MoboReader> Romance > Eight-year-old Princess: Phoenix Reborn

   Chapter 95 The Nightmare

Eight-year-old Princess: Phoenix Reborn By Lan You Ruo Characters: 18085

Updated: 2018-09-02 20:45

"I always thought that you were careful. How could you be so careless today? Besides Yun Shang, we also smelled the perfumed powder. It was lucky that you discarded the needle as soon as you spotted something wrong. Had we been caught, we would be in big trouble before we could teach Yun Shang a lesson." Lady Ming said with a frown. There was a hint of disapproval in her eyes.

Madam Yu fell to the ground hurriedly and kowtowed before Lady Ming for several times. "I understand, My Lady. I was reckless today. But I didn't expect that Princess Yun Shang would send people to investigate you on pretext of concern for your health."

"Hum, Yun Shang is by no means a simple girl. She pretends to be timid and overcautious. But occasionally, she seems to be clever, too. However, her cleverness was so deliberate that no one would doubt that it was just her way to cover her clumsiness." Lady Ming waved and said, "All right. Anyway, what happened cannot be changed. I have led a peaceful life for many years, and have kept my hands from getting tainted by dirty tricks. You seem to not be accustomed to sneaky schemes as well. Be careful next time. Few women in the Palace are simple-minded. Don't underestimate our enemies again."

Madam Yu replied immediately, "I understand, My Lady. It's getting late, you should retire now."

Lady Ming nodded, "It's getting colder. Set a warm stove in the room later."

"Yes." Madam Yu answered before standing up. She helped Lady Ming take off her clothes, and took out the warmers from under the quilt. The bed was already warm because of the warmers. Madam Yu pulled the quilt on Lady Ming after the Lady had lain on the bed. After folding and putting aside the clothes, Madam Yu walked to the stove. She added more coal to the fire. Then she blew out the lamp, walked out of the room, and retired in the small night-watch cabin in the outer room.

Lady Ming felt uneasy during her light sleep as she dreamed of a cat. The cat let out a pitiful scream and jumped at her. Lady Ming was so scared that she awoke from the nightmare. It was only a dream! Lady Ming wiped off the sweat on her forehead. However, when she was about to close her eyes again, she heard the faint yowling of a cat. And the yowling sounded more and more sad.

How could it be possible for some cat to come here? Lady Ming frowned. Thinking of the dream she just had, she could not help but feel frightened. So she called aloud, "Madam Yu..."

Movement was heard before Madam Yu responded, "Yes, I'm here."

After a short moment, a light was seen when Madam Yu walked in with a glaze-covered lamp. "What happened, My Lady? Are you thirsty?"

Lady Ming shook her head. She leaned a little forward and tried to hear for odd sounds. But, she heard nothing. So, Lady Ming asked, "Did you hear something, Madam Yu? The yowling of a cat, or something like that?"

Madam Yu shook her head at Lady Ming's question, "No. Did you hear something just now?"

Lady Ming said with a frown, "The meowing of a cat."

"The meowing of a cat?" Madam Yu felt a little surprised. "But I didn't. How could it be possible for cats to come here at his hour? It is forbidden to let pets wander about in the Palace after evening. How could it be possible?"

Lady Ming felt surprised, too. She thought she was imagining things. So she waved at Madam Yu, "All right. It may be an illusion."

Madam Yu nodded. But before she turned to leave, she noticed an open window. Madam Yu frowned at this. "Why is the window open? I remembered having closed it before I left. Look, the fire is not as big as before."

Lady Ming felt a chill after hearing Madam Yu's words. "It snowed the whole day today. Maybe the window was not shut tightly, and the wind blew it open?"

"Hum, " Madam Yu replied. She put down the lamp on the table by her side, and walked toward the window. Suddenly, she stopped as she felt as though she had stepped on an object which was both, soft and hard. Madam Yu almost fell when she stumbled into the object. She looked down, and saw a white fluffy thing under her foot. When she took a closer look at it, she could not help but let out a sharp scream, "Oh my.."

Lady Ming was startled. She propped herself up to look at Madam Yu. "What's happening?"

Madam Yu pointed at her foot and said with her eyes closed. "My Lady, it is a cat. A dead cat..."

This made Lady Ming's hair stand on end. She trembled as she said, "Guard! Call the guard! Call them now!"

