Chapter 52: Hard to Fathom a Monarch’s Heart
Night has come and the the lanterns inside and outside Qing Feng Hall were lighted up. It was not very bright in the courtyard but it was enveloped in a warm glow. When Gao Jing step out of the chambers, he stood one zhang (1 zhang = 10 feet) away from the door and wait, with a calm yet expressionless face. There were may new palace maids today and even though they were quietly working, Fu Ling felt crowded and was a little annoyed. Walking out of Qing Feng Hall, the early autumn night wind was blowing. Fu Ling unconsciously shivered but still stood in the wind for a long time.
“Older sister Fu Ling, do you still remember me?”
A gentle female voice rang by her ears which made Fu Ling look back. A female clad in the palace uniform smiled as she look at her with full of hope.
Fu Ling gently nodded her head and replied, “I remember, it’s Lan Fang. How did you come to Qing Feng Hall?”
Lan Fang knows that Fu Ling will definitely remember her but now her position was a female official and was also the confidant of her Ladyship. If she pretended not to remember her it would also not be strange. Hearing that Fu Ling remembering her, Lan Fang was secretly relieved and she smile, “You are now already a female official and still remembered me. This time I spend all of my money to put everything in order so that I can enter here. Both of us had also been through thick and thin, you must guide me well!”
It was originally like that, it is understandable for people to climb higher. The Laundry Bureau was actually not a good place to stay at. Fu Ling smiled, “Her Ladyship treat people magnanimously and her mind is clear. As long as one whole-heartedly serve, she would definitely not ill treat you.”
The corners of Lan Fang’s smile somewhat stiffen, but it was only for a moment before she bowed and replied obediently, “Yes, this servant will serve whole-heartedly.” Finishing her words, she did not forget to greet before withdrawing.
Just now it was “me”, now she had refer herself as servant. Fu Ling shook her head helplessly, what she say was indeed the truth, most likely Lan Fang felt that she was putting up an air around her.
“Older sister Lan-er, let this servant do this kind of work.”
Standing outside the door, through the half opened door to the hall, Fu Ling saw Lan Fang standing by Lan-er’s side talking respectfully and carefully.
Lan-er sized up the well-behaved palace maid beside her with a look and frowned, “Do you know how to do it?” Fu Ling was usually the one taking care of her Ladyship and now it would be her or Xia Yin to intervene. The tasks of doing laundry or sweeping, these kind of menial tasks did not require her to do. Seeing her Ladyship treasuring these Begonias, she casually trimmed the leaves.
Lan Fang saw that the expression on Lan-er’s face was not very good and quickly replied, “This servant had learned from many old Mamas on how to do flower arrangements and even though the skills would not be comparable to older sister, these type of tasks should naturally be done by us servants. Older sister can just point out from the side.”
Lan-er raise her eyebrows slightly, this palace maid’s mouth was sweet. She unceremoniously dump the scissors to Lan Fang and smile, “Then this would trouble you.”
Lan Fang looked alarmed as she anxiously said, “It is nothing. This servant just come here and don’t know anything and would need older sister for guidance.”
Lan-er nodded her head in satisfaction and took two steps before suddenly asking, “What is your name?”
“This servant name is Lan Fang.”
Giving her another look, Lan-er smiled, “Then you trim it first and I will come over later to take a look.”
“Yes.” Lan Fang answered as she respectfully bowed and Lan-er returned back to her room in a good mood. The respectful expression on Lan Fang’s face immediately faded but she actually did the work very seriously.
Fu Ling sighed, perhaps Lan Fang type of person would be more suited to live in the Palace and all she needed was an opportunity. In fact everyone in the Inner Palace were in rivalry for favour, the mistresses wants to get the Emperor’s affections, the servants were also the same, hoping to get recognition from the mistresses. Everyone was fighting and even though she originally thought that Qing Feng and her were not those who fight but now it seems like Qing Feng was also fighting.
This is what the Inner Palace is. Fu Ling suddenly felt a little out of breath and she looked up to the starry sky. Suddenly a pair of aloof and indifferent eyes appeared in her mind. That person… Does he bother to compete? Realising that she was thinking about that cool and arrogant man, Fu Ling’s brow wrinkled up.
“Say what you need to say.”
