Living Leisurely in Tang Dynasty Chapter 28

His Majesty gave Li Chengqian a light glance.

Late last year, Chengqian had just been told off by several people for being addicted to hunting and playing. Looks like he has returned to his old ways in such a short time!

Chengqian felt His Majesty’s gaze and remained silent. Although they were father and son, he couldn’t be like Yuanying or Li Tai and act coquettish to score brownie points with the Emperor.

Yuanying didn’t care about the atmosphere between father and son and got closer to His Majesty and sighed: “I’ve wanted to go for a long time, but Chengqian said that cattle can’t be slaughtered at will, we’ll have to see if anyone’s cattle have an accident and buy it over. Chengqian and I have been waiting for days to no avail. Why is it so difficult to eat roasted beef?”

“One ox can save lots of manpower. If you rely on a human to dig the ground until when do you have to dig before you’ll be able to plant? Stop hoping for someone’s livestock to have an accident!”

Yuanying has never farmed, in fact, he’s never even been out of the city much. The last time he planted something was in Jiucheng Palace for the sunflowers and he was exhausted after just digging ten holes. He understood instantly after listening to Li Er’s explanation and then changed his mind enthusiastically: “Then we won’t eat cows, let’s eat sheep! Sheep can’t be used to plow the lands!”

His Majesty looked towards Wei Zheng and the other ministers.

When Yuanying saw this, he immediately remembered that his brother is pitiful even though he was the Emperor. He gets judged for every little thing he does. This father and son duo (referring to Li Er & Li Chenqian) really have a difficult life.

 Yuanying immediately ran over to Kong Yingda and held his hand tightly.  

“Chancellor Kong, the library opened smoothly today thanks to your hard work and efforts! To celebrate this and hope that from now on people hungry to learn will have a new place to study, I want to invite everyone to eat a roasted whole lamb to commemorate it!”

He then added solemnly, “We will first offer respect to the great sage Confucius, then to all the scholars before finally eating it together. I pray that more capable people with grand ideas will appear in the future! Chancellor Kong, How about this?”

Seeing Li Yuanying’s childish bun face with a serious expression and saying such big words, many couldn’t help but laugh.

Kong Yingda didn’t know if he should be angry or frustrated nor can he scold the boy. He was tempted to shake Li Yuanying’s hand away!

Zhangsun Wuji held in his laughter and persuaded the rest: “If that’s the case, let’s go together.”

Everyone looked around and agreed with Zhangsun Wuji. Since they have already skipped work and left the palace, it didn’t matter that they are skipping for another half a day. This is also a good opportunity to see what place has the Crown Prince been hiding.

Chengqian still felt the whole incident was surreal even when he was telling people to make preparation for the roasted whole lamb.

This was his secret base, why did it suddenly get revealed to the world? And he now has to bring his father, Wei Zheng, and Kong Yingda who enjoys scolding him daily to enjoy a roasted lamb meal together?

Li Yuanying on the other hand had no guilty conscious about ratting out his nephew. Instead, he felt that it was great and lively to have so many people participating together!  

The party set off together, Yuanying got himself a pony and rode up to Chengqian to ride together. He intended to start a discussion with his gloomy nephew: “Chengqian, how do you eat a whole roasted lamb? Should I cut it directly with a knife piece by piece and eat it? Maybe you should give Old Kong the sheep’s hoof as a sign of respect to the teacher! If you’re ashamed or embarrassed to do so, cut it and pass it to me. I’ll go! Come on, I really want to see Old man Kong gnawing away at the sheep’s hoof!”

Chengqian looked at his heartless uncle with a complicated face. When this guy needed Kong Yingda’s support he was calling him Chancellor Kong respectfully. But now that he’s given in to his desire to go BBQ together, he reverts to calling him Old man Kong!

However, Chengqian couldn’t hold back his laughter when he imagine Kong Yingda chewing away on a lamb leg.

“Okay, I’ll cut it for you.”

Yuanying rode halfway and decided that riding was too tiring, so he shamelessly went back and squeezed into the carriage together with the other children. The three little lolis were happy to see him. The children sat together and exchanged stories, they also lie by the window to look at the scenery outside. All of them were happy because of this unexpected spring outing.

To keep this a secret from the others, Li Chengqian’s secret base was located far off in a remote area. The group took nearly two hours to get there, including the time taken to prepare the carriage and horses. Servants who were sent ahead for preparation spent quite a bit to purchase the whole sheep and were rushing to prepare it.   At this moment, there was enough firewood and the big stove was burning hot!

Yuanying had never seen anyone roasting a whole lamb before, so when he arrived, he jumped out of the carriage and led the children to go see the big stove.

It’s really big and really tall!

In the eyes of the children, the stove was gigantic!

The whole sheep is being roasted on  fire with several people keeping watch. They were turning the sheep over and adding seasoning!

The children stared at the stove for a long time until they finally had enough of it.

Although this place is a bit distant, it had good scenery, and the entire area was covered in greenery. They could even see a few families living by the mountains some distance away. Seeing that the meal was not ready yet, Yuanying persuaded Chengqian to check out the surrounding area hoping to get good prey, buy them and try them out!

Chengqian ordered servants to go in accordance to Yuanying’s wishes.

A few younger children were excited and wanted to go fishing by the side of the small lake. Yuanying was completely inexperienced in this area so he rolled his eyes to think and then took out a golden nugget and ask if any of the guards knows how to stab a fish.  Whoever stabs a fish successfully would be rewarded with a golden nugget.

The guards ignored him.

Li Yuanying had no choice but to run to His Majesty for a favour.

