When Du He reached West City’s government office, Zhang He was about to get canned.
Zhang He immediately shouted as he saw Du He. “Consort! Save me! Yan Zifang is an evil bastard. He wants to torture me! Consort, you are here in time! Hurry and lock this bastard up in the Justice Office!”
Ma Haihu snorted, “What a tone. Does your family own the Justice Office?”
Du He replied, “That’s right. Do you own the Justice Office?”
Zhang He was confused. He was certain that Du He would help him.
“Zhang He, you bully kind people and have done numerous bad things. I have already disliked you.” The only thing on Du He’s mind was the fact that Lian Yan’er had Princess Xincheng’s belt with her.
Zhang He’s mouth gaped open. “Consort, have you lost your mind?”
Du He’s eyes jutted out. “Wow! Now you are insulting me? Do you know what kind of punishment befalls those who insult relatives of the Imperial Family?”
Yan Zifang shouted, “Zhang He, there is clear evidence. Are you going to plead guilty?”
Zhang He realised. “So you all are together! Du He, you are amazing! Don’t forget that I know all the bad things that you have done better than anyone else. When I tell Princess Xincheng…”
Yan Zifang did not wait for Zhang He to finish shouting as he ordered the canning to start. Zhang He could not stand it and after a few hits, he shouted. “Stop hitting me! I plead guilty! I plead guilty!”
“I thought you would hold out. You barely got canned.” Yan Zifang gestured to Ma Haihu. “Get Zhang He’s fingerprint.”
After Zhang He signed, he glared at Ma Haihu who took the paper. Then, Zhang He glared furiously at Yan Zifang. “You better not be too arrogant. When my father comes…”
“Who ate leopard’s guts and dares to touch my son?” Zhang He’s father arrived murderously.
Zhang He was about to cry. “Father, you are finally here! Father, save me!”
Zhang Li did not come alone. He had arrived with Xu Liangping and the city guards. As he saw how pathetically his son was sprawled on the floor, he was furious.
“Come...come guards…” Zhang Li seemed to slur as his face was red. It seemed like he was high from drinking. “Get them...the one with the surname Yan and the group that beat up my son. Tie them all up!”
Yan Zifang was unafraid. “Official Zhang, we are all ministers with respective positions and responsibilities. I am in charge of the order in West City. Your son has committed a crime and was caught by me. It is only natural. You reek of alcohol and barge in with a group of people. What are you trying to do?”
Zhang Li pointed at Yan Zifang. “Who are you to talk! You are just a pirate. How dare you touch my Zhang family? I will show you. You are hardly worth anything in West City!”
Xu Liangping was put in a position. “Official Zhang. If this matter were to blow up, I am afraid…”
“What are you afraid of?” As soon as Zhang Li spoke, he pushed Xu Liangping back. “Bring him down from up there and beat him up! If heaven falls, I will hold it!”
The city guards dashed towards the West City bailiffs. Unexpectedly, Haicao and the rest of the group had been waiting as they flooded out from the back of the court and surrounded Zhang Li. Wearing an Imperial Censor’s robe, Huai Donghai, walked out as well.
Yan Zifang had become smarter. If he wanted to capture Zhang He and Zhang Li, he needed someone to control the public.
Zhang Li could not see clearly and shouted, “Let me go! Bunch of bastards. How dare you treat me like this! Just wait and see! I will kill all of you!”
Huai Donghai shook his head. “Ridiculous. Throw a bucket of cold water on him to sober him up.”
Haicao splashed a bucket of cold water over Zhang Li’s head. Zhang Li’s entire body trembled and clearly saw who was in front of him. “Imperial Censor...Huai...Official Huai?” Why are you here?” His articulation was much clearer.
“General Yan said that there will be a good show here today and invited me to watch. Official Zhang, you really opened my eyes today.” Huai Donghai’s expression was serious.
“Official Huai, Official Huai, this is a conspiracy.” Zhang Li reacted quickly as he felt as though he had been set up. “I...I was slightly drunk…”
“You are an official who should be handling official duties now. However, you drank until you were drunk. This is your first crime. Moreover, you brought people to barge into…” Huai Donghai suddenly caught sight of Zhang Li’s collar. “What are you wearing inside? Men? Take off his official robe.”
Ma Haihu yanked it open. Zhang Li was wearing a purple robe inside.
Huai Donghai was stunned. “Zhang Li, the Emperor, had long ago declared rules with regard to uniform. Only officials above the third rank can wear purple. You are not of the third rank but you are wearing a purple robe. Are you disregarding the Emperor’s edict?”
Zhang Li quickly begged for mercy. “This...this is for luck...Official Huai, please let me go…”
“I think you are really confused. I am an Imperial Censor and am in-charge of ensuring that officials fulfil their duties and remain lawful. How can I help someone like you cover up? I am going back now to write a report to impeach you!” Huai Donghai turned to leave. He happened to see Du He. He praised Du He amiably. “I heard that Consort He was once good friends with Zhang He. I thought that you came today to speak up for Zhang He. I was worried for you. I never expected you to be upright and plainly speak against unlawful acts. You are righteous.”
