Joy of Life - Chapter 382[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:44]
Chapter 382: Poaching Talent In Court
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The Qing court began at the scheduled time. The day was barely bright, and the Palace was still cool. The Emperor still sat high in his dragon chair while the officials humbly and straightforwardly discussed the government affairs of various counties and Roads. After all urgent matters were discussed and concluded, the Emperor, with faint exhaustion floating on his face, asked, “Is there anything else?”
An official from the Ministry of Justice stepped out and carefully reported, “Your Majesty, the matter of the head of the palace treasury transport company Sir Fan junior…how should it be handled?”
Many of the Jingdou officials were surprised that although the investigation of the deficit of the Ministry of Revenue, which had been accumulating power for days, had not yet started, the criticisms toward Fan Xian, who was far away in Jiangnan, had arrived aggressively.
Within three days, memorials from the Jiangnan Imperial Censorate and other officials began to fly into Jingdou like pieces of snow. Each word and sentence accused the head of the palace treasury transport company of being arrogant and using his status as an imperial envoy to suppress his colleagues. He disregarded the laws of the country and regulations of the court. He willfully killed four of the treasurers of the palace treasury, angered the people, and incited the strike of the three large workshops.
The three large workshops of the palace treasury were an important column in the financial affairs of the Qing Kingdom and such a large event like a strike had not happened for many years. When the news traveled to Jingdou, it shocked many people. Jingdou and Jiangnan were far away from each other. The people did not know of the true situation at the North Min transport company yamen. They knew even less about the fact that it was the Imperial Censorate Guo Zheng and the officials of the Eldest Princess who turned the facts on their head. Clearly, it was the strike that came first followed by Fan Xian suppressing the situation by killing people. After being accused by these excitable officials, it became so that Fan Xian first unreasonably killed, which then incited the commoner’s anger.
In the hearts of the court officials, Sir Fan junior was indeed someone who could committed such crimes.
Lao Fan had not even been investigated when the officials began to have strong objections to Xiao Fan. The matter was debated in the court for days, but no one had any ideas, and the Emperor did not say anything.
Among the civil officials, there were a few who were not corrupt. They did not fear the fact that Fan Xian was the Emperor’s illegitimate child. On the contrary, because of this, they looked at Fan Xian with even more distrust in their eyes. They worried that this powerful official would harm the very foundations of Qing Kingdom and the interests of the people.
Hu the Scholar who had already entered the Hall of Governmental Affairs and had begun to make his way around the cabinet, had never met Fan Xian and his knowledge of him was limited to the rumors in the officialdom and the public. Although he had the introduction of Shu the Scholar, and he gradually admired Fan Xian’s literary talent, he still believed the words in the memorials.
Hu the Scholar had spent many years as a local official in various counties. He deeply understood the unreasonableness of the Jingdou officials. He was worried that Fan Xian would rely on his family’s power and his past to run amok in Jiangnan since there would be none to contend with his power.
He decided to speak on behalf of the Jiangnan officials. It would prevent the location from being too deeply damaged, and he was afraid that Sir Fan junior, whom he quite admired, would slide toward the crooked path.
Hu the Scholar stepped out and calmly said, “Your Majesty, this matter should be thoroughly investigated.”
The Emperor rubbed his temple and asked, “Investigated? Fan Xian had long written me a report telling me of this. The Overwatch Council also has their reports, and the Hall of Governmental Affairs also as a copy for the archive. Scholar, you should know, this time the palace treasury’s trouble was because Fan Xian was investigating the long-established corrupt practices and caused it by getting justice for the workers.”
Hu the Scholar said in a clear voice, “Your Majesty, those are only Sir Fan junior’s side of the story. Since there have been so many officials accusing him, someone has to be sent to Jiangnan to ask. If the memorials are true, then there should be a strict investigation and compensation made. We must not hurt the hearts of the tens of thousands of workers. If the memorials are lying, then the Jiangnan Road officials should be severely rebuked to soothe Sir Fan junior and return some justice to Sir Fan junior.”
