The Job Of An Imperial Concubine Chapter 32
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"Master, this slave has learned that back when the empress dowager had first become the empress, an Imperial Concubine Xia used to live in Taoyu Pavilion. Imperial Concubine Xia had an enchanting appearance and the prior emperor favored her immensely. Even the peach forest was planted for her sake. Later on, Imperial Concubine Xia suddenly pa.s.sed away. The prior emperor was furious. Through investigation, all evidence pointed to another favored imperial concubine poisoning her. But even to her last breath, that imperial concubine did not confess to the murder," said Tingzhe softly by Zhuang Luoyan's side. "In this slave's opinion, something fishy must have gone on."
Zhuang Luoyan smiled. "Other than the dead, only the murderer would be the most clear on what had transpired."
The empress dowager would not come to the outskirts of the peach forest for no reason. If the peach blossoms had still been in bloom, then her visit would still be understandable. But now, the flowers had all withered, with only the unripe peaches remaining. How could there still be a beautiful sight to admire?
The fact that the empress dowager had a palace maid beaten to death wasn't a big deal. However, she had done this right after coming out of seclusion. It really wasn't good for her reputation. Furthermore, the present emperor and the empress dowager were not close. The more problems she made, the more estranged the emperor would be toward her. That the empress dowager had been able to come to this point ill.u.s.trated she wasn't an impulsive and arrogant woman.
In fact, the deceased Jintao was only a low-ranking palace maid of Consort Rou. Even if Consort Rou was stupid, she wouldn't let such a person carry out a mission of harming another person for her. Was that Jintao really just trying to steal some peaches from the peach forest?
Although the servants of the imperial palace could not take things without permission, picking a few peaches wasn't a crime punishable by death. Why had she been so frightened? Could it be… that she saw something she should not have seen?
Back then, when Zhuang Luoyan had told Fubao to scare that palace maid away, that palace maid should have already seen what she should not have. That's why, after hearing Fubao's voice, she would run away like that. Had the empress dowager wanted to silence her, or had she actually just been furious about being b.u.mped into?
If Jintao's death had something to do with the empress dowager, could it be that the empress dowager was scheming against Zhuang Luoyan? She gazed at the rain outside the window. Presently, although the emperor favored her somewhat, it was not at the point where others were jealous enough to want to harm her. If there were such people who could not endure their jealousy in the harem, wouldn't that n.o.ble Imperial Concubine Yan be dead already?
"That's right. Back then, when the empress dowager wanted to visit the peach forest, which one of you learned of it first?" Zhuang Luoyan formed a faint conjecture in her heart.
"Master, have your honored self forgotten? That day, an interior supervision eunuch came to send an announcement. He said to prepare for His Majesty's visit at night. As this slave sent him off, this slave just b.u.mped into a steward female servant of Kang'an Palace. She saw us and said that the empress dowager heard that the peaches were ripe and wanted to take a look.” Tingzhe frowned. "In this slave's opinion, that steward female servant entered the peach forest to see if anyone else was in there."
According to protocol, everyone must yield the path to the empress dowager's procession and clear the area. Zhuang Luoyan looked down. Perhaps there was someone entering a trade with the empress dowager. And those terms were related to Taoyu Pavilion. Thus, the empress dowager was forced to put on this show. Jintao happened to hear something she shouldn't have heard, causing her to rush out of the peach forest and b.u.mp into the empress dowager who was just arriving. According to her personality, the empress dowager would naturally silence her. Moreover, she would do it out in the open.
"Was Jintao muzzled on the day she was beaten to death?" Zhuang Luoyan lifted the teacup and took a sip of cool tea. Her tone was as calm as the still waters of a lake.
"Yes, she was. It's because the empress dowager declared that 'gluttons with great desire for food are thieves.' And that was why she was killed." Tingzhe had a faint guess of what happened, beads of sweat clinging to her forehead.
Zhuang Luoyan laughed with ridicule. She set the teacup down. "Take good care of our things. Tomorrow we will be moving to Xihe Palace. Don't worry about the other matters."
