Since that day, Prince Gong missed Meigui. When he went to palace, when he finished country discussion, he usually walked around for a moment, wished that he could see her. But unfortunately, she did not show. Prince Gong did not dare to ask anyone. Eunuch and palace maid were all along the way, paid respect to the prince. He only nodded, he wanted to ask about niece of West Empress Dowager, but his mouth was locked, could not open even a little.
Missing someone was kind of hard task. Every time, heart bounced. Heart pushed strongly. Heart pushed feet to walk. It was called love illness. Only one way to cure, was to let eyes see the object that heart wanted.
His mind towards Meigui, only him knew, no one realized even General Xing. He accompanied Prince Gong. He wondered why he liked to wend around the palace that before he never did. What was in his mind was that perhaps the prince was tired and wanted to take tour to release pressure. He escorted his master silently.
For several days, he did not accomplish his wish.
One day, after the discussion, Prince Gong directly went to have audience with Empress Dowager Cixi. Cixi agreed him to see. They exchanged comments about last topic they had talk. This time was not serious. They seemed calm down.
Little Li came into the chamber and queen Cixi asked her servant, ‘Any matter, Little Li?’
‘Your highness, the meal is already prepared,’ said Little Li.
Prince Gong heard that, he apologized to Cixi, ‘Please, your highness pardons me that I distract your meal.’
‘It’s fine,’ said Cixi. ‘Country is more important.’ Then she turned to Little Li, ‘What’s about pan- fried fish?’
‘Yes, your highness,’ Little Li.
‘Well done. Meigui loves to eat fish,’ said Cixi and she turned to Prince Gong, ‘6th Prince, you have lunch with me.’
‘May your highness pardon me. I have tasks that I have to take my leave now,’ said Prince Gong.
‘I won’t constrain you,’ said Cixi.
The prince paid respect and left. When he walked out, he tried to move his eyes around the chamber in order to see the Empress Dowager’s niece, but no sight of her. Where she hid?
Prince Gong left for his chamber with sadness. He really wanted to see her. When could he meet her face to face?
Talk about Ci’an. She saw her sister and her brother-in-law did not argue these days, they seemed talk nicely and with clam. She thought of building another chance to enhance her family members’ relationship. She called Cixi for lunch. She sent Grandma Hua to invite Prince Gong as he just left the discussion chamber.
‘6th Prince,’ Grandma Hua paid respected to Prince Gong, ‘East Empress Dowager would like to invite you to lunch together with West Empress Dowager.’
‘Well, please tell your highness that I want to go home to prepare myself first,’ said Prince Gong.
‘Yes, lord,’ said Grandma Hua.
‘Wait,’ said Prince Gong.
‘Yes, lord?’ said Grand Ma Hua.
‘Only Empress Dowagers attend the lunch?’ said Prince Gong.
‘There will be East Empress Dowager, West Empress Dowager and niece of West Empress Dowager,’ said Grandma Hua.
Hearing that, Prince Gong was glad. He tried to hide his feeling by keep his face expression.
‘I need to tell cook to prepare food. So, I need to excuse myself,’ said Grandma Hua.
‘Can I know what food will be served today?’ said Prince Gong.
‘Like normal…’ said Grandma Hua.
‘Then can I add a menu?’ said Prince Gong.
‘Yes, lord,’ said Grandma Hua.
‘I want to add pan-fried fish,’ claimed Prince Gong.
‘I will tell the cook to prepare for you,’ said Grandma Hua and then she left.
The prince hurried to chamber, take shower, change cloth and came back to palace. He arrived at the park before everyone. His heart beat for he knew he would see Meigui today. He would see her with closer distance. He would see her face clearly. He would hear her voice. And he hoped he would be able to start connection with her from this time.
The two Empress Dowagers were coming. Behind them, it was Meigui. The prince lowered his knees and bowed his head to the two ladies. The top ladies gave sign to him stand-up. Then Cixi asked her niece to pay respect to the prince.