The Emperor almost smiled as he gazed at him. After all this Scholar had said, he was determined to send someone to Jiangnan. Only, Jingdou is far from Jiangnan. Even if the capital sent someone, would Fan Xian actually be scared of them? However, the Emperor had called the long-exiled Hu the Scholar back to the capital because he wanted to use the scholar’s stubbornness and honesty.
It was like how many years ago he used Lin Ruofu and Chen Pingping to compete against each other. The Emperor of the Qing Kingdom was preparing to use Hu the Scholar and Fan Xian to eventually compete against each other. Since that was so, he could not, at this time, make the Scholar lose face. He smiled slightly and said, “You’re words make sense. Offer a candidate to go to Jiangnan to have a look. Whatever the matter is, it needs to be seen personally to know for sure.”
Hu the Scholar wanted this seemingly fair suggestion of handling the matter. Since he had achieved his goal, he backed away.
Shu Wu, Shu the Scholar, couldn’t stop himself saying worriedly, “Of course we must investigate clearly who is telling the truth and who is lying. But I am worried that after the palace treasury has gone through this storm, the income this year might run into problems. After all, this is Sir Fan junior’s first year managing the palace treasury. I hope that Your Majesty will give him plenty of advice.”
This was a mild suggestion, but it represented the worries of many officials. They were concerned that Fan Xian was overly irritating and ruthless, and would cause major problems for the production of the entire palace treasury. Although Su Wu was gentle, that did not mean that the others were gentle. On the contrary, there were a few officials who used his words as an opening and began to extol their own deep concerns and loyalty to the court. They spoke of Sir Fan junior’s youth and how the matter of the palace treasury was of great importance. If, within this year, there was too big a difference to previous years, should the court consider a different candidate, and so on?
This was a brazen lack of trust in Fan Xian. The meaning was very clear. If Fan Xian could not raise the level of the palace treasury’s profit, or if it was not as high as previous years, then what right did he have to control the palace treasury?
Because it was so brazen, each word and sentence seemed to be for the consideration of the court. Although the officials wanted to move deity from the palace treasury, they could not refute anything.
The Emperor smiled slightly and said, “This year’s results for the palace treasury would only be known next year. I think, my dear officials, you are being too hasty. After all, some time will be needed to find out whether or not Fan Xian will disappoint me.”
The Emperor seemed to suddenly think of something and said, “However, the palace treasury bidding ended a few days ago, and the bidding books should have already been escorted to Jingdou. If my dear officials wish to see Fan Xian’s ability, have a look at the results of this year’s palace treasury bidding. It should tell you a thing or two.”
Qing Kingdom was vast, so there was a great distance between Jiangnan and Jingdou. The bidding had started March 22nd in Suzhou, but the news had just reached Jingdou. If it had traveled by the secret mail road and council report, it should have been a few days faster. Either Fan Xian had forgotten or there was a problem of secrecy with the bidding books, but he didn’t reveal anything earlier to the Emperor or the court. After dealing with the strike of the three large workshops in North Min, the Overwatch Council had begun blocking the road for messages between the two places. So, although Jingdou vaguely knew about the bidding matter that had set Suzhou abuzz, they did not know of the specific situation.
The message that should have traveled the fastest, under Fan Xian’s suppression, traveled even slower than Great Master San Shi.
The Emperor gazed at the group of people below and said, “Has the Taichang Temple received any documents?”
All of the income of the palace treasury’s three large workshops were audited and managed by the Taishang Temple and imperial court, so the Emperor asked the head minister of the Taichang Temple.
“It just arrived early in the morning,” the head minister of the Taichang Temple coughed a few times and said with an anxious expression. “I was in a rush to enter the Palace, so I have not yet seen it.”
The Emperor huffed coldly, “Then why aren’t you rushing to get it!”
The head minister of Taichang Temple bowed and burst into a trotting run out of the Palace to retrieve it.
“We will all wait a bit.” The Emperor announced that the court conference would be extended. He accepted a bowl of tea from Eunuch Yao beside him and sipped it slowly.
