The news about Li Yuanying’s group enrolling into the Academy spread like wildfire.
Many were happy. After all, instead of letting the young prince run wild in the open, it is better to lock him in the Imperial Academy for strict discipline. Always running to the Emperor every day, who knows what else he will come up with?
The happiest person was naturally Li Tai. During Chinese New Year celebration, he cheerfully congratulated young uncle for his enrollment during the palace banquet.
Yuanying himself looked happy. Finally Li Tai speaks like a human. He immediately took his hand and discussed with Li Tai: “The <<Comprehensive Gazetteer>> that you edited is a great read. Brother only lent me two volumes and I’m already amazed! I never thought that you could write such a good book. Are you interested to send it for printing? Then many more will be able to read it!”
Li Tai didn’t expect such a reply to his sarcasm. The flesh on his face trembled and he felt that this boy is someone that can even make ridicule powerless. He will never answer according to your expectations at all!
“That’s not necessary right?” (Li Tai)
Li Yuanying actively lobbied: “You should, you should. Paper is now cheap and I have an engraver on standby who can make books fast. I don’t want your money, I just want a batch so that I can put them into the library. I want scholars to learn and understand about different customs from various places. In the future, if they serve the country as officials and are assigned to foreign places, they will not be caught off-guard!”
Li Tai was a little moved hearing this speech. He has read Li Yuanying’s <<Han Zi’s Fables>> and although it was a little superficial, it was convenient to read and he could share it with his friends.
Now that he has walked this path, why wouldn’t he want to gain good reputation within the scholarly community? Although Li Tai was moved, he still had to refuse on the surface: “How dare I make young uncle spend money? Why don’t you lend me manpower and I then purchase paper from you so that I can print my book and send a batch for your library?”
Li Yuanying had no habit of giving away free money so he agreed.
“Okay, I’ll drop a note to Li and you can prepare your manuscript and pass it to him. Let Li cost out an estimated cost and you can pay him directly.”
Li Tai nodded: “I have dedicated my work to the Emperor, so I have to ask for his permission first.”
What else can His Majesty say but to agree? Of course he will agree to it. He also didn’t need Li Yuanying or Li Tai to finance this and went with public funding. Since paper is now cheap, this means that people can not only afford paper but get access to books and resources which were initially scarce.
Books were originally extremely expensive and only aristocratic families could afford them. Now with lower cost, anyone can skip a few meal and afford them! This might not be a game changer for scholars in Chang’an who had access libraries but it will be for scholars in smaller towns!
This is why the Emperor agrees with the suggestion.
If this printing method really works then the imperial court can produce more books in the future!
Most scholars are from aristocratic families and this is a concern for the Emperor. The Li family was also an aristocratic family in the past and even during the previous dynasty it was families like these who held talents and military power in warring times.
It is precisely because of this that he ordered Fang Xuanling to find a reason to get rid of many officials after succeeding to the throne. At one point, his court only had 600 people left and he had to slowly replenished the numbers from talents gathered from the imperial examinations and through recommendations in hopes of diluting the almost monopoly power held by some of the aristocratic families.
If the general public could now afford books then the threshold for reading would be greatly lowered. In time to come, many from humble families will flood into the imperial court!
Perhaps these humble children will become the new aristocratic families in the future but before that can happen, they can be used to attack the original aristocratic family. And when this new batch gradually solidify power and become stronger, they will then be challenged by other latecomers. This is the only way for power to remain with the Li and Tang royal family so that it will not fall into the hands of others.
Yuanying didn’t think as much as his brother. Since brother had agreed, he took one look at Li Tai and remembered something else.
“There is another matter. Not sure if Chengqian told you yet!”
Li Er looked at him and motioned for him to continue.
“Xiang’er is about age. I have recommended a suitable teacher candidate to Chengqian. Has he mentioned anything to you, Lord Brother?”
Not yet. Who do you think is suitable?”
Li Tai had an ominous premonition.
“I’m not boasting but most of the candidates who are suitable has taught us. I think the best is teacher Xiao. Although he is old, he is still in good health and is the most suitable! Look, didn’t you request him to teach Zhi Nu about the <<Book of Filial Piety>>? Isn’t Zhi Nu the most filial? And now look at me. I didn’t like reading in the past, but after meeting teacher a few times I am now very interested in reading. Therefore, it is most suitable for teacher Xiao to teach Xiang’er!”
The “Teacher Xiao” mentioned by Li Yuanying is naturally old scholar Xiao Deyan.
Li Tai always knew that Li Yuanying was interested in Xiao Deyan but he had expected him to give up long ago. But now he is using Li Xiang as a strategy to help Li Chengqian!
Li Tai wished he could bite Li Yuanying to death.
Yuanying noticed Li Tai’s angry gaze and held out for his hand.
“Qing Que, your project is finished! You won’t be reluctant to let him go right? Hey, if I were you I would be reluctant to let teacher go too. But Xin Er is still young and do not need teacher Xiao yet. Let him teach Xiang Er first. When Xin Er is older, you can send him to study together with Xiang Er. That way, they are not just cousins but classmates. That’s an added layer of relationship and they will gorw closer. That’ll be great!”
Li Er nodded in agreement as the proposal was reasonable. Since recovering from his illness, the Emperor now likes his children and grandchildren to be on friendly terms. Just like when Li Yuanying made the children celebrate Li Er’s birthday together. Since everyone is from the Li Family and is united, why would there be worries about their rule not being stable?
