Minister Liu still tactlessly continued, “When the watermelons get there, could you possibly give this old man one? Don’t misunderstand me, this old man isn’t asking for one because I want to eat it. I want to research it a bit, find out how just how exactly they’re able to ripen watermelons out of season. Could it be a new breed…”
Under the barrage of Minister Liu’s questions, Zhu Junyang started to feel a bit impatient. He wrinkled his good looking eyebrows and glared at the man before he said, “Won’t all of these questions of yours be answered when you arrive at Tanggu Town and meet the Yu Family?”
After finishing, he turned around and only let Minister Liu see a tall straight back. If it was any other person on the receiving end of this, that person would have hated the prince. However, Minister Liu reacted differently. He patted his hat as if he suddenly realized something and muttered to himself, “I was being too literal! You are right, Royal Prince Yang. Once I get to Tanggu Town, won’t I know everything?”
The Left Commander in Chief, Official Du, guffawed and said, “Congratulations, Official Liu. You have finally solved a big problem. Let’s go and drink a couple cups of wine tonight?”
“Another day ah, this old man needs to go back and organize some questions I have regarding planting crops. When the moment comes, the Yu Family might be able to help this old man figure out some other problems ah! Sure enough, the emperor is truly right——all of the experts are hidden within the people ah!” Minister Liu wiped away the worries from the past dozen days and grinned as he smoothed his beard. He then clasped his hands behind his back and strolled towards the exit of the palace.
Official Du looked at his slowly disappearing back and chuckled as he shook his head. Imperial Censor Yang, on the other hand, lowered his head and walked out, keeping his thoughts close to himself.
The next day, the watermelons that Zhu Junyang had used a piece of mutton-fat jade to buy had finally arrived in the capital. He fulfilled his promise and first went into the imperial palace to present six large watermelons. His older cousin, who had just received a big bonus and had a shameless personality, tsked his tongue when he saw them, “I’ll say, Junyang ah, you transported a large cart of watermelons, but you only give us six of them. You’re really too stingy, eh?”
The muscles on Zhu Junyang’s face twitched as he complained inside, ‘You think that’s too little? Then don’t ask for any ah! If you want more, then you can send people out to buy more ah! It’s not like you’re lacking for money!’
“Zhu Junyang ah! Is that new store, Treasure Pavillion, opened by you? Some of the imperial censors are accusing you of abusing your position for personal gain. They claim that when you went out to sea to help us find the new crops, you also smuggled a lot of treasures from the distant lands. What do you think about that, eh?” Zhu Junfan had one of his personal eunuchs cut one of the watermelons into pieces. When he saw that the watermelon looked exactly the same as the ones in his previous life, Zhu Junfan felt so moved that he almost cried crocodile tears.
The watermelons of this world were just too crappy. Although they were sweet and their taste wasn’t too inferior compared to the ones in his previous life, they were truly too small. The amount of edible red pulp in these watermelons were quite little as the inside flesh was criss-crossed with red and white flesh. It made him, a person who was somewhat obsessive-compulsive, feel uncomfortable whenever he looked at the insides of a watermelon. To him, a watermelon should only look like the ones in front of him: full of delicious red pulp and black seeds ah!
Before his cousin could reply, the emperor picked up a piece and crudely took a large bite. Immediately his mouth was filled with sweet, fresh juice that cooled his body. For a moment, it allowed him to fall into his previous life’s memories and reminiscence fondly.
In his past life, he was the epitome of a science and engineering man. His looks were nothing special and he wore a pair of glasses with very thick lenses. His major was shipbuilding at the time and, after he graduated, he found a job that paid him enough that he wouldn’t starve but also not enough to become rich on. By the time he was in his thirties, he still didn’t have a girlfriend. Unexpectedly, an accident occurred when he was testing one of the ships and he ended up transmigrating over into this world, becoming the grandson of an emperor.
Even more fantastical was that his imperial grandfather was also a transmigrator. In fact, prior to coming over, his ‘grandfather’ was also a great and well-known commanding officer of a military command in his country. His imperial grandfather had replaced the original Zhu Yuanzhang and overthrew the previous Yuan Dynasty in this world. As a funny joke, he decided to call this dynasty the ‘Great Ming Dynasty’ and also claimed that his surname was Zhu because he ‘didn’t want to change history’. However, the old man didn’t think about the fact that by transmigrating over he had already changed history, right?
