Chapter 12: Disclosure (2)
After deciding on Meng Yanzhou’s marriage matters, Meng Sangyu began asking about her father’s recent situation. Emperor Zhou’wu immediately pushed down his discomfort and perked his ears up to listen.
“Your father is very well. He’s bullying that boy Han Changping all day – he’s quite entertained! I heard that just before he took the boy’s right general task from him and demoted him to a little captain in the army.” Speaking of Meng Changxiong, Mother Meng’s had a very gentle expression to her face.
Emperor Zhou’wu scrunched his brows, very unsatisfied with Meng Changxiong’s behavior. Han Changping is one of his trusted aids, the best choice to succeed Meng Changxiong’s position as Jian’wei Major General in the future. Meng Changxiong’s act of taking away of his tasks without permission is clearly a plot to get rid of dissenters!
“Han Changping is a confidant of His Majesty. His Majesty clearly intends to replace father with him by sending him to train with father. Father clearly knows this yet still does these things. If he continues His Majesty may begin suspecting him. Mother, write a letter to father telling him to stop playing around.” Meng Sangyu rubbed her temples. The stubborn Father Meng is the second cause of her headaches in the Meng family.
“Your father just sent a letter home the day before saying he knows what he’s doing, telling you not to worry. That Han Changping is undoubtedly a skilled as the disciple of the strategist Ping Fuzi, but he’s young and lacking in experience. Many have questioned his abilities as His Majesty let him go straight to the position of right general. Your father demoted him to one, quell the disatisfaction and two, to let him gain more experience. Only if he can climb up the ladder with his own abilities will he be able to stay in the seat of Jian’wei Major General in the future. When your father was young, he started out as just a lieutenant. The placements at the border is related to the foundation of Zhou and the lives of innumerable citizens. Your father definitely would not be careless on this matter. If that Han Changping can indeed carry the weight, your father will get out of his way as soon as he gets back to court this time.” Mother Meng’s voice was full of powerlessness.
After listening to Mother Meng’s explanation, Emperor Zhou’wu’s face alternated between red and white, as if he just got a huge slap in the face, embarrassed to death. All his suspicions have been a joke after all. If it was before, even if the Meng family expressed their loyalty ten thousand times, he would not believe it. But now he has to. Who would think that the emperor would come to possess the body of a dog? Who would put up an act in front of a dog? Mother Meng’s words don’t even allow him a thread suspicion.
Meng Sangyu patted the back of Mother Meng’s hand, gently consoling, “Right now there’s a lot of unrest at the border, so even if His Majesty is suspicious of father he wouldn’t touch him. I’m not all that worried. As long as father knows what he’s doing it’s fine. When father retires from his task, mother and father can leave the capital like Grand Preceptor Shen had and go traveling all around. Then when our duke’s family only has our unaccomplished brother alone holding up the family, His Majesty probably wouldn’t even need to guard against our Meng family anymore.”
Emperor Zhou’wu burried his head in Meng Sangyu’s arms ashamed.
“Your father and I plan to do exactly that, which is why we’re trying to find a good wife for your brother.” Mother Meng sighed. Suddenly thinking of it, she asked with confusion, “Grand Preceptor Shen has been so hasty recently in the court, quite different from his carefulness before. Is he not afraid the Shen family will follow the path of the past empress’s family?”
“His Majesty’s trust for the Shen family and his feelings for the Gracious Consort are their greatest reliance. Grand Preceptor Shen is getting old. If he can use these few years to raise his daughter to the empress seat, have her give birth to a son of formal lineage, then request permission to retire for a second time, His Majesty would not only not suspect him, but instead be grateful for his support in difficult times. Grand Preceptor Shen had educated His Majesty since he was little. If we’re talking about understanding his Majesty, who can best him?” Meng Sangyu nonchalantly waved her hand.
Mother Meng nodded, sighing to herself that if her husband was as tactful as Grand Preceptor Shen, then he wouldn’t be in this awkward and dangerous position. Then thinking about how her son had beat up Shen Xiyan, she couldn’t help but worry.
