The place where they were going to study was in a small room called Jingxin Zhai, Tranquil Heart study room, in the Prince palace.
When the two arrived together, the current Taifu, Wang Jingqiao, had arrived a long time earlier, and Yong Shan explained a few words of the cause of being late to the Taifu with a smile.
After a proper greeting, Yong Shan sat at one table, while Yong Qi took another one. The space between the two tables was only a half arm size away. On the table were a brush, inkstone stand, and a few white papers, and textbooks.
“Today, let’s… talk about Lao Zhuang.”
The nearly sixty years old Wang Jingqiao, had dim eyes, and his speech was not good. Every time he spoke a few words, he had to think and talk slowly, or he would just cough.
However, Yong Shan and Yong Qi knew that this man was a court veteran. He was in poor health over the years. The Emperor ordered him to take a rest while recuperating and teach the princes to read books. Although they were not used to slow teaching, they still listened and treated him respectfully.
“Qi WuLun (The Adjustment of Controversies), en… have you read it all?”
Wang Jingqiao picked up the book and read it first. Even though he was old and he would stop or pause at some sentence, he was very dedicated to carry out the king’s orders. If he felt that his reading was not smooth, he had to stop a bit, adjust his breath, and read carefully again.
It was either read the full text once, then explain it sentence by sentence, or read one sentence while explaining one sentence.
So back and forth, the first four paragraphs of Zhuangzi’s “Qi WuLun” took nearly two hours. After talking for a while, the old Grand tutor Wang felt his throat become dry, took a sip of tea with restraint, and looked at the two royal students sitting awkwardly, “Your Highnesses, is there, en, anything you don’t understand?”
Yong Shan looked at Yong Qi.
Yong Qi shook his head slightly.
The Grand tutor focused his gaze at the both of them attentively, and slowly said, “If there is nothing Your Highnesses don’t understand, then I will… test and ask questions. Your Highness Yong Qi, you say, what does ‘Our intercourse with others then leads to various activities, and daily there is the striving of mind with mind’ mean?”
“Yes, Taifu.” Yong Qi answered, lowering his head for a moment, and then said slowly, “This means that even though people in the world get along with each other, they still struggle with scheming against each other all day long.”
“Then… What is your Highness’ opinion?”
“Oh?” Wang Taifu did not comment right away. He gazed at Yong Qi with his muddy old eyes, paused for a moment, and murmured, “Knowing it is deplorable, an unacceptable act despite in such a young age, Your Highness is correct. But this sentence is not just for this explanation. ‘Our intercourse with others then leads to various activities, and daily there is the striving of mind with mind’ can also be resolved as what you see and experience every moment in the world affects your heart.”
Yong Qi’s heart was slightly shaken, and he bowed his head, accepting the lecture.
Taifu sighed, then turned his gaze to Yong Shan dully, “Your Royal Highness, regarding the lecture just now, en…what do you think?”
Yong Shan smiled lightly, “I’m thinking about those two sentences, ‘where they are given out like the conditions of a covenant, we have those who maintain their views, determined to overcome. (The weakness of their arguments), like the decay (of things) in autumn and winter, shows the failing (of the minds of some) from day to day’“
“Oh? Please, Your Highness, explain these two sentences according to your own thoughts.”
“Be able to resolve by keeping your own thoughts in your heart like an oath, without verbal explanations. The so-called defending win-win situation.”
“Then… What about the last sentence?”
Yong Shan pondered for a while, and suddenly he showed a self-deprecating smile, and said lightly, “Explaining the autumn and winter as like slaughtering, and it should be interpreted as decay of the withered grass of autumn and winter, but in life, who will not turn into the withered grass of autumn and winter in the end?”
Wang Jingqiao’s wrinkled face slowly burst into an old-fashioned smile. While laughing, he shook his head and murmured, “What a deceive interpretation. Alas, in great Lao Zhuang, how many people have been able to solve it right in ancient times? Your Highness’s explanation. It’s just based on Your Highness’s disposition, so others couldn’t persuade you.”
Putting down the tea bowl, he stood up tremblingly, “Let us stop here today. I am too old to sit for a long period of time.”
The two students hurriedly stood up. They helped Taifu stabilize himself and held his hand at each side until they left Jingxin Zhai. Yong Shan instructed Chang Defu to bring the small warm sedan chair over and sent the Taifu onto the sedan.
Only until the warm sedan seemed to go far away did they turn to look at each other.
Yong Shan asked, “Are you tired after sitting for more than two hours? What should we eat?”
Yong Qi was still recollecting what he had just said in the class, and said, “In the past, it had always been Lei Taifu who gave me a lecture. This is the first time I have listened to Wang Taifu’s class. Although his speech was slow, I seem to have a grab of feelings.”
“Everyone should be like this after all.” Yong Shan then led Yong Qi back into the door, and ordered Chang Defu to prepare food and drink which should be brought to the small side room where they could view the scenery through the window.
