‘Widow Li sent me to receive one thousand silver taels,’ the young beggar said.
Princess Kang Hua’s eyes were on the verge of falling out. For the last few days a different young beggar delivered copies of the same two letters and demanded one thousand taels each morning. Each morning she was furious, anxious and helpless. She sent a servant to follow the young beggars but the servant would always report the same bad news, the young beggars would disappear amongst the crowded imperial city.
Princess Kang Hua’s fears ate her silver taels and her health, she fell ill.
Yan Shi Ting didn’t understand why her mother who was always healthy was suddenly ill.
That day the owner of Lady Su’s dressmaker’s shop, Gentleman Su visited the Yan Manor and showed Yan Shi Ting new fabrics and dress samples.
‘Lady Yan, I personally came here to show you the new fabrics that ninth prince’s wife doesn’t own,’ Gentleman Su said.
Yan Shi Ting knew Gentleman Su wanted to gain her favor. She was frustrated to death that Gentleman Su used to show the worthless Yan Shi Ning new fabrics and dresses before her. She was going to be the crown prince’s wife, how could she lose to Yan Shi Ning who was married to an unfavored prince?
‘I’ll buy all the new fabrics you brought here this morning,’ Yan Shi Ting said. ‘Wait here, I’ll go get a paper note to pay you.’
Yan Shi Ting walked to her mother’s room and asked her mother for one thousand silver taels.
‘Shi Ting, you have enough dresses for you to wear after your wedding,’ Princess Kang Hua said. ‘Why do you need to buy more new fabrics?’
‘Mother, I love the new fabrics,’ Yan Shi Ting sulked.
Princess Kang Hua lost most of her silver taels but she couldn’t tell her daughter the truth. ‘Shi Ting, be reasonable!’
Yan Shi Ting was used to getting everything she wanted so her mother’s refusal hurt her ears. ‘Mother, it’s only fabrics. Why did you say I’m being unreasonable? These past few days you have been acting strange. Last time the owner of the jade shop visited, you said I could buy as many jade bracelets that I wanted. Mother, if you’re not going to let me spend the silver taels then who are you saving the silver taels for?’
Princess Kang Hua slapped her daughter’s cheek. ‘Shi Ting, close your mouth!’
Yan Shi Ting touched her sore cheek and cried, no one had ever hit her before.
‘Mother, you hit me!’ Yan Shi Ting shrieked and ran out of her mother’s chamber.
‘Princess, what happened?’ old nursemaid asked. ‘Why did you hit second mistress?’
‘What do I do now?’ Princess Kang Hua asked.
‘Princess, wake up,’ old nursemaid said. ‘You can’t fall like this.’
‘That’s right,’ Princess Kang Hua muttered. ‘I can’t fall like this… I didn’t do anything wrong! It’s all their fault! Why should I be scared of them?’
‘Princess, that’s right,’ old nursemaid said. ‘You shouldn’t be scared of them.’
Princess Kang Hua felt her usual cold arrogance returned.
Gentleman Su acted disappointed Yan Shi Ting changed her mind and didn’t want to buy the new fabrics. But on the way to Pei Jin’s manor, his grin was wider than the new fabrics next to him.
At Pei Jin’s manor, Gentleman Su discussed Princess Kang Hua’s situation with Pei Jin and Bei Dou.
‘It appears Princess Kang Hua is a pauper,’ Gentleman Su said. ‘She’s paranoid and in a depressed state. Earlier I saw Lady Yan ran out of Princess Kang Hua’s chamber crying. Xiao Jin, indeed you know how to use another person’s dagger to slowly cut flesh off.’
‘I didn’t do anything,’ Pei Jin said innocently.
Gentleman Su laughed. ‘You’re right. You didn’t do anything. You only found some young beggars to do it for you. Today one of the young beggars asked me why I didn’t ask them to do it three times a day. Morning, afternoon and evening instead of once a day.’
