Reborn After Widowhood – Chapter 56
Hua Yang could not imagine what “unforgettable” gift Chen Jingzong would give her.
First of all, he had no money, and even if he had money, he couldn’t compete with her father emperor. The fireworks that were set off specifically for her in the palace when she was a child were now blurred, and only the memory of this event remained.
Furthermore, Chen Jingzong was a rough man who practiced martial arts. He could not write brilliant poems, calligraphy and paintings that would leave a mark in history, nor could he come up with any elegant and unique ideas.
Apart from martial arts, what he was best at was being a crook. Hua Yang believed that he could come up with a gift that was so crook that she would never forget it. But if Chen Jingzong really did this, she would definitely whip him.
Two days passed like water, and in a blink of an eye it was the 17th of Fourth Month, the day before Hua Yang’s birthday.
In the morning, Chen Jingzong set out for the military station and said to Hua Yang, “After I come back in the evening, I will make you a bowl of longevity noodles with my own hands.”
It suddenly occurred to her that there were many kinds of unforgettable. If Chen Jingzong gave her the most shabby birthday gift, she would probably remember it for the rest of her life.
Not only did she dislike it, Chao Yun and Chao Yue were also disappointed with Prince Consort. If the Prince Consort had other surprises besides longevity noodles, he didn’t tell them to prepare it secretly.
In the evening, after Chen Jingzong returned home, he changed his clothes and went straight to the kitchen.
Thinking that this bowl of noodles was her gift, Hua Yang came to the kitchen to supervise the work with a look of disgust on her face.
Feng gonggong and the young eunuchs who were in charge of the kitchen were kicked out by Chen Jingzong. Now they were the only two people in the spacious kitchen. One rolled up his sleeves and kneaded noodles inside, and the other asked the maid to place a rocking chair at the door to watch comfortably.
The setting sun shone in from the window, illuminating half of Chen Jingzong’s handsome profile. His eyelashes were drooping and his expression while kneading the noodle was focused and serious, comparable to a literati painting a masterpiece.
Hua Yang thought, for a person like this, as long as he devotes his attention to studying, not to mention Zhuangyuan’s title, at least it would be no problem to get the Tanhua.
When cutting noodles, Chen Jingzong’s kitchen knife skill was smooth and flexible. Each noodle was about the same thickness as a leaf stem.
Hua Yang did like to eat thin noodles, but she didn’t know whether he noticed it through observation or deliberately showing off his knife skills to her.
When Chen Jingzong was about to light the fire, Hua Yang went back to the inner room, not wanting to be contaminated by the fumes.
When it came to making noodles, kneading the dough took the most effort. Once the noodles were ready, the rest was fast.
A quarter of an hour later, Chen Jingzong came to the main room carrying a tray. On the tray were two steaming bowls of longevity noodles, topped with sliced beef, ham, mushrooms and poached eggs that were fried until the edges were slightly browned.
“Throughout the ages, you are probably the only Prince Consort who made noodle for the Princess with your own hands.”
Hua Yang sat at the table, after admiring the hue of the longevity noodles, she said to Chen Jingzong.
Chen Jingzong was boasting shamelessly: “Courtesy is light, but affection is profound. We are a married couple, and we will spend several decades together in the future. Why bother with such superficial things every year?”
Hua Yang snorted. She had already thought of what gift to give him this year. He knew how to make noodles, so she gave him a calligraphy painting that read “The most shameless Prince Consort in the world”.
Even thought she was disgusted, Chen Jingzong’s cooking skills were indeed very good. The noodles were thin and chewy, and the portion Chen Jingzong served her was just right.
After drinking two spoons of soup, Hua Yang put down her chopsticks and rinsed her mouth.
At this time, the sky also darkened.
Hua Yang looked out the window. She said that she had no expectations for this birthday. But in the previous years, birthday celebrations in the palace were so lively, and she had been preparing from the night before. Tonight was bound to end up coldly, so it was inevitable to show a trace of sadness.
Chen Jingzong suddenly asked: “Is the dress you wore to Peach Blossom Mountain still there?”
Hua Yang: “Why do you ask?”
Chen Jingzong: “I’ll take you out of the city later. It’s inconvenient to dress too grandly.”
His tone was neutral, but Hua Yang’s eyes lit up and asked with interest, “Where are we going?”
Chen Jingzong: “You will know when the time comes. Hurry up and ask them to come in and help you dress. If we’re delay for too long, the city gate will be closed.”
