The Drinker’s Heart is Not in the Cup
“What is this? Fen Dai received the small box from Hong Yun. Opening it up to take a look, she only felt herself enveloped by a fragrance.
“It’s a congealing cream.” Hong Yun told her, “It will be very effective for the scar on your face. It will completely disappear after a month of use.”
“Really?” Fen Dai was filled with joy.
Hong Yun nodded, “Really.” She then asked: “Do you still want to learn how to dance?”
Fen Dai immediately took off her shoes and socks then stood in the snow. The cold caused even her teeth to chatter, but she still endured and said: “I will! Regardless of who it is for, I will learn how to do this dance!”
That night at the temple in Chen Yu’s courtyard, Yi Lin was whispering something into Chen Yu’s ear.
Not long after, Chen Yu’s eyes revealed a ruthless viciousness, “Do it! It absolutely must be done! But this time, you are absolutely not allowed to fail. Go tell third uncle and have him find the very best people. They must handle it smoothly and cleanly. That girl is extremely astute, so make sure you do not leave any trace at all.”
“This servant will go tell him.” Yi Lin then said: “Third master also said that when the time comes, she will definitely go pick someone up. He hopes that young miss will delay her.”
Chen Yu was a bit annoyed, “Delaying her is easier said than done. Why doesn’t uncle take action sooner?”
Yi Lin told her: “Third master said the opposition will have a guard escort the entire time, and they will only be dismissed after arriving in the capital. That’s why he chose to take action at this time.”
“Forget it. I will find a way to delay her. Either way, it must succeed this time. If it fails once again, tell uncle that there will be no need for his interference over here. I will naturally take care of the people that get in my way.”
Yi Lin nodded then looked at the candle that was almost exhausted. She could not help but say: “Young miss, rest a little or your eyesight will go. Either way, elder madam did not say that you had to complete the copying within a certain number of days. We can take it slowly.”
Chen Yu, however, smiled and shook her head, saying: “How could I do this slowly. Father is almost back. I suffered grievances while he was away from the manor. If I do not make it show on my face, how could he show any compassion?”
Yi Lin’s eyes lit up, as she said with a smile: “Young miss really is clever. Then this servant will bring in another two candles.”
“Just bring in one! It would not be good if it were too bright.”
The follow day before noon, everyone in the Feng manor gathered in Shu Ya courtyard to pay respects to the matriarch.
The day of Feng Jin Yuan’s return to the capital drew nearer. Together with the approaching of the new year, the matriarch’s face was full of joy.
Chen Yu had dark circles under her eyes, and the matriarch was a little distressed from seeing them, repeatedly telling her: “If you are unable to sleep well at night, just bring in a doctor and have them write a prescription to help you sleep. You can not continue like this. As I see it, you’ve lost some weight these past two days.”
Yi Lin quickly responded for Chen Yu: “Perhaps elder madam does not know, but eldest young miss has been copying sutras in the temple every night until daybreak. She has already half done with copying sutras 100 times.”
“So quickly?” The matriarch was truly shocked, and the distressed appearance on her face became even more noticeable, “I did punish you with copying sutras 100 times, but I did not say how many days you needed to complete them in. Why would you suffer such hardship?”
Chen Yu stood up and bowed to the matriarch, saying: “Granddaughter does not feel that this is a hardship. Copying sutras is something that calms the heart. Moreover, father will soon be coming back, so Chen Yu has been copying sutras while praying for father’s good fortune and that he will have a safe trip back.”
These words were very decent and magnanimous, and they made the matriarch elated.
But with the matriarch becoming elated, Han shi and Fen Dai became unhappy. Fen Dai coldly snorted and said: “Eldest sister really knows how to speak. You were clearly given a punishment, but you make it sound like you are a charitable person.”
“Enough!” The matriarch absolutely hated Fen Dai’s arguing. Adding to how she was unable to invite the imperial chefs, despite saying that she would, she showed even more displeasure towards Fen Dai. “If you are interested, then think about what you should be doing for your father, instead of spending every day learning this worthless dance.”
