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   Chapter 78 The Performance

Eight-year-old Princess: Phoenix Reborn By Lan You Ruo Characters: 20984

Updated: 2018-08-26 14:49

This unexpected request had taken Prince Jing by surprise. He shot a glance at Yun Shang and saw her nodding at him. Then he looked towards the Empress who was sitting next to Emperor Ning. The Empress? Prince Jing squinted and stood up, "Your Majesty, this is unfair since I don't have the silk ball in my hand."

Emperor Ning laughed heartily, "Lady Shu was right. It should be you."

Prince Jing had no choice but to sigh in agreement. "Since it is also Your Majesty's wish to see me play, I will play the xiao* for Lady Meng to dance. But I will require one more person to join us. Will Your Majesty permit my request?"

(*TN: xiao is a Chinese vertical end-blown flute, which is generally made of bamboo.)

Emperor Ning nodded, "Since it's a request from you, as your brother, I would not disappoint you. So tell us, who is this person? You can name anyone here."

Prince Jing gave a nod in response. His eyes swept the hall from one end to another. Then he pointed at a girl, "Your Majesty, may I request Princess Hui Guo's assistance to perform a melody together?"

Yun Shang raised her head in surprise. She saw a mischievous glint in Prince Jing's eyes.

All guests turned their eyes to Yun Shang. Emperor Ning said with a smile, "As promised, I would grant your request. But as far as I know, Shang'er knows nothing about music. So, are you still sure that Shang'er should join you?"

Prince Jing turned around to look at Yun Shang, "It must be her. She must play alongside me."

It must be her? Yun Shang sank into a trance. She remembered the name of the melody in her plan, and felt as if her heart was about to jump out of her throat. What did Prince Jing mean when he said those words?

"So, Shang'er, are you willing to play together with your uncle?" Emperor Ning turned to Yun Shang and asked.

Yun Shang stayed silent for a while before uttering a gentle "Yes."

Prince Jing always carried his xiao with him. It was a beautiful one as green as an emerald. And the guqin* was in the Hall, as Lady Lan had played it a moment before. Yun Shang stood up, walked toward the guqin, and sat down before it.

(*TN: guqin is a plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument of the zither family. It has been played since ancient times, and has traditionally been favored by scholars and literati as an instrument of great subtlety and refinement.)

As soon as Yun Shang sat down, the xiao sounded.

The melody, however, surprised everyone in the Hall. Popularly known as Courting A Phoenix, it was a melody usually played when a man expressed his love towards his lover.

Yun Shang's hands began to pluck the cords of the guqin when the melody from the xiao was getting weak. The sound of the guqin flew as smooth and fluent as a merry creek, and meshed perfectly with that of the xiao.

Qin Meng walked to the middle of the Hall, bent a little, and began to dance. She showed her charm and grace with every movement of her body. She looked like a phoenix about to fly. Her carmine dress shimmered as she danced to the music.

As the melody and the dancing were intoxicating, all guests were holding their breath even after the performance had finished.

"I am so fortunate to have Prince Jing and Princess Hui Guo play for me. Thank you very much." Qin Meng swept a graceful courtesy towards Prince Jing and Yun Shang.

Regaining his composure, Emperor Ning applauded heartily, "Wonderful!" Nobody could figure out whether he applauded for the dancing or the music.

Emperor Ning glanced at Prince Jing, and noticed that he had set his eyes on Yun Shang. Emperor Ning frowned. He wondered if there was something between Prince Jing and Shang'er...

Now, almost all the guests were racking their brains to figure out what had Prince Jing meant when he said, it must be her. After all, Courting A Phoenix was a melody used for winning the heart of lovers. And Prince Jing said it must be her when he selected Yun Shang.

Although everybody thought the same thing, none of them dared speak it out.

"Lady Meng's dancing was quite excellent. I think no one else could dance as good as her. But what surprised me most is that Princess Hui Guo played the guqin so well. It is said that Prince Jing is a master performer of the xiao. But Princess Hui Guo's show of the guqin just now was no inferior to his. The sounds of the guqin and xiao were quite harmonious. How wonderful they were."

"Yes. It was also beyond my expectation. Shang'er has learned quite a lot at Ning'guo Temple. I should extend my gratitude to Master Wu Na." Emperor Ning thought of Lady Jin while looking at Yun Shang, who resembled her mother very much while playing the guqin.

Lady Shu said with a smile, "After the marvelous dancing by Lady Meng, I don't think there would be any fun in the game as no one else could present us with a better performance. Fortunately, I have prepared some special dishes for today's banquet. So, Your Majesty, shall we begin our banquet?"

Emperor Ning nodded, "All right. Today's banquet is prepared by you. So, it's up to you."

