TIGR Chapter 39
The Imperial Guard’s Revenge
Chapter 39 Promotion
Lu Heng smiled and didn’t say what Wang Yanqing should do if she wasn’t the Miss of the Lu family. He put down the tea cup and said: “It’s getting late, you’ve been tired all night, go to sleep.”
Lu Heng didn’t say anything, and Wang Yanqing also stopped asking. She got up and wished Lu Heng softly: “I’m leaving first. Second Brother, rest early too.”
After the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, the atmosphere of Chinese New Year gradually dissipated and life returned to normal. Wang Yanqing did not go out for a few days, and stayed at home to read and write with peace of mind. When she leaned on the couch to bask in the sun, she had no idea that someone outside the Lu residence was looking for her.
Fu Tingzhou searched the city for five days. At first, he searched for women who lived alone renting a house in the capital, and later expanded to teenagers, brothers and sisters, and even young couples, but none of them were Wang Yanqing. Fu Tingzhou repeatedly rushed at thin air, and his heart became more and more irritable. Chen Shi was making trouble in the Marquis residence and Fu Tingzhou felt incessantly agitated, there were several times he just wanted to quit.
At this time, he especially missed Wang Yanqing.
Fu Tingzhou grew up in front of the Old Marquis and was not close to his parents, so he didn’t agree with Fu Chang and Chen’s behavior from the bottom of his heart. Several younger sisters were raised by Chen Shi, and one could only imagine what it was like. Fu Tingzhou had an average relationship with the Fu family brothers and sisters. The only people who were really close to him were the Old Marquis and Wang Yanqing.
Now, the Old Marquis has passed away from illness, Qing Qing has left, and he is the only one left in the huge Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion. Fu Tingzhou’s heart seemed to be empty, and the cold wind kept pouring in from the gap, blowing his whole body cold and barren.
Standing in the Marquis Mansion, he suddenly felt at a loss. This was his home, but he felt that he had nowhere to go.
In a short time, five endless days passed, and the Imperial Court resumed its previous state. Today was the first day of work after New Year. Even if Fu Tingzhou had absolutely no mind to run errands at all, he had to take command of the military forces at Nancheng and put on a conventional appearance.
In the official office, everyone congratulated each other when they met, and they were beaming with joy. When a colleague saw Fu Tingzhou, he was startled and asked in surprise: “Marquis of Zhenyuan? What happened to you, why don’t you look so good?”
Fu Tingzhou smiled reluctantly and said: “I didn’t sleep well last night.”
Fu Tingzhou didn’t want to talk more, and his colleagues politely said a few words when they saw him, but didn’t ask any further questions. Fu Tingzhou walked into the military division and tried to divert his attention by reading official documents, but only scanned two lines and couldn’t read anymore.
He had already checked all the people who rented, bought, and sold houses in the twelfth month, and there was no Qing Qing among them. Could it be that Qing Qing had the intention of leaving long before they were attacked on their trip to give incense?
Fu Tingzhou felt a splitting headache just thinking about this, and the hole in his chest almost drove him crazy.
Fu Tingzhou’s face was sullen, with the air of an unfamiliar aura to the others that hadn’t recovered from their annual leave and spoke with joy. The officials had no intention of doing their errands. Anyway, the first day of the new year was nothing to worry about. They got together and passed the time gossiping.
“I heard that the first imperial decree issued by the palace this year was two promotional orders?”
“That’s right.” Another person pouted and spoke with an unclear tone of either envy or regret, “The first thing in the new year, of course, must be full of joy. Old Zhang Ge will be promoted to a scholar of the Jinshen Temple, and Lu Heng will be given the command of the Imperial Guards.”
At the beginning of the twelfth year of Jiajing, the courtroom was cut down unprecedentedly. Zhao Huai, the Minister of Rites, accepted bribes from the “eight tigers”. Many of Zhao Huai’s old friends were found to be corrupt, and they were impeached. In the end, Zhao Huai’s teacher, Yang Yingning, was to blame and resigned.
