Wei Changhong: Wei Luo (MC)’s twin brother
Wei Kun: Wei Luo’s father
Jin Lu: Wei Luo’s trusted maid
Nurse Qiu: Serves Empress Chen
Gao Danyang: Empress Chen’s niece, maternal cousins with Zhao Jie (ML)
Children’s hands didn’t have much strength. Without clippers, she was basically unable to pick a whole string of grapes. Wei Luo tried it twice unsuccessfully, then simply decided to eat what she picked directly while borrowing Zhao Jie’s embrace. She aimed for the largest and roundest grape in the bunch and raised her short arms to seize it, successfully plucking it out. Just as she was about to put it in her mouth, she lowered her head to look at Zhao Jie’s pair of eyes that were as deep as the ocean. Getting an idea, she appeared sensible as she stuffed the grape in his mouth. “Big brother eat it.”
The fruits and vegetables that Empress Chen planted were very clean and there were usually people who attentively took care of the garden. Even without doing much, it was possible to eat straight away.
Actually, Zhao Jie was a picky person, he couldn’t eat unwashed grapes. If he didn’t want to, then don’t eat, Wei Luo didn’t care. No longer minding him, she started eating with relish. Before long, she was finished with half a string. When Zhao Jie put her down, she had already eaten to the full, her belly bulging out. Yet she still looked as if she could go on.
Zhao Jie laughingly told her, “Eating too much will make your belly hurt.”
Wei Luo didn’t believe his words initially, thinking he was envious and crying sour grapes because he couldn’t eat them. Who would have expected that after eating the osmanthus egg soup personally made by Empress Chen, she had barely sat down in the carriage leading back to Duke Ying’s residence, when her belly started hurting. The pain wasn’t quick and violent, but grew gradually. It wasn’t very severe at first, but by the time she reached home, her face was already covered in cold sweat and she was shivering all over from pain.
That really frightened Wei Kun and Changhong. Wei Kun hurriedly told a servant girl to invite a physician over. By the time the physician arrived, she was already throwing up and having diarrhea. Her small face was wan and her body seemed to have grown thinner in half a day.
Holding her slender wrist to diagnose her, the doctor said that it wasn’t anything serious. Just that eating too much raw and cold fruit was harsh on the digestive system. Children’s bodies were delicate. Even if they were bursting with energy normally, it was important to take care of those small details. While the doctor was lecturing, Wei Kun stood to the side, earnestly listening to him. Only when the doctor wrote down a prescription and left, he could finally sigh with relief.
Soon after, Jin Lu came in, carrying the prepared medicine. She helped Wei Luo drink it up, then asked worriedly, “Miss, what did you eat in the palace? Why did your belly get sick?”
Wei Luo weakly reclined into the big decorative pillow, her appearance ill and weary. She spoke dejectedly, “I ate grapes, ate too many.”
As she replied, she couldn’t help but recall Zhao Jie’s earlier words. Her heart was complaining, he really had a jinxed mouth, what he said actually happened. Now that her belly truly was in pain, perhaps she wouldn’t even be able to attend the morning classes, so they had to inform Empress Chen she would be taking several days off until her body recovered. Fortunately after drinking the medicine, she felt much better, no longer throwing up or running to the toilet. Some vigor also returned to her, it wasn’t as bad as in the beginning.
When the old madam and the others heard the news, they rushed to visit in succession. Recently, Wei Luo was the most popular person in Duke Ying’s family. Leaving aside the fact that she had entered the palace as princess Tianji’s study companion, she had even entered Empress Chen’s good graces. Every now and then, Empress Chen would send small gifts toward the fifth branch1 of the family, making the several other branches endlessly envious.
The old Madam Luo had never been very fond of this granddaughter, possibly because her mother had been too unrestrained back in the past, stirring up her two sons to fight for her affection and causing them to fall out with each other. The two brothers were still on bad terms to this day. Usually, the old Madam was neither warm, nor cold toward Wei Luo and Changhong. Sometimes she would remember to show care and say a few words to them. It was far inferior to the love she showed to her other grandchildren. Now that Empress Chen had attached great importance to Wei Luo, her manner to Wei Luo had also changed a lot. Unlike the previous neglect, her face was all smiles whenever she met Wei Luo.
Wei Luo knew that the old madam didn’t like her, so she also didn’t try to be intimate with her. In this residence, the one she was closest to was her fourth aunt. Other than fourth aunt, everyone else was unimportant.
Her body was feeling weak. As she lay within the beddings, only her small face the size of a palm was revealed. Her large eyes shifted around, taking in the people encircling her bed. She paused when she reached Madam Qin. “Fourth aunt, stay with me…”
Madam Qin came closer, sat down on the bedside, then carefully tucked in a corner of the bedding as she hurriedly said, “Good, good, fourth aunt will stay behind to accompany you.”
When the gathered people saw she was safe, they started leaving one by one. The room immediately became a lot more peaceful. Wei Luo was also tired right now. Closing her eyes, she was sound asleep in no time.
