Wei Chongrong was bored in his study, writing his homework in distress, and the more he wrote, the more irritable he became. If it weren’t for Wei Zhao’s disappointment, he really wouldn’t want to write a word. Studying was really a headache.
Wei Chongrong felt good about himself and thought that he was already studying hard. He didn’t know that Wei Zhao was actually not satisfied with his performance.
The teacher said that the little prince had a flexible mind and learned things very quickly. His memory was very good but he just didn’t care. He listened to whatever he was taught, and he wrote whatever he was told, but he didn’t put his heart into it.
If he continued to learn like this, even if he had memorised the classics by heart and recited them backwards, it would be no different from not learning anything at all.
After listening to the teacher’s words, Wei Zhao was deep in thought, realising that he was a little confused about his son’s thinking.
It was true that Wei Zhao didn’t like studying when he was a child, but it was because he was playful, and when he had a chance, he would find a way to skip classes and let Gu Yu help him with his homework. Unlike Wei Chongrong, who seemed to listen carefully and never did his homework perfunctorily, but refused to put any thought into it.
If he really didn’t like studying, shouldn’t he make a fuss? The same as Wei Zhao did when he was Wei Chongrong’s age; he also refused to go to the palace school and went only after Wei Ming coaxed and tricked him into going.
Wei Chongrong’s homework written in recent days was spread out on the table in front of Wei Zhao. At the sight of his son’s tender but serious handwriting, Wei Zhao’s brows frowned tighter and tighter.
“Daddy, your medicine is here.” Soon, Wei Zhao’s thoughts were interrupted by the clear childish voice coming from behind him. Wei Chongrong followed Lu Yi, who was carrying the tray, and walked into Wei Zhao’s study.
Wei Zhao instructed Lu Yi to put the medicine bowl on the table so that he would drink it later. Lu Yi nodded, put down the bowl and retired.
Wei Zhao wasn’t in a hurry to take medicine, but instead pulled Wei Chongrong to his side and asked, “Have you written all your homework? Are you free to wander around?”
Wei Chongrong nodded and said proudly: “I have written it all, does Daddy want to check it?” He wrote it so carefully exactly because Wei Zhao might want to see it.
Wei Zhao didn’t comment, and asked again: “Do you understand everything the teacher says?” Facing such a son, he felt a little powerless.
Wei Chongrong nodded again and said affirmatively: “I understand, if Daddy doesn’t believe me, you can ask questions.” Even though he hadn’t read much in his previous life, he wouldn’t need to memorise the contents of a children’s book over and over again in order to remember it; it was enough to just look at it casually.
Wei Zhao didn’t ask any questions, but just stared at his son for a moment. Wei Chongrong was a bit uneasy from his gaze. He stretched out his hand and touched the medicine bowl on the table, then changed the subject: “Daddy, the medicine is about to get cold, you should drink it quickly.”
After moving out of the palace, Wei Zhao hadn’t taken medicine for a while, but after seeing Teacher Duanmu, he returned to his original daily bath and decoction. Wei Chongrong was afraid that he would be impatient about drinking the medicine, so he came over from time to time to supervise him, lest Wei Zhao was in a bad mood and poured out the medicine.
Wei Chongrong asked several times, but Wei Zhao always avoided, never telling him anything about his physical condition. Wei Chongrong was helpless, so he had to observe carefully in secret. Fortunately, Wei Zhao’s face looked a lot better than in the previous days, which made Wei Chongrong feel a little relieved.
Wei Zhao glanced at Wei Chongrong, picked up the medicine bowl and drank it all, then asked him: “Rong’er, do you think the teacher’s lectures are boring, so you don’t like to listen to them?” It didn’t matter if he didn’t like them, but there had to be a reason.
Wei Chongrong pursed his lips, but didn’t speak for a while. Indeed, he had always felt that studying was boring, but this was not his teacher’s problem. His exposure to the culture of the Central Plains was a little late, and his sense of identity was lacking.
Fuyu had no written language so far. In his previous life, Wei Chongrong lived in Fuyu for ten years. When he first arrived in Yujing, he didn’t speak the language of the Han people. Not to mention recognising words, he had difficulty communicating and was a subject to a lot of jokes.
Learning to speak was relatively simple. People around him spoke, and Wei Chongrong heard more of it and gradually became able to speak it, although the accent was a bit odd and Wei Yang even laughed at him.
