Translator’s notes: Thank you Geri for your support once again. Hope you all enjoy this chapter as much as I did.
At the Changchun Pavilion.
The spacious courtyard and the walkways of the main residence were decorated with colored lights, making the scene appear bright and splendid.
The snowy weather outside made one’s breath visible in the air, but the Changchun Pavilion’s main reception was warm and cozy. A steamer outlined with golden Luan1 burned with plum flower flavored incense and high quality silver-threaded coal. Those who approached would be met with the smell of plum flowers.
Inside the hall a large square table was laid out with all sorts of delicacies that one could think of. It was very rich and abundant, with golden cups and jade plates. The splendor of the estate was on full display. Everyone had arrived, and after paying respects to the Jing Consort, they each took their seat.
The Jing Consort was wearing a red peony flower embroidered jacket. Her hair was pinned with a pure gold ruby inlaid phoenix hairpin. Seated in the seat of honor, her smile was extremely resplendent.
“The estate has always been quiet and the only banquet we have has been during New Year’s. With so few opportunities to hold banquets together, I’ve somewhat failed in my duties as a consort. This time since we’ve added a new little sis here, I’ve invited everyone to eat, drink and chat. Everyone cannot be too reserved.”
“Based on what you’re saying big sis consort, us women in the rear court will have many opportunities in the future to sit together.” Senior Concubine Qiao lightly raised her eyebrows and let out a charming smile.
“Exactly. I had wanted to invite his highness, but he is unfortunately busy with official business. Therefore it’s just us today.”
Who here didn’t know that you wouldn’t be able to invite his highness here? There was no need to cover it up.
Even though everyone here knew it, these words could definitely not be spoken. Therefore everyone merely smiled. As for what was beneath their smiles, only they themselves knew.
Since Yu Jiao found out the Jing Prince had visited her twice, she had constantly been on Xiao Hua’s case these past few days. She didn’t do anything else, but would talk glibly to vent her anger. She didn’t miss the opportunity this time either.
“His highness is busy visiting the western pavilion in his free time. Little sis Hua is truly capable, clinging onto his highness’s feet and dragging him there.” Normally Xiao Hua never responded to Yu Jiao’s needling. However, this time was different.
“Big sis Yu Jiao is making it sound like others can interfere in his highness’s business. Doesn’t he just go where he wants to go?”
Today Xiao Hua was wearing the satin lined jacket with woven snow clouds and the dress with golden threaded butterflies flying through clouds and flowers. Her clothes were beautiful and conspicuous, and makeup was also well done. She was good looking to begin with, and now suddenly seemed outstanding.
Compared to her usual simple and plain appearance, it seemed as if she was a completely different person.
Yu Jiao’s eyes were stuck on her the moment she arrived, and secretly cursed her as a vixen several times. It was no wonder she couldn’t remain steady and started mocking the moment she sat down.
As if feeling one sharp retort wasn’t enough, Xiao Hua added another, “As for where his highness can go, it depends on the person.” She glanced Yu Jiao up and down, lightly puckered her lips and shook her head, “Big sis, hmm, seems to fall a little short.”
This expression, this attitude and these words were very aggressive. It was just short of pointing at Yu Jiao’s face and saying ‘you’re too ugly, no wonder his highness doesn’t look at you’.
Xiao Hua had always given others a docile and respectful impression. She spoke little and was timid. It also wasn’t Yu Jiao’s first time mocking her, and she had never responded before. She had seemed to be a sculpture who had no temper.
Of course they all knew that she wasn’t completely without temper. At least, on the first day of paying respects she had made a retort, letting others know she wasn’t easy to provoke. But afterwards she had never made any response, even in the face of their mockery, making them feel even more she was a sealed gourd.
Today her actions had truly taken them all aback.
Was this still that sealed gourd? Why did she seem so domineering? They saw her cute and beautiful smile, but under her fluid and charming eyes her mouth spoke words that stabbed into one’s heart like a dagger.
Not only was the Jing Consort shocked, Senior Concubine Qiao was also shocked.
There was even less need to mention Yu Jiao, whose face directly turned red, and in the end slightly black.
“You you—-” Yu Jiao was so angry she couldn’t speak coherently.
As Yu Jiao’s good partner, Yu Rong naturally couldn’t just watch her get bullied.
“Little sis Hua’s words were really too ugly. We’re all sisters here, is there a need to be so overbearing?”
This drawn out, melodious “oh” was a tone Xiao Hua would never use normally but was coming out of her mouth at this time. Accompanied by her suddenly radiant face, it made others feel it was well matched, as though this person should be like this to begin with.
