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Chapter Sixty Five Decision
He Yuan strode in front of the pleading Wen guipin and smiled as he lowered his head to look at her: "What is Wen guipin doing? It's a major offence to cause a disturbance at Tian Qi Palace."
Wen guipin used her sleeves to roughly wipe away the tears on her face. She gave a cold smile as she stood, raising her chin to look at this wang ye who had a face full of pride in front of her: "If that was true, then it's unknown how many times Rui Wang would have been punished. Whether or not I should be punished, that is up to the Emperor, not a wang ye like you. Wang ye must have learned protocol as a child. Didn't anyone ever teach you how to interact with a shu mother?"
He Yuan's face instantly darkened. An unfavored guipin dared to rebuke him? He said in a low voice: "Ben wang's protocol doesn't need to be corrected by you. If Wen guipin has the ability, you should go beg fuhuang to free da ge." He turned to raise his hands in a fist to He Heng. "Er ge, er sao, greetings."
"Good day, san di," He Heng looked at the guards standing nearby, a polite smile on his face, "If san di is requesting to see fuhuang, it's better to let them report early. Fuhuang has just taken his medicine. I'm afraid he will be resting for a while."
"I didn't think that er ge and si di would arrive here faster than me," He Yuan's words implied that He Heng had arrived early because he'd been notified in advance.
"We used a quick horse and whip to rush here right after we heard fuhuang became ill," He Heng didn't seem to hear the implication, a hint of embarrassment on his face, "It was lucky that fuhuang is as long-lived as the sky and was not seriously ill. But I was being ridiculous."
He Ming, who was standing near the couple, bowed to He Yuan without speaking and retreated to the far side of the room.
He Yuan glanced at him, calmly commenting: "It seems si di's body is much better."
"Thanks for san ge's concern. Yu di has no major problems," He Ming switched topics as he continued, "It was a pity that I couldn't help fuhuang with this matter. I feel guilty."
He Yuan narrowed his eyes at this nondescript didi. A while later, he gave an icy smile and didn't reply.
Qu Qing Ju silently watched this great play of the Imperial House. The hatred Wen guipin had towards He Yuan, the scorn He Yuan visibly held towards He Ming and the barely discernible dissatisfaction He Heng held towards He Yuan. Everything was displayed before Qu Qing Ju's eyes. She felt that, in this world, the most complicated relationships to ever occur between husband and wife, father and son, brother and brother, were all formed in the Imperial House.
Ever since lao da framed him, he'd been restricted to his fu and even fuhuang seemed disappointed in him. Therefore, after being freed from house arrest, He Yuan would always think of those stifling days whenever he saw someone connected to He Qi. His personality had always been loud, and he was never willing to discomfort himself. He'd always said whatever he thought and did whatever he wanted.
He gazed icily at Wen guipin. Seeing her eyes were full of hatred, he sneered: "Wen guipin shouldn't use such eyes to look at ben wang. If it wasn't for da ge framing me, I wouldn't have been imprisoned in the wang fu. If you want to hate someone, hate da ge for having such malicious thoughts. Don't hate an innocent person like me."
"Your Highness Rui Wang is innocent?" The gentleness and sincerity that usually appeared on Wen guipin was now completely absent. She pointed at He Yuan and, with a piercing voice, accused him, "You dare to say that you didn't control the salt governance, didn't put out high-interest loans, didn't buy and sell official posts?!"
He Yuan looked disdainfully at her. A long beat later, he said: "If there is no evidence, then it's slander. I don't know why, as an imperial consort, Wen guipin is so concerned with the matters of the Royal Court. What is the meaning here?"
Wen guipin stared hatefully at him, but couldn't say a word. Her shoulders shaking slightly, she slowly lowered her head. Half a beat later, she didn't look at anyone else as she held a palace maid's hand to stagger away.
Qu Qing Ju saw He Yuan's attitude and remembered the case of Jiang Nan. Was that case going to be set aside? Did the old emperor's brain have a problem? Such a major matter of the people, how could it be treated like a joke?
As the emperor, because he was partial to one son, he would not care for the death of his citizens. High interest loans, the salt governance, buying and selling official appointments, which one of those wasn't a major matter? If he didn't know, at most it would be an oversight, but knowing and not stopping it, wasn't that telling the people that the Emperor didn't care about this matter, that the criminals could do whatever they wanted?
Thinking about it more, she felt disgust forming inside. This kind of person had become the Emperor. It was a calamity for the people of the world. If the previous emperor had even one more son, then it was most likely that the seat wouldn't have fallen to this kind of person.
Just then, a taijian hurriedly walked over and said that the Emperor was summoning Rui Wang for an audience.
Qu Qing Ju watched the young taijian bowing and scraping as he ushered He Yuan inside. She moved her gaze as she descended the white jade stairs with He Heng. When their carriage had travelled a certain distance towards the fu, she looked over at He Heng and stated: "Wang ye, it isn't easy being one of the common people." She reached up to pull the curtain aside, and looked at the common people in sackcloth moving aside for their carriage, their wooden faces filled with awe and caution.
She wasn't a true lady of a noble family. She might like beautiful clothes, delicious food but she wouldn't feel that it was her right to oppress others, and sacrifice the majority to satisfy her own desires.
