The people watching the piece treaty marriage heaved a deep sigh of relief when they saw the procession leave the capital.Yu Gong Gong led all the ladies as they walked back to the imperial palace according to custom. After this back and forth, it was already late afternoon when everybody arrived inside the inner palace.
After waiting in the cold for half the day and then walking for three to four hours, the pampered noblewomen felt that it was even harder to bear than dying. Fortunately there were no other important events coming up. The people had just stepped inside the inner palace, when all their yatou and pozi supported them. One by one, they weakly stepped into their own horse carriages as they left the imperial palace.
Yun Qian Meng and Ji Shu Yu walked towards Gu Lao Tai Jun. The two of them carefully assisted Gu Lao Tai Jun up onto the horse carriage of Fu Guo Gong Fu.
“Meng’er, Chu Xiang will not be around in the capital for next few days, this time we are still celebrating the new year, during these days you might feel bored inside Chu Xiang Fu, you may frequent your visits to Hou Fu, we will be able to accompany you.Tthe time will seem to pass by a bit quicker!” Gu Lao Tai Jun did npt immediately step inside when the servant girls placed a stool in front of the horse carriage. Instead she turned around to discuss the matter with Yun Qian Meng.
Yun Qian Meng just laughed, then she spoke “Yes, Meng’er will take note of that! Grandma, please get inside the horse carriage at once, the wild is cold outside!”
Gu Lao Tai Jun said this perhaps because she was worried that she might not be able to handle her father-in-law and Er Niang who had recently returned home from Youzhou.
Seeing Yun Qian Meng agreed to her words, Gu Lao Tai Jun simply smiled and sat inside the horse carriage.
After Gu Lao Tai Jun sat inside the horse carriage, Ji Shu Yu followed closely behind her as she stepped onto the stool, but she also slightly leaned sideways as she told Yun Qian Meng “Go home early to take a rest, you must be exhausted today!”
“Meng’er understands, please go inside the carriage now” Yun Qian Meng personally provided support for Ji Shu Yu. Seeing the both of them already sat down, she instructed the driver to drive safely She watched as the horse carriage of Fu Guo Gong Fu headed towards the gates of the palace, then under the assistance of Mu Chun and Ying Xia she approached the horse carriage of Chu Xiang Fu.
“Xiaojie, you must be exhausted already” This time seeing Yun Qian Meng’s usual smile on her face had also disappeared, Mu Chun felt worried as she spoke.
“It is the Crown Prince of Northern Qi’s fault, choosing any other dates for his return will do, yet he had chosen today, and it happened that yesterday there was a snowfall, it was really cold outside, even my xiaojie has to suffer hardships following him!” Seeing faint green color appeared under Yun Qian Meng’s eyes, Ying Xia also complained in her low voice.
“Ying Xia!” Hearing these two servant girls engaged in a heated debate concerning Qi Jing Yuan’s faults, Yun Qian Meng immediately scolded them in a lowered voice “This is the imperial palace, be careful as you might bring disasters out from your mouth!”
Being snapped at by Yun Qian Meng, Ying Xia immediately shut her both lips. Two flexible big eyes immediately glanced around all directions. After seeing that the majority of the noblewomen had already left and no one had noticed her earlier, her face slightly blushed as she stuck her tongue out, and remarked in a low voice “Nubi apologize for the mistake, my lady!”
Seeing her admit to her mistakes, Yun Qian Meng did not say anything further, after all, if she was to angrily reprimand her own yatou inside the imperial palace, she would become a joke to the noblewomen. Moreover if these things reached the ears of the people in the imperial harem, perhaps they would pursue on investigating the reason why the servant girl was being reprimanded, if one was not careful on her response, perhaps it could cause herself to get killed!
The three of them did not speak further as they quickly approached the horse carriage of Chu Xiang Fu. Yuan Dong who was standing beside the horse carriage had already prepared a stepping stool in a corner, waiting for Yun Qian Meng.
“Meng’er!” This time, Madam Xie approached wearing a smile on her face.