The Head Auxiliary retired, the cabinet was empty, and many important positions in the six departments were also vacant. The officials had a premonition before the holiday, and sure enough, as soon as the court resumed, a new round of merit and deeds rewards began.
When the political struggle failed, Yang Yingning’s party members and officials who had supported Yang Ting were all decentralized. Correspondingly, many people who won the battle rose. In this big liquidation, the people who deserved the most credit were undoubtedly two, Lu Heng, the commander of the South Fusi Division who found the evidence, and Zhang Jinggong, the Second Assistant who successfully brought down Yang Yingning.
Zhang Jinggong was naturally promoted to the rank of Palace Hall Scholar, while serving as the high official of the Ministry of Appointments, and had become the cabinet Head Auxiliary. Nowadays, everyone in the court and the opposition must respect Zhang Jinggong and call him “Old Zhang Ge”. At the same time, under the transfer order of the Imperial Guards, Lu Heng was officially promoted to the official rank of the third grade, and actually awarded the post of commander to manage the affairs of the Imperial Guards.
In the court, some people were happy and some people were sad. Although Fu Tingzhou had not seen it himself, it was not difficult to imagine that the cabinet and South Fusi must be very lively now. The fresh new Head Auxiliary and the young and promising commander of the Imperial Guards, no matter what everyone thought in their hearts, they must be respectful.
The coming of these two people undoubtedly showed that the era of Hongzhi and Zhengde had completely passed, and the new era of Jiajing had begun.
When everyone in the Nancheng army and calvary division heard that Lu Heng had been promoted again, they felt conflicted in their hearts. They were also military officials. They had been in the circle of the capital since they were young, and they understood how difficult it was for military generals to be promoted. Military generals were different from civil officials. Military generals were more heroes created by the times. If they encountered an opportunity, it was common for them to fly into the sky and seal the earth. If they failed to meet the opportunity then they could only be a peaceful official for a lifetime.
The Ming Dynasty had serious border troubles, with wars all year round. The Dukes and Marquis of the capital often went to and from the battlefield. Compared with other dynasties, they were considered to be very successful. But compared with Lu Heng, they became dim stars, and they had nowhere to hide under Lu Heng’s light.
The courtroom was full of Imperial Guard spies, they didn’t dare to speak too deeply, and sighed half meaningfully: “The first time the imperial pen was used in the new year, the emperor promoted the two of them, which is really good luck. Zhang Jinggong is Head Auxiliary. He has been working hard for more than 20 years, so let’s not talk about it. Lu Heng is only 23 years old this year, right?”
Zhang Jinggong had a few talents, but the road to the imperial examination was not smooth. He took the test seven times before finally passing the exam. He was already forty-seven years old when he entered the office. He had been through ups and downs in the Zhengde Dynasty for a long time, and never once was he placed in an important position. Finally, Zhang Jinggong’s fate ushered a turning point in the Jiajing Dynasty. He became famous in one fell swoop by virtue of the great ceremony and won the favor of the emperor. Since then, he has been promoted all the way to a high official. Even so, he waited for twelve years before finally becoming Head Auxiliary.
As for Lu Heng, at only twenty-three years old, he was already on par with Zhang Jinggong. The children of military officials of the same age as him had just entered the office, and the children of civilian families were even still taking scientific examinations. When they went to court, those who stood around Lu Heng were all people who were old enough to be his father or even his grandfather. He and the emperor were considered to be of the very few young people in the morning court.
People like Fu Tingzhou who skipped his father’s enthronement were a special case, and he was also a rare young man in the court. However, his and Lu Heng’s starting points were completely different. Lu Heng was directly commanded by the emperor. If he had any words, he would go straight to the highest level, and he would speak of anything shady thing he saw while reporting the errand. On the other hand, Fu Tingzhou still had layers of superiors, and it would be difficult to meet the emperor by leaps and bounds.
In terms of age, Fu Tingzhou and Lu Heng were of the same level, but in officialdom, Lu Heng and Zhang Jinggong were of the same level.
