Zhu Junyang clearly had no doubts regarding Xiaocao. The little lass was sometimes quite mysterious. She even knew how to distinguish between the way of mysterious learning and sorcery. Was there anything in this world she didn’t know how to do?
When he saw her frowning perceptibly, he knew that she was worried about him. He felt his heart warm and he ruffled the little lass’s head as he smiled, “Now that we know the reason, then it’s easy to handle! In the future, when I see Wu Junling, I’ll stay far away from her. That way, I won’t be influenced right?”
Yu Xiaocao mumbled quietly, “That solution only treats the symptoms but not the root cause. Is there any way we can completely remove this hidden danger?”
“Lass, are you talking to me ah? Completely remove this? Are we going to secretly kill her?” Zhu Junyang was actually in the mood to crack a joke. Not to mention the fact that Wu Junling was his blood-related younger maternal cousin, but even if she was just an ordinary daughter of an official at court, killing her with his hands was also quite inconvenient. Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes at him.
In actuality, her last question was directed at the little divine stone. A tiny spell was not even a speck to the little divine stone, who had already regained almost half of its spiritual power. It'd be able to handle it in a jiffy. Once she got a definitive answer from the stone, Xiaocao felt her heart settle down. Following that, as long as she found an opportunity to meet Wu Junling, then they’d be able to release the magic on her.
As for what would happen once the spell suppressing Wu Junling’s fate was removed, it wasn’t within her scope to think about. Hmph! That girl had tried to target her man. If she didn’t get a little revenge back, then she wouldn’t be called Yu Xiaocao anymore!
Before Yu Xiaocao could come up with an excuse to meet up with Wu Junling, the target had presented herself to her door. Three days later, Yu Xiaocao received an invitation from the Ministry of Appointments Left Assistant Minister’s residence to participate in Yu Wanqing’s thirteenth birthday party. This was also the first time that Yu Wanqing had invited people over to her family’s estate.
After three months of careful facial treatments added on to taking medicines and tonics for her body, Yu Wanqing’s face had completely recovered. The little maiden had a round and adorable face, pale and tender skin, and a pair of smiling eyes. Her adorable looks made it very easy for other people to immediately like her.
Official Yu had invited young maidens who were the daughters of his colleagues to the banquet, the daughters of his friends and family, as well as the ladies who were good friends with his daughter.
Although Official Yu had already taken up his post and been in the capital for more than two years, this was the first time his daughter was showing her face in public. Many people were curious about Miss Yu and wanted to know what she looked like. Was she truly like what the rumors claimed? So ugly that she was embarrassed to see people?
There were always bored people in the world who loved to exchange gossip behind people’s backs. As for Official Yu’s daughter, she was always sickly and very rarely went out to see people. Thus, when the rumors came out that she was ugly beyond comparison, there were people who thought that there was a grain of truth in it all.
As soon as they found out that Yu Wanqing would show herself in front of everyone at her birthday party, many noble matrons and maidens were very curious to see what she looked like. Even those with only tenuous connections to the Yu Family came over to partake in the festivities after getting the news. All of these people came with gifts on hand. Official Yu was a bit flabbergasted at how good his relationships were with other people and hurriedly told the servants to prepare a few more banquet tables at the residence to avoid slighting any of the guests.
In fact, Wu Junling was one of those unexpected guests who showed up. Using the excuse of being distantly related, she and her mother went to participate. Official Wu had thought that being able to have a good relationship with the third-ranked Left Assistant Minister from the Ministry of Appointments would be beneficial to his future career and promotion. Thus, he had presumptuously sent his wife and daughter to Assistant Minister Yu’s banquet. Before they left their home, he had especially warned Jiang Meiyi, “If you manage to cause trouble this time, in the future, you will be shut in the inner courtyard’s family temple and forced to be vegetarian and recite sutras!”
Ever since the fiasco regarding Royal Prince Yang had occurred, Wu Dingsen had removed the power of managing the household from Jiang Meiyi’s hands and had temporarily given it to his beloved concubine who had birthed him a son. Whether or not Jiang Meiyi managed to reflect on her actions and grow up was a future question! Currently, Jiang Meiyi felt very aggrieved at all of this and a wisp of hatred was threaded through her heart. However, she didn't dare to throw a tantrum in front of Official Wu, so she could only resentfully pass the power away.
