Han Jiao was a bit disheartened.
Surprisingly, he didn’t feel anger but a feeling of loss.
In the novel, the big boss was actually a spoiled little brat who would take revenge on the spot.
So, the boss before him, whom he was about to take down, was the real boss. Why would he feel disheartened about that?
It was probably from the day he knelt before the Emperor in front of the big boss that Han Jiao started having unrealistic fantasies about the boss.
He shouldn’t have had such delusions.
“Please wait, Your Highness,” Han Jiao said expressionlessly, lowering his head. He carefully folded the medicine package he had just hurriedly opened back to its original state.
Not seeing the terrified plea from the little child prodigy, Xie Duo’s face briefly showed confusion. “You really cherish this medicine.”
“Of course,” Han Jiao muttered expressionlessly, “I borrowed a large sum of money to buy it. I’ll have to tighten my belt for half a year to repay it.”
“What did you say?” The little child prodigy’s voice was soft, so Xie Duo vaguely heard it. Doubting if he misheard, he tilted his head slightly and asked, “You had to borrow money to buy a medicine? Did you buy the snow lotus from Mount Tai?”
Han Jiao raised his head with a bit of arrogance. “I’m afraid my parents would find out, so I keep the promissory note with me. Would Your Highness like to take a look?”
“Pass it over,” Xie Duo raised his chin, staring at the little child prodigy with a scrutinizing gaze, “If you dare lie to me again, you won’t leave here unscathed today.”
Han Jiao showed no sign of panic. He maintained an expressionless face as he locked eyes with the big boss. He reached into his sleeve pocket, took out a purse, and roughly shook out the promissory note, presenting it before the boss.
Xie Duo carefully examined the note. Though it listed the borrowed silver and the repayment date, it didn’t specify what it was used to buy.
“You need to tighten your belt for merely eleven taels of silver?” The anger in Xie Duo’s eyes was evident, suspecting that the little child prodigy was deceiving him once again.
Han Jiao remained composed, not showing any fear. He had already spoken the truth and prepared for the worst.
Folding the promissory note and placing it back into his pocket, Han Jiao gently laid his left hand on the boss’ palm and calmly replied, “The medicine costs a total of twelve taels. I borrowed the eleven taels. If you don’t believe me, I can’t do anything about it.”
Xie Duo was puzzled.
He began to mentally calculate how much salary a junior scholar-official would receive.
If he only considered the actual salary of a Great Chu government official, eleven taels indeed wasn’t a small sum, but there were various opportunities for extra gains in different positions.
As a junior scholar-official, Han Jiao currently had no additional income, but it wasn’t impossible.
Not knowing Han Jiao’s family background and assuming he came from a commoner family, Xie Duo partially believed him and looked at him with confusion. “You don’t have money to afford such an expensive medicine? The Imperial Institute of Medicine has no shortage of herbs.”
Han Jiao’s paw was resting in the boss’ hand, facing the possibility of being disabled at any moment, yet he still confidently replied, “It’s not about whether you lack medicinal materials. I have to be true to my conscience. The palace has all kinds of precious herbs, but, as I said, it’s mainly about expressing my sincerity.”
Xie Duo’s gaze started to become perplexed.
Here it came again, that incomprehensible and silly temperament from the little child prodigy.
It was precisely this air of innocence that had deceived Xie Duo into not expecting him to write such policy essays.
But it really didn’t seem like an act.
Every time the little child prodigy put on a cunning act, it seemed like he was pretending, but once exposed, he accepted it without resistance. This sincere and innocent heart seemed to be the true him without any disguise.
Seeing the big boss suddenly snicker, Han Jiao’s paw resting in the boss’ hand trembled.
What’s going on?
This boss didn’t laugh much in the novel, right?
What’s so funny?
Could it be that he thought Han Jiao was lying?
Han Jiao’s heart sank as the hand in the boss’ palm was suddenly grasped!
Startled, Han Jiao instinctively wanted to pull his hand back, but the grip on him tightened abruptly, yet without causing further harm.
The boss gave him a warning glare, not allowing him to retract his hand.
Han Jiao took a deep breath, trying his best to suppress any subconscious self-defense reactions.
In theory, the boss should have acted swiftly and cleanly. If he intended to break Han Jiao’s wrist, it would be done in the blink of an eye, without too much suffering involved.
However, the big boss seemed to be hesitating, merely holding his hand without taking further action.
It was frighteningly nerve-wracking!
“Your Highness, could you please act quickly?” Han Jiao’s mental composure couldn’t keep up.
“Are you in a hurry?” Xie Duo looked displeased.
“Isn’t this kind of scaring people a bit too much?” an anxious Han Jiao responded honestly.
Holding back a smile, Xie Duo suddenly tightened his grip on the little child prodigy’s hand.
As expected, the little child prodigy was frightened, closing his eyes and gasping for breath with a twisted expression!
Why didn’t it hurt?
With a pitiful expression, Han Jiao opened one eye and found the boss holding his hand, looking extremely amused…
What was so funny about all this!
Why had the boss been this twisted since childhood!
Was scaring him so entertaining!
Why include fake actions in the execution!
Han Jiao dared not voice his anger.
The boss quickly stopped laughing and menacingly teased him, “This time, it’s for real.”
I don’t believe you!
Seeing the expression on this little rascal’s face, Han Jiao knew he was trying to play tricks on him again.
This situation was scarier than a ghost story. It was as if the big boss suddenly treated him as a little toy.
Where did he touch the boss’ funny bone?
The little child prodigy had a look of “I see through you,” ruining Xie Duo’s interest in teasing him. Xie Duo put on an even fiercer expression to scare him, “Shall I take action?”