Fu Tingzhou did not participate in the discussion and he sighed in his heart. Among the people in the capital, the only one Fu Tingzhou was afraid of was Lu Heng.
Fu Tingzhou didn’t know whether to sigh that Lu Heng was lucky or strong. Lu Heng had simply gathered all the benefits of being in the right time at the right place. In terms of position, he and the emperor were playmates who grew up together. Lu Heng’s father was the guard of the Xing Monarch Mansion, and his mother was the emperor’s wet nurse. Their childhood friendship was unparalleled. In terms of geographical advantages, their family just caught up with the change of dynasties and the emperor ascended the throne. In urgent need of manpower, the Lu family took advantage of the wind during the ceremony. He was smart and capable, and he was very good at figuring out what he wanted to know, which filled the emperor’s loneliness with a friend he could confide in.
Although the capital was large, the people the emperor could come into contact with every day were either eunuchs, fifty to sixty-year-old cabinet scholars, or local nobles in the capital. The emperor was almost twenty-six years old this year. What could he have in common with these people? In the civil and military dynasties, it seemed that only in front of Lu Heng could the emperor say a few commonplace words.
With the mouth of a treacherous minister, the brain of a capable minister, and the intimacy of a eunuch, no wonder the emperor used Lu Heng so much.
This kind of experience could not be replicated, and he may not be able to produce another like him in a hundred years. Fu Tingzhou just thought about it for a moment and then put it aside. No matter how lucky Lu Heng was, it had nothing to do with Fu Tingzhou. What Fu Tingzhou cared about now was Wang Yanqing.
The other military officials of the military division sighed for a while and slowly talked about other things. One of them lowered his voice and said mysteriously: “Have you heard, the palace seems to be intending to cut nobility.”
Fu Tingzhou was planning to go out, but hearing this, he couldn’t help but keep a listening ear. It was no trivial matter to cut titles, and their family had a title, what was going on?
This was big news, everyone was interested, and hurriedly asked: “Is this true?”
“Completely. Many people have received the news.”
Everyone in the court relied on holy will to eat, and the occurrences in the palace were especially important. Except for someone like Lu Heng who mastered the news channel, the others could only rely on a eunuch to pass on information. This was especially a test of the family’s wealth. The connections in the palace would not be able to operate for a while, and more often, outsiders could not get information even if they had money.
At this time, the difference between old-fashioned nobles such as the Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion and the Wuding Marquis Mansion was revealed. The Wuding Marquis Mansion had several princesses and concubines, and they had a wide range of connections in the palace. They could get first-hand news with a little wind and grass. However, the Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion was excluded, and Fu Tingzhou had to rely on talking with his colleagues to find out about the news of the cut.
Fu Tingzhou couldn’t help but stop and listen carefully to the next words.
The person who asked the question was very concerned about this, and immediately asked: “Why? Everything is fine now, how did the palace give birth to such a thought?”
The first person to speak winked his eyes and smiled meaningfully: “It’s not for the public pursue. He has been investigating corrupt officials since last year, and now, the palace plans to clean up the worms in the warehouse. This time, the above mainly wants to reform the seal of foreign relatives.”
The audience all showed an understanding look, exchanged glances with each other, and smiled without saying a word. The Ming Dynasty was very wary of foreign relatives, and each dynasty strictly restricted their descendants, except for the Hongzhi Emperor. To say that it was to rectify relatives was actually to rectify the Zhang family because other than their family, no family in the court relied on their daughter to seal the marquis position.
Even Fu Tingzhou was relieved when he heard this, he stopped paying attention to these trivial matters, and found an excuse to go out. The emperor was targeting the Zhang family this time, and he could rest assured that he would not burn the Zhenyuan Marquis Mansion.
At this time in the Ciqing Palace, brothers Zhang Heling and Zhang Yanling were complaining in front of Empress Zhang.
