Chapter 14 Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip Chip
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The sight of Li Jinyu’s expression, resembling that of a mischievous child who failed to play a prank, was amusing enough to make Huo Caiyu want to laugh.
Unaware that his attitude towards Li Jinyu had inadvertently changed, Huo Caiyu straightened his face. “Since Your Majesty asked this humble commoner to guide Your Majesty in calligraphy, he naturally needs to do his duty.”
Seeing Li Jinyu walking to the case with great reluctance, Huo Caiyu pretended not to notice his sulking expression and began to explain each Chinese characters.
A few days ago, when he started teaching Li Jinyu basic characters, he found that although His Majesty could barely read, he had an extremely fast learning speed and was by no means a dullard, even faster than the average person.
At least Huo Caiyu was not so efficient when he first learned characters.
Today’s teaching followed the same pattern. Huo Caiyu wrote the characters twice himself, then let Li Jinyu imitate his writing, and the basic outline was already formed.
Of course, whether the handwriting was good or not was another matter.
If Li Jinyu knew about Huo Caiyu’s inner thoughts, he would surely say, “Friend, do you know there is mutual intelligibility between Simplified and Traditional Chinese characters?”
He was a spiritual creature in modern society and had been raised in a human household. If he didn’t even know the Chinese characters, it would be too embarrassing.
Nowadays, learning Traditional Chinese characters could be quickly memorized by comparing them with Simplified Chinese characters.
Huo Caiyu naturally didn’t know about this. While marveling at Li Jinyu’s intelligence, he was also pondering what could have caused such a smart and normal Emperor to have a reputation for being cruel and tyrannical.
After finishing the lesson, Li Jinyu immediately took a step back, rubbed his slightly flushed face, and took a deep breath, saying, “Zhen is a little thirsty, let’s take a break first.”
Huo Caiyu nodded and put down his brush.
The crispy peanuts, melon seeds, and walnuts were brought up one by one, and Li Jinyu ate them with great relish.
Huo Caiyu frowningly looked at those foods that were particularly easy to cause internal heat, but he refrain from saying anything.
Li Jinyu ate a few peanuts and felt a little embarrassed when he saw Huo Caiyu not moving at all. After all, this palace would belong to Huo Caiyu in the future, and he was just a temporary guest who shouldn’t be taking everything.
“You should have some too,” he said.
Huo Caiyu was slightly startled, put down his teacup, and said lightly, “These things are easy to cause internal heat. Your Majesty should also control your intake.”
Chief Eunuch Kang, who was serving by the side, almost broke out in a cold sweat upon hearing this.
After Ping’an was transferred to Imperial Kitchen, he was selected to serve beside Li Jinyu. Chief Kang had never dealt with Li Jinyu’s version of Emperor Jingchang, so he only knew of His Majesty’s original temperament— if anyone dared to make irresponsible remarks to His Majesty, it would be considered His Majesty’s grace to drag him down on the spot and beat him to death.
Was Young Master Huo taking advantage of His Majesty’s leniency to act recklessly?
Chief Kang lowered his head, waiting for His Majesty’s furious reaction.
“Zhen won’t get too much heat, you don’t have to worry,” Li Jinyu said nonchalantly, grabbing a peanut. Feeling the crispy texture and fragrance exploding between his teeth, he closed his eyes in happiness.
After eating one, Li Jinyu met Huo Caiyu’s gaze and, thinking he understood Huo Caiyu’s thoughts, pushed the plate towards him with some pity, “You should try it too.”
Huo Caiyu, from an average family, probably hadn’t even eaten peanuts or melon seeds before, right?
Huo Caiyu looked down at the plate of peanuts, but didn’t eat any.
As Li Jinyu turned his head, he met Chief Kang’s surprised eyes and blinked, “Do you want some too?”
Chief Kang snapped out of his thoughts and hurriedly lowered his head, “This servant dares not!”
What Ping’an told himself was not nonsense? His Majesty could really tolerate Young Master Huo to this extent?
After finishing their snacks, Li Jinyu noticed that Huo Caiyu seemed like he was about to start lecturing again, so he quickly brought up his own question, “How did you find those ledgers from yesterday?”
