Qian Wenjing’s voice fluttered slightly. “Life belongs to heaven and earth, so there is a responsibility to repay. A country supports a man and he should repay his country. Huo Qubing said that the Huns have yet to be exterminated, how can he consider home. Could he be a fool and not know how to find a beautiful lady and spend the rest of his life lovingly with her? Taking a woman and going into seclusion is just escaping. It is a person’s selfish motives and not worth mentioning. In the beginnings of the six kingdoms, there were righteous laws and talented people were abundant. In the end, they fell to the Qin Dynasty. Reason? Because there were too many people escaping the chaos of the world. All they wanted was to spend their days freely. What a joke. If the country is in trouble, how can they be safe? If one is ambitious, they should remain ambitious. Whenever the country needs help, they should be ready to help. That is the only way for their births to not be in vain.”
Fu Rou felt uneasy. She returned to the palace because she had no choice. It was for her elder sister and she had to expose her identity. Before that, she had already accepted Chumu’s way of thinking to find a nice place to spend their days. Now that she is back in the palace, she could only console herself. However, she still held selfish wants. When the Emperor said that he was willing to fulfil one of Chumu’s wishes, she was hoping that he would choose to take her away. Hence, Qian Wenjing’s words made her guilty.
“Fu Siyan, please do not take offense. Now that Great Tang is flourishing, I have come across many young people who act without thinking. They always act in a moment of excitement.” Qian Wenjing could see that Fu Rou’s expression had changed.
“No, I will take Tutor’s words as an awakening. I haven’t read much but like to hear stories. I always felt that small stories can bring about great logic. From what you just said, I understand that morality depends on one’s heart. However, if you would forgive me, I would like to ask a question. If everyone has a duty to the country, what about women?”
Qian Wenjing smiled slightly. “Fu Siyan, have you read <<Zaichi>> from the Book of Songs?”
Fu Rou recited, “Women are benevolent but they also have their own conduct.”
Qian Wenjing nodded. “Women’s thoughts are gentler and they tend to be concerned. But women also have their own thoughts and conduct. This poem was written by Lady Mu. She was the daughter of Wei Hou and married into the Xu Kingdom. When she found out that Wei Kingdom had been invaded, she made the journey overnight to rush back to Wei Kingdom. However, her husband stopped her halfway through her journey. In her despair, she wrote <<Zaichi>>. This is her love and duty for her country.”
Fu Rou got up and bowed. She spoke politely. “Thank you Tutor for your teachings. I have been enlightened.”
“Fu Siyan, you don’t have to be so polite. I have seen a lot but seldom encounter such a clear-minded lady as yourself. As long as you have the desire to, you will achieve great things. Soon, I will have to return to Prince Zhao. Since you like reading, His Highness is also someone who likes to read a lot. Please accompany him occasionally so His Highness will not be idle.” Qian Wenjing looked at Prince Zhou as he said this.
Prince Zhou knew that his teacher had seen through his intentions and a slight astonishment crossed his face. He then said seriously. “Tutor, you came back at the right time. I was about to ask Imperial Father to transfer you back to my side.”
“Well, although it is good, we cannot surmise His Majesty’s intentions. There is no need to force it. Now that you are accomplished in your studies, I can be rest assured. Prince Zhao, on the other hand--” Qian Wenjing sighed. “He is stubborn. Just his excessive love to hunt already makes it difficult for me. Thankfully he is still young and there is time to change.”
“Prince Zhao is arrogant. Tutor will have to suffer. It will be better to stay by my side.” Prince Zhou had already made up his mind. He was going to get his Imperial Father’s approval. “Oh right, I also prepared a set of good quality writing materials for you. I will go and get it.”
Prince Zhou went into the palace room to get the items. Fu Rou poured tea for Qian Wenjing.
Qian Wenjing took a sip of tea. “His Highness is a keen and earnest learner. He is outstanding amongst the princes. It is because of this…” His voice suddenly paused as if he was deliberating if he should say it. In the end, he said it. “His Majesty pays a lot of attention to him. It is to the point that there are a lot of restrictions on what he wants. He has many unfulfilled wishes and is only left with loneliness.”
“I know.” In front of someone she respected, she was honest.
“After I leave, I hope that you would help me to ease His Highness’ anxiety. He should be happy, the world is broad and he should not be overly concerned.”
Fu Rou froze. It seemed like Qian Wenjing could guess the result of Prince Zhou’s request.
Alas, when Prince Zhou mentioned the transfer the following morning, the Crown Prince immediately objected. His reason was dignified as he felt that Prince Zhao is the one that needs a teacher like Qian Wenjing more. The Emperor decided to leave Qian Wenjing with Prince Zhao.
When Fu Rou heard this news, she rushed to Lingxiao Palace to bid farewell to Qian Wenjing along with Prince Zhou. Although they only spoke once, she highly respected this teacher, who had unusually good insights.
After Qian Wenjing left, Prince Zhou’s forced smile disappeared and sat in his palace in desolation.
“Your Highness, do not be sad. As Tutor Qian said, you should be happy and look broadly at the world. Don’t worry too much. Moreover, I believe that your fate with Tutor Qian has not ended. There is still a long road that you both can walk together.” Fu Rou could not turn and leave immediately.
“So Tutor knew that Imperial Father would not give me permission.” Prince Zhou laughed bitterly, “When Imperial Father said that he owed me, it was rare that I asked him to give you to me. He promised me but did not do it. What more Tutor Qian, who could help me with my troubles. I would rather Imperial Father ignore and not say that he cares about me, as now I have become a thorn in the Crown Prince’s eyes. Maybe that way, I can have some things that belong to me. Look at me. In such a big palace filled with jewels, there are so many people around but I have absolutely nothing.”
Fu Rou’s heart ached. If Prince Zhou did not like her, perhaps she could become his good friend. But now, she could only maintain her distance and speak comforting words. She did not dare to step any closer.
“But seeing you now, I feel slightly comforted.” Prince Zhou took a deep breath as happiness filled the corners of his eyes.
“Why?” Fu Rou lowered her head and looked at herself. Why is he looking at her like that?
“You are alone and I am alone. We both have someone in our hearts but cannot get them. We are both people that have been left alone.”
Fu Rou huffed, “Your Highness is right. However, I am different from you in that I believe in Sheng Chumu. His feelings towards me will not change.” She turned and walked out of his palace. As she walked, she recited to herself, “We know each other and our lives together will not end here. Even if mountains have no corners, the river is exhausted, thunder rumbles, snow falls in summer…”
Prince Zhou looked at her disappearing figure and his expression turned sorrowful once again. “...Or heaven and earth joins, how can I cut away from my love? Fu Rou, you are really so cruel. You are not leaving me any hope.”
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Oh Prince Zhou. Look at me. In such a big palace filled with jewels, there are so many people around but I have absolutely nothing.