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Chapter Seventy-Six: True and False Intentions
There were several silver coal stoves placed in the large side hall. There was only hot heat but no smothering smoke. The servants were all silent with bowed heads. Everywhere, the authority of the wang fu was present.
Xian Wang Fei’s words were slightly slow, but no one present dared to press her. Assistant Minister Hu carefully took out a handkerchief from his sleeve and wiped the sweat on his forehead. He wondered if there were too many heaters placed in the side hall. When he raised his head and saw the pale complexion of Xian Wang Fei, he recalled that those who were anemic were afraid of the cold. Consequently, he now believed one hundred percent that Xian Wang Fei had been injured.
“A few days ago, because Lin Ping Junzhu… Lin Ping Xianzhu came to this one’s fu to visit, I had some differences in opinion with her and a verbal argument. In the days after, I felt guilty and anxious. That day, because I felt irritated, I couldn’t help but vent and had all the servants leave.” Hua Xi Wan’s grip on the teacup tightened. “Then two of the servant girls who have served me since childhood came back to comfort me. But a moment after the two of them entered, a taijian came to report that Wang Ye had something to give to me. I believed it and allowed him in the door. Who… who knew that it wasn’t just the taijian who entered but also a manservant behind him. My servant girls detected that something was not right and were wary. One even was fast enough to throw a vase at the taijian. The manservant suddenly charged and raised a blade to kill…”
Hua Xi Wan’s hand that held the teacup trembled. She raised her head to grimace at the people seated. “What happened afterward was too chaotic, and I cannot explain the details even now. I only remember my two servant girls screaming that there was an assassin. If it wasn’t for my attendants who faithfully protected me, I probably would not be seated here today.”
“This has been a scare for Wang Fei. This lowly servant will definitely investigate this matter to the bottom.” Assistant Minister Hu was someone who had been at his job for many years, and in his view, Xian Wang Fei’s actions were normal. He had heard the news that Lin Ping Xianzhu and Xian Wang Fei had a verbal argument, and even heard that Lin Ping Xianzhu had pointed at Xian Wang Fei and called her a calamity. This had greatly shamed the Xian Couple. Fortunately, Xian Wang was kind and asked for mercy for Lin Ping Xianzhu at the court session. It was hard to blame Xian Wang Fei for feeling so when encountering a sister-in-law like Lin Ping Xianzhu.
“I have to trouble Daren. There have been many things happening in Jing recently, and I really feel bad that my matter has caused everyone to work.” Hua Xi Wan looked at the sky outside and pretended to be a noblewoman who was frightened but still maintained the composure of a wang fei. “So I will thank everyone here.”
“We don’t dare, we don’t dare; this is this lowly official’s duty.” Everyone liked people who were friendly. Assistant Minister Hu was not an exception. He had originally been worried that Xian Wang Fei would be a woman with whom it was hard to interact, based on her beauty and high status. However, after talking for such a short while, he discovered that his speculation had been ridiculously off. It was normal for such a beautiful and gentle woman to be the only object of Xian Wang’s love. “This lowly official still has a presumptuous request and asks for Wang Fei’s permission.”
“Official Hu, please speak.”
“May this lowly official and the others ask your two servant girls some brief questions?” This was the procedure when they investigated a case. Even though it was something that almost never happened in the nobility circles, he still asked as a matter of procedure.
“I do not intend to oppose Daren in fulfilling your duties. However, my two servant girls are girls who do not see outside guests. If Daren do not object to have servant women present, I will have one lead the way.”
“That should be the case.” Hearing this, Assistant Minister Hu had an even better impression of Hua Xi Wan. A wang fei who cared about the reputations of her servant girls—no wonder she received such loyalty from her servant girls. These two servants were unmarried. It was fine if they met outside, but it really was inappropriate for them to go to the female’s rooms without anyone else present.
Seeing the two wounded servant girls, Assistant Minister Hu saw that they were being served by younger servant girls. The decorations in the room were tasteful, and it could be seen that the two servant girls had a high status among the servants of the wang fu.
He asked a few short questions. The answers he received were about the same as Xian Wang Fei’s. However, because the perspective was different, what they focused on was also different. It caused what they said to be true.
After doing this, they were politely sent off from the fu by the servants. Assistant Minister Hu said to Zhang Hou, “Junior Minister Zhang, what do you think about this case?” After the successive incidents that happened recently, their Ministry of Defense and the Judicial Office lived every day with their hearts in the air. So in comparison, he was already relieved to be given the case of Xian Wang Fu where no one had died. He was better off than his fellow who had to investigate the sudden death of Rui He Fuma.
In the Imperial Family, a sudden death meant that if someone was dead, don’t ask questions. So the person who took on this assignment had to work against his conscience and go along with what the Imperial Family wanted. He also had to hope that the family of Rui He Fuma was not brave, and didn’t dare to be discontent. If they encountered someone with a temper that blamed the person investigating, then it would be really unfortunate.
