The bright lanterns formed a long dragon that twisted and turned without end. Beneath, people were boisterous and lively.
A wisp of breeze carried the scent of fireworks to the shipyard and came to Ah Jin's face.
She was in a trance and saw again the day she sat by the restaurant's window.
The streets were bustling and full of people.
Many tourists were standing on the shore watching the boats come and go.
The boats were lit up with colorful lights, women laughing, men reciting poems, and girls playing the piano.
In a poetic line, you watched the bridge's scenery and the people watching the view from upstairs.
All the servants were sent down in a restaurant, and the young girls chatted and joked freely.
Ah Jin took a glass of wine and walked to the window.
She looked out at the bustling crowd outside, and Rong Yi wondered what was on her mind.
"Is there something on the Princess's mind?"
Rong Yi came over and sat down by the window.
Ah Jin smiled sweetly.
"Rong Yi's words are heavy. I'm just upset thinking that I'll be back in the palace later."
Rong Yi looked at the young girl's bright smile in front of him, feeling his face slightly hot.
It should be that he had drunk a little too much wine.
Rong Yi was still stunned to hear the person in front of him asked, "What do you think about the bestowal of marriage?"
He replied in a deep voice, " A parents' order, matchmaker's words, and the Imperial Grace are all irresistible."
"Does it matter even if you don't like the person in question?"
This time it was Rong Yi's turn to laugh.
"As long as you don't like anyone's heart before getting married, you will be pleased with your future spouse after getting married."
Ah Jin looked at him. Was this person stupid? Never mind, to hear that he was not sick of bestowing marriages was enough.
As for the rest, Ah Jin did not want to bother.
Rong Yi knew that princesses were all about being given in marriage. Was it because she didn't want to?
"Is it because the princess doesn't want to be given in marriage that she's troubled?"
Ah Jin drained her cup of wine and replied, "Not really, willing or unwilling, the outcome will not change. Since it won't change, then accept it openly. Let's not talk about me. Who among all the people here can make the decision for their own marriage?"
They were not commoners.
Their marriages had too many things mixed into them: family, interests, status, and politics.
The officials' children also had a bit of choice, and they could propose marriage if the person their hearts desired was of the right status.
As for the prince and princess, it was all based on selecting candidates to give wedding.
It was tough to meet a person who was pleasing to the heart.
The next day after returning to the palace, the Emperor summoned Ah Jin to inquire about the Lantern Festival.
Ah Jin acted like a little girl who had never seen anything before, excitedly described to the Emperor what she saw and heard at the Lantern Festival.
The Emperor asked her if she had made friends with anyone, and Ah Jin described the people she had befriended.
"The little princess of the Prince's Mansion is lovely and lively. Miss of the Marquis of Qinghe is gentle and considerate. Miss of the Government Minister's family is sincere and generous. They are all excellent playmates."
His Majesty asked again, "What about the gentlemen of each family?"
Ah Jin also replied, "The first son of the Prime Minister's family is steady and mature. The youngest son of the General is honest and simple. The youngest son of the Minister of Rites is gentle and courteous. The son of the Marquis's Family is also an elegant and humble person."
The Emperor was relieved to see her talk freely.
It didn't seem like she was getting a taste of love, so he didn't stop her from going out to play.
For the next two years, Ah Jin lived happily like an immortal.
Half a month away from the palace, day after day, running out to play crazy.
The Empress even couldn't stop her.
The Empress blocked Ah Jin's entrance just after returning to the palace before even changing her clothes.
When the Empress looked at Ah Jin's outfit, she was furious.
Her black hair was done in a man's hair bundle.
She was wearing a man's light blue tunic, a man's jade pendant at her waist, holding a folded fan, and her stride was bold, which was not a bit of a princess.
"Spread the word of this Empress. From today onwards, the princess is not allowed to leave the palace. Whoever dares to let the princess out of the palace will be severely punished."
Ah Jin was dumbfounded, "Mother!"
The Empress was furious. "You don't need to say much. This Empress has already talked to the Emperor. From today onwards, the Emperor won't ask too much about your affairs. You can learn the rules in the palace."
Ah Jin resisted, "The rules I have already learned them. No need to learn them again."
The Empress was unmoved, "Having learned the rules of the palace before, now you have to start learning in-laws and daughters-in-law, management chores, and rules between husband and wife. You are going to be a grown woman next year. These must be learned. You will be taught by Zhang Mama. She has done extremely well."
Ah Jin bit down, "Yes, daughter obeys."
The next day, Zhang Mama brought the rules to hand over, which woke Ah Jin up from her sweet sleep.
A day later, Ah Jin felt that she was already a dead fish.
It seemed that it was time to move in for help.
Ah Jin wrote to Qin Lei, asking him to find some folk entertainers whom she would let into the palace to perform.