This chapter has been brought to you by me and Adnana.
“Mother, you cannot—mother.” Just as Grand Princess Deyi was preparing to board the carriage, her only son, the Kangping Count, Shen Yuan Fei, hurried over, his clothing disheveled. He knelt in front of Grand Princess Deyi and urged. “Mother, if the servants have committed crimes, they should be punished according to the law. We are the subjects of the emperor and cannot bother the emperor for such minor matters.”
“But this palace is the emperor’s great-aunt. Today, this palace is still here, and these villains dare to come and insult this palace. After this palace passes, how will these people treat you?!” Grand Princess Deyi looked at her son kneeling in front of her and scolded, “You do not have to say more. Today, this palace will enter the palace and have His Majesty get justice.”
“Mother…” Shen Yuan Fei was a junior and didn’t dare to block the carriage on the street. He could only watch the carriage with the insignia of Grand Princess Deyi leave.
He stood up and grimaced as he bowed to the right assistant minister of the Ministry of Justice. Then he had servants prepare a carriage. He was going to the palace.
Regardless of how discontent Grand Princess Deyi was, she could not take a court official into the palace. Although she said she was going to take the right assistant minister along, she could not do it, so she could only enter the palace alone to cry.
The right assistant minister of the Ministry of Justice saw that the Kangping Count was tactful and returned the bow. He turned and glanced at the grand princess’ steward under arrest. “Count Shen, this one bids farewell.”
“Assistant Minister, take care.” Shen Yuan Fei bowed again. He was tormented inside. If no one had ordered them, the Ministry of Justice wouldn’t have dared to come here and arrest people.
To make the right assistant minister of the Ministry of Justice act personally, except for…
“One emperor, one court.” Shen Yuan Fei shook his head and sighed, helpless against his mother’s impulsive action. This world had changed masters long ago. The new emperor was young but… more ruthless than the previous emperor.
Since last year when the emperor started to govern personally, the court had appeared to have little turmoil. But several officials from the Sima and Li parties had been punished for corruption. All this looked to be coincidence, but in fact, there were things going on.
This emperor was not as mettlesome as the founding emperor in his conduct, but was similar in personality.
“Count, the carriage is prepared.” An attendant of the princess establishment reported.
He glanced back at the carriage and hurriedly boarded. “To the palace.”
In Purple Imperial Hall, Gu Ru Jiu put down her chopsticks and took the teacup a palace maid handed over to rinse her mouth and wash her hands. Before her hands dried, she saw Bai Xian hurry in and say, “Your Majesties, Grand Princess Deyi is crying at the Vermillion Bird Gates and wishes to meet Your Majesty.”
Gu Ru Jiu stopped wiping her hands and threw the handkerchief onto the tray. She turned to look at Jin Yang. “It’s almost curfew now. Why is the grand princess acting so?”
The grand princess ennobled by the previous emperor was crying at the Vermillion Bird Gates. This wasn’t because she had been slighted—she wanted to stain Jin Yang’s reputation! If this spread, other people would say that the important people in the place were bullying elders. How would that look?
“Has Grand Princess said why?” Jin Yang took a clean handkerchief from the tray and carefully wiped Gu Ru Jiu’s hands for her. He touched the slender delicate fingers and said coolly, “The palace gates have already been locked. Based on the rules, if there is no important matter, the gates should not be rashly opened. Send Zhen‘s decree. The grand princess is old and Zhen worries the night cold will harm the grand princess’ health. She is to be given a peacock coat. Send a female official to ask about the reason.”
This was the end of spring and the beginning of summer. Giving a peacock coat…
Bai Xian immediately understood and said, “Your Majesty is benevolent and kind; the grand princess will definitely be grateful.”
Weren’t you going to complain in front of the palace gates about being slighted? All right, then speak in front of the palace gates. If there is no major matter, His Majesty cannot casually let you in. You are old, so His Majesty will send people to serve you and give you a valuable peacock robe. Wasn’t this considerate enough?
