The tenth year of Lin De’s reign on the throne, the tenth year of Lin Xuan’s house arrest.
Lin De put down the memorial in her hand and rubbed the bridge of her nose. She was getting older, and looking at the memorials for a long time would always cause dry eyes.
The palace maid whispered beside Lin De, “Your Majesty, that side has sent over a memorial.”
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No one in the palace dared to call the prince, only referring to him as ‘that side’.
Lin De was stunned, and her hand shook unnaturally: “Really? Bring it over.”
The palace maid handed over the memorial, Lin De opened the memorial, and read it carefully. This was the first time Lin Xuan had written and sent a memorial after the siblings fell out. She thought he had written a memorial to scold her, but it turned out he was admitting his mistake in it.
Lin Xuan said that he had disappointed his uncle’s expectations and the officials who followed him. He never thought of becoming an enemy of his sister.
At that time, there were many people around him. They spoke in his ear every day that his sister was a woman, and the world could not be handed over to a woman. When those people mentioned Lin De, it was as if they wanted to drink her blood and eat her flesh.
At that time, Lin Xuan felt that so long as he became the emperor, everyone would perform their own duties, and his sister would be the princess, just like their mother, wouldn’t that be good?
He said that he now knew that he was wrong. In fact, he had known it for a long time, but he had been unable to lower his head, admitting that his mistake had ruined so many things.
Lin De read the memorial and put it back.
The palace maid asked in a low voice, “Your Majesty, won’t you go and have a look?”
Lin De shook her head and leaned back on the chair: “No, in the future…..during the holidays and festivals, just bestow some more things. You go and tell the Ministry of Internal Affairs that every expense of the prince’s manor will be compared to that in the palace.”
Palace maid: “Yes.”
“Go.” Lin De said.
The palace maid retreated in small steps and exited the room. Lin De pursed her lips tightly, and looked at the plaque above her head.
This plaque was inscribed by the late emperor himself. At that time, she was a little girl and was held in the arms by the late emperor. The late emperor said that the words inscribed were ‘Just and Honorable’.
The late emperor died, and she was supported by several old officials to sit on the throne.
When she was most anxious and frightened, her younger brother took the lead and tried to force her to step down in a coup.
At that time, she was sitting on the dragon throne. It was obviously midsummer and she was wearing a jacket, but she felt cold to the core.
So her fear disappeared. She didn’t have time to be afraid. She held the emperor’s last edict and remembered what the emperor said to her.
“Lin De, if one day someone tells you that you are wrong, don’t listen to them.”
“The officials can only try to persuade you, not force you. If they force you, then just kill them.”
“Once you take a step back, your fate will only be worse than death.”
“Someone!” Lin De heard her own voice, “Drag the offenders out and behead them!”
The gate of the palace was stained red with blood that day, those who followed her and those who didn’t follow her were frightened, and then she was no longer afraid.
She didn’t kill Lin Xuan. She still remembered that the late emperor once said to her, “If one day your brother makes a mistake, and it is not necessary to kill him, then spare him his life.”
Even now, she felt that the late emperor hadn’t left, and he was still in this palace, with General Chen always behind him. The late emperor seldom smiled, only in front of the general and his family members. The late emperor was very thin, always looking very spirited, very easy-going, even in old age, his eyes were never cloudy.
Lin De had long been unafraid of her throne being unstable. What she was afraid of now was that she would not meet the expectations of the late emperor, and that she would not be able to catch up with half of the achievements of the late emperor in her whole life. She lived in this kind of trepidation and could not find anyone to share her worries with.
Now she had two daughters. The fathers of these two daughters were not the same. She also copied the late emperor, not announcing the heir while she was still alive, and letting them spread their wings and gain experience in the six ministries.
She had several lovers, but her lovers always wanted more from her.
Wanted to confuse her with love, confuse her with a young and seductive body, just like they would confuse an ordinary woman, they believed that Lin De would give up power because of love, and because of love, they would get more, and even more unexpected benefits.
Lin De couldn’t remember those lovers anymore. It seemed that one of them was very beautiful, with a pair of dimples and endearing eyeteeth. He was always full of enthusiasm and had a lot of things he wanted.
But any more than that, she couldn’t remember.
Lin De closed her eyes and rested. She was once again back when she was a child. Back then, she didn’t have to think about anything. She could act like a spoiled child in her mother’s arms, go to her grandmother to steal a lazy day, her uncle was serious and kind, and she would play hide and seek with her younger brother in the palace, laughing every day and fantasizing about life when they grew up.
At that time, she wanted to be a general, and Lin Xuan wanted to be a military strategist.
There was no taboo in childhood, no one would take it seriously.
The palace had never changed, the sun would rise from the same place every day, day after day, it would never change.
The life of the common people was getting better and better, the late emperor had made a good start, the trade route had opened, the surrounding countries were subordinate to the Great Ming. The relationship Mongolia and the Jurchen had with the Central Plains was becoming closer and closer, and while she might not see the day of real unification, perhaps her descendants would.
She didn’t do anything spectacular in her life. What she could do was to protect the hard work of the late emperor, so that everything that the late emperor implemented would be without any obstacles as it was carried out.
“Your Majesty, please rest early.” The palace maid whispered.
Lin De stood up and walked to the bed.
The imperial examination was about to start again, and preparations were busy everywhere. Foreign ethnicities were already allowed to participate in the imperial examination during the time of the late emperor, but there have never been as many foreign ethnicities participating in the imperial examination as this year. Most of the foreign ethnicities participating were said to be foreign, but in fact, they have been intermarrying with the Han Chinese since their grandparents’ generation and were no different from the Han.
