After a long, long while.
The movements behind the curtains had finally settled down.
Xiao Hua’s face was buried in the pillow. She didn’t have the strength left to move a muscle.
The Jing Prince lay there, his body and heart both extremely pleased. His heart also contained an imperceptible trace of a man’s pride.
After resting for a while, he remembered something mentioned in the book. He turned on his side and stroked her bare, snow-white back, “Like it?”
Xiao Hua was momentarily unable to take it.
In her memories, the Jing Prince had only asked her twice if she liked something. The first time was on New Year’s Eve, and tonight was the second time. Thinking about what he meant by asking “like it?” this time, Xiao Hua didn’t know what she should say.
But she was afraid of angering this master if she didn’t respond. He finally came by, and had done his best to make her feel good. Even if Xiao Hua was a moron, she would still understand the implicit meaning behind the Jing Prince’s actions.
Thinking of this, she felt a sweetness in her heart. She endured her bashfulness with difficulty and turned over, hiding into the Jing Prince’s arms and nodded her head.
The Jing Prince felt pleased with himself, and was also a little proud. Overall, his emotions were very complicated. He lowered his eyes and looked at the tiny person buried in his arms. A tenderness that he didn’t notice arose in his heart.
He raised the shy little flower’s face and saw her eyelashes that were like butterfly wings covering her eyes, not daring to look at him. Her cheeks were rose-tinted.
A fond feeling arose in his heart, and he leaned in for a kiss.
Ding Xiang who had been on guard outside the whole time heard the movements inside the room. Her face was completely red but was also joyous.
Ding Lan sat next to her with the same expression.
In the dark of night, neither of them spoke but they looked at each other with glimmering eyes.
The past few days they had convinced their madam to do some needlework to distract her, but actually they themselves were very apprehensive. They were deeply afraid madam had lost favor. Based on tonight’s situation, how was their madam out of favor? It was clearly them overthinking things.
It’s good if that’s the case. It’s good if that’s the case!
The next day, Xiao Hua awoke when the Jing Prince got up.
She wanted to help him get dressed and freshened up, but was told “you sleep” by him. Xiao Hua didn’t listen. She draped her clothes over herself and got up, helping him wash his face, brush his teeth, change his clothes and put on his crown.
Although the Jing Prince felt that these things could be done by servants, he didn’t refuse her. Seeing her lowered little face as she earnestly helped him straighten his clothes, his heart was joyful.
“Highness, do you want to eat breakfast here before leaving?”
Xiao Hua finally helped him put on his jasper belt. Her little fingers were curled around the belt and seemed reluctant to let go.
The Jing Prince stroked her hair and thought how she would definitely insist on personally serving him breakfast if he ate here. She hadn’t slept much the night before and didn’t look very energetic. Therefore, he refused.
“This humble prince goes to the martial training grounds.”
So be it. Xiao Hua didn’t insist.
The Jing Prince was actually thinking that if she insisted, he could eat breakfast here.
Seeing her not speak any further, he could only say in a depressed tone, “Going to be late.”
Xiao Hua nodded her head and sent the Jing Prince off at the door. She seemed to suddenly remember something and ran back inside.
“Madam, what are you looking for? Let this servant do it.” Ding Xiang saw her madam running hurriedly inside and spoke worriedly.
“It’s nothing, I found it.”
Xiao Hua turned around and came out. She saw the Jing Prince still standing in the same spot and couldn’t help but laugh a little. She walked forward and secretly stuffed something into his hands, her expression extremely bashful.
“A gift for your highness.” Seeing the Jing Prince still standing there rubbing what she stuffed to him while being surrounded by a group of palace maids and eunuchs, she was too embarrassed to look. “Highness should hurry and leave. Otherwise you’ll be late.” Xiao Hua winked charmingly.
The Jing Prince raised his hand and stroked the tips of her hair before walking out.
Xiao Hua stood there frozen for a long time before returning to her bedroom and going back to sleep.
The Jing Prince walked towards the martial training grounds.
His face was expressionless and his gaze was calm, but his thoughts remained on the thing in his hand. He could have stuffed it into his sleeve pockets, but he kept it squeezed within his hand. Luckily his sleeves were long and it wasn’t visible from the outside.
Eunuch Fu glanced at the Jing Prince’s expression and secretly glanced at his hand, but he was unable to tell what it was no matter how he looked.
