[I had something going on last weekend so the update was delayed. If I’m not too busy again, the next part should be following up soon.]
When the two arrived at Jingxin Zhai, Wang Jingqiao Taifu had also just arrived.
Even though he sat in a warm sedan chair on a snowy day, it was not as warm as home after all. He was old, and of course it would be more natural for him to be afraid of the cold than the two younger princes. He was rubbing his hands against the warming pad in the room and drinking the hot tea that was brought up. When he saw the two princes coming hand in hand, he took up the shelf of the Imperial Tutor again and sat upright with restraint.
As soon as Yong Shan and Yong Qi took their seats, they started the lecture.
“Today, cough, let’s talk about “Xiao Yao You”, which was not finished last time. Un? Your Highness Yong Shan, do you have something to say?”
Yong Shan nodded from his seat and asked with a smile, “Taifu is very proficient in Lao Zhuang. Can we not talk about “Xiao Yao You” today? In the book of Lao Zhaung, there is a chapter, and there is a sentence in it. This student has read it for a long time and can’t understand it. I want to ask the teacher to explain it to me first.”
“Oh? Which chapter? Which sentence?” Wang Jingqiao asked, putting down the book.
Yong Qi also turned to look at Yong Shan curiously.
Yong Shan said calmly, “That’s the sentence, The Sage is Merciless.”
Wang Jingqiao seemed to understand, and said “Oh” softly, “It turns out to be this.” Slowly moving his eyes, he found Yong Qi who was sitting beside him, “Your Highness Yong Qi, you should have learned this sentence before, right?”
Yong Qi stood up respectfully, lowered his hands and replied, “Yes. Student followed Lei Taifu before and heard a little.”
“Um, then please Your Highness Yong Qi, cough, explain this sentence to His Highness Yong Shan.”
Yong Qi was stunned, and averted his eyes to meet Yong Shan.
The Sage is Merciless, was a sentence from Lao Zhuang he picked at will, and wrote it into a word for Yong Shan to be a good omen. He had no idea why Yong Shan was so unhappy about it.
Was he still feeling offended because of this?
“Yes.” Yong Qi cleared his throat, turned halfway around and faced Yong Shan. He then slowly explained in his sweet voice, “The word Mercy in The Sage is Merciless refers to the kind of love that plays favorites. It can be said that he never looked at the big picture and made the world as one community which can be also called, a tiny bit of kindness. The Merciless means to let all sentient beings be free to act, because each has life and death, each has his destiny, and he is not to be restricted or biased. This kind of cruelty is actually the greatest kindness. Therefore, The Sage is Merciless, is not meant to say that the Sage is ruthless, but because he is too affectionate, it seems to be ruthless.” [T/N: this sentence fits YS better.]
After he finished talking, he looked at Yong Shan, and then looked back at Taifu.
Wang Jingqiao squinted his dim eyes, and seemed quite satisfied. He nodded and said, “Your Highness, please take a seat. Lei Taowu is indeed a well educated person, and the way he taught the way of Lao Zhuang was very insightful.” He asked Yong Shan again,”Your Highness Yong Shan, do you understand this sentence?”
Yong Shan lifted the corners of his lips, smiled, and said respectfully, “Yong Qi Gege said it well, but he is young after all, how can it be compared to Taifu’s age and knowledge? The student dares to ask Taifu to explain this sentence according to his own meaning.”
He was so obsessed with “The Sage is Merciless” that Yong Qi felt strange and couldn’t help staring at him.
The light in Yong Shan’s eyes was soft but flexible and persevering like nails, and only looked deeply into the bottomless eyes of Wang Taifu.
There was an unpredictable expression on Wang Jingqiao’s wrinkled face. He seemed to be happy yet not happy. After taking another sip of tea, he then slowly and solemnly said, “The more profound the truth, the more shallow it is. Your Highness Yong Shan asked a good question. The Sage is Merciless, how should it be explained? There are as many solutions to this sentence as there are wise people in ancient and modern times. If I have to say it myself, it’s just four words.”
