府 fu: compound or estate; (jun)w.a.n.g fu: prince’s estate/compound 氏 s.h.i.+: clan/maiden name 郡王妃 junw.a.n.g fei: the official wife of a junw.a.n.g 郡王 junw.a.n.g: prince (of the second rank) 太太 taitai: married woman, madam 郡王爷 junw.a.n.g ye, 王爷 w.a.n.g ye: His [Your] Royal Highness
Chapter Eleven: The Omnipresent Rumors
Ever since she saw Hua Xi Wan, Hua Yi Liu was slightly inattentive. She looked at her mother who was looking meaningfully at her. She hesitated and then forced a smile. She said, “Something has happened to my maternal grandfather’s family recently. Seeing you live well, I have something to be happy about.”
Hearing this, Hua Xi Wan’s hand which held her teacup stilled. Then she smiled and said, “My days in the junw.a.n.g fu are very good. Eldest Sister, you do not need to worry.” She slowly took a sip of tea and the smile on her face did not change.
“That’s good.” Not having received the proper response, Hua Yi Liu’s smile became even more awkward. She turned and coincidentally found that Hua Chu Yu was looking at her. She felt her face flush. She was angered that Hua Xi Wan was not receptive and disliked Hua Chu Yu’s gaze that seemed to be omniscient. She was angry for a long while, and only when Zhang s.h.i.+ started to speak did she recover.
“Junw.a.n.g Fei, these words should not be said today, but I really do not have any other resource.” Zhang s.h.i.+ saw that Hua Xi Wan did not understand what was implied, and since her daughter had a thin face, she couldn’t resist speaking directly. “My parents only got this one son when they were close to middle age. Even though they have spoiled this idiotic brother in the past, they did not raise him to be a wastrel, and he is extremely hard-working. A few days ago, this idiot brother disappeared. My parents have searched through all of Jing but have not found him. Even the government was notified, but there has still not been any news. I heard that His Highness Xian Junw.a.n.g has many friends. Please help say a few words for us in front of His Highness Xian Junw.a.n.g, and have him help my Zhang Family.”
“Nonsense!” the old taitai shouted. “Xian Junw.a.n.g is not part of the government offices. Where would he go to help you search? Shut up now!” This Zhang s.h.i.+ was really dislikeable. She did not use her brains before she spoke. What was “Xian Junw.a.n.g has many friends”? Did she imply that Xian Junw.a.n.g was allying with some people in Jing?
Zhang s.h.i.+ also realized that her words were not appropriate, but after the old taitaishouted at her, she was unable to let it go. Her expression changed and she stared pitifully at Hua Xi Wan, saying, “Junw.a.n.g Fei, this subject-wife has misspoken. Please forgive me.”
“Second Aunt, what are you saying. We are one family—there is no forgiveness to be spoken of.” Hua Xi Wan put down the teacup. Looking at the weather outside, she stood. “The time is not early. I should be returning to the junw.a.n.g fu.”
Zhang s.h.i.+ saw Hua Xi Wan had no intentions of helping and said urgently, “Third Niece…”
“Second Sister-in-law, if you have some secrets to share, you can remain and tell us sisters. The time is late. If Junw.a.n.g Fei stays too long here and is late to return to the junw.a.n.g fu,that would not be good.” Lu s.h.i.+ walked in front of Zhang s.h.i.+ and smiled insincerely as she gripped Zhang s.h.i.+’s wrist. “Don’t you think so, Second Sister-in-law?”
Zhang s.h.i.+’s expression was white as Lu s.h.i.+ held her wrist in a painful grip. She was unwilling, but she did not dare to oppose Lu s.h.i.+. She could only close her mouth with an ugly expression.
Seeing the other was wise enough to stop speaking, Lu s.h.i.+ turned and looked reluctantly at Hua Xi Wan a few times. She smiled and went forward to neaten Hua Xi Wan’s clothes, saying, “Live well, do not neglect yourself.”
