What was I Thinking when I Ditch the Second Male Protagonist Chapter 20

Chapter 20

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At this moment, Prince Yan felt that the arrogance of this child prodigy was about to burst through the roof.

However, there was no way for Prince Yan to prove him wrong on the spot. He had to wait for Han Jiao to make a fool of himself before he could shame him openly.

Deep down, Prince Yan didn’t have high hopes for this young celebrity. Of course, there was still a faint hope that he might surprise him, so he maintained a respectful attitude and said, “Then, I entrust this case to you, Master.”

Han Jiao’s planned situation had finally achieved some progress, so he began the second round of attack.

“This case involves significant matters, and I alone cannot thoroughly investigate it. I rely on Your Highness’ protection.”

With this reminder, Prince Yan realized that the people involved in this case were those from Senior Minister Li’s faction. Han Jiao, a mere junior scholar-official, participating in it would undoubtedly face retaliation and criticism afterward, irrespective of the outcome.

“Don’t worry,” Prince Yan solemnly promised, “At such a critical moment, if you dare to step forward and help this Prince, regardless of success or failure, I won’t allow anyone to plot against you.”

“Someone has already taken action,” Han Jiao seized the opportunity and revealed his final trump card, “In order to thoroughly investigate this case, my father was falsely accused and imprisoned by the officials in the court the other day. He is currently awaiting trial in the Ministry of Justice. If my father is wrongfully convicted, I will undoubtedly be implicated as well. They won’t tolerate anyone with courage and insight to remain in the court, and my father and I are their first targets to eliminate.”

This final blow was deafening.

Prince Yan now completely reevaluated this young scholar.

This young man could really keep his composure!

With his father accused and the whole family in danger, Han Jiao came to seek help from Prince Yan, but instead of asking for assistance outright, he claimed to offer strategies, and what cunning ones!

He bombarded Prince Yan with a flurry of words, expressing loyalty and confidence, leaving Prince Yan bewildered, completely thinking that this young man came to help him. Only then did Han Jiao subtly reveal a hint of his true intentions: to ask Prince Yan to rescue his father from prison.

Han Jiao didn’t directly state that he wanted Prince Yan to save his father. He implied, “My whole family has been secretly supporting you, and I already have a way to solve your problems. But now, my family is suffering retaliation. If you don’t help me, I’m surely doomed, and I won’t be able to assist you anymore.”

The progression of this intricate logic was nerve-wracking, leading Prince Yan step by step into a dilemma.

Had Han Jiao rushed in, knelt at Prince Yan’s feet, and tearfully complained about how his father, a steadfast and unwavering supporter of Prince Yan, had been falsely accused, begging for the Prince’s help to save him, he would have been kicked out immediately.

But Han Jiao managed to keep his composure. He turned the tables from the start, disrupting Prince Yan’s rhythm, and throughout the conversation, he darted around, never giving Prince Yan a chance to react. By the time Prince Yan woke up to the situation, he found himself trapped.

It took a while for Prince Yan to fully understand. At this moment, he was still dazed, unable to figure out what was amiss. He asked in a simple and sincere manner, “Your father is in prison? What charges?”

“They simply dug up old cases to frame him with false accusations,” Han Jiao revealed his true intentions―to heck with currying favor with the powerful, he just wanted to save his father.

Han Jiao didn’t want to discuss why Master Han was imprisoned. The reason Senior Minister Li’s faction used unrelated charges to target Master Han was because they feared he would seek help from Prince Yan’s faction.

So, Han Jiao needed to downplay the charges against his father, trying to make Prince Yan believe that his father was framed while investigating a case of wrongful execution for personal gain.

Although Prince Yan was young, due to his status as the Crown Prince, he had been exposed to the dark side of the court early on. He wasn’t that easily fooled.

After hearing Han Jiao’s words, Prince Yan fell silent, pondering over it several times, and finally began to harbor suspicions.

Prince Yan suspected that Han Jiao’s elaborate ruse was merely to pressure him into taking action to rescue his father.

If Han Jiao failed and came to the Prince’s mansion to apologize, Prince Yan wouldn’t necessarily do anything to him. After all, this case had paralyzed the entire judicial system. How could one expect Han Jiao alone to control the situation?

