Living Leisurely in Tang Dynasty Chapter 43

Not sure if it’s the aftereffect of being constantly flattered by Li Yuanying but when Chengqian read the article he wrote, he felt that it was well written and without the usual stagnation, unlike his past writings.

This is a first for him to not regard writing as an annoying task. Now that he is done, he thinks back about how he felt working on it. He especially felt happy when Li Yuanying praised him.

Young uncle said that this was the inspiration he got from Yu Zhining’s lecture. He feels that this persuasion method of overwhelming someone with big principles until they become numb is a great way to persuade people. Anyone who listens would be persuaded easily! If you want to wear this tall beautiful hat [1]meaning to take on this prestigious role, you’ll have to put in practical work, otherwise, the compliments received will backfire to connote the opposite meaning!

Isn’t that what Yu Zhining and the other teachers demanded from him daily? First, they say that he’s the Crown Prince and then expect him to do this and that. If he didn’t or couldn’t do it well, he’ll get a horrible scolding. And then they go to his Royal Father and complain about him!

Now that he wants to do proper business with Li Yuanying, shouldn’t he just present this article that follows exactly his teacher’s ideology back to them and they will have to comply and recommend to him a group of scholars?

He used to have no patience for tasks like these for he couldn’t figure out how to navigate the twists and turns of working with scholars. Now that his young uncle led by example, he felt enlightened. He even felt that he has lost his usual uptight feeling about everything that used to constrict him.

Li Chengqian packed up the manuscript, straightened his clothes, and went straight to look for Kong Yingda.

If you were wondering who has the most disciples,  it’s naturally Kong Yingda. After all, he not only has many students but also manages the highly valued Imperial Academy.

Li Chengqian told Kong Yingda all about the Emperor’s instruction to settle the refugees’ wellbeing together with Li Yuanying. They can accommodate lodging for the group but more effort is needed to empower them to make a living and to become useful citizens for the Tang Empire. He quickly showed the article he wrote under Li Yuanying’s advocacy to Kong Yinda and waited for his reply.

Kong Yingda didn’t expect the Crown Prince to take such initiative by his own efforts. Unlike Li Tai who loves literature, Li Chengqian prefers outdoor activities. It’s a real challenge to get him to read and write on usual days. Unless it’s absolutely necessary he would never pick up a pen and write!

Kong Yingda felt comforted. He quickly took the article and read it carefully. He found that it was well-organized with a prominent theme and reasonable sentence structure. The writing was also extremely moving. Upon reading, he also felt that there were many pitiful homeless people hidden right under the nose of the Emperor, with no one to support them which was distressing!

What the Crown prince and Prince Teng is asking for is just to find them a few scholars who is willing to educate these underprivileged children in hopes that they could read and write and hopefully, one day become useful citizens!

Such a deep profound love for the people of Tang. Kong Yingda’s heart was moved and he immediately praised Chengqian and promised: “Rest assured, Your Highness, this old minister will complete this matter as soon as possible. It will be done in a few days and the men will be there at the Sunflower Garden.”

Hearing the praises and promises, Chengqian was happy and even took the rare initiative to stay back to talk to Kong Yingda before leaving.

Although Kong Yingda is rigid and strict, he is not an unreasonable person. Seeing Chengqian’s transformation is a great relief. After Li Chengqian left, Kong Yingda walked around before deciding that he needs to meet with His Majesty to share this piece of news.

 Li Er wasn’t aware that Li Yuanying would really take in more than 300 people. Hearing this, he realized that his little brother really put words into action.

But Kong Yingda has slight doubts: “Prince Teng is still young. With so many refugees settling on his farm, I’m afraid there will be trouble.”

Put aside certain refugees joining with ulterior motives, just the cost to sustain and feed this group will be substantial! Not to mention the existing citizens making a living on these farms will have conflicts with these outsiders. No matter how well a country is governed, “Uneven distribution has always been a bigger worry than scarcity”. Who is willing to give up their things to others? It is impossible to satisfy everyone no matter how well you distribute things!