Once the two of them entered the small side room, a few servants hurriedly greeted them, took off the coats they wore to meet the Taifu, and put on light and simple casual clothes.
Yong Shan took a large string of jade ornaments taken off by the servants and looked at it. The top square jade ornament was carved with the face of ancient gods and beasts, and the red tasseled line below was connected with two waterfowl-shaped jade belt hooks. Further down, it was tied with four auxiliary titles: jade rings, which were worn in series, like a chain of beautiful jade on the waist, which was both generous and noble. It was no wonder that the jade ring was chosen by the crowd to pay tribute to the court.
The Emperor received a lot of rewards for fair purposes, especially when foreign ministers paid tribute. Usually he was bestowed with dozens of them as well. There were a few square plates covered with yellow satin that were brought over but Yong Shan would forget all about it after giving it a glance. Today he found these things very interesting.
He couldn’t help but love it more and more.
After thinking for a while, he took this set of jade ornaments and walked behind Yong Qi and said, “Brother Yong Qi, stand still.”
His hands then went around Yong Qi’s waist and hung things on his belt. The jade ornaments that had been assembled at the beginning, and now it didn’t take much trouble to hang them up again. And after a short while, it had been arranged.
“That’s so pretty.”
Yong Qi frowned, and as soon as Yong Shan let go, he stretched out his hand to remove it, “This type of thing, cannot be worn on other people.”
Yong Shan grabbed his hand, “There are no such words written on it. Moreover, it’s just a decoration. What do you care about so much? Or do you dislike my things?”
Hearing that his tone of voice started to sound displeased again, Yong Qi stood still in a difficult position.
Yong Shan ignored him. He tightened the things on Yong Qi’s belt again, and then said, “You should dress more noble, otherwise, if you appear shabby in front of Li Fei, I’m afraid she’ll think I’m being mean to you.”
When Yong Qi heard the word “Li Fei”, he twitched slightly and was silent for a while, revealing a look that he did not intend to continue to resist.
Yong Shan knew that he was obedient, and said softly, “Brother Yong Qi, let’s eat something first. You didn’t even drink one sip of tea during the lesson? Did you study this hard in the past as well?”
After that he brought Yong Qi to sit at a table by the window.
At the same time, Chang Defu quietly walked in. “Your Highness, His Highness the Fifth Prince, beg for your attendance.”
There was a sharp flash of light in Yong Shan’s eyes, but it calmed down in an instant. After giving an acknowledgment sound in a calm manner, he said, “I see. Send someone to stop him at the door, don’t let him come in to ruin the mood.”
“Yes, this servant shall do it.”
Chang Defu stopped immediately, “Yes, what else does Your Highness have to order?”
“Go and tell Yong Sheng the things he asked me to do, I’m already working on it. But things have to be done slowly, don’t be impatient. I will find someone to tell him when there is news. Be careful when you spread the word, and speak well. Don’t annoy him.”
“Yes, this servant will be careful.”
They had to study all morning after waking up, and now both of them were hungry.
The meals were quickly set up one by one, and those were still what Yong Qi liked to eat.
Yong Shan helped him get a spoonful of tofu and put it in a bowl, “Tofu is a good thing, but unfortunately it’s always too vegetarian. I asked someone to steam the tofu with Yunnan ham slices in the tofu, and it will make it taste even better.”
After eating two or three bites, the sound of footsteps came again.
Yong Shan looked impatiently at Chang Defu who walked in, “What is it this time?”
Chang Defu was followed by two servants, both of them holding generous square plates covered with brocades. They were all precious gold, silver and various items made of jade. “Replying to Your Highness, His Highness Yong Sheng has already returned. Before leaving, he also left some gifts, saying that he respected his brother and everything is up to Your Highness…”
Yong Shan waved his hand, “All right. I have checked that there are no prohibited items, so you can just put it away. Is it necessary to come over and disturb us brothers eating with such a trivial matter?”
Chang Defu also knew that he had come at an untimely time, so he hurriedly led people to retreat.
Yong Shan glared at them and lowered the curtain on the door before twisting half of his body back to continue eating. He lowered his head and saw an extra sliced ham in the bowl. In an instant, his eyes were smiling and asked the person sitting across from him, “Did you pick it for me?”
Yong Qi was restless and unable to answer when he was gazed at like this. After a long while, he said dully, “I don’t like eating sliced ham which is hidden in tofu…”
As he explained, the smile on Yong Shan’s face widened, the corners of his lips turned upwards, even his neat white teeth were slightly exposed, and his smile was very beautiful.
“I instructed the cook to get the Yunnan ham out before serving it. They must have been negligent. If you see the sliced ham hidden inside, might as well give it to me.” Yong Shan scooped another spoonful of tofu in high spirits.
Before it landed down in Yong Qi’s bowl, there was another sound of footsteps coming through the curtain.
