Super long but enjoyable chapter.
“Little sis Hua, you are the one who caught his highness’s eye the most out of all of us. Are you still willing to put up with this?”
Today, they were once again left hanging for half the day as they came to pay respects. After they walked out the door, Yu Jiao spoke with a peculiar tone.
Xiao Hua didn’t make a sound as she allowed Ding Lan to help her put on her cloak.
Yu Jiao also felt a little dull after she spoke.
Everyone was clear about the Jing Prince’s personality. Not only did he rarely come to the rear court, he never interacted with any of his harem. As long as the Jing Prince continued his disregard, and didn’t care or ask about things, the Jing Consort had the highest status in the rear court as the main concubine. Her giving the lower ranked concubines a hard time or an attitude was par for the course.
Everyone understood this reasoning. Xiao Hua understood it as well. This is also why despite knowing Chun Zhu had to have been bribed by one of the Jing Consort’s people, she didn’t plan to lay it out in the open. Especially since the Jing Prince had also not stopped by her place in several days.
“If Madam Yu isn’t willing to come pay respects, you can go tell his highness yourself. Perhaps his highness will exempt you from it. Regardless, this servant concubine doesn’t have the face to do so.”
After throwing out these words Xiao Hua walked away, leaving behind a sputtering Yu Jiao.
Senior Concubine Qiao chuckled a little and also left.
Xiao Hua returned to the western pavilion, changed her clothes and sat on the warm kiln.
The situation with Chun Zhu and the Jing Consort’s weirdness made Xiao Hua feel extremely on edge, but she didn’t know how to solve any of these problems.
She felt very repressed, as though there was a rock weighing on her heart. When she was alone, she would even have a sort of suffocating feeling.
Chun Mei came over to report that a low-ranked palace maid from the sweeper area wanted to meet the madam, saying that she knew Madam Hua in the past and had something to report.
“Chun Cao, go see who it is.”
After a moment, Chun Cao returned saying the person who came was Qiao Lian.
Qiao Lian? Qiao Lian returned to the sweeper area?
Xiao Hua thought about it a little before having Chun Cao bring the person in.
Qiao Lian’s appearance wasn’t much different from before, but because the work in the sweeper area was not easy in the winter, she appeared thin and haggard, cutting a sorry figure. Yet despite this, her attitude was just as impertinent as before while containing a thick layer of jealousy.
Especially after entering the room and seeing Xiao Hua who was sitting in the main seat with a half frown on her face that couldn’t cover her beauty, the jealousy in her eyes seemed as if it were about to burst out.
“Still not saluting after seeing the madam?” Ding Lan spoke to the side.
Qiao Lian froze a little, and performed a salute with a face full of unwillingness.
Seeing Qiao Lian like this, Xiao Hua felt a little like laughing. She felt that this person hadn’t changed at all since the beginning. Didn’t she know that acting this way would easily stir up trouble and easily offend others?
“Speak, what is it?” Xiao Hua spoke indifferently.
Qiao Lian choked up with anger at Xiao Hua’s attitude. She wanted to lose her temper but she also knew that she couldn’t afford to offend the person in front of her. She gave a glare, and without beating about the bush, took out a small pouch from her robes and threw it onto the nearby table.
“Someone asked me to harm you, wanting me to find a chance while working to bury this in the ground. I’m guessing they wanted to use me because they saw my personality was bad. I’m not going to let others make a fool out of me, so I came to tell you this.”
Seeing that pouch, Ding Xiang froze. She went over to take a look and returned to whisper a few words in Xiao Hua’s ear. After speaking, she used a handkerchief to wrap up the pouch and went to deal with it.
Xiao Hua’s expression was frozen at first before becoming calm again.
Only after a long time did she look at Qiao Lian with a complicated expression and say: “Your temper still hasn’t changed.” Her tone carried a faint hint of exasperation and reminiscence.
Qiao Lian was choked up once again. She turned her face away and didn’t say anything.
Seeing Qiao Lian acting this way, Xiao Hua felt very unpleasant in her heart. She had always disliked this person, but she didn’t think that she would do something so outside of her expectations.
“You don’t need to thank me. Although my personality is disagreeable, I’ve always done things openly. You have such great fortune that my eyes are turning red from jealousy. Therefore, there’s no need to for such a display.”
These words instead cleared up Xiao Hua’s complicated emotions a little. She smiled and said: “I know you were always jealous of me. Why else would you cut up my clothing back then?”
Without waiting for Qiao Lian to retort, she continued speaking: “You were just a little dumb. At least you are much dumber compared to Xiu Yun.”
