Joy of Life - Chapter 611 - The Ditch Between Two Departments[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:50:14]
Chapter 611: The Ditch Between Two Departments
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
He Zongwei was a clever man. Presumably, he already knew everything after looking at the officials. Although he and Fan Xian’s past incidences were a long time ago, given Fan Xian’s grudge-holding nature, how could his name not be deeply seared into his mind?
He Zongwei was neither obsequious nor supercilious. He bowed low with great composure. Hu the Scholar chuckled and said some casual remarks. Raising his arms vaguely, he indicated that He Zongwei did not have to be so polite. Fan Xian only stood to the side and quietly watched the young official. Countless pictures flashed through his mind.
At the beginning of the seventh year of the Qing calendar, the military had attacked Fan Xian in the valley. This had given the Emperor a chance to put new blood into the court. That day, seven young officials went into the Palace. They were known by the people as the Seven Gentlemen. Among the Seven Gentlemen, Qin Heng participated in the rebellion and died; Yan Bingyun was steadily working for the Overwatch Council, waiting to takeover Fan Xian’s Commissioner position; and He Zongwei, who was the most trusted by the Emperor and had risen the quickest.
After the Jingdou rebellion, Fan Xian, the Great Prince, and Ye Zhong were the three who had performed the greatest services. But, these three were already at the peak of nobility. The Emperor could not award them any titles or rewards. Because of this, He Zongwei was greatly appreciated by the Emperor and consecutively rose three ranks. Like a rocket, he shot into the center of court politics. Such a rise was an oddity. Perhaps only Fan Xian, when he had first entered Jingdou, could give him a run for his money.
Fan Xian, He Zongwei, and the entire court knew that his meteoric rise and the Emperor’s trust was the Emperor trying to balance out Fan Xian’s naturally rising power. It was not because the Emperor suspected anything of Fan Xian. With a powerful official like Fan Xian, if there was not a person or two in court to balance him, it would cause problems.
Although He Zongwei had entered the Hall of Governmental Affairs, he was still the Imperial Censor of the Left. By imperial decree, the Imperial Censorate’s power grew greatly and placed a great pressure on the Overwatch Council’s power. During these two years, the Overwatch Council and Imperial Censorate had fought countless lawsuits. The situation between the two sides was tense. It also kept Song Shiren and the law department of the Eighth Bureau, headed by Chen Bochang, very busy.
The law department was a new Overwatch Council yamen Fan Xian had started on a whim. Its purpose was to defeat the Imperial Censors who were the best at talking their mouths off.
Thus, it could be seen that Fan Xian did not like He Zongwei. He had tipped over his father-in-law and opposed him at every turn. Most importantly, his solemn face hid an opportunistic heart that Fan Xian loathed the most.
“A servant of three masters” was a nickname that had come out of Fan Xian’s study. Everyone knew Sir Fan junior looked down on He Zongwei.
Still, every time they ran into each other at the court conference or on the streets, He Zongwei treated Fan Xian with absolute respect. It was as if he didn’t know about these things and the two still felt the same as when they first met at Yishi Tavern.
For now, Fan Xian would not humiliate him harshly. However, it was precisely He Zongwei’s smiling face that made him slightly wary. A powerful bastard like him would not hurt Fan Xian openly, but no one knew what he would do in secret.
He Zongwei seemed to see that Fan Xian did not want to talk to him, so he smiled helplessly. He bowed again to the two of them and said some things in an even tone. He then followed the red lantern back into the darkness under the palace walls.
Fan Xian narrowed his eyes and looked at that lantern until he couldn’t see the man’s face anymore. He gently let out a breath. Hu the Scholar looked warmly at him and said, “Sir He is firm in his imperial favor but is not someone that doesn’t have a sense of propriety. There is a struggle between the two departments, but he is just doing his job.”
Listening to Hu the Scholar speak on He Zongwei’s behalf, the corner of Fan Xian’s mouth twitched. Teasingly, he said, “If you had to marry your precious daughter to him, would you be willing?”
Hu the Scholar fell into a coughing fit. He pointed at Fan Xian with laughter and good humor but could not speak. Starting at some unknown time, an interest in getting married at a later age had swept through Jingdou. Even though the Palace was not happy about it, it could not be changed. For example the heir of King Jing and He Zongwei were both established people, yet they were still alone with no thoughts of getting married.
“Speaking of my daughter…” Hu the Scholar suddenly smiled slightly. “An Zhi, I heard that you accepted the daughter of Governor Wang as your student. Since it is so, you won’t object taking mine, right?”
