“What is this?” Chen Wang looked at the carved wooden box Jiuzhu took out from under her cloak.
“Hehe.” Jiuzhu laughed mysteriously and pulled the cloak, trying to cover both herself and Chen Wang. “Your Highness, open it and see.”
“You want me to open it?” He remembered the time he mischievously put a cricket in a gift box and gave it to his teacher. “There isn’t anything weird inside, right?”
“There are many good things inside.” Jiuzhu reluctantly touched the box. “I saved those up for a long time. Hurry up and open it lest the others find out.”
Under Jiuzhu’s expectant gaze, Chen Wang opened the box and was astonished by its contents.
Broken silver, silver banknotes, gold hairpins, and even gold peanuts1T/N: Peanuts made of some metal carry the meaning of flourish, growth and fertility Explained in more detail in the 6th footnote of chapter 8. specially made for juniors by their elders, along with several copper coins.
Copper coins… can they also be considered treasures?
“It is for you.” Jiuzhu placed the wooden box in Chen Wang’s arms. “These hairpins are made of pure gold so they are quite valuable. And the combined worth of the broken silver and silver banknotes amounts up to two-three hundred taels. Your Highness can use these for now. Next time I enter the Palace, I’ll bring you more money.”
“Why are you bringing me money?”
The wooden box was quite heavy; it should contain all of Ming Xiaozhu’s belongings.
“I’ve heard about what happened in the Palace.” Jiuzhu lowered her voice. “His Majesty has suspended your salary for half a year and forbidden niangniang from giving you anything.”
The words of His Majesty carry enormous weight. If he stopped His Highness’ salary, he definitely wouldn’t give him any money to spend. His Highness was accustomed to a life of luxury, so how would he manage without money?
Chen Wang’s hand holding the wooden box trembled slightly, and the broken silver inside it rolled around, creating a pleasant sound.
“How will you manage if you give me this money?”
“Lately, sixth brother Fu always asks me to run errands for him, so I will be able to earn a small sum of money. As for the other expenses, I don’t have to worry about them.” Jiuzhu carefully calculated how to spend the month. “It’s almost the end of the year. The elders at home should be giving me New Year’s money soon. So, don’t worry, I won’t be short of money.”
“For the next six months, will you be supporting me?” Chen Wang hugged the wooden box and chuckled.
“Yes, I’ll support you.” Jiuzhu nodded: “It’s just that I have to ask Your Highness to wrong yourself and be frugal with your expenses.”
Chen Wang looked at the girl squatting in front of him. His heart was pounding like the broken silver in the box, jumping loud and fast, even bothering his ears.
He rubbed his ears: “I have money. How can I spend the money of a little guniang like you?”
Jiuzhu cupped her face with both hands and looked at him pitifully, “Your Highness, do you really not want it?”
“No.” Chen Wang placed the wooden box back on her knees: “Take it back and spend it yourself.”
Could it be that when other family’s little guniangs buy rouge and powder, his family’s little guniang had to sit back and just watch longingly?Advertisement
“Alright.” Jiuzhu lowered her head in dismay and fiddled with the carvings on the wooden box: “Then I’ll go to Guifei niangniang’s place.”
“Wait.” Chen Wang grabbed her hand and sighed.
Jiuzhu looked at him with her big and moist eyes.
“How about we share it?” Chen Wang opened the box: “You keep the gold hairpins and I’ll take the silver banknotes. As for the broken silver… let’s split them in half, okay?”
It turned out that he would feel guilty even if he didn’t take this little guniang’s money.
“Okay ah.” Jiuzhu nodded happily: “But you should have two of these gold hairpins too. The total amount of the silver banknotes is too small, not enough for you to spend, Your Highness.”
“Alright, you can give me two hairpins.” Chen Wang saw that Jiuzhu was truly happy and felt relieved. Girls’ moods change too quickly, even faster than the weather of the sixth month.
Emperor Longfeng silently stood in place and watched his own son divide the money with the little guniang equally. Even the copper coins were evenly split.
“I’ll give Your Highness the box too. Sister Chunfen said that this kind of wood is rather expensive.” Jiuzhu stuffed the gold hairpins in her hair bun: “After the lunar New Year, when I receive my salary and New Year’s money, I’ll come and give you more money to spend, Your Highness.”
Chen Wang helped her adjust the gold hairpin and replied unhurriedly, “Alright.”
Anything goes as long as she’s happy.
“What are you doing here?” After a long wait, seeing that they were finally done splitting the money, Emperor Longfeng slowly walked up to the two from behind.