Yun Qian Meng and the others had no choice but to halt their footsteps. Seeing Xie approach, Yun Qian Meng released her hold on the yatou’s arm, using her usual expression as she naturally smiled and looked at Madam Xie, slightly bending down her knees “Er Niang!”
Madam Xie walked in front of Yun Qian Meng, then she smile as she spoke “Earlier I saw you and Gu Lao Tai Jun talking to each other, that’s why I didn't interrupt, and I didn't come here to disturb you.”
Yun Qian Meng smiled naturally at her extension of courtes, “How could you say these words, Er Niang, how can it be disturbing me. But my maternal grandmother is already in her old age after all, then she should leave in advance. But why are you looking for me, Er Niang?”
But Madam Xie carefully observed Yun Qian Meng’s cheek, aftewards she got a bit concerned as she said “Last night you probably didn't sleep well! Your small face looked haggard! These few days Fei Yang must be too busy with official businesses, you must be lonely, you may come over to have some meal, Jie’er and the others were also there, you will not get bored if you have someone to accompany you! Moreover, Wang Ye was also very fond of you, seeing you there he will be very likely to feel happier, wouldn't you be getting the best of all outcomes?”
Seeing her speaking like this, Yun Qian Meng couldn't attempt to decline the offer, then she nodded her head as a response “Yes, Er Niang! After I have settled all the things inside Xiang Fu appropriately, I will certainly go to Wang Fu, thanks for your concern, Er Niang.”
With Yun Qian Meng’s polite response, Xie pulled her hands and gently patted them, feeling a bit sentimental as she said “We are one family, there’s no trouble with that! You must hurry home now, don’t exhaust your body!”
After speaking, Madam Xie did not speak further, with the assistance of the servant girls she stepped inside the horse carriage of Chu Wang Fu.
But, after sending off Madam Xie, before Yun Qian Meng could further move, she saw Qu Gong Gong who had been serving the Empress Dowager appear out of nowhere. His face smiled as he saluted Yun Qian Meng, aftewards he spoke “Madame, the Empress Dowager is inviting you to visit her Feng Xiang Gong.”
Looking at this person who suddenly appeared, Yun Qian Meng’s heart felt a bit unhappy. She felt that the Empress Dowager truly had good timing, it was obvious that today she got really exhausted, yet she had chosen this specific time to summon her. Perhaps she is planning to play her tricks on her during the this time when she was mentally weak.
Moreover Chu Fei Yang was also not around in the capital at this time. Even if she had planned to make her suffer, perhaps she had foreseen that during this time she would not dare to fight back.
“Mu Chun and Ying Xia, allow Xi Lin to return back to Xiang Fu, send the gifts that I had prepared early this morning over to Chu Wang Fu, and inform grandpa on the way. When I return, I will proceed directly to Chu Wang Fu to have dinner together with grandpa!” Yun Qian Meng slightly cast a sidelong glance as she provided her instructions to Mu Chun and Ying Xia.
Although these two servant girls were naughty, but they were also vigilant. This time seeing Yun Qian Meng hinting at them, the two of them immediately responded. aftewards they quickly walked towards the direction of the Chu Xiang Fu horse carriage. They switched places with Yuan Dong and Ying Qiu, who would accompany Yun Qian Meng instead.
“Qu Gong Gong, please lead the way!” After settling down all the things, Yun Qian Meng smiled as she said to Qu Gong Gong.
Qu Gong Gong was also not an uneducated person, seeing Yun Qian Meng handled things this way, he could see that Yun Qian Meng was a meticulous and cautious. Although this Chu Xiang Furen in front of him looked very young, but she was well-behaved, her impeccable smile also told Qu Gong Gong that, she was someone powerful. Even for a man like him who had fought through all the things inside the palace all these years, would never be able to penetrate inside Yun Qian Meng’s thoughts.
“Please, furen!” Along with Yun Qian Meng’s smiling face, Qu Gong Gong’s face filled up with a smile, making an inviting gesture, he supported Yun Qian Meng inside the soft palanquin, then leading all the people as they proceed towards Feng Xiang Gong.