Only Grand Princess Deyi knew whether or not this was considerate enough. At least, when she saw Bai Xian come out with some female officials holding items, she did not have a good expression.
What did they mean by saying that those without major matters could not be casually allowed in?
Great Feng did have rules that said entering the palace after curfew was allowed only for military and government matters. But in reality, this rule depended on the mood of the emperor. If he agreed, even the smallest of matters could be reason enough to enter the palace.
Now, the emperor was saying to her that those without important matters could not enter, and hoped that she would have forgiveness.
Grand Princess Deyi became even more angry. She became determined. She copied those Feng princesses with shrewish reputations and decided to cry and make a fuss, mentioning her father-emperor and the previous emperor. While she did not say the present emperor was cold towards the imperial house, her words never strayed from this meaning.
Bai Xian watched coldly as the grand princess fussed. When she was almost done, he said loudly with a conflicted expression, “Your Highness, it is not that His Majesty doesn’t want to see you, but it is curfew, and it is not convenient for you to enter the palace. Also, the common saying is that the emperor is punished the same as the common people. Even the officials of court abide by Great Feng’s laws. Your servants privately took over lands of citizens, and used Your Highness’ name to make loans, even opening gambling houses and committing fraud and blackmail. Such serious crimes cannot be easily forgiven.”
“Are Gonggong‘s words His Majesty’s thoughts as well?” Grand Princess Deyi said furiously, “Since His Majesty isn’t willing to see me, then I will not bother him. In the time of the previous emperor, when I returned to the capital, the empress and consorts came out to welcome me and I was treated very well by the previous emperor. Now that the previous emperor has passed, this palace cannot even enter the palace.”
Then she urged the carriage to turn to leave.
“Farewell, Your Highness Grand Princess.” Bai Xian bowed sarcastically. After the carriage disappeared into the night, he sneered.
“Gonggong, this peacock robe…” The female official behind him looked at the valuable coat that she held.
“Grand Princess refuses imperial favour. We only have to report the truth to His Majesty.” Bai Xian swung his horsetail whisk and said in a strange tone, “Return.”
“Yes.” The eunuchs behind him carefully held the lanterns and the untouched gifts to return to Purple Imperial Hall.
Bai Xian entered Purple Imperial Hall and narrated what Grand Princess Deyi had said.
Hearing Bai Xian say that Deyi had clearly stated that Jin Yang treated her coldly, the smiling Gu Ru Jiu finally couldn’t help but erupt. She slammed the table and said angrily, “She isn’t discontent with His Majesty—she is discontent with this palace, and just took the opportunity to vent at His Majesty!”
What did she mean about ‘when the previous emperor was alive, the empress and consorts came out to welcome her’? This was saying that she, the empress, was posturing.
“Don’t hurt your hand.” Jin Yang saw that the table trembled at her slam and grabbed her hand, worried. Seeing her red palm, he urged, “You just urged me today. How come you are angry first?!”
“If she just speaks of me, never mind. But she pulled you in.” She compared Jin Yang to the previous emperor and said that Jin Yang was inferior. Who was she trying to disgust? If Gu Ru Jiu didn’t have some sanity left, she feared she would have said what she thought. “In earlier years, she was a cautious person. Now, she uses her seniority against others.”
After Gu Ru Jiu vented, someone came to report the Kangping Count had bowed towards Purple Imperial Hall from the Vermillion Bird Gates asking for forgiveness and then quickly left.
Bai Xian thought, someone educated by the Shen Family would not be an idiot. Pity that he hadn’t been able to stop the grand princess. Even though he came to ask for forgiveness, it was useless.
He looked in the direction of the emperor and empress, and saw the emperor blowing on the empress’ palm with a distressed expression. He looked down again. His Majesty really wasn’t like the previous emperor—because this current emperor was much more ruthless.
Deep in the night, Gu Ru Jiu was not sleepy. After turning two times, she heard Jin Yang speak from beside her.
