Chapter 128: Intense, the true situation
Lady Xu had kicked up such a row in front of her house. Although she'd managed to wrest back her name and image by the end, it didn't mean that Grand Concubine Yi didn't object. It was already pretty good that she hadn't created difficulties for Lady Xu. How could she allow her to sit?
Grand Concubine Yi only gave a single glance before returning her attention to the scrolls. Lady Xu never expected her to act so coldly in the justice courts and felt both surprise and trepidation. She sent a questioning glance towards Murong Wanru. The anxious girl glared back again as a warning, but their repeated looks caught the attention of Han Yunxi completely. She slowly narrowed her eyes. Great, so it's Murong Wanru again. Her evil influence still lingers; she won't cry until she sees her own coffin!
Today she'd teach her the meaning of regret.
At this moment, the guards from outside raised their voices. "Announcing...the arrival of prisoner Han Congan."
Everyone present focused 120%, forgetting all about the matter of seats. Grand Concubine Yi straightened in her seat and concentrated as well. "Escort him in!"
Han Congan had no idea what had happened, much less who wanted to see him. He only knew that the courtroom demanded his presence, so he guessed that it must be someone of importance. But aside from Han Yunxi, he had no idea who ever would remember him and want to see him. Except, every time that Han Yunxi had seen him, it was in the jail cells! Filled with doubt, Han Congan walked forward and stepped over the threshold of the courtroom door.
When he saw the hall filled with people, especially the familiar faces of the Han estate, he turned numb by the door, gaping dumbstruck.
This...what's going on?
He was still spacing out when little Yi'er suddenly gave a cry and jumped off his chair to throw himself in his father's arms. "Daddy!"
His cry of 'daddy' was completely sincere, the childish voice without a trace of affected artifice or fake feelings. It was filled with the yearning dependence of a young boy, enough to move the most hardhearted listener. Such was a heart of innocence.
Little Yi'er embraced his father, crying despite the circumstances. "Daddy, when are you going home? Sobsob...I miss you, when can you come back?"
No matter how intelligent or precocious little Yi'er was, in the end he was still a child. He heard many people say that his father had been punished with a life sentence and could never go home. But he stubbornly refused to believe it. He was waiting for daddy to come home and teach him medicine so he could learn to treat illnesses and save people.
Han Congan was dressed in shabby prison clothes, his hair long and unkempt. He was put into a difficult position as he looked at the child in his arms, redness circling his deep, sunken eyes. His mouth opened and closed a few times, but he didn't know how to reply. Han Yunxi watched all this happen with her own eyes and felt remorseful for Han Congan for the first time.
No, truthfully speaking, these feelings were more directed towards little Yi'er. She silently made a resolution to protect Yi'er no matter what so he could grow up safe and peacefully.
The next moment, Han Yuqi gave a loud cry of 'Father' and threw himself forward, with Han Ruoxue following close behind. Grand Concubine Yi had been visibly moved by little Yi'er's honest feelings, but her temper flared at Han Yuqi and Han Ruoxue's obvious hypocrisy. Sternly she said, "Today I've come to give the Han Family an impartial audience, not witness your reunion!"
Her words frightened Han Yuqi and Han Ruoxue into backing away, leaving a tenacious little Yi'er to hold onto his father without budging. He was afraid that they'd take him away again.
"Seventh Madame, pull your son aside. What kind of propriety is this to show before Grand Concubine Yi?" Lady Xu scolded crossly.
The old master had been imprisoned for life, so there wasn't much purpose left in earning his good graces. In any case, the old master wouldn't be stupid enough to hand over the storehouse key to a married off daughter. But no matter who he gave it to, she still have ways to snatch it back for her son's sake. Right now, the most important thing was to get the key back from Han Yunxi.
On one side, Seventh Madame had grown completely stunned at the sight of the old master, with her eyes turning damp. Lady Xu's reminder called her back to her senses to hastily grab onto little Yi'er. "Be good, Yi'er. The grand imperial concubine is angry, don't cause trouble for your father."
Seventh Madame knew the best ways to get through to little Yi'er. Her words scared him into letting go immediately, giving her the chance to carry him away. She retreated to a corner, where he lost all courage to sit back on his chair again. Han Congan looked after the timid, weak-willed Seventh Madame helplessly. He wanted to speak, but hesitated. If Seventh Madame was a little stronger, he wouldn't have to take such great pains to beg Han Yunxi for her help. Still, he was a figure of some personage, so after arranging his thoughts, he stepped forward to pay his respects.
"This convicted commoner Han Congan greets esteemed imperial concubine and esteemed wangfei."
"Han Congan, your household's Lady Xu caused havoc at my doors for the sake of the Han Family storehouse key. Now I want to ask you, where exactly is the key?" Grand Concubine Yi asked impatiently.
As soon as he heard 'storehouse key,' the quick-witted Han Congan immediately understood what was going on. His main motive for leaving the key in Han Yunxi's hands was to take precautions against Lady Xu! She had a formidable family background. With him gone, the Han estate would definitely fall to her hands. This wasn't altogether unjustifiable, but his eldest young master was a disappointment that had failed to live up to expectations. If the Han Family fell into Lady Xu's hands, it'd be the same as falling to its eldest young master's hands. With his natural disposition, he'd squander away the Han Family fortunes within three years. Han Congan's eyes suddenly turned cold and thoughtful as he looked towards Lady Xu.
