Fields Of Gold / Fields of Gold Chapter 562
Yu Hai and his wife didn’t recognize the empress, but Fang Zizhen and his wife, who were also the hosts of this ceremony, couldn’t act as if they didn’t know her. The couple quickly brought over their adoptive relatives to greet the empress. Yu Hai and Madam Liu’s eyes widened in surprise upon finding out this guest’s identity. Was their daughter’s reputation truly so great such that even the empress herself would come to her small hairpin ceremony?
“Please rise quickly. Today’s leading role is Miss Xiaocao and her sister. I am merely looking for an excuse to relax a bit after living deep in the palace for so long.” The empress’s smile was as warm as a spring breeze which calmed Yu Hai and Madam Liu’s racing hearts.
“Where is Older Sister Xiaocao?” The eldest imperial prince also benefited today. He had been given a day off of class, so he could leave the palace. He stuck out his head from behind his mother’s back and looked around curiously at everything on the third floor. A pair of eyes as bright as the stars looked for Yu Xiaocao’s figure. Older Sister Xiaocao hadn’t been in the palace for so long because she was busy with the matters of her hairpin ceremony!
Fang Zizhen and his wife hurriedly gave the eldest imperial prince——no, the crown prince a greeting. After coming back from the Mulan Imperial Hunting Ground, Zhu Hanwen was conferred the title of crown prince and moved into the eastern palace. However, there weren’t many children in the Imperial Palace, and he also wasn’t very old. Thus, things remained the same as before with him going to the empress’s Kunning Palace and staying there if it got late.
Lady Fang asked Zhenzhu to invite Yu Fan, the second young master of the Yu Family, over. The two of them were about the same age as the crown prince was younger than Yu Fan by less than two years. Thus, these two young people should have many things to talk about.
Sure enough, when Zhu Hanwen saw Little Shitou, he forgot all about Older Sister Xiaocao. Due to his relationship with Xiaocao, Little Shitou’s fame had also spread into the palace. Zhu Hanwen highly regarded this person who was only a little older than him and had become the last disciple of Great Scholar Yuan, who was the father of the prime minister. This youth was also called junior brother by the old scholars in court, whose beards have turned white. He didn’t forget to live up to their expectations. At the age of eight, he passed the county-level exams and became a county official. If it wasn’t because his master, the Great Scholar Yuan, took him to travel in recent years, making him unable to participate in the recent autumn examinations, he probably would’ve become a provincial official at ten and an imperial official at fifteen. Didn’t the ancients have Gan Luo, who became an official at the age of ten? So why couldn’t the Great Ming Dynasty produce a scholar who placed first in the imperial exams in his teens?
Maybe if these words were spoken from the mouth of someone else, it could’ve been counted as an exaggeration. However, these words were spoken by the Great Scholar Yuan, the strict and proper Headmaster Yuan, who has never even praised his son, the prime minister, before. This clearly showed that he was quite satisfied with this disciple of his.
Zhu Hanwen had been spiritually attracted to this youth scholar for a long time. He had long wanted to see the person that Great Scholar Yuan had praised like a flower. In addition, Yu Fan was Older Sister Xiaocao’s younger brother. Although they never met, he admired him, and envied him a bit, from the bottom of his heart.
As Xiaocao’s younger brother, he could enjoy the snacks and food made personally by Older Sister Xiaocao every day. Such a wonderful thing! If it was possible, he would’ve liked to exchange identities with this youth named Yu Fan! Even though he was the crown prince, he actually envied a youth from a peasant family. The world of a foodie was really hard for ordinary people to comprehend.
Little Shitou, who was already thirteen, had become a graceful and beautiful young man. His cultured and quick-witted manner, his scholarly and polite speech, along with his features that were similar to that of Xiaocao’s allowed Zhu Hanwen to increase his sincerity even though it was the first time they met. Soon, the two youths were chatting together.
Little Shitou’s return to the capital, in addition to celebrating his second sister’s hairpin ceremony, was to prepare for next year’s autumn provincial exam. These past few years, he had traveled to the north and south of the Yangtze River with his master. He debated academics with the scholars who lived south of the Yangtze River, allowing him, a young boy, to quickly grow up. The knowledge in the books had been thoroughly dissected by Little Shitou as he had an eidetic memory. He was like a dry sponge greedily soaking up the spring of knowledge. Through these years of travel, his lack of perspective and experience had been quickly enriched. He and his master, Great Scholar Yuan, were confident about the autumn exams next year!
Great Scholar Yuan had high expectations for this talented and diligent disciple. This autumn exam, Little Shitou needed to get first place in order to not weaken the reputation of Rongxuan Academy and his master. On the other hand, Yuan Yunxi, the youngest grandson of Great Scholar Yuan who was also going to participate in the provincial exams, had been overlooked by him.
Yuan Yunxi: “Grandfather, am I your grandson, or is Yu Fan your grandson?”
Yuan Sinian: “No respect for your elders, call him little martial uncle!”
Yuan Yunxi looked at Little Shitou who was a full head shorter than him and seven to eight years younger. He had nothing to say now…
But that was enough about the future emperor and prime minister, Zhu Hanwen and Yu Fan, who were conversing animatedly and regretting that they didn’t meet sooner. The sound of beautiful instruments came from upstairs, since the empress, who was the guest of honor, had already entered the hall. The guests were seated at the left and right seats. As the hosts, Yu Hai and Fang Zizhen, along with their wives, sat at the hosts’ seats after all the guests were seated.