In the quiet winter night, the knock was heard at the entrance of every Palace. "Emergency summon from Lady Ming. Ladies, please get dressed and go to Changchun Palace as soon as possible..."

"Your Highness, please get up. Lady Ming sent for you. We have no idea what happened, but it seems that all the other ladies have been summoned, too." Qin Yi got up in a hurry, and then wakened Yun Shang. After helping Yun Shang get dressed, Qin Yi fetched a warmer and handed it to the Princess. "Your Highness, it's very cold outside. Do you need one more robe?"

Yun Shang shook her head, "No, I'm fine. Perhaps it would be better for you to take one more coat for yourself. We don't need to be in a hurry."

Qin Yi nodded and left to fetch a coat from the night-watch cabin. Then she scurried out of the room to check whether it was snowing or not. At last, she returned to the bedchamber and said to Yun Shang, "Let's go, Your Highness. The snow has stopped."

Yun Shang nodded and left for Changchun Palace with Qin Yi and Qian Yin. Before they got to Changchun Palace, they saw Qin Meng and Lady Ying who were also on their way. Qin Meng and Lady Ying greeted Yun Shang, and the Princess nodded at them. Then Yun Shang quickened her pace and walked ahead of Qin Meng and Lady Ying. She didn't want to be forced into a conversation with the two ladies.

Many ladies were already waiting in the Hall at Changchun Palace when they arrived. None of them wore makeup. And they all seemed listless as they kept yawning from time to time. Lady Ming, who was sitting on the Hostess's Seat, seemed quite furious.

Yun Shang swept a curtsy toward Lady Ming. Shortly after, Yun Shang took her seat. A maid came and served her a cup of tea. While sipping the tea, Yun Shang heard the ladies sitting next to her gossip. They were speculating about why Lady Ming had summoned them so late at night.

The Hall was like a sea of noise as everyone was talking. Suddenly, an eunuch announced from outside, "His Majesty and Lady Jin are here."

Lady Ming frowned after hearing the announcement. She turned to look at Madam Yu, and said, "I told you not to disturb the Emperor, didn't I?"

Emperor Ning spoke before Madam Yu could respond. "I stayed in Lady Jin's chamber tonight. I heard of the emergency summon from the eunuch who was sent to inform Lady Jin. It seemed quite urgent. I was curious as to why mother summoned everyone in the imperial household in the middle of the night."

As the Emperor's presence was beyond everyone's expectation, all the ladies had come to Changchun Palace without wearing any makeup. Therefore, they all felt a little annoyed at Lady Ming who had asked them to come in such a hurry.

What the Emperor had said annoyed Lady Ming too. She curled her lips a little, and said, "Of course, I wouldn't send for everyone for no reason. After the cat accident during the banquet not long ago, Changchun Palace got an unexpected visitor. Guard, bring it here."

Two men entered the Hall in a hurry. They were holding a shovel on which lay a cat drenched in blood.

All the ladies screamed at the sight of this bloody cat. Emperor Ning's face darkened as well. He immediately took Lady Jin into his arms and pressed her head against his chest. He was afraid that Lady Jin would be scared by the frightful scene.

"Madam Yu, tell them what happened..." Lady Ming sneered after getting a glimpse of everyone's response.

Madam Yu stepped forward and swept a curtsy toward everybody. "As Lady Ming was feeling exhausted, she went to bed early. And I took a nap in the night-watch cabin. A short while ago, I heard Lady Ming call. I ran into Lady Ming's room as soon as possible. Lady Ming told me she had heard the yowling of a cat, and asked me whether I had heard it or not. I am a deep sleeper, so I heard nothing. Lady Ming thought the yowling might be an illusion. But before I left, I found that the window in Lady Ming's room was open. I thought it must have been blown open by the wind. So, I went to close it. But I stamped on this bloody thing before I could make my way to the window. Do you know how scared Lady Ming and I were when we saw it?"

"Hum, " Lady Ming said, "After a cat had ruined the banquet, another one appeared in my Palace. Incidents in the imperial household are getting more and more uncivilized now. I am afraid more frightening things will happen if I just let go of tonight's incident. Emperor, you must be tired after dealing with affairs all day. I didn't mea

n to bother you for this trivial matter. I told them not to wake you, as issues in the imperial household are only the business of women. However, as you have already come, please wait and witness the investigation."