“Your Majesty?” Jiuzhu quickly took the wooden box from Chen Wang’s hand, stood up, and saluted Emperor Longfeng: “Chennu greets Your Majesty.”
“Father Emperor.” Chen Wang cupped his hands and bowed: “Why are you here?”
“Came to see you all.” Emperor Longfeng glanced at the pouch hung at his son’s waist and smiled at Jiuzhu warmly: “Jiuzhu, what game are you and Duqing playing?”
“Replying to Your Majesty, chennu recently got two gold hairpins so she wanted to show them to His Highness.” Jiuzhu lowered her eyes, too embarrassed to look at Emperor Longfeng. As the daughter of a court official, she had lied to the Emperor. She felt guilty.
“En.” Emperor Longfeng nodded and turned to Liu Zhongbao: “There are quite a few pieces of jewelry in zhen’s private treasury. Take them to Mingyue Palace and let the Guifei and Jiuzhu choose.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.” Jiuzhu was even more ashamed. She lied to the Emperor but he still rewarded her and niangniang. She is guilty!
Seeing Jiuzhu’s dejected and regretful expression, Chen Wang couldn’t help but speak up: “Father Emperor, don’t tease Ming guniang anymore. She’s still young.”
Emperor Longfeng looked at his son with a smile that was yet not a smile. Was he protecting her?
Chen Wang cleared his throat and stood by Jiuzhu’s side without saying a word.
“You two haven’t seen each other for a long time. Take a walk together. Zhen will go back to the Taiyang Palace first.” Emperor Longfeng glanced at Zhangliu Palace and turned to leave.
After he left, Jiuzhu let out a long sigh of relief and whispered to Chen Wang: “Fortunately, His Majesty didn’t notice that I secretly brought money for you.”
He lovingly patted her melon seed-like head: “Let’s go, I’ll accompany you for a walk and send you to Mingyue Palace.”
Jiuzhu touched the spot where he had touched her head and asked, “Your Highness, are you used to living in the Zhangliu Palace yet?”
“It’s alright, just a bit smaller and not as comfortable as the princely residence.”
“Oh.” Jiuzhu nodded in understanding. His Highness has suffered. She pointed to the wooden box: “Your Highness, let the servants take this back to your yard.”
“Alright.” Chen Wang called a eunuch and reached out to take the wooden box. But Jiuzhu had already placed it in the eunuch’s hands, saying, “Sorry to bother you, little gonggong.”
“This slave doesn’t dare.” The eunuch held the wooden box and retreated. As he walked through the courtyard’s gate, he looked back. He couldn’t hear what the Ming family’s guniang said, but he saw His Highness looking at her with eyes full of tenderness.
After Chen Wang left with the future Chen Wangfei, the secret guard lurking in the dark finally couldn’t help but cover his mouth to suppress his laughter. He laughed so hard that the tree branches trembled and the leaves rustled.
Hahahahahaha, the majestic and dignified His Highness Chen Wang actually needs the monetary support of his fiancée.
Suddenly, he stopped laughing.
A noble young lady from an official’s family undertaking the risk of angering the Emperor just to bring her own money into the Palace for her fiancé. Such affection…
Not only did he not want to laugh anymore, but he also felt a little sour.
“Ming Xiaozhu.” Chen Wang looked at Jiuzhu, who was walking briskly. “There are only eight days left until New Year’s Eve.”
And only forty days left until their wedding.
“En!” Jiuzhu nodded happily: “Mother said that after the New Year, elder brother will come back.”
Chen Wang suddenly remembered that Ming Jiuzhu also had an older brother. If he remembered correctly, Yun Yanze had a high opinion of Ming Jiuzhu’s brother.
What was his future elder brother-in-law’s name?
Ming… Ming Jiyuan?
Reading one poem sent from afar was better than reading ten thousand books2T/N: I’m not too sure about the purpose of this sentence but I think it is about the origin of Ming Jiyuan’s (寄远) name. The original text says: 阅寄远诗一首, 胜阅万卷书 (yuè jì yuǎn shī shǒu, shèng yuè wàn juàn shū) which can be considered to express the idea that a single heartfelt poem from a distant someone can bring more joy and enlightenment than reading numerous books, thus emphasizing the value of personal connection and emotional depth in communication..
Many people said that with Ming Jiyuan’s talent, he could have aced the Palace examination. However, since the Ming family had already produced two zhuangyuans and one tanhua, it would draw a lot of dissatisfaction from others if he were to outshine all others. So the court intentionally suppressed his ranking and let him get the fourth place.