Xiao Hua actually had a very spritely face. It was small and delicate, the most outstanding feature upon it were her peach blossom eyes. A faintly seductive appearance was discernable between her flowing gaze that took over one’s soul. It was just that she normally kept her face half lowered, and remained low-key. She never fought over things and never made a fuss, making others unable to see her edge.
But for some reason today, her edge was on bright display, almost stabbing their eyes blind.
Xiao Hua didn’t need a mirror to know what she looked like at the moment. Her current appearance was one she had used often in her past life. She had been a favored concubine then, and occupied the very peak of the 4th young master’s heart. Wasn’t it only natural that she displayed such a domineering attitude, and angered others to death without affecting herself? Using such an attitude, using such a face and using such words, she had wiped out several people who fought over favor with her.
Unexpectedly, although she wanted to remain low-key, to be tolerant and to be yielding, she was still forced to use it in this life as well.
This was drinking poison to quench one’s thirst, but she had no other choice!
“Big sis Yu Rong’s words are really frivolous. My words weren’t directed at you, right? When she targeted this madam all those other times, why didn’t you step out and say anything? After all, her words weren’t directed at you either. Did you really take me as a sculpture that you can knead however you want?” She paused and said disdainfully: “What nonsense!”
The first part could be overlooked, but her last phrase was truly harsh. That tone completely displayed the meaning of the word “disdain” in great detail.
Not only was everyone shocked stiff, even the palace maids including Ding Xiang and Ding Lan were stunned.
Did this Madam Hua go crazy?
But no one could say she was in the wrong. After all, Yu Jiao, Yu Rong and Xiao Hua were all madams, and were all of the same status.
Although Yu Jiao and Yu Rong were bestowed by the emperor, they had never been visited by the Jing Prince. This was known by everyone present. Xiao Hua was also a madam, and her status was truly the lowest amongst everyone here. However, she had come from the Hall of Splendor, and even after moving to the western pavilion his highness had visited her twice.
Everyone here was able to measure what exactly held more weight.
But hitting someone’s face so openly—–
Xiao Hua didn’t pay any attention to Yu Jiao and Yu Rong’s expressions, appearing too disdainful to give them a glance. She smiled at the Jing Consort and said: “Consort, please don’t mind this servant concubine’s ugly words. This servant concubine was also angered beyond her limit. At first since they were older sisters, and their ages were older than mine by a lot, I tolerated and yielded. Who would have guessed she would start enjoying what she was saying? She may have been speaking joyfully, but this servant concubine’s ears were painfully shriveled from listening.”
Yu Jiao’s face was no longer black this time, but had turned completely purple. Not only was her expression ugly, it was also extremely twisted.
Feeling the fire rush to her head, she directly stood up and charged towards Xiao Hua. Having been dazed by Xiao Hua’s words, Yu Rong was unable to react in time to hold her back.
“Aiya, couldn’t win a battle of words so she wants to use her hands….” Xiao Hua patted her chest and cried out with a frightened expression.
Despite her words, Xiao Hua’s movements didn’t stop. She herself stood up and dodged out of the way, her actions seemingly hurried in response. As she moved, her body accidentally sent all the dishes on her table flying.
Yu Jiao’s charge was too vigorous and since Xiao Hua dodged out of the way, she first knocked into Xiao Hua’s chair, and then flipped over it directly onto the banquet table.
In an instant, the scene had turned to complete chaos. A table of delicacies had also been more or less destroyed.
The Jing Consort looked at the disordered scene and frowned in anger.
“What do you think you are doing? Do you still have this consort in your eyes?!”
Yu Jiao was sprawled dazedly on the table. Only when Yu Rong came to lift her up did she snap out of it. Although she stood up, her appearance was a mess. Not only were here hands full of oil, sauce and soup, her clothes were also completely ruined.
Xiao Hua knelt down on the spot, “Please forgive me consort. She made a move first.”
“She made a move?” The Jing Consort’s chest rose and fell in anger, her face full of resentment. “Do you think the servants are dead? Naturally, someone would have stopped her. This perfectly fine table of dishes….”
“It’s this servant concubine’s fault. This servant concubine shouldn’t have dodged when she charged over.”
Xiao Hua’s words were a little incriminating, but they weren’t wrong. No one could expect someone to remain seated while someone charged over, right?
Saying that the servants aren’t dead and someone would naturally stop her was all well and good, but what if they couldn’t stop her? What if Yu Jiao had scratched her face? After all, when women fought they usually aimed for the face. Who would dare take such a risk?
Therefore it really couldn’t be blamed on Madam Hua. At most she shouldn’t have provoked Madam Yu Jiao with her words.
But it was also Madam Yu Jiao who targeted her first. Madam Hua had also said it: tolerating, enduring and yielding had only made her start speaking more enjoyably.
