In a blink of an eye, it was almost time to return to the Capital and Yuanying’s <<Fables of HanZi>> was printed. Before that, he had already obtained the sample book and was very satisfied with the finished product.
Li Chunfeng was also very satisfied. After all, he was a hands-on person and the prince was very happy to spend money and let him experiment with things. Seeing a hundred copies of the book neatly arranged together, Li Chunfeng felt accomplished and asked that Li Yuanying be notified.
It’s the first time Yuanying created a book and he was feeling proud. He borrowed a large number of servants to help him carry his books and that caused a long line to be formed. Since the money was borrowed from Li Er, he sent the Emperor the first copy. When he was delivering it, he saw the other ministers and passed each one a copy.
After the delivery, Yuanying found that he was missing a dozen copies and begin pondering how can his brother trusts so many ministers and calls so many people together to discuss matters every day.
After giving a copy to the Emperor, he distributed them to his friends. Li Zhi had long heard all about the book printing but Sizi and the others were kept in the dark. They were all surprised when they heard that Yuanying created a book and all volunteered to help deliver the book for him.
Soon all the princes and princesses had a copy of Li Yuanying’s “masterpiece”.
Li Yuanying then went to pass Kong Yingda and the other teachers a copy.
Only a few copies were left!
He realized that he has to save them for his mother in the capital so he instructed Dai Ting to put them away and not give any more away!
When Dai Ting was about to seal the book, Yuanying remembered that he had forgotten about Wei Shu so he quickly took one and ran to Wei Zheng’s house.
Wei Shu has long been waiting for the book to finish production and seeing Li Yuanying delivering them in person, she was overjoyed. She put away the precious book and then asked about his plans on the sunflower seeds. Should she plant his shared together with hers? Although her grandfather owned a farm, he had many children so it’s not private property of her parents alone. She can’t only plant sunflowers and no other crops.
Li Yuanying initially just wanted to go against Li Er and make him angry, he didn’t expect it to be such heavy responsibility.
“Hmm… you keep some for yourself and give me the rest. I’ll ask Xiaoyi to help plant yours together. After the harvest, we will sell it for some money!”
Yuanying already spent lots of money printing his book and he was now thinking about opening a big academy so he finally is thinking of ideas to make money. Since Sister Shu believes in him and is giving him her sunflower seeds he will certainly not disappoint her trust!
Wei Shu actually wasn’t convinced that seeds would fetch much gold but seeing her friend’s eyes sparkling brightly she did not want to discourage his enthusiasm.
Wei Shu asked curiously: “You said that your academy allows everyone who wants to study to study, so will your academy allow girls to study?”
Yuanying was taken aback, he hadn’t really thought about this problem.
Li Yuanying asked strangely: “Why can’t girls read or study? Sizi and the rest can all read. Sister Shu, you too and your handwriting is brilliant!”
“There are actually no schools around that will recruit girls.” Those that he counted were lucky to be from privileged backgrounds and thus took advantage to have the opportunity to be literate.
“Then the academy I will build will allow girls to study as well. When the academy opens in the future, you will be the first female student!”
“Okay! Then you’ll have to open the academy earlier or I will become an old student!”
Li Yuanying was amused by the term “old student” and was feeling happy.
After returning, he also talked to Li Zhi about the matter, saying that in order not to delay sister Shu’s study, he had to prepare quickly and strive to open the academy as soon as he arrive at his land.
Li Zhi was left speechless by this daring proclamation. “You don’t even know when you’ll be allowed to move to the fief, please don’t go around boldly harping about your grand plan of building an academy all day!”
Li Yuanying felt like he was already a serious scholar so he criticized Li Zhi: “Those who do not have big dreams see many small worries! I’m someone who acts immediately and makes things happen; I’m different from this guy here who hesitates about even taking the first step!
Li Zhi decided to just shut up. He then remembered that when Yuanying initially wanted to print his book, many took him as a joke and was gladly anticipating his failure. But as a result, his uncle actually managed to arrange things in one go and now his book is actually in existence! Although the content of the book is superficial- with many pictures and few words and can’t be regarded as a masterpiece, the content is actually interesting enough that it draws in your attention like strange magic and you can’t stop reading the whole thing!
Ordinary people will never spend money on such things, but Li Yuanying is not an ordinary person! So if he really wants to spend money to set up an academy, maybe he can really do it.
