Joy of Life - Chapter 388[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:46]
Chapter 388: With Reason And Heavenly Might
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Hu the Scholar’s face was filled with a slight smile as he welcomed Minister Fan.
The officials responsible for investigating the Ministry of Revenue all gathered around and expressed their condolences to the recovered Minister. The Minister of Appointment, Yan Hangshu, was not an exception. His old face was filled with sincere concern and worry. The Overwatch Council investigating officials had carefully helped block Minister Fan from the breeze blowing through the door.
They were eager to learn whether or not the court was truly investigating the Ministry of Revenue. Did the Emperor really want Minister Fan to resign? As long as Fan Jian was in court, and the Emperor did not tear apart this bond of being milk brothers…and as long as Fan Xian was still alive, no official in the court dared to treat Minister Fan lightly.
Thus, the current scenario had a preposterous sense of comedy. The Minister of Revenue, who was being investigated, was instead being asked after by everyone and carefully protected, particularly the investigating officials from the Overwatch Council. Led by Mu Tie, the First Bureau had always been, and still was, the yamen Fan Xian directly managed. He was their superior’s father, so how could they dare to do otherwise?
The Crown Prince’s face turned green then white. Watching the scene in front of him, a great sense of unease welled in his heart. Fan Jian had claimed illness for many days and did not come to the Ministry of Revenue. Today he had arrived and seemed to have attracted everyone’s gaze. This usually secretive and unassuming official seemed to have some kind aura around him.
He was the Crown Prince, the future ruler of the Qing Kingdom, but when faced with Fan Jian, he still had to unwillingly stand up. A warm smiled was pushed onto his face and he comfortingly said, “Minister, are you feeling better?”
The Crown Prince was not afraid of Fan Xian, and he did not care about the Overwatch Council. As one of the royal family, and particularly as the inheritor of the dragon chair, it was necessary for him to show a certain respect. The old Fan family and their old Li family’s relationship was too deep. In Danzhou, there was still the old woman watching from a distance. The Emperor was not sure how his father felt toward that wet nurse.
Fan Jian gave an ashamed smile and said, “The matter of the Ministry of Revenue all began because of me, yet Your Highness and Sir Hu had to tire yourselves. It is truly my wrongdoing.”
Everyone exchanged some pleasantries, and each returned to their own seats. Although Fan Jian belonged to the side being investigated, there had been no public memorial edict targeting the Minister of Revenue. He made no secret of it and sat in the dead center, not letting anyone take over his position.
This was the Ministry of Revenue. This was Fan Jian’s territory.
After everything had recovered its peace, only then did everyone turn their gazes to the vice-director Fan Li.
No everyone’s eyes were the same. Yan Hangshu’s were filled with schadenfreude. The Crown Prince was hesitating. Hu the Scholar was cold. The Overwatch Council officials watched with furrowed eyebrows. Only Minister Fan’s face was peaceful as if he never had the thought about how many this Fang Li could implicate.
At this point in the proceedings, the Crow Prince had understood everything. Fan Jian was a shameless, sly, and silent of fox.
When the court began to investigate the Ministry of Revenue…actually, it began a few years ago when the Crown Prince had stretched out his and for a loan. Fa Jian had coldly and clearly saw this scene, and then had used ruthless methods to quietly suppress the matter. No one found out about it. In doing so, he had purposely left a nondescript and unassuming little tail. Once it had been gently shaken, it would land on one of the seven departments.
Thus, not only had he helped the Crown Prince hide it, he also got hold of something big to use against him. Most importantly, this kind of hiding also hides the officials on the Crown Prince’s side. From then on, this cache of 400,000 liang became nothingness and was covered up unnaturally well. So well, that even Fang Li thought there wouldn’t be any problems.
Adding to it was the collapse of the Board of Rites and the Crown Prince’s trace of stupidity.
Only Fan Jian was clear about the entire process, and he was unusually shrewd and ruthless. He didn’t directly throw this out to attack his enemy, rather, he placed the loose thread in the wild and left a slight trace. For example, the winter clothes the soldiers wore in the Northern snow and completely unnecessary siege machines on the Southern battle lines.
When the court began to investigate the Ministry of Revenue, they found this loose thread and began to gently tug. In the, they pulled out their own belt. This was a ploy that had been planted for years.
Fan Jian did not have to do anything. He only had to wait until he was being threatened and create some kind of situation, then have someone pull on their long-forgotten belt with strength. It was a good ploy.
The investigation targeting the Board of Rites had already begun. Although after Guo You was strangled in the imperial prison, the Board of Rites experienced a huge change of personnel. The documents were in a mess. Under the strong abilities of the court’s investigating unit and Overwatch Council’s meticulous search, the transfer form the Board of Rites had made out and receipts the Ministry of Revenue had always secretly kept were matched against each other.
