Cheng Yujin pinched herself quietly, trying to use the pain to sober her mind. It was not easy for her to come this far, and she couldn’t ruin years of hard work for a momentary emotion.
Ten fingers connected to the heart. As the tingling pain seemed to reach her brain, Cheng Yujin was about to speak, but another person suddenly stopped her. Li Chengjing forcibly stopped Cheng Yujin from pinching herself, then turned around and bowed to Empress Dowager Yang: “Empress Dowager is right. As the Crown Prince, this grandson should be the example of the world. The founding ancestor of the country laid down the law: ‘A Qinwang1 is allowed to take concubines, one at a time, up to ten at most. When a Junwang2 has no di-born son at the age of twenty-five, he is allowed to take two women of a good birth as concubines, and when he is still childless at thirty, the number of concubines can be upped to four. As for common man, in the case he is without a son at forty, is allowed to take one concubine.’ This grandson is a Crown Prince, but a prince who breaks the law must be punished with the same punishment as common men and vice versa. This grandson has the responsibility and duty to set an example for the common people in the world. This grandson is indeed still without a child, but also not yet forty, so how can this grandson take a concubine?”
Hearing this reasoning, Empress Yang couldn’t help frowning. The founding emperor was extremely strict. What he hated the most were extravagant and corrupt officials, which prompted him to formulate very strict laws. Even the number of concubines Qinwang, Junwang, officials, and common men could take also be regulated. But it was a long time ago. The founding emperor had passed away for many years, and many of his strict laws had long stopped being enforced.
The Lin family’s rule, in which men under forty were not allowed to take concubines, was actually originated from this law. However, seeing how Lin Qingyuan, whose family still practiced this rule, was regarded as a rarity in the capital, one could imagine of such a degree this law was actually enforced.
But a law was still a law, so it must still be preserved somewhere in old archives. Li Chengjing suddenly took out the law made by the founding ancestor, which truly surprised Empress Yang. Even the people of the Ministry of Justice might not be able to remember where to find such an old law, but Li Chengjing fluently recited it from memory. Moreover, it was also the first time Empress Yang used the phrase ‘a prince who breaks the law must be punished with the same punishment as common men.’
This logic was impermeable. In theory, a common man could only take one concubine when he remained without a son at the age of forty. However, how many people still knew about this outdated law, let alone follow it? But Li Chengjing cleverly made use of this and even set a vow to restrain himself by using the common people as an excuse.
Empress Yang was dumbfounded, but the excuse Li Chengjing used was indeed a law formulated by the ancestor. No matter what, Empress Yang dared not to point her finger at the founding emperor.
Empress Yang had no choice but to turn to Empress Dowager Yang for help, hoping that her aunt would come forward to break Li Chengjing’s argument. But Empress Dowager Yang remained silent, frowning. Obviously, she also felt the difficulty of this matter.
After a while, Empress Dowager Yang finally said, “This sentence should not be used here. You are the Crown Prince; how can you be the same as the common people? The common people’s laws are simply wronging you.”
“Empress Dowager may have forgotten, but a moment ago, you said that the Crown Princess is the example of women in the world. Therefore, this grandson should also be the role model of the men in the world. If this grandson cannot even follow the laws made by our ancestors, then how can I ask others to follow the imperial laws? If this matter is spread out and known by the public, this grandson will definitely lose their trust. In this way, how can this grandson maintain my duty as the example for the subjects?” Li Chengjing asked, “Empress Dowager, don’t you think so?”
These were originally Empress Dowager Yang’s words, twisted before thrown back intact by Li Chengjing. Empress Dowager Yang was first suppressed by the ‘ancestral law’ and then was slammed by her own words. Feeling suffocated, she tried to open her mouth to refute, but no words could come out.
Empress Dowager Yang couldn’t swallow this anger: “Imperial heir is not a trivial matter. As the Crown Prince, how can you have no one to serve you?”
Li Chengjing lowered his head and simply responded, “This grandson is indeed unfilial.”
As for the matter of taking concubines, he refused to back down.
Empress Dowager Yang wanted to say more, but the emperor coughed twice and said, “Okay, the Crown Prince is still young, and it has been only a year since Zhen finally found him. There is no rush for children. Besides, it is only half a year since the Crown Prince’s marriage, and it is still too early to rush them for a child.”
The Emperor opened his golden mouth, so Empress Dowager Yang was forced to shut up. Next to him, Empress Yang sat with a dark face. The Emperor always respected Empress Dowager Yang and obeyed her words. But today, for the sake of the Crown Prince, he openly humiliated Empress Dowager?
Empress Yang looked at the young man sitting below. A tall, graceful figure. A handsome man at the height of his youth. Anyone who saw him praised him for his talent, but this person was Zhong-shi’s son.
She couldn’t win against Zhong-shi, and now even Zhong-shi’s son was pressing on her Jun’er’s head.
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