Chapter 58

Translator’s notes:

First sponsored chapter. Long author’s notes made it seem like 1.5 chapters….

****

On this day after court, the Zhenguo Duke didn’t leave and asked for an audience with the emperor.

Within the imperial study, Emperor Xi wore a violet robe embroidered with a five-clawed golden dragon. He was seated behind the royal desk.

“Uncle Mao Shan. Is something the matter?”

The Zhenguo Duke didn’t beat around the bush. He directly offered up a long flat box. The general manager eunuch Zheng Hai Quan received the box and placed it onto the desk. After obtaining Emperor Xi’s permission, he opened it.

Seeing what was inside the box, not only was Zheng Hai Quan confused, even Emperor Xi was the same.

The box was lined with a scarlet cloth, on top of which….was a meat skewer?

It was meat, right? But meat was normally placed on plates, but these were held in place by a meat skewer. There were a total of three pieces. Emperor Xi saw it very clearly.

The Zhenguo Duke had always been someone straightforward. Therefore, there had to be a meaning to this.

Emperor Xi didn’t ask, and waited for the Zhenguo Duke to explain.

“Majesty probably remembers that his highness the fourth prince had lived in your subject’s estate for a few days. This subject has a grandson who had just turned ten this year. Children are naughty and lively at this age. The fourth prince rarely left the estate while he lived there, and somehow ended up playing with this old subject’s grandson. This subject thought that the fourth prince was rather lonely living in the estate, and it was good to have a playmate. Therefore, they played as they pleased…..”

These words were spoken in a casual tone, and he even seemed to be laughing in spite of himself. He had an appearance of loving devotion towards the younger generation. He spoke about how the fourth prince slowly started becoming livelier after getting to the Zhenguo Duke Estate, dragging Shen Qi along everywhere.

This matter wasn’t a secret. Emperor Xi had long known about it.

“Unexpectedly, the two hit it off rather well. After the fourth prince moved out, that grandson of mine also went to play at the fourth prince estate a couple of times. The two seem to have similar interests, and somehow, my grandson ended up asking to start his own little business. My daughter-in-law spoils the child and didn’t ask too much before getting him some helpers….at first we thought he was just messing around and didn’t think too much about it. Who would have expected him to bring back some silver yesterday as a show of filial piety….”

The Zhenguo Duke’s words seemed a bit of a non sequitur, but Emperor Xi understood his meaning.

“This is what he came up with?” Emperor Xi picked up the skewer inside the box and asked.

He didn’t specify who he was referring to, but they both understood his meaning.

“Yes. They started a small food stand. It’s said business is pretty good, and they can earn some silver.” The Zhenguo Duke spoke very vaguely.

Emperor Xi muttered to himself for a while before nodding. He said with a smile: “Uncle Mao Shan’s grandson is intelligent for his age. He’s able to earn his own silver early on. Not bad, not bad.”

The Zhenguo Duke cupped his hands. “Majesty is overpraising.”

“En. You may take your leave.”

As the Zhenguo Duke was about to step outside, a faint voice sounded from above.

“That child is also not simple. We understand.”

The Zhenguo Duke didn’t pause as he left.

Although it seemed like they had been speaking randomly, each understood the other’s meaning.

The Zhenguo Duke was saying one thing while also saying something else. He gave Emperor Xi a heads up on Shen Qi. This way, if something really happened due to the children playing together, the emperor would be forewarned. A loyal official was required to hold nothing back from the emperor.

He also mentioned that his grandson and the fourth prince started a business together. Shen Qi was a naughty brat. How could he come up with something like that?

Without a doubt, someone had been directing things.

This was ambiguously telling Emperor Xi that this matter was something the fourth prince wanted to do. This old official knew about it all along, but for the sake of the fourth prince’s face (also Emperor Xi’s), he let them be.

As for Emperor Xi, his words seemed to be praising Shen Qi, but it also represented his thoughts on the matter.

He was ambiguously telling the Zhenguo Duke “We are aware of this matter. It’s no big deal.”

