The Grand Princess’ residence had been cleaned up in and out several times but the stewards were still unsatisfied, every corner had been inspected multiple times that not even a bug was spared.
When Ban Hua and Ban Heng arrived, the residence had just been checked three or four times. The siblings found the Grand Princess and praised the efforts of the residence’s staff.
“I can see everyone is very happy whenever you two are here, must be because you always say nice things.” The Grand Princess was wearing a headband, her whole person looked benevolent and blessed, “Hua Hua show me your arm, how is the injury?”
The Grand Princess lifted Ban Hua’s sleeve, there was a light bruise which would not be visible if Ban Hua’s skin hadn’t been that light.
After seeing it, the Grand Princess instantly understood her family’s Hua Hua had been playing mischief again. She lowered the sleeve and laughed helplessly, “You this girl.”
“Who told him to say bad things. I have tried several times but he still didn’t understand, so I had to teach him what bad luck was.” Ban Hua reached out to hug the Grand Princess, “If he didn’t provoke me, I wouldn’t have bothered with him.”
The Grand Princess had eyes and ears in the Palace, she was very clear of everything from beginning to the end, she knew why Ban Hua did it.
She stroked Ban Hua’s head lovingly, “You this girl, you really won’t let anyone push you around even just a little. I don’t know who in the future can stand your temper.”
She was the one who spoiled the children until they became mediocre and useless, and she was concerned when they were taunted, but there were things younger people could do that she couldn’t.
“If there is noone then I just don’t marry.” Ban Hua leaned on the Grand Princess, “Not marrying isn’t bad either.”
The Grand Princess rubbed the top of her hair, she laughed with a gentle expression and stopped talking about marriage.
The siblings were actually there to deliver the tea leaves, the banquet menu and the guest list, but when they walked out after lunch, their hands were full of various large and small bags, just how it usually was.
“Sis, did we come to deliver things, or to pick up things?” Ban Heng smiled widely as he remembered the silvers grandmother had shoved into his hand. “As usual Grandmother is really the most generous.”
“Give it to me.” Ban Hua put her hand in front of him.
“What, why?” Ban Heng stared at Ban Hua warily, his hand covering his chest, “Grandmother gave it to me.”
“If you keep it yourself then don’t ever come to me for money again. Or, you give it to me and I help you keep it.” Ban Hua spoke lazily, “I am not forcing you.”
Ban Heng looked at her, and felt the silver in his chest. After hesitating for a long time, he shoved the silver into Ban Hua’s hands. He turned away to avoid looking at the silver that had just failed to be his, “Take it, take it.”
“This is the correct way, ” Ban Hua smiled widely and put the silver away, “Carrying so much money at such a young age, don’t learn bad things.”
Ban Heng was very unhappy, he didn’t want to talk.
“Didn’t you say you wanted a fan?” Ban Hua get on her horse, “Let’s go, Sister come with you to buy one.”
Ban Heng instantly turned joyous and the matter of the silver was dropped out of his mind, he immediately got on the horse and obediently followed behind Ban Hua. He was very eager and polite all the way, afraid of making Ban Hua upset and changed her mind about the fan.
The recent trend in his circle was fans, the more expensive the more prestigious it was. He had plenty of fans already, but one never had enough to show off.
“I really can’t understand what you all think. Playing with fans in the middle of an autumn, do you think you’d look elegant, or look silly?” Ban Hua was slightly scornful of the trend, “Why is it that becoming a zhuangyuan1* Zhuangyuan 状元 = the top scorer in palace examination. is never trendy for you people?”
“Sis, we are just idlers, what’s the point of being smart?” Ban Heng self-righteously said, “National affairs are for the national pillars to worry about. We have already contributed to the great cause by not dragging them down.”
On this topic, Ban Heng also said in low voice, “Aren’t you just the same as us.”
Ban Hua shoot him a glance, he immediately stopped talking.
