Novel Name : After Rebirth, the True Eldest Daughter Starts Brewing Green Tea

Chapter 26 - ARTTEDSBGT Chapter 26

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Chapter 26 - ARTTEDSBGT Chapter 26

It was clear that Zhao Shan’er was very angry, but Li Zhizhi pretended not to notice and continued, “I found it strange at the time. If Sister Zhao wanted to give me flowers, why didn’t she deliver them herself and instead had them handed over by someone else?”
“I was afraid there might be some misunderstanding,” Li Zhizhi said sincerely. “So I wanted to remind Sister.”
The more Zhao Shan’er thought about it, the more worried she became. If Li Zhizhi had believed Li Suwan’s words and said at the Spring Festival that the flowers were from her, it would have pointed the blame at her.
And when she remembered how Li Suwan had cried so miserably today, and how she had consoled her, even scolded someone on her behalf and gave her gifts, Zhao Shan’er felt that all her good intentions had been in vain.
She had been fooled by Li Suwan.
Thinking of this, the fire in Zhao Shan’er’s heart flared up, and she wished she could find Li Suwan right away and give her a good slap!
Li Zhizhi hesitated and said, “That flower probably wasn’t from Sister Zhao…”
Without thinking, Zhao Shan’er denied, “Of course it wasn’t me.”
She didn’t feel the slightest guilt, but Li Zhizhi was inwardly amused. However, on the surface, she appeared relieved and said, “That’s what I thought. Sister Zhao is beautiful and kind, how could she do something so rude? It must have been done by someone else.”
“But who could it be?” Li Zhizhi furrowed her brows slightly and muttered to herself, “It’s strange. It’s the Qionglin Garden, the royal garden, and it’s a flower personally planted by the Empress Dowager. Naturally, there should be palace maids carefully guarding it. How could they be so careless at that moment?”
Zhao Shan’er had the same doubt at the time. Even in her own mansion, her flowers were carefully tended to by dedicated servants to avoid any damage. The fact that such an oversight occurred in the royal garden was truly puzzling.
As Zhao Shan’er was contemplating, she heard Li Zhizhi quietly speculate, “Maybe someone deliberately sent the palace maids who were guarding it away to frame you.”
Hearing this, Zhao Shan’er just shook her head, thinking that Li Zhizhi lacked experience. Nevertheless, she explained, “It’s not that easy to send them away. They are palace servants, not ordinary servants. You think just anyone can give them orders?”
Li Zhizhi tilted her head and casually said, “If that person has a high status, will the palace ladies listen to her?”
Zhao Shan’er still found it unlikely and replied, “Even so, who can guarantee that we will definitely go to the Small Buddha Hall on the day of the Spring Outing?”
“Oh, right,” Li Zhizhi’s eyes suddenly brightened, and she asked with a puzzled expression, “Is the Small Buddha Hall far away? Why would you all go there to see the flowers?”
At these words, Zhao Shan’er was taken aback. Her eyebrows furrowed slightly as she suddenly remembered that going to the Small Buddha Hall to see the flowers was originally Xiao Man’s idea. Xiao Man had praised the flowers, saying they were beautiful and a perfect match for her. Xiao Man, as the County Princess, still held great influence, even though her father had passed away, and the Sheng Prince’s Mansion had declined. She was the emperor’s niece and a solid member of the royal family. Palace servants would bow and pay their respects to her; who would dare not listen to her orders?
With this realization, all the hidden memories and details gradually pieced together, pointing in a direction that Zhao Shan’er had never considered. She suddenly felt a chill down her spine, and her limbs turned cold.
Seeing the serious expression in Zhao Shan’er’s eyes, Li Zhizhi knew that she had achieved her goal. She pretended not to notice and softly called out, “Zhao sister.”
Zhao Shan’er, lost in her thoughts, was brought back to reality by the call. Li Zhizhi asked with concern, “Are you alright?”
Zhao Shan’er managed to suppress her turbulent emotions and replied, “I’m fine.”
“That’s good,” Li Zhizhi smiled gently and said, “It’s getting late. I should head back home. Goodbye, Zhao sister.”
At this moment, Zhao Shan’er’s mind was in chaos, and she couldn’t even muster the energy to say goodbye. She just nodded hastily and turned away. Soon, only Li Zhizhi remained in the garden. She looked up at the sky, one half of which was a clean and clear sapphire blue, while the other half was adorned with deep red and light pink clouds, creating a magnificent spectacle like a fairy’s robe laid out.
“As the evening sun glows red like fire, the clear sky is even bluer than blue,” Li Zhizhi softly recited and then suddenly laughed, “What a beautiful day today.”
Out of nowhere, a snow-white pear blossom petal floated down gently, bathed in the lingering sunlight, turning into a faint pink color. Li Zhizhi puffed her cheeks and blew on it, causing the falling petal to rise again.
Just then, the corner of her eye caught something, and her heart skipped a beat. She fixed her gaze and saw a hint of dark-colored robes behind a cluster of flowering shrubs. There was someone sitting there. When did they arrive?
Li Zhizhi quickly recalled her recent words and actions, then silently approached the person. The individual made no movements, as if they were waiting for her.
Soon, Li Zhizhi recognized the true identity of the person. She was momentarily surprised and said, “Crown Prince?”
The person was dressed in a black silk robe and sitting on a carriage, and indeed, it was the Crown Prince she had recently encountered, just like the first time they met. He held a scroll of letters in his hand, exuding an air of scholarly refinement, resembling a studious scholar.
