Chapter 41 The Banquet in the Palace
Mo Xuetong woke up rather early. However, it took some time for Mo Lan and the others to do her hair and makeup. When Mo Xuetong left, it was the peak period to enter the palace. Carriages after carriages drove through the palace gates in an orderly manner. Then, they drove onto the wide and neat road slowly. There were no other sounds but the crisp sounds of horse hooves.
Those who came were all from noble families. They had a strict upbringing and were in the palace. As such, they all behaved demurely and did not dare to speak loudly. If they embarrassed themselves here, it would not only be themselves they are embarrassing. Their family members might even lose their lives.
When they arrived at the location, they got off the carriage and onto a palanquin. They were then carried to the royal gardens. The flower appreciation festival was held at the southeastern area of the royal gardens. There was an autumn garden there where the blooms were all autumn blooms. There was mostly chrysanthemum there. There was a variety of beautiful chrysanthemum flowers, begonias, and tall osmanthus trees.
The osmanthuses were very fragrant. It was when the fragrance of the flowers was the strongest. The scent of the flowers made one feel relaxed and happy the moment they got off the palanquin. It was as if they were in the season when flowers bloom in the south of the Yangtze River.
Mo Lan carefully smoothed out her skirts when they got off the horse carriage. She even smoothed out the smallest crease.
It was still early and the banquet had not yet started. The young ladies gathered together in twos and threes, admiring the beautiful scenery of hundreds of flowers blooming. The Empress had arranged the banquet and had invited the children of the main branch of each family. This was a way for the royal family to gain control over their people, and also for families to match up. If both parties liked each other, they can even get the Empress to marry them. As such, it was even more leisurely than the usual banquets. It was normal for men and women to speak here.
In the Great Qin, there were not as many protocols between men and women at a banquet.
“Did anyone hear that it is not the first miss of the Mo Family who is attending today? It is the third miss who is said to be ugly, weird and arrogant who is here today.” The sounds of a few women laughing could be heard.
“Where did the third miss come from? Only the first miss is somewhat outstanding. The whole family is filled with children from concubines. It doesn’t even sound nice.”
“There is a main daughter. It is said that she has an odd temper and character. And is also ugly. That’s why Lord Mo left his main daughter behind in a border city when he entered the capital. Otherwise, why would they leave a main daughter behind? I guess she’s really ugly.”
“Is she really that terrifying?” Everyone was surprised!
“Of course, Mo Xuemin is really so pitiful. She’s so beautiful and talented. And she’s also so gentle, but she is only a concubine’s daughter. Last year, their family had no main daughter, which was why she could come. I fear she’s not as lucky this time.”
“That’s right. Otherwise, how could Mo Xuemin, a concubine daughter enjoy such a status in the capital? But no matter how good she is, she is still a concubine’s daughter.” Someone said with disdain.
“I heard that her birth mother is about to become the matriarch. Lord Mo will marry her soon.”
“Well, she still won’t be a true daughter of the main branch.”
A nasty temper, an odd temperament and ugly?
They really thought highly of her. She was so “famous” even though she had been left behind in Cloud City. It was evident how much they paid attention to her. They praised Mo Xuemin a lot, but said that she was ugly and untalented. A faint smile appeared on her lips. She looked elegant and beautiful in the flowers.
She was a beauty, but because of her young age, her figure had not fully developed. Her face still looked rather childish and cherubic. Her clear eyes were like brilliant pearls in the depth of the sea, shining with light and charm. Her face was crystal clear and her lips were ruby red. Her white satin skirts draped down elegantly on her as she stood among a bush of flowers. There were butterflies flying at her feet and the breeze blew gently on her. She looked innocent and beautiful.
The beautiful scenery became a simple sight around her.
Many were drawn to her figure standing under the tree and amongst the flowers. Her clothes were plain but elegant and beautiful. It complimented her skin color. There were many sighs. Whose daughter was this? She was so beautiful and elegant.
“Cousin, it is you. Why were you so late? I have been looking for you for a long while.” Luo Mingzhu appeared from nowhere. She went up to Mo Xuetong with a smile when she saw her.
“Second cousin. You’re here early. Tong’er was late and was just about to look for you. But I didn’t know where to find you and was getting worried!” There was a hint of shyness in her gentle and sweet voice.
“Cousin, I told you to come with me but you refused. See, you couldn’t find me, could you!” Luo Mingzhu nattered on. She was truly worried that Mo Xuetong would get lost, which was why she told Mo Xuetong to go to the General’s Mansion first before heading to the palace together. However, Mo Xuetong refused. The Mo Manor had rules, and she must not embarrass her father.
She was the main daughter of the Mo Manor, so she must not allow anyone to gossip about her that she did not even dare to go to a banquet alone. Even though she knew that Luo Mingzhu meant well, there were so many negative rumors about her. If she were not more careful, she might not be able to salvage her reputation. She would not tread on the same path as she did in her past life. She had lived two lives and knew how important reputation was to a woman.
“Many thanks, second cousin. I had just gotten off the carriage and had not waited long. I have troubled you to look for me.” Mo Xuetong explained with a smile.
