Chapter 248 - Bad Habit

The emperor himself had said that corn was a high-yielding crop that wasn’t picky about the type of land it was planted in. But how come when it was put into the Ministry of Revenue hands, they couldn't even grow enough to return the seeds they spent? All of the officials had fretted non-stop throughout this past half a month. The minister himself felt like more than half of his hair had gone white from worry!

The emperor cared about the country and its people. He especially cared about the people’s livelihoods. If the high-yielding crop, corn, was ruined in their hands, then they didn’t know if they could still keep the officials’ hats on their heads!

Today, the Minister of Revenue had finally seen hope in the form of one stalk of corn. Although it was only a single stalk, it had a healthy vibrant green color and was growing very vigorously in the pot. Apparently it wasn’t because corn couldn’t be grown in their country; it was because they were using the wrong methods!

“Royal Prince Yang, may I ask you how you planted this stalk of corn?” All of the resentment the Minister of Revenue had towards Prince Yang momentarily disappeared into thin air.

An old man in his fifties, who had wrinkles all over his face, was staring avidly and adoringly at Royal Prince Yang. If the youth didn’t have a strong heart, then he would probably have nightmares later on that night!

He shifted slightly to the side and glanced at an official who emitted waves of malice——this was Imperial Censor Yang. Zhu Junyang wondered idly when he had offended this censor with an iron face. He didn’t think he had beaten up this man’s son before, right?

“Royal Prince Yang, this corn seedling looks quite healthy. Looks like a lot of effort has been put in, right?” The person who had just spoken was the Left Commander-in-chief Du. He had a decent relationship with Prince Jing. 

Zhu Junyang looked at his older cousin, the emperor, who was sitting behind the notebooks criticizing him and was avidly watching this entire scene. The youth replied with an expressionless face, “In reply to Your Imperial Majesty, this stalk of corn wasn’t actually planted by me. As for the methods used, this official only knows a little.”

“Eh? It wasn’t planted by you? Then where did this stalk come from? Don’t tell us that this stalk came from a kernel that had inadvertently fallen to the ground, germinated, and grown ah!” The Jianwen Emperor, Zhu Junfan, raised an eyebrow and switched out the hand that was cradling his chin as he looked at his cousin with eyes sparkling with excitement.

His little younger male cousin had always seemed like a tiny adult since he was a child. His face was always serious and unexpectedly always had a distant expression on it. Who knew that his youthful good looks combined with his constipated expression would give off a slightly adorable impression. Zhu Junfan was older than his cousin by almost ten years, so he had loved teasing him since he was young. Being able to see his cousin’s angry and also ‘I’m not lowering myself to your level’ facial expressions was truly too funny and interesting!

Zhu Junyang had long gotten accustomed to the emperor’s odd idea of fun, so he knew how to handle him. He replied in an icy tone, “At the docks, I met a little girl from a farming family and gave her family some seeds to let them experiment. This corn was planted by that girl’s farming family!”

“A girl from a farming family? How old is she? Is she beautiful?” Zhu Junfan’s eyes abruptly lit up. His little cousin had plenty of admirers in the capital due to his remarkable looks. However, he was as slow as a block of wood and didn’t understand the fairer sex. No matter who he was interacting with, he would always regard them with that cold and detached expression. Who knew how many fair maidens had gotten their hearts broken by him! This guy had unexpectedly paid attention to a girl from a farming family and even gave her a gift. Did springtime finally come for his cousin?

‘Emperor, we’re discussing official business right now. Why does it look like you’re more interested in gossiping, just what are your intentions?’ Zhu Junyang’s eyebrows slowly went up his face as his stiffly said, “In reply to Your Imperial Majesty, that girl from a farming family has not yet reached the age of ten. As for whether she’s beautiful or not...this official doesn’t know what standards you are using to determine beauty!”

‘She’s not yet ten?? Who would have thought that his younger cousin had pedo urges ah!!’ The emperor rubbed his chin somewhat wretchedly and continued, “My standard of beauty? As long as you don’t think she’s ugly or irksome, that’s considered beautiful!”