Yong Shan’s eyes flickered, and asked in a deep voice, “Which four words?”
The words seemed to be extremely dry, as if there was a heavy stone hidden in them, and with Wang Jingqiao’s flat and unremarkable tone, for some unknown reason, it felt like a heavy iron that was pressed on people’s hearts.
Even Yong Qi, the ignorant observer, felt his heart sink for no reason. He looked at the old Taifu in front of him doubtfully.
Yong Shan remained silent, and then asked clearly and slowly, “Teacher, please explain the four words of “Natural Selection”.”
“I can’t explain.” Wang Jingqiao forced a smile and said, “I’ve already said it most clearly, and it really can’t be any more shallow.”
He waved his hand, slowly groping for the armrest before getting up from the chair, and muttered to himself in a low voice: “There are many beasts in the forest. The tiger is the king in the forest, but who has ever seen a tiger protecting a rabbit? When a tiger is protecting a rabbit, it will be ten times more dangerous than usual when it comes to dealing with a wolf or a lion. Natural Selection, The Sage is Merciless, it’s not that he doesn’t care about rabbits, he’s afraid that neither tigers nor rabbits will survive. Alas, the weather is too cold, and the old minister’s body can’t stand it anymore. I will take a leave of absence today, and ask the two Highnesses to allow the old minister to leave early.”
He bowed respectfully to Yong Qi and Yong Shan, waved his hands for them not to send him out, and staggered out of the Jingxin Zhai with the help of the two servants.
Yong Lin stayed with his mother temporarily. He had a strong body type and was not afraid of the cold. He got up early in the morning and planned to sneak off to find his two brothers to enjoy the snow. Unexpectedly, at the gate of Shu Fei’s palace, he was stopped by the guards who had been warned earlier that he was not allowed to go out no matter what.
Yong Lin, who couldn’t get out, saw himself like a monkey in a cage. He was discontented and had to turn back to find Shu Fei. When he got to Shu Fei’s room, he found that Shu Fei was half leaning on the bed, her expression was tired, her cheeks were unusually red, which made him ask doubtfully, “Why did mother get up so early? Are you feeling uncomfortable?”
He had never been obedient in front of Shu Fei. Pulling up the hem of his clothes, he sat down beside the bed, stretched out his hand to probe Shu Fei’s forehead. His face suddenly changed, jumping and shouting, “Not good! So hot! You’re really unwell! Someone, Chen Taiyi! Quick! Mother, why didn’t you tell me? Are you cold? I’ll have them add more charcoal.”
Shu Fei grabbed her son who was about to go out to call someone, “What’s the fuss? Sit down. Mother is not seriously ill, just a little cold. After all, I am old and weak. Yesterday, I went to see your brother Yong Shan. Going back and forth in the snow, of course my body couldn’t take it anymore. I have already sent someone to inform the Imperial Physician. It’s not easy to have my heart calm down a bit, so don’t yell. Yong Lin, stay with your mother for a talk.”
Although Yong Lin was stubborn, he had a great and rare sincerity. Seeing that Shu Fei was ill, he was more than ten times more obedient than usual. He sat down obediently, endured for a while, and then clumsily tried to help Shu Fei tuck the quilt.
“Just sit still. If you are so reckless, in the future, I don’t know which family’s lady will fall in your hands and be angry to death with you.” Shu Fei smiled and glanced at Yong Lin with a happy and worried expression at the same time.
Yong Lin said cheerfully, “It’s not my turn yet. In this important marriage event, Yong Shan Gege will be first before me.”
“Have you seen the portraits sent yesterday?”
“You should also help your brother to choose. Tell mother, which girl do you think is the best?”