“How is it worthless now!” Feng Fen Dai became angry, “Grandmother, could it be that you don’t want Fen Dai to live happily? In your heart, there is only eldest sister. No matter what she does, she is good.”
“How can fourth sister speak like that to grandmother? Quickly kneel and admit your mistakes!”
Fen Dai jutted out her chin, “I did nothing wrong!”
The matriarch trembled with anger, and granny Zhao consoled her from the side: “Elder madam, calm your anger! That’s just how fourth young miss’ attitude is. We already said that we would not get angry today.”
The matriarch took two deep breaths and grabbed granny Zhao’s hand, saying: “Right, right, I said that I would not get angry today. Unfortunately, my grandchild is unfilial, and the family is not at peace!”
Feng Yu Heng watched the drama unfold in the room and simply decided to close her eyes. Her coming over was nothing more than a formality. She did not have any intention of participating in this mess.
Finally, the matriarch’s mood stabilized, and she finally said: “It’s the end of the year. The manor has made everyone a new set of clothes. Everyone gets a set. Leave them for when you will enter the palace.”
As she said this, four maidservants came in holding four sets of clothing then handed them over to the four young misses. The clothes were made of Sichuan brocade and were very expensive. Each one had a different color. Chen Yu’s was white, Feng Yu Heng’s was blue, Xiang Rong’s was light yellow, and Fen Dai’s was light pink.
Naturally, such good clothes were liked by everyone. Even Feng Yu Heng could only praise the ancient tailors for their craftsmanship. The designs on the cloth were extremely beautiful, and there was a faint stereoscopic effect.
Having received such nice clothes, Fen Dai immediately became happy and sweetly said: “Thank you, grandmother.”
The matriarch still did not like listening to her speak, so she waved her hand, “It’s fine. You may all go back.” Like that, the people in the room left.
Fen Dai was a little slower, as she was supporting Han shi. Feng Yu Heng also deliberately slowed her pace, pretending to chat idly with Huang Quan: “I heard that the imperial concubine who died of drowning loved Winter. We are wrapped tightly in clothes, yet she would wear thin clothes. She could even walk around in the snow barefooted. Isn’t that weird?”
Huang Quan knew what Feng Yu Heng was thinking. Glancing sideways at Fen Dai, she saw her reveal a bit of shock and look hesitantly back over.
“Young miss is very correct. This servant also heard about it. That imperial concubine was not just able to walk around barefooted in the snow. She was also very good at making tea from the snow on wintersweet shrubs. She also favored the color white, as it was the color that could blend in with the snow. Among the servants, some would call her imperial concubine Xue.”
“You seem to know even more than I do.” Feng Yu Heng smiled evilly, increasing her pace.
“This servant was previously working at the Yu Palace. I naturally heard more about these things.” Huang Quan emphasized the last bit before hastily leaving Shu Ya courtyard behind her.
Fen Dai, who had heard all of this, was actually very happy. Although Feng Yu Heng did not say who this imperial concubine was, how many imperial concubines had died of drowning? Who else could walk around in the snow barefoot?
She understood and was very happy that she could secretly hear this information. She thought to herself that she would need to learn how to make tea out of snow.
But in the blink of an eye, she saw the clothes that A Ju was holding. She was originally very happy with the pink color, but now that she heard about the imperial concubine liking the color white, she took the clothes and hastily went to trade with Feng Chen Yu.
Having already walked quite far away, Feng Yu Heng heard her sisters shouting in the back, and she could not help but curve the corners of her lips up.
After returning to Tong Sheng pavilion, she moved all of the prepared gifts onto the carriage. Bringing Huang Quan along, she went to the different manors to give these gifts.
When she finally returned, it was already evening. When she entered the manor, she saw Yao shi holding a letter and happily telling her: “Zi Rui will be able to reach the capital tomorrow.”
This was, indeed, very good news. Feng Yu Heng looked at the letter. It was written by Qing Yu, so she also began to rejoice.