Du He’s palms were sweating. “Official Huai is too generous with your praise. I am merely doing what I should do.”
Huai Donghai approved of what he said and finally left.
Yan Zifang ordered people to lock Zhang Li and his son up. A cold look could be seen in his eyes. Zhang Li would never have expected that the purple robe was set up by Yan Zifang. Yan Zifang had requested for Attendant Yu He’s help to tell Zhang Li, when he was drinking, that the secret to getting a promotion is to wear a purple robe underneath. He then drugged Zhang Li’s drink with a secret medicine from Persia, causing Zhang Li to behave so foolishly.
“Consort, this is a rare chance. Would you like to have a chat with me?”
Yan Zifang was starting to understand the game of politics. As he saw Du He hesitate before nodding, he understood something else. Disreputable friends were also a necessity for office.
Fu Rou had been summoned by Prince Zhou to Lingxiao Palace. After having lived in the palace for a while, her temper had simmered by a lot. In the past, when Prince Zhou asked her to go for no reason, she would be fuming internally when she got to Lingxiao Palace. Now, she was emotionless.
From afar, she saw Prince Zhou sitting across a confucius-style elder. Slamming their palms on the table and using chopsticks to hit bowls, they were singing together. It was rare that she saw this happy side of Prince Zhou. She could guess who this elder was.
She walked into the palace and presented the tray to Prince Zhou. “I have made the clothes according to Your Highness’ instructions.”
Prince Zhou ordered someone to take the tray from her and proceeded to introduce her to the elder. “Tutor, this is Fu Siyan. She was originally a palace lady from the Seamstress Department. If sewing were like a martial art, she would be the top expert.”
The elder looked at the embroidery on the clothes before looking up at Fu Rou and smiling. “I can see that your embroidery is unique.”
Fu Rou was humble. “I do not dare to accept the high praise. If there are no other instructions, I will take my leave.”
However, Prince Zhou said, “Fu Siyan, let me introduce you. This is Tutor Qian, Qian Wenjing. He is the one that I often talk about.” He wanted to share his joy with her.
Qian Wenjing recalled that when they were singing poems, Prince Zhou had chosen the song <<Southern Zhou. Hanguang>>. He clearly had someone he liked but could not get. When Fu Siyan appeared, he suddenly became eager. There was no doubt that he liked this lady.
Fu Rou bowed politely. “Tutor Qian.”
“Today, I reunited with Tutor and I am extremely happy. You should stay for a drink.”
Fu Rou hesitated. “This...is not proper etiquette.”
“Tutor is my teacher and I am considered to be half your teacher. Therefore, Tutor is like your teacher’s teacher. It is reasonable for you to pay your respects to and drink a few cups of wine with Tutor.” Prince Zhou was extremely skilled at talking.
Fu Rou truly enjoyed learning and held scholars with extremely high regard. She felt like this was a rare chance and did not reject him any further.
Qian Wenjing felt like this lady knew how to push and pull appropriately. She was accomplished. No wonder she could make the arrogant Prince Zhou fall for her. Qian Wenjing wanted to help Prince Zhou create opportunities and invited Fu Rou to have a seat.
Prince Zhou suddenly said, “It has been long since I have asked Tutor to teach. There is a saying that I do not understand. The nobleman worries that after his death, his name will no longer be praised.”
Qian Wenjing did not understand where this was coming from and thought that Prince Zhou was inflexible. “Fu Siyan is here with us. Let’s not talk about principles. She might think it is uninteresting.”
Fu Rou was sitting upright. “It is a rare opportunity to hear Tutor teach. I would like to learn.”
Qian Wenjing’s impression of Fu Rou got even better. “This saying comes from The Analects of Confucius. What the nobleman is most worried about is that no one will write and praise him anymore. But if you think that Confucius wants fame, that is the wrong mindset. Qu Yuan once said as age slowly descends, the only fear is not having established oneself. Qu Yuan was worried that his talents and what he learned would go to waste. Establishing oneself is only superficial, what he really means is to repay the country and do things. To serve the country and the citizens and leave his name behind. Because his name would signal the contribution that he has made through his life. Only when caring about one’s name, would one be cautious and conscientious, not daring to make any mistake.”
“Tutor, have you ever considered that some people may not care about becoming famous? Life is short. Happiness is the most important. If they could pull themselves out of society and be with their loved ones. It can also be a happy life.”
Prince Zhou had a different opinion. Fu Rou could hear the implied meaning behind Prince Zhou’s tone and knew that he was referring to her and Sheng Chumu.
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Would you choose to serve the country and its citizens? Or would you rather pull yourself out of society to be with your loved ones?