If the monarch wants the minister to die, the minister has no choice but to die.
What’s more to say
According to the usual practice, the ministers who arrived early all gathered in the East Hall to wait for Empress Dowager Liu to lead the young emperor to the court to listen to politics.
A quarter of an hour before the court meeting began, people sat or stood, in groups of three or five, whispering.
Naturally, the topic of their discussion was linked to the popular person in front of Empress Liu, Xie Changgeng, the governor of Hexi.
When he arrived yesterday evening, he sent a letter to the palace.
The Empress Dowager was sympathetic to his hard journeyand asked him not to go to the palace immediately, but to rest for the night first.
It would not be too late to see him tomorrow morning.
The news had already spread.
Everyone was talking about his recent achievement of pacifying the rebellion of Jiangdu.
They said that he would be honoured with another title when he came back to the capital to report on his duties.
Just as they were talking, a palace servant came in and passed on the Empress Dowager’s words, saying that this morning’s court meeting would be delayed for half an hour and that the ministers should continue to wait here.
As soon as the palace servants left, there was a humming sound in the East Hall.
Everyone knows that this must be because Empress Dowager Liu received Xie Changgeng alone.
For his audience, even the court meeting had to be delayed.
In addition to envy, there is inevitably also some jealousy.
Without knowing who started it, the focus of everyone’s attention changed from the merits of Xie Changgeng, the governor of Hexi, to a gossip that had just spread amongst the official circles in Shangjing a few days ago.
At the beginning of the year, Xie Changgeng married the princess of Changsha, who he had been engaged to three years ago.
Unfortunately due to the rebellion, he left his delicate wife on their wedding night and left home.
This is no secret. At that time, some of his colleagues went to the wedding banquet and it has long been known to everyone.
It was probably because he did not appease his new wife, who in anger, returned to Changsha. Just last month, after the rebellion was quelled, the governor Xie rushed to Changsha without stopping, wanting to take her back. But to his surprise, he was rejected.
Not only did he fail to take back his wife, but it is said that he was also humiliated by the young Changsha wang, who had always disliked his origins and returned home empty-handed with his head in shame.
The original source of this gossip should have come from the imperial court’s supervisor in Changsha.
The imperial court has an official stationed in each vassal state to submit a monthly report on the results of his inspection.
This is the rule that was set by the dynasty during the establishment of the vassal states.
Regardless of the authenticity of the news, most of the officials in the capital were jealous of and despised Xie Changgeng, who was originally from a humble background. From this standpoint, they were on Mu Xuanqing’s side. Seeing Xie Changgeng eat such defeat, who would not gloat and say a few words
Now the court meeting has also been postponed because of his arrival.
Everyone simply let go and began to whisper, passing the news they had heard and expressed deep sympathy for what happened to governor Xie.
At the same moment, Xie Changgeng was waiting outside the Xuanzheng Hall.
Although he was not in the East Hall, he knew what his colleagues there were talking about.
This was also mentioned in the secret letter sent to him by Cao Jin last night. Probably because he was afraid of causing him unhappiness, he simply mentioned that what happened during his trip to Changsha had already spread.
Xie Changgeng looked calm and stood outside the hall waiting to be summoned.
Yang Guangshu, the eunuch besides Empress Liu, personally came out of the hall, saying that the Empress Dowager had summoned him, and led Xie Changgeng in.
Xie Changgeng followed him in and walked to Empress Liu, who was sitting in the hall.
Empress Liu was only in her 40s but she has already been an Empress Dowager for many years. Ten years ago, Empress Mu from Changsha passed away.
The following year, she was appointed as her successor, and her son was also established as the crown prince.
The Emperor had a chronic disease and died within two years. The Emperor who succeeded the throne was young, so it was only natural that she, who had been promoted to Empress Dowager, would hear and handle all matters.
After she took power, she eliminated those who opposed her. Other members of the Zhao family, who were divided to different regions, considered that they were also descendants of the dragon and wanted to remove the Empress Dowager.
This is the root cause of the national turmoil that has lasted for many years.
