Invitation to the Palace Banquet
The people of the Feng manor turned their heads and looked over. Sure enough, that carriage went straight towards where they were before stopping before the gate to the Feng manor.
After this, the curtain to the carriage was lifted and a young girl in palace clothing leisurely exited.
The reason the matriarch recognized this carriage was because the palace sent a carriage around to each of the great houses in the capital. In the carriage was a group of identical and beautiful palace maids. The invitations that were sent were for the Mid-Autumn Banquet that the Empress was holding.
Generally, such invitations would be handed out on a family-by-family basis. The family’s grandmother, head wife, and son and daughter of the first wife were all invited.
As for the Feng family, in previous years, it was only the matriarch that represented them. Before that, it was Yao shi that went. This year, however, it was unknown who would be invited.
The matriarch was slightly moved as she moved forward. She took the initiative and greeted the young girl: “Oh, the one sending it to the Feng family this year is this girl. It has been one year since we last met, and you truly are becoming more beautiful every time we meet.”
The girl immediately displayed a brilliant smile and got off the carriage. She then faced the matriarch and bowed: “This servant greets elderly madam Feng and greets Lord Feng.”
The matriarch quickly went up and stopped her: “There is no need to be so courteous.”
Feng Jin Yuan also smiled and nodded: “The Feng family just happened to be celebrating a joyous occasion today. We just sent off the second son to Xiao Zhou to become head teacher Ye Rong’s disciple. Since this girl has come to deliver the invitation, how about coming in to sit for a while and drink some tea before leaving!”
The palace servant, hearing these words, quickly congratulated Feng Jin Yuan: “Head teacher Ye is the current Emperor’s respected master! The Feng family’s second young master really has good fortune. It seems that Lord Feng’s daily teachings have been proper. I truly congratulate Lord Feng.”
Everyone loved hearing honeyed words. Of the servants that came out of the palace, which one did not know how to read the situation and act accordingly. Just a few words made everyone in the Feng manor smile widely.
However, she did refuse to enter the manor for a cup of tea. She only handed the invitation over the matriarch: “This is an invitation handed down personally by the Empress. This year’s banquet has a few more names on the invitation list for the Feng family. Elderly madam should start preparing earlier.” She then turned to Feng Jin Yuan and said: “In accordance with established practices, the Empress only included the names of the females invited. My Lord will be invited by the Emperor himself at court.”
The matriarch received the invitation and said a few more words to the palace maid before the other side left.
When the carriage was out of sight, the matriarch endured her curiosity and did not open the invitation. She turned to everyone and said: “All of you, come with me to Shu Ya courtyard. Jin Yuan, you go busy yourself with your business. There is no need for you to worry about the concerns of the women.”
Feng Jin Yuan nodded and headed towards Pine courtyard. As for everyone else, they followed the matriarch and went towards Shu Ya courtyard.
Only after they entered Shu Ya courtyard and everyone was seated did the matriarch open the invitation.
It had to be said about the invitation, three years ago, only the matriarch and Yao shi were invited because Feng Yu Heng was not yet ten years old, so it was inconvenient for her to attend a palace banquet.
In the past three years, the ones invited were the matriarch and Chen Yu. Chen shi was someone that was ignored by everyone, but because Chen Yu was hidden by the Feng family, she had not been to the palace.
The rules were like that. The Empress would name a person to be invited, and that person could find an excuse not to go. Either way, it was the Empress just being polite and giving the officials some face. As for whether the invited went, with so many people in attendance, she did not have any time to worry about each and every person. However, if a person was not invited, they definitely could not get in. Even if they did get into the palace, if they were caught, then it would be considered a very serious crime.
As for today, the matriarch opened the invitation, but she was slightly stunned by the names written.
Aside from herself, both Feng Yu Heng and Feng Xiang Rong were named.
Most importantly, her two granddaughters were invited by name, unlike in previous years where it simply said “Invitations to the Feng manor’s grandmother and daughter to the first wife to attend a banquet at the Imperial Palace.”