Hua Yang asked him to wait in the main room.
Before Chen Jingzong went out, he said casually: “It’s better to comb into young girl’s hairstyle. I don’t want to have a private meeting with a married woman in the middle of the night.”
Not long after he left, Chao Yun and Chao Yue came in.
Hua Yang was not sure that she could get Prince Xiang to take the bait in one go, so she prepared a total of four sets of commoner dress. The pink one was already given to the maid. This time, Hua Yang chose a begonia-colored jacket, paired with a white long skirt underneath.
After changing her clothes, Chao Yun helped her comb her hair and said happily: “Prince Consort hid this surprise deeply enough, even we didn’t hear a thing about it.”
Hua Yang: “Don’t say it too early, it may not be a surprise.”
Chao Yue smiled and said, “No, if Prince Consort dares to act recklessly on your birthday, then he’s itching to get whipped by you.”
While joking, Chao Yun carefully helped the princess insert a small and delicate pink peony silk flower on her hair.
“Looking from the back, the princess looks like pretty girl from humble family.”
“But when looking from the front, it turns out this folk girl is so beautiful that she can cause the downfall to a country.”
The laughter and teasing of two maids came from the inner room. Chen Jingzong put down the tea cup and his eyes fell on the curtain.
After waiting for a while, the footsteps of the master and servant finally came. Chao Yun opened the door curtain, then Hua Yang lowered her eyes slightly and stepped out.
Chen Jingzong looked at her peony-like appearance under the lamp, and felt grateful to the old man in his heart.
Without a father like the old man, he definitely wouldn’t be able to marry such a princess.
“Let’s go, there’s a carriage ready at the east gate.”
Chen Jingzong said while standing up.
Hua Yang: “Have you prepared the curtain hat?”
Chen Jingzong: “Hmm.”
Hua Yang followed him with ease.
When she arrived at the east gate, Chen Jingzong said to the two maids: “We will be back after dinner tomorrow. If anyone comes to the door, you can adapt accordingly.”
Chao Yun and Chao Yue both looked at their master worriedly. The princess had grown so old and had never spent the night alone outside. In case of any danger, has prince consort arranged enough guards?
Hua Yang still believed in Chen Jingzong in important matters and told them to just take care of the mansion.
Around this time, the neighborhood was basically ready to rest, and there was no one on the street. Chen Jingzong carried Hua Yang into the carriage, and he act as the coachman himself.
Hua Yang sat in the carriage and looked at the quiet and dark streets outside through the cracks in the curtains. She felt a little uneasy but also felt novel.
Chen Jingzong arrived at the city gate without any hindrance. If anyone came in or out at this time, the city guards would check more carefully. However, Chen Jingzong had already familiar with the guards guarding the city. When the two rows of guards saw that he was the prince consort, they let him go without asking, which made Hua Yang, who was sitting inside, nervous in vain.
There were still some lights inside the city, but outside the city there was only endless darkness as far as the eyes could see.
Hua Yang’s uneasiness gradually outweighed the freshness, and Chen Jingzong’s carriage was moving a little too fast. She had no choice but to hold the carriage steady and asked in a low voice: “Where are you taking me?”
Chen Jingzong laughed: “Take you to sell, are you afraid?”
Hua Yang: “If you keep talking nonsense, I’m going back.”
Chen Jingzong: “Walking back by yourself? You’re not afraid of being haunted by lonely souls and wild ghosts.”
What birthday surprise, it’s more like a birthday shock!
Normally, no one would dare to scare Hua Yang with ghosts. It was only at this moment that Hua Yang realized that she was still afraid of these things. The only time she wasn’t afraid was because of this bastard Chen Jingzong!
The carriage continued to move quickly. The less Chen Jingzong said anything, the more panicked Hua Yang became. She only felt that the ghosts were shaking the curtains on both sides.
She couldn’t stand it anymore, so she bent over to the carriage door and opened it.
Two lanterns were hung in front of the carriage, emitting two swaying beams of light that could cover the area about ten steps in front of the carriage.
“Are you afraid?” Chen Jingzong turned around and asked.
Hua Yang glared at him.
Chen Jingzong only smiled and patted his leg.
Hua Yang hesitated for a while, but still sat down.
In fact, she was considered tall among women, but she couldn’t stand up to Chen Jingzong, who was over six feet tall and strong. With one hand holding the whip and the other embracing her, it felt like he was holding a child.
Hua Yang was afraid of meeting people on the road, so her whole face was almost buried in his chest.
