Xiang Rong’s Banquet
Yao shi’s change had been noticed by Princess Wen Xuan for a long time. In the beginning, it was not as though she had not tried to advise her, but the more she did, she found more and more that Yao shi had no intention of returning to the past. The thought of “that daughter is not my former daughter” had already grown roots in her mind. There was nobody that could change her mind.
In the past, she thought that it was a disturbed and stubborn thought brought about by the spirit-altering drug, but she actually felt that these were Yao shi’s original thoughts. It was just that she never had the courage to voice it in the past. Later on, before the spirit-altering drug could be dispelled, she exploded. Perhaps Yao shi felt happier from having been able to vent this issue, thus she refused to wake up after the spirit-altering drug’s effects had worn off.
For Princess Wen Xuan, she did not truly want to see Yao shi. She was avoiding her. If she did not, based on their friendship, even if Yao shi lived in this courtyard that was further away, she would still go and visit more frequently. Now, however, she stayed a respectful distance away from her. Unfortunately, she still could not hide in time. When Yao shi came to visit, she asked for an invitation to the palace’s banquet for the Mid-Autumn Festival. She said that it would be for her daughter, and she immediately recalled the girl that apparently looked exactly like Feng Yu Heng.
The maidservant consoled her: “Princess, don’t keep worrying yourself over someone else’s family. If palace princess finds out that you were worrying about someone else, she will be unhappy.”
Princess Wen Xuan let out a sigh and nodded. She then stopped thinking about Yao shi.
After Feng Fen Dai used the seventh prince as an excuse to get to know Feng Zhao Lian, Feng Zhao Lian really did visit the Feng residence every day. He would drink tea and eat pastries with Fen Dai. At the same time, they would talk about the seventh prince’s many deeds. Unfortunately, Fen Dai knew very little in regards to the seventh prince. In the past, she could borrow Xiang Rong to say a bit, but Xiang Rong and Xuan Tian Hua had only interacted a few times. After talking about that for a few days, what more could be said? Gradually, that topic cooled, and it became Fen Dai depicting how refined and elegant the seventh prince was.
Feng Zhao Lian listened on the surface, but he was laughing internally. He just thought that this Feng family’s young miss wanted to do something like invent stories but did not properly do her homework. Her speaking ability was far worse than her second sister’s! But he did not know precisely why she had tried to lead him into the Feng residence? It should not truly be to suppress Feng Xiang Rong, right? Feng Zhao Lian thought about it. It should not be such an idiotic reason. He would continue to observe.
But upon thinking of Feng Xiang Rong, it was not that he had never seen her before. When Feng Yu Heng had just returned, they had eaten a meal together. But at that time, he had not yet met the seventh prince. He knew even less about the matter between Feng Xiang Rong and the seventh prince. That was why did not even bother to look at her properly during the meal. Thinking about it now, he could not even clearly remember what Xiang Rong looked like.
“Sister Fen Dai, could you bring me to see the residence’s third young miss?” Feng Zhao Lian brought up this request, “I heard you talk about her over the past few days, and I have truly become quite curious.”
Fen Dai nodded, “Of course.” She then asked Dong Ying: “Is third young miss in the residence today?”
Dong Ying immediately replied: “She is! This servant heard the third young miss’ maidservants speaking about preparing for the Mid-Autumn Festival’s banquet this morning. Third young miss will not be going out starting today.”
“Hmph.” Fen Dai said with disdain: “She actually has the right to participate in the palace banquet. I really don’t know if it’s Feng Yu Heng giving her face or if it’s his Highness the fourth prince giving her a chance.” After she finished speaking, she looked toward Feng Zhao Lian and said with an ulterior motive: “Of course, it’s also possible that she secretly enticed his Highness the seventh prince.”
Feng Zhao Lian did not care about such things, as he urged Fen Dai to bring him to see Xiang Rong. Fen Dai did not hold back and immediately stood up, bringing him outside.
