Li Yuanying looked up and saw a young boy about the same age as Tang Xuan. He had quite good looking features but not a very friendly expression. Even after being ridiculed, Yuangying weren’t annoyed, He retorted logically: “Were you born knowing how to make your bed? Anyway, I can’t! I just learned something I didn’t know so shouldn’t I be happy? You’re so weird.”
The young boy weren’t very happy about being countered like that. He started blushing. “You’re the weird one!”
He was about to enter the room but saw only both boys inside and turned around to rush out. It is obvious he didn’t want to stay with the two of them.
Yuanying asked Tang Xuan curiously: “Who was that?”
“His surname is Tang, and name Guan. He’s the son of Tang Jian, Minister of the Ministry of Civil Affairs.”
Tang Xuan then shared about his small grievances with Tang Guan. Initially Tang Guan was popular with the teachers but due to his own good performances the teachers started looking at him differently. Having less attention, Tang Guan wasn’t very happy.
Tang Xuan said embarrassed, “Sorry I got you in trouble.”
“What’s wrong? If this is called trouble then won’t I get you involve in much more trouble?”
Originally he provoked the students at the Academy to cause trouble for Wei Yin. Now it seems that he has made many enemies for himself! But Yuanying wasn’t worried and was actually eager.
“I know minister Tang. One of his son married a niece of mine. Therefore, his son has to call me Uncle. Next time I will make him do that!”
Tang Xuan: “…”
That’s not good. This will piss off the arrogant Tang Guan. He persuaded gently: “Didn’t you say that status don’t matter when you enter the Imperial College? Let’s not do that?!”
Yuanying accepted the suggestion: “You are right. Then I will make him call me uncle the next time I meet him outside.”
Li Yuanying had no chance to know about people like Tang Guan. When he was much younger, he wreck havoc within the palace ground and when he was old enough to go out, he was busy doing this and that. However, he reckoned people like this would want to either marry his nieces or had a sibling who wanted to. Therefore they are all his juniors according to social heirachy!
Li Yuanying felt that this logic was fine.
After making the bed and looking around his new living quarters, Yuanying went to meet Di Renjie and the others. They followed Tang Xuan to check out the cafeteria. Out of curtesy, Yuanying even invited Wei Ying. After all, he is Wei Shu’s elder brother. Seeing how lonely he was, it was pitiful!
Wei Ying originally didn’t want to join but he had bumped into walls several times already. Hearing Yuanying’s nice words of invitation, he followed with plans to get familiar with the environment with the group first.
Going here and there, it was already time for food. The students all gathered together waiting for mealtime to start. When they saw Li Yuanying and his party, many cast them unfriendly glances.
Yuanying was curious about what the Academy ate so he took a look at the food with great interest. He found it lacklustre, only two hard buns for each person, neither fragrant nor soft. The dishes were also very plain and he didn’t see any meat. After taking two bites, he found it difficult to eat.
Li Zhi felt the same way but seeing others eating, he was too embarrassed to put it down and reluctantly continue to bite.
Li Yuanying weren’t about to abuse himself. He threw the steamed bun and said, “This is not delicious!”
“We usually eat this kind of food here. If you don’t eat, you will be hungry.” (Tang Xuan)
Li Yuanying didn’t eat anyway.
Li Yuanying has lost the initial excitement and began to wonder if he had been deceived by the Emperor. He remembered the story about Zhou Chu eliminating three evils. Did his brother get rid of him like how Zhou Chu did in the story? Brother is so insidious and cunning, it is very likely that he got thrown into this Academy cause brother found him annoying!
Li Yuanying thought about the hard bun for a long time. The more he thought, the more he felt that His Majesty and Kong Yingda deliberately tricked him. Unreasonable! He had already mentally prepared for the food here to be bad but he wasn’t expecting it to be so unpalatable!
Not tasty and not edible. Can they be the same thing?
Li Yuanying asked Tang Xuan: “Where do Tang Guan and his group eat? I don’t see them here.”
“They have already instructed their servants to deliver food to the gate. Everyday they will go and pick it up.”
Yuanying nodded and ask the rest to eat first. He then rushed to the gate by himself. When he came back, he was carrying boxes of food. He left Li Zhi one box and then took the rest to look for the other children.
