As the chief eunuch of the TaiYang Palace, Liu ZhongBao had always been cautious in his speech and actions.
Even the officials, who were eternally fussy about the internal supervisors, seldom criticized him.
The Emperor chose the Ming family’s Young Miss as the Wangfei of Fifth Imperial Highness not for her character, conduct, or appearance, but for her identity as Miss Ming.
It was said that the heart of a monarch was hard to fathom but the monarch was also a human being.
He too would favor his children, worry about them, and pave the way for them.
The main entrance of the Ming family’s residence opened wide.
Immediately, Liu ZhongBao caught sight of a girl wearing a floral jacket with a collar and a skirt standing beside the Assistant Minister’s wife.
The girl was like a tender bud on a willow branch in early spring, full of vitality.
Especially her pair of eyes; they were like a smart cat in the moonlit night, attracting people’s pleasure and compassion.
Young Miss.” Liu ZhongBao greeted respectfully.
When he looked up, he saw the little guniang from the Ming family bending her knees and greeting him in return.
There was undisguised curiosity and an innocent smile in her glittering eyes.
Liu ZhongBao blinked before presenting her with a smile.
JiuZhu covered the corner of her mouth and chuckled furtively.
Suddenly, she turned around to see that her mother and Sixth Brother didn’t pay any attention to her and quickly put down her hands, becoming the smart little guniang again.
Noticing that Liu ZhongBao did not come with an imperial edict, Shen-shi led him into the main hall and instructed the servants to prepare refreshments: “We didn’t know gonggong was going to visit us today.
My husband has still not returned from the Ministry of Rites, so he cannot come to greet the honorable guest.
Please forgive us, gonggong.”
“Madam is being too polite.” Liu ZhongBao took a sip of tea and explained in a friendly tone, “Lord Ming is faithful to the ruler and loves his country.
It is a great fortune to have such a good official.
Even His Majesty praises Lord Ming often.”
“This old slave is here to run errands for His Majesty and Guifei niangniang.” Liu ZhongBao smiled kindly, as if they couldn’t get along better with the elderly: “From the time fifth Imperial Highness and your virtuous daughter got engaged, His Majesty had been busy with state affairs and didn’t get an opportunity to meet Miss Ming.
Tomorrow is Guifei niangniang’s birthday.
Since the young lady had just returned to the capital, His Majesty was worried that some things were not fully prepared, so he asked this old slave to deliver some things.”
Shen-shi smiled and expressed her gratitude: “Many thanks, His Majesty and Guifei niangniang for their generosity.”
“It’s fine as long as the Madam and Miss don’t dislike it.” Liu ZhongBao raised his hand, and the palace servants began walking inside in a line, some were holding things, some were bringing things with another and some were even carrying shoulder poles.
Soon the entire main hall was filled to the brim.
Looking at the place full of things, Shen-shi couldn’t help but wonder, how poor was their family in the eyes of the Imperial household that they decided to support their future in-laws twice every three days1
Gold and silver jewelry, thin silk gauze, silk fabric, books, calligraphy painting, brush, ink, paper, inkstone, guqin, chess, jade artifacts and all kinds of objects one could think of.
Even toys that the unmarried girls liked were in there.
“His Majesty discovered that the young lady is very gifted in painting, so he specially prepared the best paints, brushes, and paper for her.” Liu ZhongBao opened one of the chests.
It was filled with small boxes of paints.
Sitting by the side, Ming CunFu couldn’t help showing an envious look.
“There are still these calligraphy paintings.” Liu ZhongBao opened another large box, within which, picture scrolls were piled up: “These are for the Miss to appreciate.”
Shen-shi remembered the paintings her daughter had made in her spare time, and then looked at the paints and the famous paintings.
She let out a long sigh inwardly.
“Many thanks to His Majesty and niangniang. Chennu likes it very much.” JiuZhu’s eyes shone as she looked at the box full of paint.
