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Title: ChongFei Manual
Chapter: 141.1 out of 171
The capital had a festive atmosphere for New Year’s Eve. From house to house, there were large red lanterns hanging at the front doorways and papers pasted on the sides of the doorways. There was a celebratory poem written vertically down on these papers. The first verse of the poem was “The people will live in peace during this country’s golden age.” The second verse of the poem was “The weather will be favorable for crops. Praise the splendid New Year.”
A vermillion-lacquered carriage with a domed umbrella-like roof and two horses at the front passed through the streets. There were few children wearing cotton-padded jackets and holding firecrackers. After lighting a firecracker, they smiled as a firecracker was thrown in the carriage’s path.
Before the firecracker could make any sounds, a small flying stone extinguished the spark on the firecracker.
The children looked at each other in dismay. None of them understood what had happened.
It was noon when Wei Luo and Zhao Jie returned to Prince Jing’s residence. The steward had managed the residence well. Although the owners had been gone for a month, the residence was in perfect order and there wasn’t any difference between now and when they had left. Inside and outside, everything was neat and clean.
After Wei Luo and Zhao Jie hurriedly ate lunch, Wei Luo went to the cleansing room to take a bath. Then, she changed into a clean set of clothes and fell asleep as soon as she lied down and her head touched the pillow. In order to return here sooner, they rarely stopped to rest on the way here. Wei Luo didn’t complain much despite how tiring the journey had been.
After Zhao Jie freshened up, he looked at Wei Luo’s sleeping face and leaned over to kiss her forehead. Then, he turned around and went to the study. He called over Yang Hao and Steward Wang, asked them what happened in the capital recently, and handled some official work. When he raised his head again to look at the sky, it was time to light the lamps. It was soon be time to go the palace to attend the family banquet.
Zhao Jie returned to the bedroom to wake up Wei Luo, “Little fellow, wake up.”
Wei Luo was feeling very sleepy. At this moment, she didn’t want to wake up at all. She whimpered and retreated her head into the quilt like a kitten that was acting cutely spoiled. Zhao Jie couldn’t help laughing. He rarely saw her showing such a pitiful appearance. He lifted the quilt that was covering her head, leaned over, and kissed her little mouth.
Wei Luo couldn’t breath because of his kisses. She used both of her hands to push him away. She was completely awake now. Feeling both angry and helpless, she asked, “What are you doing?”
Zhao Jie pinched her small face and felt that the sensation of touching her smooth and tender skin was really enjoyable. “A certain small creature was acting spoiled and wouldn’t get up. Husband couldn’t wake her up and could only use this method.”
Wei Luo slowly sat up, gathered up her long hair, and didn’t go along with his mischievousness. “Go and tell Jin Lu and Bai Lan to come inside.”
5PM had just recently passed. It wasn’t too late yet. There were still two more hours before the palace banquet. Wei Luo sat down in front of a bronze mirror and brushed her hair. She had just woken up, so her mind wasn’t very clear. She used a soft brush to apply a thin layer of jasmine pearl powder on her face. It greatly improved her complexion and spirit. She went behind the divider to change clothes.
When about an hour had passed, she saw that Zhao Jie was spying on her when she turned around. He was leaning against the door with his arms crossed and smiling at her.
Wei Luo walked to his side. Feeling somewhat uneasy, she asked, “Why are you smiling?
Zhao Jie scratched her nose, then he held her hand and started walking outside. “I’m smiling because my Ah Luo is becoming more and more beautiful, to the point that I can’t look away.”
After they entered the palace, they walked to the lake that was in the western part of the palace.
The family banquet was set up at a pavilion that was at the heart of the lake. The pavilion was called Sheng Xue. Because it was a family banquet, the court officials and the other high-ranked nobles weren’t invited. There were only the members of the imperial family and their noble spouses. When Wei Luo and Zhao Jie reached the jiu qu qiao, they saw the brightly lit and splendorous Sheng Xue. The eunuchs and palace servant girls were busily carrying fruits and pastries back and forth. When the servants encountered them on the jiu qu qiao, they properly saluted, “Greetings Your Highness Prince Jing, Greetings Your Highness Princess Consort Jing.”
