Auntie Qi walked towards the internal affairs area, her thoughts a mess the entire way.
She wanted to scold someone, but without any victims in sight she didn’t know who to vent her anger on.
After sitting for a short while upon getting back, Eunuch Fu came over.
“How was it? Have you seen the people?” These were Eunuch Fu’s first words as he came through the door.
Auntie Qi frowned and looked at him, saying in a low voice: “Do you think this is a good idea?”
Having been old partners for several decades, they were both extremely familiar with each other. Eunuch Fu naturally understood Auntie Qi’s meaning. He laughed mischievously a couple times, stroked his nose and sat on the side.
“It wasn’t on purpose. At the time my subordinates asked for a detailed description, and in my brief moment of carelessness I sent them a painting of Madam Hua’s likeness.”
Auntie Qi let out a deep sigh, but was still unable to hold it in, “You’re being too obvious! What are they going to think of us? These days his highness has changed completely and is favoring her. Can’t you be a little subtle about it?”
It seems Eunuch Fu’s actions had truly provoked her. Otherwise, the usually steady Auntie Qi wouldn’t forget herself like this.
“This one’s not trying to do anything. Whether she’s favored or not has nothing to do with this one. This one just want his highness to have an heir. There are so few women in the rear court, what’s the big deal if this one adds a few people!?”
Since Auntie Qi’s tone had turned unpleasant, Eunuch Fu’s tone also became stubborn and he started referring to himself as “this one” instead of using “I”.
“Whether she’s favored or not doesn’t have anything to do with us. But what would his highness think when he sees you being so obvious about it? You can only act this way because it’s his highness. If it were any other master, your actions would be pure manipulation, prying into the lord’s heart, and would result in death, understand? Eunuch Fu, your guts are getting bigger and bigger. How can things continue this way!?” Auntie Qi patiently persuaded.
Hearing this, Eunuch Fu’s face darkened as though it were about to start pouring rain.
Seeing this, Auntie Qi revealed a helpless expression.
“You fiend! You’re even getting angry with me?”
Only when hearing “fiend” did Eunuch Fu ease up. He suppressed his temper and gently said, “Elegant Aunt, I understand your meaning. It’s just that there’s no need to worry about the old skin on my face….” as he spoke, he rubbed his own face, “What need do I have for face in front of the master? I’ve set my heart on holding a little master.”
He paused, seemingly comforting Auntie Qi but also comforting himself as well, “Especially since the master never pays attention to anything, and he’ll also give me face.”
“You’re not afraid you’ll lose your place in his heart?”
Eunuch Fu’s face turned rigid and he said in a low voice: “That won’t happen.”
“That may have been true in the past. Now it’s hard to say.” Auntie Qi sighed, “Regardless, I feel like his highness has really been moved this time. That apathetic person is currently like a little child. For the sake of making a girl happy, he threw his personal storage wide open. Having gone with him to the western pavilion so many times recently, you should be aware of this in your heart.”
“In the imperial palace weren’t there many cases of imperial concubines who were extremely favored for a time? But what happened in the end?”
Eunuch Fu didn’t finish his thought, but Auntie Qi knew what he wanted to say. In the end, everything had vanished in the blink of an eye.
Unable to find a good example to use as a retort, she could only let out a hmph: “Just keep being stubborn. I’m too lazy to bicker with you!”
Eunuch Fu moved closer, licking his lips and smiling, “Elegant Aunt, just put in a little more effort on your side and properly teach them etiquette.”
“You even kept things hidden from me.” Auntie Qi frowned again, and seemed to want to settle accounts with him. “How could those people have been found in a single month?”
“I merely had this idea early on, and wanted to wait until things were all set before letting you know. I really didn’t intend to keep it from you.” Eunuch Fu smiled awkwardly and explained.
Auntie Qi rolled her eyes at him and let out another sigh.
