Joy of Life - Chapter 700 - A Small Gift[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:50:47]
Chapter 700: A Small Gift
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Led by Hong Zhu, Fan Xian walked silently through the Palace. The eunuchs and serving girls along they saw along the way all turned their bodies to greet him. Occasionally, there would be new people who had not been in the Palace for long who did not react in time and were scolded by ranking elders. Fan Xian didn’t have any energy to acknowledge it and just kept walking.
Many people in the Palace saw Hong Zhu in front of him and remembered that the Emperor had raised young Eunuch Hong back up again. It was probably to irritate Sir Fan junior. Unexpectedly, Fan Xian did not talk to him in a stern and severe voice. On the contrary, he chatted with him calmly. Hong Zhu also maintained a respectful appearance. They seemed very harmonious.
Sir Fan junior and young Eunuch Hong were both uncommon people. Looking at this scene, everyone sighed in their hearts. Probably only people who could hide their true feelings so well were able to protect their lives and careers amidst the unpredictable changes in the Qing court and Palace. Actually, the affairs of the world were wondrous. In the eyes of the people, Fan Xian and Hong Zhu’s conversation on the way out of the Palace was an act for others to see. No one thought that Fan Xian and Hong Zhu were actually talking.
They both spoke in low voices. Their expressions were natural. Each played their part well, but the content of their conversation was very unusual.
“These days, the Emperor quite likes those dishes,” Hong Zhu said calmly with his head down. “The Imperial Academy of Medicine had checked. They are ingredients very good for strengthening one’s foundations.”
Fan Xian’s eyes looked straight ahead and did not look at Hong Zhu’s face. He grunted quietly without any change to his expression. Three years ago, when the rebellion was quelled and its influence was gradually lessening, Hong Zhu was transferred out of the Cold Palace. At first, he helped in the royal kitchen. He had once been well-regarded. Combined with his own cleverness, as well as Fan Xian’s secret help, not only did his days pass easily, he had gradually gathered new power in his hands.
Later, Hong Zhu followed Eunuch Dai on his duties. This did not weaken his influence on the royal kitchen. The things Hong Zhu was saying to Fan Xian now were a little secret between the two of them. More accurately, it was Fan Xian’s little secret because even Hong Zhu did not know why Sir Fan junior wanted to influence the ingredients the royal kitchen delivered to the Emperor.
Hong Zhu was not worried that Fan Xian would poison the Emperor. In the Royal Palace, it was impossible to do. Regardless of whether it was a slow-working poison or an aggressive one, there were specialists who screened for them. Additionally, there was the taster’s segment. The possibility of a poisoning was basically non-existent.
Furthermore, the ingredients that had been added through Hong Zhu’s secret influence had received the Imperial Academy of Medicine’s strong approval, particularly the celery that grew in the south because it was cool in nature and tasted sweet. It had the effect of cooling heat and removing irritation. It could cure a sudden heat wave, vexation, and thirstiness. It had been strongly recommended by the doctors of the Imperial Academy of Medicine to add to the Emperor’s daily dishes.
Hong Zhu lowered his head slightly and glanced at Fan Xian but did not see his true emotions. He wondered, For Sir Fan junior to worry about the Emperor’s health in present circumstances, was he truly a loyal official and filial son? Unfortunately, Sir Fan junior was a sentimental person. It would probably be difficult for him to be released from Director Chen’s death and obtain the Emperor’s affection.
It was not far from the royal study to the path leading out of the Palace. Fan Xian had already received an edict and was allowed to go to Shufang Palace to visit Yi Guipin and the Third Prince. Thus, Hong Zhu led him around toward the direction of the inner palace. The reason the Emperor issued such a kind edict was so perhaps Fan Xian would truly become a person of leisure in Jingdou. It would be difficult for him to have future opportunities to enter the Palace.
Approaching Shufang Palace, Fan Xian heard a young woman’s voice ring out inside. He furrowed his brows slightly, wondering when had the Palace suddenly become so lively? Turning back, he looked Hong Zhu and asked, “Did the wives and young ladies of Duke’s Alley come into the Palace to give their greetings today? How come there are so many people?”
