Chapter 107: Decree
Author: White Pear Flower
Translated by Pill Bug
Edited by Gumihou
At the sudden announcement, Elder Madam, Old Madam and the rest of the people in the room suddenly scrambled about in a panic. Even though Jin Fengju enjoyed the emperor’s favour, it was rare for the family to receive a decree without him at least getting an oral notification from the palace. A sudden decree from the palace was practically unheard of.
The incense table and other things had already been set up, the entire family soon knelt as the eunuch unsealed the decree and recited its contents. The decree turned out to be… rewards and gifts! Not only was Jin Fengju’s official position within the government promoted again, making him the youngest Fourth Rank Official, but he also received gifts of gold, silver and precious stones.
The national treasury was rather rich now and so it would not feel the pinch of missing this little bit of money. Even Elder Madam Jiang and the Marquis of Jinxiang, who was on his way home at that time, received many rewards. Madam Jiang and Madam Fang’s statuses also went up a rank.
Jiang Wanying, too, was granted a Fifth Rank title. Fu Qiuning, who had lived like an abandoned wife from the moment she stepped into the marquisate, was overlooked. That’s because the emperor only knew Jiang Wanying as Jin Fengju’s wife and did not know about this ‘Fu Qiuning’ person at all.
The reward naturally gave Jiang Wanying a great boost in confidence and she could not help but smirk to herself as she cast a glance at Fu Qiuning kneeling beside her. She privately sneered: So what if you’re the official wife? What is your actual status? Are even worthy to kneel next to Cousin? I am the Young Marquis’ true wife, not you.
Jin Fengju was also feeling a little uncomfortable. In the past, this was something like a matter of course. He never even thought of Fu Qiuning whenever he received a promotion. However, looking at her silently kneeling next to him, his heart felt uncomfortable. He thought: I must find a way to praise Qiuning before the emperor and empress dowager properly. No matter what, I must earn a suitable title for her. Otherwise, what else does a woman have to look forward to in her entire life? Isn’t it a woman’s hope to have a dependable mate with incredible glory? Also, why does a man struggle so much in life? Is it not to bring honour to his ancestors and provide for his wife and children?
In fact, Fu Qiuning was not really thinking much at that point. When Jiang Wanying was raised to Level 5 or something, it had nothing to do with her. She was perfectly contented with her place. So long as she had food, clothing and a little leisure time, all was well. The only flaw in her life now was not being able to sing as she liked. Unlike before, there were too many eyes staring at Night Breeze Pavilion. She had to be vigilant all the time, but enduring so long without being able to sing nearly caused hair to grow in her throat.
Jin Fengju received the decree with both hands. The eunuch naturally knew that this was a His Majesty’s favoured person and said with a smile, “Congratulations to the Young Marquis, felicitations to the Young Marquis. It is not yet New Year, but already the emperor has bestowed such things. Come the New Year, who knows what kind of rewards would be announced? With the Dragon’s heart being so pleased, it would not be impossible for the marquisate to be bequeathed a dukedom.”
“Eunuch Lu certainly knows how to joke. The favour of the emperor is like [c] thunder and rain. His Majesty has already bestowed so much that Fengju is a little concerned. How could this Fengju dare entreat for more? Please, do come in and enjoy a little tea.” Jin Fengju spoke as he rolled up the decree.
Eunuch Lu laughed, “How could this one enter? The emperor awaits Young Marquis’ presence at the South Study. Now that the decree has been announced, Young Marquis, do please attend. Speaking honestly, although many things have been bestowed, the emperor’s expression did not look good since last night. The servants all trembled with anxiety. We hope that the Young Marquis’ arrival would ease the Dragon’s heart so that we servants need not hold our heads as we complete our duties.”
Fu Qiuning thought: Why is he being so ambiguous? I heard that the emperor is an old man with normal preferences. Otherwise, people would think that a Beauty is being called into the [d] Dragon’s den for some xxxx.
She privately stuck out her tongue at the absurd situation.
On the other hand, Jin Fengju’s expression had grown more grave. He said solemnly, “So, the people from Yangzhou have arrived last evening?”
“No wonder the Young Marquis enjoys His Majesty’s favour. Indeed, you are correct. It is unclear what foul trick those little fellows have played. The emperor had noticed and the servants have been run ragged since, seeing very little peace.” Eunuch Lu sighed.