Emperor Zhou’wu was in complete shock. All his realities were crumbling. It’s true – speaking of understanding himself, even his father probably couldn’t compete with Grand Preceptor Shen. Grand Preceptor Shen clearly knows that what he is doing now is already stepping on his bottom line, yet hasn’t backed off. Clearly, he has found something to rely on. But this reliance under his current comatose condition is obviously not his trust, but instead because they think he won’t ever wake up again.
After stealing the empress seat they naturally would aim for the emperor’s seat. The Shen family is currently going through a dangerous bet, and what they’re betting on is the land of Zhou! The fur all over Emperor Zhou’wu’s body spiked up in shock at this notion. In his mind, it was as if something exploded. No, he must quickly get his body back. If his human body were to be destroyed in the hands of the Gracious Consort, then he may have to be a dog for life!
Meng Sangyu noticed Mother Meng’s worried expression and stroked the stiffened A’Bao while comforting her, “Don’t worry mother. His Majesty is a brilliant and talented individual. After his succession to the throne, he has been dedicated to maintaining the empire, eliminating corruption and establishing justice. He also has intentions of changing from the former emperor’s rule of overreliance on civil officers and deemphasizing the military to reestablish the strength of our great Zhou – hoping to prosper Zhou, instill fear in the barbarians, return the citizens a state of peace and prosperity. With the barbarians unretreated and the kings of vassal states unremoved, there must be many more difficult battles in need of soldiers in the future. Our entire Meng family is known for our loyalty and bravery. How could His Majesty allow for brother to be harmed just as father retires? Wouldn’t doing so embitter the soldiers? With father’s prestige in the military, mother need not worry. Just tell brother to be more cautious and low-key in the future. Although His Majesty cannot promise position and power to brother, brother’s safety can still be guaranteed. After all, His Majesty can only be at ease if the position of Duke of Protection falls on the unaccomplishing brother.
The alarmed Emperor Zhou’wu slowly calmed in the gentle strokes of the Virtuous Consort. He was again impressed by the Virtuous Consort’s far-sightedness. It’s hard to believe that this woman knows him so well. She can even predict his future political strategies. Not only so, it seems that her impression of him is rather high? A pale hapiness rose in Emperor Zhou’wu’s heart, but then he immediately burrowed his brows. He suddenly remembered that he’s currently unconscious – how could he protect her brother?
Worry again brewed over his heart. Emperor Zhou’wu couldn’t help but paw at the Virtuous Consort’s sleeves and whimper. But Mother Meng’s words quickly quieted him, but his heart was even more alarmed than before.
Mother Meng suddenly stood up and grapped onto her daughter’s hand, asking in alarm, “Your brother still has us, but what about you? This carnivorous inner palace has people dying of unclear deaths every day. With Shen Huiru in favor and you no longer being of any use to them, she’ll have thousands of ways to deal with you!”
“Wu wu wu” Just as Mother Meng finished these words, Emperor Zhou’wu started using his front paw to scratch at Meng Sangyu’s clothes and began whimpering. At this moment, he hated that he has come to possess such a small puppy, unable to protect this woman even when he wishes to. Recovering his human body aside, even possessing a more menancing mastiff would be better!
“Don’t worry mother!” Meng Sangyu patted Mother Meng’s hand and helped her to her seat. She kissed the top of A’Bao’s fluffy head and spoke calmly, “You don’t need to worry mother. Even if I am no longer of use, the Majesty wouldn’t bother scheming to take the life of a powerless woman. As for Shen Huiru, she wouldn’t let me die. She would make me watch as she rises to the seat of the empress and as the spotlight falls on her for the rest of this life. She wants me to live a life worse than dying! In her heart, this would be the sweetest revenge against me. It’s just being obedient and staying quiet. Even a brave and honorable man like father can do it, much less me. In my eyes, pride is far less valuable than life. As long as my life’s still here, it’s all okay. Don’t worry mother, I’m used to it. It’s not hard.”