The fourth place was the top of second-class. It was still a highly sought-after position among scholars.
He had never interacted with these scholars before so he had no idea what kind of opinions his future elder brother-in-law would have about him.
Those who admired Yun Yanze didn’t seem to be too fond of him.
“Does your esteemed elder brother know about our betrothal?” Chen Wang’s cheeks were a little flushed. “What does he usually like? When he comes back, Ben Wang… should give him a welcome gift.”
“He should know.” Jiuzhu stopped in her tracks and bit her lip in thought.
“Don’t bite.” Chen Wang reached out, his fingertips gently grazing the corner of her lips.
“Ah?” Jiuzhu looked at him blankly.
“It-it’s nothing.” He clenched his fist and held it behind his back, his face burning. “Just telling you not to bite your lip. You will be the one suffering if you accidentally cut it.”
“Oh.” Jiuzhu licked her lips with the tip of her tongue: “Not broken.”
Chen Wang looked at her lips and turned away, two bright red clouds on his cheeks.
“Your Highness, what’s wrong with you?” Jiuzhu ran to the other side to face him. “Your face is red?”
Chen Wang turned his face again. “It’s nothing. You are mistaken. It is Ben Wang’s cloak that is red.”
Jiuzhu circled around him and said seriously, “Your face really is too red. It has nothing to do with the cloak.”
“Not allowed to speak anymore.” He reached out and covered her mouth. “Otherwise, Ben Wang… Ben Wang…”
What could he possibly do to her?
He couldn’t hit her. He couldn’t scold her.
Big eyes, long eyelashes, curved willow leaf-like eyebrows. When she looks at him with a smile, she looks like a little puppy. Even if he was a beast, he couldn’t say any harsh words to a little guniang like this.
He had never realized so clearly that he had no way to deal with Ming Jiuzhu.
He, Yun Duqing, seemed to be completely powerless before her.
Chen Wang let go and sighed.
Jiuzhu stared at him, blinking her eyes.
“If you want to say something, just say it.” He looked up at the sky. “Ben Wang admits defeat.”
Jiuzhu tiptoed and touched Chen Wang’s forehead.
He looked down at her.
“Your forehead isn’t hot.” Jiuzhu withdrew her hand. “It’s good that Your Highness is not sick.”
“En.” Chen Wang lowered his eyelids, his long eyelashes fluttering like a butterfly about to take flight.
“Greetings to Your Highness Chen Wang and Ming Xianzhu.” Jiuzhu looked at the palace maid who was bowing to her. “You are that female official sister from last time. Are you feeling better now?”
“Thank you for your concern, Xianzhu. This slave is fine now.” Baishao bowed deeply to Jiuzhu. “This slave will always be grateful to Xianzhu for your tremendous grace.”
“As long as you’re okay.” Jiuzhu waved her hand. “I just asked someone to check your pulse and get some medicine for you.”
Baishao silently bowed deeply again. Ming Xianzhu didn’t know how difficult it was for the eunuchs and Palace maids to get medicine from the imperial infirmary and how many of them died from illness in the palace every year due to the lack of medical treatment.
“Are you really okay? Should I have someone check on you again?” Jiuzhu remembered the way she saw this female official that day. It was quite shocking.
Baishao shook her head, hastily bowed to Chen Wang and Jiuzhu, and left.
“Why did she leave in such a hurry?” Jiuzhu noticed that her fleeing figure seemed much thinner.
“She is Lanxu Palace’s first-class Palace maid and you are Ben Wang’s future Wangfei. She naturally cannot speak much with you.” Chen Wang raised an eyebrow and sneered: “There is no shortage of people in the Palace who appear docile but actually resent Mother Consort.”
“They really dislike such a beautiful and kindhearted niangniang?” Jiuzhu lamented: “It seems that the people in the Palace are very fussy ah.”
Chen Wang smiled and shook his head.
When faced with power and benefits, beauty and compassion were of little use.
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1T/N: Peanuts made of some metal carry the meaning of flourish, growth and fertility Explained in more detail in the 6th footnote of chapter 8.2T/N: I’m not too sure about the purpose of this sentence but I think it is about the origin of Ming Jiyuan’s (寄远) name. The original text says: 阅寄远诗一首, 胜阅万卷书 (yuè jì yuǎn shī shǒu, shèng yuè wàn juàn shū) which can be considered to express the idea that a single heartfelt poem from a distant someone can bring more joy and enlightenment than reading numerous books, thus emphasizing the value of personal connection and emotional depth in communication.