Normally, the invitation would have grandmother, head wife and daughter to the first wife written. Today, however, it said “Invitations to the Feng manor’s grandmother, the second daughter Feng Yu Heng and the third daughter Feng Xiang Rong to attend a banquet at the Imperial Palace.” This meant…
The matriarch turned her attention towards her two granddaughters. It had to be said that if Feng YuHeng were invited, she would not be too surprised; however, even Feng Xiang Rong was invited. What did this mean? When did Xiang Rong become known within the palace?
Nobody understood what the matriarch meant when she did this. If she only looked towards Feng Yu Heng, they would not have found it to be odd, thinking that the invitation would have Feng Yu Heng’s name on it. But An shi then saw the matriarch also pay attention to Xiang Rong, so she began to feel a little uneasy, probing: “Mother-in-law, what did the invitation say?”
The matriarch turned back around and said: “Like in previous years, this old one has been invited to the banquet, also… it specifically named A-Heng and Xiang Rong to attend.”
“Named?” The person that asked was Chen Yu. She was slightly uncertain on what it meant to be named, “Did it say for the daughters of concubines to enter the palace?”
The matriarch did not expect, instead she handed the invitation to granny Zhao, “Pass it around and look for yourselves.”
Granny Zhao brought the invitation around for everyone to take a look at. After taking in everyone’s surprised expressions, she brought the invitation back to the matriarch.
“Have you all understood?”
Everyone nodded. While some people felt quite happy, there were also some who were unhappy.
The happy ones were naturally Yao shi and An shi, as well as Xiang Rong. Jin Zhen merely expressed that this seemed fresh. This did not concern her, after all. As for the unhappy ones, it was definitely Chen Yu and Han shi.
Because of Chen shi, Chen Yu was punished with being barred from the palace for five years. In order to preserve a mysterious aura, she had never gone to the previous banquets. This year, however, she truly wanted to attend, but it was too late.
“A-Heng and Xiang Rong should prepare.” The matriarch put aside any doubts she had. She had paid attention to An shi and Xiang Rong’s reactions, and she found that they also did not know why Xiang Rong would be named. Thinking a little more, she had heard that Feng Yu Heng and Xiang Rong were very close, so was it possible that Feng Yu Heng requested the ninth prince put in a good word for her. If this were the case, then it would be understandable. The Feng family being able to have another child be valued by the palace was, in the end, a good thing.
Thinking like this, the matriarch felt much more at ease. Looking again at Xiang Rong, her gaze became even kinder.
But she then looked again towards Chen Yu and saw a dazzling look in her eyes. All of the brilliance that once belonged to her was now divided between two concubine’s daughter, so how could she be willing?
The matriarch saw through Chen Yu’s feelings, but there was nothing she could do. She could only comfort her, saying: “Chen Yu’s matter, in the future, I will have your father think of another solution. Have him see if it’s possible to mend relations with imperial concubine Yun” The more she said, the quieter her voice became. Even she did not have any confidence. Wanting to repair relations with imperial concubine Yun? Even the Emperor himself could not figure out how to repair his relationship with imperial concubine after so many years, so what sort of ideas could the Feng family come up with?
Chen Yu squeezed out a couple of tears. Standing up, she bowed: “Thank you grandmother for being concerned for me.”
The matriarch nodded, allowing Chen Yu to sit back down. She then turned to Yao shi and said: “You have attended the banquet before, so you should understand the rules and etiquette. Give A-Heng and Xiang Rong some more advice and care. Do not allow the two children to not know proper etiquette.”
This sort of thing was mandatory for Yao shi. She quickly stood up and complied.
Looking at Xiang Rong’s nervous yet excited appearance, Feng Yu Heng felt this was quite interesting. Looking then at Chen Yu, who was across from her, and her dejected appearance, she also felt entertained. Thus she decided give Chen Yu some more fodder: “I heard that this banquet is not just attended by the ladies and officials. All of the princes will also be in attendance. I also heard that there will be no separating of male guests and female guests, and they will all be seated together?”
“That’s right.” The matriarch explained: “Because the “Mid-Autumn festival is a day of unity, there are no such rules. It is like the New Year feast, male guests and female guests are not separated into two groups.”
