Author: Chai Jidan
Translator: chiangyushien, Renkun26
The imperial guards at the entrance helped in opening the door for the Third Prince. They also knelt down in unison, with a dignified expression on their faces. The Third Prince did not respond at all. He directly strode through the door and entered, putting on a harsh facial expression, which made the Calm Mist Room, an already-deserted place, seem even more pressed with desolation and coldness.
“Your humble child heard that your health wasn’t good. I’ve come to wish you good health. Eunuch Lu said that it’s because you’ve stayed too long in the Imperial Palace of Winter’s Verge. The atmosphere was too heavy and because of that, you unexpectedly caught a cold. In your humble child’s place, there’s a special medicine for curing colds. In a moment, I’ll send people to give it to you, Imperial Mother.”
Although the Third Prince said all of these very decent words, it was almost without a trace of affection. It was as if he had no connection with the person in front of him. Even the words between them faintly showed a little bit disdain.
Concubine Mu listened to all of these words. Her complexion drastically changed. Originally, she already had an unhealthy complexion, now her face was even more pallid. But she still rose her hand toward the bowing Third Prince saying: “The Emperor’s child doesn’t have to be too polite. Since it is a part of the Emperor’s child’s filial piety, I decided I’ll conveniently use the medication.”
( In Confucian philosophy, filial piety [Chinese: 孝, xiào] is a virtue of respect for one’s parents, elders, and ancestors.)
“Then, I won’t trouble you anymore. Imperial Mother can go back to bed and take a short rest. Your humble child asks permission to leave.” The Third Prince ended his salute, turned around, and walked away.
Concubine Mu patted her chest. Her usual calm and dignified image was destroyed. She continuously had a look of panic and uncertainty. She unwaveringly fixed her eyes at the Third Prince’s back, as if to see him thoroughly step out of this room just to give up. Her eyes also bore reluctance and was unwilling to let him go — she was completely anxious.
Suddenly, the Third Prince’s pacing stopped at the entrance, but he did not turn around his body; rather, he immediately coldly said: “Does your humble child make Imperial Mother feel so uneasy?”
Concubine Mu heard these words. She was even more unable to say a word. She was only left with rapid breaths and sobbing sounds which were distinctly unpleasant to hear. Inside that room, there were not any servants brave enough to step forward and comfort her. All stood aside, holding their breaths, not daring to put forth. Concubine Mu finally could not hold out. She spat a mouthful of blood, her body sank, and fell straight to the ground.
The Third Prince sneered and stepped forward to leave Concubine Mu’s bedchamber.
The Third Prince returned to his courtyard. Mu Xueshi had already woken up, sitting on the table, not knowing what to fiddle with. Seeing the Third Prince abruptly entering the room, there was a hint of fear in Mu Xueshi’s face.
“Why don’t you utter a sound when coming in?”
The Third Prince had a puzzled look on his face as he sized up Mu Xueshi. Mu Xueshi’s eyes were looking everywhere. He was supporting his right-hand sleeve with his left hand. He pointed using his finger on his right hand to a vase and shouted: “Look, there’s a person there.”
In the twinkling of an eye, Mu Xueshi hurriedly fished out a few precious fruits from the tray and hid them into his sleeves. As a result, he looked up to see that the Third Prince did not make any turning motion because of his bluff. He realized just then that his actions were clearly seen by him.
Mu Xueshi gulped. His whole face was full of embarrassment and he started to blush. He was unable to say how lovely and seductive he was. Unexpectedly, while the Third Prince was in a trance, Mu Xueshi loudly said: “Why is your reaction so slow! I already shouted but you didn’t cooperate with me.”
The Third Prince frowned and did not speak. Mu Xueshi maintained his composure as he looked at him and swallowed hard. Two pieces of red plum cake were pulled out from a small pouch on the side of his waist. The Third Prince questioned more as he saw him taking out all of the things from his body: crystal candy pellets, white powder soft cakes, exquisite mountain fruits, imperial palace sweet wine… Furthermore, it was not clear where he found the two silver spindles and three agate hairpins.
“What are you looking at huh? No, I just took the things that you dropped! Men sao type, you’re really the men sao type…” he originally wanted to ridicule by saying a few words to ease up the mood. In the end, he lost his confidence.
(「闷骚」mēn sāo – outwardly cold or retiring but deep and passionate inside)