[Cry of the Midnight Jackdaw] Chapter 62

Chapter Sixty-two,
Cold Autumns

Liu Guang Yi was put into jail. Though Liu Fang Rui was said to not have received any backlash, she was also house-arrested in Han Yuan Palace. He Xuan got dragged by He Heng to stay for dinner, and was tastelessly picking at a bowl of fish chowder when he heard He Heng open his mouth.

“How does Xuan’er see this matter?”

He Xuan paused, and delightfully said, “Lord Liu has done things a bit inappropriately this time.”

“Is that so?” He Heng profoundly swept a gaze by him, “Liu Guang Yi has been an official for many years, and has constantly received compliments, has a very clean conduct, he does not seem like someone who would do this kind of thing.”

He Xuan’s hand slightly shook, the chowder in the spoon slightly splattered onto his collar, leaving a few drops of wet stains.

Yet He Heng seemed not to notice it, it was like he was only casually mentioning it, “However, he typically has a good relationship with the empress, occasionally having the head go hot and doing some silly things, is normal for people. But in the end, he did something immoral, and needs punishment.”

“Father is right.” He Xuan hung his eyes down and looked at the diced ham and cucumber threads mixed in the fish chowder, and found it a bit funny. This person, He Heng, was highly suspicious and susceptible to change, he never trusted Empress Liu, and naturally never trusted He Xuan himself either. This time, going along with He Xuan’s intent, was merely him feeling that Empress Liu’s hands extended too long, and exceeded the range he could tolerate, thus needed some beating, and He Xuan just so happened to gift him this good excuse.

He Xuan nonchalantly took up a handkerchief and wiped his collar, and insincerely made the motions, “Her Majesty and Lord Liu will definitely understand Father’s efforts.”

After exchanging views for a day in the palace, when He Xuan sat on the sedan chair back to the residence, it was already time to put up lanterns. Shang An’jing’s nights were always charming yet mysterious, outside the buildings leaned with singers and dancers dressed thinly, and even with a large distance, one could smell the dense rouge and powder on their bodies. Atop the buildings hung with dark and light small lanterns, a faint yellow glow enveloped them, in accompaniment with the music, truly a gentle soul-sucking cave.

He Xuan lazily lifted up the curtains to look, he seemed like an immortal being that just came down to the mortal realm, and saw the bustling air of the human realm for the first time, flourishing and grand, found it a bit interesting, and looked at it from far off with slight interest, but in the end, it was not to the point he would remove his nobility to personally experience it. He only savoured it from far off like this, and once he came to his senses, he would heartlessly go away.

Just when He Xuan was in a daze, the sedan chair suddenly stopped. Considering the time, they must not be at the residence yet, He Xuan slightly knitted his eyebrows, and heard the driver say, “Your Highness……”

Before that driver finished speaking, He Xuan’s curtain was crudely pulled up, He Xuan narrowed his eyes, and saw that the person was He Yang. He Yang glared at him, and felt like his nose was spraying fire. Seeing He Xuan lift his eyes up, he took one step forward, and bent his body forward to grab He Xuan’s collar, and fiercely stiffened his neck and questioned.

“Did you do it?”

This collar’s life probably had offended the year today, He Xuan coldly swept by He Yang’s face that wrinkled into a ball due to rage, waved away the hand He Yang grabbed his collar with, then walked out of the sedan. The evening breeze blew the loose hairs on the side of his temples, he fixed it by the way, then turned his head to look at He Yang, and even smiled without a care, “What are you talking about?”

He Yang got provoked by this calm appearance of his that he went into a rage, he pretty much squeezed words out from between his teeth, “Don’t you pretend with me, the matter with that old woman, did you do it!”

He Xuan slightly blankly looked at him, as if he couldn’t understand what he was saying. After a while, seeing He Yang about to pull his sleeves up and fight with him, he then barely turned a bit serious, lowered his head and knitted his eyebrows in thought for a while, and made a look of enlightenment, then said, “So it was Old Lady Meng’s matter, I(g) heard she unfortunately met with danger, truly lamentable.”

“You!” He Yang abruptly reached out, his finger clearly pointed at He Xuan, moving around He Xuan’s side like a headless fly, “Don’t you think about deceiving me! Now that Mother has been arrested in the palace, Uncle has also gone to jail, it must be all your doing!”

He Xuan’s patience was worn away, he impatiently glanced at He Yang, with his voice all low and deep, “I(g) have no time to play with you here.”

“Hah, you sure are ruthless.” He Yang’s eyes were all red, with slivers of blood beneath the eyes, there was also bruising under his eyes, probably because did not rest well these few nights, “You think if you do something like this, you can stomp me down? That Father would hate me?”

“Dream on!” He Yang carelessly spat on the ground, he took back his hand, but his chest was still rising and falling unsteadily, “Let me tell you, this little bit won’t kill me.”

He Xuan nonchalantly looked at the jade headpiece on He Yang’s head, it was bestowed by Father during his birthday, he made an en sound without a care, and quietly said, “Yes, Father dotes on you, I(g) naturally cannot compare.”

