Living Leisurely in Tang Dynasty Chapter 25

The Emperor officiated the ceremony with a solemn expression.

All attendees had serious expression and so Yuanying had to behave himself and  follow the crowd in performing the ceremonial rituals. When the crowd worshiped he followed, when they shouted he did the same. It’s an interesting sight when a big group collectively gathers together to perform a ritual. When a crowd of almost 10,000 shouts in unison, it almost seems like it can reach even the vault of heaven.

Yuanying was just supposed to blend into the crowd as an extra but he completed the ceremony in all seriousness. Towards the end, he couldn’t take it anymore and nudges Li Zhi who was beside him.

“I’m exhausted, I’ll never join this again.”

He’s playful by nature and can’t stand serious occasions. He’s even thought about skipping big celebrations like the New Year’s festival.

Li Zhi was already thinking that its extremely strange that Yuanying has not kicked up a fuss so upon hearing this he felt that Yuanying is finally in character.

“The holy saints are still here with us, if they hears this you have came in vain today, they will not bless you!”

Yuanying felt that the statement has no logic so he retorted: “Whether I learn something or otherwise, do I need to rely on blessings for that? If so I don’t have to spend time reading, I can just pray towards the saints and become smart while lying down.”

Li Er  who was about to speak to the students, looked over at  Li Yuanying and Li Zhi who were whispering away.

Li Zhi quickly straightened his back  and kept his mouth shut.

 Li Yuanying looked at His Majesty innocently hinting that I’m a good boy why are you staring at me?

His Majesty ignored him and began to deliver his  New Year’s speech.

Yuanying received a prompt that his task is completed and the corn seeds are being stored in his personal vault within the library.  However, he chooses to keep his popcorn with him in his special snack compartment.  While the Emperor was delivering his speech in all earnestness, Yuanying popped popcorn into his mouth. Mmmm….crunchy and sweet, delicious!

Yuanying secretly handed some to Li Zhi.

Li Zhi being the obedient child only stared at him.

 Yuanying lowered his voice and urged: “It’s delicious, I promise you have not tried this before!”

Li Zhi knows Yuanying well so instead of letting him continue with his persistent pestering he might as well just take it! Li Zhi took a piece and realized that he indeed hasn’t seen it before. Giving out a sweet aroma it does look appetizing.

After sharing with Li Zhi, Yunaying looked toward his eldest nephew who was standing a distance away. His fourth nephew was standing in between them. After thinking for a bit, he handed the snack bag to Li Tai.

 Li Tai glared at him.

“Father is motivating the students what are you doing?! I won’t make a fool of myself with you!”

He saw what the two boys were doing earlier including stuffing themselves with popcorn openly.  

Yuanying glanced at  him strangely and added: “Who wants you to fool around? It’s not for you, can you help pass this  to Chengqian?”

Li Tai blushed and said angrily: “Not helping!”

Haih…stingy nephew! Yuanying didn’t care much for he knew it’s not good to make too much noise. So he instead munches away on his popcorn while listening to the Emperor going on and on with his speech.

When the Emperor was halfway through his speech, he glanced towards the princes.

Li Chengqian’s eyes were bright while he listens intently.

The Emperor secretly nodded in approval .

Li Tai’s eyes were bright while  he listens intently.

The Emperor nodded in satisfaction.

And then Li Yuanying …

Li Yuanying quickly stuffed all the popcorn into his mouth and put away the bag. He then blinked and looked back at Li Er with full intensity and a face that says “I didn’t do anything. You keep talking”. If not for his constant chewing, he might be able to fool the Emperor.

The Emperor was so furious that he almost forgot his lines.

He ended his speech with great momentum. Those who heard it  sighed in admiration at the heroic and brave Emperor whose speech was so full of energy and grandeur.

Li Yuanying instinctively knew that something is not  right.

He decided that he needed to get away right now!

It’s a pity that while virtue is one foot tall, the devil is ten feet [1]Means to meet a person who is more skilled or prepared than oneself. The Emperor has already specially instructed his guards to keep an eye on Li Yuanying and ensure he stays put.

Yuanying had no choice but to follow the team obediently.

Li Tai, that bad guy caught up with the Emperor to talk and he even looked back at me as he spoke.

He instantly knew that the bad person was complaining to his majesty about him!

Sure enough, upon returning to the palace,Yuanying was immediately taken to meet the Emperor.

Seeing  that his Majesty was in a bad mood, Yuanying felt that his brother was being petty. All he did was not listen intently to his inspiring words, why do you get angry so easily!

The boy didn’t panic and instead spontaneously pulled up a cushion and sat next to His Majesty. He plans to not mention any of his actions but instead praise  the Academy.  

“The academy is really big, just wait till I go to my land, I’ll build a similar one!”

The Emperor gave him a sideways glance and scolded: “If someone like you open an academy, I’m afraid it’ll teach wrong knowledge to your disciples!”

 “No way! After all,  it’s not me who will teach them!”

Li Er wanted to give him a good scolding but when he saw him sitting down so shamelessly, he felt that scolding this kid would be in vain.

 “With your childish behaviour, how can I rest assured and send you off?”

“I have grown up! I will be ten this year!”

“Do you want to leave Chang’an so badly?”

 “I’ll one day have to leave anyway and I really want to be of help to the Emperor! But of course, I leave with a heavy heart.”

He then started counting with his fingers, “I’m reluctant to leave behind Sizi, Chengyang, Hengshan,  Gaoyang, sister Shu, Chengqian, Zhi Nu, my teachers, Old Wei…”

Li Er listened to him call out multiple people in one breath and said with a solemn face: “Okay, stop counting. I know there will be many people that you’ll miss.”