“It’s fine if Miss likes it.” Liu ZhongBao looked at Shen-shi, and suddenly asked, “This old slave recalls that Lord Ming’s ancestors also passed down a title of nobility”
“The ancestors passed down the title of the lowest ranking baron.
I made you laugh, gonggong.” Shen-shi smiled and said, “It’s just that my husband and my children’s uncles have already cut themselves off from the genealogy of LingZhou’s Ming family and established their own.
So, the glory of the ancestors should not be mentioned anymore.”
“Madam, there is no need to be modest.
Nowadays when people mention the Ming clan, they naturally only think of the Ming clan in the capital.
What does it have to do with others” Liu ZhongBao smiled: “What the ancestors could do, how can the descendants not do it Maybe they’ll turn out even better than their ancestors.”
Without waiting for Shen-shi to speak, Liu ZhongBao stood up: “This old slave still has an Imperial command so I don’t dare to stay for a long time.
I will take my leave now.”
“It’s lunchtime, please have something before you leave.” JiuZhu spoke a few words, trying to retain him.
“Many thanks for your kindness, Miss.
If there is a chance next time, this old slave will definitely taste the delicious food of your family properly.” Liu ZhongBao smiled and bowed to JiuZhu: “Please enter the Palace a bit earlier tomorrow. Niangniang misses the Miss very much.”
“Chennu also misses niangniang very much.” JiuZhu bent her knees and bowed in return: “Tomorrow, I will definitely go to MingYue Palace early to see niangniang.”
My beloved daughter, you probably don’t know that there are certain utterances in the world that cannot be taken seriously.
They are known as statements spoken out of politeness.
“Then this old slave will greet Miss in the Palace.” Ming CunFu hurried forward to see them off as Liu ZhongBao led the palace servants out.
“No need to see me out, Ming gongzi.” Liu ZhongBao looked up at the plaque over the entrance of Assistant Minister Ming’s residence.
He opened his mouth with a smile, “Please don’t worry, gongzi.
His Majesty and niangniang like Miss Ming very much.”
Sending him off, Ming CunFu was perplexed.
The Imperial family’s chief eunuch made this trip just to give JiuZhu a gift As for the matter regarding the horse farm, he didn’t ask anything about it.
Not even mention it once.
It was said that the Imperial family members were always suspicious.
Where was the suspicion
What they did today didn’t seem like what they would do at all.
JiuZhu wasn’t aware of these things.
Currently, she was delighted because she had received so many paints.
She felt that she could go on drawing on thousands of thousand miles long rolls, but unfortunately, she was persuaded to go back by Shen-shi before her painting project could start.
She had to try on the palace dress, jewelry and shoes that she was going to wear to the Palace tomorrow.
“There must not be the least bit of slip-up anywhere.” Shen-shi rarely spoke to JiuZhu in such a solemn tone.
She looked in the direction of the Imperial Palace: “JiuZhu, the moment you step into the MingYue Palace tomorrow, you will be more than just the daughter of the Ming family in the eyes of others.
You will become the future Chen Wangfei.”
JiuZhu stared at Shen-shi in a daze.
“Don’t be afraid.” Shen-shi smiled and stroked her daughter’s hair with the utmost tenderness: “Mother will always support you.”
“Mother, don’t be sad.” JiuZhu looked at the smile on Shen-shi’s face.
Even though her mother was smiling at this moment, she knew that she was feeling sad because her mother’s vision was full of herself.
“Daughter is not afraid.” She squatted in front of Shen-shi seriously, not letting her miss the slightest expression on the latter’s face: “The sage Laozi2 said: Sincere words are not beautiful; beautiful words are not sincere.
A good man does not argue; he who argues is not a good man.
People’s hearts are complicated.
Daughter may not see through them, but she knows how to protect herself.
So, you can be at ease.
I am quite smart.”
“Yes ah, our JiuZhu is very smart.” Shen-shi smiled, “no other little guniang in the world is smarter than you, right”
“Right.” JiuZhu nodded.