The image of that tender little face, dark and lively huge eyes, a petal of a mouth that liked to smile, and her bevy expressions that drew a person’s eyes suddenly came to his mind. Zhu Junyang’s icy cold look became gentle as he nodded his head, “Neither ugly nor irksome!”

The Minister of Revenue became anxious the more the emperor went off topic! He rubbed his hands incessantly and he finally couldn’t help but interrupt the conversation, “Royal Prince Yang, this corn was planted by that girl’s farming family?”  

Zhu Junyang didn’t have any ill will towards Minister Liu, who was only trying with all his heart to complete their task. He looked at the other man in the eye and nodded, “This girl’s farming family is famous in the area for being experts at growing plants. The family’s vegetables are all ripe out of season, so they sell it ahead of the other farmers! At this time, their family’s watermelons are also ripe and they even taste better than the ones found in the capital! This time when this official went to Tanggu Town, I also wanted to find out if this family was able to grow the corn that we’ve had so much trouble with. Sure enough, they didn’t disappoint this official…”

‘Eh? There must be something...going on.’ His younger cousin, who usually regarded his words as if they were gold, unexpectedly was quite talkative when he was describing the little farmer’s girl! (Zhu Junyang’s thoughts: Emperor, how come you only selectively hear me talking about that little girl? This official is obviously describing how her family knows how to raise crops!)

‘That can’t be right!' Springtime in the northern parts of the country was on the colder side. At the beginning of spring, there was still frost early in the morning and late at night, how could they possibly be able to grow green vegetables? As for watermelons, weren’t they a summer crop? It was barely the middle of spring, yet their watermelons were already ripe...perhaps, the little farmer girl’s family had someone who had transmigrated over and knew how to craft greenhouse-like canopies? That can’t be right either! This era currently didn’t have any plastics technology, how could they make a canopy? Perhaps, the little farmer girl’s family had someone who had a special magical space where they could plant crops? Didn’t the novels frequently write that transmigrators often had these magical spaces when they crossed over ah?!

Zhu Junfan firmly believed that there were definitely other people besides himself and his imperial grandfather who transmigrated over to this world. He had always kept an eye out and looked for other transmigrators like him. Did he finally find one?

“Junyang ah, who in that little girl’s family is better at planting things? How could they possibly make plants grow and ripen out of season?” Zhu Junfan was in good spirits, so he asked for more details.

Zhu Junyang thought for a bit. Yu Xiaocao was able to recognize corn in a glance and even knew the method to plant it. There were two possibilities. The first was that she had already seen corn before. The second was that she was somehow similar to his older cousin, the emperor, and knew of the existence of corn despite no one else in the country knowing about it! Xiaocao also apparently didn’t want the emperor to find out that there was something different about her. Although he wasn’t sure why, he also didn’t want the emperor to become interested in the little girl. He shook his head, “This official also doesn’t know the answer. I only know that the little farming girl’s family’s vegetables are all taken care of by her mother, whereas she takes care of the watermelons along with her father.”

“Ehh? Junyang, you seem to know quite an amount of details regarding her family’s circumstances!” His younger cousin was the type of youth who turned a blind eye to the number one beauty in the capital, yet he knew so much about this little farming girl. If people claimed that there wasn’t more to the story, even a fool wouldn’t believe that!

Zhu Junyang nodded his head confidently, “That little farming girl is also the adopted daughter of General Fang! When Lady Fang was in Tanggu Town, she often spent time chatting with my lady mother.”

Although Zhu Junyang’s words provided a reason as to why he knew so much about this girl’s family, Zhu Junfan still felt that his younger cousin had a different type of attitude towards her. However, feelings and emotions weren’t something that could be rushed. That little girl was only ten years old. Judging from his younger cousin’s expression, he was pretty sure that he was still far from coming to a conclusion. ‘Take your time, everything will become clear in the future!’

“Emperor, this official would like to go to Tanggu Town, I ask Your Imperial Majesty for permission!” Minister Liu couldn’t be patient anymore and immediately kneeled down in front of the table. Someone was able to grow corn and do it extremely well. Minister Liu wished beyond reason that he could grow a pair of wings right now and fly to that person. He needed to figure out the right method to plant corn and write down all of the details!