Seeing Li Zhi deep in thoughts, Yuanying decided to strike the iron when it’s hot and seize the opportunity to convince him: “I think you shouldn’t be like your fourth brother and stay put in the capital. Why don’t you come to my land and we can have fun together? I can open an academy and you can open an academy too, then we can get our students to compete and learn from each other. Wouldn’t that be great fun? If you’re concerned about finances, fear not! I can loan you money!”
“You seriously think it’s so easy to run an academy? Not only do you have to be rich, you also need to have established educators. If it’s so easy, why would people waste time joining you and not go elsewhere to do this?!”
“I’ve already had an alignment with teacher, he will lend me his students! When the time comes I’ll just ask our teachers to avail some manpower, surely we will succeed!” (Said Yuanying confidently)
Li Zhi actually didn’t expect Li Yuanying to resolve even this: “Which teacher? Chancellor Kong?”
“Of course not, it’s teacher Xiao.”
Li Zhi is obviously aware of who Xiao Deyan is; being at an advanced age of 82 years after being capable of surviving through three dynasties! Li Zhi was a little stunned: “Isn’t scholar Xiao helping fourth brother to work on his books? How did he become your teacher?”
“Seriously you’re so stupid. Just look at the great teacher Confucius, when someone teaches him even one word, he calls them one-word mentor one who can correct a misread or misspelled character and thus be your master. I’ve consulted scholar Xiao many times, no matter how you look at it he’s taught me more than one word, so why can’t I call him teacher? When you read books don’t just read them blindly, else you wouldn’t be able to put what you learned into practical use!”
Li Zhi was silent.
If the great Confucius you’re using his examples like this, I think definitely want to hit you right?
Everything has been packed and the imperial household wes ready to rush back to the capital before winter arrives. All the children were squeezed again into a carriage and Yuanying started telling his friend about the remaining <<HanZi>> stories which were not drawn in the book.
Even though Li Yuanying only gave away less than a hundred books, it actually caused quite a stir. Firstly, everyone who got Yuanying’s book was in high positions; they were all either members of the royal household or high-level ministers and they all found it interesting and got together to discuss it. As for elders like Zhangsun Wuji, although he was not very interested in children’s books, they found the materials educational and decided to show them to their children at home.
Books these days are not written with the intent of being interesting, for a person would be fortunate enough to be able to just read. No one would care if a bunch of kids find the content boring or if they understand fully the context. Therefore, Yuanying’s <<Fables of Han Zi>> gained much presence among younger people and everyone was enthusiastically discussing the stories in it with plans to bring it back home to the capital to show off to those who haven’t read it.
Moreover, children who didn’t have the chance to read <<Fables of Han Zi>> yet have cried and begged others to lend it to them.
This has elevated the reputation of the newly promoted Prince of Teng in the eyes of the masses. Most used to think that this brat is only good at causing trouble and was not expecting that he would be able to pull off publishing a book by himself! Moreover, his book is interesting enough that you will keep flipping the pages again and again!
It was already October when the group arrived back at the capital. The first person Yuanying rushed to meet is his mother who hurriedly embrace him tightly and were busy checking if he had been well-taken care of in Jiucheng Palace. After she’s done, Yuanying quickly passed her his self-published book.
Consort Liu happily took the book and read it.
Li Yuanying was busy instructing his servants to prepare his books for distribution when he suddenly heard someone calling out “Li Yuanying, come out, Li Yuanying, you come out!”
Oh, isn’t this Gao Yang?! He ran out quickly to take a look. Princess Gao Yang, who’s in riding uniform had beads of sweat dripping from her forehead and her cheeks were flushed evidence that she just finished playing polo.
Seeing Gao Yang’s angry face, Yuanying felt helpless: “What’s wrong?”
Gao Yang rushed towards him and poked the boy’s chest with the handle of the whip in her hand and said angrily: “How dare you ask me what’s wrong?! You know very well that I was devastated about not being able to go to Jiucheng Palace because of my illness yet you still write to me all day long telling me all the fun things you were doing. Wow, so much fun! How can you be like this, I’m so angry!!!”
Yuanying felt that Gao Yang was being unreasonable so he retorted: “I’m sharing fun experiences with you, why are you mad? Shouldn’t you be mad instead if I don’t write to you!”
Thinking back Gao Yang felt it make sense, if Yuanying didn’t write to her, she would be even more unhappy!