His parting words seemed to be spoken unintentionally, but were overheard by the Zhenguo Duke. This was Emperor Xi expressing his opinion once again.

Emperor Xi knew the fourth prince wasn’t simple. Therefore, he was permitting him to make other moves in the dark as long as it was within reasonable limits. This also included seeking shelter with the Zhenguo Duke to some extent.

…….

Since ancient times, the interaction between a monarch and his officials have always been rather profound.

Some people were unable learn it and could only occupy a lower position. There were also others who knew a bit and could figure out the emperor’s intent, but would often think themselves smart and provoke hatred instead. As for the Zhenguo Duke, his high status and steady position naturally meant he was two steps above these people. It wasn’t without reason he was trusted by Emperor Xi.

At least he had a lot of experience in interacting with Emperor Xi.

Of course the Zhenguo Duke didn’t have this meeting for Luo Huai Yuan’s sake.

He was partly playing his dutiful role as a loyal official, and partly scoping out the matter Second Madam Shen brought up.

When the fourth prince moved into the Zhenguo Duke Estate for a while, they had already been implicated in his matters. Since that was the case, why not make use of this connection?

That business was truly worth getting involved in, but they first had to get Emperor Xi’s approval.

Now that he no longer had any misgivings, the Zhenguo Duke summoned Second Madam Shen and told her she could proceed.

Second Madam Shen had trouble concealing her delight as she took her leave.

The Zhenguo Duke who remained in his study was actually a little uneasy.

Things went more smoothly than he expected, but he felt a trace of doubt in his mind.

The fourth prince had calculated that the Zhenguo Duke Estate would go along with it if he roped Shen Qi into this business…..

Furthermore, over the last couple of days, the Zhenguo Duke also understood that the reason for the “come back if good” stands’ success was mostly due to the fourth prince’s setup. The manpower they provided was secondary…..

Then didn’t he already anticipate this business would do well? He knew the Zhenguo Duke Estate would learn about the situation and be unable to resist getting involved?

After all, they were merely children. Shen Qi was still ignorant. The fourth prince, despite being talented, was restricted and development would be limited.

Since the Zhenguo Duke Estate wanted to get involved, they definitely had to get the emperor’s approval….

Somehow, the Zhenguo Duke couldn’t help but think of all this.

Such thoughts were preposterous, but he couldn’t help think this way.

Perhaps it was due to the impression the fourth prince gave him through Yan Yan. Perhaps it was due to this current matter. The Zhenguo Duke felt the fourth prince was abnormally knowledgeable, and felt like he was a bit of a demon.

What child his age could think ten steps, a hundred steps ahead? He even used the Zhenguo Duke Estate to probe out the emperor’s thoughts?

After thinking for a while, the Zhenguo Duke decided he was overthinking things.

Whether it was true or not, his next steps would make things clear.

***

If Luo Huai Yuan knew what the Zhenguo Duke was thinking, he would definitely say: this old man is truly overthinking things.

He would then add another line: man proposes, god disposes!

He didn’t deny he had a lot of ideas, but people’s actions were influenced by all sorts of circumstances, which would result in unpredictable changes.

No matter how good the plan, what could he do if the heavens wanted to mess with him?

Therefore, Luo Huai Yuan never insisted on a certain outcome. He just had to know he was doing better than before. As for the outcome, it would be left to the heavens.

Sometimes he was an atheist. Other times, Luo Huai Yuan only believed in himself. At this moment, he didn’t think about anything else. In his mind, now that he was rich, he naturally had to do what he wanted.

What he wanted most was to share this happiness with the little consort. At the same time, he wanted to fulfill his desire to buy a “cupid” messenger pigeon.

Actually, that was also for the little consort’s sake.

He had the money, but he was a little stuck on where he could buy a messenger pigeon.

This thing wasn’t ordinary, and there was almost nowhere that sold them. They were usually personally raised by those who needed them.

Luo Huai Yuan did have the connections. The royal family was connected to everyone under the heavens. But did he dare use those connections?

Luo Huai Yuan was a little fretful.

It seems just having money wasn’t enough. He also needed connections!

