Chapter 227: Empress Candidates for the New Emperor (II)
To the subjects standing below the dial, they felt that the new emperor was a refined, genteel individual, modest enough to take counsel from anyone. Even more hope and anticipation for their new liege grew in their hearts.
This was only to be expected.
With a previous example of an incompetent, decrepit, opinionated, and obstinate emperor emeritus, Weichi Yan would be miles better than his father even if he just sat there and didn’t do anything.
Qin Huaiyuan on the other hand, was heaving a silent sigh of relief. Thankfully he was facing the new, and not old emperor. If this wasn’t the case, his daughter would be cemented into the slot of empress and wouldn’t have any choice at all.
The reinstated prime minister was summoned to the imperial study after court was dismissed. Subject and liege chatted for a long time, with Weichi Yan repeatedly probing Qin Huaiyuan’s thoughts regarding his daughter becoming empress and asking about things between Qin Yining and Pang Xiao.
With the marquis’ wits, he didn’t reveal anything tangible during the conversation. Even so, he was able to make Weichi Yan beam delightedly, brim with confidence, and put his liege in an exceedingly good mood.
When Qin Huaiyuan left the palace, he shook his head greatly after climbing into the carriage. Weichi Yan did indeed have a good character, but his talents weren’t worthy of his position. He would eat a tremendous loss sooner or later.
If he’d been the Qin Huaiyuan of old, full of loyalty and patriotism, the emperor’s words represented a holy decree. He wouldn’t have breathed a hint of protest even if the emperor demanded his daughter’s life.
But after repeated suppression and torment; after personally witnessing the imperial family’s attitude after his family was raided, his mentality had long since changed. He wasn’t a saint.
He just wanted to have a clear conscience when it came to the people of Great Yan.
He wouldn’t betray the original hopes and dreams he’d cherished when becoming an official, but he also wanted his daughter to find happiness. So what if she became the most noble of women beneath the heavens? Deep within the palace, how many women had ever found happy endings?
Setting aside the great turmoil facing Great Yan, it wasn’t a good thing at all to become a target of public scorn, one that the empress could easily turn into.
With his daughter’s personality, she would be wholeheartedly devoted to Weichi Yan if she really did become empress. With the emperor’s lack of strategic insight, she’d have to toil on behalf of the Weichi empire. If she put one step wrong, not only would her strenuous efforts be unappreciated, she would also be slapped with the severe label of a women meddling where she didn’t belong, much like a hen trying to take over a rooster’s duties.
It was one thing for the emperor to be incompetent, but it was a certain taboo for the imperial harem to interfere in politics. Weichi Yan might find it fresh and amusing at first, or tolerate things because Qin Yining was highly useful, but after that?
If Great Yan didn’t fall, an empress that interfered in politics would be detested and scorned sooner or later. If the nation did fall, his daughter would be dragged down with it.
After the large rises and falls of his career, he had a heartfelt perception now that all titles and positions were ephemeral. With a single word, the imperial family could erase his hard won efforts of a lifetime. He only had a single daughter. He wouldn’t let her lifelong happiness be sacrificed like this.
As for Pang Zhixi, the prince had his flaws, but he was a man with courage and intelligence. He was a dependable sort who could be relied on. In these troubled times, he had wit enough to protect Qin Yining. With his chauvinistic tendencies, he would never let his woman suffer. He would hoist up the skies for his own even if he had to do so through grit teeth. Just this point along put him heads and shoulders above the new emperor.
His only flaw was the antagonism between their two countries.
When Qin Huaiyuan thought of the war between the two nations and then of his daughter’s wedding, he felt the future bleaker than ever.
I’ll just keep her by my side all our lives if worst comes to worst! His daughter was the apple of his eye and he couldn’t dote on her enough. How would he let her endure misery in another household? The mere thought was enough to send him into a depressive funk.
He contemplated the matter the entire way, his brow furrowed tightly in thought.
When he returned home, he sped for the inner residence after a few instructions to Qitai. The thought that more than Qin Yining lived at the Venerable Study Hall finally occurred to him when he stood at the doors to the residence. It wouldn’t be very polite to just barge on in when the eighth miss and Qin Huining were also present. Thus, he grabbed a serving girl at the door. “Have the fourth miss come here.”
The little girl was just eight years old and hadn’t even learned all of the rules after just one day at the manor. She was so unnerved by the sight of a stern Qin Huaiyuan dressed in formal court robes that she could barely breath. Whirling around, she darted in with the message.
Qin Yining descended the stairs before long, helped by Bingtang and Jiyun.
Deep in the throes of a stifling summer, Qin Huaiyuan was covered in sweat from his brisk walk. However, Qin Yining was wearing a pale-blue vest with another brocade, cotton-padded jacket flung around her shoulders. A coppery-green sheen shone off of the oft-worn garment. Her face was drained of color and her lips equally as pale, but an unnatural hue flushed her cheeks. It was obvious with a glance that she was sick.
“What’s wrong with daughter Yi?” The already-present frown on Qin Huaiyuan’s forehead furrowed even deeper.
Bingtang had her own answering frown. “The miss’ injury is infected and she’s running a fever because of it. She kept saying she was cold earlier, and is only feeling better after some medicine.” Since she was supporting the miss, the maid could naturally feel the stark contrast in temperature between her patient’s body and chilled hands.
Though the fourth miss was sick, her eyes shone bright. She smiled. “Don’t worry about it. This is how people get when they’re injured. It’s summer now, so injuries will naturally behave differently compared to winter. I’ll just rest some more, it’s no big deal.”
Qin Yining walked up to her father with a deepened smile. “Did you just come back from court, father? Why don’t we go to that pavilion for a bit of tea?”
Qin Huaiyuan followed the direction of her gaze and understood that she was referencing the white stone pavilion next to the lotus pond. It was a quiet, out-of-the way spot good for talking. He nodded. “Alright.”
Everyone knew that Qin Huaiyuan raised Qin Yining like he did a son. When he’d kept to home a while back, reading and fishing his days away, it’d mostly been Qin Yining who kept him company. Therefore, the two of them strolling along in conversation wasn’t a strange sight.
The two settled in at the pavilion while Jiyun went off in search of tea and a soft cushion for Qin Yining. She retreated outside with Bingtang when everything was set up properly.
“Father, did anything happen at court?”
Qin Huaiyuan gulped down two cups of warm green tea before the fire in his throat stopped burning so fiercely. “I’ve already had Qitai prepare the sedan carriage, some rations, and medicine for the trip ahead. Take Bingtang and Jiyun with you in a moment, ask Sir Mu to escort you, and be on your way.”
The sedan was used only for longer journeys as it was much more spacious and stable compared to the usual horse carriage.
Father wants me to leave? Qin Yining was immensely alarmed. “Why are you saying this, father? Has something happened to the family? Or is the new emperor decreeing punishment for you?”
Qin Huaiyuan shook his head. “I haven’t been punished. Instead, all of my positions have been restored.”
“Then what is it?” The girl’s brain whirred furiously and a sudden, ludicrous thought descended. “Does… the new emperor want me to join the imperial harem?”
Her father sighed. “Smart.”
Flustered panic and anger welled up in the girl. She clearly settled things with Weichi Yan a long time ago, so why was he still being like this?
Whether it’s Pang Zhixi or Weichi Yan, they’re both used to issuing commands from places of high authority. In our society, men are more important than women. With their positions, they can take whatever girl they’re interested in. How would these men at the very top care about the opinions of a little girl?