The Changchun1 Pavilion was where the Jing Consort lived. It was the most gorgeous of the three eastern pavilions, and the richly ornamented and magnificent buildings were naturally extraordinary.
Because they had known the Jing Prince would be coming today, the Changchun Pavilion had been swept all over, and all the decorations had to be rearranged. Although it didn’t look much different from the past, a good amount of effort had been spent.
Every ten days the Jing Prince would come to the pavilion to visit his consort. The time was not fixed but he would definitely come. This was a practice that everyone in the estate was familiar with. Therefore, every time the palace maids in the pavilion would be especially excited.
The Jing Consort had also dressed herself up early and waited inside the building.
She seemed to be over twenty years old, and was dignified and beautiful. Today she wore a pale rose robe, making her look several fold more moving. At this time she sat a little restlessly inside the living room, every now and then ordering the palace maids to go outside and see if the prince had come yet.
Beside her stood an old lady in a caramel colored skirt with her hair in a bun, her round face giving off the air of a wet nurse. She opened her mouth and said: “Two low-ranked palace maids have been arranged at the gates. The moment they see his highness they will come to report. Consort, your illness has just faded and you cannot sit for too long. Would you like to lie down on the consort’s couch for a bit?”
This old lady was surnamed Li, and everyone called her Nana Li since she was the Jing Consort’s wet nurse. When the consort was married off, she had accompanied her over. She had a lot of credibility in front of the consort, and could be said to be her most trusted person.
The Jing Consort gripped her handkerchief tightly and shook her head, “Nana, let’s forget it in case I end up having to run back and forth.” The Jing Consort had made herself up beautifully today, but one could still see a hint of illness on her face, the reddish glow a result of rouge not health.
Nana Li did not say anything in response, but merely sighed in her heart.
After a while, someone dressed in low palace maid attire reported outside the door, “His highness is walking in this direction.”
The two people walked outside the living room and stood waiting at the door.
Only when she saw the purple robed silhouette walk into the gate did the Jing Consort let out a happy smile.
The Jing Prince wore a purple robe embroidered with dark clouds. His figure was tall and handsome, his hair bound by a purple gold embedded jade crown. His skin was white as though a jade statue and his high nose matched his thin lips, above which where a pair of phoenix eyes that were apathetic to the point of being emotionless.
The Jing Consort’s face reddened slightly, and seeing the Jing Prince approach she hurriedly performed a curtsey.
“Greetings to your highness.”
A jade-like white hand was slightly raised while the Jing Prince’s eyes didn’t even spare his consort a glance, minding his own business as he passed by and entered the living room.
The Jing Consort followed behind, a smile on her face as she ordered the palace maids to serve tea and refreshments.
After finishing her tasks, she sat down in the chair beside the Jing Prince.
She looked his figure up and down, and seeing him not even give her a glance, forcefully maintained her smile as she asked Eunuch Fu a few perfunctory questions. Questions with no substance such as “is his highness doing well?”, “has he been enjoying his meals?”, “has he been very busy?”.
This kind of interaction was extremely weird. As his consort, the person in question was next to her but she directed her questions at the eunuch instead. This would make one cluck their tongue in trying to explain.
But those who knew the situation clearly understood the reasoning. The Jing Prince was a little unsound, and was mute. Within the capital, he always had the nickname of the mute fifth prince.
It was said after coming to the vassal state, he had been cured by a divine doctor. But since his personality had already been set, he remained taciturn and apathetic, rarely opening his mouth. Even towards his consort he rarely spoke, resulting in the current situation.
The Jing Consort understood this, and also understood that her actions in the past had resulted in a rift between them, which made the prince so cold towards her. For the sake of her own face, as well as for the sake of making the prince understand that she cared about him, she had a one-sided conversation with him through Eunuch Fu. Although she looked at Eunuch Fu, her words were really spoken for the prince to hear.
Eunuch Fu had served the prince for many years, and regarding the situation between the prince and his consort he was also very clear. He maintained a smile on his face as he respectfully answered all of the consort’s questions. Although he spoke a lot on the surface, his answers were similarly lacking in substance.
Nana Li watched from the side in a panic, wanting to interrupt but not knowing where to cut in, not to mention the fact that she was a servant who shouldn’t be saying anything.
The Jing Consort racked her brains and finally finished asking everything she wanted to ask. Looking at the prince’s expressionless face on the side, her heart felt extremely dejected and extremely worried, but she didn’t know what else to say. She was also afraid that after this routine checkup, the prince would leave right away.
After being stifled for a while she finally opened her mouth and spoke, “Your highness, you haven’t eaten lunch yet right? I will have the small kitchen prepare some food, would you like to eat here?”
The room was very silent. The Jing Consort’s servants were all holding their breaths, hoping the prince would stay for a meal. Eunuch Fu still had a smile on his face, though he was sighing in his heart.
The Jing Prince didn’t look at his smiling consort before standing up and walking out. He never spoke a word from beginning to end.
Eunuch Fu threw a quick “his highness still has some matters to attend to” as explanation, and hurriedly followed him out.
