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Chapter Ninety Three An Old Case
Because the mourning period had passed, the flowers placed in the Imperial Gardens now red and purple. Han Qing He looked at the beautiful Imperial Garden and thought about when she’d entered the palace as the daughter of a common and good family to become a candidate. She had then been placed by Empress Dowager Wei to serve at the side of the Emperor. In a blink of an eye, five years had passed and she was now one of the mistresses of the palace.
As the palace maids passed her, they bowed to her. She enjoyed the feeling as others bowed their heads to her, as though if it was like this, she could forget her low birth and the unhappiness of the past. Turning back to see Feng Zi Jin blindly following behind her, she revealed a satisfied smile: “Walking the Imperial Gardens, I would think of the times I’d accompanied Ping cairen in the wang fu.”
Feng Zi Jin didn’t speak when she heard the words. She expressionlessly looked at Han Qing He before slowly moving her gaze away.
“From Ping cairen’s expression, it seems that you don’t like walking in the garden with me?” Han Qing He sneered, “Or is it that Ping cairen thinks herself higher than me?”
“Liangdi is high up in the sky. Pinqie is only a small seventh-grade cairen who doesn’t dare look down,” Ping cairen uttered coldly, “Pinqie is only listening to liangdi speak.”
Han Qing He was going to speak before suddenly hearing the sound of clapping behind her. Her heart jumped with joy and she took a step to the side before kneeling down.
“Qie greets Emperor,” When the dark gold boots walked in front of her, Han Qing He’s voice was sweet and soft as she lowered her head. But a second later, she saw a pair of gold embroidered slippers appear next to the gold boots. She paused and then added, “Pinqie greets Empress.”
Qu Qing Ju looked at Feng Zi Jin and Han Qing He as they knelt on the ground. This was the first time Han Qing He used such a saccharine voice. She looked at He Heng who didn’t seem to have any reaction, and said: “Stand.”
“Thank Emperor, thank Empress,” Feng Zi Jin slowly stood. She raised her head to gaze at the Emperor but found the Emperor’s gaze wasn’t on either her or Han Qing He’s bodies. She lowered her face numbly, not speaking another word.
‘Didn’t think to encounter Emperor and Empress at such a place,” Han Qing De didn’t want to give up the chance to show her face in front of the Emperor. Her appearance wasn’t as good as Feng Zi Jin’s but she had a distinctive flavor when she smiled, “It’s pinqie who has disturbed Emperor and Empress’ mood.”
Qu Qing Ju looked at her blooming smile. Her lips curled, but she didn’t speak.
“Since you know you disturbed zhen and Empress’ mood, why haven’t you retreated?” He Heng’s tone was icy. He looked at Han Qing He who was draped in gold and silver, his brows furrowing, “Retreat.”
The smile on Han Qing He’s face froze. She didn’t think the Emperor would not even take the slightest bit of care. She couldn’t help but turn her head to look at the Empress and found that the Empress’ expression hadn’t changed from beginning to end, as though she knew that she would embarrass herself. She bowed in mortification, “Qie asks to be excused.”
Seeing Han Qing He retreat, Feng Zi Jin followed in leaving. Before she left, she looked again at He Heng and Qu Qing Ju, as though it was the first time she’d met them.
After both of them left, Qu Qing Ju finally smiled as she remarked: “Han liangdi has served Emperor for so many years, but her appearance hasn’t changed at all.” Han Qing He had been serving by He Heng’s side since she was sixteen. Right now, she was just twenty one. In her previous life, it would have been the best years of her life. In this era, her age was slightly old.
“Really, zhen doesn’t remember what she was like before,” He Heng glanced in the direction of Fu Shou Palace, “Don’t think of those people anymore, let’s go eat in muhou’s place.”
Fu Shou Palace knew very early that the Emperor and Empress were coming over to accompany the Empress Dowager for the meal so they had prepared beforehand. When the two of them entered, Empress Dowager Wei was in the yard trimming twigs off a pot of flowers. Seeing the two of them, Empress Dowager Wei stood and led them into the room.
After washing and drying her hands, Empress Dowager informed the two: “Aijia had the small kitchen prepare the dishes you two like. Later, you can have some.”
“It was bothersome for muhou to remember,” He Heng stood to bow to Empress Dowager Wei, but his posture was more casual than before others, clearly showing just how mutual the feelings were between mother and son, “They should prepare more wine-pickled duck feet.”
“Alright, your duck feet, erxi’s duck tongue, aijia had them prepare, you won’t be lacking,” Empress Dowager Wei apparently liked her son’s carefree and intimate attitude. She gave a sigh, “Even though the mourning period has passed, there’s no need to celebrate aijia’s birthday. Tomorrow, aijia will send a decree declaring to not hold a birthday banquet this year, and won’t receive the court officials’ respects.”
When He Heng came here, he originally planned to discuss the matter of Empress Dowager’s birthday. But he hadn’t thought that muhou was so straightforward. It wouldn’t be good to hold a big celebration but it might be too cold if she didn’t even receive the Court’s respects.
“Aijia knows you are filial, but aijia has thought this through before making the decision,” Empress Dowager’s expression became stern, “Son, you have to remember. To gain something, you also have to gain the reputation, then your conduct would be spotless.”
On the side, Qu Qing Ju agreed wholeheartedly when she heard the words. If one acted, they had to act to the end. To receive both the gains and the reputation was the only way to become a true winner. But when saying such things, was it wise to speak in front of her?