Yong Lin tilted his neck and thought for a while, then shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. I think women are all the same in the eyes of my brother, and I have never seen any beauty he liked since he was young. He accepted all the beautiful palace maids given to him by the Imperial Father. I’m afraid whichever he chooses is probably the same.”
Concubine Shu glanced at him, “What is the same? Stupid.” She moved her hand out of the hot quilt, poked her son’s forehead lightly with her finger, and scolded with a smile, “You ah. This candidate is very important. If she is picked out, she will be your future sister-in-law, the Crown Princess, and will be the mother of the country in the future…”
Just as she was talking, an eunuch came in to report, “Niangniang, Doctor Zhang from the Imperial Hospital has arrived.”
Shu Fei stopped joking with her son and sat up straight, “Is that the Imperial Physician named Zhang Yunfeng?”
“Yes, Zhang Yunfeng from the Imperial Hospital. He was specially summoned according to Niangniang’s instructions.”
Shu Fei slowly nodded, then she looked at Yong Lin and said, “You have been shouting about playing in the snow for a long time before. Now you can go. Chong Ying, you go out with His Highness Yong Lin and tell the guards, I permitted Yong Lin to go out for a walk to loosen his muscles and bones.”
Yong Lin, who was in a hurry to go out before, after finding Shu Fei was ill, refused to go. He shook his head and said, “I’ll stay with mother to see what the Imperial Physician has to say. If you want to prescribe medicine, I can still help.”
“Um? How am I so aristocratic, and the trivial matter of making medicine has to make the prince do it?” Shu Fei laughed, “Forget it, you being so sloppy, even if you make the medicine, I dare not take it. With you here, the Imperial Physician can’t be at ease and take my pulse. It’s better to go out. Go on, it’s rare to have such good snow, just be careful not to freeze yourself. Those who are waiting outside, listen well, don’t let His Highness Yong Lin run around in the snow, and take him to His Highness Yong Shan in a sedan chair.”
The servants waiting outside responded quickly and rushed to prepare.
Shu Fei gently pushed Yong Lin and instructed the confidant named Chong Ying, “Take your Highness Yong Lin out, and then invite Doctor Zhang in.”
Yong Lin also acknowledged his own ability to cause trouble. But after hearing what his mother said, he immediately pulled a face.
Thinking about it again, it would be useless even if he stayed here and perhaps it would really hinder the Imperial Physician taking his mother’s pulse. Fortunately, Shu Fei only suffered from a cold and was not seriously ill, so he was not too worried. After being pushed twice by Shu Fei, he stood up reluctantly, and had no choice but to say, “Then I’ll go out for a walk and come back later. Mother, remember to have the Imperial Physician prescribe good medicine.” Following Chong Ying out, and with Shu Fei’s order, he passed the palace gate smoothly.
Not long after they left the palace, he stomped his feet and ordered the sedan chair to stop. After running out, he said to the servants, “Such a good snow, sitting in a sedan chair is suffocating. The sedan chair is a woman’s seat, and it is a man’s pleasure to sing in the snow. By the way, you are not allowed to tell the Shu Fei about this matter when we return, whoever speaks carelessly, I will beat them to death.” Abandoning the warm sedan chair and the four servants who carried the sedan chair, he stepped on the thick snow, and went to the Crown Prince’s Palace in high spirits.
As soon as Yong Lin left, Imperial Physician Zhang, who was waiting outside, was invited in.
He knew that this person above his head was the mother of the Crown Prince. Although she had not been canonized as the Empress for the time being, in the future, the status of the Empress Dowager was already decided. He couldn’t escape, so he became more cautious, kowtowed according to the rules, and didn’t dare to look at her casually. He lowered his head and asked tentatively, “I don’t know why Niangniang is uncomfortable? Wei Chen* will first take Niangniang’s pulse.” (*: humble servant)
“I don’t need you to take my pulse. I know my own body. It turns out to be you, Zhang Taiyi. I heard that you and His Highness the Crown Prince have a good friendship relationship recently.”
