Chapter 54 Guilty as Charged
“Why are you changing the topic?!” Thinking twice, Empress Dowager Gu considered that she could not take the risk. In case Qiu Mengmin was charged with murdering her nephew, it would make herself a joke for protecting Qiu Mengmin. That was not the worst. Jiang Family might make waves by taking this opportunity, which was what she feared. For example, it was truly doubtful why the offspring of Qiu Mengmin were killed in battles, and then Jiang Family immediately embarked on investigating Ruan Family after investigating the cause of the death of Qiu Jinglan?
Jiang Family’s relations in the military were intertwined. It would be terrible if they interfered with the affairs of Darui and trapped all foes.
Considering this, Empress Dowager Gu said coldly, “Old Princess saw Qiu Jinglan die prematurely and Qiu Jinglan was her only granddaughter. If she doubted the cause of her death, you, of course, would not let it go so easily. right? That is to say, Princess Ruan die last year. If her only son’s death was related to Qiu Mengmin, do you think that she would have lived with her foe with her only daughter in one house for many years?”
“Empress Dowager...” Empress Dowager Gu angrily stopped Qiu Yelan who was standing below the steps as she was speaking. Empress Dowager Gu said, “Shut up! Who told you that you can interrupt me when I am talking!”
Empress Jiang refuted immediately, “Commandery Princess Ningyi may have evidence.”
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“When will you let it go?” Empress Dowager Gu was furious, patting heavily on the arm of the jade chair. She cried, “What on earth are we talking about today? What do you think my Imperial Court (the Imperial Court is a place where the emperor met ministers) is? It is not a place where you can talk about whatever you want? Do you think my ministers and I are here for entertaining you?”
Empress Jiang hummed, saying, “Sorry, mother,” with a disapproving tone.
The ministers who were standing below saw through what was going on. They stood still in two rows. Nobody was hoping to be involved in the fight between two queens. However, there was one standing first in the row of the civil officials stood out fearlessly. He looked emaciated. He had grey hair, and wore a purple robe. He stepped out and said, “You both should not ruin your relationship because of those unimportant things. From my view, as we have had decided to discuss Duke of Xihe’s filial piety. I thought we should focus on our agenda.”
He paused for a minute and continued, “As for the death of the previous heir of the Xihe, I suggest we talk about it later. We should reach a deal about what we are talking about now first.”
Hearing what the minister said, Empress Dowager Gu and Empress Jiang felt relieved with a smile on their faces. Apparently, both of them respected him very much.
Catching sight of the whole dialogue, Qiu Yelan couldn’t help guessing who the man was.
Surely enough, Empress Dowager Gu took a deep breath, saying with a nod, “Minister Xue, your suggestion is accepted.”
— No doubt that the minister with a purple robe was an elder statesman having served two emperors of Darui. He was Xue Chang, the minister of the Ministry of Personnel, the manager of governmental affairs and the Huai Earl!
Assuaging the queens, Xue Chang looked still peaceful. He did a fist and palm salute and walked back to where he was standing. It seemed like nothing had happened at all.
Xue Chang had been back to where he was standing and closed his eyes for a rest. He heard one man saying, “Empress Dowager, my majesty, Empress, as Lian Family and Ruan Family have received the autograph letter sent by old Princess of Xihe and confirmed its authenticity, I think that Qiu Mengmin, the Duke of Xihe will have no excuse for the fact that he disobeyed his official mother.”
“Yes, that’s right!” the followers of Qiu Family cheered up, adding “Put bluntly, either Qiu Mengmin was deceived by the servant or he took the servants to bear the blame, no matter which one, Lu had been deported from the Prince’s Mansion by old Princess of Xihe. Lu had nothing to do with Qiu Family! If this is true, how dare Qiu Mengmin to disobey her mother’s will and continue to support Lu in the Prince’s Mansion?”
Qiu Yelan smiled coldly. She turned her head, looking at pale-faced Qiu Mengmin, thinking, “Do you think that you will be acquitted after making up old Princess’s will and then let Mrs. Guan and Dongyao bear the blame? The dilemma you are facing is that supporting your biological mother means to disobey your official mother’s will; but if you will not support your biological mother... Hahaha! You are the Prince of heredity, but your biological mother has to be displaced! If this happens in the future, you will be cast aside by the people!”
Now, there were no options for Qiu Mengmin but to quit his title of nobility!
Quitting the title of nobility was not enough, he must also waive all assets documented on the account book of the Prince’s Mansion of Xihe!
He must also abandon all belongings under the title of Duke of Xihe — because old Princess of Xihe, in the name of the lady of the house, disqualified Madame Lu to fetch the support provided by Qiu Family. So, even though Madame Lu did not live in the Prince’s Mansion, she could not live any place belonged to Duke of Xihe. Or she would disobey Xihe old Princess’s will!
