Chapter 34 – Boat Tour With the Crown Prince
At this moment, the flowers seemed to have lost their colors. It was as if the entire world had turned into a giant monochrome painting, and Gong Yi Mo was the only color!
Gong Che pressed his hand against his chest. Recently, this strange feeling started appearing more and more frequently. So frequently that he was compelled to find a variety of excuses in order to run to the harem and see her. And once he did, the feeling would instantly be pacified.
However, whenever he saw Gong Yi Mo move with such grace, that strange feeling would drown him, and it took a long time for him to return to normal.
He only saw her foot step lightly on the bow of the ship, and the boat shot forth like a sword towards the shore. Gong Yi Mo confidently stood at the hull of the ship as the wind swept against her small figure.
He feared that she would disappear at any moment. Suddenly their eyes met; the girl flashed a dazzling smile, and he felt as if time itself had slowed down.
Just when the boat landed ashore, a group of servants from the Taihe Palace[note]Taihe Palace (Hall of Supreme Harmony) – where Gong Jue lives[/note] rushed to their side and greeted them.
“Greetings to His Highness the Crown Prince and Her Highness the Princess.”
The young eunuch leading the group was called Yong Fu. After finishing his greeting, he told Gong Yi Mo, “Princess is looking for His Highness the Ninth Prince, right? He left to choose a war horse to accompany him on his journey and has not yet returned.”
Feeling disappointed, Gong Yi Mo dismissed the eunuch with a wave of her hand.
Why did he take so long? She still had some things to tell him.
As soon as the eunuch walked away, Gong Yi Mo looked up at Gong Che and an idea came to mind. Her eyes brightened with enthusiasm and she asked him, “Is Elder Brother Crown Prince in a hurry to get back to his residence?”
The servant accompanying the crown prince was about to refuse on behalf of his master, but the prince was already shaking his head. “I’m not.”
Gong Yi Mo smiled delightedly. “Is Elder Brother Crown Prince willing to accompany me on the lake?” She pointed to the wooden boat at her feet. “The lotus flowers on the lake are blooming wonderfully. We can go and enjoy the scenery. How could it not be beautiful?
The Crown Prince’s servant was aware that the boat could only accommodate two people. How could he ensure the safety of the prince? Just as he was about to refuse, Gong Che shot him a warning glance. The servant bowed his head and no longer spoke.
Seeing that he agreed, Gong Yi Mo felt satisfied and held out her hand to the prince. When Gong Che saw her reach out, he subconsciously grasped her delicate white hand and stepped onto the boat.
Just as he did so, the boat swayed slightly and Gong Che lost his balance for a moment, but Gong Yi Mo held onto him tightly and steadied his footing. The warmth and strength of her hand on this summer day were imprinted so deeply into Gong Che’s mind… that he could talk until his mouth was dry and his throat was parched.
Gong Yi Mo was oblivious to his abnormalities. She simply smiled and tapped the boat lightly with her foot, causing the boat to shoot towards the center of the lake like a sword**. Meanwhile, the sky had already begun to darken and large clouds loomed over the heavens. Two people sat across from each other while enjoying the light breeze. The atmosphere was so comfortable that Gong Yi Mo felt drowsy.
Xin’er grinned as she watched the pair at the lake; watching the sunset was definitely a great way to relax. She looked over and saw the Crown Prince’s servants shifting about in extremely agitated state, which puzzled her. They were much too anxious; what could possibly be wrong with having the Princess accompany him?
As the boat gradually stabilized over the water, Gong Yi Mo broke the silence with a smile. “We have flowers and a lake, so how could we not have wine?”
She pulled out a pouch from her sleeve, then removed the wine stopper with a pop. A fascinating scent floated in the air, and Gong Che immediately knew it was the aged wine the Emperor had hid in his wine cellar for over eighty years.
Gong Yi Mo couldn’t wait to have a taste. In one big swing, she tilted the bottle and swallowed the wine greedily. Golden liquid dripped down from the corner of her mouth, drawing Gong Che’s attention to those rosy lips. He was so fascinated he even began to feel thirsty.
“Good wine!” Gong Yi Mo wiped her mouth. She turned to her brother and smiled mischievously. “This is the aged wine I spent a lot effort to steal from under Eunuch Chang Xi’s nose. How about it? Does Elder Brother Crown Prince want to have a taste?”
As she spoke, the wings of the butterfly ornament on her hair quivered along with her movement.
Looking at her jade-like hands holding the wineskin, Gong Che dazedly received the pouch and unthinkingly took a sip.
The wine was obviously brewed for women. It was mild but fragrant with a lingering taste.
But she just drank from this pouch, so… they shared a wine bag!
Once Gong Che became aware of this, his face quickly blushed red, and he tried to mask his embarrassment by taking another sip. “Sure enough, it’s good wine!” He complimented.
Gong Yi Mo smiled in satisfaction.
“Elder Brother Crown Prince, actually there’s something I’ve been wanting to ask you. That’s why I wanted to take this opportunity to bring you boating here. I need help on a matter..”
“Oh?” Gong Che didn’t actually pay attention to her words and only subconsciously responded, “What is it?”
Since he asked directly, Gong Yi Mo did not beat around the bush.
“Actually, although I’ve never left the palace, I’ve borrowed the help of other people to open numerous shops around the capital.”
Gong Che looked at her in surprise. In fact, as a crown prince, he handled many assets. After all, there were many places that required the use of money. However, even if Gong Yi Mo was a clever child, she did not have a mother to scheme for her. To be able to hold a lofty vision and even put it into action, Gong Che couldn’t help but admire her.
Gong Yi Mo frowned and quietly said, “Here’s the problem. Today, I received a strange report from the capital. I believe the Crown Prince has also heard of it.”
She raised her eyebrows slightly and continued, “Around two months ago, the grain shops around the capital selling Guliang, a lower quality rice, suddenly fell short of supplies. Someone even bought large quantities of old rice at a low price. Even though their actions were hidden, your little sister is still aware of it all.”
Hearing of this matter, Gong Che’s expression turned solemn.
At first, he thought that his sister probably opened a few cosmetics shops around the city and that her business was probably not too large. However, he was only informed about this news yesterday by his men. Seeing how she was able to talk to him about this matter today, her skill and assets were not low.
He looked at his smiling sister. She was young, and her sweet and cheeky grin made her appear very harmless.
The more time that passed, the fewer people who remembered her fierceness from when she first appeared; they could only remember her current spoiled appearance. They had even loosened their vigilance… which they really should not have.
Seeing that Gong Che had digested the information, Gong Yi Mo began to speak slowly.
“Xi Zhou often needs disaster relief. If someone wanted to, they could definitely prepare in advance.”
In fact, this was not the first time such an issue has happened. Disaster relief supplies being misappropriated was already a common occurrence. The Dayu Dynasty’s lands were vast, and controlling them expended a lot of effort. The Emperor could not execute all corrupt officials, so as long as they weren’t excessive, the emperor turned a blind eye.
But this time, it was unacceptable because this was the first time Gong Jue was given a task; it would impact his future!
Moreover, Gong Yi Mo knew that in order to target Gong Jue, those people did not only want to tamper with the supplies but also replace the clothes, medicine, and other goods with inferior products.