Time ticked by in seconds and minutes. Palace officials began to feel a bit anxious but did not reveal any kind of expression. Besides, they were truly curious how exactly things had gone? The 40 percent deposit from the palace treasury’s spring opening bid was the Qing Kingdom’s first major piece of income each year, so these officials couldn’t help but anticipate eagerly and wait nervously.
The Emperor looked at the officials with cold eyes and was slightly unhappy in his heart. He understood why that when it came to Fan Xian, all of the civil officials all had to stand up and express their opinion. Even those who had good relations with him, such as Shu Wu, were not an exception. Fan Xian was his illegitimate child. The officials long had complaints about the court’s placement of Fan Xian in important positions. They felt it was not according to the regulations and only because the Emperor felt sorry for his own flesh and blood, so he used official positions to console him.
But this palace treasury was mine, this world was mine, this son was also mine…the Emperor thought coldly. When did it become time for these old men to run their mouths off about this? The Emperor knew in his heart that if Fan Xian failed to live up to expectations and turned Jiangnan into a mess, and the palace treasury went into decline…if calamity befell one of the important areas in the country and realized the officials’ worries, then no matter how he protected him, he could only transfer Fan Xian back.
The Emperor had confidence in Fan Xian. It was a kind of confidence that had been gradually nurtured. After Fan Xian came to the capital from Danzhou, the Emperor had kept a wary and detailed eye on Fan Xian’s every move. He wanted to see just what kind of ability the child had.
In all things, Fan Xian’s performance had not disappointed him. In the literary arts, he had the 300 poems in front of the palace. In martial arts, he had the title of a ninth-level. He had Zhuang Mohan gifting him books. His ability to seize gold was not vulgar, and he had no inclination to corruption. Even his romanticism was not done the same way as the other young and elegant men. As for his handle on the court situation, it was even less like that of a mere 18-year-old. His loyalty to his ruler and filial piety toward his father were both to be praised.
When all was said and done, the Emperor was still a normal middle-aged man. it was difficult for him not to feel some inklings of pride toward Fan Xian, an illegitimate child. After all, it was his seed.
When the officials began to express their doubts about Fan Xian, he had the Taichang Temple immediately announce the details of the palace treasury opening bid. Although he did not know the specific amounts, the Emperor never doubted Fan Xian’s ability to scrape up every last silver coin—the most basic skill required to be an official.
The sound of urgent footsteps rang out from outside of the palace. The head minister of Taichang Temple ran in at a trot. His face and ears were red as he endlessly wiped the sweat from his forehead. Behind him followed the vice-minister of Taichang Temple, Ren Shao’an, who was also puffing endlessly. To run all the way from the Taichang Temple to the Taiji Palace was indeed quite tiring.
The Emperor allowed the two to rise after a simple salute. His body leaned forward and a trace of interest showed in his expression as he asked, “How is it?”
The various elderly officials in the palace also looked nervously at the two officials of the Taichang Temple.
The head minister of the Taichang Temple swallowed. Before he could even speak, his expression was already one of joy. He replied in a loud voice, “Congratulations, Your Majesty!”
Once these words were out, everyone knew the situation of the palace treasury spring opening bid in the sixth year of the Qing calendar was good, and it was very good, not just a little good.
The officials who had some faint intentions to protect Fan Xian all let out a breath and smiles appeared on their faces. Shu the Scholar was nodding his head in approval. The majority of the officials were startled. It seemed no one had expected that after the strike and being impeded by the Eldest Princess’ powers, Fan Xian, who was managing the palace treasury for the first time, would actually be able to obtain decent results.
Only the expression of that Hu the Scholar was calm, without anything strange.
After the Qing Emperor on the dragon chair heard these words, he felt his chest relax. His expression stayed calm, but now he sat his entire butt back into his chair, incredibly firmly. Although he had confidence in Fan Xian before he received confirmed reports, he had still been a bit nervous.
The Emperor smiled slightly and asked, “What is the exact amount?”
Everyone needed money, and the Emperor was no exception. He had all of the money in the world but still wished that the amount of money under heaven would grow and grow. He was the greatest landlord in the world but still like all the other wealthy landlords. Joy flashed faintly through his eyes.