This time, when they went out, Wu Junling had also repeatedly warned her mother, “When we are there, you should speak less and just keep a gentle smile on your face. If you really can’t keep quiet, then make sure to say some things that sound nice. Keep an eye out for my expression.”
Now, even her most beloved daughter was no longer on the same wavelength as her. Jiang Meiyi was so incensed that she babbled incoherently, “Do you also think that I, as your mother, make you lose face ah? Have you ever thought as to why I can’t raise my head around your father? It’s because I birthed three good-for-nothings in a row!! If you were a son, do you think your father would treat me this way? Would there still be that cheap slut in the house?”
Wu Junling almost wanted to cry from her mother’s stupidity. She took in a deep breath and explained, “Mother, is there any point in talking about this now ah? You are still the legitimate wife of the Wu Family. As long as you don’t make another mistake, your status at home will not change. Your top-most priority right now is to change the way Father sees you! This isn’t the time to throw a temper tantrum!!”
Jiang Meiyi had also been scared after the recent events and was afraid that she would be locked up in the family temple, forced to endure hardships. She curled her lip and said, “I know. I just won’t talk when we get there, that’s all!!”
At the Yu Residence, they had especially prepared an elegantly decorated little courtyard to receive the young maidens as guests there. The young ladies first went with their mothers to greet the Assistant Minister’s matriarch and wife before they were brought to the courtyard.
Because she was friendly with Yu Xiaocao, Yu Wanqing also became acquainted with the spirited and lively He Wanning, the outwardly cold but actually easy to get along with Yuan Xueyan, and the gentle and sweet Li Mengru. The good friends had arrived relatively early and had already been seated at the main table to drink tea and eat pastries.
The tea there was provided by Yu Xiaocao and it was the famous flower tea that nourished one’s body. The pastries were provided by the Yu’s Dessert Shop and they were the new western-style pastries. Fruits had also been obtained from the back mountains in the Imperial Plantation. The group of young maidens happily sipped at the fragrant rose blossom tea, ate cream puffs stuffed full with luscious cream, and chatted merrily amongst themselves about interesting happenings throughout the capital.
As soon as Wu Junling entered the reception pavilion, she saw Yu Xiaocao, who was dressed in a set of beautiful qi-style attire and had her hair combed up into a pair of cute flower buns. The other girl was currently pointing at a platter full of jewel-toned purple grapes and telling her good friends to taste them.
Wu Junling stopped walking and silently measured up Yu Xiaocao in her eyes. Her heart was filled with dissatisfaction. The girl in front of her was merely a short wax gourd who was so skinny that she didn’t have a figure. At most, her features could be considered cute. Anyone with eyes would choose herself, who was much more beautiful and alluring! Was her older maternal cousin blind ah? Or was it that this lass used some underhanded methods to seduce him? How could he only have eyes for a little brat who didn’t even look like much?
A woman’s heart was truly unfathomable sometimes. For example, Wu Junling had personally experienced what Royal Prince Yang was like when he lost control of himself. Other than deep fear, she held no other feelings towards him. However, when she encountered the woman he liked, she felt incredibly jealous for some reason. It was as if she needed to compete with Yu Xiaocao no matter what. Only when she had firmly pushed down her ‘rival’ beneath her feet would she finally feel happy.
Yu Xiaocao could sense the other girl blatantly staring at her and glanced at Wu Junling through the corner of her eyes. She silently laughed inside. The heavens truly had eyes. Before she could even start scheming, the person in question had sent herself over. Today, she was going to use Younger Sister Wanqing’s birthday celebration to thoroughly get rid of the hidden danger to Zhu Junyang!
Yu Xiaocao lowered her head and took a sip of the fragrant tea. The dimples at the side of her face were barely visible. Those who were familiar with her would have known instantly upon seeing that expression that she was up to no good again.