Thinking of those people and thinking of the effort Eunuch Fu, this old thing, had put into this, she couldn’t help but worry for Madam Hua. Of course, she was more worried for the person in front of her. But Eunuch Fu, that old fellow, had always been stubborn. Perhaps she could convince him on other matters, but he wouldn’t listen to her regarding this one. After all, others may not know how deeply he wanted his plans to succeed but she did.
“Alright, alright. I’ll arrange things properly on my side.”
Eunuch Fu saw this and smiled in satisfaction. As expected, this Elegant Aunt couldn’t out-stubborn him and went along with him in the end.
Auntie Qi rolled her eyes at him once again.
Resting after doing the deed.
Xiao Hua was curled up on the Jing Prince’s chest, her fingers playing with that round little red bead. She wanted to say something but hesitated.
The Jing Prince stroked her face and asked: “What is it?”
“Highness, the things you bestow arrive every day. You’ve given this servant concubine so many things. How about not gifting any more?”
She had decided last time to accept them as long as he wanted to give, but anyone would feel a little apprehension and fear after being bombarded like this. After all, going too far is just as bad as not doing enough, and a little moderation would be better.
The Jing Prince didn’t say anything.
Xiao Hua smiled ingratiatingly and stuck her little face to next to the Jing Prince’s chin.
“This servant concubine only gifted you a coin purse and you gifted this servant concubine so many things. This servant concubine feels apprehensive and restless.”
“Then make some clothes for this humble prince.”
“Clothes?” Xiao Hua furrowed her brows.
“No, that’s not it.” Xiao Hua said embarrassedly: “This servant concubine’s skills aren’t good.”
“You made a set for Nana He.”
Xiao Hua’s eyes flashed. How did he know?
While thinking this, she said: “This servant concubine only made the bordering patterns for the main parts and skirt edges. The rest were done with Ding Xiang’s help.” Saying the last few words made her feel a little ashamed. After all, not being good at handicrafts wasn’t a good look for a woman.
“No need to embroider.”
Since the Jing Prince had already spoken to this extent, Xiao Hua could only brace herself and agree.
“Then you can’t feel disdainful of this servant concubine’s skill.” It was better to add a condition for insurance.
After things were decided, the Jing Prince’s mood was extremely good. He grabbed the little hand and put it back on his chest.
After waiting for a while, he still didn’t see her play with that little red bead.
The Jing Prince raised his eyes and saw that her mind had wandered off.
He reached his hand out and pinched the red bead on her chest and was rewarded with a soft cry and a distracted pout. The Jing Prince was suddenly aroused. He pulled the person upwards and his mouth enveloped over.
Xiao Hua was startled. Looking at the large head in front of her chest, she was both pleased and shy, and couldn’t resist her body from going limp. She felt that her body had been too sensitive recently and was a little ashamed. She then felt his fingers exploring downwards which made body even softer with desire and her heart flutter.
She wasn’t sure whether it was due to his deceptive appearance, but every time Xiao Hua saw his rigid expression while doing all sorts of roguish things to her, she would feel extremely bashful.
The current Jing Prince was already different from his past self, and understood many things. Without even changing his position, he pressed Xiao Hua down on his lap and directly thrust himself in.
The rest doesn’t need to be mentioned.
The next day, the Jing Prince did not bestow anything else as expected.
The people in the western pavilion all let out a breath in relief, but was also a little unused to it. However, Xiao Hua didn’t feel this way and at the moment felt completely without pressure.
Thinking of how she had promised to make clothes for the Jing Prince last night, she started racking her brains. After pondering for a long while, she finally decided to make him some innerwear.
Xiao Hua had seen all the Jing Prince’s clothes before. The standard of his formal clothes was extremely high, and the style was very complicated to make. They weren’t something she could make at the moment. The everyday clothes he wore, based on their appearance and craftsmanship were also not something she could make. The inner middle layer clothing seemed to be doable. Only the cuffs and the collar had some decorative patterns, and could be done with some difficulty.