Qiao Lian was a little sluggish at first, and was then shocked by the words “Xiu Yun”. She twitched her lips, wanting to sneer at first but failing and turning it instead into an extremely sorry sounding hmph. She wanted to ask Xiao Hua why she would use Xiu Yun to provoke her. Xi’er wasn’t the only one who had watched Xiu Yun get beaten to death. She also wanted to say could it be that you were the only smart one….
Many words reached her lips before being swallowed again. She had long since become a different person. She used to be ignorant, then arrogant, then scared, then terrified, and finally matured in the end. Unfortunately she still didn’t mature properly….
Finally, she said with a disheartened expression: “My personality was always like this, provoking others to dislike me.”
“You understanding this is also a sort of progress.”
“You——” Qiao Lian first glared at her before saying impatiently: “You were annoying when you never said anything. Now that you speak, you’re still annoying. Enough chatting, I’m going back. Don’t ask me who it was that gave me the pouch. I don’t know that person.” After a pause she spoke again: “In any event, it was someone who didn’t like you and wanted to harm you.”
After speaking, she again glanced at Xiao Hua with a jealous expression. “You really attract too many people to hate you. You were clearly the lowest rank of low-ranked palace maids, but ascended to the sky in an instant.”
“Do you know how to speak properly?” Chun Cao couldn’t watch any further and scolded from the side.
Xiao Hua raised a hand and stopped Chun Cao from continuing. She revealed a mysterious smile and mumbled: “That’s right, I attract too much jealousy.”
“You should probably give birth to a child earlier. His highness doesn’t have an heir, so things will stabilize for you once you have a child.” Qiao Lian said with a complicated expression.
“You even understand this?”
“Haven’t I seen pigs run despite not having eaten pork before?1 The household I used to serve was much more complicated than this place.”
“So you were too dumb, couldn’t muddle along anymore and got sold off.” This was Xiao Hua’s theory. She used some tidbits of information she got in the past to make a guess. Qiao Lian was sluggish from anger once more, and said dispiritedly: “I already feel myself to be quite dislikeable, but I feel you are even more dislikeable.”
Xiao Hua let out a sigh before returning to the topic at hand.
“I heard you are now working in the sweeper area. I will ask someone to change your job in a little bit. You are also clear about my current situation, so whether it will work or not is uncertain.”
Qiao Lian didn’t speak, turning around and leaving. If she stayed any longer, she didn’t know if her head would burst from jealousy, and didn’t know if she would start to regret not listening to that person and harming her.
Walking to the door, she spoke without turning around, “I feel that the sweeper area is still pretty good. At least there aren’t too many things happening. With my personality I shouldn’t go anywhere too nice.”
“It’s not too late for you to realize this. Qiao Lian—-”
Qiao Lian stopped her steps.
“I will do my best not to implicate you in this situation. If anyone asks, you can tell them you buried it.”
“I know. No need for you to say it.” Qiao Lian’s manner of speech was as dislikeable as always, but her actions always exceeded one’s expectations.
After Qiao Lian left, Xiao Hua sat for a long time staring into space.
After Ding Xiang returned, her expression was very ugly.
Having consecutively discovered two pouches of the same thing, it really wasn’t clear if she should say Madam Hua’s luck was good or bad.
The continuous events honestly made Xiao Hua feel overwhelmed. This sort of harmful medicine was unheard of and unfamiliar, and had far exceeded her past life’s experience.
Another one popped up right after they discovered the first one. Who knew if there would be a third or a fourth….she suddenly felt very weary, and also a restlessness that almost made her go insane….
“Madam, what should we do about this?”
“Let me think about it carefully.”
After speaking, Xiao Hua went to the inner room by herself and didn’t let anyone else in to serve her.
Xiao Hua didn’t eat lunch. Ding Xiang hesitated over and over and didn’t go in to call her.
After another half an hour went by, Ding Xiang really couldn’t feel at ease and entered the inner room. She saw Xiao Hua who was sitting on the warm kiln under the bedroom window.
Xiao Hua made a noise in response.
After a long while, she said: “Ding Xiang, do you think we should take a risk?”
Ding Xiang said quietly: “This servant doesn’t understand.”
Xiao Hua smiled. She probably understood, but couldn’t make a decision.
She didn’t say this out loud, and said instead: “The way his highness treats me, do you think it counts as doting on me?”
Ding Xiang didn’t dare respond to this. Even Madam Hua herself couldn’t figure out the situation clearly. No matter how smart she was, how much could she understand as a servant? Perhaps he doted on her a little, but no one knew for sure whether it was enough to make this weird prince restrict the consort for madam’s sake.
“From their perspective, his highness seems to look at me in a favorable light. But why is it that I don’t have any confidence?”
The room was extremely silent. Ding Xiang kept her head lowered and didn’t say anything.