Jin Fengju nodded and said, “In that case, please wait for a moment, I will change my clothes and head to the palace immediately.”
After Jin Fengju and Eunuch Lu left, the family returned to the main room and sat down. Old Madam Jin said with some worry, “The year has not yet passed, but already so many things have been bestowed. Now, Fengju had been summoned to the palace. Alas… just what is going on?”
Fu Qiuning knew that the Old Madam feared some kind of plot but dared not speak it out loud. If the Emperor wants a minister to die, the minister has to die. Could you complain if the emperor wants you to run errands on New Year’s Eve? Do you want to die?
Jiang Wanying’s laughter cut through her thoughts, “I fear that Sister must know. After all, Lord Husband rested at Night Breeze Pavilion last night. The affairs of the court and the emperor’s intentions, how could he not reveal them to you?”
All eyes were on Fu Qiuning all of a sudden. She replied with an indifferent, “I am but a mere woman. Were he to speak of such matters to me, what is the use? Even the palace has rigorous rules against the harem taking part in politics, what of our marquisate? Could it be that the Young Marquis often speaks to Younger Sister about matters of the court?”
The return volley choked Jiang Wanying to speechlessness. Fu Qiuning showed no mercy due to Jiang Wanying’s ‘give an inch and take a mile’ attitude. She thought: If I don’t bite back now and then, you’ll all think I’m nothing but a pile of soft dough.
In an instant, the entire atmosphere within the hall grew cold. Fortunately, Madam Fang hurriedly stepped out to ease the tension in the room, saying things like: Jin Fengju being favoured is a good thing. See how the whole family benefits from him being favoured? Moreover, though he had been called out to run errands, surely the emperor would be lenient as it is close to the New Year?
Slowly, her glib tongue pushed the tension down and the hostile atmosphere eased.
Please read this at kitchennovel dot com ~
At that moment, Jin Fengju had also arrived at the South Study.
The emperor was the only person in the study, looking very gloomy and solemn. It was as Eunuch Lu had described, the emperor ‘did not look good’. In fact, it was an understatement. The emperor looked like a storm cloud that was about to burst. Jin Fengju felt his heart skip a beat. He thought: What happened? Had something really happened in Yangzhou City?
“Fengju has arrived?” the storm cloud expression on the emperor’s face eased a little and he ordered Eunuch Li Dezheng, who had been standing attentively beside him, to send everyone out. Once everyone was gone, he threw the memorial [a] at Jin Fengju, growling, “You take a look. The governor of Yangzhou just submitted this. Just look at the salt tax money, do you not think that it has reached a ridiculous point?”
Jin Fengju unfolded the memorial. A glance later his heart flipped violently and he blurted, “This dog servant! To dare report such numbers, is he anxious to enter the coffin?” After reading further down, he slowly muttered, “So, the reason is that there were many disasters… If that is the case…”
“Nonsense!” The emperor cut off Jin Fengju in mid-speech by slamming a large book onto the royal table heavily. The shock sent Jin Fengju and Li Dezheng to their knees as they cried, “This minister is wrong (This servant is wrong).”
“Get up, what does it have to do with you two anyway?” The emperor laughed at their antics before coldly snorting, “Those bunch of dead servants, making up all kinds of lies each year to excuse the amounts they contribute year after year. We really can’t bear their tricks anymore. Especially when half the money has entered their pockets. Jiangnan had always been rich and there is no greedless official. We know this in our hearts of hearts.
Even so, after 200 years since the founding of this country, catastrophes have been few and far between. With the gods favouring us, the country has grown rich and strong. Therefore, even if officials are a little greedy, the country could still afford their little tricks in view of their service to the country. Thus, We kept one eye closed against their antics.
But look, what is happening now? Do they really believe that We have become senile? What do they need so much money for? The amount they swallow in a month could last a few lifetimes and yet they are still not satisfied. Could it be that they are collecting money for troops and planning a rebellion?”
The emperor was furious. Jin Fengju and Li Dezheng stood aside, not daring to say a word. After his outburst, the old emperor had probably vented out enough hot air and his heart became somewhat more comfortable. His demeanour easing a little, he slowly paced a few steps around and said, “This Yangzhou governor, We still remember when We dealt with him in front of the palace that day. He had a strong backbone and a sturdy character. At that time, I loved his talent and steadfastness that did not waver under wealth or poverty or power , and so We assigned him to Yangzhou as governor to serve as a check against those salt merchants and officials who were getting bolder and bolder.