Wei Luo was sick for three days already. During those three days, she hadn’t gone to any classes.
The first two days Zhao Liuli could still endure, but by the third day she completely exploded. Nurse Qiu always deceived her by saying that Wei Luo would come to the palace the next day, but after waiting for two whole days, she still hadn’t come. What if she never came back? Princess Tianji didn’t have many friends, so she naturally placed a lot of importance on her. Although Nurse Qiu repeatedly tried to appease her, saying that Wei Luo had merely fallen sick and she would be back in the palace as soon as she got better, Zhao Liuli didn’t listen.
Today Zhao Liuli had said that she wouldn’t drink her medicine no matter what. Each time they fed it to her, she would spit it out. She insisted that as long as Wei Luo came, she would willingly take the medicine.
Heavens, it turned out that the fourth Miss of Duke Ying’s house was a true miracle drug!
Nurse Qiu didn’t dare to waste time, she rushed to Zhaoyang Hall to report to Empress Chen. It turned out that Zhao Jie and Gao Danyang were also there. Zhao Jie had come to pay respects to Empress Chen, while Gao Danyang had come to visit her maternal aunt, so they happened to bump into each other. Nurse Qiu recounted the matter and asked awkwardly, “Empress, what should we do?”
Empress Chen frowned and couldn’t help but start to worry. “What is Ah Luo’s condition? Can she enter the palace?”
Nurse Qiu said, “I’m afraid she cannot… Someone from Duke Ying’s house came by this morning to pass on a message. It looks like the fourth Miss is still bed-ridden.”
That was difficult to deal with. One couldn’t enter the palace, the other didn’t want to drink her medicine. It seriously made Empress Chen anxious to death.
Sitting on the round-backed wooden armchair beside them, Zhao Jie heard everything. His finger stroked along the edge of the cup with colored chicken drawing as he asked, “Wei Luo has fallen ill?”
Empress Chen confirmed, then sat on the ebony arhat bed and spoke in quite a disconsolate mood, “The day before yesterday she was still very well, who knows how she suddenly fell ill. I heard that the sickness wasn’t light. She hasn’t been to class at all for the last two days.”
Zhao Jie controlled his expression and replied with an ‘Mhm’, seemingly deep in thought. Then he asked no further.
Sitting across from him, Gao Danyang heard Wei Luo’s name and couldn’t help but ask about her. “Aunt, are you talking about the fourth Miss of Duke Ying’s house, Wei Luo?”
Gao Danyang had especially dressed up today. A 13-14 year old maiden, just starting to develop, her looks were delicate; a charming and graceful beauty. She was wearing a pure white embroidered dress that showed off her tall figure, fine and exquisite. Part of her hair was rolled up in a bun, while the rest hung loose. A green jade hair pin with a pair of mandarin ducks2 was inserted by her temples. A decorative mark in the shape of a plum blossom was drawn between her brows, making her facial features appear even brighter and prettier, almost like a picture. However after seeing her, Zhao Jie couldn’t help but think of Wei Luo’s small red birthmark between her brows. That birthmark was hidden beneath her bangs and couldn’t be glimpsed normally. When the hair was pushed to the sides occasionally, people would notice it. And compared to the decorative marks, it was much more attractive.
Empress Chen nodded. “She’s Liuli’s study companion now… Why, are you acquainted?”
Gao Danyang shook her head, intentionally or otherwise turning to glance at Zhao Jie and nipping her cherry lips as she spoke, “Not acquainted, I’ve only heard about her.”
Did she want to talk about that thing with the cat? Zhao Jie lowered his eyes and focused indifferently on the cup in his hand, as if he hadn’t noticed her line of sight.
While on the subject, Empress Chen spoke about the day when Wei Luo had persuaded Zhao Liuli to take her medicine. Half way in the story, she called to mind that Zhao Liuli still hadn’t drank the medicine. At this point, she had to stop and set forth for a trip to Chenhua Hall with Nurse Qiu, planning to personally coax her.
Gao Danyang really wasn’t that interested in Wei Luo, but she had unwittingly incited Empress Chen a while ago, so she was forced to reluctantly listen to her with a smile. Now that the empress wanted to go Chenhua Hall, she also got up to accompany her. She would take a look at Zhao Liuli’s situation on the way.
Gao Danyang intended to make Zhao Jie go as well, but he declined as he stood up from the chair, “I still have things to do. I’ll come by again tomorrow and see Liuli.”
Done speaking, he walked out the palace hall without even bothering to say goodbye to Gao Danyang. In a blink, he had already disappeared in the distance.
Gao Danyang pouted angrily as she stared at his back for a long time.
On his way out of the palace, Zhao Jie instructed Zhu Geng, who was behind him, while he walked, “Go to Duke Ying’s residence and snoop around. Find out what the fourth Miss is sick with and when she’ll be cured. If they need any medicine ingredients, there’s plenty in this Prince’s mansion.”