Mother Meng grasped on to her daughter’s hand. Her expression full of pain and despair. She opened her mouth several times, but was unable to speak. Her eyes slowly redenned and tears overflowed. What diety did the Meng family aggravate? Why must her pair of son and daughter be desecrated to such states?
Emperor Zhou’wu’s heart twisted in pain. He couldn’t even let out a whimper. His front paw patted the back of the Virtuous Consort’s hand again and again as he thought: Meng Sangyu, don’t worry. We will quickly recover our body and protect you. We won’t let anyone touch a finger of yours!
Meng Sangyu lightly wiped away the tears in Mother Meng’s eyes and gently comforted her. Ever since she was born into the Meng family, her feelings for Father Meng and Mother Meng have been much deeper than her unresponsible parents of her previous life.
Seeing her daughter, the one in most pain, was instead comforting her, Mother Meng immediately wiped away the tears in her eyes and forced a smile, “Mother’s okay. Although this little dog is quite ugly, but he seems quite intuitive. See, he’s comforting you!”
Meng Sangyu looked down and saw A’Bao patting her hand with a serious expression and smiled, “Dogs are very smart. They’re very sensitive to human emotions. Perhaps, he noticed that I became upset. Our A’Bao is so good!” Speaking thus, she held up A’Bao’s two little front paws and gave a kiss to the little pads on his palms.
As if something erupted in his heart, his heart began pounding uncontrollably. Emperor Zhou’wu dumbfoundedly looked at the bright smile on the Virtuous Consort’s face, forgetting to breath.
Seeing no darkness in her daughter’s smile, Mother Meng eased her heart. She continued some lighthearted chatter with her daughter and got up to leave when times was up.
Meng Sangyu picked up A’Bao, a shocked and dazed Nurse Feng following behind her, and sent her mother to the entrance.
Seeing all the servants standing at afar, Mother Meng hesitated momentarily before holding Meng Sangyu’s hand and quietly saying, “Child, when your father retires and gives up his power in the military, go plead His Majesty for a child. That way when you’re old you still have someone to rely on!”
“With my position and family, if I had a child it would be a sore to the Gracious Consort and Noble Consort Li’s eyes. His Majesty would also not care much for him. Rather than giving birth to him and subjecting him to all this scheming, it’s better to not.” Meng Sangyu flattened her lips, her expression indifferent.
Emperor Zhou’wu hugged his head with his front paws, wishing direly for a hole to crawl into. The coldness in the Virtuous Consort’s voice were knives stabbing into his heart.
“Daughter, why is your life so hard…” Mother Meng’s voice choked up and her eyes began to redden again.
“Okay okay, you don’t need to be upset for me mother. Even without a child I still have A’Bao. He’s so smart and lively he’s not that much different from a child. As long as I take care of him well, he’ll be able to stay with me for at least another ten, twenty year. With A’Bao, I’m already satisfied!” Meng Sangyu gently patted the little but A’Bao has exposed, pulled him out and waved one of his front paws at Mother Meng, cooing, “A’Bao let’s say goodbye to grandma!”
To make the Virtuous Consort happy, despite his awkwardness and unwillingness Emperor Zhou’wu still barked a couple of times for her.
“So good!” Mother Meng chuckled at her daughter and her cute pet. She gave a pat to A’Bao’s head and left Bi’xiao Palace, looking back several times.
Jian’wei (建威) Major General (大将军)
Jian – to build, to construct
wei – power, prestige, might
I wasn’t completely sure how to translate ranks. I based it off this phrase I found from a historical record by Tao Chengzhang ( 陶成章 《浙案纪略·濮振声传》):
Which basically says:
伍 = 5 people commanded by 伍长
偏 = 5 伍 commanded by 偏师 [approx. 25 people]
队 = 2 偏 commanded by 队正 [approx. 50 people]
哨 = 2 队 commanded by 哨官 [approx. 100 people]
So the originals were translated as such:
哨官 – captain
哨官: commands about 100 people
captain: commands a company (175 – 225 people) [wikipedia]
队正 – lieutenant
队正: commands about 50 people
lieutenant: commands a platoon (42 – 55 people) [wikipedia]