Han Jiao: “……”
“Your Highness? Your Highness!”
At this critical moment, a large group of Hanlin Academy officials and a few eunuchs suddenly rushed in from outside.
They had just heard a loud noise as if a wooden box fell, seemingly coming from the library. Upon hearing that the Prince was inside, they hurriedly gathered around.
The officials hesitated to enter and waited for a long time, but there was no sign of movement from inside. Finally, they mustered up the courage and rushed in to rescue the Prince.
Unexpectedly, as they rushed in, they saw the Ninth Prince holding a junior scholar-official’s hand with a solemn expression…
A moment of bewildered silence filled the air.
The leading Expositor-in-waiting said, “We heard a loud noise from the library just now and were afraid Your Highness might be startled, so we came…”
Xie Duo released Han Jiao’s hand and pointed to the broken wooden box scattered on the wall behind him. “Master Han was retrieving a book and accidentally fell, causing the box to break. Fortunately, no one was hurt.”
The group of officials suddenly realized that the Ninth Prince had been helping Han Jiao up just now, truly showing concern for his subordinates.
Among the crowd, one official exclaimed, “Your Highness! Your hand!”
Han Jiao lowered his eyes to the boss’ left hand and saw blood seeping through the bandage in the palm. He immediately panicked and said, “Quick, go to the Imperial Institute of Medicine!”
Everyone was eager to show their loyalty and rushed to support the Ninth Prince as they walked toward the exit.
Han Jiao was pushed aside by the crowd and tried to squeeze back in but realized that the boss didn’t need his escort. He stopped in his tracks and watched Xie Duo leave.
Amidst the bustling crowd, Xie Duo unexpectedly halted and turned around.
Thinking that the boss might be unwilling because he didn’t manage to disable Han Jiao’s hand, Han Jiao instinctively took a couple of steps forward, only to see the boss leaned towards his direction.
The thing he was holding was suddenly snatched away.
Han Jiao lowered his head and realized that the precious medicinal herbs he had in his hand were snatched by the boss.
Seems like the hand pain was still too much to bear, right?
Han Jiao’s mood improved instantly. His lips curved as he watched the boss being escorted away.
Finally, the purchase of those herbs was not in vain.
Back in the study room, Zhou Hao anxiously approached, asking if the prince had caused any trouble for Han Jiao.
After all, the words “the efficacy of the medicine doesn’t matter” were heard by the His Highness himself.
However, Han Jiao waved his hand and said that His Highness didn’t pursue the matter further. He even mentioned how the Ninth Prince had personally come to his aid when he took the box.
Upon hearing this, Zhou Hao was even happier than Han Jiao and immediately went to show off the kind treatment from the Ninth Prince to the group led by Chen Yuanqiao.
On his way home after finishing work, Han Jiao bought a small piece of maltose candy from the market to feed his little brother.
Even before entering the house, he shouted inside, “A’Mo!”
To his surprise, the one who rushed out to greet him was his mother.
Han Jiao was taken aback. Noticing the reddened corners of his mother’s eyes and the tear marks on her face, he quickly stepped forward to support her. “What happened, Mother? Don’t worry, I’m here.”
“A’Jiao!” As soon as Mrs. Han saw her son, her previously strong demeanor crumbled. Her legs weakened, and she collapsed in her son’s arms. “It’s terrible… It’s terrible… Your father, that stubborn mule, has caused trouble again!”
Han Jiao’s heart sank. He tightened his arms, quickly leading his mother to the hall and seating her in a circular chair. “Mother, don’t be afraid. Take your time and tell me what happened.”
Earlier this afternoon, Master Han’s colleague, Liu Renfei, sent a household servant to the Han residence with news. He said that Master Han had been accused by officials from the Imperial Censorate and was placed under review while being escorted to the Ministry of Justice for investigation.
The most dreaded thing had unexpectedly happened without any warning, and it came so swiftly.
Han Jiao couldn’t maintain his composure in front of his mother. He stood in a daze for a moment and asked in a hoarse voice, “Didn’t Father promise not to intervene in that case anymore?”
“Yes! That old fool swore to me with an oath that he wouldn’t, so how could he dare! Oh, my life is so miserable! What are we going to do now?” Mrs. Han beat her chest in distress.
“Don’t worry… Mother, Mother, everything will be fine.” The pillar of the family had collapsed, and no matter how at a loss Han Jiao felt, he had to stand strong and comforted his mother with all his might. “Father would never deceive you. He must have stopped intervening. Perhaps news of the previous investigation reached the ears of someone above, and that person took preemptive action.”
Mrs. Han stood up, her voice trembling, “Are you saying… that Senior Minister Li himself took action? That would be dreadful!”
Han Jiao shook his head. “If someone is targeting father at this time, it’s a warning to Senior Minister Xu. If Prince Yan gets wind of it, he won’t just stand idly by.”
“Then, I’ll go to the Prince’s residence to seek an audience!”
“Calm down a bit. If we want to meet, it should be me who goes. Mother, take care of yourself. Father will be alright.”
Even though the mother and son couldn’t possibly “calm down a bit,” they still went on to heat the meal as usual.
The little brother sat on his mother’s lap, observing the odd expressions on his brother and mother, and inexplicably feeling scared.
“Where’s Father? Where’s Father? Mother? Isn’t Father eating with us?”
Mrs. Han was shaken by the question, and tears welled up in her eyes.
“A’Mo.” For the first time, Han Jiao spoke sternly to his little brother, “Eat without talking and sleep without speaking. Father is busy with official duties.”