Edited by Larkspur
Chapter 5: Confidential News of the Palace (Part 2)
“That day, His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince was also present. When he saw the Palace maid beating the drums, he went directly to the Emperor and Her Ladyship. According to the Darens who were at the city walls, the Crown Prince said to the Emperor that the military drums were important tools for the military and not a plaything. The troops were in formation but a female was beating the drums with laughter. What sort of decorum was this? The Emperor was not happy and perhaps the Empress was angered with the word plaything and said some things to the Crown Prince. The Emperor’s expression was not good either. When the cabinet ministers saw that something was not right, they quickly helped the Crown Prince and the Imperial Tutor let the Crown Prince withdraw first.” Marquis Chang Xin then sighed, “Who knew that at that time the Crown Prince was perfectly fine and thus the Darens all thought everything was all right. Who knew that the Crown Prince would take two steps, suddenly grab the bow and arrow from the guard, turn around and shoot the Palace maid dead? For the Emperor to see blood, the Chief Grand Secretary and JiYiWei were so shocked that their face turned white. Her Ladyship was screaming and the tens of thousands of soldiers below were up in an uproar when they saw someone die at the city walls.”
When the females of the Chu family heard that the Crown Prince dared to kill a Palace maid in front of everyone and this Palace maid was favoured by his mother, they were so shocked that they covered their mouths with handkerchiefs. Marquis Chang Xin wanted to sigh when he thought of the scene. “And just like this, the Emperor was in a rage and personally decreed the Crown Prince to head to Da Tong to defend the border. DaTong is a location that often has battles with the Tatars, and where people die. How could the Crown Prince come to such a place? The cabinet ministers took turns to intercede but could not move the Emperor. The Crown Prince was also stubborn and refused to give in to the Empress and really went to the border.”
There was a deep rift between the father and son of the Imperial family. Even though no one spoke about it, everyone knew it in their hearts. This time, it had completely blown up.
The incident of a Crown Prince of a country shooting down his mother’s maid spread through the entire dynasty within a month. Now that the Chu family heard it, Second Young Master said, “Even though the Crown Prince’s actions are not appropriate, it was for the sake of maintaining military prestige. It is understandable.”
“We felt that it was forgivable, but how about the Emperor and Empress?” It was difficult for Marquis Chang Xin to speak of more and thus he glided through, “The Crown Prince was only sixteen years old at that time. Young and vigorous!”
Chu Jin Yao heard a very light sneer from the jade pendant. Ever since knowing Qi Ze, upon his strong insistence, she could only change the strings and hang the jade pendant around her neck instead of her waist. It was cute for kids to hang their Hundred Lives Locket on their neck but Chu Jin Yao was old and thus felt very embarrassed to hang things from her neck. However, she could not convince Qi Ze otherwise and could only grit her teeth and tolerate it.
Chu Jin Yao blinked, skeptical if she had heard it wrong. Qi Ze was more vigilant than her and would never make a sound when there were many people. Her Father was still sitting here, he could not have been unable to bear it, right?
Chu Jin Yao could not understand and could only throw the matter to the back of her head at the moment. Perhaps her ears were hallucinating.
Madam Zhao could not help but ask, “For Marquis to not come over recently, could it be that one is busy… With the Crown Prince’s matter?”
“That’s right. The Crown Prince has arrived at the border. There are no eyes on the swords in the battlefield and the Tartars often provoke at this time of the year, so who can feel rest assured?” Marquis Chang Xing stopped after the meaning was conveyed and did not go any further than necessary as there was no need to discuss such matters with the females of the Inner Courtyard. Males did not interfere with the Inner Courtyard and females could not ask about matters of Court. Marquis Chang Xing said such things to Madam Zhao and the rest to let them know about the Palace’s current situation. As for what he was really busy with lately, he would not tell them about it.
When Madam Zhao knew that Marquis Chang Xing was occupied with official business instead of keeping a mistress outside, her heart was at ease. She did not have any interest in the Crown Prince’s matters. These high-ranking figures had nothing to do with her and naturally, the men would manage them. What she cared about was only the YiNiangs and young ladies of the Inner Courtyard.
After Marquis Chang Xing finished his meal, he brought Second Young Master and the other two Shu-born sons out, most likely to continue talking about the Crown Prince’s matters. After Chu Jin Yao sent her father away respectfully, she had some feelings of regret in her heart as she wondered what had happened to the Crown Prince afterwards.
Marquis Chang Xing and the young masters had left, only the female members remained, thus it was much more convenient to talk.
Madam Zhao sat on the heated cushion and Chu Jin Miao sat by her side. But Chu Jin Xian stood in front of Madam Zhao with hands in front and head slightly lowered. Chu Jin Yao looked at Chu Jin Miao, who was sitting by Madam Zhao’s side, then to Chu Jin Xian, who was standing respectfully, and silently walked over to stand behind Chu Jin Xian. With Chu Jin Xian’s and Chu Jin Yao’s actions, the other Shu-born young lady could not sit down and could only stand with Chu Jin Yao.