Huh? Somehow his thoughts had gotten quite sidetracked! This watermelon’s taste was quite delicious!! The person who planted this watermelon was likely someone who had transmigrated over from his old world ah! Then how should he reward him (her)?
“Emperor, this official doesn’t believe that I was taking advantage of my position for my personal gain! Did Your Imperial Majesty forget the words you told me before I went out to sea?” Zhu Junyang’s intuition told him that the person who was accusing him of misconduct was likely Imperial Censor Yang. He frowned and didn’t bother trying to explain too much.
Prior to the start of his journey to the west, the emperor had personally promised that, other than the goods he specifically wanted, everything else would be considered his own! All of the money that was used to buy these goods from overseas had also come from Zhu Junyang’s personal purse. He only bought the items that caught his eye. How did that become taking advantage of his position for his own personal gain?
Zhu Junfan naturally wouldn’t forget what he had previously said. However, these words were only said privately between the two of them, so no one else knew. Treasure Pavillion’s goods were not only novel but also expensive. Thus, it had attracted quite a lot of business. No wonder there were some people who were jealous and coveted it.
“Let’s not talk about that anymore! Tell us more about that little farming girl’s family’s affairs. Has there been anyone in her family who has almost walked into the gates of hell, survived the catastrophe, and then ended up with a vastly different personality?” As long as the person didn’t transmigrate into an infant, transmigration would always leave some clues. Which member of the Yu Family was his old transmigrator friend?
Zhu Junyang thought for a bit before he stated, “One could say that the Yu Family are people fated to have trouble and misfortune in their lives. Before they split from the main family, they were abused by their respective stepmother/step-grandmother. Xiaocao and her mother have always had poor constitutions. Xiaocao’s father had been savaged by a bear when he was hunting in the mountains and almost died! Luckily, after they split from the family, they managed to stabilize their situation through their own hard work. If I had to guess who had a big personality change, Xiaocao’s father is no longer unquestioningly filial to his stepmother. Does that count?”
‘Could Xiaocao’s father possibly be my fellow transmigrator? To be able to grow crops so well, was he possibly a farmer in his past life? Wait, my younger cousin doesn’t seem like his usual taciturn self when he was talking about this little farming girl’s family ah! He had only been in Tanggu Town for a few days yet he knew almost everything about this girl’s family. Even if someone claimed that this wasn’t fishy, no one would believe that person!’
“Junyang ah, you know quite a lot about this Yu Family!” Zhu Junfan didn’t forget to make fun of his younger cousin as he continued to eat watermelon.
Zhu Junyang was about to explain when a flutter of footsteps interrupted him. Shortly thereafter, a young and childish voice spoke, “Imperial Father, Imperial Father, what are you eating?”
Right after that, a tiny little figure dashed through a cluster of flowers and climbed up the tall steps with great effort, his little legs pumping. The child rushed into the octagonal shaped pavilion and hugged Zhu Junfan’s leg. A closer look revealed that this was the eldest imperial prince who had just reached the age of three.
“Where are your manners? Did you greet your imperial father properly?” Soon after, the eldest prince’s mother——Her Imperial Majesty, the empress, came in. Her voice held a bit of a gentle rebuke in it.
The eldest prince, who had already climbed up onto his imperial father’s knees, was staring at the watermelon on the table with large, blinking eyes. He softly said, “Greetings Imperial Father. Imperial Father, you have worked hard——Imperial Father, what is this? Does it taste good?”
Last summer, the little fellow was quite young. Watermelons were a type of cold food, so the empress didn’t dare to give him any to eat. This was also the reason why he didn’t know what watermelons were.
“This is a watermelon. Your royal uncle brought it back from Tanggu Town! Do you want to try some?” Zhu Junfan believed that he was a compassionate father as could be seen by the fact the little boy automatically climbed up onto his knees. In his eyes, the ancient people’s thinking of ‘hugging the grandson but not hugging the son’ was complete nonsense! When he saw his son’s pitiful look towards the watermelon, his heart softened unconsciously.
