Entering the Palace
The matter of Chen Yu not being permitted to enter the palace was something Qing Le knew about; however, she did not understand why Chen Yu absolutely had to enter the palace.
“Although the Mid-Autumn banquet at the palace will be grand, it is not something that must be attended. You have no attended in all the years previous, so why must you go this year?”
Chen Yu had already thought of an excuse: “This is also the first time Feng Yu Heng will attend a palace banquet. Even if she is very well prepared, there will be areas where she is lacking. Moreover, this deficiency is something that we can take advantage of. Could it be that imperial daughter does not want to see what sort of fool she can make of herself?”
Feng Chen Yu’s words successfully aroused her interest. Qing Le pondered for a while then actually came up with an idea: “The day of the banquet, make your face darker and act as my servant. I can take the risk of bringing you into the palace.”
Chen Yu was very happy and quickly nodded, saying: “Imperial daughter, do not worry. Naturally, I will be discreet.”
Qing Le warned her: “If you are recognized by someone, I will not protect you.”
Chen Yu nodded: “I will definitely not implicate imperial daughter.”
The two arranged to have Chen Yu head over to Lord Ding An’s hamlet in the suburbs and wait there. Right before departing, she thought a little and reminded Chen Yu: “The Empress is really afraid of cats.”
Chen Yu fell silent for a while.
And just like that, the day of the banquet arrived. Just as Feng Yu Heng was thinking of finding a chance to cure Xuan Tian Ming’s legs, Yao shi told her: “Tonight is the night of the Mid-Autumn banquet.” At the same time, she received two sets of clothing from Qing Ling: “The beautiful clothes that you and Xiang Rong were going to wear were very beautiful, but Chen shi did just pass away after all. Wearing such beautiful clothes would not be very suitable.These two sets of clothing were made after a discussion with concubine mother An. One is pale aqua and the other is pale blue. They are perfect for the two of you.”
Feng Yu Heng was stunned and counted the days. But of course, today was the fifteenth of the eighth month.
Yao shi said to her: “The palace banquet will take place at night, so the manor’s family’s feast will be at noon. I saw that there were not many preparations made on the matriarch’s side. Thinking about it, it seems that she does not have any intentions of attending this year, so it will be just you and Xiang Rong. The rules of the palace that I told you about, have you remembered them all?”
Yao shi was uneasy and reminded her once more: “You and Tian Ge get along well, so once you are at the palace, just stay with her. If you run into any problems, your aunt Lan will also help you out.”
Hearing Yao shi mention princess Wen Xuang, Feng Yu Heng remembered something and advised Yao shi: “Mother, you should go out some more normally. Now that Zi Rui is not at home, you will not have much to do. How about having Huang Quan accompany you out to Wen Xuan Palace. Thinking about it, aunt Lan also misses you quite a bit.”
Yao shi smiled bitterly, “I am a concubine now, after all. How could I leave the manor when I want to.”
“Mother can say that you are going to take care of the shop, or simply be direct. I fear that the matriarch is all too eager to have you visit Wen Xuan Palace more often.”
Yao shi nodded, “We’ll talk about it after the Mid-Autumn banquet.”
Feng Yu Heng did not say anything further as she waited for Xiang Rong. The two sisters tried on the clothes before heading to Shu Ya courtyard.
The feast that day at noon was in Shu Ya courtyard because the matriarch said the mourning hall for Chen shi had been built in Peony courtyard, and she wanted to be far away from it. Thus, they simply did not go over there.
Everyone took their seats, and Feng Jin Yuan looked at the table filled with good food then said: “Why is it that this feels inferior to the food cooked with medicine that A-Heng prepared that day.”
The matriarch agreed: “How about A-Heng prepares it again at a different date?”
Feng Yu Heng found this to be very funny, “That day, A-Heng was only a helper. It was all made by the imperial chefs and sir Mo. Also, the menu was one used by the Emperor and Empress. How could it be something that we could readily eat.”
