In a situation where he had no other alternatives, Han Jiao found his emotions calming down. He left the money for tea, got up, and prepared himself to visit Prince Yan.
The gate to Han’s residence was tightly locked, and there was no one at home.
Han Jiao felt uneasy, thinking that his mother must have taken his little brother to his aunt’s house to borrow money.
Whether in this life or the previous one, his mother always cared about saving face in front of relatives and sisters. He never expected that there would come a day when she would actively ask their aunt for help.
After opening the door and walking through the front courtyard, Han Jiao entered the study. He ground ink, spread out paper, and wrote down various methods to persuade Prince Yan, carefully revising them.
Prince Yan wouldn’t give someone like him, an unknown person, much time for idle talk. How could he make a remarkable impression, touch on Prince Yan’s sore points, and turn the tables?
Han Jiao knew the disasters that awaited Prince Yan in the future and had ways to propose the safest and most reliable solutions for him.
However, these suggestions would require time and practice to prove their effectiveness, and now, time was what Han Jiao lacked the most.
It was said that his father might be convicted any day, making it impossible to wait for Prince Yan to verify his “foreknowledge.”
He could only help Prince Yan resolve the current significant crisis, which must be done quickly to gain the Prince’s trust.
Prince Yan’s most pressing crisis at the moment was undoubtedly the case of wrongful execution for personal gain.
Going round and round, Han Jiao found himself wrestling with this unsolvable disaster from the novel.
He sat in the study until late afternoon, skipping lunch, without feeling the slightest hunger.
When his mother returned with his little brother, Han Jiao didn’t notice until the carefree laughter of his brother came from the courtyard. He quickly got up and walked out of the study.
“A’Jiao? Why are you back so early?” Mrs. Han’s face turned waxen due to worry, fearing that her son’s career might be delayed because of something.
“I took a day off.” Han Jiao approached her anxiously, looking at his mother. “Mother, how did it go?”
Mrs. Han put down her younger son, and hurriedly took Han Jiao into the house. With trembling hands, she took out some silver bills from her bosom.
Six hundred taels.
“Your uncle said he just stocked up on some goods, and this is all they have left,” Mrs. Han apologized.
Of course, it was an excuse, but the amount of money was indeed substantial.
First, to ease his mother’s worries, and second, because he had decided to pursue only one path with Prince Yan. This lord didn’t need money for favors, just some gifts for the gatekeepers or stewards. He might not even need to spend so much.
With no time to waste, Han Jiao pocketed the money and headed straight for Prince Yan’s residence.
When he reached the end of the Prince’s residence lane, he looked from a distance at the two rows of guards standing at the gate, lost in thought.
At this critical moment, every second counted. It wasn’t that he was afraid to face the situation, but he hadn’t figured out how to persuade Prince Yan for help, so he couldn’t rush in.
His mind was in turmoil. Instead of sitting idle at home, he decided to stand here, fixating on his goal. Perhaps it would inspire some clever strategy.
What could he do for Prince Yan in the end?
In the novel, this protagonist was either fighting against treacherous officials or flirting with women. Han Jiao hadn’t delved deeply into his character traits.
While reading, Han Jiao directly imagined himself as Prince Yan.
His only thought about the male lead was that he hoped he wouldn’t use cringeworthy straight guy moves to flirt with women and create awkward memories.
Speaking of flirting, in the novel, Prince Yan was a double standard idiot. He treated the male cannon fodders blocking his path with ruthless indifference, labeling them like fallen leaves in the autumn breeze. But when it came to female cannon fodders, they were often seen as “poisonous women ruining the country and deserving no mercy.” As for beautiful women, he considered them to be “poor girls” deserving of pity.
With Han Jiao’s looks, if he were to cross-dress, he might gain a few more moments of patience from Prince Yan, listening to what he had to say.
This pitiful thought made Han Jiao inwardly smile bitterly. Had he really reached the point of utter desperation?
After all, he was a top-notch student from the future, even if he didn’t know the plot of the novel, there was no reason for him to give up on himself like this.
Besides knowing the plot of the novel, what other advantages did he have?
He had many ideas about the future, like conducting partial economic reforms based on social surveys, improving governance, land reform measures, and ways to slow down land consolidation…
But at this very moment, Han Jiao, who believed in his own talents as a Prime Minister, found his confidence rapidly extinguished, unable to come up with a quick and effective way to showcase his abilities.
In reality, he was a science student, majoring in a field that lacked basic research facilities in ancient times, rendering it completely impractical.
After over a decade of hard studying, the skills that could be put to use now were all in elective fields. Han Jiao, who was accustomed to dealing with data logic, felt for the first time that he was useless.
The word that Han Jiao was most familiar with suddenly clashed in his mind.
An unformed idea seemed to be desperately trying to break free.
As the evening sun was about to set, the guards at the gate of Prince Yan’s mansion suddenly saw a young man in plain clothes walking confidently towards them.
The young man had a handsome face that appeared quite pale, indicating exhaustion, but his sparkling peach blossom eyes revealed a determined smile.
The clash of a long spear sounded as the guard’s weapon blocked the young man’s path.
The guard asked, “Who are you? What business do you have here?”
The young man replied, “I am Han Jiao, a junior scholar-official from Hanlin Academy. I seek an audience with His Highness Prince Yan.”
The guard showed no expression as he asked, “May I see your invitation card?”
Han Jiao didn’t answer but took out several prepared silver ingots from his sleeve and offered them with both hands. “Please inform your lord on my behalf.”
The guard hesitated for no moment, pushing away Han Jiao’s hands and sternly reprimanding, “This is Prince Yan’s residence. You are just an idle person. Leave immediately!”