Xiao Hua suddenly laughed lightly, “It’s really hard to just pass the days peacefully. I’ve been pushed until I can retreat no further.” After a pause, she spoke again: “I remember you saying that Auntie Qi is responsible for internal affairs, right? Go take these two pouches and report them to Auntie Qi.”
Since there was no more room to retreat, then she would stop retreating.
Ding Xiang acted very quickly. The small box that held the two pouches were soon placed in front of Auntie Qi.
Auntie Qi looked at the contents of the small box and her expression immediately darkened.
Ding Xiang had long since guessed that it wasn’t anything good, but only after seeing Auntie Qi’s expression did she know just how “not good” it was.
“Auntie, what is it?”
Auntie Qi gave Ding Xiang a glance and said heavily: “It’s a kind of reprehensible medicine, one that is not often seen. If it’s buried in the soil, it releases a sort of medicinal property that damages a woman’s body. Pregnant women would miscarry, and those who aren’t pregnant would become infertile after prolonged exposure. It’s extremely harmful to a woman’s yin essence.”
What Auntie Qi didn’t say was that this medicine was only seen in the imperial palace. Of course it was possible to obtain elsewhere, but that was extremely rare. And even in those instances, it would be related to the imperial palace.
Therefore, even without investigating, Auntie Qi knew who the biggest suspect was.
It seems she was very desperate!
The desperation of a certain person suddenly made Auntie Qi feel a certain feeling of satisfaction. This emotion was very obscured, and Ding Xiang naturally wasn’t able to tell.
“I will send some people to the western pavilion in a bit just in case anything was overlooked. As for Madam Hua, she needs to get examined in case she contracted anything else. I will arrange everything, and will also report things to his highness’s side. You should go back first.”
Ding Xiang bowed and left.
Auntie Qi was also extremely quick in handling things. Not long after Ding Xiang returned, a group of middle aged palace maids arrived at the western pavilion. Their faces were all solemn and cold, saying they were here to help look things over.
Ding Xiang had relayed Auntie Qi’s words to Xiao Hua after getting back. Xiao Hua had some lingering fears in her heart now that she had a better understanding of this reprehensible medicine, and seeing there were people here to help she naturally was more than willing to let them.
Xiao Hua went to sit in the main hall. Those palace maids were divided between Ding Xiang and Ding Lan and they went off to search the entire eastern wing. Soon they had looked the entire residence over including the storage building and all the other side buildings. To say the entire place had been overturned wouldn’t be an exaggeration.
The result made one sigh in relief. There were no other suspicious items.
Chun Zhu was also taken away for questioning. Xiao Hua guessed that Qiao Lian would also be questioned. However, Qiao Lian had voluntarily reported it and should be fine. It was hard to say the same for Chun Zhu.
Since her own safety was in question, she naturally wasn’t thinking about Chun Zhu. Thinking of Ding Xiang’s words regarding the effects of those two pouches, Xiao Hua’s body was filled with cold sweat.
Luckily Chun Cao had discovered it. It if was really buried by Chun Zhu, based on her habit of getting fresh air in the hallway every day, her outcome would have been tragic after accumulating over the days and months.
Therefore, the shred of compassion she had was also gone.
Ding Xiang had just finished sorting through the various places in the eastern wing when Doctor Hu arrived.
“Doctor Hu, I have to trouble you once again.” Xiao Hua said.
“No trouble, it’s part of my job.”
Doctor Hu’s expression didn’t reveal anything, and it wasn’t clear whether Auntie Qi had told him about the situation. Ding Xiang covered Xiao Hua’s wrist with a handkerchief and he came up to take her pulse.
His hand had just made contact for a few seconds when it trembled and his face revealed a startled expression.
Ding Xiang’s heart sank, and even Xiao Hua could tell something was wrong from his expression.
“Doctor Hu, how is our madam’s situation?”
Xiao Hua’s eyes looked straight at him, her heart and head both pounding heavily.
It’ll be fine, everything should be fine. Chun Zhu was discovered before she buried it, and Qiao Lian reported it directly. However, Xiao Hua had a bad premonition.
Doctor Hu really wanted to give himself a slap. In the past he had never revealed any expressions. After having left the palace for so long, he had actually made such an error.
Trying to cover it up at this moment would only make things worse. Besides, how could this be covered up? Especially since the reason Auntie Qi had him come examine Madam Hua was precisely because she was afraid she might have fallen victim to some scheme.
He hesitated for half a second before slowly saying: “Based on madam’s pulse, she seems to have been in contact with substances containing cold essence. I’m afraid, I’m afraid that……”
Ding Xiang turned pale with fight, “Impossible. That’s absolutely impossible! Madam’s personal items and food are all handled personally by this servant. The residence was also just thoroughly searched, and there were no suspicious objects.”
Xiao Hua suddenly felt lightheaded, her head buzzing as though having been struck heavily by a club.