There are too many vassal kings, who united to oppose Empress Liu’s reign, either here to rebel or to force the court there.
Even if Empress Liu had the means and the power of her mother’s family, she is still under a lot of pressure.
Three years ago, the rebellion broke out again and the rebels rushed to attack Shangjing.
Empress Liu sent people to suppress the rebellion, but they suffered repeated defeats and the capital was in danger.
While facing unprecedented pressure, Xie Changgeng came out of nowhere.
In the past three years, with his outstanding military talent, he has helped Empress Liu suppress the turmoil of the vassal kings several times.
Empress Liu’s position has stabilised.
Why wouldn’t she regard him differently
She asked Xie Changgeng to get up with a smile, ordered the palace people to give him a seat, and said with a smile, “I and His Majesty have read the report you sent over yesterday and it was very good.
You have made great contributions to quelling the Jiangdu rebellion.
You have helped the court solve this problem.
Although His Majesty is young, he knows to tell me that Xie Qing is a loyal minister and a good general.
If you want any reward, feel free to ask.”
Xie Changgeng said, “This is only my duty as a minister.
I have been ordered to fight against the rebellion.
Thanks to the blessing of the Empress Dowager and His Majesty.
and thanks to the soldiers in the army, I have not disgraced my duty.
The minister was originally only a piece of straw, and with today’s honour, I am already grateful and don’t have the intention of claiming credit.
Empress Liu was very satisfied with his attitude and a smile appeared on her face.
“Xie Qing, you are young yet you have achieved your position today.
Although it is because of your merits, I am afraid that you will become a target of the public. This time, I will not add a title for you, instead grant your mother a title, how about it
Xie Changgeng knelt down and thanked Empress Liu for her kindness.
Empress Liu asked him to get up, and said, “Because of the rebellion of Jiangdu, you left home on your wedding night, and I feel very guilty. I heard that you went to Changsha last month”
Xie Changgeng raised his eyes, and met Empress Liu’s concerned gaze and said, “After pacifying the rebellion of Jiangdu, I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to return home to visit relatives.
At that time, when I returned home, I learned that my wife was unaccustomed to the conditions and fell ill and already returned to Changsha, so I went for a trip.”
“So that’s how it is.
How is her health”
“She is fine, she just needs to recuperate more.
I thank the Empress Dowager for her concern.”
Empress Liu nodded.
“But I also heard that you were humiliated in Changsha”
Xie Changgeng looked ashamed.
“I do not dare hide it.
I come from a low background.
When I asked the old Changsha wang for marriage, my wife’s brother was dissatisfied with me.
Now that I am there, it is only human nature that I am slighted.”
Empress Liu frowned, “This Mu Xuanqing has the nerve to treat you like this! He knows that you are someone I value highly, yet he is so arrogant.
In the future, what can he not do”
She paused. “The Mu Clan of Changsha has always harboured ill will towards me.
Someone once warned me to beware of them.
What do you think about this matter”
She suddenly asked this question.
Xie Changgeng said, “The king of Changsha is young and acts recklessly.
Changsha is short of soldiers and generals, unlike other vassal kings who have strong troops and horses, so what is there to fear Even if they dare to cause trouble in the future, how big of a splash can they make”
“Xie Qing, in the future, supposing that I want you to get rid of Changsha, will you handle it yourself” Empress Liu stared at Xie Changgeng and asked another question.
Xie Changgeng met Empress Liu’s gaze without blinking, and said, “If the monarch wants the minister to die, the minister has no choice but to die.
What’s more to say”
Empress Liu fell silent.
A few days ago, she summoned Zhang Ban, the internal historian, to discuss the country’s future plans.
When talking about Changsha, Zhang Ban said that Changsha is a small country with a weak army.
The new king Mu Xuanqing, who succeeded the throne three years ago, is not only far less capable than his father, but he is also reckless. He had heard that not long ago, he was hunting alone and fell into a deep pit.
Had he not been found in time due to luck, he would have died. Also the recent rumours that he did not let his sister go back with governor Xie and even humiliated him in public is even more evidence.
