This chapter has been brought to you by me, Adnana, and Vivie.
府 fu: compound or estate; junwang fu: prince’s estate/compound
氏 shi: clan/maiden name
郡王 junwang: second-rank prince; also referred to as junwang ye, i.e. “His [Your] Royal Highness”
妾 qie: I, your servant (used by a wife or concubine)
郡王妃 junwang fei: the official wife of a junwang
Chapter Twenty-Eight: A Beauty’s Anger
The soup dumplings of Yi’an Marquis Fu were fresh and fragrant. They were what Hua Xi Wan liked to eat the most before her marriage, so early in the morning of the seventh, Lu shi had arranged for the servants to make the porridge that Hua Xi Wan liked to drink, the soup dumplings she liked to eat, and all kinds of little dishes.
Yan Jin Qiu accompanied Hua Xi Wan to the main yard to greet the parents before the entire family moved to the meal hall. Together, they ate this morning meal that was more than an hour later than usual.
After washing his hands and waiting for Hua He Sheng and Lu shi to move their chopsticks first, Yan Jin Qiu picked up his chopsticks to grip a crystal little soup dumpling to put into Hua Xi Wan’s plate. Then with a natural movement, he poured a small bowl of almond milk to place next to her left hand. After doing all this, he started to serve himself what he liked to eat.
Lu shi noticed his movements and there was a content expression in her eyes. Even the candied fruits that she usually ate were much more delicious than usual.
She had been thirsty when she got up, so Hua Xi Wan quickly drank the half bowl of almond milk. Putting it down, she pushed the bowl in Yan Jin Qiu’s direction and then smiled. Lu shi saw this and originally wanted to order a servant beside her to pour for her daughter. But when she saw Bai Xia and the other personal servant girls did not move at all, she thought about it again and then she pretended to not see this.
Hua Yi Liu’s movements slowed after she saw the two interact. She looked at Xian Junwang’s considerate actions, and her hand gripped the spoon tighter. She found that Hua Chu Yu was looking at her. She looked back coldly at the other and bent her head to drink the porridge in her bowl that had become tasteless.
Sun shi’s gaze seemed to accidentally sweep over the two, and then she moved her eyes away with a slight smile.
After the meal, Hua Xi Wan was going back with Yan Jin Qiu to the junwang fu. Before she got onto the carriage, she turned to face her father and two brothers behind her. A moment later, she said, “Do not miss me, take care.”
Hua He Sheng watched as his daughter got on the carriage. A curtain blocked off his eyesight. As the carriage moved away, his gaze moved away with it. Only when the carriage disappeared did he turn and say to his sons, “Return.”
Just now when she left, Xi Wan had said only six words, but he could hear the deep meaning contained in these words.
Xian Junwang was of a deep mind, and very ambitious. However, he was one who could act. Xi Wan was not willing for the marquis fu to be pulled into this, so she had said “take care.”
Hua Chang Bao followed his father with a serious expression. Thinking about his sister who had been taken away in that grand carriage, he sighed inwardly.
On the carriage, Yan Jin Qiu played with two carved pits[i]. He tilted his head and smiled at Hua Xi Wan, saying, “Does Xi Wan know the trumpet vine[ii]? This kind of flower is beautiful when it blooms, but in truth, even the proudest flower can only bloom when relying on the support of others.”
“A flower like the trumpet flower sounds proud, but it is not like that.” The corner of Hua Xi Wan’s mouth rose as she said sardonically, “Flowers are just a decoration. We can just look at them. Why do we have to study how they grow?”
Yan Jin Qiu examined her with a faint smile. A moment later, he threw the carved pits back into a beautiful box. “You are right.”
Hua Xi Wan curled the corners of her lips but did not speak.
When the carriage entered the junwang fu, Hua Xi Wan got off first. She did not wait for Yan Jin Qiu to come out, taking Bai Xia’s hand and preparing to go back to the main yard.
“Xi Wan.” Yan Jin Qiu poked his head out of the carriage. He looked at Hua Xi Wan’s back and said, “Why are you walking so quickly?”
Hua Xi Wan turned her head back to look at the man sitting in the carriage. She raised her chin slightly and snorted. She said, “Junwang Ye still has important matters, qie won’t disturb you.” Finishing, she turned to leave. When she had walked a few steps, she saw that there was a piece of rock poking out of the fake mountain. She stopped and said, “This fake mountain has a protrusion; it doesn’t look pleasing.”
