Chapter 23 — The Crown Prince Reaps Benefits
Huan Mo Che unhurriedly stood up, and as he rose, he inadvertently glanced at the crown prince. The scholar wanted to lend a hand, so he was trying to surmise what the crown prince wanted to achieve by bringing up the matter of famine in the south.
Unfortunately, the crown prince’s gaze did not turn to Huan Mo Che at all. It was as if, regardless of what Huan Mo Che said, his words would have no way of interfering with the his plans.
Huan Mo Che felt bitterness in his heart, thinking that the crown prince seemed to really hate him. This was his first time being alienated and so detested by someone.
“Your Majesty!” Huan Mo Che gave a slight bow and a gentle smile, but in his heart, he was still incessantly pondering over the crown prince’s intentions.
Huan Mo Che was a man of peerless intelligence, so only a brief moment of contemplation was enough for him to understand what the crown prince wanted to do, and Huan Mo Che was willing to give the boat a push along the current1.
“Caomin2 believes that the best solution would be to open granaries and distribute relief grains!” He proposed the simplest solution, eliciting disdain from several officials.
They also knew of this solution, but the thing was that this solution utilized the national treasury, and as imperial officials, they didn’t dare suggest it. Only this man, who served no position in the Imperial Court, Huan gongzi3 would state it so bluntly.
“However, there are officials who fail to send the grains, and they fill their own pockets instead. So in the end, even if the national treasury was employed to open granaries, the common populace would still starve to death on the streets!” Huan Mo Che voiced the dark reality of officialdom, sparing any hint of euphemism, causing the officials to pale.
“Therefore, the most important matter right now is to select an official who sincerely cares for the common people and is worthy of Your Majesty’s trust. He shall be the one to distribute the relief grains!” Huan Mo Che finished with a smile and then looked at the crown prince.
As expected, the crown prince’s gaze was on him. Although there was neither sorrow nor joy in their depths, the eyes that stared at Huan Mo Che were earnest. Those eyes were breathtaking.
Shang Wuxin had always been aware that this highly-praised man was very intelligent, but she hadn’t thought that he would be able to guess her intentions so easily. Moreover, he’d even helped her a bit. She knew that this man was the son of the left prime minister, and the left prime minister…
Emperor Shang was particularly satisfied with Huan Mo Che’s “call a spade a spade”4 attitude. Huan gongzi was wise and equally honest. It was a pity that his repetitive attempts to enlist him into the Imperial Court were all met with flat rejections. If Huan Mo Che did join the Imperial Court, then even the position of the prime minister might not be considered superior to him.
“Oh? Then who does Huan gongzi think should sent to provide relief for the south?” Emperor Shang asked. This was his way of putting Huan Mo Che in an important position. It was actually not the first time either–on countless occasions, Emperor Shang had turned to Huan Mo Che for advice, and his suggestions were usually accepted. Huan Mo Che did not disappoint him. Every time, his proposals would be reliable and foremost.
Huan Mo Che looked at the princes, and they each returned his gaze with somewhat nervous ones.
No matter who was sent to distribute the relief grains, the benefits reaped by the chosen one would be exceptional. Countless silvers could be gained. More importantly, showing one’s face while carrying out this task would ensure a good reputation, which was exactly what every single prince desired.
“Caomin thinks the crown prince is the most suitable candidate!” Huan Mo Che’s words caused a commotion.
The first one to step out in rebuttal was, unexpectedly, Huan Mo Che’s own father, Left Prime Minister daren5 Left Prime Minister Huan An Ping wore imperial official robes. Although his age was no longer small, one could still perceive that in his youth, he had been a man of rarely-seen beauty and appeal.
He glared at Huan Mo Che. Left Prime Minister Huan An Ping knew that his son had always been a restless one who even he was incapable of restraining. If it weren’t for the fact that Huan Mo Che was the only son in their household, why else would Left Prime Minister Huan An Ping tolerate his son’s disobedience?
“Your Majesty, please reconsider. Mo Che is merely a caomin without an official position, how could he possibly conduct the Imperial Court’s important matters? Mo Che, why haven’t you stepped down yet?” Left Prime Minister Huan An Ping snapped.
Unfortunately for him, Huan Mo Che paid his father no heed, causing Left Prime Minister Huan An Ping’s elderly countenance to almost lose its calm.
Others envied him for having a brilliantly knowledgeable son with exceeding features. Huan Mo Che was impeccably famous, yet no one knew that Left Prime Minister Huan An Ping actually considered his son a thorn in his side.