Huo Caiyu furrowed his brow slightly, not quite understanding Li Jinyu’s meaning. “This humble commoner is currently teaching Your Majesty how to read and write the characters in those ledgers.”
“That’s not it!” Li Jinyu persisted. “After reading those ledgers, don’t you have any thoughts or ideas?”
Where are your plans and strategies for governing the country? Hurry up and bring them out! Zhen will help you implement them right away!
The expectation in Li Jinyu’s eyes left Huo Caiyu baffled.
When he impulsively confronted the court about their policies during the Reed Flowers Festival, he did mention taxation as a problem. However, that was just his superficial opinion. Upon reading the ledgers on taxation, he found that they were complex and difficult to understand.
He fell silent for a moment before finally speaking up, “Currently, there are a multitude of taxes and levies that are difficult for the people to bear, including head taxes, spring seed taxes, autumn harvest taxes, land taxes, salt taxes, and so on. The common people work hard all year round, but the majority of their income is taken in taxes, making their lives extremely difficult.”
“Mhmm.” Li Jinyu’s eyes lit up. “Go on, go on.”
“Houses of the wealthy are filled with wine and meat, while the roads are littered with frozen corpses. To solve these problems, there’s a need to thoroughly reform the tax system. Corrupt officials must not be given any opportunity to take advantage of the situation.” Huo Caiyu thought of the impoverished lives of soldiers and commomers on the border and couldn’t help but grit his teeth.
Chief Kang on the side was sweating profusely, and even wanted to quit immediately, lest he hear something he shouldn’t have heard.
His Majesty was actually discussing national policy with Young Master Huo, a commoner! Shouldn’t such matters be discussed with the Prime Minister in private?
Li Jinyu wished that Huo Caiyu could spit out all the words in one breath, but Huo Caiyu only threw out one sentence in the end, “This humble commoner has not yet had a perfect plan.”
Huo Caiyu had previously thought about some immature ideas on his own, but upon reflection, he realized they were too theoretical and needed further refinement.
Huo Caiyu glanced at Li Jinyu and noticed his obvious disappointment. This made him wonder if His Majesty had kept him around just because he thought his policies were viable based on his own arguments. However, he was also puzzled as to why he was first subjected to a caning punishment.
If the Emperor did not approve of him, why was he offered edicts, documents, and legal codes to study? Huo Caiyu pressed his lips together, and his eyes darkened slightly as he remembered the pain of being caned and the hardships he endured in prison.
Li Jinyu kept his head low, thinking about how to extract all of Huo Caiyu’s policies from the novel. He planned to promote these policies under Huo Caiyu’s name, thereby improving his reputation. This would also contrast favorably against Li Jinyu’s own infamous reputation as a tyrant. Both the people and the ministers would know who to choose.
By skipping the step of going to war and saving time, they could also avoid the casualties of war!
Wasn’t he such a little genius!
Li Jinyu pondered deeply why Huo Caiyu refused to be honest with him about his policies.
Perhaps it was because he had been beaten once, or perhaps Huo Caiyu deemed Li Jinyu beyond redemption and not worth implementing new policies…
Li Jinyu sighed again. If only he had come over a little earlier— at least he could have heard Huo Caiyu’s generous words during the Reed Flowers Festival!
The novel was just a fiction, not a huge historical research masterpiece. It only briefly explained the philosophy behind Huo Caiyu’s policies, with no mention of how they should be implemented!
After much thought, Li Jinyu felt that Huo Caiyu did not trust him enough, and thought that he would never listen to his advice.
But there was nothing he could do, he had to increase hatred points, so he couldn’t take a friendly approach with Huo Caiyu…
Li Jinyu was biting a walnut shell on the dragon bed, intending to show his sincerity to Huo Caiyu.
He heard that there was an ancient poem that spoke of how the Emperor should treat his subordinates sincerely, and there was a line that went something like “the Emperor and the General take off their battle armors”…
[T/N] The idiom is used to describe a peaceful resolution to a conflict, in which both parties involved set aside their differences and work towards a mutually beneficial outcome.
It sounds very stylish!
So that night, Huo Caiyu received an Emperor who came only in his undershirt.
Huo Caiyu had been reading the documents sent over by Li Jinyu for the past two days.
These documents were all collected by Li Jinyu, including reports and regulations related to the taxation of the Di Dynasty, which were gathered from the Prime Minister and the court.
