Chapter 73: Shu Chuan Courtyard (Part 1)
Qing Feng just turn over and her eyes were not opened yet when the a soft voice gently called out. It was Fu Ling’s voice. These days it was Ru Yi who took care of her and her diet so for Fu Ling to be waiting by her bed so early in the morning, it must be that something had happened.
As her abdomen was growing bigger and bigger, Qing Feng had to prop herself up from the bed slowly. Hearing some movement inside, Fu Ling opened the veil and went over to her bedside to carefully support Qing Feng up. After sitting up with difficulty, Qing Feng asked softly, “Why so early?”
Looking outside, Fu Ling replied laughingly, “It’s no longer early.” It is almost Sishi (modern timing: 9 – 11 am). The feotus was already at its seventh month and Mistress was no longer suffering from morning sickness and her diet was also normal. It was just that she was getting more lethargic and would always laze about.
Qing Feng glanced out of the window and noted that it was indeed not early any more. The warm winter sun shone throw the window frame and left a bright light in its wake. It was indeed rare to have such a good weather and it also affected Qing Feng. Breathing in deeply, she stretched lazily before asking, “Was there something the matter at Chen Zhen’s side?”
Fu Ling hesitated for a moment before she nodded and replied, “When this servant head over last night, there was always a feeling that someone was following…”
“Following?” Qing Feng whose eyes were only half opened suddenly opened wide, “Do you know who was it?”
“Did not see who was it but felt ill with ease.” Fu Ling replied as she quickly dampen the soft cotton towel and passed it to Qing Feng to wash her face. She know that it was not unbelievable to base on feelings to say that she was followed and the hardest what to escape from Mistress’s sharp eyes, so she replied as she was doing something else and hope that Mistress would not continue to question. As for why she was she not willing to mention about meeting Ming Ze, she herself did not have an answer to it.
Feeling? Obviously Qing Feng was not satisfied with these words. Since when had Fu Ling start to do things based on her feelings? Qing Feng took the cloth to wipe her face and then rain you replied, “In the future you should not personally go there. Find a trust-worthy old mama to run these tasks.”
“Yes.” Fu Ling let out a sigh of relief secretly and smiled as she picked up the wooden comb to style Qing Feng’s hair.
What was with the face of relief in the bronze mirror? Fu Ling was hiding something from her… Qing Feng’s good mood instantly disappeared.
Qing Feng wanted to question but felt that it was inappropriate. From Fu Ling’s reaction in the morning, it should be related to last night’s following. Could it be that she knew who was following but did not want to tell? Or was it that there was other things that she deliberately want to hide? Her heart grew suspicious but Qing Feng’s expression did not reveal anything. Until Fu Ling finished combing her hair did she casually asked, “Those people are still obeying?”
“Rest assure Mistress, as you have expected, they were worried about their future since Imperial Concubine Hui was banished to the Cold Palace and an opportunity was given by you for them. This was something majority wish for.” Imperial Concubine Hui was indeed trustworthy, the day after that day she handed over the list of personnel that she had control over. When she approached those people, she could felt that they had long gotten Imperial Concubine Hui’s instruction and was very willing to work for Mistress.
Majority… That means that there was still some hard nuts to crack. Qing Feng was not anxious as she whispered, “For those who do not follow, let Chen Zhen write a letter personally to tell to clearly inform them of the importance. If they still do not follow… Watch carefully their next move before deciding the next course of action. And one more thing, go and investigate about Shui Xin.”
“Yes.” Without Mistress instruction, ever since the last time Imperial Concubine Hui mentioned, she had already had people making inquiries but the results were very disappointing.
“Your Ladyship, Xiao Attendant request an audience.” Ru Yi gentle voice came from outside the screen.
Xiao Yu? What wind blew her over? Qing Feng thought for a bit and said, “Invite her in.”
When Xiao Yu entered the house, Qing Feng just came out from the screen and did not walk further forward. Xiao Yu graciously bowed, “This servant greets Imperial Concubine Qing.”
Raising her hand lightly to indicate that she dispense ceremony, Qing Feng laughed, “You are here for any matter?” Towards Ciao Yu, this Imperial femail official, Qing Feng have an inexplicit liking towards her, a tea-loving female who knows everything about tea naturally have a different kind of charm.
Xiao Yu was not long-winded and replied, “To read a degree.”
