All Under Heaven – Chapter 15

Zhao Su and the child's first meeting
“Thanks for your patronage, three wen per piece!”

“This one looks like it’s been on display for a while, it’s worth one wen at most!”

“My business is small, I don’t accept hagglers!”

“The one I have in my hand is clearly smaller than the others, why does it still cost three wen!”

“This xiao-gongzi, I see the luxurious clothing you are wearing so don’t tell me that you can’t even afford 2 extra wen? Business is hard!”

“It must be 3 wen?”


“Well how about if I buy 20, and I give you 20 wen!”


Who is this sharp-witted kid?

Zhao Su burst out laughing and lifted his eyes to take a closer look.

Wearing a fox-fur trimmed overcoat, he had a white, tender face, smooth like jade. It was a small kid who was haggling with a street vendor about the price.

The discourse was about… 20 sticks of candied hawthorns.

The child who was born with a serious look made the candied hawthorn vendor very stressed.

“Please xiao-gongzi, stop teasing me, you, this…”

Seeing the way that the boy was dressed, he was probably a son of an official so the vendor didn’t dare to kick up a fuss and could only scowl miserably.

“1 stick for 1 wen, 20 sticks for 20!”

The child said solemnly, but his gleaming eyes betrayed him as he looked greedily at the candied hawthorns.

The white and tender face was stained with red clouds by the cold wind, making it even more lovely.

The street vendor thought about it, and then reluctantly said: “Fine, I’ll sell you 1 stick for 2 wen!”

To ask for sky-high prices, but to repay money back to the ground1上天要价,落地还钱 – an expression that means that the vendor wants to sell for a high price but the buyer wants a lower price and manages to haggle the price down, he happily said: “Then I want one!”

The street vendor’s eyes widened: “Didn’t you say you wanted 20?”

The child innocently said: “I am only one person so one is enough, why would I want 20?”

The corners of the street vendor’s mouth twitched, her face twisted.
Zhu Yijun happily patted his side, but suddenly found that the little purse that his mother had hung on him before leaving the house was gone.

Seeing that the street vendor’s face becoming darker and darker, and the child also starting to cry, Zhao Su finally stepped in.

“3 wen, I’ll buy one.”

“Good!” The street vendor smiled.

Zhao Su took the candied hawthorn and gave it to the child, conveniently pinching his delicate pink tender face.

Zhu Yijun looked at the red candied hawthorns, he didn’t care about this person’s rudeness, and just took a mouthful when he opened his mouth.

“Is it good?”

He looked up and saw his benefactor, it was a good looking scholar who was smiling down at him.

Feng da-ban said that the people outside are all commoners, and there is no need to talk to them.

So Zhu Yijun didn’t pay any attention to Zhao Su and continued to eat the candied hawthorn.

What’s your name, which official’s family are you from?”

He still didn’t pay any attention to him.

“Do you need me to take you home?”

*Ka Bang*, *Ka Bang*, the sour and sweetness – so delicious… continuing to ignore Zhao Su.

Zhao Su wanted to tease him more and more: “Don’t pay attention to me? Although the Capital is at the feet of the Emperor, there are still many bad people. Especially for fair and tender children like you, you’ll usually be sold to the mountains and eaten.”

Zhu Yijun was finally a little scared. Although he is smart and quick-witted, he was still only four years old. He didn’t go out very often. He finally got to come out once today. But because he was being willful and wanting to play, he rushed out to the crowd, and got separated from Feng Bao and the others.

“I want to go home!” He flattened his mouth.

Zhao Su laughed out, then scooped him up in his arms: “Where is your home, I’ll take you back.”

Instead, it was Zhu Yijun’s groaning belly which replied to him.

The child met Zhao Su’s smiling eyes, and said fiercely: “Don’t laugh!”

He originally wanted to get away from the other’s arms, but his little chubby legs were so sore so he twisted around a bit in resistance before just letting Zhao Su carry him.

“Okok, I won’t laugh.” Zhao Su thought this kid was really fun, and it reminded him of back then when he used to tease Yuan Shu2Reminder: This is his little shixiong. “Do you want to eat some wontons? They are really delicious.”
“Yes!” As soon as he heard food, the little Zhu Yijun’s eyes sparkled.

Zhao Su took him to a nearby wonton stand, he ordered two bowls of wonton, seeing the little kid wolf down the food, he couldn’t help stroking his head gently: “Slow down, no one is going to steal it from you.”