Huo Caiyu had read extensively when he was at home, but it was not as detailed as the information available at the center of the imperial court. He had been absorbing new knowledge all along.
This was not the first time Li Jinyu had come to see him at night, so Huo Caiyu wasn’t too surprised. He had thought that this time, His Majesty would just stay in the same room with him as before, but he did not expect Li Jinyu to climb directly onto his bed.
Remembering Li Jinyu’s frequent blushing in his presence, a queer sensation overcame Huo Caiyu. He covertly clutched the blanket, steeling himself before calmly inquiring, “What does Your Majesty mean by this?”
Li Jinyu unsuccessfully tugged at the quilt so he just gave up and planted himself directly onto Huo Caiyu’s lap. “After careful consideration, Zhen wants to have a good chat with Huo Aiqing.”
Huo Caiyu lowered his eyes as his fingers tightened slightly. “What does Your Majesty want to talk about?”
“As Zhen first became involved in politics, Zhen thought to do something at least to live up to the expectations of the royal ancestors and the Prime Minister. However, due to Zhen’s limited ability, Zhen is unable to do much. It’s very shameful.”
As soon as Li Jinyu said this, he saw a subtle change in Huo Caiyu’s expression and wondered why he didn’t seem to buy it. Why was Huo Caiyu not falling for his trick?
He had spent countless hours mulling over this excuse! On the one hand, he was being sincere about wanting to know Huo Caiyu’s clever ideas, and on the other hand, he was also showing his own helplessness.
After a long silence, Huo Caiyu slowly spoke up, “Your Majesty is concerned about the country and the people. This humble commoner can only see that the current taxation problem lies in the diverse and unclear tax categories. To solve this, something must be done with the tax categories…”
He had originally planned to suggest listing the tax categories as separate items, setting up two systems for collection and supervision, and reducing opportunities for corrupt officials to take advantage of the situation.
However, these systems may have already existed in the Di Dynasty, but they could not be implemented effectively.
Li Jinyu, upon hearing Huo Caiyu’s suggestion, couldn’t help praising him, “Huo Aiqing is truly a genius to be able to come up with the idea of ‘Single Whip Technique’!”
Having read the novel, Li Jinyu recognized the reference to the later “Single Whip Method” in Huo Caiyu’s words. He assumed that Huo Caiyu was intentionally withholding information because he believed he had already made a decision.
Huo Caiyu was slightly taken aback. “Single Whip Technique?”
Li Jinyu saw that Huo Caiyu was pretending not to understand. “Isn’t it just converting stored grains, cotton, and other tangible goods into silver? Indeed, Zhen did not misjudge your talents!”
Currently in the Di Dynasty, taxation was primarily collected through physical goods such as grain for the spring tax and cotton for the cotton tax. The exact value of these goods was determined solely by the tax officials.
If a tax official said that a pot of grain was worth only one penny, one could only reluctantly accept it. If it was not enough to pay the required amount of taxes, one would have to go back and find more.
If taxes were collected in silver, people would need to sell their grains and other items beforehand. Although this would be more cumbersome than before, once the amount of tax to be paid was determined, a single payment would settle the matter, freeing them from worry for the entire year. Moreover, this approach would facilitate commercial activity and enable money and goods to circulate more freely.
This was one of the new policies implemented by Huo Caiyu after he ascended the throne in the novel.
The more Huo Caiyu considered this approach, the more he felt that it was ideal for managing the complicated tax system of the present. His complex thoughts seemed to have cleared all of a sudden, giving him an unparalleled sense of identification.
Huo Caiyu was deeply shaken and his expression towards Li Jinyu changed completely. He was convinced that his earlier words had not conveyed this particular meaning.
Huo Caiyu tentatively asked, “This method sounds great, can Your Majesty explain it in detail?”
Li Jinyu thought that Huo Caiyu was asking for his opinion, so like pouring beans from a bamboo tube, he poured out some of the contents mentioned in the novel, mixed with praise for Huo Caiyu, ensuring to make him feel his sincerity.
With the clarification of many details, Huo Caiyu became increasingly convinced that if this strategy was put into practice, it would surely bring prosperity to the people!
Such a wonderful idea, did His Majesty come up with it himself?
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