Chapter 4: His Penetrating Gaze
As soon as the doors opened, Lóng Wei walked in and stopped in the middle of the hall. He looked into his fathers eyes; bowed before him, bringing his hands up and lowering his head. Eunuch Gao Bing quickly stood beside the throne where the King and Queen were seated.
“Greetings to my Royal Father and Mother,” Lóng Wei said and kowtowed before them to show respect towards the King and the Queen. He stood straight and brought his hands down, meeting the gaze of his father.
King Qiu Zedong rose to his feet and walked to him. He patted his shoulders and then embraced Lóng Wei warmly. Everyone gazed at the King in bewilderment.
He pulled away and looked into the eyes of his youngest son. “Hopefully, you will not make any mistake that will force me to send you away from me. I missed your presence,” Qiu Zedong said.
“Missed my presence” He chuckled. “Father never once visited me in the Cold Palace. He should not show fake affection towards me,” Lóng Wei blurted out with exasperation.
Everyone in the hall was not surprised to see his blunt behavior.
“Be respectful towards your father. Dont forget that hes the King,” Zhu Liling reprimanded Lóng Wei for his behavior.
“He has been busy with the Kingdoms work. The last time His Majesty visited the Prince, he locked himself in the chamber. You are a grown-up man, yet your acts are no less than a young child, who always throws tantrums,” Queen Zhu Liling got furious at Lóng Wei.
“If it was a fake affection, the Sixth Prince would have never stepped into this Palace even after committing crimes and making so many mistakes,” Qiu Zedong said in a hoarse voice.
The King came to his seat and told the Queen to calm down.
Lóng Wei chuckled. He always got scolded by everyone. He turned to leave when his eyes dropped on Li Hua. He looked at her hand and found that she did not go to the physician.
“Sixth Brother, please take your seat,” Xiaoming said humbly. “Lets have the morning tea together,” he opined.
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Lóng Wei, who had planned to leave the Greeting Hall, now decided to drink tea, after seeing Li Hua. He settled on the seat at the end as he was the youngest in the family.
Li Hua walked to Lóng Wei and got on her knees. The other palace maid was holding the tray while Li Hua prepared the tea for him.
Lóng Weis gaze was fixed on Li Huas hand. He did not like it that she ignored his command. Li Hua picked up the teapot and poured the hot water into it. The chamomile tea leaves dissolve well in the hot water.
She picked the platter on which the cup was placed and forwarded it to Lóng Wei, who did not hold the cup.
“Sixth Brother, pick the cup,” Xiaoming said from the other side.
Lóng Wei outstretched his hand and brought it near the platter. However, instead of holding the cup, he placed his hand under her palm.
“Why did you not get it checked” He asked Li Hua, who was puzzled to hear his question. For a brief moment, their eyes met and she pulled her hand back. To her surprise, Lóng Wei did not let it go.
Ai Fen, the Second Princess, found Lóng Wei conversing with a palace maid and knitted her brows.
“Your Highness, please let my hand go,” Li Hua requested humbly, keeping her voice low.
“I need more tea,” Ai Fen said.
Li Hua kept pulling her hand back, but Lóng Wei was adamant about not letting her hand go. Li Hua was scared because if anyone would notice them, she would get punished.
“Please, let my hand go,” Li Hua urged, “Your Highness,” softly.
“Did you not hear me I need tea,” Ai Fen said loudly this time. Everyone looked in their direction.
“Forgive me for the delay, Second Young Princess,” Li Hua said and pleaded with Lóng Wei to let her go.
“She is making tea for me,” Lóng Wei pronounced while letting her hand go and then looked at the other servant. “Serve the Second Princess,” he ordered her.
“Sixth Brother, only she can serve the tea. This is one of the Palace rules,” Ai Fen reminded him about the rule where only the appointed tea server could serve the tea to the royalty.
Lóng Wei took the teacup from her. Promptly, Li Hua rose to her feet and walked to Ai Fen. She served the tea to her and stood back at her place with a bowed head.
“Father, the Third, and the Fifth Prince will arrive in the capital by the evening,” Xiaoming informed the King, who hummed.
“When will the Crown Prince get married The Prime Minister is willing to give his daughters hand in marriage to the Crown Prince. The young lady is well versed not only in the household chores but also in warfare.” Qiu Zedong reminded Xiaoming about the marriage.
The Queen gestured to Li Hua to serve the tea to the King.
“Father, I am still considering it,” Xiaoming answered.
“Whats there to consider, Crown Prince” Qiu Mu remarked and put the teacup on the table. “The Prime Ministers daughter is the most eligible bride for the Crown Prince,” Qiu Mu delivered his opinion.
“I feel the same. The Crown Prince must not delay anymore,” Queen Zhu Liling opined. “Li Hua, serve the tea to the Crown Prince,” she commanded in her soft tone.
“Miss Cha is indeed the finest among many ladies,” Xiaoming agreed with his mothers words. He shifted his gaze at Li Hua, who had prepared the tea for him.
Lóng Wei noticed the penetrating gaze of Xiaoming on Li Hua. He did not like this sight. That gaze made him feel insecure. He plonked his teacup on the table, grabbing everyones attention towards him.
“The tea did not taste good. I hate chamomile,” Lóng Wei said loudly and stood up. The King frowned seeing his youngest sons inappropriate behavior. No matter how much he would punish him, it would only increase his insolent behavior.
“Take your seat, Lóng Wei,” King Qiu Zedong said in an angry tone.
“I dont want to,” Lóng Wei retorted and left the hall. Li Hua was puzzled to see the childish and insolent behavior of Lóng Wei towards his elders. He should be punished, yet the King didnt say anything.
“Father made a mistake by not extending his punishment. He is still the same and his arrogance is only increasing day by day,” Tianjie said furiously.
“However, Brother Lóng Wei was calm around a person. He did not get angry at the servant, who threw hot water at his hand,” Jingfei said out of the blue while sipping the tea.
“What does the First Sister mean” Qiu Mu asked.
Li Hua got nervous to hear her. Jingfei tilted her head to look at her but did not say anything.
“Only marriage is the solution for Lóng Weis odd behavior. If a woman comes into his life, then he will start understanding the world around him,” Qiu Zedong said and looked at his wife. “What do you say, My Queen” He asked her opinion.
“Whatever His Majesty thinks is right for the youngest Prince,” Zhu Liling replied.
“Who will marry Lóng Wei Father must not forget that he killed his own mother when he was fifteen. The list of his sins is never-ending. No woman can survive with him, Father. Brother Lóng Wei has to spend his life alone, probably in the cold palace,” Qiu Mu said with a chuckle.
Li Hua was silently hearing them and it bewildered her how the youngest son of the family was treated. She had heard about Lóng Wei, but she never knew he would kill his own mother. Indeed, the man was dangerous. But the thing that troubled her the most was, why he was spared after he killed his mother. Shouldnt he be punished
“I didnt ask any of my childrens opinion on it,” Qiu Zedong said. He stood up from his seat, followed by his wife and the children.
The King and Queen left first. Xiaoming also left after them but stopped near Li Hua. He tilted his head and said, “Follow me,” before leaving the hall.
Li Hua wondered why the Crown Prince told her to follow him. Did he find out that she was the one who mistakenly threw hot water at Lóng Weis hand
Li Hua halted outside the Crown Princes manor. If it was about Lóng Wei, then she would have been punished by now. Did Xiaoming find out her real identity She had disguised herself well and made sure not to make any mistakes. She could not be caught this early when she had not achieved her aim.
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