Someone Came to Deliver a Gift

When they returned home, Lady Zhou was sorting things in the front yard. It looked as though they had just been sent over by someone, but there did not seem to be anything of great value. Feng Yu Heng took a look, and most of it appeared to be food products.

Seeing that she had returned, Lady Zhou quickly said: “This was just sent over by a young miss, and she left a letter behind, saying that it was to be given to Princess.” As Lady Zhou spoke, she handed the letter to Feng Yu Heng then described that young miss’ appearance: “She did not look to be from the capital. She looked quite unfamiliar and came in a carriage pulled by two horses. She looked very elegant and had a very comforting appearance. She should not be familiar with Princess and just said that it was an official visit. The things that were brought are all specialties from Peng Zhou. This old servant saw that there wasn’t much of value, but in any case, they are some kind intentions. Moreover, she left behind a letter. She said that Princess would immediately know who she was after reading it. This old servant only accepted after hearing that.”

“Peng Zhou?” Feng Yu Heng froze then thought about the description given by Lady Zhou of her appearance, as an understanding began to form. “She visited so quickly?” She smiled and received the letter. She then looked at the specialty goods and thought that the younger cousin really was earnest, understanding that gifts needed to be unique. The Yu Palace had no shortage of nice things. As for the things it was lacking, it was likely that she could not bring them out. That was why she simply decided on giving some specialty food products. The intention had been received, and it gave off an earnest feeling.

“Princess knows who she is?” Lady Zhou could begin to guess, “To come from Peng Zhou…” She frowned for a bit, “Could it be…”

“Your guess is correct.” Feng Yu Heng knew that Lady Zhou had definitely guessed that girl’s identity. After all, Lady Zhou was someone who had been in the capital for a long time. In the past, she had worked in the imperial palace. How could she not know about what relatives the members of the imperial harem had for the sake of fighting for favor? “Since these things have been delivered, we will just make a return gift in accordance with what is proper! It will be fine if it’s neither intimate nor too distant.”

This was Feng Yu Heng’s suggestion, and Lady Zhou felt that it was appropriate, thus she nodded and would do as instructed. As for the food that had been brought, she saw that there were quite a few sun-dried vegetables. These were things frequently seen in the countryside, but to the people of the capital, it really was something fresh. She had eaten them when she was younger, but ever since she entered the palace, and later the Yu Palace, she had not tasted this flavor. seeing it now, she felt quite nostalgic.

“It must be said that these things are very delicious, but it just remains unknown if the things that they sent can be eaten.” She muttered this, and her tone carried a bit of regret.

“Eat?” Feng Yu Heng heard this and looked at them before saying: “They can indeed be eaten. They would not go so far as to directly bring poison into the Yu Palace.” While saying this, she squatted down and picked up the dried vegetables and smelled them, one by one. She then nodded: “Go ahead and eat. There’s nothing wrong.”

Hearing that there was nothing wrong, Lady Zhou happily called people to bring the items to the kitchen, “Dried vegetables need to be soaked first. They won’t be ready for dinner tonight. Let’s have the kitchen make it for lunch tomorrow. Princess can have a taste of something fresh.”

Feng Yu Heng also quite liked eating dried vegetables, and this made her think about her residence outside the capital. She could have the people of that residence dry some vegetables. She did not hope to sell them, but at the very least, she could have some brought into the capital when she wanted to eat them. Also, they could help supplement the poor citizens during the winter months.

