Over the past two years, the officials had quite some complaints about the state of the Jing Emperor’s harem.
The Jing Emperor had too few wives and concubines. There were only five people, and one of them was the empress who had yet to die.
Without mentioning the empress who had holed up in her spot and refused to die, the officials were also rather interested in sending girls from their own households into the palace.
In his helplessness, the Jing Emperor used the mourning period of the former emperor as an excuse, and said to bring it up three years later.
But after three years had truly passed, no one dared mention it anymore. This was because the Jing Emperor’s attitude was too obvious. After all these years, there was still only the senior concubine.
Of course, there were still those unafraid of death who brought it up, but they were completely ignored by the Jing Emperor.
During this time, the prime senior concubine got pregnant once again.
By now, no one dared cause any trouble anymore. If the senior concubine was angered and it ended up affecting the fetus, none of them could bear this responsibility.
One early spring day in March, Xiao Hua took Yi Yi and Yu’er for a walk in the imperial gardens.
The scenery there had just turned beautiful. The blooming flowers were bright, the grass was long and the birds were flying.
The day was warm and the gentle breeze was extremely comfortable.
Yi Yi wore a pink dress and was running around amongst the flowers, using a small net to catch butterflies. Yu’er ran behind his sister, but unfortunately his short legs prevented him from catching up. He angrily ran over to Xiao Hua and grabbed her sleeves to complain.
“Mother concubine, look at big sis. She’s not waiting for me at all.”
Xiao Hua pinched her son’s chubby cheeks and said: “Wait until you’re her age. Then it’ll be her who can’t catch up.”
As of now, only Xiao Hua could pinch this bad tempered yet sensible second prince’s little chubby cheeks. He would get snappy at anyone else who tried.
“Alright, alright. Big sis caught a butterfly for you to play with.”
Yi Yi brought ran over with the small net, and gave the butterfly within it to Yu’er. Yu’er looked at it a couple of times, and wasn’t interested in such things. He turned his head away grumpily.
“Aiya, you’re a little boy, why are you so petty? Then what does big sis have to do to make you not angry?”
“Give the small net to me to play with.” Yu’er finally revealed his intention.
Yi Yi burst out laughing, and made faces as she ran off, “Finally revealed your little fox’s tail. Come catch me if you want it…..”
Yu’er cried out in anger and chased after her.
Xiao Hua was laughing until she couldn’t straighten up. The palace maids around her all said ‘concubine, don’t laugh anymore. Take care of your body’.
“Alright, no more laughing. This seat won’t laugh anymore.” Although she said this, Xiao Hua took a while before she could calm down.
“Concubine—-” Chun Cao’s voice suddenly sounded out.
Xiao Hua followed her gaze and saw that Concubine Qiao happened to be walking with a few palace maids….
“Concubine look, the sun is great today. It’s nice and warm, but not too hot. Taking a walk is good for the mind.”
Concubine Qiao didn’t speak.
“The flowers in the imperial garden are all blooming. Concubine, which one do you like? This servant will cut it and put it in a vase by your make-up counter. Your mood would improve by looking at it.”
The low-ranked palace maid chattered on and on. She was a lively little person and spoke a lot. There were quite a few people serving by Concubine Qiao’s side, but she had chosen this one as her personal palace maid.
The reason was because she was lively, and helped add some color to her world.
Concubine Qiao stroked the winter jasmine by her hand and said quietly: “Such a lovely flower, it’d be a shame to cut it.”
“But it’ll still wilt if we didn’t cut it.”
“It’ll still wilt even it if it’s not cut…..” Concubine Qiao silently muttered.
“Concubine—-” The low-ranked palace maid pulled at Concubine Qiao’s sleeves. “The senior concubine is there with the eldest princess and second prince. Shall we go pay respects?”
Concubine Qiao froze and looked over before withdrawing her gaze.
“No need. The senior concubine is definitely unwilling to see us. Let’s go, it’s getting late. Better go back.”