Only then did Yuanying realize that he left out Li Er. That shouldn’t be! Forgetting about his royal brother in front of him. His Majesty would be devastated.

Yuanying immediately tried to defuse the situation with a sincere look on his face: “The one person I’ll miss the most is of course my Lord Brother, the Emperor. I was only five when father passed away. It’s been my brother who took care of me and taught me all the knowledge I know about life! My brother is an elder sibling and also a father figure; when I think about not being able to meet him frequently after moving away, I’m deeply saddened!”

 Li Er snickered: “If I were to ever believe your nonsense, I’m afraid I’m just one step away from becoming a useless ruler.”

 While Li Er had a scolding tone, he let the earlier incident about Yuanying causing him to almost forget his lines slide. He let him off to play as he wishes after giving him a few stern warnings.

Yuanying returned to his residence and saw his mother, Lady Liu doing needlework but constantly looking outwards as if a little anxious. Lady Liu is not permitted to walk freely in the palace. Every time Yuanying went out, she would wait for him to return always with a fear that something bad would happen to him.

Although Dong Xiaoyi spoke well, he wasn’t as thorough as Dai Ting in covering things up. It’s obvious that mother found out about the incident of the Emperor summoning Yuanying.

The boy sat next to his mom and started complaining: “Mother, this dress is so heavy, I will never wear it again when I go to my fief!” Formal attire is much more complicated to wear than regular clothes and the accessories strictly follow protocol and are in accordance with one’s stature. It makes Yuanying restless.

Hearing that they would be going towards their land soon, Lady Liu became less worried and even smiled:  “What nonsense are you talking about, You will still need to don it for formal occasion.”

Yuanying nodded obediently: “Mother should stop doing needlework. It hurts your eyes, leave it to the servants.”

“These are your clothes, how can I trust others with it?”

Lady Liu took his hand while looking at her son’s childish face then joked softly, “If you come back with a wife then I’ll leave it for her to take over. “

“It’s just clothes that I wear, what’s there to worry about?”

Yuanying wasn’t shy about marrying a bride and told his mother his thoughts: “And don’t even think about making my wife do such chores. If I get married  in the future and the princess doesn’t like needlework, she shouldn’t be forced to do it.”

” Ahh… I didn’t think hard enough. My son is the smartest, he knows how to love and dote on his wife.”

Lady Liu being his mother knows exactly how to win an argument over Yuanying in accordance to his own logic. “But I want and prefer to do it for you myself, so you can’t stop me.”

After hearing Lady Liu’s thoughts the boy went to change and  went back out to play with his friends.

Watching Yuanying leave, Lady Liu picked up her half-finished work, touch it to ensure that it’s comfortable to wear before continuing with the needlework.

….……………..

On New Year’s Day, various ceremonies and banquets are held in the palace. Yuanying was ordered to stay put and so he failed to make progress on his yet to be opened library.

Being extremely thick-skinned, the boy has approached almost half of the ministers in court and even managed to get a  copy of  <<MoZi> [2]Mozi also called the Mohist canon, is an ancient Chinese text from the Warring States period that expounds the philosophy of Mohism. which was kept privately by  Li Chunfeng. However, there was one person he did not approach –  his brother, Emperor Li Er.

In Yuanying’s opinion, Li Er was the Emperor and had nothing much to contribute to his library. And so he approached many others but skipped Li Er. As a result, the Emperor only found out about the upcoming opening of Yuanying’s library when it was casually mentioned by Fang Xuanling.

The others were talking to each other and found that they had all been approached by Yuanying to request for  books!

Only His Majesty Li Er was left in confusion:  “What library?”

 Zhangsun Wuji was surprised: “Didn’t His Highness Prince of Teng mention anything to your Majesty?”

Li Er thought to himself, what bullsh*t speech by that kid about missing him and him being a brother and father figure?!  Everyone knew about his plans to open a library, yet he has never mentioned anything to him!

“He really has lot of ideas!”

Fang Xuanling and the ministers saw that His Majesty’s face was a little dark and they all ended the topic tacitly.

The next day, when  Yuanying went to ask Wei Zheng for advice, Wei Zheng vaguely mentioned what happened at the banquet, saying that His Majesty was in a bad mood when he found out. Only then did Yuanying remember that he’s never told his brother anything!

Wei Zheng advised the boy that he should always stay vigilant. While you shouldn’t be plotting to harm others, you shouldn’t stay ignorant about the threats from others. Although his starting point is good, some people might inevitably want to find fault with him, stirring up trouble, stealing books, or even framing him. Many troubles and incidences will arise when managing a business. Therefore if you can persuade His Majesty to write a plaque for the library, it’ll be much easier to manage as everyone will have to help protect it!

Yuanying had never given things such deep thoughts. He knew that Wei Zheng engages in grassroots work for many years and was experienced in such matters. His advice would hold truths in them.

After weighing his options between getting the Emperor to write a plaque for him as endorsement or getting constant external trouble, Yuanying immediately ran towards his brother!

 Li Er originally didn’t want to entertain his horrible heartless brother but he was being constantly harassed by him so he finally relented and agreed to write “Tang Empire Library” for his library.

 When his brother finally gave in to him, Yuanying was extremely happy. It was a rare occurrence but Yuanying didn’t cross the river and demolished the bridge. He instead stayed back to massage his brother’s shoulder while helping him grind ink used for writing.  

References

References
1 Means to meet a person who is more skilled or prepared than oneself
2 Mozi also called the Mohist canon, is an ancient Chinese text from the Warring States period that expounds the philosophy of Mohism.

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