Living leisurely in Tang Dynasty
Living Leisurely in Tang Dynasty Chapter 52

Li Tai left.

Li Yuanying stayed behind to talk to Xiao Deyan. As he got tired, he shamelessly asked to be led to an empty guest room to rest.

He slept soundly. But Lady Liu who just got to know that her son was staying over at Prince Wei’s palace became restless and stayed up the whole night doing needlework.

With every stitch, she gradually calmed down. Although her son loves to play, he has never suffered any losses since childhood. Even if he doesn’t get along with Li Tai, it would be foolish of him to attack Prince Teng in his own mansion.

Old scholar Xiao is extremely knowledgeable. And since Yuanying is eager to learn, shouldn’t she as the mother be supportive? After all, she can’t hold back his son. After clearing her thoughts, Lady Liu put away the unfinished needlework and went to bed.

The news of Li Yuanying staying at Prince Wei Palace came to Li Er the next morning. When Li Er was getting dressed he casually mentioned that Princess Jinyang and the others couldn’t locate the boy the night before and were unhappy all night.

His Majesty wondered: “That kid really didn’t come back last night?”

The servants replied: “Before the palace gate was close, his highness send word that he wanted to learn from old scholar Xiao and stayed the night at Prince Wei’s Mansion.”

“He really is fond of Scholar Xiao.” (Li Er)

Xiao Deyan is a well-known scholar; extremely old and has lived through many dynasties and has disciples everywhere. His knowledge is extensive and indeed a great person to learn from. If Xiao Deyan was 10 or 20 years younger, the Emperor would also want to heavily rely on him when ruling the country. Due to his old age, the scholar is only tasked with compiling books and revising history.

While the servants do not dare discuss important matters with the Emperor, they were willing to share their thoughts about Prince Teng: “Old scholar Xiao is kind and patient. Even Prince Teng can’t kick up a fuss with him. He’s so obedient in his presence. “

“That kid is well behaved if he likes something. If he doesn’t like something, he’ll cause ruckus. Unfortunately, I have asked arranged for Scholar Xiao to help Qingque with books compilation. Otherwise, I would make him the brat’s teacher per his wish.”  (Li Er)

Luckily this statement was shared by His Majesty casually and away from Li Tai’s ears. Otherwise, he would want to tear Li Yuanying into pieces and then scold his father for practising favoritism.  What’s so great about being able to cause trouble? Just because he kicks up a fuss you give him what he wants?! That’s too much

Although Li Tai is not aware of the Emperor’s thoughts, he is also not a person who repays faults with kindness. Since he was greatly offended by Li Yuanying yesterday, all the hatred, both old and new came rushing into his heart. When he woke up, he quickly arrange for his men to encourage the ministers to criticize Prince Teng.

Using the Emperor’s good name to sell his own brand of tea and at sky-high prices. This alone can draw out many criticism!

Even the biological sons and daughters of the Emperor would not dare abuse their father’s name. How dare Li Yuanying do so?

Isn’t it so fun to make money? Now let’s make him vomit out all the money he has made!

Li Yuanying stayed in Prince Wei’s place and didn’t leave. In addition to learning how to write articles, he also consulted the teacher about the topic he brought up yesterday – different professions by different class.  Xiao Deyan patiently enlightens the young boy about the tax system in the country. Currently, tax is collected this way – each person is given a certain amount of land. Every year, tax is collected per head and paid by a certain amount of rice grain, silk, and 20 days of labor.

Looking at the current situation, such a tax is rather low and the citizens are not distressed. However, Xiao Deyan pointed out that royal relatives, dignitaries, Taoist monks, and wealthy craftsmen are all exempted from paying tax.

Yuanying didn’t quite understand his point: “Is there anything wrong with this?” He himself is part of the royal family, of course it’s good to not pay tax.

“In <<Liezi>> there’s a story about an old foolish man trying to move mountains. The story revolves around Yugong who wanted to remove the mountain in front of his door so that it would be easier to travel. Others thought that it was ridiculous for how could a person move the mountain? Yugong replied: ‘Even if I’m dead I still have children; my children have grandchildren, and the grandchildren have great-grandchildren; our family tree can be endless but the mountains do not increase in size. Why then is this an impossible task?'” (Xian Deyan)

Li Yuanying hadn’t read  this book yet, so he secretly memorized the title and decided to read it later.

“What does this have to do with taxes?” (Li Yuanying)

“Think about it, how many children does the Emperor Emeritus have and how many does the current Emperor have? Will your children then get married and have offspring? Don’t the court officials also have siblings or children? Will the rich not buy land or get married?” (Xian Deyan)

Putting it this way, Yuanying instantly understood the statement. He alone has more than 20 brothers and countless sisters. Excluding his siblings that have passed away, there are still too many to count on ten fingers. As for nephews and nieces, there are so many of them. The last time he printed 100 books it was not enough to share among them!

Li Yuanying calculated in his heart and was stunned: “In the future, there will be more and more people who don’t have to pay tax. The current tax system is imposed on per head basis. Even if a person has several thousand acres of land, he will only need to pay one head of tax for himself. Like myself, I have land and I rent it out to others. Since they do not own the land, they do not need to pay tax. I am part of the royal family and also do not need to pay tax. Therefore that land is tax free!”

