If JiuZhu had to make a remark on this birthday banquet hosted by Marquis PingYuan’s residence, it would be that the food was quite delicious.
Despite her old age, the Old Madam of the Marquis family sat upright during the whole course of the banquet.
There was not an inkling of declining spirits on her; she still exuded the air of nobility and elegance etched deep into her bones.
Contrarily, the Madam of Marquis PingYuan’s residence was busy entertaining guests.
Her smile seemed to be a bit stiff, probably because she was worried about her seriously ill husband.
From the beginning of the banquet to up until now, Marquis PingYuan only sat with the help of a young manservant for a while before leaving the banquet under some pretext.
He didn’t even touch his wine and meat.
If it wasn’t because she already knew of Marquis PingYuan’s serious illness, JiuZhu would have really doubted whether it was at all true.
The dignified and graceful Old Madam, the responsible Madam who handled everything well, and the worriless children of the Marquis family… Sitting amid the splendor, JiuZhu looked at the Zheng family’s residence bustling with excitement, feeling her blood run cold.
After the meal, the maids brought clean water for the guests to rinse their mouths and wash their hands.
JiuZhu noticed the Old Madam holding Qi Wang’s hand affectionately, with an extremely benevolent smile on her face.
JiuZhu recalled what her two masters had taught her.
Beneath the brightly colored decorations, one might either find an extraordinary treasure or an extremely stinky sludge.
“After eating, go for a walk in the courtyard to aid digestion.” Shen-shi knew that JiuZhu didn’t like watching plays.
She reached out and tidied up JiuZhu’s clothes: “We’ll go back after half an hour.”
“Okay.” JiuZhu was not interested in discussions about poetry or marriage.
She was not in the mood to appreciate the noble Zheng family’s grace too.
Hearing her mother’s words, she immediately got up and went to the bamboo forest nearby.
The bamboo forest was quiet and secluded.
Occasionally, the sound of birds chirping could also be heard.
JiuZhu picked up a few small stones from the ground and sat at the table, playing with the maids.
“Young Miss, this servant used to play this game frequently when she was a child but still can’t keep up with you.” The maids sighed, fully convinced of their loss: “Your fingers are too nimble.”
“This is actually very simple.” JiuZhu threw a few stones in the air and caught them neatly: “You need nothing other than a skilled hand.”
Let alone catching stones, her two masters even let her go everywhere their eyes could see to catch rabbits.
“There is a trick in this.
Come here, I’ll teach you all.” JiuZhu beckoned the maids to sit down: “The movement speed of your hand and your eyes should be the same.
You must not let your eyes be cheated by your hand…”
Behind the bamboo forest, Qi Wang stopped in his tracks when he heard the sound of a woman talking.
Even if he didn’t look, he knew that the speaker was the little guniang from the Ming family.
The wind made the leaves of the bamboo in the forest rustle.
Qi Wang glanced at the distant figure in light pink and turned to leave, intending to leave.
As soon as he turned around, he saw Sun CaiYao walking toward him.
Qi Wang smiled softly: “Miss Sun.”
“Young Miss, can you show it again? My hands can’t catch up with my hands…”
“All right, this is the last time oh.”
Sun CaiYao turned to look into the bamboo forest and bowed slightly to Qi Wang: “Greetings, Your Highness.” She smiled: “I don’t know which ladies are playing in the forest.”
Qi Wang laughed, not saying anything.
He had always been gentle and considerate towards women.
Being looked at like this by his eyes felt as if she was encircled by a gust of warm spring breeze.
Her heart stirred involuntarily.
Once again, the girl’s carefree laughter came from the direction of the forest.
The laughter was very soft, but every time it felt like being pricked by a needle, piercing Sun CaiYao’s heart.
Half a year ago, she dreamt about the future.
But she didn’t whether it was true or not.
In her dream, the carefree girl in the bamboo forest would marry the man before her eyes and become the Qi Wangfei envied by countless women.
Then, the dream turned chaotic.
When she woke up, she only remembered that His Majesty’s most doted son, Chen Wang would die two days before Su Guifei’s birthday.
Qi Wangfei would be spurned by Ning Fei for talking with Su Guifei in private, creating a gradually widening rift between her and Qi Wang’s married life.
Dreams were just dreams; they were not necessarily real.
If this dream was true, it might be a good thing that Ming JiuZhu was not married to Qi Wang now, at least… she would not be spurned by her mother-in-law and face her husband’s cold attitude.
But no matter if what happened in the dream was true or false, she didn’t want Qi Wang and Ming JiuZhu to have any possibility of getting close.
She believed neither in fate nor in dreams; she only believed in herself.
“Young Miss.” ChunFen whispered in JiuZhu’s ear: “There seems to be someone behind the bamboo forest.
I’ll go and see.”