The Ren Shao’an coughed and took a file. He read in a clear voice, “On the 22nd day of the third month of the sixth year of the Qing calendar, the total of the palace treasury transport company opening bid of the 36 lots for the north, sound, and east roads is…”
He spoke to here and seemed to be startled again by that enormous number. He steadied his state of mind and said, “Twenty-four million two hundred and twenty-two thousand liang…in total…”
Once this floaty “in total” came out, the entire Taiji Palace became absolutely silent for a long time.
Twenty-four million two hundred and twenty-two thousand liang? This much? This was a whole 80 percent more than last year. Fan Xian…how did he do it? Did he have the magical ability to bewitch other’s hearts and made the Jiangnan royal merchants into idiots?
The officials were all wide-eyed and tongue-tied. They looked at each other a bit breathlessly from the pressure of the enormous amount. Everyone’s minds dank into a kind of daze.
Shu the Scholar, his face bright red, fell to the ground. It caused chaos among the officials, so it took a while to help him up.
The scholar’s expression was unbelievably excited. He sputtered incoherently toward the Emperor on the dragon chair, “Congratulations, Your Majesty! Congratulations, Your Majesty!”
The officials finally reacted. After a loud startled sigh, they turned around and began to salute and praise the Emperor. The fawning surged like the ocean. The Emperor’s grace was like a mountain…heaven protects the Qing Kingdom…the Emperor is wise…and so on.
Twenty four millions liang of silver. Even if right now they could only take 40 percent into their accounts, that was still close to 10 million liang of silver. Such a large income could be used to do too many things, such as making river repairs, strengthening the army, improving the life of the people, and…raising official salaries? No matter which faction these officials belonged to, after all, they were still officials of the greatest country in the world. When they thought of the fact that the court had such a large amount of silver to remedy the emptiness of the national treasury and solve the current urgency, they all began to dance with joy.
This kind of dancing for joy was not an act, rather it was true joy. No matter whether or the officials were corrupt or not, talented or not, they always hoped the court would be better.
At the same time, they were desperately fawning over the Emperor. They couldn’t help thinking of the person they had doubted and been opposed to: Sir Fan junior.
Credit for successful palace treasury opening and bringing in so much benefit for the court all belonged to Fan Xian, who was far away directing the fight in Jiangnan. Only, how could they make this turn? Their eyes rolled around in their heads and refused to bring up the Jiangnan matter.
It just had to be Hu the Scholar who stepped out first. Once he stepped out, the noise in the court immediately quieted down. They all wanted to hear what Hu the Scholar wanted to say.
Hu the Scholar said calmly, “This amount is so large as to be difficult to believe. I hope that Sir Fan has not used some other method to drain the pond for the fish. If he has deceived the Jiangnan royal merchants, and the palace treasury production cannot keep up, then what will we do next year?”
Among the harmony, the sudden inharmonious note truly made some people uncomfortable. The officials burst into a clamor. Even those who found Fan Xian objectionable could not stand for it. They all spoke on behalf of the palace treasury transport company and felt that Hu the Scholar’s words were not appropriate.
The Emperor had also left behind the previous excitement and looked coldly at Hu the Scholar. “In your opinion, Fan Xian has sought out this much silver for the court, but he shouldn’t be awarded, rather he should be punished?”
Hu the Scholar shook his head and said resolutely, “I meant, that I have some suspicions, that is all. After all, I was not in Jiangnan. I don’t know the specific circumstances. I am just doing my duty and reminding Your Majesty. As for Sir Fan junior, as long as there is no problem with the opening bid, of course, he should not receive any punishment and should be greatly rewarded.”
The Emperor calmed his emotions and quietly asked, “In your opinion, how should be he rewarded?”
“Although it is a matter of silver, it is the foundation of the country,” Hu the Scholar said calmly. “Sir Fan junior has provided a great service to the foundations of the country and should certainly receive a magnificent reward.”
The Emperor narrowed his eyes slightly and said, “What is a magnificent reward?”
“After the North Min and Suzhou bidding matter has been completely investigated,” Hu the Scholar lifted his head and said gently. “I am willing to act as the guarantor and ask that the Emperor summons Sir Fan junior to enter the Hall of Governmental Affairs and work in the cabinet.”