When Xuan Tian Ming returned home that night, she spoke about the eighth prince’s cousin. Xuan Tian Ming knew even more than she did: “Bringing a cousin into the capital, I really don’t know when they came up with this idea, but we received word as soon as she entered the capital. That cousin is the child of Noble Lady Yuan and Noble Lady Li’s younger sister, who was the child of a concubine. By that metric, she would call Noble Lady Yuan her aunt. Their younger sister of a concubine married into a family in Peng Zhou, and her husband’s family’s surname is Zhu. The daughter of a concubine married into the Zhu family as a secondary wife, and that cousin did not have much standing at first. Later on, the two in the palace climbed to the position of imperial concubine, which allowed the mother and daughter to improve their standing. Although it was not to the point of becoming the head wife, they were no longer controlled by the head wife. In Peng Zhou, old eighth’s cousin apparently has the heart of a Bodhisattva. Not only does she treat her family members well, but she also takes good care of the citizens. Her father is nothing more than a measly sixth rank official in Peng Zhou; however, it was because of this daughter that the Zhu family’s reputation surpasses that of Peng Zhou’s prefect.”

Feng Yu Heng was stunned while listening, “You really investigated quite a bit on this matter.”

“Where is there any need for an investigation? This was information that had been prepared ahead of time. While they did not appear, there was no need for this information. Now that they’ve appeared, it’s natural that the related information will be reported.”

“It sounds like that young miss Zhu is the same as the late Feng Chen Yu! One has the heart of a Bodhisattva, while the other has the appearance of one. It just remains to be seen if she’s a real Bodhisattva or a fake. Whether she will help the needy or take people’s lives.”

“The court took care of three members from old eighth’s faction. Seventh brother’s people found evidence of them bribing their way into official positions. In his anger, Father Emperor demoted them and sent them to stand guard on the city’s gates. As I see it, this Bodhisattva coming into the capital is a result of making plans to make inroads through the inner courtyards after failing in court.” While Xuan Tian Ming spoke, he pulled his wife into his embrace and continued: “To send a gift to the Yu Palace immediately after entering the capital, dear wife, it’s most likely that the enemy will be making their move starting with you!”

“Good!” Feng Yu Heng shrugged, “It happens that I don’t have much to do and can deal with her for a while. I want to see what sort of methods that Zhu family’s young miss can come up with and to see just who is better between her and Feng Chen Yu.”

“Huh?” A certain person lost it, “Dear wife, how can you say that you don’t have much to do? You’re quite busy!” After saying this, he pushed her down while she was dumbfounded…

The next day, a carriage departed from the Sheng Palace and went toward the Imperial Palace’s Rui Gate. The Zhu family’s daughter of a concubine, Zhu Kong Shan, had come to the capital under the guise of visiting family and lived in the Sheng Palace. Visiting the palace this time, it was naturally for the sake of seeing her two aunts, Noble Lady Yuan and Noble Lady Li.

Zhu Kong Shan sat inside the carriage, and she was accompanied by her two maidservants, A-Huan and A-Ruo. She was currently telling the two in a gentle voice: “This place is the capital. It can’t be compared to Peng Zhou. Peng Zhou did not tolerate your impudence, and you will need to consider His Highness the eighth prince’s face when acting. I know that you are both proud and usually accompany eldest sister around, but this time, since mother had you come with me to the capital, you will need to listen to me.”

“Yes! Third young miss, don’t worry. We servants no longer dare to do that again.” The two servants spoke in unison. After speaking, Zhu Kong Shan closed her eyes and did not say anything further. It was only then that the two exchanged a look, their gazes clearly displaying their disdain. She was just the daughter of a concubine. It was just a minor relationship with the imperial family. What was she putting on airs for?

Zhu Kong Shan did not even need to open her eyes to guess what sort of expression the two servants had or what they were thinking. She did not want to pay them any mind. Either way, they were not her personal servants. No matter how she scolded them, it would not work, and they would not become closer.