The Erya¹ defines "Xi" as bright. The Guangya² defines "He" as harmonious. When these two characters were placed together, the phrase meant auspicious and peaceful.
Zhuang Luoyan stepped down from the sedan. Gazed at the name plaque at the entrance of the palace. The three characters of "Xihe Palace" had been newly painted on, the calligraphy bold and flamboyant. Emperor Chengxuan had personally written it, making it even more n.o.ble.
The furnis.h.i.+ng and decorations had already been placed. Once one went through the main gate, one would come across a garden that could not be considered large, but was managed into an exquisite and refined appearance. The servants knelt on the ground in wait to receive Zhuang Luoyan and her party.
Zhuang Luoyan had the new servants rise. She let Fubao, Yunzhi, and Tingzhe manage them. Then she entered the main hall while using Tingzhe's hand for support. The furnis.h.i.+ng within was very elegant. It did not seem one bit luxurious but did appear comfortable. What was even more rare was that the furnis.h.i.+ngs did not break protocol and fit with her current rank. Everything provided was meant for a lesser third-rank Chongyi.
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Once she had arrived at the main palace, pa.s.sed through the main chamber and entered the inner chamber, she stroked the bed. Truly comfortable. It was soft but did not seem like it would make people overheat. Better than the one in Taoyu Pavilion. The other furnis.h.i.+ngs and decorations were similar to those of Taoyu Pavilion. As for the two side rooms, Zhuang Luoyan did not look at them. She once again made her way into the main chamber. She saw all her servants lined up, and couldn't help but remember when she had worked part-time during her years at college. Even when she was exhausted, her boss would still call everyone in for an early conference. The pay was low but the rubbish conferences were aplenty.
As she sat down in the seat of honor, Zhuang Luoyan slowly sipped her tea. She set the cup down gently. Wiped the corners of her mouth. "Today I, as a Chongyi, have taken the position of master of the palace. This is all because of the emperor's grace. You were sent here by Gao Dezhong and the Department of the Palace³. I naturally have no worries. There's nothing else I want to say. You all can just go perform your duties."
Sometimes, having no rules was even harder than having them. The imperial concubines who spoke gently were even more frightening than those with many demands and requests. Gao Dezhong had examined these eunuchs and palace maids. Perhaps some had other thoughts, but they would not dare to think too much. Recalling the eunuch and palace maids that had been struck by lightning a few days ago, and thinking that their master was a Chongyi that became the master of a palace, these servants were perturbed. This master that was protected by the heavens and favored by the emperor could get to "that" position.
Not to mention this master had been forgotten by the emperor in the past, yet she still had the ability to climb back up. That she had skilled measures was evident. At this moment, she was smiling very kindly. Who knew what kind of person she was?
"Fubao, reward every new person." Zhuang Luoyan beamed at the crowd. "I am only a Chongyi. My monthly allowance cannot compare to those of others. Please do not be upset. Just take it as a token of thought."
The servants who had originally been standing quickly knelt and said they did not dare. When she said that her allowance could not compare to others, she was actually warning them not to think she was merely a Chongyi and attempt to mess with her. To to abandon any thoughts of that nature.
Each servant received 500g of silver. In the imperial harem, this amount could not be considered large or small. Yet, how could the intelligent servants not see the profound meaning beneath it? They hoped this new master would rise in favor steadily. They did not want to think of anything else.
Within Ganzheng Palace, the three most n.o.ble people of the imperial palace sat together.
"Your Majesty, that Taoyu Pavilion has been emptied out. What will we do with it now?" The empress saw that the emperor did not seem to be against her words, before continuing, "That peach forest outside Taoyu Pavilion has been there for many years. In this concubine's opinion, why not overhaul it?"
"Since it's already been emptied out, what's the point of overhauling the peach forest?" said the empress dowager. "Although the treasury is full right now, it's better to not spend recklessly."