Although Yu Xiaocao could happily ignore Wu Junling, Yu Wanqing, as the hostess, couldn't. Even though she had never met this beautiful older sister before, the maiden in front of her was still a guest. Yu Wanqing cheerfully went up to greet her. After Wu Junling introduced herself and gave the birthday girl a present, she was then sent to one of the tables to the right of the main table to sit at.
The vast majority of young maidens at this table were the daughters of fourth and fifth-ranked officials. Most of them already knew each other, so only Wu Junling was an unfamiliar face here. When they found out that she was only the daughter of a small fifth-level official and that her father was working at the Qingshui yamen, the rest of the ladies at the table exchanged looks. They gradually began to ignore her. Was being beautiful anything to be proud of? Within the noble circles in the capital, being beautiful alone was not enough. The most important thing was still your family’s status!
How could Wu Junling, who was quite sensitive, not figure out that she was being snubbed by the other girls? She had attempted a few times to make conversation with some of the young maidens at the table but all of her attempts were either rebuffed or duly ignored. It looked like she needed to do something else at this rate.
She discovered that the two young ladies sitting next to her praised the tea that they drank and the pastries that they ate without end. Some of the young maidens continuously sipped at the rose-blossom tea. After all, one cup of flower tea cost at least a few dozen taels! As for the pastries and fruits, they all said that apparently Feudal Princess Jinan had provided them to the banquet for free.
“Who would have thought that Miss Yu would manage to become friends with Feudal Princess Jinan? In the future, the Yu Residence will absolutely not lack for fresh fruits or vegetables! As for these cream-based pastries, even if you line up you may not be able to buy any.”
“I heard that, in the past, Miss Yu had fearsome looking pimples growing all over the face. They were simultaneously red and very swollen and she couldn’t go out to see people! It was only after she went to Feudal Princess Jinan’s ‘Blossoming Beauty’ health and beauty club that her face healed. I heard that she spent around tens of thousands of taels on this treatment. This Yu Family truly has money!”
“My mother told me that when Lady Yu married Official Yu, her dowry chests made a long train. In fact, in terms of cash alone, she had brought over tens of thousands of taels. The Yu Family doesn’t lack money at all. Lady Yu only has one precious daughter. Let alone tens of thousands of taels, even if it reached hundreds of thousands of taels, she would happily spend the money to treat her daughter!”
“If my mother was this rich, that would be so great! I had my eye on a set of whitening skincare from ‘Blossoming Beauty’ that cost around a thousand taels. I begged my mother for a long time yet she still couldn’t bear to take out the money to get it for me. You guys should look at Miss He. In the past, her skin was so coarse and tanned but now it’s so tender and pale. It’s obvious just how well those cosmetics work.”
“I heard that Miss He is one of the very few who has a diamond card level membership at the spa! Furthermore, many of her personal cosmetic items were custom-made by Feudal Princess Jinan herself for free!”
“Feudal Princess Jinan is so generous ah! If I could become friends with her that would be great…”
“If any of us were able to become friends with Feudal Princess Jinan, that meant that our ancestors had done a lot of meritorious deeds ah. I heard that the two beauties of the capital and Royal Princess Minglan had been invited on an outing to the Imperial Plantation. You all know about the fruit orchard on the back mountains of the Imperial Plantation, right?”
“Psh! Who doesn’t know? The fruit trees that Feudal Princess Jinan plants all produce fruits that are a hundred items more delicious than regular fruits! Especially the honey peaches. As soon as they enter one’s mouth, they melt into juice...just thinking about it makes my saliva flow. Unfortunately, sales of fruit are rationed every day and as soon as they hit the shelves they disappear. My family was just able to snatch a box after trying for a long time. The peaches cost a hundred taels a box and each box only has six honey peaches in it. However, the taste is so incredibly delicious. I’ve never eaten such delicious fruit in my life before!”
Wu Junling looked at the entire table of young maidens who all had looks of envy on their faces. They made it sound like eating a honey peach was truly an experience to remember. She couldn't help but become curious. Wasn’t it just a peach ah? She had often eaten peaches when she was living in Huai’an prefecture. These young maidens in the capital were truly too uncouth to even brag about eating peaches in this way!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s thoughts: Wu Junling is truly a frog in a well sometimes.