This chapter has been brought to you by me, and Adnana.
- 郡王 junwang: second-rank prince; also referred to as junwang ye, i.e. “His [Your] Royal Highness”
- 氏 shi: clan/maiden name
- 府 fu: compound or estate; (jun)wang fu: prince’s estate/compound
- 郡王妃 junwang fei: the official wife of a junwang
- 妾 qie: shortened and very general name for concubine
- 通房 tongfang: the lowest rank in concubine
- 嫡 di: refers to the legitimate/first wife
-  老爷 laoye: old master, lord; respectful address for the head of the house
- 太太 taitai: married woman, madam
Chapter Twenty-Three: Anger
“Junwang Ye, you have returned?” Hou shi was embroidering a pouch by the window. Seeing Yan Bo Yi come in, she put down what she had in her hands and took in front of Yan Bo Yi the cup of tea a servant girl had poured. Seeing that his expression was unhappy, she asked considerately, “Is there something that is not going well?”
“Nothing.” Yan Bo Yi took the teacup and had a sip. He waved for the servants in the room to leave before he said, “This case is connected to many people. In the next few days, if anyone comes to the fu to ask for details, just pretend to not know.”
Because Yan Bo Yi rarely talked about affairs of the outside with Hou shi of his own accord, Hou shi rejoiced when she saw he was willing to mention this matter to her. She then said worriedly, “Is the culprit someone from a prestigious family?”
Yan Bo Yi shook his head and didn’t want to speak about it. “Have the servants send up the meal.”
Seeing this, Hou shi knew that he would not continue to discuss outside matters with her. She was slightly disappointed, but she still sent someone to arrange the evening meal and helped Yan Bo Yi change out of his outer robe.
The two silently finished eating. When Hou shi saw Yan Bo Yi remaining seated rather than leave, she hesitated and then said, “Junwang Ye, the day is still early. Why don’t we go for a walk in the garden. I heard the servants say that the lilies in the garden are both fragrant and beautiful…”
“Let’s speak of this tomorrow. Later, I have to go back to the Judicial Office to work on this case.” Yan Bo Yi stood up from his seat and spoke with an indifferent expression. “I’ll have to trouble you to spend more effort on the fu.”
“What are you saying?” Hou shi warmly put an insect-repelling pouch on his waist. “I am your junwang fei—it is my duty to manage the wang fu. There is no trouble to speak of. Although it is early summer, the night is still cold. Take care not to get cold.”
Yan Bo Yi made a sound of acknowledgement. After the pouch was securely tied, he walked out of the room.
Hou shi looked at the empty room and her smile slowly faded. She looked dazedly outside. She thought of the Crown Prince’s Fu with its numerous qie and tongfang. She then thought of the two tongfang in her fu who were not favored, and the sense of emptiness inside her instantly disappeared without a trace.
In Xian Junwang Fu, Mu Tong had the servants secretly scoop out the goldfish that had died due to overfeeding by Junwang Ye and Junwang Fei. He then had people switch them out for lively goldfish before he released a breath. It really was not not easy to find in two to four hours so many goldfish with such bright scales and that were energetic. But Junwang Ye had ordered them to conceal from Junwang Fei what had happened to the goldfish. It had really worried him.
“Chief Steward Mu, what to do with these goldfish?” The young manservant looked at the bucket half-full of fish and didn’t know what to do.
“Of course they are to be buried. Do you need me to teach you about such a small matter?” Mu Tong waved his hand impatiently. “All right, take care of this as soon as possible. Do not let Junwang Fei find out.”
“Yes.” The little manservant didn’t dare to dawdle and hurriedly lifted the bucket of fish with another manservant and hurried off.
Mu Tong patted at the two droplets of water on his outer robe. He took out a handkerchief to wipe his hands as he said to the other servants, “Work hard. If someone gossips, you do not need to speak in the future.”
“Yes.” The servants shook and wanted to shrink their heads back into their necks.