Fan Xian immediately remembered he had taken Wang Tong’er as a student. After he had argued with the Emperor about the matter in the royal study, it had already become reality. At the time, he had been pleased with himself. Progressing through retreating, the Emperor had handed the matter of the Great Prince taking on a Secondary fei completely to him to deal with. Hearing Hu the Scholar’s words, he now realized he had caused a problem again.
He repeatedly flapped his hand and said, “What are you saying? You have enough learning to fill five carriages. Your daughter is exceptionally intelligent. What need does have for a useless creature like me?”
Seeing that he rejected it decisively, Hu the Scholar smiled and thought, If you are a useless creature, then who in the world was not? He couldn’t help but feel that it was a pity.
All of the officials in court knew Sir Fan junior was a remarkable teacher. He had tutored the once naughty Third Prince into a kindly gentleman. He had tutored the family of the Ye family, who use to ride horses through Jingdou, into a gentle wangfei. In literature, he had the reputation of being an immortal poet. In martial arts, he had reached the ninth-level. Even Hu the Scholar was willing to send his daughter into his manor as a female student, not a concubine.
Fan Xian turned the topic of conversation back to what he said earlier. Teasingly, he said, “You are not willing to marry your daughter to He Zongwei. It is because you know that his heart is not in the right place. Why should I feign civility to such a lowly person?”
Hu the Scholar sighed helplessly and thought to himself, In today’s court, only Fan Xian would criticize He Zongwei so harshly. However, he still did not understand why Fan Xian looked down on him so much. If it was because of past incidents, were they not because of the Emperor’s facilitation?
In the end, the matter could not be explained. Fan Xian’s fear and loathing of He Zongwei came from many areas. Since it was still early and with nothing else to do, Fan Xian began to chat with Hu the Scholar.
After Shu Wu retired, Fan Xian had found out to his surprise that Hu the Scholar was just like Shu the Scholar. They were both interesting people and not at all pedantic. During the Jingdou rebellion, Fan Xian accepted a giant favor from the two scholars. The elder and youth interacted during their usual businesses and were on good terms with each other. Their relationship had grown slightly closer.
Fan Xian stood with him and talked about Hu the Scholar’s new literature movement. Although the matter faded into obscurity, it was the thing Hu the Scholar was most proud of, even more than entering the Hall of Governmental Affairs. Fan Xian was also one of the people who had been deeply affected by the Fourth of May baptism. They spoke happily. Their laughter spread through the silence below the palace walls.
In the darkness below the palace gates, countless red lanterns were all looking in their direction. Many people wanted to join in on the conversation between the head of the Hall of Governmental Affairs and the Duke. They knew they did not have this privilege. As for laughing while waiting for the court conference, only these two had such boldness.
A moment later, Fan Xian straightened up and suddenly felt that the atmosphere around him was strange. Furrowing his brows, he sighed.
Hu the Scholar glanced at him. He knew what he had realized and smiled slightly.
Fan Xian never knew that after the Emperor quelled the rebellion, there had been a moment when he considered the matter of having him inherit. However, the Emperor firmly put the idea out of his head.
Fan Xian knew the Emperor’s initial plan for the future of the Qing court. He was going to use He Zongwei’s Imperial Censorate to balance the Overwatch Council’s power. He would then have the Hall of Governmental Affairs, led by Hu the Scholar, balanced across the top to stabilize the law and disciple of the imperial court.
Such an arrangement could ensure 20 years of political peace for the Qing Kingdom.
However, Fan Xian had too much power. Plus, he was also on very good terms with Hu the Scholar. The Emperor’s plan couldn’t continue being implemented, so he could only promote He Zongwei into the Hall of Governmental Affairs.
“The Emperor’s intentions are clear,” Hu the Scholar said warmly. “He does not wish the officials to be like fire and water. Earlier, Sir He’s greeting was an attempt to warm things up. An Zhi, you are a clever person. You should know what to do.”
Fan Xian fell silent. Under the light of the lantern, his handsome face appeared calm. A year ago, he had kicked down the front doors of the Imperial Censorate and berated He Zongwei and a dozen other Imperial Censors to the verge of death. Everyone knew that Sir Fan junior was arrogant. They had no idea that afterward, he had been shouted at until he was blue and white by the Emperor in the royal study.
This proved the Emperor’s protection of the Imperial Censorate, as well as what he was willing to sacrifice to maintain this balance situation. From that day forward, Fan Xian knew what he had to do. Furthermore, he had been doing it the whole time. As long as He Zongwei did not act out of line, he would not do anything drastic. Other than forming the law department to make the Imperial Censorate uncomfortable, he hadn’t really showed any truly vicious tricks.
All of this was predicated on Fan Xian being able to tolerate. If He Zongwei did something that could not be endured, given Fan Xian’s blood relation to the Emperor and present power, even if he killed someone such as He Zongwei, what would happen? Would the Emperor allow his illegitimate child to pay for the life of an official?
