Once the people had left, Concubine He stood up. She sent the palace maids in the room out and shut the door before lifting the silk off the platters.
The moment she did so, her eyes became slits from happiness.
“This Jing Prince highness may be taciturn, but he’s definitely not stingy. Let me say this, I’m going to recoup all the jewelry I’ve handed out first.”
As she spoke, Concubine He’s actions were quick as she grabbed several things. At this time, Li Hong Chang and his wife, as well as Li Hong Qian and his wife came over. Seeing Concubine He’s actions, they immediately blurted: “How scandalous! Dad, why aren’t you saying anything!?”
“Concubine He, what are you doing!?”
Concubine He also knew to quit while she was ahead, and that she shouldn’t provoke everyone at the same time. She spread her hands out and said: “I sold off five pieces of jewelry at the time, but since highness’s gifts are more valuable this concubine only took four. Lord, you also said that this concubine will be compensated upon arrival, this concubine didn’t go overboard.”
Li Xue Bing did say that at the time, but those words were mostly superficial. They had been starving, and he would naturally say whatever sounded good. Seeing the glimmering jewelry in Concubine He’s hands now, his heart was rather sore. However, since his nephew was so generous the first time, there would naturally be more benefits in the future. Therefore, he acted generous as he nodded his head.
These things all had a quota. The men received jade ornaments and thumb rings while women received gold and silver jewelry and jade bracelets. How could the Jing Prince be stingy? Everything was naturally high quality.
At this time, no one said the Jing Prince didn’t treat them as family anymore. Such a generous nephew (cousin) was naturally the closest family.
The only unsatisfactory part was that since Concubine He took four items, there would naturally be people who didn’t get any. Furthermore, Concubine He’s skin was quite thick as she still picked one out for herself and one for the third young mistress.
Now things started getting out of hand. Qi-Shi and Li Miao Lian’s glares didn’t need to be mentioned, and even the women in the sons’ families weren’t able to bear it. There was crying and fussing, and the room suddenly became chaotic.
Since this was something concerning the women, Li Xue Bing didn’t want to manage it. There was even less need to mention Li Hong Chang and Li Hong Qian. The three men returned to their rooms, leaving Qi-Shi to clean up the mess.
All the yelling and cursing didn’t do any good. Concubine He held onto the lord’s initial words of compensation. The timid third young mistress had secretly pulled at her several times but she was ignored.
Concubine He was still their father-in-law’s concubine, so it wasn’t convenient for the sons’ women to argue. They could only say a few sour words. Qi-Shi wasn’t good with words either. Only Li Miao Lian was able to give her a piece of her mind.
But in the end, Concubine He’s goals were still achieved. The concubines of the first and second son were naturally the ones who ended up getting nothing.
After the Jing Prince arranged the greeting gifts, he went to the western pavilion.
Having grown up without any relatives, seeing a bunch of them appear also made him his heart rather chaotic.
The Jing Prince only had to give the orders and Eunuch Fu would arrange the rest.
Eunuch Fu had organized the amount of gifts based on the number of people. The Li family’s quarrel was soon reported to him.
Outsiders see things more clearly. Eunuch Fu could tell right away how fake this group of people were. When the venerated concubine was still alive, she had told him and Auntie Qi quite a bit about her family, including how her arranged marriage was cancelled and how she was sent to the palace.
Eunuch Fu’s first impressions towards this so called uncle’s family wasn’t good, and with the following quarrel it grew even worse. However, since they were his highness’s relatives, Eunuch Fu still gave the orders to serve them properly. Of course, he also ordered to keep a close eye on them. He then went to find Eunuch Chang and had him investigate what happened with this Li family in the south.
That lord uncle had glossed over it, but Eunuch Fu wasn’t someone to gloss over things.
Eunuch Fu knew the Jing Prince extremely well. Before long, the Jing Prince instructed him to investigate what happened in the south. Putting the two together meant that Eunuch Fu didn’t really go over his master’s head.
Xiao Hua could naturally tell that the Jing Prince was abnormal.
She didn’t know the overall situation, but seeing his restlessness she stuffed their daughter into his arms. Yi Yi’s harassment soon distracted the Jing Prince.
Yi Yi spoke to her father with little cries. Although he couldn’t understand her, he still looked at his daughter seriously. The two seemed quite content with this. Xiao Hue grabbed her son over to prevent him from staring at them anxiously.
After a while, the Jing Prince suddenly gave the order to investigate the Li family’s situation in the south. Only then did Xiao Hua ask: “Highness, were there any issues with your lord uncle’s family?”