Lady Xu's heart gave a start as she inexplicably felt uneasy. She was quick to speak up. "Old master, why aren't you answering Grand Concubine Yi's question?"
Han Congan didn't speak, but rested his icy gaze on Han Yuqi, who blurted out in surprise, "Father, Han Yunxi said you gave her the storehouse key. How is this possible? She snatched it away from you, right?"
"Right, right, old master. We invited Grand Concubine Yi here so there's no need for you to fear Han Yunxi. You can say exactly what happened," Lady Xu added hastily.
By now, Han Ruoxue couldn't stay calm either and jumped in to urge, "Father, what kind of logic is giving the storehouse key to a married off daughter? You must have suffered in jail, right? Your daughter tried every method to bend the rules and visit you these days without success. Just what happened? Say it, Grand Concubine Yi will stand judge for our Han Family!"
The Han Family was anxious and so was Grand Concubine Yi. She impatiently called things into account. "Han Congan, Han Yunxi said you gave her the storehouse key. Is this true?"
As soon as Grand Concubine Yi finished, Murong Wanru hastened to add, "Han Congan, since my mufei's come today, you can say whatever you want. You mustn't hold anything back. Did you willingly give the storehouse key to Qin Wangfei?"
Little Yi'er and Seventh Madame stood watching by the sidelines, their hands held tightly as their hearts burned with impatience. After all, his father's answer concerned their very fates! Finally, under the urges of the crowd, Han Congan gazed calmly at Grand Concubine Yi. This time, everyone quieted down, as if holding their breaths until he talked. How would he answer?
Lady Xu couldn't resist holding a hand over her pounding heart. As long as the old master denied the allegations, Han Yunxi would be a goner!
Murong Wanru darted a glance at Lady Xu, filled with satisfaction. She too, waited for Han Congan to declare Han Yunxi's crimes.
But at this moment, a soft smile flitted across Han Congan's features. It might've been a helpless smile; it might've been just him laughing at himself. No matter the reason, nobody could make sense of its meaning.
At the same time, he spoke. "To reply esteemed imperial concubine, this convicted commoner personally left the storehouse key, with full confidence, in the hands of the Han Family's first wife's daughter-in other words, Qin Wangfei..."
His calm words were like a stone that sent a thousand waves across the courtroom!
"No! Impossible!" Lady Xu cried out in shock.
"Father, have you gone senile? What are you saying?" Han Yuqi couldn't believe it. He angrily rushed forward before Han Congan. If not for the fact that the man was his father, he might've made a move against him already.
"Father, Qin Wangfei must have forced you to do it, right? There's difficulties you don't want to discuss, is that right? Father, Grand Concubine Yi said that she'd be impartial towards us..." Han Ruoxue was anxious as well. Even though Third Madame was shooting her a baleful glare, she ignored it to press on. "Father, you don't need to be afraid of anything. Tell us how Qin Wangfei threatened you! Tell us! Say it out loud!"
Han Yunxi watched on everything coldly, her line of vision flitting past Third Madame as she held on silently to the corner of Han Ruoxue's robes without saying a word. Besides Third Madame and the Seventh Madame mother and son pair, every other member of the Han Family had surrounded Han Congan to question him. Or rather, they were trying to force him to give answers. Grand Concubine Yi shook her head in disbelief, unable to believe Han Congan's words.
He had no reason to act this way!
Aside from the fact that Han Yunxi was a married off daughter, she was also responsible for his internment in jail. To put it bluntly, it was Han Yunxi's favor that had left him in prison. Han Congan should despise Han Yunxi, so how could he give her the storehouse key and entrust her with the Han Family's future?
"Mufei, I think there's definitely secrets hiding here," Murong Wanru finally couldn't take it any more. It was rare for her to speak so bluntly. Han Yunxi gave her a significant look as a cold smile curved onto her lips. Murong Wanru's heart gave a start as she suddenly felt uneasy. Did Han Yunxi smile at her like this because she suspected something?
When Lady Xu came last night for the Han Family affairs, she'd covered things up very well. Besides Lady Xu, no one else knew that Murong Wanru was responsible for the idea of making a fuss.
"Han Congan, if there's any secrets, just say them. I'll be the judge for you!" Grand Concubine Yi was very blunt. Things had already gotten to this point. If she still couldn't teach Han Yunxi a lesson, then wouldn't her trip here today be wasted?
But Han Congan was serious as he replied. "Esteemed imperial concubine, these are Han Family matters. This convicted one chose to leave the key in esteemed wangfei's hands for safekeeping after serious consideration, because..."
Before he could finish, Han Yuqi angrily cut him off. "I think you've just gone senile! What's there to consider? It's none of Han Yuxi's business. She's already been married off!"
"Unfilial son!" Han Congan rebuked, enraged. "This old man might be in prison now, but I'm not dead yet. I'm still the head of the Han household and have full rights to decide how to handle the key and who will be my successor!"
Han Yuqi didn't care about that. As he saw it, this father of his was already useless. He was about to curse in rage when Lady Xu held him back. She feared that her crude, brash son would ruin everything.