Hu the Scholar looked at the darkness by the palace gates and faintly sighed. He felt some worry for He Zongwei. Shortly after, he remembered what the Emperor meant and few nights ago and involuntarily furrowed his brows. Although He Zongwei was not a completely good person, what he had done in the past was all under the Emperor’s orders. Thinking about it closely, Sir He wasn’t that bad. If Sir Fan junior was willing, the Emperor’s suggestion could actually calm the fighting between the two departments.
All of this depended on whether Fan Xian was willing. Hu the Scholar turned his head and looked deeply at Fan Xian.
Fan Xian was wondering if Hu the Scholar’s words had been on behalf of the Emperor or if that was truly the attitude of the Hall of Governmental Affairs. Immediately after, he furrowed his brows. Although He Zongwei was usually always respectful toward him, it had never been like today, so docile, gentle, and without a hint of anger.
All of this was because Fan Xian held too much power in his hands. The illegitimate son of the royal family held the Overwatch Council completely in one hand. The palace treasury was also dependent on him. Such power was overly excessive. Fan Xian thought of the Emperor’s intention and couldn’t help anger rise in him. Was good character and family a kind of original sin?
After the great court conference ended, there was a routine small conference. Finally, the Emperor, Great Prince, Third Prince, and Fan Xian had a small private family conference. Fan Xian walked out of the tall royal palace and smiled warmly at the Hu family housekeeper, who had been waiting for him. He apologized and said that something urgent had happened and that the drink would have to wait for another day.
Sitting on the carriage going home, Teng Zijing saw that Fan Xian’s mood seemed good. His eyes were constantly narrowed in a smile. The corner of his mouth was always upturned, like a moon. Remembering the matter his wife had been nagging him about he carefully said, “Young master…”
Fan Xian turned his head and glanced at him, listening to his loyal servant saying something in a quiet voice. After listening for a while, he realized that the Teng family had watched some people in the manor use the Fan family’s name to be low-rank officials. He was also getting the itch.
Almost all miscellaneous work in the Fan manor was given to Teng Zijing and his wife to do. This idea was something Fan Xian had long expected. He looked at Teng Zijing and smiled slightly. “It’s the ninth year of the Qing calendar. Since you’re already five years late, there is no point of you going out.”
Teng Zijing didn’t understand the young master’s mysterious words and hesitantly smiled.
Returning in front of the manor, Fan Xian lifted the front of his robes and breezed in. The warm and intimate smile remained on his face. All the servants and serving maids were happy to see this sight. Fan Xian was good at buying people’s hearts. Needless to say, everyone in the manor saw them as their pride. Seeing the young master happy, the servants were also happy.
The Third Housekeeper followed Teng Zijing and went with Fan Xian into the garden. In a quiet voice, he said, “The young lady of the Wang family is here. I hear she is here to formally salute him as a teacher. Looking at the young master’s mood, I think it’ll be fine. What should we prepare?”
Teng Zijing didn’t turn his face. Smiling as mysteriously as Fan Xian, he said, “The young lady of the Wang family is unlucky today.”
“Why?” the Third Housekeeper asked.
Teng Zijing said with a gloomy expression, “The young master’s mood is bad today. It’s never been like this before.”
No wonder he was a clever man who saw Fan Xian’s glorious future in Danzhou. No wonder he was Fan Xian’s confidant that had been with him the longest. The situation developed exactly as Teng Zijing expected. Not long after Fan Xian went smilingly into his study, the unruly young lady rang out crying.
Wang Tong’er cried and cursed at the same time. She appeared incredibly miserable. No one knew what Fan Xian did to anger her. The girl seemed to feel that the study was not somewhere fit for humans to be. She walked with her head down. Her tears danced through the air.
Behind her was the Commander of the Jingdou Garrison, Shi Fei, who had especially taken time out today to come forth. He had also angrily walked out of the study and headed out of the manor, muttering something under his breath. It seemed that he had not expected Fan Xian to not give him any face.
Teng Zijing looked at the dumbstruck Third Housekeeper and said, “Don’t ask me. I also don’t know what happened in the Palace.”
The women of Fan manor, who had received the message, quickly hurried to the study. Only on the way did they learn that in the study, Fan Xian had harshly disciplined Wang Tong’er and had even been about to use a whip.
Everyone was shocked and thought that they had offended the Yanjing faction substantially, particularly since someone as major as the Commander of the Jingdou Garrison had personally come for the sake of Wang Tong’er. This was giving Fan Xian plenty of face, but who would have thought that Fan Xian did not leave any face for him?
