Chapter One Hundred and Four: The Winds Rise Again
When Sun shi got off the carriage, she sped up to walk behind Lu shi and reached out a hand in support. “Mother-in-law, be careful of the stairs ahead.”
“The honored guests have arrived.” Mu Tong was personally waiting by the gates. Seeing the members of the wang fei’s paternal family arrive, he went forward with a smile and bowed to the group. “This one greets Old Taitai, Marquis, Furen, young masters and young furen. Please come in.”
“Gonggong is too polite.” Hua He Sheng recognized Yan Jin Qiu’s most trusted taijianand nodded politely at Mu Tong before going through the gates of the wang fuushered by the servants.
Along the way, all of the servants were respectful in action and speech. There was no flaw to pick at from their manners. It could be seen that Xian Wang Fu had good protocol. When they continued to walk in, before they reached the second door, they saw Yan Jin Qiu welcome them dressed grandly. “Zi Ling greets Father-in-law, Mother-in-law, Old Taitai.”
The old taitai held a hand for Yan Jin Qiu to stand up with benevolence on her face. She was just Hua Xi Wan’s grandmother in name—how could she accept this bow? She was not the only one. Even Hua He Sheng and Lu shi could not directly accept this bow. Any person, in front of a member of the Imperial Family, was a step lower.
Heaven, Earth, Ruler, Parents, Teachers. The ruler was in front of the parents. Xian Wang was polite to them because he was someone who acted properly. However, the Hua Family could not treat him as a normal person.
Hua He Sheng avoided Yan Jin Qiu’s bow and returned a bow. Yan Jin Qiu’s hand stopped him. The two exchanged courtesies before going through the second door together.
Usually, guests were not allowed to enter the second door. However, right now, there was only one female mistress in Xian Wang Fu, Hua Xi Wan. The Hua Family was Hua Xi Wan’s paternal family, so welcoming them past the second door was to show closeness and respect.
When the Hua Family members entered through the second door, they saw Hua Xi Wan standing by the door. Before Lu shi, Sun shi and the others bowed, Hua Xi Wan stopped them. “We are one family. We do not have to abide by the etiquette.”
“Etiquette cannot be disregarded.” How could Lu shi not know what her daughter thought? But her daughter had married into the Imperial Family, was herself a member of the Imperial Family now, and so she had to act according to the etiquette of the Imperial Family.
Just as Lu shi understood Hua Xi Wan, Hua Xi Wan naturally knew Lu shi’’s worries. She tightly gripped Lu shi’s hand. “Mother, if you persist in this, how can this daughter endure it?”
Seeing her like this, Lu shi sighed lightly. She reached to pat the back of Hua Xi Wan’s hand and sighed again. She did not persist in giving a curtsey. “Mother understands.”
Yan Jin Qiu noticed the movements between mother and daughter. He turned to glance at Hua Xi Wan with mirth in his eyes.
“The wang fu’s scenery is extraordinary.” Hua He Sheng spoke and interrupted Yan Jin Qiu’s gazing at Hua Xi Wan. He said with a smile on his face, “Compared to the wang fu, the marquis fu is almost a rundown grass hut. No wonder Little Wan said that the wang fu was beautiful when she returned to the paternal family.”
“Father-in-law is too complimentary; it is just habitable.” Yan Jin Qiu turned to look at the young people behind Hua He Sheng. He kne
w Hua Chang Bao, Hua Qing Mao, and Hua Ding Chen, but he was not familiar with the one remaining.
“This is the son of my third brother. He is called Hua Cong Pu. Wang Ye, you saw him briefly a few days ago, and must not be familiar with him.” Hua He Sheng was a smart person and saw that Yan Jin Qiu’s attention was on Hua Cong Pu. He said a few good words for his nephew. “Cong Pu is young, and is studying at the academy. He is very hardworking and rarely has the time to play.”
Yan Jin Qiu nodded and said in praise, “This cousin-in-law is like his father.”
The third master of the Hua Family had talent but did not like being an official, so he was not at court. The scholars in Jing liked to call him “Graduate Hua.” From this, it could be seen the recognition that the Jing scholars had for him. Yan Jin Qiu stating that Hua Cong Pu was like his father was truly high praise.
What he said didn’t just give the Hua Family face; it also have the old taitai and Third Master Hua face. In this moment, everyone was in a good mood, and they walked with smiles into the inner compound.
Tasting tea, admiring flowers, tasting the crab. Both hosts and guests were happy and harmonious.
When they sat down, Hua Xi Wan couldn’t resist drinking a cup of light wine. While her mind was clear, a flush came onto her face. She touched her slightly red face and said to Hua Chu Yu beside her who had already married. “You cannot eat too much crab. I had the kitchen make some warmer dishes for you—taste to see if they are suited to your appetite.”
A bashful smile came onto Hua Chu Yu’s face. “With you here, how can anything not be delicious?”
Right now, who in Jing did not know that Xian Wang Fei liked delicious food? For her, Xian Wang had invited many skilled chefs into the wang fu. Which of the other womenfolk didn’t feel admiration when they discussed this matter in private?
“I can eat whatever I want, unlike certain others”—Hua Xi Wan glanced at Hua Chu Yu’s belly with a teasing smile on her face—“who have to refrain from certain foods.”
After Hua Chu Yu married Lin Zheng De, Lin Zheng De had treated her well. He didn’t have any concubines, so husband and wife were harmonious in their relationship and an object of envy for others. Hua Chu Yu was now a little over a month pregnant. However, because of the matter of the Crown Princess, the Lin Family was low-key recently and rarely left their home to attend banquets and gatherings.
