Chapter 303 – You Can Only Be A Prince
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Her comprehension of Buddhism was shallow at best. Any knowledge she had came firstmost from her professional background as an archeologist who specialized in forensic anthropology, after gleaning through several references on Buddhism and Buddha.
“There are people who have tried to figure out the Buddha all their lives, but even as their vitalities waned, they couldn’t understand its true essence. Buddha is in your heart is merely words people used to comfort themselves,” she stated.
Madame Kong remained silent.
“This humble one would like to ask Madame Kong what made you put your faith in Buddha?”
It was the first time someone asked such a question. Her elegant face showed a trace of surprise and a bit of loss on how to answer.
After contemplating the question for a while, she finally formulated her answer. “Buddha is Buddha. But without Buddha, who would I be?”
“Aren’t you also a mother?!”
Her rhetoric question had the effect of rousing people from their delusions. Madame Kong’s expression changed. She propped herself up from the floor, and Ji Yunshu followed suit.
It was a simple thing, but getting up seemed to drain quite a bit of Madame Kong’s energy. Even then, both of her hands had never left the Buddhist rosary. She walked to the window and pushed open the shutters.
The warm breeze blew in, dispersing the strong fragrance of the candle. A few petals came along, and a few of them fell onto the window sill. In the distance, the courtyard was picturesque with dancing peach blossom petals. The tears threatened to drip down from her face.
“Yu’er has been at my side ever since she was born. She rarely went against my wishes and was very obedient and thoughtful. She was a good daughter, a virtuous young lady… I remember a dozen years ago, I fell gravely ill. At that time, she took care of me, days and nights. Everyday, I would wake up and see her curled up in a ball, sleeping at my bedside. At night, she would watch over me. She was only seven years old,” Madame Kong said in a desolate voice.
As she spoke, her lips curved into a rare smile which was quickly replaced by bereavement.
Ji Yunshu quietly listened to her. She went to her side and looked towards where Madame Kong’s eyes rested. The blooming of the peach blossoms was a feast to the eyes, blinding with their vivid red color.
“When Miss Kong died, she didn’t mention you, but I believe the person she couldn’t bear to leave was you.”
Madame Kong did not respond.
“In Buddhism, everything has karma, so you tried to convince yourself that it was the will of Heaven that Kong Yu became a princess. Her marriage to Qujiang was also foreordained, and so was her union with the Crown Prince. Even if you are like this, she never resented you,” said Ji Yunshu.
Madame Kong tightly clutched onto her Buddhist prayer beads with watery eyes. It was a while before her tears finally trickled, which she quickly wiped away with her sleeve. A moment passed before she could resume her calm. “Thank you very much for telling me. I think I understand,” she said in a gloomy tone.
“My words are by no means meant to make you feel guilty. I only hope you can understand this was the results of her choices. The same goes for you when you chose the road of piety.”
Madame Kong nodded. “Teacher Ji, did you come here today to pass on Yu’er’s final wishes? If so, please tell me.”
“In her last hour, Miss Kong wished for Miss Juan’er to leave the imperial palace.”
“Yes.” Ji Yunshu confirmed. “Miss Juan’er accompanied Miss Kong into the palace. However, her status is only that of a palace maid. Hence, she would have to live through her life behind the walls of the imperial palace. It is necessary for you to enter the palace and request for her to leave. I believe the Emperor would agree if you say the words.”
“Good. I will handle this matter.”
“After Juan’er leaves the palace, please bring her out of the capital. I think sending her back to Emerald Retreat is a good place to live after all she went through.”
Kong Yu had died. There was nothing left to hold back Madame Kong at the capital. Therefore, leaving the capital, to a far but better place wasn’t a bad idea.
There was nothing left for Ji Yunshu to say to Madame Kong.
She clasped her hands and saluted her. As she departed, she paused to say a few words, “Buddha is Buddha, but humans are still humans in the end. A human can’t be a Buddha, and a Buddha cannot be human.” Then, at last, she closed the door behind her.
After her departure, Madame Kong twisted the prayer beads in her hands.
Clack! Clack! Clack!
The prayer beads which had accompanied her for more than 10 years broke under her hands. The string holding the beads had snapped, freeing the beads to scatter across the floor, roaming every corner of the room like a wild horse.
When Ji Yunshu came back to her courtyard, she called for Wei Yi who was picking peach blossoms. Hearing her voice, he happily ran out with a bouquet of them.
“For you!” He beamed a hearty smile, appearing like a big boy.
Ji Yunshu received the flowers and rubbed his head.
“Let’s go back.”
The imperial palace.
The Crown Prince has passed away. Every official, be it civil or military, was in attendance, lining the outside of Fuyang Hall. Inside the main room, Jing Yi, Jing Rong and Jing Xian stood in a row, facing a closed wooden door carved with decorative patterns. No one dared to trespass, leaving the door tightly shut. Everyone stood with great patience. A day went by, and the night had also ushered away to a new day. Yet, they were all still there standing, waiting for the shut door to be opened, bestowing upon them the grace of imperial decree to disperse. But apart from a decree to seal their mouths about the Crown Prince’s rebellion and the time of his burial, no other decree was transmitted.
Jing Rong wore a cold expression. He had long lost his focus, looking quite tired.
Beside him, Jing Yi used his elbow to lightly nudge him.
He said in a repressed voice, “Miss Kong is too unfortunate. At first, she was titled as a princess to be married to Qujiang and become an imperial consort. Fate had made her married Jing Hua, but she became a widow less than a day after her wedding. Who could have thought the Crown Prince would have committed suicide. What a twist of fate!”
His tone held a certain ambiguity.
“Is there even a bit of sadness in your heart?” Jing Yi asked.
Jing Rong ignored him. He remained stoic, showing no emotion.
Jing Yi curled his lips in response to Jing Rong’s attitude. His head rose slightly, and he squinted his eyes pensively. “With the Crown Prince now dead, who do you think the Crown Prince’s position will fall to?”
A treacherous smile spread across his face.
After a long while, Jing Rong looked up and stared straight in front of him. He uttered in a deep voice, “In this lifetime, you can only be a prince.”
The sudden declaration shocked Jing Yi a bit, but the emotion quickly passed. Jing Yi smiled coldly and mocked Jing Rong, “I am not like you, wanting to be an idle prince for the rest of his life.”
Jing Rong shot him an icy glare as if he wanted to kill him at that instant. Fortunately, his murderous intent was quickly converged and repressed, only his tightened fists could betray his faked calmness.
He faintly spat, “There are times when people will change. The more you can’t have something, the more you want it. It just happens that this is the current situation I am going through.”
Jing Yi understood right away, and so did Jing Xian next to them.
Jing Yi was about to enter another round of verbal jabs when the door in front of them opened.
Zhang Quan came out and bowed at them. “The Emperor has decreed everyone can retire.”
As soon as his words were spoken, he turned around and went back into the Emperor’s bedchambers, closing the door behind him.
Exhausted from standing there all day and night, all the officials left in a hurry to get some sleep as soon as the decree came down.
Jing Xian had also reached his limit and returned to Tongren Hall with the support of his eunuch.
Jing Rong also left the palace. He climbed into his carriage.
“Is Your Highness planning to return to the estate or go to Bamboo Creek Garden?” Lang Po asked from outside the carriage.
“To Yuhua Pavilion!” he said cheerlessly.
“Your Highness doesn’t intend to see Teacher Ji?” Lang Po reminded him on purpose.
Jing Rong snapped, “This Prince said to go to Yuhua Pavilion.”
Grenn’s Rants Corner