“Their girls are waiting to been chosen. They have to wait until the next month of the selection from various provinces, so these dozen women will be staying in the Palace for a bit longer. Lady Yi had probably summoned them to talk about some manners,” Hong Zhu replied quietly.
Hearing this news, Fan Xian’s did not recover his wits for a moment. These days, he had been under house arrest in Jingdou. Later, he had been busy with secret plans. He had completely not noticed the rumors in Jingdou about choosing concubines. It was not until now that he knew the Emperor was preparing to choose wives again.
Just like Yi Guipin and the Third Prince, it did not take Fan Xian long before he sensed the intention hidden behind the choosing. He furrowed his brows together and knew that not only was he moving, the Emperor was also moving. Furthermore, it was fine if he didn’t move. Moving would take a long time and give him a powerful warning.
There was a glimmer of dazedness an apology in his heart, the apology was for the mother and son in Shufang Palace. In this world, there were not many people who truly trusted a powerful assistance outside the Palace like that mother and son did. Such trust was rare. Yet, they now had to face unpredictable danger because of him. This made Fan Xian feel uneasy.
Watching Fan Xian stand silently in front of Shufang Palace, Hong Zhu thought that it was inappropriate for him to visit Yi Guipin and the Third Prince while the women were inside. Quietly, he asked, “This is my fault. Would you like to come back another day?”
Fan Xian smiled and said, “Why not go in? Not according to the rules? I have never been one for upholding roles. The Emperor has given me an edict, so I will go have a look. If I don’t, who knows when my next opportunity to enter the Palace will be?”
As he spoke, Fan Xian was already taking steps toward Shufang Palace. The two eunuchs standing guard at the door had come with the choosing women and did not recognize Fan Xian. Seeing a young man wearing a plain robe charging like this into the Palace, they couldn’t help but jump in fright. Although they didn’t recognize Fan Xian, those who could stay in the Palace were all clever people. So, they did not obstruct him. One followed behind Fan Xian and greeted him in a low voice. The other ran into Shufang Palace to notify the people inside.
Entering Shufang Palace, he only heard a wave of panicked cries and the sound of clothing being straightened. There were also curious gazes.
Fan Xian came too quickly. The eunuch did not have time to say anything. The women in the palace did not have time to get ready before he arrived. At once, countless gazes focused on his body. The customs within the Qing Kingdom were comparatively progressive. Although this was deep in the Royal Palace and men and women must be careful of themselves, the sudden appearance of a young man only made the women give cries of surprise in low voices. There were none who sought death out of embarrassment or cried out loud.
Amidst the forcefully suppressed panic, Fan Xian smiled warmly and bowed toward Yi Guipin in the center. “Auntie’s place is very lively today.”
This title was informal and against etiquette, but Fan Xian had already formally split from the Emperor in the royal study. Although the Emperor still had a death grip on his weakness and he could not do anything, when it came to his nature, he no longer wanted to hide anything. He faintly emanated a carefree attitude.
Yi Guipin was Lady Liu’s young sister. When Fan Xian had entered the Palace for the first time, she had immediately liked the delicate and pretty little boy. Now that Fan Xian had grown up, their relationship had long become close. Usually, in private, Yi Guipin often wanted Fan Xian to call her aunt. Unexpectedly, Fan Xian had now called her this in front of so many people in the palace.
Yi Guipin smiled slightly and said, “You’re all grown up. How can you still be so cheeky?” These words appeared unhappy, but they were just a warning and an inquiry. Fan Xian looked at her, shook his head, and smiled. A glimmer of worry appeared between Yi Guipin’s brows. Fan Xian’s behavior was strange. It looked like although the conversation in the royal study had not gone as badly as possible, it had not gone well.
Thinking of this, a large rock seemed to press down heavily on Yi Guipin’s heart. Forcing a smile, she said, “Why made you come visit today?”