“Empress, you have to give us the position. The position of Marquis in the Zhang family was sealed by Emperor Xiaozong. I took over the title of Marquis of Shouning from my father. For many years, I have been cautious and shared my worries with you. I have never taken a wrong step. Now they are going to remove the title of the Zhang family for no reason. How can there be such a thing?”
“That’s right.” Zhang Yanling took the words of his elder brother and said, “When Emperor Xiaozong was alive, we went in and out of the palace and had banquets with Xiaozong, elder sister, and crown prince. We were like a family, what a joy! Now that Emperor Xiaozong and Emperor Wuzong are gone, they want to take away Xiaozong’s reward, don’t they think about you?”
The more Empress Zhang listened, the angrier she became. She was in the harem, and news did not travel well, so she had to rely on her younger brothers to remind her that the emperor intended to get rid of foreign relatives. The Jiang family had also received a lot of rewards. If the emperor really served the country and the people, why wasn’t the Jiang family’s official position removed, but instead he came to embarrass the Zhang family?
Empress Zhang was trembling with anger. This must have been Jiang’s idea. It was not enough for Jiang to target her everywhere in the harem, she even wanted to persecute her relatives!
These white-eyed wolves, if it weren’t for her, both mother and son would still be suffering in the backcountry. She was the one who brought Xing Monarch to the capital, and she made Xing Monarch the emperor. Without her, the emperor would only be a king in a foreign field, and he probably wouldn’t even know what the capital looked like. She had so much kindness for the emperor, and the emperor was not grateful to her, yet dares to avenge her kindness?
The brothers Zhang Heling and Zhang Yanling cried together. They were all getting old. At this moment, they complained to Empress Zhang like a child, and Empress Zhang also felt sad.
She had only two younger brothers and she became the empress dowager. What happened to the support of the mother’s family? She just wanted her mother’s family to have a title, and some money to spend, who did this even bother.
She couldn’t help remembering that when Emperor Hongzhi was still alive, the Zhang family went into and out of the forbidden court at will as if they were in their own home. At a banquet, Emperor Hongzhi saw that his tableware was gold while his father-in-law and mother-in-law’s bowls and chopsticks were silver. He felt very guilty and asked someone to give his gold tableware to the Zhang family on the spot. Zhang Luan used the emperor’s gold tableware in his own home, and everything was as good as the emperor’s so the scenery was decent. And now, the son of a feudal king dared to ruin the Zhang family’s dignity.
Empress Zhang thought that the sadness began here. The first half of her life was smooth sailing. When Emperor Hongzhi was alive, she was the only woman, and there were no concubines in the harem. She gave birth to a son who became the emperor smoothly without fighting for the throne. Empress Zhang always thought that she was the most fortunate woman in the world. She was born to enjoy happiness in this world. She did not expect that the hardships she had never experienced in the first half of her life would be left for her to savor in the second half of her life.
Empress Zhang grieved deeply and burst into tears: “Xiaozong and Zhao left early, leaving me alone to suffer in this world. If only I knew about today. At that time, what harm was there in receiving from Emperor Xiaozong?”
When Zhang Heling and Zhang Yanling heard this, they both cried when they thought of the image of the Zhang family when Emperor Hongzhi was alive compared to today. The three, brothers and sister burst into tears, and Qin Xiang’er, the female official serving in the Ciqing Palace, quietly went out. Guessing that they were almost done crying, she came in with hot water and said: “Empress, Duke of Changguo, Marquis of Jianchang, you are are all decent people and others just can’t see that well, so please wipe away your tears.”
Empress Zhang was also tired of crying. She was Empress Dowager and regarded herself as the real mistress of the palace. How could she let the people on the other side of the West Palace see her as weak? Empress Zhang nodded in agreement, and went into the inner room to re-dress. Zhang Heling and Zhang Yanling were also taken down by the palace servants, and they were arranged in another palace.
