Joy of Life - Chapter 698 - Could There Be Peace When Ruler And Official Meet?[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:50:46]
Chapter 698: Could There Be Peace When Ruler And Official Meet?
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Hearing these words, Yi Guipin shook her head helplessly. Raising a slender finger, she gently rubbed her furrowed brows unsure of what to say. She knew what Li Chengping’s words meant. For her, an innocent and unaffected woman who had steadily reached the position she was at now, she had depended on the words “Keep quiet” Lady Liu had exhorted to her before she entered the Palace. In the present upheaval, she had nothing to say.
The present Royal Palace was a completely different place from three years ago. The empress dowager, empress, and Eldest Princess had died. Lady Shu had been shut up in the Cold Palace. Yi Guipin, who had given birth to Li Chengping, and Lady Ning, who had given birth to the Great Prince, had followed Fan Xian and the Great Prince during the Jingdou rebellion. They had bravely stood on the Emperor’s side. After the rebellion, the two lady’s had risen in ranking. Lady Ning had been raised one rank. Although Yi Guipin still remained a Guipin, she would gradually be raised to Guifei.
The Royal Palace was left in the hands of Yi Guipin and Lady Ning. Yi Guipin had a kind nature, and Lady Ning was not made to manage. Naturally, everything was calm in the Royal Palace. They lived three good years. Following the giant explosion in the royal study eight days ago, their good days had come to an end.
Since Lady Ning had bravely begged for mercy for Director Chen, she had been banished by the Emperor to the Cold Palace to keep Lady Shu company. It was her good fortune that she had a good son. Otherwise, given the Emperor’s anger that day, being straightforwardly granted death was probably the best result.
Yi Guipin was the only noble mistress in the Palace. It was up to her to single-handedly organize the concubine choosing event that began three days ago. She knew better than anyone else the true purpose behind the sudden choosing.
After the Jingdou rebellion, the Emperor had two and a half sons left. Other than the Great Prince far away in Dongyi, the Third Prince Li Chengping, and the half meant Fan Xian. Because of Chen Pingping’s treason, Fan Xian and the Emperor sank into a cold war. No one knew how this matter would end.
These two and a half sons had learned completely from the Crown Prince and the Second Prince’s mistakes. They were very close to each other. Putting aside the friendship between the Great Prince and Fan Xian, just the teacher and pupil relationship between Fan Xian and the Third Prince had stabilized beyond the Emperor’s expectations.
After the seventh year of the Qing Calendar, Fan Xian had entered the Palace many times. But, his contact with the Third Prince lessened. Under the condition that the Third Prince was clearly going be the heir, Fan Xian had to avoid suspicion. Additionally, the Emperor had purposely tried to reduce the amount of influence Fan Xian had on the Third Prince.
Even if Fan Xian could do nothing else, he was good at one thing that all people admired. He had the ability to strongly influence the people around him and gather their hearts to him. Regardless of whether it was close Overwatch Council officials, his four disciples, or direct subordinates in Baoyue Brothel, they all proved this.
The Third Prince was his student. Although he had seen little of Fan Xian since their return from Jiangnan, he never forgot, even for a moment, Fan Xian’s education with a stick. He had long changed from a sinister and ruthless child to a reserved prince.
Between the three princes, there was no internal conflict or jealousy. Usually, this would be a wondrous matter. After the Jingdou rebellion three years ago, the Qing Emperor was caught up in his own introspection and presumably had no interest in driving his sons crazy again. After Chen Pingping’s treason, such a wondrous connection became not very wondrous in the Emperor’s eyes.
Yi Guipin was certain of this. If the Emperor did not completely trust Fan Xian, then he had to be alert as to whether his sons would band together. Even if the three of them could not band together, if the Emperor actually acted against Fan Xian and chilled everyone’s hearts, what would it be like in the Palace as Chengping grew older day by day?
The Emperor had to choose more concubines to increase the number of birthing machines in the Palace to give him a few more sons.
Yi Guipin glanced at her son. Her brows filled with worry and sighed gently. Li Chengping did not sigh. He just gently held his mother’s hand. There were many sinister things in the Palace. He had grown up like this. He watched as his two old brothers tried to kill him and kill their father for that throne. In the end, he had been rescued by his two other older brothers. He had long discovered that if the Palace was calmer, life would go much more smoothly.
However, there was never such good things in the world. He knew that his relationship with Fan Xian was too deep. If father no longer trusted Fan Xian, he probably wouldn’t feel at ease in just handing the world to him so simply. Bringing new concubines into the Palace? Father wanted a few more sons. Was this being on guard against him of Fan Xian?
