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Chapter One Hundred and One: Criminal Servant
When Yan Jin Qiu entered the room, he had the servants who were not needed leave. It was a habit that he had formed at some unknown time. He found that he did not need to be so guarded around Hua Xi Wan—as though around her, he had a chance to breathe.
Maybe it was the other’s lazy habits that had infected him?
Seeing him enter, Hua Xi Wan only waved a hand at him out of laziness rather than get up, and motioned for him to sit down next to her.
Detecting something unusual in Hua Xi Wan’s gaze, Yan Jin Qiu asked, “Did something happen?”
“Do you still remember Min Huai Junzhu?” Hua Xi Wan looked directly at Yan Jin Qiu and waited for his response.
Yan Jin Qiu’s brow creased slightly. “She is making trouble for you?”
Hua Xi Wan shook her head and then said, “No, a few days ago when I went to Shu Fei’s palace, I accidentally heard Shu Fei mention her. I hadn’t thought anything of it, but just now I thought of a suspicious matter. Is Min Huai Junzhu really on the side of Princess Rui He?”
He hadn’t expected Hua Xi Wan to have a thought like this. Yan Jin Qiu stilled slightly and then said indifferently, “It is not important what side she is on. Now that the Crown Prince’s group has fallen, she, as a piece on the chessboard, has no use. The person in the shadows cannot be seen to be very kind in keeping her—he just doesn’t want the chaotic Jing to be even more chaotic.”
Hearing such ruthless words, Hua Xi Wan gave a complicated smile. She believed that Min Huai Junzhu felt something for Yan Jin Qiu, but that emotion was not strong enough for her to change sides. A person as smart as Yan Jin Qiu would definitely know what Min Huai Junzhu felt, but that bit of emotion wasn’t enough for him to do anything.
Living in an environment like this, was it luck or calamity to be born as one of the Imperial House?
She had suspected Min Huai Junzhu a long time ago, and had a strong feeling that she was related to the poisoning of the Crown Prince.
In the time after the Crown Prince had come out of the heavenly prison, all of Zhu Que Palace had been barricaded and waterproof. All the ancestors and backgrounds of the people who were serving were clean, and anyone who was suspicious at all wouldn’t be able to go near the Crown Prince. However, the Crown Prince had still died. The only people who could have done it were those on the Crown Prince’s side and who were trusted by the Empress.
At the start, she had suspected it was the Crown Princess. However, the Crown Princess had been pregnant at the time. The previous empress had also had opinions about her affair with the Emperor. How could she not guard against the Crown Princess?
The ones most suspicious were Princess Rui He who was deeply trusted by the Empress, and Min Huai Junzhu. Princess Rui He was not likely to kill the Crown Prince unless she wanted to become emperor herself. This princess who was only interested in a luxurious life and her men did not have courage. So the the Crown Prince succeeding to the throne would be her first choice. A cousin could not compare to her brother.
Then the last possibility was Min Huai Junzhu. She had the ability and also the motive.
When she thought about some matters, she would feel that everyone around her was an unfathomable expert. Hua Xi Wan thought herself a lazy person, so she did not want to meddle much. She had told her guess to Yan Jin Qiu. It would be his own problem how he wanted to deal with this matter.
Yan Jin Qiu naturally understood that, with Hua Xi Wan’s personality, she disliked worrying about such matters. He personally poured a cup of tea and presented it to her, saying with a smile, “This husband has nothing with which to repay Furen for thinking on behalf of this husband, and can only promise you my body.”
“You have already promised it to me—you want to promise it twice?” Hua Xi Wan took a light sip of the tea. She raised her chin slightly and said, “Or do you mean to say that, in your mind, you had no relationship to me at all previously?”
Yan Jin Qiu would admit that he was never Hua Xi Wan’s match in arguments like this. He reached out with a hand and pulled her into his embrace. Then he brushed a kiss on her cheek. “Since Furen has said this, then this husband will repay you with work.”
The curtains came down lightly and covered the gentleness in the room.
In the side room, Bai Xia and Hong Ying were sitting together and embroidering. Hong Ying looked outside at the color of the sky, and said in a small voice, “Wang Ye has been in there for more than an hour.”
Bai Xia said without raising her head, “When Wang Ye and Wang Fei need servants, there naturally will be many people to serve. What are you worrying for?”
“I’m just worried.” Hong Ying sighed and said, “A few days ago, I heard Shu Fei say that Min Huai Junzhu seems to be heavily ill. Bai Xia Jiejie, you also know what Min Huai Junzhu thinks about Wang Ye. I’m afraid that Wang Ye will feel sympathy for her and it will affect his relationship with Wang Fei.”
“You are smart when you should not be, and you are not dumb when you need to be,” Bai Xia said in a lowered voice. “Shu Fei just mentioned that to remind Wang Fei. We are servant girls; we only need to learn how to listen less and do more. Should it be your turn to worry about such things?”
When they had entered Shu Fei’s place that day, they had first encountered Sheng Junwang outside the palace. When they were leaving, Shu Fei had mentioned the matter that Min Huai Junzhu was seriously ill.
The things that noble personages in the palace said could not be taken as what they meant on the surface. What was the connection Wang Fei had to Min Huai Junzhu’s illness that Shu Fei had given a deliberate reminder? It was just to remind Wang Fei to be careful of Min Huai Junzhu, to guard against her actions.
“This Min Huai Junzhu—a junzhu should not think about a man already married. Does she want to lower herself to be a cefei in the wang fu?” Hong Ying muttered in discontent. There wasn’t any member of the Imperial Family with a title who had married a qinwang to be their concubine; that would be embarrassing.
