What was I Thinking when I Ditch the Second Male Protagonist Chapter 31

Chapter 31

<Previous Chapter<Table of Contents>Next Chapter>

“Why can’t you?” An incredulous Xie Duo approached the little child prodigy, squinting his eyes. “You ask me why you can’t?”

Han Jiao swallowed nervously, feeling that the unpredictable big boss could tear him apart at any moment. He unconsciously glanced towards the entrance of the Prince’s mansion, praying that Prince Yan would come out and deal with this stinky little brother.

However, from time to time, cries of Prince Yan being beaten by the Third Prince could be heard from the royal mansion.

Han Jiao looked back at the big boss in despair and tremblingly assured him, “Your Highness, settling the accounts won’t delay my essay writing. If you need me, I’m ready at any time.”

Xie Duo’s expression darkened even further. “Is this a matter of essay writing?”

Han Jiao racked his brain, pondering carefully, then humbly asked, “Your Highness, where do you think the problem lies?”

Xie Duo: “……”

Uh-oh, the big boss licked his lips again.

According to the novel, a person wouldn’t survive after seeing the boss do this for the third time.

Han Jiao’s eyes brimmed with tears, ready to meet his demise.

Why is this stinky little brother suddenly upset? Give me a hint!

Xie Duo suddenly let out a cold laugh.

Han Jiao keenly sensed that this laughter wasn’t like the usual, tickled-funny laughter. It was more of a “I’m going to kill you right now” kind of laughter.

Xie Duo took a deep breath and offered one last chance, “What’s the first line of ‘A virtuous woman doesn’t marry two husbands’? Do you know it?”

“Huh?” Han Jiao didn’t expect the big boss to suddenly quiz him.

This was so unexpected.

Last time, he was caught knowing nothing about Legalism, so he had studied hard to fill in the gaps. Now, out of the blue, the big boss had switched to testing his knowledge of common sayings.

Fortunately, this saying sounded vaguely familiar.

He must have heard it before.

“Um… that… ” Han Jiao’s survival instincts momentarily failed him, causing a delay in his memory recall.

Seeing the boss getting even more furious, in a moment of desperation, Han Jiao hazarded a guess, “Is it ‘An honorable man doesn’t marry two women’?”

Xie Duo’s fierce gaze was momentarily clouded by the unexpected answer from the little child prodigy.

Just by looking at the murderous intent in the boss’ eyes, it was clear that the answer was wrong.

Han Jiao had to pull a rabbit out of the hat, attempting to survive as he used to, by tickling the boss’ funny bone. So, he jokingly made up, “Is it ‘A wicked woman marries three husbands’?”

Xie Duo remained expressionless. “Do you really want to marry three husbands?”

“Hahahaha…haha..ha ha…ha…” Han Jiao played along with laughter, but the boss’ anger silenced him. He asked in confusion, “Your Highness, are you not kidding?”

Xie Duo’s eyes provided the answer.

Han Jiao suddenly gave up the struggle and slumped without energy.

This big boss is just too unpredictable! Life and death are predetermined!

Xie Duo’s rage was suddenly replaced by disappointment. He turned and walked towards the eastern alley of the Prince’s estate.

Han Jiao was stunned for a moment before realizing that the boss was actually keeping his promise, still planning to escort him back.

No punishment for not getting the answer right?

Despite his unpredictable nature, this stinky little brother’s temper was much better than the one in the novel!

Perhaps because they were still in the early stages of the plot, people were naturally good-hearted.

Han Jiao hurriedly jogged to catch up with the boss. “I dare not trouble Your Highness to see me off.”

Xie Duo glanced at Han Jiao and said, “You dare marry three husbands, but you won’t trouble me to walk these two steps?”

Completely puzzled by what the big boss was saying, Han Jiao could only offer a polite smile.

The big boss turned back to look straight ahead, the afternoon sunlight casting a golden sheen on his high nose bridge. His partially closed, light-colored eyes complemented this, giving off a soft and gentle radiance.

This little brother’s looks are truly out of this world!

Han Jiao paused for a moment, then felt a twinge of jealousy. No wonder the book Xie Duo attracted so many girls ready to swoon over him.

They soon arrived at the entrance of another courtyard.

Xie Duo turned his toe and looked at the little child prodigy with a serious expression. “We’re here.”

“Your Highness, could you honor me with a visit to my humble abode? I’d like to express my gratitude for saving my life the other day by serving tea and a meal.”

Xie Duo shook his head.

Han Jiao didn’t press further. “Then, Your Highness, please take your leave. I bid you farewell.”

Xie Duo didn’t respond.

The little child prodigy really dared to leave like this.

Han Jiao had just stepped over the threshold when he heard the boss’ gruff voice from behind.

“You won’t have to write policy essays for me in the future. Just handle Sixth Brother’s affairs.”

Han Jiao turned back to look at the boss, gratefully bowed and replied, “I appreciate Your Highness’ consideration!”


The residence of the Left Deputy Minister of War.

