“You ah you! You didn’t even leave a word at home when you left to suppress a rebellion! Do you know how worried I was about you? Your second older brother fled to a border garrison without a word and we only get letters from him maybe once every two to three months. I’m worried about him constantly too, but even you don’t consult with us before accepting such a dangerous task...the emperor is too much. There are so many high-ranking military officers at court yet he bypassed them and insisted that you go on the battlefield despite never having experience before. If something happened to you, what am I supposed to do…” Princess Consort Jing became somewhat agitated as she went on and had to dab the corners of her eyes with a handkerchief.
“Lady Mother, aren’t I perfectly fine right now and back? You really can’t find more than a few people in the whole Great Ming Empire who can harm me! I’m completely safe. If you don’t believe me, then how about I strip right now to allow you to inspect me?” Zhu Junyang had long become more patient under the tutelage of that lass, Yu Xiaocao. Thus, when he had to interact with Princess Consort Jing, he comforted her as if she was a young maiden.
Princess Consort Jing let out a laugh in amusement and slanted him a look, “Go ahead and strip ah! If you’re brave enough to strip, then do you think I’m not brave enough to look? When you were only a wee thing, I even gave you a bath before! What on your body haven’t I seen?” She used her hands to motion around something that was the size of a pillow while more laughter escaped from her lips.
Zhu Junyang was struck speechless. At that time, he had just been born and was an ignorant little baby. If he had the choice at the time, then he absolutely would not have allowed anything that would give his lady mother the excuse to make fun of him in the future!
Suddenly, Princess Consort Jing used a complicated expression to stare at her son. It made the hairs on Zhu Junyang’s body stand up. What was his lady mother thinking now? Why were her eyes full of grievance now? Did his lord father bring in new concubines to the residence recently?
Princess Consort Jing had thought of the people she had sent out of the residence to get information. As his mother, she fretted over her son constantly yet the object of her worries was something else. Instead, as soon as her son left the palace, he rode at top speed towards the Imperial Plantation. Even though he passed by the prince’s residence, he didn’t think of stopping by to greet her. Everyone always said that when a girl matured you couldn’t make her stay at home. It was the same for boys too!
“Little magpie gets a wife, forgets his mother at midlife…” Princess Consort Jing couldn’t help but think of the common little ditty that she had learned when she was in the rural areas. Meixiang and Lanxiang, who were next to her, exchanged looks with eyes that were filled with mirth before they lowered their heads——Her Highness was feeling the bite of jealousy!
Zhu Junyang felt even more helpless now. All he could do was pretend that nothing had happened. Instead, he quietly asked the servants whether his lady mother had been eating well recently, how her sleeping had been, and if she had any discomforts of her body.
Princess Consort Jing felt quite pleased within her heart when she saw this. Her youngest son finally had the warmth of a human being and knew how to be concerned about her, his mother! However, she also remembered that the reason he had changed was because of another woman...ahem ahem, another maiden. Thus, her feelings became complicated again. Raising a son was only for the benefit of others ah!
“How’s everything at the Imperial Plantation? Are the people at the Imperial Plantation doing well? The Imperial Plantation…” Princess Consort Jing deliberately used a voice full of grievance and a gaze filled with resentment to ask about the Imperial Plantation. This was her way of telling her youngest son that she knew about him visiting the Imperial Plantation earlier. Was he going to continue to pretend?
Zhu Junyang replied in a calm and collected manner, “This son really doesn’t know how things are doing at the Imperial Plantation! In such a small period of time, even if I could fly, I wouldn't be able to get to the Imperial Plantation. Lady Mother, if you want to say, just directly say it. No need to beat around the bush!
