A woman dressed in beige entered the room with an all-red gown. She bowed and said, “This maid is Chuntao, the residential seamstress. This is the gown Consort Lin will be wearing tomorrow. Would you like to try it on?”
The intense red was almost offensive to Lin Haihai. She never liked the color. It reminded her of blood. “Do I have to wear this?”
Chuntao gave the princess consort an incredulous look. Wearing plain clothes, the unfavored consort looked like she hadn’t been treated well by life. Her hair was collected into a simple bun with a jade hairpin holding it in place at an angle. She wore no other accessories and no makeup, and her nose and lips were injured.
Quietly, the maid said, “You are the first consort of this residence, and this is your court attire. It should’ve been made earlier for you to dress on formal occasions. Unfortunately, you’ve been away from the residence, and this matter was thus delayed. Since His Highness is marrying a secondary consort, it is only proper for the first consort to wear a red court attire when accepting the bride’s tea.”
“Court attire?” That was beyond Lin Haihai’s knowledge. She remembered from history classes that important officials and their wives put on formal court attires for big gatherings and formal occasions. However, Lin Haihai found the wedding ritual odd. As the first madam of the residence, she would accept tea from the mistress while donning a celebratory red robe. Then she would give the mistress a red envelope and say with a smile, “Bear a child for the Yang Residence soon, little sister! May the child be a healthy son!”
Now she finally understood the plight of first wives. With a sigh, she said, “Then I’ll try it on. The life of a woman is so pitiful! First wives are required to doll up nicely even when their husband is marrying another woman. This society doesn’t care about our feelings at all!”
She was merely lamenting the fate of women in this era, but Chuntao interpreted that as her being jealous and unwilling to let the prince marry Miss Chen. You’re a daughter from the secondary branch of a family of merchants, who has no knowledge nor etiquette. You’re nothing but a pretty face! Chuntao thought with ridicule. Miss Chen, on the other hand, was a learned woman from a prestigious family. She was the one who should be lamenting her fate here, forced to be the secondary consort under this crude woman.
Chuntao’s expression reflected her thoughts. With a hardened voice, she said, “Please put the dress on, Consort Lin. I’ll make the necessary adjustments if it doesn’t fit you!”
Lin Haihai didn’t notice her change in attitude. Irritated, she didn’t want to put on the heavy red robe. She wasn’t the one getting married. Why should she wear such celebratory clothing? And it looked so thick and heavy. She was going to have a heatstroke under the relentless sun! Well, I suppose I’ll put this on for good old Yang Hanlun. After all, he’s the primary benefactor of Linhai Hospital.
She picked up the robe to size it. “No need for any adjustments. It’ll fit!”
Chuntao shook her head with disapproval and said, “Do you know what kind of an occasion the wedding will be, Consort Lin? Not only will numerous officials come to offer their congratulations, His Majesty the emperor and the empress dowager will also attend. It’ll be rude to wear something that doesn’t fit. You’re representing the residence!”
“What? His Majesty will be attending as well?” Lin Haihai jumped and checked herself in the mirror. Holy - my face still hasn’t recovered! Maybe I should use my spiritual energy… Wait, no, I can’t just heal myself overnight, or people will think I’m a monster! Still, she didn’t want the emperor to see her like this. Her brows drew together as she agonized over what she should do.
Chuntao didn’t understand her reaction. The princess consort is acting in such a strange and incomprehensible manner! Getting impatient, she said, “Allow this maid to help you put the gown on!”
That jerked Lin Haihai out of her trance. She knew she had been acting weirdly. With her face flushed, she cleared her throat and said, “No need. I’m going to shower - no, take a bath first. Then I’ll try the gown on for you. Please have a seat while you wait, Sister Chuntao!”
Chuntao lowered her head. “Chuntao doesn’t dare! This maid will stand waiting!”
Disheartened, Lin Haihai didn’t press the matter. Then Guihua came out from behind the screen and said, “The water has dropped to the right temperature, Consort Lin. You may have your bath now! Allow this maid to strip you!”
Lin Haihai hurriedly dodged her helping hands and said, “There’s no need. Have a seat here. I’ll take a bath myself!”
With that, she ran behind the screen, leaving Guihua and Chuntao exchanging flabbergasted looks.
Lin Haihai sunk into the large wooden tub. The water was covered in rose petals. The elegant fragrance soothed her nerves. It was the first time since she transmigrated to this era that she let herself enjoy such luxury. The comfortable heat almost put her to sleep. It was Guihua’s question that woke her, “Would you need more hot water, Consort Lin?”
“That won’t be necessary,” rushed out Lin Haihai. “Hand me my bag!”
Guihua did as she was told. Lin Haihai dried and covered herself with a big towel. Noting that Guihua hadn’t left, she said, “You may go. I can dress myself!”
Guihua smiled awkwardly. “This maid is merely curious. How does Consort Lin put on such a bodice?”
Lin Haihai laughed when she noticed the maid looking at her undergarments. She untied the towel to show her. They were both women. There was no need for her to feel embarrassed.
“Consort Lin’s skin is so fair and delicate. This maid is envious!” said Guihua. “That’s how you put on this kind of bodice. Consort Lin is bold! You look so beautiful like this. His Highness will surely love it!”
Lin Haihai chuckled in lieu of a response and let Guihua help her put on the red gown. Such a hassle! A mischievous whim overtook Lin Haihai. She stood on her toes and extended both her arms forward before making a few leaps forward, asking Guihua with a smile, “Don’t I look like a zombie now?”
