Chapter 97

Translator’s notes:

Final sponsored chapter of the week. Thank you again Kat!

*****

After moving to the main residence, Xiao Hua had placed those two weird books onto the bookshelf.

When the Jing Prince wasn’t present, she would occasionally take one down and look through it. Perhaps it was due to her guilty conscience, but every time she read it, she would send Ding Xiang and the others out on errands.

This day as she was curled up on the kiln reading and speechless from embarrassment, the Jing Prince arrived.

Barely anyone would bother announcing his arrival nowadays, and Xiao Hua was also engrossed in reading. Only when he reached her side did she react.

Her instinctive reaction was to stuff the book under the pillow behind her back. Unfortunately she didn’t have time to think things through. Otherwise she would have placed the book down nonchalantly without drawing attention to it.

The Jing Prince saw and didn’t say anything. He waited until Xiao Hua got up to summon Ding Xiang for the Jing Prince’s indoor clothes, and reached over with his hand.

By the time Xiao Hua turned around, she saw him flipping through the book.

Although the book was his and although he had definitely read it before, being caught reading it by him made Xiao Hua feel extremely ashamed. She didn’t dare raise her eyes.

The Jing Prince saw her alluring and tender bashful appearance and didn’t say anything. He had Xiao Xia Zi help him into the indoor clothing and sat down on the kiln.

The servants all took their leave. The Jing Prince saw that she still wanted to find a hole to bury herself due to her embarrassment and used his large hand to pull her over.

“Highness….” She stammered.

The Jing Prince didn’t make fun of her. Instead, he opened the book, flipped it to a certain page, pointed to it and said: “This one is pretty good.”

Xiao Hua froze. This highness’s reaction was too different from other people!

The doubt in her mind overcame her embarrassment and she snuck a couple of glances while blushing. Her mind was immediately blown, and everything turned blank.

A long and slender finger rubbed her crimson face. The Jing Prince acted nonchalant as he said: “Tonight let’s try it.”

At this point, even her eyes had frozen and weren’t able to look around.

“What’s wrong?”

She was pulled into his arms.

“No, nothing……”

How could it be nothing? Even a fool could tell something was up. The Jing Prince thought she was unhappy.

“Angry?”

Seeing his brows furrow, Xiao Hua sighed in her heart. Forget it, forget it. This man’s reactions were never normal to begin with. Her embarrassment was like showing charm to a blind person. He completely wasn’t able to understand it.

Xiao Hua was already extremely clear on how to interact with the Jing Prince. There was no need to hide things from him. First of all she wasn’t willing to do so, feeling it wasn’t beneficial or harmonious. Secondly, sometimes he didn’t understand and she didn’t explain, so it wasn’t like she was intentionally hiding anything.

Just like last time when she was upset for several days due to her jealousy while he was still confused and ignorant. He had even called that person over to massage him. If she was someone who would hide things, she would definitely bury that event in her heart. But instead she had said all of it out of panic, and had even cried so tragically. Only after she heard his words did she understand that he had been completely unaware of everything.

She would speak up if there was a problem, or if there was something she wanted to say. Xiao Hua figured out that this was the way to interact with him.

In any case, the two of them did those embarrassing things every day. No need to be shy about it!

Although she thought of it that way, the feeling of embarrassment still couldn’t be avoided.

Therefore, Xiao Hua was like this on the surface—-

With her face red and eyes watery, she buried her face into his chest several times and stammered for a while before finally saying: “It’s too embarrassing……”

Her words trailed off as she spoke. It seemed like she was truly embarrassed.

The Jing Prince liked her alluring and tender embarrassed appearance. It appeared very tasty and delicious. He bit her ear and gave it a couple kisses, “What’s embarrassing? This humble prince has been wanting to try it. Afraid you weren’t willing.”

These extremely indecent words were spoken with an extremely upright tone, making Xiao Hua’s heart soft.

“Then, then tonight let’s try it.”

“Wonderful.”

The result of this experiment was that the next day after the Jing Prince had left, Xiao Hua muddled about in bed for half the day, holding her waist. She didn’t actually do anything during this time, merely covering her face shyly or occasionally letting out a silly grin.

***

Auntie Qi arranged a female teacher to educate Xiao Hua.

This all started due to the Jing Prince’s books that he left behind.

The books he had brought over filled up an entire bookshelf. Xiao Hua would grab a few to read in her free time.