Qin Xiang’er stood beside Empress Zhang, wetted the handkerchief herself, and handed it to Empress Zhang to wipe her face. The water temperature was neither cold nor hot, and the handkerchief was twisted just right, so it was very comfortable to apply to her face. After Empress Zhang wiped away the tears, she regained the respect of Empress Dowager. A palace maid came inside to re-apply powder to Empress Dowager Zhang and Qin Xianger went out to pour water. She stopped a palace maid who was passing by and asked: “Where are the Duke of Chang Guo and the Marquis of Jianchang?”
The palace maid pointed to the lower main hall and said: “The Duke of Chang Guo is just waiting for the Empress inside, and the Marquis of Jianchang has not returned.”
Men didn’t need to put on makeup. After so long, the Marquis of Jianchang hadn’t finished cleaning up yet? Qin Xiang’er frowned slightly, handed the water basin to the little palace maid behind her, and tapped: “You are all smart, hurry up and exchange hot water for tea, don’t neglect the Duke of Chang Guo and the Marquis of Jianchang.”
The palace girl bowed, hurriedly lowered her head, and ran away. Qin Xiang’er walked to the palace where Zhang Yanling was changing clothes. When she walked to the place, she found that the doors and windows were closed tightly. With her face still, she raised her hand and knocked on the door crisply and forcefully: “Marquis of Jianchang, the Empress is back, have you sorted it all out?”
There seemed to be some noise inside, ping-pong ping-pong, as if something had fallen to the ground. After a while, the hall door opened, revealing Zhang Yanling from behind.
The traces of wiping could be seen on Zhang Yanling’s face, and his eyes were slightly red and swollen, with blood streaks in the whites of his eyes, making his eyes more and more cloudy. He would be fifty years old in a few years, his stomach gained weight, the muscles on his face were sagging, and deep ravines appeared around his eyes. He was no longer young. But based on the appearance of his bones, it could be told that his skin was pretty good when he was young.
Empress Zhang was selected as the Crown Princess and she was only favored for many years after that. In addition to the factor of Emperor Hongzhi’s childhood, Empress Zhang’s beauty was also a very important reason. If the elder sister was good-looking, the younger brother was naturally not bad.
Zhang Yanling’s face seemed a little unhappy, but when she saw Qin Xiang’er, he held back and asked: “The Empress is back so soon?”
Qin Xiang’er lowered her eyebrows and replied with a straight face: “The Empress has not seen the Marquis of Jianchang in a long time, so she sent me to ask.”
After all, this was the palace. Zhang Yanling threw up his sleeves in disappointment, adjusted his belt, and strode out. Qin Xiang’er stepped aside, maintained her etiquette steadily, and gestured for Zhang Yanling to leave. After Zhang Yanling walked away, she stood up slowly and looked inside.
A little palace maid knelt on the ground, her body shivering. Not far away, there was also a basin of overturned water.
Qin Xiang’er didn’t say anything, and with longstanding power, she said solemnly: “Hurry up and do the errands.”
The little palace maid hurriedly bowed to Qin Xiang’er and ran out trembling.
After Zhang Yanling returned to the main hall, he happened to run into Empress Zhang coming out of the inner room. He was afraid that his sister would investigate further, so he didn’t mention what happened just now after sitting down. Empress Zhang had another conversation with her two younger brothers. In conclusion, it was nothing more than nostalgia for the past and grief for the present. Zhang Heling and Zhang Yanling coaxed and pestered. Empress Zhang was soft-hearted and promised that she would take care of the matter of the title until one day when no one would be able to move the Zhang family.
Zhang Heling and Zhang Yanling returned with satisfaction. After the two brothers left, Empress Zhang sat in the inner hall and sighed, saying: “I really recruited a pack of wolves, and they didn’t think about it, but without me, where would they be now?”
Empress Dowager Zhang did not name specific people, but it was not hard to guess that she was complaining about the emperor and Empress Jiang again. Qin Xiang’er lowered her face, looked at her nose and heart, and refused to answer easily. Empress Zhang cursed for a while, but no matter how much she regretted it, she couldn’t put the emperor back in Anlu. The matter of the Zhang family title still had to be resolved. Empress Zhang endured her anger and said: “Qin Xiang’er, go to the Qianqing Palace and find the emperor.”