Qing Feng’s brows slightly raised but she did not ask. Xiao Yu did not like to keep one in suspense thus replied, “The Emperor degreed for your Ladyship to be received in Shu Chuan Courtyard before Weishi (modern timing: 1 – 3 pm).”
“Shu Chuan Courtyard?” What place is that? Fu Ling whispered into Qing Feng’s ears, “Shu Chuan Courtyard is an Imperial Courtyard that is located in the East of the capital that the Emperor used to rest and relax.”
This meant that it would be leaving the Palace? The last time she left the Palace, she met Eldest Sister and Youngest Sister. This time Yan Hong Tian bring her out of the Palace, what other interesting things was waiting for her? After hiding in the small house for the past few days, she started to hate it. Leaving the Palace could also avoid the spying from the Palace. Qing Feng started to look forward to it and laughed, “Leave now?”
“Yes.” This Imperial Concubine Qing was pregnant and in order to reach by Weishi (modern timing: 1 – 3 pm), she would need to leave now.
“Then show the way.” Qing Feng stood up and Fu Ling supported her out. When they walked to the courtyard, Qing Feng suddenly stopped and said, “You will stay in the Palace. Let Ru Yi accompany instead.”
Fu Ling’s feet stopped and Ru Yi cleverly took a step forward to take over her position and continued to support Qing Feng out. Seeing that slender figure passing without looking at her, Fu Ling felt a sense of loss and sourness. It was not because all the servants were looking but it was because she suddenly understood that the position beside her did not belong to her…
Just as she was immersed in her own thoughts, that clear cool voice sounded again, “Fu Ling.”
Fu Ling was dazed for a moment before she answered and walked to Qing Feng’s back but not beside her.
Qing Feng sighed and turned around to see Fu Ling quietly standing behind her without making a sound and directly grabbed her hands. With a clear voice which was not loud but was enough for everyone in the courtyard to hear clearly, “I will only rest assure if you are in the Palace.”
Just now Qing Feng only wanted to slightly punish her as she was angry with Fu Ling hiding things from her in the morning but once she saw her desolate look, Qing Feng regretted it. She had said before that the trust she can give out was not a lot and since she had chosen to trust Fu Ling, why should she hurt her heart just because of some small issue? This was someone she had chosen. If Fu Ling turn her back on her then… She would resigned to it!
Qing Feng grasp with force and even though it was a little painful, Fu Ling’s heart actually quieten down as she smile in reply, “Yes.”
Ru Yi stood the nearest and naturally saw Qing Feng clasping Fu Ling’s hands tightly. Just now because she was able to accompany Qing Feng out the Palace, she was elated with joy and pride. In the entire Qing Feng Hall, only Fu Ling can call her Ladyship as Mistress and her Ladyship only refer herself as “I” in front of Fu Ling. Ru Yi knows that currently in her Ladyship’s heart, no one can replace Fu Ling so she also acknowledge this in her heart. Ru Yi retreated slightly and with a slightly lowered head, she bowed to Fu Ling before obediently said, “Rest assure older sister Fu Ling, this servant will definitely take great care of her Ladyship.”
Xiao Yu silently watch the entire scene in front of her and there was a slight hook on her lips like she had smiled. Just a small short road and some short words were able to let everyone aware of their own positions.
After lunch, it was time for mistress to take her nap and the servants below would also happily take a break but the only one dared to lay that relaxingly on the soft couch and read would only be Shui Xin in the entire Palace.
“Today just after Sishi (modern timing: 9 – 11 am), Xiao Yu came to Qing Feng Hall to bring Imperial Concubine Qing out of the Palace and Ming Ze, the Imperial Guards lead went along to protect.”
A grey clad man respectfully stood behind Shui Xin and talking softly. From his dressing, it was not like a eunuch’s but when he was dealing with the female in front of him, he was very humble.
Her eyes remained on the book in her hands. Shui Xin asked casually, “Where have they went?”
“Shu Chuan Courtyard.”
“Head there together with the Emperor?”
“When this servant returned, the Emperor did not appear in Shu Chuan Courtyard. Had also just asked the personnel from Zheng Yang Palace and found out that the Emperor is not in the Palace.”
Shui Xin nodded her head and when she lightly waved her hand, that person immediately retreated. After that person had walked far away, she slowly placed her book down. In that sparkling eyes, there was a trace of laziness.
