Author: Chai Jidan
Mu Xueshi kneeled on the ground with a ‘putong’ sound. His brain went blank. He then spoke without rhyme or reason as he tried defending himself to the Third Prince: “Third Prince, you didn’t come back in time. Indeed, someone intruded into your bedchamber. I also heard a crackling sound. But because Third Prince said that my face can’t be easily shown to others, so without any other option, I tried hard to hide under the quilt. I didn’t dare to reveal my head.”
The Third Prince suddenly knew what had happened in this place, he nodded his head, and toward Mu Xueshi, he asked: “According to your words, this situation in my room was done by an outsider?”
Mu Xueshi huriedly nodded his head, he gave a thumbs-up and said: “Congratulations Third Prince, you can even compete to be the first to answer a question.” (T/N: Like on a quiz show.)
Although the Third Prince did not know what the meaning of this gesture was, he did know for certain that it was a praise for him, which made him happy. For the time being, he was not in a hurry to investigate. He wanted to see what Mu Xueshi could still invent with his mouth.
Mu Xueshi saw that the Third Prince was not quite convinced with his own words. Soon afterwards, he secretly encouraged himself. With a worried face, he said to the Third Prince: “Third Prince, since this big man intruded into your bedchamber during the day, he also absconded in a flurry. This was definitely done by a courtyard servant. He wanted to take advantage of Third Prince when you were out, steal some of your properties, and then go sell them off. He was going to use it to feed his whole family, the old and the young. I believe he’s also given a lot of thought to do this. He bravely risked his own life for the sake of his whole family for them to be able to have a hearty meal. His filial piety was so touching so that heaven and earth were moved. Therefore, this worthless commoner boldly beseeches Third Prince not to pursue this matter, perhaps, deal with the offender leniently. After this event, we should give more to the servants and distribute some silver, so that their elderly at home could enjoy their later years.”
When he was speaking of this words, Mu Xueshi continuously had a righteous face, and it really seemed to be the for the sake of the servants within the courtyard.
The Third Prince sighed and said to Mu Xueshi: “Get up, I’ll heed your advice. If I find him in the future, I definitely won’t take his life. Furthermore, I’ll even be lenient in dealing with the offender. I’ll only punish him with 50 flogs of a stick.”
Just now, Mu Xueshi’s calm face had, once again, vanished into thin air. He nervously overlooked his own identity, went directly in front of the Third Prince, and pulled his hand to plead: “Third Prince, I know that you are kindhearted and merciful. I dare to ask, who else in this palace is as magnanimous as you? You were even so kind to rescue a criminal like me. He only stole valuables in your room, why should you pursue it again?”
The Third Prince was amazed by Mu Xueshi unexpectedly pulling his own hand so casually. He also had a rare pleased look on his face. Although the Third Prince extremely loathed people who only seek ease and comfort , having met with Mu Xueshi’s miserable face, he unexpectedly had the courage to be swayed mentally. He looked at Mu Xueshi and asked with a harsh tone as before: “Listening to your words, it seems that you already know who the offender  was in your heart. If you dare to speak out, I could forgive you for covering up the crimes.”
(「苟且偷安」gǒuqiě-tōu’ān – an idiom which means ‘making no attempt to improve oneself’ or ‘taking things easily without attending to responsibilities.’)
( Ms. Jidan used 凶手 [xiōngshǒu] which meant ‘murderer’ or ‘assassin’ which was not appropriate to the scenario so we changed it to ‘offender’ to fit the storyline.)
“If I say it, can you waive the punishment?” Mu Xueshi impatiently asked.
The Third Prince chuckled, “Yes, but the perpetrator of the crime will still inevitably be punished.”
Mu Xueshi immediately resembled a deflated ball. He had a dispirited look across his whole face. If I would say this was my own doing, I’m afraid that it would be worse than the previous consequences, right? If I had known earlier, then I shouldn’t have concealed it at first. Would the Third Prince believe it if it was another servant? Since he asked this question, he must have believed that he saw it.
After thinking it over, Mu Xueshi then compromised just like talking it over: “Forget about it, I’ll tell it to you. Just a moment ago, a person loudly yelled from outside. He just doesn’t like how you treat your servants. He only vented out his pent-up anger in your room.”
The Third Prince had anticipated that Mu Xueshi also would not say it was himself, so toward the entrance portal, he said: “Guard, take that Ning Yue to the center of the courtyard. Punish him with 50 flogs and have all of the servants watch it, so as to warn themselves.”
After he finished saying this, the Third Prince also intentionally said to Mu Xueshi: “And you, you should also watch at the same time.”
Mu Xueshi was suddenly frightened. It was all because he pushed the blame onto somebody else, so when he heard that person’s name, he could not bear to face him. He felt remorseful and uneasy.
Nevertheless, it was natural that the Third Prince would regard Ning Yue as someone special for Mu Xueshi; therefore, he deliberately spoke out that person’s name, to try to test Mu Xueshi. Because for a servant, no one would deliberately care.