Living Leisurely in Tang Dynasty Chapter 21

Although it was winter, Li Yuanying still took time to leave the palace.

Being extremely shameless, after he sent all his men to Gaochang, he conveniently told the Emperor that he had accidentally forgotten that he needed two men to protect himself.

Already extremely annoyed with his younger brother, Li Er ordered two men to stay close and to never leave Yuanying’s side no matter where he went.

But is the shameless Li Yuanying the kind that will be a concern with others following him? Of course not!  On the contrary, he was happy with the arrangement and led his entourage out of the palace to inspect his new land. Dai Ting managed to make preparations before leaving for war, where he acquired a street-facing mansion in the Western market.

The West Market was also called Liren City during the Sui Dynasty. This area is surrounded by civilian houses, so things sold here were more down-to-earth and the rent was relatively cheap. In comparison, the East Market was close to residences of dignitaries, high-end restaurants and luxury stores.

Those who accompanied Li Yuanying initially thought that he would go towards the East Market. However, he instead looked at his map and walked towards the West Market towards a shop with red silk on its signboard. There’s already a person waiting outside- Dong Xiaoyi.

Dong Xiaoyi trotted behind Li Yuanying and led him inside.

This place was originally a wine shop but it couldn’t make ends meet and had to be sold. Coincidentally, the store next to it also went bankrupt and so the young prince brought both together and rebuild them.

Now that the two stores have been renovated inside and out, Yuanying stepped in and saw tables neatly arranged in the hall. There were various slogans on the walls and pillars giving it a studious atmosphere.

The boy obviously didn’t understand design principles but he has a system in hand! When he requested that the system generate diagrams of Library designs existing in Tang, the system quickly arranged and combined various furnishings ideas that existed in the early Tang Dynasty. (The system even cried with joy, as Li Yuanying finally has a job for them and is using his countless rewards points within it).

The concept of a library was just something that Yuanying learnt from the system itself. He was told that in eras where cultures were flourishing, there would be libraries for the public in both large and small cities.

Anyone can freely enter and borrow books. With the gradual development of science and technology, a library will slowly become a virtual one like the Myriad Realm Library where people can learn about the world without needing to leave home!

Yuanying felt that this was a possible solution to the problem of people not being able to afford books.  Though his thoughts reach only to this level and he hasn’t thought any further yet.

This small place is just Yuanying little attempt at creating a library within Tang Empire.

Since many things for the building were in existence already he only needed to get the slogans written by a writer. It’s a quick fix so the reading room is renovated rather quickly.

On the contrary, the bookshelves needed longer production time and it’s only been recently completed as he returned to the Capital.

Looking at his rows of empty bookshelves, Yuanying decided to look for rescue soldiers.

He went towards Kong Yingda first.

Since returning to the Capital, Kong Yingda has been very busy working as the Imperial College Supervisor, compiling learning materials for his students and he also had to go give lectures to Prince Li Chengqian. He no longer has time to bother about the rude and disrespectful Li Yuanying who talks back to him all day long.

Seeing that Yuanying actually came looking for him, it was strange.

“Why is your Highness looking for me?”

Yuanying updated that he wanted to build a library. This place should be open to public at no charge. Whoever wants to read will be welcomed. He will only vacant the venue if he wants to hold private events.

“I’ve set up this library in the Western City where there are more people who can’t afford books. This place is also easier to locate for people from outside the city when they visit.”

Hearing the boy’s arrangement, Kong Yingda was a little shocked. Studying is a difficult feat. The difficulty lies in being able to afford books and affording a good teacher. This makes it difficult for many to escape a life on the fields.

Therefore, there lie too many difficulties ahead. Even though the imperial examination is open to all, there aren’t many who would take the exam every year!

The Emperor has been discussing with him for the longest time about the expansion of the imperial academy and has been increasing the student quota yearly for more recruits. However, it’s not enough! Far from enough!

National affairs are difficult!

Kong Yingda stroked his beard and asked, “Why is this place called the ‘Library’?”

Yuanying came prepared with prior thoughts and the answer was eloquent: “The weather has been too cold recently, so all I’ve done is hide at home reading. Recently, I read about <<Records of the Grand Historian>> [1]by Sima Qian records ancient China’s history. In it was a story about Emperor Gaozu of Han [2]Liu Bang, First Emperor of Han Dynasty who led his people to invade XianYang. Everyone was busy robbing gold, silver, and jewels but Xiao He instead went to collect important books from Qin dynasty. Later when Emperor Gaozu established the Han Dynasty, he could easily take over from the Qin for he knows how many families there were; he knows the suffering of the people; which mountains and rivers are dangerous and where defenses were weak.  The reason lies in the books collected by Xiao He! Therefore, useful books of the world should be called ‘books’, and the place to store these are called ‘Halls’. T/L Note: This line only makes sense in Chinese, library is made up of 3 characters “Picture” “Book” “Hall” so library literally is broken down into a place to store books.

After listening to Li Yuanying’s well-founded answer, Kong Yingda asked: “What do you want me to do for you?”

Li Yuanying said shyly, “It’s just that, I currently don’t have any books in my newly built library. Could you lend me some students so that they can copy some for me? Anyway, they all need to practice calligraphy, so let them copy things for me as practice!”