The matriarch, upon hearing this, could not help but complain about Chen shi: “If it were not for that Chen shi’s meddling, we would have been able to enjoy it properly. A once in a lifetime opportunity was wasted.”
Feng Jin Yuan said: “It’s in the past. Whatever the outcome, sir Mo did not inform the Emperor about it, otherwise, I fear the Feng family would have suffered and been penalized.”
The matriarch repeatedly sighed, and concubine mother An quickly began to smooth things over: “Today is the Mid-Autumn festival. Let us not talk about such things.”
“That’s right.” The matriarch recovered, “The two children will be entered the palace tonight. We can not affect the children’s moods.” As she said this, she asked Feng Yu Heng: “Are you about prepared?”
Feng Yu Heng replied: “Do not worry, grandmother. Concubine mother Yao has told me and Xiang Rong about the rules of the palace. The gifts for the Empress, imperial concubine Yun and the families of granddaughter’s good friends have already been prepared.”
Feng Yu Heng was very meticulous. Going into the palace and not visiting imperial concubine Yun would not be right. Also, previously during Chen shi’s funeral, Xuan Tian Ge and her friends came to the Feng manor, with each of them bringing generous gifts. All of their gifts had been for the matriarch, but they were all for the sake of giving Feng Yu Heng face. They were also given in hopes that the elderly madam Feng would treat her better because of those gifts. So when she met with them once more, she could not do it without preparing something.
Of course, she could not bring out such nice things. The Feng family had never given her any good items, and the things she did have came from Xuan Tian Ming.
Feng Yu Heng felt that could compete with what they had gifted, so she decided to go with an unorthodox plan. She would be doing what she knew best.
“A-Heng really is meticulous.” Hearing that she not only prepared a gift for the Empress, but that she also prepared one for imperial concubine Yun and her four friends, the matriarch was extremely satisfied. She could not help but ask: “Could it be that A-Heng made use of some gifts from the dowry? Ah, this sort of thing should be handled by the manor, so you should have come to see me earlier.”
Feng Yu Heng smiled, “Grandmother is worrying too much. Regardless of whether it’s the Empress or imperial concubine Yun, what sort of thing have they not seen before. That’s right, A-Heng prepared some medicinal herbs to improve the body in the medicine room. It can be taken as a simple consideration. I am certain the Empress will not dislike it.” In reality, how could it be any normal medicine. Having passed through Feng Yu Heng’s hands and then being gifted away, but when would they get to investigate it? But she did not want to tell the people of the Feng manor about it.
The matriarch was originally a stingy person. Feng Yu Heng did not need her gift to be the best one in the palace, otherwise, she would need to spend a large amount of money again.
The family chatted and laughed while preparing to eat. The matriarch looked around and sighed: “Chen Yu still does not wish to come outside?”
Recently, Chen Yu began holing herself up and refusing to come out. The matriarch had asked around, but they all said that the eldest young miss was in a bad mood.
The matriarch pondered and figured it must be because she could not enter the palace, thus she was unhappy. Thinking about it, that was also true. Her two younger sisters, born to concubines, were named in the invitation, yet she as a daughter to the first wife was not mentioned at all. Who would be happy about such a situation?
Feng Jin Yuan was a little unhappy: “Chen Yu has also been spoiled.”
Feng Yu Heng, however, tried to pacify him: “Father, do not blame eldest sister. This is all the result of the mess caused by the previous mother. Ignoring that eldest sister was implicated for no apparent reason, and today is also the day of the Mid-Autumn Banquet. Thinking about it… she must be thinking of her mother.”
Saying it like this, Feng Jin Yuan found it hard to express anything else. Chen shi had given birth to Chen Yu after all. Wanting her to be happy so shortly after Chen shi’s death was a little too heartless.
Thus, he no longer spoke about it, and the family began to eat.
As they ate, the matriarch felt a little unhappy and asked Feng Yu Heng again: “Those foods cooked with medicine, does A-Heng not know how to make them at all?”
