Joy of Life - Chapter 322[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:20]
Chapter 322: Knowing The Mother Is Better Than Knowing The Father
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
“The best time?” Fan Xian stared at his father with his mind full of fog. But for some reason, seeing his father so calm and collected, he felt himself relax and was not as anxious as he had been in the mountain. He laughed at himself, and tossed aside the crutch from under his arm before sitting down on a chair.
“Be careful of your injury.” Fan Jian shook his head disapprovingly.
Fan Xian smiled, and gently rubbed his chest. There was a faint pain inside, but with the care of Sir Fei, it was almost all better.
“Tell me, what exactly are you afraid of?” Fan Jian gently stroked his long, flowing beard. The generally-serious Minister, at this moment, seemed to be have the ease of a man with a plan.
Fan Xian paused and furrowed his brow in thought for a long time. He then realized that he had indeed been overly panicked—what exactly was he afraid of?
He organized his lurking worries in his mind and sincerely replied, “Once this news spreads out, naturally, the discussions of the people will be abnormally turbulent. Once the palace knows of my past, who knows how they will deal with it?”
“How they’ll deal with it?” Fan Jian laughed coldly. “Do you think that up until now, no one in the palace knew of your past?”
Fan Xian was silent for a while; he knew his father was right. The Emperor would know better than anyone he was a descendent of the Ye family. As for the empress dowager… seeing her attitude at the Winter Solstice lamb feast, he guessed she probably already knew. The mother and son were just keeping it from the rest of the world.
“They wanted to hide it from the world, but now they can’t hide it anymore. The development of things will always change,” Fan Xian said calmly. “Furthermore, if the empress finds out I am a descendent of the Ye family, what will she think? According to what you have said, the Ye family and her have an immovable hatred between them.”
Fan Jian shook his head and said coolly, “You don’t need to worry about the empress.
That woman is the weakest empress in history. What you need to consider is whether or not the Crown Prince will be persuaded by her to act against you.”
The power of the empress’s family had, long ago, decades ago, been completely cleaned out by the Qing Emperor on the night Jingdou’s streets ran red with blood. The usually-modest Fan Jian had played an important role, so he knew better than anyone that the empress would not be able to make much trouble.
“The Crown Prince.” A small smile floated to the corner of his lips. “He is an intelligent man. Given your current position and power, he only hopes you will maintain the balance. He won’t actively pull you out because of what happened that year.”
Fan Xian slightly lowered his head, and said three words after a moment: “The Eldest Princess?”
Everyone knew that the Ye family’s fortune had been seized by the Qing royal family and was the current palace treasury. Back then, in order to forcefully collect from the world’s greatest merchant family, the excuse they had used was one of the terrifying ones: rebellion. Now that there was suddenly a legendary orphan of the Ye family, should the crime from that time be investigated?
Even if there were no investigation, in the eyes of many people, the Ye family was one that the royal family would have to remove from the root. This was the rule in history, and no one could hide from it.
Once the news that Fan Xian was a descendent of the Ye family spread out, the Eldest Princess would certainly make much of this matter to force the palace into reacting the same way. If the matter of seizing the Ye family fortune was considered the royal family’s usual way of doing things, Fan Xian could count himself lucky not being assassinated—never mind achieving meteoric success in his career.
Of course, the other half of Fan Xian’s past was also very extraordinary, so he didn’t have to worry about the mother and son pair in the palace trying to kill him. In fact, the other party would not even consider him someone to guard against. But what annoyed him was that no one knew about this matter!
If the mother and son in the palace wanted to hide it forever, then they could only treat Fan Xian purely as a descendent of the Ye family. Under the pressure of public opinion, they would have Fan Xian let go of the palace treasury… and even the Overwatch Council. However, for Fan Xian—who had already made countless enemies—losing the power in his hands would be very dangerous.
“The Eldest Princess?” Fan Jian replied without any expression on his face. “If she’s clever enough, she will just observe this time without interfering.”
