府 fu: compound or estate; wang fu: prince’s estate/compound
王 wang: short for qinwang or first-rank prince; also called wang ye, i.e. “His [Your] Royal Highness”
王妃 wang fei: princess consort; the official wife of a wang or prince
郡主 junzhu: titled daughter of a qinwang (first-rank prince)
嬷嬷 mama: old female servant
郡马 junma: the husband of a junzhu
氏 shi: clan/maiden name
姐姐 jiejie: elder sister
Chapter Forty-Seven: Clear
Hua Xi Wan did not think that Yan Jin Qiu would react like this. She blinked and could not find anything appropriate to say.
While she did not speak, it did not mean that Yan Jin Qiu did not have things to say. He played with her fingers and said, “Actually, when the Emperor decreed our marriage, my joy was greater than my anger.”
Hua Xi Wan looked at him and did not speak. She smiled.
“Compared to the Hou Family female that Yan Bo Yi married that only has the reputation but none of the real power, Yi’an Marquis Fu is much more noble than the Hou Clan.” When Yan Jin Qiu said this, he smiled disdainfully. “They always think that a person like me would desire to be matched with a peerless beauty. So he matchmade me for nothing else except for me to be at odds with Yi’an Marquis Fu.”
Hua Xi Wan took her hands away from Yan Jin Qiu’s hands and smiled sarcastically. “I had not expected for you to think so much.”
“Did you never think about it?” Yan Jin Qiu did not object to Hua Xi Wan’s roll of the eyes. He crowded down next to her to sit. “The day that we married, when I was taking the veil off, I made a great decision. Even if your features were disfigured, I would treat you well. Because if it wasn’t for me, you would not have been pulled into this conflict. With Yi’an Marquis Fu‘s reputation and authority, you could find a man who could be good to you for a lifetime, and not have to marry into the Imperial Family and possibly receive the laughter of other people due to your appearance.”
Hua Xi Wan bent her head and played with a cat’s eye stone. She did not speak and listened carefully to his inner thoughts.
“When I lifted the veil and saw your appearance, I was not as calm as I appeared.” Yan Jin Qiu touched her hair and sighed. He said, “Sometimes, I wish that your appearance could be slightly more ordinary.”
“My apologies that I do not have a face that can change.” Hua Xi Wan slapped his hand aside and then scornfully moved away from him. “I haven’t even disdained you for attracting so much attention, and you dare mention my appearance?”
“I do not disdain it. I just feel worry.” Yan Jin Qiu grabbed her hand. “I do not feel secure inside. Can you understand this feeling?”
Hua Xi Wan stared at him for a long time before smiling and shaking her head. “So sorry, I do not seem to understand.”
Seeing her like this, Yan Jin Qiu’s heart relaxed. He also had a smile. “If you do not understand, there will be a day that I will have you understand.”
From the outside, footsteps deliberately sounded loudly. A while later, the two heard Mu Tong asking to have an audience with them.
“Come in.” Yan Jin Qiu and Hua Xi Wan neatened their clothing and adornments before sitting down on the chaise. The pile of precious stones was swept to the side.
“Wang Ye, Wang Fei, this small one caught a suspicious servant girl in the fu. What to do?” Mu Tong understood that it was Wang Fei‘s servant girl who had reported about Xiao Yu to him. If he did not mention this in front of Wang Ye and Wang Fei, that would be too dumb.
“Servant girl?” Hua Xi Wan raised an eyebrow. “Where does she serve?”
“Wang Fei, this Xiao Yu used to be a cleaning servant outside the study. A while back, she was sent to the second gate to serve,” Mu Tong said respectfully. “According to this small one’s investigation, this Xiao Yu was sold into the fu a few years ago, and is very honest and obedient usually.”
“In this world, the people who look the most honest are usually the most evil,” Yan Jin Qiu said neutrally. “Since she is not willing to confess, then question her well. She will say something.”
Hua Xi Wan raised a teacup to drink and did not react at all to Yan Jin Qiu’s words.
Mu Tong glanced at Wang Ye and Wang Fei. Now having a good idea, he bowed and left.
After mid-autumn, the weather gradually cooled. Because there was no male master in Lin Ping Junzhu Fu, each day was quieter than the one before it. The servants were even more careful and wary of angering Junzhu and getting beaten as a result.
“It is Xian Wang Fu that has sent these things again?” Lin Ping Junzhu took the gift list from a servant’s hand. The characters on the surface were elegant and clear but did not seem like the writing of a man. Hua Xi Wan’s outrageously beautiful face appeared in her mind. Lin Ping Junzhu put down the list and said in an indifferent tone, “Prepare gifts to deliver back to Xian Wang Fu, and say that I thank their wang fei for the concern.”
“Junzhu, why do you not…” The mama next to her was slightly panicked. Xian Wang Fu was Junzhu‘s paternal home. Now that the junma had passed away, why was Junzhu worsening her relationship to her paternal family?
“Mama, do not try to persuade me,” Lin Ping Junzhu said with a grimace. “I do not have an avenue of retreat. These gifts look generous, but they are all things that little children use. The one who sent the gifts is Hua shi, can you not see?”