“I understand muhou’s intentions,” He Heng nodded, “Then on mother’s birthday, us three will gather and have a good meal.”
“Yes,” Empress Dowager smiled. Her gaze swept across her erxi sitting docilely by one side, “For a family to sit together and eat, it’s much better than having those useless things.” This son of hers, to say that kind of a thing in front of her, he really had his heart on Qu shi.
With Qu shi, there was no risk of the relatives. She was also the established Empress. After Qu shi had children, a fight for succession would be avoided. It wasn’t a bad thing to have love between Emperor and Empress.
“Since muhou isn’t having a celebration, then we should also save on erxi’s celebration,” Qu Qing Ju’s birthday was in the next month. Her brows furrowed as she said, “It’s always so noisy at a banquet, not that interesting.”
“Alright, we’ll save on us mother and daughter’s birthday celebrations, and we don’t have to endure the torment.” Empress Dowager Wei smiled. Saying to Ding mama who was beside her, “It’s almost noon, get the kitchen to prepare to serve.”
Ding mama left with her orders. Once she left the room, Ding mama finally smiled and shook her head. Clearly the Empress Dowager and the Empress were two kinds of people but they really did form a connection as they interacted. To have this kind of connection between popo and erxi in the Imperial Family, it was extremely rare.
But the Empress was also talented. To be able to pout, play and laugh and do anything else in front of the Empress Dowager, acting as though the Empress Dowager was her own mother. Thinking about the deceased birth mother of the Empress and the evil stepmother, Ding mama sighed. The Empress hadn’t had it easy. She must really be thinking of the Empress Dowager as her own mother.
The three people were very happy as they finished the meal. Empress Dowager Wei watched Qu Qing Ju lean back contentedly in the chair, smiling and teasing: “To eat seven-tenths full is to cultivate life. Eating like you do is of no benefit to the body.”
“Muhou, erxi is growing right now, I can’t not eat,” Qu Qing Ju giggled, “If I’m not full, how will I grow my body?”
Empress Dowager Wei was amused by her words. She pointed at Qu Qing Ju, “Yes, yes, have to grow the body. After you grow up, you have to have grandsons and granddaughters for aijia to play with.” When she’d finished speaking, she couldn’t help laughing herself.
He Heng watched as his mother and xifu get happier the more they chatted. He silently took a sip of the digestive tea. So even when his xifu hadn’t grown up, his mother was already preparing to play with his children. Was this scene really popo, son and erxi and not wife’s mother, husband, and daughter?
On the second day, the Empress Dowager and the Empress sent out their decrees. The main meaning was that since xiandi had just passed away, they had no interest in enjoying their birthday celebrations and were grateful for the well-wishes from the people etc etc.
Instantly, the Court praised Sheng Mu Empress Dowager and the Empress for being virtuous and filial, and they were the epitome of what a woman should be.
He Heng listened to the officials’ praises of his mother and wife and added: “Zhen’s mother and Empress have no interest in amusements. Zhen, as the son of xiandi, also does not have the heart for the birthday celebration. This year, zhen will not hold a birthday banquet, you all shall not persuade otherwise.”
Naturally, the officials urged and urged again and then under the Emperor’s steadfastness, they helplessly surrendered. In the end, they hollered three times the Emperor was filial. Both monarch and subjects were satisfied.
Standing at the bottom, He Yuan gave a scornful smile. The Wei mother and son liked to act. Even at this step, they didn’t forget to act in order to achieve a good name.
“Chen has a memorandum!” After the monarch and subjects enjoyed themselves for a while, the Minister of the Right, Wei Wen Guang stepped forward, “Emperor, this official encountered a thirteen years old urchin a few days earlier on the road, felt that he was pitiful and wanted to shelter him, but who knew this official heard a great matter.”
The atmosphere of the court instantly turned tense. He Heng’s brows slightly furrowed as he urged: “Right Minister Wen, quickly speak.”
“This subject heard the urchin say that he had begged his way from Jiang Nan to Jing. His father was a steward of a certain official in Jiang Nan and had been killed because he found out that this official had colluded with His Highness Rui Wang, and dragged his entire family with him. Thankfully, the urchin had been hiding out of naughtiness in the cellar of the home and his life was spared.” He raised an accounts book with both hands, “This is the accounts of the steward who had been killed. The little urchin, even under the struggles of the road, managed to protect this item. Emperor, please take a look.”
Once the speech came out, the court fell into silence. But no one dared to speak in defense of Rui Wang.
“Present it up,” He Heng looked at He Yuan, “Rui Wang, do you want to say anything?”
He Yuan sneered, raising his hands in a fist, responding: “Emperor, subject-di is innocent. Right Minister Wei uses an urchin of unknown origins to accuse subject-di, and even made a fake account book. His intentions are enough to sentence him to death.”
He Heng took the book from the hands of a taijian and randomly flipped open a page to take a look. With a calm face, he replied: “What the truth really is, zhen will send someone to investigate. End court.”
The officials realised that they didn’t really know the Emperor’s true intentions. If he believed Rui Wang, then he wouldn’t have sent someone to investigate. But if he didn’t believe, then he should be in a rage. For the Emperor to be this calm, they were at a loss.
But smart people reacted very quickly. The Emperor was going to settle the old scores of Rui Wang. Previously, the case of Jiang Nan had been unclearly suppressed by xiandi. The Emperor cared for the people of Jiang Nan and naturally wouldn’t pretend the matter didn’t exist.
Jiang Nan was going to see a large purge.