Chapter 311 - Madame Kong Leaves the Capital
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The Crown Prince’s funeral procession and rites were held in a manner befitting of his previous title, even though he was stripped of it before his death. Kong Yu’s funeral was likewise carried out grandly. The two of them shared a tomb - this was specially ordered by Qi Zhen Emperor, who ordered that since they could not be together in life, they would accompany each other in death.
As the funeral ended, Jing Rong left the imperial mausoleum. As he exited, someone handed him a beautifully wrapped box along with a scroll, “Your Highness, it is all done.”
Jing Rong nodded curtly. He held both the box and scroll in his hands, boarded his sedan and left not in the direction of the Rong Estate, but towards the Kong Mansion.
In the Kong Mansion.
Madame Kong had locked up the altar, cleared out all the incense and had her Buddha statue moved to the temple. The entire compound no longer smelled like joss sticks. Instead, a delicate fragrance wafted through it.
When Jing Rong arrived, Madame Kong was packing up her belongings, intending to leave the capital. Juan’er was by her side, helping her pack as she had been brought out of the palace by Madame Kong after Ji Yunshu’s prior visit.
Madame Kong immediately put down her baggage and bowed as soon as she saw Jing Rong arrive. “This one pays her respects to Prince Rong.”
“Madame Kong needs not bother with these formalities,” he raised his hand to help support her.
“Why would Your Highness visit at this hour?” Jing Rong should still be in the imperial mausoleum, or the palace. Why is he here?
Jing Rong directed a meaningful stare at Juan’er who quickly took the hint and exited the chambers, leaving only Jing Rong and Madame Kong. Jing Rong began, “Madame Kong, this Prince is here today to gift you something.”
Something? Jing Rong handed over the scroll he had received, explaining as he handed it to Madame Kong, “I have brought a painting here, have a look.”
Madame Kong carefully received it and opened the painting. It depicted a female figure dressed in a long pale blue dress flowing in the wind. She was standing beneath a peach blossom tree, daintily picking out a blossom and smelling it. The peach blossom petals fell onto her dress, creating an ethereal picture. Her exquisite face was pink, eyes smiling - she was beautiful, extremely beautiful!
“This is Yu’er!” Madame Kong’s voice trembled as she held the painting shakily in disbelief.
Jing Rong continued, “This painting is Teacher Ji’s work - keep it as a memento.”
“Yu’er…” Madam Kong’s eyes began to redden as she caressed the painting. It took a long time before she regained her composure as she sniffled and carefully put the painting away. She looked at Jing Rong, “This one would like to trouble Your Highness to thank Teacher Ji on my behalf. This is a favour I would never forget forever.”
“The one I had let down the most is Yu’er. I should have opposed His Majesty’s decision to crown her as princess with all I could; these things would have never happened then.”
“Madame Kong needs not blame yourself. This Prince is also at fault - if I had given her the answer she was searching for a long time ago, she need not have waited this long.” He was full of regret.
Madame Kong disagreed, “I think, Yu’er never regretted waiting for Your Highness.” She was sure of it.
Jing Rong frowned and sighed, not wanting to continue the conversation any further. He then handed over the box to Madame Kong, “This Prince made a selfish decision this time and had Kong Yu’s body cremated. This box contains her ashes - you’d better take her out of the capital; whether it’s the palace, or the imperial mausoleum - neither of these places were where she wanted to be.”
“This …” Madame Kong was surprised, her tears flowing non-stop as she set down the painting and held the box in her hands. She carefully removed the cloth wrapping the box, gently touching the ornate engravings on the box, as if she were caressing her own daughter’s face. Her kind face bore a pained expression. She asked Jing Rong worriedly, “If Your Highness cremated Yu’er’s body, then the body in the mausoleum …”
“Only the Crown Prince lies there; the other coffin is empty. Do not fear - this Prince handled the entire Crown Prince’s funeral rites, no one will know. They have already been buried and there would be no reason for them to open their coffins. You can bring Kong Yu’s ashes and bury her in the Kong Family’s tombs, or scatter them in a peach blossom forest.” Jing Rong spoke gently, softly. He knew that Kong Yu loved peach blossoms, and his own Peach Blossom Spring was indeed planted for Kong Yu. It’s just that he had never told anyone else about this.
Madame Kong hugged that box and nodded, collapsing in a heap. Jing Rong left as he had to enter the palace. Juan’er only entered when she saw him leave, but saw her own master sobbing while hugging a box and scroll. She asked, “Madam, are you alright?”
“I’m alright!” Madame Kong wiped her tears away with her sleeve.
Juan’er’s eyes reddened as well as she sniffled, looking at the painting and box. She probed, “Madame, are these two items related to the Young Miss?”
Madam Kong nodded and she gently patted Juan’er’s hand, “From today onwards, we will never ever set foot in the capital. Let’s return and head for Emerald Retreat - there’s a peach blossom forest there, we will take Yu’er there together.”
“Mm!” Juan’er nodded.
Jing Rong entered the palace after leaving the Kong Mansion. Before he could disembark his sedan, he heard the Capital Governor’s voice, “Just as the First Prince’s funeral ended, here’s another troublesome matter.” He sighed, full of resentment.
The lord standing beside him asked, “Lord Yi, what could be more worrying than the First Prince’s funeral?”
“These few days, there was a woman who has repeatedly served up a statement to the yamen - there’s no evidence nor witness, and the case happened so many years ago. She has now come to the capital to submit a case. This case is difficult to process, and it was closed ages ago - wouldn’t you call this difficult?”
“Doesn’t this fall under the domain of the Supreme Court?”
The Capital Governor seemed to get set off by his statement. He huffed, “The position of Disciplinary Officer had been abolished by His Majesty several years ago. By all rights, provincial cases should be handled by the Supreme Court, but since this woman didn’t follow protocol and came straight to the capital, the Supreme Court would naturally decline it. She could then only come to my yamen, isn’t this tragic? If the Disciplinary Officer was around, none of these protocols would matter, and I wouldn’t be this troubled!” He sighed again.
All these were overheard by Jing Rong, who sat in his sedan.
Grenn's Rants Corner
Kong Yu was a true cannon fodder. Although no one could beat Gao Bingze. He got a name, a background and died without the possibility of a struggle. An innocent life claimed by the viciousness of the throne fight.
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