What was I Thinking when I Ditch the Second Male Protagonist Chapter 79

Chapter 79

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After trimming the flowers and plants, Xie Xiu walked into the main hall and saw his brothers laughing. He joined in the laughter and took a seat next to Xie An.

This seemingly natural behavior left Senior Minister Li stunned.

Before entering, Senior Minister Li had been thinking about how to make Xie Xiu calm down as he was very wary of outsiders visiting his mansion.

In Xie Xiu’s sanctuary, only Xie Duo and Senior Minister Li were allowed as guests. The attendants in the mansion had remained unchanged since its establishment to ensure Xie Xiu’s sense of security.

But now, clearly seeing three unfamiliar faces — Han Jiao, Xie Jing, and Xie An — sitting in the main hall, Xie Xiu surprisingly paid no attention and even chose to sit beside the youngest, Xie An.

What had happened in these past days?

Senior Minister Li looked at Han Jiao once again.

Such a change must be related to this young scholar who kept coming up with unusual tactics.

Senior Minister Li felt, for the first time, that Han Jiao’s abilities exceeded his expectations.

“A’Duo, want to play cuju?” Xie Xiu got straight to the point, his eyes brimming with anticipation. He loved this game and looked forward to playing catch with his younger brothers every day.

The three princes all turned their gaze towards Han Jiao upon hearing this.

Today’s gathering was originally intended for Master Xiaobai to assess the progress of their treatment. However, with Senior Minister Li’s presence, playing a simple and somewhat silly game of catch in front of him made the princes feel a bit embarrassed.

Han Jiao quickly responded to the princes’ inquiring gazes, “Today is Prince Duan’s birthday. We should hold a feast to celebrate. We can play cuju another time.”

Xie Xiu’s hopeful expression instantly wilted.

“We’ll be able to play cuju with Seventh Brother again soon,” Xie An immediately consoled. “In a couple of days, Master  Xiaobai is giving a lesson. He can discuss it with the Hanlin Chancellor and…”

Ahem! Ahem! Ahem!” Han Jiao suddenly had a violent coughing fit, giving a deathly look to the young Prince. Senior Minister Li was still sitting right across from them. They couldn’t discuss playing hooky from their studies in front of him!

Xie An quickly covered his mouth, realizing he had forgotten himself in his eagerness to comfort his seventh brother.

Senior Minister Li, seeing the young princes uncomfortable, promptly stood up with a smile and said, “There are many guests today. I’ll go to the kitchen to discuss the arrangements for the feast.”

The group of somewhat insensitive young princes grinned and said, “We appreciate your efforts, Senior Minister.”

At this moment, Han Jiao, who lacked social experience, stood out like a sore thumb. He quickly stood up, offering to assist Senior Minister Li with arrangements, but his offer was politely declined by Senior Minister Li.

After all, the servants in Prince Duan’s mansion only recognized Senior Minister Li. If Han Jiao went to make arrangements, they might not obey his instructions, so they had to rely on Senior Minister Li.

As soon as Senior Minister Li left, the princes all relaxed.

Xie Jing pointed at Xie An, criticizing him for his recklessness, “You, kid, nearly spilled Master Xiaobai’s secret. If Senior Minister Li found out that our ‘field trip’ was just an excuse to play cuju with Seventh Brother, would the Hanlin Chancellor still allow us out of the palace in the future?”

Xie An grumbled in a forlorn manner. “I was just trying to comfort Seventh Brother.”

Xie Xiu nervously asked, “You can’t go out of the palace?”

“We can,” Xie Duo looked at the little child prodigy, “Master Xiaobai will help us deal with the Hanlin Chancellor.”

Han Jiao immediately denied, “Using the excuse of a ‘field trip’ to leave the palace can be used at most once a month. We need to find another reason and seek permission from the Emperor or the Empress.”

“Exactly,” Xie Jing turned to Xie Duo, “Old Ninth, why don’t you talk to Father Emperor directly? We’re all grown up now, so the restrictions should be eased. Why can’t we just return to the palace before curfew every day?”

Xie Duo gave a sidelong glance. “Why don’t you go tell him yourself?”