Xiao Deyan is happy that the boy is so intelligent.

“That’s it.”

Li Yuanying is enlightened. The more he thinks about it, the more shocked he is: “No wonder <<Han Zi>> write about the five vermin and eight traitors. If this goes on, the free land in Tang Empire will all be divided out.”

Xiao Deyan said no more.

Yuanying sat alone and pondered.

No wonder such a large Tang Empire can disappear. Just the tax system alone is such a complicated subject. Although he knows about this curse, he doesn’t know how to solve it.

When people have money, you can’t stop them from buying land. After all, land is the foundation and a guarantee in life. Who wouldn’t want to buy more? He would want more. The more land the better, best if all the land in the world is given to him! If he thinks like this, how can he ask others to think differently?  

The boy pondered for a long time but couldn’t come up with a solution. He humbly asked Xiao Deyan for advice.

Xiao Deyan sighed: “If I have a solution, I would put my old life on the betting table and discuss this with the Emperor. But how can there be a perfect solution in this world?” For example, the Han family wanted to encourage farming and did not want the common people to become businessmen so they imposed heavy taxes on the wealthy. Tang Empire is newly established and we need businessmen to invest and trade with the North and the South. Therefore, they are exempted from tax. These are all implemented by the wise ministers in court based on the current needs of the country.”

“The situation has already changed and the original method is no longer valid. Can’t we change it?”  (Li Yuanying)

“If you’ve worked and saved up and the imperial court suddenly changes its laws, would you be happy? It’s fine if just one or two people are unhappy but if many feels the same way how can you make a change?” (Xian Deyan)

Li Yuanying went silent.

This doesn’t work, that doesn’t work, this is too hard! Thinking about his brother and eldest nephew, he thinks that they really do have a hard life working so hard. It’s not easy being the Emperor!

Seeing Li Yuanying’s small brows furrowed tightly, Xiao Deyan reassured: “You are still young, don’t think too much.”

Xiao Deyan sees his actions and felt that this child is different. He’s already an old man and all he can do now is to plant seeds in the hearts of  the young and see  if these seeds take root and sprout in the future.

Li Yuanying nodded in agreement.

He can’t think of a solution so let’s stop thinking about it. When his big academy is ready in the future, he will leave this problem to his future students to figure out. These students will also have children and grandchildren, let them think for generations to come. One day we are bound to find a solution.  

Yuanying made up his mind and so stopped bothering his teacher. He went back happily and told Lady Liu that he studied the whole night but is still not tired.

Lady Liu is glad that her child is back safely. She gently told him to study hard and not to let old scholar Xiao down.

Yuanying came back with new ideas in his head but he decided to play with his friends instead. Recently he has been too busy with his businesses, one moment he was branding for the new tea, the next he was drawing and after that setting up an auction. He really did ignored his precious little nieces and now all of them turned their backs and ignored him!

Li Yuanying sat cross-legged and sighed: “It seems that none of you know how lively the tea sale was yesterday.”

Gao Yang loves excitement and couldn’t hold back:  “Why didn’t you take us there?”

“Didn’t Changle enter the palace yesterday? You are just gonna leave Changle alone and go out to play?”

Changle is his eldest niece. Yesterday, she entered the palace to visit the Emperor and her younger sisters. Li Yuanying adore this gentle and beautiful niece too and often dragged her along to play. But she married into the Zhangsun family not long after.

Yuanying  hadn’t met Changle for a long time but he was too busy with the excitement of selling tea. Therefore, he took the opportunity to slip out of the palace.

The older Chanle gets the more disciplined she becomes. Even if she’s back, Yuanying couldn’t take her out to play. How boring.

Hearing young uncle mention Changle, Sizi turned around and said, “You ran out to play by yourself! Sister even asked about you!”

“One day I’ll bring you guys to Zhangsun’s mansion to visit her!”

The girls were happier once he promised them this. They then gathered around Yuanying for storytime on how a pound of tea sold for such outrageous price. This news has spread all over the palace!

Yuanying told them the story and also updated them that the corn in the sunflower garden is almost edible. Let’s invite Changle along to roast them. The girls then decided to be friends with Yuanying again and started pulling and shouting at young uncle to get his attention.

At this same time, good news came back from GaoChang. This news is even more bizarre than the legendary stories outside. With Gaochang and Chang’an being far away from each other, no one would expect Tang Empire to send troops over. They were still singing and dancing in early May and suddenly the Tang army was right outside their doorsteps!

When the ruler of Gaochang heard this, he fainted on the spot and passed away that night.

The lord of the country is gone and the newly elected ruler is not able to stabilize the situation. Hence, they quickly open their gates and surrendered!

Therefore, Hou Junji and Xue Wanjun won the war without fighting!

Notes from the author:

Little Prince: The harvest season is here!!

1 comment
  1. thesilentdarkangel has spoken 2 years ago

    Thank you for the chapter update and your hard work, Translator-sama !!!💕💕💕💕💕


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