Emperor Ning nodded, "Members of the imperial household need to learn. Don't worry, mother. I'm always in support of justice."

Then Lady Ming said, "Check the cat to find its owner. Besides, find all the eunuchs and maids on duty tonight."

"Yes, " the eunuchs and maids standing by Lady Ming's side answered in a hurry before withdrawing.

"It was lucky that the culprit behind this incident intended not to kill me. Otherwise, it wouldn't be possible for me to sit here and talk with all of you." It seemed Lady Ming was in extreme fury as she had a frowned brow since the very beginning.

"There were so many maids and eunuchs. Didn't any of them see who did this? It doesn't make any sense..." Lady Lan said softly after a yawn.

Lady Ming's eyes swept across Lady Lan. She felt disgusted by Lady Lan who seemed to pose more of a hindrance than a help. It was ridiculous that the Empress treated Lady Lan as a trusted helper.

"Lady Lan, how could you say something like that? Did you mean that Lady Ming is incapable of training her subordinates well?" Lady Ying lifted her eyes to look at Lady Lan as she spoke in an ironical tone. "I think the culprit must be very smart, so nobody noticed what happened."

"Can't you stop quarreling?" Emperor Ning reproached with a frown. He lowered his head a little to speak gently to the woman in his arms. "Do you feel sleepy? If you are, I will ask mother to prepare a bench for you."

Lady Jin shook her head with a smile, "I'm fine." Then she returned to look at Yun Shang, "Are you okay, Shang'er? You look tired."

This was the first time Lady Jin had spoken with Yun Shang in such a manner. Though confused, Yun Shang knew that Lady Jin must do so for a reason. She lifted her eyes to look at Lady Jin, and said with a smile, "I'm okay."

But Qin Yi cut in immediately, "Her Highness feels uncomfortable in the cold weather. When we were at Ning'guo Temple, Her Highness stayed in bed in the cold weather lest her health deteriorated further."

Qin Yi had been Lady Jin's maid for quite a long time. She must be aware of Lady Jin's intentions. So, Yun Shang didn't stop Qin Yi when she was speaking. She just turned to look at Qin Yi and spoke to her reproachfully, "I'm not as weak as you say. Master Wu Na took such good care of me that I'm much better now. I'm very well. So, please don't worry for me, mother."

But Lady Jin still seemed worried. She reached out to hold Yun Shang's hands, and said with a frown, "Why are your hands so cold?"

Then she turned to look at Emperor Ning, "Your Majesty, would you please order for a quilt to be prepared for Shang'er?"

Emperor Ning nodded and said to Lady Ming, "Mother, Shang'er has been physically weak since childhood. I'm afraid she will get sick. Please let Madam Yu prepare a quilt for her."

Lady Ming glanced at Yun Shang coldly and said, "Madam Yu, go and fetch a quilt for the Princess."

Madam Yu went into the inner hall and returned with a quilt. Qin Yi took the quilt, unfolded it, and put it on Yun Shang's shoulders. Yun Shang put her hands into the quilt. When she touched her sleeve, she felt something in it. It was wrapped in paper. Upon pressing the parcel, she thought the contents seemed to be fine powders. Yun Shang turned to look at Lady Jin, and saw Lady Jin was staring at the quilt. Yun Shang was a little confused, but then she poured the powder on the quilt.

Lady Ming's eyes swept across everyone in the Hall. At last, she set her eyes on Li Fuyi's face. "Lady Fu was hurt by the cat during the banquet. Are you feeling better after the treatment?"

It seemed that Li Fuyi had been in a trance from the moment she entered the Hall. Lady Ming's words shocked her such that she jumped a little. After regaining her composure, Li Fuyi replied, "I'm feeling much better, Lady Ming. Everything is fine except for the itchy wound." Then, she lowered her head to show the scars on her neck. What a poor creature she looked like with those ugly scars!

Yun Shang sneered at her.