The Jing Consort opened her mouth wanting to say something, but resentfully stopped herself. She could only watch helplessly as the Jing Prince and Eunuch Fu’s silhouettes vanished before her eyes. She was also very clear that the next time he would visit was ten days later.
The Changchun Pavilion was scarily silent. No one dared to move while the Jing Consort remained unmoving.
After a good while, the consort smashed her tea cup, and sobbed, “What’s the point of passing the days like this!?”
Nana Li made a gesture to the side and all the servants filed out, leaving the consort’s personal servants Chun Xiang, Xia Xiang, Qiu Xiang and Dong Xiang2.
Only after the doors were closed from the outside did Nana Li say comfortingly: “Consort, don’t cry anymore. His highness’s personality is like this, it’s not as if you don’t know.”
“Wuwuwu….” The tears fell in a string on the consort’s face, “I’ve already kept my voice and temper down, I’ve already changed, why can he not just forgive me? How could he be so heartless?”
Nana Li also didn’t know what to say. She really wanted to say ‘why didn’t you do anything in the beginning?’, but could she say that? She could only sigh.
The four Xiangs all made various expressions and opened their mouths to comfort her.
“Consort, quick, stop crying. Otherwise it won’t look good once your eyes swell up.”
“Your body has just recovered, you definitely can’t cry.”
The few personal palace maids all spoke at once to console her before managing to bring her along to wash off the ruined make up on her face.
The three eastern pavilions were all lone pavilions that were parallel to each other, the distance being quite close.
The Jing Prince coming once every ten days to the Changchun Pavilion was no longer a rare occasion, and the concubines living in the other pavilion was naturally aware as well. It was to the extent that low palace maids would be posted outside both the Rongxi3 Pavilion and Hanxiang4 Pavilion to keep watch.
As a matter of fact, the prince had just left the Changchun pavilion when he ran into Senior Concubine Qiao in the alleyway.
Senior Concubine Qiao was around twenty this year. She had bright eyes and white teeth and was extremely beautiful. She wore robes embroidered with butterflies and flowers, making her figure appear even more lithe and enchanting.
Seeing the prince approach, she immediately paid her respects, “This concubine greets his highness.”
Senior Concubine Qiao’s curtsey was very graceful, and her expression as she lowered and raised her head was also very beautiful. However, the charm was helplessly thrown at a blind man. The prince’s steps never faltered as he walked around her and off into the distance.
Only after the prince had left did Concubine Qiao raise herself up. She looked at his silhouette and angrily stomped her foot a little.
The sound of laughter sounded behind her. It was the Jing Prince’s other two concubines, Madam Jiao and Madam Rong.
“Big sis is really diligent. Unfortunately it seems like it didn’t catch our highness’s eyes.” Madam Yu Jiao said sweetly, covering her mouth and laughing lightly while speaking as though she was afraid others wouldn’t know she was mocking Senior Concubine Qiao.
Senior Concubine Qiao also wasn’t someone who was easy to deal with. She put on a fake smile, “At least it’s better than some people who are just here for show and haven’t even gotten intimate with his highness before.”
The personal palace maid by her side Die’er naturally supported her mistress as she covered her mouth and let out a couple of laughs, instantly turning Madam Yu Jiao and Madam Yu Rong’s laughing faces dark.
Senior Concubine Qiao couldn’t be blamed for speaking like this.
Yu Jiao and Yu Rong used to be palace maids in the imperial palace. Both were good looking, and prior to the prince moving to his vassal state they were bestowed by Emperor Xi to his son as concubines. It seemed that the emperor had felt he was being too obvious, conferring the title of Jing Prince to his son right after his coming of age ceremony and immediately ordering him to relocate. It could be considered as compensation instead of trying to cover up his intentions.
But the Jing Prince had always played his part dutifully. Since his father had bestowed them, he gave them both the status of madams and placed them in the rear court. Whether putting them there was a good thing for them was not his concern.
Only after seeing their dark expressions did Senior Concubine Qiao leave with Die’er in joyous satisfaction.
Just a couple of idiots, they dared come exchange barbs with her? Characters that were dealt with in a single sentence naturally weren’t worth her attention.
However, Yu Jiao and Yu Rong had stayed in the estate for several years, and they were aware of a few things. Perhaps at first they cared a lot about the fact that they hadn’t been able to get intimate with the prince, but as time passed they had stopped seeing it as a disgrace. After all, it wasn’t that the two of them weren’t favored. The Jing Prince’s court had very few concubines, merely four people. Therefore, the prince also rarely set foot in the rear court.
Seeing that Senior Concubine Qiao hadn’t yet gone far, Yu Rong grumbled a retort, “What do you have to be proud of? Who doesn’t know that his highness hasn’t gone to your place in ages? Every time another year and a half goes by. No wonder someone was desperate enough to block his path in an alleyway.”
Senior Concubine Qiao’s graceful steps turned chaotic for a second, and she hurriedly left with Die’er.
What Senior Concubine Qiao had said was right. What Yu Rong had said was also right.
The only male in the rear court rarely approached women. The few fights here and there between the girls were also dull, only exchanging some insults when they ran into each other and nothing more.
Didn’t you see? Even the Jing Consort’s steps had moss growing on it, let alone those of the others.