The Jing Prince slowly explained the situation. Only now did Xiao Hua understand what his relationship was like with this relative of his.
An uncle who ran over after having no contact for several decades.
Therefore, his highness’s unusualness was probably due to not knowing how to interact with them. The Jing Prince wanted to feel a family’s warmth. This could be seen from his interactions with the children. Xiao Hua could only hope that this uncle and his family wouldn’t disappoint his highness. But based on what she knew, she felt things were very strange.
Would a proper relative go several decades without contact? Even the Jing Prince had never seen this uncle of his.
For some reason, Xiao Hua felt worried….
Xiao Hua’s worry wasn’t without reason. She wasn’t clear about the Jing Prince’s relationship with the Li family, but she knew that due to them, the Jing Consort’s confinement would come to an end.
The reason was because his uncle’s wife said she had never seen her nephew’s wife.
Qi-Shi’s request wasn’t too demanding. In fact, it was quite normal for the women in the family to meet. It would be weird if there wasn’t a mistress of the house to welcome them.
Xiao Hua’s existence was a little awkward.
On the surface, she and the Jing Prince slept in the same room every day, and the two of them had two cute children. The Jing Prince Estate’s first son and daughter were both hers. But looking deeper into it, her circumstances were a little awkward. She wasn’t the Jing Consort after all, and was merely a concubine. It’s just that everyone’s attitude and the western pavilion’s environment didn’t make her feel this awkwardness.
But just because it wasn’t apparent at the moment didn’t mean it would never become apparent. For example, when the Li family’s madam asked to see her nephew’s wife, she definitely didn’t mean Xiao Hua.
When the news was spread, Ding Xiang and the rest all looked nervously at Xiao Hua.
Xiao Hua merely smiled as though nothing had happened, turning around to play with the children.
There were many things that wouldn’t go away even if you didn’t think about it. It also wasn’t possible to change things just because you wanted it changed. Under such circumstances, Xiao Hua did her best not to think about anything. It was a little more comfortable this way.
If she were to think too much about it, her heart would involuntarily tremble. The fact that she had never been the main one would drive her to ruin. She didn’t want to have an ugly appearance, and felt that her current one wasn’t bad.
Xiao Hua had never been ashamed of her status as a concubine. She understood that people didn’t have a choice where they were born, and they couldn’t choose the circumstances of their birth. If the Jing Prince hadn’t given her so much special treatment, she wouldn’t feel this awkwardness. But he had given her special treatment, and had given her a lot of it, to the extent that she often forgot she was just a concubine.
Sometimes a person wasn’t overly pessimistic. It’s just that to truly act required one to consider one’s means.
Within the Grand Xi Dynasty, there had never been a concubine who became the main wife. Her background and that person’s existence was a distance that she would never be able to cross.
Therefore, she could only stop thinking about it, stop thinking about anything. This was pretty good as well.
The Jing Prince returned very late. Abnormally late. After he returned, he didn’t go see the children, and instead sat there silently, occasionally giving Xiao Hua a glance.
When they got in bed, the Jing Prince pressed her down as usual and Xiao Hua also quickly welcomed it.
Everything was the same as before, but the two of them were clear in their hearts whether it truly was the same.
Xiao Hua and the Jing Prince never brought up the Jing Consort. The Jing Prince wouldn’t bring her up and Xiao Hua also didn’t mention her. It was a sort of unspoken agreement, and also a sort of awareness. Xiao Hua had never used her status as a favored concubine to investigate anything within the estate, not even today. She had also never done anything that was inappropriate of her status. But this news had reached her through Ding Xiang and the others.
Why things ended up this way was self-evident.
To say she wasn’t uncomfortable would be a lie. She ultimately understood that person was a mountain she could never, ever surpass. Whether or not she was confined, and whether or not she appeared, it would always remain this way!
It was already very late at night. The two of them finished tossing around and went to take a bath before getting back into bed.
Neither of them slept. They were too familiar with each other, and understood things clearly.
“Do you trust this humble prince?”
Xiao Hua’s mind was blank, and couldn’t quite react to these words. But she still instinctively responded: “Naturally.”
This was the truth.
In this world, the people Xiao Hua completely trusted could be counted on one hand. The Jing Prince was one of the ones she trusted most. Although he wasn’t eloquent and his actions often made one question life, she still believed that he had his own reasons.
Xiao Hua wasn’t afraid of the Jing Consort’s restrictions being lifted. She knew he would definitely protect her and their two children. Xiao Hua also knew that the Jing Consort couldn’t be confined forever. This day would have to come eventually. His aunt’s words was just the catalyst the Jing Prince took advantage of.