He Heng couldn't believe Qu Qing Ju would say such words to him. He silently looked at this woman. At this moment, she had no charm on her face, no smile, not even her gaze was on him. But he had never felt that she was more worthy of the people's respect as he did now.
He followed her hand to look at the crowds in the street, his eyes gradually calming. A beat later, he dropped his face down as he stated: "The hardship of these people should be the reason why the top people have to be more diligent and fair in governance."
Qu Qing Ju let go of the curtain, turning her head to look at He Heng. She smiled suddenly, as though she had just made a decision. She nodded, "Wang ye is wise, I believe you."
He Heng silently looked at her and reached out to grasp her hand. He gave a sigh: "You."
Qu Qing Ju lowered her head to look at her hand being held in the other. This person in front of her eyes might not be a good man, but he would become a good emperor. Originally, she didn't care who would become emperor, but after today, she hoped that it would be this man.
She wasn't a saint, but she was still a person. So she couldn't accept the conduct of He Yuan and Qing De Emperor, couldn't agree with the way they took everything as their prerogative.
So … … if He Heng wanted to become Emperor, she wouldn't try to stop him.
Cheng Wang Fu and Duan Wang Fu was separated by a street. When He Ming bid farewell to er ge and er sao, he felt that there was something different about the atmosphere between the two people. They were still intimate, but now there was something more that couldn't be quantified.
After he'd returned to Cheng Wang Fu, a list was presented to him by the Ministry of Rites. It listed the bride-price that the Ministry of Rites had given to Luo Shang Shu Fu. It represented all the items that the Imperial House was willing to give on his behalf. If he didn't want to add anything personal, they would prepare the bride-price according to this list.
As he put the list to one side, He Ming recalled the way er ge and er sao interacted with each other. He summoned Sun Hai and added many more things. He might not be favoured, but he was still a wang ye. He wasn't poor to the point where he couldn't give out good things himself.
The next day, Cheng Wang Fu returned the list to the official of the Ministry of Rites and he became deeply moved after reading the additions. This Cheng Wang was very generous. Minster Luo was fortunate.
A few days later, the rankings of the Spring Examinations were released. The ones who qualified were mostly from noble families. Some intelligent people discovered that none of the top scorers had been recommended by Ning Wang's side. There were also not that many from Rui Wang's side. The top ranks had mostly gone to unknown second sons or shu sons from noble families.
Ning Wang was now imprisoned so it was natural that none of his people were ranked. But Rui Wang didn't have many either, wasn't that interesting?
Soon afterwards, people found out that Rui Wang had argued with his shu mu in front of Tian Qi Palace a few days ago. Some conservative officials couldn't help but sigh inside, this Rui Wang was too reckless. Even if his shu mother's position wasn't high, she was still Ning Wang's birth mother. Rui Wang's conduct didn't care for anyone.
After the rankings were released, it was time for the Court Examination. He Heng was still recovering in the fu. The fu frequently received the Emperor, Empress, and Jing guifei's gifts. Qu Qing Ju told the servants lock up all the gifts in the stores.
She remembered the Emperor hinting to He Heng when they'd recently visited him, wanting him to quickly recover so he can attend Court. But seeing He Heng's leisurely state, it was clear that he wanted to drag out his recovery period until the examinations were over before returning to Court.
"Wang ye, how about taking a look at how I trimmed this pot of bonsai?" Qu Qing Ju put down the scissors in her hand. Seeing He Heng walk over, she waved for him to come admire her new work.
After glancing at the bonsai, He Heng couldn't find the appropriate words to describe it. The atmosphere created by the way a bonsai was trimmed was a learned art. His wang fei somehow managed to force the bonsai into the shape of a gold ingot.
"This shape is very special," He Heng smiled as he touched the middle of the ingot. He didn't feel irritation when he saw the table was covered in leaves and branches as he sat beside the desk. He stated: "Today, I accompanied si di in sending the bride price over to Luo Shang Shu Fu. Luo lao taitai asked about you."
"Luo laotaitai has cared for me lots. It must be that she saw wang ye and was reminded of me." Qu Qing Ju smiled and twisted her body to finish washing her hands in the basin Jin Zhan had brought. As she wiped her hands, she remarked, "I have even prepared the additions to Luo guniang's dowry."
He Heng wasn't interested in the affairs of women. Hearing this, he only smiled. To a man who implicitly trusted his woman, the houyuan could be given over to her care. He didn't have to control it too much.
"It won't be long before si di marries," He furrowed his brows as he wondered, "This year, many candidates have entered the palace. I don't know what fuhuang is planning."
Qu Qing Ju stopped wiping her hands, handing the cloth to a yahuan behind her. Her eyebrow slightly moved, "Does wang ye mean that new people are entering the fu?"
He Heng carefully looked at her expression. It seemed normal, but he felt that it was wrong for some reason. He hesitated before saying: "I'm not sure about this matter. But don't worry, I won't look at them."
"Who cares who you look at, there's going to be even more beauties arriving in the future," Qu Qing Ju stood, flinging a look at him. She rubbed her forehead as she announced "Wang ye, qie doesn't feel good, and will rest for a while." She turned and left with the support of Mu Jin.
He Heng rubbed his nose as he smiled helplessly. He stood to follow her to her bedroom. Strangely enough, he felt relaxed and carefree after being glared at by Qu Qing Ju.