Shang Wuxin observed Left Prime Minister Huan An Ping’s pretentious behavior and could tell that the father-and-son pair shared a strained relationship. It seemed that Huan Mo Che did not feel any filial love for his father. No wonder Huan Mo Che helped her–Left Prime Minister Huan An Ping belonged to the eldest prince’s faction.
His Majesty threw a discontented glance at Left Prime Minister Huan An Ping but did not verbally reprimand him.
His Majesty appeared to be far removed from the masses and reality6 and controlled the matter of life and death, but in fact, there were dilemmas only he would know. The Imperial Court was too powerful. He’d spent so many years eliminating those who gained a degree of imperial authority, but they were not enough. Far from enough.
“Huan gongzi is the capital’s top gongzi. Who else could surpass his wisdom and wits?” Emperor Shang rebuked and then looked at the assembly of people as he said, “Or does someone hold another candidate in mind? Zhen7 would like to see just who would enjoy this toilsome assignment!”
“Chen8 thinks that the eldest prince is very suitable!” Left Prime Minister Huan An Ping said. He knew that if he didn’t speak up, another official undoubtedly would.
“Left Prime Minister’s suggestion, I’m afraid is inappropriate!” Huan Mo Che saw that the crown prince was about to say something, so he quickly rushed to interfere, not wanting the crown prince to go against the left prime minister.
After all, the left prime minister’s influence was great, so if he were to bear a grudge against the crown prince, it would be disadvantageous for the crown prince’s future.
Shang Wuxin’s raised an eyebrow. Again, she hadn’t expected that this Huan Mo Che would so blatantly challenge his own father while they were in the Great Hall and continue to assist her so tenderly.
If it weren’t for those peach blossom eyes, she would’ve felt that this kind of man would be fitting to be her confidant.
“The famine in the south has become so severe, yet none of the other princes reported it. Crown Prince cares for the people, so of course the crown prince should be the one to carry out the task. If the eldest prince was truly more suitable, then where was the eldest prince at in the beginning? Caomin would like to point out that the south is a fief belonging to the eldest prince.” Huan Mo Che said without a shred of fear.
Even if he was facing the risk of offending a country’s emperor, he would still speak similarly. It was not because he was arrogant, but simply because he held the ability.
“Caomin believes the crown prince is most ideal for this task. Furthermore, his heart is one that loves the common people, and that is a blessing to them!”
Once he was done speaking, he sat back down. He’d done all he could–now, the rest was up to His Majesty.
“Chen also believes that for resolving the famine in the south, the crown prince is most suitable!” Bai Shang Shu, an official who never picked sides and always remained neutral, spoke out.
This time, he truly admired the people-loving crown prince. Regardless of whether or not the crown prince was just trying to grasp the opportunity to procure favor, he’d acknowledged the famine, which in itself made him very admirable.
Emperor Shang thought for a moment before declaring, “The task of opening granaries and distributing relief grains will be handled solely by the crown prince. In five days, the crown prince shall take grains to the south!”
Shang Wuxin’s eyes flashed with a faint trace of something, and that look in her eyes was spotted clearly by Huan Mo Che. He took a glimpse and said, “Your Majesty, the road to the south is infested with bandits. The crown prince should have an escort!”
He was afraid that it would take the crown prince a long time to return from his journey to the south, and he was willing to be the aforementioned escort. However..
“Fuhuanh9 erchen10 thinks that General Leng would be a very good candidate!” Shang Wuxin smiled. It wasn’t that she was ignorant to Huan Mo Che’s intentions, but she really did hate those eyes. She was afraid that he’d rouse her heart.
Huan Mo Che’s eyes were originally crinkled in a smile, but he then lowered them as he formulated a new plan.
Leng Yu Feng didn’t expect the crown prince to mention him, but he knew that refusal was not an option. It appeared that his plans of leaving the capital as soon as possible would have to be put aside.
“Then General Leng will accompany Crown Prince to the south!” Emperor Shang decided. “You may all be dismissed!”
Thus, Emperor Shang’s birthday commemoration was concluded, and there were many people who suffered, while the crown prince gained the most benefits.
Several officials wanted to curry favor from the crown prince, but the crown prince took his maidservants and swiftly left the Great Hall and palace, leaving no chances for neither the opposing nor fawning officials to do anything.
However, henceforth, they all became wary of the crown prince. The wise ones knew that the crown prince was not someone to be trifled with, while even more looked at their own daughters and started to make plans.
VIN: Has anyone noticed that sometimes I capitalize “Crown Prince” and other titles, but most times I don’t? That’s because I don’t see the titles as names unless the names are actually attached to them. However, there are instances where the titles are meant to replace their names, so I do capitalize when that happens. Oh, and the flood of footnotes will end soon, don’t worry..