It seemed that the events of her past life would repeat once again. In her past life she had gotten a doctor to examine her after she felt unwell. Due to being engaged in serious struggle with Qiao-Shi at the time, she didn’t even dare invite the estate’s doctor and had privately invited one from outside.
She was first told that it was just a slight cold, but seeing the doctor acting a little strange, she pressed him over and over before finding out that due to consuming too much cold essence early on she had already become infertile.
At this moment, both her lives seemed to be weirdly overlapped. Xiao Hua was in a trance, her face deathly pale.
Why was she unable to escape this vicious cycle in both her lifetimes? She had avoided, hid and remained low-key, but her skill had not been up to par and she had fallen one move short of checkmate!
What was she supposed to do?
Xiao Hua felt herself being shaken by Ding Xiang, but wasn’t able to snap out of it.
“Madam don’t panic. Doctor Hu said it’s still treatable. Everything is fine, everything is fine…”
Xiao Hua shook her head hard before her eyes finally became clear.
She saw Doctor Hu furrowing his brows but his expression wasn’t grave. She heard him say: “…..madam please don’t be too panicked. Based on this old man’s observation, the period of exposure hasn’t been very long. With around a year of careful treatment, it wouldn’t affect your fertility in the future.”
Xiao Hua’s heart fell back down with a thump, and she let out a deep breath. She did her best to calm her chaotic emotions and revealed a smile that looked as if she was crying and smiling at the same time.
“It’s really treatable?”
Does that mean she shouldn’t yet despair?
“Madam, please trust this old man’s medical skills.”
“How long will it take?”
“This—-” Doctor Hu muttered for half a second, “This will depend on madam’s physical condition. Perhaps up to a year.”
Xiao Hua let out a sigh, and asked again: “Is Doctor Hu able to tell what it was caused by?”
“Does madam have a habit of burning incense?”
Upon hearing this, Ding Xiang immediately had Ding Lan fetch the furnace in the house that was often used to burn incense, as well as the incense itself.
Doctor Hu received it and took a look. He used his hand to pinch the ash and gave it a sniff, and then opened the case of incense and examined the contents.
After a long while, he shook his head, indicating that there was nothing wrong with the incense.
Ding Xiang also knew there wouldn’t be anything wrong with it. Those middle aged palace maids were experts in investigating shameful secrets. If there was anything wrong with the incense they would have long since discovered it.
“Doctor Hu means to say that madam’s problems were contracted via incense?” Ding Xiang asked.
“Based on her condition this should be the case. Furthermore, it should have been accumulated little by little. However, it hasn’t been that long and therefore it hasn’t caused major harm yet. Effects are always slow when using incense, but it’s fortunate in this case.”
Ding Xiang’s expression was a little ugly and she looked at Xiao Hua.
Xiao Hua knew that she and Ding Xiang had thought of the same place. She rubbed her brows and her mind was extremely disordered.
Ding Xiang escorted Doctor Hu out and went to find Auntie Qi again.
The residence was scarily quiet. Ding Lan and Chun Cao stood silently by Xiao Hua and carefully observed her grave expression.
She had intended to bet on the Jing Prince viewing her in a favorable light and hadn’t come to a conclusion regarding the Jing Consort’s side yet. Now this new situation had sprung forth.
At this moment, Xiao Hua really didn’t know what her best course of action would be.
“I’m going to go rest for a while.”
Chun Cao carefully supported Xiao Hua to the bedroom.
“Madam, it’s fine. Doctor Hu said after some treatment there won’t be any lingering effects.” Chun Cao said comfortingly, but her words were so ineffective that they didn’t even comfort herself.
They had completely fallen out with the consort’s side. Madam’s condition looked bleak. His highness’s favor was still in question and now there was this new situation. Although a year wasn’t that long since Madam Hua was still young, a lot could happen in that time. Who knew if she would still be favored?
After all, his highness was widely known for being apathetic. Perhaps his many visits to the western pavilion were all due him suddenly feeling a period of arousal. What if this period passes?
Xiao Hua also understood this. She didn’t say anything, and tiredly closed her eyes.
Please believe this author. Hua Hua being temporarily unable to get pregnant isn’t a bad thing, and isn’t bullying the female lead. Doctor Hu’s words were just the worst case scenario, and in reality it won’t require a year. This sort of medicine was invented by this author, so don’t criticize it too much. However, there were indeed a lot of infertility medicines in ancient times. This author has done her research. However, there weren’t any that could do it in one go. Normally they would have to be taken over a period of time. The medicines themselves also look all sorts of weird. Things will just about be wrapped up in the next chapter. Afterwards, the pampering will begin. Hopefully Xiao Hua will be able to handle Repressed Jing’s moves…..look forward to it….