Because of the Jing Consort’s interference, the New Year’s feast had several highlights, making it too much for one to take in. Xiao Hua however had no appetite and sat there with her head lowered.
Once the feast was over, the Jing Prince had everyone disperse.
The Jing Consort, having achieved her goal, didn’t cause any more problems before leaving.
Senior Concubine Qiao and the two Madams Yu wanted to try and rope his highness into going back to their place, but the helpless Jing Prince retreated faster than anyone. The three of them also wanted to return to keep an eye on the situation and thus all hurriedly went back to their own pavilions.
In the Rongxi Pavilion.
Senior Concubine Qiao shed her outer robe with the help of her personal palace maids, and changed into clothes worn inside the house before sitting down on the couch.
“I must say, this Xiao-Shi was extremely active today. Turns out she was hiding such malicious intent.”
Cui’er spoke to the side: “The consort wouldn’t be trying to rope in that Hua, Madam Hua, right?”
Die’er gave Cui’er a glance and said: “Which eye of yours saw the consort trying to rope her in?”
“She didn’t have any status before, and the consort helped her accomplish this.”
Die’er couldn’t be bothered to speak with Cui’er any further, steeping some tea and placing it by Qiao-Shi’s hand.
Compared to Die’er, Cui’er was really dense. This was why despite both being personal palace maids, and both having followed along after the marriage, Senior Concubine Qiao had placed more importance on Die’er.
However, since she was someone serving at her side, Senior Concubine Qiao naturally wouldn’t shirk from teaching her a little. She also hoped for her people to be a little smarter, making it easier to rely on them in the future.
Senior Concubine Qiao could also see from today’s events that a wind was rising.
In the past no one was favored, so they had nothing to do with each other since there was no point in struggling. The sudden appearance of “Madam Hua” as well as the Jing Consort’s attitude made Senior Concubine Qiao understand the situation.
The Jing Consort wanted to have her in the eastern pavilion. If “Madam Hua” was really favored, then there would be several ways to deal with her here. Furthermore, they could take advantage of his highness visiting more often and borrow some of that windfall. If she wasn’t actually favored, well, the Jing Consort probably still wouldn’t let her off. After all, this person had at some point appeared and served his highness within the Hall of Splendor for almost half a year. This was enough for that woman Xiao-Shi to swallow her whole.
Senior Concubine Qiao liked to take advantage of the situation. However, thinking of the person that made others jealous, she inevitably felt some anger and grievance.
“If this concubine was her, I’d definitely hate Xiao-Shi to death. What’s the use of a status if one could be the tower by the water? Furthermore, if something ended up developing in the womb, would there be any status that was out of reach?
It was because of this that “Madam Hua” attracted everyone’s hatred.
Earlier, apart from the Jing Consort who had heard about it beforehand, the others were all slightly confused throughout the event. If they were to go back, they would probably all react the same way as the consort.
Thinking of this, Senior Concubine Qiao let out a meaningful smile.
In the Hanxiang Pavilion.
Yu Rong and Yu Jiao were both of the same status, and in the same situation. Both had come from the palace and after getting to the Jing Prince Estate, they had been placed together and thus their relationship was extremely good.
The two of them sat by the fireplace and had pretty much recovered their wits.
“Where did that person spring out from? If it wasn’t for the consort bringing her up, we would be completely clueless.” Yu Rong spoke first.
“The tower close to the water, really makes one jealous.”
Jealous was right, and the two of them were the most jealous.
They were bestowed to the Jing Prince, and he hadn’t mistreated them by conferring them the title of Madam. Their daily allowances weren’t low either. However, they always felt a little discomfort in their hearts at never being visited.
This sudden appearance of the low-ranked palace maid, who as the tower closest to the water had apparently served his highness for almost half a year, naturally caused their jealousy to shoot towards her.
“Where did this vixen come up from?” Yu Jiao cursed.
“Don’t panic, the consort’s scheme is a good one. It seems like this person will have to come to the eastern three pavilions. We can see how things develop from there.” Yu Rong had always been steadier than Yu Jiao, and so she placated her.
Yu Jiao also understood this reasoning, but jealousy was hard to conceal after all.
After the feast, Xiao Hua returned to her own room.
Just as she sat down and before she could think about what was going to happen, the Jing Prince walked in.
Since the master was here, the servant naturally didn’t have the time to worry about her own things and started undoing his robes for him. The Jing Prince had drank tonight. He needed to bathe and she helped him do so.
Having low ranked eunuchs come fill up the tub was Eunuch Fu’s responsibility and Xiao Hua didn’t need to intervene there.
She just had to help bathe the prince, and change him into his sleepwear. The Jing Prince then got into bed by himself. Xiao Hua used the Jing Prince’s bath water to wash herself as well, and entered the bed after putting on her clothes.
The Jing Prince lay on the bed and glanced at Xiao Hua without speaking. Having served him so many times, Xiao Hua had also started to understand his mannerisms.
If she couldn’t understand what he was thinking, then she didn’t think about it. Xiao Hua got up into the bed and carefully lay down in the inner spot.
After lying there for a while, the Jing Prince still hadn’t made any moves. Only then did Xiao Hua relax.
There had been a few times when the Jing Prince came just to sleep without doing anything else. The sensible low-ranked palace maid naturally fulfilled her duties honestly and accompanied him in sleep.
There was a foot of distance between the two of them, and both were lost in their own thoughts. Xiao Hua’s heart was in chaos, but since there was an additional person beside her she wasn’t able to focus her thoughts and think things over.
She was suddenly pulled into his embrace.
“Happy?” The man of few words suddenly asked, his eyes were apathetic as usual but were extremely focused.