“Because of the Emperor’s wishes.”
Fan Xian sank deep into thought and gradually understood what his father meant. Although he didn’t know what plans the Emperor would make in the future, at least for now he wasn’t planning to lift the veil on this issue. After knowing this matter, he expected that the Emperor would react much like himself: first with shock, then with a thread of anger and wildness.
The Emperor and Fan Xian were both people who liked to have everything in their control and hated to have these things, which were out of their control, happen. And so the Emperor would certainly be very angry and his first thought would be to find out who had revealed the secret. If the Eldest Princess chose this moment to attack Fan Xian with this, the Emperor would do his best to protect Fan Xian, and his suspicions towards the Eldest Princess’s distancing would deepen.
“Right now you are the Commissioner of the Overwatch Council,” Fan Jian said quietly, “and after half a year of work you now hold sufficient power in your hands. From Danzhou to Jingdou, whether it is myself or Director Chen, everything we do is to help you stabilize the foundation beneath your feet… now that you are a heavy stone, why would you be afraid of a light breeze? Don’t worry—those winds can no longer move you.”
Fan Xian remained silent, with other worries in his heart.
“Of course, there are heaven-sent winds in this world,” Fan Xian mocked. “What you are afraid of is just the attitude of the palace. But the empress dowager and the Emperor are both aware of this matter—at most, they will take into consideration public opinion and give you the cold shoulder for a couple of days. How this matter will develop will depend on the Emperor’s attitude.”
Finally, this old veteran schemer, the Minister of Revenue, said, “With the incidence of the Hanging Temple, the Emperor believes in your loyalty and of course will be biased towards you… right now you are not yet recovered so the Emperor will remember what you did. For your past to be revealed now, the Emperor will do his best to consider you—no matter the interests of the royal family, or the pressure of the empress, the Crown Prince, or even the Eldest Princess and dowager empress…
“Exchanged for you protecting the Emperor from that strike, the two will cancel out,” Fan Jian smiled coldly. “So that is why I say this is the best time. I don’t need to tell you this, and you will understand these things in court. Perhaps in a few years, the Emperor will no longer think fondly of your rescue—then it would be difficult for you to use it to balance out your identity. Your past could only be revealed within these few days, not earlier… and not later.”
The best time.
Fan Xian savored the chilling truth of these words and a bitter smile rose to his face. “I am just worried that this will bring trouble to the family.”
The Fan family took in the orphan of the Ye family? Although this was arranged by the Emperor, once things got out of hand, the Emperor would certainly deny it. Only the Fan Manor would be implicated.
Fan Jian slowly closed his eyes and hid the smile at the corner of his lips. “Silly child,” he said slowly, “if you won’t move, why would I move? If the court moves to act against me, doesn’t that prove you are the descendent of the Ye family?”
Fan Xian opened his eyes wide and said a moment later, “You mean, no matter what is said outside, we will deny everything?”
“Of course,” Fan Jian smiled and said, “who has evidence?”
Fan Xian sighed, “Such a pity, I had thought that since it wouldn’t have an impact, I could use this opportunity—”
“Use this opportunity to overturn the Ye family case?” Fan Jian burst into laughter. “No wonder you were so nervous earlier: you had big plans. Child, why does the case need to be overturned in public? The Emperor already overturned the case for the Ye family decades ago. Right now, this is just the left-over ripples.”
Fan Xian shook his head and spoke in a lowered voice, “The Ye family matter did not actually scare me, only…” He was going to say that he was worried this matter would be used by the Eldest Princess and those who sought to harm him to discover the royal blood in him. But just as the words were about to pass his lips, he suddenly realized what he was about to say and stopped.
Fan Xian and his father had never openly discussed his connection to the Emperor. Father and son had always knowingly avoided making clear the matter, to do their best to maintain the current harmonious scene.
