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美人 meiren: lit. "beautiful person, beauty"; a lower-ranked imperial concubine
Chapter Fifty-One: The Foolish Crown Prince
Hou shi now completely hated the Crown Prince and Crown Princess, but when she finished her confinement and saw the Crown Princess again, she was still the virtuous and considerate Sheng Junwang Fei. Even though her complexion was slightly pale, when one saw her smiling state, no one would feel that she was still in the middle of great sorrow.
The Double Ninth Festival was a day to go somewhere high to sightsee. In order to show his benevolent and filial heart, Qilong Emperor made a special trip in person, with the Empress, to a temple in the Jing suburbs to pray for the Empress Dowager. In their procession were the junior members of the Yan Clan, as praying for the Empress Dowager was also filial for these juniors.
When they reached the Three Pure Monastery, the womenfolk got off according to their rank. Hua Xi Wan was a qinwang fei, so she was in the ranks of the qinwang fei. Not long after she got off, she saw Hou shi and the other womenfolk talking together.
After almost a month, Hou shi looked thinner, but her eyes were exceptionally alert. Those black and shiny eyes were also scary to look at.
This caused Hua Xi Wan to recall the rumors that had spread a few days ago that said Hou shi was wounded and would have an extremely difficult time getting pregnant in the future. This rumor was unproven, but if it was true, it was a calamity for Hou shi.
As the legitimate wife, if she could not get pregnant, then she would only have two choices. One was she would adopt a child from within the clan, but the Emperor and her husband would both have to agree to this. The other was for a concubine to get pregnant, and then remove the mother while keeping the child to be raised as her own.
But no secret would ever remain a secret in this world. Who could guarantee that this child she raised would not learn that their birth mother was killed by their adopted mother? Even if this child really did not now, which woman did not want her own child rather than raise the child of her husband and another woman?
When Hua Xi Wan thought of this, her brow creased and she moved her gaze away from Hou shi. Turning, she walked together with the shizi fei of Xu Wang Fu. For her, it was more appropriate for her to be seen together in public with the shizi fei of Xu Wang Fu which was neutral.
Ning shi seemed to know what Hua Xi Wan intended, but she did not refuse Hua Xi Wan. She even expressed closeness. "Wang Fei's complexion seems to be even better."
"Really?" Hua Xi Wan rubbed her face and said with a light laugh, "Maybe it is because all I do is eat and drink, and am too idle?"
Ning shi saw this and smiled with her. Inside, she felt some admiration. She was the shizi fei of Xu Wang Fu, but there was still an authoritative mother-in-law above her and she did not have a son. She needed to be very careful in the fu and did not dare to be careless. She didn't even dare think about living like Xian Wang Fei.
"It is good fortune to be able to eat and drink well." Ning shi turned to look at Hou shi nearby and said with pity, "If one cannot do this, then it is a hard toil."
Knowing the other was feeling sympathy for Hou shi, Hua Xi Wan sighed. "Women never have it easy."
Ning shi heard this and said with a smile, "Where do you get this from? Right now, who in Jing does not know that Xian Wang is deeply in love with you, gentle and considerate, and doesn't even have one concubine in the fu. If even you feel that being a woman is difficult, how can the rest of us live?"
Hua Xi Wan smiled and said neutrally, "Perhaps you're right."
Ning shi actually understood that the Xian couple might not be as in love as the rumors had it. Even if it was so, then what? There were countless women in the world in love with their husbands, but who praised them? If there was even one man who was going to remain true to one person, then it seemed to be a miracle.
The women that men praised were virtuous, generous, or ones who gave their all for the men. The world was so unfair, and women had it so difficult.
Thinking about this, Ning shi's smile faded. She said with dispiritedness, "You are right, women do not have it easy."
Hua Xi Wan looked with surprise at Ning shi. The feeling Ning shi always gave her was of a person of few words and of calm temperament. But a woman who could say these words should not have such a personality.
"There are some words that I am not afraid to say to you." Ning shi saw Hua Xi Wan look at her and said with a smile, "We are all common people and know how difficult it is for women, but we cannot change anything. There is nothing different about us compared to others—we are just drunkards who think we are sober."
Hua Xi Wan's mind shook and then she said in realization, "Yes, how are we different from others?" She had been here for more than a decade, but other than having another lifetime of memories, what was different about her compared to the other noblewomen? Gold clothing, jade food, surrounded by servants, scheming in the inner compound—she did not lack any of this. It was a pity that she had lived one more life and could not see as clearly as Ning shi, a woman not yet twenty.
"There is a day when this will get better." Hua Xi Wan smiled. "Even if it is not now, there is nothing in the world that remains unchanging." Tens of thousands of years ago, society had been matriarchal.
As they idly chatted, they walked into the Three Pure Monastery. The sexes split up in the monastery to pray, the men at the front and the females in the back.
The rituals of Taoism were naturally structured, and it was not a matter of just bowing a few times. Following other people, Hua Xi Wan performed the entire set. She took a fragrant pouch from the tray the Taoist was holding. It was called a good fortune pouch that had been blessed and was said to ward evil and bring good fortune.
