The banquet is over.
He should be here soon.
“Xie Changgeng, what are you doing here”
“If it wasn’t for my father’s sake, I would not have let you set foot into Changsha!”
Mu Xuanqing’s voice seemed to reverberate to the top of the tall and dome-shaped temple.
Xie Changgeng looked calm and bowed to him as a minister to the king.
After the salute, he said, “Can you tell me why”
Mu Xuanqing’s two eyes, as if containing a sharp arrow of anger, stabbed at Xie Changgeng on the opposite side.
“When my father, regardless of your status as a bandit, looked favorably on you and promised my sister to you.
At the beginning of the year, I married the princess far away to fulfil this promise.
She traveled far and wide to marry you, but you left her alone on the wedding night.
After she came to your Xie family, she served the elders, presided over the household, and pitied the servants.
Has she ever been discourteous or complained “
“What has my sister done wrong She has only been in your family for half a year, but she has been humiliated like this What kind of family is your Xie family that dares to treat the princess of Changsha like this”
Mu Xuanqing clenched his fist tightly, his veins bulged on the back of his hand.
In a tone of disgust, he gritted his teeth and called out the name of the man opposite him.
“You are shameless!”
“You are calculative and you’ve been doing all sorts of nasty things! Three years ago, you came to Changsha to ask for marriage, bent on climbing up.
If my father had not been deceived by you and helped you, how could you have secured an official career and risen to greatness”
“You are an ungrateful, cruel and unscrupulous bandit! Could it be that you can treat the princess of Changsha with no repercussions
“Governor Xie, although you are powerful and unbeatable now and Changsha is just a small state, but the ancestors of the Mu family are heroic.
Though the descendants, like me are incompetent, I will not sit back and watch my sister be humiliated like this by you!”
“I will not make it difficult for you, since you have come to pay respects to the late king.
Now that you have finished paying your respects, please make yourself comfortable! The temple of Changsha is too small to accommodate you!”
He paused for a moment and threw a document on the ground.
“Listen carefully, from today onwards, my Mu family and your Xie family will not longer have any relationship! My sister has nothing to do with you either! Either can marry as they please!”
After he finished speaking, he turned around to leave.
“Wait a minute!”
Xie Changgeng, who had been silent until now, suddenly spoke.
Mu Xuanqing stopped, but did not turn around.
Xie Changgeng walked over.
“I understand Your Highness’ meaning.
Your words of rebuke are right.
I have no intention to defend and there is no excuse.
It’s just that there are some misunderstandings in the middle and if we don’t clarify it and it hurts the peace, I’m afraid it would be a disappointment to my father-in-law’s teachings to me when he gave the marriage.”
Mu Xuanqing slowly turned his face and looked at him coldly.
“To tell you the truth, as soon as I returned, I immediately set out here, not only to pay respects to the ancestors and kings of the Mu family in Changsha, but also to bring back the princess…”
“Bring her back for what” Mu Xuanqing was furious.
“Could it be that this humiliation is not enough”
Xie Changgeng looked calm.
“If what I think is correct, the reason for Your Highness’ anger, the reason should be that my mother had mentioned the matter of taking a concubine in front of the princess.
Your Highness only knows one thing, but not the other.
It is because of the misunderstanding that I need to explain.”
Mu Xuanqing sneered and did not say anything.
“When I returned home last month, I learned that the princess had returned to Changsha. I heard from the servants back home that for the past six months, she has been serving my mother in the morning and evening on my behalf.
Although the move to return to her mothers home is a bit sudden, it is also justifiable.”
“The cause of the incident lies with my mother.
When I was younger, I was unfilial and implicated my mother and she suffered hardship.
During the difficult times, she was greatly favoured by others.
Now the other’s situation is not good and her parents have both died.
My mother wholeheartedly cherishes old relationships and in a moment of thoughtlessness rashly brought up the idea of bringing the lady home.
According to my mother, the princess agreed at the time.”
Xie Changgeng paused.
“My mother is illiterate and trapped in the inner house.
Although she has little knowledge, she has a straightforward nature.
When she heard the princess agree, she only thought of her own joy.
