Published at 7th of November 2020 06:38:47 PM
Meanwhile, Lin Huizhi’s letter about his near assassination finally reached the emperor’s imperial desk¹ .
Emperor Changlong² finished reading this secret letter, expression calm . Not a word left his lips . The court eunuch who waited on him bowed his own head, not daring to even breathe too loudly, fearful of bringing forth the emperor’s discontent .
Within the room, a deafening silence . One that could not be broken by others .
At that moment, light and quick footsteps could be heard outside the palace hall .
“Imperial Father . ”
Once the servants had heard this voice, they unconsciously relaxed .
The young man who entered the hall wore clothes made of brocade . A tall and slender form . Peerless in appearance . The moment he appeared, it were as though the whole palace hall had brightened .
The servants bowed in salute together . “Greetings to Your Highness the crown prince . ”
The picture of indolence, the crown prince made his way before the emperor . He saluted to him . “Did someone without sense anger your honored self again?”
“Who can compare to you in causing trouble?” retorted Emperor Changlong . He set down the secret letter . Lifted his head to look at the crown prince . “Yesterday, your eldest brother established his own estate³ . Did you accompany him in drinking wine?”
“Eldest Brother wanted to toast Son-Official⁴ in the presence of so many people . Son-Official could not embarrass him . ” The crown prince sat down in a chair in a lazy manner . “If rumors spread that we brothers don’t have a good relationship, wouldn’t your honored self be the one saddened?”
Emperor Changlong took in his boneless appearance . He wanted to scold him a bit about it, but also couldn’t bear to . He could only say, “At Yellow River County’s posthouse, Lin Huizhi encountered an assassination attempt . ”
The crown prince looked at Emperor Changlong, waiting for the latter to continue .
“Fortunately, an accident occurred, allowing him to avoid disaster . ”
“Oh . ” The crown prince looked down . He found it quite a pity .
“Judging by your appearance, you seem very disappointed . ”
“Every day, he boasts about how great Eldest Brother is in front of your honored self and complains about Son-Offical’s shortcomings . He itches to drag me off the position of crown prince and stuff Eldest Brother onto it,” said the crown prince in an unhurried pace . “Your honored self knows that Son-Official has no shortcomings . However, Son-Official loves to hold grudges . ”
“If Lin Hiuzhi actually died, it would be troublesome for you . ” A sigh left Emperor Changlong’s lips . “The whole court knows you dislike him . If he died a dubious death, although no one would dare to say it aloud, they would all think you were the one behind it . ”
The crown prince laughed lightly . He liked when the people who hated him felt uneasy, yet did not dare to show their hatred on their faces .
In his position, even if he did nothing, countless people would pick on his shortcomings .
Noticing his appearance, Emperor Changlong knew this: because this child had his support, he simply didn’t consider how to solve this problem . “You, you—”
An eunuch entered the hall to pass a message: Consort⁵ Xian had asked for an audience .
Recently, Emperor Changlong had been considering the eldest prince’s marriage . He allowed her to enter the hall . Once Consort Xian had done so, he closed the secret letter on the desk in passing .
“This concubine⁶ greets Your Majesty . ” Although Consort Xian was nearly forty years old, she was still as beautiful as she had been in the past . She had paid respects to Emperor Changlong, and conveniently gave the crown prince a motherly smile .
However, the crown prince did not feel her kindness . He merely cupped his hands to her in greeting and did not get up from his seat .
Consort Xian was speechless .
This crown prince truly wasn’t tactful . She came to discuss matters with the emperor . Those who understood protocol and were discreet would take their leave at once . But he sure had it good! Not only did he stay, he even sat in such a comfortable position . Did he even give a crap about her?!
The crown prince noticed her eager gaze, eyelid twitching . But was he a considerate person?
As such, not only did he choose such a comfortable sitting position, he also had the servants bring him a new cup of tea . On his face was a smile that read “you people can take your time; I’m just being nosy . ”
Consort Xian took a deep breath . Turned her head toward Emperor Changlong . “Your Majesty, this concubine came today because of Hao’er’s marriage matters . Hao’er⁷, this child, only knows how to be diligent and can’t even manage his own marriage . As his elders, we can only do more for him . ”
“He’s already twenty-one this year . His marriage indeed should not be postponed any longer . ” Emperor Changlong nodded . “Minghao is an expert in martial arts and is fond of arranging troops for battle . How about we find him a princess consort who shares these interests?”
“Then what is Your Majesty’s intention?” She didn’t seem too happy .
