The Reborn Noble Girl is Hard to Find | Chapter 38: Hidden Humiliation

Chapter 38: Hidden Humiliation

Li Jiaqi noticed the attention from the crowd, quickly sat down, her face flushed red, and her gaze towards Han Yan was almost murderous. The surrounding girls, however, were now too intimidated to say anything further.

Shuhong stood by Han Yan’s side, carefully adjusting her collar. Han Yan remained calm, her expression unchanged, her smile seemingly glued to her face, as she slowly said, “With so many people watching, is Miss Li trying to deny it? I thought that as the daughter of the Prime Minister, you would surely take responsibility for your actions. After all, Prime Minister Li is a pillar of our country.” After saying this, she sighed, as if deeply regretful.

Prime Minister Li held a high position, yet his daughter was acting irresponsibly and speaking recklessly. This naturally cast doubt on the character of the Prime Minister himself. The current emperor valued the moral conduct of his ministers highly, and the implications were clear.

Li Jiaqi sneered, “Zhuang Hanyan, don’t try to scare me. I only said that these pastries were for my beloved dog. It’s my prerogative to give my household food to whomever I wish. Who are you to interfere?”

Han Yan, resting her chin on her hand, with an innocent and carefree smile, replied, “So that’s how it is. Miss Li’s family is wealthy, and her father is the current Prime Minister. Even the emperor shows him respect. Naturally, you don’t have to value the pastries bestowed by the palace. I was shortsighted, I apologize.”

Her tone was warm and cheerful, but there was an unmistakable chill behind her words.

Li Jiaqi found her words peculiar but couldn’t pinpoint the reason. Seeing Han Yan apologize so readily, she intended to continue her mockery. However, the sharp retort earlier had already drawn some attention, so she begrudgingly let it go, saying hatefully, “There’s no need to apologize, Miss Zhuang.”

Han Yan, unconcerned, lowered her head to sip her tea, her mind filled with cold amusement.

The palace banquet was naturally filled with the emperor’s spies, just like in the grand households. In her previous life, whatever happened on her side, not even a moment later, it would be known in the Gongtong Garden. Sometimes, if she had a headache or fever one moment, the next, Madam Zhou would send her medicine. She used to think Madam Zhou cared for her, feeling deeply grateful. Looking back now, it seemed that her entire Qingqiu Courtyard was filled with Zhou’s spies.

The palace was even more so. Even a seemingly insignificant maid or eunuch could be the emperor’s secret agents. The words she just said weren’t just for Li Jiaqi or the ladies present, but for those spies to hear.

Prime Minister Li wielded significant power. If he disregarded the imperial pastries this time, would he disregard the emperor next time?
The spies would naturally report this to the emperor. How the emperor thought about it was his business. Monarchs were historically suspicious, especially concerning their supreme status and dignity. It was certain that the Prime Minister’s coming days would not be easy.

Han Yan endured and plotted, dealing with the Zhuang family only. Outside, those who wished her harm would receive tenfold retribution.

Han Yan smiled and chatted with Deng Chan, unaware that her every move was being observed from the male section by a pair of slightly sinister eyes.

The banquet’s food was indeed excellent. Despite living in the Zhuang family for many years, Han Yan had never seen such a lavish spread. However, she had other things on her mind and no appetite, only nibbling on a few peony cakes. The surrounding girls maintained their refined demeanor, chatting softly about their recent experiences, what sachets they embroidered, and what beautiful clothes they tailored. Their conversations seemed more like boasts than casual talk. Deng Chan, less restrained, focused on eating. Han Yan held her tea, quietly observing the people at the banquet.

The emperor and empress sat at the head, exuding authority. However, the ministers seemed distinctly divided into two factions. In her previous life, Han Yan overheard Zhuang Yushan hint that the court was split into two rival factions. One supported Prince Wei and the Seventh Prince, the other supported the Crown Prince and Prince Xuanqing. The emperor, though in his prime, had appointed a Crown Prince early, surprising many. The Crown Prince, born of the Empress, was only ten years old.

It was reasonable to appoint the Empress’s son as the Crown Prince, but the Seventh Prince, born to Imperial Concubine Chen, had been gaining favor due to his recent achievements and the emperor’s evident affection for him. The emperor’s apparent preference for the Seventh Prince over the Crown Prince created ambiguity.

As the future heir, the Crown Prince’s selection required careful consideration. The Seventh Prince’s exceptional talents naturally garnered support. Some even speculated that the emperor might change the Crown Prince, given the current Crown Prince’s tender age, raising questions.

Prince Wei’s close relationship with the Seventh Prince stemmed from Imperial Concubine Chen’s familial ties with Princess Wei, forging strong connections. In her previous life, the Zhuang family aligned with the Seventh Prince’s faction, resulting in Han Yan’s marriage as a political alliance. At the time, she believed Prince Wei genuinely wanted to marry her, but now she realized it was merely to leverage the Zhuang family’s influence. Ultimately, it didn’t matter which Zhuang he married, as evidenced by the cup of poison she was given.

Han Yan’s gaze darkened, but opposing Prince Xuanqing, given his formidable presence, seemed unwise.

In chaotic times, a woman’s fate was intertwined with her family’s. If the Seventh Prince’s faction fell, Han Yan would be implicated. Persuading Zhuang Shiyang to change sides was futile, and she had no intention of trying. The only solution was to sever ties with the Zhuang family for herself and Ming Ge’er. But how?

The emperor’s intentions were unpredictable. Han Yan didn’t want to speculate on the Crown Prince and the Seventh Prince’s standings but refused to align with the Seventh Prince’s faction, even if it was just for that cup of poison.

Thinking of this, she smiled again.

The banquet was lively, with the ladies chatting, the ministers toasting, and the young men and women exchanging glances like a scene from the Lantern Festival.


  • 30 June 2024