The name of cefei was pleasing to hear as it contained the word fei, but in reality, it was just a concubine. Unless you made a great contribution to the Imperial House, you would not even be able to be added to the family register.
“What are you thinking about?” Bai Xia sighed helplessly. “While Min Huai Junzhu does not have power, she would not become a concubine of Wang Ye unless her family commits a major crime, and she is demoted to a criminal and is sent as a servant to the wang fu. Otherwise, even if she is willing to become a concubine, the other people will not agree.”
Convention would not allow this, the Yan clan would not allow this, and even Wang Ye would not agree.
Bai Xia was just puzzling it out with Hong Ying, but her words became true. On the seventh day after the new empress had entered the palace, the Yuan Family caused the Emperor to spit blood out of anger. There were more than ten crimes they were accused of: selling government offices, killing common people, seizing land illegally, and fraud.
Two days later, all of the Yuan Family were demoted to the criminal strata. However, in consideration of Princess Shun Yi who had passed away, the Emperor pardoned them from the punishment of tattooing. Nevertheless, they were still sent into exile, conscripted into the army, and turned into servants without any mercy.
In the mind of the Emperor, the Yuan Family that Princess Shun Yi had married into was of the same side as the previous empress. The previous empress had done so many things detrimental to him, making him displeased with the Yuan Family since a long time ago. Now that they had been found guilty of so many crimes, how could he have mercy?
In this time, almost all the clans that were connected to the demoted empress and were close to the Fang Family felt in danger. They hid in their homes and did not easily come out. None of them would ask for mercy for the Yuan Family.
Yuan Shu Yi had originally been the endlessly pampered Min Huai Junzhu, but now she needed to take off her silk dresses and put on hemp clothes. Just like the other Yuan Family females, she had to wait for the Department of Internal Affairs to arrange her new life as a servant.
She sat in the sparsely furnished room and looked at her skin rubbed raw by the rough fabric. Her eyes were full of regret and discontent.
The Emperor’s decree clearly stated that the daughters of the Yuan Family who had married were not part of the Yuan Family, and so they had nothing to do with the crimes of the Yuan Family. If she had married a year ago, how could she have ended up like this?
If she had married, with her mind and talent, she would have been able to entrap the heart of her husband and become a noblewoman whom others would admire. Not like now, with her household register changed to that of a criminal and her having to serve others.
Looking at her younger cousin who was sleeping sweetly behind her, she touched the golden bangle that she had secretly hidden by her waist. Her eyes lit up just like a drowning person’s who grabbed the last piece of floatwood.
Because of the major events that had happened frequently in the last two years, the people in Jing were calm. Compared to the major events that had caused gossip previously, the Yuan Family that once had a princess marry into being punished was not worth a mention.
The Yuan Family had once been a famous clan, so there were many of the Yuan Family females who were sent to the members of the Imperial Family as servants. Basically, all of the Imperial Family members who had some power got one or two.
As a super-ranking qinwang fu, Xian Wang Fu got three of these “exquisite articles.” It was a pity that when Chief Steward Mu Tong saw these three “exquisite articles,” his head started to hurt.
What was the assistant of the Department of Internal Affairs thinking to have sent Min Huai Junzhu over here? Did he want to cause trouble? He glanced at Yuan Shu Yi whose head and eyes were lowered demurely. He said coolly, “You were all ladies in the past, but the present is not the same. Entering the wang fu, you have to abide by the protocols of the wang fu and not mention the relationships of the past. If you offend noble personages, you will be punished severely.”
While not many in Jing knew that Yuan Shu Yi had a flame for Wang Ye, it was not a secret. It seemed that someone had purposefully got Yuan Shu Yi into Xian Wang Fu to create problems. While the move was low, if Wang Fei was an average female, she might actually argue with Wang Ye.
But their wang fei… She wasn’t any average woman.
Thinking about this, Mu Tong looked with pity at Yuan Shu Yi. “All right, that is all I have to say. The three of you, first learn the rules with the servants. After you do, then you can serve the masters.”
He had to first notify Wang Ye and Wang Fei. He hoped that this Min Huai Junzhu would know her place. Otherwise, before Wang Fei acted, Wang Ye would not be merciful to her.
“What are you saying—Min Huai Junzhu was really sent to the wang fu?” Hong Ying’s eyes were wide. When she realized that her voice had gotten loud, she hurriedly lowered it and said to Mu Tong. “Mu gonggong, what happened?”
Mu Tong grimaced and said, “Miss Hong Ying, this one is also puzzled and so has come to ask for guidance from Wang Fei on what to do with Miss Yuan.”
“This is not the best time. Wang Ye and Wang Fei are reading inside. Wang Ye had us come out and said we are not to disrupt them unless it is a major matter. You see…” After hearing about this, Bai Xia looked apologetically at Mu Tong with conflict in her eyes.
“Miss Bai Xia is too serious. That Yuan Shu Yi is just a criminal; she is not worth disrupting Wang Ye and Wang Fei’s peace,” Mu Tong said with a smile. “But this one has other matters. Miss Bai Xia, please report for this one.”
“Mu gonggong is too polite.” Bai Xia returned a warm smile. “This servant will definitely report this matter. Mu gonggong, take care.”
“Many thanks.” Mu Tong raised his hands in a bow to Bai Xia and then left. He did not try again at all.
Translator Ramblings: So two more weeks, 3 chapters next week and then 4 the week after. Ending before the new year starts.