This child prodigy had truly become cunning, daring to manipulate even the Great Chu’s heir apparent.

The two fell into silence.

Prince Yan’s gaze gradually turned cold and stern, staring straight at Han Jiao.

This was the critical moment of confrontation.

Han Jiao stood tall with a calm gaze, meeting Prince Yan’s scrutiny without a hint of guilt.

The closer it came to a life-and-death situation, the stronger Han Jiao’s mental fortitude became. Having experienced utter despair in his past life, death was to him a state of emptiness, something he would face calmly without fear.

“Why was your father accused?” Prince Yan launched a counterattack. The more the child prodigy tried to avoid the topic, the more Prince Yan wanted to get to the bottom of it. He gave a reason to pursue the matter, “You have to explain clearly so that I can help him clear his name.”

Han Jiao already said earlier that Master Han’s charges were based on reopening old cases and forcibly framing him. They were baseless accusations with no solid evidence. The Ministry of Justice would side with whoever had the stronger fist, regardless of the truth.

Therefore, as long as Prince Yan hinted to the Ministry of Justice that he wanted to protect Master Han, they would weigh the pros and cons and still give Prince Yan face. So, the specific charges were not important.

However, Prince Yan now grew suspicious. If Han Jiao insisted on evading the topic, it would only make Prince Yan more displeased. So, he made a quick decision and urged Han Jiao to be completely honest.

Han Jiao’s honesty finally managed to restore some of Prince Yan’s trust.

Whether his father was innocent or not didn’t really matter at this moment. The crucial point was that Prince Yan suspected Han Jiao of merely wanting to use his influence to save his father, without any actual brilliant strategy.

Han Jiao was a studious student who knew how to focus on the key issues. Forcing Prince Yan to make a decision at this time felt like an unfair deal because Prince Yan wasn’t sure if Han Jiao could deliver.

And important figures never engage in unfair deals. Han Jiao must proactively hand over the leverage, allowing the important figure to hold it.

“It’s not easy to resolve my father’s case in a short time,” Han Jiao conceded, “I only wish for Your Highness to intervene with the Ministry of Justice temporarily. Let the case be suspended until the case of wrongful execution for personal gain is investigated thoroughly. Once Your Highness is proven innocent, I, and my father, can be at ease.”

It was like delivering the goods first and then receiving payment. Han Jiao was taking a risk, temporarily suspending his father’s case, and waiting to ask Prince Yan for help after he had genuinely accomplished something. Now, Prince Yan shouldn’t worry about being used, right?

Indeed, most of the doubts in Prince Yan’s eyes dissipated.

He gazed at Han Jiao with some astonishment, then chuckled softly. “You truly live up to the name ‘child prodigy,’ Han Jiao. Everything will be as you’ve requested. This Prince will wait patiently for good news.”

With the deal settled, Prince Yan instructed the eunuch to arrange a carriage to send Han Jiao back.

It was the first time a visitor to Prince Yan’s mansion had arrived on foot and left in a dedicated carriage. This frightened the Chief Guard who had offended Han Jiao earlier. He hurriedly sought the advice of Master Li to inquire about Han Jiao’s address, intending to visit him personally and offer gifts as an apology.

When Mrs. Han entered the kitchen, she realized that they hadn’t bought groceries for two days. With her sister and brother-in-law suddenly visiting, there was no time to go shopping. She had to go to the neighbors and borrow some preserved meat instead.

As she turned to leave, she saw her younger sister rolling up her sleeves and stepping into the kitchen, seemingly wanting to help her.

“Hey, why are you coming in? Quickly go back and sit down. Don’t dirty your clothes!” Mrs. Han was worried her sister would notice that there was nothing in the kitchen and hurriedly ushered her out.

“Big Sister…” Her sister insisted on staying put, looking around the empty kitchen with a sigh. She turned to Mrs. Han with a touch of sadness, “Back when we were young girls, we had maidservants to do these chores. Now that you’ve married a fourth-ranked official, how are you living these days?” She gently grabbed Mrs. Han’s roughened hands, her eyes welling up, “Look at you, your hands have calluses now.”

