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   Chapter 93 The Odd Cat

Eight-year-old Princess: Phoenix Reborn By Lan You Ruo Characters: 18772

Updated: 2018-09-01 11:24

In Changchun Palace, Li Fuyi was standing behind Lady Ming. As she massaged Lady Ming's shoulders, Li Fuyi said, "I think Princess Yun Shang is too weak to merit any compliment. The other day I stayed with her for a short while and she coughed incessantly. Moreover, she is too young. She even behaves like a little baby in the presence of her maids-in-waiting. I think she is much worse than Princess Hua Jing."

Lady Ming closed her eyes and sighed. "You are not as discerning as the Empress. I have been observing all the people in the imperial household before I took charge of the the imperial household. I can see through all people to some extent except Yun Shang. Every time I see her, I find she is different from before. She is the one that we really should keep an eye on."

Li Fuyi's eyes betrayed a hint of satire. But she humbly bowed her head and said gently, "Yes, my Ladyship. I will keep an eye on her."

"Your father sent you to the Imperial Palace for two purposes. For one thing, your elder sister is recuperating. You have to do something for her. I am too old to do anything good for her. Your other task is to help your sister deal with the ladies in the imperial household. They are all smart and crafty. It doesn't matter if it is in the Royal Court or in the imperial household, we, the Li family must be the dominant family." said Lady Ming, looking ambitious.

"I see. My father has told me about this. I will do everything within my power to support you and my sister." said Li Fuyi, smiling gently.

Lady Ming straightened up and waved her hands to stop the massage. "I think I should find an opportunity to meet Princess Yun Shang."

At Qingxin Palace, Qin Yi drew aside the curtain after entering the room. As she blew on her stiffened fingers, she said, "Princess, it is snowing outside. This is the first snow this year. I suppose Lady Ming will hold a gathering and send for you."

"The first snow?" asked Yun Shang with astonishment. It snows earlier in the borderland than in the Imperial City. Yun Shang continued, "What day is it today?"

"The thirteenth day of the first lunar month." said Qin Yi with a smile.

That's right. The thirteenth day of the first lunar month. Yun Shang smiled as she rested her hands on her belly.

"Princess, I heard that Princess Hua Jing returned to the Princess Palace last night. If the gathering is held today, Princess Hua Jing will, in all likelihood, come. But I don't know why Princess Hua Jing didn't come to the Imperial Palace today to pay her respects to the Empress. Maybe she doesn't know what happened to the Empress." said Qin Yi as she tidied up a cloak.

How could Princess Hua Jing not know about the Empress? She must know. Hua Jing must be very pleased. The letter she asked Prince Qingsu to write sought peace-making marriage between Yelang and Ning. It must have reached the Emperor by now. If Hua Jing learns that the letter asked for her hand in marriage to Prince Qingsu, she would not react kindly.

"Princess, Lady Ming's maid called Bi'er has brought a message for you. She said that according to tradition, a family feast will be held at the first snow and that the Princess is invited to the family feast in Meiying House later." said Qian Yin with a smile. As she saw only Qin Yi accompany the Princess, she stepped into the room and said gently, "Princess, I just saw the attendant who works in our Palace chat with Bi'er. I have never seen the attendant before."

"Really?" Yun Shang lifted her eyes to Qin Yi. The maid replied, "The attendant is a newcomer. He has been sent by the Emperor, not by Lady Ming. The Emperor has selected attendants for every Palace."

Yun Shang nodded and said, "Lady Ming has not been in charge of the imperial household for long. So the attendant must be sent by my father. Since the attendant is an informant of my father, he won't harm me. But he is not one of our people. We should keep an eye on him."

It was snowing harder and harder. Yun Shang rested her head on the windowsill and looked at the snowflakes attentively.

"Princess, it seems that the snow isn't going to stop. We might as well proceed to Meiying House. If it keeps snowing, it will be hard for us to travel. said Qin Yi as she stretched her head to look out the window.

Yun Shang nodded and let Qin Yi dress her. After slipping on a cloak, she walked out of the room with an umbrella. Meiying House was located in a secluded place to the west of the Imperial Palace. The west area of the Imperial Palace was covered in plum trees. In winter, it was a good place to enjoy the snow and the plum blossoms. On the way to Meiying House, Yun Shang and her attendants crossed a bamboo forest. Yun Shang was lost in her thoughts as she trod on the snow. All of a sudden, a white fluffy creature yowled before springing at Yun Shang. The Princess screamed in surprise. She glanced at Qian Yin who was holding the umbrella. She looked like she was about to attack the cat. Yun Shang caught Qian Yin's hand as she fell backwards.