‘Once a day is enough,’ Pei Jin said. ‘Anymore I fear Princess Kang Hua can’t cope. I need her alive for the crown prince and Yan Shi Ting’s wedding day. It’s more amusing to see her slowly rot.’
‘Luckily I haven’t done anything to offend you,’ Gentleman Su said. ‘Otherwise I wouldn’t know I was dying slowly.’
‘Of course you have offended me,’ Pei Jin said. ‘Each time you send a new dress here, you raise the price.’
‘What offence?’ Gentleman Su asked. ‘My money is your money. Think of it as me helping invest your money. Look at the profits I’ve given you all these years. But you haven’t even thanked me once. Of course after you succeed, remember to let me become the treasurer. At that time it doesn’t matter how much money is in the palace, I’m certain I’ll help you double it.’
Pei Jin laughed. ‘Do you think it’s easy to be a treasurer?’
‘How hard can it be?’ Gentleman Su asked. ‘I think you’re father-in-law does have brain. What do you want me to do next? Do you want me to send gifts to the Yan Manor?’
‘For now let my father-in-law find out on his own,’ Pei Jin said.
‘I understand,’ Gentleman Su said. ‘I’ll choose a good day to show the accounting books of dresses, shoes and jewellery Lady Yan bought. It’s a large sum, Yan Jing wouldn’t have that many silver taels. He’ll ask me to look for Princess Kang Hua… she’ll ask me to look for Yan Jing and he’ll wonder why she’s a pauper. What about Lady Yan’s fake pregnancy?’
‘I want Yan Shi Ting’s pregnancy to be exposed in front of imperial father,’ Pei Jin said. ‘So I need to wait until the crown prince and Yan Shi Ting’s wedding day. But I haven’t thought of a way to expose her without leaving a trace.’
‘You can borrow someone else’s dagger,’ Bei Dou said.
‘Whose dagger?’ Pei Jin asked.
‘Xiao Dou is right,’ Gentleman Su said. ‘How can this news spread to seventh prince?’
One of Pei Jin’s guards, Xiao Ping entered Bei Dou’s chamber.
‘Ninth prince, I found out who owns Fu Qing,’ Xiao Ping said.
‘Who?’ Bei Dou asked.
‘Seventh prince,’ Xiao Ping said.
Pei Jin smiled and looked at Bei Dou. ‘Bei Dou, it appears tonight you’ll need to climb walls.’
Bei Dou’s goose bumps warned him that he would also be taking three warm baths that night.
Yan Shi Ning didn’t ask what Pei Jin did during the day. All she knew was the MF Pei Jin ate her in bed from night to dawn. Each morning she would wake up with a sore waist, back, neck and thighs. After a few nights rolling on the bed with him, she began to adjust to the different positions. But she hadn’t adjusted to waking up late in the mornings, neither did her temper. Because she overheard a new rumor spread throughout the imperial city, gentle ninth prince’s wife loves to sleep and doesn’t wake up until midday.
Yan Shi Ning thought her gentle lady image was ruined. How could a gentle lady wake up at midday? So that night she carried a blanket and pillow to sleep in a different chamber. But the following morning she woke up and saw the MF Pei Jin laid next to her. Afterward he ate her until midday.
Finally Yan Shi Ning couldn’t hold back her temper and gave Pei Jin three conditions if he wanted to sleep with her.
‘Only once a day?’ Pei Jin asked.
‘Yes,’ Yan Shi Ning said.
‘Each time no longer than half a shichen hour?’ Pei Jin asked.
‘Yes,’ Yan Shi Ning said.
Pei Jin held Yan Shi Ning’s shoulders and shook her body. ‘Wife, wake up. Don’t dream anymore.’
Yan Shi Ning felt pitiful, day or night there were red kiss marks all over her body.
Pei Jin pulled the blanket over his and Yan Shi Ning’s naked bodies. He watched her fall asleep. He knew she wanted a carefree life so he wanted to give her a carefree life. He was willing to silently help her chase away her shadows.
End of Chapter Thirty-Four