“You ah, you.” Shen-shi was both amused and helpless.
Which clever child would call themselves so A drunk person never admits to being drunk.
She embraced her daughter, whom she had retrieved after spending all her heart’s blood.
An expression of unswerving determination flashed in her eyes.
The candle flames flickered.
Sun CaiYao could not even perceive the chill on her fingertips as she listened to the sound of the wind outside the window.
Tomorrow was the birthday of MingYue Palace’s Su Guifei, but in her dream, the birthday banquet was over before it even began.
The entire MingYue Palace was covered with white mourning silk.
Everyone said that Su Guifei had gone crazy.
As an elder, how could she set up a mourning hall for the younger generation!
She only remembered that in the dream, the strands of the white silk fluttered with the autumn wind of the cold night, appearing distant and horrifying.
“Young Miss, it’s time to go to sleep.”
As the long-frozen fingertips trembled slightly, Sun CaiYao returned to her senses and realized that her back was soaked with cold sweat.
The next day, JiuZhu got up from bed before the sky turned bright.
She sat in front of the copper mirror and waited for the maids to help her dress and do her make-up.
She was going to see the fairy niangniang today.
Hence, she must dress herself up beautifully.
“Young Miss.” ChunFen stifled a yawn and glanced outside the dark window: “Didn’t you get up a little too early today”
“I promised Liu gonggong that I would go to greet niangniang early today.” JiuZhu shot a flattering smile at ChunFen and the other maids: “You’ve worked hard, sisters.”
My lovely Young Miss, you don’t need to take those words spoken out of politeness so seriously.
In the MingYue Palace, Su Guifei woke up.
While she got dressed, the palace maids brought a new box of jewelry.
She chose a few things items before suddenly picking up a branched lotus hairpin with a dragonfly: “This branched hairpin is very suitable for JiuZhu.”
She handed the hairpin to the female official: “Put it in a box.
When JiuZhu comes, give it to her discreetly.”
Many female guests were going to attend the banquet, so it was not appropriate to present jewelry to JiuZhu alone.
If she didn’t set aside these beautiful and good things for her own future daughter-in-law, could it be that she had to bestow them upon outsiders
“This pair of earrings is fresh and tender; it would be the most fitting for a young girl.
Keep it for JiuZhu too.” Su Guifei picked a bunch of things and prepared to set them aside for her future daughter-in-law.
The female official wanted to say something but then hesitated. Niangniang, you put together so many things, your objective is too obvious.
It is really difficult to send them ‘discreetly’.
“Liu ZhongBao said that JiuZhu will come early today.
Arrange for someone to welcome her up at the gate of the Palace.
Many women are going to come here.
It’s not been long since she returned to the capital so Ben Gong is worried she wouldn’t be careful enough and suffer in their hands.”
Having said this, Su Guifei already seemed to have imagined the scene of others bullying JiuZhu: “Choose and send two more female officials with ranks.
Her trusted female official: “……”
Niangniang, a civilian court official’s family is the most polite and thoughtful, but they pay scrupulous attention to every detail.
How could the Ming family let their daughter enter the Palace early and bear the awful reputation of flattering a favored consort
But looking at niangniang’s earnest expression and the box full of jewelry, the trusted female official did not dare to dampen her spirits: “Niangniang, this slave will personally go to the Palace gate to greet Miss Ming.”
If she went, she could find an excuse or two to cover up this matter.
So that at least, niangniang wouldn’t be too disappointed.
“That’s great.” Su Guifei nodded: “I feel most at ease when you handle things.”
The female official left the room and instructed two high-ranking palace maids to accompany her.
“XiangJuan gugu, who are we going to pick up” A palace maid asked in confusion.
With her identity as niangniang’s personal maid, who was worthy of being welcomed by XiangJuan gugu herself
“No speaking.” XiangJuan’s face was blank: “Just do whatever niangniang had asked to do carefully.
Don’t ask any more questions.”
“Yes.” The palace maid did not dare to ask anything again.
