The banquet for the Mid-Autumn Festival was drawing closer. Each family had begun busying themselves with worrying about the people that would be participating. There were some officials in the capital under fourth rank that had begun trying to use their connection to at least allow their daughters to participate and see the world. And rather than saying that it was to allow them to see the world, it would be better to say that they wanted for “the world” to see them. Every time the palace held a banquet, it was nothing more than a disguised chance for them to get to know people, and the people present would be the children of powerful people. For these officials under fourth rank, they hoped that they could use this method to allow their daughters to have an interest taken in them by the sons of large families. Maybe they could even end up with a member of the imperial family.
For a while, the capital appeared very busy.
Feng Jing Yuan had lost interest in the palace banquets a long time ago. Having fallen from the position of prime minister for so many years, his mind had calmed down quite a bit. He was just confused. Why would Miss Lian, who had always been close with Feng Yu Heng, suddenly get close with Fen Dai?
In regards to this question, Fen Dai gave him an answer at dinner: “What’s there to not understand? No matter how good sister Lian’s relationship is with Feng Yu Heng, it cannot compare to living next to us as neighbors. It’s naturally easier to get closer. Seeing each other frequently will naturally allow us to get closer. Also, Feng Yu Heng is an imperial daughter. How busy must she be? How could she have the time to chat with sister Lian?” She repeatedly said sister Lian, but she repeatedly called her own elder sister by her name. Although Feng Jin Yuan felt that it was improper, how could he be in the mood to correct that at a time like this. He just continued to ask Fen Dai: “What did you two chat about?”
The corners of Fen Dai’s lips curled up, “Naturally, the things that girls talk about. Father shouldn’t be planning to ask about that, right?”
“No, no, no.” Feng Jin Yuan repeatedly waved his hand, “I was just casually asking is all. Casually asking.” He then lowered his head and ate some food. He then felt unreconciled and asked: “Will she be coming again tomorrow?”
Fen Dai snorted coldly, “She should be coming. She said that she would frequently come and chat with me. What is it, is father interested in sister Lian?”
Feng Jin Yuan’s old face turned red, and he did not know how he should respond. Fen Dai spoke what she was thinking without any consideration: “Speaking of, this can’t be blamed on father. With sister Lian’s beauty, not to mention men, even girls of my generation are a bit moved from seeing her. She’s truly too beautiful. Compared to her, the Feng manor’s eldest young miss back then would not dare consider herself the most beautiful girl in the capital.”
She once again brought up Feng Chen Yu, and Feng Jin Yuan was no longer as stubborn as before. After all, that was the past, and things had changed. Looking back now, things had not been as he had thought.
Fen Dai continued to speak. The more she spoke, the more she dug into Feng Jin Yuan’s heart, saying: “Although our residence has a head madam, a second madam and Concubine Mother An, it’s not like father doesn’t know that the two madams have not come back for many months, using the excuse of taking care of her Highness the Empress’ illness. They don’t care at all about the happenings in the family. What sort of madam is that. Father should think of them as being in the way. Concubine Mother An is entirely focused on earning a living. Her embroidery shop is quite popular in the capital; however, she does not think much about the matters in the residence and refuses to provide a single cent of financial support. There’s also that imperial daughter, who cares even less about the survival of the Feng residence. Father, speak honestly. Over the years, you’ve favored this one and that one, but in the end, who is the one that provided the most for you? Is it not your fourth daughter, me!”
Feng Jin Yuan had been emotionally moved by her analysis, and he could not help but nod, saying with a sigh: “That’s right! Husband and wife should be birds of a same feather. That they flew off on their own in the face of trouble is my fault. Not to mention me lacking in ability, I also ended up with an injury.”
“Father must not think like this.” Fen Dai raised her voice a bit, simply putting down her bowl and saying seriously: “There is indeed an injury, but you must not say this so easily and allow it to become something that holds you back. If even you believe that you cannot continue, what would other people think? You are the master of the Feng residence. You’re not a eunuch in the palace!”
When she mentioned eunuch, Feng Jin Yuan felt irritated; however, he could not say anything. He still needed to keep a smile on his face.
Fen Dai continued: “That’s why daughter was thinking. They said before that families of low-ranking officials are not able to have high-ranking concubines, but Da Shun did not say that normal citizens’ families can’t have mistresses. The two madams taking up their spots is something that we can’t do anything about. It’s just a result of them having the support of the palace, but if father is interested in sister Lian, daughter wishes to help. Bringing her into the residence would be very good for the atmosphere. With such a beautiful wife marrying into the family, which outsider would dare to kick our Feng residence?”
These words managed to capture Feng Jin Yuan’s heart. A look of joy appeared on his face, as he anxiously said: “Your meaning is that you hope father can bring Miss Lian into the residence?”
Fen Dai nodded, “Why else does father think that I did my best to get close to her? I am not an idle person. If I had the time, I’d sew a couple sets of clothes for his Highness the fifth prince.”
Feng Jin Yuan slapped his thigh and sighed: “It really is Fen Dai that’s most intimate, but…” He thought of his own injury and could not help but helplessly say: “But with my current situation, how could she…”
“It’s all a matter of effort.” Fen Dai curled her lips into a smile, “Either way, there is plenty of time. She is living next door, and there is no fear of her running away. As long as father has this desire, we can slowly plan. We can plan slowly and not fear failure.”
While she spoke, a servant came into the room and said to Fen Dai: “The Li Palace sent someone with clothes for fourth young miss, saying that they were prepared for when you attend the banquet.” Fen Dai nodded with a smile. She stopped eating and followed the servant out to look at the clothes. This left Feng Jin Yuan to sit at the table on his own to think about what Fen Dai had just said. The more he thought about it, the happier he was. His mind was filled with thoughts about the day Feng Zhao Lian married into the Feng residence. But he never thought about how Fen Dai would never have come to this dining hall if she did not have something to say. Just like An shi and Xiang Rong, she would have remained in her own courtyard to eat and remained a respectful distance away from her father.