It just so happened that Feng Jin Yuan was in the residence today. He also heard that Miss Lian had come. At this moment, he was standing in the front yard, waiting for him. Rashly charging into his daughter’s courtyard was not too good, but the front yard was a place that Feng Zhao Lian would need to pass when leaving the residence. He just remained there, refusing to believe that he would not be able to see the person.
Just as he was thinking about it, he looked up and saw Fen Dai bringing an exceptionally beautiful girl in his direction, Feng Jin Yuan felt a little nervous. His palms became sweaty, and a feeling of being out of practice filled his heart. It caused him to feel completely at a loss for a bit of time.
Fen Dai also saw Feng Jin Yuan, and she could not help but secretly curl her lips into a smile. She wanted Feng Jin Yuan to see her getting along with Feng Zhao Lian. Like this, she could have this father stop trying to curry favor with Feng Yu Heng. Instead, he would continue to listen to her. Although Feng Jin Yuan no longer had any value, she was still a girl that had not yet gotten married. In the future, she would still need to marry out of the Feng residence. If Feng Jin Yuan did not gain a bit of face for her, her wedding would truly be too lacking in glory.
While thinking, Feng Jin Yuan had already begun heading over. Feng Zhao Lian rolled his eyes and hid behind Fen Dai with a great loathing. He then said: “Just stay over there! Men and women should accept not being too close. Master Feng, please have some self-respect.”
Feng Jin Yuan awkwardly stood in place. Rubbing his hands, he smiled, “Miss Lian, you came.” That desperate attempt to curry favor caused even Fen Dai to want to kick him to death.
Feng Zhao Lian was even less polite, “Are you a sycophant? Why does it look like drool is about to pour out?”
Feng Jin Yuan quickly wiped his mouth. It was indeed a bit moist. He felt a bit embarrassed, but his gaze was still staring straight at Feng Zhao Lian. To be able to look and admire this person from such a close distance, Feng Jin Yuan felt that this was a great luxury.
Fen Dai found it a little hard to continue watching and glared at Feng Jin Yuan, saying: “Does father need anything? If there’s nothing, please move aside. We are going to speak with third sister.”
“Hm?” Feng Jin Yuan was startled, “What are you looking for her for?”
“Girls will talk about girls’ things. Why is a father like you concerning yourself with everything?” Feng Zhao Lian was exceedingly irritated with Feng Jin Yuan, as she prodded Fen Dai with her arm: “Does your family not have a female presence? Why does your father look like he hasn’t seen a woman in a hundred years?”
Fen Dai helplessly said: “There is a head madam and a second madam. Unfortunately, they both have not come back for many months. Father is hoping to find a beautiful lady to bring home, but I don’t know what sort of beauty would want to enter the Feng residence.” After saying this, she did not care that Feng Jin Yuan was still blocking the way, as she pulled Feng Zhao Lian forward.
Feng Jin Yuan was too embarrassed to get in the way of the two girls, and he quickly moved to the side. Only then did the two happily escape. When Feng Zhao Lian looked back, he deliberately said in a loud voice: “I will be participating in the banquet for the Mid-Autumn Festival in a few days. Sister Fen Dai, who in your family will be going?”
The two talked while walking. Feng Jin Yuan, who had been left behind, was left feeling extremely uncomfortable by those words. The banquet for the Mid-Autumn Festival, Miss Lian would be going to participate in this banquet. That was a situation that he once had a right to participate in! However, he could only remain in his residence and sigh.
He helplessly shook his head; however, his heart continued to feel unreconciled. Was there any way that he could get into the palace one more time?
In Xiang Rong’s courtyard, her door was tightly closed. An shi had gone to the embroidery shop, and she remained in her room alone. She also dismissed all of her servants; however, she was holding a dress in her hands.
