking pattern was: he doesn’t only own a small garden, he has an entire fief so he should not worry about people coming. Hence his exaggerated boasting and promises.
Seeing that many were moved, Li Yuanying decided to bring forth an ugly truth: “But the Sunflower Garden only accepts those who are willing to work. Even in your own home, you will not feed those who do not contribute, right?”
The crowd responded in unison: “Of course!”
No money comes easily from the wind. So why would you feed the useless? Even if it’s your own son, a mother would still scold him for being too lazy.
Although Yuanying was young, he spoke eloquently. Those around had watched him working the whole day without complaining about hardship or tiredness. Hearing him, they were even more convinced: The other princes like Prince Wei or Prince Wu have not been seen willing to work outside or giving free medical treatment. This Prince Teng is obviously different from them. We trust his words, if he says in the future you will be given land, then it is so!
The homeless group who came to seek medical treatment became excited and started kneeling again.
None of these people had experience in dealing with dignitaries and just recall that this was how they paid respect in the temple. Since this prince gave them food, clothes, and a way for them to live. Shouldn’t he be treated the same as the Gods in the temple?
So they all gave respect seriously. They kowtowed as if their skulls were harder than stone.
Li Yuanying had no choice but to go over and help them up one by one. He became, even more, determine that no one should be allowed to do this to him in the future. Whoever does this will be punished severely! When they kneel like this, he has to help them up one by one, how tiring!
Notes from the author:
Little Prince: I hope everyone in the world can afford books!
His Majesty Li Er: Good idea!
Little Prince: I hope everyone in the world can be cured!
His Majesty Li Er: Good idea!
Little Prince: I hope everyone in the world will have enough to eat!
His Majesty Li Er: Good idea!
His Majesty Li Er: Okay, let’s stop talking, I need to work overtime