GNU sponsored chapters (4/5) by Amber Crosby at ko-fi. Thank you for your support!
When Huo Changyuan arrived at Wenhua Palace, a eunuch stopped him: “Marquis Jingyong, please wait here. His Highness is still in the meeting with The Head Minister of Public Works. Marquis needs to wait a while.”
“Of course. Thank you for the reminder.” Huo Changyuan could do nothing but wait patiently. Whether it was Head Minister or the Crown Prince, he couldn’t afford to interject any of them.
After a while, two officials who worked under the Crown Prince came in. They were sending documents to His Highness, but like the Marquis, they also had to wait. The eunuch was standing far away, and the two officials were acquaintances. Out of boredom, the two began to chat in a low voice.
One of them asked: “When I came out, I saw pastries on His Highness desk. I have never seen that kind of pastry before. Did the people of the Directorate Of Palace Delicacies come up with a new technique?”
His friend shook his head and said: “The time to deliver meals is fixed. His Highness is highly disciplined; how can he ask for an exception and make them deliver refreshment during work time? No one from the Directorate Of Palace Delicacies came after delivering the noon meal, but the Crown Princess has been here around the hour of monkey1.”
The first official was surprised: “The Crown Princess actually delivered refreshment to His Highness personally?”
“What’s so strange about this.” This official was called by Crown Prince who asked many questions these past few days, so he knew quite a bit about Wenhua Palace. “Not only refreshment, but the Crown Princess prepares everything for the Crown Prince from food to clothing to tea. His Highness does not eat communal meals with other people.”
His friend sighed with sincere envy. As officials working in the palace, they stayed here all day and couldn’t return home at noon to take a meal. Instead, they took the communal meal served by the Court of Imperial Entertainments. The food there was….ah, according to legend, there were ten ridiculous things in the capital, and the gruel cooked by the Court of Imperial Entertainments was honored to appear on the list.
No matter how the taste was, the lower officials had no choice but to eat them. Obviously, even the high dignitaries also found it unpalatable. The Emperor had personal eunuchs who prepared his meal, and the ministers in the Cabinet could also order food separately. However, those ordinary officials didn’t have such authority and could only eat the communal food with everyone.
The Crown Prince was too busy that he didn’t eat much at noon, which meant that the subordinates below also didn’t eat much. So when the official saw the pastries on the Crown Prince’s table, he was very envious. At first, he thought it was sent away by the eunuchs from the Directorate Of Palace Delicacies as a form to curry favor. However, he now knew those weren’t sent by anyone else but the Crown Princess herself.
The official suddenly became more melancholic, hoping that he didn’t know any of this. His friend understood the other’s mood and patted his shoulder before sincerely persuading: “I know you are envious. Me too. Let’s finish the errand quickly so we can go to a restaurant to have delicious food in the evening.”
The official sighed again. Now, his only wish was to have a good meal after finishing work today. It was at this time that the two noticed that Huo Changyuan was also there, so they greeted him: “Marquis Jingyong, you are also here?”
“Yes, I have something to report to His Highness.”
The official nodded. He and his friend were civil officials, while Huo Changyuan was a military official, and they had no intersection beyond a casual greeting. Fortunately, the Head Minister of Public Works soon came out. The three cupped their hands in greetings, and then Huo Changyuan entered Wenhua Palace respectfully.
Huo Changyuan wasn’t putting up his ears deliberately, but since the two officials were talking in the same room as him, he ended up overhearing their entire conversation. After entering the inner hall and bowed in greetings at Li Chengjing, Huo Changyuan’s gaze subconsciously moved to the exquisite-looking pastries on the desk.
Seeing the size of the plate, some of the pastries had been eaten, and only a few were left. At a glance, Huo Changyuan recognized them as Cheng Yujin’s personal craftmanship.
He was once engaged to Cheng Yujin and later married Cheng Yumo. The position of fiance and son-in-law allowed him to visit Yichun Marquis Manor frequently, and he thus knew a lot of things about the Cheng family. Once, he saw a few extremely exquisite pastries at Old Madam Cheng’s courtyard. At that time, he and Cheng Yujin were still engaged, and a Mama who served by Cheng Yujin’s side proudly told him the pastries were personally made by Eldest Miss’ own hands.
And the pastries on Crown Prince’s desk were exactly the same as the ones he saw that day. Although they were different in appearance, the elegant and exquisite style showed that they were made by the same person.
But Huo Changyuan also heard Cheng family say that Cheng Yujin didn’t make pastries very often. Just like how excellent she was at embroidering, Cheng Yujin was also very good at cooking, but she rarely did it personally. It was very rare for outsiders to take a glimpse of her craftmanship.
Huo Changyuan couldn’t help thinking. What did it mean? Didn’t they say that Cheng Yujin rarely makes anything personally, so why did those officials seem to be sure that all the refreshments taken by Crown Prince these days were all made by Cheng Yujin?
The gap between her treatment towards an outsider and a husband was actually so big. Huo Changyuan found it unbelievable. With Cheng Yujin’s indifferent temperament, it was hard to imagine her to be so attentive and considerate after marriage, just like the model of a virtuous wife and good mother.
Huo Changyuan had a very mixed mood at this moment, but when Li Chengjing’s voice came from above, he quickly held his breath, not daring to diverge his mind.
When the sky dimmed, it was also time for the officials to return home. Huo Changyuan didn’t understand why, but what he saw and overheard at Wenhua Palace this afternoon made him inexplicably irritated. He wasn’t in the mood to drink with his colleagues, so he turned his horse and went home alone.
As soon as he entered the manor, the old servant woman who manned the gate greeted him and said with a loud voice: “Ah, Marquis, you are back! That Biao Miss2 arrives today. Old Madam is very happy, but the Madam seems to dislike her. Now, Madam is arguing with Old Madam. Please go and take a look!”
Cheng Yumo quarreled with his mother? Why was she always so noisy? Huo Changyuan frowned subconsciously. He lifted the hem of his robe and walked quickly into the manor.
There will be a marriage boom among court officials this year…. all thanks to a certain couple’s dog food haha.
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