“Teacher is coming in to give his greetings tomorrow. Perhaps matters are not so bad.” Li Chengping forced a smile and comforted his mother.
“Fan Xian is very stubborn. Who knows if he’ll enter the Palace tomorrow?” Yi Guipin smiled helplessly. She knew that no matter how many sons the Emperor had to warn Shufang Palace and Fan Xian, they were matters far in the future. The Qing court had long gotten used to Li Chengping being the future Qing Emperor. His position was even more stable than the Crown Prince’s had been. The Emperor would not sever the future he had planned a long time for just because of his mistrust toward Fan manor.
She really wasn’t sure of the true problem between the Emperor and Fan Xian. Was it actually Director Chen’s death or was it another problem? If Fan Xian was willing to confess his crime and lower his head, as long as he could continue living in Jingdou, then his power and status would naturally slowly recover. Then, what did Shufang Palace have to fear from the concubines the nobles and officials were sending into the Palace?
Yi Guipin’s brows furrowed slightly. A rare iciness suddenly flashed through her eyes. “As long as these girls stay within their bounds, then everything is fine. If they want to rely on their family’s strength in the court to make trouble in the Palace, I will not tolerate them.”
After all, she had been the nominal mistress of the Palace for three years and had organized the choosing of the concubines. No matter how innocent and unaffected she was, much of it had been ground away in the Palace. Her cold words revealed a glimmer of dignity.
“I heard that those women had just entered the Palace yesterday and three have already been turned away by you,” Li Chengping said. “It is, after all, father’s intention. If you do it too explicitly, father may not be happy.”
“Even if your father knew, he would be happy. Those inattentive little girls…” Yi Guipin smiled coldly. “It has been a long time since the kingdom has had a choosing. From the Taichang Temple to the Board of Rites, there are no regulations. Everybody, regardless of family, is being sent into the Palace. Who knows what they heard at home? The moment they entered the Palace, they began to give out silver. The serving girls and housemaids probably haven’t had such silver in a long time and accept it.”
She gazed at the Third Prince and calmly said, “The moment those women entered the Palace, they began to investigate the situation. They don’t discuss the mistresses of the palaces, but they discussed the one in the royal study. The things they dared to say… When all is said and done, they’re not from families of proper officials. They’re all fallen nobility and old officials. They probably don’t know the history of the Fan and Liu families to be so naïve as to think the Fan manor has truly lost power and that person no longer has the Emperor’s favor. So, they turned the blade of their words onto that person. Their words were absolutely disgusting.”
“I turned those three women out of the Palace to give the rest of them a warning and save the lives of their families,” Yi Guipin faintly said, gently pressing her lips together against some hair caught between them. “Putting aside how angry the Emperor would be if he heard such talk, if word gets to Fan Xian’s ears, how wretched do you think those women’s manor will look after things have calmed down?”
Li Chengping finally couldn’t resist it anymore and laughed. “If the recent events actually calm down, I’m afraid mother will have to add more details while telling the story to teacher.”
Yi Guipin smiled broadly. “What nonsense you’re saying. Mother is not like that.”
Li Chengping scratched his head. He started to speak and stopped. “Father always keeps young lady Fan in the royal study. It’s still against the rules.”
Yi Guipin smiled after a long silence and didn’t say anything. She knew that the man who had made her a woman, the most powerful man in the world, could also feel lonely. In his eyes, all of the women in the Palace had something they wanted. Perhaps only the young lady of the Fan family, who had no connection to the Royal Palace, could make him feel as if nothing was demanded of him.
The Emperor liked for those beside him to demand nothing of him. Thinking of this, Yi Guipin’s expression suddenly sobered. She looked at Li Chengping and said warmly, “Don’t go too often to the Cold Palace. Be careful you don’t make the Emperor unhappy.”
“Lady Shu has been banished to the Cold Palace, but she is still second brother’s birth mother. In the past, she treated us brothers well and had nothing to do with second brother’s things,” Li Chengping explained in a low voice. “Now that Aunty Ning has also been banished to the Cold Palace, I have to go visit.”
Yi Guipin smiled and did not say anything more. She knew the reason the Third Prince often visited the Cold Palace and received the reputation in the Palace of being generous, as well as the Emperor’s unexpected approval, was completely because of Fan Xian’s orders. During the Jingdou rebellion three years ago, it was said that Fan Xian once personally promised the Second Prince, who was about to die, that he would look after Lady Shu for him.
The mother and son in Shufang Palace quietly discussed the choosing of the concubines and the woman in the royal study. At the same time, the woman in the royal study had already made a round with the still injured Emperor and was just about to return to the royal study.