Mu Tong glanced at them and was very satisfied with their obedient attitude before he turned and hurried towards the main yard. When he entered the main yard, he saw Junwang Ye was sitting with Junwang Fei at the stone table in the yard. One person was drawing, the other was holding a plate of fruit and nuts as she admired the drawing.
Everyone in Jing knew that Xian Junwang was very skilled at drawing. Many people felt it was a great honor to obtain a work from Junwang Ye. It was a pity that Xian Junwang rarely made works for others. Even if the drawings piled up in the fu and filled the entire room, there were rarely any that were floating outside the fu.
Hua Xi Wan saw that Yan Jin Qiu had drawn a narcissus with a few strokes. After she examined it for a while, she shoved a sour and sweet piece of dried fruit into Yan Jin Qiu’s mouth. “In the past, I heard that Jin Qiu was skilled at drawing. I had assumed that those people said so to gain favor with you. It seems that the rumors are substantiated.”
Yan Jin Qiu did not like sour and sweet things. After hurriedly swallowing, he put down the pen. “But the rumors outside about you are not matching at all.”
Hua Xi Wan gave a carefree smile and shoved another piece of fruit into his mouth. She put down the plate of fruit and nuts. “Therefore sometimes, what people say is the real truth, and sometimes it is not. Truth and lies, they depend on how people listen and judge.”
Mu Tong saw Junwang Fei shove two piece of dried fruit into Junwang Ye’s mouth and couldn’t help but inhale inside. He had followed Junwang Ye for many years and knew that the other never touched anything sweet and sour. Today, he had managed to swallow it without changing expression. It could be seen how much weight Junwang Fei carried with Junwang Ye.
After she finished admiring the drawing, the sky darkened. Hua Xi Wan looked at the moon that had already risen and suddenly said, “Sheng Junwang’s words today were slightly strange.”
Yan Jin Qiu’s eyebrows shifted slightly; his face held a smile. “Oh?”
Hua Xi Wan had the same smile on her face. “You are a junwang. His questions… They seemed pointed, but they really avoided the matter.” Yan Jin Qiu was a junwang. If he secretly kidnapped Master Zhang, why did he have to prove what he was doing at the time? Did he have to personally go to capture the person?
Sheng Junwang had come with such pomp and circumstance to Xian Junwang Fu to ask questions, and made outsiders feel that he was just. Even if Xian Junwang had the smallest bit of likelihood that he was involved, while Sheng Junwang came to ask questions in person, he did not really pull Yan Jin Qiu into this, and he would not offend the entire Xian Junwang Fu.
There were never truly just people in the Imperial House. If there were, no one would like them. They would be isolated and ignored by all the imperial clansmen. They wouldn’t be like Sheng Junwang. He didn’t just have a good reputation outside, he was also doing very well at court.
Yan Jin Qiu’s gaze had been on Hua Xi Wan’s body this whole time. When she finished speaking, his smile became slightly complex. “Why has Xi Wan thought to ask about this?”
Hua Xi Wan’s smile did not change. “We are husband and wife—what can we not talk about?”
“There naturally isn’t anything we cannot talk about.” Yan Jin Qiu walked next to her and slightly pinched the lobe of her ear. The red mark behind her ear from last night had faded slightly. He said in a hoarse and deep voice, “The time is late. Why don’t we rest early?”
The servants heard this and silently took a few steps back. When Mu Tong saw this, he also followed. As servants, they first had to learn to be perceptive. Otherwise, it was useless no matter how smart or capable they were.
After the night passed, many people in Jing knew that Sheng Junwang had gone to Xian Junwang Fu to ask about the details of the case. Even though some praised Sheng Junwang for being a methodical person, almost everyone felt that Xian Junwang was innocent. How could such a noble person do such a cruel thing? Also, Master Zhang had offended many people in Jing. Not many of those offended would be as generous as Xian Junwang.
The news passed to the fu of Hua Xi Wan’s second uncle, Hua Zhi Ming. Hearing this, Zhang shi instantly felt anxious. She found out that people from Xian Junwang Fu had gone last morning to the Judicial Office to ask about the case. Immediately after, Sheng Junwang started to suspect Xian Junwang. Were these two events connected?