That 400,000 liang of silver had indeed been sent to the Board of Rites. The question was, where had the Board of Rites sent the 400,000 liang that had been split into 14 batches to repair the autumn examinations and student residences?
Hu the Scholar had long patrolled the various places under heaven and afterward joined the Hall of Governmental Affairs. He knew that the various student residences in the various provinces and Roads were still rambling and broken down. Many of the autumn examination buildings were even leaking rain. Thus, his expression became uglier and uglier. He asked the Board of Rites’ official in front of him, “Who can tell me, where did this 400,000 liang go to?”
Hu the Scholar turned his body slightly. He glanced at the Crown Prince and sighed.
Everyone in the hall was aware of the situation in the court a few years ago. The Board of Rites had always been the Eastern Palace’s back garden and did not have the daring to falsely request 400,000 liang and spend it. Everyone could guess that this cache of silver must have flowed toward the Eastern Palace. Since it has been traced to the Eastern Palace, it seemed that it was difficult to proceed with the matter.
Hu the Scholar muttered to himself for a moment then said, “The most pressing problem at hand is to investigate the whereabouts of this 400,000 liang of silver.”
The Crown Prince felt his heart jump, but a warm smile was on his face. “Sir Hu’s words are logical.”
Mu Tie of the First Bureau of the Overwatch Council did not have the privilege to sit beside these officials, so he was standing to the side. He looked at Fan Jian’s expression. He suddenly opened his mouth. “The silver did reach the Board of Rites, however, the official that handled this matter died in the autumn examination case the year before last.”
The Crown Prince was silent. Guo You was dead. Guo Baokun was gone. Now the Overwatch Council had confirmed the death of the person who had handled this matter. Even if the Eldest Princess’ side knew that he had some connection to this 400,000liang of silver, they would not be able to find any evidence to give to Hu the Scholar, so his was slightly reassured. Although reassured, he still couldn’t help feeling a bit sorrowful and angry. Aunt! Why did you do this?
Unexpectedly, Mu Tie’s next words made a chill run through the Crown Prince’s heart.
He only heard him say, “But, there are always traces to be found. Scholar, do you think the Overwatch Council should go investigate the Board of Rites?”
Investigate the Board of Rites?
Everyone in the hall was startled. He wanted these wolves and tigers of the Overwatch Council to investigate the Board of Rites? The court investigating the Ministry of Revenue would clearly make Sir Fan junior, far away in Jiangnan, very angry. If the Overwatch Council investigated the Board of Rites under Sir Fan junior’s control, the poor officials of the Board of Rites might not survive.
However, Mu Tie’s request seemed appropriate.
Fan Jian slowly stroked his beard. His face was expressionless but he was thinking that the brain of this trusted aide of An Zhi’s seemed to work much better than before, He even managed to guess my intentions.
Fan Jian’s intentions were simple. If the Ministry of Revenue wanted to protect itself, it had to drag out the battle lines and pull in more ministries…the Board of Rites was only the beginning. After all six ministries had problems found with them, the extremely wise Emperor couldn’t remove all six ministers.
The Minister of Appointments, Yan Hangshu, glanced at Fan Jian and felt great admiration for this old fox. He quickly shook his head and rejected the idea. “The court explicitly stated to investigate the Ministry of Revenue. It would not be good for the ripples to extend too far.”
Fan Jian smiled superficially and said, “Makes sense…makes sense.”
Everyone could hear the mockery in these two repeated words. Yang Hangshu’s face flushed red. He knew his objection made no sense since the Ministry of Revenue’s deficit implicated the Board of Rites, of course, it should be investigated.
Hu the Scholar’s expression was also very pained. Trying to mollify the situation he said, “Let’s discuss a bit more..”
If he let go and asked for an imperial edict to have the Overwatch Council investigate the Board of Rites, then in the end it would certainly come to the Crown Prince. Before they went to the palace and asked for the edict, as the leader of the investigating officials, Hu the Scholar did not dare make this judgement.
The Crown Prince suddenly gritted his teeth and said, “The matter of the Board of Rites will eventually have to be investigated. However, there has to be an order. The matter of the Ministry of Revenue deficit has not yet been resolved. If the investigation is expanded too broadly, it will likely be an obstruction to His Majesty’s edict.”
Fan Jian remained smiling slightly and said, “You Highness makes sense, makes sense.”
Hu the Scholar sighed in his heart and said, “For the matter of the Board of Rites, we’ll go the Palace later to listen respectfully to the imperial wishes. We will follow the Crown Prince’s wishes and continue with the investigation of the Ministry of Revenue.”
If the investigation continued, there would certainly be more problems found with the Ministry of Revenue. That 400,000 was just the tip of the iceberg. The Crown Prince did not believe the Fan family could be so clean in the Ministry of Revenue.
