After Cheng Yuanjing finished speaking, the room fell into a heavy silence. The Emperor’s face turned dark. After a while, he frowned and asked: “What are you doing?”
“This son has been missing for fourteen years and suddenly come back alive. Even if Your Majesty acknowledges my identity, many people surely won’t believe it. If this son is alone without any ties, others will think this is a scam. Even if some old officials are willing to believe, they must be uneasy seeing this son is still unmarried at the age of twenty. It’s better if Your Majesty decreed this son’s marriage at the same time with this son’s return. With a Crown Princess, some of the problems will be resolved.”
To get married and settle down had never been separable since immemorial. For example, the captives who surrendered. Even if they had been naturalized and lived in the country for many years, the authorities wouldn’t be truly assured as long as they were unmarried. Only after they married a wife, had children, and built a family that they would truly be recognized as taking root and earned the trust from the court.
Although Cheng Yuanjing was not a naturalized foreigner, the Crown Prince was not an insignificant title. After missing for fourteen years, someone suddenly appeared and claimed to be the Crown Prince. Who would feel at ease? Had it not been for the Emperor to know the situation from the beginning, even he wouldn’t accept it lightly.
Getting married and starting a family was indeed a magic weapon capable of calming the public’s heart and ease conflicts. Besides, Cheng Yuanjing had disappeared for many years. The court had been in turmoil several times over the matter of imperial heir. After Cheng Yuanjing returned to his rightful identity, he really needed to have a son as soon as possible to stabilize his position.
The Emperor originally planned to wait a month or two after his return before announcing an edict for the Crown Princess selection. If Cheng Yuanjing had someone he liked, the Emperor was willing to fulfill his eldest son’s wish as long as she was suitable. However, no matter what, the future Crown Princess must have come from a clan of nobility, with a clean background, and father and brothers serving as high-ranking officials in the court, which would be beneficial for the stability of the country.
Cheng family’s daughter obviously was not qualified.
Cheng family had done a great service by sheltering the Crown Prince over the years. The Emperor of course would reward them handsomely, but this didn’t include making their daughter a Crown Princess. Selecting the Crown Princess was a national affair, for she would be the example for the woman in the world. For this matter, the Emperor had put serious deliberation over and over again. How could he allow his son to make such a sloppy decision?
The Emperor calmed himself and asked, “Is this Cheng family’s intention? How could they demand such a thing?”
“No. I am not gullible enough to be coerced by them.” Cheng Yuanjing got up. He stood before the Emperor and said again: “The late Marquis Yichun was a cautious person and didn’t have such courage. He kept the secret from his family even at death’s door. Others in Cheng family are kept in the dark even now, so they have no way to talk about rewards and merits.”
After a slight pause, Cheng Yuanjing calmly added: “It’s me who asked the reward for life-saving grace.”
The Emperor frowned, “What?”
“A child accidentally fell into the river last night. Cheng family’s eldest daughter jumped into the freezing water to save him. I rescued her.” Cheng Yuanjing said. “This way, I can be considered as her savior. To repay my life-saving grace, I want her to be my Crown Princess. After all, little help over time will provide greater returns.”
The Emperor first was stunned, then furious. No wonder Cheng Yuanjing didn’t come to the appointment last night. It turned out that he jumped into the freezing river to save a girl. Many strange signs that happened today could also be explained. But what did he mean by ‘little help over time will provide greater returns’?
The emperor said: “Your Crown Princess selection is a matter of great importance. Don’t rush it. When you return to the palace, I will decree an edict for Crown Princess selection. There are many virtuous girls with suitable backgrounds in the capital. You can choose slowly.”
“I know. I have been living in the capital for more than ten years. I know what kind of women are there in this city.” Cheng Yuanjing said. “However, since I already chose my Crown Princess, there is no need to waste money and effort for another selection. Your Majesty will also have it easier by issuing two edicts at once.”
These words only fanned the anger in the Emperor’s heart, and dissatisfaction gradually appeared on his face. The Emperor reluctantly held back his anger and dissuaded: “You and she are nominally uncle and niece. How do you think the public will react after the announcement?”
“Our blood relationship is fake.” Cheng Yuanjing replied calmly. “What’s more, with me marrying her, isn’t it just right to prove that I am not surnamed Cheng?”
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