After she said this, she took a few steps back, raised her skirts to her waist and then kicked forcefully. With a crack, the protruding piece fell to the ground.
“This looks much more pleasing.” Hua Xi Wan turned to smile brightly at Yan Jin Qiu. “What do you think, Junwang Ye?” After she said this, she did not wait for Yan Jin Qiu’s reply. She elegantly put down her skirts, then allowed Bai Xia and the other servant girls to neaten the corners of her dress before she flowed away.
In a deathly silence, Mu Tong looked at the corner of the fake mountain that had been broken off due to the kick. He felt that his calves were hurting. After swallowing, he said, “What are you dazing about for? Since Junwang Fei said this fake mountain is not pleasing, demolish it and put something else up.”
“Yes.” The frightened servants finally reacted and started to clean up the fake mountain. A brave servant glanced out of the corner of his eye at Junwang Ye. He sighed inside, as expected of Junwang Ye. Even though Junwang Fei was so valiant, he could still sit with a normal expression in the carriage.
“Junwang Ye?” Mu Tong went forward and called.
There was no response.
Yan Jin Qiu turned to glance coldly at him. “Take this fake mountain away, and plant a bush of roses.”
Plant roses with thorns by a path? Mu Tong looked in puzzlement at Junwang Ye. Seeing the other’s serious expression, he lowered his head and said, “This small one will remember.”
Fine, roses. At least that was better than the round bulbs from the eastern countries that had thorns but no leaves.
When Hua Xi Wan returned to the main yard, she took down her palace wear and put on a fiery red silk dress. After she used a blood jade hairpin to put up her hair, she summoned a non-descript second-rank servant girl. “What did Lu Zhu do yesterday?”
This second-rank servant girl obediently narrated Lu Zhu’s conduct for the whole day before falling silent with a bowed head.
“Bai Xia, how long has Lu Zhu served me? Hua Xi Wan used a brush to draw a blooming blood blossom on her brow and threw a seductive glance. “Time is what wears down people the most. Good could become bad, yet bad can become good.”
Bai Xia and the other two did not dare to speak because they had been with their mistress for many years. They naturally knew that their mistress was angry.
“Come, get Lu Zhu.” She put down the brush and examined her own makeup in the mirror. She used the charcoal to draw her eyebrows. She then opened a random jewelry box. The things inside almost dazzled the eyes.
“Mistress.” Seeing this, Bai Xia and the others knelt.
Hua Xi Wan seemed to not see them kneeling down. She picked out a bangle inlaid with red stones and slowly put it on her wrist.
The room was so silent that the sound of breathing was clear to hear. No one dared to move. They even tried to lessen the sound of their breathing.
“Junwang Fei, Junwang Ye has sent someone to deliver a box of precious stones,” a servant reported.
“Put it down.” Hua Xi Wan didn’t even look at the precious stones the servant delivered. Her white hand picked up the bright green teacup without any expression.
When Lu Zhu came into the main room following the servant girl, she detected the mood was not right. When she saw her mistress wearing a red long-sleeved dress and sitting expressionlessly in the main seat, and her other three sisters kneeling on the ground, her heart skipped a beat. Her knees weakened and she knelt down.
“Dong.” This was the sound of the teacup touching the table. It was very small, but it was enough to frighten Lu Zhu’s heart into beating rapidly.
“Lu Zhu is seventeen this year, right?” Hua Xi Wan propped her hand on her chin as she looked lazily at Lu Zhu kneeling in front of her. She sighed and said, “You have been with me at least six years.”
“Miss, this servant has made a mistake.” Before Hua Xi Wan could say anything else, Lu Zhu started to beg. “This servant was possessed for a moment. Please, Mistress, based on our relationship of mistress and servant these years, please give this servant another chance.”
When Hua Xi Wan saw her act like this, she smiled rather than get angry. “What kind of relationship could get you to have thoughts of getting close to your male master?”
Lu Zhu had always been in the inner compound and had not seen many outstanding males. Seeing Junwang Ye being so gentle to her mistress, after a while, she had thoughts that she should not have. Right now, as she was exposed in front of her sisters, her face paled and she was unable to defend herself. She knew what she should say, but under her mistress’ humoring gaze, she wasn’t able to make a sound.
