Real Empress from a Noble Family - Chapter 303
Chapter 303 Investigate Regardless of One’s Status. No One Is Innocent!
Although many important officials and peeresses felt that it was too much to regard all people in the Hall as suspects, if all the officials wanted to kill the emperor, the Chu Family couldn’t still sit in the imperial chair!
In particular, the two empresses also asked men and women to take off their clothes and get checked in the side hall or behind the screen. That was total humiliation!
But Empress Dowager Gu and Empress Jiang took the lead in asking several respected ladies to go to the side hall to watch the palace servants undress them and check whether there were any poison things and traces. After that, people had nothing to say, because there was no special treatment for the Emperor’s mother and wife, not to mention the courtiers.
Naturally, this was because the Empress Dowager’s party and the Empress’s party did not trust each other.
The Empress’s party suspected that this was arranged by the Empress Dowager’s party, and the Empress Dowager’s party suspected that this was premeditated by the Empress’s party for a long time.
They were not only afraid of this being made by the other party, but also afraid that they would be cheated. At the same time, they also wanted to catch the real thief. So Empress Dowager Gu and Empress Jiang had to check together. While proving their innocence, they kept an eye on each other, so as not to be fooled!
Empress Dowager Gu and Empress Jiang were not suspected, and their followers were also proved innocent. So the officials went to the side hall behind the screen of the main hall, and the womenfolk went to the side hall. Everyone, including the servants and children, received a close inspection in full view of the public.
It was not over after the check. The two empresses began to check the whereabouts of all the people since they stepped into the palace gate. They even had to send people to check which sections of the railing, which pillars, and which seats they were leaning against.
It was OK that the two empresses didn’t mention the railings. When they mentioned the railings, Qiu Yelan suddenly thought of something and said, “Just now, Cousin Xin and I were talking outside near the railings. I heard someone throw something under the tree at the corner outside the railing. At that time, Cousin Xin thought that it was snow reflecting light. Was it related to the a.s.sa.s.sination of the Emperor?”
Wasn’t that to say that she and Xin Fubing were trapped?
At this moment, Qiu Yelan, with her subtlety, was frightened of being dizzy!
Even if the Emperor were a puppet, even his mother, Empress Dowager Gu, could not bear the charge of regicide. The Emperor was not dead. But if there was something wrong under the flower tree, Qiu Yelan and Xin Fubing could not make it clear. Both of them would be doomed.
Not only they but also their relatives and friends, even the prominent Jiang Family, may not be able to survive.
“What should I do?” Qiu Yelan thought. She forced herself to calm down and thought, “Now I can’t tell Cousin Xin that. First, we can’t find a safe chance right now. Second, if someone wants to frame the Empress’s party for regicide through us, her reaction will be more natural if she doesn’t know anything. We can’t tell in advance that there may be something related to the murder of the Emperor under the flower tree. The flowering tree is too close to the place where we are talking. Empress Dowager’s party will surely say that it was only under pressure that we voluntarily confessed.”
The only choice was not to admit it when something was found out and they were questioned.
“Why didn’t I wake up just now? When I saw the corner of that coat, I heard the sound of footsteps and throwing things. Why didn’t I catch up?” Qiu Yelan was so regretted and thought, “Even though I was suspicious and I was already talking to Cousin Xin, I was interrupted by the little servant who urged me to enter the Hall. Now it seems that the little servant is not normal. Although it was true that soon after we entered the Hall, the Emperor and the Empress arrived. Who knows if he is there to watch us and draw our attention away in time to make us not suspect?”
But now it was too late to regret it. The palace servants had gone to search the railing.
According to the practice that Empress Dowager Gu and Empress Jiang distrusted each other and had to prove each other’s innocence at the moment, it was natural that the palace servants of both sides had partic.i.p.ated in the investigation. Qiu Yelan estimated that to appear more natural, Empress Dowager’s party should pretend to find something under the flowers and trees when pa.s.sing by. Therefore, their search time should be longer.
But to her surprise, the group of palace people came back soon and reported, “The railing has been searched, and the outside of the railing has also been checked. There is nothing wrong with it.”
This reply didn’t make the two empresses feel anything wrong because they didn’t suspect Qiu Yelan and Xin Fubing. However, Qiu Yelan didn’t know the two empresses both didn’t know who the real murderer was. Seeing this, she confused a while and said, “What? That scene has nothing to do with the Emperor’s poisoning? Or was it not done by the Empress Dowager?”
It was not the Empress Dowager. Then it should be the Empress. Qiu Yelan knew that her husband’s family had Xue Chang’s promise, but she didn’t know the specific progress. So, she easily made a deduction, “Did the Empress’s party decide to start ahead of time? The reason why they chose to throw things under the flower tree near Xin Fubing and I was to use our voice of joking to cover up?”
She was still worried about that, “What did the man throw? They didn’t find it this time. Maybe it’s hard to find. But something must have been thrown. I would never hear that strange sound in the snow mistakenly.” It was hard for Qiu Yelan not to feel sad. She thought, “I made complaints about Cousin Xin thinking too much. Now, it seems that she is the sensible one. Even if they want to use our joking voice to cover up that sound, even if it is difficult to find, what if it is found? Then Cousin Xin and I are ready-made scapegoats.”
She knew that Empress Jiang and Madame Tao had grudge against her, so she had to be suspicious, “When sacrifice is needed, am I the first one to be pushed out?”
The more she thought about it, the angrier she was. Suddenly, she felt that her sleeve was pulled a few times. Qiu Yelan was shocked and came back to reality. She heard Su He whispering behind her, “The Madame just turned back and called you twice.”
