Nearly everything had been cleared away. The long tables and seating cushions were also removed, only leaving the one in front of her, the princess.
The people were also gone, only leaving Yue Jiefei, who had been standing guard not far behind her. Chu Yu turned to see his tall and straight figure, then said: “Yue Jiefei, go keep watch in front, and don’t look at me.”
Yue Jiefei’s expression suddenly became kind of strange. Whatever he was thinking, his face turned slightly red, then obediently stepped forward about ten steps.
Seeing Yue Jiefei blush, Chu Yu’s face was green. Judging by the expression he just had on, did he think she was going to some dirty thing? The real reason why she asked the others to leave first, was only because……
Her face downcast, Chu Yu struggled to move her body. Her hands on the ground for support, she liberated her two calves, which have been pressed under her body and now lost sensitivity. After sitting for so long, her legs were numb.
Clenching her fists, Chu Yu pounded on her legs. Pain like being stabbed by needles entered her skin and flesh, inch by inch. After rubbing her legs to wake up her long-oppressed blood vessels, and standing up to wobble a few steps, Chu Yu finally recovered a little. She also made up her mind to vigorously promote sitting chairs in the Princess’s palace from today on.
After walking around a bit, Chu Yu could move freely. She let out her breath softly, then called out to Yue Jiefei, “Follow me, I want to stroll around a little.” She had not examined the Princess’s palace yet.
Yue Jiefei replied, “Yes. I will order them to bring the sedan chair over.” Usually, if the Princess of Shanyin walked anything more than a few steps, people would carry her around in her sedan chair.
Chu Yu shaked her head. “No need. You walking with me is good enough.”
“Yes.” Although Yue Jiefei agreed, his gaze floated around, dodging Chu Yu’s eyes, as if Chu Yu was some type of human-eating wild beast. After a short while, he asked, hesitating, “Princess, do you need me to call a few others to accompany us?”
Chu Yu paused, then looking at his expression, she suddenly understood. Looks like this chap was afraid that the beast inside her would come out when they were alone, and harass the “handsome nice next-door boy”, ruining him. Therefore he was so unwilling.
Compared to all those beautiful men on the Princess’s palace, Yue Jiefei Yue’s appearance couldn’t even cross the passing line. Chu Yu couldn’t help but admire his narcissism.
Not knowing whether she should get angry or amused, Chu Yu was about to explain. But then she thought, there was no need for it, so she started to exit the apricot woods, “Enough, shut up. Follow me.”
As she walked, Chu Yu silently made note of the topography and paths in the palace, slowly carving out a partial map of the Princess’s palace in her head. Partial because the Princess’s palace took up so much land, that after a full thirty minutes of walking, stopping, and sometimes enjoying the scenery, Chu Yu only finished half of the inner court.
The Princess’s palace was divided into the outer court and inner court, basically two layers. The division between the two layers was very strict. Only the most trusted maids and servants of the princess, her male concubines, and her husband could enter the inner court; while at the outer court, besides areas for playing and enjoyment, lived some menkes1 , officers of the palace, and the princess’s guards and private army. When Chu Yu first knew about the private armed soldiers at her palace, she was very astonished. Wouldn’t this lead to her being “accidentally killed” by the emperor? Later did she learn that during this time period, the powers of the emperor’s kin and nobles were very big, so they could even name their own officials at their palaces.
Since she wouldn’t be “accidentally killed”, and these matters had special people to manage, there was no need for her to look after them. Therefore Chu Yu didn’t bother about it further.
Even though they stopped frequently, after half an hour of standing and walking, Chu Yu still felt tired. She was unhappy with weakness of this body, but this wasn’t something that could be changed in one day. So she had to bear with it for now.
Leaning on a buttonwood for rest, Chu Yu wiped the sweat on her forehead with her sleeve. Around her were bamboos and sparsely planted buttonwoods, making her surroundings very elegant and pleasant. The light sounds resulting from wind blowing across leaves comforted the restlessness in Chu Yu’s heart.
The Princess’s palace was filled with greenery. The gardens and rockery were beautiful and presentable; streams and bridges, flowers and trees, appeared at every turn; although these were all pleasing to the eye, after looking at it for a long time, Chu Yu couldn’t help but feel uninterested. But this forest of buttonwoods and bamboos was quiet and unique. It had a different kind of gracefulness and meaning.
Peering through the gaps between bamboos and branches, Chu Yu managed to identify a white wall standing ahead. Over the wall, there were more buttonwoods and bamboos. She called to Yue Jiefei, and asked casually, “Who lives around here?”
Yue Jiefei had no doubt in her inquiring, and replied without thinking, “This is Master Rong’s Snow Shower Garden.”
“Oh,” Chu Yu acknowledged softly, then suddenly noticed someone approaching. Fixing her eyes on him, she saw a refined and handsome young man. He had on a high hat and a wide belt, and when he walked, his loose garments and broad sleeves flapped in the wind, giving him the appearance of an ancient scholar. He didn’t notice Chu Yu hidden between the bamboos and buttonwoods, but hurried towards Snow Shower Garden. Pushing open the unlatched red lacquer doors, he walked straight inside.
Only then did Chu Yu realize that Snow Shower Garden didn’t have guards around it, nor was there any means of security. It was because of this, that this place had such a refined and unworldly feeling.
Chu Yu had never seen that youth before. Now that he appeared in the inner court and his appearance was so handsome, his identity called out in Chu Yu’s heart: either he was her not yet met husband, or he was one of the two male concubines that claimed sick.
Originally Chu Yu had suspected, how could things be so coincidental, that on such a nourishing and warm spring day, two of her male concubines dropped sick. But to know what was really going on, she needed find out and prove it herself.
While Chu Yu was debating what her next step should be, another person showed up. It was the solitary and depressed youth at the banquet. Just like the one before, he didn’t see her, and also went towards Snow Shower Garden.
Chu Yu vaguely remembered that someone called him Jiang Yan at the banquet.
Chu Yu humphed lightly from her nose: she had just organized a Spring Banquet among the apricot woods, and now Rong Zhi was organizing a Little Spring Banquet on his territory?
Randomly ripping off a newly grown bamboo leaf, Chu Yu twined it around her fingertips. The soft leaf twisted with the movement of her fingers. Suddenly, a smile rippled out in Chu Yu eyes: very interesting.
Tossing away the teared apart leaf, she strided towards Snow Shower Garden.
1. Menke: 门客, a hanger-on of an aristocrat. Basically someone supported/sponsored by the wealthy and would provide help and advice in times of need.↩