We did not expect that, barely three years into his service, he would collude with them instead. His own staff had just died in the Capital a few days ago, raising much suspicion. We hesitated for a long time on whether to send you to Jiangnan once more, seeing that New Year is approaching and your father and brother are returning to the Capital. This is not a matter that would be completed without at least a month or two.”
Could he, Jin Fengju, the most exemplary and favoured official who had just received many gifts and bestowments from the emperor, allow the charge of being ‘unsympathetic to His officials’ to fall on the emperor’s head? Therefore, [b] he could only step forward with an enthusiastic expression on his face even as he privately grimace to say, “This matter is of great importance, involving our great country. How could this minister prioritise personal comfort and ignore the land? ‘When the lord is worried, the ministers are humiliated’. It is the failure of the ministers to have caused Your Majesty worry. Therefore, this minister proposes to go to Jiangnan. This minister vows to investigate the matter till the end. To uphold the royal favour, grace and expectations of Your Majesty, this minister begs for Your Majesty’s permission to carry out this mission.”
The emperor fixed his eyes on Jin Fengju, a smile slowly creeping onto his face. He nodded and said, “Among all the ministers in court, you are the most suitable candidate. It’s hard to see how you can be such a straightforward minister at such a young age, yet also be considerate of Our royal intent. Very well, this matter is entrusted to you, We appoint you as a First Rank Imperial Commissioner. You shall wield the Sword of State and have the right to execute first before reporting. Be sure to sweep away all those large and small troublemakers at the Jiangnan office. Do not leave even a single one out.”
These words were already very severe, the murderous intent within leaking through. Jin Fengju’s heart could not help but shiver. He thought: The old man has really made his move this time! ‘Wipe them out, leave not one behind’, I have never heard these kinds of words ever since I entered the court as the official. Using such serious words this time, I can see he is moving with the intent to kill.
And so, he agreed. Jin Fengju saw the emperor’s expression slowly relax. However, with the absence of the incredible aura of wrath, the emperor’s body appeared to become thinner as his emotions settled. After exiting the South Study, he quietly asked Li Dezheng, “Has His Majesty not been eating properly? Why do I get the impression that his cheekbones are protruding?”
Li Dezheng sighed and said, “That’s right. These days, because of the recently deceased Yangzhou staff and other related matters, he has not been eating or sleeping well. I have tried to advise him a few times, but I received a scolding instead. I dare not push too far.”
Jin Fengju laughed and said, “In that case, I will bring something new tonight. Hopefully, it will stimulate the emperor’s appetite. I fear that people at the marquisate must be rather uneasy now. So, I shall return first.”
With that, he bade Li Dezheng farewell and hurriedly left.
Gumihou: Need a month or two? Also, a new thing to stimulate the appetite? These are all pre-meng scenes.
Stimulate appetite: Probably going to promote the ever evolving hot/swish pot with its maybe-sesame-but-most-certainly-contain-garlic-chives-flower sauce and casually mention Fu Qiuning to the emperor. Something that Fu Qiuning absolutely DO NOT WANT but who cares, right? His need to ‘show affection’ is more important.
Also, need a month or two to… what? Chop all the heads? All the investigations should have been completed at least 3 years ago when the emperor had sent an upright official to watch the merchants and officials who were getting ‘bolder and bolder’. With the emperor’s decree, it’s no longer an investigation, but an order to lop off the heads of people. Need all that time to execute people? Right before the New Year? How inauspicious
Pill Bug: Is your hobby poking at plot holes?
Gumi looks up with a stick in hand: Why? What makes you think so?
[a] Memorial – official letters to the emperor
It is especially apt since rain brings water to the fields but could also cause floods. So he is basically flattering the emperor’s generosity and acknowledging their power as something closer to natural disasters.[d] Dragon’s Den – Gumi’s contribution. Lol. The emperor is often depicted as a ‘dragon’ so, a Dragon’s is their bedroom…
Pill Bug TL Notes: The full idiom is 富贵不能淫，贫贱不能移，威武不能屈 “Not being promiscuous when rich and the noble, not shifting one’s motivation when poor and the lowly, not yielding to force and the might”
Kitchennovel.com has a new Membership System!!
Please click on the table below to check it out~
Naturally, you can still support us through
Although… it’s, um, you only get half the benefits… but, the decision is in your hands!