“Could it have been heart problems?” The Empress Dowager set down her teacup as she looked at Murong Feng, her voice containing a hint of pressure. No matter how useless her grandson was, it wasn’t to the point that a small figure like Murong Feng could reject the marriage.
Murong Feng was calm, and so was her voice, “Grandmother is observant; Feng’er originally thought that Grandmother could be fooled. Feng’er became sick because Feng’er was disobedient; Feng’er had heard some scandalous information about the Fourth Prince and became afraid that she would be mistreated, so Feng’er went to Mother and Father to cancel the engagement. However, Father informed Feng’er that she had heard false rumours, so Feng’er was sentenced to kneel in reflection. Feng’er felt that she wronged, caught a cold, then fell ill. Mother and Father worried for Feng’er so they requested Big Sister send the Imperial Doctor to Murong Estate in order to cure Feng’er. Grandmother, please don’t blame mother, father and sister; they were just worried for Feng’er. We were without ill intentions.”
The Empress Dowager was extremely shocked and glanced at the Empress. The Empress returned the look with the same thoughts: was this still the same Murong Feng as the one back then?
“Why did you agree then?” the Empress Dowager warmed up a bit.
Murong Feng’s eyes had a touch of sadness but her voice showed no hint of it, “The parents’ wish is the children’s command; along with ten years of nurturing, how could they let Feng’er suffer? Feng’er decided that it was Feng’er that was too gullible and had simply heard some exaggerated gossip.”
“Rui’er seemed to be messing around somewhere last night, do you blame Grandmother for engaging you to him?” The Empress Dowager stared at Murong Feng, an examining light in her complexion. [Translator Note: As seen with previous chapters and other Chinese novels, the “‘er” suffix is a more familiar way of speaking with people. The ‘Rui’er’ that’s being spoken about here is the Fourth Prince, Sima Rui.]
“The Fourth Prince is not an ordinary person and he has his own hobbies. Since Feng’er is married to Fourth Prince, Feng’er cannot casually judge him.” Murong Feng had yet to agree or deny, “As for why Fourth Prince never returned last night, in Feng’er’s eyes, Fourth Prince is kind and generous, not wanting to violate Feng’er. Of this, Feng’er is extremely thankful.”
The Empress Dowager was speechless. She could not think of the appropriate words to say.
The Empress Dowager stared at Murong Feng as she suddenly asked, “Then do you know that Rui’er did this because he had originally wanted to marry your little sister Murong Xue?”
“Feng’er knows.” Murong Feng returned the Empress Dowager’s gaze, her eyes as deep as the ocean, easily captivating people. “Last night Fourth Prince had already told Feng’er. As to this matter, Feng’er cannot do much. So Feng’er wants to ask Grandmother to help Feng’er.”
“Me, help you?” The Empress Dowager was stunned, “How do I help you? I cannot just force Rui’er to regard you as Murong Xue.”
Murong Feng laughed, as vibrant as a spring flower, “There is no need for that, Grandmother can really tell a joke. Feng’er only knows that Fourth Prince is very loyal to Grandmother, so Feng’er wants to request Grandmother pass down an order, asking Fourth Prince to refrain from forcing Feng’er before he truly loves Feng’er. As for Feng’er, Feng’er will naturally refrain from forcing Fourth Prince to love Feng’er. Feng’er originally wanted to ask Empress to help, but Feng’er thinks that Grandmother is more respected in Fourth Prince’s heart, so Feng’er asks Grandmother to help Feng’er.
With this said, the Empress Dowager could not think of an excuse to refuse. Looking at the warm and delicate expression of the girl in front of her, she could not endure. Heartily agreeing, she ordered Little De to bring a pen, then wrote a decree for Murong Feng.
Murong Feng suppressed a smile, this had been what she wanted.
Sima Zhe was watching Murong Feng quietly. This Murong Feng and the one that he had seen in the Murong Estate had a world of difference. Or to say, they were completely different people. However, the fact remained that it was just one person. Or maybe it was that he had never really paid attention to Murong Feng in the past, who was the Third Miss that everyone in the Murong Estate neglected.
That bright and innocent smile even made his heart move a little.
Leaving the Xiangfu Palace, Murong Feng returned to the Fourth Prince’s residence. Looking at the Empress Dowager’s decree in her hand, she had a smile on her face and a generally happy appearance. Sima Rui hadn’t returned last night at all but it couldn’t be guaranteed that he wouldn’t return during the day. Since she was already married to him as his wife, the only thing that she could do was attempt to delay her ‘marital duties’ as much as possible. With the Empress Dowager’s imperial decree, it could temporarily keep Sima Rui from embarrassing her for the time being.