A group of people surrounding Yun Shang had fallen to the ground. Yun Shang whispered to Qian Yin, "There are outsiders around here. Don't act rashly."

Qian Yin hastened to get up and said, "Princess, are you all right? Princess…" Qian Yin promptly helped Yun Shang to her feet. Yun Shang frowned and started to cough. She wheezed and gasped so much that she had to place her hands on her chest. It was not until a while later that Yun Shang waved her hands and said, "I am fine."

Qin Yi and Qian Yin quickly checked to see if Yun Shang had been injured. Assured of Her Highness's wellbeing, they turned to look at the white creature. They saw a white cat shivering in the cold.

Qian Yin frowned and said, "You wild cat! You startled our Princess."

On hearing this, Yun Shang smiled and said, "There is no need to scold the cat. Look at its fur. It must belong to a Lady in the Palace. The cat looks beautiful. But it can hardly stand on its feet because of the cold." Then Yun Shang said to Qin Yi, "Pick it up. Due to my poor health, I can't touch the cat. Once I touch it, I will begin coughing again. You carry it. I will inquire after the cat's master during the family feast."

Qin Yi nodded and bent to pick up the cat. Meanwhile, Qian Yin picked up the umbrella which had been tossed aside. She shook the snow off the umbrella. Then, she supported Yun Shang and together, they advanced toward Meiying House.

When Yun Shang reached Meiying House, she noticed that a few ladies had already arrived. Li Fuyi was one of them. Since she was acquainted with the other ladies, Yun Shang smiled at them. Suddenly, she heard a voice. It was Li Fuyi. "Oh, Princess, where did you find the cat that your maid is holding? How can it be so similar to Yuan Bao, Lady Ming's cat?"

Yun Shang said with a slight smile, "We picked it up on our way here. I saw it shivering in the cold so I asked my maid to carry it. If it belongs to Lady Ming, we will give it back to her."

Li Fuyi said with a smile, "The Emperor presented the cat to Lady Ming a few days ago. Lady Ming did dote on the cat. But she didn't constrain it. The cat can go wherever it wants."

Just then, a servant standing outside announced, "Lady Ming!"

Yun Shang rose and curtsied to Lady Ming together with the other ladies. An old but regal voice said, "Rise! This is a family feast. Don't be so ceremonial!"

On hearing this, all the guests stood. Yun Shang raised her eyes to study Lady Ming as she walked slowly to her chair. The Lady was dressed in a purple robe. She had imposing features even though they had now been softened by wrinkles. From her appearance, she must have been a beauty in her youth. Now, she was nearly sixty years old, but she looked no more than forty.

Lady Ming took her seat and glanced at her guests. Finally, her eyes fixed on Yun Shang. She squinted at Yun Shang for a while before speaking, "You must be Yun Shang. Come here. Let me have a good look at you. When you were a little baby, I carried you in my arms. In a twinkling, you grew up into a beautiful girl."

Yun Shang bowed her head and smiled. Then she rose to her feet and walked to Lady Ming's side. She said, "I pay respects to you, my Lady. Several days ago, I went to the Ning'guo Temple where Master Wu Na presented me with a string of Bodhi Buddha Beads. I know that you are a Buddhist. So I bring these for you." At Yun Shang's signal, Qian Yin stepped forward to present the Buddha Beads. Yun Shang said with a smile, "Master Wu Na said that the Buddha Beads will keep a person safe and help a person live a long life."

On hearing this, Lady Ming smiled. She took the Buddha Beads and looked carefully at them. Then she exclaimed, "Thank you! These Buddha Beads are all of high quality."

On seeing this, Li Fuyi rose to her feet and said to Lady Ming, "Is your cat, Yuan Bao missing, my Lady? Just now, Princess Yun Shang saw a cat on her way here. Yun Shang said the cat was shivering in the cold so she asked her maid to bring it here."

On hearing this, Lady Ming turned around to ask the old maid-in-waiting standing by her side, "Where is my Yuan Bao?"

