After lunch, Shen Fengyue sat by the red gauze window, reading a book. Soft light shone through the open window, illuminating half of his face. Everything looked so peaceful and quiet, as if time had stood still and the world was at ease.
“Auspiciousness to the Empress Dowager.”
If only that noisy bird would be quiet for a while, Shen Fengyue thought to himself.
“Can’t you be quiet for a moment?” Shen Fengyue picked up a plate of melon seeds and threw one at the bird.
Unexpectedly, the bird agilely dodged the seed and then moved back to its original position, truly silent.
The bird was sent by Lord Shen last week. Its beak was bright red, and its feathers were rare and colorful, each one clearly defined. Even the light shining through them could reveal their illusory edges, making it quite beautiful and a rare treasure.
Of course, it was still too noisy.
Shen Fengyue put down the book and turned to Luo Xue, who was embroidering by his side. “This bird is too noisy. Can’t you move it somewhere else?”
Hearing this, Luo Xue stopped her needlework and smiled. “Empress Dowager, this bird…” She glanced at the bird, which promptly turned its head and stared at her with its small, black, shiny eyes.
“This bird is quite lively,” Luo Xue went against her conscience under the bird’s gaze and said, “but it is still your favorite.”
“What do you mean?” Shen Fengyue became interested.
Luo Xue pointed to the bird and said, “Look, this bird is usually so noisy. Although you have been displeased with it many times and said you would move it out, it always gets brought back after just a short while. And it has never been short of food or anything it needs. This shows that you only say it but actually care for it in your heart.”
Is that so? Shen Fengyue hadn’t thought of this himself. He looked at the bird thoughtfully and murmured, “It was given to me by Lord Shen, so I shouldn’t just get rid of it…”
Luo Xue heard this and, being a close confidant of the Empress Dowager, spoke with great familiarity. She smiled and said, “Well if you say so.” Then she continued with her work as a servant.
Shen Fengyue couldn’t concentrate on reading, so he focused on playing with the bird instead. He took a melon seed, peeled it, and held it up to the bird’s mouth.
As soon as the melon seed approached, the bird started squawking and flapping its wings, making a loud noise.
Shen Fengyue’s face turned black, and he quickly withdrew the melon seed from the bird’s mouth. When the bird saw the melon seed suddenly disappear, it was left with the sound “Empress Dowager” stuck in its throat.
“Didn’t your master teach you to say anything else?” Shen Fengyue frowned.
In the next moment, the bird suddenly became quiet and lowered its head, saying in a gentle voice, “Empress Dowager, this slave knows his mistake.”
The familiar address made Shen Fengyue feel a sense of deja vu, and in his mind, the voice of the bird’s owner overlapped with the bird’s voice:
“Imperial Concubine, this slave knows his mistake.”
Tsk, as expected of an animal’s owner, both the bird and the person have the same virtue. Shen Fengyue roughly stuffed the melon seed back into the bird’s mouth and peeled several more, feeding them to the bird. But then someone came.
“The Emperor has arrived–” Eunuch Yang’s announcement could be heard from outside.
Shen Fengyue ceased cracking and feeding the bird with melon seeds. He gently placed the remaining seeds down and proceeded to pat his hands to shake off the crumbs that had accumulated on his clothing. Once the task was complete, he turned around and assumed a dignified posture, sitting upright.
Next to Chu Xi, Eunuch Li opened the door curtain for him, and a foot-wearing embroidered dragon-patterned boots stepped in through the threshold. Shen Fengyue followed that foot upwards, then saw a navy blue hem.
“Mother Empress,” Chu Xi called out.
Shen Fengyue’s gaze finally landed on his face, and Chu Xi bowed to her, “Your son pays his respects to Mother Empress.”
“The emperor is finally here today,” Shen Fengyue waved his hand, asking him to sit next to him.
The young emperor sat next to his Mother Empress and explained to her, “Today there were a lot of matters to attend to, so your son arrived late. Please forgive me, Mother Empress.”
Shen Fengyue smiled and said it was not late at all.
Chu Xi was very filial and paid his respects to him every day after court, unwavering in his duty. Shen Fengyue felt pity for him and worried that he was running back and forth unnecessarily, which would take a toll on his health. However, Chu Xi insisted on coming every day, despite his attempts to dissuade him. In the end, Shen Fengyue yielded to his persistence.
As they spoke, the bird’s voice rang out again, “Empress Dowager! Empress Dowager!”
“Your servant pays respects to Empress Dowager! May Dowager Empress enjoy peace and prosperity!”
As soon as Shen Fengyue heard the voice, he instinctively held his forehead, feeling a headache. This silly bird had started again.
The sudden sound startled Chu Xi, but he quickly regained his composure and found the source of the sound.
“Mother, this is?” he asked.
“Just now, it was talking,” Shen Fengyue said, reaching out to the bird. As he extended his hand, the bird voluntarily hopped onto his arm. Shen Fengyue placed his hand on the bird’s head and began to rub and stroke it. The bird obediently stayed still, looking foolish and allowing Shen Fengyue to do as he pleased.
“Why is it so quiet now?” Shen Fengyue was surprised because the bird was not usually so quiet.
If you like my translations, please consider supporting me by buying me a cup of coffee.