Ye Li spoke about her experience in Nan Zhao as well as what happened to Xu Qin Chen in detail .
Xu Hong Yan frowned in disapproval as he said: “Qing Chen was quite indiscreet to have put himself in danger . ”
Xu Qing Bai didn’t seem to worry about his big brother’s safety and said smilingly: “Second uncle, don’t worry . When have big brother ever done anything that he isn’t sure of? Li-er also said that even if she hadn’t been to Nan Zhao, big brother would have got out of the difficult situation on his own . ”
Xu Qing Yan nodded repeatedly and said: “I agree with fourth brother . Sister Li, is the Holy Princess of Nan Zhao beautiful? Why did she lock big brother up but didn’t hurt him? Is it possible that she has fallen in love with him?”
It was fair to say that Xu Qing Yan was getting near to the truth .
Ye Li blinked and replied in pity: “I never saw her, but I bet she is a beauty . ”
Xu Qing Bai’s brow rose as he spoke: “I think Princess An Xi has feelings for big brother, too . What do you say, second brother?”
Putting down the teacup, Xu Qing Ze said calmly: “No, big brother only sees her as a friend . ”
Hiding behind Xu Qing Bai, Xu Qing Yan made a face at his second brother and muttered: “What an unromantic . I wonder how Sister Qin puts up with you . ”
Xu Qing Bai turned to Ye Li curiously and asked: “Li-er, what did big brother say when he knew you lied to Princess An Xi that you were his fiancé?”
Hearing that, Xu Qing Yan’s eyes lit up and he turned to Ye Li immediately .
With clenched teeth, Ye Li felt a bit agitated that she was fooled by her big brother who hadn’t written a letter back home to tell the family about that while she was the one who spilled it out . Stealing a glance at second uncle cautiously, she replied: “He said nothing about it . Besides . . . he used me as an excuse to fend off his pursuers . ”
Xu Hong Yan shook his head and told her: “Remember your position, Li-er . Though it was important to find your big brother, it was as important to protect your reputation . ”
“I see . ” Not having a dressing-down from Xu Hong Yan was a big relief . She grinned and added: “Yes, I almost forget this . Congratulations, second brother, fourth brother and fifth brother, for getting high marks in the imperial examination . ”
Xu Hong Yan shook his head and threw a glare at Xu Qing Yan .
Though adversity was the main theme of the past half a year, the imperial examination took place as usual .
The examination wasn’t a big event for Xu Family since its descendants always passed the exam . This year it was a bit different with all three young lords of Xu Family got high marks, which attracted a lot of attention .
Xu Qing Yan curled his lips and said grudgingly: “Who knew the test was so easy . . . ” Under everyone's gaze, he couldn't make up an excuse anymore and lowered his head . He couldn't tell them the truth that he spared no effort in the test because he wanted to give some noble young lord who taunted him a lesson .
Ye Li laughed . “So, this time . . . second brother got third place, fifth brother fourth place, and fourth brother nineteenth place, right?”
Xu Qing Yan stole a glance at Xu Qing Bai, his head even lower . He knew fourth brother was more capable than him and that second brother was way better than the two who took first and second place but they didn't want to show the world what they got, while he had to win fourth place with all his might .
Having noticed Xu Qing Yan’s low spirits, Ye Li said: “Second uncle, it's not such a big deal . Fifth brother would have drawn attention to himself had he failed in the exam . ”
Xu Hong Yan replied with a frown: “He shouldn't have taken part in the exam in the first place . ” When he spoke of that, he was very upset as well .
Qing Yan was only 14 years old and Qing Bai was just 16 . Yet, they all wanted to make a name and win success . The boys, be it Xu Qing Ze, who was steady, or Xu Qing Yan, who was imaginative, would have been materials for first place in the exam with a bright future were they not members of Xu Family . However, born in this family, they had to live with the fact that they couldn't realize their ambitions because of the enormous reputation of the family . It was . . . the burden of high reputation .
Xu Hong Yan would never forget the heaviness and apologies in his father's eyes when he gave up his position in court and left the capital with his big brother many years ago . He used to harbor the ambition to do good to the world with statesmanship . Unfortunately, the royal family simply needed him in a position without actual power to show the world its kindness .
“Second, fourth and fifth brother, now that you all passed the exam, are you going to stay here and get a post?” asked Ye Li .
Xu Qing Ze and Xu Qing Bai weren't to be worried . Xu Qing Ze was twenty with a composed manner . Though Xu Qing Bai was still young, he was actually the most suitable one in the family to stay in court . Yet Xu Qing Yan was young and unrestrained, a kid still .
Xu Hong Yan shook his head and said: “Your second and fourth brother stay . I've submitted a petition to His Majesty that Qing Yan is still young while his father is getting old so that he needs to return to Yunzhou and take care of him . ”
“Will His Majesty approve that?” She was afraid Mo Jing Qi would see more value in Xu Qing Yan than Xu Qing Bai .
Xu Hong Yan smiled faintly and said: “Qing Yang is the youngest in the family . Of all virtues filial piety comes first . His Majesty will approve it . ”
Since her uncle was sure about it, Ye Li stopped worrying . She then started to ponder Xu Qing Ze and Xu Qing Bai’s posts .
Xu Qing Ze, as third place, would go to Imperial Academy and become an editor . Xu Qing Bai joined Board of Rites, waiting for an assignment . Neither post held real power . Compared to those who passed the exam at the same time, their ranks were higher, yet their power wasn't so . Xu Qing Bai in particular . His received the salary of a counselor yet it still wasn't clear when he would get a serious assignment . More importantly, Xu Qing Ze and Xu Qing Bai’s personalities didn't fit their posts at all . It would be more proper if they switched places .
“It is best for second brother to stay here . If it is possible, it will be better if fourth brother gets a post away from the capital . ”
Xu Qing Bai might seem young and gentle, but in fact, he was intelligent and scheming, good at playing the pig and eating the tiger . If he wasn't born in Xu Family, he would be able to get to a high position within the age of thirty-five even if he came from an ordinary family . He was the most suitable one in the family to take statesmanship .
Xu Hong Yan shook his head and replied: “His Majesty won't allow that to happen in a million years . ”
A frown creased Ye Li's forehead as she said: “I have a different opinion . Fourth brother is still young . He might have His Majesty drop his guard . But . . . it will be tough out there, fourth brother . ”
Xu Qing Bai smiled slightly and said: “His Majesty will only send me to barren hills and untamed rivers . But that will be better than staying here, under control . ”
Xu Hong Yan looked at Xu Qing Bai, noticing that he was touched by Ye Li’s suggestion . If he was given the choice, he would rather be a local official than listening to the worthless babble of the ministers in court . After a moment of consideration, Xu Hong Yan nodded and said: “Well, His Majesty has been busy with other affairs recently . I believe he’ll make a concession on that . ”
Xu Qing Bai nodded with a smile as he said: “Thank you very much, second uncle . ”
Xu Hong Yan waved his hand as a reply .
After having lunch with her uncle and aunt, Ye Li was ready to leave when Xu Hong Yan told her seriously: “Li-er, look out for people in the palace . ”
Stunned, she turned to her uncle in confusion .
However, Xu Hong Yan just waved his hand without any more words .
Ye Li had no alternative but to bid them farewell .