The maid-in-waiting replied instantly, "Your Ladyship, I have been busy with this feast. I didn't notice the cat."

Yun Shang smiled and asked Qin Yi

to show the cat to Lady Ming. "Is this cat yours? I saw it in the bamboo forest. It has suffered because of the heavy snow."

Looking at the cat in Qin Yi's arms, Lady Ming said with a grin, "It is my Yuan Bao! This little thing is always running around. Luckily, you found it and brought it here. I wouldn't have known where to look for it."

The old maid-in-waiting took the cat from Qin Yi. Then, Lady Ming reached for the cat. The cat was still shivering. Lady Ming said affectionately, "It really suffered in the cold. It hasn't recovered yet. Shang'er, come here and touch it. Its fur feels so soft."

Yun Shang paused for a while. An air of uncertainty appeared on her face. It was not until a while later that she reached out and touched the cat on the back. But she quickly retracted her hands and began to cough. "Its fur really feels good, " said Yun Shang.

Lady Ming promptly passed the cat to the maid-in-waiting and inquired with concern, "What's the matter? Do you feel unwell?"

Yun Shang coughed and wheezed so much she couldn't answer Lady Ming. Qian Yin replied, "The Princess is physically weak so she is susceptible to the cat's fur. Every time she touches a cat, she coughs badly."

On hearing this, Lady Ming frowned and said, "You should have told me that at the very start."

"Your Majesty." Suddenly, a sharp and prolonged voice of the eunuch sounded from outside. All the guests instantly stood and curtsied, "Long Live the Emperor!"

"Please rise!" As the Emperor spoke, Yun Shang stood as well. She still had a slight cough. When she recovered, she found the Emperor had come with Lady Jin. It has been a month or more since she last saw Lady Jin. Lady Jin's belly had indeed grown bigger. On see this, Yun Shang's eyes betrayed traces of a smile.

"What's the matter with you, Shang'er? Why do you cough all the time? Do you feel unwell? Do you want me to send for an imperial physician?" asked the Emperor as he soon as he saw Yun Shang's reddened face.

Yun Shang said reassuringly, "Father, I'm fine. Today is a good day because of the first snow. I don't want to ruin it. I don't need a physician."

After this, Yun Shang curtsied to Lady Ming and returned to her seat.

Qin Meng scanned the crowd and said, "I heard that Princess Hua Jing has returned to the Imperial City. I thought I would see her today. But why hasn't she come?"

Yun Shang looked at the Emperor and found anger reflecting in his eyes. But the Emperor just smiled without saying anything. Lady Ming said, "It is probably because she hasn't found her husband and feels very sad. So she doesn't want to come. Hua Jing is indeed unfortunate. She is so young but she has already lost her husband. Anyone who encounters such fortuity won't feel like celebrating. Yelang State should be damned. How dare they invade our land? But war is always unwelcome. We have no idea of when the war will cease."

The Emperor smiled and said to Lady Ming, "Mother, don't worry. A few days ago, I received a letter from Prince Qingsu of the Yelang State. He said that he hopes to ally with our nation through a peace-making marriage."

"A peace-making marriage?" murmured Lady Ming as she fixed her eyes on Yun Shang who was still coughing. Yun Shang looked as if she hadn't heard what the Emperor had said. There were only two Princesses in the Ning State. Princess Hua Jing was already married. So only Princess Yun Shang could marry Prince Qingsu.

Since Yun Shang was the obvious choice, everyone present, including Lady Ming had the same thought. For a moment, all guests looked at Yun Shang. The Emperor said with a smile, "I have written to Prince Qingsu and invited him to our Imperial City to discuss the peace-making marriage. Not just Prince Qingsu. I have also been informed that the envoy from Xia State will be visiting us soon. I'm afraid they come here for the same purpose. When Spring arrives, there will be a three-party meeting. I want to discuss these things then."

Seeing the Emperor didn't want to say more, Lady Ming called for several musicians to entertain her guests. As the music played, the maids-in-waiting began serving the food and drinks. When the dishes were set on the table, the Emperor rose to his feet and said, "Although it snows later this year than the previous year, it did snow. A timely snow promises a good harvest. I wish our nation thrives and prospers in the coming year. I wish our family stays harmonious and happy."