Feng Yu Heng carefully listened to this then said in a very gossipy tone: “Aside from Prince Yu and Prince Chun, whom I see regularly, and Prince Xiang who made an appearance at mother’s funeral, I have never seen any of the other princes!”
Xiang Rong also could no longer endure and joined the conversation, quietly asking: “How many princes are there in the palace?”
“I know this.” Feng Yu Heng raised her voice: “Prince Yu is the youngest, so there must be nine princes. There are no princesses. Imperial daughter Wu Yang is the Xuan family’s only daughter.”
The matriarch nodded: “A-Heng is right. You will be going into the palace. Having a better understanding of the imperial family is also good. This way you won’t be caught unaware and lose face for the Feng family.”
Xiang Rong quickly stood up and saluted: “Grandmother’s teaching is correct. Xiang Rong will definitely learn as much as possible from second sister and concubine mother Yao. Xiang Rong will not lose any face for the Feng family.”
The matriarch was satisfied and waved her hand: “Then let us disperse. Go back and prepare well. Thinking about it, there are not many days remaining.”
Everyone got up together and saluted the matriarch.
While Feng Yu Heng walked towards the yard, she gossiped with Xiang Rong; however, her voice was a little louder “Xiang Rong, did you know? Speaking about it, it really is funny. Don’t look at how his Highness Prince Chun always wears white clothes or light colored clothes and has a refined appearance. In reality, I heard that his favorite color is red! He especially likes girls that wear red. They can always cause him to stop and look for a while longer.”
Xiang Rong was a very earnest child. She felt that Feng Yu Heng was telling the truth, so she could not help but begin chatting about it.
The two sisters walked and talked, and the words they spoke made its way into Feng Chen Yu’s ears.
Red, the seventh prince likes the color red!
At this very moment, her mind was wrapped around these words, which slowly began to take root. Having been instigated, she sent Yi Yue to Ming Yue Building to set an appointment with imperial daughter Qing Le that night.
Feng Yu Heng dragged Xiang Rong and An shi over to Tong Sheng pavilion. Together with Yao shi, she dragged them to her courtyard.
Huang Quan pulled out two sets of clothing, with some maidservants holding them to display.
One was a long dress made of refined cloud silk and the other was a robe made of commoner’s brocade. The Autumn sun shone just right, causing the two treasured pieces of clothing to shine brightly, instantly turning the small courtyard into a dazzling scene. The sight was too dazzling for people to look directly at it, but they were also reluctant to look away.
Without speaking to An shi and Xiang Rong, even Feng Yu Heng herself felt that it was too beautiful. No wonder the ancient people considered these fabrics to be national treasures. When left there sitting as simple fabric, it did not seem to be anything special, but now that it had been made into clothing, it was actually incredibly dazzling.
Under the sunlight, refined cloud silk seemed to be something fleeting about it. Whether it was smoke or fog, it had a mystical look to it. Huang Quan siad: “Under the moonlight, it reflects the light brilliantly as though it were the surface of the water.”
Looking at the commoner’s brocade in the daylight, it struck directly at the heart. No matter how irritable a person was, upon looking at these clothes, they would immediately calm down. Huang Quan then said: “Once night falls, anyone who looks at these clothes would be perfectly happy to do anything the wearer desires. If it is an odd desire, then it will birth a desire in their hearts, but it will not cause anything excessive.”
This was a national treasure.
AN shi did not know how to thank Feng Yu Heng. She simply pulled Xiang Rong and said: “Second young miss is too kind. Us mother and daughter have no way to repay this. In the future, no matter what happens, we will always stand by second young miss and do whatever we can.”
Feng Yu Heng was not too courteous and simply told Huang Quan to pack the clothes up tidily, with the dress made of refined cloud silk being handed to Xiang Rong’s maidservant. She then said: “When Xiang Rong marries out of the family, big sister will naturally gift you another set of clothes.”
That evening, Chen Yu and Qing Le sat across from one another in a private room at Ming Yue Building. Chen Yu could be heard pleading with Qing Le: “I request imperial daughter think of a way to help me enter the palace on the night of the banquet.”