“Don’t go!” JiuZhu quickly grabbed ChunFen’s wrist: “If you don’t know who is speaking or what they’re talking about, you must not go and try to make it out.”
“Curiosity…” JiuZhu stood up and walked in the other direction with ChunFen.
Curiosity can kill people.
Stepping out of the bamboo forest, JiuZhu noticed the middle-aged man with a scar on his chin again.
He was dressed in the clothes of a steward.
When he saw JiuZhu coming out of the forest, he bowed and greeted her with a flattering smile on his face.
Once she passed him, JiuZhu stopped and turned around to look at him.
Seeing this noble person suddenly stop and size him up, the middle-aged man bowed even lower.
“You are the steward of this Marquis residence?”
“Replying to the noble lady, this subordinate is the steward of the outer courtyard of the Marquis residence.
If your honored self needs this subordinate to do anything, please instruct without hesitation.”
JiuZhu looked at him for a long time: “Stand farther away.”
JiuZhu left with her maid.
The steward raised his head in confusion; what did she mean?
He touched the scar on his chin.
Was it so unsightly that it intimidated that noble lady? Recalling the origin of this scar, his expression gradually turned gloomy.
After the guests dispersed, the smile on the Marquis residence’s Old Madam’s face slowly faded.
She gently fiddled with the prayer beads in her hand: “ZhenZhen, I noticed that you seemed to be deliberately avoiding Ming family’s Young Miss?”
Zheng Zhen got up nervously: “Grandmother, there is some misunderstanding between me and Miss Ming.”
The Old Madam nodded lightly: “Although she would be abandoned by the Ming family sooner or later, you must not act discourteously in front of her before Chen Wang loses power.”
If the Ming family really valued this girl, she would not have been fostered in a Daoist temple for so many years under the excuse of her frail physique.
The three brothers of the Ming family had an indifferent approach toward Chen Wang.
His Majesty probably assumed that their marriage would compel the Ming family to support Chen Wang, but he really did not understand the persistence of the scholars in certain aspects.
Just as the three brothers of the Ming family were able to endure being exiled to the bitterly cold land for His Majesty, they were not unable to sacrifice a daughter for that certain virtue.
In terms of talent, virtue, benevolence, and righteousness, Chen Wang was far inferior to Qi Wang.
Furthermore, Su Guifei had been at odds with the scholars and officials for many years.
There was absolutely no possibility of the Ming family supporting Chen Wang.
Since ancient times, it has not been a rare thing to sacrifice a daughter for the glory of the family.
“But Grandmother, no male guest from the Ming family came to attend the banquet today.” Zheng WangNan was a little worried that the Ming family might really get closer to Su Guifei and her son in the future and amplify His Highness Qi Wang’s troubles.
“It doesn’t matter.” The Old Madam smiled: “As long as they don’t support Chen Wang, it’s enough for us.”
“My ears feel hot.” In the carriage, JiuZhu covered her rosy ears: ” Is someone talking bad about me?”
Shen-shi was amused by her daughter’s wronged expression.
She took out a cloak and put it on JiuZhu: “It is getting colder, don’t freeze your ears.”
JiuZhu was baffled; she wasn’t cold ah.
She was sure that someone was talking bad about her.
With the thick cloak draped over her shoulders, JiuZhu felt somewhat stuffy.
She discreetly lifted the curtain a little, only to find Chen Wang on horseback.
“Your Highness, Chen Wang.” JiuZhu stuck her head out and asked with a bright smile, “Where is Your Highness going?”
Seeing the little head sticking out from the carriage, Chen Wang brought his horse closer to the carriage and bent down to look at her: “A bunch of fierce horses has arrived at the Imperial horse farm, so Ben Wang is going to take a look.”
“Oh.” JiuZhu was not very good at riding horses.
She was even less interested in those proud and fierce horses, so she withdrew her head almost by half.
“Since we met, Ben Wang will take you to choose a horse too.” Chen Wang felt a bit tired from bending over and talking, so he simply jumped off the horse: “There are many cute little foals and ponies at the Imperial horse farm.
I’ll give you whichever you like.”
“Your Highness Chen Wang.”
Hearing the voice of another woman coming from the carriage, Chen Wang was stunned.
After a moment, a woman dressed in luxurious attire walked out of the carriage and greeted him.
Wasn’t this the little girl’s mother, his future mother-in-law?
Chen Wang thought for a while, let go of the rein in his hand, and cupped his hand in Shen-shi’s direction, bowing a little.
Shen-shi turned sideways to skip the greeting, and glanced at her daughter, who was still sitting inside the carriage with half of her head outstretched.
She had greeted Chen Wang countless times before, but this was the first time she had seen him greet her back.
In the past, the relationship between them was that of one person greeting and the other person accepting the greeting.
Now, seeing the other party intending to take her precious daughter to the Imperial horse farm to pick a horse, Shen-shi’s mood was a little complicated.