In one of the side rooms, Zhou Zhaokun’s wife, Li Yanmei, was trying on a new set of hairpins in front of a bronze mirror.

Zhou Zhaokun was pacing beside her, looking absentminded.

“Master!” Li Yanmei impatiently placed a hairpin on the table and turned to her husband in anger. “Just calm down for a moment! My father won’t ignore our well-being. If he’s not meeting you, he must have his reasons!”

Finally getting a response, Zhou Zhaokun stopped in his tracks, looking panic-stricken at his wife. “The situation is critical! The new interrogation records from the Ministry of Justice have arrived. Zhao Liang has talked, and that rascal has opened his mouth!”

“Doesn’t that mean he didn’t implicate you?” Li Yanmei reassured, “Don’t lose your composure. Even if that Zhao guy confesses, he’ll take responsibility himself. His only son is living safely in the capital. He wouldn’t dare risk his family’s well-being.”

“Madam,” Zhou Zhaokun urgently reminded, “Haven’t you ever thought about why Zhao Liang would confess? We handled this matter flawlessly. He had already sent me a message. He was willing to die for our cause as long as I took care of his family. But now, he’s suddenly confessed. Something must have gone wrong!”

“What could possibly go wrong?”

“Think about it. Prince Yan suddenly checked the accounts at the Ministry of War, and then he personally visited the Ministry of Justice. After that, Zhao Liang changed his statement. It definitely means they’ve found some concrete evidence!”

Li Yanmei chuckled lightly and shook her head. “I say, Master, you’re just being overly anxious. Have you forgotten who’s handling our accounts? Prince Yan could hire a hundred accountants, and it would still take them a month to figure it out. It’s only been a few days. The Prince is just putting on a show, and Zhao Liang was probably frightened by it.”

“At this critical moment, how can you be so carefree? Investigating accounts for Prince Yan is that well-known child prodigy in the capital. Just the other day, his policy essay shook the Emperor. We can’t even fathom his depth!”

“Even if he’s brilliant, he can’t uncover five years’ worth of complicated dealings in just three days, can he?”

“Then why don’t you think about this — if nothing had gone wrong, why would your father, at this very moment, forbid me from seeking an audience?”

Hearing this, Li Yanmei grew a bit uneasy and turned to look at her husband with suspicion.

“He probably wants to avoid suspicion!”

Li Yanmei stood up, her eyes darting around, and then looked back at her husband. “Don’t make wild assumptions! Even if my father prioritizes his responsibilities, there’s no way he would abandon me. If he’s not seeing you, it’s definitely because he’s occupied with official business!”

Seeing that his wife didn’t believe him, Zhou Zhaokun put on an affectionate look and said with a trembling voice, “Xiaomei, I’ve already drafted a farewell letter for you. If the Senior Minister can’t save me, then you should take our daughter and son back to your family to seek refuge, in case something happens to me…”

“Don’t talk nonsense!” Li Yanmei hurriedly approached and covered her husband’s mouth. Her heart softened as she pondered for a moment, and she made up her mind, “Fine, I’ll go with you to seek an audience with my father.”

The residence of Senior Minister Li was an old-style compound that had remained largely unchanged for the past two or three decades. The front gate, however, had received a fresh coat of red paint, contrasting with the weathered white walls and gray tiles, creating a somewhat mismatched scene.

Every time Li Yanmei saw her family’s courtyard in such a sorry state, she felt frustrated.

She had grown up in a place like this.

It was all because her father insisted on maintaining this facade of poverty for decades.

Some people in the official circles believed it, while others didn’t. But her father wasn’t doing it for the sake of impressing those below him or even for hoodwinking the common people. He was following the example of the “ideal man” from the Annals of Great Ministers in Great Chu.

Everyone knew that being an honest official was tough, and trying to make a real impact was even harder. The court was where the pragmatists resided, where power and interests were intertwined. Hence, all three of Senior Minister Li’s daughters had married men who dared to “do the dirty work.” After all, someone had to do the unsavory tasks, and someone had to bear the blame.

Zhou Zhaokun was feeling nervous, but before long, the gatekeeper sent by Senior Minister Li came back, smiling warmly and inviting the husband and wife inside.

Zhou Zhaokun’s anxieties finally eased. This was his third visit today. Fortunately, Senior Minister Li hadn’t shut out even his own beloved daughter.

Upon entering the backyard, Li Yanmei promptly sought out her mother.

Zhou Zhaokun waited alone in the flower hall, and after a short while, a household servant invited him to the study to meet Senior Minister Li.

The study had its doors and windows wide open. As Zhou Zhaokun stepped inside, he caught sight of Senior Minister Li standing with hands behind his back by the window.

There was no hint of Senior Minister Li’s nearly fifty years in his bearing. His tall and straight posture, as well as his clear features, gave the Deputy Minister an otherworldly aura.

At the age of seventeen, he had ranked third in the Imperial Examination, gaining fame across the country. After thirty years of ups and downs in the political world, not many signs of hardship could be seen on Senior Minister Li’s face.