As the fathers, Yu Hai and Fang Zizhen stood up at the same time after glancing at each other. Originally, the opening speech could be made by one person; however, these two people quarreled at home for a long time. Neither of them was willing to miss the opportunity to give the opening speech at their daughter’s hairpin ceremony. In the end, Xiaocao slapped her hands down and said how about they each say half, which solved the problem between the two fathers.
Yu Hai gently smoothed the folds of his fine clothes with his rough hands and said in a strong voice, “Today is my little daughters, Yu Xiaocao and Yu Xiaolian’s hairpin ceremony. Thank you all for coming…”
“It’s my turn, my turn!” Fang Zizhen quietly reminded as he gently pulled on Yu Hai’s clothes. Then he looked at the guests with a smile and loudly said, “Once again, I thank everyone who has found the time to come to my daughter’s Yu Xiaocao’s hairpin ceremony. Next, Yu Xiaocao and Yu Xiaolian’s hairpin ceremony will officially begin! Linglong, go invite the two young misses to come in and greet the guests!”
After Linglong went into the changing room, He Wanning, who got the position of master of ceremonies, came out, washed her hands, and took her place on the western stage. Yu Xiaocao and Yu Xiaolian came out holding hands and went to the center facing the south, with their backs to the north. They greeted the guests and then kneeled down in their position facing the west.
The two sisters came out looking like copies of each other. They had the same clothing, the same hairstyle, and they had similar heights, weights, and facial features. In addition, both were wearing light makeup. For a moment, it was hard to tell who was the older sister and who was the younger sister.
“Imperial Uncle, Imperial Uncle! Let me have a look, just a look!” On the balcony of the third floor on the east side were three young men in fine clothes. Wasn’t the one jumping up and down the crown prince who had been conversing happily with Yu Fan downstairs?
Unexpectedly, the person, who was in front of the young prince, with the best view was actually the cold and fierce Royal Prince Yang. He was currently craning his neck to look through the window. As for the light-complexioned youth beside the two, who had a helpless expression on his face, wasn’t that Little Shitou, Yu Fan, who was responsible for keeping the crown prince company?
On the narrow windowsill, there were three people, big and small. Below them were bodyguards that were looking up with nervousness, attracting the attention of people passing by. The pedestrians on the street followed their line of sight and found the three figures that were peeping on the windowsill. They were surprised for a moment. What hobbies did these high officials and royal families have to do something so uncouth in broad daylight? For a period of time, many pedestrians, who were passing by Zhenxiu Restaurant, gathered in front for a moment and pointed up at the window.
The emperor and Su Ran, who had come a little later due to handling government affairs, looked at this scene in bewilderment. When they followed the view of the crowd, the emperor found that it was his cousin’s tall back that was on the balcony peering through the cracks of the window. A wide grin that held hints of anticipation appeared on his face as he said to Su Ran, “We should let those who are afraid of Royal Prince Yang, who is like a tiger, come and have a look at what this guy looks like right now. If this occured at night, wouldn’t he look like a Peeping Tom?”
“Your Majesty, doesn’t the person next to him look familiar to you?” Su Ran had already spotted that there was a small figure jumping up and down, trying to squeeze Prince Yang out but couldn’t. It was the crown prince.
Zhu Junfan looked over at the small figure beside Zhu Junyang with interest and his expression suddenly became dark. Just now, he was looking on passively, but now that the person being watched passively was his child, he couldn’t be calm as a father.
“Zhu Hanwen, you little rascal, come down now! Quickly!” Zhu Junfan roared, scaring the crown prince upstairs, making him almost fall off the balcony.
“It’s over. Didn’t Father say he was too busy to come? How… Yu Fan, quick help me figure a way out. How can we avoid this…” Zhu Hanwen had a premonition that if he couldn’t find a reasonable cause, his small butt was going to blossom when he went back to the palace.
Yu Fan’s eyes roved around and pointed his lips in the direction of his future brother-in-law. Zhu Hanwen suddenly understood and nodded with a giggle.
Sliding down the pillars outside of the Zhenxiu Restaurant, the crown prince was caught by the guards and smiled at his father. In a low voice, he said, “Imperial Father, I was just having a good talk with Yu Fan in a private room on the second floor when I saw Imperial Uncle sneaking up to the third floor through the window. I was curious and followed him…”
“Is that so?” Zhu Junfan asked in a deep voice with a frown after he saw his cousin leaping down.
“How could this prince be absent from the lass’s hairpin ceremony…” Zhu Junyang said confidently.
Zhu Junfan kicked his cousin’s butt but almost made himself fall down. Fortunately, Su Ran was at his side holding him. Zhu Junfan was furious, “You dare to refer to yourself in such a pompous manner? If you want to go then go openly. By doing it secretly, you’re teaching children the wrong things!”
“This prince… If I could go up, would I still be here talking to you? My Future mother-in-law said that the female guests are all up there and that we needed to wait downstairs!” Zhu Junyang’s tone was somewhat indignant. As her man, he couldn’t even attend the lass’s hairpin ceremony!
Zhu Junfan exasperatedly gave him a look and said, “Then you’re just taking your future brother-in-law and your nephew to climb walls and to do sneaky things?”
Zhu Junyang glanced at the crown prince and thought, ‘Your son also wants to see his Older Sister Xiaocao’s hairpin ceremony, what does that have to do with me? I’m not taking the fall for this alone.’