“Wangye!” Wangfei saw Hui-wang was terribly angry, she went over to hold his arm, wiped her tears and tried to persuade him, “Ning-er is still young and doesn’t know a thing, don’t be angry and hurt your body. Just a teenage girl, which of them don’t like flowers and make ups? Moreover, she changed to this dress because of an accident, so there should be no problem.”
Hui-wang abruptly sat down on a not-new chair, he sighed, “Do you think I want to see you all live this way?”
When he was still alive, his Father Emperor loved him so much. Thinking the Crown Prince was too petty and wasn’t suitable to be an emperor, there was an intention to replace the Crown Prince. Had it not been because of the Grand Princess’ machination, the world would long had been his.
“Father,” Jiang Yuchen helped Kangning to sit down, his tone was heavy, “Are we to put up with this our whole life? The next generation, the next next generation, how long do we have to endure?”
“If we don’t endure it, there won’t be next generations,” Hui-wang sipped some tea to suppress the bitterness and helplessness in his heart, “Your marriage matter, your mother and I have discussed it.”
“Father?!” Jiang Yuchen looked at Hui-wang in shock, “Didn’t you say….”
“It’s different from the old days now.” Hui-wang looked at Kangning.
“Ban family girl is too brash and her temperament is too strong, you can’t handle her. Our family and Ban family also had issues in the past, and with their character, they would rather Ban Hua not marrying her whole life than let her come to our family.”
Jiang Yuchen nodded, “This Son never thinks of marrying such a woman either. I prefer gentler and virtous woman.”
“My son is really wise.” Hui-wang was very pleased. His daughter was quite disappointing lately so it’s good that the son was understanding. “I am relieved you think this way.”
Talking about this, he sighed again, “Ban Hua is indeed a beauty, however her type is only fine as a concubine. A man’s main wife should be someone who could keep a good home, dignified and magnanimous.”
The eyes of Wangfei besides him flashed as she thought about those concubines in the rear courtyard but she didn’t say anything.
All of the four Bans sat limply together on the chairs when they went back home, they didn’t want to move.
Ban Hua drank half cup of Luhua tea from her maid’s hand, only after that she felt halfway alive, “So tired.”
“Sis, you already knew today would be a tiring day, why did you wear shoes with gemstones, did you not feel heavy?” Ban Heng didn’t need any maid to serve him, he grabbed a bowl of tea himself and drank it down in big gulps.
“Such an important occasion, I’d rather be tired than not looking good.” Ban Hua pointed at her own shoulders, “Good Ruyi, come give me a massage.”
Ruyi walked behind her with a smile, lightly massaged her shoulders.
Ban Heng jealously looked at Ban Hua. The world was unfair to men, he would be called a pervert if he asked a maid to give him a massage.
“All of you, go take a bath and rest early,” Yin-shi felt her heart ached seeing her two children tired, she dispensed with the rule of having the whole family eating together, letting them go back to their own courtyard.
Ban Hua was soaking in the bath, the warm water made her drowsy.
“Junzhu, would you like This Slave to come inside to serve you?”
“No need.” Ban Hua touched her own arm. The greenish bruise had disappeared, under the warmth of the water, the area had turned pinkish.
Ruyi stood outside the screen knowing Ban Hua didn’t want to be served. Worrying that Ban Hua would be afraid being alone inside, she tried to find some interesting topics to talk about. “Junzhu, I found something interesting at the Grand Princess’ place today.”
“What it is?” Ban Hua was lazily lying on the side of the bath tub, she closed her eyes to gather spirit.
“Kangning Junzhu’s maid didn’t get along with Miss Shi’s maid, today I heard them arguing.” Ruyi thought about it, “It seems to be about Count Cheng’an.”
“Everyone likes beauty. Count Cheng’an is exceptionally elegant and good looking, everyone likes him,” Ban Hua’s good impression of him was in particular on his notably good looks, “If he wasn’t a Count, I am afraid he’d have been someone’s pet.”
Ruyi remembered the uncommonly good looking and talented people in Princess Anle’s villa, she couldn’t help but blushing slightly.
“Bring the clothes, I am getting up.”
The maids walked in one by one to help Ban Hua get dressed. Ruyi moved Ban Hua’s fine silky hair to the back, her fingers accidently touched the skin on Ban Hua’s neck.
She distractedly thought that no matter how beautiful he was, no man in the world could compare to Junzhu’s snowy white skin, noone could avert their eyes once they see it. Had she been a noble man, she would have proposed so she could pamper her in exchange to seeing her face everyday.
Those hypocrites in the Capital were never able to move their eyes away, but they still turned around and said that Miss Shi was the real beauty. Then why was it that whenever Junzhu and Miss Shi appeared at the same time, their eyes were glued to Junzhu, were they blind?
Ban Hua couldn’t wait for the maids to dry her hair completely, she had fallen into deep sleep on the bed.
Unexpectedly someone came the next day and said that His Majesty summoned her and Ban Heng into the Palace. Ban Hua had to get up to dress in front of the mirror.
Ban Hua didn’t know why His Majesty summoned them until they were inside the Great Moon Palace. Seeing Changqing-wang was crying inconsolably there, she could now guess the reason.
“This Official Daughter meets Your Majesty.”
Emperor Yunqing looked at the young girl standing three four steps away, her eyes darted to Changqing-wang from time to time, he asked, “Hua Hua, what are you looking at?”
