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Cheng Yujin closed the page, sat up properly, and said, “Let the person in.”
The one who came was a senior Mama close to Empress Yang. When Cheng Yujin saw this person, she understood that Empress Yang was determined to summon her today. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have sent such a senior person that Cheng Yujin couldn’t possibly refuse.
Cheng Yujin knew that she had to make this trip, but on the surface, she pretended not to realize anything as she greeted the incoming person with a slight smile: “Isn’t it Zhou Mama? Why are you coming here personally?”
Zhou Mama bowed at Cheng Yujin and said, “Greetings to the Crown Princess. This old servant is here on Her Majesty’s order. Her Majesty has been very much concerned about you lately, but it hasn’t been easy to call you to Kunning Palace like before. It has been raining a lot these past few days, and the ground and pathway are very much slippery. In case there is an accident on the road, Her Majesty will be the one to blame. Her Majesty is not at ease, so she sent this old servant to check on your situation.”
“Her Majesty is very kind.” Cheng Yujin stood up and said: “Since this is the Empress’ summon, This Palace will naturally obey. Why the bother of sending a Mama? Zhou Mama, please lead the way.”
“But it just rained outside, and the road is still slippery…”
“It’s alright. The Empress is calling – not to mention the rain, even the lightning and thunder won’t make me dare to delay.” Cheng Yujin smiled, “Besides, Her Majesty is in charge of the inner palace. Now that Her Majesty has summoned This Palace, it is disrespectful to suspect there might be a problem along the way. As the master of the inner palace, how could Her Majesty make such a low-level mistake?”
Zhou Mama was stunned. Cheng Yujin’s words practically put Empress Yang on a roasting pit. How dare Zhou Mama still make any trick on the road? Zhou Mama smiled dryly. When they finally departed, Zhou Mama watched the road very carefully, as if she was the one who was pregnant. She was sincerely afraid of any mishap. In case Cheng Yujin accidentally fell, Empress Yang wouldn’t be able to clear her name.
Cheng Yujin was pregnant now, and the road was still wet because of the rain, so the people carrying the sedan chair were very careful. When the procession finally stopped at the entrance of Kunning Palace, everyone wiped their sweat in relief.
Cheng Yujin entered Kunning Palace slowly and unhurriedly. When she entered the palace gate just now, her sharp eye took a glimpse of a sedan chair used by a wangfei rank. It was clear at a glance whose chair it was.
Sure enough, after Cheng Yujin entered the hall, she saw that Dou Xiyin was already there.
Seeing Cheng Yujin was about to bow, Empress Yang quickly ordered a palace maid to support her and said: “Crown Princess is pregnant, so there is no need for this etiquette. Quickly take your seat.”
Cheng Yujin merely made a token gesture, so she didn’t refuse and sat down on the armchair nearby.
Cheng Yujin could be exempted from curtsying, but Dow Xiyin could not pretend to be invisible. She reluctantly stood up and curtsied: “Greetings to the Crown Princess.”
“Shou Wangfei, please get up.” Cheng Yuji merely gave Dou Xiyin a glance before turning her eyes to Empress Yang again: “This daughter-in-law’s body is inconvenient lately and thus has been neglecting one’s filial duty. Asking Your Majesty for forgiveness.”
“It’s alright.” Empress Yang said, “You are currently pregnant with Crown Prince’s first child. If it is a boy, he will be the eldest imperial grandson. Your belly is so precious and should be taken care of with thousands of honors, so there is no need for you to do these cumbersome niceties.”
Cheng Yujin smiled in response, “Many thanks for Your Majesty’s understanding. However, the Crown Prince said that children are fate. Whether this child is a boy or a girl does not matter, as His Highness will like them both. Even if Your Majesty keeps saying that this child is a boy, this daughter-in-law really doesn’t know how to respond.”
The corner of Empress Yang’s mouth twitched in displeasure. Sure enough, even if the tiger pretended to become vegetarian, it was still a tiger in essence. Cheng Yujin had been secluding herself for half a month, yet her tongue was still as sleek as before. Empress Yang reminded herself of her goal today, so she ignored Cheng Yujin’s veiled attack and continued: “Crown Princess is right. Now, the most important thing to do is to take a good rest and focus on taking care of the fetus in your belly. The rest are trivial. However, you have to know that the Crown Prince is the foundation of our country, and his well-being cannot be neglected. You are currently having a heavy body, so it is not convenient for you to serve the Crown Prince personally. Have you made an arrangement of the nighttime duty?”
Oh? Trying to reach your hand into her bedchamber? Having no interest of drinking tea, Cheng Yujin slowly put the cup back on the table. “This daughter-in-law is young and has little knowledge. Having just entered the palace, there are many things I don’t know. So it turns out that except for the Emperor, Your Majesty is also in charge of arranging the Crown Prince’s nighttime schedule?”
Empress Yang was just a stepmother, so how could she point her finger and order her stepson to sleep with this or that woman? Empress Yang’s face slightly flushed with anger, but she quickly said: “Of course not. This Palace governs over the six palaces, but the Eastern Palace is not within the scope. The Crown Prince naturally has all the say in choosing whomever he wants to favor.”
“Oh.” Cheng Yujin nodded with a smile, “That’s good. For a second, this daughter-in-law thought that the rules I learned from the official records and history books were all wrong. Just by Your Majesty’s words, this daughter-in-law mistakenly thought you wanted to arrange concubines for the Crown Prince. But it seems that this daughter-in-law has mistakenly blamed you. Begging Your Majesty for forgiveness.”
Empress Yang’s next words were already in her throat, but she was suddenly blocked by Cheng Yujin’s words. For a split second, Empress Yang suddenly forgot how to breathe, and her face contorted strangely. Seeing this, Dou Xiyin anxiously interjected: “Your Majesty, didn’t you say that you have prepared a few people to help the Crown Princess? Now the Crown Princess is here, why don’t you take them out?”
With this one sentence, Dou Xiyin forcefully pushed forward the halted conversation. Empress Yang had no choice but to follow up: “Yes, This Palace did find a few suitable people to share the Crown Princess’ burden. Someone come, take those young ladies out and let them give the Crown Princess kowtows.”
Kowtowing and serving tea was the necessary etiquette when a concubine met the wife. Only when the wife accepted the tea would the concubine’s status be truly recognized. Similarly, once a wife accepted another woman’s tea, even if it was against her will, she would have to swallow her displeasure and recognize the other woman as her husband’s concubine.
Four slender young women came out from the side hall. All of them were charming and lovely. When they saw Cheng Yujin, they knelt down on the ground, “Greetings to the Crown Princess.”
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