Meigui followed her queen aunt. She paid respect to the prince with behavior and mouth-speaking. The prince gave her a sign he received her respect. He smiled in his heart, at last he heard her voice.
The four persons went to sit on their seat. Grandma Hua brought the food to table. Ci’an saw pan-fried fish. She remembered that she did not call this menu. She asked her maid, ‘Grandma Hua, what is this?’
‘It is from the 6th Prince,’ said Grandma Hua.
‘Oh,’ Ci’an looked happy and smiled to Prince Gong, ‘I like eating fish.’
She used chopsticks picking fish meat to her mouth. She behaved she adored the menu but in fact, she did not like it at all. She liked fish, but not pan-fried fish. In her own opinion, the prince knew she liked fish so he ordered this food for her but in royal palace kitchen had fish deserving to be pan-fried fish only.
Cixi noticed. She knew her sister well. She knew that Ci’an did not like such menu. She knew the prince did not like food. She knew the prince knew she did not like this food. This food was prepared for her niece. She reminded the day she had met with the prince and she mentioned the food by accident. Cixi smiled little bit.
Well, not only Cixi but also Granma Hua. She knew her master did not like this fish food. She began to have suspicion when she saw the prince did not eat the food but, in stead, Meigui seemed adore the food. She noticed eyes of the prince directed to Meigui. The prince sat opposite to Meigui. His eyes kept on her. She saw Cixi smiled sweetly. She could predict that Cixi realized that Prince Gong had feeling on her niece. Cixi did not talk much today. She smiled. Her smile was full of trick. But her master, Empress Dowager Ci’an purely did not know anything.
Look at Meigui. She stayed silent. Her eyes met with the princes’ eyes once or twice, but still, she did not realize.. no, actually, she felt his eyes were strange when he looked at her but because she was still young, she did not care anything beside of eating and listening.
The lunch meeting was finished. The prince expressed thank to the two Empress Dowagers. Ci’an and Cixi – including Megui – left. Prince Gong stood and looked from behind. Then he went to another direction with smile.
On the way, Ci’an smiled. She was happy. She thought of Prince Gong that ordered fish menu. She still thought he ordered for her. Grandma Hua walked behind her. She saw her idea. She thought she should tell her master or not. She did not want to break her master heart but she did not want her misunderstand, the more hope the more hurt. She decided to tell the Empress Dowager.
‘Your highness, I have something to tell,’ said Grandma Hua.
‘What is it?’ claimed Ci’an.
‘About pan-fried fish,’ said Grandma Hua.
Ci’an stopped and turned face to Grandma Hua. She looked in her eyes. Then she nodded. She walked to chamber then she ordered everyone out of the room and told Grandma Hua to say.
‘I think the 6th Prince ordered the food for niece of West Empress Dowager,’ said Grandma Hua.
‘What do you say?’ Ci’an looked surprised.
‘The prince does not know you like fish,’ said Grandma Hua. Her words awoke Ci’an from dream. Her face was like blossom flower and now changed to sad like dried flower. Yes, Grandma Hua was correct. He did not know she liked fish and he had no reason to know what she liked what she did not like. She sat on chair, listening to her maid pointing out.
‘At lunch, I saw the prince did not eat the fish nor the West Empress Dowager. Only you and Meigui. You don’t like fried fish, I know. And Meigui, I saw she ate it a lot.’
‘You mean?’ said Ci’an.
Grandma Hua lowered her head. She did not dare to speak frank word. She knew the Empress Dowager understood what she meant.
‘Does Cixi know?’ said Ci’an.
‘I think the West Empress Dowager finds out,’ said Grandma Hua.
‘I see,’ Ci’an stated with sad voice. She felt a stick hit into her heart. Not yet, it did not bleeding. It just bit the surface of the heart. Hurt little bit.
She stayed silently until night. When she was in bed, she did not close her eyes. She did not cry because tears already dried inside.
Grandma Hua felt sorry for her master. But she did not know how to help her. She could only be sad together with her.