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Chapter 32: Bayberries and Crabs

Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations

When Prince Mediocre and his party arrived at the gates of the imperial palace, Prince Mediocre lifted the curtain of the carriage and looked at the palace that he left three years ago and a sharp gleam flashed across his eyes. When he got off the carriage, he, dressed in white, looked really graceful and handsome.

At this time, the courtiers just happened to finish the morning report and come out of the imperial palace. When they spotted Prince Mediocre, most of them sighed for him in their hearts.

Duke Anyuan and other courtiers saluted Prince Mediocre.

Prince Mediocre said elegantly, “Lords, you don’t have to be so polite.”

Then he said to Duke Anyuan. “I had been on the border all this time, so only when I arrived in Luoyang did I hear that Your Excellency has found your eldest daughter back. Congratulations.”

Duke Anyuan was a bit surprised at his words, but he still smiled and said, “Thank you, Your Highness.”

After a few words of pleasantries, Prince Mediocre went to the Hall of Diligent Governance. He knelt down and kowtowed towards Emperor Huilin. “Father, I’m back.”

Thinking of the Queen’s indifference last night, Emperor Huilin said indifferently to Prince Mediocre, “Arise.”

“Your grandmother is not feeling very well. To get you back to Chang’an, she really suffered great pains. Now that you’ve returned to Chang’an, spend more time with her!”

Prince Mediocre could see the indifference in Emperor Huilin’s eyes, but he was used to it. When the Crown Prince was born, he was only four or five years old.

He couldn’t figure out why his father, who had always treated him coldly, would love this baby so much.

As soon as the baby called him “Father” for the first time, he ignored all objections and made him the Crown Prince.

Only when the Crown Prince disappeared three years ago did he realize that perhaps in Emperor Huilin’s eyes, he only had one son.

Prince Mediocre bowed his head and said, “Yes, Father.”

Emperor Huilin waved his hand. “Take your leave.”

When Duke Anyuan returned to the Duke Mansion and went to visit his mother, he talked about the Prince Mediocre, “Prince Wise used to be brilliant indeed, but it is a pity… Today he asked about Jinniang, and I feel that it can’t be simple.”

The Duchess Dowager turned the Buddhist beads in her hand and frowned. “Although Prince Mediocre is very talented, he was too hasty back then. Soon after the Crown Prince disappeared, he tried to make His Majesty make him the new crown prince. Did the Imperial Concubine Xian and the Queen Dowager think His Majesty was stupid?

“As for why he asked about Jinniang, I think he may intend to win our support by marrying Jinniang.

“Ruoyi’s mother is a concubine. As for Ruoshui, he knows that we won’t marry her to him…

“But if he makes Jinniang his first concubine, he can win our support without annoying the Crown Prince.”

Duke Anyuan said, “I think so too, so we’ve gotta find Jinniang a husband as soon as possible, but my wife, she is determined to find Jinniang a man who will never take any concubines. But except for those poverty-stricken villagers, which man in the world won’t take a concubine…”

“I can’t persuade her. Mother, please talk to her. If she continues to delay, Jinniang might be involved in the princes’ fight for the throne.”

The Duchess Dowager also felt that her daughter-in-law went too far, so she said, “The Yu Family’s son is the most suitable for Jinniang, but he was too hasty. I will take this matter to heart.”

The fourth day of May.

Qiao Jinniang was checking the accounts of the Tasty Pavilion during the past few days in her courtyard. The daily net profit was about 500 taels of silver, which was much better than in Lin’an.

Nuomi hung wormwood leaves, peach branches and calamus leaves at the door.

When she turned around, she saw Qiao Ruoyi coming over. “Fifth Miss.”

The maid behind Qiao Ruoyi was carrying a plate of rice dumplings, and Qiao Ruoyi said, “My mother and I made a few rice dumplings by ourselves, so I brought some for Second Sister.”

Hearing Qiao Ruoyi’s voice, Qiao Jinniang hurriedly came out. “Ruoyi, you don’t have to bother. The kitchen has made rice dumplings, so has my Tasty Pavilion.”

