Chapter 240: Fatherly Love
The second master’s words plunged the entire family into silence.
It took a long while for née Sun to recover from the sheer shock and progress to panic. “How can this be? How can the emperor be so cruel? Daughter Yi is a young girl and though he can’t marry her because of the people’s will, he can’t ruin the rest of her life like this!”
Color had likewise drained from the old dowager’s face. After that enormous disaster and the thinning of family descendants, she valued the remaining ones even more so. Qin Yining was her beloved firstborn’s only official daughter, and she’d looked to the girl to bring the Qins to new heights after entering the palace. Why had something like this happened instead??
“Those Great Zhou thieves are simply too despicable! What did they do this for?? Harming others without benefitting themselves and making it so that my granddaughter Yi can’t be the empress! Heavens, why is my life so hard? Why is it so hard??” The old dowager wailed and beat her chest.
Second Madame also wiped away tears. “Great Zhou is ignoble and the people fools to believe those rumors. Our poor niece to be caught up in all this! She’s just come of age, will she have to be a nun for the rest of her life?”
Née Sun frantically grabbed Qin Huaiyuan’s hand. “My lord, think of something! What will our daughter do? Our poor daughter!”
Everyone looked expectantly at the marquis. His position as the head of the household had been even more solidified after a few upheavals and the family trusted him even more.
Qin Huaiyuan frowned solemnly. “There’s no need to panic just yet. The emperor may have decreed daughter Yi to enter monastic life without having to cut off her hair, but she’s not in the official records. She also lives in a royal residence that’s only temporarily received a new name. Daughter Yi’s identity is just a layman Taoist.”
This analysis calmed the family down and made minds function again.
Every school of thought and temple had their own legacies. Those subscribing to any particular school were divided into monastic Taoists and laymen Taoists.
Monastic Taoists needed to live at the religious institution, abstain from meat and wine, and refrain from marrying. This was the path that Priestess Liu walked.
Laymen Taoists enjoyed much more freedom. They could live in the nunnery or monastery, or live elsewhere. They could enjoy meat and wine, and marry if they wished. Those that followed this path placed a high importance on the son taking over the family business and the family legacy.
Qin Huaiyuan’s cool-headed analysis thoroughly restored rationality to everyone.
“It looks like the emperor still has his sights set on niece Yi.” The third elder master, having been quiet all this time, frowned. “If he truly didn’t want her to marry, he could’ve forced her to be a monastic Taoist. But he’s only decreed her to be a layman, leaving him some room to maneuver with.”
“Precisely.” The old dowager relaxed, her sadness turning to joy. “So this means that the emperor had the royal residence change its name to Xuan Su Temple to make things convenient for him? So he still favors my granddaughter, but is only forced to do all this because of the will of the people?”
However, the marquis wasn’t as delighted as the old dowager. “This isn’t anything good. What does daughter Yi become if the emperor really does get his way? She’d be a layman Taoist on the surface and the emperor’s mistress in private? My daughter will not suffer this kind of treatment!”
Née Sun gnashed her teeth, her eyes bloodshot. “Doesn’t the emperor fear that his subjects will lose all faith and confidence in him if he does this? This is a clear sign that his lecherous hopes haven’t died yet!”
“Watch your words, eldest daughter-in-law!” The old dowager rebuked née Sun harshly. “The emperor isn’t one to be discussed about like this!”
But née Sun wouldn’t back down. “My own daughter is being forced to be a mistress. Can I not be outraged about this?”
“Oh you silly!” The old dowager took née Sun’s hand and patted it. “Think about it, that’s the emperor! Him being forced to give this imperial order is a grave injustice for granddaughter Yi. He’ll feel guilty towards our family and will want to make up for it! Our family has suffered so many disasters and Meng’er’s weathered great rises and falls. He finally has a chance to turn things around and come out on top of everything! This is a wonderful thing!”
The second madame lowered her eyes, remaining noncommittal. Her thoughts were similar to the old dowager’s, but to put it bluntly, they were tacitly agreeing to a Qin daughter becoming a royal mistress in order to gain favor with the emperor and seek guilt-laden reparations. Parents would be ashamed of making such demands from their daughters, not to mention mere relations. Likely only the old dowager could put things this way.
The third elder master had never been the old dowager’s favorite and was already grieving over the loss of his wife and child. Choice criticism of the Weichi clan had brewed within him for a while, and he immediately retorted with dissatisfaction when he heard the old dowager’s words.
“Mother, your words are inappropriate. Our niece Yi is an official Qin daughter and big brother’s only child. How can we let her be so debased as to be the emperor’s mistress? Besides, brother’s swam the seas of court for many years. He’s already attained his positions — does he need to sell his daughter to maintain them?”
The second elder master nodded as well. He would never agree to something like this for even a concubine-born daughter of his.
Ashen-faced with anger, the matriarch debated furiously, “As a Qin daughter, the family feeds her and clothes her, and has suffered disaster because of her. Now that she can do something for the family, shouldn’t she do so?”
Those assembled looked at the old dowager, then at Qin Huaiyuan and née Sun.
Née Sun was one step away from erupting in fury when her husband stopped her with an upraised hand. His expression was dark as he addressed the family matriarch.
“I finally understand mother’s words. Are you blaming my daughter, mother? You should know that in these troubled times and with my positions, meeting with assassination and overt attacks from our nation’s enemies was going to happen sooner or later. Daughter Yi was just the scapegoat for all of this. It was Great Zhou today, and it might be the Tatars tomorrow. Perhaps Goryeo and Yamato will also join in  Are we going to blame whoever the assassins call out each time they come?”
“At the end of the day, it’s I who’ve dragged the entire family down. We could share in the fortunes together, but resentment grows when we share troubles.”
“Don’t say that, big brother!” The third elder master hastily objected. “This matter isn’t anyone’s fault. It’s the Great Zhou emperor’s, if we must blame someone for it!”
The old dowager flushed hotly, she’d never thought her son would say any of this!
“I’ll think of a way to handle Daughter Yi’s matter. If mother still wants to have my daughter ignobly serve the emperor like this, then you must still be blaming me for bringing disaster down on everyone’s heads. If that’s the case, then I no longer dare drag the family down with me. I can only move out with my wife and daughter.”
The household doesn’t split up while the parents are still alive. This was why a completely fed-up Qin Huaiyuan had only said that he would move out, and hadn’t taken it a step further and said to split the family properties up as well.
What he was proposing wasn’t an affront to manners or filial piety, but really it was no different to actually splitting the family in two.
“Big brother!” The second and third elder master both panicked.
The second madame and Qin-mama were also quite taken aback. They hadn’t thought that Qin Huaiyuan would say such things for Qin Yining.
The old dowager was both irate and furious. She slammed her hand on the table. “Fine, fine! You’re throwing all caution to the winds for your daughter! I wash my hands of this matter. I don’t care about what happens to any of you!”
Though it was a tatrum, it also represented an easing of attitude.
This step back eased Qin Huaiyuan’s expression. “Don’t worry, mother. I won’t have my daughter serve any man in such a demeaning fashion, nor will I let her suffer any disgrace.” He turned to née Sun. “Tell those who serve our daughter at the Venerable Study Hall to pack her necessities and items. They will accompany me to the royal residence in a moment.”
“Can we visit without an imperial decree?” The consequences rather worried née Sun.
Qin Huaiyuan responded solemnly, “The emperor said that our daughter is to practice Taoism, but didn’t say that we can’t send her anything.”
“That’s right.” Joy warmed the madame’s heart. “My lord, I would like to go with you.”
“Mm, then let’s go together.”