Seeing Gao Yang deep in thoughts, Yuanying said firmly: “You girls are all the same, you can’t do this, you can’t do that, I don’t know how to do things right anymore!”
But Gao Yang still thinks Yuanying is a jerk: “But still it’s not right for you to show off about your happiness on eating, drinking, and having fun every day.”
Li Yuanying ran back into his house and gave her a copy of his book: “I drew this book, I’m amazing ain’t I? I’m giving this to you!”
“You know very well that I don’t like reading. Besides, books can be drawn?” (Gao Yang)
“Of course!” Yuanying flip it open to show Gao Yang the contents and she was instantly attracted to it.
She received the book and then decided to forgive Yuanying reluctantly.
After sending away Gao Yang, Yuanying began thinking about what to do next.
As the newly crowned Prince of Teng, he now has authority to leave the palace with his men and can now go out to play from time to time. Having set his mind on running a big academy he will now start doing preliminary preparations as he will definitely not wait until the last minute to start scrambling.
For example, collecting works of literature and collecting talents.
Li Yuanying called for Dong Xiaoyi.
Gathering his men together, Li Yuanying explains the task. Dong Xiaoyi is to lead a group to inspect every farm under his name and to find those which are suitable to be transformed into “Sunflower Gardens”. Dai Ting is responsible for locating residences at good locations that are large and bright. The entire mansion should be remodeled according to his requirements. In addition, he also is to set up papermaking factories and hire talents for it. Since they might print new books in the future, it would be better to produce our own paper instead!
After cascading down his orders, Yuanying reverted to his old ways and hid in his mansion to avoid the cold winter weather. The only difference now is that he would often ask for books to be brought to him for reading.
While Li Yuanying was leisurely reading on his couch, His Majesty Li Er and his men got busy.
For something is happening in Gaochang. Located in the Turpan Basin it’s an important gateway to the Western Regions. Meaning everyone who conducts trade has to pass through this region.
Being a small country with weak military force, Gaochang and other small countries nearby make the same choice: to rely on a stronger ally country as a means for survival.
A pity that this year Gaochang decided to conspire with Western Turks and jointly invade a neighboring country. Coincidently, that neighboring state is an ally to Tang Empire so when they realise they needed help, they sent forth messengers asking for help. Due to this incident, old records of Gaochang were being scrutinized and soon the imperial court realized that they haven’t paid tribute for several years.
His Majesty Li Er decided to take a softer approach by sending diplomats for a courtesy visit before sending messengers to enquire about debts. As a result, this incident was dragged out until November.
Gaochang made the conclusion that since Tang Empire was newly established, its power should be weaker than that of Sui Sui Empire was the previous ruling empire prior to Tang taking over. Coincidently, it’s winter and with Gaochang being quite a distance, Gaochang’s ruler felt that Li Er wouldn’t send troops for such trivial matters. At most he would send forth diplomats bringing angry messages.
But Li Er is someone who values his reputation hence he was so angry at such accusations that he couldn’t sleep. It has always been a pain point for him that Tang has not kept up with the progress of Sui Dynasty. How dare a small country insult his Tang empire?!
He confided in his close confidants to express one firm decision: Hit, hit them hard! No matter the consequences or difficulty, we have to pack a punch to Gaochang until they’re finished. We must set an example to show other affiliated countries the consequences of making enemies with Tang Empire!
Although some wanted to dissuade the Emperor, the final verdict was still to attack Gaochang with haste, best if immediately.
Hearing that they are going to war with Gaochang, Li Yuanying decided to hold a small meeting with his friend.
The topic of discussion was: Where is Gaochang? Is it far? is it fun? What’s there to eat?
Li Zhi took out an inaccurately hand-drawn map to point out the location and introduced the great things about this place.
Gao Yang enthusiastically added what she remembers: “Gaochang used to offer grape wine to us as tribute. Sweet, not intoxicating and delicious ones.”
Li Yuanying concluded that: “This is a place with wine! I wonder who the Emperor will send for this mission but if it’s someone we know we can ask him to bring some back for us!”
Li Zhi said angrily: “Is war a joke to you? How can anyone bring you wine at a time like this?”
Upon deeper thought, Yuanying realizes that Li Zhi was right, how dare he asks the army to bring him things, that’s not a good idea! He thought for a while and secretly conspired with his friends: “I have a grand plan; do you want to join me? Just prepare some men and leave the rest to me!