Chapter Twenty Two Cross the sea by a trick
On the outskirts of the capital, Yunwu Mountain.
Zhao Yuan had started climbing the mountain before dawn, and when he approached the top, the rising sun shone on his face.
In the distance, lonely clouds appeared in the sky and the sky was covered with haze. He was dressed in a purple robe, while the breeze was brushing his face as he walked ahead. A few steps behind were Zhao Xi and Zhou Yi, dressed as ordinary servants.
Deep in the clouds and mist, there were three wooden houses standing on the leeward side, and in a small vegetable garden, two boys were cleaning up the remnant chrysanthemums.
The ground was golden and the mountain and forest in late autumn were so colourful that they did not seem like something of this world.
If Li Yi saw it, he would definitely be excited to paint.
Zhao Xi followed Zhao Yuan to the door and was about to ask Su Wang to show him the way, when he found that his prince had actually wandered off. The corners of his mouth lifted as if he was thinking of something interesting.
He stopped walking forward and went around to the garden gate and said to the boy who greeted him, “Is the gentleman at home today?”
“Although the gentleman is here, he is in retreat in the back room. It is better to leave him a message. When the gentleman is out of retreat, I will report to him.”
The boy’s voice was crisp and clear. Only when he opened his mouth did Zhao Yuan come back. Before he spoke, Zhou Yi couldn’t help but mutter in a low voice: “The last time he was visiting friends, the time before last he was wandering. This time he is finally at home, but he is in retreat.
Lord, I can just tie him up and bring him out here, why do you bother with all this effort!”
Without waiting for Zhao Yuan to reprimand him, Zhao Xi said: “The air in the mountains is very clear, and the scenery in all four seasons is beautiful. I’m not too tired, so if His Highness likes to come here from time to time, I’m happy to follow.”
Smiling, he choked Zhou Yi to death with a single sentence. Zhou Yi hated him for not cooperating with his act and threatened in a low voice: “Little eunuch! Be careful not to get caned again. Next time, I will definitely ask them to hit harder.”
As Zhao Yuan was distracted by their banter, he didn’t feel disheartened by the fact that he couldn’t see the person and actually chuckled lightly.
These two men were the most perceptive of all. Seeing that things were not going well today, the duo quickly took the opportunity to start babbling. They were natural at that as they had worked together for many years.
If the people above are happy, the people below can be at ease.
Zhou Yi was ready to listen to Zhao Yuan’s order to go back, but he didn’t expect Su Wang to say, “I won’t be leaving today. I originally thought that it would be alright to come invite Master Guo a few more times, but now that things have changed suddenly, I have to change my approach.”
Zhao Yuan was happy to give face to Guo Shen; it was his respect for Guo Shen’s character as the former Jijiu (‘sacrificial wine’, an ancient official post). But now that the earlier etiquette was unsuccessful, he couldn’t be blamed for acting like a soldier.
“Lord, it’s not a good idea to do it the hard way,” Zhou Yi said worriedly.
When it came to the real thing, Zhou Yi was the first one to object. He did all the intelligence work in the early stages. What kind of person is Guo Shen? If you asked him, he was a loathsome rock that didn’t go well with salt and oil.
That man didn’t even have a preference for wine. He loved chrysanthemums and plums, something you didn’t have to spend a lot of money for. At most, he liked to smoke a couple of pipes and for that there was enough tobacco growing in this barren mountain vegetable garden.
Zhao Xi was also worried; Zhou Yi really had clarified all the man’s preferences. He followed Su Wang twice. On the first occasion, Su Wang sent the man three tribute chrysanthemums that could not be exchanged for a thousand pieces of gold. When he came back for the second time, he left tobacco from Southern Yunnan, unique in the world. Back then, it was only available in the old princess’s house.
All that couldn’t be exchanged for a meeting with Guo Shen, which showed how difficult the old guy was to deal with.
With this kind of person, you didn’t need to fear that he would ask for something, you needed to fear he didn’t ask for anything.