No need to say that Qiu Mengmin disobeyed old Princess of Xihe, but he was the only son of Madame Lu. He, as the only son, was raised by his biological mother but now lived in the eminent Prince’s Mansion. If he left his mother alone, he would be impeached by the ministers. And he would be criticized by the people.
Those were the reasons why Qiu Mengmin must quit his title of the nobility. As an heir, he must abide by the decision made by the official mother. On the other hand, as a son, he could not leave his mother alone. So, he had no choice but to transfer his nobility to the other and support his mother on his own.
“There were not many kids in Qiu Family, which made him stand alone in the world,” said Qiu Yelan, squinting slightly. He was guessing what Qiu Mengmin’s final decision would be, ” Qiu Mengmin could transfer his title to one of his sons and then he could leave the house and live alone. He could support Lu with the assets not belonging to Prince’s Mansion of Xihe... Nevertheless, was this his decision? If it was, could he convince himself to do it?”
All the ministers standing in the hall waited for Qiu Mengmin’s response. He said nothing in a long time. Many of them began to lose patience.
One of the followers of Empress Dowager, knowing that Qiu Mengmin might not know the answer at the time, stepped out and defended Qiu Mengmin before the followers of Empress attempted to push him to answer. The man said, “At that time, old Princess of Xihe deported Lu, but the heir of the title of the nobility was Qiu Zhongyan. As we know, Qiu Zhongyan had no offspring. If Qiu Mengmin did not inherit the title of the nobility, the family of Duke of Xihe might have no progeny. I think it is cruel for him to be not allowed to support his biological mother!”
This man was obviously on the side of Empress Dowager. He bowed to Empress Dowager as soon as he completed his talk and then continued, “My majesty, I was hoping you can revoke the order made by old Princess of Xihe....”
“Ridiculous!” Chancellor Dou stepped out again. He shook his sleeve, lashing out at him as he was raising his ivory hand plate, “Since ancient times, lady of the house has been in charge of concubines. It has become a rule since then. At that time, it was old Princess of Xihe’s right to deport Lu. She had reasons to do it! Gu Ying, how dare you to ask Empress Dowager to revoke the order made by old Princess of Xihe. You are attempting to obfuscate the situation and make us not tell the right from wrong. You are a devil!”
Gu Ying, this name represented that he was a family member of Empress Dowager. Qiu Yelan took a glance at him. He wore a light red official suit. He was far from being handsome, but he was tall. He was not infuriated though he was lashed out by Chancellor Dou. He stepped out, saying in a low voice, “The so-called reasons for that was just because of a bowl of cubilose soup. It was not a big deal at all. Even a servant would not be deported because of this. Why was she deported....”
“Gu Ying, you are talking about empty words. You’re pretending to be a nice man!” said one man from the row for level five of military officers. He was in his thirties. He was handsome with bright eyes and dashing eyebrows, but his face was pale which proved that he had been addicted to wine for a long time. Although his title was not high, he seemed relaxed and fearless.
He said unconcernedly, “May I venture to ask Chief Minister, is it reasonable that lady of the house is in charge of all concubines?” Looking at the man who was speaking, Qiu Yelan felt cold at his back.
Gu Ying frowned and was about to answer him sharply. The officer did not give him a chance to interrupt. He continued, “At that time, old Princess of Xihe commanded Lu to feed a dog with porridge. However, Lu fed herself and reported to old Princess of Xihe that she had done it. Was it a deception?!”
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“As what she did, old Princess of Xihe was not against rules to deport Lu,” said the officer, adding, “Chief Minister is in charge of punishment and imprisonment — did you always judge your cases depending on the suggestions provided by your aides and staff? This case has proved itself. Why are you so ridiculous?”
“Jiang Yadan!” Gu Ying’s face turned pale with rage. He yelled, “Legal is nothing more than human feelings—”
Jiang Yadan interrupted him, saying with a cold smile, “So, you did know that Lu was against rules. Her deportation was not somebody else’s fault but her own! And then Qiu Mengmin disobeyed his official mother, but he did not confess to it though we have evidence. Allowing for this, you still defend him shamelessly. In my view, I think that you want to get his two under-aged and beautiful daughters. Am I right? Liar!”
“Shut up!” all the officers wearing red robes said in chorus. Qiu Yelan, who had no remote chance to say something for himself, lowered his head. His embittered smile proved what he was thinking, “Eighth young master Jiang, he can always remind you of love affairs ... I thought that he just disagreed with his brother Jiang Yashuang, and then said that on purpose on that day! Now, I might be wrong. He had a disposition to attack somebody else with their love affairs. Is this his nature?”
That was right. When the man spoke the first word, Qiu Yelan immediately recognized that this was the one who blocked Jiang Yashuang at Ganli Palace that night, eighth young master Jiang, a level five officer
“Yadan, you retreat!” a man stepped out and gave an order in a low voice. He was wearing purple round collar clothes with thirteen jade goldfish decorations tied up on his waist.