“You. Sigh. Oh, did the First Miss from your manor come today? She is a concubine’s daughter, how could you bring her in?” Luo Mingzhu berated her with a glare and a smile. She was not truly angry. She took Mo Xuetong’s hand and they walked and stopped under a tree.
“Eldest Sister?” Mo Xuetong pretended to look surprised. “I didn’t bring her in!”
Mo Xuemin had indeed gotten into the palace. This was just as Mo Xuetong had guessed. She felt a chill run down her spine!
“How did she get in if you didn’t bring her in?” Luo Mingzhu was also surprised. She frowned and then spoke to the maid behind her, “The person I saw earlier was the First Miss Mo, right?”
Auntie Fang was in charge of everything in the Mo Family because Mo Xuetong was not around. As such, the First Miss Mo was always the one to welcome guests. While Luo Mingzhu and Mo Xuemin did not get along, they still met several times. Not only did Luo Mingzhu know Mo Xuemin, her maid did as well.
“Miss, it was indeed First Miss Mo who was with the other ladies earlier!” The maid answered respectfully.
“Look, your eldest sister is here. Did she really not come with you?” Luo Mingzhu pointed at the maid and asked with a loud voice.
Her voice was a little loud and sounded abrupt among the soft voices of the crowd. Many who were speaking around them could not help but turn to look at them.
Mo Xuetong tugged on Luo Mingzhu’s sleeves when she noticed that they had gathered the attention of those around them.
“What are you afraid of? If you were not the one to bring the first miss in, then was it someone else? How could that be? Who would take along the concubine’s daughter of another family in?” Luo Mingzhu held Mo Xuetong’s arm casually, insistent on having Mo Xuetong explain.
This was an interesting matter. The daughters of concubines were not allowed to come to the flower appreciation banquet. Even if there were any special circumstances, they should stay behind the main daughter. How could they come in with another person? And who had brought in someone like her? This was interesting. Many people started to pay attention to them.
Some of them even started to size Mo Xuetong up. They felt that the rumors were too much. They had heard from the earlier conversations that third miss Mo was reclusive and arrogant, untalented and ugly. What kind of rumor was this? If she was ugly, then there was nothing worth looking at.
The rumors were too fake!
If the rumors were fake, then who was the one to spread it?
Many began to grow curious! They tried to listen to Luo Mingzhu’s loud voice through the soft whisperings.
“I don’t know either. I just got here and don’t know anything. Is Eldest Sister really here? Second Cousin, can you take me to see her? Did she come to find me for something?” Mo Xuetong had a concerned smile on her face. Her brows were slightly pinched and she looked rather pitiful. It left a good impression on others, but they could also see her confusion.
“Cousin, you’d better forget it. Look at how your eldest sister is chatting so animatedly with a few of the other noble ladies. She has no intention of looking for you. She is obviously here to attend the banquet. She did not even tell you that she’s here. You’re too much, you are still worried that she’s here to look for you. She would have come long ago if she was here to look for you.” Luo Mingzhu said, not at all nicely. She was somewhat angry on behalf of Mo Xuetong.
“Your Eldest Sister is wearing really nice clothes today. Much effort had to be spent on those clothes. How could she be just dropping by.”
“Even though Eldest Sister’s clothing are newly made, she did not say that she was coming for the banquet. Could there be a mistake?” Mo Xuetong defended Mo Xuemin with a gentle smile.
“You are too much, why can’t you see things clearly! Forget it, stay away from her in the future!” Luo Mingzhu was so angry she wanted to slap Mo Xuetong. The mother and daughter pair were clearly after her position as the main daughter. However, Mo Xuetong was still so considerate towards them. How could she not be angry!
“Oh, this must be Third Miss Mo. You’re indeed…” said a sharp and pretentious voice. It was a woman wearing a gold flower embroidered dress standing under the tree next to theirs. Her voice was exaggeratedly loud and she looked at them challengingly. Her voice trailed off, leaving others to fill in the blanks.
Everyone was paying attention to their area. When they heard the woman intentionally raising her voice, they could not help but focus on them.
Luo Mingzhu grew upset before Mo Xuetong could speak. She said, “Ling Mingyan, why are you interrupting in our conversation? We are in the palace, not in the Ding General Manor. You only just got into trouble a few days ago, and you’re making trouble in the palace now. Don’t think that you can bully anyone. I will tell the Empress later if you continue to be so arrogant and presumptuous.
“Luo Mingzhu, are you not being presumptuous? I was speaking with Third Miss Mo. Who are you to meddle? You really think you are part of the palace that you can scold anyone you want in it? You want to tell the Empress? I want to go there too. I don’t believe that the Empress will help you and not me!” Ling Mingyan pointed at Luo Mingzhu and scolded her.
Judging by the current situation, the two had long been at loggerheads. Ling Mingyan. Luo Xuetong’s eyes shone. This was the main daughter of the Ding General Manor. How could she be so arrogant?
The Ding General was not only one of the nation-building families but was also related to the Empress on her maternal side. They were related to the Empress Dowager. As such, the Ding General Manor was more powerful than the other general manors. Was this why Ling Mingyan was so confident?