Pang Xiao nodded and looked tenderly at the person in his arms.
“I spent my days in an anxious haze when I couldn’t find you. All I could think about was looking for you. Time passed by swiftly, and I was a little more at ease when I heard you were in Tatar. The days suddenly slowed down then.
“After discussing it with father-in-law, we decided that it wasn’t a good time to leave the capital to bring you home. There was nothing for me to do but loiter around since I couldn’t be bothered with the affairs of court. I filled my days with whittling something or another, and this sign board is one of the fruits of my labor from that time.”
To think that not only had he written the words, but created the signboard as well!
Qin Yining chuckled, but her eyes misted over again. Pang Xiao’s heart ached with helplessness when he saw the twinkling gleam of her eyes. He walked inside the residence, still holding her in his arms.
“How come you’re crying again?” She seemed to easily turn emotional ever since becoming pregnant.
Embarrassment prickled at Qin Yining as well, but further pity and anguish swept over her when she thought of how her beloved had spent the days after her disappearance. If she’d been in his shoes, she probably would’ve lost her mind long ago.
The servants didn’t dare stare too long when they saw the prince come back holding his consort. Merriment playing out across their faces, they drew up the satin door curtains and pinned them up.
Lamps were lit inside; the soft glow peeking out from silk lampshades cast a particularly cozy hue over the room.
Pang Xiao gingerly set Qin Yining on the bed carpeted with soft blankets. His movements soft and gentle, he dismantled the pearl hairpins securing hair wrapped in dizzying patterns around her head. He spread out her long wavy locks on the bedspread and stooped at the edge of the bed to take off her socks and shoes, loving tenderness marking his movements.
Qin Yining propped herself up with her arms and looked happily at her husband. Whenever he lifted his head, he couldn’t help but smile as he looked into her limpid eyes.
After the wedding, they’d had to leave the capital before growing acquainted with their marital home. Now that she’d come home, Qin Yining could finally relax, although there were still a few things on her mind.
“Grandpa, grandma, and mom will be returning tomorrow, right?” she asked.
Pang Xiao nodded. “Father-in-law is capable and conscientious. I asked him to hide my family when I left the capital. I was worried that the emperor would vent his spleen on them when I was gone. He did so secretly, hiding them so well that even I couldn’t find them.
“Whenever I converse with father-in-law, I always think that everything he does is right and everything he says should be listened to. Although I know that he is surely correct, it really feels like I’ve been put under a spell. It’s so strange!”
“What strange!” Qin Yining burst out laughing. “Father’s just a very charismatic man.”
Pang Xiao nodded. “That’s very true as well. Ah right, I see that the two young ladies from your household have also come. I fear that trouble is only a matter of time when they’re together with the old dowager. Why don’t I keep an eye out and see if there’s anyone suitable for them? They’re about that age as well.”
“That would be wonderful if you could manage it!” Qin Yining nodded smilingly, extremely touched that her beloved was thinking on her family’s behalf in all possible ways.
The night passed in peaceful and unbroken sleep. Both were highly reassured that they lay by each other’s side.
The next day after noon as Qin Yining napped on a warm chair after lunch, a maid came in with a report.
“Your Highness, the grand-lord, grand-madame, and old madame have returned!”
Delighted, Qin Yining scrambled off the chair and rose so swiftly that her head spun when she stood up. The maids next to her hastily reached out when she swayed.
“Don’t be in a rush, Your Highness. The grand-madame and old madame will certainly head for Pinecrane Hall after their return. Why don’t we help you that way first?”
With her being pregnant, she wasn’t inclined to run around or she would’ve already rushed out. She could only nod and slowly follow the maid outside.
As they left Pineheart Garden and followed the long covered hallway to Pinecrane Hall, servants along the way paused and respectfully greeted her as “Princess Consort”. Qin Yining was wearing a pale pink shoulder wrap and had one arm around a maid’s waist. An old mama kept pace by her side with her arms spread out, like a hen protecting her chicks. Four second rank maids brought up the rear of the entourage and she swiftly shuffled ahead.
Sounds of conversation suddenly crossed her path. Qin Yining lifted her eyes to see a tall, bulky, and slightly chubby née Ma in wonderful spirits. The old woman walked ahead with the beautiful née Yao, followed by Pang Xiao and Yao Chenggu. Happy words and laughter flew through the air.
Née Ma smiled broadly when she saw Qin Yining and rushed up to her granddaughter-in-law, leaving her daughter behind.
“My good girl, come and let grandma take a look at you!”
“Grandma!” Qin Yining bent her knee and wanted to dip in a curtsey, but née Ma gripped her hands tightly and didn’t let her bob down.
“Don’t, don’t, our family doesn’t bother with all that. My dear girl, you’ve suffered terribly outside! It’s good that you’re back, all that matters is that you’re back. I’ve already beat that stinking Dafu for losing you, we’ll see if he’s so one-track-minded in the future! What good is he for when he loses even his wife!”
She whipped her head back with a hard glare at Pang Xiao, who grinned foolishly back along with his grandfather. Née Yao smiled faintly without a word.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
I lol'ed at "stinking Dafu".