Chapter 237: Resignation (I)
In his lofty seat above the assembled officials, Weichi Yan’s face was a looming thundercloud. He watched his subjects come forth one by one, asking him to reconsider his empress with the self-righteous banners of “for the good of the nation” and “to soothe the people”.
But he knew full well that these people were just hoodwinked by another.
He’d once felt that an emperor should naturally love the people like his own children, and that officials should be wholeheartedly devoted to the nation. But now that he was perched in the grand seat, he finally realized that things weren’t as simple as he thought.
He did indeed love his people, but his people only thought of their own safety when push came to shove. They cared not a whit for their ruler’s own wishes at all! How can they strip me of happiness for a lifetime because of a single rumor?!
And if he didn’t listen to them, he would be slapped with a label of trash emperor! Perhaps there would even be denunciations that he was just like his father, that he only knew to enjoy women and not how to better the people’s lives.
And his officials! Oh his officials. Each had their own ulterior motive and cared only about personal gain. They were even trying to use morals force his hand!
Sanctimonious concerns of national stability and citizen morale abounded. What, would their country go down in flames if he made Qin Yining his empress??
Weichi Yan burned with the desire to spit viciously on these holier-than-thou faces!
But the vestiges of his rationality yelled loudly that he couldn’t do so. He’d only just taken his throne and his grip on the nation was yet shaky. If he offended his officials now, life would be very difficult in the future.
The emperor closed his eyes, feeling them start to burn from angry tears.
Dead silence reigned in the halls. Everyone looked carefully at their liege’s expression, trying to garner some clues.
After a long moment, Weichi Yan opened his eyes and looked at Qin Huaiyuan standing at the head of the civil officials. “Beloved subject Qin, how do you think this should be handled?”
The Qin patriarch only needed to glance at the emperor’s face to know what the younger man was thinking. He shook his head inwardly.
The emperor was a dashing scholar at heart after all. He wasn’t much concerned with politics, nor did he have a knack for it. He employed emotion instead of logic when running into any problems. How would the nation’s future hold up in light of this?
“This subject dares not conjecture about this matter. I’m sure Your Majesty will have a wise solution.” Qin Huaiyuan raised cupped hands in salute.
The other officials were all rolling their eyes internally. The emperor shouldn’t have asked Qin Huaiyuan if he had any smarts at all. We’re discussing whether or not Qin Huaiyuan's daughter should be empress. Just how was the marquis supposed to respond?
When Weichi Yan heard the response, he too realized he’d asked an idiotic question. The awkwardness washing over him only further worsened his mood. If he nodded now, Qin Yining would no longer be his.
He could only try to make one final appeal.
“The Soothsayer’s fortunes prescribed for Miss Qin haven’t been verified yet. If a little girl can protect the nation, then what do we need us men for? What do we need the soldiers on the front lines for? This is all sheer nonsense!”
“Your Majesty, what we should be discussing now isn’t whether or not the fortune is true, but that the citizens already deeply believe it is!” An old official stepped forward with a kowtow.
“The foolish people are ignorant, but are all of you ignorant as well? How can you parrot what others say?”
Someone in the Clearists’ camp spoke up. “Your Majesty, the people may be ignorant, but they can overturn a ship. Your subjects aren’t repeating hearsay, but are aware that we currently need someone like her to put the people at ease.”
“This subject agrees! Your Majesty has just taken the throne and if you move against public opinion now, you might lose the people’s heart!”
His hands balled into fists, Weichi Yan asked tightly, “What, Us marrying a girl will lose the people’s heart?”
“The key point is that these are the rumors outside. No matter if they’re true or not, the people think they are!”
Weichi Yan angrily shot to his feet. “Pang only says that he’s pausing the battles but didn’t say that they wouldn’t continue fighting if We don’t marry Miss Qin !”
“But the people think that they’ll be safe as long as Your Majesty doesn’t marry her!”
A vein throbbed painfully in Weichi Yan’s forehead, traces of remaining rationality once again preventing him from cursing. Such were his subjects! Foolish, selfish, and ludicrous!
So it turned out that sitting on this throne didn’t bring about freedom either! A short phrase of ‘the people’s will’ was enough to materialize chains that thoroughly held him down!
“We need to ponder further on this matter. Court is dismissed!” Having run out of patience, Weichi Yan flung down these words and left with a flourish of his sleeves.
The officials looked at each other, at a loss of what to do. Head shakes and sighs were exchanged before they too were on their way.
Qin Huaiyuan heaved a long sigh as he watched the emperor stalk off. Compared to Pang Xiao, Weichi Yan was far inferior when it came to plots and plans. The prince could quickly think of a countermove and execute on it, while the emperor only knew to be angry. This wasn’t an even playing field at all.
Helplessness descended when the marquis reflected on the two generations of rulers he’d served in his life. Whatever, forget it all. Let it go.
After court was adjourned, a stone-faced Weichi Yan made quick time to the Jade Hall. Lu-gonggong and a group of palace servants and guards trailed far behind, deathly afraid of being caught up in the emperor’s temper.
Pure Consort Lin, Weichi Yan’s concubine from when he was still the crown prince, was currently lecturing the three girls in the Jade Hall. Though the girls were technically here for the selection, everyone knew that the three were guaranteed a spot in the imperial harem and that Qin Yining would be the empress.
Consort Lin had loved and served Weichi Yan for many years. She’d given it her all, and it would be a fat lie to say that she expected nothing in return. She’d long since heard that the emperor was infatuated with Qin Yining. The Qin fourth miss was also a notable character amongst the noble daughters in the capital, so the consort had long since wanted to take her measure of the girl.
There were even rumors that the emperor had paid a visit the day that née Qin entered the palace. He’d completely ignored née Li and née Gu, paying attention only to née Qin.
Consort Lin bided her time for two days, but couldn’t restrain herself in the end. She’d happened to ‘pass by’ the Jade Hall today and came in for a look.
Née Li and née Gu were taking a stroll in the garden and chatting. They immediately came forward to make their greetings, but the one rumored to be empress remained arrogantly lying in bed. The consort waited a long while before she saw the girl.
“This seat knows that the Qins have beautiful descendants. Younger sister Qin is stunning alright, no wonder the emperor admires you wholeheartedly.”
Consort Lin was just in her twenties. She had a voluptuous body and a coy tone when she spoke. She wore a silver and red arrowed sleeve cotton jacket, the kind where the sleeves could be cinched to keep them out of the way. A rose-red ruffled hem skirt was finished off with a downy-yellow chiffon wrap around the shoulders. The consort waved her round fan and reached out with slender fingers protected by three inch long nail guards.
Qin Yining frowned with discomfort when the consort gripped her chin, but she didn’t evade the touch. She knelt primly, “Your Highness is as beautiful as a flower. How would this subject dare be complimented by you?”
“Indeed, you wouldn’t dare.” Consort Lin waved her fan with a chuckle. “You don’t dare accept compliments, but you dare lie in bed and make me wait for your greeting.”
Qin Yining kowtowed. “Please forgive me, Consort Lin. This subject is ill and awoke this morning with a fever. I stayed in bed a bit longer due to not feeling well and immediately rose when we heard of your visit. I didn’t dare offend you with a disheveled appearance and so cleaned up a little, which caused my tardiness. Please forgive me for my lateness.”
“Mm. Younger sister’s voice is so pleasing. Speak some more. You sound like a bird chirping.” Consort Lin concealed her smile behind her fan.
Qin Yining sighed. Such was her treatment before she’d officially entered the palace. How could anyone bear to stay in such a place?
“Please forgive me, Your Highness.” She could only continue to admit her fault.
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