The low-ranked palace maid still wanted to say something but Concubine Qiao had already turned and left.
Xiao Hua hadn’t seen Concubine Qiao in a long time. It was rare for them to meet face to face outside of the one day on New Year’s Eve. Having not seen her in so long, Xiao Hua only noticed now that she had become extremely haggard with a sense of loneliness between her brows.
Her heart suddenly became heavy.
Yi Yi was running and unexpectedly bumped into someone.
Hearing her older brother crown prince’s voice, Yi Yi raised her head with a smile.
“Big bro, you also came to the gardens? Why aren’t you studying today….”
Luo Zhuo’s brows were furrowed and looked at her from the side. The person Yi Yi had ran into was Yang Nuo.
“Big bro Nuo, you’re here as well.”
Yang Nuo didn’t say anything and helped the eldest princess up.
Luo Zhuo who was seven years old now was wearing the crown prince’s regular outfit. Now that he was older, he looked even more like the Jing Emperor. When the two stood together, one was the large version and the other was the miniature version. Even their expressions were similar.
Of course, Luo Zhuo was still quite different in front of his mother concubine and his siblings. At least he became more talkative.
“I heard that mother concubine brought you and second brother over, and came to find you. You’re already so old but are still running around wildly.”
“I’m just playing with second brother….”
Right as she spoke, Luo Yu came and grabbed Yi Yi’s waist from behind and laughed loudly, “Big sis, big sis, give me the net.”
“Here you go, you naughty thing.”
Yu’er finally got the net in his hands, and his face turned red in excitement. He called out a greeting to his older brother and big bro Nuo Nuo before running off.
“Greetings to the eldest princess.”
Yi Yi frowned and looked at Yang Nuo, “I’ve told you several times that you don’t have to call me eldest princess. Just call me Yi Yi.”
“Eldest princess Yi Yi.”
Yi Yi stomped her foot and pulled Luo Zhuo to the side, saying loudly: “Big bro crown prince, instruct him a little. Look at how he acts like a stiff old board. He’s only so old but already so inflexible. He’ll end up harming your crown prince’s dignity if he goes out like this in the future.”
Luo Zhuo laughed, “Is it that serious? Big bro Yang Nuo’s manners are pretty good. After all, men and women are different. How can he call your nickname so intimately? How are you going to get married once you grow older?”
“I’m still so young, what marriage?” Yi Yi’s face turned red. “You two stiff old boards, I’m ignoring you.” After speaking, she ran off to Xiao Hua. She looked over and seemed to be tattling.
Luo Zhuo smiled bitterly at Yang Nuo and said: “Mom ended up giving all the nutrition to me when giving birth.”
“Err, the eldest princess is fine like this. She’s young after all.”
Luo Zhuo smiled and didn’t speak. He led Yang Nuo over to Xiao Hua’s side.
“Ai, don’t you feel my way of thinking has issues? Who cares how other people are doing? But still, it feels a little hard to bear when I see it.”
Lin Qing Wan sorted through her thoughts and gave Xiao Hua a complicated look: “It’s normal for you to have such thoughts.”
“Is it normal? When I thought about it last night, I didn’t feel it was normal. That’s why I called you over to discuss. I didn’t dare bring this up to the palace maids, and I haven’t told his majesty either.”
“How should I put this? You feel that you’re currently happy, and you feel that others are unhappy because you’ve stolen something from them. Therefore, you have a sense of guilt.”
Xiao Hua thought about it and nodded, “I truly do feel a little like this.”
“In the past you naturally wouldn’t have such thoughts. But now that his majesty clearly only has you in his heart, you don’t need to worry or be on guard. Therefore, you have more thoughts to spare on feeling sympathetic. This is something people normally feel. If I were in your shoes, I’d probably feel the same.”