Originally, she lived quite a good life in the Zhu manor. The family’s head wife and two elder sisters of the first wife might have been bossy, but her concubine mother was sisters with two imperial concubines in the palace. Although they were not born from the same mother, in any case, they were family, thus the Zhu family treated them politely. But who knew that these two aunts would both be demoted to noble ladies? This drop from imperial concubine to noble lady caused the situation in the Zhu family to change. Although there were still princes, how could two noble ladies compare with two imperial concubines? The elder sisters that did not dare bully her before had finally found the courage to do so. They exploited mother and daughter every day to the point where living was worse than death. Fortunately, she still had some popularity on the outside, which made her father think of treating her a little bit better. It was thanks to this that she was not bullied to death. But even like this, the thing most frequently said by the head wife of the family was: “Being demoted to noble lady is good. Who knows when they will be demoted to the position of talented lady before being chased out of the palace. It’s not like there are no princes who have fallen. Like the fourth prince, wasn’t he just demoted to a commoner?!”

Half a month earlier, the eighth prince had sent a letter to the Zhu manor, inviting her to the capital as a guest. The excuse given was that Noble Lady Yuan and Noble Lady Li missed her. Zhu Kong Shan had never asked the Zhu family too much about why her two aunts and that cousin, the eighth prince, had suddenly wanted her to come to the capital, but to her, this was a good thing. At the very least, it meant that this relative had not forgotten about her.

Regardless of whether or not they had fallen, a noble lady was still one of the Emperor’s women. A prince was also the Emperor’s son. Her cousin’s position as a prince still remained. After the Zhu family received this letter, they quickly reacted. Her father spent three consecutive nights with her concubine mother, and all manners of nice things in the manor were sent over, making it clear that they were meant to buy her silence and to prevent her from voicing her complaints after she arrived in the capital. Even the head wife became reserved, showing concern for the mother and daughter. Her two elder sisters of the first wife no longer tried to openly push her out. Instead, they repeatedly called her a good younger sister.

This was not all. Right before setting out, her eldest sister, Zhu Kong Yue forcefully pushed her two servants to her side, saying that she would only feel at ease if her own maidservants accompanied her to the capital.

She was not a fool. How could she not know what the scheme was? First, it was to keep an eye on her, sending reports back to the Zhu manor when necessary. If she said anything detrimental about the Zhu family over here, she feared that her concubine mother would suffer. Second, these two servants were also extremely proud, and they were both beautiful. Bringing along these two maidservants, Zhu Kong Shan thought, it was possible that these two servants might be able to climb into the eighth prince’s bed at some point. When that time came, her eldest sister would use these two maidservants to trample her underfoot.

Zhu Kong Shan thought to herself while the carriage quickly arrived at the Rui Gate. She brought her two servants and got out of the carriage. Taking out the identification plate that the eighth prince had given her, she also brought out her own identification slip and handed a small pouch of silver to the eunuch. Only then did she say: “This young girl is called Zhu Kong Shan, and I am His Highness the eighth prince’s younger cousin. This trip to the palace is to visit Noble Lady Yuan and Noble Lady Li, my two aunts. I hope that eunuch will help facilitate this visit.”

In truth, there was nothing to facilitate. With the eighth prince’s identification plate, it was natural that she could enter the inner palace. It was just that the eunuch standing outside Rui Gate today was not on the eighth prince’s side. Upon hearing that she was the eighth prince’s cousin, his expression became quite unkind, saying in a gruff voice to Zhu Kong Shan: “Visiting Cun Shan Palace’s Noble Lady Yuan is fine, but Noble Lady Li has been confined to Jing Si Palace. Whether or not you will be able to visit her will depend on whether or not Noble Lady Yuan is willing to arrange it for you.” After saying this, he glared at Zhu Kong Shan then weighed the silver in his hand, saying: “Let’s go, we’ll send you along. You must not wander around the Imperial Palace to ensure that you won’t bump into anyone of importance. Be careful with your little life.”

“Many thanks for the advice. I’ve troubled Eunuch.” Zhu Kong Shan very obediently followed along behind the eunuch. Keeping her head down, she quietly walked along, paying very close attention to etiquette. As for her two maidservants, they were completely enraptured since entering the palace. Every bit of architecture in the palace was enough to make them feel in awe. It was such that they looked forward to each and every brick or tile…