Xiao Hua blanked out for a few seconds, half lowering her eyes and not daring to look at the person beside her. Therefore she naturally failed to notice his gaze.
“This servant is very happy.”
Could she say she wasn’t?
Anyone else would be happy right? However, she wasn’t truly happy about it. She understood the consort’s words. After being conferred a status, she had to move into the eastern or western three pavilions, no longer holed up in the Hall of Splendor. No longer holed up under the Jing Prince’s wing.
Xiao Hua had always felt aversion to the so called rear court because she hated that sort of lifestyle. Living with these women without doing anything except struggle here and struggle there.
This was also why when the Jing Prince had planned on arranging a place for her there she had instinctively rejected.
It wasn’t like she hadn’t thought about her future during this time of serving the prince. But she ultimately buried her head in the sand and didn’t wish to live elsewhere, and didn’t wish to face reality.
But not she could no longer avoid it…..
In her past life she relied on the 4th young master’s affection to survive a few years but still ended up dead. In this life, how was she able to keep herself alive? Just based on her brief interaction earlier, she could tell the Jing Consort wasn’t simple. What was she going to do?
The Jing Prince’s words interrupted Xiao Hua’s thoughts. She glanced upwards before half lowering her eyes and saying quietly: “This servant isn’t….”
She felt the arm on her body unhappily squeeze her, and spoke again: “This servant doesn’t want to part with your highness….”
Before she finished speaking, her face had turned red.
Xiao Hua’s heart was a little confused, but also a little sorrowful.
Turns out she couldn’t escape this fate in the end. In her last life she used such methods to win a man’s favor, allowing her to have some backing. Could it be that she had to use the same methods in this life as well?
In the end she couldn’t escape having to act as a chambermaid!
Although her heart was sorrowful, her arms wrapped around his neck and she buried her face into the blankets in his chest, doing her best to appear like a bashful little girl.
“This servant would be far from your highness after moving to the rear court. This servant can’t bear parting….”
Such words ended up making the hands on her body move even more vigorously.
There were many things that Xiao Hua actually understood, but she ultimately still wanted to bury her head in the sand like an ostrich.
She also understood the confusion in Chun Chao’s heart, but she stubbornly insisted she was just a low-ranked palace maid even if her regular duties were not those a low-ranked palace maid would do. Another day spent in the Hall of Splendor as a low-ranked palace maid was another day spent under the Jing Prince’s protection.
The thought of currying favor or not didn’t occur to her because she understood that a low-ranked palace maid was the lowest status and she had nothing to lose. Even if the Jing Prince no longer wanted her, she would still be that same low-ranked palace maid. She could rely on her own hard work and diligence to receive food and clothing. Perhaps there was even the hope of being released in the future.
But now her status was different, and her views had to change accordingly. She knew there was no room for her to retreat any longer.
Becoming the Jing Prince’s concubine for a day meant becoming his concubine for a lifetime. She couldn’t have any foolish dreams of being released one day anymore.
A concubine’s only concern should be to properly please her master, nothing more. And concubines who lost favor after receiving it only had a few outcomes. One was that the main wife wouldn’t let her off, another was to be trampled by the others. The best outcome for a concubine who was no longer favored was if she had a child. That way there would be at least someone to rely on when she grew old.
Although she had never felt herself to be favored, based on the Jing Consort’s actions it seemed like that wasn’t quite the case? At least it had been enough to become an eyesore for the consort.
Xiao Hua’s words had been slowly added on. One reason was because she hadn’t adjusted her thoughts yet. Another reason was to slowly gauge the Jing Prince’s reactions. It seems like he was quite fond of hearing such things.
Seeing the Jing Prince react well to this, she then tried touching his body, although it was merely a little.
These actions were things she had never done in the past. In bed she had always been passive. But today, for the sake of the Jing Prince’s protection in the future, she had to start changing.
Xiao Hua’s changes were immediately felt by the Jing Prince. He thought that this low palace maid seemed quite happy with his arrangements today after all. Although he could sense her unease through her actions, was it only because she had to leave the Hall of Splendor?
Thinking of how she couldn’t bear to leave him, some waves where stirred in the Jing Prince’s heart.
This low-ranked palace maid never spoke any unnecessary words to him. Every time he came over, her words were extremely few. She wasn’t like Xiao-Shi and Qiao-Shi who would talk to themselves in front of him. She was always very quiet, her standard posture was a lowered head and withdrawn eyes.
But he knew that she had a pair of very beautiful eyes. That pair of eyes would unintentionally let out glimmers of light, especially during their “intimate” moments.
The Jing Prince raised Xiao Hua’s chin. That small face was very exquisite, the skin fair and delicate, her thick eyelashes half covering her eyes. Her eyelashes were trembling fiercely at this moment, but they didn’t fully open.
“Look at this prince.”
Xiao Hua’s eyelashes trembled once more before finally opening up fully.
This was Xiao Hua’s first time looking at the Jing Prince at such a close distance. Even during their more intimate moments, she had never gazed at him so closely.
She saw his high nose-bridge and jade-like face, his sharp brows hung above a pair of inexplicably dark and gloomy phoenix eyes. Those eyes contained the ever present apathy, and his expression was also calm and unperturbed.
However, she actually knew he wasn’t as calm as he appeared to be on the surface. Because while expressions can be faked and emotions can be faked, the body was unable to do so.
Feeling that area which was pressed against her emitting heat, Xiao Hua’s face still ended up turning red though she didn’t dare avert her eyes. She could only look pitifully at him.
He looked at the pair of pitiful eyes, and also at her lips which were trembling pitifully.
The Jing Prince couldn’t help but say: “Don’t be scared, this humble prince cherishes you.”