After deciding, Xiao Hua had Ding Xiang go prepare the material.
Ding Xiang carried over four light colored pieces of cloth. They were made with various different materials, and were all bestowed by the Jing Prince over the past few days.
Xiao Hua looked through them several times before deciding on a pale blueish white piece of silk.
“Let’s use this. I’ve noticed his highness’s middle layer is mostly made from different types of silk.”
Ding Xiang took the other pieces of cloth away, and brought over the casual wear the Jing Prince left at the western pavilion. Xiao Hua busied herself and sketched out the measurements before spreading out the pale bluish white piece of silk and carefully cutting it.
This was the second time Xiao Hua was making a large piece of clothing. She was already not too familiar with it, and with the added worry that she would cut it badly, her nerves were stretched extremely tightly. After everything was cut, her forehead was already filled with sweat.
Ding Xiang had kept watching on the side. Seeing madam’s careful appearance, she didn’t dare bother her.
Madam was a stubborn person. Last time when she made the clothes for Nana He, she had still let her help quite a bit. This time she refused to let her lend a hand, and only allowed her to give some pointers on the side. Seeing madam finish cutting and putting down the scissors in her hand, Ding Xiang brought over a handkerchief and wiped the sweat off her brows.
“Madam’s hands are very steady. Everything was cut perfectly straight.”
Xiao Hua smiled and sat down on the side. She lifted her tea to drink, preparing to rest a while before continuing.
She was a little at a loss regarding the embroidery on the clothing, “Ding Xiang, what do you think would be good to embroider on the cuffs and collar?”
She only knew how to embroider the eight treasures pattern, and that was after a lot of practice. Although Ding Xiang had said that Nana He liked it very much, Xiao Hua was clear that the embroidered edges were still a little rough. For Nana He to wear it was more about her effort and the intentions behind the gift.
However, she felt she would be wronging his highness a little if he had to wear it.
Ding Xiang understood madam’s meaning but didn’t have any good solutions at the moment.
How about we take it slowly? The clothing itself hasn’t been completed yet. Think about it while you work.”
Xiao Hua considered it and figured that was all she could do.
That night, Xiao Hua sat with the Jing Prince on the kiln.
Xiao Hua had been sewing all day. Although she had decided to mull things over slowly, she still felt concerned about it. Therefore, she stammered out the situation to the Jing Prince about how her current embroidery skills weren’t good enough and she was afraid he would dislike it….
Only after babbling on for a while did the Jing Prince understand her meaning.
She was worried her skills weren’t good?
But he just wanted her to make clothes for him, what does her skills being good or bad have to do with it?!
Therefore, the Jing Prince said one thing, “It doesn’t matter.”
“But the decorative patterns will show from under the robes. Highness’s clothes are all very exquisite. If the inside looks rough, it’ll lower highness’s prestige.”
These words completely described Xiao Hua’s worries. She had already said it several times.
The Jing Prince was silent for a moment before replying: “No need for patterns.”
“Is that ok?”
“This humble prince feels it’s ok.”
Since the Jing Prince himself had said it was ok, Xiao Hua’s heart also calmed down. Not having to embroider patterns reduced the pressure on her by a lot.
While Xiao Hua was worrying about making clothes for the Jing Prince, the few girls that entered the training area underwent strict etiquette training before being brought into the Hall of Splendor by Eunuch Fu.1
Eunuch Fu’s actions were naturally seen by those in the Hall of Splendor. However, since the Jing Prince hadn’t returned for a few days, he temporarily was unaware of it. However, it was merely a matter of time. After all, Eunuch Fu was manipulating things in the background.
By the time Nana He found out that people had been brought into the Hall of Splendor once again, those low-ranked palace maids had already moved in. The chores they did were similar to those Xiao Hua did in the past, mostly sweeping the courtyard. However, this trick of hanging a sheep’s head while selling dog meat had been used several times before. Everyone was clear what they were actually here for.