She knew that no one in Jing dared to touch this matter. Xian Junwang had sent someone to inquire because of Hua Xi Wan, but now this had caused Xian Junwang to become a suspect. Would Xian Junwang be angry and dislike their fu because of this?
When Hua Zhi Ming came back from the Ministry of Revenues, he saw Zhang shi’s anxious expression and asked about it. After he listened to the cause of the events, he was so furious he smashed a tea set.
“Aren’t you throwing our second niece into the pit?” Hua Zhi Ming’s face was completely red as he said, “How can anyone interfere in this matter? Now even Xian Junwang has been pulled in. Would he blame Second Niece?”
Zhang shi covered her mouth and sobbed. She said, “But what can I do? My Zhang Family has been honest and good for generations, but we never participate in matters of governance. Now that my brother has died, am I supposed to let him die without the culprit being caught?!”
“You only remember your Zhang Family, but do you remember that Xi Wan is my niece?!” In these years, Zhang shi had always favored her paternal family. Hua Zhi Ming had not borne to criticize her due to their marital relationship, but now that he saw how she had pulled his innocent niece into this matter for the Zhang Family, his anger that had been suppressed for many years finally erupted. “Xi Wan has married into the Imperial Family and needs to be careful and plan at each step. You are a good aunt—you want to make trouble for Xi Wan. Do you think that she doesn’t have enough matters already? If you find Xi Wan again for matters like this, do not blame me for being ruthless!”
Zhang shi was angry, regretful and scared. She wiped her tears and said, “Xian Junwang is kind and virtuous. He would not blame Second Niece because of this matter. Also… also, Second Niece is of outstanding beauty. Xian Junwang would not bear…”
“Shut your mouth now.” Hua Zhi Ming looked with tiredness at his di wife. He wanted to say that while one could see the face, they could not see the heart. He also wanted to say that using one’s beauty never ended well, but in the end, it all turned into a sigh. He rubbed his brow and said, “Think thoroughly. I will not argue with you.” Finishing, he turned and left the room.
“Miss.” The servant girl behind Hua Yi Liu watched as Laoye hurried out of Taitai’s room. She looked worriedly at Hua Yi Liu who had an ashen face, and reached out to support her.
“I’m all right.” Hua Yi Liu pushed aside the servant girl and straightened. “Let’s return.”
The servant girl wanted to say that Taitai would not be in a good mood after just fighting with Laoye, and if Miss were to go comfort Taitai, she would feel better. But when she saw how ugly Miss’ face was, she did not dare to speak up.
At this time, Hua Yi Liu could not care about what her servant girl thought. Her mind was full of what her parents had said when they fought, the respectful attitudes of the servants at Xian Junwang Fu towards Hua Xi Wan, and the jewelry Hua Xi Wan wore on her body that was worth cities.
If Xian Junwang really blamed Hua Xi Wan…
She stumbled but she could not stop thinking. If she really was blamed… that would be great.
In Xian Junwang Fu, Hua Xi Wan idly played with a cat’s eye stone and threw it onto the table. “Yesterday afternoon, Mu Tong had the servants switch out all the goldfish in the pond that died from overeating?”
Zi Shan smiled and nodded. She said, “Yes, this servant heard that Junwang Ye said to not let you know.”
Not let her know, then how did it pass into the ears of her personal servant girl?
Hua Xi Wan laughed lightly and touched the jade bangle on her wrist. She said coolly, “Since that is the case, then pretend to be ignorant. I did not hear anything from you.”
Someone was willing to give her what appeared to be deep emotion, so she would contentedly watch. As to whether it was true emotion or acting, that was not important. What was important was how long this deep emotion would last.
Zi Shan saw Junwang Fei’s expression was calm and that she did not seem to be moved by this event. Her thoughts of discussing this halted. She was not as smart as Junwang Fei, so she would do as Junwang Fei said.
Translator Ramblings: There’s the sweet fluff and the plot moving slowly underneath it. Though I wonder if Yan Jin Qiu wasn’t deflecting in that conversation … … or just too eager for bed?