She followed XiangJuan obediently.
“Aren’t you MingYue Palace’s XiangJuan” On the way, they came across Ning fei, who was sitting upright on a sedan: “Today is Guifei niangniang’s birthday.
What are you doing here instead of staying by her side”
XiangJuan bent her knee and bowed in greeting, not saying a word.
Ning fei lowered her eyelids: “Ben Gong was afraid that my worthless little nephew would offend Guifei niangniang on her birthday, so Ben Gong specially forbade him from leaving home.
Is Guifei niangniang satisfied”
Ning fei still bore a grudge for sending the Zheng family’s little gongzi to Qi Wang for teaching him ‘a bitter lesson’ that day.
She bowed deeply: “Many thanks for having such a deep notion of your duty, niangniang.”
Ning fei’s expression changed slightly, but she forcibly resisted the anger and instructed the servants to withdraw.
Everyone from the MingYue Palace would die sooner or later for their unbridled behavior.
No one would be spared.
Just wait and see.
Seeing off Ning fei, who had endured her rage with great difficulty, XiangJuan arrived at the Palace gate.
It was still early, so except for the guards on duty, it was totally silent there.
XiangJuan lowered her eyes slightly, no longer looking ahead.
She was not at all surprised by this outcome.
Suddenly, the sound of a carriage was heard from the distance.
She raised her head sharply, looking into the distance.
Reason told her that even if a carriage came, it might not necessarily be the Ming family’s Young Miss’, but she still held a faint glimmer of hope in her heart.
The carriage stopped in front of the Palace gate.
The coachman set up a footstool in front of the carriage door.
The first ones to descend were two maids.
Then, the curtain of the car was lifted, and a girl with a lily knot3 hairstyle wearing a wide-sleeved palace dress appeared.
She raised her head.
Meeting XiangJuan’s eyes, a bright and innocent smile bloomed on her face: “Gugu.”
XiangJuan’s hand positioned at her lower abdomen shook slightly.
She walked to the girl and bowed: “Greetings, Ming guniang.”
“I’m not late, am I” JiuZhu pointed a finger towards her head: “It took a full half a shichen4 to comb this bun.”
“Guniang looks very beautiful today.” XiangJuan stretched out her hand to supported JiuZhu by her arm, and said respectfully: “Niangniang is looking forward to guniang’s arrival so she sent this slave here to greet you.”
The skirt of the palace dress was quite complicated.
JiuZhu didn’t dare to walk too fast in it: “Many thanks to niangniang for worrying about me. Gugu must have gotten tired because of this.”
“The slave is not tired.” XiangJuan smiled: “It is a nice thing to welcome guniang.”
“Little guniang from the Ming family, stand there.
As the sound of horse’s hooves cane from behind, JiuZhu heard a familiar voice and looked back.
She saw Chen Wang rushing in their direction on his horse.
When the horse almost reached JiuZhu, Chen Wang pulled the reins to turn it around and dismounted.
His cloak rustled in the air with an impressive momentum.
“Your Highness.” The cloak held in JiuZhu’s arms fluttered slightly due to the wind generated by Chen Wang as he descended from the horse.
She looked up at him.
His Highness was so tall; he seemed to be half a head taller than her.
T/N: Haha both MIL and DIL are carved out of the same stone.
They’re sho adorable >w< On a side note, would you guys prefer a glossary of terms being added Let me know so that I can act (or not) accordingly!
Twice every three days [三天兩頭] – This is an idiom meaning practically every day / frequently.
Laozi [老子] – Laozi or ‘Old(老) Master(子)’ was a Chinese philosopher who was also the founder of Daoism.
He is also regarded as the supreme deity.
The following words JiuZhu quotes are written in Laozi’s work called «Dao De Jing» [道德經].
Lily knot [百合髻] – A style of bun prevalent in the Tang dynasty.
Looks like this:
Shichen [時辰] – Refers to the 12 two-hour periods of the day.
So, half of it is one hour.