YMPCD – Chapter 17

 

Chapter 17

Buttering Up to the Emperor

In Tian Qi’s opinion, she got scolded because the emperor was originally angry.  When he stumbled upon her, she became his punching bag.

The emperor is still angry at the moment, so it is best for her not to show her face in front of him.  And so, she returns to Gan Qing Palace and ponders about how to avoid this calamity inside her room.

The best way to save herself is definitely by buttering up to the emperor.  But how?
The emperor does not seem to have any hobby other than criticizing memorials.  He was raised as the heir to the throne from the very beginning; while other kids were playing with crickets, he had to listen to old men’s lectures.  Once he grew up a little, the previous Guifei blocked his way and left him brutally battered, leaving him no chance to properly grow up.

Other than hearing rumors about him being a good cuju player when he was the Crown Prince, she never heard anything else about him.

(TN: Cuju is a type of football game.)

Honestly, even if she knows what he likes, she probably cannot do anything about it.  The tasks of the eunuchs in the imperial front line are clear; they are to serve His Majesty properly and that usually means she doesn’t have the chance to do anything else while with him.

Thinking of that, she gets discouraged a little.  She used to serve a couple of short-lived mistresses and the rules around them were pretty lax.  She had plenty of room to work her magic.  With the emperor, Tian Qi feels a little restrained.

Feeling stressed, Tian Qi leaves her room and goes to Bao He Shop.

Bao He Shop is a very curious place.  It is a self-run store by the eunuchs to sell unnecessary things from and to the palace.  Although the palace is big, that does not means that it can house so many things.  If there are something the mistresses does not like, or perhaps of little value that they does not want to see anymore, they will ask their eunuchs to sell that items here.  If it sells, the mistress gets the biggest portion while the eunuch gets whatever remains.  Naturally, things that are rare and cannot be used by the common people, like the dragon robe are strictly prohibited.

In order to prevent people from selling stolen items, everything that is to be sell outside must receive their owner’s permission first.  Although those things might be useless in the palace, it actually has a pretty good market outside.

After time passed, Bao He Shop not only sells things from the palace, they also start selling things from the farthest corner of the land.  It is pretty much a quirky little shop full of wonder.  You can even ask them to sell your items to the people outside the palace; all in all, it is sort of like those pawn shops in the capital.

Some of the eunuchs are pretty deceitful, lying about the items that they are about to sell.  Some of the buyers have good eyes, they will not be falling for any lies.

Although the store’s headquarter seems to be outside, it’s treasury is located inside the palace.  Even the mistresses and their servants are free to shop in Bao He Shop, just the items inside the palace’s shop are usually not that valuable (to their standard), so not many bother to visit the shop.  Tian Qi does not have much expectation for this; finding an item that may help her butter up to the emperor is very unlikely, but since she has nothing to do after all, she goes to the shop to squander time.

Who knows, maybe she will find something worthwhile this time.

—-

Ji Heng eats his dinner in Ci Ning Palace before returning to Gan Qing Palace.

By the time he returns there, his anger has dissipated.  Honestly, even he is surprised by his overreaction.  It must be because the palace is supposed to be solemn and strict and Tian Qi went around going haywire and that took him by surprise.

Lucky the news of Ruyi crying didn’t reach the empress dowager.  Ji Heng is very thankful of that.  His imperial mother has mastered a really great skill to keep him under control.  Perhaps, she mastered it from practicing it all the time with the late emperor.  She is able to control her tears according to her will.  She can squeeze out tears the moment she wants it to.  She can stop it at her own will too.  Everytime the previous Guifei instigated the late emperor to turn against her, she would reply it with silent tears.  No matter how angry a man was, they could not bear to get angry in front of a woman like that.  Moreover, this wife gave him a son and worked so hard for so many years, how could he bear to scold her?

Although this may seem weak and cowardly, it worked really well with the late emperor.

In Ji Heng’s opinion, his imperial mother is not weak.  Instead, she is strong underneath her gentleness.  She is very good at softening people’s heart, she knows how to use sympathy to protect herself and her own son.  She also knows how to escape the other consorts’ intrigue.  She is wise and level-headed.

Although she wasted a lot of tears, she was never complacent or wallowed herself in self-pity.  She never portrayed herself as the victim in front of her son, never burdened him with her emotional baggage.  Instead, all she did was encourage his growth.

That was how she managed to be the one to have the last laugh.

Upon returning to Gan Qing Palace, Ji Heng goes to the imperial study.  He wants to be alone for a moment, so he sends Sheng An Huai away.  Who would have known that the moment Sheng An Huai left, Tian Qi walks in with a huge grin on her face.

She is carrying a long rosewood box.  Her steps are brisk and her eyes are twinkling in excitement.  She stands inside the room, excitedly looking at Ji Heng.

When he sees Tian Qi, he is suddenly reminded of the ‘His Majesty wants to ride a turtle too’ theory.  He looks at her snappily, “Didn’t your shift ended?  What are you doing here?”

“Your Majesty, this servant has managed to get a good item and wanted to show it to you.”