(T/N: Below are pictures of jiu qu qiao. It's a zigzagging bridge/walkway that connects the lake pavilion to land. )
When they arrived at Sheng Xue, there were already many people there. Besides the elder princesses, there were also princes and princesses wearing magnificently embroidered clothing and showing happy expressions. Perhaps, the festivity of celebrating the passing of the year infected them. They all seemed very happy and weren’t as reserved as usual. A few thick-faced ones had already started begging for red envelopes from the elder princesses. It almost seemed like this was a normal family that was celebrating New Year’s Eve.
Wei Luo instinctively looked around. She only saw Elder Princess Ping Yang and Elder Princess An Yang. She didn’t see the figure of Elder Princess Gao Yang. When she thought about it, it wasn't strange. That type of thing had happened to Zhao Xuan’s family. Her husband had been recently beheaded and she had to wearing mourning clothes for three years. She wouldn’t be expected to attend a gathering like this one.
Ninth prince Zhao Chen was pleasantly surprised when he saw Zhao Jie and Wei Luo. He left the crowd of people and came over to ask, “Imperial brother, when did you come back from Tong Zhou? I made a bet with seventh imperial brother and eighth imperial brother that you definitely wouldn’t come to this banquet. I didn’t expect that you would be able to get here in time at the end.” He turned to this side, immediately put away his mischievous smile, and courteously and properly said, “Second imperial sister-in-law.”
Wei Luo smiled and nodded, “Ninth brother.”
Ninth prince had the best relationship with Zhao Jie out of all the princes and was the only that dared to joke around with him. The other princes more or less feared Zhao Jie. They all came forward to meticulously greet him one by one and didn’t dare to act like Zhao Chen.
Wei Luo had prepared many red envelopes before coming here. They would be given to the unmarried princes. Wei Luo had also prepared gifts for the unmarried princesses. Those young princes were scared by Zhao Jie’s imposingness and didn’t dare to come close. But seeing Wei Luo’s brightly smiling face, they couldn’t resist wanting to get closer. So, one of them quietly walked to her side to ask for a red envelope and said with cheerful laughter, “Thank you second imperial sister-in-law!”
Wei Luo stroked twelfth prince’s head. The little fellow was only eight years old with white teeth and red lips. He looked delicate and cute. When he smiled, there was a gap between his teeth. It was cute and funny. Wei Luo said, “Your welcome. You can go play.”
As a result, there were more people that came to Wei Luo’s side to ask for a red envelope. It wasn’t because there was anything special about Wei Luo’s red envelopes. It was because these people were really curious about this couple. They normally didn’t dare to joke with Zhao Jie, but it was different now that Wei Luo was here. This greatly satisfied their eagerness for novelty. Moreover, Zhao Jie had ruthlessly closed the doors without letting them see Wei Luo on the wedding night, so they hadn’t been able to make a fuss at the time. Tonight was New Year’s Eve, so they freely joked and boisterously chattered.
A short while later, the red envelopes that Wei Luo had prepared were all given away.
One by one, the princes thanked Wei Luo and Zhao Jie. Their expression and smiles were more sincere.
Zhao Jie showed a hint of rarely seen warmth and he lightly said, “No need to be so courteous.” Then, he led Wei Luo towards the two elder princesses to salute them, “Second paternal aunt, third paternal aunt.”
Wei Luo had met Elder Princess Ping Yang and Elder Princess An Yang before, so she didn’t feel as if they were unfamiliar people. Wei Luo stepped forward to say a few words with them and they each gave Wei Luo a red envelope. Then, after Wei Luo gave gifts to the princesses that she saw, she saw Zhao Liuli gesturing at her from behind a vermillion-lacquered pillar that was carved with dragons and clouds. Wei Luo used an excuse to leave the group of people. Then, she went over to Zhao Liuli and asked, “Why didn’t I see you earlier?”