Feng Yu Heng responded with a smile: “It isn’t that I don’t know how. The simpler things I can make, and I am clear on the recipes. If grandmother likes eating it, then A-Heng will specially go out and look for a chef that will assist A-Heng like the imperial chefs assisted sir Mo, and I will make food cooked with medicine for grandmother. Does that sound good?”
The matriarch was incredibly happy to hear this, “Good! Of course, it’s good!” She then looked towards Jin Zhen and said: “And make something for Jin Zhen to restore her body. She is still young, so she will need to give the Feng family a third young master.”
Feng Yu Heng heard the matriarch bring up Jin Zhen, so she casually said: “Concubine mother Jin Zhen just had a miscarriage, so she needs to recover properly. However, just recovering physically is not enough. Her mood also needs to be remain positive.” As she said this, she looked towards Feng Jin Yuan: “Concubine mother was previously mother’s servant. Along with her, there seemed to be three others, right?”
Feng Jin Yuan thought a little, “Two of them were sold, and another one remained to watch over Jin Yu courtyard.”
The matriarch also remembered: “Was it the one called Man Xi?”
Feng Jin Yuan nodded.
Feng Yu Heng then gave a recommendation: “Thinking about it, those four grew up together. They should be rather close. How about having Man Xi go to concubine mother Jin Zhen’s side to take care of her. She will be able to chat more with concubine mother during the days, and concubine mother’s mood will improve greatly.”
The matriarch also considered this idea then immediately agreed to it.
Jin Zhen was seated at the table and sent Feng Yu Heng a grateful look. She then thanked the matriarch and Feng Jin Yuan.
The Mid-Autumn family feast was eaten in a joyous atmosphere.
In the evening, Feng Yu Heng and Feng Xiang Rong were repeatedly given warnings and advice from everyone in the Feng manor before getting in the carriage. Feng Jin Yuan also got in his own carriage. The male guests and female guests entered the palace through different gates, so the paths they would take were naturally different.
The two brought their own servants. Feng Yu Heng brought Huang Quan and Xiang Rong brought a servant called Ming Zhu.
Only after the carriage pulled away from the Feng manor did Xiang Rong finally let out a sigh: “I wasn’t too nervous originally, but being lectured starting in the afternoon, I became more and more nervous. Oh right,” She recalled something, “Second sister, Xiang Rong did not prepare a gift for the Empress. Concubine mother An said that the matriarch did not say anything, and we could not afford to produce anything nice. I can only be counted as being together with father.”
Feng Yu Heng patted Xiang Rong’s hand, “The gift I prepared for the Empress is enough for the two of us, and I included your portion.”
Xiang Rong then let out a sigh of relief, “Thank you, second sister. At lunch, I heard grandmother bring up the matter of preparing a gift, so I was always worried about it. I was worried that when father presented his gift, he would not include us.”
Feng Yu Heng smiled, “Do not worry. Even if we did not prepare anything, father would make sure to include us. He is not worried about us losing face, but he is worried about the Feng family’s face.”
The two chatted on the way, and they very soon arrived at the palace.
The female guests entered through the gate in the west. This was the same every year. When they arrived, there were already many madams and young misses gathered there, waiting to have their invitations checked before they could enter the palace.
When Feng Yu Heng and Xiang Rong exited the carriage, they were not noticed by many people. After all, the people who could come to attend this banquet were all madams and young misses from proper official’s families. Whether it was personal accomplishment or the accomplishments in taking care of the country, they were all of different stature than those that attended Princess Ding An’s birthday banquet.
Pulling along Xiang Rong, she walked towards the group of people while looking to see if she could find Ren Xi Feng and co. Xuan Tian Ge was not someone she could have hopes of seeing here. She was someone related to the Emperor, so how could she need to line up to enter the palace.
Just as they were looking around, at that time, there was a carriage that came along the road rather quickly, kicking up a great deal of dust.
The delicate young misses immediately used handkerchiefs to cover up their mouths and noses. Frowning, they all looked over and saw that the carriage stopped before the gate. With the curtain being lifted, a girl with her head wrapped in silk came out followed by a servant wearing red clothes.