Seeing Nana He sigh, Auntie Meng consoled on the side: “Nana, don’t think too much. Every person has their own fate.”
Nana He also understood this, but her thoughts still differed.
The eunuch Xiao Dou Zi spoke on the side: “This lowly one has seen those low-ranked palace maids. Their appearances have some similarities with the Madam Hua from before.”
Nana He was close with Madam Hua. This was something everyone in the Hall of Splendor was aware of. Before Madam Hua moved out the two of them had been very close already. After Madam Hua moved to the western pavilion, Nana He still sent her soup every day. In return, Madam Hua had gifted some handmade clothing to Nana He a few days ago.
This Xiao Dou Zi was the small kitchen’s manual labor low-ranked eunuch and his eyes were very sharp. He knew that Nana He cared about this situation and had paid special attention to the palace maids’ room these past few days. He had given Nana He quite a bit of gossip.
“It that truly the case?”
Nana He heard these words and looked inquiringly at Auntie Meng. Auntie Meng nodded her head.
“This lowly one has carefully observed for a while. There is one whose eyes are extremely similar to Madam Hua’s, but she definitely isn’t as good looking. There is another one whose temperament is a lot like Madam Hua. The rest all appear to be extremely steady and low-key types….” Xiao Dou Zi didn’t know how to describe it. He rubbed his head and thought about it before saying: “It’s a Madam Hua if you put them all together.”
Nana He’s expression immediately turned ugly. According to reason, there wasn’t any fault that could be found in Eunuch Fu’s actions. However, it still made one feel uncomfortable.
Auntie Meng saw the situation and hurriedly waved her hand for Xiao Dou Zi to leave.
“Actually Xiao Dou Zi’s words weren’t quite accurate. Although they all appear similar to Madam Hua, they are all lacking a little something. However, they form a pretty picture and each have their own flavor. Looks like Eunuch Fu put in quite a lot of effort this time.”
Seeing Nana He remain silent, Auntie Meng spoke again, “Nana, you’re already old. It’s better not to think too much. What Eunuch Fu decides, no one in the estate can stop except for his highness. Especially since Eunuch Fu’s actions seem to be reasonable. Everyone is clear in their hearts that in the long run, this situation could work out for the best.”
Based on her personal feelings, Nana He was right to worry. But as a servant, she shouldn’t have these thoughts since a servant should be completely focused on the master’s wellbeing.
What did that entail?
It was to think for the master’s sake, worry over the master’s worries, fill in the master’s deficiencies and perform all matters, whether small or large, to the best of one’s abilities. Whether this wellbeing was accepted by others, or even by the master, was irrelevant.
“I understand what you are saying. I’m just wondering if Eunuch Fu being so obvious about it would put him at odds against her. It’s fine if he just brought people in. Why overdo things to such an extent?!”
Actually, Auntie Meng completely understood what Nana He was trying to say.
Madam Hua used to be a palace maid, and was even pushed forward by Eunuch Fu. However, her status had changed and her way of thinking naturally changed as well. Let’s not mention whether or not she would be at odds with Eunuch Fu. Just based on his fiddling with people who looked similar to Madam Hua would make those involved feel extremely disgusted even if outsiders couldn’t tell.
Anyone would feel uncomfortable if they were in this position. Feeling uncomfortable would inevitably lead to disagreements. Nana He was quite close with both sides, and couldn’t show bias towards either one. She also didn’t want to see both sides have a falling out.
“Perhaps Eunuch Fu has his own thoughts.” Auntie Meng could only say it like this.
Nana He didn’t speak further. She sighed and stood up, going over to the cutting board and busying herself.
Auntie Meng also knew whatever she said now would be of no use, and could only take her leave after sighing.
Actually can I say that this chapter was quite pure? It was still reported. Sorry about the word count being skewed.
In case you were wondering, the “little red bean” foreplay parts were replaced with “lalalalalala” in the official raws.