She was full of gratitude for the magnanimity of the princess and didn’t think any further.
“The day I returned home, I learned about this from my mother.
I did not dispute her because I felt it was inappropriate at the time.
I couldn’t bear to disappoint my mother.
When I heard that the princess had also graciously agreed, I thought I would bring her back first and discuss it later.”
“It is my fault that this matter has caused your anger.
It is a blessing for me to have such a wife, not to mention the kindness of my father-in-law, which I have not yet repaid.”
“Don’t worry, Your Highness, I know what to do in the future.
When we return, I will make amends for my mother.”
He stared at Mu Xuanqing with a calm expression.
Mu Xuanqing said word by word, “Xie Changgeng, you are not a good match for my sister! Since my sister has returned on her own, no matter how eloquent you are today, you will not persuade me to let my sister enter the Xie family with you again!”
“Your Highness, I am puzzled with what you just said.
Marriage is a good thing between two surnames, not child’s play.”
He looked around the Mu family temple and his eyes fell on the tablet of the old Changsha wang.
“No matter what Your Highness thinks of me, the marriage between me and your sister was decided by your father personally.
There are three matchmakers and six witnesses.
There is nothing missing.
My mother’s words were inappropriate, but she did not make any outrageous actions.
No one is a saint, how can they be without fault Besides, she is only an old woman from the countryside.
Your Highness is being so aggressive, isn’t that unkind”
He still smiled, but his tone was also a bit more aggressive, implying authority.
Mu Xuanqing’s face became extremely stiff and he stared at the man in green clothes standing opposite him.
After a long while, he gritted his teeth and said: “Xie Changgeng! In order to achieve success, you have the audacity to be a panderer.
You are clinging to…”
At this moment, a woman’s voice came from outside the temple, interrupting Mu Xuanqing’s words.
Xie Changgeng raised his eyes.
On the steps outside the temple stood a young woman dressed in elegant clothes. She had a beautiful face, graceful and generous, it is Queen Lu of Changsha.
Lu shi stopped her husband’s angry words in time, stepped forward, gave her husband a secret wink, then crossed the threshold of the temple, came to Xie Changgeng, and said with a smile, “Governor Xie has come a long way.
If there is any offense, please forgive me.”
Xie Changgeng smiled slightly and greeted Lu shi.
“It is a great honor for me to see the honorable face of the Queen of Changsha.
How can it be rude”
Lu returned the salute with a half salute.
“Thank you for being so generous, I admire the Governor.
You must be tired from the journey, so please go to the post house to rest for a while.
The king will arrange a banquet in the palace to welcome you.”
“As for the matter of the princess…”
“Please be at ease, we will discuss later.
What does the Governor think”
Xie Changgeng smiled, “Thank you.
Then I will take my leave.”
He turned around and under the gaze of the two gloomy eyes from Mu Xuanqing behind him, he reverently saluted the tablet of the old Changsha wang again before leaving.
When Lu shi returned to the palace, she didn’t even have time to take off her clothes, instead she hurried to Mu Fulan’s boudoir, dismissed her servants and closed the door.
“Lan’er, fortunately I listened to your words and rushed to the temple in time, which prevented your brother’s anger and blunder.
His temper is still too aggressive! If Xie Changgeng heard his disrespect words about Empress Liu and told the treacherous queen, I am afraid that the situation of Changsha Kingdom will be even worse in the future.
Mu Fulan was silent.
“This Xie Changgeng, when he came to ask for marriage three years ago, I only glanced at him from a distance.
At that time, I only felt that he had a heroic style, different from ordinary people.
Today, when I met him, I realised why he is so young and has become a governor.
He should be the same age as your brother, but in terms of the depth of mind, he is far beyond your brother’s reach.”
She frowned, worried.
“I heard him say that he is unwilling to let you stay here.
You have already passed through the door.
His words are so well spoken and he has taken the matter of concubinage off the table.
If he won’t let you go, I’m afraid it will be difficult for you to achieve your wish.”
Mu Fulan said, “Sister-in-law, after the banquet, ask him come to my place.”