Everyone had to admit that Minister Liu was truly an official who cared about the country and its people. He was the type of man who would never give up to complete his goal of bettering the world.

“Minister Liu, are you trying to steal this task away from me?” For some reason, Zhu Junyang didn’t want Minister Liu to go there. He wasn’t sure why he felt this way, but he thought it was because if the other man went, he would be taking the task away from him. That wouldn’t do! He finally had a good excuse to go to Tanggu Town to accompany his lady mother, he absolutely could not allow the other man to steal this away from him!

There was another secret hidden within a corner of his heart; a secret that even he himself wasn’t aware of just yet——if he continued to have this task, then he would be able to spend more time with her under a proper excuse.

Psh! Didn’t you say that you were going to stay far away from her? The mind and the heart often had opposing desires, wasn’t that right?

Minister Liu let out a flabbergasted noise for a while before he finally spoke, “Royal Prince Yang, this old official isn’t trying to steal your glory. I merely want to find out the proper method of planting corn as soon as possible…”

“Enough! You two can stop bickering!! Minister Liu, we know that you only have the people’s best interest in your heart. However, this task was originally given to Royal Prince Yang to finish. The little girl and her entire family are also more familiar with him, so it’s still better to leave the task to him.”

Since his younger cousin was interested in the girl, Zhu Junfan naturally had to create some opportunity for him ah! There was a common saying: ‘familiarity breeds fondness’. The more time his younger cousin could spend with the girl, the more he’ll understand the emotions of his heart. However, that little girl was really too young right now. His younger cousin had to wait at least five to six years before he could do anything! He had to wait! Emperor, was it really alright for you to take pleasure in your younger cousin’s conundrum?

Minister Liu felt as if there was a cat scratching at his insides. He truly wanted to see with his own eyes how corn was grown. He stubbornly continued to ask for permission, “Emperor, please give permissions for this official to go along with Royal Prince Yang when he next travels to Tanggu Town!”

“Alright! Permission granted!!” Zhu Junfan had a good understanding of the Minister of Revenue’s stubborn personality. If he didn’t let him go, the old man might become so anxious that he became ill. The fact that Minister Liu was very meticulous in his duties wasn’t a bad thing!

The corn that Zhu Junyang brought back from Tanggu Town was a potent weapon against the officials who accused him of misconduct——this prince wasn’t neglecting his duty to see his lady mother, this prince was managing official business! This prince only went to Tanggu Town to figure out the method of planting corn, being able to see my lady mother was only just a perk, that’s all…

Royal Prince Yang, don’t you feel even the tiniest bit ashamed for telling such a lie?!

Just as Zhu Junyang was about to leave the imperial study, his older cousin, the emperor, suddenly interjected, “Junyang ah! Didn’t you mention that the little farming girl’s watermelons are ripe now? Did you bring any back?”

Zhu Junyang and all of the other officials within the study felt like there were black lines on their foreheads: Emperor, was it really alright for you to overtly demand goods from your officials?

Zhu Junyang glanced down and sternly said, “This official rushed back here as fast as I could, so I naturally couldn’t bring much over. The bodyguards who are still on the road will bring some watermelons over. Once the melons enter the capital, this official will personally send some over to you.”

It was okay to wait a couple more days as long as he got watermelon to eat! Zhu Junfan grinned contently and then waved a hand, hinting that the prince could leave now.

As he left the imperial palace, Zhu Junyang had a stormy expression on his face which made people want to stay away from him. Naturally, none of the other officials wanted to try their luck. However, Minister Liu could not be considered a man who went with the crowd. He scampered over and inquired, “Royal Prince Yang, were you telling the truth when you said that the family grows vegetables at the start of spring and watermelons that can be eaten now?”

“Who would dare to lie in front of the emperor? Deceiving the monarch is a serious crime!” Zhu Junyang snarled back in a bad temper.

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Myst's Thoughts

Sanguine’s Thoughts: Hahahaha, the emperor is too funny, trying to be a gossipy matchmaker. He’s probably bored and wants to meddle.

Translator: Sanguine