Connections, connections. Why aren’t his connections showing up yet….

Under the covered terrace on the lake, Luo Huai Yuan leaned against a black arhat bed inlaid with golden spirals, birds and flowers, staring blankly at the water.

Xiao An Zi brought over a plate of fresh fruits. “Highness, have some fruit.”

Luo Huai Yuan looked at him aggrievedly, “No.”

Xian An Zi scratched his head in confusion. Wasn’t he happy? He had been rather happy the past couple of days. Why did he have no appetite today?

At this time, a low-ranked eunuch ran over.

Xian An Zi put the plate down and walked out of the terrace.

The two of them spoke to each other and Xiao An Zi came back to report: “Highness. Young master Qi is here.”

Luo Huai Yuan rolled over and sprung up from the arhat bed. “Is he by himself?”

Xiao An Zi said hesitantly: “There seems to be someone else.”

Luo Huai Yuan contemplated for a bit and said: “Go arrange things. Have them both brought inside. Be careful. Don’t let them be seen by those who shouldn’t see them.”

Xiao An Zi left with his orders, and soon returned with two “eunuchs”, one small and one tall.

That small eunuch was clearly the brat little second Shen. That tall one was someone around forty years old, with a tanned face and short mustache.

Luo Huai Yuan cursed secretly. Have you effing seen a eunuch with facial hair? What an awful disguise!

“Little fatty Luo, this is Manager Zhou. My mom had me bring him over.”

Luo Huai Yuan gave Manager Zhou a glance and suddenly spoke, “You have to deal with that mustache of yours. What eunuch has a mustache?”

Manager Zhou was a little embarrassed and rubbed his mustache.

“Highness fourth prince. This lowly one will take better care next time.” He looked at the chubby and ordinary looking fourth prince and cupped his hands. “This lowly one came this time…..”

“I know what you’re here for.” Luo Huai Yuan lifted his hand to interrupt him, and handed over a box from the side. “My requirements are all written in here. If there are no objections, let’s proceed this way. Also, I need a pair of messenger pigeons. This needs your noble estate’s help.”

Manager Zhou didn’t expect the fourth prince to be so swift in his words and actions, and wasn’t able to react right away. He felt that nonchalant looking chubby face became a few shades more profound.

He received the box. “This lowly one will pass on the message.”

“Little fatty Luo. Why do you need messenger pigeons? Those things aren’t easy to get. It takes a lot of effort to raise and train them.” Shen Qi interrupted on the side. As the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s young master, he naturally knew about messenger pigeons. The estate naturally had these things. However, it was said a lot effort was needed to train them.

Luo Huai Yuan’s eyes squinted in a radiant smile: “Of course it’s to send letters to you and little sis Ah Yan. Look, it’s not convenient for me to go out, and it’s hard to speak with you guys. Wouldn’t it be much more convenient with messenger pigeons?!”

“Hey, your words make a lot of sense.”

Manage Zhou’s expression was weird. Something as precious as messenger pigeons were used to make talking more convenient?

Fine, ordinary people wouldn’t be able to understand the thoughts of the wealthy.

Author’s words:

Everyone understands, but I still want to explain things. Haha, this author is going to chatter on.

Ever since little fatty Luo moved into the Zhenguo Duke Estate, the Shen household couldn’t avoid being tangled up with him. No matter how outsiders saw it (the empress and the senior concubine for example), they would think there was something going on no matter what.

Furthermore, the Zhenguo Duke was actually put in a difficult spot. If he had a choice, he wouldn’t have wanted little fatty Luo to move into the estate. Similar to how he couldn’t prevent Shen Qi from playing with him. He could avoid implicating his family by doing so, but what would the emperor think? No matter how little he favored this son, he was the emperor after all. Seeing someone prevent their children from playing with his son, he would think them daring for looking down on a prince (actually he would think they were looking down on himself).

But after playing together? Commoner children playing together wouldn’t have any other meaning. The Zhenguo Duke merely felt they were two children playing together and it wasn’t a big deal. Even if someone tried to make something out of it, he just had to help cover things up and it would pass.