The candlelight in the house was warm and atmosphere was arely harmonious. Yan Hong Tian’s tone was relaxed and it seems that his mood was also good. Qing Feng considered for a moment before speaking, “Xu Mama has been by the Empress Dowager’s side for a long time and for her to go out of the Palace now meant that the Empress Dowager do not have a caring person to look after her living conditions. Why not let her stay in the Palace to serve the Empress Dowager and atone for her offences.”
Yan Hong Tian’s hand was holding the wine cup and his cold eyes turn sombre, “What you wanted to say is that?”
His voice was light and neither joy or anger could be heard. The Empress Dowager have been repeatedly pleading and it was impossible for the Emperor not to give her face. Till now he did not answer to it, it could be that he wants to leave this favour to her, so for her to say this now, there should not be anything wrong? Qing Feng questioned herself another time before replying, “Yes.”
Since beloved Imperial Concubine has plead, it is approved.” As what she espected, Yan Hong Tian did not make things difficult for her but his voice was cold and some disappointed was also heard, but why? As she was looking up to see his expression, Yan Hong Tian suddenly stood up and opened the door and strode off, in her astonishment. Staring at the figure striding away, Qing Feng was filled with doubt. Was he angry just now? But what was he angry about? Or what was he expecting her to say?
The Emperor has left for quite some time but when Fu Ling entered, she still saw her Mistress;s brows knitted as she stood there blankly. She could not help but worried as she softly called out, “Mistress?”
Shaking her head, Qing Feng still could not read Yan Hong Tian’s mind and she might as well ignore it, “I am all right.”
When her eyes swept pass the ink black umbrella leaning against the wall, Qing Feng thought about it before speaking, “Fu Ling, it is no longer raining lately so keep the umbrella.” If this umbrella continued to be placed there, the next time Ming Ze see it, it would be even more embarrassing. She cannot always be in a sorry position in front of him!
“Yes,” Fu Ling picked up the umbrella and saw that there was some dust, thus she opened it up and used a cloth to clean the surface of the umbrella. When she close it up, she felt that there was an uneven area and looked at it carefully and found two words – Qi Yu? The words were so small and if one do not looking for it, one will not even find it. What was the meaning of the two words? Is it the name of umbrella’s owner or was it some kind of tag? Fu Ling did not care about being unable to guess it and close the umbrella before covering it up.
This umbrella has been placed in Mistress room for so long thus it certainly was special to Mistress. Opening the cupboard innermost drawer, Fu Ling place the umbrella inside, especially separating it from the other umbrellas.
As the sun sets, Qing Feng laid on the reclining chair in the middle of the courtyard to look at the courtyard full of Begonia. They have already adapted to the new soil and the foliage were lush and vibrant but unfortunately they were not yet flowering. Qing Feng ordered a few people to plant batches of feverfew along the walls. Over the summer and entering autumn, the feverfew were budding and it was particularly eye-catching when looking across the emerald undergrowth.
Under Fu Ling and Huang Jiao careful conditioning, her health has improved alot and she no longer felt pain in her abdominal. But Huang Jiao said that she was still too thin and Fu Ling would bring her different types of stews and soup to drink, just like today.
Just when Fu Ling brought over the freshly completed chicken soup over to Qing Feng, she heard her forlorn voice, “Fu Ling, do you find a little strange these days?”
Scooping the soup to near Qing Feng’s mouth, Fu Ling smiled, “There is nothing strange.” If anything was strange, it was them trying all sorts of way to let this Mistress’s body get better but she still remained that slim and thin (OMG!!! THAT IS SO HATEFUL!!!! I CAN GET FAT BY JUST DRINKING WATER!!!).
Sitting up and taking the bowl of soup from Fu Ling’s hands before she rolled her eyes and spoke, “I was saying that the Inner Palace is too peaceful already. The so-called witchcraft was not investigated and the Xin family did not continue to pursue it and the strangest thing was on the matter of the Emperor conferring me as an Imperial Concubine, both Empress Dowager did not make things difficult for me and even the Empress is that tolerant?”
Fu Ling smile bitterly, it seems that if she does not explain it clearly, this Mistress of hers will not have a peace of mind to rest, “The celebration is about to begin and all the different countries envoy and merchants have gathered in the capital. The Emperor said that the state affairs are the most important thus the witchcraft in the Inner Palace will end as it is and should not be mentioned. Prime Minister Lou will be getting married in these two days thus the West Empress Dowager is afraid that Princess Chao Yun will once again do something silly and have been accompanying her everyday and have not time for you. The East Empress Dowager have been on a cold war with the Emperor because of the confederation of Imperial Concubine and to add on Prime Minister Lou insisted on marrying Miss Qing Ling as wife, she was made furious. It is a good thing that at the end the Emperor allowed Xu Mama to remain in the Palace and the East Empress Dowager anger defused a little. These two days they are preparing to head to another courtyard to rest so that everything is out of sight and out of mind. As for the Empress…”
Qing Feng questioned alertly, “How about the Empress?”
