Chapter 1023 The Heir of a Duke, Imperial Throne?!
No one expected a considerable turn of events would happen in the Marquis Xing’s Mansion, reverberating throughout the entire imperial court…
Making Shao Yuanhao the heir of a duke looked like a snap decision. The news astonished all because everyone thought their fight for the title would have lasted for a few years. After all, this matter had existed since Shao Yuanhao was born. Therefore, many people had taken a wait-and-see attitude.
Either side emerging victorious would seem reasonable.
If the former Heir of Duke Xing were still alive, Shao Yuanhao would undoubtedly be the heir of a duke as his son, however young he was.
But the problem was that even Shao Jiang himself hadn’t inherited the position from Duke Xing, so how could Shao Jiang pass it on to his son?
Compared with Shao Yuanhao, Shao Hua’an was more suitable in all aspects. Most importantly, Shao Jing became Marquis Xing, who was in charge of the Marquis Xing’s Mansion at present.
Most critically, many officials were watching the political situation in the dark. From their hearts, they regarded the matter as a reference for the succession of the imperial throne, though all of them chose not to say so in public.
It was widely rumored among the people that the Emperor at present obtained his throne through sort of unfair means. His Majesty treated his nephew as nicely as his son. No doubt what he had been doing showed his deep respect for the deceased emperor, but his nephew could also be considered his heir to the throne. By orthodox ideas, Chu Liuchen, the Emperor’s nephew and the deceased emperor’s legitimate son, would accede to the throne ahead of Prince Zhou.
Since Shao Yuanhao could be the heir of a duke, what about Prince Chen?
Was the Emperor hinting at something?
However, on second thought, no matter how the Emperor cared about his nephew, a father always loved his son more than his nephew, didn’t he? Yet, judging from the Emperor’s attitude towards the few princes in the past, he was closer to Prince Chen.
Could it be that the Emperor intended to pass the throne to Prince Chen so that he bestowed the title of the heir of a duke upon Shao Yuanhao first?
In the imperial court, officials began to argue about whether Shao Yuanhao should become the heir of the duke of Marquis Xing’s Mansion.
Many officials stood out and stated that it was inappropriate, for the title should belong to sons. How could a nephew get the title of the heir of a duke? Then, Shao Hua’an, the First Young Master of the Marquis Xing’s Mansion who had been famous for his talent and brilliance, how could he handle this situation?
How could Shao Jing pass on the title of the heir of a duke to his nephew instead of his son?
There were many supporting Shao Yuanhao. They claimed that Shao Jing’s position belonged to Shao Jiang, the former Heir of Duke Xing. If Shao Jiang had not passed away early, his position would have fallen on his legitimate son. No matter what, the second branch couldn’t get the title. All in all, the Emperor’s imperial edict was perfectly logical and reasonable.
Neither party was willing to compromise. They had come up with precedents of the previous dynasty, but they carefully avoided mentioning the incumbent Emperor and Prince Chen.
However, anyone with a discerning eye could easily see that they were secretly referring to the Emperor and Prince Chen. If it weren’t for the two men of great importance, why would they have to quarrel so fiercely about the not-so-important title of the heir of a duke?
The officials were not so idle as to pay close attention to the family affairs of the Marquis Xing’s Mansion.
They were discussing the matter as a national affair.
The Emperor sat up high on his dragon throne, his face taking on a ghastly expression. With his hands pressed tightly against the arms of the chair, he looked down with a somber countenance.
Another imperial censor stepped forward, bowed to the Emperor, and said, “Your Majesty, I don’t think it’s proper. Since the Heir of Duke Xing has passed away, there is no reason for the first branch to keep the title. Both the first branch and the second branch are the descendants of the former Duke. Since the eldest son of the former Duke in the first branch has deceased, the second branch should have a chance to get the title, right? Shao Yuanhao is just a callow young fellow who doesn’t know anything. How can he compare with the First Young Master of the Marquis Xing’s Mansion with an enviable reputation?”