It was troublesome to learn to read. Wei Su didn’t even want to see Wei Chongrong, how could he remember to arrange for him to study? If it wasn’t for the two years he spent with Wei Yang and Jun Hua at the palace school, he might have been unable to read or write at all.
Wei Chongrong had never studied the hundred classics, and he didn’t think they could come in handy if he learned them. Other people who studied and practised martial arts were looking for a future, selling their goods to the imperial family, but what could he do with his skills?
The Wei family did not prohibit the emperor’s sons and grandsons from joining the court, provided that they had sufficient talents and loyalty. No matter whether you were civil or military, it was easy to judge whether you were talented or not, but whether you were loyal, only the one sitting on the dragon chair had the final say.
Wei Chongrong was Helian Zhuo’s son, and Helian Zhuo was the king of Fuyu. Regardless of whether Wei Zhao acknowledged it or not, this label was attached to Wei Chongrong and couldn’t be removed.
Whether it was Wei Su now, or Wei Ming and Wei Xuan in the future, Wei Chongrong didn’t think that they would give him the opportunity to make great achievements. For Wei Zhao’s sake, it would be already very kind to let him keep his life. Besides, he didn’t have the ambitions of Wei Zhao. As long as Wei Zhao was well and his life went smoothly, Wei Chongrong had no expectations for his future career.
With such thoughts, it would be strange if Wei Chongrong could put his heart into his studies. He was muddling through, but he didn’t dare to say it, so he had to pretend to be stupid and say, “Daddy, it’s not that the teacher isn’t good, but I don’t understand what’s the use of learning those things.”
Wei Zhao didn’t expect his son to ask such a question. He was taken aback for a moment, then smiled and asked, “Rong’er, do you know? I have asked my imperial brother this question before…”
“Oh?” Wei Chongrong responded in surprise, and then asked, “What did Uncle tell you?” It turned out that he was not the only one who didn’t like studying.
Wei Zhao smiled without answering. Seeing Wei Chongrong’s cheeks puff out in displeasure, he picked him up and said, “Daddy will take you to Bowang Garden. Wouldn’t it be better for you to ask your uncle in person?”
Wei Chongrong thought for a while, tilted his head and asked, “Will Third Brother be in Bowang Garden? If he is there, I won’t go.”
Wei Zhao smiled and shook his head: “Mao’er is studying at the palace school, he doesn’t have free time to come out.” Seeing Wei Chongrong’s expression of joy, he teased him again: “Rong’er doesn’t like Mao’er? Are you afraid of him?”
“I don’t like him, but I’m not afraid of him.” Wei Chongrong said, burying his head in Wei Zhao’s shoulder, and whispered: “Third Brother doesn’t like me and Daddy. If he says bad things about Daddy, I can’t help but want to beat him, but Uncle is very good to us, and Big Brother and Big Sister are also very good. If I beat Third Brother, Daddy will be very embarrassed in front of Uncle, so I’d better not see Third Brother.”
Wei Zhao was startled when he heard his words, and remained silent for a long time. He and Wei Ming were brothers, loving and respecting each other, but there was no way to guarantee that their sons would have the same deep bond.
The next day, Wei Zhao took Wei Chongrong to Bowang Garden in the south of the city. Sure enough, Wei Xuan and the others were not there. Wei Ming liked to see Wei Chongrong very much. He hugged him in his arms and wouldn’t let go, praising him for being smart and cute, much better than Wei Mao, so much that Wei Chongrong was embarrassed.
Seeing the legendary Bowang Garden for the first time, Wei Chongrong sighed from the bottom of his heart. His grandfather’s affection for his uncle was far more than what people saw.
Not to mention anything else, the way he gave his son the opportunity to build Bowang Garden, allowing him to make friends with the country’s most famous scholars at will, wasn’t something that an ordinary emperor would have done.
There were many distinguished scholars in Bowang Garden from all schools, and the discussion was very enthusiastic. Wei Chongrong listened to it for a while, and felt that it was much more interesting than the teacher’s lecture, so he couldn’t help but listen with relish.
Wei Zhao took the opportunity to complain to his elder brother that his son didn’t like studying. Wei Ming knocked him on the forehead and said that he didn’t like studying either, so this was a case of the upper beam being wrong and the lower beam becoming crooked.
Wei Zhao refused to admit it stubbornly, saying that he was obviously a very hardworking and serious student. Wei Ming smiled without saying a word. Apart from practising martial arts, when did Wei Zhao work hard and seriously? But Wei Chongrong was present and he couldn’t say much, so as not to compromise Wei Zhao’s face.
