“Ban Hua.” At one sight of Ban Hua, Jiang Luo felt his whole body was uncomfortable. At the Autumn Hunting Ban Hua had acted crazy and caused him a frustrating loss. The anger from that time hadn’t dissipated yet and now her joyful smile made the fire of anger in his chest clambered up.
“Your Highness the Second Prince.” Ban Huai bowed towards Jiang Luo, but the expression on his face wasn’t quite right and he moved in front of Ban Hua as if blocking Jiang Luo.
“Marquis Jingting, ” Jiang Luo sneered, looked at Ban Huai with disdain, “I heard when Duke Jingting was still alive, his arrows could hit the target from 100 paces distance. This Prince has always wanted to see it, I wonder if Marquis Jingting could give a few pointers.”
All Palace staff around them fell silent, everyone in the Court knew that Marquis Jingting wasn’t good at riding and archery. Today His Highness the Second Prince had openly mocked Marquis Jingting as useless, everyone felt unlucky that they happened to be serving there, and hating their ears for hearing it.
“Second Prince please don’t make fun of weichen1* Weichen 微臣 = This Humble Official. Noone in the Capital doesn’t know that weichen is incapable of physical activities2* Shoulders can’t carry, hands can’t lift 肩不能挑，手不能抗 = weak, incapable of physical activities, inept in literature and unskilled in martial arts. Weichen could still give pointers in the matter of drinks and entertainment, but not on archery.”
Ban Huai had lived this long, he had heard harsher ridicules so Second Prince’s insult didn’t affect him at all. “But if Your Highness really liked archery, my dog daughter’s style is quite similar to my father’s, it is better to ask her than asking weichen.”
Other people modestly called their sons ‘a dog son’, Ban Huai had an original approach of calling his daughter ‘a dog daughter’. It was akin to saying that ‘even though my precious daughter was a girl, but she was more than qualified for instructing you this prince in the matter of archery’.
Second Prince coldly laughed, “Fule Junzhu clearly is more than comparable to men, all the men in world are humbled and withdraw in shame3* 退避三舍 = give way in the face of superior strength. The 三 here means three, Ban Hua’s engagements had been withdrawn three times..”
This was a reference to the matter of Ban Hua’s engagements, but was Ban Hua the type of person who could suffer losses?
Actually Ban Hua quite admired the Second Prince. He always lost in her hand but instead of learning his lessons, he still came running to her spouting his mouth. This time he had crossed the limit by ridiculing her father, how could this be tolerated?
“Your Highness the Second Prince, I know you dislike me. I don’t mind that you taunt and ridicule me about other people withdrawing their engagements with me, but why do you humiliate my father as well?”
Ban Hua tugged on the Second Prince’s sleeve. Her voice trembled, her expression aggrieved, and the rims of her eyes reddened,
“As the saying goes, rulers’ insult is the subjects’ demise, fathers’ insult is the sons’ end. I will admit my mistakes if I have done wrong, but how could you treat my father like this?!”
“Let go! What are you pulling me for?!” The Second Prince tried to pull back his sleeve to no avail, he struggled again but still couldn’t gain a jot. He was inwardly shocked, this Ban Hua looked tender and charming, what did she eat to grow up this strong?
“I am not talking to you. We ask His Majesty to judge!” Ban Hua tugged once and the Second Prince stumbled, he was dragged across the door by her.
“My good daughter, you mustn’t!” Ban Huai jolted back.
He turned to grab Ban Hua but his legs swayed and he fell on the ground. By the time Palace staff ran over to help him get up, Fule Junzhu and the Second Prince had entered the Palace, even their shadows had long gone.
Jiang Luo only reacted after he was inside, he chided in low voice, “Ban Hua, you are crazy!”.
He pushed her once, Ban Hua staggered backward into a fine long-necked porcelain vase and tumbled to the ground.
Not right, he didn’t use that much strength on the push…..
The stifled feeling from the Autumn Hunt came over him again. He looked up to see his Father Emperor and his benevolent eldest brother staring at them with an odd expression.