Guihua laughed out loud. “It’s a formal dress, Consort Lin! You shouldn’t make it into a joke!”
“Has Consort Lin finished putting on the gown? Please allow this maid to check if it fits.” Chuntao was annoyed by the sounds of them jesting. If the gown didn’t fit, she would have to work overnight to adjust it.
Sticking her tongue out, Guihua said, “Consort Lin should go to Chuntao. She’s a masterful seamstress.”
Lin Haihai straightened her back and walked out with feigned seriousness. The sight made Chuntao shudder. Dressed in a red court attire, Lin Haihai cut an imposing figure. There was an air of nobility about her that stunned Chuntao. It wasn’t until her eyes met Lin Haihai’s that Chuntao broke from her reverie. Clothes indeed make the women!
She gave the gown a close inspection and concluded that it indeed fit Lin Haihai very well, and it was well made to accentuate the figure. Congratulating herself on her craft, Chuntao said, “It doesn’t require further adjustments. Consort Lin may take it off. I’ll have it steamed in fragrant incense and return it to Consort Lin tomorrow!”
Lin Haihai changed back into her usual clothes behind the screen. It was early. She wanted to go to the North Court.
“Is Consort Lin going outside?” Guihua asked nervously when she saw Lin Haihai getting ready.
Lin Haihai noticed her concern. “I am. Is something the matter?”
“It’s getting late. It’s better that Consort Lin stay inside!”
Lin Haihai gave her a smile. “It’s fine. I’m just going to the North Court. I’ll be back soon!”
“Please allow this maid to follow Consort Lin, then. Otherwise, His Highness will blame this maid.”
“Alright. It’s been a while since I took a walk. I’ll enjoy your company!” Back in her time, Lin Haihai would always go for a walk in the park or by the sea with her grandpa. Her life had been on overdrive since she came to the ancient times. She didn’t even have the time to go on a stroll.
The night was pleasant with a gentle breeze. The half moon was surrounded by a sea of stars, painting the picture of deep loneliness. Lin Haihai opened her arms wide like wings as if to ride the wind to the vast cosmos.
Guihua looked at her childish display curiously. The princess consort seemed like a different person. She was confident, and so warm and friendly.
“Consort Lin, may I ask how Xiao Ju is?” Guihua had found the girl to be pure-hearted during the few days they had spent together.
“She’s doing well. She’s doing really well. I’ve been thinking of finding a good family for her to marry into! Haha!” Her free-spirited laughter rang through the silent street. It was so infectious that Guihua’s expression softened on its own accord. Lin Haihai was joking, of course. She would miss Xiao Ju too much to marry her away.
Then came a man dressed in a white silk robe, followed by a servant. The familiar fragrance cut into Lin Haihai’s heart. It’s him! She came to a sudden halt, watching him approach.
Yang Shaolun had been agitated the entire night, plagued by intrusive thoughts. After dinner, he left the palace on foot with Xiao Yuan in tow. Before he realized it, he was already on his way to the Sixth Prince Residence.
Two women came into his view. The familiar laughter, figure, and faint fragrance of medicine seemed to have come out of his dreams to haunt him. One step at a time, he went up to her. His eyes shone with emotions he couldn’t discern. He fell silent when their gazes met.
“What a coincidence. Are you taking a walk?” Lin Haihai acted nonchalantly, but she wanted to ask, have you come to see me?
“I am. It seems that you are, too!” Yang Shaolun mirrored her calmness, but he wanted to tell her, I’ve missed you!
They both felt awkward from their previous encounter. Although they appeared to be calm and collected on the surface, storms were brewing in their hearts. Yang Shaolun noticed the injury on her face, and pain and anger flashed through his eyes.
Guihua found the man familiar. She had met the emperor before, but she had always been on her knees with her head bowed, and thus she rarely caught any glimpses of his face. That was why she didn’t recognize him.
“Physician Lin!” greeted Xiao Yuan. He understood his master. His master hated it when people called her Sixth Princess Consort. That confused Guihua. Physician Lin? Is Consort Lin a physician? She did know Linhai hospital, and she knew about Physician Lin, but she didn’t know the princess consort she served was in fact the Physician Lin who had opened the hospital.
“Sir Xiao!” Lin Haihai responded with a faint smile. Xiao Yuan returned the gesture. “Where are you going, Physician Lin?”
“Oh, I’m not going anywhere. Just wandering around!” Lin Haihai chanced a glance at Yang Shaolun. He no longer looked at her with heated eyes. His cool expression was a dagger to her heart. Has he given up? You shouldn’t be sad, Lin Haihai. It’s what you want, isn’t it?
“Would Physician Lin be interested in a few drinks at the Carefree Tavern?” Xiao Yuan wasn’t sure what he was trying to do, but he had seen how much pain the emperor was in the past few days. He could never get the woman of his dreams. There was too much weight on his shoulders now, and Lin Haihai was his sister-in-law. That path would lead to incredible hardships.
Their meeting tonight was a coincidence. Xiao Yuan could see the ecstasy hidden in the emperor’s eyes. However, they would soon part ways again. Even as an outsider, he couldn’t bear to witness such a tragedy. That was why he went ahead and invited Physician Lin without any discussion.
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Their Love Stories is finished! Haha. That novel is the most CRAZIEST novel I've ever read. Extremely unrealistic, but quite entertaining (note: there is rape at the beginning, but if you get pass that, it's really wow...) If you all want to binge something, give it a try!