Empress Yang was so angry that her lips turned white. Her nails pressed deeply into her flesh. Empress Dowager Yang’s face was also dark, and her eyes swept across Li Chengjing and Cheng Yujin coldly. Feeling the gaze, Cheng Yujin lowered her eyes well-behavedly. Empress Dowager Yang finally held back her anger and said slowly: “Since Emperor said so, This Dowager doesn’t have much to say. Emperor and Crown Prince are father and son, and it is natural that you are united. In the end, it seems that This Dowager has become a wicked person for nothing.”
It was not easy for the Emperor to respond to these words. Without waiting for the Emperor’s reaction, Li Chengjing had already answered, saving the former from embarrassment: “This grandson doesn’t dare. This grandson is merely following the rules made by the ancestor. Since Empress Dowager cannot wait to see the imperial family expand its branches and leaves, why not start by choosing a wife for the second brother? The second brother has also reached the age of marriage. Maybe after the second brother gets married, he will be able to fulfill the elders’ wish better than me.”
When the words came out, the whole hall fell into silence. Li Chengjun, who found the topic suddenly turned to him, subconsciously became nervous.
Empress Yang gasped in surprise and quickly turned to look at Empress Dowager Yang. As for the Emperor, he stroked his beard lightly and showed a thoughtful look.
Li Chengjing continued: “There are not many people in the family, which has always been the source of His Majesty’s lament. However, the family will naturally be more lively after the second brother gets married. This son heard that the daughter of General Dou Da, Miss Dou, is not bad. Empress Dowager has always praised Miss Dou for being filial and caring. So why not let Miss Dou marry second brother? First, they already know each other, and secondly, Miss Dou can also serve Empress and Empress Dowager well, so as to comfort Empress Dowager’s longing. Won’t it simply killing two birds with one stone?”
If it weren’t for the place, Cheng Yujin would have applauded. Empress Dowager Yang was very aggressive, and it was not easy for Li Chengjing to deflect her attacks unscathed. So it was truly a surprise to see Li Chengjing could even fight back. Cheng Yujin suddenly felt refreshed. Empress Dowager Yang not only kept provoking the relationship between the Eastern Palace and the Emperor, but also wanted to put people next to Li Chengjing. Cheng Yujin had endured it for a long time. Now, they were finally able to repay eye with an eye and even stir a crack inside the Yang family.
At this moment, all the people in the hall were observing Empress Dowager Yang’s reaction, waiting for her to express her position. It had long been rumored that Dou Xiyin was the default crown princess. Although now she could no longer be a crown princess, the Dou family was indeed a strong supporter of the yet-to-marry second prince.
Empress Yang also looked at Empress Dowager Yang. Empress Dowager Yang hesitated for a while and finally said: “Choosing a wife is not a trivial matter and cannot be hurried. Jun’er is still young, so it doesn’t matter if he waits for a bit more.”
Although Empress Dowager Yang didn’t say it clearly, none of the people present were stupid, and they naturally understood that this ‘wait’ was actually a ‘no.’ The Noble Consort silently clicked her tongue. Her pair of brilliant eyes, gleamed with a barely concealed mockery, were fixed on Empress Yang. Her lips slightly quivered, holding back a smile.
—It was originally just an ordinary year-end banquet, but who guessed there would be so much excitement tonight?
Empress Yang’s face was stiff. She noticed many of the imperial concubines were looking in her direction, so she forcefully maintained a normal look and refused to let them laugh at her expense.
In the end, the Emperor coughed and said, “We’ll discuss this matter another time. Today’s banquet is a family reunion, so let’s enjoy the food and drink.”
Everyone bowed slightly and responded in unison: “Yes, Your Majesty.”
However, no one was still in the mood to eat after that. After returning to Ciqing Palace, Cheng Yujin bowed to Li Chengjing and said: “Your Highness, thank you for today.”
Li Chengjing reached out to stop Cheng Yujin: “What are you doing? This is originally my responsibility, so it is a given that I solve it.”
Cheng Yujin silently sighed in relief. She could handle Empress Dowager Yang’s words just now, but she could not be as bold as Li Chengjing. Li Chengjing could say without hesitation that he didn’t want to take a concubine, but Cheng Yujin couldn’t.
Sure enough, in the end, it all came to the man. As long as he didn’t have such an intention, no matter what the reason was, he could stop it.
Cheng Yujin suddenly felt very emotional. Half-jokingly and half tentatively, she asked Li Chengjing: “Your Highness, were you serious with your words just now? The law of not allowed to take concubines unless a man is still without a son at forty is designated for common men, not an imperial son, and very few are still obeying this law. Your Highness made such a declaration in front of so many people, which may bring you difficulties in the future.”
“How can I truly put you at ease if I didn’t say it in public?” Li Chengjing looked at Cheng Yujin calmly, his eyes seemed to be smiling, but it was full of coercion, “If I didn’t say it at the time, what would you do?”
Cheng Yujin remembered the few nail marks on her palm. If Li Chengjing hadn’t stood up suddenly, she would have succumbed. Virtue, duty, heirs — with all those pressing on her head, Cheng Yujin could not afford to gamble.
Facing Cheng Yujin’s silence, Li Chengjing also sighed. Without waiting for her answer, he leaned over and pulled her hands into his. Li Chengjing stared at the red marks on Cheng Yujin’s palm and sighed again, very softly: “You are not allowed to repeat this.”
Cheng Yujin nodded. She didn’t ask which action did he forbid her to do: was it hurting her hand, or agreeing to take concubines?
But at this moment, Cheng Yujin would rather believe. Even if she was deceiving herself, she was willing to believe this moment of tranquility they shared together, and that Li Chengjing really intended to never take concubines.
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