“How can Xian Wang Ye be like this? You are his full-blooded elder sister—how can he not care for familial love and help you?” The mama felt slightly discontent. “Even Count Shun An who is not of the same mother as you will have to respectfully call you Jiejie in front of you.”
“What is he worth? Just a son of a concubine,” Lin Ping Junzhu said disdainfully. “In the future, do not mention him in front of me. Even if I am not on good terms with Yan Jin Qiu, I will not have a relationship with the son of a concubine.”
The mama became silent. She also knew what the old wang ye had done in the past, so she could not urge and sighed.
“I had originally thought that Hua shi is a woman with beauty and nothing else. But now it seems that she is very good at maintaining appearances.” Lin Ping Junzhu picked up the gift list that she threw mockingly to the side. “Someone come and move these in the stores.” Her Junzhu Fu did not lack for these things.
What qualification did Hua shi have to pity her?
The rain continued to come down. It might have been due to the weather or the assassination of Lin Ping Junma that the officials and the common people in Jing all felt unsafe. Once the sky darkened, there were only the patrols of the Guard Office and the night watch that were on the street. There were not many figures.
Even the officials who prepared to attend court in the morning had double the normal amount of servants with them. They also added a thick layer of copper to their carriages, and the curtains on their carriages were changed to sliding doors.
The terrified atmosphere of Jing caused Qilong Emperor to be furious. Right under the foot of the Heavenly Son, a junma had been assassinated very close to his own fu. This culprit was challenging him, the Emperor, and slapping his and the Crown Prince’s face.
Who in Jing did not know that while Luo Zhong Zheng was the husband of Xian Wang‘s sister, he was on distant terms with Xian Wang and close to the Crown Prince? Everyone knew that, the night of the assassination, the junma had just left the Crown Prince’s fu.
Qilong Emperor had once suspected that Yan Jin Qiu could be behind all of this, but when he thought about it, Yan Jin Qiu was only interested in writing and drawing and was also on distant relations with Lin Ping Junzhu. After Luo Zhong Zheng was assassinated, his relationship with his sister was still cool. This honest attitude caused Qilong Emperor to unconsciously eliminate him.
Yan Bo Yi had a great reputation in court and was someone with a deep mind. He attracted Qilong Emperor’s suspicions, especially when he heard that there had been scraps from Yan Bo Yi’s clothes found on the bodies of the two red-lights females who had been killed before.
Maybe other people would feel that only idiots would leave behind such clear evidence for people to feel suspicious about, but there were also smart people who would leave this precisely so people would not suspect them.
Yan Bo Yi could likely do this based on his usual conduct.
This time, Qilong Emperor was not willing to give the case to Yan Bo Yi to investigate, so he moved Yan Bo Yi from the Judicial Office to the Ministry of Works. He allowed others to speculate and was not willing to have him stay in this position.
“Is there someone young and reliable in the Guard Office?” Qilong Emperor summoned the Chief Justice of the Justice Office and asked about the Guard Office.
Hearing this, the Chief Justice’s thoughts swirled. Being picked by the Emperor now was probably a calamity and not good fortune, so he hesitated slightly before recommending Junior Official Zhang Hou.
“Zhang Hou?” Qilong Emperor thought and then said, “It is the young person who took control of the rampaging horse of the Imperial Brother-in-law?”
“Your Majesty, it is that person.” The Chief Justice bowed and said, “This person is honest. While he is not flexible at times, he fulfills his duties.”
“En, the Judicial Office needs people like this. Since that is the case, then have him go to the Judicial Office to investigate this matter.” Qilong Emperor had quickly ran through his memories of Zhang Hou’s background and connections. He made sure that this person’s background was average and that he did not belong to any faction before he said, “In the Judicial Office, he will also be in the position of Junior Official.”
Even though the titles were both Junior Official, a Judicial Office Junior Official was much higher and prestigious than a Junior Official of the Guard Office. If someone received a promotion like this at a usual time, other people would be jealous, but right now, many people felt sympathy towards Zhang Hou for not getting on good terms with his superiors.
If he was the junior official of the Guard Office, he could keep his position, but now that he went to be Junior Official of the Judicial Office and was responsible for the assassination of Lin Ping Junma, he had basically reached the end of his career. There was also the possibility that he would not be able to keep his life.
The changes in position in court were too distant from Hua Xi Wan. After she and Yan Jin Qiu had their talk, her days were even more carefree. She even put out a weapon rack in the yard. Even though she had only learned bare-handed fighting and how to use a whip from the aunts of the Lu Clan, this did not stop her from putting these things in the yard.
According to her, putting these things in the yard would ward off evil spirits. Yan Jin Qiu was helpless and could only get people to put out some weapons that looked intimidating but were actually blunt in order to gain the smile of the beauty.
Also, he knew that Hua Xi Wan was not a person to do needless things. She definitely had her reasons for putting these things out.
The common saying was that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That is, many people like to think well of the person they like. In reality, Hua Xi Wan did not have any other meaning in putting out a weapon rack except that she felt there was more of an atmosphere when she was training in the yard.
However, she had the servants take it down when she was not practicing. She would only put it out during her practice, therefore this was not something that was astounding to the world.
As to the strange rumors outside that Xian Wang Fei beat Xian Wang with a whip, that was not something she knew about.