Zhu Geng was slightly startled, but he very quickly complied with a ‘Yes’, and left the palace to handle his tasks.
Duke Ying’s residence.
Wei Luo’s condition had improved a lot, but the first day of throwing up and diarrhea had been too terrible, it had sapped her strength. After spending two days to recover at home, she was feeling much better. She reckoned she would be able to attend classes tomorrow.
She didn’t know what was going on in the palace. At this moment, she had barely finished drinking her medicine. While she was practically speechless from its bitterness, Changhong came in from outside, clutching a small enamel case with lotus patterns. He presented it to her arms like a treasure. “Ah Luo, for you.”
Very curious, Wei Luo asked while she opened it, “What is it?”
Changhong hadn’t opened his mouth to reply yet, when she already saw the stuff inside. Lying inside were colorful and glossy round candies. The red ones had hawthorn stuffing, the yellow ones – tangerine, the purple ones – grape… They were also wrapped in a transparent sugar coating on the outside. They were as pretty as they were fragrant. Wei Luo caught one with hawthorn filling and threw it in her mouth. It was not only sweet, but also had the typical hawthorn sour taste. The combination of sweet and sour got rid of the bitter aftertaste inside her mouth. It was extremely delicious.
Wei Luo hadn’t see these kinds of sweets around. Taking one to feed to Changhong, she asked, “Where did you find this?”
Changhong rarely showed a smiling expression. Since he looked handsome and refined, a smile really improved his overall impression. “Eldest brother went out today, so I went with him and bought this in town.” Pausing a bit, he went on speaking like a small adult, “It’s good if you like it.”
Holding the small enamel box with both hands, Wei Luo’s almond eyes narrowed in a smile. “I like it very much.”
Changhong was aware she had to drink bitter medicine. That he would think of her while he went shopping left her really moved. Having only a small doubt, Wei Luo asked him where he got the money, but he said it was the New Year’s spending money that Wei Kun had given him before. Wei Luo was reassured by that.
After Changhong left, Wei Luo placed the box by the headboard. With this thing around, she was no longer afraid of drinking bitter medicine in the future. She could also bring it to the palace and let Zhao Liuli try a few, but not too many. It was the first time Changhong had gifted her something, so she felt it was a pity to eat too much of it.
Lost in daydreams, Wei Luo lied back down and fell asleep soon after.
Roughly around 5 pm, the Sun was setting in the West, gradually covering the courtyard in red rays. The maid Jin Lu pushed the door to walk into the room. On the purple tray in her hands was a bowl of yam congee. She woke Wei Luo up. “Miss, get up and eat the congee. You haven’t eaten anything at noon, you have to eat something now.”
Wei Luo was roused in the middle of a dream. She narrowed her eyes to clear her head as she was rather dazed.
After drinking the medicine at noon, her mouth had been bitter. Where would she have the mood to eat? She was indeed a little hungry now. Wei Luo rubbed her eyes. “Big sister Jin Lu, feed me.”
Jin Lu was helpless with her, laughingly complying.
Jin Lu fed her mouthful by mouthful. Maybe because she had just woken up, her appetite was weak. She had only eaten half the bowl when she said she didn’t want to eat anymore. Her small body dug into the beddings and continued to rest.
No matter how Jin Lu tried to coax her, it was useless. In the end, she had no choice but to give up. She made the kitchen keep the congee warm, so that when Wei Luo got hungry, she could bring it back in.
At nightfall, the sky gradually turned dark. girlynovelsblog.wordpress.com
Wei Kun had just returned from the Imperial Academy when he overheard the servants speaking from inside the room, saying that Wei Luo’s condition had become serious again! Without even changing his clothes, he rushed toward Wei Luo’s room, finding the little girl lying in bed, her body curled up and her face white. She was also slightly twitching.
Wei Kun’s heart shrunk in fear. Reaching the bed in a few large strides, he gathered Wei Luo to his chest, then sternly questioned the servants, “How did this happen?”
[In author’s notes]
(Prince Jing = Zhao Jie)
(baobao = baby or darling, cutesy way to refer to someone, usually kids)
Baby Jing’s Diary:
The first day that Ah Luo didn’t come by, missing her.
The second day that Ah Luo didn’t come by, missing her.
The third day that Ah Luo didn’t come by, still missing her.
The fourth day that Ah Luo didn’t come by……Zhao Jie called for Zhu Geng: “Prepare the carriage, this Prince wants to go to Duke Ying’s residence.”
Notes: I suppose you ignore the palace hall names as much as I do, which is why I didn’t bother to keep track of them. Keep in mind all the Imperial consorts have their own Hall in the palace harem (which is a huge area at the back of the palace), and all the little princesses have their own Halls too. Don’t imagine a palace hall as a huge empty room or something, it’s kinda like a residence – not quite a house, not quite a room. The princes are men, so when they’re no longer little kids, they get their own residence/mansion/palace outside the Imperial palace. Making a name for themselves and all that independence. At least to my understanding.