The Di-daughters were all standing, how would she dare to sit?
When Madam Zhao’s maid saw that the young ladies were standing, she quickly moved a stool over but Chu Jin Xian shook her head and said that it was not required. Madam Zhao did not care about it and flipped through the account book in her hands. “The monthly allowance will be issued within these days. Based on our residence’s regulation, young ladies like you all will have two taels as monthly allowance, the First Ranked maids will have one tael as monthly allowance. Di-born young lady will have four sets of clothes per season, Shu-born will have 2 sets. If there are guests or when going out, jewelry will be separately bought. During one’s birthday or festival, the elders will provide some subsidies.”
After Chu Jin Yao heard it, she was speechless. She remembered when her family’s harvest was particularly good one year, they earned a total of eighteen taels, Father Su and Mother Su were so happy that they could not close their mouths. The Su family could only earn seventeen or eighteen taels in total for an entire year and it was a good year too. However, the young ladies of the Chu family did not need to worry about food and clothes and could still earn two taels each month. Chu Jin Yao calculated it silently. Like this, she only needed to spend thriftily and save the remaining monthly allowance and by the end of the year, she would be even richer than the Su family’s entire year of hard work.
Chu Jin Yao was astonished.
However before Chu Jin Yao recovered, Madam Zhao turned a few pages of the accounting book and spoke, “These are all regulations. Fifth Young Lady just returned these few days and is not like you all who have previous years’ clothes to change to and the jewelry for her clothes needs to be purchased. Old Furen has drawn out one hundred taels from the common fund and subsidised an additional one hundred privately. Your Father and I have also subsidised separately and combined, there is a total of around four hundred taels. After renovating the courtyard, purchasing the bed, pear blossom wooden table and chairs, rosewood wardrobes, dressing tables, and dividing screens, there are still one hundred and fifty taels left. She has made eight sets of winter outfits, a fur coat, and two sets of spring clothes. After some loose jewelry, there are thirty taels left.”
When Chu Jin Yao heard that there were four hundred taels under her name, she was so shocked that her heart started beating fast. When she later heard that the four hundred taels were almost spent, her heart felt significant ups and downs. Now she had calmed.
Chu Jin Yao had not expected that in a short month, the family had already spent nearly four hundred taels on her… However, the bulk of it was spent on furniture which could be used for a long time after bleeding the money out once and it was the same with clothes. It was scary to hear how many clothes were bought though.
When Chu Jin Yao was in the farmer’s family previously, clothes were worn as economized as possible, but her current environment was completely different. Chu Jin Yao knew that one must not be reluctant with clothes and jewelry, else it would be a disgrace to the First Household. Especially with Chu Jin Yao’s special status, one could not be thrifty at all.
Chu Jin Yao suddenly felt that the monthly allowance of two taels was not enough at all.
Not only was Chu Jin Yao astonished by the four hundred taels but also the other young ladies were surprised. It is four hundred taels… Indeed. It was not the same as she was her biological daughter.
Madam Zhao looked at Chu Jin Yao. “This remaining thirty taels has been drawn out by me and you can keep it yourself.”
Chu Jin Yao hesitated for a moment before speaking, “I am young and cannot manage so much money. Trouble Mother to help me to keep it.”
“You should take it. I do not lack this little money here. You need to learn these things.”
Chu Jin Yao still dared not accept it. Chu Jin Xian said, “You have also reached the age to manage household finances.”
With Chu Jin Xian’s words of encouragement, Chu Jin Yao finally felt relieved and bowed. “Thanking Mother.”
Madam Zhao instructed the maid to get the placard and retrieve thirty taels from the accountant. During the time required for the maid to return, Madam Zhao lectured the daughters of the Eldest Household. “After a few days, GuNaiNai will be returning. Old Furen is compassionate and has given each one of you a bolt of brocade so you must understand the sense of priority. Don’t just, because you cannot bear to part with it, lose the dignity of the Residence of Marquis Chang Xing. This would be suffering a big loss for a little gain. Understand?”
“Yes.” The few young ladies complied in unison.
Madam Zhao still continued, “Brocade is, after all, delicate material and if you are unsure about it then send it to the embroidery room and let the seamstress help you to make clothes. If you have a pattern of your liking, it is up to you to let the seamstress do it or you can also embroider it yourself.”
Chu Jin Yao followed the other young ladies and complied. Even though there was no expression on her face, she was thinking in her heart that she knew how to make clothes but did not know how to embroider flowers. She felt strange. Even though married daughters were considered guests and this was the Di-born GuGu, so why the need to be armed up with all gear? Not mentioning that the clothes were all new, Madam Zhao even personally mentioned the embroidery on the clothes.
For GuNaiNai to return this time, was it really just to visit one’s parents? What exactly did she and Old Chu Furen want to do?