“Grandma, I’ve just been a little bit absent-minded. I hope you’ll forgive me.” Hearing this, Qiu Yelan apologized to Madame Tao immediately.
Madame Tao said calmly, “You’ve never seen such an occasion, and it’s no surprise to be scared. Don’t worry. It has nothing to do with us. Calm down and keep our dignity.”
Although the tone was calm, the meaning was very strict.
Qiu Yelan felt unpleasant but had to accept and said, “I was wrong.”
However, although her abnormality was discovered even by Madame Tao sitting in front of her, it did not cause any doubt from others. It was because a lot of peeresses and young ladies looked no better than her.
It was too big. Even if they all had a clear conscience and didn’t need to worry about getting involved like Qiu Yelan. However, as long as they thought about the consequences tonight, they were shivering.
Surprisingly, until dawn, all the people were checked, but nothing was found!
Empress Dowager Gu and Empress Jiang took the lead in checking and explaining what they had done since they entered the palace. But these two people, who lived in the palace city, couldn’t be regarded as an example. They couldn’t leave all the officials and their families in the palace until they found out the murderer.
So on the morning of the first day of the first lunar month, one of the palace gates, which was suddenly closed and heavily guarded against midnight, finally opened.
The people who left the palace in long lines were really tired, but they couldn’t take a rest immediately when they got home.
Because people who had been waiting all night were so anxious, they had to explain and appease their families. Madame Tao especially praised Sheng Shishui for her good work on this point and said, “Madame Tao Junior is pregnant. It’s inappropriate to tell her about it.”
Last night, all the people of the Jiang Family didn’t come back after they went for the banquet. Even the servants who were sent to inquire about the news were blocked outside the palace. In the current court situation, Sheng Shishui almost thought that the Empress Dowager’s party revealed their intention and left all the Jiang family members in the palace on purpose.
But she still pretended to be nonchalant in front of Madame Tao Junior as if nothing had happened. She said, “Grandmother and men were all tired. Before they came back, they said that they would be resettled immediately. There is no need to greet. My brother has drunk too much and vomited so much that he was afraid of coming back to disturb you. So my grandfather asked him to stay in the front courtyard for one night. You can have a rest.”
Up to now, Madame Tao Junior was still sleeping soundly.
Madame Tao had always attached great importance to Madame Tao Junior, and she was certainly satisfied with Sheng Shishui’s practice.
However, she didn’t have the time to praise her, because she had to arrange for someone to admonish the younger generation and servants. She didn’t allow them to talk about the poisoning of the Emperor at the New Year’s Eve banquet, so as not to cause trouble. Even if they planned to take advantage of this, they had to wait for Marquess Qin to come up with some ideas.
But Qiu Yelan now had no mood to listen to these. She put her mind on one thing. She said, “Where is Jiang Yashuang? Grandma, last night Jiang Yashuang said that he went to confront Dai Cong and others, but later His Majesty was poisoned. The Palace gate was closed, and no one could enter the palace. I don’t know if he came back until now.”
Madame Tao was also very concerned about the answer to this question, and she immediately sent someone to inquire about it.
Fortunately, they soon got the answer, “Last night, Jiang Yashuang and Young Master Qiu Hongzhi wanted to go back to the palace after the confrontation with Dai Cong’s witness, but the Palace door was closed because the two empresses forbade everyone from going in and out. Then he went to the courtyard nearby the palace gate to have a rest. Now he has come back and the Old Master called him to offer sacrifices to ancestors.”
Madame Tao and Qiu Yelan were relieved at the same time. Madame Tao looked around and said, “Well, you all go and get some sleep. When they have finished sacrificing our ancestors, we will be busy.”
On the way Qiu Yelan went back to the fourth branch, Sheng Shishui caught up and asked what happened last night. When she knew, she was shocked and said, “How could this happen? This is in full view of the public.”
“What’s stranger is that the Empress Dowager and Empress Jiang almost turned over the Hall,” Qiu Yelan whispered, “Even the t.i.tle of n.o.bility of the highest rank accepted the investigation with only their underwear. That’s it. Even the poison hasn’t been found, not to mention the person who did it. How weird it is!”
Sheng Shishui was surprised and said, “No poison? Is His Majesty poisoned out of thin air?”
“Only the wine His Majesty drank was poisonous, but a little servant had tasted it just a few seconds before His Majesty drank.” Qiu Yelan sighed and said, “Nothing happened to the servant.”
Sheng Shishui’s eyebrows were locked tightly. When she found that she had arrived at the yard of Qiu Yelan, she stopped and said,” You go back and have a rest first. It should have been a good day.”
“Grandmother said it had nothing to do with our family. Don’t worry too much.” Qiu Yelan comforted her. Although Sheng Shishui stayed at home and didn’t personally experience the scene of the Emperor’s poisoning, she was more frightened. After all, Qiu Yelan and others at the banquet knew what had happened, but Sheng Shishui didn’t know anything. No one would know how many terrible possibilities she thought of that night.
However, something was about to happen, and they didn’t have time to talk more. After a few words, Qiu Yelan went back to the house to get some rest.
She was really tired, but she couldn’t sleep on the bed. She was afraid that she would continue to be busy, so she had to sleep reluctantly. Half asleep and half awake, she suddenly felt that the tent had been swept up by a strong wind and a man followed in stride. This man came in with fierce momentum. But when he got to the edge of the bed, he suddenly stopped as if he had restrained himself.
Qiu Yelan was surprised. She opened her eyes and saw that Jiang Yashuang was bending down and reaching for her face.
“What’s wrong?” Qiu Yelan asked. She saw the excitement in his eyes, which she did not understand.