Just as Yi Guipin said, the Emperor only had affection for this woman and would not absurdly have any other thoughts. Having already entered the Great Grandmaster realm, he had long seen through the matters of men and women. The reason for the choosing was more to do with political considerations. Of course, the Emperor would not talk about the choosing with Fan Ruoruo as they walked. They only casually discussed the weather in Jingdou and Fan Xian’s matter.
For most of the time, it was the Emperor speaking and Fan Ruoruo listening. The Emperor had been raised single-handedly on the Fan grandmother’s milk. He had a natural closeness with the members of the Fan family. The Emperor had no daughters. After Lin Wan’er moved out of the Royal Palace, it seemed that he could never find this relatively warm feeling again.
The two of them walked in front while Eunuch Yao and a group of people followed nervously from a distance. Strolling in the darkness, this group couldn’t help but look funny.
As they were by the stone door that turned onto the path leading to the royal study, the Emperor stopped his steps and looked at the eunuch standing with a hunched back by the stone door. After a long silence, he asked, “How have you been with Eunuch Dai?”
This eunuch was once the star of the royal study, Hong Zhu. After the events of three years ago had dulled, he had been with Eunuch Dai carrying out document-related tasks. He just happened to run into the Emperor and had waited to the side with complicated emotions. Unexpectedly, the Emperor had suddenly greeted him. He quickly replied in a trembling voice.
The Emperor looked at him with satisfaction. He had liked this clever little eunuch very much. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have let him serve personally in the royal study. Later, he had sent him to the Eastern Palace to be the Head Eunuch because of some coincidental things Hong Zhu had been caught in. Even so, the Emperor still did not kill him.
Suddenly, the Emperor’s mind turned. He thought of the winter day that he had been reminded of when he saw the wheelchair earlier, the scene when Fan Xian had entered the Palace. That day, the eunuch pushing the wheelchair had been Hong Zhu. Gradually, a glimmer of a smile flashed through the Emperor’s eyes as he thought of how Fan Xian did not seem to like this eunuch. No one knew what he was thinking as he ordered, “Starting from tomorrow, return to the royal study.”
Hong Zhu was overjoyed and knelt on the ground as he kowtowed and thanked the Emperor indistinctly for his favor. No one noticed a complicated expression flashing through his lowered eyes.
The Emperor waved his hand in annoyance and followed Fan Ruoruo through the stone door. The Emperor suddenly said, “When it is raining or snowing, there is no need to kneel when seeing me. This was a rule I established after taking the throne. It was raining today and the ground was still wet, so Hong Zhu did not need to kneel.”
Fan Ruoruo glanced at the Emperor in surprise, not understanding why the Emperor was speaking about this.
“Am I not a good Emperor?” The Emperor asked calmly but intently. They were just about to arrive outside the royal study when the Emperor suddenly stopped his steps.
A question must have an answer. There was only Fan Ruoruo by his side, so he was waiting for her to come to a judgment. Fan Ruoruo’s heart trembled slightly. She didn’t think she was a great scholar or an academic wielding the brush of history. What right do I have to be the judge of such a question? However, the Emperor did not take a step. He waited calmly for her reply.
Fan Ruoruo was silent for a long time. She thought of everything she had seen in the royal study these days, all the details in the Royal Palace, and of the lives of the common Qing people in the provinces she had seen on her travels around the world.
In the end, she could not hide her eyes and the truth. After thinking for a moment, she parted her lips gently and answered intently, “Compared to previous Emperors, Your Majesty is indeed a good Emperor.”
The Emperor was silent for a moment, savoring carefully the flavor of Fan Ruoruo’s reply. His expression soon relaxed as he laughed loudly. His laugh echoed around the garden in front of the royal study and under the eaves. It crashed into the walls of the palace and then crashed back again.
Eunuch Yao and everyone following behind them were unsure what young lady Fan had said to make the Emperor laugh so happily like never before. For a time, hundreds of emotions mixed together. They felt admiration toward this young lady who didn’t like to talk much.
Fan Ruoruo also smiled slightly. Looking at the Emperor beside her, a complicated emotion rose in her heart. Only now did she finally understand why the Emperor had treated her so differently these few days.
Perhaps Yi Guipin had guessed some of it. Fan Ruoruo had also guessed some of it earlier. Fan Xian’s guess was not wrong. The reason the Emperor kept Fan Ruoruo in the Royal Palace by his side in the royal study and let her see him still running the country despite heavy injuries, wise and heroic…
Perhaps after his conversation with Chen Pingping in the royal study the Emperor needed someone to prove and acknowledge that he was a good Emperor.
