Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
The Duchess said, “It is I who want to punish Qian Gui’s wife. Do you have a problem with it?”
“If I don’t punish this lousy slave who even dares to insult her master, I can’t imagine how terribly my daughter will be insulted again!”
“Come, flog these servants ten times and sell them. Flog those who insulted Jinniang thirty times before selling them.”
As for most of the servants in the manor, their whole families were slaves of the Duke Mansion. Being flogged and sold, their future lives were bound to be miserable.
Mammy Qian looked at Qiao Ruoshui anxiously. “Fourth Miss…”
Qiao Ruoshui hurriedly said, “Mother, Qian Gui’s wife is my nanny’s daughter-in-law. If you punish her, people will look down on me because I can’t even protect my nanny’s family!”
“Qiao Jinniang is your daughter, but I’m your daughter too!”
The Duchess said solemnly, “No one in this Duke Mansion can hurt my Jinniang. She is your sister. She was humiliated by the servants, but you actually spoke up for the one who humiliated her! Ruoshui, you are abasing yourself!”
With that, the Duchess said to Jinniang, “It’s getting late. The hunt tomorrow will be very lively. You’re still sick, so go to bed early.”
Qiao Jinniang saluted. “Mother, please go to bed early too.”
There were many small tables placed outside the paddock for the nobles to rest and watch the heroic bearings of the people hunting in the paddock from a distance.
Many women joined in on the hunt.
Princess Fulu and Qin Miaomiao always liked to compete with each other, so they certainly wouldn’t let go of such a good battlefield.
Qiao Ruoshui and the other girls of the Qiao Family also went hunting.
Qiao Jinniang sat at the table of the Duke Anyuan’s Mansion and tasted the pastries from time to time. The pastries were not quite delicious, so she stopped after eating only two pieces.
“Here comes Her Majesty!”
An eunuch chanted.
All the people resting here saluted the Queen.
Qiao Jinniang had learned about some palace traditions these few days, so she didn’t dare to look up at the Queen. When she was about to take her seat after saluting, she heard the Queen ask,
“Duchess Anyuan, is this your daughter who was swapped when she was a child? She looks very similar to you, and judging from her bearing, she really deserves to be the daughter of the Duke Mansion.”
Although Qiao Jinniang had been doing business for a few years, causing her to be natural and graceful in her dealings, this was the first time she had met such a distinguished person, so she didn’t know what to do for a while.
The Duchess saluted and replied, “Your Majesty, you’re right. This is my daughter, Jinniang.”
Signaled by the Duchess, Qiao Jinniang saluted the Queen respectfully. “Nice to meet you, Your Majesty. I’m Qiao Jinniang.”
“Qiao Jinniang?” The Queen almost dropped the cup in her hand.
It was the first time that the noble ladies and girls present had seen the Queen have such a gaffe.
The queen continued to ask, “Well, I’ve only read about babies being swapped in novels before. I guess Miss Qiao must have suffered a lot being separated from your parents. Judging from your accent, you’re not from Chang’an, right?”
Qiao Jinniang replied, “I grew up in Lin’an, so I have a Southern accent. Please don’t mind it, Your Majesty.”
When the Queen heard this, there was a hint of shock on her beautiful face. “Raise your head.”
Qiao Jinniang looked up at the Queen and was a bit surprised. The Queen’s eyes were very similar to Tuan’er’s as if they were carved out of the same mold.
However, Nuomi had already said that the Crown Prince was not that jerk…
She must be thinking too much.
The Queen smiled. “Jinniang, I’m very fond of you. Mammy, take the golden-threaded phoenix hairpin that I often wear and give it to Jinniang.”
Qiao Jinniang was stunned. For a moment, she didn’t know what to do.
Although the Queen also gave Qiao Ruoshui a head ornament and a phoenix hairpin yesterday, they were not what the Queen wore. Now the Queen was granting her the jewels she wore, which was a great honor.
Although Qiao Jinniang was from the South, she knew the value of this hairpin.
Although the Duchess didn’t know why the Queen gave Jinniang such a valuable item, seeing Jinniang stunned, she knelt and thanked on her behalf. “Thank you for your generous reward, Your Majesty.”
Even the mammy beside the Queen didn’t know why the Queen gave Qiao Jinniang such a precious gift either.
The Duchess loved Jinniang, but one tree far taller than others might fall victim to a strong wind more easily. Unlike Qiao Ruoshui, Qiao Jinniang had just come to Chang’an but had received such a precious reward from the Queen.
When those noble ladies came back from the hunt, they would definitely pick on Qiao Jinniang, and she might not be able to protect herself.
So the Duchess asked Qiao Jinniang to go back to rest.
Knowing the Duchess was worried about her, Qiao Jinniang left.
There was a mountain road from the paddock to the manor, and Qiao Jinniang only brought Nuomi and Yuyan with her.
It was a good spring day, and just like when they were still in the South, Nuomi begged Jinniang to make dishes with wild vegetables for her.
Yuyan was the youngest among the maids, so she didn’t abide by the rules as strictly as Hongling and Luhe. Hearing Nuomi describe how delicious the wild vegetables were, the little maid, who had never tasted them, was tempted.
So Qiao Jinniang took the two maids to climb up the hill to find wild vegetables.
However, the climate here was different. Chang’an was not as humid as Lin’an, so there were much less wild vegetables here than in Lin’an.
Qiao Jinniang saw a blooming locust tree from a distance and said, “Let’s pick some locust flowers and make some Locust Flower Honey Cake and Golden Locust Flower.”
Nuomi nodded happily.
Qiao Jinniang held the hem of her skirt. The clothes for noble ladies were beautiful but wearing them made it difficult to move.
When they got under the tree, a gust of wind came, and a rain of locust flowers fell.
Few people had trod here, so the locust flowers on the upper layer were all clean. Qiao Jinniang took off her outer silk coat and used it to bag the locust flowers.
Suddenly, Qiao Jinniang heard someone crying for help. Then she saw a well-dressed man crying for help not far away from the locust tree.
He was carrying a sword on his back.
Nuomi looked over and said, “Miss, he is the Crown Prince.”
Qiao Jinniang looked at the man from a distance. The Crown Prince was not as handsome as she had imagined. Maybe what was more tempting was the high status of the crown princess.
“Miss, should we save him?”
“No!” Qiao Jinniang said coldly. Last time she kindly saved that jerk, she ended up being divorced by him and even her son was taken away by him.
Because of the Crown Prince, the noble ladies in the capital fought each other desperately, causing a lot of trouble. Why should she bother to save him?
Besides, he was the Crown Prince, so his guards would come to save him soon.
“Lady, Young Lady! Help me!”
Spotting Qiao Jinniang, Junior Duke Rong hurriedly waved his hand and shouted.
Qiao Jinniang couldn no longer pretend she didn’t see him. If she didn’t save him, the whole Duke Mansion might be blamed.
Qiao Jinniang walked over only to see a snake as thick as a baby’s arm lying in front of the “Crown Prince”.
So he couldn’t move at all!
Yuyan screamed after seeing the snake. Qiao Jinniang walked over, abruptly pressed the snake on the ground, and saluted, saying, “Your Highness, don’t worry. This is a non-toxic Caihua Snake. It is very delicious once steamed with lotus leaves.”
Junior Duke Rong opened his eyes wide. “This, this, this…”
Among the noble ladies in Chang’an, there was no lack of girls who excelled in martial strength, but it was the first time that he had seen a woman who dared to catch a snake with her bare hands!
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