All Under Heaven – Chapter 19

Well, don’t ever get married then!
Prince of Yu Manor.

Consort Li put down the jade hairpin in her hand, she was deep in thought.

She was accompanied by Feng Bao who was standing in front of her, waiting for her command..

Although Consort Li was a Secondary Consort1 侧妃 (Ce fei) She was a concubine, not the legitimate first wife who holds the title of 正妃 (Zheng fei). She took charge of the internal affairs in the Prince of Yu manor, her family background was humble, and no powerful backer behind her. So to be able to be chosen by the Prince of Yu and to be his most favoured wife, aside from her beauty, she was also intelligent.

This was the biggest difference between the Prince of Yu and Jiajing Emperor.

If Consort Li had ended up as the Emperor’s concubine, it was highly probably she would have ended up like the former Consort Duan and ordered to commit suicide.

This Emperor was powerful, suspicious, and also heartless. The person he loved the most was himself. He even treated his own sons coldly, and his daughters weren’t even considered. After the Renyin Plot2As you know Jiajing was obsessed with immortality and one of the methods he thought would prolong his life was a concoction made from virgin period blood. And he tortured and kept a load of young palace maids to get it… The Renyin Plot is when 16 or so palace maids tried to assassinate him in the aforementioned Consort Duan’s chambers., his wariness towards the harem was even worse than to his court officials. So in the last few decades, there hasn’t been any news from the harem about the concubines fighting over for the affections of the Emperor because none of them had this courage.

But it was different for the Prince of Yu. He was well-spoken and easy to predict. Although he has a weak temperament, as long as you can make him happy, he will obey. Thanks to her having a son, Consort Li’s position was relatively stable. Although she was beautiful, she was never arrogant for being favoured so even Gao Gong, Chen Yiqin and the others didn’t bother her.

“Yongting3 Courtesy name of Fengbao, the little princely heir has been making a fuss these last few days to see Zhao Su. Since that day, you’ve also seen Zhao Su a couple of times, what do you think of him?” Consort Li finally expressed her worries. Feng Bao had a very good relationship with the masters of the manor so the Prince of Yu and Consort Li both called him by his courtesy name.

Feng Bao smiled and said: “He is level-headed, neither arrogant nor hot-tempered. This servant would be so bold as to guess that niangniang would like him to come and instruct the little princely heir?”

Consort Li nodded: “I heard from the Prince of Yu, he won first place in the Fujian Provincial exam, so he must be a talented scholar. The few times that he has been over, he was with the Prince and the others discussing official business. It was inappropriate for a woman to be present, so that’s why I’m asking for your opinion.

She only had one son, regardless of the future prospects or any benefits to herself, she treated Zhu Yijun like a precious treasure and wanted to give him the best education possible. But the situation in the Prince of Yu’s manor was precarious, and she didn’t think it was right to ask Gao Gong and the others to put aside their official affairs to instruct a four year old.

So she thought of Zhao Su.

“Not to hide this from niangniang4The way to address an Imperial Consort, concubines and the Empress. The Prince of Yu has already brought this up but Tutor Gao said that next year is the metropolitan exam so it would be better to wait and see if Zhao Shaoyong will be able to pass the exam, and prove his worth. It still wouldn’t be too late to talk about this after that.

Consort Li agreed, so she didn’t mention it again.

However, she and Feng Bao had underestimated the memory of a child.
It is not so much that Zhu Yijun remembered Zhao Su, but rather the snacks he bought for him. No matter how good things were in the manor, the grass is always greener outside. But he waited and waited, and he didn’t see Zhao Su who had promised to bring him some yellow pease pudding, donkey burgers, and the nineteen sticks of candied hawthorns from the street vendor. So he made a big fuss to see Zhao Su.

Of course, the little kid was smart, he didn’t dare let on to his parents about his gluttony, only saying that he wanted Zhao Su to come. So the Prince and Consort Li of course thought that he and Zhao Su had hit it off that day.

A few days passed like this, Consort Li had enough of his fussing, not being able to bear it any longer she could only go and ask the Prince of Yu to invite Zhao Su over.


Chen Zhu opened the wooden door of the small courtyard, when he saw Zhao Su sitting on the rattan chair, one hand holding《The Analects of Confucius》and the other hand was holding a skewer of meat over a small fire that he was flipping from side to side.