Regardless of what that old dog in the wheelchair said, he was still a good Emperor, was he not? The Emperor seemed to finally make up his mind. A self-confident smile rose anew to his face as he walked toward the royal study.
“Enter Imperial College tutor Fan Xian into the Palace!”
Either forthright or croaky like a duck, what the loud voice was calling out was the same words. On this day there was no court conference because it was a regular holiday. The Royal Palace was very quiet. The imperial soldiers, with stern expression and eyes focusing straight ahead, allowed a green-robed young man to walk by them. At odds with their calm faces were their nervous moods.
It had already been nine days since Chen Pingping’s treason and death on the execution field in front of the Palace. That day, Sir Fan junior had killed his way onto the execution field, disregarded the Emperor’s authority, and demonstrated his stance on this matter. In the following days, the cold war between the Emperor and a powerful official of the Qing court reached a climax. Countless spies the internal court scattered outside the Fan manor died wretchedly. According to rumors in officialdom, an assassination targeting Fan Xian had occurred 3 li out of Jingdou yesterday.
When all was said and done, when news that the Emperor had issued an edict to summon Fan Xian into the Palace to give his greetings was leaked, everyone let out a breath. Although the Qing Kingdom was powerful, it still did not want to endure the blood that this ruler and official, father and son, could bring if they turned against each other. Speaking from a different angle, even if Fan Xian had no positions, the Qing people in court and marketplaces still thought that if he truly went all out, he could cause a degree of damage to the Qing Kingdom. Yet, in just nine days, the cold war between the Emperor and Fan Xian was about to end. It was truly a matter worth celebrating.
In the eyes of Hu the Scholar and others, there was nothing unresolvable between this ruler and official. It was nothing more than excited emotions forcing forth the ruthlessness and stubbornness in the hearts of the father and son. No one was willing to compromise first. Now, the Emperor had taken the first step back. It meant that the Palace had retreated one step first. Presumably, Fan Xian would accept this gesture.
Fan Xian followed silently behind Eunuch Yao through the icy cold air. Already the Head Eunuch inside the Palace, Eunuch Yao continued to play that humble role in front of him. Fan Xian was not in the mood to talk.
Imperial College tutor? Although Fan Xian was already a commoner and his only title that could be considered a public office was this one, it still sounded piercing to his ears. Fan Xian came to the royal study urged on by these cries and was surprised to see Hong Zhu waiting outside the study. Fan Xian did not hide his surprise and nodded his head slightly. Hong Zhu bowed deeply. No one could see the communication between their gazes
Entering the study, he saw his sister. Fan Xian felt himself calm slightly. He bowed deeply to the man on the soft couch but still stubbornly refused to say a single word.
That day, Fan Xian had ridden alone back to Jingdou. Until he left the execution field holding Chen Pingping’s body, he did not given the slightest glance to the man on the palace walls. Counting closely, the Emperor and he had not seen each other in months.
The Emperor looked at Fan Xian calmly. He was not surprised by the emotions Fan Xian was displaying. He did not allow his officials to have any treasonous emotions in front of him, but that did not mean that he could not accept his most favored son showing his true emotions and stubbornness in front of him.
The silence in the royal study did not last long. Fan Ruoruo dipped slightly in front of the Emperor and smiled toward her brother. She then retreated out of the study. She had stayed because the Emperor wanted to ease Fan Xian’s heart. Since this goal had been achieved, it was time for her to leave this ruler and official a quiet environment to talk in.
“I have long been wondering why I am so lenient toward you,” the Emperor slowly said as he looked at Fan Xian. “It was not because you had once achieved so much for the Qing court. It was only yesterday that I finally understood.”
The Emperor looked at him and calmly said, “I think there does not need to be too much chit-chat between us. There are some files here. You can have a look.”
It has been repeated countless times that the Qing Emperor and Fan Xian were the two most talented actors in the world. However, in the royal study now, the Emperor did not hide anything. He just said things straightforwardly.
The words were simple, but Fan Xian understood the meaning hidden inside. He knew the files on the table contained nothing other than proof that Chen Pingping had tried to kill him in the past, such as the Hanging Temple, the valley, and everything related to severing their relationship.
According to the dead old man’s plans, at this time, Fan Xian should act surprised, sorrowful, and then return to the Emperor’s side. For some reason, seeing the Emperor’s self-confident and elegant expression made him feel a boundless anger. The fire of rage made his heart ache and burn. He did not want to continue acting.
Fan Xian raised his head and looked directly at this most familiar and unfamiliar man and did not move for a long time.