Qin Xiang’er obeyed the order: “Yes.”
In the Cining Palace, the emperor was greeting Empress Jiang. When he heard the message from the palace servant, he didn’t take it to heart at all: “I’m not meeting her.”
Empress Jiang leaned on the pillow and coughed, her voice was weak, and trailed on: “Emperor, after all, that is the female official beside Empress Zhang. Did the female official say why Empress Zhang was looking for the emperor?”
The emperor snorted, with mockery in his eyes: “What else could it be? Today, the Duke of Chang Guo and the Marquis of Jianchang entered the palace. I heard that they cried for a long time in the Ciqing Palace. A group of idiots without self-knowledge. I do whatever I want, can they tell me what to do?”
Empress Jiang was silent after hearing this. Empress Zhang indulged her family with wanton profit and encroached on a lot of fields, shops, and official camps. From the time of Emperor Hongzhi, the treasury was empty.
The treasury had no money, and the emperor was stretched to do everything. While filling his own private treasury in Taicang, the emperor tried to solve the problem of the empty state treasury. The largest source of the national treasury was taxation, but the cultivated land was young and seemed to have a year’s harvest. If the country could not collect taxes, the national treasury would have no money. If the national treasury had no money, the emperor would not be able to implement decrees, and it would gradually become a hopeless situation.
The Ming Dynasty had not lost its land so far, so how could there be less cultivated land? The emperor’s heart was clear, it was because the increasingly large group of nobles annexed land, resulting in less tax to the national treasury. While the emperor planned to recalculate the land, he was raking in oil and water from the officials. Years ago, he raided the homes of several officials in a row, and finally solved the urgent needs of the national treasury, but it was not enough.
The emperor quickly set his sights on the Zhang family. He had endured the Zhang family for a long time. The Zhang family didn’t quickly pay for their wealth and save their lives and the Zhang family even dared to enter the palace to argue?
They were really courageous.
Empress Jiang’s illness was getting worse day by day. The emperor was in a bad mood and had no intention to deal with Empress Zhang at all. He was unmoved, and said coldly: “I don’t like idlers, send them back.”
Empress Jiang was weak, and panted while persuading: “After all, she graced you with the title, you have done too much, and outsiders want to talk to you again. Go over and take a look.”
Empress Jiang persuaded him and the emperor could not bear to worry his mother, so he had to go to the East Palace. After the emperor left, the palace maid knelt on her feet, carefully taking care of Empress Jiang: “Empress, the medicine is here.”
Empress Jiang was supported by the hand of the palace maid and tried her best to drink the medicine. Seeing that Empress Jiang was seriously ill, the palace maid couldn’t help but complain: “Empress, it is rare for the emperor to come here, why did you send the emperor to the East Palace?”
Empress Jiang swallowed the dark soup and said weakly: “I know my body, and it will most likely be this year. I am old, but the emperor is too young to be left behind.”
The palace maid wanted to comfort Empress Jiang, but she couldn’t say what she wanted and could only let out a long sigh. Empress Jiang drank the medicine with difficulty, and leaned on the pillow to ease her breathing. She looked at the young and bright palace maids who were traveling in and out, and said quietly: “That one, she went so smoothly, I feel that everyone in the world should praise her. She will live longer than me, but I am afraid she may not be more comfortable than me when she dies. It’s not that I don’t want to announce it, the time has not yet come. For the time being, you should watch her.”
Empress Zhang and the emperor didn’t know what they said, but they broke up unhappily in the end anyway. When the emperor came out of the Ciqing Palace, his face was very bad, and there was no follow-up to the matter of removing the foreign relatives.
Everyone in the palace thought this matter was over. After all, Empress Zhang was the Empress Dowager of two dynasties and the emperor’s benefactor. The emperor could not openly disobey Empress Zhang.
The council, brother Zhang Heling and even Empress Zhang all thought so.