The sun above his head pierced through the rustling leaves and spread down to the mottled shadows of the trees, bringing a bit of refreshing warmth to the city of Beijing in autumn. The breeze gently brought up the tips of his sleeves, he was indeed comfortable and relaxed.

“You can smell the delicious meat without even stepping in!” Chen Zhu leaned forward and unceremoniously picked up the roasted meat on the side and tasted it.

“Another person here to come and share the meat. If I had known that I would have locked the door.” Zhao Su said depressed, but he was too lazy to move.

Chen Zhu sighed: “Shaoyong, you really know how to pass the days, even when you’re preparing for the exam, you haven’t forgotten to start a little barbecue. Whoever marries you in the future will be blessed.”

Zhao Su laughed loudly: “Bo Xun-xiong is so touched, why don’t you just be my wife!”

Chen Zhu glared at him: “You shouldn’t joke about these things, afterall, at your age, you should be getting engaged soon.”

Zhao Su said indifferently: “There’s no rush.”

Chen Zhu shook his head: “You may not be in a hurry, but your mother might have already arranged it in your place. They’re just waiting for you to pass the exam and then go home to attend the wedding.”

Zhao Su put his book down on the stone table, putting on an earnest face: “The Tartar problem hasn’t been resolved, and the Wukou have not been entirely extinguished, why get married?”

Chen Zhu nearly spat out the sweetcorn he had just put in his mouth: “Well, don’t ever get married then!”

Having said that, Chen Zhu felt secretly pleased in his heart, why would he be pleased, he couldn’t say why so he had to think about changing the subject, lest Zhao Su discover his embarrassment.

His eyes swept over to the table, he picked up the book and said, “This is the latest collection of examples? I heard that it was sold out as soon as it hit the market yesterday. How did you get it?”

“I borrowed it from Chen da-ren, but if you need it, you can take it to look over first.”

You mustn’t underestimate the knowledge of the ancient people, don’t think that there was no reference material before the exam in the Ming Dynasty. Zhao Su understood this point time and time again.
The so-called collection of examples is a collection of all the examination questions that had come up in the past few decades during the reign of Jiajing. This included the essays of those who have achieved jinshi in each round5Reminder: the Metropolitan and Court Examinations are held every three years in the Capital, and even the comments of the examiner was included in it. Every three years, there would be a new one just before the exam and was the most sought-after reference material on the market. Chen Yiqin had always liked collecting these things, so he had sent someone to wait at the door of the bookstore early and buy it as soon as they opened. And this actually worked out in Zhao Su’s favour.

In addition to this, there are other various exam revision materials on the market, From basic sample essays to more sophisticated examples with added comments and explanations to make it easier for the candidates to understand.

There is even a bet that opened early, betting on which of the Four Books and Five Classics will next year’s exam be based on. Since the test questions for the exam three years ago were taken from 《Doctrine of the Mean》, so the people betting on 《Doctrine of the Mean》 had also reached an alarming number this time.

All in all, the arena was very lively.

Chen Zhu shook his head: “ I still have a few pages to look over in 《The Great Learning》, so I’ll come back for it later.”

“That works too.”

Since cohabiting with Chen Zhu, Zhao Su found that this had helped his learning by leaps and bounds.

Take the Five Classics as an example. Originally, Zhao Su was also very familiar with it, but he always felt that something was missing. After discussing with Chen Zhu, he realized that he couldn’t do what Chen Zhu was doing – just pick a random topic from the books and write an eight-legged essay.
His own strengths lay in his original arguments, which were sometimes enough to surprise others, but Chen Zhu’s advantage lay in his down-to-earth, steady performance. The latter would be more pleasing to the examiner, because after all, not everyone likes candidates who make unconventional arguments.

After realizing these shortcomings, Zhao Su honestly followed the lead of Chen Zhu. He went to bed at youshi, recited books, memorized scriptures, memorized eight-legged essays, strengthened his feel for language, and laid a solid foundation.

Luck can’t always be on one’s side. It was like the situation with the provincial exam, this kind of luck wouldn’t happen again and Zhao Su had relied on this point.

As the two were talking, the door was suddenly slammed open, and his pageboy Zhao Rong ran in, sweating profusely, looking hurried.

“Shaoye, something bad has happened, Nuan shaoye has been arrested!”