It was the first time Mrs. Han had been so directly hit with cold reality by her sister. She pulled her hand back quickly and smiled. “With your brother-in-law’s status, there’s nothing we can’t handle. I just feel like doing some chores to pass the time, I’m not really bothered by it.”

“Big Sister, it’s already this late, and you still insist on being so strong-willed.”

“What’s wrong? What’s the matter with you today?” Mrs. Han was not pleased.

Her sister wiped her eyes with a handkerchief and looked at her seriously. “Is your husband really just on suspension pending investigation?”

Mrs. Han’s heart skipped a beat, but she managed to maintain her composure. “What else could it be?”

“Don’t hide it from me, Big Sister! My husband has already inquired about it. The Ministry of Justice is tight-lipped. It’s definitely not a small matter!” Her sister urgently exposed the truth, “Your husband’s stubborn temper was bound to lead to this day. If he’s in trouble, you still have A’Jiao, and life goes on, right? Please don’t squander all our family’s wealth!”

Mrs. Han’s face turned pale. So, her brother-in-law found out that Master Han had committed a serious offense and was afraid the six hundred taels of silver would go to waste. That was why he came to advise her to return the money!

Mrs. Han felt a chill in her heart. When her sister married her brother-in-law, he was just a low-ranking illegitimate child of a government official, with only a few acres of meager land. It was Master Han who helped them establish their business and get involved in major projects under the Ministry of Works.

If it weren’t for Master Han’s connections, allowing them to take over several large projects from the Ministry of Works, her brother-in-law and sister would probably still be struggling to make ends meet.

Now that her husband was in trouble and the situation was not yet clear, her brother-in-law hurriedly advised her to stop worrying about her husband’s life and death.

“Big Sister, we always look out for each other and think of you and A’Jiao!” Seeing Mrs. Han’s eyes welling up, her sister quickly softened her tone. “Big Sister, from childhood to now, we’ve shared both blessings and hardships. I can’t bear to see you suffer losses and sacrifices. Things in the official circles change in an instant. With our limited family resources, what storms can we weather? We can only leave your husband’s situation to fate. From now on, I will take good care of you and A’Jiao…”

“The six hundred taels of silver are still in my room, untouched,” Mrs. Han said coldly, “As I mentioned yesterday, it’s just for emergencies. A’Jiao also told me that we might not need to spend the money. These are just minor matters. My husband won’t have any problems. A’Jiao was invited by Prince Yan for a discussion this afternoon. As for me, I have my husband to take care of me, and my A’Jiao doesn’t need anyone to look after him. He’s quite capable.”

“Big Sister! What do you mean by this? I didn’t mean…”

Without waiting for her sister to finish, Mrs. Han brushed her off and stormed out of the house, sarcastically saying, “Since we don’t have good food at home, I have to go buy groceries for our two great benefactors.”

“Big Sister! You’re already at this age, why do you still act so stubbornly? I’m doing this for your own good. Bitter medicine is hard to swallow. Why do you jump to conclusions? When did I ever bring up the matter of the silver?”

Her sister followed closely behind, and the two of them pushed and shoved their way to the front yard. Her brother-in-law, alerted by the commotion, quickly rushed out to eavesdrop on their conversation, wanting to know if the six hundred taels of silver had already been wasted.

Just as Mrs. Han stepped out of the courtyard, she saw a brass-trimmed carriage pulled by four spirited horses slowly stopping at their doorstep.

It was obviously a nobleman’s carriage, a sight that ordinary folks on the streets might never get to witness.

The carriage driver, dressed like a eunuch, dismounted, and with a courteous expression, he opened the carriage curtain for the person inside.

When Mrs. Han saw Han Jiao stepping out from the carriage, she was stunned.

Trembling, her sister asked her in a low voice from behind, “Did Prince Yan really invite A’Jiao?”

Mrs. Han only came back to her senses and didn’t bother responding to her sister. She raised her head and greeted her son with a smile, “You’re back? Why did you trouble the Prince’s residence for a carriage and horses?”

Her brother-in-law, who had just rushed out, was also dumbfounded. After recovering, he quietly whispered to his wife, “Let’s not mention the silver matter for now… This boy, he’s quite impressive!”

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