“Oh, what’s wrong? Did you meet up with that lass Xiaocao when you were halfway there? Are you pleased now that you’ve met up with the lass? Young one, you’ve truly gained skills! You know that it’s important to curry favor with little maidens when you get back from a trip! Tell me, when will you bring a wife home for your mother?” Princess Consort Jing was pretty satisfied with Yu Xiaocao. When her son was gone for more than a month, the little lass was afraid that she was worried and would come over from time to time to chat with her to relieve her boredom. Furthermore, the lass came up with new and novel foods for her to eat. Princess Consort Jing pinched the flesh at her waist. It looked like she had gotten fatter recently!
Zhu Junyang’s lips involuntarily curved up when the topic came to his little lass. His eyes also warmed up and gentled as he replied, “Lady Mother, that lass will only be thirteen by the New Year! Didn’t the emperor himself state in the past that women should only get married and have children when they turn eighteen in order to not harm their bodies? We still have five years to go and I plan to wait!”
Princess Consort Jing deliberately pretended to be a bit upset and regarded him with a displeased look, “You’re going to be twenty this year. If another five years pass, how old will you be then? Your older maternal cousin is only older than you by a year but he has children running around him! From what you’re saying, just when can I hold a grandson from you ah?”
“Eldest Brother’s son, Congsheng, already knows how to say ‘grandmother’. Lady Mother, if you want to hug a grandson, it’s not like you don’t have any around.” Zhu Junyang wasn’t going to fall for his mother’s tricks. His eldest brother’s oldest concubine-born son was already two years old this year but he had never seen his mother coo over him.
“How is that the same? I’m only concerned about one of your most major turning points in your life!” Princess Consort Jing glared at her youngest son.
Zhu Junyang replied with a stubborn expression on his face, “Lady Mother, you should first worry about Second Older Brother ah! He’s older than me by five years! Second Older Brother is not even as far along as me. I at least have a goal in mind and I’m striving towards it. He doesn’t even have a person he likes right now and he’s living at the border garrison. The army only has a bunch of old men in there so he’d be hard pressed to even see a female sow around…”
Zhu Junyang’s manner of speech had become a bit more crude and direct after spending so much time with soldiers and eating with them. Although Princess Consort Jing wasn’t very used to this, she was still happy for her son. Her youngest son had finally come back to the land of the living and no longer acted as if he was just going through the motions of living.
However, Princess Consort Jing found it very difficult to keep up her good spirits after hearing her youngest son’s latest words. Having more sons just meant more headaches as not a single one of them was easy to handle! Sigh! Xiaocao’s mother was right. The younger generation would always figure out a way for themselves so you might as well just let them go!
Zhu Junyang seemed to sense that his mother’s mood was more downcast so he hurriedly tried to change the topic, “Lady Mother, this time, when I went to the north, I came back with quite a few furs and they are all top-notch specimens that you can’t even find in the capital! This son will have the servants bring them in. You should see if there are any that you fancy so you can take them and then have someone craft some warm outer garments for you!”
Chests filled with furs were moved into the room. Princess Consort Jing looked them all over briefly. They were truly very good specimens that could not be bought in the capital. She snorted and then said, “Are these the leftovers that someone else has already picked through?”
“How could that be? Naturally I need to show the good things to you first, Lady Mother! The servants in charge of bringing these goods back went directly to the residence as soon as we got to the capital. They didn’t make a single detour! If you don’t believe me, you can go question Steward Sun in the outer courtyard.” Zhu Junyang really couldn’t understand the way women thought. They somehow always made a mountain out of a molehill and could be angry for half a day over the smallest things. Wasn’t this just causing trouble for oneself for no reason?
When Princess Consort Jing heard this, she immediately revealed a happy smile. After all, this was the son who she had loved for almost twenty years, so it was right that he thought of her first when there were good things to be had. She casually picked out a fine weasel pelt and a beautiful sable fur before she stopped to say, “To gain the favor of a young maiden, you can’t just rely on having a sweet mouth...nevermind, I’m pretty sure that tongue of yours doesn’t know how to say anything that would gain her liking! This scarlet-red fox fur and this ferret fur are both good furs to be used to make some outer garments or a hat for young girls as they will make them look lively and cute. Tomorrow, you should bring them to that lass Xiaocao...also, you also need to send some to Lady Fang. Furthermore, you can’t forget to send gifts to Dongshan Village as her biological parents and siblings are all there!