After finishing, he lifted his chin and pointed, with a bit bantering in his eyes, “What? For the Fourth Highness to be so excited, are you performing a play for Shang An’jing’s commoners?”

He Yang knitted his eyebrows, then realized there was a bunch of people gathering from a distance on the side at some time go, looking at them. He coldly humphed, and could only let it go, but before leaving, he hatefully turned back and glared at He Xuan, “Just you wait.”

The corners of He Xuan’s mouth twitched, considered to have given him a response. He turned his head and went back into the sedan, and pulled down the curtains without waiting for a single moment, and blocked He Yang’s line of sight.

With autumn rains come frost. It was merely early September, yet Jin already seeped with hints of cold after continuous days of autumn rain. Xiao Zuo was wrapped in a big jacket Zi Wan prepared for him, standing in front of the window watching slivers of rain drifting and flying in the sky.

In truth, the past Xiao Zuo liked autumn very much.

Especially when it just turned to autumn, when waking up from a long and satisfying dream without a hint in the middle of the night, it would be tranquil and silent all around, with the maids keeping watch at the doors all laying on a couch taking a nap too. Xiao Zuo would then tiptoe and drape on an outer robe, and sneak off to the garden in front of the hall.

There was a sizable garden in front of his bedchambers, when he stood at the door of the bedchambers, he would be able to see the moonlight sparsely drop with a floor of frosty white colour, with the osmanthus flowers in the palace seemed like they were poured with several thousand jars of wine, able to smell it vividly even through the heavy palace doors-that scent of wine was delicate, perhaps seeped with the autumn night’s cold frost. If one waited even longer, one could even hear sounds of bells from the east side’s Hu Guo Temple far away between dusk and daybreak, a single listen of that bell could make people distance from the dreams of confusion, forgetting all mortal desire.

Autumn really was a season that made people’s minds stray, unlike spring where it would carry powdery air, autumn was a filled with shining spears and armoured horses[1], and also one where praises of Buddha hid hearts.

But now, Xiao Zuo tightened the cloak on him, he reached out and caught a sliver of rain unsteadily blown by the northern winds, it was icy, making him subconsciously shrink his hand back.

Worldly matters were all like a big dream, life was bound to experience through a few cold autumns.

The scent of osmanthus of the past country could no longer be smelled either.

Xiao Zuo sighed, he turned his head back, and saw He Xuan lean on the side of the door, indifferently looking at him.

“Back so early today?”

“Father has gotten a wind chill and is feeling unwell, so he ended the courts early.”

Xiao Zuo walked to He Xuan’s side, and asked, “Aren’t you going to express [your concern]?”

He Xuan lifted his eyebrows, as though a bit surprised, “He Yang long already hurried to show off, tonics have been sent inside the palace like flowing water, what use would it be for me to join in this bustle.”

“He is your Father in the end.”

He Xuan hung his eyes down and did not follow up, Xiao Zuo immediately regretted it a bit, and just when he wanted to open up to change the topic, he heard He Xuan open his mouth, “I know.”

Xiao Zuo froze, as though he did not think that He Xuan would say these things with him, just like watching an oyster that never opened up- so long that the shell of the oyster already was full of moss, that even the hunter already gave up on that pearl, but who knew this oyster would suddenly change its mind, and silently open up a gap, like an invitation to the hunter.

He Xuan pursed his lips, he never spoke up about this to other people, and timidly opened his mouth, mulled over it for a while, then continued speaking, “I know…… he always like Old Fourth a bit more, I don’t know how to speak, have a bad temper, no eyes to read the atmosphere, and do not make him happy.”

He Xuan paused, then continued, “But sometimes I, for example…… on the autumn day it suddenly turned cold, I also want to hear him ask me if I have enough clothes. In the busiest time in the courts close to the new year, I also want to hear him ask me if I ate well…… I got disappointed too many times, so I did not want it.”

He Xuan smiled in self ridicule, “But even though I told myself, don’t be upset, don’t take it seriously, when I heard him cough strongly today, I would still be worried. Actually, when I got off from the courts, I went to the imperial doctor’s hall, and had them make some medicine for Father that was not as bitter, he is already so old, yet he still does not like drinking bitter things.”

“I……” He Xuan hung his eyes down, “Never mind, Empress Liu would have long watched over it and made the medicine, it would be unnecessary of me.”

“Your Highness……” Xiao Zuo looked at He Xuan whose lashes were slightly shaking. His voice was hoarse, and at this time when he leaned on the doorframe with a dejected look, he seemed like a small child in the mountains waiting for their father to come home in the middle of the night.

Xiao Zuo sighed, he slightly tipped his toes, with this height, he would just meet with He Xuan’s eyes with the corners lifting up. His heart was a bit aching, he lifted his hand up to pull on He Xuan’s sleeves, and lightly wrapped around his waist, using a soft voice like he was coaxing a small child, “These are things that everyone in this world would do, his Majesty…… perhaps would not say it, but his heart still thinks of you.”

The hair He Xuan had hung at his back was very soft, very fine, the elderly would all say people whose hairs were soft all had soft hearts too, perhaps He Xuan who on the surface looked to be manly like steel, was actually just a very soft-hearted child lacking in love.


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