Xiao Hua was literate, but just barely. In the past when she only had those few books to read, she didn’t really feel it since she would just be reading randomly. Now with so many books and so many choices, she felt that reading required a lot of effort.

The Jing Prince was too busy during the day and only came to the western pavilion after working. Xiao Hua felt bad asking him to interpret words for her. Doing it once would be embarrassing enough, having to do it several times was out of the question. After all, no woman was willing to let their man know of their shortcomings. They longed to appear perfect in their partner’s hearts.

As time passed, Xiao Hua had the thought to find herself a teacher.

In any case, her days were idle and she could pass the time by learning.

Xiao Hua brought it up to the Jing Prince and he agreed. Before two days had passed, Auntie Qi’s side had sent over a female teacher.

Lesson time was set for the afternoon, one and a half hours at a time. Of course if Xiao Hua had something going on, she could ask off. She just needed to have her personal palace maids notify the teacher.

This teacher was surnamed Chen. She was a widow, and she used to teach young mistresses of rich households classes in making a living. It wasn’t clear how she was invited into the estate by Auntie Qi.

Xiao Hua didn’t have much foundation and couldn’t tell the extent of Teacher Chen’s knowledge. Regardless, what she taught was more than enough, and thus she started learning seriously. She already had some foundation, but it wasn’t a good one. Her knowledge was all over the place. She also knew how to write a few words, but they were truly too ugly to be shown.

After some pondering, Teacher Chen decided to start from the very beginning. The Three Character Classic1 was the basic foundation for reading, and for writing she started off learning how to properly hold the brush and position her arm.

Teacher Chen had thought this Madam Hua would be impatient. After all, she was already quite old and was learning quite late. Combined with her status, she had thought this madam was just learning for fun. These were her thoughts, but she still stayed to teach due to the estate’s generous salary.

Unexpectedly, after teaching for a few days, she realized her attitude was extremely good. There wasn’t any hint of a rich mistress’s temper, so she started to properly teach.

The two of them were both people who put all their effort into doing things, and got along quite well.

After a month, Xiao Hua had dramatically improved, and was able to complete the daily homework assigned by Teacher Chen.

Xiao Hua was quite exhilarated by the learning, but the Jing Prince noticed that his time with Xiao Hua’er had decreased. This was because sometimes when the Jing Prince came to the western pavilion, he would encounter Xiao Hua seriously doing her homework.

Of course, she wouldn’t completely ignore him, and would also find a place for him to sit.

For example, if he hadn’t eaten she would arrange food. If he was bored, she would hand him a book. She would also be by his side, but in the past while she read or did needlework, she would still be able to casually chat with him. Now, she wouldn’t say anything while she traced over characters on her piece of paper.

Inexplicably, the Jing Prince started feeling annoyed at that piece of paper.

But Xiao Hua had no idea about all this.

Today the Jing Prince gave her a few rare glances. Xiao Hua put the brush in her hand down. “Highness?” Her voice contained some puzzlement.

Seeing the Jing Prince’s gaze rest on the piece of paper, Xiao Hua smiled and explained, “This servant concubine is working on Teacher Chen’s homework assignment. In the past I could write, but the words were too ugly. Teacher Chan found some slips of paper for this servant concubine to trace over every day.”

The Jing Prince knew about this. He had even approved it. But unexpectedly he had given himself a source of depression.

The Jing Prince didn’t speak and turned back to his book. Xiao Hua was used to this, and thus started tracing with her brush again.

“Highness, Teacher Chen is really knowledgeable. She is accomplished in the four arts2, and said this servant concubine will also be this way in the future.”

“Yesterday I heard Teacher Chen play a piece on the zither. It sounded really good.”

Xiao Hua finished tracing that page, and switched to a new piece of paper.

“This servant concubine isn’t good at writing and wants to practice until her Hairpin Flower Calligraphy font looks good.”

Seeing her chattering away with an excited expression, the Jing Prince asked: “You like?”

“En.” Xiao Hua answered.

The Jing Prince gave her another glance. He thought that she seemed clearly spirited these days, and remembered he had seen her staring out of the window in boredom before. Suddenly he felt that slip of paper was no longer an eyesore.

Forget it, she didn’t have much she could do during the day. Of course she had to find something to pass the time.

Thinking this, he turned back to his book.