“Father Emperor is fondest of you! Just say what’s on your mind and be straightforward.”

Xie Duo wasn’t taken aback. “Then should I go tell Father Emperor that I want to go out and play after I finish my studies every day, and come back before dark? Say what’s on my mind and be straightforward. I might as well tell Father Emperor that I actually don’t want to study, I just want to play cuju. You can ask my tutor to help me with the policy essays.”

Xie Jing raised his thumbs. “Old Ninth, you’ve got guts!”

“Hahaha!” Nearby, Han Jiao laughed and then furrowed his brow, solemnly reminding Xie Duo, “Your Highness, you shouldn’t always think about having the tutor do the work for you.”

Xie Duo turned to the little child prodigy. “Is my tutor unhappy about it?”

Han Jiao, who didn’t want to do the work on Xie Duo’s behalf, blushed and lowered his head. “I’m just reminding Your Highness to stay diligent.”

“Oh, well, going out of the palace today was a bit of a waste,” Xie Jing sighed.

Han Jiao: “It’s nice to have a birthday banquet with Prince Duan. I was supposed to accompany my mother to see our new residence today, but I declined to meet Prince Duan.”

Xie Duo asked alertly, “You’re moving your residence? Where to?”

“I haven’t been there yet. My mother said it’s a grand mansion at Zhengyang Street, a four-courtyard estate.”

Xie Duo quickly calculated the distance in his mind. Zhengyang Street was farther from the tiny house where the little child prodigy used to live and even farther from Prince Yan’s mansion. “Good,” the Ninth Prince approved, “Your old place needs an upgrade.”

“Does it have a separate courtyard?” Xie Jing asked.

Han Jiao shook his head. “There probably isn’t one. It’s just a relatively small residence, costing around sixty taels at most. At best, there might be a small pond.”

“Well, that’s not very spacious,” Xie Jing expressed his disapproval.

Xie Duo explained on behalf of the little child prodigy, “His family is small. It’s just his father, mother, and little brother. They don’t even have a servant or a gatekeeper. His mother does that too.”

Han Jiao: “……”

Who said his mother took on the role of a part-time gatekeeper!

Mrs. Han opened the door for the big boss that day because no one else happened to be at home, alright!

Couldn’t their house go without a gatekeeper?

However, both Xie Jing and Xie An were stunned by this revelation. They looked at Han Jiao with pity, as if they were gazing at a wild child who grew up eating tree bark.

Han Jiao, unable to tolerate it any longer, boasted, “After moving to the new residence, I plan to hire a gatekeeper, two maidservants, and two attendants!”

Xie An’s gaze turned even more concerned. “It’s just a four-courtyard house with no separate courtyard. Where will all these people sleep?”

Han Jiao: “……”

Xie Jing also felt deep concern. “In the future, you’ll need to marry, but where will your wife have a place to stay?”

Han Jiao: “……” It’s not like it’s so small that there’s nowhere to stay!

“Then don’t get married,” Xie Duo comforted the little child prodigy, “Wait until I leave the palace and establish my own residence. I’ll have you come and stay in the mansion’s separate courtyard.”

Han Jiao: “……”

The cost of living in the mansion seemed a bit too high.

He drew the best marriage proposal, a love affair with an unparalleled beauty. How could he give up living in a luxurious house for it!

“How could he not get married?” Xie Jing understood more. “Master Xiaobai is almost nineteen. His parents are probably eager to find him a wife, which is why they want to move to a bigger house.”

Xie Duo thought for a moment and suddenly felt annoyed. “What’s the rush to find a wife?”

Xie Jing, with the wisdom of a mature man, explained, “Which talented man doesn’t love a beautiful woman? Old Ninth is still young and doesn’t understand the charms of a lady.”

“I’ve seen plenty. They’re just a bunch of maids who lower their heads and blush when they see someone.”

“The ones you’ve seen are palace maids, trained to be like wooden statues by the palace aunts and grannies. Of course, they’re not interesting!” Xie Jing earnestly educated his brother, “You need to go to Eldest Brother’s mansion to see real women. They’re called lean… lean horses? They’re not horses. It’s just what they call them. Those girls are true women.”