King Teng is only 10, how can he cope with these things?

In the past, Kong Yingda wouldn’t be bothered about how Prince Teng will manage this but now that he has dragged the Crown Prince into the picture, Kong Yinda needs to consider the bigger picture. After all Prince Teng losing his reputation is a small matter but if the Crown Prince makes a mistake, the problem will be big. If he is not careful, he may even shake the country!

Li Er guessed what Kong Yingda was thinking and said with a smile: “Yuanying is young but isn’t Chengqian part of this mission? Chengqian has Elder Kong with him, even if it’s 30,000 people it can be done. I entrust Chengqian to you and I want you to teach him to be a prince who can resolve problems. I believe that you, Elder Kong will not let me down.”

Kong Yingda quickly understood His Majesty’s hidden meaning and shows the article written by Li Chengqian to Li Er.

Chengqian’s article is not as well-written as Li Tai’s, but it is more honest, has better rationality, and can be fluently read without being pretentious!

Li Er had been on the battlefield for the initial half of his life but after he ascended to the throne, he paid special attention to literature. After reading, he was overjoyed and sent servants to bring forth great rewards to the East Palace.

After all, Li Er’s biggest challenge is to govern this country well and strategize ways to keep the Tang Empire prosperous for future generations. If the Crown prince has a change of heart and is no longer only indulging in hunting and having fun; for the Emperor, this will be the happiest thing.

On the other side, Li Chengqian was busy ordering people to gather an “elephant army” for Li Yuanying. He wasn’t expecting to receive gifts from his father the Emperor.  

The East Palace doesn’t lack anything but how can it be compared to items rewarded to him by his father the Emperor?  Some were for him and some were for his son Li Xiang. Li Chengqian looks at the gifts with mixed feelings. He couldn’t remember the last time his father, the Emperor had expressed satisfaction with him.

Li Yuanying didn’t know about the relationship between this father and son duo. He just heard that Chengqian requested Kong Yingda for help and he has agreed. And so he no longer worries.

Old man Kong may be a bit annoying but he’s a man of his words. He’s already shown this during the opening of the library when the old teacher mobilizes his troops of scholars from the imperial academy and shared books.

Since the matter of opening a school was settled, Li Yuanying ordered Dong Xiaoyi to return to Sunflower Garden to make preparations. We cannot allow the teachers to arrive in an area with no decent school so let’s quickly pick a few places with bright and clean windows and tidy them up to be used as a school.

As for what should be added and changed, Dong Xiaoyi can decide himself. If he has to worry about everything, what are his men good for?

Li Yuanying made it very clear that if Dong Xiaoyi can’t do this well, he’ll be replaced with someone more capable.

Xiaoyi is well aware that many in the palace want to climb up in ranks and so he didn’t dare to relax. He did his best to report to Prince Teng about his proposal which he has thought about day and night. After that, he quickly left the palace to return to the garden to work.

Since the plan has been laid out properly, Yuanying stopped worrying and decided to continue studying pharmacology with Sun Simiao. He also urged Sun Simiao and Li Chunfeng to meet as they were both Taoist priests and they quickly became acquainted with each other. They then started to discuss the best way to compile and design the new medical book so that it can fully express Sun Simiao’s medical knowledge.

Li Yuanying wandered around leisurely until the middle of the month.  Dong Xiaoyi returned and reported that the academy has been set up and students are starting to register for classes.

These children are all from poor backgrounds, so they didn’t care about gender differences. When they heard that they could study they all actively participated.  

At first, the teachers sent by Kong Yingda has objections to the mixed sitting of gender. But they later discovered that female students were more attentive than boys and treated teachers with diligence and respect. They were no less capable than the boys and so the teachers acquiesced to this matter and taught them all together.

In addition, the sunflowers have also germinated. The corn and peanuts were also brought to suitable places to be planted. A group of attentive elderly have been selected to tend to them. These elderly have worked in the fields all their lives and were able to quickly rectify any worries.