The smile on Fan Xian’s was strange. He looked at Wan’er, Sisi, and Princess Rou Jia in the study. “Nothing happened. This was something we agreed on earlier. To become my student, she had to first suffer through two strikes of the whip as atonement for her earlier crimes.”
Lin Wan’er sucked in a cold breath and wondered if her husband had lost his mind. The so-called returning strikes was only a joke. How did it become real?
Fan Xian restrained his smile and said quietly, “It isn’t a joke. It is reasonable and ethical. These things must be respected.”
“But, you can’t do it in front of General Shi.” Lin Wan’er glanced at him helplessly. She had already guessed that something must have happened in the Palace, which made Fan Xian take out the anger on Wang Tong’er.
There was only one person in the world who could make Fan Xian angry and prevent him from venting it outside of his manor.
“These words were all things that your good Uncle told me.”
Lin Wan’er became angry and said, “That is your true father.”
The husband and wife were talking about the Emperor. Although everyone knew Fan Xian was the Emperor’s illegitimate child, no spoke this truth. Fan Xian and his wife spoke easily of it in bed, but, now, there were other people in the study.
In particular, Princess Rou Jia’s face was full of awkwardness. She didn’t know how to comment.
Lin Wan’er sighed. She knew she had misspoken. Going forward, she said in a quiet voice, “What exactly did the Emperor say to make you so angry?”
Fan Xian sat down with a headache and shook his head with a bitter smile. “The Emperor wants to appoint a marriage for Ruoruo.”
Rou Jia’s mind turned. She said with slight joy, “This is a good thing.”
Fan Xian glanced at her and said, “Do you think it’s still your brother this time?” His expression darkened. “The Emperor asked for my opinion privately. It looks like he wants to give Ruoruo to He Zongwei.”
After these words came out, the entire room was shocked, silent, and nervous.
Lin Wan’er’s heart beat quickly. Terrified that Fan Xian would do something in his anger, she wrinkled her brows and quickly said, “How can that be?”
These words were not quite going along with Fan Xian’s mood. Influenced by Fan Xian, the entire Fan manor looked down on He Zongwei, particularly Lin Wan’er. She remembered the fall of her father in Wuzhou. Additionally, she had learned from Fan Xian that He Zongwei once had designs toward Ruoruo.
At that time, He Zongwei was a proper Jingdou talent. Young people admired pretty girls, so there was nothing wrong with him liking Ruoruo. Fan Xian found it incomparably loathsome. After the conference in the royal study, the Emperor had spoken of his wish to appoint a wedding. Fan Xian had blown up on the spot and argued loudly with the Emperor. In the end, he had been forced down by the Emperor reminding him of the difference between ruler and official and the relationship between father and son.
“He Zongwei… His character is not very good.” Rou Jia hoped that Fan Ruoruo would be able to become her sister-in-law. Regardless of everything, she had to fight for her brother Hongcheng.
Fan Xian listened to Rou Jia’s low-voiced and red-faced criticism. He couldn’t resist spluttering with laughter. His mood improved a great deal.
“The Emperor does not think Sir He’s character is bad.” Fan Xian’s expression calmed. “In the Emperor’s eyes, He Zongwei is a talented man. He is also a high-ranking official, noble, and absolutely loyal. Of course, he is worthy of Ruoruo.”
Actually, if one threw off their biased perspectives, many people would think that Sir He and Fan Ruoruo were a match made in heaven. When it came to personal and public character, everyone knew that He Zongwei had just been acting on the Emperor’s orders and was a loyal official.
There was one thing Fan Xian did not understand. When he was thinking about the matter of the Great Prince taking a Secondary fei in Qingzhou, he had once thought about this. Presently, the Emperor trusted him absolutely and favored him greatly. He also knew that for Ruoruo’s marriage, Fan Xian had once almost beaten Hongcheng into impotency, so he probably wouldn’t forcefully arrange a wedding to provoke him. Yet, now, the Emperor raised the suggestion to have Ruoruo given to He Zongwei. What exactly was he thinking?
“Since the Emperor had asked you privately, he knew that you would object. It was only a test.” Lin Wan’er immediately calmed down and began to analysis the situation. “You shouldn’t have opposed him head on. It’s not like you don’t know the Emperor’s nature. The more energetically you oppose it, the more he wants to do it.”
“I am just angry that the Emperor would be muddle-headed to this extent. Does he think forcefully deciding this marriage will bring peace to the court?” Fan Xian woke from his thoughts. A streak of light flashed through his mind. It seemed that he had faintly caught onto something.
His eyes narrowed slightly as a cold light appeared. His voice was lowered to an icy thread. “I don’t care about He Zongwei. If he actually comes to the door to propose marriage, I’ll kill him.”