“Junwang Fei, Junwang Ye has sent this small one with two plates of fresh lychee for you.” When Mu Tong walked into the main room, his gaze swept straight past Lu Zhu, and then he bowed in front of Hua Xi Wan. “This is produced in the Yue Area[iii]—have a taste and see if you like it?”
“Put it there.” Hua Xi Wan did not look at the two plates of lychee. “Junwang Ye has spent great effort.”
Seeing this, Mu Tong could only put down the things and retreat. It seemed that Junwang Fei was still angry. Nothing that Junwang Ye sent now would be of use.
“When I married, the marquis fu gave your contracts to me.” Hua Xi Wan put out a contract and slowly said, “You can go.”
“Mistress!” Lu Zhu had not expected that her mistress would neither scold nor beat her, but would have her leave the junwang fu. But she was a young female. What could she do outside the junwang fu?
“ I had said this before I married. What is the use in begging for mercy now? When you did this behind my back, you should have thought about this result.” Hua Xi Wan looked coldly at Lu Zhu. “I’m letting you go to protect your face. Otherwise, you won’t even protect your own reputation.”
At this time, Lu Zhu was very regretful and irritated with herself. She had originally thought, based on her and Mistress’ relationship these years, if Junwang Ye really wanted her, the mistress would give her a position because of these years. But who knew that the matter would turn out like this. The junwang ye didn’t want her, and the mistress had no mercy.
She wanted to call Bai Xia and the others to plead on her behalf, but when she looked at them, they buried their heads where they were kneeling and didn’t even have the courage to look at her.
In this moment, the hopelessness inside turned to fury. “Mistress, you are born beautiful and noble. To you, anything is just a word away. But this servant’s birth is not as good as that of the ladies of prestigious families, and I am fated to never have good matters. I do not even dare to look much at the man I love. How can you understand the pain I feel?
“What do you love about him?” Hua Xi Wan looked expressionlessly at Lu Zhu. “If it is beauty, there will always be a day when he will become old. If it is talent, can you speak poetry and make songs? If it is personality, when has he been good to you—you do not even know what kind of person he is. You dare to use the word love?”
Lu Zhu was unable to argue, but she felt that she was not as shallow as Mistress was saying. She fell in love with Junwang Ye at first sight and not for anything else.
“Or is it that you like Xian Junwang’s outstanding appearance? If he were a scholar from a common family, would you still like him?”
“If Junwang Ye was a scholar from a common family, Mistress, would you look at him?”
“Of course not.” Hua Xi Wan snorted. “I was born a noble lady of the marquis fu; I was fated to marry a male from a prestigious family. If he was a common scholar, what chance would he have of appearing in front of me?”
“Then isn’t what you like Junwang Ye’s status?” Lu Zhu felt angry on behalf of Junwang Ye. He was so considerate to Mistress, but Mistress was so cold and emotionless. Even she, a servant girl, could see the love Junwang Ye had for Mistress. Would a person as intelligent as Mistress not detect it?
“Then do you know what he likes about me?” Hua Xi Wan closed her eyes and did not look at Lu Zhu. “Go. Starting from today, our relationship of mistress and servant has ended.”
Lu Zhu dazedly looked at the red-clothed female and then kowtowed three times. “Mistress, please, treat Junwang Ye well in the future. Lu Zhu bids farewell.” Finishing, she turned and walked out of the main room.
After Lu Zhu left, Hua Xi Wan said coolly, “All of you, stand up.”
She was never a person to easily get soft-hearted. In the past, she was so, and she would be so in the future.
When Bai Xia and the others had learned that Lu Zhu had intentions towards Junwang Ye, they were so frightened they paled. While they received orders to stand, their expressions did not ease greatly.
What was going on in Lu Zhu’s brain that she would say such nonsense?
[i] The carved pits are of walnuts, peach and other fruits.
[ii] The trumpet vine’s name in Chinese is ling xiao (凌霄), ling meaning rise or approaching a summit, xiao meaning the sky or the firmament.
[iii] Yue is another term for the area that is now called Guangdong.
Translator Ramblings: Really, Hua Xi Wan’s day just got worse and worse though she did seem to come out the winner of their first fight. Yan Jin Qiu, you need to get better at sucking up.