Chen Jingzong lowered his head and smelled the fragrance of her hair, and teased: “You are not afraid that if I make a slip, I will throw you down.”
Hua Yang: “If you really dare to throw me down, I’ll ask someone to push you off the city gate.”
Chen Jingzong smiled: “Dare is dare, I just can’t bear it.”
Just when Hua Yang felt that he had finally said something humane, she heard him add: “If you broke your bones, and need to recover for half a year, who should I sleep with?”
With Chen Jingzong here, along with his mouth, Hua Yang had long forgotten about any lonely souls and wild ghosts. Sometimes bickering with him, sometimes scratching and pinching him. Amidst the banter, the carriage meandered through numerous turns along the dirt road and suddenly arrived at a vast open space. On the left were majestic and continuous mountain shadows, while on the right was a lake reflecting the starlight.
Chen Jingzong slowed down and explained: “The mountain is called Phoenix Mountain and the lake is called Long Lake.”
Hua Yang: “The scenery must be nice during the day, but it’s scary and eerie at night.”
Chen Jingzong: “Of course night has its own advantage too.”
The carriage went a little further and stopped on the shore. There was actually a boat parked by the water.
“Prince Consort?” A dark figure poked out from the bow of the boat and asked in a low voice.
Chen Jingzong answered. After Fu Gui confirmed that it was his master, he hurriedly went inside to pick up a lantern, jumped off from the boat and greeted the masters.
Everything that should be prepared was in the boat. Chen Jingzong handed the carriage to Fu Gui and got on the boat with Hua Yang in his arms.
Inside the boat there were bed, tables and chairs, and a few copper lamps shone brightly, making it a bit warm.
Chen Jingzong put Hua Yang on the bed: “You sit down for a while. I will row the boat to the middle of the lake.”
Hua Yang nodded.
Chen Jingzong went out, and soon the boat shook and slowly moved forward.
Hua Yang looked around curiously. There was a tea set and a food box on the table.
The bedding covered with satin must be new. This was probably where she and Chen Jingzong would spend the night tonight.
Hua Yang walked to the washstand. The brand-new copper basin was half filled with clear water.
She wet a towel and wiped her face. There must have been some dust from the road.
After a brief tidying up, Hua Yang walked out of the cabin.
There was a lamp hanging on the stern of the boat, and Chen Jingzong’s slender figure stood on the side, steadily propelling the boat with a bamboo pole, neither fast nor slow.
In mid-Fourth Month in Lingzhou, it was a little hot during the day, but it was just right at night. There was no wind on the lake, so there was no need to worry about catching the cold.
It was quiet all around, except for the sound of running water.
Hua Yang sat on a carpet that had been laid out in advance, looking at the stars in the sky for a while and the lake in the distance for a while.
“There is also a lake in Ningyuan, why do we have to go outside?” she asked.
Chen Jingzong: “Of course it’s to do things that can’t be done in Ningyuan.”
Hua Yang always felt that these words were a bit inappropriate, but if he meant sleeping, they could still sleep in Ningyuan.
When the boat came to the center of the lake, Chen Jingzong put down the anchor and led Hua Yang to the bow.
Only then did Hua Yang discover that there were several boxes on the bow of the boat, which were filled with fireworks.
“These are the best fireworks in Lingzhou City. It’s incomparable to the one in the Palace, but it’s costed me all my private funds, so I can be considered doing it wholeheartedly.”
Chen Jingzong took out a bundle of fireworks while talking to Hua Yang.
Hua Yang smiled.
Chen Jingzong also prepared a rattan chair.
Hua Yang leaned in, covered hersels with a thin blanket, and leasurely watched Chen Jingzong set off fireworks for her.
She was tired of watching the fireworks in the palace, but this was her first time seeing fireworks on the water.
With Chen Jingzong alone, the fireworks could only bloom one by one, but each one became a unique brilliance in the vast night sky.
As long as Chen Jingzong set it, Hua Yang would watch it. Because she was lying down, it did not tire her neck.
By the time the last firework was released, Hua Yang could hardly lift her eyelids.
Chen Jingzong carried her back inside the cabin. He held her sleepy self with one hand and helped her undress with the other.
After getting into bed, Hua Yang was about to sleep.
Chen Jingzong got closer and asked in her ear: “Do you like it?”
Hua Yang hummed vaguely.
Chen Jingzong kissed her earlobe and said, “Sleep, there will be something better tomorrow.”