Seeing Wei Chongrong propping up his chin with both hands, listening carefully to the strategies of governing the country that he shouldn’t understand, Wei Ming suggested: “Ah Zhao, let Rong’er enter the palace to study after the New Year. Mao’er and the others are all there. He might be interested if he has a few more friends.”
Wei Zhao nodded and said that he had thought about it, but he was afraid that Wei Su would refuse. Wei Ming said he would arrange it, but Wei Zhao was worried that Wei Su wouldn’t be happy to see Wei Chongrong.
Wei Ming said with a serious expression: “Ah Zhao, in my opinion, Rong’er’s character is very much to Father Emperor’s liking. You should let them have more contact. If they don’t ever see each other, Father Emperor will only have more prejudice against Rong’er, I’m afraid.”
Wei Zhao frowned and thought for a moment, then said uncertainly: “Imperial Brother, are you sure Father Emperor won’t be more disgusted when he sees Rong’er?” That half of the Fuyu blood, in Wei Su’s opinion, was simply Wei Chongrong’s original sin.
Wei Ming replied without thinking: “In any case, Rong’er is Father Emperor’s grandson. So if he doesn’t like him more, he just won’t want to see him, what else can he do to him? In short, it won’t be worse than it is now.”
Wei Zhao nodded silently when he heard these words, and spoke again after a long time: “Father Emperor is going on a trip to Shanglin and has called me to accompany him, but I have not yet decided whether I should bring Rong’er along.”
Hearing Wei Zhao say this, Wei Ming said decisively: “Naturally, you should bring him along, there is no need to hesitate in this matter.” As the emperor was getting old, he didn’t like the constraints of the palace more and more. He spent at least half a year in Shanglin Park every year while the Crown Prince made all the decisions on the affairs of the court.
For Wei Ming as the Crown Prince, it was certainly a good opportunity to supervise the country, but the emperor had never brought the empress with him, nor did he take his grandsons from the Eastern Palace. Wei Ming had to deal with court affairs, and it was impossible for him to travel, so the communication between father and son could only be through letters, which was much more distant than seeing each other daily in the palace.
A few years ago, Concubine Yun was favoured in the emperor’s harem. Wherever the emperor went, she and the Fifth Prince Wei Shi followed. The Ji family was in decline and the Li family was prominent. There was no lack of gossip at court. Now, Li Kang died in battle and Concubine Yun passed away. Wei Shi was no longer favoured by the emperor, but beside Wei Su, there were younger Zhao Ji, Yan Li and others. Although Wei Ming wasn’t worried that they would threaten the position of the empress, it was never a good thing that the emperor had no one of his people close to him.
Besides, Wei Zhao had been back to Yujing for half a year. First, he stayed in the palace. After moving to the residence, he lived an even more secluded life. He didn’t have any errands, making people speculate whether the Fourth Prince, who had been in captivity for many years, had already lost the emperor’s affection.
The fact that Wei Zhao was called to accompany Wei Su on his pleasure trip was an absolute blessing to both the Eastern Palace and Wang Qin’s residence. As for Wei Chongrong, he was Wei Zhao’s son after all, and since the emperor had put him on the jade plate, he had acknowledged his identity, and it wouldn’t get worse than this.
Wei Zhao thought for a moment, then nodded and said, “Imperial Brother is right, I am the one thinking too much.”
“Daddy, what are you thinking about?” Wei Chongrong listened to the scholars’ discussion for a while and seemed not to understand it, so he stopped listening. He wanted to ask Wei Ming some questions and walked up, just in time to hear the second half of Wei Zhao’s words.
Wei Zhao picked up Wei Chongrong, who was rushing towards him, and said with a smile: “Your grandfather emperor will go to Shanglin Park on a trip in a few days, and he summoned your father to accompany him. Shanglin has open terrain and beautiful scenery. Daddy plans to take you to play.” His son was so cute, there was no reason for his father not to like him when he saw him.
Unexpectedly, when Wei Chongrong heard the word “Shanglin”, his face changed, turning very white, as if he was frightened and uneasy. He squirmed in Wei Zhao’s arms, hugging him tighter.
Wei Zhao didn’t understand what was going on, and asked in wonder: “Rong’er, what’s wrong with you? Don’t you want to go play with Daddy?” This was not in line with his son’s character.
Wei Ming also saw that something was wrong with Wei Chongrong and held his chubby paw, comforting: “Is Rong’er afraid that Grandfather Emperor doesn’t like you? Don’t worry, with your father here, everything will be fine.”