“Jiu Jiu hasn’t slept yet?” Jin Yang’s hand fumbled in the dark, and his arm accurately landed on Gu Ru Jiu’s waist.
“Yes.” Gu Ru Jiu pushed her head into Jin Yang’s embrace. “Did I disturb you?”
“No.” Jin Yang patted her back. “Still thinking about Grand Princess Deyi?”
Gu Ru Jiu shook her head. A long time later, she said, “I miss my family a bit.” To avoid other people’s gossip, ever since she married, she had only seen her parents once and then never seen them again.
On the third of March, she had sent Qiu Luo back to the Ducal Establishment to deliver some things, but compared to the pouches she made with her own hands, even the most precious thing could not compare. The Gu Family did not lack for such things.
“If you miss them, invite them to the palace for a visit.” Jin Yang knew that she had deep relationships with her family members, having been raised by them. “I am here—do not care what others say.”
Gu Ru Jiu still shook her head. “Let’s talk about it later.”
Hearing her say this, Jin Yang knew that Jiu Jiu would not summon the Gu Family into the palace. At this thought, he felt both heartsore and guilty. Jiu Jiu was acting so cautiously to avoid making trouble for him.
“Do not think so much. With me here, so what if you use your position to bully others?” Jin Yang’s words were sincere.
Gu Ru Jiu shook her head and sighed. “Chenjun, don’t you fear creating a female calamity for the country?”
Jin Yang smiled. “Zhen doesn’t fear.”
He used “zhen” and not “I”. He really did not fear.
Gu Ru Jiu laughed softly. She sensed the other seemed slightly “moved” and turned around. “I seem to be a bit sleepy.” Then she rolled over in her blanket and moved to sleep.
Left half exposed in the air, Jin Yang was dumbfounded. He shamelessly squeezed in under the blanket. Then they fell asleep sweetly like this.
At a minor court session two days later, officials criticized Grand Princess Deyi for participating in the crimes of her servants and taking over citizen land. Jin Yang did not allow the memorandum to be sent, appearing not to mention this matter.
Everyone thought of two days ago when Grand Princess Deyi had cried at the palace gates for the criminal servant. They couldn’t help but maliciously think, did the princess and that steward…
The court officials couldn’t be blamed for thinking too evilly. In reality, there were too many examples of Feng princesses having male concubines and playing with beautiful maids and eunuchs. This Grand Princess Deyi was a bit old, but they heard that this steward, although an eunuch and a decade younger, had followed the grand princess for decades and was greatly valued. Who knew whether there was anything else going on?
A few days later, other officials accused the Grand Princess of being extravagant and violent. The reason was that she required crowds of servants whenever she was going out, and had had people beaten to death.
In reality, many aristocratic families had this conduct of privately killing servants. But everyone knew to conceal it and make a report of sickness or something else. Grand Princess Deyi had executed a maid while in Sanggan Commandery, so she had not kept the matter on her mind. Now, the imperial censors had caught her.
Instantly, Grand Princess Deyi’s reputation became so bad that even other members of the imperial family were embarrassed.
This time, Jin Yang did not suppress the memorandums and had the Court of Justice and Ministry of Justice investigate together to “give the grand princess back her innocence.”
Innocence—how could a person disliked by the emperor be innocent?
It was possible to even pick bones out of an egg, much less out of Grand Princess Deyi.
Grand Princess Deyi had not thought the matter would progress to such a degree. She was slightly flustered and hurriedly entered the palace seeking to meet the empress dowager. But the empress dowager said she was ill and did not meet her. Thinking of how the empress dowager had been polite back when she was just the empress, Grand Princess Deyi gritted her teeth and turned around. “To Purple Imperial Hall.”
She did not believe the empress was also sick.
The empress was not sick, but she had forgotten she already offended this empress. This empress was also petty and protective. The empress remembered what Grand Princess Deyi had said in front of the Vermillion Bird Gates, that the current emperor could not compare to the previous one.
When Grand Princess Deyi met the empress again, her mental state was different. The one accompanying her into the palace wasn’t her granddaughter-in-law Sima shi, but her daughter-in-law Chen shi.