Zhang Hou moved his gaze away from the stone lion at the gates of Xian Wang Fu. He thought and then said, “This case is very difficult. Adding on that the assassin has already been killed, it is very difficult to find the mastermind.” He did not mention that the assassin disguised as a manservant had marks on his body. Seven of his fingernails had been pulled out and five of his toes had been smashed. This all said that this person had been tortured.
“Isn’t that the case?” Assistant Minister Hu sighed. “It is a pity that Xian Wang Fei was wounded so seriously by such a person; so horrid.”
“En.” Zhang Hou thought of how Xian Wang Fei had appeared sitting in the carriage. His brow moved slightly and he said, “Fortunately…”
“Daren, where have you come from?” A voice that was reedy but would not make people dislike it sounded beside them. Zhang Hou turned and saw it was the personal attendant of Xian Wang, Mu Tong. He bowed politely and said, “We have just visited the fu.”
Mu Tong moved his body sideways to avoid the bow and then returned a major bow. He sighed and then said, “Daren, you need to investigate carefully and not let the villain behind this escape. These days, Wang Fei has not been energetic, and the grand doctor just said that she has been frightened. The prescriptions they gave are not effective, and it really has been hard for Wang Ye.”
“Of course, of course, Chief Steward Mu Tong,” Assistant Minister Hu answered. Seeing that Mu Tong’s forehead was covered in sweat even in such cold weather, he asked in concern, “Chief Steward Mu, why are you in such a hurry?”
“I’m running errands for Wang Ye.” Mu Tong smiled politely at Assistant Minister, Hu but there was no mirth in his eyes.
Assistant Minister Hu realized that his words were not appropriate. If one didn’t know, they would think that he was trying to learn the whereabouts of Wang Ye. So he closed his mouth and did not speak. He raised his folded hands to Mu Tong and found an excuse to leave.
Assistant Minister Hu left with the people of the Ministry of Justice. Mu Tong looked at his back with a smile and then turned to Zhang Hou. “Official Zhang, do you have anything else?”
“I hear that reishi mushrooms, pine seeds, and sour dates are all things that promote sleep. Why doesn’t Chief Steward Mu Tong try?” Zhang Hou said politely. “This one bids farewell.”
Mu Tong bowed with a faint smile. “Official Zhang, goodbye.”
Watching as Zhang Hou left, Mu Tong’s brow creased slightly. He turned and looked at the young taijian behind him. “Be polite to the officials, no matter their rank. Don’t let other people give Wang Ye the crime of not having disciplined servants.”
“Yes.” The young taijian respectfully responded.
“If you meet one who doesn’t have eyes, there are ways to take care of them. Acting immediately is the worst move. We are just eunuchs who serve our masters; we cannot compare to these officials in robes.”
The young taijian buried his head deeper. “Many thanks, Master, for the guidance. This disciple knows.”
“En.” Mu Tong nodded, satisfied.
In Princess Rui He’s fu, Yan Jin Qiu and the other members of the Imperial House who had come for the mourning sat in the same room. The mood inside the room was very heavy. Even though most people did not feel sorrow, they created a good atmosphere.
Yan Bo Yi was very popular among the officials, but the closely related members of the Imperial House had an average attitude about him. These members liked the elegant and noble Yan Jin Qiu better. In their minds, Yan Jin Qiu was more fitting to the image of an imperial son. Yan Bo Yi seemed to be pretentious in their mind.
“Xian Wang, how are Xian Wang Fei’s injuries?” a junwang asked. “Has the mastermind been caught?”
“The wounds are better, but it really harmed the vitality this time. It will probably take a few more days to recover.” Yan Jin Qiu sighed. “The mastermind was very careful and it will probably be highly difficult to find them.”
“People like this are worthy of hate,” the junwang swore. After comforting Yan Jin Qiu with a few words, he did not speak any more. Rui He Fuma had just passed away. Even though they all knew that Princess Rui He didn’t have much sincerity about this fuma, they couldn’t show it openly on their faces.
Yan Bo Yi could hear that the words were intended to him, but his expression did not change. He raised his teacup and took a slow sip. He looked with an unchanged expression at Yan Jin Qiu and then lowered his eyes to look at the slightly bitter tea water.
Because it was not the day of the fuma’s funeral, they did not stay the whole day. After placing the incense, they started to gradually leave the princess fu. When Yan Bo Yi just returned to the wang fu, he saw his personal attendant Qing He come forward with a slightly complex expression. “Junwang Ye, just now, a servant from the Eastern Yard came to report that Xu Cefei is more than a month pregnant.”
Yan Bo Yi’s brow furrowed. The child had really come at a bad time. Even though it was conceived before the Crown Prince’s death, it would not be a good matter for his fu to have the news that a concubine was pregnant just after the Crown Prince and the fuma had both passed away.
A beat later, he sighed. “The grand doctor’s diagnosis was wrong. Xu Cefei’s monthlies are just irregular.”
Qing He lowered his head and said, “This one understands.”
Translator Ramblings: What is one unborn child to absolute power?