Qing Feng, you finally willing to come out?
Under the large gazebo, there was a simple wooden table and on top of it there was a chessboard placed on top of it with two cups of clear tea. Except for the slight sound of the wind blowing against the trees, one could hear the sound of the chess pieces being placed down. The air was filled with a scent of the damp forest which was rare in the beginning of winter.
Two female were sitting opposite one another. As a white piece landed unrestrainedly but elegantly, the female holding the black piece thought deeply for a moment before putting the piece down slowly as the outcome was obvious, “Your Ladyship’s chess skills are superb, Xiao Yu recognise her defeat.”
Weishi (modern timing: 1 – 3 pm) had long passed but one was unable to see Yan Hong Tian’s shadow at all but Qing Feng really liked Imperial Residence outside the city. According to her observation in the entire afternoon, the courtyard was indeed large and there were different varieties of flora and fauna. It was just that many need trimming as they were growing freely and they were also not as fancy as the ones in Palace. There were a few wooden huts simply built, without any Imperial bearings.
Qing Feng picked up the smaller teacup and said with a relaxed smile, “One cannot just throw the towel.”
She can’t even throw the towel? What exactly does she want?
Qing Feng lightly twirl the clear brown tea in her tea cup and smiled slyly before answering, “Bengong want to have Ji Pin Liu Yue (which sounds like best quality of Liu Yue/June).”
Xiao Yu’s face stiffen and she coughed lightly as she pretended to casually reply, “If your Ladyship wants Liu Yue, just get the servants to inform, Xiao Yu will definitely serve it up.”
Lightly waving her forefinger, Qing Feng slightly leaned forward and spke word for word, “That is very much different. What Bengong wants is Ji. Pin. Liu. Yue.”
Liu Yue (also means June), was ardent like its name. After boiling and rinsing the tea, the elegant fragrance immediately became rich like it had directly entered the heart through the nose and occupied the rest of the senses. It should not be what a tea was supposed to taste but it was indeed a tea. In fact, Liu Yue was not considered the most expensive or rare tea grade as one was able to get normal Liu Yue with just a little effort. But Ji Pin Liu Yue was indeed rarer that thousands of gold. To be qualified to be called Ji Pin Liu Yue, the stem of the tea leaves in fertile land with abundance of sunshine and the new tea leaves must only be plucked during Guyu (modern timing: 20th April – 4th May). The hardest and most difficult thing of all was not all that. Generally for the typical teas, newer tea leaves are more expensive than matured ones but it was the other way round with Liu Yue. They need to be aged to six years and the humidity, moisture and rain level need to be just correct for it to become Ji Pin Liu Yue. If any one factors were not met, it would not be considered as Ji Pin. She had searched for so many years and now only managed to collect some. She did not even bear to drink any of it at all. This Imperial Concubine Qing was even more craftier than the Emperor!
Seeing Xiao Yu looking like her heart ached, Qing Feng knows that she understand what she wants and smile, “Why? Heart ache already? If you agree to bet you must accept the loss.”
Xiao Yu eyes widen to large circles. What was this one agree to bet and one must accept the loss. This was digging a hole for her to jump in. Qing Fengly only said that the person who lost would have to agree a small request from the other party and did not say that this was a bet and most of all she did not say that the stakes was Ji Pin Liu Yue. If she had known earlier, she would have not accompany her to play this chess game! However, everything was too late now and even though her heart was unwilling, Xiao Yu at the end could only reply, “May your Ladyship send someone over when we return back.”
It was truly rare to see Xiao Yu having a beaten look and a slight smile appeared on Ming Jian lips as he was standing outside the pavilion. Speaking of which, Xiao Yu had indeed walked into Qing Feng’s trap. When they reached here, the Emperor was not around thus Xiao Yu could only accompany this Ladyship to enjoy the scenery and appreciate tea. At that time, Qing Feng’s eyes brighten at the sight of the teacup as she held it. It should be at that time she had a plan in mind. However to receive a superior tea from the hands of Xiao Yu, to his experience, one must put in more effort.
“So it seems that winning a game of chess would equals to getting a request fulfilled. Zhen will try it too.”
The deep male voice sounded a little brisk. In addition to Ming Jian, the two persons in the pavilion stiffen.