After Li Er gave an order, the experienced guards all stood up, took hold of a few harpoons and started catching fish under the cheering watch of several children. In a short moment there were fish. The servants Li Chengqian sent out also bought back several pheasants, saying that they happen to meet a hunter who came back from the mountains and this was all his harvest.

Yuanying pointed at the pheasant and said to Li Zhi: “Look here Zhi Nu, today we are going to have wild pheasants!” [1]This line only makes sense in Mandarin in which the “Zhi” character in Li Zhi’s name and the “Zhi” character for wild pheasants are the same in writing so it’s likened to wordplay

Li Zhi heard him pronounced the “Zhi” characters deliberately and blue veins popped on his forehead and he said angrily, “What does it have to do with me!”

Uncle and nephew exchanged a few words and the soft-tempered Li Zhi was dragged away by Li Yuanying to join in the trouble. They had to grill fish and chicken making it extremely busy.  

Unfortunately, Li Yuanying had no experience and so the fish was burnt, the chicken black and he ended up with a black face darkened by charcoal!

Li Chengqian was an adult so he was forced to follow His Majesty and the ministers around and had to listen to them discuss state affairs.

The children returned and Chengqian instantly caught sight of Li Yuanying’s appalling appearance.

 But this guy doesn’t know how to feel embarrassed and he couldn’t be bothered about the black patches on his face. He instead said to Li Zhi who was roasting the chicken next to him: “Zhi Nu, your face is black. Come I’ll wipe it for you.”  After speaking, he wiped Li Zhi’s face with his black dirty fingers.

When the girls heard the conversation they looked toward Li Zhi. Initially, Li Zhi’s face was alright but it was now being smeared by Li Yuanying and he’s turned into someone with a messy face!

The three little loli roared in laughter.

Unexpectedly, Li Yuanying turned towards them and said in a caring tone: “Sizi, your face is dirty too, let me wipe it for you!”

As soon as Sizi heard this, she stuffed the grilled fish back to the person serving her and ran away determined to not to let Li Yuanying succeed in his doings.

Li Zhi, the honest boy, finally reacted and passed his roast chicken to the others and went to the lake to look at himself. He almost couldn’t recognize himself!

Li Zhi was pissed and after wiping his face with water, he went after Li Yuanying for revenge.

The children started chasing each other around. Li Er saw this but did not stop them.

Li Chengqian stood beside Li Er, looking at his younger siblings with envy. It was only when the food was ready that he called the children to stop making a fuss and come taste the roasted lamb.

 As soon as the roasted lamb came out of the stove, its fragrant barbecued smell wafted out and it smells delicious. This time, we came last minute so I couldn’t pick the ingredients in advance, so it’s rather smaller in size but there’s also grilled chicken and fish so it was a scrumptious meal.

The children were amazed by the golden crispy roasted lamb. They’ve never seen such a big one before with their own eyes! Yuanying remembers his discussion with Chengqian on the way here and got close to Chengqian to nudge him; indicating that it was time to cut the lamb leg!

Seeing Li Yuanying wink at Chengqian, His Majesty knew the kid was up to no good. He then saw Chengqian stepping forward and neatly cutting off half the lamb leg with its hoof attached.

Li Yuanying picked it up and trotted in front of his Majesty and then shoved it into Li Er’s hands enthusiastically: ” Lord Brother, this is delicious, try it!”

He then passed Zhangsun Wuji, Fang Xuanling and Kong Yingda the other lamb leg for them to share.

His Majesty and Zhangsun Wuji both looked at each other with lamb leg in hand and were rendered speechless.

After dividing it up, Yuanying didn’t care about the others or the atmosphere, he instead got close to Chengqian and instructed him to cut here and there. He split a portion for Wei Zheng then Sizi and he finally tasted a hot piece. Well seasoned, tender on the inside, and fragrant on the outside. Delicious!

Since everyone is well acquainted with each other, they group sat around cutting meat and drinking wine in a relaxing manner.

When Yuanying was young, he was tricked by Li Er to drink wine by having his chopsticks dipped into wine. Since that day he never liked to drink much. However, seeing His Majesty and the others drinking happily and wanting to join in the fun, he asked Li Er to pour him a glass.

Holding the wine in his hand, Yuanying sniffed it and felt that it wouldn’t taste good. He took a small sip and quickly put it down.

 “This wine is not good, don’t drink it! When Dai Ting and the others bring the wine back from Gaochang, we will drink that.” (Li Yuanying)

“Wine that is made from grapes is too sweet, how can you compare it to the great taste of strong liquor?” (Li Chengqian)

The more he was being restrained in the East Palace, the more he liked eating meat and drinking alcohol. The bigger the meat the better and the stronger the wine the better. Only through hunting on horseback and eating that he can relax a little.

Li Yuanying has never been restrained in any way like Chengqian, so he naturally couldn’t understand his pain: “What’s so good about spirits? I feel like choking on it!”

The conversation between the two led to the topic of Gaochang. The Emperor and Wei Zheng chatted about the army that left for Gaochang in winter. They had to travel long distances and through deserts lands and this required plenty of money and grain.  When it came to money, the group started complaining, each described an area that needed money.

Yuanying had already crept up to Li Er’s side intending to pry for info about the situation and to get a sense of where Dai Ting is. But as a result, the group disagreed about state affairs instead!

Li Yuanying was confused at their discussion that he’s starting to see gold stars in his eyes.

Seriously frustrating!

Can’t this group of people be lazy and give themselves a vacation?!

References

References
1 This line only makes sense in Mandarin in which the “Zhi” character in Li Zhi’s name and the “Zhi” character for wild pheasants are the same in writing so it’s likened to wordplay

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