What more can Li Tai say. He could only agree, wishing that he could get rid of Li Yuanying’s hand on the spot.
Yuanying felt that he had accomplished two good things and so he stopped talking to them. He happily took the children out to play. On the day of the Lantern Festival, the heavy snow in Chang’an has stopped and the whole land was covered in white looking very beautiful.
Li Yuanying took the children out to play at the sunflower garden and climbed onto his tall tree house. They ate delicious roasted lamb and the radish heads went sliding along the cleared mountain road making lots of noise.
Yuanying didn’t rest even at night. After having dinner with mother, he slipped out of the palace with his friends. There is no curfew given that it is now the Lantern Festival and they watched lanterns and guessed riddles along way; playing from the Western side of the city all the way to the East. After visiting all the lively places, they made it home right before the palace gate was locked.
Sizi was very sleepy but she still held onto Yuanying’s hand reluctantly.
“Young uncle, you’ll be away starting tomorrow. Will we not see each other for a long time?”
“No! I’ll find a chance to come back and play with you!” said Yuanying confidently.
Only after getting much assurance from young uncle did the children return home to sleep peacefully. Deep in their hearts, they were still unhappy with father for sending away young uncle to study at the Academy.
Early the next morning, Li Zhi came over to drag Li Yuanying out of bed before he woke up. Today is the first day of school. They can’t be late on the first day! Yuanying had been listening to mother’s talking over and over about the Academy lately and he sat sat up yawning.
“Can you dress yourself? I heard from mother that no servants are allowed in the Academy!” (Li Yuanying)
Li Zhi was speechless.
“Who doesn’t know how to wear clothes?” Although he has been served since a child, he is not so stupid that he can’t even wear clothes himself!
Li Yuanying was surprised: “You actually know how to do it? I didn’t know how to do it before but now I have learned about it!” His tone was quite proud, like he was proud of his own extraordinary intelligence.
Li Zhi was too lazy to reply so he just asked Yuanying to open the box to inspect the things Lady Liu had prepared for him.
“Uniform will be given so just bring some inner clothes. Why are you taking so many clothes, these are enough to last a whole month without repetition.” (Li Zhi)
“Mother said that it rains a lot in spring. If the uniform issued by the Imperial College gets wet, don’t I need clothes to replace? Of course I need enough clothes to last for a whole month.” (Li Yuanying)
“You only wear these clothes once?” (Li Zhi)
Li Yuanying looked at him with a “what’s wrong” expression. Do you have to do laundry? (Li Yuanying)
Li Zhi: “…”
Li Yuanying had made careful plans.
“I don’t want to waste. Everyone can wear the clothes prepared by my mother. I will wear them once and give them away. Then others can wear them themselves or give it to their younger siblings. It will never happen that no one is willing to wash the clothes that are given to them for free.” (Li Yuanying)
Li Zhi did the math. Even if Yuanying stayed at the Academy for a year, it would only be about 300 sets of clothes. This small amount is nothing to Li Yuanying. That being the case, Li Zhi didn’t say anything. Anyway, he didn’t believe that young uncle could last for a year!
Li Zhi stop asking about the rest of the dozens of boxes. They went to pick up Chengyang and bid farewell to His Majesty Li Er. They then reported to the Imperial Academy with a mighty box-carrying team.
When they got there, Yuanying was dumbfounded. The place they will be living in is too small, a dormitory shared by a dozen students in one room. There is no room for him to put his belongings.
Li Yuanying went to meet the person in charge of housing and wanted a vacant room to put his things. But the other party ruthlessly said to return his belongings where it came from. NO special treatment.
These are items that mother had carefully prepared for days, how can he send it back? He thought about it and asked his men to find a corner outside that could shelter from wind and rain to put his things. He will just go out to collect them if he needed something. The academy is full of promising scholars and they cannot move at will. Surely no one would steal worthless clothes and ink.
Li Yuanying’s mighty moving brigade attracted the attention of many and they all stopped to discuss about him. It was only when Li Yuanying was formally arranged into the dorm that the others realized that the little devil king will really be studying with them!
Tang Xuan has been in the Academy for a year now and has good results and is loved by teachers. Knowing that both Li Yuanying and Di Renjie will be joining him, he was overjoyed and looked forward to their arrival. Perhaps Kong Yingda did it on purpose, but Li Zhi and the others were arranged in different dormitories and only Li Yuanying alone was arrange to where Tang Xuan was.
When Tang Xuan got the news, he changed bed with someone so that Li Yuanying will sleep next to him. The young prince usually has his bed made for him by servants and this is the first time he is seeing an empty bed. This made him very excited. He enthusiastically declined Tang Xuan’s proposal to help him. Under Tang Xuan’s guidance, he began preparing his own bed for the first time in his life.
Li Yuanying spread out the warm quilt in a dignified manner, then arranged the small pillows he brought.
He then said to Tang Xuan proudly: “Making the bed is not that difficult. You don’t have to teach me next time!”
Before Tang could respond, someone came in and laughed at him.
“You are so proud of making the bed. People who don’t know you will think that you have never done anything great!”
Notes from the author:
The little prince was triumphant: I can put on clothes now!
Zhi Nu: …