And taking advantage of the rare idle time, Yun Qian Meng sat inside the soft palanquin as she closed her eyes to take a nap, in order for her to have sufficient strength to deal with the Empress Dowager later on.
During this time because the people of the palace had just sent off Hai Tian, they were still busy tidying up things all around, producing some subtle sounds, but when the palanquin was carried inside Feng Xiang Gong, it was strangely quiet inside, apparently the Empress Dowager managed her people strictly, even the people there handled things faster than the people in other palace halls.
“Greetings to furen!” When Yun Qian Meng just stepped out of the soft palanquin, Lan Gu Gu smiled as she went ahead and saluted. Looking at the quick-witted face of Lan Gu Gu, Yun Qian Meng could not help but be reminded of the things that had happened previously in Feng Xiang Gong. If Chu Fei Yang did not show up at the right time, perhaps she had already fallen into one of Ruan Yu Xiao’s tricks.
But, she didn't know whether this Lan Gu Gu who led her inside the side palace hall was involved in that incident, and if this Lan Gu Gu was just like what she had seen on the surface, was she really being extremely loyal to the Empress Dowager, this made Yun Qian Meng feel a bit curious about it!
“Gu Gu, you are being too courteous!” Now that Yun Qian Meng was no longer an unranked unmarried daughter of a nobility, this time facing the person who was closely associated with the Empress Dowager, she was not required to greet her back, but just politely smiled at her.
And Lan Gu Gu also did not mind, she just respectfully spoke “The Empress Dowager had already ordered the imperial kitchen to prepare the dinner, she is now waiting for you, furen, at the side palace hall.”
“Please take the lead, Gu Gu!” Hearing the word dinner, Yun Qian Meng slightly loosened up a bit. Fortunately she had brought along Ying Qiu who knew the art of healing and Yuan Dong who had martial skills, if a bad situation broke out, she would not let other people get away with it!
The few of them followed behind Lan Gu Gu as they passed through the silver wrapped garden. They set foot inside the side palace hall of the northern side of Feng Xiang Gong, even if it was just a side palace hall, it was still as warm as springtime, it could not help but make people feel relaxed.
“Meng’er, you have come!” The Empress Dowager was holding a book and was carefully flipping through it. When she heard the soft sound outside of the door, her light gaze shifted away from the pages of the book, seeing Yun Qian Meng had already walked in led by Lan Gu Gu, she then handed over the book to the palace maid serving beside her, as she plainly spoke.
“Qian Meng is here to see the Empress Dowager, long live the honorable Empress Dowager!” Yun Qian Meng brought along Yuan Dong and Ying Qiu as they quickly walked towards the center of the side palace hall, facing the Empress Dowager they directly knelt down, their voice seemed clearly loud and pleasant like the twinkling sound of the beads and jades.
“We are family, quickly stand up! Don’t hurt yourself kneeling down, or else Chu Xiang will definitely blame me for that!” Seeing Yun Qian Meng became even more courteous, the Empress Dowager’s normally cold face had exposed a smiling expression.
“Thank you, Empress Dowager!” But Yun Qian Meng was trying to fulfill all the necessary etiquette in the palace, she did not utter anything further in response to the Empress Dowager’s joking. The hearts of the people in the palace were unpredictable, the more people it had, the faster the rumors will spread. If she intend to make additional remarks then she might risk getting killed for that, Yun Qian Meng preferred to be a person who will cherish her own words like gold.
“Initially I was planning to let you go home to take your rest because you were already tired the whole day, but I really have something to ask you, in order for you not to come back and forth around the palace, I had permitted young Qiu to summon you here. Let us have our meal now, you must be hungry already!” The Empress Dowager approached with the assistance of Lan Gu Gu, she slowly came closer to Yun Qian Meng, watching her cold expression, her eyes were bright and piercing, but her facial complexion looked somewhat haggard, then she slowly remarked.
