Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
Qiao Jinniang looked up at the Duchess, fearing that she would not agree.
Noble families had many rules, and the Duchess might just not let her out to make money.
Surprisingly, the Duchess simply said, “Okay, okay, ask me if you need any money.”
Qiao Jinniang nodded. “I have enough money to open a shop.”
The members of the Qiao Family coveted Myriad Taste greedily because Myriad Taste was doing very well financially. Over the years, Qiao Jinniang had earned a lot of money and bought a lot of shops in Lin’an to rent out.
In fact, she was not short of money.
The Duchess personally took Qiao Jinniang to the courtyard prepared for her, which was right beside the Duchess’ courtyard, NingXin Garden. This new courtyard hadn’t been named yet.
“Jinniang, name this courtyard as you like.”
Qiao Jinniang thought for a while before saying, “How about Jin Garden?”
The Duchess smiled and said, “What a nice name you picked.”
Qiao Jinniang entered the boudoir and found that it was full of precious decor. “Thank you, Mother.”
The Duchess said with tears in her eyes, “All these things can’t make up for anything. I’m just glad that you like it. If you need anything, just tell Mammy An. Don’t be shy.”
Qiao Jinniang nodded.
In the blink of an eye, it was time for lunch, and Qiao Jinniang arrived at Ningxin Garden with the Duchess.
When they arrived at Ningxin Garden, Qiao Jinniang saw a well-dressed young woman donning the hairstyle of a married woman. When she saw this woman, Qiao Jinniang was a little dazed. Her nose started to sour as she saluted. “Nice to meet you, lady.”
This woman looked exactly like her foster mother, so she recognized her at a glance.
“Oh, I really don’t deserve this. I’m sorry. I took the high position and great wealth that were supposed to be yours.” Qiao Ruoyun hurriedly helped Qiao Jinniang up.
Qiao Ruoyun said with red eyes. “Ever since I knew about what happened to us back then, I’ve been feeling guilty. I’m so sorry…”
Qiao Jinniang was frightened by Qiao Ruoyun. “Madam, don’t say this. When we were swapped, you were only a baby. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“And I lived a happy life in Lin’an, so please don’t feel guilty.”
The Duchess patted Qiao Ruoyun on the shoulder. “Ruoyun, you have always thought too much ever since you were a child. This has nothing to do with you. I raised you up, so you are also my daughter too. Jinniang’s suffering has nothing to do with you. Jinniang doesn’t blame you, neither do I. Don’t think too much about it and hurt yourself.”
Qiao Ruoyun wiped her tears with a handkerchief. “Sister, my parents…”
Qiao Jinniang pursed her lips and said, “They died of illness three years ago…”
Qiao Ruoyun cried again. “Sister, you must have gone through a lot of hardship.”
The Duchess also wiped her tears and said, “Okay, don’t cry. Today is a good day. Tell the cooks to make a few more dishes to welcome Jinniang back.”
At lunch, Qiao Jinniang didn’t see her two younger sisters, so she asked the Duchess, “Mother, where are my younger sisters?”
The Duchess said, “Today is the Crown Prince’s capping ceremony, and your younger sisters have both gone to the East Palace to celebrate the ceremony. Originally, Ruoyun and I were going there too, but I didn’t want to make you wait, so I pleaded illness.”
After that, Qiao Jinniang lowered her head to eat without saying a word.
There were strict dining etiquettes in the Duke Mansion, but the maids were serving attentively. Even if Qiao Jinniang’s dining etiquette was not perfect, no one dared to laugh at her.
It wasn’t until after the meal that the Duchess said to Qiao Ruoyun,
“You are just too honest. Why did you tell the truth to your husband’s family? Your two sisters-in-law are not easy to get along with.
“And now that the entire Chang’an has realized that you’re not the biological daughter of your father, you’ll have to get pregnant as soon as possible.”
Qiao Ruoyun lowered her head and nodded.
The Duchess said to Qiao Jinniang, “Jinniang, you must be tired from the long trip. Go to sleep for a while. I think your father, grandmother and sisters might not be back until night falls. You can meet them tomorrow.”
Qiao Jinniang saluted and said, “Mother, I want to find a suitable store in Chang’an City first, in order to reopen Myriad Taste as soon as possible.”
Feeling guilty towards Qiao Jinniang, the Duchess certainly wouldn’t reject her request. “I will have the butler go with you. Unlike Lin’an, in Chang’an, if you want to buy a store, you need to have someone powerful behind you. If you find the store you want to buy, just tell them you’re from Duke Anyuan’s Mansion.”
“Thank you, Mother.”