Li Zhi, Wei Ying and those around looked at each other in blank dismay.
“He couldn’t have went robbing others, did he?” (Tang Xuan)
Li Zhi was silent.
This is indeed something Li Yuanying would do.
Li Yuanying has a habit of doing this. Once he reveals his identity and demands for something, no one would dare disobey him.
As soon as Li Yuanying left, someone came looking for him angrily. When he saw the food box in Li Zhi’s hand, he walked over quickly. As the person was about to raise his voice, he realized that it was Li Zhi and so he quickly suppressed the curses and abruptly changed his tone: “Your Royal Highness Prince Jin, why didn’t you tell us you wanted to eat? We would have ask that food be brought over to you.”
This person is none other than Fang Jun who was thrown into College by his father to reform him. Fang is different from his father, he doesn’t like studying and is a real brat. Hearing that Li Yuanying stole his food box, Fang rushed over wanting to settle the score but he instead saw his food box next to future ninth brother-in-law, who is a legitimate son to the Emperor!
Li Zhi being confronted by the suffering victim was embarrassed and hurriedly return the food box to Fang Jun.
But Fang insisted that Li Zhi should keep it and not be left hungry. He has already asked someone to send him another one.
Fang Jun added in a new complain: “The food at the Academy are for pigs to eat”
Tang Xuan, who is eating steamed buns: “…”
Wei Ying, who is eating steamed buns: “…”
Di Renjie who is eating steamed buns: “…”
Li Yuanying didn’t care about the victims. He didn’t know food can taste that bad before and now that he is aware, he has no shame in stealing food. After all, didn’t His Majesty ask him to punish disobedient students? He is now taking care of it! How dare they secretly order packaged meals from outside. This is against the rules. Everything must be confiscated!
Yuanying was self-righteous about his doings and brought 2 food boxes to look for the girls. However before he could reach the female dormitory, he heard shouting directed at him.
“Who are you? Why are you coming here?”
Li Yuanying looked up and saw a bright-looking girl about 14 or 15. She dressed differently from Tang people. Yuanying thought and remembered her: “Are you that Silla princess, Jin Shengman?”
Jin Shengman looked at him curiously: “You know me?”
“I already know all the girls at this Academy except for you. I have heard that in Silla, the country is ruled by a female ruler. The royal children sent here to study is also a princess. I didn’t expect to meet you here.”
He greeted her enthusiastically: “I snatched this from the gate, do you want to eat together? I don’t even know what’s in it, this is a great feeling!”
Jin Shengman: “…”
How could this guy speak so confidently about stealing? How dare you feel that just because it’s a mysterious food box it will be more refreshing and exciting to eat?!
Although Jin Shengman felt that this guy was a troublemaker, she surprisingly didn’t dislike him. She helped him to call for Wei Shu and the other girls who were packing up.
When the girls heard that Li Yuanying stole food boxes, they were speechless too. They wondered if they should persuade him to not do this again ever.
At Li Yuanying’s invitation, Jin Shengman sat down and wiped out the two looted food boxes together.
There were not many girls in the Academy and their residence was an independent courtyard. Other students were not allowed to come over at will and it looked much cleaner than the place that Li Yuanying was staying at.
After Yuanying had enough eating he discussed brought up the topic on whether they were being treated like the “Zhou Chu”story.
Wei Shu is of the opinion that His Majesty did not deliberately give them bad food.
It is impossible for the Academy’s meals to be as refined as the Royal palace. After all how can the government use so much tax money to feed students? Moreover, most students here are from humble background. It is already a great blessing for them to have enough to eat. Why would they have such refined taste buds? It is only because the academy now has a bunch of “rich brats” that the canteen food look unpalatable.
Chengyang agrees with this statement.
There is really no need for father to torture them with food.
“If Your Highness really wants to stay here for the year, I’m afraid this won’t work.” (Mei Niang)
She put forward her own suggestion: Although the meals are provided for by the Academy, Prince Teng can always suggest ways to improve the meals. If the Academy couldn’t afford that much money, they could also help to subsidize it. All they needed to do was to find a reasonable justification so that Kong Yingda and the other teachers had nothing to say.
