In the six months he spent in the Ministry of Public Works, the Crown Prince had cleaned up the ministry from top to bottom. Various projects were progressing in orderly manners, and old cases that had been ignored for many years had also been sorted out. The Head Minister of Public Works admired the Crown Prince so much that he often praised His Highness in private.
It took time to see a person’s quality. Since others didn’t trust them, Li Chengjing and Cheng Yujin simply had to prove themselves little by little. The Eastern Palace never strived for merit, but as long as they took over a task, they would make it done well.
Li Chengjing could be said to be the crown prince in everyone’s ideal. As the eldest di son, he was gentle, elegant, and had a noble bearing, but without losing the majesty of a ruler. At the same time, he had a clean temperament, was not greedy for money, or lusting for women. He had only the dignified and virtuous Crown Princess in his palace, was a filial son to his father emperor, and was a respectful and caring brother to the Second Prince. His identity was right, his virtue was unblemished, and most importantly, he also had the Emperor’s support.
Such a Crown Prince was truly impeccable, so it was natural for the court officials to slowly change their positions unknowingly.
The Emperor resisted public opinion for fourteen years and refused to reinstate another crown prince. When the missing Li Chengjing returned, the Emperor quickly returned him to his status and brought him together to learn governance. In any case, it was clear on whom the Emperor put his support.
And this support was the most important. The suspicion between a ruler and his heirs, the struggles for the throne — those were the origin of the chaos in many dynasties. Now that the Emperor and the Crown Prince got along well, the courtiers were obviously happy. The Yang family was indeed powerful, but this world, after all, was surnamed Li.
To put it more crudely, how long could Empress Dowager Yang live? Now compare that with the Crown Prince’s young age and the support from the Emperor, and it was clear to whom they should direct their support.
Many court officials silently held certain ideas in their hearts. Li Chengjing, the Crown Prince, was almost perfect, but he still had one weakness.
He had no children yet.
After all, the Crown Prince was the legitimate heir apparent. For the stability of the country, the Emperor was encouraged to establish the next heir to the throne, the crown prince, as soon as possible. Similarly, the crown prince was also required to prepare the next imperial ruler.
It was only half a year, but many people had been inquiring Cheng Yujin whether she was pregnant or not. It was the case with Cheng Yujin, so presumably, the pressure was even more intense with Li Chengjing. In particular, this was not a private matter between the husband and wife. Whether the Crown Prince had a son or not could be discussed in the morning court as an affair of the country.
Giving birth to a child was truly an all-or-nothing problem, and now Cheng Yujin had a headache whenever she heard such ‘encouraging’ words. She also wanted to give birth, but getting pregnant was not something she could plan and control.
In another month, it would be New Year’s Day. During the period, banquets would be held one after another in the entire capital. Many elderly women would gather together, and they surely would again encourage Cheng Yujin to quickly have a child.
Just thinking about it gave her a headache.
Cheng Yujin stopped thinking about those annoying things. Having finished checking the gift list, she put the brush away and sorted the booklets one by one. Halfway through, she heard a palace servant’s loud voice, announcing the Crown Prince’s return. Before Cheng Yujin could get up, Li Chengjing had already walked in.
Li Chengjing raised his hand, gesturing Cheng Yujin to stay sitting. The heavy cape he was wearing was wet with snow grains, clearly had been exposed to the wind and snow on the way. Nevertheless, Cheng Yujin got up, stepped forward, and patted the snow from Li Chengjing’s shoulders. She then untied the cape and took it off from him before handing it to a palace maid standing behind.
Having been freed from heavy winter cape, Li Chengjing held Cheng Yujin’s hand and led her inside: “Wind is leaking from the door, and your clothes in thin. You will get cold.”
Cheng Yujin obediently let herself be led by Li Chengjing. As they walked, she used her free hand to touch the back of Li Chengjing’s hand, measuring his temperature: “Your Highness’ hand is so cold. Did you meet someone on the road and stay outside for too long?”
“Yes.” Li Chengjing nodded, “I met the Head Minister of War outside the Qianqing Palace, so we exchanged a few words.”
So it was the Head Minister of War. Cheng Yujin understood. She and Li Chengjing walked to the red sandalwood carved wooden couch and sat opposite each other. After a palace maid poured hot tea for them, Cheng Yujin took an orange and asked, “Does your Highness have something in your mind?”
Li Chengjing sighed softly. Sure enough, Cheng Yujin understood him the best. He just mentioned a sentence, and she guessed his thought correctly.
Li Chengjing replied: “I’m thinking about the court affairs. I’ve been absent for too long, and the support from the Ministry of Public Works alone is not enough.”
Of course this was not enough. Among the six ministries, the Ministry of Personnel was the most important, followed by the Ministry of Revenue, and the Ministry of War. Ministry of Public Works came in the end and was regarded by civil officials as graveyard posts with no hope to move upward. It was true that Li Chengjing had accumulated a lot of respect in the Ministry of Public Works, but when talking about the court as a whole, he was still too weak to have a right to speak.
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