On this side, the fifth prince’s people sent Fen Dai some clothes to wear for the palace banquet. On the other side, the members of the Yao family were also preparing for the entire family to enter the palace for the banquet. Of course, this included Lu Yao.
Lu Yao had married Yao Shu. As the top-scoring scholar this year, Yao Shu naturally had the right to bring his wife to the banquet. As for the other members of the Yao family, because they had ranks and titles in Huang Zhou and because of Yao Xian’s presence, they also had the right to enter the palace.
Aside from this, the Lu family was also quite busy. As the court’s left prime minister, his wife and daughter would naturally be able to enter the palace. This time, he was not just bringing his wife, Ge shi, and his daughter of his first wife, Lu Yan, he was also bringing his daughter of a concubine, Lu Ping. He had already found someone to prepare the clothes for his daughter.
Although Lu Ping was horrified by this, her father had already given the order, and she had to follow; however, Lu Yan could not understand why her father would be doing this, nor did she dare ask Lu Song. She could only secretly get angry.
Ge shi consoled her: “Your father has his own thoughts. She is just the daughter of a concubine. Just how high can she be raised? What are you getting mad at her for?”
“Mother!” Lu Yan’s eyes were opened very wide, “This isn’t a matter of getting mad at her or not. Instead, it’s whether or not daughter will be implicated by her. Mother, it’s not like you don’t know about her illness. When the Lu family sits together, daughter will definitely need to sit with her. Once her disgusting smell spreads, it’s impossible for people to get closer to figure out who it came from. By the end, I fear that the blame will be placed on our Lu family. What if someone thinks that it was me. In the future, will daughter still be able to marry?”
This was something that Ge shi and Lu Song had thought about. Seeing that Lu Yan brought it up, she could not help but console her: “Your father already came up with an idea. The people in the South have sent a unique perfume. Apparently, that fragrance is both fragrant and sweet like honey. Regardless of what smells there are, as long as the unique perfume is there, they will be covered immediately. All around, there will only be the smell of honey. Your father has already had the clothes that Lu Ping will wear placed in the unique perfume. After being soaked for three days and three nights, it will be able to block any body odors.”
Lu Yan lightly snorted and said with a bit of unhappiness: “I’ve also heard of this unique perfume. It is something that comes from a small fruit in the desert. It’s extremely expensive, and the people of the central region would find it very hard to get even a small bottle. Gu Shu only sends ten jars into the palace each year. Now that father is using it for Lu Ping’s clothes, how much must that be! I have never even seen such a good thing. Father really is biased.”
Ge shi rolled her eyes at her, “What are you in such a rush for? Your good days are yet to come. What are you fighting with the daughter of a concubine for? Also, there was not much of that perfume brought over. The reason that clothes can be soaked in it is that it was mixed with water. Did you think that an entire basin was filled with it to soak the clothes? Even the imperial concubines in the palace are reluctant to use it like that. Alright, don’t keep fretting over this matter. As long as you remember to continue accumulating merits, everything that Lu Ping does as a daughter of a concubine will act to pave a road for you.”
Lu Yan curled her lips into a small smile, “Mother is right. She’s the daughter of a concubine. She can’t overturn the heavens.”
Whether or not Lu Ping overturned the heavens was a matter for the Lu family to worry about. At dawn in the imperial daughter’s manor, Feng Yu Heng finished giving Bai Fu Rong an injection. She then climbed onto the roof to look at the sights.
Mid-Autumn in the capital was very cool. The trees in the courtyard had fruit that had ripened. She sat on the roof and directed the servants below to set up ladders to pick fruit. Huang Quan repeatedly brought out clothes from inside the room to look over, hoping that Feng Yu Heng would take an interest in a set. Who knew that her young miss would not be satisfied with any set of clothes. There was nothing that she could do and could only bitterly negotiate: “But going to have clothes made now won’t be in time! These clothes were all recently made. This servant thinks they look pretty good. There’s nothing improper about them.”
Feng Yu Heng shook her head, “They don’t look good, too gaudy.”
“But it’s the banquet for the Mid-Autumn Festival. Everyone will be wearing beautiful clothes. Young miss is at an age where you should wear something flashier.”
Feng Yu Heng shook her head once more, “If all of the young misses wear gaudy clothes, what should the madams wear? Gaudy things should be left for the middle-aged and older madams. Find something a little more simple and elegant for your young miss. As long as it does not look like I’m attending a funeral, it’s fine.”
Huang Quan angrily stomped her foot, “Young miss never has a filter when speaking. It’s a perfectly nice day, so what are you talking about funerals for. But it must be said that there are some more simple and elegant clothes. Does young miss remember when his Highness the seventh prince came back from the East and gave young miss a few bolts of material? Those are extremely fresh. Although it’s a bit too late to make them now, if we have the tailors of the palace come, it can definitely be done.”
Feng Yu Heng nodded, “Right, seventh brother’s taste is very to my liking. Just do it like that. Quickly bring the materials to the Yu Palace. Have the people there help out.”
Huang Quan was chased out of the manor; however, she continued to remain seated on the roof. With her legs crossed, she ate her fruit. At this time, she saw a living creature run into the yard. It was very small and furry. Its movements were not very fluid, and it looked like it had just been born. It could not stand very steadily.
A maidservant was shocked: “Ah! Where did this cat come from? So cute!”
Feng Yu Heng looked for a while then nodded, “It is quite cute. It’s not just cute, but the cat also looks quite domineering. There’s actually a character for king on its forehead!”
TN: The character for king is 王