As soon as Yuanying heard that there was a need for “justification”, his brain immediately became active. He sat there thinking and then his eyes lit up: “I have an idea!”
He shares his idea to the group and then refined it again and again based on the suggestions he has received. The group worked together to jointly plan how to improve the poor food quality at the Imperial College.
As the group entered into a state of discussion, Jin Shengman who was sitting by their side was enthralled.
Not only is Li Yuanying different from the men she has met in Tang but the three girls were also contrary to her perception of Tang women: According to the students here, women were mostly treated as subordinates to men and the most prestigious praises given to girls were “virtuous supportive partners”. The students even hinted that Silla is out of the norm where “a hen is crowing in the morning”. But these 3 new girls are different. Although they all had very different temperaments, they all had unique insights and are obviously far more intelligent than their peers.
This is the demeanor that a woman ruler should have!
Jin Shengman’s eyes brightened.
Li Yuanying, Wei Shu and the others discussed for a while before remembering that they had a new friend with them. Yuanying then actively asked Jin Shengman what she thought of the school and if she has any thoughts about reforming it.
Although the Academy on the surface practices no special treatment based on social ranking, it was actually not implemented well. For example, rich brats like Fang has been ordering takeaway from outside and has been running around town. It was the same for Jin Shengman. She lives in a separate yard and she is allowed to bring a personal cook to serve her. She only interact with other students during lecture timing.
I don’t have any better suggestions. But if your idea is implemented I’d like to join everyone for mealtime.” (Jin Shengman)
“If I want to do it, of course it will be done.” (Li Yuanying)
“Aren’t we forbidden from going out until rest day? I’m afraid it will take awhile before we can put plans into motion. Young uncle, why don’t you eat with us for the next few days?!” (Cheng Yang)
“It won’t take that long, leave it me.”
Yuanying stood up and whistled. A big white-headed bird flew down from the sky and landed on his shoulder. He touched its smooth and beautiful feathers and said happily: “This is given to me by Old man Li. I have trained it so well that it can help me to deliver letters. Coincidentally Dong Xiaoyi should be done with affairs of Xiangcheng Palace.We should see a delicious meal tonight!”
Old man Li naturally meant Li Jing. Li Jing loved raising all kinds of animals. When Li Yuanying asked for a bird, he gave him a clever and obedient white-headed bird.
If he had known that this is a trap, he would not have been so stupid as to not have any preparation.
Although he didn’t bring people with him, he brought a bird!
He briefly wrote down the plan using a brush and tied the message to the bird’s leg. He then send the bird off to look for Dong Xiaoyi.
While Li Yuanying was scheming about how to have good meals everyday, the rest of the students heard news about him snatching food. When Fang Xuanling and the others returned home, it is inevitable that they will mention about Li Yuanying’s despicable deeds of stealing people’s food.
Fang Jun’s mother, Lu, worriedly said to Fang Xuanling: “What if my son becomes hungry?”
“That’s because you spoilt him, look at how he has turned out?! You must have sent someone to bring him food a second time. Would he starve?”(Fang Xuanling)
“How can this be? If that guy wants to eat, why didn’t he get his own food? Why is he stealing?!” (Lu)
Seeing Lu’s anger, Fang Xuanling tactfully kept quiet. Li Yuanying must not have known that the food was so unpalatable, otherwise he would rather die than go to school.
From Fang Xuanling’s point of view, His Majesty’s act of sending Li Yuanying and Li Zhi to shake up the atmosphere is completely wishful thinking. It’ll be good enough if that kid doesn’t take the lead in creating more trouble! Only Day 1 and he has already caused a ruckus by stealing food. Wouldn’t it be chaos everyday from now onwards?
Fang Xuanling reckoned that in a few days time Kong Yingda will be crying to the Emperor asking him to remove Li Yuanying! Otherwise Li Yuanying will not live up to the status of being the little demon king.
Anyway, it’s not his headache. Fang Xuanling comforted Lu wth a few words and then ran to hide in his study.
Notes from the author:
Little Prince: You grown-ups are really heartless (pointing and complaining.jpg)