But Yun Qian Meng exposed a slight expression of fear, then she bent her waist and replied “Empress Dowager, Wang Ye is now waiting for me to return back to Chu Wang Fu to have dinner, I’m afraid……”
She only finished half of the statement, if she was to say the remaining words, it will be considered as contradicting to the Empress Dowager’s command, these words, she would naturally leave them for the Empress Dowager to figure them out, Yun Qian Meng only had to show her own position and express the right attitude.
Indeed, after the Empress Dowager heard Yun Qian Meng’s words, her face went deep, a bit of displeased expression flash through her face in an instant, aftewards she regained her usual look, in a faint voice she said “Seems like Chu Wang was quite fond of Meng’er, it was already late, yet he is still waiting for his granddaughter-in-law to have a meal together. Meng’er you are really lucky, being able to marry into Chu Wang Fu, other people wouldn't be able to have such kind of luck!”
Yun Qian Meng just quietly listened to the Empress Dowager’s sour words, she knew very well that if the Empress Dowager really had no reason to summon her over, perhaps she might not even want to see her!
But, Grandpa Chu Wang’s name was still quite effective, at least after the Empress Dowager heard about Chu Wang’s name, whether the surrounding atmosphere had turned a little bit gloomy, yet she was not stuck in a difficult situation.
Turning over the words that she was supposed to say in her mind for a few times, after she was certain that they contained no mistake, Yun Qian Meng then slowly spoke “The luck of Meng’er was actually bestowed by His Majesty and Empress Dowager!”
“Humph, you are quite clever with your mouth! Alright, if you insist to return home to have your meal, then I will not force you anymore. Lan’er, leave some of my usual dishes here, as for the other dishes you may take them out now! I shall eat my meal after discussing things with Meng’er!” Yet the Empress Dowager was not feeling elated because of Yun Qian Meng’s compliment, but only plainly instructed Lan Gu Gu to take away a major number of dishes, aftewards she returned to her original spot, pointing at the lower seat she gestured Yun Qian Men to sit down, then she spoke once more “Meng’er, you are close to Fei’er. Now that your married life is going very well, have you ever think about your cousin?”
Yun Qian Meng positioned herself on the stool then slowly sat down, lowering her brows and followed as she listened to the Empress Dowager’s words, aftewards in a plain voice she remarked “Empress Dowager, cousin has my maternal grandmother, uncle and aunt, as well as her brother, such kind of life event, when will it become my turn to decide for her? And besides, ever since the ancient times marriage will be decided by the parents, or the words of the matchmaker! I am only her younger cousin, I’m not qualified to make any changes on her life event. Currently, Empress Dowager inside the palace can also make decisions for her, it will be enough for me to prepare my congratulatory gifts for her.”
Not being soft nor being rude as she responded to the Empress Dowager’s words, needless to lift up her eyes to look she already knew that the Empress Dowager was feeling quite dissatisfied, but it was really never her turn to decide for Qu Fei Qing’s life event, perhaps the Empress Dowager was not able to obtain any information from Gu Lao Tai Jun and the others, which was why she approached her, but too bad, her wishful thinking was still wrong!
“Your words were not definitely right! Since you are already married to Chu Xiang, your status is clearly different! Even if it is your cousin’s marriage, you still have the right to give your suggestions. Or maybe, Meng’er didn't wish to see Fei’er achieve a great marriage!” The Empress Dowager’s heart was already quite dissatisfied with Yun Qian Meng’s repeated rejection, but now that Yun Qian Meng has two persons like Chu Fei Yang and Chu Nan Shan as her backers, indeed it was a bit tricky. She could not go too hard or soft on her. If too soft it might seem that the royal family was not strong, if too hard perhaps it might cause them to oppose the royalty. Particularly Qu Fei Qing’s matter should only be worried by herself alone, if it was to reach Emperor Yu Qian, perhaps it will affect their relationship as mother and son.
Hearing the Empress Dowager’s threatening words, Yun Qian Meng slightly wrinkled her brows, her face seemed fairly confused and worried, then she softly spoke “Empress Dowager, you have mentioned earlier that me and my cousin’s relationship is quite good, naturally I would want her to marry a great man! How can I not wish her to have a beautiful marriage? But, in this world, there is only a few who would want to wholeheartedly devote himself, my maternal grandmother and uncle are also exceptionally anxious, they were still looking for a good man for my cousin, please give them some more time, Empress Dowager!”