Seeing that the guests refused to leave, the boy had to let the three of them into the hall of the main house, thinking that they would politely stay until sunset according to the rules and then they would leave.
There were many people who came to visit his teacher, and some of them could even sit for a few days in a row. When they knew that there was no hope, they would be discouraged and leave.
After tea and water were served, Zhao Yuan asked Zhou Yi to take out the scroll painting he had brought, handed it to the boy and said, “When the gentleman has dinner, please send this painting in.”
The boy generously accepted Zhou Yi’s purse stuffed with small gold coins, thinking that everyone had to go through this process, and after they tried all their tricks, they would give up.
Near noon, the old servant of the Guo family slowly put the guests’ meals on the table. Before Zhao Yuan raised his hand, Guo Shen strode out of the back hall.
Zhou Yi and Zhao Xi looked at each other. Not only was the sun not setting yet, it hadn’t even reached the highest point.
How did their prince manage to attract the great scholar?
Looking at Guo Shen again, he was wearing a turban and a sky blue robe with not a single fold on it, and there was no dust on his feet, so he had obviously just changed his clothes to meet the guests. He did not look like he was avoiding the guests because he was in retreat; he was just hiding from Zhao Yuan.
When Guo Shen met Zhao Yuan, he hastily greeted him with a simple salute before shaking the painting in his hand and said “Requesting Your Highness to tell me how you got this painting.”
In the center of the large scroll, nine cranes were painted flying together, each in a different pose, circling the blue sky and ascending in a cascade of unrestrained elegance.
Zhao Yuan was not in a hurry, sitting upright and steady, and said, “It was a gift from the artist.”
Guo Shen let out a ‘ah’ and stood still, his expression changing after a few moments as his mind was turning.
In the end, he gritted his teeth, pushed away the hem of his robe, knelt down directly in front of Zhao Yuan and said, “Please tell me the details.”
Zhao Yuan stepped forward to support him, “Li Yi is safe and sound, Master Guo, please get up.”
After a while, all the people in the house were sent out, and Zhao Yuan said, “Master must have seen the two previous invitations. I request Master to promise to go out of the mountains and take on the task of Jijiu at Pan Palace.”
Guo Shen’s expression was stern, and he said solemnly: “This subject doesn’t serve two masters.”
Zhao Yuan expected him to say this, and continued to persuade: “Master once said‘ ‘If you want to have the world’s talents, you need to have great teachers’. Such a great heart, is it all gone now? Master also said that he could not bear to see seedlings destroyed by mediocre hands, but now he can bear it?”
Guo Jijiu’s love for talents was well known all over the world.
He had scolded Prince Qin for usurping the throne. Because Guo Shen himself was widely famous, and the Guo family had been well-known ministers for three generations, Prince Qin only dismissed him.
If it weren’t for changing dynasties, Guo Shen would have done his best to teach the students of the whole country in the position of Jijiu.
Although he thought about it every day, he couldn’t do it in the end.
Guo Shen would rather endure the hardships of living in the mountains and stay away from the education and teaching of his heart, to be a keeper of memory of his old master.
It seems that without that last move, Guo Shen could not be forced out.
Zhao Yuan suddenly said, “What if this lord can let you follow the old master?”
“Why does Your Highness want to tease this old man?!” If Guo Shen didn’t still want to inquire about Li Yi, he would have already left.
“I want to extend the invitation to Li Yi to teach scriptures at Pan Palace.”
As soon as Zhao Yuan said this, Guo Shen nearly stood up, “Is Your Highness serious?”
“What scripture do you want him to teach?”
“Three rites.” (1)
The three books of rites were the lessons of top importance for the children of the imperial family. Among them, the crown prince and the emperor’s grandson had been taught by famous teachers of the country. As there were many ancient rites in the palace, without personal experience, it was difficult for scholars to have a sense of reality, even with all the knowledge of theory.