When Lu shi heard the teasing between the two cousins, she couldn’t help but look at Hua Xi Wan’s belly. Her daughter had been married to Xian Wang for over a year, but there had not been any news. Adding on what was happening right now… She pinched the corner of her eye. Her children will have their own good fortune; she was thinking too far into the future.
Yao shi did not speak from when she entered the wang fu. Seeing Hua Xi Wan close to her daughter, she sighed in relief inside. Thinking about what had happened to Hua Yi Liu, she rejoiced. It was fortunate that her daughter was not as muddle-headed at Hua Yi Liu. Otherwise, she would cry.
Thinking about this, she glanced at Hua Zhi Ming and Hua Qing Mao. Only two people had come from the second branch. Zhang shi had not come. This meant that Hua Xi Wan felt such negatively about Zhang shi that she did not want to see the other.
Thinking about the rumors in Jing, Yao shi couldn’t resist praying inside. If Third Niece really became Empress, her children would also benefit. Why would she be at odds with Lu shi? That would be too stupid.
After the flowering-admiring banquet ended, Yan Jin Qiu considerately found an opportunity for Hua Xi Wan and Lu shi to have their own time. He and the other guests went into the yard to admire the flowers.
In Hua He Sheng’s view, his son-in-law, Yan Jin Qiu, was a very reliable person. If he did not consider the other’s secret cunning and ambition, Yan Jin Qiu was a very good son-in-law.
“Wang Ye, I heard some of the criminals from the Jiang Family have been sent to the wang fu?” After admiring a pot of chrysanthemums, Hua He Sheng seemed to unintentionally speak. “I interacted some with Master Jiang in the past. If Wang Yedoes not find it troublesome, could you give him some care?”
“Father-in-law, do not worry. I will definitely have someone take care of the only son of Master Jiang,” Yan Jin Qiu said with a smile. “There were only two servant girls who were sent to this one’s fu. Two hours ago, there was a servant girl who was sentenced to a beating because she did not understand the rules.”
Hua He Sheng chucked. “Then I will trouble Wang Ye. That child is Duke Jiang’s only son. If I can help him stay alive, I will live up to our relationship as classmates.”
The two did not mention again the servant girl who had been punished. Hua He Sheng did not mention the person from the Jiang Family. It was as though that relationship as classmates was just a courtesy.
Father and son-in-law were having a good conversation. In the room, Hua Xi Wan and Lu shi’s conversation was about the family.
“Since you do not want a child now, then do not.” Lu shi had learned what Hua Xi Wan intended and spoke helplessly. “The situation is not stable now. If…”—she pointed at the sky—“you have to make sure that Wang Ye’s first child is yours.”
Hua Xi Wan knew what Lu shi was worried about. She nodded.” Mother, I understand what you think. However, it really isn’t the best time now.” If she had a child now, it was akin to setting up a target for others to aim at. She would not bear to do so, and she could not afford to gamble. Also, she did not want to give birth at such a young age.
Thinking about the conflict at present, Lu shi sighed. “If…” If her daughter had not married into the Imperial Family, her daughter would not have to consider such matters. Now, she couldn’t even have the freedom to have a child.
Lu shi did not continue but Hua Xi Wan knew her thoughts. She smiled. “Mother, there is no need to mention this. The situation is like this now, and there is no meaning in thinking about anything else. Also… he is very good to me. You do not have to worry about me.”
Lu shi forced a smile. What she could not say to her daughter was that people’s hearts changed easily. Not all males and females in the world would be able to stay with one person for a lifetime. Also, if Xian Wang had even greater fortune in the future, then what days would her daughter have with him then?
It wasn’t that there were no emperors in history who had their empress as their only woman, but they were rare. Many more emperors had countless concubines, and the women went out of favor before they lost their beauty. How could she bear for her daughter to end up like that?
“Do not worry.” Hua Xi Wan gripped her hand lightly. “Believe me, I will be good.”
Lu shi looked at her daughter’s determined eyes and felt slightly reassured.
Yao shi, Sun shi, the old taitai and Hua Chu Yu sat outside for a while. When they saw Hua Xi Wan and Lu shi walk out of the inner room, they pretended not to see Lu shi’s slightly red eyes. With a few words, they changed the topic and no one mentioned depressing matters.
When the Hua Family left in the afternoon, Hua Xi Wan sent them off to the main gates. She only turned and went back inside after the Hua Family’s carriages disappeared at the corner of the road.
Yan Jin Qiu was by her side. Seeing her expression was low, he reached out to touch her palm. Before he could speak, he saw several taijian wearing the attire of the inner palace quickly racing towards him on horseback.
“Xian Wang Ye.” Yan Jin Qiu knew the taijian at the front. This was one of the Emperor’s attendants.
“Wang Ye, the Emperor is seriously ill and has decreed for you to enter the palace.” The taijian at the front raised an imperial decree above his head and presented it to Yan Jin Qiu.
Yan Jin Qiu looked at the taijian and then at the imperial decree in his hand. He slowly said, “Let’s go.”
He neatened his robes and looked at the nondescript attendants who were following behind him. He smiled at Hua Xi Wan. “Go into the room and rest. I will be back very soon.”
Hua Xi Wan’s brow creased. Her mouth opened, but in the end, she only nodded lightly. “All right, come back soon.”
She watched as Yan Jin Qiu rode a date-colored horse in the direction of the imperial place. She turned and whispered in Bai Xia’s year. After Bai Xia left, she said harshly, “From now, close the gates of the wang fu. Without my permission, no one can enter or leave. If anyone disobeys…”
Her gaze swept across everyone present and she said with iciness, “No mercy!”
This was the first time the servants of the wang fu saw Wang Fei so stern. It was also the first time they learned that the indolent wang fei had such a cold and cruel side.