Lady Shu clapped her hands and a group of maids came in, each holding a plate in their hand. In the middle of the plate was a bowl painted with cute babies, and the bowl was filled with gruel boiled with slongan, lotus seed, and peanuts*. Lady Shu said with a smile, "Your Majesty, today's banquet is being held to celebrate the pregnancy of the Empress and Lady Jin. So, I have prepared this gruel boiled with slongan, lotus seed, and peanuts. I'm hoping that the Empress and Lady Jin will bear sons for Your Majesty."

(*TN: in China, gruel boiled with slongan, lotus seed, and peanuts is a sign of blessing for women who wish to be pregnant and bear more children in the future.)

Emperor Ning laughed heartily at those words, "Good. It seems Lady Shu has made elaborate preparations for the party. Both of you should have a try of the gruel."

Lady Shu waved at a maid. Before long, the gruel had been placed on the tables. Then another group of maids entered. They carried mandarin fish boiled with Chinese-date.

"As Prince Jing is going to war, I have prepared mandarin fish for Prince Jing to wish him good luck and an early victory." Lady Shu looked at Prince Jing with a smi

lm down. All of you would be happy to welcome her as your new master, right?" The Empress sneered and her eyes swept over everyone kneeling before her.

All the maids and servant replied in a trembling voice, "How dare we do so?"

"Hum, " the Empress continued, "All of you, get out. We still have a guest living in Qiwu Palace. If she hears about this incident, she would take pleasure in my misfortune. So, all of you get out. Hurry!"

Everyone scurried out of the chamber. Only Xiu Xin stayed to serve the Empress.

Xiu Xin stood up after letting out a sigh. She held the Empress' hands in hers and rubbed them gently. Then she said, "My Lady, I have been in your service for over two decades. I know what you have contributed and what you have gone through to achieve what you have today. But, My Lady, do you remember how many obstacles we have overcome? And this time, the obstacle is only an ordinary one. So, like what we have done before, all we need to do now is face it and stride across it. It's not an easy job to run the imperial household. So, there is no need for you to be so upset. His Majesty will be impressed by your generosity if you handover your seal to Lady Shu as His Majesty ordered. But, if Lady Shu is incapable of managing the imperial household well once she has the seal in hand, not only will her plan be messed up, His Majesty will also feel disappointed in her. Then, His Majesty will never give Lady Shu such an opportunity to run the imperial household again. Isn't that to you advantage, My Lady?"

The Empress touched her forehead and said, "I know what you mean. But I still feel distressed in my heart."

Xiu Xin walked behind the Empress and started to knead her shoulders. "I think you should feel happy, My Lady. His Majesty cares so much about you, as His Majesty gives priority to your pregnancy..."

The Empress put her hand on her belly and burst into a bitter smile, "But I..."

However, she paused and, instead of finishing her words, she let out a sigh, "OK, I'll swallow the humiliation this time. At any rate, the thorn in my side right now is Lady Jin and the baby growing in her belly. As long as I can get rid of them, it doesn't matter what humiliation I need to submit to. As for Lady Shu, let's wait and see. I will take care of her once I am done with Lady Jin."

It seemed as if the Empress had used all her strength to finish those words. She felt so dizzy that she had to support her forehead with her hands. Then she asked, "Has father sent you a letter? How about Jing'er?"

Xiu Xin replied immediately, "The Grand Councilor has sent me a message. We have sent people to pick up Prince Hua Jing, and we also have men waiting at the border to take care of Her Highness."

The Empress nodded, "Father must be angry with Jing'er this time. He hasn't liked Jing'er since she was born, because she is a girl. Girls turn out to be useless for their fathers. A good marriage is the only way they can make a contribution. But Jing'er has messed up her marriage. No wonder father is upset this time."

Xiu Xin gave no response to the Empress' words. After a moment, the Empress continued, "In the past, I could not find any chance to wipe out those people I disliked, because I was in charge of the imperial household. I could not exonerate myself from the charge had anything happened to anyone in the imperial household. Besides, Lady Jin is living with us. She might get wind of my plan. But now, as Lady Shu is responsible for the imperial household, it's more convenient for me to find a proper opportunity."

Xiu Xin's hands trembled a little, but she spoke with a smile, "You are right, My Lady."

A ray of shimmer flashed in the Empress' eyes. She said, "Tomorrow you shall summon masters of the Imperial Household Department, Shangxiang Bureau*, Shangyi Bureau, and Shangshan Bureau* to see me. I will arrange some jobs for them, and order them to carry out every order from Lady Shu..."

(*TN: in some dynasties in China, Shangxiang Bureau was the imperial department responsible for arts and decoration, and Shangshan Bureau was responsible for the food.)

Xiu Xin nodded, "Yes, I understand."

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