Li Yi’s three rites were personally taught by Guo Shen. There was no candidate who would be more suitable than the emperor’s grandson to teach the scholars of the country.
“If His Majesty can treat the family members of the previous dynasty so kindly, this old man will go there on his own accord.”
Guo Shen was past his prime and had few years left to live, so his only concern was for the emperor’s grandson, Li Yi. If he could serve his old master and see that he was well, his wish would be fulfilled and he would be naturally relieved.
Zhao Yuan finally got Guo Shen’s promise to make up his mind and leave the mountain.
He had recalled his troops from Jizhou but had not yet entered the capital for an audience. The capital was already abuzz, and all the wangs took the lead to accuse him, so if he didn’t return soon, the pot would be open.
Zhonghe Palace, Sizheng Hall.
Agarwood was burning in a jade incense altar. The emperor had been waiting for Zhao Yuan for a long time.
The young emperor was wearing an ochre and yellow robe, sitting on the imperial throne, and in his eyes there was only joy, not anxiety. At his age, he was quite calm.
Zhao Yuan remembered Zhao Shen’s words inexplicably.
My son is like me and even more like his uncle.
“Imperial Uncle has made great achievements, driving out the Tatars as far away as possible. I can’t tell how much hard work he has done for the foundation of the Great Cheng. The gratitude in my heart is beyond words.”
Zhao Heng was telling the truth. As for the delay in returning to the capital, although he was unhappy, he was also unhappy to hear the words of those in the court who had their own agendas.
It was better for him to ask himself.
Without waiting, Zhao Yuan had already knelt down and pleaded, “This subject has been delayed, so His Majesty must have been worried. This subject has invited Guo Shen, the Jijiu of the previous dynasty, to come out of Yunwu Mountain, and in a few days he will be able to reopen Pan Palace and net the biggest talents of the country for His Majesty.”
“Guo Shen really agreed?!”
Surprised, Zhao Heng quickly stepped out from behind the imperial table and helped Zhao Yuan up with his own hands.
This was Guo Shen, the number one scholar in the world and the number one in the hearts of scholars. If he could get him to submit to the new dynasty, it would be a great achievement in stabilizing the foundation of the country and a matter of great significance.
Zhao Heng had never had the hope that Guo Shen would leave his mountain. The former imperial ministers had already told him that Guo Shen’s loyalty was known to all the world.
“Uncle, how on earth did you do it?”
What Zhao Yuan was waiting for was this question of the emperor.
“This subject used Li Yi.”
Puzzled, Zhao Heng looked at Zhao Yuan. His expression looked normal, as if there was nothing special about it.
The young emperor thought for a while; what did Wei Che report to him? On his way back to the imperial court, Zhao Yuan stopped Li Yi’s shaving ceremony!
He was quite surprised at the time, and it turned out that the answer was waiting for him here.
It was because of Guo Shen.
“This subject wants to order Li Yi to teach three rites, what does Your Majesty think?”
At this point, Zhao Heng had fully understood Zhao Yuan’s meaning.
“En, very good.“ The young emperor paced back and forth and finally clapped his palms and said, “Trading him, Li Yi, for Guo Shen is not a loss to me.”
Zhao Yuan added another sentence, “Only by keeping this person under close watch can this subject feel rest assured.”
As soon as the words came out, Zhao Heng and Zhao Yuan both fell deep in thought.
Zhao Xi, who was kneeling at the entrance of the hall, almost gasped when he heard these words. His prince even dared to fool the Son of Heaven.
When the emperor praised his prince, and when he remembered that despite the court being in turmoil, his prince had managed to get himself and Li Yi out of trouble, Zhao Xi couldn’t help but admire Su Wang all over again.
“Your Highness, you haven’t asked the young master yet?” Zhao Xi quietly leaned over and asked after leaving the palace.
Zhao Yuan scolded him on the surface, but his voice was light, “Do I need you, little eunuch, to rush me? Go get the horses!”