She naturally had to go receive Zi Rui when he returned to the capital. Yao shi also wanted to go with her, but she was stopped by Feng Yu Heng: “Mother should remain in the manor to prepare some food for Zi Rui. That child has been away for a long time, so he will definitely want to eat some food that you personally prepared.” Only then did she manage to deal with Yao shi’s request.
When she returned to her own courtyard, she said to Huang Quan: “Something is off about mother. Her diet still needs to be investigated.”
Huang Quan also became nervous: “Did young miss notice something?”
Feng Yu Heng shook her head, “I am worried because I have not noticed anything. Last time, I changed her medicine. Unfortunately, the vitality that she had regained was mysteriously drained. This matter needs to be carefully paid attention to. We must not act with haste. To be able to take action under our watch, this person is likely to be a big fish.”
After one night, the day of Zi Rui’s return had finally arrived.
The Feng manor still did not know about this news, so there was not much movement. Feng Yu Heng and Huang Quan were preparing to leave the manor, but a servant came to report: “The Feng family’s eldest young miss has come and requested to meet young miss.”
“Feng Chen Yu?” She was startled and began to wonder, why had she come? But regardless of what she had come for, she did not have time, thus she quickly walked out and told the servant: “Send her away. Say that I am busy.”
“But…” The servant chased after her, “The Feng family’s eldest young miss came to send a gift for the new year. She has prepared it for young miss, madam and young master. She has sent people to send them, and they are waiting at the gate.”
Huang Quan pondered a little then said: “How about taking a look at what they sent?”
Feng Yu Heng stopped and pondered for a moment then nodded to the servant. But she then turned and said to Huang Quan: “My right eyelid has been twitching for an entire morning, and this has kept me anxious.”
“Could it be that young miss did not sleep well last night? You must have been thinking about young master.”
Huang Quan’s words of advice made her feel that might be the case, so she did not take it to heart.
Not long after, Feng Chen Yu arrived in her courtyard under the guidance of the maidservant. Behind her were some servants carrying some things.
Seeing her, Feng Chen Yu put on her Bodhisattva face: “Seeing second sister like this, are you going out of the manor? Fortunately, I came at this time, otherwise, I would not have been able to see second sister.”
Mysteriously, Feng Yu Heng once again began to feel anxious. She really wanted to throw Feng Chen Yu out of Tong Sheng pavilion, but as the old saying goes, do not hit someone who is already smiling and apologizing. She had come to give gifts, so she could not be too excessive.
“I heard that eldest sister came to deliver gifts for the new year. It was younger sister who was neglectful. I should have sent gifts to the Feng manor first.” She took a seat on one of the stone chairs in the yard, showing no intention of inviting them inside.
Chen Yu did not argue and simply began chatting while standing outside: “It’s almost the new year. Elder sister has had a set of clothing made for Zi Rui. I prepared some supplements for concub… madam. There is also this.” Saying it, she handed a wooden box to Feng Yu Heng, “This is a pair of golden bracelets with carvings. It was brought back from Fan country by my uncle. I found it to be very beautiful, so I brought it to younger sister as a gift for the new year.”
“Then younger sister will accept it. I will also thank eldest sister on behalf of mother and Zi Rui.” She looked again towards the things in the servants’ hands then stood up, “I have something to do today, so I will not be keeping eldest sister. I will definitely prepare a very good return present for eldest sister.”
“What sort of thing is younger sister saying.” Chen Yu seemed to ignore Feng Yu Heng sending her off. Taking another couple steps forward, she warmly said: “We are sisters. The usual arguing and fighting are not worth mentioning. How could we truly come to hate each other? Do you not think this is the case?” While speaking, she sat down across from Feng Yu Heng.
Feng Yu Heng looked at Chen Yu’s stance, and a mysterious panic surged forth from the bottom of her heart.
She had always trusted her intuition, as the feeling of being constrained continuously irked her.
Feng Chen Yu had not come to give gifts!
Once this thought came to mind, she no longer waited. Immediately standing up, she left without saying another word.
TN: Title is a proverb meaning to have an ulterior motive or to have other things in mind