“Don’t touch my head!” Zhu Yijun cried out fiercely. It was a shame that his hunger had sold him out.

Zhao Su smiled, acting as if he hadn’t heard: “You came out alone? Didn’t an adult come out with you?”

“I lost them!” The child ate and drank enough, licked his lips with his little tongue, touched his belly, and hiccuped like a cat full of food. “Take me home, I will make sure they reward you!”

“Reward me with what?” Zhao Su said with interest.

Zhu Yijun thought about it seriously for a moment, he realised that at home he actually didn’t have anything that he could reward someone with, so he lowered his voice: “When I return home, I’ll ask father to go…”

Zhao Su joked: “Just reward me with some gold and silver treasures.”

“Are you a scholar?”

“Yes, why?”

Zhu Yijun’s eyes widened: “Daddy’s tutor once said, scholars who accept money aren’t real scholars.”

Zhao Su was a little surprised, he originally thought that this child was from a good family, but now he could see that he could be from a high ranking court official’s household.

“Where is your home?”

“I don’t remember.”

“Then, do you remember what your dad’s surname is?”

“Urm, I know.”


“But I cannot tell you.”

“…” The corners of Zhao Su’s mouth curled upwards slightly. “Well.. then I’m leaving, you can wait here for your family to pick you up.”

After saying that he let go of the child’s hand but he suddenly felt his clothes being pulled. The little baby had already grabbed hold of his clothes, giving a look of if you dare to leave me behind, I will just yell.

“You must take me home!” His cheeks were puffed up, resembling more and more like a steamed bun, and there were tears in his watery eyes, as if he wanted to cry without crying. “Otherwise I will let da-ban punish you!”

Zhao Su was helpless, he was so domineering at such a young age, how would he be when he grew up?
“Okok, punish me, but let’s see who will take you home.”

Zhu Yijun narrowed his mouth and twitched his nose, as if he was about to burst into earth-shattering crying the next moment.

Zhao Su didn’t want him to cause a scene, so he could only continue to coax the little kid: “Don’t cry, don’t cry, I’ll take you on the way home later, and on the way, I’ll buy you a dough man, it’s really colourful and it looks good. ”

Children are always attracted to new things, so he finally compromised and said the name of his own family: “Prince of Yu Manor.”

“What?” Zhao Su thought he’d heard wrong.

“Prince of Yu Manor!” Seeing Zhao Su’s surprised look, Zhu Yijun proudly said: “You have to take me home, or you will be punished!”

“Oh, I’m so scared!” Zhao Su twitched his mouth again: “Then let’s go back quickly and we won’t go see the dough maker.”

“I want to see!” The little kid finally tore off the mature disguise and completely exposed his age, he was doing all but rolling around on the ground..

So on the night of the Winter Solstice in the Capital, Zhao Su slowly walked forward holding a little kid in the bustling crowd.

In order to divert his attention, Zhao Su continued the topic from just now: “If you have money, you can buy firewood, rice, oil and salt – scholars still have to eat. How can you say that a scholar that loves money isn’t a real scholar? Confucius also said that wealth and fame are yearned for by everyone. As long as it is obtained by fair means, one is still a gentleman..”

Because he was speaking to a child, he could only break down and speak in straightforward words. It seemed that Zhu Yijun, although he was puzzled, also seemed to half-understand.

“But daddy’s tutor said that money can make people lose faith and fighting spirit.”

“The only thing that can make people lose their faith and fighting spirit is themselves, not those materialistic objects.” Zhao Su felt that this topic was too profound for him, so he asked, “Was the wonton we just ate tasty?”

The child nodded his head honestly.

“No matter who it is, if they have some money they can eat delicious wontons and the common people can live happily. With money, everyone can eat till they’re full and be able to dress warmly. They will not freeze to death and starve to death, and there is no need to fight for a piece of cake. The world would be peaceful.”

Zhao Su explained in simple words as much as possible, but he felt that this topic should be unattractive to children. He was trying to coax him to look at the lantern, but he heard Zhu Yijun ask: “Is anyone starving to death? Why don’t they just eat wontons??”

Zhao Su laughed. Fortunately, you are not the Emperor now, otherwise there will be another eternal joke of “why not let them eat minced meat”3The Emperor Hui of Jin allegedly once asked this, it is the equivalent of the Western world’s “Let them eat cake” attributed to the French queen, Marie Antoinette.

