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Chapter 502 She So Resembles the Person Indeed
After finis.h.i.+ng speaking, Honored Consort Xia turned her head sideways, had two low coughs, covered her face with her handkerchief, and spoke with a little embarra.s.sment to Ning Xueyan. “Please don’t laugh at me, Consort Ning.”
“You are in poor health, Your Highness?” Ning Xueyan herself was a person who had been ill for a long time. At this time, she found that the complexion of Honored Consort Xia was indeed not good, and her eyebrows and eyes were even a little paler.
“I’ve been unhealthy. No matter how much medicine I take in normal times, it is useless. This is an old illness,” Honored Consort Xia exposed somewhat self-ridicule and said softly.
“Were you discussing Buddha dharma with Senior Nun Jing Kong just now, Your Highness?” Honored Consort Xia did not seem to want to further continue this topic, and Ning Xueyan didn’t think that it was good to have a deep talk with someone unfamiliar, so she raised another topic cleverly.
“You know Senior Nun Jing Kong, Consort Ning?” Honored Consort Xia had two more low coughs, then she raised her head, and asked with some interest smilingly, “Not everyone in the palace knows Senior Nun Jing Kong!”
“I partic.i.p.ated in the Beauty Contest held in the palace previously, and I met Senior Nun Jing Kong at that time,” Ning Xueyan said with a light smile. She could not hide it from others because many people knew it. Besides, the fate of marriage between Ao Chenyi and her seemed to have been raised by Senior Nun Jing Kong first.
“Senior Nun Jing Kong is proficient in Buddha dharma. When I came here today, I suddenly remembered a few past experiences. I was very sad, so I especially invited Senior Nun Jing Kong to come here and asked her to straighten out my wrong thinking, but I didn’t expect to meet you by chance, Consort Ning. Indeed, we have a very strong predestined relations.h.i.+p.”
As gentle as ever, Honored Consort Xia made a soft sound with a smile in it, which could give others a very good impression.
As for the predestined relations.h.i.+p, Ning Xueyan felt very speechless. Others always said that Honored Consort Xia was very mysterious and almost never appeared in the public eye. She had never attended the festivals of the palace or the birthday of the emperor, and even not every one of the other concubines in the palace might have met her.
Therefore, she was said to be mysterious.
But it was so coincidental today. When she came to the palace to extend her grat.i.tude for kindness for the first time, she met her accidentally. It was fair to claim that the power of fate was truly so great.
She flapped her long eyelashes once and had a trace of confusion in her eyes, but when she raised her head again, she had put on a smile and said with some respect politely, “Your Highness, you have too many worries on your mind, but if you can let go of some obsessions, maybe this illness will be much eased.”
She took this matter on its merits, so these words could not be counted as something so close. Anyone could see that although Honored Consort Xia was smiling, she curled her eyebrows from time to time as if she was heaving sighs and had emotional entanglements. When she also recalled that the consort had paid a special visit to Senior Nun Jing Kong, she could find that this lady’s worries were exceptionally many.
“As for some things, it’s not that as long as you want to let go of them, you can let them go.” Honored Consort Xia did not deny it, nor did she admit it. Instead, she only heaved a light sigh, with bitterness in it.
Ning Xueyan did not know how to answer her. No matter what past experience Honored Consort Xia cared about was, it did not seem that she, who had just met her for the first time, should say anything about it. Besides, this was the palace. Ning Xueyan always thought that she could never get involved in the past experiences of a favored concubine who could survive in the palace and live unharmed in it to this day.
She’d better not interfere, so as to avoid those unnecessary troubles.
If she were herself in the previous life, maybe she would further ask about it unconsciously after hearing these few words of Honored Consort Xia.
But if she was still so naive after going through such a miserable death, she would perhaps end up 100 times more miserable in this life than in her previous life.
So, after entering the palace, she had been keeping alert, trying to avoid talking. Now she still held this idea. Therefore, when she appeared to be servile and submissive, she only gave a light smile, pretended to listen carefully, rubbed the handkerchief in her hand, but did not say anything anymore.
Honored Consort Xia did not seem to expect that Ning Xueyan would stop asking further. For a while, it was quiet. In this small quiet place, only wind swept past, and the falling sound of petals was heard.
An awkward silence appeared between the two of them.
“You’d better go back and take a rest, Your Highness. By now, the herbs must have been boiled well. If you don’t take the herb soup when it is warm, its effect won’t be good,” a palace maid standing beside Honored Consort Xia took two steps forward and persuaded in a whisper in her ear.
“I’m not in a hurry. Let me chat with Consort Ning for a few more moments and then leave,” Honored Consort Xia coughed twice in a low sound and said.
“Your Highness, if you go back to take the medicine in a while, the emperor will punish me when he asks about it.” The palace maid was worried and had anxieties on her face, looking panicky and fearful. It was indeed terrifying for the present emperor to daily ask about a concubine’s condition of taking medicine.
“You’d better go back and take the medicine first, Your Highness. Your health is the most important thing. If there is an opportunity in the future, we can meet again.” Ning Xueyan had to persuade her. Anyway, she did not want to hear the charge that this favored consort delayed taking medicine because of her. Remembering the nervous look of the emperor, she knew that Honored Consort Xia deserved the t.i.tle of the favored consort.