At the end of the first month, the weather gradually warmed up. One night, Empress Zhang felt cold and woke up in the middle of the night. She opened her eyes and found that the room was cold and her throat was dry and sore. Empress Zhang was displeased. Who was on duty today and why was she so negligent?
Empress Zhang called for water, but after shouting several times, no one came in. Empress Zhang became angrier and angrier, but she was so thirsty that she could only get up by herself and go to the ground to pour tea to drink.
The teapot on the table had been left in the middle of the night and had already cooled down. Now that Empress Zhang couldn’t take it anymore, she groped in the dark to pour a glass and drank a cup of cold tea into her throat. The dryness in her throat finally eased, but Empress Zhang still felt a little cold. Empress Zhang looked around and found that the window was open, and the cold wind was pouring in. No wonder she felt cold.
Now that there was no palace maid, Empress Zhang could only close the window by herself. When Empress Zhang approached, she vaguely saw a white shadow dangling outside the window. Empress Zhang was startled, and when she looked closely, she found that a white ribbon was blown from somewhere, hanging on the eaves of the window, and swaying with the wind.
The shadow that Empress Zhang saw just now was this ribbon.
Empress Zhang breathed a long sigh of relief and then she was furious. She had already planned to sentence the palace maid to a night watch. The palace maid on duty at night was so neglectful that she deserved death. Empress Zhang closed the window, turned around in anger, and suddenly saw a woman in white standing behind her.
Her hair was disheveled, her body was covered in blood, her tongue stuck out from her mouth, and her bloody eyes were staring at Empress Zhang motionlessly.
Empress Zhang was so frightened that she couldn’t even speak. At this time, the white-clothed female ghost approached step by step, and said: “How did I offend you, why did you kill me?”
The female ghost in white spoke as she stretched out her long fingernails, almost scratching Empress Zhang’s face. Empress Zhang finally reacted and screamed. She took two steps back one after another, fell to the ground, and fainted.
Empress Zhang fainted on the ground in the middle of the night. The next day the maid on night watch got up to check, only to find that the Empress Dowager had fallen to the ground. They hurriedly moved Empress Zhang back to the bed and hurriedly called the imperial doctor. Unexpectedly, when Empress Zhang woke up, she said that there was a ghost in the palace, and she would scold any palace maid she saw, “how dare you hurt me”. The palace ladies were frightened by Empress Zhang’s abnormality, and soon, news that the Ciqing Palace was haunted spread like wildfire.
The emperor laughed disdainfully when he heard that Empress Zhang had met a ghost and fallen ill. It would be too stupid to threaten him by pretending to be sick. However, after more than ten days, instead of calming down, the rumors of ghosts in the palace intensified.
Ever since Empress Zhang encountered the ghost, she kept the maids from leaving at night, and asked five or six people to take turns to watch the night. She even asked the eunuchs to carry lamps and patrol outside the Ciqing Palace day and night. The maids did not dare to disobey the empress, so they had to work during the day and wait in the palace at night to serve Empress Zhang.
The palace maids were having fun, thinking that they were doing pretty good, but the eunuchs outside were cold all night and couldn’t sleep, so they were miserable.
Unexpectedly, the guards of the Ciqing Palace were so tight that they bumped into a ghost again. This time, five or six people saw the ghost together. Empress Zhang fainted with fright, and the palace maids were in a state of panic. Rumors of haunted houses were rampant in the palace, and even Empress Jiang heard them.
After listening to the eunuch’s report, the emperor frowned and asked: “Are you sure it’s not someone from the Ciqing Palace who is doing the trick?”
“It is not. The eunuch who reported the matter was also very flustered, and said trembling, “The eunuchs of the Ciqing Palace are patrolling outside all day, and even if one wanted to play a trick, he couldn’t get away. What’s more, Empress Zhang and the five palace maids heard the cry of the female ghost, and they couldn’t fake that.”
The emperor believed him and after listening to the eunuch’s true words, he was also a little shaken. The emperor thought for a while and said: “Go and call Lu Heng.”