After the Yun Prince and his consort left the capital, Xiao Hua truly became idle.
Apart from spending time with the three children every day, there wasn’t much else to do.
With the start of the year, Zhuo’er started his education. The Jing Emperor arranged the official institution within the eastern palace and set up the crown prince’s three tutors and three vice-tutors. The crown prince’s imperial teacher, imperial master and imperial guard guided him on virtues and ethics while carefully protecting him. The vice-teacher, vice-master and vice-guard observed how the crown prince took to these teachings.
The Zhanshi1 Estate which was responsible for guiding the crown prince in daily matters had yet to be established. This was because the crown prince was still young and had just started his education.
Regarding the three tutors and vice-tutors, the Jing Emperor had been rather meticulous in choosing them. He didn’t follow the precedent of choosing only old officials of outstanding reputation and virtue, but rather chose a mix of people. There were old reputable officials, but also officials from the commoner faction. It was clear the Jing Emperor put quite some emphasis on the crown prince’s education.
Therefore, Zhuo’er became a little schoolboy who had to take classes from his instructors every day.
He had to get up early for his lessons. He came back during lunch time, and had to return afterwards until late afternoon. A few days of this made Xiao Hua’s heart ache. Such a small child already had so much homework every day, and had to practice his writing after getting back.
Yi Yi on the other hand was extremely jealous of her brother taking lessons and learning to write. She bothered Xiao Hua about tagging along. Xiao Hua wasn’t able to make the decision on this matter since the instructors weren’t ordinary teachers. They were either great scholars or officials, so she told Yi Yi to go ask the Jing Emperor.
Yi Yi went to pester the Jing Emperor. He didn’t say anything, and merely nodded in agreement.
Therefore, Yi Yi got up early the next day, left behind Whitey who was running around her legs, and went to class with her brother.
The first day was very novel. Yi Yi came back and told Xiao Hua how long the imperial master’s beard was, and said he would always stroke it and looked very strange.
The next day she could still endure.
The third day she grew a little impatient, but when Zhuo’er said a few faintly mocking words she immediately stopped complaining.
After a few more days, Yi Yi couldn’t endure any longer and made a fuss about not going anymore.
Xiao Hua said the same thing. Your father was the one who agreed, so he must agree once again for you to stop going.
Yi Yi went to pester the Jing Emperor again.
The Jing Emperor was very calm, and didn’t say anything. Only when Yi Yi used her ultimate move of wiping away tears did he relent. His stipulation was that she could temporarily be let off, but still had to start learning two years later.
Yi Yi was still young and didn’t understand how long two years was. In her mind, not having to learn at the moment meant she was free, so she smiled and nodded.
When he returned that night, Xiao Hua laughed at the Jing Emperor, “I had hoped majesty would be able to resist. Who would have thought you would also give in.”
The Jing Emperor didn’t feel that letting his daughter off was something embarrassing, “We only have this one daughter. Girls don’t have to learn too much, might as well let her be happy.”
Xiao Hua nodded and thought the same way.
Zhuo’er was the crown prince so he had no choice. Yi Yi was a princess, and wouldn’t lack for status in the future. She also didn’t have to worry about her marriage. Whether she was educated wasn’t a big deal as long as her personality was good and she was sensible.
Spring went by and summer came. The days gradually became hotter.
The capital was much hotter in the summer compared to the Jing Province. Back at the Jing Province, Xiao Hua didn’t need any ice. Ever since coming to the capital, she needed ice last year and this year was no different.
The Jing Emperor was taking a nap but Xiao Hua wasn’t able to fall asleep.
When the Jing Emperor came back from the royal study for lunch, he had told her a story.
This story was rather complicated. It was about a concubine’s daughter being sold out of the capital by the evil principal wife.
If nothing was out of the ordinary, that girl would have lived out her life in a remote countryside. Unfortunately, this girl had a capable older brother. He had risen up in ranks rapidly, and spent countless efforts to find his younger sister.
At that time, she had already married and given birth to children. She had married a local farmer and given birth to two sons. The brother could only accept this low-born brother-in-law of his, and bring them both back to the capital.
Of course, that principal wife didn’t have a good outcome. Because the events ended up spreading after the girl returned to the capital, the people all disdained her stepmother for her malice and lack of motherly virtue.
The main point wasn’t how preposterous or laughable this story was. The main point was—-
She knew both of them.
The brother in the story was Commander Lin of the Jing Prince Estate. He was now both the Dingyuan Marquis and the commander of the capital guard office, and was his majesty’s trusted aide. As for his sister, she was the girl who was sold out of the capital with Xiao Hua by Trafficker Qian, and given to a farmer as his wife: Lin Qing Wan.
Xiao Hua only knew Qing Wan’s name and not her surname. Only after the Jing Emperor told her did she know.
The delicate yet tenacious girl back then still remained fresh in her memories. She still remembered that it was during her lowest moment when that girl had given her a shock and hope….
That’s right, a sort of hope. The sort of hope that despite experiencing the twists of fate, she would not give up on dreaming of a beautiful future.
Perhaps the two hadn’t interacted much, but she had learned quite a lot from her. For example, optimism, being easygoing and facing life with a smile….
Xiao Hua thought about many things. Only after the Jing Emperor awoke did she snap out of it.
The Jing Emperor had to deal with official business in the royal study that afternoon. Xiao Hua helped him put his clothes on. Before he left, he stroked her hair, “You have nothing to do during the day. You can summon her into the palace for a chat.”
Xiao Hua nodded. She understood the Jing Emperor’s intentions. He knew she didn’t have many friends and found her someone to talk to.
After sending him off, Xiao Hua had the palace maids bring the second prince over.
Yu’er was now ten months old. The weather was hot so he only wore a pair of underpants. Xiao Hua put him on the couch and let him crawl and play by himself. Xiao Hua coaxed him while thinking things over.