In any case, in Li Zhizhi’s view, this former Crown Prince didn’t seem like a good person. After all, an upright gentleman wouldn’t sit here to eavesdrop on others’ conversations.
Even when discovered, he remained calm and composed, and his handsome face seemed to exude an air of confidence, as if he were engaged in some honorable endeavor.
Xiao Yan smiled and said, “What a coincidence, Miss Li. We meet again.”
He discreetly examined Li Zhizhi and, with an almost apologetic tone, said, “I accidentally overheard Miss Li’s private conversation. I apologize for that. I hope you won’t be angry.”
While he offered an apology, there was no trace of remorse on the young man’s face, and his demeanor was shockingly self-assured.
Li Zhizhi concealed her amusement, and her expression remained unchanged. She raised her eyebrows slightly and candidly replied, “To be honest, I am a little upset.”
Before Xiao Yan could respond, she continued, “But when I think about it and realize that the person eavesdropping was none other than His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, I’m not as upset anymore. After all, Your Highness is the heir to the throne, with numerous responsibilities. It’s quite an honor for a commoner like me to have you listen to my idle chatter and gossip. This is a rare opportunity that others can only dream of. In ordinary circumstances, I would have to invest a great deal of effort to establish any kind of relationship with Your Highness.”
No matter how one listened to her words, they sounded like sarcasm directed at him. Xiao Yan instinctively raised an eyebrow and, after a moment’s pause, he smiled and said, “Last time, I mentioned that you seemed adept at scheming and seeking connections. You didn’t refute it at all. But now you’ve suddenly become eloquent and articulate?”
Li Zhizhi widened her eyes slightly and explained, “Your Highness, you’ve misunderstood. I had no ulterior motives. Upon careful consideration, Your Highness is right. In this world, there are countless types of people. Some are born noble like trees, just as Your Highness is, while others are born humble like grass, such as myself. If a vine doesn’t cling to a tree, it can only creep along the ground, trampled upon by others until it quietly fades away.”
She gazed directly at Xiao Yan and continued, “This is merely an instinct for self-preservation. As long as one doesn’t harm others intentionally, what’s wrong with a vine attaching itself to a tree? I think scheming and seeking connections are not shameful at all.”
Her argument was well-founded and almost convincing. Xiao Yan held the letter in his hand and lightly tapped his palm, studying her intently as if trying to see through her clear, deep eyes. With a half-smile, he asked, “Are these your true thoughts?”
Li Zhizhi blushed slightly and replied, “Indeed, these are my genuine feelings, without a word of falsehood.”
Xiao Yan had never heard such a perspective before, where seeking favor from the powerful was defended so confidently. He couldn’t help but view Li Zhizhi in a new light. “You’re quite bold in your words. Aren’t you afraid that I might develop a dislike for you because of this?”
Xiao Yan…
Li Zhizhi looked at his slightly stunned expression, suddenly smiled and said, “Since Your Highness doesn’t like common women, why should I flatter and please? It’s better to be open and honest, speak the truth, and perhaps Your Highness will appreciate a woman of true character.”
Xiao Yan actually chuckled this time. “I must say, you speak your mind regardless of the situation.”
Li Zhizhi didn’t take offense and even raised an eyebrow slightly, saying, “Your Highness, you flatter me.”
For a moment, Xiao Yan didn’t know whether to praise Li Zhizhi for her frankness or to consider her clever for knowing how to strike the right balance, preventing any negative feelings, even if he initially had some resentment towards her.
After some serious consideration, Xiao Yan ultimately attributed these circumstances to Li Zhizhi’s good looks and the innocent appearance in her eyes. He thought he might have reacted differently if she had a sharp-tongued and unattractive appearance.
Just then, a voice from a young girl in the distance reached their ears; it was Xiao Rulei. Li Zhizhi naturally heard it too and said politely, “If Your Highness has no other matters, I will take my leave.”
Without waiting for Xiao Yan’s response, she respectfully curtsied and left with her book bag. As the slender figure of the young girl disappeared through the garden gate, Xiao Yan heard the footsteps of Xiao Rulei approaching. She asked angrily, “Did you hide my sweet pastries, Xiao Yan?”
Facing his sister’s inquiry, Xiao Yan calmly replied, “Where did you get sweet pastries from?”
Xiao Rule hesitated for a moment and then shook her head, saying, “Aunt gave them to me.”
Xiao Yan continued, “When did Aunt give you pastries? Why don’t I know about it?”
Xiao Rule gasped softly, quickly covered her mouth, and shook her head vigorously. Xiao Yan squinted his eyes and concluded, “You hid them secretly.”
“No, no!” Xiao Rule cried out guiltily and ran off. She didn’t notice her brother, who remained behind, casually took out a piece of sweet pastry from his pocket, opened it in a leisurely manner, and began to eat.
The cool breeze brought a faint chill, and Xiao Yan slowly savored the sweet pastry while contemplating the recent events. He brushed off the crumbs from his hand and suddenly noticed a bit of pure white drifting lightly in the wind. He instinctively reached out, and the snow-white fragment obediently landed on his fingertip. It was as thin as a petal of new snow in winter.
For some reason, the image of a scene he had seen before came to his mind—the young girl standing by the wall, draped in the radiant glow of the sunset, puffing her cheeks and gently blowing on a snow-white pear blossom petal….
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