“The Defender General has a beloved daughter . She is prepossessing and is fifteen this year . A great match for Minghao . If you have no objections, We⁸ will shamelessly mention this marriage proposal to Yingting . ”
After Consort Xian had heard those words, her heart trembled . So the emperor actually had this intention . With Defender General’s current status, to marry his daughter was indeed beneficial . However…
In history, emperors had been suspicious of many brilliant and outstanding generals . Especially generals like Hua Yingting . One mistake, and their whole family would be implicated . Currently, the emperor was in his prime . He definitely held suspicion toward the Hua clan . Otherwise, why would he want the Hua clan’s daughter to become an imperial daughter-in-law?
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Marrying the Hua clan’s daughter merely brought a moment of glory . But in the long run, it was unfavorable . Once the emperor grew more and more discontent with the Hua clan, he would also dislike the son who had married their daughter .
The familial love of the imperial clan was as weak as so .
“Your Majesty, the Hua clan’s daughter naturally is exceptional,” said Consort Xian with a smile . “However, Hao’er is too stubborn . If he also married the daughter of a family of generals, I fear they would have conflict in the future . How about we choose a maiden with a gentle temperament, who is highly educated and steeped in propriety? If the temperaments of husband and wife complement one another, then that would be perfect . ”
At Consort Xian’s rejection of his suggestion, Emperor Changlong shot her a profound stare . Once she felt restless, he averted his gaze . Tone serene, he said, “Since that is the case, then let’s go with what you want…”
“Imperial Father, Son-Official will not disturb the discussion between your honored self and Her Highness Consort Xian . Son-Official will return . ” The crown prince yawned . Rose to his feet in a lazy manner . He saluted to Emperor Changlong before preparing to leave .
“Wait,” said Emperor Changlong . “It’s cold out . Wear Our cloak when you go outside . ”
The general manager of the entire palace⁹ held out the cloak with both hands, personally helping the crown prince put it on . Then he escorted him out of the palace hall .
“Your Highness, watch your honored self’s step . ” The general manager, Zhao Sancai, watched as the crown prince left . It wasn’t until his sedan and procession had disappeared into the distance that Zhao Sancai brushed off the snow that had accumulated on his body . He changed into a pair of clean shoes . Returned to the palace hall to wait on the emperor .
Following Consort Xian’s departure, Emperor Changlong asked Zhao Sancai, “As the crown prince left, did he say the Eastern Palace was lacking anything?”
Zhao Sancai shook his head . “Before His Highness left, he only told this slave to serve Your Majesty well . He did not mention anything else . ”
“Yesterday, Prince Ying established his own estate . We bestowed him many things…” Emperor Changlong fell silent for a good while . “Crown Prince doesn’t have the things Prince Ying has . Would he feel like We are being biased?
“Go to Our personal storehouse and look for something Crown Prince would like . Send it to him . ” Then Emperor Changlong thought about something else . “Choose a few of the horses given to us as tribute a few days ago, and send it to the Eastern Palace . ”
“Yes,” said Zhao Sancai, a smile on his face as he retreated .
The crown prince left Chenyang Palace . Midway to the Eastern Palace, he encountered the eldest prince, Prince Ying . Sitting in his sedan, he merely cupped his hands in greeting .
With a displeased expression, Prince Ying climbed off his horse . He returned a salute to the crown prince .
A crown prince was half a monarch . The imperial princes could not accept such a salute .
“Where did Crown Prince come from?” asked Prince Ying with a fake smile .
The crown prince arched a brow . Took his time fixing his sleeves . “I visited Imperial Father and sat there for a while . ”
Prince Ying forced the corners of his lips to rise . All of a sudden, he said, “Yesterday, Crown Prince took a fancy to one of the fine horses in my estate . I ought to surrender it readily, however, Imperial Father bestowed that horse to me . As such, I cannot give it to another person . ”
“Ohhh? If you hadn’t mentioned this, I¹⁰ would have forgotten . ”
He looked up at the pleased-at-himself Prince Ying . “It’s fine . Fortunately, I prefer horses with coats of a single color . The tail hairs of your horse are of a few different colors . If that horse is sent to the Eastern Palace, the other horses there would ostracize it . ”
Prince Ying sucked in a breath . Reminded himself not to grow angry . “Crown Prince, the horse Imperial Father bestowed to me is a thousand-li horse¹¹ . So what if its tail has a few different colored hairs?”
The crown prince’s gaze fell upon Prince Ying’s face . A long period later, he said with indifference, “Perhaps it’s because I not only judge people by their appearance, but horses by their appearance too . ”
Prince Ying was rendered speechless .
As the crown prince had mentioned judging people by their appearance, he was looking at Prince Ying . What’s the meaning of that?!
Fewer than two days later, many officials in the capital knew that the emperor had sent a few tribute horses to the crown prince . Momentarily, it caused countless people to sigh . Among the princes, the one the emperor loved the most dearly was the crown prince .
In the end, the emperor had raised the crown prince himself, so the affection between them was different from the affection he held for the other princes .
