Joy of Life - Chapter 251[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:47:52]
Chapter 251: Even the Emperor Gossips
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
“Mother enjoys quiet.” The young emperor leaned against his cushion. A eunuch brought some swallow’s nest soup, which the emperor drank. The emperor then frowned slightly and dismissed all the eunuchs and palace girls. For the moment, the entire hall was silent.
Fan Xian gave a light bow. “What are your orders, Your Majesty?”
Seeing this official from the south being so polite, a hint of amusement flashed in the emperor’s eyes. “Minister Fan, you will be returning in a few days. You must treat the Great Princess well on the journey.”
Fan Xian was slightly shocked; only now did he remember the recent major event which he hadn’t been paying attention to. Taking the princess back to Qing for her marriage was a huge responsibility; there was absolutely no room for error. In the past few days, Fan Xian had learned about the background of this Great Princess from Yan Bingyun. She was the half-sister of the emperor, born from a different mother, and resided deep within the palace. Her mother was most likely dead long ago. Because she wasn’t liked by the empress dowager, she ended up being the “sacrifice” for this political marriage.
Fan Xian didn’t know why the emperor brought her up; he probably wasn’t too close to his half-sister.
Judging by the way the emperor spoke, Fan Xian realized he had guessed wrong. The emperor sighed. “The Great Princess has never ventured outside the palace. Now with her being married far down south, I am unable to offer her more protection, despite my position.”
Fan Xian replied humbly, “Rest assured, Your Majesty. The Great Prince is my nation’s greatest hero, admired by all. Together they are sure to live a long life of harmony. All civil servants of Qing surely would not dare to show her neglect.”
The emperor laughed coldly. “What’s the use in that?” He suddenly stared into Fan Xian’s eyes. “Minister Fan, I see you as my friend… I hope that you, back in your southern capital, will give plenty of advice to the princess and ensure she lives well.”
Fan Xian was shocked again. Friends with the emperor? He and the emperor had only met each other four times in total.
The emperor smiled, knowing what Fan Xian was thinking. “Minister Fan, back when we first met, I told you I enjoy your works, so much so that I treat them as you talking in person. Having ‘talked’ with you for the past year, it’s really not strange to see you as my friend.”
At this point, being so favored by the emperor had Fan Xian feeling genuinely overwhelmed. As he was about to express his gratitude, the light voice of the emperor rang out again, this time with a hint of anger.
“But you seem to be keeping your distance. You refusing to visit me aside…” The emperor was looking directly into Fan Xian’s eyes. “You are keeping many things from me.”
Fan Xian, in great distress, explained, “I have a great number of things to attend to. I was worried coming to the palace would disturb Your Majesty’s rest.”
The emperor took a glance at Haitang, who had been quiet thus far, and laughed suddenly. “Really? I thought recently you’ve been busy with Haitang, strolling the streets and… drinking.”
With that, even Haitang became unsettled. She said, “I often consulted Sir Fan for his wisdom. I have learned much.”
The emperor shook his head and returned his gaze to Fan Xian, “In that case, Minister Fan, how long do you intend on keeping ‘that’ hidden from me?”
A drop of cold sweat appeared on Fan Xian’s head, his first thought being—had that meeting with Si Lili been exposed? If so, even assuming this emperor has no interest in women, Fan Xian probably wouldn’t leave Northern Qi alive!
Fan Xian looked out of the corner of his eye and discovered Haitang’s face was at ease. So he calmed himself and respectfully asked, “Your Majesty, I’m afraid I don’t know what you are talking about?”
No one should know about Xiao En, although Haitang might be able to guess parts of what had happened. As long as the emperor wasn’t talking about Si Lili, Fan Xian was certain he wouldn’t feel any guilt or fear. However, what the emperor said next almost scared Fan Xian out of his seat. Tonight, surprises kept coming one after another!
“Then, let me ask you, how is cousin Lin?” the emperor asked coldly.
Like a clap of thunder, like that young girl shouting to heaven on that stormy night, Fan Xian was dumbfounded, unable to answer—how could this emperor know Wan’er was Fan Xian’s cousin?! In other words, this emperor knew Fan Xian’s true past!