Everyone in the Palace knew Fan Xian’s purpose for entering the Palace. This was nothing but superficial words. Fan Xian explained briefly. Xing’er had already brought over an embroidered stool. Once a young serving girl, Xing’er was now the most experienced serving girl in Shufang Palace whose words carried the most weight. Fan Xian looked at her delicate face and smiled. He even found a moment to chat with her. Only then did he turn to Yi Guipin. “Other than seeing the Emperor today, the Emperor has also ordered me to check the Third Prince’s homework.”
The worry deepened between Yi Guipin’s brows. She wondered if this was a farewell. But, the young lady of the Fan family was in the palace, and there were hundreds of people inside the Fan manor. Did Fan Xian actually dare to leave? For a moment, she couldn’t help but have many things she wanted to ask Fan Xian. However, the women present were all looking curiously at this young man. So, she was unable to speak. Yi Guipin felt frustrated and wished she could chase these teenage girls out of the palace.
Fan Xian looked at her expression and knew that she had misunderstood. With a smile, he said, “Where is the prince?” He was looking for an excuse to leave. After all, he was sitting in a room of the Emperor’s future concubines, which were essentially his stepmothers. Fan Xian had only wanted to use this opportunity to see the hidden purpose of the choosing and did not want to stay for long.
“Ping’er is in the back. You can go by yourself.” Yi Guipin had a bit of a headache and shook her head as she looked at him. Xing’er looked at Fan Xian and smiled. She then led him toward the back. Hong Zhu followed right behind. This action, in the eyes of those watching, was the Emperor ordering Hong Zhu to keep watch on Fan Xian.
After Fan Xian walked to the back of the palace, the atmosphere immediately relaxed. From the moment he entered, the dozen choosing women forced themselves to remain calm after their slight panic. They had to demonstrate the manner of the royal family in front of Yi Guipin. However, seeing the face of the young and handsome official and his carefree attitude, how could these 14- and 15-year-old girls, who rarely even crossed the threshold of their homes, remain completely calm?
They were curious as to why a young man dressed as a commoner was able to wander as he wished in the strictly guarded Royal Palace. After listening to his conversation with Yi Guipin, even the least attentive women had guessed that this person was Sir Fan junior.
It was difficult to suppress. What had been just an extraordinarily pretty appearance immediately shone more brightly in the eyes of these women. Regardless of whether it was the daring ones, virtuous ones, straightforward ones, or quiet ones, they all took an extra look at Fan Xian.
After Fan Xian left, a daring woman, who was from the Duke’s Alley, finally asked with simple-minded delight, “Mistress, was that Sir Fan junior?”
Receiving Yi Guipin’s nod of confirmation, these women couldn’t resist but whisper among themselves. After all, they were still young girls. After being stuck in the Palace for a few days, they suddenly met the legendary Sir Fan junior. It was no wonder they were so excited to have even tossed the admonishments their family gave them before entering the palace and the lessons the nannies taught them these few days in the Palace to the back of their minds.
However, there were a few lofty women who sat calmly to the side. They had noticed something odd with Fan Xian’s clothing. Furthermore, these women saw the young lady of the Fan manor in the royal study as their greatest enemy. In comparison, they were not moved in seeing Fan Xian. On the contrary, they felt a faint enmity.
“Although such things were said, the Emperor still let you visit Shufang Palace…” In a common carriage, Lin Wan’er looked at the tired Fan Xian beside her. Quietly, she said, “The concubine choosing matter appeared suddenly. I think His Majesty is just warning you. He doesn’t have any objections toward the Third Prince, so don’t be too worried.”
When the husband and wife were alone, Fan Xian always referred to the Emperor as old man Emperor while Lin Wan’er referred to him, the man who had held her as a child, as Uncle Emperor. It couldn’t be considered treasonous, but there was a sense of domesticity. Now, Lin Wan’er had directly called him His Majesty. Fan Xian knew that his wife knew his mood was very bad.
“It is also a warning to the officials of the court to not assume that the future Qing Kingdom will belong to the Third Prince.” He smiled and said, “Although the Emperor is getting old, his wild ambitions remain. Who knows if his strength remains?”
“What did you talk about with Chengping then?” Lin Wan’er gently pulled aside the curtain of the carriage and looked at the autumn Jingdou street view outside.