“Your Majesty, what happened to His Highness Changqing-wang?” Ban Hua’s eyes moved from Changqing-wang to Emperor Yunqing, “Did you scold him?”
“Zhen don’t have the heart to scold him, just some treacherous people trying to ruin our brotherly relationship.” Emperor Yunqing pretended to just casually asked, “That time you were there too, tell me what happened to Eighth Brother?”
“Eighth Brother?” Ban Hua looked to just realised something, “This Official Daughter wasn’t sure either. That time His Highness Changqing-wang urged us to meet Eighth Brother, but Eighth Brother turned out to be very ugly. I said it wasn’t as good looking as Your Majesty’s parrot. Eighth Brother suddenly said ‘Long Live Changqing-wang’.”
Emperor Yunqing lowered his head to drink some tea, “En. And then?”
“Then I went home,” Ban Hua walked up one step closer to the Emperor, “Your Majesty, please investigate this carefully, the person who did this is very evil. Last time I also wanted a parrot after seeing Your Majesty’s, I thought of buying one to keep for fun, but with this thing happened, I better not.”
“Why not?” Emperor Yunqing felt better looking at the indignant Ban Hua, “Is it because your allowance is not enough?”
“Your Majesty, why do you keep mentioning this?” Ban Hua’s lips pouted, “It was already ages ago. Changqing-wang and Eunuch Wang are here, could Your Majesty give me some face.”
“Fine, fine, fine, not talking about it.” Emperor Yunqing glanced at Wang De. Wang De smiled helplessly and took two steps back.
“Say, why are you afraid of keeping a parrot?”
“This is your fault,” Ban Hua lifted her head at Emperor Yunqing, “You are always giving me good things and promote me, so many people are jealous of me. How if one day someone plays a trick on me, get me to buy a parrot that can sing ‘Long Live Fule Junzhu’, then I will be in trouble because only Your Majesty is Long Live. It is enough for This Official Daughter to receive Your Majesty’s love and protection.”
“What are you talking about, when you are married then your husband will love and protect you. Zhen would not interfere between husband and wife and let people call Zhen a meddlesome elder.”
“Your Majesty, you are my family, you have to support me.”
“Your Majesty, Count Cheng’an has arrived.” A eunuch in blue robe walked in.
“Announce.” Emperor Yunqing waved to dismiss the eunuch, he helplessly laughed at Ban Hua, “You, you always try to make me help you bully others.”
“You are This Official Daughter’s biggest backer, who else should I turn to.” Ban Hua’s voice was small, just enough for Emperor Yunqing to hear, and it immediately made him laughed loudly.
Wang De in the corner moved a little step back to his left as Count Cheng’an entered, Wang De’s head was slightly buried.
The bird seller was already dead when Changqing-wang found him. The cause of death was said to be drowning, allegedly he had too much wine and fell in the river. People around him say Eighth Brother was raised by the bird seller himself, he had considered it precious so noone else was allowed to touch it.
But why would an ordinary bird seller risk his life by training Eighth Brother to say ‘Long Live Changqing-wang’?
After painstakingly mulling over it for two days, thought about this and that, Changqing-wang realised Ban Hua’s suggestion of ‘filing a claim’ was still the best one to protect himself.
The current ruler was a very suspicious man, there must be spies planted in the house of someone like Changqing-wang. It’s still fine if the incident could be kept hidden, but if not then he would get into trouble.
That was how this early morning he had come to the Palace to ‘file a grievance’, bringing the bird cage and some findings with him.
After the greetings, Emperor Yunqing asked Count Cheng’an of what happened that day. The answer was exactly the same as Ban Hua’s.
Emperor Yunqing said to Changqing-wang, “Zhen think these people see Zhen trust you so much, so they try this malicious trick to divide us cousins. Don’t worry, Zhen will have this investigated thoroughly and will give you justice.”
Emperor Yunqing was a paranoid man, but once he decided on something he wouldn’t change his mind. When he favoured someone, like favouring Ban Hua, he was really good to that person. But if he disliked someone, whatever that person did were all eyesores and with ulterior motives, for example Hui-wang and his whole family.
Changqing-wang in his eyes was passably trustworthy, a somewhat more honest cousin. So once his suspicion was cleared, Emperor Yunqing no longer had any negative thought of Changqing-wang. In order to show his trust, Changqing-wang was even bestowed a stack of gifts to bring home.
However, in reality was there anyone he trusted?
Royal family’s Qinwangs1* Qinwang = prince of the first rank (usually sons of an emperor, either current or previous emperors’) and Junwangs2* Junwang 郡王 = a prince of the second rank were all locked inside this palm-sized Capital. They were said to have their own areas to rule, but without given any power to govern their fiefdoms, all of them had become mere idle and rich noble people.
“Right,” Emperor Yunqing lifted his head to look at Rong Xia who was standing next to Ban Heng, “This year Rong-qing3* Rong-qing = Official Rong, with 卿 means official. is 23 years old, right? You have been out of your mourning period last year, so it’s time to consider a marriage. Is there a lady that you admire?”
- 1* Qinwang = prince of the first rank (usually sons of an emperor, either current or previous emperors’)
- 2* Junwang 郡王 = a prince of the second rank
- 3* Rong-qing = Official Rong, with 卿 means official.