I had to stop arguing with him. I came over and looked at his red face and said, "The spring chill is so sharp that you must have caught a cold again, haven't you? Come here, and I'll perform acupressure for you."
Xiao Yi waved his hand and said, "No, I don't feel bad right now. But when I entered this room, I just felt uncomfortable." After that, he went out again.
He stood outside, covered with golden sunshine, and a kind of light seemed to come out in irresistible rays. What was it? It was the natural temperament of an emperor, a noble—powerful, unflinching, free, and unconstrained. I was a little stunned.
After a while, he turned around and said, "I'm okay. Pei, you're still concerned about me, aren't you?"
I drooped my eyelids and was speechless, as if something was wrong. Another gust of gentle wind blew through, then a faint fragrance wafted over. Suddenly, I shivered all over.
"Pei, my promise to you is a lifelong oath. It won't change at any time." His voice came slowly.
A tear in my heart slowly slid down.
Suddenly, I thought of something. The tear disappeared at once, and there was a kind of vague relief in my heart. "You may not know that Qing Lian gives me a feeling that she's just like the mellow wine in our palace—the more carefully you taste, the more mellow you'll find the flavor."
"All right! Pei, I have something to do. I'm going to go out of the palace." He frowned. At the moment when he expressed his affection and sweetness, I had changed the topic and it seemed that he was somewhat disappointed.
"Oh," I said, and my heart flew away.
"I'm entrusting the domestic affairs to you, Pei." The meaning of his words was very clear to me.
"Yes, I shall obey your orders." My solemnity added a helpless smile to his face.
After seeing Xiao Yi off, I hurried to call for Mingzhu. "Go and invite Qinglian to come over."
These days, domestic affairs in the palace were busy, and Qinglian helped me deal with them. I liked her more and more. The girl seemed to be weak, but she was very good at managing money matters and looking after our family. She had a light hand for dishes, especially all kinds of snacks. Those delicious snacks had elegant names, such as Green Wave and Shadow of A Flower, Watching the Moon in Water, Beautiful Peach Flowers, and so on.
This Green Wave and Shadow of A Flower was a kind of green snack, made into the shape of a lotus, decorated with orchids, and placed on a plate. Far away, it was just like a colorful wreath dragging a delicate green lotus in the water; it was fascinating. Watching the Moon in Water was a small, round, yellow snack concocted with honey. It was crisp and luscious. It was reflected in a jasper plate, like "the bright moon was a mirror and the stars were candles." Beautiful Peach Flowers was in the shape of a peach flower, like the tender and shy face of a bride about to be married. It was really nice and beautiful, so sometimes I couldn't bear to eat it. I ordered the maid to bring some to the palace, and it received the praise of Emperor and the concubines and ladies.
"Concubine, I'm here. Please give your orders to me." Qinglian's voice was effeminate and smooth.
I nodded. Then I turned behind Qinglian and watch carefully. I sniffed from time to time. Sure enough, it smelled the same.
"Concubine, you . . . " Qinglian was confused by me.
Finally, I noticed a thin red silk rope on her delicate neck. That must be it. I was really happy.
I was sure my judgment was correct, so I slowly returned to my chair and sat down to drink tea.
"Mingzhu, Bing, you girls come here to see what's unusual about Qinglian."
When they heard me, they gathered around and stared at Qinglian, and then they all looked puzzled.
"Concubine, I find that you like to stop a story at a climax to keep the listeners in suspense. You always tease us." Bing pouted her mouth.
I chuckled. "Ha ha, I have discovered a great secret."
"Ah?" These girls looked at each other inquisitively.
"Are there any secrets in our palace?" Mingzhu's eyes were filled with doubt. She didn't know what I wanted to say next, so she dared not speak out.
"It's not that there's any mystery in the palace, but that there's a secret weapon on Qinglian's body."
"Ah?" At the same time, the three people exclaimed, and the final focus was on Qinglian.
Qinglian was a little embarrassed. "What . . . ? What is on me?"
Looking at these girls who were anxious but unable to do anything, I couldn't help laughing. Today, I felt very happy.
"Qinglian, is that thing on your neck a pouch?"
"Concubine, how did you know?" Qinglian was incredible. She didn't know how I could see it so close to her skin. She stretched out her hand and pulled out the red rope. It was a very delicate pouch. It was apparent that the pouch had been worn for many years, and its edges were worn out. However, it still could be seen how delicate the pouch was.
Mingzhu's reaction was the most sensitive. She picked up the pouch and sniffed it, then said, "This is geranium!"
"Why do you have geranium?" Bing was surprised. This was a very precious thing, and maidservants were not qualified to use it.
"Qinglian, why did you put this pouch on your neck?" Most people put their pouches on their waists and sleeves, but few on their necks. At first, Xiao Yi's expression aroused my suspicion, because the hazy fragrance blew through my nostrils, and suddenly I felt a very familiar feeling. Finally, I remembered that once I had smelled it on Qinglian's body. Originally, I thought it was the fragrance of rouge. Now I saw that she was wearing red silk around her neck, so I was sure that her pouch was the source of that fragrance. Because spices were loose, they could only be stored in things like pouches.