Doesn’t everyone have a temper? Who would dare say she shouldn’t have retorted?
Therefore this loss would definitely be for Yu Jiao to eat. Of course, the Jing Consort had eaten a loss as well.
The Jing Consort couldn’t blame Madam Hua on the surface, and could only glare at Yu Jiao, that shit stirring stick.
On the other side, Xiao Hua continued to say apologetically: “It’s all this servant concubine’s fault, ruining an entire table of dishes. The great consort is being magnanimous and not scolding this servant concubine, but this servant concubine cannot just play dumb. In order to atone, this servant concubine has decided to confine herself to her quarters for a month.”
The Jing Consort was astonished and swept her eyes in Xiao Hua’s direction. She had already decided everything before the consort opened her mouth?
Xiao Hua showed off an appearance that said she deserved to die a thousand times for her crime, “I still need to ask consort for forgiveness. This servant concubine will definitely confine herself in her residence and reflect on her actions for a month.”
In front of so many people, she had admitted her crime and punished herself. What could the Jing Consort say about it?
“This also can’t be blamed on you….”
“Consort, no need to console this servant concubine. Mistakes need to be punished. This servant concubine is willing to reflect on her actions in confinement. It’s only that during confinement this servant concubine won’t be able to come pay respects.”
Having said so much, her goal turned out to be this.
The Jing Consort’s face turned rigid, “There’s no need. This matter was caused by Madam Yu Jiao, you are not to blame. This consort is still someone who understands reason.” Only the heavens knew how hard it was for the consort to say the phrase “you are not to blame”.
“But this servant concubine is also at fault. This servant concubine should have properly kept her temper in control. Big sis Yu Jiao’s temper was bad to begin with, and this servant concubine couldn’t endure and ended up fighting with her. Therefore, this servant concubine has decided to punish herself with one month of confinement.”
The reason why she didn’t set a longer period of time was because Xiao Hua knew the Jing Consort wouldn’t agree.
“There’s really no need…”
“Does the consort feel one month is too short, and isn’t enough to make up for this servant concubine’s mistakes? Then this servant concubine will punish herself with two months of confinement.”
The Jing Consort’s eyes looked sharply over. Xiao Hua’s half lowered face was filled with shame and her eyes looked very sincere.
The two’s gazes met for half a second before the Jing Consort contained her anger and took a step back.
“Alright, no need to speak further. Let’s make it half a month.”
Xiao Hua paused, knelt on the floor and saluted the Jing Consort once again, “Thank you for consort’s leniency.”
Yu Jiao and Yu Rong were both stunned, and were a little confused at what Madam Hua was playing at. Yu Jiao’s anger hadn’t faded yet, but being worried about the Jing Consort’s anger she could only stand there rigidly.
Senior Concubine Qiao’s eyes flashed and she didn’t say anything.
Xiao Hua, as the accessory to the crime, was “punished” with half a month of confinement. As the “main culprit”, Yu Jiao could naturally not avoid it. She was punished by the consort with a month of confinement, and also had to write ten copies of the nun’s scriptures.
Since the banquet was ruined, there was naturally no need to eat. The Jing Consort had everyone disperse with a rigid expression.
Xiao Hua took Ding Xiang and Ding Lan out of the Changchun Pavilion. Only after leaving the gates did she reveal a weary expression.
She rubbed her brows and leaned heavily on Ding Xiang.
Yu Jiao followed behind, and looked as if she wanted to settle accounts with Xiao Hua but was forcibly restrained by Yu Rong.
Xiao Hua didn’t look at them. She pulled her hood up and started walking back.
They walked all the way back to the western pavilion. Upon entering the room, a wave of warmth immediately rushed out to greet them.
Ding Xiang and Ding Lan also didn’t dare speak. Ding Lan was shocked at Madam Hua’s sudden drastic change. Ding Xiang on the other hand saw everything and also understood madam’s intentions.
She sighed in her heart as her hands continuously helped Xiao Hua take off her outerwear.
Xiao Hua didn’t eat dinner, and the dishes at the Changchun Pavilion had also been smashed. Even if they weren’t smashed, Xiao Hua hadn’t planned on eating them. Ding Xiang supported Xiao Hua over to sit on the kiln, and had Ding Lan go fetch some cakes and pastries as well as tea.
After randomly eating some pastries, Xiao Hua washed up and went to sleep.
She had bought herself half a month of peace after racking her brains. Yu Jiao and Yu Rong also probably hated her to death.
If they hated her they hated her. Her actions had also been caused by her helplessness. As for the Jing Consort’s thoughts, she couldn’t mind them. Regardless, she was hated by her anyway. She could only take things one step at a time.
Drinking poison to quench one’s thirst. Really drinking poison to quench one’s thirst!