Chen shi came from the same branch as the deceased Young Mistress Gu. Although they were only distantly related, they did come from the same ancestor.
Grand Princess Deyi had taken along her daughter-in-law out of this consideration, even though she hadn’t liked this daughter-in-law in the past.
Shen Chen shi entered the room and saw a beautiful woman in regular robes sitting at the front. Her hair was wound up and she looked extremely indolent and beautiful.
Seeing the other dressed like this, Shen Chen shi‘s heart jumped. She feared there would not be a result to what they were asking today.
This time, Deyi was not slow in bowing. She did not posture as an elder and appeared very sincere.
“We are of the same family—no need to be so polite.” Gu Ru Jiu had the palace maids move in seats and then said apologetically, “I had not expected Grand Princess today. It is a bit sudden. Apologies.”
Shen Chen shi discovered that the empress’ hair was in slight disarray, and her face slightly flushed, as though she had gotten out of bed just recently. She was shocked. What time was this that the empress just got out of bed?
Grand Princess Deyi could also think of this, but even though she was discontent now, she had something to request so she could only swallow her discontent.
“It is my good fortune that the empress is willing to see me despite the busy schedule.” Grand Princess Deyi’s eyes reddened and she said in a choked up voice, “The family’ servant is arrogant to dare do such crimes. But I, as a princess, wasn’t able to discipline my servant well and failed the imperial grace.”
Grand Princess Deyi was not stupid. With the matter like it was now, if she still tried to protect the servants, then she feared that even she would be pulled in. So she pushed all the crimes to her steward. At least, she would be washed clean.
Grand Princess Deyi had experienced four emperors and been careful for half of her life. She had only slowly managed to stand up straight after the previous emperor ascended the throne decades ago. Now, court officials were attacking her. She thought of her past sisters. They had been smarter, more beautiful and more welcomed by the young masters. They had even picked better husbands.
But what had happened to those sisters?
Thinking of the outcome of those sisters, she now felt afraid, and looked at Gu Ru Jiu with more care.
“It is terrible when servants go behind their masters’ back.” Gu Ru Jiu took the almond milk tea Qiu Luo handed over and took a sip. She wiped her mouth and said, “Princess has come today…”
“I came today to ask forgiveness from Your Majesty.” Grand Princess Deyi stood up and curtsied deeply to Gu Ru Jiu. “I did not teach them well and should be punished.”
Gu Ru Jiu raised her chin towards the palace maid for her to help Deyi and Shen Chen shi up. Then she said, “Princess, don’t worry. His Majesty and the others will thoroughly investigate the matter and give you back your innocence.”
Deyi felt more bitter inside hearing this, but seeing the empress’ aloofness, she could not keep on going with this matter, and used Shen Chen shi as an opening.
“So the Kangping Countess and Eldest Sister-in-law were from the same family.” Gu Ru Jiu smiled with her lips pressed together and then looked down slightly at the jade bangle on her wrist. “Pity that I did not know before and we could not visit.”
After Eldest Sister-in-law passed away, the Shen Family did not send condolences nor did anyone visit. Now, they were going to use the name of the deceased to try to seek profit by family ties with her?
Many people in the capital knew she was close with her two sisters-in-law, but this did not mean that anyone could use this relationship.
Also, even the true paternal family of Eldest Sister-in-law did not mention this matter in front of her. A distantly related Shen Chen shi had the face to mention it?
Qiu Luo saw the empress did not have a good expression and asked perceptively, “Your Majesty, what is it?”
“Nothing, just some discomfort.” Gu Ru Jiu rubbed her forehead.
Deyi and Shen Chen shi saw the empress like this and could not stay longer. They could only stand up to say their farewells.
After the two left, Gu Ru Jiu took her hand away from where it had pressed against her forehead. She said coldly, “They dare to mention my eldest sister-in-law?”