Ji Heng puts down his book and looks at her sarcastically, “Oh really?  What is it?  Is it perhaps gouniaotai?”

(TN:  Apparently, Gouniaotai is a kind of mushroom that grows on places that is sprinkled with dog’s urine.)

Tian Qi happily hugs the box.

“Didn’t you say you want to show it to zhen?  What are you waiting for?”

Tian Qi happily walks over.  She puts the box on the table and flips open the lid.

A fan can be seen lying on top of silk inside the box. Ji Heng picks it up.  The fan is made of common yuzhu.  It is not pricey, in fact, it has slight deformation.  The fan has turned brown, indicating it’s old age.

(TN: Yuzhu is a plant called Solomon’s Seal.)

There is a painting on the fan, of a man playing cuju.  The man looked formidable.  From the way his robe fluttered, one could tell that he was moving as fast as the wind.  He raised one leg to kick the ball upward and the ball flew upwards before disappearing from sight.

Ji Heng looks at Tian Qi only to see her eyeing him with sparkling eyes, looking like a little pet that is seeking recognition.  If she has a tail, it would be wagging by now.

The corner of his lips curls up.  He finds this pretty funny.  He lowers his head to look at the signature of the painter.  When he sees that, he turns solemn from the shock.

Behind the fan, a thumb-sized signature can be seen: Mu Xi.

He looks up again and eyes Tian Qi from head to toe, “Do you know who painted this?”

“Answering Your Majesty, no, this servant does not know who.  From the way it looks, the fan should be around a couple of hundred years old.  The painting looks interesting, so this servant brought it to you.”

“This is painted by a monk from the Northern Song Dynasty.”  He points at the signature, “The monk’s name is Mu Xi.  He had painted trees and flowers and even people, but zhen has never heard of him painting cuju.”

“Is the painting fake?”

Ji Heng shakes his head, “No, from his handwriting and his signature, this is indeed painted by him.  The monk had always been a mysterious historical figure.  Perhaps he liked cuju, hence the painting.  Where did you get this from?”

“This servant brought it from Bao He Shop.”

Speaking of that, Tian Qi is indeed lucky.  The eunuchs there are very knowledgeable in antiques, but not in calligraphy.  The monk was such a secretive person, he didn’t paint a lot of things in his lifetime, the news of him painting cuju was pretty much unheard of.  They must have not recognized the signature.  In the end, this precious item is considered garbage and only managed to be sold one year later.

Tian Qi did asked that eunuch where this fan came from.  He told her that a young master who liked gambling sold a lot of things to the shop, this fan was a free gift.

And that is how Tian Qi managed to pick up the waste thrown by others.

When Ji Heng hears that it was bought from Bao He Shop, he is very intrigued, “Bao He Shop actually sells decent things?  How much did you paid for this?”

Tian Qi shows him four fingers.

“4000 liang?”

“40.”

“…….”

Seeing Ji Heng getting speechless, she points at the rosewood box, “That box was 60 liang!  I tried to haggle with him, but he won’t budge!”

She really has a pair of undiscerning eyes.  To the point where it infuriate the heavens!  Ji Heng feels like he is surrounded by idiots.

Tian Qi cautiously asks him, “Do you like that fan, Your Majesty?”

Ji Heng does not answer her.  He simply put the fan back to it’s box before gently closing the lid.  “You spend 100 liang on these two objects?”

“Yes.”

“Go and take 200 liang from the treasury.”

“Yes, Your Majesty!” Tian Qi secretly think that the money is not important as long as he likes them.

“Gold liang.”

“…..” She stares at him, stunned.

“Go and take 200 liang of gold.  Can’t you hear what zhen said?” Seeing the silly stunned look on her face, the corner of Ji Heng’s lips curls upwards.

Tian Qi immediately thank him for his grace, suddenly thinking that money is indeed too important.  Just as she is about to retreat, she suddenly thinks of something, “Your Majesty, can this servant leave the palace tomorrow, after this servant’s shift?”

“What are you going to do outside the palace?”

“To keep my money outside the palace,” 200 liang of gold is really hard to hide.

She is indeed money-oriented.  Ji Heng’s mood is really good at the moment, so he simply says, “Go ahead.”

Once Tian Qi left, Ji Heng opens that rosewood box once again.  He picks up the fan.

That rotten brat….  He only reprimanded her a little today and she immediately went to Bao He Shop to look for something to appease him.  Is he that scary?

Looking at the fan, she is indeed worthy of being a servant that he likes.  She actually managed to find something that suits his taste.

He looks at the box.  It glimmers under the light and the dark red fibers make it look even more likeable.  There are the carvings of vines on the lid.  It looks pretty exquisite too.

Ji Heng unwittingly sighs.  She actually spent 100 liang on these two items.  It is not easy for eunuch to make money, she really has it hard this time.

The image of Tian Qi wagging her tail, looking so silly, suddenly emerges in his mind.

Ji Heng shakes his head while chuckling a little.  A trace of gentleness can be seen in his eyes, one that he did not noticed himself. “Little pervert.”


Serene:  This chapter was brought to you by Govinden.

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