Of course, the Ministry of Revenue was not clean. There was more than this one loose thread of the Crown Prince that Minister Fan had planted in his ploy.
As the investigation into the Ministry of Revenue went deeper, a few other ministries were successfully dragged by the Ministry of Revenue under the water. The Supreme Court was the first among them. The face of its long silent official immediately changed color and was very awkward.
The Ministry of Revenue didn’t have messy accounts. It had too many secret accounts. One after another of the deficits pointed to the use by some part of the court. At the end of the investigation, even such an innocent yamen like the Imperial College didn’t escape.
Minister of Appointments Yan Hangshu began to be on his guard. Although there had been problems found with the Ministry of Revenue at this time, nothing had implicated the Eldest Princess and the Second Prince. Because on his side, the money came from the palace treasury. However, Fan Jian and the Ministry of Revenue were so well prepared, who knew if they would use some kind of way to harm the Second Prince?
“We’ll stop here for now,” Yan Hangshu furrowed his brows and said. “After we ask for an imperial edict, we will continue tomorrow.”
“Makes sense,” Fan Jian continued to smile and say these two words.
Hu the Scholar’s face was cold as he watched the officials of the investigation unit. He wondered how the court have become corrupt to this extent. If the Emperor made up his mind to keep investigating, Minister Fan would have to resign. As long as it didn’t get to Jiangnan, he wouldn’t be too responsible. However, a large portion of the other officials in the court were probably going to fall.
The Royal Palace was deep in spring. There were occasional red apricot trees showing above the low walls of the inner palace. The green trees and bright flowers contrasted. The beautiful scene could only be seen and not touched.
It was already dusk and had quickly turned dark. The doors to the royal study opened then closed, closed then opened. A number of officials came then left. In the end, there was just the Emperor left alone.
There was also that old eunuch and a bright candle.
Bang! The Qing Emperor’s eyes were filled with rage as he slammed one palm against the wooden table. Somehow he did not spill a drop of tea. In an icy voice, he said, “What a daring Ministry of Revenue, a daring Eastern Palace! Do they really think I’m too afraid to kill them?”
The officials who entered the Royal Study earlier were the ones responsible for investigating the Ministry of Revenue by imperial edict. After hearing their report, the Qing Emperor’s rage grew. His original intention was to investigate the Ministry of Revenue and use the matter of the Ministry moving money to Jiangnan to urge Fan Jian to resign. He wanted to use this relatively open and aboveboard method to re-establish the balance in the court.
However, he had never expected that the Ministry of Revenue would be much cleaner than he thought, that Fan Jian was much cleaner than he thought. On the contrary, it was the other departments in the court that had taken countless benefits from the Ministry of Revenue, particularly the Eastern Palace.
Earlier, Hu the Scholar had already secretly submitted a memorial about the matter of the Board of Rites and had sorrowfully hinted that it would be best to not continue the investigation into the Ministry of Revenue. Otherwise, it would cause great turmoil in the court. Before the Ministry of Revenue had time to bear the responsibility of their actions, the officials of the other departments would have already started eating prison meals.
After the Emperor’s anger, he couldn’t help feeling a slight chill at the Ministry of Revenue’s methods, thus, his earlier thunderous anger. From his perspective, since Fan Jian knew of these long ago, why did he keep it hidden the entire time? He waited until an attack on the Ministry of Revenue before suddenly throwing it out. He caught the officials by surprise. Wasn’t this catching the Emperor by surprise as well?
He had grown up with Fan Jian from a young age and knew what this great housekeeper of his was capable of. He was not surprised by the preparation of the Ministry of Revenue’s response. He was angry that the officials in the court were so disappointing and caught by the Ministry of Revenue on such a big ship. What made him angrier was that the Crown Prince was so stupid. How could he dare to give him this world?
The Emperor’s anger toward Fan Jian’s incisive counter-attack was because this “friend” was…
“He wants to threaten me!” The Emperor furrowed his brows and said coldly.
Eunuch Hong, with his face full of age spots, shook his head and sighed. “Your Majesty, excuse my speaking out of turn, but people…are always selfish. Even a loyal official like Minister Fan, in such a dangerous situation, he has to think of some methods of self-preservation.”
The Emperor’s voice was slightly severe as he smiled mockingly, “To use such schemes, is that a loyal official?”
Eunuch Hong sighed and said, “Director Chen also likes to play with such schemes, but in terms of loyalty, even I don’t dare to put myself above.”
The Emperor slowly closed his eyes. “Chen Pingping has saved my life countless times. How could Fan Jian compare?”
“Minister Fan has managed the Ministry of Revenue these years and quietly smoothed over all hidden dangers. Why is that? Nothing more than for the peace of the court.” Eunuch Hong sighed. “If Minister Fan truly had a disloyal heart, he had enough evidence in his hands to do something major. He never made any such overtures. It clearly shows that he does not want to cause unrest in the court.”