“Your Majesty, this is unfair to First Young Master Shao. Please retract the order!”
“Recall my order?” The Emperor asked coldly on the throne, his piercing eyes landing on the imperial censor with unclear implications.
“Yes, Your Majesty. Please withdraw your order. In any case, the position of the heir of a duke belongs to First Young Master Shao.” The imperial censor immediately nodded, thinking that the Emperor must have agreed with him.
“In any case?” The Emperor snapped back, flying into a rage, and slammed his hands on the dragon heads engraved on the chair arms. Then, he rose to his feet.
The officials, who were waiting to present their views, were shocked and shut up in haste.
“You’re in no position to comment on the affairs of the Marquis Xing’s Mansion. The first branch got the title of the heir of a duke, so you can’t stand the fact and want to defend the second branch against the injustice of it all. Well, well done. I’ll talk it through with you. Derong, tell them why the title fell into Shao Yuanhao’s hands!”
“Yes, Your Majesty.” Derong hurriedly replied and stood up. Then, he said to the officials with a severe look, “Your Excellencies, you don’t have to argue about this. Marquis Xing cherished his wife, the former Madam Jiang. To bring her to the position of a secondary legal wife, he took the initiative to make the concession. If you don’t believe it, you can go and ask Marquis Xing yourselves.”
Even Marquis Xing had no objection. How could the rest of the people stick their noses into other people’s businesses? This matter had nothing to do with them at all!
The Emperor’s intention was obvious.
Hearing Derong’s words, everyone finally realized Shao Jing didn’t go to court today. They were so engaged in the debate that they forgot Marquis Xing was not there at all.
If it was the fact, they would have nothing to quarrel about. Even Shao Jing himself thought this matter proper, then why would others care whether it was fair or not?
For a moment, an eerie hush suddenly fell over the imperial court.
“Before you have a verbal battle with each other, you should get to the bottom of it first. If such a ludicrous thing happens again, you’d better resign your position before I dismiss you.” The Emperor said without mercy, flinging his sleeves in a rage. Then he simply walked away, leaving the officials who couldn’t make head or tail of this matter.
“Prime Minister Wen, Prime Ministers Zhang, Your Graces, what… what on earth is going on?” Seeing this strange situation, someone with a quick mind hastily bowed to the two Prime Ministers and asked in an undertone. Shouldn’t Shao Jing come to the court to complain tearfully about his grievance? Did he really do all of this for Madam Jiang?
In former days, Shao Jing had proved himself to be a decent man of excellent character. Nevertheless, he wouldn’t give up the title of the heir of a duke for a woman who had caused quite a sensation in the imperial city.
It just didn’t make sense.
It was even more unreasonable for him not to come to court today![email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
“Marquis Xing is ill, so he has been asking for leave these days. If you’re on good terms with him, you can visit him in the Marquis Xing’s Mansion!” Prime Minister Zhang said lightly.
Prime Minister Wen gave a wee, turned around, and walked down the palace steps.
“Prime Minister Zhang, is Marquis Xing ill for real?” asked another official.
Prime Minister Zhang threw him a faint smile but made no reply this time. He turned around, walking out of the palace after Prime Minister Wen.
Speaking of this matter, it was just a family affair of the Marquis Xing’s Mansion, no big deal at all. They might talk about it in the Imperial Study on usual days and didn’t have to cross verbal swords publically in the imperial court.
Everyone should be content with a secret mutual understanding about this matter. Now, this matter seemed to have awakened the Emperor’s associations with some covert things. How could His Majesty not feel irritated?
Today, these officials lifted the thin veil on these secretive issues by using the matter of the Marquis Xing’s Mansion.
These two Prime Ministers didn’t know if it was a blessing or a curse.
It would be best for them to take a quiet approach now, responding to all changes by remaining motionless.
Prince Chen? Prince Chen! Prince Chen…
“Did His Majesty lose his temper?” The Empress put down the teacup in her hand, and her face darkened.
“That’s what I heard!” The old maid reported scrupulously.