“Cousin4* Biaomei 表妹 = younger matrilineal female cousin.” After being stunned for a moment, the Crown Prince wanted to help Ban Hua get up but then he remembered that men and women should keep their distance. Fortunately the eunuchs and palace maids around them were clever enough to rush forward to help Ban Hua and cleaned up the pieces of the broken vase.
Ban Hua had tender skin, so very tender that just a light scratch could leave a red line. After knocking the vase, her left arm was instantly red and swollen, it was quite shocking to see. The Emperor and the Crown Prince couldn’t stare at a young lady’s arm, but a glance was enough to make them scared.
“Why are you still standing there, quick call a doctor.” Emperor Yunqing glared at the eunuchs, but he didn’t spare a glance at Jiang Luo. “Hua Girl, sit down first. Don’t move the arm in case it hurts the bones.”
Men, especially those with high status, had never been able to withstand the sight of a delicate5* 如花似玉 = delicate as a flower, refined as a precious jade. young lady suffering injuries. It wasn’t about men and women but more from viewing of themselves as the superior.
“Father, Brother, she fell down by herself. It has nothing to do with me.” Jiang Luo felt the way everyone looked at him wasn’t right. The eunuchs and the palace maids were still lowering their heads in appropriate manner, but their attitudes towards him were different from towards his elder brother.
“You shut up!” Emperor Yunqing indulged his sons but he still couldn’t bear to see a violent one. It was a different matter if had it been a palace maid, but this was his niece, his grand-aunt’s granddaughter.
He had personally conferred her Junzhu title, and now she was injured in his Great Moon Palace, under the hands of his own son. If this was spread out, what would the officials think of him, how would the scholars criticise him?
Emperor Yunqing was still feeling guilty towards the Grand Princess6* It’s actually the Eldest Grand Princess (the previous Emperor’s eldest daughter) instead of the Grand Princess (the current Emperor’s eldest daughter), but we’ll keep it simpler following one of the previous translators. Unless the current Emperor’s eldest daughter appears at some point in the story, then we will use the ‘Eldest’ on Ban Hua’s grandma. who through all these years had never made any excessive request to him. His cousin Ban Huai was a wastrel but never caused much trouble either. And he was quite fond of Ban Hua this niece, so his heartache at her injury was genuine.
“Father, she, she…..” Even if Jiang Luo’s whole body suddenly turned into mouths, he wouldn’t be able clear it up, everyone saw him pushed Ban Hua. “Please believe erchen7* Erchen 儿臣 = This Humble Official Son.. Erchen really didn’t push hard, she hit herself.”
“Second Brother!” The Crown Prince’s voice was sharp as he saw Ban Hua’s head bowed while trying to hold her tears, “Cousin is a girl, how could you treat her like this?”
“What did I do to her?” Jiang Luo could hardly breathe, he coldly snorted, “Don’t you put up your Eastern Palace show on me, you don’t need to lecture me!”
Emperor Yunqing was about to rage at these words when Ban Huai ran inside.
“Your Majesty!” As soon as he entered, Ban Huai buried his head on the floor and apologised, “Your Majesty, weichen had not been strict enough in teaching my daughter, she had disturbed Your Majesty, please Your Majesty forgive me.”
Emperor Yunqing and the Crown Prince were both embarrassed at Ban Huai’s panic-stricken and guilty look. Their family member had pushed and injured the delicate little girl, but the girl’s father asked them for forgiveness, this was really……
It had been a long time since the Emperor was this embarrassed, as he turned to Ban Hua and saw her blinking her big eyes to him, the embarrassment turned into a rage.
“Have the manner and moral you learned these years been eaten by the dogs?! Why haven’t you apologise to Hua Hua yet.”
Jiang Luo felt his neck stiff, he would love to spurt a mouthful of curses but at this point he obviously couldn’t, he could only savagely glared at Ban Hua without a word.
“Aiyo, my good girl, what happened to your hand?” Ban Huai saw Ban Hua’s wrist was swollen with red and green colours, his voice changed, “Is it painful, does it hurt the bones?”
Emperor Yunqing signalled with his eyes, and the Crown Prince approached Ban Huai who was circling his daughter, “Marquis, I am to blame for this matter, I didn’t stop Second Brother…..”
“Second Prince?!” Ban Huai turned to fix his eyes on Jiang Luo. The expression on his face kept changing, in the end his shoulders slumped.
