What was I Thinking when I Ditch the Second Male Protagonist Chapter 32

Chapter 32

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Senior Minister Li looked up with a slight smile. “If you can make Prince Yan hesitant to hire Han Jiao again, he’ll naturally seek other opportunities. Throughout history, geniuses have been less inclined to waste their time compared to average individuals. His aspirations might be as strong as ours. You must show sincere intentions to leave no doubts in his mind.”

“Elder, you have a wise perspective! I’ll go arrange it right away.”

“No hurry. First, get Han Yushen out of the Ministry of Justice. For now, avoid actively trying to win over that junior scholar-official. Since he just presented such a significant gift to Prince Yan, the more you try to snatch, the tighter their bond becomes. Let Prince Yan’s faction create turmoil on their own.”

After leaving Senior Minister Li’s residence, Zhou Zhaokun had already regained his usual calm demeanor. He even assisted his wife onto the carriage with exaggerated gestures.

After getting into the carriage, Li Yanmei observed her husband’s drastically changed demeanor and laughed. “So, has Master finally found peace of mind? I told you earlier, if there’s a real problem, Father won’t shy away from it because there’s nothing in this world that can trouble him.”

Zhou Zhaokun happily replied, “Madam is right. Who can trouble our Father-in-law? Father-in-law is not even human!”

“What?” Li Yanmei was taken aback.

“He’s a deity!” Zhou Zhaokun sincerely marveled, “I truly admire Father-in-law. There’s nothing in this world that he can’t see through!”

“Of course,” Li Yanmei said proudly. “So you have to be careful with Father, never have doubts about him, just as with me.”

Zhou Zhaokun hurriedly laughed and reassured her, “How could I? Father-in-law chose me because of my loyalty, didn’t he? If Madam doesn’t trust me, she must rely on Father-in-law’s judgment!”


After a few more days, Han Jiao felt the time was right and was preparing to discuss his father’s case with Prince Yan. However, to his surprise, one noon, his father was sent back home in an official carriage from the Ministry of Justice.

The family’s front door was tightly locked, and his wife and children were nowhere to be found. This frightened Master Han, and he inquired with neighbors to learn that Prince Yan had taken his wife and children away.

Master Han, not knowing what had happened, rushed on foot to Prince Yan’s mansion. He was eventually led to Han Jiao’s new residence by the guards.

When Mrs. Han heard that Master Han had returned, she was so startled that she placed her little son on the tea table and rushed outside in a panic.

Before this incident, every time she lost in comparison to relatives and neighbors, Mrs. Han would fantasize about how different her life would have been if she had married other suitors.

After the incident, she realized that without Master Han, she couldn’t think of anyone to replace her husband. She couldn’t wait even a moment. All she wanted was to be buried alongside that stubborn old man.

The husband and wife reunited in the main courtyard.

She had thought that Master Han would endure some torture to extract confessions, returning with a battered body and a face marked by hardships.

Surprisingly, the old man looked no different than when he had left home, while Mrs. Han had a few strands of white hair at her temples.

“You, you wretched man!” The pent-up grievances that Mrs. Han had endured for days burst out all at once. She moved forward and pounded her husband. “You better resign from your official position and take us back to our hometown to farm! I can’t bear living like this!”

Han Jiao picked up his little brother and followed her out the door.

At the sight of his father, Han Jiao’s heart leaped, and his mood brightened like seeing a rainbow after a storm.

A’Mo, who had been in a daze for the past week, now witnessed his father’s return. He first nibbled on his chubby hand in bewilderment, but soon, he opened his mouth wide, closed his eyes, and burst into tears!

Han Jiao was taken aback by the sudden emotional outburst of his little brother. He saw that after days of being blank and unresponsive, his brother finally showed emotion. His heart swelled with both joy and sadness as he cradled him. “A’Mo, it’s alright, Father’s back now, and we don’t have to be afraid anymore. Don’t cry, A’Mo…” He even got teary-eyed alongside his brother.

Master Han, while awkwardly comforting his wife, also reassured his two sons, “You’re all scared, right? Father is safe. A clear conscience fears no accusation. The court won’t wrong a good man, and I’ve returned safely, haven’t I?”

“You’re so thickheaded!” Mrs. Han scolded without any consideration for her dignity. “If it weren’t for A’Jiao running around tirelessly for you these days, almost risking his life, do you think you’d have any hope of seeing the light of day again?”

Master Han was taken aback. “What do you mean?”

He turned to his eldest son. “Why are you living in the house next to Prince Yan’s mansion? And why are there palace guards stationed outside?”

“It’s a long story.” Han Jiao managed to force a bitter smile. “Let’s go inside first, Father. You have to tell me how the Ministry of Justice framed you.”

As Han Jiao explained everything he had done in the past few days, Master Han’s face changed.

Since being wrongly imprisoned, he had always believed that the innocent would eventually be vindicated.

Although in the first few days, the Ministry of Justice had used tactics like denying water and food and preventing sleep to extract confessions, Master Han had always believed in the fairness of people’s hearts.

Two days later, the officials from the Ministry of Justice suddenly became very attentive to him. Master Han thought they had found the accusations to be false, which led to this change in their behavior.

Little did he know that this was entirely due to his son’s willingness to risk his life to secure favorable treatment from Prince Yan.

In the nearly half-month of his confinement, Master Han had lived more comfortably than at home because Prince Yan had personally pressured the Ministry of Justice officials. It had nothing to do with justice or innocence.

“Ridiculous and sad,” Master Han stared blankly at the ground with a vacant expression. “I, Han Yushen, served as an official for twenty years, prioritizing the public good over personal gain and loyalty to the sovereign and the people. In the end, I had to trade my lifelong integrity with my son’s life. What kind of world is this?”