Buhe was one of them. His grandfather was Mongolian, his grandmother was Han, his father was Mongolian, and his mother was Han. He lived in a city where Mongolians and Han people lived together. He loved studying and was even better at it than the children of his Han neighbors.
He heard from his grandfather that before their family moved here, they lived on the grasslands. In the grasslands, they depended on the heavens for food. A fire, a natural disaster, or a plague among cattle and sheep would destroy a family’s livelihood just like that.
So he had always had a hope, that was, to successfully pass the county level imperial exam, then the provincial level, then the palace level, and finally become an official. He would then go to Mongolia, and make it so that his own people could live the same good life as him.
He saw himself as a Ming person, and he felt that being a Ming person was something to be proud of. The men were strong, smart, responsible, and the women were beautiful, capable, and wise. Countless people from foreign lands poured into the Great Ming, and only then did they know what outside of the Great Ming was like.
The common people were poor, the nobles were over extravagant, and slaves were not treated as humans.
The more miserable those people were, the more they felt that it was a supreme honor to be a Ming person.
The foreigners who fled during the Yuan Dynasty returned, and more and more foreigners poured in.
But these foreigners were not allowed to take the imperial examination.
Unless three generations had been born and lived in the Great Ming.
Buhe said to his friend, “Only this is considered the bearing of a great country!”
The friend shook his head and said, “Her Majesty…..is a woman. Women are always soft-hearted and emotional. She sees that the people of foreign lands are pitiful, so she allows them to enter the Great Ming and become the citizens of the Great Ming. This is a disaster rather than a blessing!”
Buhe was puzzled: “Wasn’t the late emperor the same? The late emperor never forbade foreigners from entering the Great Ming.”
Friend: “How can you compare the current emperor with the late emperor?!”
The friend said angrily: “The late emperor was not a mere mortal, he was born under the imperial star, he was born to be emperor!”
Buhe looked at his friend, who continued, “I was born a few decades too late! If I had been born a few decades earlier, I would have lived in the time of the late emperor!”
Buhe didn’t argue with his friend.
He also admired the late emperor, believing that the late emperor had never made any mistakes in his life.
But his friend believed that the only mistake the late emperor made was that he did not have his own child.
If it was the child of the late emperor, no matter male or female, they would definitely be better than Lin De and Lin Xuan.
If the daughter of the late emperor became emperor, they would recognize and accept it.
But it was not to be.
Buhe did not bother to argue with his friend. He just focused on his studies. Occasionally, he would go to the grassroots level to organize and conduct research with his classmates. He was so busy every day that his parents were worried that he would exhaust himself.
This year was the second time for Buhe to come to Beijing. The last time he did not make it on the golden list, and he didn’t have much confidence this time, but he was still going to try, and he couldn’t let all the hard work in the past be in vain.
His family was not particularly wealthy, but they were not poor either. Successful candidates of the provincial level did not receive a salary if they didn’t do anything, so he became a minor official in the county government office and could receive some grain and silver taels. Since he became a minor official, his family members’ lives have gotten better and they have even saved some money.
Although he became a minor official, he could still take the imperial palace exam. After handing in the leave request, he set off on his way.
The friend who traveled with him was always happy to talk about the prosperity of the capital. There were always countless people in the streets of the capital, both men and women, young and old. Nowadays, women’s lives were better than before, and women were no longer prohibited from taking part in the imperial examination. This was a decree issued in the second year of the female emperor’s reign to the throne.
In the past, although it was said that women were not forbidden to take the imperial examination, but because they did not have this habit, no matter how well their literary talents were, no woman thought of taking the imperial exam.
After the female emperor ascended the throne, she used many means to encourage women to participate in the imperial examination, opening the door of convenience wide for all women.
There were constant objections inside and outside the imperial court, as well as the death remonstrance of the civil officials, but even so they were unable to stop her.
Nowadays, many minor officials in local governments were women.
There were also many court officials who were women, but there were still not many in important positions.
Among the hundred officials who could attend morning assembly to discuss politics, there were less than ten female officials.
It was probably because of this that the opposition had become less loud.
After Buhe came to Beijing, he lived in the courtyard where he lived three years ago. It was the same as always except the male owner had a two year old toddler in his arms. He still remembered Buhe, and he even told Buhe that his wife went to work after giving birth to their child. She was a small supervisor in a garment factory, overseeing more than ten people, and earning more than he did in the odd jobs he took.
So he just guarded their courtyard and took care of the children, his days quite enriched.
“There is a lantern festival at night, every district has one, and it is said to be a competition!” The male owner suddenly said, “You should also go out at night to walk around. It takes place once a year and it’s rare to see such amazing scenery.”
Buhe nodded: “Definitely.”
The male owner hugged his child, rocking the toddler skillfully, and said, “Then I’ll go out first, come to me if you need anything.”
Buhe saw the male owner out, and it was very lively outside the door. The children were running and laughing all the way with their school bags on their backs. Young women in trousers walked on the streets, carrying bamboo baskets and looking like they were going to go on a spring hike.
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Since women began to work more, it became troublesome to wear skirts, and this kind of fabric-saving trousers appeared.
Originally, few people wore trousers, but now fewer people wore skirts.
Buhe looked around him, and finally decided on two words that would describe the era he lived in perfectly——
Peace and prosperity.
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