“Replying to Niangniang, Wei Chen and His Highness the Crown Prince have no friendship.” The Imperial Physician was stunned for a moment before raising his head slightly to steal a glance at the majestic Imperial Concubine who was sitting upright on the bed, and suddenly realized. “Oh, Niangniang is probably confused. His Highness Yong Shan’s medical record has always been in charge of the Imperial Physician Chen. His Highness Yong Qi is temporarily living in the Prince’s Palace. He is unwell and has always been taken care of by Imperial Physician Zhang Yinghui. Niangniang is probably looking for Zhang Yinghui. Wei Chen is also surnamed Zhang, um, Zhang Yunfeng.”
Shu Fei’s eyes were sharp as she stared at the man kneeling under the bed, and sneered. “You think this palace is so big that I don’t know a shit? Hmph, I know better than you whose illness Zhang Yinghui specializes in taking care of. Today, I want to ask you, which formula did you use for the medicine you gave to Chang Defu? He’s my precious son, should I be letting the like of you use those prostitution medicines to harm him?”
Zhang Yunfeng trembled violently as if there was a thunderbolt in his ear. His face suddenly turned pale.
The matter of making aphrodisiacs for Chang Defu was extremely secretive. That person was the head of the Prince’s Palace, so in order to achieve meteoric success in his career, he took the initiative to carry the task, knowing that ninety percent was the intention of His Highness the Crown Prince.
Zhang Yunfeng only got into the Imperial Hospital relying on his ancestral qualifications. He was not very skilled. He only had a few family secret recipes in his hand to hope for promotion and it was a rare opportunity to flatter the prince.
How did the matter reach Shu Fei’s ears?
Making aphrodisiacs for the Crown Prince, if it was exposed, it would be a capital crime for instigating the Crown Prince to commit fornication!
He might end up with a glass of poisoned wine right away!
Under the sudden shock, Zhang Yunfeng’s bones softened, and he almost couldn’t even kneel on the ground. After gasping for a while, he kowtowed again and again in a panic, “Niangniang is wise, Wei Chen abides by the rules, and the medicines are given according to the rules. Wei Chen really doesn’t know what medicine Chang Defu got…”
“Shut up.” Shu Fei’s voice was terrifyingly cold, and sneered.”Without proof, can I call you here? If you don’t want to let people know, don’t do it yourself. If you are smart enough and admit it in front of me, there may be a way to survive.”
Zhang Yunfeng was already trembling with fright. Hearing that Shu Fei’s words were a little softened, he remembered that Yong Shan was still her own son. If this matter were to spread out, it wouldn’t be good for Shu Fei either, so he quickly seized the opportunity and said, “Yes, Niangniang is very generous, please have mercy on me. Wei Chen will try his best to do things for Niangninag in the future…”
“Stop being so troublesome, write the recipe.”
“There is paper and pencil ready for you.” Shu Fei pointed at the things that had been prepared on the table, “Write down the secret recipe from your family’s ancestors for me, clean and clear.”
With his handle in the hands of others, what else could Zhang Yunfeng do, not to mention that this person in front of him was the Crown Prince’s mother.
Zhang Yunfeng had no choice, he got up and took out the pen. Without hesitation, he wrote the aphrodisiac prescription. After finishing writing it, he held it in both hands and handed it to Shu Fei for a look, while quietly observing Shu Fei’s expression.
《逍遥游》 “Xiao Yao You”: Free and Unfettered Journey is the representative work of the philosopher and writer Zhuang Zhou during the Warring States Period. It is the first chapter of the Taoist classic “Zhuangzi”, which can be regarded as the representative of “Zhuangzi” both ideologically and artistically. The theme of this article is the pursuit of an absolutely free outlook on life.
“物竞天择”: Darwin’s theory of evolution. It is said that all things in the competition of survival of the fittest, through the development process of mutation, heredity and natural selection.
- 2949 English words translation.