She was quite interested in the Jing Emperor’s suggestion. But she was also hesitant. She wasn’t sure how she was supposed to face Qing Wan.
If she was of ordinary status, there was naturally no need to hesitate, and they could interact as common women and their relationship would be convenient. But as the senior concubine, the rules of the palace were strict. Qing Wan wasn’t even a titled woman, and it wasn’t easy to enter the palace with all its rules and etiquette.
She could indeed summon her into the palace without reservations, but would Qing Wan feel uncomfortable? If it were anyone else she wouldn’t feel troubled by it. Only Qing Wan was different. Where exactly she was different, Xiao Hua wasn’t able to sort through her tangled feelings at this moment….
To put it plainly, Xiao Hua was feeling a little nostalgic at meeting an old acquaintance, especially since this old acquaintance was quite special to her.
After thinking a little longer, she called Ding Lan over. She had her send someone to investigate the Lin family’s situation as well as the Dingyuang Marquis’s Estate.
Such things were usually left for Xiao Xia Zi to handle. He felt quite at ease with it and directly went to meet with Eunuch Chang.
Eunuch Chang was now the vice general manager of internal affairs, and was also responsible for handling the Jing Emperor’s intelligence network. Seeing Xiao Xia Zi come seeking information on the Dingyuang Marquis’s sister and hearing it was for the senior concubine, he didn’t say anything before handing the information over.
Before long, Xiao Hua held the papers in hand.
After looking it over, Xiao Hua had a better understanding of Lin Qing Wan’s recent situation.
She gradually felt relieved. She had been worried that her life had been hard after marrying a farmer, but it seems she was doing pretty well….
The Dingyuan Marquis was getting married in a few days, and as his sister, Lin Qing Wan naturally wasn’t idle. Xiao Hua decided to wait until afterwards to call her into the palace for a meeting.
The venue of the Dingyuan Marquis’s wedding was extremely large. The Jing Emperor was naturally generous with his bestowals to his trusted aide.
With his majesty backing the wedding, the large venue along with the additional bestowals made the Dingyuan Marquis temporarily the most prominent within the capital. His sister Lin Qing Wan also became widely known.
As for the dispute between the Dingyuan Marquis’s family and one of Minister Lin’s branch family, everyone in the capital had some understanding. But since the Dingyuan Marquis was currently at the peak of his power, everyone would naturally give him face. They also gave Lin Qing Wan some face during their interactions with her.
However, since her husband’s background was too lowly, their politeness was only due to the Dingyuan Marquis. However, what happened next made the people see his sister in a different light.
His majesty’s favored prime senior concubine summoned the Dingyuan Marquis’s sister into the palace.
Whether or not it was the marquis who asked the Jing Emperor to help his sister’s reputation, since the proud and aloof senior concubine had never summoned a titled woman into the palace, but was now summoning a commoner woman, her reputation became gilded despite being a peasant.
Lin Qing Wan was also quite confused. She asked her brother about it but he merely smiled and didn’t say anything. He just told her to relax and go.
Since her brother was the emperor’s trusted aide, Ling Qing Wan naturally didn’t need to worry about anything bad happening.
Especially since she could tell something fishy was going on based on his smile.
A carriage had picked her up and taken her all the way to the palace gates. Only after arriving at an extremely large palace did some palace maids lead her inside.
Within the hall, a person was seated on the seat of honor.
Lin Qing Wan knew this was the senior concubine who had summoned her. It had been been five or six years since Ling Qing Wan had transmigrated to the Great Xi, and she was well aware this was a world where the emperor reigned supreme. There was naturally no saying about how there was gold beneath one’s knees.2
Unexpectedly, she had yet to fully kneel when the palace maid helped her up and brought her to an embroidered chair to sit.
“You are Lin Qing Wan?”
A gentle voice sounded from up high.
Before she entered the palace, Lin Qing Wan had been taught some basic etiquette. Therefore, she had never raised her head and naturally didn’t see Xiao Hua’s excitement.
“Yes, this commoner woman is Lin Qing Wan.”
“Then lift up your head and take a look at who I am—-”
Lin Qing Wan lifted her head and carefully examined the extremely beautiful person on the Luan throne.
A pink palace outfit which emphasized her fair and bright skin. Two large gleaming eyes with thick eyelashes, which were long and slightly lifted like the wings of a butterfly. A pair of pink cherry lips and an upright nose-bridge were set in a pointed face which would make countless women astonished even in Lin Qing Wan’s previous world.
This was the most beautiful woman Lin Qing Wan had seen since coming to the Great Xi.
After being dazed for a moment, Lin Qing Wan said in embarrassment: “You are the senior concubine.”
Really now, did this senior concubine not know who she was?
“Qing Wan, do you really not recognize me anymore?”
Xiao Hua froze and felt her own face, laughing in spite of herself. “I’m Xiao Hua….”
Looking at the face filled with smiles, Lin Qing Wan was shocked.
Xiao Hua nodded, “Can’t recognize me anymore? I’ve gotten older and my appearance has changed. You as well……”
Qing Wan, do you still remember the Xiao Hua back then by Daming Lake?
I remember I wrote in my novel “Qing Wan, do you still remember the Xiao Hua back then?” and it was translated as “the Xiao Hua back then by Daming Lake.”
Qing Wan: Of course I remember. You are that Xiao Hua? Why do you look different?
Xiao Hua: (blushing) Well my life is good, the food is tasty, I’m well nourished, so it’s only natural I’m different from before. (As she spoke, Xiao Hua purposefully perked her chest up)
Qing Wan had a smile on her face but was cursing inside: cheh, what are you perking up for? This big sis doesn’t need nourishment to be perky.
Everything above was just a joke.