Han Jiao was taken aback. He didn’t expect Prince Yan’s mansion to directly turn him away.
After all, he was an official of Hanlin Academy, and Prince Yan’s personal lecturer was also from Hanlin Academy. Logically, Prince Yan’s residence should not refuse to see an official from Hanlin Academy.
Did the guard mistake him for some idle person trying to gain favor? After all, he was still young and didn’t look like those seasoned officials in the government.
With a dark face, Han Jiao threatened, “I hold a position in Hanlin Academy and have important matters to discuss with Prince Yan. Please inform your lord and avoid delaying important affairs.”
“Even if you were an official from other department, you still need to show an invitation card. Do not make trouble, or you’ll face severe punishment.”
Han Jiao’s excitement was dampened, never expecting to be humiliated at the entrance of the mansion. He tried to ease his tone and requested, “Could you please summon a eunuch in charge? I truly have urgent matters to report, and time is of the essence.”
The guards at the Prince’s residence had encountered countless scholars with all sorts of excuses, trying to curry favor, so they had no interest in dealing with this young man.
The leader of the guards turned his head, and immediately, two guards stepped forward and grabbed the young man’s arms.
“What are you doing?” Han Jiao was completely shocked. He didn’t expect the guards to dare to use force directly.
The two guards didn’t reply. They simply escorted him out of the alley.
“Let go!” If he was thrown out onto the street in such a manner and seen by others, how could he continue mingling in the government circles?
Han Jiao clenched his fist and suddenly shook it, managing to push back the two strong guards behind him.
The two guards raised their long spears, aiming them at his neck simultaneously.
Han Jiao remained unfazed, facing the sharp spearheads calmly. He straightened his disheveled clothes, looked at the guards, and said, “I can leave on my own. No need for you two to accompany me.”
After speaking, he turned around and left with long strides.
“Who is making a commotion outside?” Eunuch Li Sheng passed by the outer courtyard and looked towards the gate of the Prince’s mansion.
The guard reported, “It’s a seventeen or eighteen-year-old young boy who attempted to sneak into the mansion to see Prince Yan.”
Eunuch Li Sheng raised an eyebrow curiously, “Did he mention his identity?”
“He claimed to be an official from Hanlin Academy, named Han… Han…”
Another guard behind him whispered, “I think his name is Han Jiao.”
As soon as Li Sheng heard the name, it felt familiar to him. He nodded while strolling towards the inner courtyard, carefully trying to recall, and suddenly his eyes lit up!
Hanlin Academy’s Han Jiao?
Wasn’t he the person that Prince Yan asked him to inquire about some time ago?
The arrogant and conceited child prodigy from the capital?
How could this boy have come to the door on his own?
On that day, Prince Yan had intended to teach this boy a lesson when he came to the mansion. However, suddenly, some border case emerged, and in the following days, officials from the Three Law Departments came one after another. After having secret discussions with them, Prince Yan always wore a worried expression, no longer caring about trivial matters.
Realizing that Prince Yan hadn’t been able to eat or drink properly in these few days, Li Sheng immediately turned and hurried to the gate of the Prince’s mansion, instructing the guards, “The next time that boy comes, inform me immediately. Don’t let him slip away!”
The guards all acknowledged in unison, “Yes!”
Li Sheng thought it would be a good idea to bring this boy before Prince Yan, hoping that it would help ease his lord’s frustrations.
Han Jiao stood foolishly at the entrance of the Prince’s residence from afternoon until the sun set in the west. He couldn’t believe that just when he had come up with a strategy, he was unceremoniously thrown out.
Losing face didn’t matter anymore. The crucial thing was that he hadn’t anticipated it would be so difficult to meet Prince Yan. After all, he was an official of Hanlin Academy.
Before, when he had no idea how to proceed, he was already anxious, but now that he had a plan, the wait felt even more unbearable.
Han Jiao wandered in the marketplace for a moment and then turned to Elder Lin’s residence, hoping to seek his teacher’s advice on finding a way to meet Prince Yan.
However, when he arrived at Elder Lin’s doorstep, he remembered that he was a relative of a criminal, and at such a time, no official would be willing to meet him privately.
Han Jiao felt disheartened, not wanting to put Elder Lin in a difficult position. He lowered his head and stood there for a long time before dejectedly turning away
As he was about to leave, he suddenly noticed a single-person sedan chair slowly approaching from not far away.
Recognizing it as Elder Lin’s sedan chair, Han Jiao quickly turned around, intending to take another route to leave the alley.
However, the sedan chair bearer had already called out from inside, “Master, it seems there’s a guest visiting up ahead.”
Elder Lin lifted the curtain, peered out, and saw the familiar figure of the young man hastily trying to flee.
Elder Lin didn’t pretend not to see and promptly instructed the sedan chair bearer to set down the chair, stepping forward himself to catch up with a few steps.
How could he let his teacher chase after him?
Han Jiao quickly turned around, clasped his hands together, and deeply bowed to Elder Lin, “Paying my respect to Elder Lin.”
“Since you’ve come, why avoid me?” Elder Lin looked at this talented young man before him with concern.
Han Jiao didn’t know how to explain.
Elder Lin sighed and asked, “Did you come because of your father?”
Han Jiao was startled. He thought his teacher didn’t know about his father’s case, so he didn’t want to create suspicions. But now, it seemed like his teacher knew everything.
Seeing the innocent and grateful look in Han Jiao’s eyes, Elder Lin’s heart softened. He reached out, holding Han Jiao’s right hand, and said softly, “Let’s talk inside.”