Yun Qian Meng emphasized on the word ‘wholeheartedly’, which indirectly pointed out that Emperor Yu Qian had possessed three thousand beauties in the harem, how could he able to do it wholeheartedly?
The Empress Dowager just laughed upon hearing these, then she mocked “Wholeheartedly? In this world, finding a whole-hearted or devoted woodman, one day he would complete his tasks, the other days not, is such kind of person be able to make Fei’er feel happy? Meng’er, when did you become so naive? Don’t tell me that with less devoted persons, the women in this world will not be able to live anymore? I think you are overly spoiled by Chu Xiang, causing you to forget the way of things in this world, even if you yourself had committed one of the seven sins, which is ‘jealousy’, you are still unaware of it!”
Seeing the Empress Dowager was already angered, Yun Qian Meng suddenly got scared as her face exposed the expression of fear. She immediately slipped down from her stool, kneeling down before the Empress Dowager in a trembling voice she said “I apologize. I shouldn't have boasted. But, since I am a newly married woman, and being treated very well by my husband, it was my negligence that I have overlooked these things. Today, with the teachings of the Empress Dowager, I shall certainly bear it in mind! Empress Dowager, since still at my young age, many things I still have yet to learn about them, naturally I wouldn't make useless suggestions on my cousin's marriage, please be compassionate, Empress Dowager!”
It was not easy to find fault with Yun Qian Meng, also seeing her personally admitted her own mistakes, the Empress Dowager was a bit pleased, yet unexpectedly Yun Qian Meng was actually using her mistakes as a reason to push away Qu Fei Qing’s matter, the Empress Dowager was unable to say anything further for a moment, her both eyes were only staring at Yun Qian Meng who was kneeling in the center of the hall, her hands which were holding on the railings slightly tightened, her angry eyes gradually squinted. After a long while she then spoke “Alright, get up now! To think you are actually a year younger than Fei’er, it is inevitable that you will commit mistakes. In the future you must be more cautious, do not make Fu Guo Gong Fu lose its reputation!”
“Thank you, Empress Dowager!” Yun Qian Meng was still in her respectful behavior, after all she didn't sleep the whole night last night, in addition to walking in the midst of cold wind for half day today, it was even considered to be too much even for the strongest person, and moreover, aside from the meal she had taken this morning, she did not have any other food or water since then. If it wasn’t for her meeting with the Empress Dowager in which she had to lift up her spirit to handle it, she really wanted to get back to Chu Xiang Fu to rest properly.
And this time Qu Gong Gong walked inside the side palace hall taking quicksteps, facing the Empress Dowager he knelt down, in a sad voice he reported “Empress Dowager, the old man of Wen family is gone!”
“What? When did you receive the information about this matter?” The Empress Dowager was shocked, immediately she straightened up her body and asked Qu Gong Gong standing below in a stern voice.
“We received the information just now! Just one or two hours ago he breathed his last breath! The housekeeper of Wen family had entered the palace earlier to report, the Wen family has already started to prepare for the funeral! Qu Gong Gong told everything in details, and the Empress Dowager’s face transformed from the shock earlier into her currently calm expression. fFnally it was back to her usual calmness, she simply instructed “Go to the front hall and ask Young Yu, how will His Majesty respond to this, aftewards come again to report it to me!”
“Yes!” Qu Gong Gong left carrying the order, similarly as eager as the time he came in, he also left very quickly.
“You may return home! Since Imperial Tutor Wen is gone, you should also go home to prepare for the condolences!” The Empress Dowager waved her hands facing Yun Qian Meng, allowing her retreat.
“I shall take my leave!” Even if Yun Qian Meng was greatly surprised, her face was still as calm as before, she stood up and bent her knees towards the Empress Dowager, then leading Ying Qiu and Yuan Dong as they retreated out of Feng Xiang Gong.