The Noble Woman’s Guide On How to Tease One’s Husband – Chapter 20
Translated by: Oinkoink
Chapter 20 – Questioning
This novel is only hosted on Foxaholic, copies found elsewhere are either stolen or plagiarised.
The weather turned warmer once the New Year was over.
The east wind arrived and the wild geese returned while the spring mountains were clear. Light rains had been drizzling nonstop. After a few days of such conditions, the weeping willows on the moat embankment had sprouted and leaves were daubed with water vapors that would inadvertently dampened the visitor’s clothes.
This year’s imperial civil examinations were in full swing. After the first round of the provincial examinations, Ye Huaixin stood out from the many students and successfully entered the palace examinations. The fellow students who usually studied with him in the Imperial College were jaw-droppingly shocked that even the old teacher was utterly surprised as he was unable to connect this outstandingly achieved person with the usual desolate guileless boy.
He was not the only outstanding candidate this year and had already become the topic of after-dinner conversation. However, another major event occurred in the royal court which caused an uproar – soldiers of the Lingnan Garrison Commander, Chang Xin had surrounded the Bai family manor and Bai Xingzhi’s life was now at stake!
Late at night.
Inside the twelve rooms of the two-houses* of Privy Council, the lights had not been extinguished since dusk. Shadows had been shuttling along the wind, leaving behind fragmented frictions of the blade-armors sound. Looking back one would see the sharp lights gone along with the troops as these should be the last batch of soldiers leaving the city for Lingnan after careful calculations.
[T/N: Two-houses (两院 – Liǎng yuàn) – Two relatively independent parliaments in Congress / Two academies which are the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering]
As the confidential approval official documents had not been properly handled, officials of the Ministry of War and the Dianqian* Division had directly arrived in succession. With the arrival of every group, the atmosphere in the hall became more oppressive. The ministers of the Privy Council were perspiring profusely that they almost couldn’t withstand it. In the end, the Privy supervisor, Liu Jiyao had to find an excuse heading out and took a breather with his back against the corridor pillar.
[T/N: Diànqián Division (殿前诸班 – Diàn qián zhū bān) – the names of the banned troops of elite squads which task are to follow the Emperor and closest to the Forbidden Army]
The long awaited figure standing at the corner finally moved, with slight stiff steps, he walked towards Liu Jiyao.
“……Yuanshu?” After seeing the person clearly, Liu Jiyao hastily pulled him towards a brighter place to talk, “What are you doing in Privy Council so late at night? Is there something you are looking for me?”
Pei Yuanshu was against the light thus his expression was unclear, but there was some hesitation when he spoke, “I’ve heard something happened in Lingnan…”
Liu Jiyao was taken aback before he sighed heavily and spilled the beans with complaint, “Exactly. You said, is this Chang Xin senseless to surround the official manor? Even if Bai Xingzhi is to be relieved from his position, without the official document, he will still be the government official that the royal court appointed. With her act of besiegement, no matter how large their private grudge was, in the eyes of the Emperor there will only be one word – rebellion! Just tell me, isn’t this giving us a headache?”
Pei Yuanshu asked in a very low voice, “Then, what if she truly wants to rebel?”
“How is that possible! Why would she surround the official manor if she wants to rebel? There are no soldiers or money, and she would also provoke the Bai family, or did she think she has lived for too long?” Liu Jiyao waved his hand in amusement. He then saw there was no reaction from Pei Yuanshu, just like a pool of stagnant water when doubts emerged from his heart, “Oh right, why did you ask about this?”
“Brother Jiyao has forgotten that Lingnan is my hometown…”
Liu Jiyao smacked his forehead with a rather embarrassed expression. They had been the fellow students of the Imperial College for many years with profound friendships. As both held separate positions in the Imperial Censor and Privy Council, hence their lack of contact. He had completely forgotten about the old personal matters until it was mentioned now which inevitably seem a little unfeeling.