"How could overhauling one peach forest be luxurious? Imperial Mother need not be so frugal. People have died in that forest. In any event, it's inauspicious. Have people start the overhaul tomorrow." Feng Jin gestured for Gao Dezhong to approach. "Send some people to keep guard of the peach forest. Allow no entry to avoid other accidents."
"Yes, Your Majesty." Gao Dezhong lifted his head just a bit. And he caught sight of the stiff smile upon the empress dowager's face.
"Right now, no one is living there. How could anything happen?" The empress dowager smiled. "Emperor, you are being too cautious."
"Being a bit more cautious will not bring forth any disadvantage." Feng Jin smiled as he looked at the empress dowager. "What are Imperial Mother's thoughts?
"For emperor to say this, this grieving one naturally would have no other complaints." The empress dowager once again smiled but did not speak of these matters again.
The wind and rain of summer could shock others. This impression was even stronger at night. Feng Jin sat under the candlelight, watching as Gao Dezhong rushed over with a tray in his hands. A mocking smile spread across Feng Jin's lips. "Have you found it?"
Gao Dezhong lowered his head even further. "Reporting to Your Majesty, this slave brought others to search and dig up the whole peach forest. Under a tree that leaned against Taoyu Pavilion's palace wall was a box."
Using a handkerchief, Feng Jin lifted the lid of the box. Within was a jade bangle with thin golden thread winding around it, giving the impression of an enchanting Moutan peony engraving. Back then, his Imperial Father had gifted this jade bangle to the newly pregnant Imperial Concubine Xia.
Beneath it was a piece of fabric. Once he unfolded it, he saw secrets written with a special dye, ones that could not be allowed to exist.
"Store it away." Feng Jin cast the things aside. Wiped his hands clean with the handkerchief. "Go to Kang'an Palace to inform the empress dowager that Taoyu Pavilion has been repaired well. May she not worry."
"Understood." Gao Dezhong dared not look at what was written on the fabric. He averted his gaze, and in the process, saw one word: "…empress…"
There were too many shameful secrets in the imperial harem. Something like the truth was not important. What was important was how to use the truth.
"Master, His Majesty already ordered to overhaul the peach forest," said Tingzhe as she rushed over. Her voice was so low it could not be any lower. "It rained heavily today. But the people from the Department of the Palace are still working hard. They've only just finished."
Zhuang Luoyan poked the wick of a candle with a silver hairpin. The flame jumped a little. Zhuang Luoyan revealed a smile. "Overhauling the peach forest would affect my sleep. That's why His Majesty has moved me somewhere else."
"Master…" Tingzhe caught sight of her master's light smile and was rendered speechless. She knew that it wasn't because of favor that the emperor gave her master a new residence. And her master should also be clear about this. What use was there in deluding oneself like this right now?
"You're dismissed. I will stay here." Zhuang Luoyan set the silver hairpin down on the table. She rose to her feet, her back facing Tingzhe. "You don't have to concern yourself with that anymore. Go.”"
Tingzhe looked at Zhuang Luoyan, eyes filled with worry. Then she hesitated before retreating.
Zhuang Luoyan removed the ornaments in her hair. The corners of her lips tilted upwards. She had just been thinking why the emperor was so generous. So there was actually a reason for it.
It could be a.s.sumed that the person who schemed against her never thought this matter would give the emperor an excuse to do something he had wanted.
As such, how could she be the luckiest person in this show?
And the plot thickens! Looks like everyone's scheming, but the emperor is the one who wins in the end XD
Next regular release: Sat.u.r.day January 25, 2020 at 12 PM EST.
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Erya: 尔雅. The first surviving Chinese dictionary. Bernhard Karlgren concluded that “the major part of its glosses must reasonably date from” the 3rd century BCGuangya: 广雅. Zhang Yi wrote the Guangya as a supplement to the centuries older Erya dictionaryDepartment of the Palace: (殿中省) Diànzhōng shěng. From Wikipedia– the ancient Chinese government office/ palace inst.i.tution that manages the emperor's clothing, food, housing and transportation.
The Job Of An Imperial Concubine Chapter 32
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The Job Of An Imperial Concubine Chapter 32 summary
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