Lu shi hurriedly said, “Lan’er, don’t misunderstand.
Since my sister-in-law promised to help you, she will not go back on her word.
What she means is that this person is not easy to deal with, so I want you to be prepared, so that you won’t be disappointed if things aren’t resolved quickly.
You can rest assure that even if he doesn’t agree, you have already returned and as long as your brother holds onto his Xie family’s rude concubinage and doesn’t let you go, this is the country of Changsha, he dares to do something like forcibly robbing someone”
“Xie Changgeng is indeed not easy to deal with, if the matter drags on, it’s not easy for my brother or Changsha.
“This matter originally started because of me and it is also my own matter with him.
No matter how much my brother and sister-in-law talk to him, it will be ineffectual.
It is better for me to talk things over with him myself and end it early.”
Lu Shi was taken aback.
“Lan’er, this Xie Changgeng is really not an easy person to deal with… Sister-in-law is afraid that you won’t be able to deal with it…”
“Sister-in-law, don’t worry!”
“He and I are considered husband and wife. It is also necessary to make things clear.
Whether it will work out as expected or not, I have to give it a try.”
Lu shi looked at her sister-in-law.
Her eyes were clear and she looked at herself with a smile.
Lu shi hesitated for a while and finally nodded, “Alright.
Then I’ll go and talk to your brother.
If you have anything to say, you can make it clear to him in person.
It’s best if he listens to you.”
Fulan smiled and said, “Thank you, Sister-in-law!”
Night fell. In the banquet hall Changsha’s royal palace, a feast was being held to entertain the guests.
Giant candles were lined up in the east and west wings of the hall, like two fire dragons, emitting brilliance and illuminating the whole hall as bright as day. In front of the hall, under the left and right eaves there were high-hanging musical instruments. In the south pillar of the hall, there are bells and drums for music.
All the regulations are only inferior to the emperor.
Such a style can only be seen in the house of a prince.
Before the east-facing upper seat, the left bronze turtle, the right bronze crane, and the turtle crane exhaled wisps of ambergris smoke.
Mu Xuanqing sat here.
Xie Changgeng was seated as the guest of honour.
The officials of Changsha who came to accompany the guests also took their seats in order of honor.
The front hall of the palace is brightly lit tonight, drums and music are blaring, but the backyard is quiet.
The night darkened the flowers and trees, and the shadows of the eaves were like a painting. A few lanterns, emitting dim yellow light, illuminated the deep winding road leading to the princess’ bedroom.
The surroundings were quiet, not a single sound could be heard.
Mu Fulan closed her eyes tightly and completely covered her body in the hot water.
It seemed as if countless pairs of gentle hands were stroking her, permeating every pore of her body with hot air, comforting her curled up body.
She slowly stretched out her limbs and relaxed completely.
She opened her eyes, got up from the tub of hot water, dried herself, wrapped herself in a robe, walked to the door and opened the latch.
Mu mama was the only one in the room.
She was waiting outside the bathroom door, her brows furrowed and her eyes worried. Seeing that Mu Fulan finally came out, she hurried to meet her and reached out to support her arm.
Mu Fulan stood there steadily and smiled at her.
“Tell them to come in and change my clothes.”
Mu mama suppressed the worry in her heart, glanced at her, turned around, opened the door and called the maids in.
The maids entered and gathered around to dress her.
After dressing, Mu Fulan did not get up, she still sat in front of the mirror, looking at herself.
Her figure remained motionless for a long time.
She seemed to be in a trance and looked indifferent.
The maids were usually close to her, but at this moment, they all stood aside and dared not speak.
After a while, there was a sudden sound of rapid footsteps.
The door was pushed open and Dan Zhu stepped in.
Mu mama hurried out.
Dan Zhu whispered something. Mu mama turned into the inner room, returned behind Mu Fulan, leaned down, put her mouth to her ear, and whispered, “The banquet is over.
He should be here soon.”
The night breeze followed the door, passing through a section of gauze tent draped in the compartment, soundlessly rushing in.
Mu Fulan turned her face, her eyes fell on the nearby cluster of lights swaying in the wind, and said, “I see.
You all go out.”