Hearing this, Xiao Hua laughed mockingly at herself, “Actually it’s normal for the winner to be king and the losers to be beggars. They harmed me quite a few times. This is why I feel my pity is excessive and laughable. If our positions were reversed, the grass on my grave would probably be knee-high already.”
Lin Qing Wan only listened and didn’t speak.
“You’re still better off. You don’t have so many troublesome things….”
Lin Qing Wan smiled: “Actually you’re very well off too. I feel you’re very incredible. His majesty only has you after so many years. Your happiness is enough for all women under the heavens to be jealous of.”
“Aren’t you also happy enough for others to be jealous?”
“How can it be compared?! Let’s put it this way. The amount of concubines a man has is proportional to his status and power. My man is of lowly birth and has no money. It’s only natural that he only has me.” Speaking to this point, Lin Qing Wan burst out laughing.
Xiao Hua spat and gave her a glare. “Bugger off. Pretending to be poor every day. It’s not like I’m trying to borrow money from you. Do you think I don’t know that you’re in charge of all the money in your household? It’s only natural that your man doesn’t have any money.”
Lin Qing Wan laughed mischievously, and took a sip of her tea.
She gently let out a breath, turned to Xiao Hua and said: “Actually, you don’t have to feel bothered, and you don’t have to overthink it. Look at it from a different perspective. You can be an evil person for the sake of your future, and put these eyesores in places where they won’t be eyesores anymore. That would naturally take care of the problem.”
“You don’t mean to say….”
Lin Qing Wan wagged her finger. “Of course it’s not the way you’re thinking. Why do women have to make things difficult for each other? Of course, if someone’s straight up bullying you, you shouldn’t let them off. But if they aren’t a threat, you should let them off when possible.”
Xiao Hua thought for a while and said in a complicated tone: “But I always felt that a woman’s happiness doesn’t come from living a life of luxury….”
Lin Qing Wan’s eyes flashed. She lowered her gaze and stirred her tea with a smile: “The fact that you’re able to have such thoughts in a place like this is already very hard to come by.”
Xiao Hua thought she was referring to the palace, and that Lin Qing Wan was saying she was kind.
Little did she know that their thoughts were miles apart.
She thought a little longer and muttered with her brows furrowed: “No, my thoughts aren’t conventional in this world….”
Lin Qing Wan didn’t speak. Xiao Hua thought a little longer. She looked at her and wanted to say something, but hesitated.
“This is something you have to figure out yourself. If you can’t think through it, you can discuss it with your majesty….hehe, it’s getting late. I’ll head back first.”
Xiao Hua nodded and didn’t get up to send her off. Lin Qing Wan came and went from the palace like it was her own home these past few years. It was naturally a breeze for her.
Only after getting onto her carriage did Lin Qing Wan reveal a smile.
Actually, Lin Qing Wan could understand the concubine’s thoughts and attitude. However, in the end it wasn’t appropriate for her to say too much.
If this had happened in her previous modern world, she would definitely roast her for being an unreasonable bitch. A mistress1 who won out in the end still had the face to pity others?
But this wasn’t the modern world, and under this system it was normal for there to be several wives and concubines. The laws here permitted men to have many women, and the women here would never think of themselves as the mistress.
Furthermore, Xiao Hua was her good friend, and she would naturally see things from her perspective.
Everyone had the right to happiness, as long they didn’t offend the heavens and as long as they didn’t do anything they should be ashamed of. Everything else was unimportant. Everyone was selfish. If you have something others didn’t, it would always be an undoable knot.
It was too hard for women to be happy in this age.
She had her own happiness, and she naturally wanted her best friend to be happy as well.
Therefore, Xiao Hua, you must be happy. You definitely can’t allow outside influences to interfere with your happiness.
Xiao Hua isn’t a Mary Sue. Anyone can feel sympathy. Women are especially prone to this. Especially if the other person is so down that you feel they aren’t a threat at all. As for Wan Wan, everyone would change how they view things according to their circumstances. She isn’t being hypocritical, she’s just adapting to her circumstances.