Chapter 30 Solicit Patronage
“You bastard!” Who would know that Empress Dowager Gu was so hard to cheat? She pounded the table and reproached them angrily, “The engagement is so important to a person that you should not trifle with it! Who allows you to talk about rescission so easily!”
Empress Jiang said, “Mother, why do you turn to another topic? The matter of Qiu Mengmin is waiting for your imperial decree to unduke him!”
Qiu Yelan sighed in her heart. Empress Dowager Gu didn’t simply push the boat with the current and easily broke off her engagement with Deng Yi in a temper. After she lost this hope, there was nothing noteworthy in two empresses’ quarrel. It’s merely something usual.
Sure enough, after Empress Dowager Gu and Empress Jiang’s fierce quarreling, the result was still to hold court to discuss whether Qiu Mengmin was obedient or not after the Lantern Festival, saying that it should not disturb innocent ministers celebrating the Spring Festival only for Prince’s Mansion of Xihe’s private matters. But how could ministers keep calm and not start to prepare for it after they heard the news?
“This is still good. How would Gu Yan dare to do something openly to my cousin at this critical moment!” Qiu Yelan was thinking about this, while she heard Empress Jiang told Empress Dowager Gu, “Well, in these days, all people in Prince’s Mansion of Xihe except Commandery Princess Ningyi shall be grounded!”
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Empress Dowager Gu coldly replied, “Commandery Princess Ningyi is still in mourning. Where does she want to go?”
“Do you forget General Ruan?” Empress Jiang smiled softly and said, “General Ruan has been in bad condition recently. He lost his daughter at the end of last year, which brought him great pain. How could we now prevent his only granddaughter from going back and accompanying him for some days?”
“Isn’t this Ruan Qingyan the heir of Ruan Family?” Empress Dowager Gu sneered, “As for their ages, these brother and sister....”
Supposing the mean Empress Dowager would shamelessly talk some gossip about the single young man and woman, Empress Jiang said, “Does mother think both of them are too young to take the duty of the General’s Mansion? I also think so. But now there is no more capable person in Ruan Family. We could only ask them to be more careful and take good care of General Ruan.”
The sullen Empress Dowager Gu was about to say something with a sour face, but the eunuch standing behind her suddenly stepped forward and whispered something. The Empress Dowager frowned and said, “So, let Deng Yi give them a hand at times.”
Empress Jiang’s twitched the corner of her mouth and said, “Deng Yi, won’t he go to study?”
“It’s just the first month of the lunar year. What’s the hurry?” Empress Dowager Gu said proudly, “With his talent, doesn’t he need these few days to hurry up?”
Empress Jiang looked around Qiu Yelan, seeing her relaxed and taking it easy, so she conceded and said, “We’ll do as mother said.”
The farce today finally came to an end, and the emperor was obviously very good at capturing such moments. His flagging spirit suddenly soared, and he blurted out, “The son salute farewell to the mother empress!”
Empress Jiang also very happily said, “The daughter-in-law salute farewell to the mother empress!”
Empress Dowager Gu had intended to take a cup of hot tea before leaving. Hearing this, she upset the teacup furiously and jumped to her feet. She then glumly swaggered off, without looking at her terrible son and daughter-in-law even once.
“What happened to the Empress Dowager?” The sleepy emperor was confused.
Qiu Yelan standing under the red pedestal of the throne, bit her lips with great effort to keep from laughing and thought, “Is this emperor a born fool?”
Then she heard Empress Jiang said as if nothing had happened, “The Empress Dowager upset the teacup, and of course, she hurries to go back and change her clothes.” After saying one sentence, she asked people to leave without giving the emperor any chance to talk.
Without any doubt, Qiu Yelan and Ruan Qingyan were softly comforted and were told to go back to General’s Mansion to accompany General Ruan.
Princess Yang had just made blood seen in Fu Ning Palace. She was dragged out, and the bloodstain was also handled by eunuchs. But Qiu Jinzhu and Madame Lu were still kneeling in trembling. In Empress Jiang’s present position, they won’t be treated well.
