The Jing Prince woke up very early. He had the habit of waking up around six in the morning.
In the mornings he usually practiced his martial arts for an hour. In his past life he was prevented from learning it, so he found himself an instructor in this life once he got to the Jing Province.
As of today, while he wasn’t an expert, he could at least defend himself.
Based on his present status, he actually didn’t need to work so hard. But the Jing Prince was a straightforward person, and could even be said to be stubborn. He felt he had been lacking in many places in his past life, and wanted to improve them one by one. Even if he had missed the optimal age for learning martial arts, he still wanted to train. Might as well treat it as training his body.
The Jing Prince always did things meticulously. Although he didn’t enjoy speaking, his way of handling things always made people feel this way. It was just due to his status and his eccentricity that others felt it was hard to understand him. For example, his habit of practicing martial arts was like this. He would never be early or late, and would always show up to the martial training grounds at exactly the same time.
At this time he should be getting up, and he also heard Eunuch Fu’s soft footsteps outside. However, he didn’t want to get up.
He felt the gentle, fragrant softness next to him, and he suddenly recalled the words of a great poet of the previous dynasty.
Nights of passion were bitterly short, day has already risen. The monarch stopped holding morning court ever since.
He wasn’t a monarch, but still inexplicably had these thoughts and emotions.
He used the faint light to look at the sleeping face of the person next to him.
He wasn’t able to recall when he became so used to this low-ranked palace maid’s presence, as if she had just mysteriously appeared at his side. At first he hadn’t paid any attention to her. It was only because of Eunuch Fu adding fuel to the fire and also because of her decent massage skills. However, slowly, slowly he realized that she became more and more eye-catching.
He didn’t enjoy feminine charms, but repeatedly spent the night with her. He pondered it deeply. It seemed that ever since she started massaging him, she had broken through a barrier.
Nowadays he still felt his views towards feminine charms hadn’t changed. His moments of impulse were moments that all young men had, and he thought it was because he had abstained for too long that he would do such things.
As for the reason he came to the western pavilion, he thought it was because he had gotten used to it. After all, her services and behavior still suited his tastes quite well. At least it didn’t annoy him the way other people did.
The Jing Prince had just stirred when the person next to him subconsciously curled up in his chest and rubbed against him a little.
Looking at the small figure in his arms, he felt this scene and atmosphere was really testing one’s willpower.
But he was Luo Jing, and his self-control had always been very good. Therefore he only paused, and didn’t delay waking up any further. He didn’t realize that his actions in letting go of the person were very gentle and cautious.
He thought it was because he had tired her out last night and didn’t want to wake her.
Yes, that’s what it was.
The Jing Prince once again thought of her face last night that seemed to be crying yet not actually crying as she pleaded with him….
Eunuch Fu sensed movement inside the room and quietly walked in.
“Highness, you’re not going to sleep a little longer?”
The Jing Prince felt that he heard hints of disappointment in Eunuch Fu’s voice and gave him a glance. He didn’t say anything and just stood up.
Eunuch Fu smiled awkwardly and grumbled: “This snowy weather, and it’s also the New Year….”
His voice was very soft. Even if he heard it, the Jing Prince pretended not to have.
An Chen brought two low-ranked eunuchs into the room and helped the Jing Prince get dressed. Their movements were light. They seemed to realize that it was quiet behind the bed curtains and thus kept their own voices down.
Ding Xiang saw that the Jing Prince didn’t wake the madam, and tactfully remained silent. The low-ranked eunuchs helped the prince freshen up on the side.
Once that was done, the Jing Prince took his people and left without leaving behind any words.
Xiao Hua was awoken by Ding Xiang.
They had to go pay respects to the Jing Consort in the morning, and it was usually earlier rather than later. Therefore, Ding Xiang woke Xiao Hua up around that time.
Xiao Hua yawned and looked at Ding Xiang’s face. She suddenly remembered last night she was semi-consciously supported by Ding Xiang to wash up, and suddenly felt she was embarrassed enough to crawl into a hole.
Ding Xiang’s expression was very normal, so her embarrassment didn’t last long. After all, she had experienced this situation in her past life as well.
“What time is it?”
“Almost seven. It’s almost time to go pay respects at the Changchun Pavilion.”
Ding Xiang thought Madam Hua would refuse to go. After all, his highness had spent the night at the western pavilion. Unexpectedly, Xiao Hua let out an “oh”, and said: “Ding Xiang, bring me a cup of water, warm water.”
Hearing this, Ding Xiang knew that Madam Hua was going to get up, and didn’t say anything, going to fetch the water.
After drinking, Xiao Hua changed and freshened up with Ding Xiang and Ding Lan’s help.
Because she was about to head to the Changchun Pavilion, Xiao Hua didn’t bother putting on lighter clothing and instead put on her thicker outerwear.
Breakfast had already been brought back on the dot. After eating, Xiao Hua once again armed herself and headed out towards the Changchun Pavilion.
Xiao Hua was not late this time. She was the first to arrive, and the rest arrived soon after.
Senior Concubine Qiao was a very sweet and charming woman, her figure lithe and moving, her every expression flirtatious.
Because she didn’t have time to observe the situation yesterday, Xiao Hua was the first one to arrive this morning. The Jing Consort hadn’t come out yet, and the Changchun Pavilion’s palace maids arranged a seat for her inside the main living room. When Senior Concubine Qiao walked in, Xiao Hua felt that she was extraordinarily beautiful.
Looking at her and then at herself, Xiao Hua felt that compared to Senior Concubine Qiao, she was still a small sprout.
