Chapter 194: Trap (2)
The handmaid kowtowed a few more times, each one making a dull thud when her head hit the floor. “How could this servant dare to lie in front of Your Majesties? That worm came from within the fresh peach! Your Majesty, if it seems beyond belief, how about ordering someone to check the peach?”
Empress Shen shot a look at a middle-aged eunuch waiting on the side. In a moment, that middle-aged eunuch picked up the half of the peach that Chu Lian had placed on the table. As expected, he found a large hole where a worm had been near the center of the peach. The eunuch reported his finding, and after a few moments, he found that trouble-making, black, wriggling worm near the table…
When the handmaid saw that evidence to her claims had been found, her tense heart relaxed for a moment. She almost collapsed on the ground after losing all the strength in her body. “It was the Honoured Lady who tossed that worm onto this servant’s hand, causing this servant to lose composure before Your Majesties. Your Majesty, please seek justice for this servant.”
Chu Lian cast a sideways glance towards the handmaid who had suddenly become the victim. The corners of her lips curved upwards. This silly girl, did she think anyone here was stupid?
As expected, Empress Shen had thought further. “So what you’re trying to say is that Honoured Lady Jinyi purposely tried to lead you into a trap? You’re just a lowly handmaid. What benefit is there for Honoured Lady Jinyi to harm you?”
The handmaid who had just found a moment to relax was suddenly plunged back into the depths of despair. Her eyes widened, and she couldn’t speak for a long moment.
“This… This servant… does… doesn’t know…”
Chu Lian was supposed to make longevity peach buns for the Chengping Emperor. The ingredients were all prepared by people in the palace. Furthermore, this handmaid was one of Imperial Concubine Wei’s servants. She had also been the one to wash those peaches before handing them over to Chu Lian. However, a disgusting worm had appeared in those supposedly fresh peaches, and Chu Lian was supposed to prepare the peaches herself… It was clear what had happened.
Imperial Concubine Wei had tried to quickly get rid of this handmaid earlier, because she didn’t want the handmaid to make a mistake and expose everything. Even those with the slightest bit of brains could guess what was going on.
However, Empress Shen had stopped her with the intention of trapping Imperial Concubine Wei.
Now that things had progressed to this step, it was as if Imperial Concubine Wei had been slapped in the face by Empress Shen right in front of the Emperor. Her face felt like it was on fire.
Without waiting for Empress Shen to speak, the Emperor ordered in a low tone. “Take her out! Beat her to death!”
The Emperor’s words were much more powerful than Empress Shen’s or Imperial Concubine Wei’s. Before the handmaid could speak another word, she was immediately taken away by two guards dressed in black and dragged out.
Next, the Chengping Emperor glanced at Chu Lian and how she was standing obediently to one side with her head lowered, merely watching the show. If Chu Lian had raised her head at this moment, she would have been able to see the strange glint in the Emperor’s eyes.
“Concubine, you failed to teach your servants properly. When the Mid-Autumn Festival is over, you are grounded in your palace for half a month.” The Chengping Emperor’s tone sent chills down everyone’s spine.
Imperial Concubine Wei looked up at the Emperor in disbelief. However, the Emperor looked like a cold and unreachable ruler right now; nothing at all like the Emperor who had snuggled up with Imperial Concubine Wei earlier on the same sofa.
Imperial Concubine Wei looked at the Chengping Emperor with aggrieved eyes, hoping that that he would retract his order. However, the Emperor had already shifted his gaze away. Empress Shen looked gleeful. Right now, the only one in the palace who could vie with her for status was this Imperial Concubine Wei. This concubine had used so many little tricks in secret to fight with her. Who would have thought that a small matter like this would make Imperial Concubine Wei fall from grace? How could Empress Shen not be delighted?
Following this line of thought, Empress Shen turned her head to look at Chu Lian, a miniscule hint of a smile on her face. As expected, a dog who would bite wouldn’t bark. She had underestimated this Honoured Lady Jinyi.
Imperial Concubine Wei had no other choice but to accept her punishment.
The Emperor’s gaze swept across the entire Tingyu Pavilion before he ordered, “Forget it. I no longer have any interest in this. Jinyi, go to your grandmother over at the Empress Dowager’s palace.”
Chu Lian respectfully bowed and answered in agreement.
However, before the crowd started to leave Tingyu Pavilion, a bell-like voice called out from outside the entrance. “Father, Father! Yao’er has come to greet you!”
When he heard that voice, the dark clouds in the Emperor’s expression dissipated a little. He turned to the entrance, and in a short moment, a little girl in a pink court dress came running in like a little butterfly. Following that, she threw herself into the Emperor’s welcoming embrace.
The Emperor bent down slightly, his face full of tender love as he patted Imperial Princess Leyao’s hair gently. He asked her, “Leyao, why have you come all the way here?”
Imperial Princess Leyao coquettishly answered, “Yao’er missed Father, so Yao’er asked the eunuchs and came over! Yao’er hasn’t seen Father for two whole days! Did Father miss Yao’er?”
The Emperor burst out into laughter, enjoying such a warm exchange with his daughter. “Father misses you too.”
Imperial Princess Leyao let out a bright smile. “Yao’er knows that Father loves Yao’er the best!”
The Emperor pinched his daughter’s cheeks gently.
Imperial Concubine Wei had been kneeling at the side. When she saw her daughter entering the hall, her expression relaxed and she heaved a sigh of relief in her heart.
Imperial Princess Leyao looked around Tingyu Pavilion and ran into Imperial Concubine Wei’s embrace next. “Mother, what’s wrong? Why are you kneeling on the floor?”
Imperial Concubine Wei showed a slightly fatigued smile and combed through Imperial Princess Leyao’s slightly messy fringe. “Yao’er, Mother made a mistake. Mother has to kneel on the floor in repentance.”
Imperial Princess Leyao’s eyes widened and she tried to pull her mother up from the ground. However, Imperial Concubine Wei didn’t move. Imperial Princess Leyao ran up to the Emperor and hugged his arm, shaking it. “Father, Mother didn’t do it on purpose! Could you forgive Mother just this once?”
The Chengping Emperor looked into Imperial Princess Leyao’s eyes and finally gave in. “Alright, get up. If there’s a next time, you won’t be able to make up for it even if Leyao pleads for you again.”
Delight bloomed on Imperial Concubine Wei’s face. She quickly said, “This humble one wouldn’t dare. There won’t be a next time.”
Empress Shen was about to grind her teeth down from frustration. She couldn’t believe that the Emperor had completely let go of his anger and pardoned Imperial Concubine Wei’s crime just because of two simple sentences from Imperial Princess Leyao!