Kong Yingda choked on Li Yuanying’s words.

If it was for other requests, he would have driven this brazen guy out in an instant. But the boy’s action made him reluctant to do so. For no other sane person would not be willing to spend money and buy two sets of property to build a free library. That’s a thankless and troublesome ordeal done with good intentions.

“Okay, I’ll get someone to help you with it. But you won’t ask them to prepare their own equipment right?”

Seeing Kong Yingda’s grim expression which subtly hinted that I will kick you out if you give me any more nonsense, Li Yuanying gave up his initial plan to further take advantage of these poor students.

“Then I will have the equipment delivered tomorrow”.

After Yuanying finished harassing the Minister of Education (Kong Yingda), he went to harass Wei Zheng and the other ministers one after another. They all had students, subordinates, and books in their homes. As long as everyone dedicates just one book, the world would become a better place!

With just this one trip, almost everyone knew about his plan to build a library. He even went ahead to harass Fang Xuanling asking for some criminal law books so that others can get legal knowledge. Fang Xuanling was sold by his concept of having a library and readily agreed to transcribe a book on criminal laws and send them over to the young Prince.

Gradually, the library’s collection became more diverse.

Since many scholarly people frequent the shop, many became curious about this mysterious new store. The students and officials who were ordered to help out shut their mouths and carried a bitter look on their faces. For who likes doing menial tasks like copying books? After working hard for many days, they just wanted to be done with it quickly. They weren’t interested in paying attention to discussions and inquiries of the people around them!

The more no one talks about it, the people became curious. Soon speculations about why there were so many books in one place and why isn’t this shop located in the East Market where people can afford to buy started.

The number of books was not enough to meet Yuanying’s requirement, so he pushed the official opening back to the year after. This shameless fellow got others working around the clock but he was idle. He stayed in the palace and read books. Once he got bored, he led two imperial guards and ran to the West Market to play.

This time, Yuanying strolled around the West Market casually and fell in love with a big rooster that was being sold. The rooster’s cockscomb was bright red, and its feathers were shiny, no matter how you look at it, it screams premium quality!

Seeing the majestic rooster, Yuanying decided to name it after an aircraft called “Fighting Chicken”

The more Yuanying looked at his new pet, the more he felt that it has great aura. After his servants took care of it for a few days, he sent a message to Li Er asking him for a challenge to a rooster fight.

Li Er was also a cockfighting lover, so after reading Yuanying’s nonsense challenge letter, he became excited. He picked a day for the challenge.

The two brothers each instructed the two chickens to fight each other while they cheered their pets on. When the fight was on its climax, both chickens had lost quite a bit of feathers. Then suddenly someone reminded: “Your Majesty, Official Wei is here!”

The Emperor’s expression stiffened.

Li Yuanying was still shouting at the fighting chicken excitement: “Peck it!  Good chance! Come on!” He only looked up when he noticed that Li Er on the opposite side was silent.

Oh my god! It was Wei Zheng with a black face!

Old Wei’s face is blacker and fiercer than a fighting chicken!

Without waiting for Yuanying to say hello, Wei Zheng started lecturing the Emperor about something along the line of “You are the king of a country, how can you play with things and lose your mind? Do you think you are merely playing with a chicken; you are playing with the citizen’s chicken!” Each sentence is more brutal than the previous one as it’s aimed straight at a person’s lungs!

Yuanying was dumbfounded and was secretly counting how many allusions Wei Zheng could use; this was a rare on-site teaching!

The boy was listening with gusto, but suddenly Wei Zheng turned his head towards him.

Li Yuanying reacted alertly and swiftly: “I heard your remarks, and I felt that my brother and I were too inappropriate. I’ve decided to kill my fighting chicken tonight and bring it as dinner to eat with you and your family! What fun is there in cockfighting? It’s more fun to eat chicken! I haven’t been to your house for a long time, I really miss your family’s food!”

Compared to being sprayed with dog blood [3]Means to be brutally scolded, Li Yuanying would not pity a chicken!

Sure enough, Wei Zheng choked back when he heard the statement.

The atmosphere has been interrupted, so Wei Zheng could do nothing else but bow to the Emperor and leave: “I will retire first.”

After speaking, he turned around and walked away, obviously dissatisfied with the Emperor’s actions.

Li Er glared at Li Yuanying. The only thing you’re good at is to act innocent and obedient! Who would want to have a cockfight if it wasn’t for your challenge letter?!

Yuanying was not afraid of His Majesty’s anger so he further provoked him: “Lord Brother, do you want to kill your chicken as well? Otherwise, I think Old Wei will scold you when he goes to court.”

His Majesty thought about Wei Zheng’s character and reluctantly ordered the deed to be done.

Yuanying leaned over and to comfort his brother kindly: “Brother, don’t be sad. If the old don’t go, the new won’t come. The whole world belongs to you, are you afraid that you won’t find another chicken that suits your heart?”

 “Get out. Get out of here!”: shouted the Emperor Li Er.


1 by Sima Qian records ancient China’s history
2 Liu Bang, First Emperor of Han Dynasty
3 Means to be brutally scolded

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