When the siblings came to the entrance of the shop, they heard the crying sound of a woman and a child. Not far away a large man was beating and cursing the woman, she carefully tried to shield the little girl in her arms, all of the man’s fists fell on her body.
“What is going on?” Ban Hua frowned with disgust in her eyes.
“Noble Lady please don’t be angry, This Humble One will drive them away.” The shop manager then led three people to drive them away.
“Wait.” Ban Hua called the shop manager, “A big man is bullying a woman and a child, and noone cares?”
“Noble Lady doesn’t know, they are a family of three. The wife couldn’t give birth to a son, and her maternal family often come to Butcher Wang’s house to scrounge and freeload, so she is not respected. “The shop manager shook his head, “We’ll drive them away so they won’t spoil your enjoyment.”
Being with an inconsiderate man was bad enough, and with her own family so ungrateful, this woman was destined for a lifetime of bad luck.
Ban Hua saw the fierce butcher had stopped cursing, he was now busying himself bowing and scraping in front of the shop manager. The shop manager seemed to have said something to him, the butcher glanced at Ban Hua’s direction but didn’t dare to look again, he bent down and pulled the woman up from the ground.
The woman didn’t dare to resist, she let her husband dragged her away with the crying daughter in tow.
Ban Hua bought Ban Heng the fan he wanted, but unexpectedly there was not much joy on his face, she perplexedly asked, “What is it? Didn’t you just say you want this fan a few days ago, why are you unhappy now? ”
“Sis.” Ban Heng gravely looked at Ban Hua, “When we go back, I will start practising martial arts, please train me well.”
“What happened to you?” Ban Hua shoved the fan box into Ban Heng’s hand, “Alright. It’s bought already, you don’t have to please me.”
“I am serious.” Ban Heng squeeze the box tightly, “I will really practise when we are back home.”
Ban Hua patted his shoulder, “En en. Fine, go back and practise.”
“Yo, aren’t these my nephew and niece?” Changqing-wang saw the siblings at the front of the shop, “What good things have you bought?”
“Greetings, Wangye.” The siblings saluted Changqing-wang. Ban Hua saw Rong Xia besides him, she winked at Rong Xia. Noticing her small gesture, Rong Xia couldn’t help but showed a slight smile on his face.
“No need to be so polite with your own family.” Changqing-wang looked at Ban Hua, “I heard your hand was injured, is it critical?”
“Nothing serious.” Ban Hua’s face was full of a lovable smile, “The doctor said it didn’t hurt the bones. Just need to apply medicine regularly and it will be fine after a few days of rest.”
“I am relieved then.” Changqing-wang looked at the sky, “It’s still early, come to my residence for a while, I have something good to show you.”
Changqing-wang was considered a scholarly prodigal in the Capital, his reputation was better than Ban Heng because he was able to compose poems and drew paintings, but in the end he was still a do-nothing idler.
Hearing this some suspicion appeared on Ban Hua’s face, “Could it be some genuine last editions things?” These kind of things, even if it had been the rarer ones, the siblings had no interest to see.
“Don’t worry, not those boring stuff.” Changqing-wang beckoned, “Go go go, it’s interesting for real.” And so the Ban siblings was abducted by Changqing-wang.
The official residence of Changqing-wang’s was built on the eastern side of the city, it was only two streets away from Jingting mansion but since they didn’t really interract with each other, the Ban siblings were not familiar with this uncle Changqing-wang.
Inside the Wangfu, Ban Hua saw Changqing Wangfu2* Wangfu 王府 = a prince’s residence. maids were all exceptionally beautiful. Especially the maids and young servants who got to directly serve the master, they looked to have been carefully selected by their faces, it was difficult to find an ordinary looking face there.
After they were seated, Ban Hua tasted a bite of some pastries and stopped.
Rong Xia noticed her slight movement, he thought what a pampered young miss, she was so particular with her food. Despite thinking so, he switched the pastries in front of himself with Ban Hua’s.