“Father, don’t be sad. I haven’t suffered any losses,” Han Jiao consoled. “In fact, I’ve gained some unexpected benefits. Prince Yan appreciates me, and in the future, I plan to do some practical work for the country and the people. It has given me more confidence.”

Master Han slowly closed his eyes, pondered for a while, and softly said, “Your mother is right. This kind of political world is not where someone like me belongs. I will resign from my position tomorrow and follow your uncle’s example, venture into a small business to spend the rest of my life.”

Han Jiao was surprised to see his usually resolute father completely disheartened. He quickly advised, “Father, the past is behind us now. With the protection of Prince Yan, those wrongdoers won’t dare to harm us. You can’t give up now. Besides, your name has just been cleared of wrongdoing. Resigning from your post at this point, isn’t it like showing disrespect to His Majesty? It could lead to trouble!”

Mrs. Han, upon hearing this, jolted and raised her hand to hit her husband’s shoulder. “You better not cause any more trouble for my A’Jiao! Focus on your duties, and if needed, follow the example of those officials and avoid getting into trouble with important figures in the future!”

Master Han didn’t want to trouble his family further, so he fell silent, with a heart full of sorrow that had nowhere to vent.

In this world, he, a man of integrity and strong character, couldn’t even find the freedom to retire peacefully.

He looked up at his son with a mixture of relief and concern.

He, being such an upright person, has actually raised such a son.

He had thought that his son was only exceptionally talented in academics, but he had never imagined that at such a young age, he would understand the ways of the political world and quickly solve such a significant case.

It was a case of false accusations, and originally, the officials from the Three Law Departments had intended to risk their lives to thoroughly investigate it. Yet, his son, with a stack of government account books and just three days and nights, had completely unraveled it.

Apart from his intelligence, what was even more astonishing was Han Jiao, a young junior scholar-official without any connections, persuading Prince Yan to cooperate. It showed that this child had a natural talent for navigating the political landscape.

If this had been before his imprisonment, Master Han would have been absolutely ecstatic, thinking that even his ancestors’ graves were emitting auspicious smoke. But now, he felt nothing but dread.

It was because he had already seen the kind of ravenous wolves that dominated the court.

As for his son, shining like the moon, possessing the talents of a high official, would he, too, be swept involuntarily into that dirty mire in the future?

Han Jiao, Xiaobai, the names he had chosen for his son, represented his aspiration for purity in this world. He truly didn’t want that dirty quagmire to take away his son.

“A’Jiao, with your intelligence, you could excel in business as well.” Never had he thought he would one day advise his son to enter a trade he had always looked down upon. “The political world is treacherous. Let’s look for an opportunity to retire together.”

“Father, I understand that you are disappointed with the court now. But remember, we initially built our wealth through your official position, not business acumen. If we both resign from our positions, there will be no one left in the court, and our family will be left without wealth, except for farming. It’s the only option.” Han Jiao couldn’t accept the idea of returning to their hometown to farm. Firstly, he lacked the technical skills as he had never farmed in his two lifetimes. Secondly, he had a strong desire to serve the nation. Plus, he had already gained the extreme approval of Prince Yan, who would likely become the future Emperor.

Filled with ambition, Han Jiao couldn’t reach an agreement with his father. He took his little brother to the courtyard to catch butterflies.

In the afternoon, his aunt and uncle visited Mrs. Han again.

After learning that Han Jiao had moved into the mansion next to Prince Yan’s, the couple had come to visit several times.

However, Mrs. Han refused to see them, instructing the maid in the courtyard to say that there was no one at home every time.

This had the uncle regretting deeply. Even though he was getting the 600 taels of silver back, all the business deals they had agreed upon with the Ministry of Works had been canceled one after another.

These business deals caused losses far beyond six hundred taels. Master Han’s downfall made others cautious, too.

Now that Han Jiao had risen to prominence and received such favor from Prince Yan, his uncle wanted this young man to step in and have a meal with the people from the Ministry of Works. Otherwise, their business couldn’t proceed.

His aunt couldn’t have imagined in her wildest dreams that within a few days, her elder sister would move into such a mansion. She needed to request an audience and had to ask the gatekeeper to announce her visit. In the past, when seeking an audience with an official of the Ministry of Works, it wasn’t such a grand affair.

She hadn’t been wrong about him. Her nephew A’Jiao was bound to become someone significant!

Her only regret was that her husband couldn’t hold back over a bit of money, damaging decades of sisterly bonds between her and elder sister. A’Jiao was a dutiful son, and even if he wanted to see her, he would first have to consider his mother’s feelings.

With mixed feelings, she hadn’t held out much hope and had planned to stand at the door for an hour to express her remorse. Unexpectedly, the gatekeeper told them, “Mrs. Han is inviting you.”

Afraid that Mrs. Han might change her mind, her husband didn’t wait for anyone to lead the way. Sprinting like a bunny, he dashed into the grand mansion.

At that moment, Han Jiao sat beneath the wisteria in the inner courtyard, watching his chubby little brother chase after butterflies.

With things at home finally settled, he still felt a bit uneasy.

He reached into his sleeve, pulled out that piece of paper, and slowly unfolded it, reading at the sentence he had jotted down a few days earlier.

“A loyal subject serves only one master. A virtuous woman marries only one husband.”

A loyal subject serves only one master…

Serves only one master…

A slight furrow appeared on Han Jiao’s brow.

Why would the big boss bring up this phrase to him?

Was he overthinking, or had the big boss already begun to harbor ambitions?

Yet at this moment, Xie Duo had a very close relationship with his elder brother. Was there any reason not to let Han Jiao assist Prince Yan?

Han Jiao closed his eyes, perplexed.

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