Chapter 41 – Family
These days there was a Lin-xiaozhu in the crown prince’s East Palace whom His Royal Highness favored a lot. Everyone inside and outside of the court knew about this matter. And right now, this legendary little master Lin Jia Bao, who was as beautiful as a celestial deity, was absent-mindedly tracing over red characters* in his little study.
[*T/N: 描红 miao hong – to trace over characters written in red as a method of learning to write]
“Lin-xiaozhu, how about resting for a bit…” Li Zheng Qiu, who was the teacher assigned to instruct Lin Jia Bao, inquired.
Li Zheng Qiu was one of the crown prince’s followers. He once held an office at the Imperial Hanlin Academy*. Right now he was over halfway to a hundred years old. He was quite accomplished in calligraphy and painting. Xuan Yuan Han Cheng sought out Li Zheng Qiu to teach Lin Jia Bao.
[*T/N: 翰林院 han lin yuan – lasted from Tang dynasty until 1911]
Xuan Yuan Han Cheng had told Li Zheng Qiu that he didn’t need Lin Jia Bao to be able to take the imperial examination, nor did he expect Lin Jia Bao to be proficient in all aspects of poetry, songs, and the four arts*. As long as he could read, write, and understand the reasoning in the texts that he reads, then that would suffice. And he also hoped that Li Zheng Qiu could give Lin Jia Bao some pointers in painting and calligraphy.
[*T/N: 琴棋书画 qin qi shu hua – the four arts include zither, Go, calligraphy, and painting. Knowing all four is the accomplishments of a well-educated person.]
Li Zheng Qiu came to the Ping Le Courtyard every other day and taught Lin Jia Bao for four hours. Then he would leave behind some homework for Lin Jia Bao to practice by himself. At first, Li Zheng Qiu was not happy when he received His Royal Highness’s orders, but because the crown prince ordered it, he could only come to the Ping Le Courtyard and teach Lin-xiaozhu.
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Li Zheng Qiu also had a bit of arrogance as an intellectual. He thought of himself as a dignified scholar, and here His Royal Highness was ordering him to teach his xiaoshi* how to read and write…
[*T/N: 小侍 xiao shi – first mentioned in chapter 22, it translates to a “little attendant.” The implication is that it is someone who serves a noble in bed. I can’t seem to find any historical context for this word, but in this story it is akin to the lowest ranking concubine]
But when Li Zheng Qiu saw Lin Jia Bao in the flesh, he changed his mind. Lin-xiaozhu was very different from the rumors. His temperament was clean and pure, and he had a childlike innocence. Looking at Lin Jia Bao, who was not much older than his grandson, Li Zheng Qiu easily developed a good impression of him.
Lin-xiaozhu was very polite and really respected him as a teacher. Moreover, Lin-xiaozhu studied very hard, and he was able to complete the homework assigned to him very well. In particular, Lin-xiaozhu’s talent in painting made Li Zheng Qiu like this well-behaved and sensible Lin-xiaozhu. It also made him more attentive in teaching Lin-xiaozhu.
“Master Li*, I’m distracted…” Lin Jia Bao looked at Li Zheng Qiu apologetically. He was thinking of how the Mid-Autumn Festival was fast approaching and that his family was about to come to Beijing.
[*T/N: Lin Jia Bao calls him “Li-fuzi” 黎夫子 in Chinese. Fuzi translates to Master and is an old form of address for teachers and scholars.]
“Lin-xiaozhu, are you perhaps tired?” Li Zheng Qiu looked at Lin-xiaozhu’s neck. There was a crimson mark there that could not be covered up by his collar. Li Zheng Qiu thought of the rumors that said His Royal Highness stayed overnight in Ping Le Courtyard every night. As someone with experience, how could he not guess why Lin-xiaozhu was exhausted? Alas… the crown prince was still young after all, and didn’t know how to temperate… Lin-xiaozhu was still young. His Royal Highness must have tired him out.
Translations by Vanilla Muse.
“Master, I’m not tired. I will practice diligently. I won’t be distracted anymore.” Lin Jia Bao went back to writing in earnest.
Right now, most people in Ping Le Courtyard all thought the same thing as Li Zheng Qiu, but this was a great injustice to the crown prince!
Xuan Yuan Han Cheng’s current life was very sweet and happy. The only downside was that the nights were harder to bear. Every night was a test of his self-control!
Xuan Yuan Han Cheng never knew that he would be so strongly * Lin Jia Bao’s tender and immature body. Whenever his darling lied under him and looked at him with a face full of trust and dependence, it was so alluring.
[T/N: In the raws it is indeed a * in that sentence. A more family-friendly guess would be “attracted to,” but if it’s censored out, the word is more likely to be closer to “lusting over”]
Every time, Xuan Yuan Han Cheng would want to lick and kiss every part of his baby’s body. Of course, he did indeed do just that…
In short, the current Xuan Yuan Han Cheng could only be at a stage where he could satisfy his cravings, but could not swallow the morsel into his stomach.
After Lin Jia Bao earnestly finished tracing over a page of red characters, Li Zheng Qiu looked over it and explained each character one by one. In the end, he assigned him two pages of homework.
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Li Zheng Qiu pointedly said: “Lin-xiaozhu, the body is still the most important. If you feel that two pages are too much, then just complete one. A healthy body is the most important… Don’t rely on being young and thus not knowing how to temperate. It must be borne in mind that thin streams flow forever*…”
[*T/N: “thin streams flow forever” means “to work steadily at something little by little”]
Lin Jia Bao did not get the underlying meaning of Master Li’s words, and replied foolishly: “Master Li, I know. Two pages are not too much. I will complete it well.”
Li Zheng Qiu looked at Lin-xiaozhu’s serious expression and sighed. If there’s an opportunity in the future, he thought to himself that he should muster up some courage to mention it to His Royal Highness…
After Li Zheng Qiu left, Yuan Qing stepped forward and caringly asked Lin-xiaozhu: “Is the little master tired? Would you like to go rest for a bit?”
Lin Jia Bao shook his head. He already took an afternoon nap today and didn’t feel tired.
“Then does the little master have something on his mind?” Yuan Qing asked, observing Lin-xiaozhu’s expression.
Lin Jia Bao shook his head again. He had learned the rules of the palace with the teaching momos. He was now the crown prince’s person, his status was different from before, and he couldn’t see his family casually. The palace rules were strict, so how could an exception be made for a xiaoshi like him?