After he spoke, the court was shocked and the officials startled. What kind of role in Hall of Governmental Affairs? That was the backbone of the court. After Prime Minister Lin left his role, the Qing Kingdom no longer had the Prime Minister position. Its responsibilities had been taken over by the scholars of the Hall of Governmental affairs. Especially after Qin Heng entered the Jingdou garrison, Yan Hangshu, the Minister of the Ministry of Justice, left, and Hu the Scholar returned to the capital, the position of the cabinet of the Hall of Governmental Affairs became even more set. If one was able to enter the Hall of Governmental Affairs, that was the same as entering the court’s highest organization for policy making. Hu the Scholar wanted to recommend Fan Xian enter the cabinet?
The officials wondered which side Hu the Scholar was actually on. Why was he saying inauspicious things one moment and the next he wanted to give Fan Xian such an important and elevated position? Yan Hangshu, the Minister of the Ministry of Justice, glared at Hu the Scholar with hatred and confusion.
Unexpectedly, after the Emperor heard this suggestion, without even stopping to think, he replied directly, “No, Fan Xian is too young.”
The officials were slightly reassured. They thought the Emperor was being fair about this suggestion. Otherwise, it would have been too absurd to allow a not-yet 20, green behind the ears child enter the Hall of Governmental Affairs to work.
Hu the Scholar said calmly, “In ancient times, talented individuals became Prime Minister at 16, besides, the Hall of Governmental Affairs is Your Majesty’s organization for documents, it is not truly the Prime Minister position. Furthermore, Sir Fan junior is talented and brilliant, and suited to many tasks. Such a talent should be in court and helping to lighten Your Majesty’s burdens.”
The Emperor gave him a not-quite-there smile and simply shook his head. “He is the commissioner of the Overwatch Council. According to the Qing Law, an official of the Overwatch Council cannot also be a court official. Even after he has quit that position, he can only be a sinecure third-level government office.
Hu the Scholar continued quickly, ” Qing law cannot stand against Your Majesty’s edict. His youth is not a problem, and his position as commissioner of the Overwatch Council also isn’t a problem. If this was not so, how could I dare say this is a magnificent reward?”
The Emperor tilted up the corners of his mouth in a smile and waved his hand. “There is no need to discuss this further, I…will not allow it.”
An Emperor’s words were difficult to retract, so Hu the Scholar could only retreat. However, there were no other expressions on his face.
The Emperor narrowed his eyes as he gazed down and saw Hu the Scholar and Shu Wu met each other’s gaze. He then knew that Shu Wu, this old man, received the news earlier, and the Emperor immediately guessed the reason why Hu the Scholar took the opportunity today to raise such an absurd suggestion.
“What a talent…An Zhi is indeed a talent.”
The ability Fan Xian had demonstrated was overly shocking, so the civil officials would always be cautious with Fan Xian in the Overwatch Council. They would be happier with Fan Xian leaving the Overwatch Council and once more falling into the warm embrace of the civil officials. After all, Fan Xian more the hat of an immortal poet and vaguely the leader on the hearts of all the young scholars. For Hu and Shu, it should not be a difficult matter to admit Fan Xian to their ranks.
Both scholars were people who cherished talent and could read the situation. They could see the Emperor’s future plans and felt a bit dissatisfied for Fan Xian, this bright pearl, to be thrown like this into the darkness of the Overwatch Council. Regardless of whether it was from the perspective of self-preservation of the civil system or for Fan Xian, they wanted to dig Fan Xian out.
Although it was a bit early to bring this up, Hu the Scholar had taken this rare opportunity and revealed the sincerity of the civil system. By mentioning this, years in advance, he had begun laying down the foundations for the debate.
As for these little plans of his officials, the Emperor had always been indulgent and did not bother about them much. On the contrary, through this matter, he more and more felt the honor that this illegitimate child of his brought to the royal family.
The Emperor’s heart was proud. His expression was calm, and his eyes complicated. He glanced at the Minister of the Ministry of Revenue, who had been standing silently in the line, the father in name of his own son—Fan Jian.