At this time, Qiu Jinzhu’s age saved her, a ten-year-old girl, and it were her father and grandmother who were to blame. Empress Jiang would not depreciate herself to argue with Qiu Jinzhu, so she just ignored her and instructed, “Lu has been impolite, flog her 5 times as reward, and then expel her out of the palace!”
It’s hard to tell whether she would live or die after being flogged for 5 times for a woman as old as Madame Lu. Making an appointment with the Empress Dowager to debate on the court after the Lantern Festival, the Empress would not kill her now. But she would not let her live easily without punishment. What is more painful than any punishment is prestige. No matter how this affair would be resolved, Prince’s Mansion of Xihe would be thoroughly discredited this time.
But Qiu Yelan didn’t care at all. She silently thanked the old Princess of Xihe for her foresight. The old Princess officially kicked Madame Lu out of the Mansion formerly so that she, as the heir of the Mansion and Commandery Princess, did not need to claim kin with this second grandmother. So, why would she care about the face of Madame Lu and even her life?
After leaving the palace, she was mainly thinking about, “Fortunately, Empress Dowager Gu just fought fiercely with Empress Jiang and took no care about the cousin.”
Normally, a scholar who had received both attention from the Empress Dowager and the Empress before the exam would have some advantage in the exam and future career. However, the situation for this year was different. Xue Chang was a member of the neutral party. By “neutral party”, we meant they worked justly and impartially. And more importantly, they kept balance in the two empresses’ power struggle and never revealed any flaw.
In the situation today, if Empress Dowager Gu or Jiang Empress revealed a clear attitude towards Ruan Qingyan, whether it’s positive or negative, due to the hostility between the two empresses, the other party would react the other way. So, if Xue Chang admitted such person into the court and this scholar then became his disciple, he could imagine how troublesome it would be.
If Qiu Yelan were the examiner under this circumstance, she would let him fail in the exam directly! Who would know what Xue Chang would do? Ruan Qingyan was not as talented as already well-known in the whole country, so even if he was not admitted, nobody would doubt the fairness of the exam!
Therefore now, as Ruan Qingyan didn’t attract both empresses’ attention, Qiu Yelan relaxed.
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Ruan Qingyan also understood this and calmly said, “You have made such a big trouble for Prince’s Mansion of Xihe, and even Empress Dowager Gu has been insinuated. How could the Empress Dowager care about other things? As Empress Jiang is supporting you, of course, she would not make me into trouble.”
Qiu Yelan smiled and grabbed his arm, “Cousin, are you unhappy? Blame me for talking about Qiu Mengmin’s matter before you? I’ve got no other way. You have to take the exam! So many matters are involved in at this critical moment, how could you escape from being continuously inquired on the court after the Lantern Festival? I am free anyway. Besides, if you, my cousin could pass the exam, being a Jinshi and further an official, you will protect me better, won’t you?”
“... How old are you to be so clinging?” Ruan Qingyan struggled for a while. He didn’t struggle hard within such a tiny room in the carriage, so he was still held by Qiu Yelan. Ruan Qingyan looked helpless, but actually with joy in his eyes, and he said softly, “You’ve already been a big girl!”
“I am always your younger sister no matter how old I am!” Qiu Yelan said sweetly.
These words made Ruan Qingyan wild with joy. He vigorously clenched his fists and released, calming down and smiled, “Thank to one word of the Empress, we can reunite happily with grandfather for half a month.”
In fact, Ruan Qingyan had been too happy. Days calmly passed, but the imagined half month’s joy for the family was interrupted by an unbidden guest just on the 5th day of the month.
Unluckily, he couldn’t afford to drive this unbidden guest away!
Because the guest is just the youngest son of Earl of Jingchuan, Ling Zui, the so-called young master Ling in the capital.
Ling Zui was the same age as Ruan Qingyan. Qiu Yelan was lying behind the window and peeking. She found that unlike the playboy-style nickname of this young master, this person looked like nothing about foppery. He is white and handsome in shining sumptuous clothes, with bright eyes and graceful eyebrows, and his behavior can’t help to divulge sophistication and elegance. Everything was showing that he was rich, handsome and well-educated.