“Daughter knows, don’t worry.” Hua Xi Wan clasped Lu s.h.i.+’s hand, then stepped back and made a deep curtsey to Lu s.h.i.+ before turning and leaving with Bai Xia and the other servant girls.
She knew that Lu s.h.i.+ and the other women would follow her to see her off, but she did not want to turn her head and see Lu s.h.i.+’s eyes filled with yearning.
Lu s.h.i.+ and the group sent Hua Xi Wan off to the Door of Drooping Flowers and then stopped. Xian Junw.a.n.g was standing right outside the Door of Drooping Flowers.
Hua Xi Wan couldn’t resist turning her head to look at Lu s.h.i.+, smiling at her mother before picking up the corner of her dress and walking out through the Door of Drooping Flowers.
Hearing the steps coming from behind him, Yan Jin Qiu—who had been standing with his back towards the Door of Drooping Flowers—turned around. Seeing Hua Xi Wan walk over, he walked forward a few steps. After raising his folded hands towards the Door of Drooping Flowers in a bow, he held Hua Xi Wan’s hand and said with a bowed head, “If you miss your family in the future, I will accompany you to visit them.”
“Many thanks.” Hua Xi Wan turned and smiled brightly at Yan Jin Qiu before allowing him to help her into the soft sedan. As the curtain was let down, the smile on her face gradually disappeared.
As Mu Tong gave the order, the sedan moved away from the Door of Drooping Flowers. Lu s.h.i.+ only stopped watching when it had disappeared. She turned and looked at Zhang s.h.i.+, saying with a cold smile, “If Second Sister-in-law has matters at home, return early. I will not keep you.”
Zhang s.h.i.+ saw Lu s.h.i.+’s disrespect and was instantly enraged. “Sister-in-law is the mother-in-law of the junw.a.n.g and is very busy. Insignificant people like me will not bother you any longer!” Turning to Hua Yi Liu, she said, “What are you standing here for, to irritate people?” Finis.h.i.+ng, she turned and strode away angrily.
Hua Yi Liu bowed towards the elders present and then followed hurriedly with her head down. In Hua Chu Yu’s eyes, this conduct looked as though she was fleeing in panic.
On the way home, Yao s.h.i.+ was in a good mood and said to Hua Chu Yu, “Chu Yu, you have to remember, women do not have to be beautiful, but they cannot be without any edges. Men would tire of the most beautiful woman who is timid and turn to find other women in search of stimulation.”
Hua Chu Yu knew that Mother was talking about Hua Yi Liu. She nodded silently. Picking up a corner of the window curtain, she thought absent-mindedly, if a woman’s personality was to attract the attention of a man, then would it still be her personality?
For some reason, she suddenly thought of Hua Xi Wan that seemed indolent at any time and felt slight admiration. If she could be as casual as Hua Xi Wan, did the favor of a man matter?
Many young masters from prestigious families and n.o.ble misses were exceptionally attentive for news about Xian Junw.a.n.g and his wife, especially the females that were unable to reconcile themselves to the marriage. So when they learned that Xian Junw.a.n.g had accompanied Xian Junw.a.n.g Fei to visit her paternal family and only left at five, the news quickly spread through Jing and surprised many people.
Xian Junw.a.n.g accompanying Xian Junw.a.n.g Fei to her paternal home would be called respectful and generous, but if he stayed with her until five in the afternoon before leaving, that wasn’t something that could be explained by generosity. Was it that… Xian Junw.a.n.g and Junw.a.n.g Fei were in love?
The n.o.ble misses in Jing could not believe this, and even those young masters of the prestigious families did not believe that Xian Junw.a.n.g was in love with a woman without beauty. The conclusion they reached after thinking it over repeatedly was that Xian Junw.a.n.g was one of those kind people encountered once in a hundred years, and that Yi’an Marquis Fu had found a good son-in-law.
Hua s.h.i.+ definitely had committed countless acts of goodness in her past life in order to be married to such an outstanding and good man like Xian Junw.a.n.g in this life.