“He should have at least told me first,” The Emperor said icily.
Eunuch Hong said in a gentle voice, “Given the messages from the Fan manor these years, the reason why Minister Fan didn’t come to the Palace to report this matter was because he did not wish Your Majesty to spend effort on it…Your Majesty should still remember the news that came a few days ago.”
The Emperor paused and remembered the message that Zheng Tuo had brought. His emotions gradually calmed down, and he recovered some goodwill toward Fan Jian. He frowned and said, “However, the investigation of the Ministry of Revenue must continue. If it is too hastily concluded, what would happen to the court’s dignity?”
“What is important right now is Your Majesty’s attitude toward Minister Fan.” Eunuch Hong lowered his head.
The Emperor shook his head. “He cannot be the Minister of Revenue anymore. I can compensate him in other ways…but he can no longer lead the Ministry of Revenue. An Zhi is far away in Jiangnan managing the palace treasury. No matter how you look at this matter, it is not appropriate for Fan Jian to continue in the post of Minister of Revenue.”
A sense of sorrow rose in Eunuch Hong’s heart. He felt somewhat sympathetic for Fan Jian, who had worked so hard all these years. He probingly said, “There is something I am not sure whether or not I should say.”
Eunuch Hong’s raised his pitch a little and said, “Sir Fan junior is a heaven-blessed genius. It was putting the right person in the right place when Your Majesty arranged for him to control the palace treasury and Overwatch Council. As for Minister Fan, by conventional reasoning, he truly should not continue managing the Ministry of Revenue, but…perhaps Your Majesty still remembers, in the first year of the Qing calendar, it was in this very royal study when it was still vice-director Fan Jian that he had an argument with Director Chen. Minister Fan, from his very bones, did not wish for Sir Fan junior to control the Overwatch Council.”
“Yes. Continue.” The Emperor furrowed his brows. He understood the implicit meaning in Eunuch Hong’s words.
“After all, Minister Fan is a distinguished and talented scholar.” Eunuch Hong smiled slightly. “He is a sentimental man. I shall be presumptuous as to say, that no man of sentiment should be trampled beneath others. With Minister Fan remaining in the capital and Sir Fan junior working in Jiangnan, things will be much steadier.”
The Emperor’s expression was calm. A moment later he said, “Earlier in the dowager empress’ palace, she also said this. One, for the sake of the wet nurse in Danzhou, the Palace has always been more protective of the Fan manor. Two, with Fan Jian in the capital, Fan Xian would indeed be more at ease working in Jiangnan.”
What so-called ease? It was nothing more than secret defenses and threats.
“Nobility can wait,” the Emperor finally said with a cold face. “I will not treat the Fan family unfairly, but I cannot allow the matter of the Ministry of Revenue to conclude like this.”
To exchange the power of a minister for the title of nobility, did Fan Jian lose out or did he benefit?
At the Fan manor, Fan Jian was drinking his winter cherry with his eyes closed and enjoying the massage given to him by Lady Liu behind him. He sighed and said, “I’m afraid the Emperor will think I am threatening him; that would not be good.”
Lady Liu’s face was slightly dark. She knew this matter was very difficult to resolve. Although the Palace would treat the manor unfairly, it looked like the master would have to step down from the Minister of Revenue position. The Emperor’s wishes had already, through Yi Guipin, been once again accurately and cautiously brought to the Fan manor.
These days, the work of investigating the Ministry of Revenue was still progressing dully. It had implicated even more people. The entire court had already become a pool of muddy water. The civil and martial officials were all fearful, and the Overwatch Council had already captured quite a few people. The Ministry of Revenue itself had been found to have a few problems. It was just some forces that had been working hard had not yet achieved the wanted result. Still, no one has been able to grasp the secret silver route between the Ministry of Revenue and Jiangnan.
Many people, including the Eldest Princess, began to feel a strong sense of unease. Perhaps the silver Fan Xian used in Jiangnan truly did not come from the Ministry of Revenue? As long as there wasn’t a major crime, even the Emperor could not forcefully request Fan Jian to resign.
“The summer floods are about to arrive,” Fan Jian smiled slightly and said. “The court will need silver. The investigation of the Ministry of Revenue will wind down. I’ll burn some more time with the Emperor. As long as I can last until Fan Xian returns to the capital at the end of next year, there won’t be any major problems.”
Lady Liu smiled and realized that the master had been waiting for nothing but the flood the heavens would bring. It was like using heavenly might against heavenly might. The Emperor was not a muddled ruler. He understood the need to weigh the pros and cons.
“I wonder how the situation is over there with Fan Xian,” Fan Jian said with some worry. “The money sent to the river works hollowed out a lot of his confidence. The Ming family is not so easy to eat in one bite.”