“Your Majesty, weichen is incompetent. Since young I have failed in literature and martial arts, I have disgraced the face of the royal family, it is all weichen’s fault that the Second Prince dislikes us father and daughter. My daughter was careless when walking and bumped her arm, it has nothing to do with the Second Prince, weichen will take her back for medical treatment.”
Emperor Yunqing saw Ban Huai wanted to save the Second Prince’s reputation. This led him to think back to his childhood when he had accidently broken his father’s favourite thing. The former Emperor was so angry that he thought of disposing the Crown Prince. He was terribly scared but Ban Huai this cousin unexpectedly stepped up and took the blame for him.
When he thanked Ban Huai, Ban Huai only said it was fine for him to be reprimanded a few words, as long as he the Crown Prince was fine. After all these years, Ban Huai never mentioned it again and he had also gradually forgotten, but Ban Huai’s words just now had reminded him of that afternoon.
“Cousin, even if you don’t blame him, I still have to punish, ” Emperor Yunqing’s face was dark as he said to the Second Prince, “You haven’t learned your manner well so you have to copy the books, and don’t leave the Palace before the New Year festival.”
A grown-up prince being told to copy books to learn manner and moral was a slap on the face. The Second Prince was almost mad with anger, who was actually the Emperor’s child, Ban Hua or him?!
The Ban father and daughter left the Palace under the guilty gazes of the Emperor and the Crown Prince. When they were back home, Ban Hua shook her arms, all the aggravation and distressed looks earlier vanished at once.
Drinking the tea that Ban Heng poured her, “Jiang Luo this guy, if only he wasn’t a prince, I would have let someone put a sack over him and beat him to death.”
Yin-shi came with a box of ointment and helped Ban Hua applying medicine, “Your arm is bruised and you are still thinking that?”
It was unknown how this girl inherited such tender and fair skin that left marks with just the slightest touch. It’s currently fine as she was living pampered, but how about five years in the future.
“It’s not right. Father, Sister, you two had made such a scene, why were you still helping Jiang Luo to cover it up?” Ban Heng looked at Ban Hua in confusion. Her sister was a believer of ‘an eye for an eye’, and she was the kind to hold a grudge for a lifetime, she wouldn’t had repaid an offense with kindness.
“There is no secret in the Palace.” Yin-shi put the medicine down and laughed in mockery, “Unless everyone in the Great Moon Palace are wiped, every thing spreads sooner or later.”
The Second Prince had been restless recently, the long-suffering supporters of Crown Prince’s wouldn’t let go of this chance. In the face of power, what was the value of being imperial blood brothers?
Ban Heng inhaled a breath of cold air, “His Majesty won’t suspect that it was us, will he?”
“I have told the Imperial Doctor that Ban Hua was careless and fell down by herself, haven’t I?” Yin-shi said as a-matter-of-fact, “Since we have said it was an accident, it’s all nothing to do with us.”
In Cheng’an residence, the steward changed the tea cup for Rong Xia. Thinking that Master had been reading for a long time, he said, “Master, when I was outside just now I heard a rumour about the Second Prince.”
“What rumour?” Rong Xia didn’t look up. That prince had always been fidgety, rumours about him were nothing new.
“It’s said that the Second Prince had broken Fule Junzhu’s arm at the entrance of the Great Moon Palace.”
- 1* Weichen 微臣 = This Humble Official
- 2* Shoulders can’t carry, hands can’t lift 肩不能挑，手不能抗 = weak, incapable of physical activities
- 3* 退避三舍 = give way in the face of superior strength. The 三 here means three, Ban Hua’s engagements had been withdrawn three times.
- 4* Biaomei 表妹 = younger matrilineal female cousin
- 5* 如花似玉 = delicate as a flower, refined as a precious jade.
- 6* It’s actually the Eldest Grand Princess (the previous Emperor’s eldest daughter) instead of the Grand Princess (the current Emperor’s eldest daughter), but we’ll keep it simpler following one of the previous translators. Unless the current Emperor’s eldest daughter appears at some point in the story, then we will use the ‘Eldest’ on Ban Hua’s grandma.
- 7* Erchen 儿臣 = This Humble Official Son.