"Oh..." Lady Ying uttered in a tone as if she had just noticed something. Everyone looked at her and saw her setting her eyes on the dead cat on the ground. "I was scared by the bloody cat so much that I dared not take a careful look at it. Although there is blood all over the cat, we can also vaguely see its yellow fur. I remember that His Majesty presented Yuan Bao to Lady Ming as a gift. Soon after, His Majesty gave a yellow one to Lady Fu. Is that true? There are only a few cats and dogs in the Palace. And yellow cats are rare. Please take a look, Lady Fu. Is that cat yours?"

Li Fuyi felt shocked at Lady Ying's words. She dared not raise her head, "That bloody cat is frightening. I dare not..."

Lady Ying smiled at Li Fuyi, and said to the maid behind her, "Since Lady Fu is afraid to take a look, please let your maid do it for you. She must be familiar with the pets in your Palace as well."

Lady Ming stared at Lady Ying in a casual manner. Then she looked at the maid behind Li Fuyi, "You, take a look."

The maid raised her head timidly and cast a glance at the dead cat on the shovel. Then she moved her eyes away quickly, "It looks like, looks like... Lady Fu's cat..."

Li Fuyi frowned and stood up. "Since Zirui says it is my cat, it must be my cat. But, Lady Ming, how could I know it is my cat? I had played with it shortly before I went to bed. I have no idea why the cat would come here. Anyway, it is impossible for me to plot against you. If I had planned the plot, it would be stupid for me to use my own cat..."

Lady Ming knew well that even if Li Fuyi wanted to hurt her, she would not take any action at this moment. So she waved at her and said, "I know it was not you. But the servants and maids in your Palace cannot escape suspicion. Since it was time for everyone to sleep, the doors must have been locked. If the door was locked, how could it be possible for the cat to sneak out and come to my Palace?"

"Atishoo..." Yun Shang sneezed all of a sudden. Then she apologized immediately, "I'm sorry, Lady Ming. I didn't mean to interrupt you. But I could not hold back the sneeze as, somehow, I have smelled an odd fragrance... I'm allergic to perfumed powders... I don't know what happened but I can smell something right now. There was no such smell a moment ago..."

The women in the imperial household were very smart! After hearing Yun Shang's words, they all guessed that something was wrong. Lady Ming frowned and muttered, "Perfumed powders?"

Yun Shang nodded. She sneezed again before she was about to speak. "Atishoo..."

"It is very fragrant. And it is quite fresh as I didn't smell it before." Yun Shang frowned after taking in a breath.

There hadn't been such a scent until this moment. Lady Ming sank into deep thought as she set her eyes on Yun Shang. No one left nor entered. The only thing that was brought into the Hall was ... the quilt on Yun Shang's body.

It seemed the quilt had also caught Yun Shang's attention. She lowered her head, and breathed deeply. "Atishoo..." "Atishoo..."

Yun Shang sneezed several times in a row. Lady Jin, who was sitting next to Yun Shang, stood up and took the quilt off from Yun Shang. She held Yun Shang's arm, helped her stand, and pulled her close.

"Are you feeling better now?" Lady Jin looked at Yun Shang and seemed worried.

Yun Shang said with a nod, "Yes, I'm feeling much better."

Lady Ming watched Lady Jin and Yun Shang for a short while. Then she turned to Madam Yu, "Is the quilt smelling of a perfumed powder?"

Madam Yu looked quite confused at Lady Ming's question. "Never. This is Lady Ming's quilt. His Majesty asked for a quilt so urgently that I had to take the quilt on your bench. Many quilts stored in the closet haven't been basked under the sun for disinfection."

Madam Yu walked to the chair that Yun Shang had sat on. She took the quilt and smelled it. "Nothing. I don't smell anything peculiar."

Yun Shang went closer and smelled again. Then she sneezed and nodded repeatedly. "Yes. Yes. That's it. Madam Yu, please smell here."

Madam Yu smelled again, but she looked confused. "The scent is similar to the incense used to fumigate dresses. I think the quilt must have been tainted with the smell when the maid was fumigating your dress."

"The fumigating incense?" Yun Shang murmured as if speaking to herself. Then she raised her head to look at Lady Ming, "Lady Ming, can I smell your dress?"

Lady Ming had no choice but to give Yun Shang a nod, though she thought it a rude request.

Yun Shang walked to Lady Ming and sniffed at her dress. "No, there is a difference. Though the two scents are quite similar, they are different. The scent on the quilt smells of some perfumed powder..."

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