Hua Xi Wan that was rumored to have done countless acts of goodness in her last life didn’t have any interest in these rumors on the outside. There were no concubines in the junw.a.n.g fu and the servants were orderly, so as the junw.a.n.g fei, other than admiring the scenery, reading and sleeping, she had nothing to do.
Fortunately, she had a lazy and inactive personality. In the last fortnight, she had read almost twelve legends and stories, tasted many of the trademark dishes from the chefs, and had extremely easy-going days. She didn’t have any interest in going out to play.
So when Mu Tong came and told her that there would be a banquet held at the Imperial Palace in two days, she was too lazy to even lift her eyes. After Mu Tong explained the importance of the palace banquet, she moved her attention away from the book. “The Imperial One’s banquet?”
“Yes, the Emperor ordered that, since it is not a jubilee, there is no need to have a large celebration. There will only be family banquets held in Zhaoyang Hall for the people of the Imperial House to come together to celebrate.” Mu Tong saw that Junw.a.n.g Fei’s expression was calm and that she did not seem very interested in the palace banquet, so he added, “Junw.a.n.g Ye has said that the birthday present has been prepared two months ago, so Junw.a.n.g Fei does not need to prepare anything.”
Hearing this, Hua Xi Wan nodded and put down the book in her hand. She ate a piece of pear off Hong Ying’s hands, her chin propped on one of her hands as she said, “Tell w.a.n.g Ye that I know.”
Mu Tong saw Junw.a.n.g Fei pick up the book she had thrown to the side, so he bowed and retreated. When he left the main yard, he released a breath. For some reason, every time he spoke in front of Junw.a.n.g Fei, he felt he needed to be very careful, probably because… he had seen Junw.a.n.g Fei’s valiance as she flipped that wood chair?
“Since these people are not willing to speak, then there is no need for them to speak.” Yan Jin Qiu threw the slightly wrinkled confessions to the ground. Wiping his hands with a handkerchief, he said, “There are only those few that want me dead. I have no interest in knowing who is the mastermind. Do not be quick when you send them off, otherwise they will not understand that death is better than life.”
“Yes.” The person kneeling on the ground picked up the confessions on the ground. After a moment of hesitation, he said, “These people are related to the Zhang Family. Yi’an Marquis’ younger brother’s wife comes from the Zhang Family. This subordinate is worried that Yi’an Marquis Fu is connected to this matter.”
“What do you think Hua He Sheng is?” Yan Jin Qiu smirked coldly. “That old fox will not dabble in a matter like this. Most likely the Zhang Family is ignorant as well.” This Master Zhang was a good dog of the Crown Prince. His master didn’t dare to act, and the dog already came to bite.
The person kneeling on the ground didn’t dare to make a sound and buried his head lower.
“Junw.a.n.g Ye.” Mu Tong’s voice sounded from outside the door, and then he entered after a few moments. He did not look at the person kneeling on the ground. “This one has told Junw.a.n.g Fei about the palace banquet.”
“Oh?” Yan Jin Qiu threw the handkerchief on the desk. With a raised brow, he asked, “What did Junw.a.n.g Fei say?”
“Junw.a.n.g Fei said that she knows.” After Mu Tong said this, his neck s.h.i.+fted awkwardly.
“En.” Yan Jin Qiu looked at the sky, “What is Junw.a.n.g Fei reading now?”
“This one does not know what Junw.a.n.g Fei is reading, but at the time, Junw.a.n.g Feiwas holding a book in her hand.” Mu Tong had originally thought that Junw.a.n.g Feiwould take over the management of the household after marrying in. But in this fortnight, he hadn’t seen her have any interest in the fu or even establish her authority in front of the servants. Mu Tong did not understand her course of action. What mistress of the house was not interested in being in charge of the inner compound?
“Since Junw.a.n.g Fei likes reading these things, get the people in the bookstores to gather more of the books Junw.a.n.g Fei likes to read,” Yan Jin Qiu said with a calm expression. “Do not have Junw.a.n.g Fei lack for books that are to her taste.”
“This one will remember.” Mu Tong retreated. Going out the door, he carefully closed it.