He had probably pondered a long time whether he should do it or not, but had never mentioned it out of consideration for her feelings. Xiao Hu suddenly had this understanding.
The small room was quiet and calm.
The Jing Prince suddenly spoke: “This humble prince let you down. The two children as well.”
These words were a little too heavy, making Xiao Hua unable to accept them.
The Jing Prince continued speaking: “In the imperial family, those who give birth to an heir would be listed in the jade slip records, and also conferred a higher title. This humble prince has not reported Zhuo’er and Yi Yi to the clan’s estate yet. And a promotion should be requested for you, who gave birth to the royal heir. But this humble prince hasn’t done so.”
The Jing Prince spoke very slowly. If it was a long speech, he would speak one word, one sentence at a time. This had something to do with his habits.
There had truly been too many surprises today. Xiao Hua blinked her eyes and was a little dazed.
“Do you trust me?”
This time the Jing Prince didn’t use the words “humble prince”, and used “me” instead.
Xiao Hua nodded her head blankly.
The Jing Prince seemed a little emotional as he turned on his side to embrace her.
“It’s not that I’m not willing. It’s just temporarily not possible.”
“I don’t want outsiders to know about the existence of these two children.”
These words astonished Xiao Hua. She raised her head and looked into the Jing Prince’s eyes. After a long while, she finally nodded, “Alright.”
The Jing Prince had always been sluggish, but he understood that it wouldn’t be good if he didn’t clarify. He racked his brains before managing to say, “Not because of things inside the estate. It’s because of the outside.”
Xiao Hua didn’t speak.
“It has something to do with the capital.”
The Jing Prince still didn’t explain clearly, but Xiao Hua actually felt relieved.
She had truly thought that it was due to her lowly background, and that he wasn’t willing for others to know about them in case they were laughed at. Only after he explained further did she realize that wasn’t the case.
What the case really was, she didn’t know. She could only use his normal conduct and deeds to pacify her own heart.
How could such a man be someone who cared about status?
She should trust him, right?
That’s right, Tao Xiao Hua shouldn’t overthink things. Just based on his status alone, he had no reason to lie. His feelings for her weren’t fake, and his treatment of the two children weren’t fake either. Therefore, he must have his reasons. It’s just that he temporarily can’t tell her so he resorted to using such roundabout words.
“Highness, I trust you.”
She slowly lowered her head into his chest and buried herself into his arms. She had been wrapped in this warm embrace for two whole years. How could it be fake?
Who cares about status? Who cares about the Jing Consort? Xiao Hua stayed inside the whole day anyway, she might as well pretend everything was fine.
“That side—–you don’t have to care about. It’s unrelated to our lives.”
Xiao Hua knew what he meant by “that side”.
“Alright.” She nodded.
The Jing Prince’s hand hovered in the air and gradually descended. He slowly stroked her long hair while silently swearing an oath in his heart—-
If that day truly came, he definitely wouldn’t let her suffer this sort of grievance any longer. He would give her all the best things in the world!
Minor spoilers ahead….
Actually this author also pretended the Jing Consort no longer existed, but a concubine can’t do the same! Things wouldn’t disappear just because you don’t think about them. Xiao Hua would have to face this someday (“this” isn’t referring to the Jing Consort’s release, but rather what this person symbolizes for her relationship with the Jing Prince).
Xiao Hua still has many such days ahead. In this world, a concubine had never turned into the main wife before, let alone someone of insufficient backing becoming a prince’s consort. Even if we got rid of the Jing Consort, there would be a new Jing Consort, and it definitely wouldn’t be Xiao Hua.
Of course, if the Jing Prince’s status changed, this would no longer be a problem. The importance of status and the main wife has always been something those outside the palace cared about. Within the palace—-what would the person with the most authority under the heavens have to care about in terms of status? This author always felt amused by the stories where the emperor loved a concubine but didn’t dare be too brazen about it. Even funnier was if the emperor had to decide who to sleep with based on their family background. If course, this isn’t to say that it was never the case, but this authors feels those sorts of emperors are rookies. Our little Jing would definitely not be like that.
Throughout history, the usual case was the emperor getting seduced by some evil concubine, and deciding to get rid of the crown prince in order to let the son of his beloved ascend the throne. Or else he would put his favorite woman onto the most important seat, even willing to go against the officials….
Those who are worried the Jing Consort will harm Xiao Hua after she’s released can relax. Xiao Hua has already decided not to go out, and she can’t get into the western pavilion. What you are worried about won’t happen.