Fan Jian understood what his son wanted to say and sank into silence. He sighed after a long time. “That matter… you should hide it in your heart. As to whether or not other people guess it, what does it matter? I… I will clearly say, Director Chen has probably been waiting eagerly for this to happen. Once the rumors reach Jingdou, he will certainly use the power he holds to suppress them, and so confirm the truth of these rumors. And then he will wait for the world to gradually guess your past, to have the people get used to… the rumors of your past.”
Fan Xian was silent. He knew that his father’s projection was very logical. The old cripple’s actions were not difficult to understand. Only by forcefully restricting the rumors would the people of the Qing Kingdom believe them. This was a very clever tactic. As for the fact that he was an illegitimate child of the Emperor…
Fan Xian suddenly felt very tired. “What, exactly, does Chen Pingping want to do?” he asked his father listlessly.
“I’m not sure,” This Minister, who had never shown remarkable ability or wisdom, slowly said. “You should know that Director Chen and I always think differently. I have disagreed with him for many years about you. And I am not in the habit of trusting him. What is extraordinary is that he seems to similarly not trust me. Yet, on the contrary, he and I both trust you.”
He glanced at his son and laughed at himself. “In the end, it seems that he has won and has successfully dragged you into this mess.” He continued lightly, “I even wonder if he orchestrated this whole thing. Otherwise, how could Northern Qi possible know that your mother was Lady Ye? Of course, you don’t need to worry much right now. I trust that Director Chen is already entering the palace to plot for you the beginning and the end of this matter.”
Father and son sank into silence. After a long time, Fan Xian suddenly said out of the blue, “Sorry, father.”
A very illogical apology; he didn’t even know what it was for. Was he apologizing for the decisions he had made so he could take over the Overwatch Council and so was forced into this battle for power, rather than choosing to live a quiet life like his father? Or was he apologizing for his strange past which had brought unknown dangers to the Fan family? Or was he apologizing most sincerely on behalf of his mother to his “father?”
Or was it… sorry, sorry, I really want to be your true son, but my mother didn’t give me this opportunity?
Minister Shang wondered if Chen Pingping was using the heavy injury Fan Xian sustained when protecting the Emperor as the perfect opportunity to reveal his identity as a descendent of the Ye family. At the same time, in the depths of the palace, Chen Pingping couldn’t stop wondering who had suddenly brought this mess to light.
As political creatures, the two old foxes didn’t care much about nominal things. They only wished for Fan Xian to be happy and to hold power. They didn’t believe that Fan Xian had to return properly to the Ye family.
“The only people who knew of this matter were me, Fan Jian, Countess Fan, the Emperor, and Fei Jie.” Chen Pingping sat in his wheelchair and his dry, sharp voice rang through the royal study, “Your Majesty said before that the empress dowager had only realized the truth after the spring examinations. That is only a total of six people. I don’t think that any of these six would have revealed the information.”
The Emperor slowed turned around and his usually-calm gaze was burning with rage today, as sharp as an eagle’s. Biting off each word, he asked, “None of them could have revealed it? Then how does the man in Northern Qi know about it!”
After the spring examinations, Fan Xian’s identity as the Commissioner of Overwatch Council was revealed and from there he became one of the most glamorous figures in the Qing Kingdom, especially because he was about to take control of the palace treasury. This kind of power and influence was a bit overwhelming. A normal person could not guess, but the empress dowager, deep in the palace, long experienced in state matters and used to seeing the dark and dirty parts, had a very keen political sense. Under her intense questioning, the Emperor finally admitted to his mother that Fan Xian was his illegitimate son.
After the empress dowager recovered from her shock, she finally accepted this matter. After all, no matter how much she hated that “beautiful woman” back then, she always had a degree of tolerance for those of the royal bloodline.
“Perhaps, perhaps Northern Qi guessed it?” Chen Pingping said to himself in a quiet voice, and did not realize that he had guessed the answer closest to the truth.