It was the one that his Highness the seventh prince had given her back then. It was also to have her participate in the palace banquet. She had never been willing to wear these clothes and had always kept them. An shi normally kept a close eye on her and would not allow her to look at it, but she could not hold back today and brought the clothes out. Just a glance caused her to think back. She sat in the boat and fell into the water. She had been saved by his Highness the seventh prince, and most importantly, he had wrapped her up in his own cloak. She had forgotten all about everything that An shi had advised her, but who knew that this matter would be entrenched in her heart. No matter what, it could not be forgotten.
Xiang Rong stood up and held the clothes in front of her to compare; however, it was clear that it was too short. She smiled bitterly. She grew quickly at this age. The clothes that were made in Spring could no longer be worn in Autumn; moreover, these had been made over a year earlier. She was a little flustered. She was 12 years old, and her concubine mother had said that it was the age where she should begin having marriage discussions. The daughters of normal families would have someone visit to request a marriage when they turned 12. They would then carefully pick and choose. Unfortunately, the Feng family had fallen, such that the daughters of concubines that already struggled to make an appearance would be asked about even less. Everyone avoided the Feng family to the best of their ability. How could they dare to visit and inquire about the Feng family’s daughter of a concubine?
She had once received an imperial grace from the Emperor, giving her the right to decide her own marriage. Feng Jin Yuan would not have any say in the matter. But deciding it on her own, she could count the number of men that she knew on one hand. How could she make a decision for herself? An shi had urged her many times, even mentioning a few normal families. She continued to say that a girl should not look for someone wealthy and powerful when getting married. All that should be sought out is stability. In a large family, there are numerous wives and concubines. Even if she had a great amount of power, it could not compare to the stability and peace of a small family.
It was not that Xiang Rong did not understand this logic, but people, girls especially, once they have taken an interest in a person, it is very hard for them to accept any alternative. How could she bring herself to accept it? It’s not that she had not thought of it; however, no matter how she thought about it, she felt unreconciled. Rather than accepting it, it would be better to never get married. She would spend her entire life teaching that fourth prince how to embroider.
She impetuously threw the clothes onto the table and did not want to look at it any further; however, she could not stop herself from folding it properly, fearing that she might ruin it in the slightest.
In the end, she could not put it down. Xiang Rong thought that in this life, it would be difficult for another person to make their way into her heart, right?
A knock came from outside the door. The maidservant, Shan Cha, entered while carrying a bundle wrapped in cloth. There was a servant following behind her carrying a wooden box. When it was brought to her, Shan Cha said: “Young miss, this was sent by the Ping Palace. They said that it’s for young miss to participate in the banquet for the Mid-Autumn Festival. There’s also this box, which contains some accessories that his Highness Prince Ping chose for you.”
Only then did Xiang Rong recognize the person that was carrying the box. Was it not a servant from the Ping Palace. She smiled wryly, “His Highness really put some heart into this, but what would I wear this dress for? I have plenty of clothes in the wardrobe that haven’t been worn before. I just need to choose something appropriate. As for accessories, I am not lacking any. You can all go back.”
The servant had a smile on her face and said: “Third young miss, just take pity on this servant. Don’t force this servant to bring it back! You know his Highness’ temper. He finally managed to choose some clothes and accessories for you. If you don’t accept them, he won’t dare to do anything to you, but this servant will be unlucky. Good young miss, please accept it!”
The servant knew how to work Xiang Rong’s temper. With just a few words, she made Xiang Rong’s heart soften. Immediately following this, the maidservant said: “Third young miss still doesn’t know, right? During this banquet, his Majesty gave an imperial order, allowing his Highness the fourth prince to enter the palace! His Highness said that you are his master. During the banquet, his Majesty will definitely ask how his studies are going. At that time, he will definitely notice third young miss. For this point alone, third young miss, wear some nicer clothes! Just treat it as helping his Highness improve his situation.” While she spoke, she opened the box containing the clothes, “This also has a small flower that was embroidered by his Highness himself.”
Xiang Rong facepalmed. It would have been better if she had not said this. Upon hearing that Xuan Tian Yi had personally embroidered something, why was there an ominous feeling?