In fact, Wei Chongrong just thought that Daidang Palace was located in Shanglin, and he was a little lost for a while; but he couldn’t say anything about it. When he came to his senses, he asked, “Daddy, is it possible to go hunting when we arrive at Shanglin Park?”
Without waiting for Wei Zhao to answer, Wei Ming exclaimed, “Rong’er likes hunting?”
Wei Chongrong nodded repeatedly: “I like it, I have hunted prey myself.”
“That’s great.” Wei Ming smiled with satisfaction, turned to Wei Zhao and said: “Father Emperor has always liked his sons and grandsons to be fierce, so if Rong’er can hunt by himself at such a young age, he will be pleased to see it.”
When someone praised his son, Wei Zhao was proud in his heart, but said: “Imperial Brother, don’t listen to Rong’er’s bragging. Those pheasants and hares were all driven to him by the guards, otherwise do you think he could hit them? Besides, it’s winter. Who would go hunting?”
Wei Ming didn’t care and continued to praise: “It’s great to have the help of the guards. Rong’er is less than five years old, don’t be too harsh on him. The two youngest members of my family are still unable to draw their bows. They will probably be laughed at by Rong’er during the hunting in the spring of next year.”
Wei Chongrong flattened his mouth and didn’t speak. He wouldn’t laugh at Wei Lan and Wei Mao. As long as they didn’t provoke him, he would thank God.
After talking about travelling and hunting, Wei Ming asked Wei Chongrong again: “Rong’er, I heard Ah Zhao say you asked him what’s the use of studying, is that true?”
Wei Chongrong didn’t deny it, but asked instead: “Uncle, Daddy told me that he also asked you this question, but he refused to tell me what you said to him.”
Wei Ming took Wei Chongrong from Wei Zhao’s arms and asked with a smile: “It doesn’t matter what your uncle said to your father. Uncle asks you first, what do you want to do when you grow up?”
Wei Chongrong was startled. What was he going to do? He didn’t seem to want to do anything. He wanted to stop the witchcraft scourge from happening, but could he say that to Wei Ming? Obviously not.
“Doesn’t Rong’er know?” Wei Ming wasn’t surprised by Wei Chongrong’s reaction, and then said: “Your father said to me back then that he wanted to be a great hero like Hou Zhaoyang.”
So that’s how it was…
Taking Jun Lin as the goal in life was something Wei Zhao would do, and actually did.
But he didn’t want to be Jun Lin, nor did he want to be Wei Zhao; fighting for the Great Yan or something was unattractive to him, and Wei Chongrong didn’t even think he was a part of the Great Yan.
Seeing that Wei Chongrong was silent, Wei Ming continued: “It doesn’t matter if you haven’t thought about it, Rong’er, you can think about it slowly, and it’s not too late to do it after you think about it. But no matter what you are going to do, studying is useful. It’s not too late to study when you have thought about it and it’s good to study while thinking about it.”
Cast a wide net, gather more fish, choose the best and follow it. In Wei Chongrong’s mind, the words Jun Hua had said suddenly popped up. Since he didn’t know what he wanted to do, he should learn everything; there were never more skills than needed. Maybe one day he would have something he wanted to do.
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Character relationship (the imperial family):
Emperor: Wei Su
Empress: Ji Wan
First Princess: Princess Yuankang
First Princess’s Consort: Hou Yichun Xie Bai
Children: Xie Xiu, Xie Qiu, Xie Xiang
Third Princess: Princess Suining (deceased)
Fifth Princess: Princess Gaochang (married to Wusun)
Crown Prince: Wei Ming
Crown Prince’s Lord Consort: Jun Feili
Children: Wei Xuan, Wei Kou, Wei Lan, Wei Mao
Fourth Prince: Wang Qin Wei Zhao
Son: Wei Chongrong
Consort Xin: Shangguan Ling (deceased)
Children: Seventh Princess: Princess Wanchun, Second Prince: Wang Zheng Wei Xu (deceased)
Wangfei Zheng: Shangguan Chanjuan
Lord Servant Ling: Gui Zhi (out of favour for many years)
Son: Third Prince: Wang Lu Wei Xiao
Wang Lu’s Lord Consort: Sun Ye
Son: Wei Ruo
Concubine Yun: Li-shi (deceased)
Son: Fifth Prince: Wei Shi (doesn’t have the wang title yet)
Sixth Prince: Wei Yang (not yet born)