The Emperor smiled coldly. “What kind of figure is Ku He? Would the Imperial Advisor of Northern Qi come to a conclusion based only on guesswork?”
Chen Pingping was silent for a long time before he opened his mouth to say, “The Eldest Princess, she is the most suspicious.”
If Fan Xian were eavesdropping at this time, he would have certainly cheered! What was this? This was the legendary coincidence without work, loudness without noise!
The empress dowager knew that Fan Xian was the descendant of the Ye family, and the Eldest Princess was the empress dowager’s most treasured daughter. She had once turned her hand and sold Yan Bingyun to Northern Qi, and had also had private contact with Mo Zhuanghan, the Northern Qi poet. She had private communications with the empress dowager of Northern Qi, and who knew how much money she saved the Northern Qi Emperor and his people with her smuggling. She… she… she… Because of the transferring of the palace treasury, she hated Fan Xian with every bone in her body, and had even started to send assassins after him—only, she had yet to succeed.
These were all facts the Emperor was very aware of. It only took a close analysis to discover that the Eldest Princess had the biggest chance of knowing about this, had the best connection to use Northern Qi to expose this, and, most importantly, had the strongest motive.
Chen Pingping’s previous comments had been well thought out. If he had spoken generally and hinted that there was someone in the palace who had a good relationship with Norther Qi, and lead the Emperor to thinking of his sister in distant Xinyang—and dared not to be so bold as to point his finger and name the Eldest Princess—the Emperor would be certain to question his motives.
Rather, if he directly and brazenly named the Eldest Princess and pointed out that she was the most suspicious, it was the behavior of a loyal minister. A minister who only cared about whether or not his opinions would be of use to the Emperor, rather than worrying about whether or not it would cause the Emperor to suspect him—this kind of behavior was very favorably received by the perceptive Emperor.
The Emperor sank into silence, and the color of his face was not good. Only after a moment of silence did he say, “It seems that…Yunrui does not know that Fan-that An Zhi is of my blood.”
If the empress dowager had told the Eldest Princess this, she would certainly not have revealed Fan Xian’s past. That would not be targeting Fan Xian, that would be targeting the Emperor.
Chen Pingping slightly moved his head. He knew from the Emperor’s words that he already believed the Eldest Princess was the source of this rumor.
After a moment, the Emperor said icily, “Let’s wait and see if Yunrui will send a letter.”
Fan Xian was a descendent of the Ye family. If the Eldest Princess wrote to the palace and used this opportunity to persuade the Emperor to be wary of this, or to directly urge the Emperor to kill Fan Xian, and destroy the Fan family, then the Emperor would have to reevaluate his relationship with his sister.
“What do we do now?” Chen Pingping coughed a few times. His white hair had not been tightly secured, and as he had rushed into the palace, it had become a little disheveled. It made him seem older.
The Emperor glanced at him, then suddenly smiled bitterly and sighed, “I have had an impressive life. I didn’t leave my strengths in my prime, yet I have become a truly isolated person. Other than you and brother Jian, I cannot find another person I trust.”
Chen Pingping was a little surprised and was about to say something when the Emperor sighed and waved his hand. “Do you remember what reason the empress dowager gave for forcefully seizing the Ye family that year?”
“Hm.” The Emperor’s face was expressionless as he said, “Back then, both of you agreed to this suggestion. After all, the things Lady Ye left behind could not be left to disorder or let go. After she left, only the royal family had the power to absorb it and ensure that the legacy left by the Ye family would continue to run.”
“That’s true,” Chen Pingping replied calmly. “My thought back then was that since she had already gone, it didn’t matter what crime we pinned on her—she wouldn’t care. I didn’t think that it would be such a thorny problem after 17 years.”
The Emperor spoke icily, “Why does it need to be thorny? I gave the edict, and I will redress the issue. Who would dare to question it?”