Hearing that Dong Xiaoyi had arranged things in an orderly manner, Li Yuanying was satisfied and nodded approvingly: “I’ll bring along Chengqian and the others to visit in a few days to see the corn and peanuts as well as the people and children. You don’t have to do any special preparation, we just want to see what the sunflower garden looks like on a normal day.”

Dong Xiaoyi readily accepted the order and returned to the garden.

Li Yuanying was just about to visit Chengqian when his men came over asking him to make a trip to visit the Crown Prince.

Li Yuanying quickly ran over. Chengqian updated that an ox in a surrounding village has, unfortunately, broken his legs. The cattle can no longer work and his owner has reported it to the authorities. His men have already paid for the cattle and is just waiting for them to make time and have another BBQ session that Li Yuanying is so fond of!

Since Yuanying previously wanted to play with an “Elephant Army”, Chengqian has already found several and is secretly domesticating them. Now would be a great time to visit and see its progress.

Li Yuanying got excited but it was a pity that only the two of them could sneak away! He originally wanted to invite Li Zhi and the other children to the Sunflower Garden. The boy leaned over and tried to persuade his eldest nephew: “Let’s bring Zhi Nu, Sizi, and the others! There more the merrier isn’t it?!”

Although Chengqian didn’t feel very safe involving too many people but hearing that they can use the Sunflower garden as cover, he nodded in agreement. These are all his own brothers and sisters, it’ll be more fun to play together.

The uncle and nephew duo made plans to hide their little outing. Then Li Yuanying entrusted Li Chengqian with another important task: since we are going to visit the children at Sunflower Garden, how can the Crown Prince not speak to them?

Li Yuanying asked Chengqian to prepare and that to encourage the children well. The Emperor Li Er is a good example to mimic, especially the way he gave his speech during the Imperial Academy open day ceremony, However, do not copy Li Er’s manner of speaking too dryly with too many principles. Children do not understand and will fall asleep!

Chengqian agreed but secretly thinks that if his father were to hear his uncle’s words he would definitely be angry again.

Li Yuanying didn’t think there was anything wrong with what he said, he is just honest. After discussing business with his nephew, the boy came happily and returned happily, he even hummed a little tune as he walks home.

Back at the residence, Li Yuanying told his mom that he’ll be leaving the palace in two days. Lady Liu took her son’s hand and instructed: “You can go out and play, but you can’t climb onto the back of an elephant again.”

The last time the Emperor punished Li Yuanying, everyone found out about Prince Teng’s new antics of riding an elephant at Duke Wei’s mansion and Lady Liu has been left terrified these days.

When mother spoke, Yuanying listened obediently and promised that he’ll never do it again.

“I’ve already rode it, so it’ll be boring to ride again.”

This time he just wanted to observe who is more powerful – horse or elephant? He won’t go into battle in person himself.

Lady Liu wasn’t aware that her son’s heart has long been lost somewhere between roasted beef and the elephant and horse battle. She was relieved to hear his obedient promise and allowed Yuanying to pass a message to Wei Shu, his only friend living outside the palace. The message is that he would pick her up to visit the Sunflower Garden together.

Wei Shu has been grounded by Wei Zheng since the absurd incident of accidentally visiting the red light district.

This time, when Wei Zheng heard the invitation, he didn’t agree with it. In the past, without the Beili incident he still thought that Prince Teng can be taught discipline but after he brought his precious granddaughter to Beili, he has liver pain just thinking about him.

Whose daughter would go to that kind of place? To add salt to the wound, Gao Yang actually met Fang Yi’ai there. If this news spread out, people will laugh for at least half a year!

Unfortunately, no matter how stubborn Wei Zheng was, he still lost to his granddaughter’s pleads and finally nodded to let her go.

The author has something to say:

Little Prince: It’s impossible for me to not do anything. I will forever not be able to stay out of trouble!

References

References
1 meaning to take on this prestigious role

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