It was Li Guanwen’s first chance to be up close and personal with the prince’s inner residence. Though he maintained a tight expression and disdainful attitude on the way in, his eyes darted to and fro, taking detailed notes of everything.
Leading the way, Xu Weizhi often turned back to enthusiastically point out this or that.
However, the eunuch could read nervousness and awkwardness from the butler’s expression.
Hmph. You think I don’t know your true feelings?
But it was no wonder. The prince wasn’t a child of only a few years old. To suffer a punishment of being forced to kneel in public… and because of picking a fight outside the home… well. Even Li Guanwen would find the circumstances embarrassing.
The group made a beeline for the upper area once setting foot into the inner residence. The eunuch asked smoothly, “Has Madame Pang resided in the upper area since her return?”
“Yes, the old madame said that Madame Pang should be given precedence since the latter is the Pang matriarch. After the madame’s return, Pinecrane Hall was moved out of the upper area to a side area in the rear.”
“Oh?” This response startled the eunuch. “It really is very admirable that the old madame is so respectful of principles and propriety!”
When it came down to things, the prince didn’t even count as Madame Pang’s concubine-born son. With what had happened in the past, no one would’ve been able to utter a single criticism had the prince only treated Madame Pang with removed politeness. But the prince was actually so genuinely courteous after the emperor found the madame!
Regardless of whether this was out of respect for his official mother or loyalty to the emperor, the eunuch greatly admired Pang Xiao for being so magnamious.
“And what of your grand-lord and grand-madame?”
Xu Weizhi smiled. “They also live in Pinecrane Hall now. All of them share the same residence.”
Li Guanwen nodded, committing these details to memory.
They’d reached the upper inner residence by now, and the eunuch caught sight of a serving girl running in front of them. The pageboy at the inner doors must’ve given the message to the granny servant on duty, who had then found a serving girl to pass the word along. The chain of messengers meant that the guests arrived before the message had been delivered.
Picking up his pace, Li Guanwen saw the girl slip into a house, of which there was a familiar, tall, and bulky figure kneeling in the courtyard.
The Faithful Prince of the First Rank really had been punished with kneeling with in public!
Though the eunuch had already heard some whispers earlier, the actual sight was still jaw dropping.
Pang Xiao’s usual image of oppressive dominance was too firmly branded into the public’s hearts. It was impossible for Li Guanwen to immediately make the connection between a war god who could make his enemies tremble with one glance, and this bedraggled individual being punished by the household matriarch.
Perhaps hearing the serving girl’s words, Pang Xiao abruptly whipped his head back and saw Xu Weizhi leading the palace supervisor into the yard.
The eunuch could clearly see disgruntled embarrassment on the prince’s face.
Disregarding his punishment, Pang Xiao rose and stared darkly at his strategist. “Butler Xu, how do you fulfill your duties? Why didn’t you send word earlier that Grand Supervisor Li is here? How extremely inappropriate is it that this prince has shown the supervisor a lack of hospitality?”
Having spent many years by the emperor’s side, Li Guanwen was accustomed to postulating the moods of those accustomed to wielding authority. Even though the Faithful Prince of the First Rank had been stripped of power, his prestige in the army yet remained. This was someone that even the emperor was wary of! A mere eunuch supervisor could never afford to offend him.
Thus, Li Guanwen adopted a head down stance with his arms by his side. Taking a respectful position off to the side, there was no hint of the conceit he’d displayed when first arriving.
Xu Weizhi looked down in fearful respect and bowed. “In response to Your Highness, Grand Supervisor Li is here on imperial orders. There was nothing this humble one could do, please forgive me.”
Pang Xiao glowered at Xu Weizhi, but didn’t have time to speak before door curtains of everlasting fortune and longevity were lifted in front of the main door.
A woman over fifty years old with graying hair and a plump body walked out, supported by various maids.
Numerous wrinkles criss-crossed Madame Pang’s face. The deep furrows between her brows especially imparted an exceedingly angry air, even when she was expressionless. What she looked like in her youth was impossible to discern; she now looked like someone with an explosive temper and caustic temperament.
“Your Highness, you cannot transfer your anger from one person to another.” Madame Pang frowned. “Butler Xu has devoted all of his energies to the household. Grand Supervisor Li comes with an imperial decree, could he have really stopped the supervisor?”
A public scolding…
The reasoning was correct, but was it really appropriate to deliver it at this moment and place?
Even as an outsider, Li Guanwen’s lips twitched to hear the reprimand.
Pang Xiao however, bowed respectfully. Instead of close familiarity, he responded with extreme courtesy. “Many thanks for the madame’s guidance.”
“Mm.” Madame Pang made a ponderous note in the back of her throat in response. Alighting the steps slowly, her attitude completely changed by the time she reached Li Guanwen.
A faint smile now clung to the innately wrathful face and her tone wasn’t as solemn as it was when berating Pang Xiao. Beaming, she greeted, “That was truly a breach of etiquette. I’ve only just arrived at the manor and haven’t had the time to put it properly in order. Things are gravely askew and in shambles here. How embarrassing it was for the gonggong to witness this.”
“Not at all. The old madame must put great effort on taking care of your health. His Majesty is also concerned with your good health.”
Eyes creased into smiles. “I am crude and lowly, yet invite care from the emperor. This is truly an undeserved honor! Please have His Majesty be at ease. I will rebuke the prince well so that such ludicrous things never occur again.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
I think... this Madame Pang.. is thinking WAY too highly of herself.