Fu Ling sighed and smiled, “Over at the Empress side, her health have yet to be recovered thus her doors are closed and she does not go out or see anyone.”
“I still feel weird.” Shaking her head, Qing Feng did not believe that XIn Yue Ning will just drop the matter like this.
Pregnant woman tend to be easily irritable and suspicious. Fu Ling looked up at the skies and saw the setting sun and found that the rays are no longer that strong before smiling, “How about this servant accompany you out to walk around. The Imperial Physician said that walking is good for both you and the child.”
“That is good.”
Two of them slowly walked on the small ally in the Inner Palace and when the palace maids and eunuchs saw them afar, they all knelt on the ground. The other concubines either avoided them from afar and for those who were unable to do so, came forward to greet and left when she nodded her head. Is this the treatment given to all favoured concubines? The feeling of stepping someone under one’s feet is not a pleasant thing and it only made one tired. If she this type of fox that exploits the tiger’s might, felt that way, how about Yan Hong Tian? Qing Feng could not help but thought about how he left a few days back. She was sure that he was angry but did not understand why was he angry.
Qing Feng smiled, it was indeed the female in the Inner Palace have nothing much to do. Other thinking of that man, it was still thinking of that one man…
Approaching the Imperial Gardens, may different types of flower fragrance started to approach which made Qing Feng feel nausea. Picking up her handkerchief to cover her mouth and nose, she softly said, “The flower fragrance in the Imperial Gardens are too heavy which makes me uncomfortable. Let’s go somewhere else to walk.”
“Yes.” Knowing she prefers tranquillity, Fu Ling supported Qing Feng to the quiet trail at the side to walk.
The trail was lined with just grown Acacia, which during the early autumn would still have lush foliage and the setting sun fell through the layers of leaves shone on the grounds like spots. Qing Feng steps on the speckled trail and breath in the light fragrance of the leaves as her steps slowed down and a gentle smile slowly graced her lips. She like it here. Until the end of vestige of the sun was swallowed by the night, the sky got darker but Fu Ling saw that Qing Feng did not have the intention to return and lightly persuaded, “It is getting late, may Mistress return.”
Qing Feng, however, stood there not moving and pointed to the female nearby and asked, “Fu Ling, look at who that person is?”
Fu Ling look over intently and saw that a slender figure holding something looking around and moved forward cautiously. Looking at that appearance… Fu Ling replied, “It seems like it is Wu-er from Imperial Concubine Hui.”
The sky just gotten dark and she was already so sneaky. It must be something that cannot see the light of day. Qing Feng whispered, “Lets go over to take a look.”
After following Wu-er. they only saw her going through a small round door. Qing Feng wanted to continue to follow but Fu Ling stopped her, “Mistress, the Cold Palace is in front. It is most probable that Wu-er have gone to visit Imperial Concubine Hui. Your health is preciously and it would be better not to go on further. This servant will go and take a look.”
Whatever the situation of the Cold Palace was, other than Chen Zhen and Wu-er, she did not know anyone else and she was also pregnant, making it inappropriate to enter. After thinking a while, Qing Feng nodded her head in reply, “En. You must be careful yourself. No matter what you see, you must not make a noise and come out as soon as possible.”
The worry in Qing Feng eyes made Fu Ling’s heart warm as she smile and nodded, “En.”
After Fu Ling went it, Qing Feng was left alone. It was only then she realised that this place was remote and it was pitch dark here even though other palace would have a small lantern every three to five zhang (1 zhange = 10 feet). The trees along both side of the path were neglected and it has overgrown to taller than a person, which made it look like a dark mass when one look over now. The night wind started to blow, making Qing Feng gently rubber her arms and started to feel that it was a wrong decision to let Fu Ling go in.
After waiting for a while longer, Qing Feng got worried for Fu Ling and was hesitant if she should go into the Inner Palace to search when she suddenly heard the tress shaking from three to four zhang (1 zhang = 10 feet) away. The trees were shaking so badly that it seems like it was not caused by the wind. Qing Feng was surprised, who else was there?