He secretly pondered in his heart. This Madam Hua was too good at winning people over. Such a clear hearted ascetic master was actually coaxed by her to this extent. In the past Eunuch Fu would have been extremely pleased, but at present he actually felt a little worried. Now that these women in the rear court were all unable to get pregnant, being able to coax him was no use.
“Breakfast at the martial training grounds.”
Eunuch Fu nodded his head and had one of the low-ranked eunuchs pass the message.
Once they arrived, the Jing Prince saw that Barbarian Yan had long since been waiting.
The Jing Prince felt him to be very pleasing to his eyes and said: “Eat together.”
The Jing Prince was slightly obsessed with cleanliness. It wasn’t that apparent, but normally when he ate with someone he would use separate tables. He rarely ate at the same table as others.
“Highness, this subordinate has already eaten.” Barbarian Yan, who normally used “me, myself and I” was shocked into using “this subordinate”. He stared at the Jing Prince as though he were staring at a monster.
The Jing Prince nodded his head and didn’t say anything else.
As he ate, the Jing Prince took out the thing in his hand to look at.
It was a ruyi-shaped1 coin purse. The base was azure blue and embroidered with emerald green bamboo. The pattern was very simple, but the Jing Prince felt it was exceptionally pleasing to the eye. The surface seemed to be coated with clay as his fingers involuntarily rubbed it over and over.
As he was looking, a voice rang out from the side.
“A gift from the little madam?” It was Barbarian Yan who winked with a weird expression.
The Jing Prince gave him a side glance and didn’t speak.
Barbarian Yan sat down on the chair next to him and stroked his chin with his large hand. “Hehe, I was right, wasn’t I? How was it? Women, as long as you let them feel good, they would devote themselves to you.”
Seeing this vulgar and gossipy Barbarian Yan, the Jing Prince felt a headache.
“She’s given you a coin purse, don’t forget to give her something in return.” Barbarian Yan took out the tricks he used to coax the high-end ladies and taught it to the Jing Prince.
After hearing this, the Jing Prince didn’t speak. Seeing Barbarian Yan continue to jabber on, he suddenly said, “Eunuch Fu is almost here.”
Eunuch Fu had been sent away by the Jing Prince to fetch something from the Hall of Splendor. This was because the Jing Prince had noticed Barbarian Yan pacing back and forth, as though he had something to say. Barbarian Yan had passed on his experience to the Jing Prince without Eunuch Fu knowing about it. He didn’t want to get chased and scolded by the old eunuch. Actually scolding was still fine. What he was really afraid of was that Eunuch Fu would go have a discussion with his tigress back home. That wouldn’t be good.
Hearing this, Barbarian Yan didn’t doubt the Jing Prince. He laughed mischievously a few times and slipped away.
After eating and training for an hour, the Jing Prince took a bath at the martial training grounds and changed his clothes. As he put his new clothes on, he casually hung the coin purse on his belt.
While the Jing Prince was handling official business in the front court, Eunuch Fu was able to relax a little.
He took advantage of the free time and ran off to the internal affairs area to find Auntie Qi.
The Jing Prince Estate’s internal affairs were supposedly managed by both Eunuch Fu and Auntie Qi. In reality, everything ended up falling mostly on Auntie Qi’s head. She was busiest in the mornings.
The internal affairs area would be filled every morning with palace maids and eunuchs who came to report various things or to get assigned tasks.
“Let me tell you something.”
The moment he walked in, Eunuch Fu forcibly pulled Auntie Qi away. She could only tell the people around to disperse and report back later.
The two of them walked out of the main hall, and went into one of Auntie Qi’s studies where she would handle her business.
“What’s making you so hurried?” After sitting, Auntie Qi frowned and asked.
Eunuch Fu laughed and stroked his nose, “Nothing much. I just wanted to discuss something with you.”
Auntie Qi rolled her eyes at him in a bad mood and called a palace maid to bring over some tea.
“Sit down and talk.”
Eunuch Fu sat down, lifted the teacup and took a sip. He mulled things over in his mind before slowly opening his mouth.
“After thinking it over for a few days, I feel like we should still arrange some new people to enter the estate.”
Auntie Qi was too familiar with Eunuch Fu. These words had no head or tail, and if it were anyone else they naturally wouldn’t understand. She, however, was able to understand Eunuch Fu’s meaning right away.
“You mean to have another batch of low-ranked palace maids enter the estate?”
Eunuch Fu nodded his head.
Auntie Qi didn’t say anything but her expression was one of disagreement.