Actually, he didn’t really care what others like the empress and the senior concubine thought at this time. It wasn’t time to pick sides yet. Based on the current situation and his status, he just had to do what was right in his heart. As long as the emperor was satisfied and they had a mutual understanding, everything was fine. Of course certain things were still taboo. This was why none of the adults in the Zhenguo Duke Estate met with little fatty Luo, and arranged him into the Tranquil Garden. They were afraid the emperor would be suspicious.

Yesterday some readers were expressing concern over this author’s IQ for arranging such a first business for the male lead.

Without mentioning little fatty Luo’s current situation, he only has Shen Qi on his side at the moment. Since the two of them were only children, little fatty Luo needs to be cautious of many things. Actually this author also wanted to have him undertake a great venture for his first step, but the circumstances didn’t permit it. Shen Qi is just a brat, and needs his family’s help to do things.

Please imagine if little fatty Luo told little second Shen “hey, I know a place with gold ore. Let’s go excavate a mountain and we’ll definitely get rich.” Without considering whether little second Shen was gullible enough to believe him, the adults in the estate would think these children lost their minds. It definitely wouldn’t work.

Another example would be if little fatty Luo said “big bro knows how to make glass. It’s much more awesome than porcelain. Let’s go make glass.” Cough, cough. Who knows what glass is? Who would bother with him?! Did he have anything that would make others trust him? Was he qualified?

Therefore, his first step had to be a little business suitable for two children to play around with. The two liked roasting meat together to begin with. The adults wouldn’t overthink things. They would only think the two felt it was tasty and wanted to earn some pocket money. Little fatty Luo took advantage of this assumption and astonished the Zhenguo Duke and Second Madam Shen.

Second Madam Shen’s thoughts are very simple. Since this business was booming, others would definitely take notice. Would they believe it was done by two children? Since Shen Qi was part of it, they would assume the Zhenguo Duke Estate had a hand in it. But in reality, it wasn’t the case. Since their household was already implicated by the fourth prince, they might as well get some benefits out of it.

The Zhenguo Duke’s thoughts were more complicated. The fourth prince was sent to the estate by Emperor Xi, which resulted in these developments. He definitely had to notify him first. Otherwise, the emperor might have thoughts if he hears about it from someone else. Emperor Xi permitting it was within his expectations. As a father, he was forced to ignore his son due to the circumstances. Wouldn’t he feel some pity and understanding when seeing his son trying to earn some money?

As for how much he would earn, this wasn’t something Emperor Xi could control. Of course, he also didn’t know how much they were earning. In his eyes, it was just a small stand. Others would assume they were just messing around. Who would expect them to earn a lot?

As for Luo Huai Yuan, this first venture gave him enough starting capital and also a helper. It was also a proof of concept for him. Otherwise, Second Madam Shen wouldn’t be moved. Another important goal was to scout out the emperor’s thoughts.

Ever since he was arranged into the Zhenguo Duke Estate, he was probably already suspicious. He also knew that the Zhenguo Duke would report things to the emperor if he wanted to get involved. If they came to cooperate him afterwards, it meant Emperor Xi had permitted it.

Emperor Xi’s permission had a lot of profound implications. It meant he wouldn’t be as restricted as before. Of course, he still had to remain low key. He could only operate within acceptable limits. He wasn’t that brazen.

Said a bunch of stuff. Don’t know if everyone’s dizzy from this author’s words. Regardless, this author is already dizzy. Now that little fatty Luo’s initial problems are solved, the businesses in the future won’t be described in as much detail. It would at most get some mention.

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Queen of the Fuzzy Bugs
Queen of the Fuzzy Bugs
6 months ago

I want to be part of a family where it’s “pocket change” to start a business that becomes popular city wide 😅

Meme
Meme
1 month ago

Really appreciate the author for the long explanation and YOU, beautiful translator, for translating 🥰

Bookwormie
Bookwormie
1 month ago

Emperor really gave birth to talented and smart kids… Even the quiet Luo Jing and other villainous sons proven to be something else.