The third branch of the Sima Family wanted to send Sima Xiang into the palace. Grand Princess Deyi had spoken on her behalf. Her eldest sister-in-law had died at the hands of the third branch. She had not made trouble for the Sima Family, but Grand Princess Deyi was mentioning past matters. It would be a wonder if she was in a good mood.
Knowing the empress was in a bad mood, Qiu Luo talked about interesting things for Gu Ru Jiu to slowly release her emotions. But she still felt slightly averse towards the Sima Family and Grand Princess Deyi.
“The empress is not feeling well?” Jin Yang was reading memorandums when he heard the palace attendant report. He put down the imperial pen and asked in concern, “Has the imperial doctor been called for?”
“Your Majesty, the imperial doctor says the empress is all right, just slightly weak and in need of rest.”
“Zhen will go see.” Jin Yang folded up the memorandum in his hand and said to He Ming who was standing by, “Call for the director of the Palace Physicians Office, and take the empress’ pulse again.”
“Yes.” He Ming did not dare to delay. He turned and walked out. A junior eunuch came up to him, willing to make the trip for him, but he was pushed aside.
If it was for the emperor, he would go on his own even if he died of exhaustion . He would not allow other people to do it. Also, the matter concerned the empress. How would he let others get the favour?
Gu Ru Jiu read for a while before seeing Jin Yang hurry in with a not so pretty expression. She put down the book and asked worriedly, “What is it?” Had some court official angered him?
“I am fine.” Jin Yang did not allow her to stand up and bow. He walked in front of her and sat down. “How are you?”
Gu Ru Jiu stilled and then knew what he was talking about. She said with a smile, “It’s nothing; I just didn’t want to bother with Grand Princess Deyi, so I found an excuse to make her leave.”
“If you do not want to see her, then don’t do so next time. Do not joke about your health.” Seeing her fine, Jin Yang sighed in relief. “This is no small matter.”
“All right, I will pay attention next time.” Gu Ru Jiu nodded with a smile and then said, “The matter of Grand Princess Deyi…”
“She is a grand princess ennobled by the previous emperor. I cannot depose her, but I can make her stay compliant.” Jin Yang did not want to bother her with these bad matters and said, “What book are you reading?”
“Isn’t this a novel you had them send over a few days ago?” Gu Ru Jiu said. “Quite boring—two brothers falling in love with the same woman, then the brothers still end up good brothers in the end but the woman is dead.”
Jin Yang shook his head after hearing this. “It really is boring.”
A while later, the director of the Palace Physicians Office arrived. He took the pulses of Jin Yang and Gu Ru Jiu, wrote a prescription for the pair to nurture their bodies, and then left.
“Nurture the body, nurture the body—it is better to strengthen the body,” Gu Ru Jiu said. “If the emperor has spare time, you can do something like Five Animal Boxing.”
Bai Xian and He Ming turned their heads. Could they watch the emperor perform Five Animal Boxing in the yard?
“If Jiu Jiu will accompany me, then I can try.” They heard the emperor say.
All right, they would not watch or think.
Ten days later, the case of Grand Princess Deyi’s Establishment was finished.
The servants who committed the crimes were all punished according to the law. The grand princess had not managed them well, but she had not known, so it was enough for her to be punished with two years worth of salary.
What, you ask what happens now that the princess establishment has no steward?
No matter, the imperial family is considerate and sent a capable steward to the princess establishment.
On the surface, the matter had ended. But those with clear eyes saw that this was the emperor being discontent with the grand princess.
The servants had been arrested, the princess had been fined, and even the new steward came from the imperial family. Was this to manage the household or manage the princess?
But this time, the grand princess did not go to the palace to make a fuss or cry in front of the palace gates about the previous emperor. She docilely wrote a letter admitting her crime to the emperor, and then stayed in the residence without going out.
Those who knew the progression of events laughed in secret. Why do all this in the first place? Now, she was on bad terms with the emperor and empress, so who cared whether or not you were the grand princess?
The face and status of the imperial family members were given to them by the emperor. You offended the emperor, so what face did you have left?