Qiu Yelan noticed that this man stood in the third place in the row before he stepped out. It was clear that this man was one of the two vice chief ministers of Darui!
Tang Zimo, as one of the two vice chief ministers, was the father-in-law of Duke of Guangyang’s Young Prince. And his only son, Tang Dan married Changping Princess, Empress Dowager’s only daughter.
Another vice chief minister, Jiang Tianao was the first nephew of Marquess Qin Jiang Qianchuan, the “Defender of the State”. Jiang Tianao was a special family member of Jiang Family. His grandfather and grandmother died in their early ages and his two uncles, Marquess Qin and Sir Jibei were raised by his father who supported them as a slave.
Jiang Tianao, as the first son of Jiang Tianshan, got tremendous supports from his two uncles in his career, which even dwarfed their biological sons.
By coincidence, one of them was on the side of Empress Dowager and another one was on the side of Empress. The one, at this time, commanded Jiang Yadan to retreat must be Jiang Tianao.
Seeing the ministers of Empress stepping out, the ministers of Empress Dowager could not sit on their hands any longer. As soon as Jiang Tianao completed his talk, Tang Zimo, the second of the civil officials stood out, saying calmly, “We should focus on what we are discussing over here. It’s not allowed to talk like the peasants. How dare you to offend in a word over and over again?!”
“It was Gu Ying’s fault. He was a little bossy on this thing,” Jiang Tianao commanded his nephew to stay put. And then he turned to Tang Zimo, saying calmly, “Jiang Yadan is too young and landed on a trap.”
Tang Zimo said, “Anyway, Jiang Yadan has made an embarrassing gaffe at this convention.”
“Don’t overreact, Mr. Tang. It is not unusual to disagree with each other and lash out at each other during a convention,” Jiang Tianao did a fist and palm salute in the hall recklessly, adding “Empress Dowager, my Majesty and Empress had decided to let it go. Why did Mr. Tang not let it go and always attempt to deflect our focus?”
Tang Zimo cast a down look at the row of Censors, saying, “We should focus on one thing at one time. That our majesties let it go does not mean the man who did it is right!”
One of the Censors stepped out, asking for impeaching Jiang Yadan because what he said insulted the majesties.
It was natural that the followers of Empress disagreed with the impeachment. One of them also stepped out to ask for the impeachment of Gu Ying. Noticing that they were deflecting the focus, Xue Chang, who was closing his eyes for a rest opened eyes and said, “Hi, everyone, we have had reached a deal. We must focus on our agenda about two mothers of Xihe’s.”
The premier had a high prestige among them. The heated debate immediately cooled down when he began to talk. Even Tang Zimo and Jiang Tianao became serious swiftly. Both of them said, “You are so right, Mr. Xue.”
Empress Dowager Gu and other majesties were losing their patience too. The convention would not end if the debate continued like this.
Empress Jiang patted the arm of her jade chair heavily and said, “Qiu Mengmin! Now I give you a chance to defend for yourself. What do you want to say now?”
Hearing this, Qiu Mengmin’s lips trembled. He kneed abruptly and answered, “I... dare not to disobey the order of official mother, old Princess of Xihe, nor will I let my biological mother live alone. I, hence, ask for the permission of Empress Dowager, my majesty and Empress, to allow me to quit my title and become a common person. I will surely support my mother on my own!”
All the followers of Empress Dowager sighed after hearing his words. It was a hard decision for anybody to make.
Empress Jiang said seriously before the followers of Empress Dowager began to defend him, “Now, I see you truly have a conscience! Yet, over the past years, you did support your biological mother in the Prince’s Mansion. Although you were deceived by servants, what you did offend your official mother. Do you agree?”
Qiu Mengmin said with an embittered smile, “Sorry, I felt guilty!”
“Now, according to rules, you will be fined thousands of dollars, and you have to pay the fine from your account! Plus, you will be caned 20 times at the gate of Palace for warning others against following a bad example.” said Empress Jiang, staring at Qiu Mengmin.
After she gave her command, she turned to stern-faced Empress Dowager Gu with a contrived smile, “Mother, do you have any suggestions?”
Empress Dowager Gu answered in a cold voice, “Wind up!” Empress Dowager felt unhappy about the result but she had to accept it as it was futile to argue any longer. So, she gave up.
After the convention, the faltering Qiu Mengmin took a glance at his niece, presenting intense hatred to her.
Lian Chen realized Qiu Mengmin’s intention. He said to Qiu Yelan with a low voice, “He did quit his title, however, your grandfather has no other sons to inherit his title. Qiu Mengmin must be the first choice to inherit all his assets.... After all, they are still in one family. You must not make big mistakes in the future!”
“Thanks for your remind, uncle!” said Qiu Yelan politely. Noticing that Lian Chen did not look at her, Qiu Yelan also smiled sweetly at Qiu Mengmin, thinking, “It is not so easy to get out of my trap by sacrificing only two servants.”
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