Currently, it was the end of spring and it was still a bit chilly in the early morning and evening. The empress hurriedly interjected, “Emperor, Wen’er is still young and his digestive system is still weak. I’m afraid it’s not good for him to eat cold foods…”
Zhu Hanwen was afraid that his imperial father would be persuaded by his imperial mother’s words, so he hastily acted spoiled, “Imperial Father, Wen’er only wants to try one small bite, just one bite...Wen’er is already three yet I haven’t tried any watermelon before. Wen’er is so pitiful…”
Zhu Junfan found himself immensely entertained by his antics and pinched the little boy’s face. He looked at the empress and laughed, “Where did this little fellow learn this from? He even knows how to act pitiful to get sympathy!”
The empress replied with a helpless expression on her face, “I also don’t know where he learned this. In the past, I’ve never seen him act like this before!”
“Such a clever little fellow! Takes after his imperial father, me!” Zhu Junfan used a small knife to take off a piece of watermelon that was the size of a person’s thumb and then put it next to his son’s mouth. He repeatedly warned, “Let it sit in your mouth for a bit. Once it’s warm, then you can swallow it. You can only have one piece. If you eat too much and end up with diarrhea, then you won’t be able to eat watermelon in the future!”
Zhu Hanwen cleverly nodded his head and opened his mouth wide to allow his imperial father to deliver the watermelon inside. He obediently let it sit in his mouth while the tip of his tongue came out to enjoy the sweet taste. It made him so happy that he closed his eyes in pleasure.
The little fellow held the watermelon in his mouth for a long time before he finally slowly chewed and swallowed it. He couldn’t help but praise the melon, “Imperial Father, watermelon is so delicious. Wen’er wants to eat more, what should I do?”
Zhu Junfan was a person who stuck to his words. He shook his head and stated, “Today, you can only have one bite. Didn’t I just say that earlier?”
Zhu Hanwen didn’t make a fuss and nodded his head obediently. After all, he was still a child, so he still stared at the watermelon on the table. He carefully asked, “Then...can Wen’er eat another bite tomorrow?”
Zhu Junfan pinched his little nose and chuckled, “Wen’er is such a good boy. As a reward, tomorrow you can also have another bite of watermelon!”
“Okay! Thank you Imperial Father, you are too good to me! Wen’er loves you very much…” In front of his enlightened father, Zhu Hanwen became a lot more vivacious. Compared to his imperial mother, who restricted him at every turn, he liked his imperial father much more.
Zhu Junyang watched from the side and observed the warm family reactions between the three of them. Suddenly, his thoughts wandered back to that little village near Tanggu Town, the simple and crude looking stone table, the delicious food, and the loving and warm household...if his life could be that simple and pure, he would gladly abandon everything he had now for that.
Other than sending some watermelon to the imperial palace, Zhu Junyang gave the rest of the watermelons to his lord father. He had never been the type of person to utilize human emotions and connections to his advantage. All of the families who had good relationships with Prince Jing’s Estate were all given a present from them——two large and round watermelons. Among the people who received them was the Left Commander-in-chief, Lord Du, who had spoken up for Zhu Junyang in the imperial study.
Minister Liu had also received the gift from Prince Jing’s Estate, and these watermelons were especially picked out by Zhu Junyang himself. Minister Liu’s whole family ate the stunningly sweet watermelon. All of them were flabbergasted that their father (husband), who normally never tried to toady himself up, somehow had a good relationship with Prince Jing. Did he finally see the light and understand the way the world worked after spending decades as an official?
Zhu Junyang stayed in the capital for two more days before he finally received imperial orders to leave. Minister Liu from the Ministry of Revenue had already impatiently arranged everything and was merely waiting to leave the capital.
Because they had a court official with them who didn’t know how to ride a horse, it took the group of them three whole days to get to Tanggu Town.
When they entered Tanggu Town, Zhu Junyang threw Minister Liu into the hands of the county magistrate of Tanggu Town to entertain. He himself returned to his mother’s manor in the town.
Princess Consort Jing, who was in the garden admiring flowers, pretended to be weak and ailing as soon as her people told her that her youngest son had arrived. She pasted on a worried expression on her face. Meixiang, who had stepped out to steep some flower-scented tea, noticed her mistress’s obvious change when she came back. She was quite puzzled, ‘She was doing fine just earlier, why did she suddenly become so different now?’Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s Thoughts: Zhu Junyang is the butt of his cousin’s and his mother’s tricks hahahaha.