***

June arrived. What should have been the hottest time of the year was actually the perfect temperature in the Jing Province.

The green tree cast its shade and a cool breeze was blowing. Two desks were set up under the tree. In front of one sat an over forty year old woman in green, and in front of the other sat Xiao Hua.

“Madam’s writing is looking better and better.”

After their daily lesson, Teacher Chen looked over Xiao Hua’s assignment from yesterday and said these words.

“Thank you Teacher Chen for your compliment. It still needs a lot of practice.”

Teacher Chan’s usually mild face revealed a smile upon hearing this.

“Madam doesn’t need to be humble. Your improvements were quick to begin with.”

Ding Lan came and reported: “Madam, Nana He is here.”

Xiao Hua nodded her head in respect to Teacher Chen and said to Ding Lan: “Help me see Teacher Chen off.”

Once Ding Lan escorted her out, Xiao Hua felt that it was quite comfortable under the tree and decided not to relocate. She had Ding Xiang clean up the things on the table and went to personally invite Nana He inside.

Because the Jing Prince mostly dined at the western pavilion, the relationship between the western pavilion and the Hall of Splendor had become inseparably close. Not only were the few palace maids from the western pavilion closer to the aunties and eunuchs in the small kitchen, Nana He would even come sit for a while in the western pavilion every now and then.

Xiao Hua’s current days passed very smoothly. She had everything she wanted. She had Chun Cao and Nana He, and no need to worry about clothing or food. Her days were carefree, and she even had things that she never dreamed of having. She had the Jing Prince….

Xiao Hua and Nana He sat at a small round table under the tree. Chun Cao and Ding Lang served all sorts of fruit.

“This place is pretty nice. The shade is nice and cool.” Nana He sat down and said while looking around.

“Yeah. Although it’s not that hot in the summer, sitting inside the house always feels a little stuffy. These trees weren’t that noticeable in the winter, but who would have thought they would flourish so much after spring. Using the shade to cool off is pretty nice.”

“It is pretty nice.” Nana He lifted her teacup for a sip and said: “I come here in my idleness to chat with Madam. Madam isn’t allowed to feel that this Nana is bothersome.”

Xiao Hua said angrily: “Listen to yourself, Nana. I’m also idle and without anything to do. I just have Teacher Chen’s lessons to pass the time every day. I can’t be more eager to have someone come chat with me.”

“Well that works out nicely. Recently the Hall of Splendor doesn’t have much going on. Nana is also extremely idle.”

This was truly the case. The Jing Prince was very busy recently. His appearance in the western pavilion during the day had decreased, and he would mostly return at night. Since even his time in the western pavilion had decreased, there was no need to mention the Hall of Splendor.

Since the master rarely returned, the Hall of Splendor’s people couldn’t help but become idle. Nana He was from the small kitchen so it wasn’t as noticeable. After all, everyone still had to eat. Eunuch Fu followed beside the Jing Prince and thus also didn’t notice much. It was even more so for Eunuch Chang. Only recently did Xiao Hua realize that Eunuch Chang was responsible for more than the Hall of Splendor. He would often appear in the western pavilion to report various things to the Jing Prince. The rest of the people though felt extremely weird. For example, the low ranked eunuchs that personally served his highness in the past. Many people were now envious of Xiao Xia Zi and Xiao Qin Zi. They felt that the two of them seemed more like his highness’s personal eunuchs than those back at the hall. Xiao Xia Zi and Xiao Qin Zi felt even more that being able to come to the western pavilion was basically green smoke come from their ancestor’s graves. All this won’t be expressed at the moment. Nana He’s visit today was just to idly chat with Xiao Hua.

Author’s note:

How could the future favored imperial concubine not be educated? Our Xiao Hua needs to be lovely as a flower and also extremely knowledgeable. One cannot conceal things from someone like Repressed Jing. If the Jing Consort had understood this in his last life, and had chosen to directly communicate with the Jing Prince, she probably wouldn’t have had to resort to so many schemes.

  1. This blog I found does an amazing job explaining it. Also I stumbled across this version as well and thought it was a hilarious showcase of how Chinese words can have different meanings in different context.
  2. Zither, Go, calligraphy and painting

5 thoughts on “Chapter 97

  1. The Author’s note makes me look forward to when our lovely Flower can stand above all in the imperial harem, the Emperor’s only favored consort.

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