Zhao Rong was originally Zhao Su’s pageboy. However, during this time, Zhao Nuan was busy with the shop, and often had to travel around. So, Zhao Su had told Zhao Rong to follow Zhao Nuan and help him out.

Zhao Su was stunned when he heard this: “How did it happen?”

“Yu da-ren was dismissed from office, and his whole family was exiled. They set off today. Maiden Yu was among them. Nuan shaoye was indignant and ran to the door of the government office to report injustice, but was arrested and put in prison!”

“Ridiculous!” Zhao Su twisted his eyebrows.

He had also heard about the case against Yu Che, an official of the Ministry of Justice. It was said that he had offended the Right Vice Minister of the Ministry of Justice, Yan Maoqing.

Yan Maoqing was a strict follower of the Yan family, and had helped Yan Song and his son to accumulate wealth. The result was obvious. Of course, it was Yu Che’s bad luck, but Yan Maoqing was ruthless in the beginning, that he wouldn’t even let off Yu Che’s family.

It’s just that Zhao Su didn’t expect that Zhao Nuan was so stupid that he ran to government building to make trouble. He didn’t have an official position or a status, he was just a commoner, so why would people care what he had to say?

Chen Zhu interrupted: “Where did he get caught? If it is the prison of Shuntian Prefecture Prison, then there is a chance we can help him!”

Zhao Rong stammered: “I, I heard that it’s the Embroidered Uniform Guard Imperial Prison.”

Zhao Su and Chen Zhu’s faces both dropped.

Zhao Su was shocked: “Impossible, why would the Embroidered Uniform Guard involve themselves in this, how would they have time for a commoner!”

Zhao Rong scratched his head but couldn’t tell why. He could only say that Zhao Nuan went to the government office alone, as he didn’t follow him. But after waiting for a long time, he didn’t see Zhao Nuan come back. So he asked around everywhere and finally found out that he had been taken to the Embroidered Uniform Guard Imperial Prison.  

Zhao Su felt that Zhao Nuan must have lost his head.

He hadn’t seen the woman, let alone what had happened between them, so of course he couldn’t understand why Zhao Nuan would do such a thing for a woman that he has only met a handful of times.
Chen Zhu turned his head and looked at Zhao Su: “…I heard that the Embroidered Uniform Guard Imperial Prison is not a good place.”

“…” Zhao Su’s face was pale, and he was speechless for a while.

Chen Zhu was speaking lightly. The Embroidered Uniform Guard Imperial Prison was not just “not a good place”. It is simply not a place for any human being to stay long. Because the Embroidered Uniform Guards had the right to directly torture and interrogate their suspects, even the Ministry of Justice, Imperial Court of Judicial Review had no jurisdiction over them. Back then, even the strong-willed Yang Jisheng6Reminder: He tried to impeach Yan Song by presenting a memorial to the Emperor but got himself executed instead. Zhao Su’s teacher tried to save him and that’s why he was dismissed from his post. YJS is a real person in history, ZS teacher is made up by the author. was tortured to death there, let alone Zhao Nuan who was just a commoner, who would care if he lived or died.

“Su shaoye, don’t be distracted, quick think about how to save our young master!” Zhao Nuan’s pageboy was almost in tears.

Zhao Su slowly said: “What can I do? Ordinary people can’t get into the Embroidered Uniform Guard Imperial Prison. The person he offended is the right assistant minister of the Ministry of Justice, an official of the second rank7Reminder: Officials are ranked from 1st-9th with first-rank officials being the highest. Their rank affected the salary and authority., and an ally of Yan Song. What could I possibly do?”

“Then, then what should we do! If this gets back to Changle, laoye8 he is referring to Zhao Shenyu, Zhao Nuan’s dad here. will be furious!”
13/12/21 – Notes added.
28/12/21 – ‘Uniform’ added to Embroidered Uniform Guard.

4 thoughts on “All Under Heaven – Chapter 19”

  1. I was happily ship Zhao Su and Chen Zhu, and then *BOOM* little bunny Zhao Nuan in prison. What’s happening here? D:

  2. translator sorry for the question, but will the MC marry some noblewoman? or ML?

    Thanks for the translation<3

  3. Zhao Nuan…how did you even manage that…

    thanks for the update! its cool to see things start taking shape.


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