Rarely encountering an unfamiliar topic, Xie Duo was curious and looked at Xie Jing somewhat blankly, “Are they exceptionally beautiful?”

“Their looks are undoubtedly exquisite, but being a real woman isn’t just about appearances. Their every move and gesture are worlds apart from the women in the palace.”

“How are they different?”

Xie Jing frowned, thought for a moment, and felt that the women in Eldest Brother’s mansion were indescribably beautiful. He couldn’t put into words the charm they exuded. So, Xie Jing had to demonstrate. He raised the wide sleeves of his robe and covered his face, imitating the gentle gestures of those charming ladies. He slowly peeked out and fluttered his eyelashes at Xie Duo, swaying his strong shoulders…

Xie Duo turned his head away. “Big Brother, please stop batting your eyelashes. I’m about to be sick.”

“You should imagine me as a delicate and graceful maiden,” Xie Jing added as a reminder.

“I can’t imagine it. You’ve grossed me out to the point of mental paralysis,” Xie Duo honestly expressed his feelings. He’d probably have a phobia of lean horses for the rest of his life.

“Pfft!” Unexpectedly, Han Jiao couldn’t hold back his laughter due to the antics of these two brothers. He had to stifle his laughter to maintain the dignity of a royal tutor and held his hand to his mouth, enduring it for a while before calming down. Tears welled up in his eyes.

When Xie Duo turned back around, he saw the little child prodigy wiping the corners of his eyes. His long eyelashes were moist, and his eye rims were slightly reddened.

Han Jiao noticed that the big boss was watching him wipe his tears and felt somewhat embarrassed. He decided to mimic what Xie Jing had just done. He raised his hand to cover his face with his sleeve and then slowly peeked out, throwing a flirtatious look at the big boss, attempting to repulse the big boss with disgust.

However, after he threw the flirtatious look, the big boss’ gaze slightly flickered, but he didn’t turn away as he continued to stare straight at Han Jiao.

Han Jiao found himself inexplicably flustered under that unwavering gaze. He quickly hid behind his sleeve, then, after a brief pause, cautiously peered out to steal a glance at the big boss.

However, this look was devoid of the mischievous charm from before. It was now tinged with a touch of nervousness and shyness. He cast a glance and then withdrew his head, only to steal another glance later.

Xie Duo whispered, “Do you plan to hold your sleeve like that when we dine, Master Han?”

For some reason, Han Jiao felt that the big boss’ demeanor had suddenly turned less friendly, giving him an unsettling sense of facing a predator if he didn’t hide his face. He reluctantly replied in a hushed tone, “Your Highness, please don’t look at me like this.”

“I’ve seen you before. Put your hand down.”

“Your Highness, please turn your head first.” He felt inexplicably embarrassed but received an even more urgent advance from the stinky little brother. His wrist was suddenly seized by Xie Duo, who applied gentle pressure, leaving Han Jiao with no place to hide.

Han Jiao raised his eyes to steal a glance at Xie Duo and found himself unexpectedly amused by his own inexplicable evasion. He pursed his lips, lowered his head, and glanced sideways at something else.

On the other side, Xie Jing was in awe. “Yes, yes, yes! This is the feeling! Master Xiaobai has truly mastered it!”

Xie Duo snapped out of it and seemed to just realize that his brothers were around. He immediately released Han Jiao’s hand and looked down, no longer paying attention to him.

Xie An also bent forward, craned his neck, and after watching, he immediately applauded enthusiastically, “Master Xiaobai is the best! He’s so worldly-wise!”

Han Jiao: “……”

He hadn’t expected to have such unexpected talent for acting. To be able to perform so vividly without any prior experience.

“Do you get it now, Old Ninth? It’s this kind of alluring feeling,” Xie Jing attempted to imitate Han Jiao’s gestures and expressions once again, leaning forward and throwing a flirtatious look at Xie Duo, “Once you’ve encountered a real woman, you’ll understand why ‘From then on, the monarch no longer attends morning court.'”

Xie Duo closed his eyes in agony. “That monarch who no longer attends morning court was probably scared to death in bed.”

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