All guests toasted and said something auspicious. Just as the atmosphere reached its peak, the white cat which was being held by the old maid at Lady Ming's side suddenly meowed. Its fur bristled before it sprang at Li Fuyi.

A long bloodstain caused by the cat's claw was left on Li Fuyi's neck. At the same time, Li Fuyi screamed and fell towards Lady Jin.

On seeing this, Yun Shang stared at Li Fuyi with cold eyes. Suddenly, a black shadow flashed past and Li Fuyi fell to the ground. Yun Shang lifted her eyes and found Lady Jin was leaning on a woman in a black robe.

"Who are you?" exclaimed Lady Ming.

The Emperor frowned and stepped forward. He said, "She is my bodyguard. I send her on purpose to protect Lady Jin. Then he took Lady Jin from the woman in black and spoke to her softly. He looked up with anger in his eyes and asked, "Where does the cat come from?"

The maid-in-waiting standing by the side hurried to help Li Fuyi. Li Fuyi seemed to still be in shock. She took her seat and gasped for air.

"Emperor, you presented the cat to me. Don't you remember?" Lady Ming frowned and winked at the old maid. On seeing this, the old maid made a move to catch the cat. But the cat hunched over and spun in the same place, looking as though it was about to attack again.

"Go, catch it now." The Emperor frowned. The eunuchs standing by rushed forward and caught the cat.

Lady Ming frowned and said, "Normally, the cat is docile. But why does it run wild today?"

Suddenly, a lady whose name Yun Shang didn't know said, "The cat was brought here by Princess Yun Shang. Maybe the cat has eaten something unclean or smelled something bad."

Yun Shang just smiled without saying a word. But Qian Yin couldn't help explaining, "Princess found this cat in the bamboo forest. The cat sprang at the Princess and she fell to the ground. The Princess can't touch cats due to health reasons. But she saw the cat had almost froze to death and she thought it must belong to a Lady because of its beautiful fur. So the Princess asked us to carry it here. Along the way, there was nothing to eat or smell. So how could the cat have eaten or smelled something bad?"

"I don't know. I have seen Yuan Bao several times before. It is by nature, docile. But why does it run wild today? More coincidentally, it rushed towards Lady Fu." said the Lady with her eyebrows raised.

"I don't care about whom the cat belongs to, where it comes from, or what it ate. It will be executed for it almost caused Lady Jin to fall down. Servant, come here. Take this cat away and kill it. After that, you should give its body to an imperial physician to check what's wrong with it." said the Emperor as he frowned. He grew impatient when he heard the ladies twittering and speculating.

At the moment, Yun Shang saw Lady Ming bow her head and look unhappy.

It should have been a good family feast. But now, everyone present was feeling anxious.

Lady Jin yawned and said gently, "I feel tired now. I will go back to Qiwu Palace and rest."

The Emperor nodded and said, "Be careful!" The he turned around to tell Lord Zheng, "You ask the servants who lift the sedan chair to watch their step." After this, he said to the woman in black, "You, follow Lady Jin."

After Lady Jin left, Li Fuyi sat on the chair. Her neck which had been scratched by the cat was still bleeding. Yun Shang coughed slightly and said, "Lady Fu's neck is still bleeding. Please call for an imperial physician."

A while later, an imperial physician came and checked Lady Fu's wound. Then the physician sid, "Well, it's very odd. There is a kind of aromatic substance on the wound. This kind of aromatic substance makes it difficult for the wound to heal and it also makes people restless."

"Aromatic substance?" "Restless?" On hearing this, the Emperor frowned and said, "What if a cat is exposed to this kind of aromatic substance?

The physician answered quickly, "I'm afraid the cat would go wild. This kind of aromatic substance is so pungent that any kind of animal that touches it, will go wild."

Yun Shang smiled. It occurred to her that the Empress had called for a Taoist Priest to hold an exorcism for her not long after she had been reborn. The Empress also claimed that the animal went wild. At the thought, Yun Shang couldn't help smile. These people really were family. They even thought of the same idea!

The Emperor thought for a while and said, "Physician, smell all guests here and find out who uses this kind of aromatic substance."

The physician instantly replied, "Yes, my Emperor. No offense, masters." After conveying his apology, the physician started to smell the people present, one by one. When he came near Yun Shang, he arrested his step and took a deep breath. Then he turned to speak to the Emperor, "Your Majesty, the smell is coming from this lady."

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