“Lady Mother is still the most thoughtful! Tomorrow, I’ll send some servants to make a trip to the Tanggu area...Lady Mother, you seem to be healthier compared to before as your complexion looks quite good today!” At the very least, Zhu Junyang’s ability to coax his mother into a happy mood had improved by a good amount.
His efforts had obviously paid off as Princess Consort Jing was so delighted that her mouth was wide open in a smile, “That lass Xiaocao always sends me some ingredients for medicinal cuisine and fully made meals every few days or so. I’ve been eating them and I feel like they’re more efficacious than what can be bought outside. In the past, before winter even started, I couldn’t leave the inside as my hands and feet were always icy cold. Now, I can even admire the plum blossoms in the snow without feeling chilled! For these past two years, I haven’t even gotten a tiny illness during the winter. This is something that I would have never believed before.”
Zhu Junyang was also genuinely happy for his mother and spoke intimately with her, “Lady Mother, if you like eating them, then have that lass make more medicinal cuisine for you and send it over. I’m sure it can make your body stronger. Xiaocao once said that using medicine to nourish the body is not as good as using food. If you eat properly, then it should be no problem for you to live until you’re a hundred! Thus, you don’t need to keep worrying about my future marriage. By the time this son’s grandchildren are born, you will still be able to help me watch them!”
“You child, if I live that long, wouldn’t I be an old witch by then?” The smile on Princess Consort Jing’s face widened but she also lightly rolled her eyes at him. Suddenly, she seemed to think of something and said, “In your household, other than Liu Fusheng, there are just two other male servants. How can male servants be as detailed as maidservants? How about, you can pick two maidservants from my side…”
Before Princess Consort Jing could finish her thought, Zhu Junyang interrupted her with a waving hand, “Don’t! You better not propose giving me bed-servants or anything like that! Didn’t you say before that concubines and bed-servants are like bombs just waiting to explode and only make a household messy? If Lord Father suddenly came back with two young maidens, what would you think? That lass Xiaocao hasn’t even agreed to marry me, so you better not make things more complicated than they are!”
Princess Consort Jing found his reaction simultaneously annoying and hilarious. She patted his arm a few times with a bit of strength and growled, “Stinky brat! Why did you start talking about me and your father? Your father is already how many years old? He’s at a grandfather’s age, so why would he ruin a young girl’s life and bring her back?”
“Heh heh! My lord father is in the prime of his life right now. He has a strong and brawny stature that gives off a matured charm that younger men can’t beat. If he really wanted to bring some young maidens home, there would be plenty standing in line. Lady Mother, you have to keep a close eye on him…
“It sounds like you’re itching for a spanking since you dare to say bad things behind my back! Meixiang, go and bring out the family laws!” Imperial Prince Jing had just finished his work in the study and it was around the time he usually ate dinner with his wife. Who knew that as soon as he entered her rooms he would hear his youngest son, who in his impressions was always a taciturn and gloomy fellow, actually making a joke at his expense. Was he dreaming at the moment or was the youngster being impersonated by another person? It didn't seem right for his son to be like this!
Zhu Junyang had no problems bantering with his mother but whenever he had to interact with his solemn father, he immediately became obedient and docile, “Lord Father, this son won’t butt into your affairs with Lady Mother. You can just have the servants send dinner to Dongxi Courtyard for me. Lord Father, Lady Mother, I will withdraw now!”
In actuality, Zhu Junyang was quite envious of the relationship his father and mother had with each other. Ever since that particular incident happened, his father had felt very guilty and needed to compensate, so he sent all of the other women in the residence out. Thus, he began the legend of ‘Imperial Prince Jing only favors his wife’ in the capital. His mother had been spoiled as if she was a young maiden and didn’t need to worry for anything.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s Thoughts: The princess consort is quite funny sometimes!