Chapter 189: Venturing into the Palace (2)
The court dresses for the noble madams, from the first-ranked to the last, were all dark in colour. The styles were also passed down from the previous dynasty, very traditional and old. Even a young lady would seem old wearing them.
However, the court dresses for female members of the imperial family, which included imperial princesses, royal princesses, feudal princesses, and honoured ladies, were always made in the latest styles of the dynasty. The honoured lady’s court dress had a pale pinkish-purple base and embroidered golden flowers on the collars and sleeves. The main part of the dress was a bright red Jacquard weave with peonies sewn on top with golden brocade. Such a fresh, tender colour complemented Chu Lian’s equally tender age well. A broad sash tied at the waist completed the outfit, making her waist look even more slender than before.
One of the jade hair ornaments that the Emperor had given her was set on the top of her head. The dignified hairstyle served as the figurative cherry on top- it emphasized her blossoming femininity and discarded the last bits of her childish girliness.
Matriarch He had obviously been blown away by Chu Lian’s getup today. She nodded inwardly, appreciating the beauty of Sanlang’s wife.
Beauty is loved by all, and Matriarch He wasn’t an exception to the rule. She chuckled and waved towards Chu Lian. “Sanlang’s wife, come over to Grandmother’s side. Let Grandmother take a good look at you.”
After Chu Lian bowed in greeting to Matriarch He and Madam Zou, she quickly moved over to Matriarch He’s side.
The matriarch looked her over in satisfaction before helping her adjust the jade hairpin on her head that had gone slightly askew.
Although there was still a trace of a smile on Madam Zou’s face, her inner heart wasn’t at all as peaceful as her expression suggested. She suppressed the anger within and said, “Third Sister-in-Law, since you’re preparing to enter the palace to give thanks today, you should have gotten ready earlier. How could you let Grandmother wait in the parlour like this?”
Chu Lian was momentarily stunned. She hadn’t expected Madam Zou to make trouble for her right in front of the matriarch.
Actually, she wasn’t late at all. The matriarch had instructed her to meet at this time in the outer court so they could leave together. Matriarch He was older, so it was easier for her to get up in the morning. Thus, she had happened to arrive at the parlour just a moment earlier.
The matriarch’s outstretched hands that were helping to straighten Chu Lian’s hair suddenly froze.
Chu Lian sighed in her heart, helpless. If she had known that this would happen, she shouldn’t have bothered to interfere when the main kitchen had caught fire.
Since she was about to enter the palace, Chu Lian didn’t want to cause a ruckus about it now. She turned around and bobbed in Madam Zou’s direction. “Eldest Sister-in-law is right. I’ll take note of it next time.”
When Chu Lian had bowed down to her and apologised while dressed as a fifth-ranked honoured lady, a perverted sense of satisfaction had suffused within Madam Zou’s heart. She immediately switched to a benevolent expression and personally lifted Chu Lian up from her curtsy. “Third Sister-in-Law, it wasn’t my intention to reprimand you, but Grandmother is already at such an age… she can’t withstand such trouble. Just take note of it in the future. If not, I won’t let it go just like that the next time.”
Chu Lian’s lowered face instantly turned cold.
Matriarch He had been watching the entire scene with sharp eyes. She blinked and said, “Alright, it’s time to go. Sanlang’s wife, let’s leave.”
Madam Zou watched Chu Lian help Matriarch He up the carriage before returning to her own courtyard. The lake blue handkerchief in her hands had already been wrung until it was coming apart at the seams.
Chu Lian helped Matriarch He off the carriage in front of Zhuque Gate. Following that, they got onto the sedans that the Empress Dowager had sent to them, and they rode these until they reached the south gate of the inner palace. They were invited to disembark from the sedans and led inside by a eunuch.
Red roof tiles, painted green walls, grand rafters, carved walls, and glass tiles scattered the afternoon sunbeams, creating a radiant scene that did well to show off the splendour of the Great Wu Dynasty.
Matriarch He was about to follow Chu Lian on her way to meet the Emperor to give thanks, but was held back by a middle-aged eunuch.
“Matriarch, please follow this one to the Empress Dowager’s palace. The Empress Dowager has been waiting since morning.”