Hua Xi Wan did not believe too much in this, but she still had Bai Xia hold it. Then she listened to an old Taoist called Profound Development Spiritual Master talk. She listened for a while. While she felt that the things were slightly duplicitous, some words were reasonable.
In order to avoid falling asleep, Hua Xi Wan drank a few cups of tea to keep her mind alert. When the taijian came to report that they were about to start the journey back to the city, she finally released a breath. It seemed that she had no fate with Taoism.
The Three Pure Monastery was very large and seemed to be a monastery that was specifically for the use of the Imperial Family. The things inside did not seem luxurious but carried the dignified and ethereal air of Taoism. Hua Xi Wan admired the scenery on the way and felt that it was slightly interesting.
When she came out of the door, Hua Xi Wan was still walking with Ning shi. Because there were people ahead and behind them, the two did not speak as much as they had when they entered. They only talked about which store had the best rouge and hairpins.
Just as the womenfolk were about to go through the main gate, a scream suddenly came from a room on the side. It startled all the womenfolk to stop walking.
"What has happened?" The Empress who was walking at the front looked at the palace attendant whose face was ashen in fright. "How can you be so panicked on the holy ground of the Three Pure Ones—where is your etiquette?!"
The palace attendant knelt with a bang in front of the Empress, her entire body shaking and unable to speak a word.
The guard saw that the situation was not right and took out their weapons as they flowed in front of the little room. As a result, the scene inside frightened them so much that they wanted to take out their own eyes.
The captain of the troop first felt hopeless because they could be killed to keep this secret. Then he looked at the brothers behind him who had gone through hardships for so many years with him. He gritted his teeth and turned to walk towards the Empress. He used a volume that was not loud but could be heard by the other womenfolk of the Imperial House to say, "Empress, this soldier and the other guards have found Crown Prince… and Li meiren are lying on the chaise."
Rather than being killed by the Empress, it was better for them to expose the matter. Right now, there were so many of the womenfolk from the Imperial House present. Even if the Empress felt discontent, she could only tolerate this. It was nothing if he was killed, but there were so many brothers here. Everyone had their families and dependents, and they could not all die together for the foolish Crown Prince.
The Crown Prince and a woman of the Emperor had fainted on a chaise together? This was a holy ground of Taoism, and today was the day when the Emperor had come to pray for the Empress Dowager. Yet the Crown Prince and one of the newly favored consorts of the Emperor were unconscious together. How could there be such a coincidence in this world?
Also, it was uncertain if they were unconscious. Look at how terrible the face of the soldier was. If they were truly unconscious, would the guards have such terrible expressions?
Hua Xi Wan looked at the Empress' face that had rapidly drained of blood and sighed in sympathy. The Crown Prince was one who was foolish and continued to dig holes for his father and mother. He kept on going on the bad path and no one could surpass him.
"Do not speak nonsense—how can the Crown Prince and Li meiren be together? If you do not close your mouth, be careful of your head," Sheng Junwang Fei suddenly said harshly. "Quick, go in and check again."
After saying this, she ignored how ugly the Empress' expression was and said directly, "Empress, why don't we also go in to see what is going on? Maybe there is a misunderstanding?"
The Empress was unable to breathe. Looking at Hou shi's considerate smile, she wanted to slap the other, but she could not do that.
Fortunately, Princess Rui He reacted the quickest and responded, "There must be a misunderstanding in this matter. It is not good for us womenfolk to go see. Why don't we have this captain go see and clarify the misunderstanding?"
The word "clarify" was emphasized. Princess Rui He was warning the captain to recognize the circumstances. Even if the captain was discontent, he could not say no. But before he could walk close, Li meiren suddenly charged out of the room with disheveled clothing and heavily crashed onto the wall. With a muffled sound, the blood sprayed the entire wall.
The wall had been freshly painted to welcome the Emperor's arrival for prayer. Li meiren's blood covered a large part of the wall and also stained her pink dress.
Li meiren had not said a word, but it won over tens of thousands of words. Her suicide against the wall was a silent complaint that caused the Empress to be unable to suppress the matter.
As Li meiren fell down, some of the womenfolk in the Imperial House screamed and those less courageous even fainted.
Princess Rui He felt extremely cold. She listened to the screams in the surroundings and had a feeling that the trouble would be major this time.
Forcing his father's consort—if a matter like this spread, the Crown Prince… would be over.
Hua Xi Wan looked at Ning shi who was swaying beside her and started to sway as well. She closed her eyes and then dropped.
"Wang Fei, Wang Fei!" Bai Xia reached out to hold Hua Xi Wan and said in fear, "Wang Fei, what is wrong?"
Bai Xia's acting skills would receive a full score, Hua Xi Wan thought as she was supported by her servant girls.
Then she heard the worried shouts of Ning shi's servant girls.
All right, beside every mistress who could act, there would be servant girls who would cheer her on. One should praise their professionalism.
In her mind, the bloody flower that bloomed on the wall was unusually clear, so clear that she could draw with her eyes closed how the blood had sprayed.
Translator Ramblings: Retaliation comes. Hua Xi Wan really trained her girls well.
The title of the chapter in Chinese is “坑爹太子”. 坑 can mean a hole, a pit, to harm others by scheming or cunning. In this chapter, the crown prince harmed his father in two different ways.