Impossible! Impossible! No more than five people in this world knew Fan Xian’s true past, and none of those five would expose it.
But the problem was, with all the power the emperor commanded, could he really have discovered the truth? Or else why would he ask about… Fan Xian’s wife, his cousin?
The emperor coldly stared at the panicking Fan Xian. He slapped down his hand hard and ordered harshly, “Speak!”
Fan Xian was mostly faking his expression of panic; inside he kept his calm. He hooked his left pinky slightly, but remembered he did not bring his black dagger becaused he feared that Haitang would make a connection to what happened at the cliffs.
Fight? He couldn’t win against Haitang. Flee? If Northern Qi exposed his identity, all the Qing princes would be after him like a bunch of starving tigers, let alone those women in the palace…
Fan Xian coughed twice, his smile reappearing on his face. Since the emperor had spoken to him directly, this must be a threat, which was why Fan Xian decided to continue to play dumb, so that he could listen to the emperor’s conditions. “Your Majesty, what are you saying?”
The emperor stood up, too lazy to put on his shoes, and walked straight towards Fan Xian. His expression turned from slight anger to slight amusement, mixed with just a hint of excitement and anticipation.
Fan Xian was taken aback by this, further convinced that this young emperor was a little weirdo.
The emperor laughed as he put his hands on Fan Xian’s shoulders and shook him, “Minister Fan, oh Minister Fan. You made me suffer so much hiding it from me. You made the people of the world suffer so much hiding it from them.”
“What?” Fan Xian had long disregarded any drastic measures and stared stupidly at the face which was only centimeters from his own. He discovered this emperor was good-looking, and he smelled rather fresh from being washed daily. Haitang, looking at His Majesty’s feverishness and Fan Xian’s stupefied expression, couldn’t hold back her laughter.
“Mister Cao!” The emperor shook Fan Xian again, “Mister Cao! Hurry and tell me, did Sister Lin end up with Bao Yu…?”
While he didn’t know how the emperor had guessed it, Fan Xian finally understood what was going on. No longer able to withstand the stress, he dropped back into his chair. Before saying anything, he first raised his teacup and drank.
The emperor looked at Fan Xian, “If you don’t read the rest of Story of the Stone to me today, I won’t allow you to leave the palace.”
Fan Xian sighed, “How did Your Majesty know it was I who wrote it?”
The emperor looked at Haitang, who smiled back and said, “The book is only being printed at Danbo Bookstore, while this Mister Cao always keeps himself hidden from the public. Other than the bookstore, no one knows who he is. With how famous the book has become, there are countless number of people guessing Mister Cao’s identity. Sir Fan, when we drank together a few days ago, you seemed to have spoken a bit much, so I took a few guesses. His Majesty confronting you today is more of a test. Since you admitted it, then that means I had guessed correctly.”
Fan Xian could only smile uneasily. Right now, he didn’t exactly need to be known as the author of Story of the Stone. Hearing this emperor call out “Mister Cao” so endearingly almost made Fan Xian mistake him for Guo Jia. As it turned out, the emperor was also a fan of the book.
Having confirmed that Fan Xian was the author, the emperor was greatly pleased, “Hurry and tell me, how many girls did Bao Yu take in by the end?”
The emperor turned out to be a fan of the harem genre. Fan Xian waved his hand and pleaded, “Your Majesty, I only wrote those sixty-or-so chapters on a whim. I haven’t figured out how to continue the story.” Fan Xian recalled back to his time in Danzhou, when Ruoruo asked him for the story, how he thought about problems regarding the draft, renewal, and eunuchs. It was complicated indeed.
The emperor frowned and took a look at Haitang. Suddenly he leaned in and whispered in Fan Xian’s ear, “The Haitang Poem Club in chapter thirty-seven… what does it have to do with Haitang?”
In his peripheral vision Fan Xian could see Haitang was eavesdropping, so he smiled and replied boldly, “Your Majesty, authors shouldn’t disclose themselves. I beg your pardon.”
The emperor had a look on his face. He then said, “Then you must return quickly to write a new chapter, and also remember to mail a copy here.”
Fan Xian accepted the order in fright, daring not to say anything more.