This chapter has been brought to you by me, Adnana, and Vivie.
氏 shi: clan/maiden name
王 wang: short for qinwang or first-rank prince; also called wang ye, i.e. "His [Your] Royal Highness"
王妃 wang fei: princess consort; the official wife of a (qin)wang or prince
通房 tongfang: the lowest rank of concubine
郡王爷 junwang ye: His [Your] Royal Highness
堂嫂 tang sao: father's brother's (older) son's wife
府 fu: compound or estate
太监 taijian: court or palace eunuch
嫡 di: child born of the official wife, not of a concubine
亲王妃 qinwang fei: the official wife of a qinwang
Chapter Forty-Three: Showing Love
Hou shi seemed not to care about what the Empress Dowager had said. She said with a smile, "Imperial Grandmother, I think that with Xian Wang Ye's love toward Xian Wang Fei, he would not bear for her to feel any hardship."
"This is good, this is good." The Empress Dowager looked at Yan Jin Qiu with a smile. "In their entire life, women just want to have good days. If the husband gives more love and care, that is right."
Hou shi lowered her face, her smile still the same. "Imperial Grandmother is right."
Hua Xi Wan looked at Hou shi and looked at the Empress Dowager whose face was crinkled in a smile. She learned a new skill—namely, to remain unchanging when encountering all changes. No matter what moves you have, I will not move. This was the best plan.
She felt that there were many things she had to learn. Even now, she could not grasp the moves of the Empress Dowager who was like a thousand year old fox. This one would not play according to rationality and would occasionally give sneak attacks that people could not guard against.
She only hoped that this person's like for Yan Jin Qiu was true. Otherwise, if she was tripped up, she wouldn't even know how she was tripped up.
Yan Jin Qiu smiled at the Empress Dowager. When Hua Xi Wan wasn't paying attention, he pinched her finger and Hua Xi Wan glared at him.
The Empress Dowager noticed their little movements and said with a smile, "Seeing you juniors have good relationships, I, this old woman, feel happy inside."
Hou shi had a smile on her face as she turned to look at Yan Bo Yi beside her. Her heart suddenly felt empty. People were probably like this. She had clearly been very satisfied before that he only had two tongfang and no other women. Compared to the other people of the Imperial Family, he was unusually considerate. But now that she saw Hua Xi Wan and Yan Jin Qiu in great harmony, and Yan Jin Qiu being so considerate to Hua Xi Wan and not having any other woman, she felt that she still hadn't gotten enough. It would be wonderful if Junwang Ye could be as considerate as Xian Wang.
"Tang Sao?" Hua Xi Wan saw that Hou shi was wandering off in her thoughts and called her in a light voice. "Imperial Grandmother is asking you what you recently like to eat."
"Imperial Grandmother, grandson-wife does not have any preferences, and likes eating sweet, sour and spicy." Hou shi smiled gratefully at Hua Xi Wan and then said, "Like today, I like eating sour, and tomorrow spicy. Even I do not know what is going on with my tastes."
"It is good fortune to be able to eat. Now that you are pregnant, you are eating for two. If you couldn't eat, wouldn't your body collapse?" The Empress Dowager had not had a child but she had seen many pregnant women in the palace, so she knew a lot about what to pay attention to during pregnancy. After she told all this to Hou shi, she said, "The first child of a woman is very important and you have to hold it. As long as you can give birth to your first child, the other children will come quickly and smoothly like dumplings into a pot, one after the next. If you cannot keep your fist, you won't just harm your body, you will have routine miscarriages. At that time, nothing can be done even if you cry. "
"Grandson-wife will remember Imperial Grandmother's words." Hou shi had just discovered that she was pregnant and had not asked yet about many things. Hearing the Empress Dowager say this, she instantly became nervous and her hand unconsciously moved to her belly.
Hua Xi Wan saw her nervous state and sighed inside on her behalf. Even though she had not interacted many times with Hou shi, she knew that Hou shi was an extremely intelligent woman who did not lack in appearance, skill, posture and body. If she was a man, she would take very good care of a woman like this because if you were good to her, she would be good to you in a manner where she would cut out her heart for you.
It was a pity that such a considerate woman had married into the Imperial House and encountered a block of wood that did not have emotions. Maybe she was the kind of woman who Yan Jin Qiu needed, and what Hou shi needed was a man like Yan Jin Qiu.
Thinking about this, Hua Xi Wan turned to look at Yan Jin Qiu and shook her head. However, who they encountered was Qi Long Emperor who was a muddled matchmaker. It was such a pity.
Yan Jin Qiu was puzzled by Hua Xi Wan's gaze. Just as he was preparing to ask, he saw her turn her head away. Because there were other people present, he could only touch his nose and prepare to ask when they returned to the fu.
The Mid-Autumn Banquet was about to start. The two couples came out of the Empress Dowager's Fu Shou Palace and moved towards the banquet venue.
Hua Xi Wan helped support Hou shi and did not walk quickly. The two laughed and chatted along the way, and outsiders who thought the two fu were not on good terms were puzzled. Didn't they say that the two fu were at odds? Why did it look as though they had a very good relationship?
No matter if they really had a good relationship or if they were acting, the two families appeared very harmonious. As to whether or not the relationship was truly good, that had nothing to do with them. In any case, while these people fought, they, the idle members of the Imperial House, would watch the spectacle.
This year's Mid-Autumn Banquet was about the same as any other year. There was nothing new. At most, the musicians were changed, the dancers were changed, but the people sitting were still the same people, and the proceedings were still the same. Everyone would flatter each other and then shout that the Emperor was wise. As to anything else… what else could occur at a banquet like this?
Just as everyone was waiting in boredom for the Mid-Autumn Banquet to end, a little something unexpected occurred. Qi Long Emperor saw that a dancer's Cold Palace Dance was very beautiful and took her into his inner palace.