During his childhood, the crown prince had been debilitated . It was unknown which very wise and able person had said this, but the crown prince’s fate was strange . The average person could not bring him up . Then the emperor thought, although the average person could not bring him up, he was the Son of Heaven¹² and naturally was not an average person . As such, the emperor decided to raise the crown prince personally .
Speaking of which, it truly was coincidental . After the crown prince had arrived at the emperor’s personal palace, it took no time at all before he could eat, run, and jump . And his health improved immensely .
Because of this, the crown prince lived in the emperor’s Chenyang Palace until he was twelve years old¹³ . Only after that did he move to the Eastern Palace .
The last crown prince who had been favored to this extent by an emperor was banished to a cold and impoverished land . He could not return to the capital even at his death .
Would the current crown prince’s outcome fare a bit better?
Once the Hua clan’s brother-and-sister pair had returned to the capital, it was already half a month later . Just as they had passed through the city gates, they heard hoof-steps . Occasionally, those hoof-steps would mix with the shrill shouts of passerbys .
Hua Liuli lifted the window curtain of the carriage for a look . There were few youths in fine clothes riding horses . They turned a blind eye to the passerbys’ alarm .
High-spirited, those youths on horseback traveled on the main street . They were headed for a restaurant to drink two cups of wine, but soldiers in armor blocked their path .
“Who are you people to actually dare block the path of us young nobles?”
“Young nobles, our Great State of Jin has laws and decrees stating that people cannot ride horses in the city center . Our family’s young miss is frail and cannot be frightened . At present, the sounds of your horses’ hoof-steps frightened her to the brink of fainting . You people ought to give us an explanation . ” The gazes of the soldiers proved bright and scorching, and they grasped their swords by the shafts . As if these young nobles wouldn’t be able to leave unless they gave them a good explanation .
“What?” The young nobles saw a carriage a few tens of steps away . She was frightened? Fainted?
Wasn’t that just purposely finding complaints with them?
Before they could even speak their doubt, they heard a disturbance by the carriage . A few servant girls surrounding the carriage ran back and forth, expressions panic-stricken . The young nobles could faintly hear the words “medicine,” “County Princess,” and “doctor” coming from their lips .
Could she really have been frightened ill because of them?
In the capital, which county princess would be this delicate?
If something truly happened, then wouldn’t their elders beat them to death once they returned home?
imperial desk: 御案 . Anything with the character “御” are things that belong to the emperor . So I translate them to “imperial __ . ” Picture is provided in chapter supplement . Emperor Changlong: 昌隆帝 . As a reminder, Changlong is his title, not his real name . establish his own estate: 建府 . Once imperial princes reached a certain age, they must move out of the imperial palace and establish their own estate . Typically, this was anywhere from fifteen to twenty years old . This is because the only fertile male allowed to live in the palace was the emperor . There is one slight exception: the crown prince gets to live in a certain part of the palace, called the Eastern Palace . Son-Official: 儿臣 . How princes referred to themselves when speaking to the empress or emperor . Because not only are they their sons, but their subjects as well . Consort: 妃 . This is a first-ranked imperial concubine position . They are only four consorts in the imperial harem, each with titles like “xian” (which means virtuous) . They are only below the empress, imperial noble consort, and noble consorts . this concubine: 妾 . A term of self-address that the empress and imperial concubines use in the emperor’s presence . Main consorts (wives) and high-ranked concubines of normal families also use this self-address when speaking with their husbands . Not only that, when imperial concubines speak to imperial concubines higher in rank than them, they must use this self-address too . ‘er: A term of endearment that really has no English equivalent, really . Well, I guess it’s similar to calling a guy named Tim “Timmy . ” We: 朕 . Royal We . How emperors referred to themselves . general manager of the entire palace: 御前总管 . The eunuch with the most authority in the imperial palace and manages all the servants . Most of the time, he is by the emperor’s side . I: 孤 . This is the self-address crown princes of an empire (or kings of a kingdom) use . For the crown prince to use it in front of his brother, that means he is throwing around his rank . The crown prince also keeps using this type of “I” throughout that conversation . thousand-li horse: 千里良驹 . A horse that can run for a thousand li without stopping . Recall that a li is ~500 meters . So this horse is bred to run 500,000 meters (500 km) without stopping . Son of Heaven: 真龙天子 . Aka the emperor . Emperors in ancient China were thought to be the son of Heaven . twelve years old: This is actually hilarious but also interesting . In the imperial harem, only high-ranked imperial concubines could raise their own children . mid-rank and low-rank imperial concubines must give their child up to a high-ranked imperial concubine to raise . However, high-ranked imperial concubines could only raise their sons until the sons were twelve years old . After that, the sons would move to their own side palace until they were 15-20, which was when they left the imperial palace to establish their own estate . So this implies the emperor raised him until protocol forced him move the crown prince to the Eastern Palace .