“You’ve finally been granted an audience with this old man.” Senior Minister Li turned around, gazing deeply at Zhou Zhaokun. “How do you feel now? Is your heart more settled?”

Zhou Zhaokun quickly nodded and paid his respects, “This humble son-in-law shouldn’t have troubled you, Elder. But the Ministry of Justice sent an urgent message overnight, and there…”

“Do you think you need to personally report this to me?” Senior Minister Li turned to the study desk, speaking in an even tone. “If Prince Yan wanted to deal with you, he wouldn’t have gone to Zhao Liang first. There’s no need to come and see me.”

Zhou Zhaokun was taken aback, unsure of how to respond for a moment.

Senior Minister Li fixed him with an intense gaze and said in a low voice, “Do you know what to do next?”

“I beseech Elder for guidance!”

“Quickly get that apprentice’s father out of trouble before Prince Yan does.”

Zhou Zhaokun looked up at his father-in-law. “If that young apprentice has indeed figured out the accounts and reported them to Prince Yan by now, trying to secure his favor might be too late and futile.”

Senior Minister Li turned to look outside the window. “We have to leverage this personal connection. By actively building ties, we might make Prince Yan wonder if that junior scholar-official defected from our side. Otherwise, how could he have resolved this matter in just three days?”

Zhou Zhaokun’s eyes brightened as he grasped the plan. “Elder, are you trying to dissuade Prince Yan from relying on that junior scholar-official?”

Senior Minister Li didn’t refute it, essentially confirming the idea.

Zhou Zhaokun contemplated his father-in-law’s intentions and guessed that he wanted to sway Han Jiao away from Prince Yan. He nodded and said, “That apprentice indeed possesses some talent. He singlehandedly muddled the waters. I will do my utmost to win him over for Elder.”

“He’s just a greenhorn,” Senior Minister Li expressed a hint of disdain, “He may be bright, but he lacks experience. Prince Yan dares to employ him, but will Senior Minister Xu do the same?”

Zhou Zhaokun felt somewhat perplexed, pondered for a while, and then asked with a wry smile, “Should we still compete with Prince Yan for this individual?”

Senior Minister Li nodded. “We must secure this person.”


“That punishment by the Ninth Prince was endured for this apprentice. It shows he has a good relationship with the Prince. Perhaps, we can use him to climb onto the Ninth Prince’s bandwagon.”

Zhou Zhaokun was startled, thinking that Senior Minister Li might be abandoning Prince Duan. After hesitating for a while, he trembled as he tried to dissuade, “Elder, the Ninth Prince is a bit unruly, not as respectful as Prince Duan…”

“Do you even need to say that?” Senior Minister Li furrowed his brow and glared at Zhou Zhaokun. “It’s just that circumstances force us to have a backup plan.”

“What does Elder mean by that?”

“The whole court, both civil and military officials, are aware of the Ninth Prince’s punishment. Haven’t you grasped His Majesty’s intention yet?”

Zhou Zhaokun looked blankly at Senior Minister Li.

“Have you ever thought about why the most favored prince would receive such a severe punishment for one instance of laziness? Have you ever wondered where the eunuch came from and how he dared to do this to the Ninth Prince?”

“This son-in-law is dense.”

Senior Minister Li sneered, “It was all part of the His Majesty’s well-orchestrated drama.”

Zhou Zhaokun looked at Senior Minister Li with confusion. “Drama?”

“Exactly, a drama,” Senior Minister Li said decisively. “In the beginning, His Majesty spent a whole morning interrogating the Ninth Prince in the palace, but the young prince didn’t reveal the name of the apprentice. It was at that point that His Majesty had an idea to make this matter public.”

Zhou Zhaokun remained bewildered for a while before speaking, “Why would His Majesty want to stage this drama?”

“Of course, it’s to show the virtuous nature of the Ninth Prince to the civil officials. His Majesty is paving the way to gain his support.”

“His Majesty has this intention?”

“The Empress and several princes and princesses all planned to interrogate the eunuch who carried out the punishment, but he had already been expelled from the palace. Have you ever thought about it? After causing such a major incident, making a fake punishment real, who in the palace could safely escort that eunuch out?”

Zhou Zhaokun was struck like lightning and stammered, “His M-Majesty truly has this intention? But, we can’t sacrifice two princes, can we?”

“His Majesty has always been autocratic and doesn’t abide by rules that he can’t cross. It’s a pity that the Ninth Prince has no interest in that throne. Don’t worry, we just need to be prepared for any contingency.”

After some contemplation, Zhou Zhaokun lowered his head and timidly said, “The father of that young apprentice was introduced into our ranks by us. It may not be easy to bring him back. If he refuses…”

Authors Note: “A loyal subject does not serve two masters. A virtuous woman does not marry two husbands.”

***A wicked woman marries three husbands LOL How could you joke like that in front of your husband? XD

<Previous Chapter<Table of Contents>Next Chapter>

Leave a comment