“There’s a total of five people in the rear court. No need to mention the consort, and another two of them are completely crippled. The other two won’t be good for a while, and needs at least a year for their treatment.”
Eunuch Fu based his words on what Doctor Hu had told Senior Concubine Qiao. He didn’t know that this was superficial, and that there was a difference between utmost and not utmost treatment.
Auntie Qi frowned and didn’t speak.
Eunuch Fu continued to explain: “Let’s not mention this year’s worth of time for now. Our highness, this grand and majestic prince, only has these two women left in his rear court. How is he supposed to branch out and spread his leaves in the future?”
“Don’t you feel that you’re concerning yourself with too much?”
Actually Auntie Qi had never approved of Eunuch Fu inserting people by the Jing Prince’s side. In the past she had also been feeling desperate and thus let him do as he pleased. Now with Madam Hua’s case, the consort had been restricted and the others were all slipped medicine. Sometimes she wondered whether things had only devolved to this extent due to their meddling. But these thoughts faded after thinking about how Yu Jiao and Yu Rong had already been schemed against long ago.
It wasn’t that she was being benevolent and assuming responsibility for other people’s actions. She just felt that it was better for a servant not to meddle too much in the master’s affairs.
Servants had their roles. Of course an appropriate amount of concern was good, but exceeding that amount would incur the master’s wrath.
Eunuch Fu continued speaking on the side: “Think about it. Now his highness’s personality has changed and he’s willing to go to the rear court. This means that our way of thinking was correct. His highness didn’t have any problems anywhere, he is just too eccentric. Since this is the case, why don’t we follow up on our victory, and improve the situation even more?”
After a pause, he continued: “Isn’t Madam Hua a very good example? As long as we manipulate things appropriately, who’s to say there wouldn’t be a second, or a third Madam Hua?!”
Auntie Qi had to admit Eunuch Fu’s words made a lot of sense, but she still felt things weren’t quite right.
“Aren’t you afraid of offending that side?”
This was inevitable. If Eunuch Fu brought in new people to the estate, it would inevitably offend the currently favored Madam Hua. Outsiders weren’t aware, but they themselves knew just how much Madam Hua had changed his highness’s personality. Having served him for so long, this was the first time they saw him favoring someone so clearly.
This was an unavoidable enmity. Just like how Eunuch Fu’s initial actions of bringing in people to the Hall of Splendor made the Jing Consort wish she could swallow him whole.
Hearing her words, Eunuch Fu’s face turned rigid for a moment, but he then turned a deaf ear.
“Think about it. Since his highness likes Madam Hua’s type, we have a template we can follow. We don’t have to blindly pick like we did in the past. His highness likes massages so we’ll find a few who are skilled with their hands. His highness likes someone steady who knows their place, so we’ll find a few who are well behaved. They’d be able to ingratiate themselves slightly while also being likeable…..”
Auntie Qi’s face was filled with impatience, and she sighed: “You’re just so stubborn. This damn character of yours hasn’t changed a single bit in ten years. I’ve already said so many times that servants should meddle less in the master’s affairs. You didn’t even consider whether his highness is willing or not!”
Eunuch Fu finally stopped talking to himself and responded properly: “Whose master has a weird, headache inducing temper like ours? I don’t want to concern myself either, but think about it. This grand Jing Prince, our highness, only has five women in his rear court. Three of them aren’t even fit for anything. How is he supposed to grow his branches and spread his leaves in the future? Now that his highness is finally interested in such business, wouldn’t there be more hope the more people we arrange?”
The question regarding the Jing Prince’s offspring was always Eunuch Fu’s sore spot. His normally clear mind would drastically change whenever this topic was brought up.
Auntie Qi wiped her face helplessly, “Then how do you want to arrange it?”
Hearing this, Eunuch Fu knew that Auntie Qi had agreed. He smiled and said: “This time we have to put in more effort. But you don’t have to worry about this. I will arrange it.”
“If you think you can do it, go ahead. Once everything is arranged, let me know and I will handle it. I’m still busy here so I won’t see you off.”
“Right. I also have to get back to his highness’s side.”
Eunuch Fu wouldn’t give up his plans just for the sake of a “tiny madam”. If it were that easy, Xiao Hua wouldn’t have entered the estate to begin with. The female lead’s plot armor isn’t strong enough to make others give up their plans for her sake.
This author can only say one thing. Eunuch Fu’s thoughts are his own thoughts. As long as other people don’t think the same way, everything will be fine. Everyone should be able to understand what that means.