Further, it seemed like he was beyond looked sophisticated but actually was well-educated. Qiu Yelan thought like this because she heard his greetings with Ruan Qingyan. There were more than 5 to 6 sentences that cited proverbs and allusions that she didn’t understand at all.
However, men shall not be judged only by their looks. This guy had been renowned for his romance two years ago within the capital. He had so many lovers that Gu Yan may fail to compete with him.
There was surely nothing serious when such a person came to visit, especially when he brought another person.
He brought a female guest here, who did not reunite with her family during the New Year but ran to the General’s Mansion with an infamous young master. So possibly, she was the same kind of woman as Hua Shenshen.
But if looked closely at this woman whom Ruan Qingyan called “the Girl, Penglai Yue,” she was not like a seductress.
Penglai Yue was about 16 or 17 years old, and she should have ancestries of the Northern barbarian tribes. Her contours of the facial features were deeper than ordinary people, with long eyelashes and bright eyes. Her skin was white and dazzling and she was in very good shape. Regarding looks, she and Hua Shenshen can be described as orchids and daisies, each with its own merits.
She was also very tall, almost as tall as Ling Zui, who was a medium height man. Her hair was Huixin style, with two jade round hair clasps inserted obliquely, and the bottom of hair clasps was already taller than Ling Zui. There was no other ornament except this pair of round hair clasps. She wore light blue silk clothes and a simple dress. It seemed like she didn’t use rouge to make-up, with her lips almost pale.
However, the reason why Qiu Yelan thought she was not a seductress was not her simple dress and make-up, but her temperament, which was totally opposite to her shape and appearance and could be described with an entire piece of sonnet.
But Qiu Yelan described it as simple as possible, a cold powerful Lolita within a mature lady’s shape!
In the era of her previous life when the zombies haven’t come out, only an ordinary photo of this girl would attract countless people to succumb.
Unfortunately, it’s a pity that she was not living in a good time that she was just a performer in a brothel.
Ling Zui had finished greetings. He did not need to be embarrassed to visit and ask Ruan Qingyan for some advantage because of his noble blood. Ling Zui came to the point directly, “Today is the 5th day. After the Spring Festival, you would take the exam. But how could you know nothing about the formerly agreed beauty pageant? Spring House asked one of Empress Dowager’s favorite princes, Prince Zhou, to support them this time, with their full effort aiming to defeat Miss Yue’s Jinpa Pavilion....”
“Don’t worry, my young master!” Ruan Qingyan followed, “I’ve prepared for it... Dongran!” Dongran answered by offering up a thick wad of silver notes.
Then Penglai Yue gently opened her lips and thanked him lightly. The sound lines were similar to her temperament, which both were fresh and cool. The coldness made people feel she was high above and far away.
So, he just came to solicit patronage! Qiu Yelan felt disappointed after peeking and eavesdropping. She thought it was related to Prince’s Mansion of Xihe!
As soon as she was about to leave secretly on tiptoes, her wish to get in touch with the guests concerning Prince’s Mansion of Xihe was realized. Chunran patted on her shoulder and asked her to a place where they would not disturb the reception room. Chunran dry coughed and reported, “The young master Deng is coming, but our young master isn’t free at present... So Commandery Princess, what should we....”
“Let me meet with him,” Qiu Yelan sighed, “What are they thinking about during this New Year days? Why does everyone go outside instead of staying at home!”
Chunran grabbed her, “The young master said, no matter who you want to see, Young Prince of Duke of Guangyang or the Young Master of Deng Family, he must be with you!”
“So, what you mean to report this to me?” Qiu Yelan was surprised and thought, “Didn’t you come to call me to greet the guests?”
“Maid is coming to ask you to meet with the old general,” Chunran was awkward and said, “Qiuran has asked Young Master Deng to rest for a while in some other yards.”
Qiu Yelan was speechless and said, “I get it. Don’t let Deng Yi come alone. If Gu Yan is not coming with him, that would be OK, and I could meet him.” This guy really came to learn now!
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