The central street of Chang’an Main was very lively. It was a warm breezy spring day, and the merchants and vendors on both sides of the street were peddling.
Hongling helped Qiao Jinniang out of the carriage. “Chang’an is divided into five streets and twelve lanes. The central street is connected to the imperial city, and those living on it are all dignitaries. Therefore, the central street is very lively. Beside it, there are many stores along the moat, including countless restaurants and tea houses.”
“Miss, if you want to open a restaurant, this is the most suitable place.”
At first glance, Qiao Jinniang took a liking to a two-story restaurant next to a bridge. “This location is very good. It’s noon now, but why aren’t there any customers in this restaurant?”
Compared to the other bustling stores, this restaurant was indeed deserted.
Hongling asked a footboy to inquire. Soon, the footboy came back and said, “Miss, this restaurant is called Tasty Pavilion. It used to be famous in Chang’an, and it was opened during the reign of the former emperor with a history of 40 to 50 years.
“It’s just a pity that the shopkeeper has no son but only three daughters, so he married his youngest daughter to a matrilocal husband.
“Unexpectedly, after his son-in-law learned the good cooking skills of the shopkeeper, he was favored by the daughter of an imperial chef. Then, he hooked up with that woman and divorced his wife.
“After that, he opened a ‘Guest Welcoming Building’ not far from Tasty Pavilion and poached many cooks from Tasty Pavilion.”
“So Tasty Pavilion’s business is getting worse every day.”
“Life is tough for women in this world.” Qiao Jinniang said, “Let’s go have a look!”
Hearing this poor woman’s story, Qiao Jinniang thought of the b*stard who divorced her and stole her son!
She and Tasty Pavilion’s young shopkeeper had the same experience.
The Crown Prince’s capping ceremony was a big event for the East Palace, so all the civilian, military officers and noble families had come to celebrate it.
Nowadays, men would receive their capping ceremony when they were 20, but if a male royal family member was exceptionally favored by the Emperor, he could have his capping ceremony in advance.
His Majesty wanted to hold the capping ceremony for the Crown Prince when he was 17, but the Crown Prince disappeared abruptly. For the last three years, the Crown Prince had been missing.
His Majesty had seven sons. The Crown Prince was the youngest, but he was also the one most favored by the Emperor.
For the past few years, many ministers demanded to change the Crown Prince, and for this, His Majesty severely punished many senior ministers.
But, 20 days ago, the Crown Prince suddenly came back. At this news, the Emperor was overjoyed and decreed to hold a capping ceremony for him, so the ceremony was very grand and lively.
In the Tang Dynasty, the restrictions on women were not as harsh as before, so standing among the noble young ladies, Qiao Ruoshui and her friends looked at the young man in the middle of the hall. “His Royal Highness has become even more handsome than before.”
“As God’s favored one, he certainly looks different from ordinary men. But, Sister, as an unmarried woman, I’m afraid it’s inappropriate for you to comment on the Crown Prince’s appearance like this.”
A girl in a pink dress greeted Qiao Ruoshui.
Qiao Ruoshui snorted. She really disliked this sister whose mother was a concubine.
His Majesty loved the Crown Prince very much, and the Queen even came to the East Palace in person to attend the capping ceremony. At the moment of capping, the Crown Prince’s nose was itchy, so he couldn’t help but sneeze.
The sneeze was indecent but the Crown Prince was so handsome and graceful that Qiao Ruoshui felt that he was very charming even when he was sneezing.
“Humph, no man in the world is good.”
In the Tasty Pavilion, a woman in her early twenties cursed men with Qiao Jinniang.
Qiao Jinniang said, “Sister, you’re right, but I believe they’ll get their retribution sooner or later! Getting back on topic, Sister, I’d like to buy the Tasty Pavilion.”
When the girl surnamed Lin heard Qiao Jinniang’s words, she said, “Tasty Pavilion’s business is poor now, but I inherited it from my father after all. If…”
Qiao Jinniang could understand her concerns. If someone asked her to sell Myriad Taste, she would refuse too. “Sister, Tasty Pavilion’s business is so poor now that it is useless to hold on. It is better to sell it and make other plans.”
Miss Lin sighed. “Firstly, this restaurant is my ancestral property. Secondly, my ex-husband has Earl Cheng’en behind him, and Earl Cheng’en is the Queen Dowager’s brother. The imperial cook was very appreciated by the Queen Dowager, so she married his eldest daughter to the eldest son of Earl Cheng’en as his concubine…”
“The restaurants nearby that have no powerful people behind them are no match for the Guest Welcoming Building run by my ex-husband.”
Qiao Jinniang said, “Sister Lin, don’t worry.. I’m not afraid of Earl Cheng’en.”