Garden Party (1)

In a blink of an eye, several days had passed since the day of the Lantern festival. All this time, Mu Mingtang had been paying great attention to the movements of their neighbour, but the wind there had been calm with no ripples, which disappointed Mu Mingtang.

The matter of spies was naturally firmly suppressed, and no matter what the outcome of the trial was, only the Ministry of War and the Emperor would know.

Commoners were still immersed in the festive season. The Lantern Festival was celebrated for five consecutive days, and the entire capital city was illuminated with bright colourful lanterns, making everyone happy.

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Although Mu Mingtang was disappointed because the Jin Palace didn’t receive any punishment from the Emperor, she could understand why the Emperor couldn’t publicly chastise his son and daughter-in-law.

Because of listening to Jiang Mingwei’s wrong warning, the Emperor and the rest of the royal family were not able to enjoy the Lantern Festival and get blessings from the people as they all escaped to another place. On the other hand, Xie Xuanchen and the Imperial Guards did catch spies, so what Jiang Mingwei told them made some sense. As for whether the Emperor believed it, it was a matter of opinion.

However, there were rumours that although the Emperor didn’t take any action against the Jin Palace, his face had been unsightly because of what happened on the tower during the Lantern Festival. Therefore, if the emperor had really punished Jin Palace, ‌the Empress and Prince Jin’s family would have just suffered public humiliation, but it would have eventually passed.

However, the Emperor refusing to take any action was worse than punishing them right away, because it would directly impact Prince Jin’s position if the Emperor kept this grudge in his heart.

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Jiang Mingwei was most likely aware of her self-defeating behaviour. She got sick right after arriving back at the Jin Palace from the Lantern Festival and stayed silent, making no movements. Not only Jiang Mingwei but also Xie Xuanji didn’t step outside their mansion for days. He no longer attended banquets held by other nobles. Even the Empress couldn’t hold her head high in the palace for a long time.

What was more interesting was that Mu Mingtang heard from a maid that concubine Lianhan, who had been grounded since the first day of the New Year, jumped back again after half a month. Jiang Mingwei had caused so much trouble for Xie Xuanji on the Lantern Festival day, that she was always very humble and silent in front of the Empress and Xie Xuanji, so she was not in the right state and had no backing to fight off the concubines such as Lianhan.

Whatever happened in the imperial court or Jin Palace, nothing could stop the arrival of the spring. After February 2nd, the last trace of the winter disappeared, welcoming the spring and the warmth.

As the weather got warmer, leaves began to grow and flowers slowly started to bloom on trees. All kinds of garden parties were being held in the capital.

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Mu Mingtang had set a date with Mrs. Zhu during the New Year, and when the day came, she set off from the palace by a carriage and met Mrs. Zhu’s family at the entrance of a garden party.

The Emperor was extremely worried about Xie Xuanchen accidentally receiving the dragon lantern, which was originally meant for the Emperor on the Lantern Festival day. So he was in an anxious state all day long, for fear that it would be a threat to his position. Although the Emperor was in that mindset for days, Xie Xuanchen and Mu Mingtang had little worries. After all, the Emperor was always suspicious of them.

Everyone in the Zhu family knew the importance of this gathering. Early in the morning, several daughters of the concubines gathered in Mrs. Zhu’s room. Mrs. Zhu did not dare to let Mu Mingtang wait for them, so she hurriedly took her daughter and other young ladies of the Zhu family and waited at the entrance of the garden party earlier than the appointed time.

Soon after, a tall and magnificent carriage slowly approached towards the entrance. When Mrs. Zhu saw the carriage, she knew at a glance who was sitting inside, hence she quickly reminded the young ladies in her family: “Hurry up and greet. Prince An and Princess An are here.”

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