“Didn’t know Madam Shen was also in the carriage. Ben Wang…” Chen Wang turned his head to look at JiuZhu’s big black slippery eyes, and changed his words abruptly: “This junior acted discourteously.”
He didn’t have any patience to chat with the officials and the womenfolk.
Dealing with them had always been exhausting for him.
“Your Highness is very polite.” Shen-shi smiled. Even if you dare to act discourteously, what can I say?
Besides Chen Wang, who else would have the courage to pick a horse at will from the Imperial horse farm, use His Majesty’s imperial carriage and even urge her daughter to go with him?
“Is there a white pony?” Once when she was very young, JiuZhu went shopping in LingZhou City with her masters.
There, she saw a rich family’s Young Master pulling an extremely adorable pure white pony.
“Yes.” Chen Wang furtively hooked a finger at her: “So, are you coming or not?”
JiuZhu was a little tempted.
Her toes rubbed against the outside of the carriage as she peeked at Shen-shi twice.
“Come back early.” Shen-shi pretended not to see Chen Wang’s fingers hooking at JiuZhu: “You don’t know how to ride a horse, so stay away from the fierce horses.”
“Please don’t worry, Madam. Ben– this junior will take good care of her.”
Shen-shi snorted coldly in her heart, I am more worried because she’s going out with you, this devil incarnate.
“Don’t worry, Mother.
I will be obedient.” JiuZhu jumped out of the carriage and trotted over to Chen Wang’s side with “little white horse, little white horse, I want a little white horse” written all across her face.
Shen-shi was perplexed.
Her daughter usually acted formal and distant to other young men, why did she trust Chen Wang so much?
She looked at Chen Wang’s face.
Was it possible that a man’s face could bewilder a woman’s eyes?
A handsome man is undoubtedly a source of calamity1!
Turning around and getting into the carriage, Shen-shi lifted the curtain and saw her daughter smiling innocently, waving farewell in her direction.
Shen-shi put down the curtain.
That was her daughter’s future husband.
She must change her mentality and not get angry.
Her daughter was still young; she would need her mother a lot in the future, so she must not let her own irritation ruin her health.
On the bright side, at least Chen Wang was willing to call himself a junior in front of her.
The Imperial horse farm raised all kinds of good horse breeds.
JiuZhu tried to make out the last stall of the stable without any success, and exclaimed in surprise, “How much silver does it cost to raise so many horses ah?”
“Little girl, your vision should be wider.” Chen Wang played with the horsewhip in his hand: “These horses are selected very carefully from the various good breeds of the horse farms across the country.
Under the careful cultivation of the horsekeepers, the best warhorses are bred.
Then, these warhorses are sent to the army in large batches.
A good warhorse is a soldier’s sharpest weapon.”
“So amazing.” Although JiuZhu didn’t know how to raise horses, horses that could help soldiers guard the border areas were definitely good horses.
Noticing JiuZhu’s face full of admiration, Chen Wang became enthusiastic and introduced the merits of various horses to JiuZhu before finally taking her to pick a pony.
“Come on, try riding it.” Chen Wang personally helped JiuZhu put the saddle properly.
JiuZhu was a bit afraid of making a mistake, but she didn’t want the little fairy boy to think she was timid: “I’m a little scared, just a little bit ah.”
She was only a bit scared but her little had retreated so much huh?
Chen Wang held JiuZhu’s waist with one hand and easily lifted her, placing her on the horse’s back softly.
“Don’t be afraid.” Chen Wang felt that he was being particularly patient with this little girl with slightly less than enough intelligence: “I’ll lead it for you.”
“Then, don’t let go of the reins! Actually, I’m not afraid.
It’s just that I’m not familiar with the Imperial horse farm.” JiuZhu summoned her courage to sit upright but when the horse moved, she shrunk in fear.
“Alright, I won’t let go.” Chen Wang pulled the horse skillfully with one hand and concealed the smile on his face with the other.
En, she just accidentally turned into a terrified puppy.
She was not at all afraid.
“Your Highness.” His chief attendant walked over to him and asked in a low voice, “The horse you picked has already been prepared.
Do you want to train it now?”
Chen Wang glanced at the terrified puppy on the horse’s back and sighed.
“Forget about it, I’ll do it next time.”
Why did he bring this little girl to the horse farm after seeing her?
T/N: Aww, she’s so cute >.< Chen Wang feels like a big bad wolf planning to gobble up the little bunny ahahaha1
T/N: The author used the term ‘蓝颜祸水’ which is a combination of ‘蓝颜知己’ [Meaning: close male friend or confidant] and ‘红颜祸水‘ [Meaning: A beautiful woman (红颜) tends to bring trouble (祸水)] but I don’t know the proper english translation of this term so I had to twist it a little.
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