Qiao Ruoyi said, “Most of the rice dumplings the kitchen made are sweet rice dumplings. I think you may not like it, so I specially made salty rice dumplings.”

Jinniang smiled. “That’s so nice of you, Ruoyi.”

Qiao Ruoyi said with gratitude, “If it weren’t for your thousand-year ginseng, I am afraid that my mother might have already died. These trivial rice dumplings are really nothing.”

“Sister, don’t hesitate to tell me if you need me to do anything for you. I’m willing to go through hell for you.”

“Phew, it seems that I came at the wrong time. I just wanted to deliver Sister the crabs and the bayberries that His Royal Highness specially sent to me!”

As soon as Qiao Ruoyi finished speaking, Qiao Ruoshui entered the Jin Garden without being allowed in.

Qiao Ruoshui stared at the precious antiques placed in Qiao Jinniang’s room. When she saw that even the curtains were made of precious Smoke Cloud Gauze, she gnashed her teeth in anger. She had asked her mother to give her the gauze to make clothes but was rejected, and yet Qiao Jinniang was using it as curtains!

“His Royal Highness must be thinking about me so much. Bayberries are so rare to see that even the imperial concubines don’t have many chances to eat it.”

“Everyone says that fresh lychees are precious, but compared to fresh lychees, even fewer people in Chang’an have seen fresh bayberries.”

Qiao Ruoshui put a plate of red iced bayberries in front of Qiao Jinniang.

Qiao Ruoyi asked in surprise, “Are crabs sold this early? Aren’t crabs sold around the Mid-Autumn Festival?”

The maid of Qiao Ruoshui, Hongxiu, said smugly, “His Royal Highness must be missing our Miss so much. It turns out that crabs are sold in all seasons in the South.

“These are May Yellows just taken from Taihu Lake, so they are very fresh. It is extremely difficult to deliver bayberries and crabs all the way here.

“In particular, bayberries rot easily. Even if it is iced, it will rot in just five days.

“So they were delivered via Royal Express to ensure the freshness of the bayberries.

“This is all because the little imperial grandson wanted to eat them. Although there aren’t many of them, His Royal Highness still gave two plates of bayberries and a basket of crabs to the Duke Mansion!”

Qiao Jinniang said indifferently, “Since these were gifted to you by His Royal Highness, how can I take them?”

Qiao Ruoshui raised her head and said triumphantly, “After I become the crown princess, is there any delicacy that I can’t eat? But you…

“Mother is trying to pick a husband for you among the young students who came to Chang’an to participate in the Imperial Examination…

“When you get married, I’m afraid you may not be able to taste these precious foods.”

Nuomi snorted. “What’s the big deal about these? In the South, bayberries can be picked everywhere at this time. In the Myriad Taste, hundreds of jars of bayberry wine would be made every season.

“Not to mention crabs, which can be easily caught in any river. Are they really precious?”

Jinniang glanced at Nuomi and said, “Say no more. Ruoshui, please take the bayberries back and eat it yourself.”

Qiao Ruoshui never intended to give the bayberies and crabs to Qiao Jinniang. She just wanted to show the Duchess how nicely she treated Qiao Jinniang and show off to Qiao Jinniang.

After Qiao Ruoshui left, Qiao Ruoyi also left.

Nuomi said indignantly, “Had His Excellency and Madam mistaken? How is it possible that the barberries and crabs were for Fourth Miss? I remember you like eating bayberries and crabs. Your husband must have sent them to you.”

Qiao Jinniang liked to eat bayberries. When she left the South, it was during the Qingming Festival when the bayberries hadn’t matured yet.

Now it was the maturing period of bayberries in the South, but she couldn’t get any barberries here. After all, even the Duke Mansion couldn’t use the Royal Express…

Qiao Jinniang said to Nuomi, “He’s not my husband now. Don’t call him that anymore. Today, Qiao Ruoshui is in a good mood, so she didn’t care about your disrespect, but you should speak and act cautiously in the future. This is the Duke Mansion after all.”

Nuomi pouted and said, “Yes, Miss, but I still think the bayberries and crabs are for you… Miss, he still cares about you.”

After all, Tuan’er didn’t like sour bayberries, but Jinniang liked to eat bayberries very much.

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