Sheng Chumu opened his eyes. The room was dimly lit. He could faintly make out a silhouette behind the mountain-river screen and he moved silently. He got up. His body was covered in bandages. Every step affected the injury on his back. However, it did not affect his movement. He was as stealthy as a panther.
He moved around the screen. He recognised the figure. It was Lian Yan’er. He had brought her back so that her mother would stop showing him pictures of various noble ladies.
“What are you doing?” Sheng Chumu spoke after staring at Lian Yan’er for a while.
Lian Yan’er turned back in shock. She was holding a pile of books. “You scared me! I saw that the study table was in a mess and wanted to help you tidy up.”
“No need. I have my own way of arranging my stuff.” Sheng Chumu walked towards the table. He grabbed the things from her hands and placed it on the bookshelf.
“I am sorry. I won’t do it in the future.” Lian Yan’er smiled slightly. “Oh right, I learned how to cook ribs from Madam. Would you like to try a bowl?”
“Did my mother give you trouble?” He had only brought her back and had not told his mother.
“No, Madam is very nice to me.” She had opened the Belle Shop with Ma Hainiu. They had managed the majority of the noble ladies in Chang’an. Dealing with the outspoken Madam Sheng was no challenge to her.
“That is because she did not know that you have been in Swallow House before.” If she knew, his ears would have been torn off.
“She knows.” Lian Yan’er’s words were surprising. “I told her.”
As soon as she finished speaking, Madam Sheng entered. She was dressed in a way that made her look ten years younger. From her hairstyle to her clothes, they were all new, unique and matched really well.
“Chumu, you are up? Yan’er, you are here too.”
“Good morning, Madam.” Lian Yan’er greeted gracefully. “I will get some soup for Young Master.”
Madam Sheng waited for Lian Yan’er to walk out before exclaiming, “She is a good girl. A pity that she has had a tough life and was sold by her cruel aunt to such a dirty place. Even if she is good now, she can’t be your proper wife. However, she could still be your concubine to help you pour tea and wash your feet. Chumu, are you ok with that?”
Sheng Chumu assessed her. “Mother, your appearance today is a pleasant change.”
Madam Sheng was proud. “Aiya, I merely released my top bun, it is so-so. Nowadays, I am always making your father dumbstruck.”
Sheng Chumu imagined how his father looked with his lower jaw gaped open and stifled a laugh. “Did Lian Yan’er help you dress up?”
“Do I look good?” Madam Sheng touched her hair.
“You do.” Sheng Chumu’s tone changed. “But you can’t sell your son just to dress up.”
“You heartless brat. You are the one that brought her back. I am trying not to make things difficult for you. As a magnanimous person, I should be more open, right? Oh right, the matchmaker has sent more pictures. This time, the ladies are not bad. Hurry and choose one. You should just get married. I am waiting for a grandchild…”
Sheng Chumu pushed the naggy Madam Sheng out of the room.
Madam Sheng called out, “What are you doing?”
“His Majesty has instructed me to reflect.” Sheng Chumu closed the door and said in a matter-of-fact way, “I am closing the door and reflecting.”
Sheng Chuling dashed into the garden. “Mother, Elder Brother. Guess what? The Crown Prince is disabled!”
Madam Sheng frowned. “Why are you excited? This is not a good thing!”
As Great Tang’s root, the fact that he was disabled was extremely unlucky. If they looked at the smaller picture, the hatred and animosity the Crown Prince had towards Prince Han and the Duke Lu Residence will become greater.
The door flew open. Sheng Chumu looked extremely shocked.
Sun Lingshu was hesitating in front of the door to the Crown Prince’s study room. She saw Fu Shui appear and rushed forwards. She asked. “Where have you been these past few days?”
“I have been picking medicinal herbs in the mountain. As soon as I entered the palace, I heard that something happened to the Crown Prince.” Fu Shui glanced at the tightly shut study room door. “How is His Highness?”
“Of course he is not in the best of moods. He does not want to eat. Help me to convince him.” Now, Sun Lingshu looked at Fu Shui as if they were on the same side. “I specially asked the kitchen to prepare his favourite grilled fish. But when they sent it to him, he rejected it.”
Fu Shui nodded and inserted his chopsticks into the grilled fish. He reached the front door. “Your Highness, it's me, Fu Shui. I am entering.”
Fu Shui pushed open the door and entered. The whole place was in a mess. The things in the study room had been thrown onto the floor and the Crown Prince was curled up in a corner, looking like a cornered animal.
“I am back.” Fu Shui handed the grilled fish over to him. “I brought a grilled fish for you. Didn’t you say that you liked eating grilled fish?”
The Crown Prince lifted his head and spoke in a gruff tone, “This grilled fish was just lying on the plate that the internal attendants brought in. How did it suddenly become a fish that you grilled?”
“Did I say I grilled the fish?” Fu Shui shrugged. “I clearly said that I brought a fish for you.”
“Quibbling.” Somehow he felt calmer.
Everyone had been persuading him and pretending that nothing was wrong. They all told him that it was not a big deal to become disabled. However, they did not know that whenever they mentioned his leg, he would be in pain. The longer he was the Crown Prince, the more difficult it became. He had been scolded by his Imperial Father so much, it had become a norm. He has even been in prison before. Now that his leg was disabled, he was about to crumble. Only Fu Shui was talking about grilled fish as if everything was normal.
“Are you going to eat it?” Fu Shui asked.
“No.” The Crown Prince’s tone had already changed.
After a while, the Crown Prince looked up after not hearing a reply from Fu Shui. He wanted to scold and laugh.
Fu Shui was eating the grilled fish. “Your Highness, I am simply someone who picks herbs. I don’t know how to talk about big principles. But from what I see, the world’s principle is like this grilled fish. Do you think that if you don’t eat it, others will follow you and starve instead of eating it? There are so many people who want to eat it. Those people that already had their eye on the fish will take the chance to replace you. In the end, you’re the one who starves to death. Whereas, other people will be full. Think about it. If you continue hiding in this corner and give away the grilled fish, who will this fragrant grilled fish be eaten by in the end? Who would be the ultimate winner?”
The Crown Prince thought deeply before his expression changed. He took the grilled fish from Fu Shui and took a huge bite. Fu Shui did not say anything more as he smiled and looked at the Crown Prince, who was eating eagerly.
“Fu Shui, do you know who you resemble?”
Fu Shui replied, “Chen Ji.”
The Crown Prince was curious. “You know Chen Ji?”
Fu Shui shook his head. “No I don’t. But everyone tells me that I resemble him.”
The Crown Prince looked at him. “In my heart, you are him.”
Fu Shui’s eyes were calm and steady. “If Your Highness wants to pretend that I am him, I am fine with it. However, you have to promise me one thing. I heard that Chen Ji passed away at a very young age. I hope that Your Highness will not let me lose my life so early like he did.”
The Crown Prince placed the grilled fish down. “I promise you. I will not let anyone hurt you. I will not let what happened to Chen Ji happen to you.”
There was a slight change in Fu Shui’s eyes.
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Hey readers! I created an appendix to make it easier for you guys (in case you cannot remember who is who)