Yong Shan had been practicing martial arts for many years, and his hearing was several times better than that of ordinary people. When he heard the sound of footsteps: he was very upset. He turned his head and said in a deep voice, “No matter what, fxck off! Can’t these crooked people let me have a quiet meal?”
Before he finished speaking, someone who was not afraid of death opened the curtain, and leaned in with a face that was laughing like a fool. “Hey, I knew it was better to come early than to come by coincidence! I was just hungry too.”
Yong Lin, a troublemaker who liked to move around, came here again.
He walked in proudly, stretched his neck to look at the table, sniffed his nose and said, “Brother Yong Shan is really stingy. Every day, it’s always vegetables, tofu, radish and winter melon. At worst, adding a piece or two of sweet-scented osmanthus jelly, Brother Yong Qi must be starving. Fortunately, I was clever and brought a plate of thick sauced deer meat along today.”
Putting the small plate in his hands on the table, he squeezed his butt to Yong Qi’s side, and poked him greatly. “Brother Yong Qi, move a little bit, I will sit with you. I got this thick sauced meat from outside the palace. Tsk, tsk, it’s a rare delicacy.”
His thick nerves didn’t even notice the blue veins on Yong Shan’s neck, which had already exploded.
Across the table, Yong Shan faintly stared at Yong Lin. “You don’t stay with mother to practice horse riding and shooting, what are you doing here? Still not listening to what I said before?”
“Practicing! I got up before dawn and practiced all morning!” Yong Lin, who was originally happy at first, was asked by Yong Shan with a solemn face, showing a sense of grievance, and was anxious to defend himself like a child. “It was mother who said that the practice should be more relaxed, and I can’t do it overnight. It would also hurt my muscles and bones if I overstepped, so I didn’t continue. I took advantage of the relaxing time to go out and stroll around. If my brother doesn’t believe me, just ask mother. When have I lied to you?”
Yong Lin was insensitive, but Yong Qi knew where Yong Shan’s temper came from. He was worried that Yong Lin, his stupid brother would talk nonsense again, and it would arouse Yong Shan’s anger, so he cut off Yong Lin’s words, frowned softly and said, “If you don’t practice horse riding and shooting, shouldn’t you go do your homework? If you have time, you should learn something with peace of mind, even practicing calligraphy is good. You are obviously lazy, and you sneak out to play at any chance you have, yet still not admit your mistake to your brother Yong Shan?”
While Yong Shan listened, his heart was clear as a mirror. He could sense each and every word was spoken to protect Yong Lin, with anxiety and extremely cautiousness.
He couldn’t help thinking to himself, in Yong Qi’s mind, he was just someone with a disposition that could even harm his own twin brother!
While the inside was hurting, a stream of blood mixed with hot and sour taste rushed straight up all the way against his throat making him unable to say a word.
As a result, it was Yong Lin who cried. As soon as Yong Qi finished speaking, he turned his head to look at Yong Qi, and cried out with aggrieved and doubtful words. “Brother Yong Qi, are you scolding me too? What exactly is going on? When I came back this time, I was either beaten or scolded by mother or brother Yong Shan. And now even you are scolding me! What did I do wrong today? I just brought a plate of meat and wanted my brothers to taste it together. Brothers have a meal at a table, is it worth all of you to scold me? Am I so annoying?”
His big tiger-like eyes were so wide that they turned red. He let go of his voice and said angrily. “Since everyone looks down on me, why do you call me back? Simply let me die in the fief where birds don’t even lay eggs, wouldn’t it be a clean cut!”
The color on Yong Shan’s face had long turned blue, looking fierce and scary. Hearing Yong Lin’s cries out louder and louder, and uttering the crow words of that simply letting him die on the fief, the irritation and heartbreaking was really uncontrollable. Suddenly, as loud as thunder, he angrily roared, “Get out!”
His hand swept frantically on the table.
Suddenly, all the dishes, chopsticks and everything on the table as well as the plate of sauced meat that Yong Lin had worked so hard to get, were dripping with the soup, and they all fell to the ground.
In an instant, the atmosphere in the room was suffocated to the extreme.
Seeing Yong Shan’s anger arose, Yong Lin suddenly became lost his voice as if he became a dumb. After being stunned for a moment, with a sad and disappointed expression on his face, he suddenly stood up, gritted his teeth and rushed out.
Yong Qi’s mother only gave birth to him. Yong Qi had no other brother with the same mother. On the contrary, he loved this younger brother the most since he was a child. He couldn’t help but grab to stop him, “Yong Lin, listen to your older brother…”
Yong Lin, who was tall, had a big build, rushing outwards with a fierce move. Yong Qi, who stretched out his hand to pull while still on his seat, couldn’t hold him still at all. On the contrary, he was twisted. One of them slammed unsteadily, and he bumped his forehead against the edge of the table.
Peng! The noise was loud.
“Yong Qi!” Yong Shan’s heart shrank as he heard it, and rushed to hold his face, “Where did you hit? Let me see!”