Pei Qianhao did not pursue the matter any further after hearing Du Rin’s apology, but his expression remained stony.
As the banquet continued, Pei Qianhao continued to pass Su Xi-er the food with high nutritional value. He even went as far as to pick out the bones from the fish in the soup before giving it to her.
Those in the crowd usually had their wives help them with their clothes, prepare water for them to freshen upon their return home, or even help them wash their feet after a day’s work. Yet, as they watched Pei Qianhao’s careful attention to his wife, they found themselves unable to believe that Princess Consort Hao would have to do any of that. Perhaps Prince Hao even does all of those things for her. I can’t even imagine!
Meanwhile, Du Rin was left to watch everything the doting husband did for his wife.
During this time, courteous pleasantries were exchanged between the officials present, and Situ Lin also answered some questions from the Western Region’s envoys. Pei Qianhao did not interfere, and only watched as Situ Lin performed his duties admirably, giving off an air befitting of his status.
Nearing the end of the banquet, Commander Zhao Wu presented a toast to Situ Lin as a polite gesture, and also to show his respect.
Suddenly, as the banquet was coming to a close, snow began to fall from the sky. Thousands of the little snowflakes were like white goose feathers as they gently coated the branches of the plum blossom trees to create a picturesque scene.
Commander Zhao Wu laughed. “It never snows in the Western Region despite how cold it gets, so this is my first time seeing it. We only get a lot of wind and rain. This trip to Beimin was worth the journey!”
Worried that the sudden snowfall would cause Su Xi-er’s cold constitution to worsen, Pei Qianhao immediately took off his outer robes to drape around her shoulders. He pulled her towards him and said, “I’ll take you to the Dragon Heaven Palace.”
“Leaving so soon, Prince Hao?” Commander Zhao Wu asked.
“The Princess Consort dislikes the cold, so this Prince is leaving with her first.”
“Haha, Prince Hao is so honest! Go on!” Commander Zhao Wu waved and gestured at Pei Qianhao to send him off.
Pei Qianhao nodded and pulled Su Xi-er along with him, only for the latter to stop and stare at the fluttering snow after they had left the Imperial Garden.
“Xi-er, what’s wrong?” Concerned that she would be cold, he hugged her tightly from behind.
Su Xi-er gently spoke. “A-Jing, it was also snowing on the day I was born. It usually snows in the first month of the year in Nanzhao, and winter arrives later there than in Beimin.”
“Xi-er, it’s beautiful here, but it’s not good to stay outside for too long.”
“Alright, we’ll go back to the Dragon Heaven Palace and have a short rest before we head back to the residence.”
Pei Qianhao caressed her hair gently and held her close as they made their way towards the Dragon Heaven Palace.
The crowd had already dispersed from the Imperial Garden, while the entourage from the Western Region was already on their way back to the posthouse while being escorted by Commander Zhao Wu and a few soldiers.
The carriage travelled quickly, leaving tracks on the ground as it sped through the night. Only once it arrived near the Commandery Prince Residence did Du Rin instruct the soldier to stop.
The soldier from the Western Region was puzzled, but he still stopped the carriage, only to see Du Rin alight and walk away before he could even say anything.
Commander Zhao Wu rode his horse towards her. “Imperial Princess, it’s already late. Please follow this subordinate to the posthouse and rest for the night. We are in Beimin now, so it is not wise to do as we please.”
“This Princess wants to take a casual stroll. You may return to the posthouse first, Commander.”
“That won’t do. The Grand Empress Dowager ordered this subordinate to follow you.”
Du Rin ignored him and continued walking, leaving Commander Zhao Wu no choice but to dismount and follow her. He signalled for the soldier to wait with the carriage.
Commander Zhao Wu then saw her stop in front of an entrance of a large residence, staring at the shut doors with narrowed eyes. The lack of guards was apparent.Previous Chapter Next Chapter