The Empress waved her hand with a sullen face. Then only she and Prince Zhou were left in the main hall when the old maid withdrew.
After making sure the old maid was far away, Prince Zhou asked, “Mother, so what if my father is angry?” He did not understand why the Empress’s face would take on a ghastly expression.
“The power struggle of the position of the heir of a duke in the Marquis Xing’s Mansion is very similar to your fight for the imperial throne.” The Empress dabbed the corners of her mouth with a handkerchief and continued, “Your father had been unconcerned about it because no one mentioned it before. But now, many people started talking about the throne battle. Though these officials argued about the issue at the Marquis Xing’s Mansion, they actually made oblique references to your father. His Majesty used to know something about the matter, but their remarks had never aimed at him so brazenly like today!”
“So what? It shouldn’t have been Chu Liuchen’s business. He is just a nephew. My father won’t pass the throne on to him, will he? And besides, he has been a really sickly man.” Prince Zhou greeted her proposal with scorn.
“Be that as it may, your father’s heart is incomprehensible, even for me…” The Empress pondered over this for a while. The look in her eyes grew more serious. It seemed that she wanted to say something but stopped on second thought. There were some things that she didn’t know if she should tell her son.
“No matter how hard it is to read his mind, my father won’t deviate from the orthodox path!” Prince Zhou said coolly, “In fact, Chu Liuyue is much more troublesome. He is going to marry Prime Minister Zhang’s daughter. I heard Prime Minister Zhang has been very good to her daughter. His son doesn’t live up to his expectations, and he is very concerned about his daughter. If he helps Chu Liuyue… It will lead to big trouble.”
In Chu Liuzhou’s eyes, only Chu Liuyue was worthy of being his opponent. Thus, even at this time, Chu Liuzhou still only focused on him.
In the present royal court, there were two Prime Ministers who had won the Emperor’s complete trust. Prime Minister Wen had no daughter. Once Prime Minister Zhang’s daughter married Chu Liuyue, this marriage would greatly benefit Chu Liuyue. In contrast, although Chu Liuzhou got Infanta Yuan’an, who had a good reputation and status, she brought much less tangible benefits than Prime Minister Zhang’s daughter.
Because of this difference, Chu Liuzhou would not be at ease with this matter.
“Indeed, it’s good for Prince Yue if Prime Minister Zhang’s daughter marries him. With this marriage, his fate would be closely bound up with Prime Minister Zhang’s, and so would the fate of their two families. At present… there is another chance…” The Empress frowned. She gave more careful consideration to this matter than Chu Liuzhou. In the beginning, she wanted to choose Prime Minister Zhang’s daughter but was reprimanded by the Emperor.
His Majesty said Infanta Yuan’an, with a more distinguished status, was more suitable for Chu Liuzhou, a prince of high standing.
Regrettably, the noble status of these granddaughters of Great Elder Princess was their only worthwhile advantage. How could it compare with the real power in the hands of a Prime Minister?
Of course, she couldn’t argue with the Emperor about this. Ultimately, the Empress had no choice but to accept the marriage.
Despite the fact that Infanta Yuan’an was barely satisfactory in the Empress’s eyes, she excelled in many other aspects. However, ever since she came into conflict with Shao Wanru, the Empress began to doubt whether she was competent enough to be Princess Zhou.
In the final analysis, Infanta Yuan’an was no match for Zhang Qilan. Or, well-known Young Madams from aristocratic families like her were all vain creatures who bought reputation and fished for praise.
Shao Yanru was like this, and Infanta Yuan’an seemed to be the same kind…
“Maids, prepare some gifts and send them to Rui’an Great Elder Princess’s Mansion. I want to congratulate Shao Yuanhao for being the heir of a duke!” The Empress made up her mind.
“Mother, you thought highly of Marquis Xing, didn’t you? What’s going on now…” Prince Zhou asked in surprise. This move of the Empress proved that she had chosen to side with the first branch of the Marquis Xing’s Mansion. But wasn’t this totally opposite to their previous stance?