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Yang Fucheng was furious and resolutely began to deal with the most outspoken censors. Unfortunately, the founding emperor had set down a rule prohibiting criticizing officials from being killed. Yang Fucheng couldn’t kill anyone, so he could only punish them with a hit from a stick. However, being punished was like a badge of honor for imperial censors, giving them the reputation of a martyr. As a result, Yang Fucheng punished them more severely, yet they kept returning one after another. Even if an imperial censor was beaten by a stick, as long as he still had a breath left, he would return to the court the next day with a colleague’s support and continue impeaching.
Senior Grand Secretary Yang firmly suppressed all the opposing voices and insisted on sending his protégés to take the Crown Prince’s place. He mistook this as just a common impeachment and thought that everything would calm down once he eliminated the loudest voices. However, the intensity and duration of the impeachment far exceeded his expectations.
In the end, even Empress Dowager Yang was alarmed. Despite her dispute with Yang Fucheng, they were still a brother and sister after all, and when facing outsiders, Empress Dowager Yang naturally took the side of her own family. Using her illness as a pretext, she forced the Emperor to defend Yang Fucheng.
Finally, the Emperor ordered all the officials who took the lead in impeaching Yang Fucheng to be demoted. Not only that, but the Emperor also promoted Yang Fucheng’s son Yang Shilong. As for Yang Fucheng himself, he was bestowed with silver and many precious medicinal materials. The meaning of appeasement was very obvious.
Because of the Emperor’s forceful suppression, the long impeachment came to an end, and the person who took over the disaster relief was still Yang Fucheng’s disciple. So many people risked their lives to seek justice, but the Yang family remained untouched. Instead, the people who first made the impeachment were dismissed from their office and demoted.
Even the Crown Prince, the real person who made the greatest contributions to the disaster relief, holed himself in the Eastern Palace and rarely showed up. During the impeachment turmoil, many indignant people came to the Crown Prince to seek support, but Li Chengjing only said that the Emperor had his own reason and that everything must follow His Majesty’s decision.
In the end, the matter was thoroughly suppressed. The Emperor gave Senior Grand Secretary Yang enough face, and the Yang family was still as dominant as ever. Seeing the dust had settled, many people in the court were angry, yet they also felt helpless and unjust for Crown Prince’s sake.
During this month of turmoil, Li Chengjing seldom went out and would return early to Ciqing Palace to accompany Cheng Yujin every day. The couple disliked being disturbed and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company, so they were perfectly content with staying inside for a whole day.
When the calendar entered the tenth month, the large-scale impeachment that involved almost all the officials in the capital had become silent following the Emperor’s forceful intervention.
On the eleventh month, Senior Grand Secretary Yang remained unscathed, and the Yang family became even more arrogant as a result. Meanwhile, Cheng Yujin’s belly had become very big, and imperial physicians visited the Ciqing Palace every day to check on her condition.
Cheng Yujin was about to give birth, putting everyone around her in a state of great tension. When the people of Yichun Marquis Manor came to visit, Old Madam Cheng saw Cheng Yujin’s belly and was stunned, but in the end, she still swallowed the words she was about to say.
Old Madam Cheng could only remind Cheng Yujin euphemistically: “Crown Princess, although pregnant women indeed need good rest, proper exercises are beneficial and can reduce risks of complication. Although your big belly makes it harder for you to move, you cannot be too relaxed. Let the servant girl support you and take three or four walks every day. If you are more active, you will build more stamina for the labor later.”
Cheng Yujin nodded: “I know that. Ever since my pregnancy has become stable, I have never relaxed my daily routine. Even on the days when I cannot leave the palace, I still walk three times in the Eastern Palace’s garden.”
Old Madam Cheng nodded, finally looking a bit relieved. Now that the life and prosperity of the entire Yichun Marquis Manor were tied to Cheng Yujin, Old Madam Cheng desperately wished for Cheng Yujin and her child to be safe and healthy. Speaking of a worst-case scenario, suppose that the situation became dire, then the mother’s safety must take precedence over that of the child’s.
If Old Madam Cheng had to choose, she would definitely choose “Save the mother” without hesitation.
Although the imperial family did not admit it, many madams in the circle secretly guessed that the Crown Princess was carrying twins. Especially Old Madam Cheng, who had seen Ruan-shi’s pregnancy back in the day. Seeing the size of Cheng Yujin’s belly, she was eighty percent sure that the child was twins.
This topic was too heavy, so neither Old Madam Cheng nor Cheng Yujin took the initiative to mention it. But when Old Madam Cheng returned to the manor, she couldn’t help sighing while looking at the fading flower bed. Ordinary people wished for their daughter-in-law to give birth to a son as soon as possible and would be very ecstatic to have twin boys as first grandsons. Yet when it came to the imperial family, it became a taboo.
As a result, they all sincerely wished for Cheng Yujin to give birth to a pair of daughters. If people who had been futilely wishing for a son knew about this, they might end up crying over heaven’s injustice.
During the whole eleventh month, many people couldn’t sleep well at night, worrying about the Crown Princess in the Eastern Palace. Often, there would be slight disturbances at night, causing many lamps to be lit up. Empress Dowager Yang and Empress Yang kept counting the days, and even the Emperor couldn’t help asking every day: when will the Crown Princess give birth?
Amidst the tension, the Eastern Palace that stood at the center of attention was very quiet in contrast. Both the midwives and the wet nurses had long been on standby in Ciqing Palace. For fear that it would affect Cheng Yujin’s mental state, Li Chengjing forbade anyone from showing nervousness, yet he himself could not sleep well at night and be awakened by the slightest movement.
Cheng Yujin was the most leisure of all, eating well and sleeping well. Instead, Li Chengjing was losing a lot of weight. Cheng Yujin knew he was worried about her, so she said, “Your Highness, you don’t have to be so nervous. Children are determined by fate and will come out naturally when the time comes.”
“I know.” Li Chengjing rubbed his eyebrows and said calmly, “I’m not nervous.”
Cheng Yujin looked at him silently and said nothing.
The entire month was spent in nervousness, but Cheng Yujin still showed no signs of labor. When everyone had finally gotten used to the tension, Cheng Yujin unexpectedly started labor in the middle of the night, right on the last day of the eleventh month.
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