Never mind, she’s still young.
“En?” Ban Hua eyes widened as she looked at Rong Xia.
“Want a taste?” Rong Xia smiled at her, the long white fingers were on the tea cup.
Such an appealing and exquisite scenery, a gentleman as fine as jade. What a beauty, if only he hadn’t been a Count, she would have kept him at home to look at her spare time, he would be good for her appetite.
Ban Hua picked a piece of pastry to try.
“How is it?” Rong Xia asked in low voice.
“It is fine.” Ban Hua licked her lips. The pastry was average, but the feast for the eyes was great.
Rong Xia saw her moist lips, averted his eyes and lowered his head to take a sip.
Not long after, a young servant came with a bird cage, there was a very ugly myna bird in it.
Ban Heng looked skeptically at Changqing-wang, what was interesting about this thing?
“I bought this little thing for 200 liangs. Not only it can speak, but it can also recite poems.” Changqing teased the myna with a piece of bird food, “Come on, Duofu, say something.”
“Greetings Wangye! Greetings Wangye!”
“Come, recite a poem.”
“Goose, goose, goose, bend your neck and sing to the sky ……”
After Changqing-wang finished showing off the myna bird’s skills, he looked at the Ban siblings with a smug expression, “How is that?”
“Too ugly!” Ban Hua was blunt, she shook her head, “Don’t like.”
“It’s ugly, but smart.” Changqing-wang took a closer look at the myna bird, he also felt it a little ugly, “Quite amusing to play with.”
The Ban siblings looked at each other. This one idler was still on the basic level of fun and didn’t know how to invent and innovate.
“His Majesty has a parrot that’s better looking than this one, and it could sing.”
Something Ban Hua said had irritated the myna bird, it suddenly fluttered in it’s cage.
“Long live Changqing-wang!”
“Long live Changqing-wang!”
Everyone’s face suddenly changed dramatically, Changqing-wang opened the cage and grabbed the myna’s neck, with one twist that myna bird had stopped making sounds forever.
The whole room was deathly silent as the bird’s sound vanished.
“Good trick, what a good trick!” Changqing-wang knocked the bird cage to the ground, his face was as dark as ink.
If he didn’t suddenly had a whim to play with his nephew and niece, he wouldn’t have known there was something wrong with this myna bird.
In the whole Daye country, the only person who could be saluted with ‘Long live’ was the Emperor. A Junwang3* Junwang 郡王 = a prince of the second rank cousin4* Tangdi 堂弟 = younger patrilineal male cousin who only had royal senior blood without any real power saluting himself ‘Long live’ was simply looking for death.
“Cousin niece, this uncle is indebted to you,” Changqing-wang turned to Ban Hua, “I was going to invite you all for dinner, but I am afraid today is not possible.”
“Are you going to the Palace?” Ban Hua looked at the bird cage on the floor. The 200 liangs was a waste.
“Going to the Palace for what?” Changqing-wang looked at her, didn’t really understand what she meant by that.
“His Majesty is your cousin5* Tangxiong 堂兄 = an older patrilineal male cousin, isn’t he your biggest support?” Ban Hua was straightforward, “Of course to report to the Palace.”
T/N: Ban Hua’s grandma was actually the Eldest Grand Princess (the previous Emperor’s eldest daughter) instead of just the Grand Princess (the current Emperor’s eldest daughter). But we’ll keep it simpler just like what one of the previous translators did. Unless if at some point in the story the current Emperor’s eldest daughter appears, then we will add the ‘Eldest’ on Ban Hua’s grandma.
- 1* Zhuangyuan 状元 = the top scorer in palace examination.
- 2* Wangfu 王府 = a prince’s residence.
- 3* Junwang 郡王 = a prince of the second rank
- 4* Tangdi 堂弟 = younger patrilineal male cousin
- 5* Tangxiong 堂兄 = an older patrilineal male cousin