Seeing that it was still early, he told him about the flood in Changle County a few years ago.
No matter how smart Zhu Yijun is, he is only four years old after all, and he is from an extraordinary background, so how can he remember the specific address of his home?

Zhao Su had no choice but to ask passers-by about the location of the Prince of Yu Manor as he walked.

An adult and a child talking casually, and walking happily, totally unaware that elsewhere, someone was going crazy with worry.

Feng Bao4Author Note: Feng Bao is da-ban that Zhu Yijun was referring to felt that he must have not looked at the lunar calendar5Expression to mean that it was an unlucky, inauspicious day for him when he went out today.

The Prince of Yu’s son, the only grandson of the current Emperor, lost in his hands. He didn’t even dare to think about the punishment.

In fact, he couldn’t be blamed. The royal grandson is locked up in the manor all year round. Finally with a chance to come out. Of course, just like the bird who released the cage, no matter how many people they have, it is impossible to stop him from leaving. The little royal grandson was also only small, and liked walking where there were lots of people. After a while, of course he broke free from Feng Bao and ran out of sight.

If the child wasn’t found, exile would be the lightest punishment, but maybe it was immediate execution, including the execution of the nine generations of his family. Thinking about the various consequences in his head, Feng Bao was crying, and he almost shouted three times on the street, little master, please stop playing with me and come out quickly.

But he still retained a trace of reason, and didn’t dare to alarm the Warden’s Office of the Five Wards6五城兵马司 – The Capital was divided into five wards for police purposes. And each Ward Office was responsible for police patrols and fire watchers. The Warden’s Office comes under the Ministry of War., instead he first sent someone back to the Prince of Yu Manor to report, and then commanded the other servants that had come out with him to look everywhere.
Emperor Jiajing had many sons in his early years, some died at birth, others died in adolescence, until finally there were only two left, the present-day Prince of Yu and Prince of Jing.

Even with only two sons, Emperor Jiajing didn’t want to see them. The Court Officials were at least permitted to see the Emperor every few days, but the Princes didn’t even see the Emperor more than a few times in a year. Even though the princes didn’t receive much rewards for their merits, the salary that they received was also wholly inadequate.

Once, the Prince of Yu had even gone so far to borrow from here and there, scrapping together 1500 taels to bribe Yan Shifan, only to receive back the salary he had been owed from three years ago. Yan Shifan was even extremely proud of this, and told everyone about this, making it known to just about everyone.

In contrast to the Prince of Yu, Prince of Jing’s situation is much better.

An Emperor like Jiajing, who was not only authoritative but extremely suspicious, would not be willing to establish a Crown Prince prematurely. In addition, the Crown Prince he established in his early years died of illness. He felt that he had cursed his wife and son and from then he was no longer willing to name an heir. No matter who tried to persuade the Emperor it was useless, and his attitude towards his sons was comparable to that of his stepdad.

But no matter what, if there were no accidents, after the Emperor’s death, the throne must be selected from these two sons. Although the Emperor hadn’t given any indications of his choice, this did not hinder the Court Officials from betting chips and choosing one of the Princes to support.

Yan Song and his son had chosen to back the Prince of Jing.

So it was easy to imagine the situation, under an imperial court controlled by Yan Song and his son. Thus, the Prince of Jing’s salary was naturally received on time and plentiful, whilst the Prince of Yu, even if he was a prince, actually had to rely on bribes to get his salary.

To be able to navigate the imperial court, one needs to have contacts and backing. The Emperor didn’t like the Prince of Yu, nor did Yan Song and his son. Who would dare to side with the Prince of Yu under these circumstances. Therefore, the doors of the Prince of Yu Manor were wholly unfrequented and cold. Few people came to visit.

But Zhu Yijun was a little different after all. Although he is the son of the Prince of Yu, he was also the only grandson of Jiajing. When the royal grandson had turned four the Emperor also rewarded him with gifts. If the news of his disappearance got out, there was no knowing what would happen.

Furthermore, the Commander of the Warden’s Office of the Five Wards reported to Yan Shifan. If they found the royal grandson first, in order to aid the Prince of Jing to the throne, who knows what they could do to him. Even though Feng Bao is anxious to death, he didn’t dare to report the news widely.

Elsewhere, Zhao Su was holding a super heavy little boy who refused to go down and walk by himself. He walked so much with this heavy kid in his hands that he could hardly feel his legs anymore. When finally, he heard Zhu Yijun pointing to a house in front and yelling: “There’s my house!”
13/12/21 – Notes added

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