Chapter 150 – A Living Reminder
As Ye Zhen came forward, the Empress Dowager stretched out her hand as if to encourage her. She looked carefully at Ye Zhen’s facial features which was becoming clearer to her sight as the distance became narrower.
When Ye Zhen was finally in front of her, the dowager looked at Aunt Cheng in astonishment.
Aunt Cheng was already in utter shock when she saw Ye Zhen entering Cining Palace. She gently nodded to the Empress Dowager, confirming secretly to the dowager that the rumor was true all this time.
The Third miss of the Lu family did look very much like the dead Wang Fei of Qin.
“What’s your name, child?” When the Empress Dowager thought of her daughter-in-law, she felt sad and spoke softly to Ye Zhen.
Ye Zhen gazed back at the Empress Dowager, who was the only elder that made her feel warmth when she became nothing but a soul trapped inside the imperial palace. Her eyes naturally shone with respect and gratitude.
“To answer Her Highness, this maiden’s name is Lu Yaoyao.”
Lu Yaoyao. The Empress Dowager nodded with a sad smile–this girl was indeed another person, she concluded in her mind.
“What a good name. Did you grow up in the Border town?”
“Yes, has the Empress Dowager ever been to the Border town?” Ye Zhen pretended to be ignorant of the dowager’s isolating herself in the palace.
“This widowed Empress Dowager has never visited the Border town but she has heard of it.” The Empress Dowager eyes crinkled deeply as she spoke again, “Then what did you use to do in the Border town?”
Lu Wushuang’s face turned green when she saw the dowager’s sheer interest to her third sister. She thought the dowager only wanted to see the Old Madam Lu and Lu Yaoyao, just to accord respect to her, a high-ranking imperial concubine, by accepting her family. After a few nice words, she expected the Empress Dowager to let them leave.
But now she seemed to like Lu Yaoyao very much and in fact, gauging her into conversation! Is it because she saw Lu Yaoyao’s beauty and now she wanted to put her inside the palace?
Ye Zhen didn’t have to look at Lu Wushuang’s face to know how she was feeling at that moment. Instead, she smiled shyly and began to search her memory for traces of Lu Yaoyao’s life.
“My brother and I liked to catch cicadas during the summers. Mother won’t let me climb trees to catch cicadas so I always slipped out the house. I also remember that we lived next door with a crippled soldier who taught me how to ride a horse. In fact, I rode better than my brother because of him. One time, when my brother took me for a hunt, he lost to me in archery for I hit two hares for the first time.”
The little girl’s sweet and tender voice filled the room, which made people feel better all of a sudden.
With her honesty and innocent vulnerability, the Empress Dowager liked the little girl all the more, “So, you learned both horse riding and archery in the Border town, what else did you learn?”
Ye Zhen bowed her head, looking somewhat embarrassed. “I did not learn much back in the Border town. Though my mother urged me to learn medicine, I didn’t think it was useful at all until we moved here in the capital. With my grandma’s support and Mister Shan’s teachings, I decided to take the Women’s College exam though I am still not good with my handwriting and etiquette.”
“You are already excellent!” The Empress Dowager rubbed Ye Zhen’s head and love overflowed through her eyes. It spoke volumes, the memory of her daughter-in-law who perished from this world.
Unwilling to watch the scene proceed, Lu Wushuang smiled stiffly and intervened. “Yao Yao, why are you saying all this nonsense in front of the Empress Dowager? Her Highness doesn’t need to know that you were once a wild girl in the Border town!”
Yes, in Lu Wushuang’s eyes, Lu Yaoyao was just a wild, ill-bred girl no matter how she looked.
Despite the thick rouge applied on her face to hide the red dots marring her skin, Ye Zhen could be seen turning pink. “Empress Dowager, when I was in the Border town, I was free, unlike my sisters in the capital. My mother said I was a wild girl.”
The Empress Dowager laughed and took Ye Zhen’s hand as she said to Lu Wushuang, “Wang Fei Lu, your sister is a blessed person. There is nothing wrong with her being a wild girl at all.”
Heaving a sigh of relief, Old Madam Lu was very pleased to see that the Empress Dowager really liked Yao Yao even after Lu Wushuang’s sudden intervention. Indeed, anyone couldn’t help but like her granddaughter.
Of course, except those who envied her.
Lu Wushuang reluctantly smiled, “Of course, the Empress Dowager is right.”
“Child, you must come to this palace often to visit this widow!” said the Empress Dowager excitedly.
Ye Zhen didn’t like the Imperial Palace, but she liked the Empress Dowager. “Your Highness, I don’t know how to speak properly in your presence. What if I say something wrong?”
The dowager only shook her head and laughed softly. “If this widow feeds you more sugar, you will understand how to speak.” The dowager said, pertaining to the sweets laid on the table inside the hall.
“Empress Dowager, my granddaughter is nothing compared to Her Highness but you treat her so gently.” Old Madam Lu couldn’t help but say. “Her Highness is so generous.”
“I like such a little girl.” She reminds me of someone… The dowager liked to add but stopped herself from doing so.
She didn’t know if it was because Lu Yaoyao looked like Ye Zhen, or because she spoke vividly and had a sweet voice that made her very fond of the little girl.
Lu Wushuang curled her mouth in secret, in her heart she felt even more disgust for Lu Yaoyao.
Old Madam Lu could see the expression on Lu Wushuang’s face who was sitting opposite her, and felt said in her heart that her granddaughter was filled with so much insecurity.
Just as the dowager and Ye Zhen continued to talk, a woman dressed as a grand palace maid was seen coming in a hurry.
Aunt Cheng immediately excused herself and went out to ask the maid-in-waiting what was the matter.
“Why? Is the little prince making a scene again?” The Empress Dowager looked at Aunt Cheng worriedly.
“Back to the Empress Dowager, it’s the little prince … he heard that Third Miss Lu is here and
is now throwing tantrums to make us let him see her. Also, he still refuses to take his medicine.” Aunt Cheng gave Ye Zhen a concerned look and whispered to the Empress Dowager.