“You cannot.” Chen Pingping’s firm reply seemed out the Emperor’s expectations. “Your Majesty feels pity towards that child, but you cannot do this… after all, you must take into consideration the feelings of the elderly.” The old cripple’s heart was like a clear mirror. Although the Emperor’s suggestion had no name, it was the last test.
The Emperor knew he was speaking of the empress dowager. He thought for a while and then nodded. “It seems you already have a plan.”
Chen Pingping smiled bitterly and replied, “The incident happened suddenly and Your Majesty has yet to write an imperial edict, so I have not prepared a plan.” The meaning behind his words was clear. The Emperor had always planned to hide Fan Xian’s past, and so the Bureau had never thought about it.
He changed the topic and continued, “But no harm done. If a letter comes from Xinyang, then I hope Your Majesty will scold severely. Then if Your Majesty has a talk with the Princes, and tells Fan Xian to deny everything, even if the officials suspect anything, I don’t think anyone would dare to submit a petition without actual evidence.”
“It will be impossible for things not to be awkward for An Zhi—how will he conduct himself in court?”
“When the year changes, he will go to the distant Jiangnan on business, and will conveniently miss this upheaval.” Chen Pingping smiled and said in a thin voice, “You Majesty, although this matter is a bit troublesome, right now is not a bad time for it be revealed. Let Fan Xian leave Jingdou, and drag it out for two years. This matter will fade.”
“Will it fade?” The Emperor narrowed his eyes and asked.
“When Si Lili was on the Liujing River, people said that she was some Prince’s descendent. The rumors went back and forth, and other than increasing the business of that pleasure boat, there were no other problems. As to Fan Xian’s past…” Chen Pingping sighed, “Let it be another little harmless piece of news.”
The Emperor was silent for a long time and huffed through his nose.
“The newspapers can use this matter as a decorative border,” Chen Pingping continued.
The Emperor smiled.
“As long as we prevent that thing.” Chen Pingping glanced at the Emperor, his voice carried a trace of sadness.
“I will have Mother talk to the empress.” The Emperor nodded and sighed. “Unable to give him a title, I already owe this son.”
Half a month later, a message began to spread through the streets and alleys of Jingdou. The message said: the man currently popular at court, Sir Fan junior, the Commissioner of Overwatch Council, was a descendent of the old Ye family!
After the Ye family had been taken care of because of their rebellion, 20 years had passed and no one thought there were any descendants. He was also the man the people of Jingdou delighted in talking about, Sir Fan junior. This rumour shocked the people of Jingdou, and then delighted them. They eagerly passed this piece of gossip on, and within two days, everyone in Jingdou knew of this rumor.
If the rumors were true, then Fan Manor, which had been harboring a criminal of the court, was going to fall on hard times. The officials in court that had been terribly offended by Fan Xian were happily scheming their attacks. Of course, before the palace made their position known, these officials would not dare to strike of their own accord. After all, it was only a rumor, and there was no proof.
The people and officials of Jingdou began to feel suspicious as they connected how Fan Xian was willing to relinquish his reputation in order enter the Overwatch Council, and how he was going to take over the palace treasury, which stank of bronze. These people began to believe this rumor was the truth.
Unexpectedly, the palace maintained their silence. It was as though they hadn’t heard of this matter. The Overwatch Council, however, had begun to act. Facing the danger of being cursed for three generations by the imperial censor, the Eighth Bureau began to arrest those in restaurants and tea houses who dared to spread the gossip.
One afternoon, in Yishi Tavern, the guests in the tavern stared at each other in shock. They were all people of some status, yet they did not expect that the official of the Eighth Bureau would be so unreasonable as to take away the two previously spluttering literati.
From the reaction of the Overwatch Council, people believed all the more that Commissioner Fan… really was connected to the old Ye family!
Inside the Overwatch Council, Chen Pingping sat with a sheepskin rug over his legs. He lifted one corner of the black curtain and looked at the quiet and fearful people walking by. The trace of a strange smile rose to his lips
“They know who your mother is, but not who your father is. What is there to be afraid of?”