“Look at my memory, I have completely forgotten about this. Come to speak of it, are there relatives in Lingnan? Don’t worry, the imperial armies under the Privy Council are still in formation at the city gate. I will talk to the commander about this and ensure your relatives are not affected.”
“That’s not the case.”
There were traces of struggle flashing through Pei Yuanshu’s face. After stammering for a long time, he still couldn’t get to the main point which confused Liu Jiyao who was listening when finally, he gritted his teeth and imparted after much urging, “Brother Jiyao might not know that two Gongsheng* from Lingnan came to visit me several days ago and accidentally spoke about the situation there. They said that Bai Xingzhi……” He paused his words then got close to Liu Jiyao’s ear and quickly uttered several words that Liu Jiyao’s complexion drastically changed after a moment later.
[T/N: Gòngshēng (贡生) – candidate for the Imperial Examination proposed by a tributary state]
“Yuanshu, are you telling the truth?”
Pei Yuanshu wiped his sweat and seriously nodded his head, “Every sentence is true.”
“This…..” Liu Jiayao walked forth and back while rubbing his hands with a face of uncertainty bewildered, “Why didn’t Chang Xin submit a letter of impeachment on him but instead raising her own punitive troops?”
“I’m afraid the booklet might have been blocked by others?”
Liu Jiayao was startled awake with the words that Pei Yuanshu blurted out and abruptly halted his steps as he suddenly realized what might have happened. Henceforth, he patted Pei Yuanshu’s arm and said with unconcealed excitement, “Good fellow, when has your brain become so smart?” Without waiting for Pei Yuanshu’s response, he started talking aloud, “This is a major issue. I have to report this to Lord Wang promptly..….”
The Lord Wang that he mentioned was the blood related elder brother of the Queen Mother, Privy Envoy, Wang Jian.
The Wang and Bai had always been at odds since both the Empress and Imperial Concubine Bai power struggle was like fire and water in the imperial harem. If Wang Jian was to learn of this matter, he would definitely push the Bai family to deathtrap. This move would also be considered as a great meritorious service for Liu Jiyao and would inevitably help him rise in the Privy Council. Thinking about this, Pei Yuanshu didn’t say anything more as he simply took his leave indifferently.
“Then, I will leave now and won’t hinder you from managing the matter.”
“OK, Ok, Ok, Let’s chat another day!”
Liu Jiyao’s face was glowing with elations and there was a distinct change when he looked at Pei Yuanshu. Inwardly he was thinking this was truly a godsend luck that such an important piece of information was sent to his door by this foolish fellow thus he must seize it carefully! As soon as this thought was out, his steps involuntarily slowed down. Upon seeing this, Pei Yuanshu didn’t let him continue sending him off as he walked out the front door of the Privy Council.
He then stood in the open space outside the Imperial City for a long time. It was still chillingly cold on the nights of the early spring. When he looked up, the moon was obviously as insipid as water yet his heart couldn’t be quietened down.
What could he do, he was still involved…
Early the next morning, Pei Yuanshu knocked on the front door of Ye manor.
After the servant came to report, Yue’ya personally led him from the front door. Just when they barely walked out from the corridor, a refreshing tea fragrance drifted from the parlour. Looking up, Ye Huaiyang was making tea with a phoenix-beak pot. The fair wrist lightly swirled as light green liquid filled the cup.
“Lord Pei, please take a seat.”
Ye Huaiyang made an inviting gesture as she faced Pei Yuanshu with a calm and poised demeanor as if knowing he would be coming. Pei Yuanshu seemed to have fallen into a vast sea of stars when he faced that gentle and serene face that he wasn’t able to move his feet or utter a single accusation word.
“Lord Pei came to ask me about Lingnan?”
Ye Huaiyang was as outspoken as before, but the more divulge she asked Pei Yuanshu, the more he felt like falling into the same predicament, just like last time in Yong school, when he allowed her to lead him around. At the same time, there was another voice in his heart that said this matter was not a trivial matter. She must not be allowed to be preemptive, hence he took a deep breath and walked forward.