When the Emperor gave the order to take the dancer into the inner palace, the Empress still had a dignified smile on her face. Even her hand that was holding the wine cup did not quiver at all, as though this man who was attracted to other women was not her husband. She seemed like a grand decoration, good to look at but without emotion.
Hua Xi Wan felt slightly suffocated, so she turned her eyes to not look at the most noble male and female in the Great Zhao, and started to sip the fragrant laurel blossom wine.
The light singing of the singer was like a gust of wind that tickled people's hearts, but they could not seem to touch it. When she walked out of the suffocating great hall and stood on the tall balcony made from white jade, there was a round moon hanging on the horizon that was unspeakably cool and clear.
The wind rose and carried a burst of coolness. She went forward a few steps and held onto the white jade handrail. She looked at the guards on the two sides of the stairs dressed in armor. She sighed. She had been here for sixteen years. From childhood, she learned the manners and education of a prestigious miss, and many of her habits from her previous life had been ground away. But deep inside, she still remembered that women could resist, could kick aside a man who could not control the lower half of his body, could live more freely.
In this prosperous Great Zhao Dynasty, the respective status of man and woman was close to the Tang Dynasty, but for women, there were too many things that they had to learn helplessness from. Just like the Empress. She was the most noble woman in the world, but she could not live freely.
"Ha." She rubbed her forehead and felt that she was becoming emotional after drinking a few cups of wine. She forgot a saying—you cannot understand what makes someone else happy. It was not a virtue to judge others based on one's own standards.
There were occasionally patrols of guards, taijian and female palace attendants who passed by in the night. They only left behind a thread of light with their lanterns before disappearing into the darkness.
"Why are you standing here—is it too suffocating inside?" A thin cloak was put onto Hua Xi Wan's body, and then a pair of warm hands appeared in front of her to tie the strings for her.
Hua Xi Wan turned around and brushed against Yan Jin Qiu's face. She tilted her head back to look at him and then tied the strings herself. She asked with a shallow smile, "How come you came out?"
"The banquet is about to be finished. I was worried for you and came out to look." Yan Jin Qiu grasped Hua Xi Wan's hand. "Let's go in."
Hua Xi Wan obeyed and followed behind him. Just before she stepped through the doors, she turned back and looked at the clear moon. It was like a devastating beauty that was high up and unobtainable.
"Later, we will return and admire the moon together," Yan Jin Qiu whispered by her ear. "Right now, we need to first greet Emperor and Empress."
Hua Xi Wan showed a smile. She did not speak and just walked forward inside.
In the eyes of other people, their movements showed the love between husband and wife. The man was handsome and the female was beautiful; it was pleasing to see.
"It is very nice to the eyes to have the two together. No wonder the Empress Dowager is partial to them," Xu Wang said in a light voice by Xu Wang Fei's ear. "Don't you think so?"
Xu Wang Fei glanced at him and took away the wine cup in his hand. "Wang Ye, your eyesight is bad in your old age; do not drink so much." This was their nephew and niece-in-law. Could he say such things?
Xu Wang coughed dryly and looked yearningly at the wine cup that Xu Wang Fei had stolen. Then he turned to look at the Xian couple. After observing for a while, he suddenly said mysteriously, "Who do you think that Xian Wang Fei's mouth looks similar to?"
Xu Wang Fei was so angry she pinched him. "Stop talking!" The day the two married and Yan Jin Qiu had lifted the veil, she could see that when this di miss of the marquis fu smiled, she looked very similar to the deceased Xian Qinwang Fei. But could they say that?
"Hey hey, don't be angry." Xu Wang rubbed where he was pinched. "I'm just talking about this to you, not anyone else."
"In the future, you do not need to speak of this to me as well." Xu Wang Fei glanced at Xu Wang. "I am old, my mind is not good. I do not like hearing such baseless things."
Xu Wang: "…"
An old person would have such strength in the pinch—she really had the metal bone claws that were spoken of in the novels. It only hurt but did not wound.
"What is it?" Yan Bo Yi saw Hou shi suddenly stop in her action of drinking soup, and his brow creased. "Is the soup not to your appetite?"
"No," Hou shi said with a smile, "the soup is very good. You should have a taste."
"En." Yan Bo Yi raised the bowl to have a taste. Just as he put it down, he saw Yan Jin Qiu and Hua Xi Wan walk in together hand-in-hand. Looking at the two hands clasped together, Yan Bo Yi's brow creased again. It really was too frivolous.
When the "frivolous" Yan Jin Qiu passed by Yan Bo Yi, the other smiled and gave a greeting. Then the pair sat down together, and their intimate state was something that people envied.
Hou shi's hand was white from where she gripped the soup spoon. A moment later, she said with a smile, "Xian Wang and Xian Wang Fei have such good love."
Yan Bo Yi made a sound of acknowledgement with cold eyes. He clearly was not interested in this topic. In his mind, Hua Xi Wan was an evil woman.
A woman of the inner compound could take someone's life because the other woman had sewn up the sleeve of her husband. No matter how beautiful she was, that was just the outer appearance.
He felt slight pain at losing such a well-trained spy, but seeing Yan Jin Qiu marry such a woman, he was happy to see it. If his wife was not virtuous, his family would not be peaceful.
It was most likely that Lu Zhu who was killed in the past by the manservant of the Crown Prince Fu was also a victim of this Xian Wang Fei. Otherwise, how could there have been so many coincidences? It was a pity that the manservant of the Crown Prince Fu was unfortunate that when he was blinded by lust, he did not see who the other was.
Translator Ramblings: Comparisons of married couples, the old couple, the arranged marriage and arranged marriage version two. Poor Hua Xi Wan, she is very misunderstood.