With the Emperor’s personal words, Cheng Yujin stayed behind the closed door at the Ciqing Palace and never went out. When Lian Qiao came in to deliver refreshments for Cheng Yujin, she couldn’t help sighing upon seeing her mistress sitting in front of the window, busy with a brush again.
Lian Qiao put the plate of pastries on the table and said softly, “Crown Princess, you’ve been doing that all day. Please take a break.”
Cheng Yujin didn’t even lift her head. She just nodded, and it seemed that she didn’t really listen. Lian Qiao sighed again and said, “When will the Crown Prince be back? It is because the Crown Prince is not here that those people dare to be so arrogant. If His Highness is in the palace, why does Crown Princess have to stay in Ciqing Palace all day and not move an inch?”
Cheng Yujin put down her brush and said, “Isn’t it good now? There is peace and tranquility. I wear fine clothes, eat delicious food, and live a carefree life. I can do whatever I want and don’t need to spend my energy dealing with troublesome people. When I was young, this was the kind of life that I yearned for the most.”
Lian Qiao, of course, understood this. Moreover, for a pregnant woman like Cheng Yujin, this kind of relaxed life was naturally the best. However, she still couldn’t help but feel a bit wronged on Cheng Yujin’s behalf: “But Crown Princess. You have not even gone out of the palace gate for several days. You are alone in the palace, and you don’t even have people to accompany you to chat. Your life is too hard.”
Cheng Yujin couldn’t help but chuckle. She then raised her head and glanced at Lian Qiao: “Are you not a person?”
Lian Qiao pouted: “Crown Princess, you know that this servant doesn’t mean that.”
Cheng Yujin just smiled and returned her attention to the copybook she was doing. After a moment of silence, she said again, “I’m fine. I don’t feel bored anyway.”
Lian Qiao still pouted and murmured in a low voice, “If only His Highness could return sooner.”
Immediately after the words fell, Lian Qiao realized that she had overstepped. As a mere servant, it was taboo for her to comment about the masters. Lian Qiao secretly observed Cheng Yujin’s expression and saw that her mistress didn’t seem to intend to reprimand her. The Crown Princess’ expression was calm, as if she hadn’t heard her servant girl’s inappropriate remark.
Lian Qiao understood. Sure enough, even if the Crown Princess liked the quietness, doing everything alone and staying in quietness with someone by her side were two different matters. The Crown Princess was the person who looked forward the most to the Crown Prince’s return.
Lian Qiao put down the plate and quietly exited. After the study returned to its initial silence, Cheng Yujin looked at the dense rows of brushwork in front of her and sighed softly.
Li Chengjing’s dispatch order was issued in the seventh month, and he departed just a few days later. It was now the end of the eighth month. Cheng Yujin didn’t know the situation in the disaster area now and how the flood and plague had been handled so far.
Two days later, it rained until near dawn, and early in the morning, the entire imperial palace was still wet with remaining water. The stone pavements were washed clean by the continuous rain, and the leaves suddenly looked greener.
Empress Dowager Yang was ill and had been lingering on her sickbed for a month without getting better. Today, it seemed she was inviting a nun to Cining Palace, probably to hold a prayer. Cheng Yujin was never a believer and was too lazy to care about such things, not to mention that she was ‘instructed to take a good rest for the sake of her pregnancy.’ With the Emperor’s personal order, she was even exempted from paying daily respect, so obviously, there was no need for her to attend this kind of useless function. However, after the ceremony ended today, a rumor spread in the palace, saying that Empress Dowager’s illness didn’t get better because of the conflicting elements, with the Empress Dowager’s element being suppressed by someone of a metal element.
In the Abbess’ original words, “Metal symbolizes wealth and rich, but it also has the unfortunate characteristics of being sharp and violent. Moreover, if metal’s momentum is too strong, it hinders other elements in the family and is too dominant to the detriment of the whole. Especially because metal naturally overcomes wood, which suffers the greatest impact. And wood rules over longevity, making a too strong metal not suitable for the elderly in the family.”
After going back and forth for a long time, the Abbess finally pointed out that the fetus in the Crown Princess’ belly was naturally very strong in elements. Born as a member of the imperial family, the fetus was also the di-born son of the Crown Prince and was blessed with utmost luck and a strong metal element. However, Empress Dowager Yang, who had experienced two reigns, relied on the blessing of longevity, which was nourished by the soil and wood elements. When the metal element was too strong, it would overcome Empress Dowager Yang, causing her to be unable to regain energy and prolonging her illness.
As for how to solve it, naturally it was by separating the person with the strong metal element from Empress Dowager Yang in order to avoid the collision. Do that, and the Empress Dowager would soon be cured.
It was obvious to whom this statement was aimed. Dou Xiyin was grounded under Cheng Yujin’s instigation and became a laughing target in the capital, while Li Chengjing’s departure to Jiangnan publicly demeaned Senior Grand Secretary Yang and his faction. If Empress Dowager Yang could endure this humiliation, she wouldn’t be the mighty Empress Dowager who had been rampant and indomitable for many years.
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