“Chun Liu”, Murong Feng quietly opened her mouth, having solved a problem that was bothering her, she could live comfortably for some time now. “The Fourth Prince’s mansion is pretty good except for the fact that the mattress is too hard and it’s not too comfortable to sleep. It’s pretty tiring, go find some quilts or mattresses to put on top and make it more comfortable.
Chun Liu was a bit stunned.
“Oh, have the blankets be disassembled, use the wool to make a mattress topper, then use cotton cloth to wrap it. What I want is cotton, please do not use some silk, then spread on the bed. That way I can avoid sleeping on a hard bed that hurts my bones.” Murong Feng sat on a stone chair in the garden, gazing at the autumn breeze which was softly blowing the leaves and the flowers. The ancient landscape really was great: clean, without a bit of pollution, the air always clear.
Chun Liu nodded, then left to work.
In the Eldest Prince Sima Zhe’s estate, Sima Zhe and Murong Qian were debating on what just happened. Murong Feng had shocked them too much.
Meanwhile at the Xiangfu Palace, the Empress Dowager and the Empress were also talking about Murong Feng – this originally ordinary girl had opened their eyes today.
Yet the girl in question was just sitting in the Fourth Prince’s estate, relaxing in the sunlight.
She had read many different stories involving these ancient palaces. Now that she had come here, things were already like this, maybe it would disappear. Maybe it was all a dream and when she opened her eyes, the outside world would be as she remembered it. For now, just act as though it were a dream, living according to one’s will.
Although her body was that of the sixteen-year-old Murong Feng, her soul was that of the twenty seven year-old Bai Min. The two had merged into one. If it truly wasn’t a miracle then it would really be wasting this dream.
“Young Lady, your eldest sister has come to see you.” Chun Liu called to Murong Feng in a soft voice as Murong Feng was reading..
The afternoon autumn sun was shining with a chilly light on the garden. After taking a nap, Murong Feng spent the entire time reading ancient poetry on that stone chair with the wire-bound words looking a bit unfamiliar. On the stone chair was a thick padding to stave the stone’s coldness, as well as a steaming cup of tea on the nearby stone table, along with the occasional insect’s call. [Translator Note: Basically ancient Chinese characters looked different from modern ones.]
She was loathe to get up, turning her head and seeing Murong Qian quietly standing nearby, a set of pretty clothes wrapped around her attractive figure. She looked very dignified, with a noble air; she deserved to be the Eldest Lady of the Murong estate, as well as candidate for Empress.
“Apologies, I have only just recovered and am not comfortable moving. Please, sit.” Murong Feng pointed at the opposite stone chair, which also had a thick padding spread out on it.
Murong Qian sat and dismissed the attendant.
“You probably hate eldest sister right now, don’t you?” Murong Qian looked at the slacking Murong Feng.
Murong Feng let out a laugh, “Don’t mention it, things have already developed to this point.”
“You are completely different from before.” Murong Qian was not hiding anything. In her heart, this third sister was still the third sister from before. (Stone: didn’t you just say that she was completely different, and that you weren’t hiding anything?) Although Murong Feng’s performance this morning had surprised her, she still subconsciously saw Murong Feng as that quiet, weak, cautious, and unpromising Murong Feng.
“I know that you blame me. However, there are some things we can’t help but sacrifice some of our own interests for without protest. That Fourth Prince that you married is a selfish and arrogant man who is spoiled by the Empress Dowager and Empress. When he originally saw little sister he thought she was an angel but how could a phoenix like little sister marry that kind of person? Unfortunately, he is the Emperor’s son, someone the Murong Estate cannot afford to offend.”
“Under these circumstances, we can only substitute you to marry in her place. Although he is undesirable, it does not hinder your previous comfort – compared to marrying someone else, it even comes with a bit of prestige. With my help in the palace along with your second sister’s protection, the Fourth Prince would not be able to be too harsh to you no matter how horrible he is. It’s better for you to behave and not expose your hatred, inconveniencing everyone. For example, this morning you dared to request the Empress Dowager to write you a decree, forbidding the Fourth Prince from nearing you. You think that this bit of intelligence can deal with the Fourth Prince? I’m afraid that…”
Murong Qian shook her head, “If it really was this easy, would the Murong estate need you to replace little sister in the engagement? You had better accept fate!”