Yu Jiao and Yu Rong walked in behind Senior Concubine Qiao. Xiao Hua had carefully examined Yu Jiao yesterday and saw she was a cute and pleasant-looking woman. Yu Rong was a little plainer, and could only be said to be pretty and delicate. But since she was always with Yu Jiao, it was harder to notice her presence.
Everyone greeted each other and sat down. The Jing Consort had yet to appear, but the palace maids were very considerate and offered everyone tea and snacks.
Xiao Hua also had a cup, but it was almond milk instead of tea.
Seeing the steaming bowl of almond milk that emitted a thick fragrance, Xiao Hua rubbed her fingers as if she didn’t see it.
Xiao Hua had never paid respects before yesterday, and didn’t know if the Jing Consort was just early that one time. Seeing the other three acting normally, she half lowered her eyelids and sat there silently.
She carefully observed to see if the other three had drank their tea since the lids on the teacups prevented her from clearly seeing if they drank it or not.
During this time palace maids had refilled Yu Jiao and Yu Rong’s tea. When they came to refill Senior Concubine Qiao’s tea, she just raised an eyebrow and acted casually as she said, “It’s cold. Bring me a new cup.”
That low-ranked palace maid took Senior Concubine Qiao’s cup and left.
The low-ranked palace maid by Xiao Hua’s side asked, “Madam Hua, does this almond milk suit your tastes? The consort said you don’t like tea, and specially ordered us to prepare this for you today.”
Xiao Hua only smiled and said apologetically: “It smells really good. Unfortunately I got indigestion last night and didn’t eat breakfast yet this morning. I don’t have much of an appetite.”
The low palace maid smiled warmly, “Then this servant will switch it out for a warmer one.”
The almond milk was switched to a new bowl, but the Jing Consort had yet to come out.
Yu Jiao seemed a little impatient and summoned one of the low-ranked palace maids and asked, “Has the consort not woken up yet?”
That palace maid was at a loss and said: “This servant only serves outside the residence.”
After another long while had passed, Nana Li walked out.
“Sincere apologies, mistresses. The consort isn’t feeling well this morning, and won’t be able to see everyone. She asked this servant to tell everyone you can go back.”
Yu Jiao had long been impatient, and if it wasn’t for Yu Rong holding her back she would have long since made a fuss. Hearing Nana Li’s words, she immediately stood up and headed out the door.
Xiao Hua was unfamiliar with Nana Li and had just come to the rear court. She didn’t know what to say. Senior Concubine Qiao on the other hand spoke a few words of concern for the consort’s health. Although it wasn’t reflected in her expression, she had at least expressed her meaning.
The group arrived at the hallway outside and each let their palace maids help them put on their cloaks.
Yu Jiao complained quietly: “She always likes to do this. If she doesn’t feel well she can tell us in advance instead of wasting our time. It’s freezing.”
Yu Jiao’s words were true. The Jing Province’s weather was cold to begin with, and the Jing Consort’s main living room didn’t feel like it had heated vents. According to Ding Xiang, his highness and the consort’s pavilions had heated vents, but there were only two charcoal basins. The majestic Changchun Pavilion, the Jing Consort’s residence, ended up not even being warmer than their own residences.
Xiao Hua didn’t really care much about it. As a former servant, how could she be that spoiled? But Yu Jiao seemed unable to endure it any longer. Hearing her say “always”, Xiao Hua wondered if the Jing Consort liked to leave others hanging.
However, she didn’t have the time to think about this. Yesterday her excuse was that she didn’t like to drink tea. Today she didn’t have the appetite when they switched to almond milk. What about tomorrow?
Thinking to this point, Xiao Hua let out a sigh.
Furthermore, the Jing Prince had spent the night at her pavilion. She had initially expected there to be some reaction today, but nothing happened. Xiao Hua couldn’t help but feel relieved yet a little disappointed. Her thoughts were very complicated.
At the Changchun Pavilion.
“Yesterday she said she didn’t drink tea and today she had indigestion. Could it be that she sensed something?”
The Jing Consort’s brows were tightly furrowed, and she didn’t seem to be unwell. What Nana Li said earlier was probably an excuse.
Nana Li spoke to the side: “I took a glance at that Madam Hua. Her face was a little pale and she doesn’t seem to have much energy. It doesn’t seem to be a lie.”
The Jing Consort angrily pulled on her handkerchief.
“Consort don’t worry. There are still many days ahead, and she has to come pay respects every morning. She’ll definitely fall victim.”
At the Rongxi Pavilion.
Die’er was someone who served by the senior concubine’s side, and was also her trusted aide. Naturally she had great insight.
Senior Concubine Qiao had just sat down on the kiln when Die’er asked: “Senior concubine, do you think that Madam Hua has discovered the consort’s little scheme?”
Senior Concubine Qiao rubbed her brows and smiled, “Who knows? Her reasoning was quite convincing.” After a pause she spoke again: “We will see, there are many days ahead. That woman Qiao-Shi’s schemes are contemptible. Avoiding it is fortune, not avoiding it is calamity. It can’t be helped. Since she’s the consort, going to pay respects is reasonable.”
After speaking, Senior Concubine Qiao started laughing. Her laughter was very carefree.
During lunchtime, Xiao Hua saw a familiar little jar as part of her lunch.
She looked at Ding Xiang who said: “This was given by Nana He from the Hall of Splendor’s small kitchen. She said madam has gotten used to drinking her nourishing soup, and asked this servant to bring some for her once a day.”
Xiao Hua didn’t say anything, but was very moved in her heart.