He was so arrogant and so conceited that he never realized, from beginning to end, he was the one in her grasp.
After Rong Heng returned to the hotel, he recalled today’s events, constantly feeling that something was odd.
Thinking about it carefully, the Guanyin jade pendant should have been taken by Rong Ting from his hidden room while he was not paying attention. He confirmed it when he saw that jade pendant today. With Rong Ting’s character, he would definitely not say nothing, even if Rong Heng was currently in an “amnesiac” state. That could only mean one thing–the jade pendant had been deliberately placed there by Rong Ting.
He knew that his son was very smart. Whether it be in his learning or vision, both were far above him when he was his age. But he didn’t expect that it was not Song Yuan who doubted him, not Song Haiping or Chen Linjing who doubted him, but rather his son who was not yet six years old. Furthermore, he even used such methods to test him.
For a while, Rong Heng didn’t know whether he should laugh or not.
He was a bit curious as to what conclusion Rong Ting reached.
Based on his understanding of Rong Ting, he mused, he would probably tell her, or he had already told her. With that assumption, her behavior today seemed to make sense. A mother and son were close by nature. Even if he had spent more time with Rong Ting, in the deepest depths of his heart, Rong Ting would still lean towards her and favor her more.
He had considered every possible situation beforehand. Now that Rong Ting doubted him or concluded that he was pretending to have amnesia, he knew how to respond to it. What made him more nervous was whether or not the diamond-stud earrings had been seen by her.
If she saw, would she like them?
If she didn’t see, when would she see them?
Rong Heng picked up the phone and lit up the screen to check the time. It was now half past eight, almost an hour since he’d left. Had she not gone to the bathroom during this period of time?
He waited and waited and waited, waiting until nine. He checked WeChat–she hadn’t sent him any messages, and she hadn’t given him any calls. At this point, she should already have finished washing up. Could it be that she really hadn’t seen it? Could it be that he’d placed it somewhere that wasn’t easily seen, and she hadn’t spotted it?
He stood up and paced around the suite. When he passed by the floor-to-ceiling mirror and caught a glimpse of his anxious expression, he couldn’t help feeling stunned.
How long had it been since he’d worried about personal gains and losses1 like this?
He suddenly recalled that year. At that time, she had not known his identity, and they had only just made known their mutual affections. Her thoughts were different from those of other people. She had a straightforward temper and spoke what she thought; occasionally, when she was dissatisfied by something he said, she would dispute with him. At that time, he had only treated her as the General estate’s adopted daughter. Hearing her express her weariness towards the feudal era and her dissatisfaction with the dynasty’s rules, he was shocked. He couldn’t help but want to suppress her temper, want her to be cautious with her words and deeds, want her to become steadier. A quarrel was inevitable. Once–he forgot the cause of it–the two had quarreled fiercely, neither submitting to the other. He had never humbled himself before others, and he had left in anger.
As for her, she had deliberately used words to provoke him. “Go, go! Go and don’t come back!”
Where had he ever heard such words in his life? Enraged, he returned to the Eastern Palace and smashed a set of teaware. Unable to dispel the fire in his heart, he lay awake that night, tossing and turning. He was the crown prince, the future master of the world. Who would ask him to bow his head?
A few days later, the anger gradually faded, from a great fire, to moderate, to small. Finally, there wasn’t even a spark. He missed her in his heart, and he could only dejectedly head to the General’s estate to look for her once again. At that time, he thought, if she was also upset2, he would forgive her. After all, as a man, what was the point of being angry with his woman?
And the result? He found her playing mahjong with someone, looking quite happy and indulging in leisure. Let alone a lack of furrowed brows, even her face was a healthy red. Where was there any bit of anxiety over not seeing him for several days?
He had gotten angry and turned to leave. He hadn’t taken a few steps before he stopped and laughed helplessly.
It was because she had come out of the house at some unknown point in time, leaning against the door frame. She complained to him as though she’d lost her memory, “Ziheng, I lost a lot of money, I have no money.”
Thinking back on it now, at that time, he had always thought that everything was in his grasp. He was so confident, so arrogant and so conceited that he never realized, from beginning to end, he was the one in her grasp.
Rong Ting couldn’t sleep at night as he tossed around. Perhaps because he had eaten too much at night, he felt quite bloated, so he simply got up, ready to practice calligraphy and read. The electric lights here were very bright, so reading at night would not hurt his eyes. He got up, and as he passed by Song Yuan’s room, he discovered light filtering through the crack in the door. He guessed that she was not yet asleep. Recalling what had happened this afternoon, he gritted his teeth, then raised his hand and knocked on the door. “Empress Mother, are you sleeping?”
Song Yuan was still in a daze. Hearing her son’s voice through the door, she hurriedly sat up. “I’m not sleeping yet, but I won’t stay up late!”
She had none of the dignity of a mother. Usually, she would sneak onto the Internet at night like a thief, fearing that her son would find out and badger her again.
“Empress Mother, I cannot sleep either. May I come in and chat with you?”
Song Yuan was surprised. “Ah, then come in ba!”