The real threat is the scheming Lu wang and the heavily armed Pingyang wang compared to Changsha.
In his eyes, Changsha does not cause trouble, pays tribute on time, and they have no solid evidence of rebellion. There is a rumour in the court that the reason why Empress Liu could not tolerate Changsha is because of her grievances with Empress Mu. If she dealt with Changsha now, not only will it give Lu wang and Pingyang wang an opportunity to take advantage of the situation, but the people will also suspect there is some truth to the rumour.
Zhang Ban said that now is not a good time to make a move on Changsha. It would be better to get rid of Lu wang and Pingyang wang first, and then it would be easy to deal with Changsha.
Empress Liu felt that it was quite reasonable at the time, and after thinking about it, she decided to follow that plan.
Just now, she deliberately asked this question in front of Xie Changgeng just to test his attitude.
After all, he is married to the princess of Changsha.
This reply of his is completely in line with her judgement of Xie Changgeng.
With his background, one side is his wife, and the other side is the imperial power that can grant him prosperity. There is no doubt about how he will choose.
Without her, he is nothing.
Empress Liu relaxed and said with a smile, “A few days ago, when Zhang Ban and I were discussing matters, we mentioned Changsha.
His views are similar to yours.
After all, you also married Mu’s daughter as your wife.
Unless it is the last resort, I would not want to put you in a difficult position.
In the future, as long as the Mu family is loyal, I will not touch them.”
Xie Changgeng respectfully said, “I thank the Empress Dowager for the grace of the Mu family in Changsha.
Empress Liu nodded, pondered and quickly made a decision in her heart.
After Xie Changgeng left, she summoned her trusted eunuch Yang Guangshu and said, “Immediately draft an imperial edict for me, send someone to Changsha with the reward.”
“Say that I thought of the former Empress Mu and was filled with sorrow.
I remembered that the princess of the Mu family, Fulan, lived in the palace ten years ago.
She had a former relationship with me, and I miss her a little.
She is specially summoned to the capital to chat if it is convenient for her body to travel.
Eunuch Yang was slightly startled and asked, “Empress Dowager, didn’t governor Xie say that she was recuperating in Changsha Why did you call her to the capital”
Empress Liu smiled.
“Do you think what Xie Qing is completely true Most likely, he was forced to use it as an excuse to hide it in front of the people because he could not bring back Mu’s daughter.
“He is my person.
Even if I do not touch Changsha now, this is to let Mu Xuanqing know that disrespecting Xie Qing is also disrespecting me! Xie Qing is now in the capital.
His already married sister, let alone not sick, even if she is really sick to death, as long as I speak, she must obediently follow Xie Qing to the capital for me!”
Eunuch Yang suddenly understood.
“What the Empress Dowager said is very true.
In the past few days, this slave has also heard some comments.
I think there are people jealous of governor Xie and spread some bad rumours.
Empress Dowager, you are killing two birds with one stone.
You have warned Changsha and it also is a way to save governor Xie’s dignity.
When he finds out about it, he will be grateful to the Empress Dowager.”
Empress Liu was lost in her thoughts for a moment, then said, “That’s not all.
I heard that the princess of the Mu family has an outstanding appearance and is the number one beauty in Changsha.
Although Xie Qing just expressed his loyalty to me, throughout the ages, I don’t know how many heroes have fallen into a woman’s hands.
Don’t be fooled by Mu Xuanqing’s attitude now.
As long as Xie Qing and Mu’s daughter are still husband and wife, if by any chance she listens to someone’s instigation or harbours evil intentions, it is not impossible to alienate Xie Qing and I.
I must see her capability with my own eyes to be relieved.
If she is honest, she can’t control people with Xie Qing’s character.
But if she is not right…”
There was a gloomy look in her eyes.
“Then think of a way to solve it for Xie Qing as soon as possible, so as not to leave problems in the future.”
Eunuch Yang said in a low voice, ”The Empress Dowager’s thoughts are really thorough! Although Changsha has temporarily been spared, but it is still necessary to guard against.
I will go and prepare the edict now!”