“All right, then!” Facing the persuasion of the two people, Honored Consort Xia, who seemed to be a person of soft character, rose to her feet helplessly. “I don’t know why when I see you, Consort Ning, I seem to see an old friend of the past. Your eyes so resemble the eyes of the person. If you have free time in the future, Consort Ning, you can come to see me. Few people visit my place in normal times, and I feel very lonely.”
Honored Consort Xia looked at Ning Xueyan gently and smiled softly, looking quite cordial.
“Definitely. If I have a chance, I will surely come to visit you, Your Highness.” Since the lady had said so, Ning Xueyan certainly could not refuse her anymore. She stood up and spoke politely.
“Then I’m going back now. If you are free, you can come to see me. Consort Ning, chatting with you is very interesting, but you also seem to have problems with your health. I have many herbs in my place, and you can pick up some you can use and take them back by then.” Honored Consort Xia seemed very satisfied with the answer of Ning Xueyan and then especially added a few more words before she left with the palace maids and mammies.
Another little eunuch removed the tea set on the stone table nimbly.
This small place became quiet immediately.
“Mistress, Her Highness Honored Consort Xia looks very nice!” Without outsiders present, Lanning could not help whispering, “If she were not in the palace, I would not believe that she is also an imperial consort.”
It seemed that every imperial consort in the palace was very arrogant, including the two young imperial consorts who were thrown into the Cold Palace previously, these few imperial consorts who treated them coldly, as well as the empress who had been focusing on chatting with Commandery Princess Xianyun, and even Honored Consort Ya and Honored Consort Shu whom Lanning saw at the party she attended with Ning Xueyan previously.
These women seemed not good-natured, and only Honored Consort Xia was amiable and approachable. She talked softly and had been smiling, looking so gentle that she got a good temperament.
Ning Xueyan sat down heavily, had swells of light beneath her long eyelashes, raised the corners of the light-colored lips slightly, and whispered, “Do you think Honored Consort Xia can get the favor and live unharmed in the palace if she is indeed in poor health and is so soft and gentle?”
In her previous life, she was very soft, willing to believe everything and thinking that everything was true, but what was her final result?
Even those outside the palace were like this, so what about those inside it? It was a place where so many beautiful ladies gathered to compete for looks, and then why did she live unharmed only as an imperial consort from the previous dynasty?
And what made Ning Xueyan suspect most were the words of Senior Nun Jing Kong. She, who had met Senior Nun Jing Kong, would never believe that the nun talked irresponsibly. If so, the meaning of her words was really worth much pondering.
“Shall we go back, Mistress? It’s late now.” Lanning reminded her. Just now, both the mistress and her servant talked about it briefly. Since this was the palace, if they were heard talking about imperial consorts wantonly, the news would be unpleasant to the ear if it was spread. And this place seemed not to be so closed as they imagined.
Looking out from here, they seemed to only see branches full of flowers, which blocked the road that they had come from, but just now, they clearly heard the cry of Honored Consort Xia and whispers coming from this side.
This was truly a good place—voices could be heard, but no souls could be seen.
“Go, let’s go back.” Ning Xueyan nodded. When they came all the way here, they spent a lot of time. Then, they came here and exchanged a few words with Honored Consort Xia. If the empress and Commandery Princess Xianyun had anything intimate to say to each other, they should have finished. Lunchtime was coming soon. Perhaps, the empress had sent someone to look for her.
The two of them returned from the path where they had come from. When she had left the small unique place, Ning Xueyan looked back and realized that she could not see it from here. Unexpectedly, there was a hidden place in here. If she had not been guided just now, Ning Xueyan did not think that she would have found it, and she would only have thought that she had just reached the end of the path.
Stricken by some idea, she could not help taking one more look at it before she walked away with Lanning slowly.
In the depths of the peach grove, Honored Consort Xia, who did not leave, leaned on the branches of a peach tree, having two low coughs and looking thoughtfully at Ning Xueyan’s leaving back with an unknown meaning.
“Your Highness, let’s go back to the palace to take the medicine first. These days, your illness has not improved, and it has even become a bit more serious. If this continues, what should we do about your health!” Her close palace maid Yan Zhen, who felt sorry for her, put on a cloak on her and persuaded her.
“She so resembles the person indeed!” As if she had not heard the persuasion, Honored Consort Xia still firmly stared at the direction where Ning Xueyan had disappeared, and mumbled.
“You’d better go back first, Your Highness. Whether she resembles anyone or not, it has nothing to do with us. Your health is the most important thing, Your Highness. If the emperor finds that you haven’t taken the medicine in a while, he will definitely get angry!” Yan Zhen didn’t understand what Honored Consort Xia was talking about. After looking at the direction where Ning Xueyan had disappeared, she still couldn’t help persuading her earnestly.
“I can’t live vigorously or die, so what’s the meaning of living!” Honored Consort Xia gave a wry smile and had a little pain on her face, but then she could not bear it and bend down to cough severely. Immediately, Yan Zhen stroked her back to ease her coughing.
Finally, she regained her normal breath and rubbed the corner of her mouth with her handkerchief. “Go and investigate Consort Ning and her family situation.”
Having been living in the forbidden palace, she hardly knew anything about the previous dynasty!