“Miss Ye, if you want to use me to achieve a certain objective, just directly voice it out next time. Don’t use Huailing to do this kind of thing again. She is still young and should be studying hard. She shouldn’t be involved in the midst of this muddy water*.”
[T/N: Muddy water (浑水- Hún shuǐ) – trouble]
The slender hand that was holding the teacup stopped in mid-air. It was supposedly brought to the mouth but was placed back on the table, knocking out a soft clank sound.
These several lecturing sentences were truly hard to be rebutted….
The corners of Ye Huaiyang’s mouth perked up as she slowly approached Pei Yuanshu. Seeing him involuntarily retreated half a step, the interest in her eyes became more pronounced, “What Lord Pei chided are true. Is there anything else, I will listen with respectful attention.”
The faint fragrance sprang into the nostrils that Pei Yuanshu immediately held his breath and took another large step back, “I dare not chide, but I have to be responsible for my student to be worthy of the name of a teacher. I would have to request Miss Ye to earnestly consider my words!”
“En. I got it. Lord Pei, please go back.” Ye Huaiyang turned around and sat down abruptly, seemingly nothing had ever happened.
Please go back? He hadn’t asked the most significant matters yet!
Pei Yuanshu was stiffened. He was losing control of his emotions. As a scholar, his noble integrity was urging him to leave immediately. However, when he thought of the common people’s sufferings in Lingnan and the eagerness to know prompted him to stay. After struggling for a long time, he took a few steps forward as he straightened up his neck and reproached, “I will not leave unless you tell me the truth.”
Yo, this slow-witted scholar had grown.
As Ye Huaiyang had achieved this outcome with little effort, she pursed her lips with a smile and said, “Didn’t you personally ask the two Gongsheng from Lingnan? Although what they said were only inconsequential details, shouldn’t you have already deduced it with your ingenuity?”
“You, you even know this!” Pei Yuanshu’s face had turned purplish, unknowing he was either startled or angry.
“I’ve also known that you met up with the Privy Supervisor, Lord Liu last night.” Ye Huaiyang blinked at him with her big eyes, appearing extremely innocent that Pei Yuanshu almost exploded.
“What the hell do you want to do!”
Seeing that Pei Yuanshu was about to explode, Ye Huaiyang finally stopped beating around the bush. She immediately asked Yue’ya to bring over Bai Xingzhi’s handwritten letters for his perusal. He swiftly looked through those several thin sheets of papers when his face instantly turned extremely pale.
“So, to put it bluntly, it’s true that Bai Xingzhi has colluded with the enemy while Chang Xin is now regarded as rebelling when she dispatches soldiers to surround his manor out of righteously indignant.”
Ye Huaiyang nodded her head, “En, that’s a correct summation.”
Pei Yuanshu quickly looked up as he asked, “Why do you want me to know about these?”
“I want to make a deal with Lord Pei.” Ye Huaiyang lightly whisked the teacup to take a sip of tea before continuing, “I have only the evidence but no way to petition it. Lord Pei is from the Imperial Censor while also serving as the advisory supervisor. It would be more appropriate for you to impeach Bai Xingzhi. Moreover, you are also from Lingnan, wouldn’t it be great to do something for the common people of your hometown?”
“But I don’t want to get involved in the conspiracy struggles between the prominent families!”
Ye Huaiyang shot a glance at Pei Yuanshu. His face was strictly decent, completely different from the slow-witted scholar that was duped by her just now. It was obvious that he had a clear grasp on major matters. His usual words and actions were bound by the feudal ethical codes that he had never before revealed the tenacity of his heart.
“Can Lord Pei unfeelingly watch the common people of Lingnan being trampled by the Yi tribe?”
Pei Yuanshu lowered his eyes as his heart felt awfully painful, stabbed by those words.
He would not be standing here now if he could just stand on the sidelines with folded arms.