Only then did Rong Ting open the door and come in. Song Yuan pulled open the quilt and patted the spot beside her. “Come here, come up ba. Lie down with Mom, don’t catch a cold.”
Rong Ting still felt somewhat embarrassed. He felt he had grown so big, yet he was still sleeping in the same bed as Empress Mother…
The next second, he decisively kicked off his slippers, climbed onto the bed, and sat honestly next to Empress Mother, his ears still a little red.
“Why can’t you sleep ah?” Song Yuan covered him with the quilt and placed a pillow beneath him before asking.
He had been very excited just before, but hearing this question at this moment, he recalled what happened today, and his expression dimmed. He lowered his head, and after a long moment he slowly spoke. “Empress Mother, I have sinned. I committed the crime of deceiving the monarch.”
“The crime of deceiving the monarch? So it has something to do with your Emperor Father ah.”
“En! I deceived Emperor Father.”
“Tell me what’s the matter.” Song Yuan’s tone was relaxed. “If it’s not a big deal, then forget about it. How many people haven’t lied to their parents?”
Thinking that she could lie in bed and chat with her son like this, she felt happy and content.
Rong Ting shot her a hesitant glance. “But even though I lied to Father Emperor, Father Emperor was also not honest with me. I am guilty of the crime of deceiving the monarch, but he has also violated the saying that the monarch does not go back on his word4.”
“Just what happened, say it straight ba. It sounds confusing5 to me.”
Rong Ting resolved himself. When he knocked on Empress Mother’s door, he had already planned to tell Empress Mother about this matter. Naturally, he would not cower at this critical point.
“I do not think Emperor Father has amnesia. In the beginning, I felt it was a bit strange, but I was not certain until Empress Mother brought back the plum blossoms that day. Empress Mother, Emperor Father has a hidden room. I accidentally discovered it once, and then I would go in to look when Emperor Father was not paying attention. There are many portraits of Empress Mother in Emperor Father’s hidden room. In these portraits, there are often plum blossoms. The palace has a garden of plum trees, and the old palace maid once told me that Empress Mother often went for a walk in that garden in the past.
“If Emperor Father does have amnesia, why would he send plum blossoms? Was it a coincidence? I wanted to know if my guess was correct, so I placed the jade pendant I took from Emperor Father’s hidden room under my book. Emperor Father was clearly very surprised when he saw the jade pendant! If Emperor Father lost his memories, how could he recognize this Guanyin jade pendant? That is clearly illogical.
“In short, Empress Mother, I suspect that Emperor Father does not have amnesia, or he has already recovered his memories.”
Rong Ting was puzzled. “Empress Mother, why would Emperor Father do this? Why would he lie?” He paused, then asked, “Just what kind of person is Emperor Father?”
Song Yuan was lost in thought.
She was thinking about how to answer this question.
From there, she thought of her mother. She had always known that her parents’ marriage had ended due to her father’s infidelity, but in all these years, her mother had never told her that her father was not good, nor did her mother prevent her father from visiting her. Now that she was a mother, she could somewhat understand her mother’s thoughts. Adults’ affairs were adults’ affairs; they had nothing to do with the children. The most important thing was that one could not easily place blame on the child’s parents; it would hurt the child too much.
No matter what, she did not wish for Rong Ting to hate his Emperor Father.
He was not her weapon against Rong Heng.
“I think that lies can be divided into three types: white lies, malicious lies, and unintentional lies. Maybe your Emperor Father has his own difficulties and issues that he needs to consider, and that is why he did this.” Song Yuan squeezed his chubby fists, saying quietly, “You should know best what kind of person he is ah. As a father, he loves you. When I was away, you grew up well and became a good and amazing child. Doesn’t this prove that he is responsible?”
Rong Heng gave a sullen grunt.
“As a ruler, you should also know. He is a wise ruler, a good emperor. He cares for the common people, and he has proven himself as a ruler of the people, right?”
Song Yuan laughed. “You see? You know what kind of person he is ah. Not to mention anything else, I think that as a father and as an emperor, he is qualified.”
“And as a husband?” Rong Ting asked curiously.
Song Yuan froze for a moment before returning to her senses and softly pinching his face. “That’s something between me and him. I think it’ll be hard to say for sure for a while. But, I hope that my kid can be more honest.”
Rong Ting was still lost in his own world, pondering Empress Mother’s words. Of course, his response was to ask curiously, “Empress Mother, why aren’t you surprised?”
Emperor Father was very likely to be faking amnesia. He was lying ah! Why didn’t Empress Mother seem to find it strange?
Song Yuan tilted her head in thought. She said very calmly, “I think I’m already used to it.”
 患得患失: to worry about personal gains and losses
 愁眉不展: with a worried frown
 乐不思蜀: to indulge in pleasure and forget home and duty
 君无戏言: a king’s words are not said in jest
 云里雾里: amidst the clouds and mist; mystified or puzzled
Cheese: my goodness, idk if it’s just me, but i found rong heng’s thought process in the beginning so especially despicable, especially the part where he’s like “i got it all figured out even if my son caught me pretending.” i’m sure it’s an occupational hazard as an emperor but like, manipulative much? song yuan must have been MISERABLE that last line she said killed me sob sob