Three days later, the Empress came to check the results. Ah Jin performed extremely well, and Zhang Mama couldn't find anything wrong with her. Ah Jin seized the opportunity to say that she wanted a troupe to perform at the palace. The Empress, of course, disagreed. Ah Jin said she would not learn if she couldn't watch the performance.
The Empress was furious but there was nothing she could do about it. As the body belonged to Ah Jin, there was no way she wanted anyone to force her to do it.
So the opera troupe entered the palace without a hitch, and Ah Jin found the troupe master and gave him a script for a man-turned-puppet and told him to do it. On the day of the performance, Ah Jin invited many imperial concubines, but unfortunately, the Emperor was too busy to come.
The performance went well, and the final performance was a shadow puppet show prepared by Ah Jin, the script was written by her and the plot was very simple.
The story was about two double-act performers who always made mistakes when performing, which led to poor business, and then the guy turned the performers into puppeteers by somehow getting demon magic.
When he had made enough money, he opened a shop to sustain his life. The puppets were abandoned after being used, ending with the miserable death.
The crowd was heartbroken, how could there be such pitiful people in the world.
Ah Jin followed the Empress back to her bedchamber, so she fell into her arms and cried, "Mother, the people in that play were so miserable. They were used as puppets for the rest of their lives."
The Empress patted her back lightly, and said angrily, "I told you not to watch the opera performance, but you didn't listen, and now you're crying sadly."
Ah Jin retorted, "But Mother if this daughter obeys you and Zhang Mama in everything, does that make me a puppet on a string?"
The Empress said, "So you were hoping for me here. You went to all that trouble just because you didn't want to learn the rules. Learning the rules is just for your own good, it doesn't make you do everything you're told."
"But Mother, when you wanted your daughter to learn the rules, you didn't allow her to do anything that didn't fit the rules. If everything is according to the rules, what would a daughter be if she were not a puppet? A puppet is one who can only do what is prescribed, not what he or she wants to do. Mother, I don't want to be a puppet, I don't want to die a tragic death."
The Empress scolded, "What nonsense, you are the First Princess of this dynasty, how can you die tragically? What do you want?"
Ah Jin immediately said, "Daughter will learn the rules, but daughter doesn't want to use the rules for everything, instead of sticking to the rules and not knowing how to be flexible."
The Empress looked at her beloved daughter and softened once again, "That said, you have to learn the rules well. Mother will not care so much, okay?"
Ah Jin hugged the Empress happily, "Great! Mother is the best."
The Empress poked her on the head, "Little flatterer."
Ah Jin asked again, "So can I still leave the palace to play?"
The Empress said sternly, "You are not allowed to get an inch, you will soon be of age. Your Father won't allow you to run out anymore."
Ah Jin was disappointed, but that's okay. After all, once she married, she couldn't see her every day.
Ah Jin felt that the original owner's situation was not caused by one person, but rather a multifaceted environmental problem. A monstrous product in the context of the larger society.
Zhang Mama's harshness, the Empress's persecution, the Emperor's alienation was a step by step process that pushed the original owner to eventually lost herself. The Marquis, however, gave the original owner a fatal blow.
No one was at fault in this thing but everyone had it wrong.
The Empress and the Emperor both loved the original owner, but in the wrong way, but there was nothing wrong with loving their child.
Rong Yi didn't abandon the original owner even if he couldn't get along with her, but what was missing was communication and understanding.
Madam Marquis and the Old Lady also wanted to love their children and grandchildren but in the wrong way.
If there really was a mistake, it would be the servants who hid in the back of the mountain to criticize the master. From the perspective of Ah Jin as a modern person, though, complaining about the boss wasn't a mortal mistake.
It had to be said that the original owner's life was truly unlucky and miserable.
Time passed, and Ah Jin was about to reach her fifteenth birthday.
Same familiar recipe, hence familiar taste. The Emperor decreed that she would be crowned Princess of Anping and establish a Princess's Residence, with her land title in the city of Anping as well. By decree, she was to marry the son of the Marquis of Qinghe, Rong Yi, in May of the following year.
Ah Jin happily received the decree and began to prepare for marriage in her palace. Her heart was happy as the mission had entered its second half and would soon be over.
People from the Marquis of Qinghe had mixed emotions, even Rong Yi was in a daze. Recalling the question she had asked two years earlier at the Lantern Festival, did she already know something at that time? Rong Yi felt it was impossible. The Emperor wouldn't tell her such things even if she was favored.
The Princes, despite her glamour, meant that he would have no connection to the court from now on. He was the only firstborn son of the Marquis of Qinghe. The Emperor currently had a clear line of succession.
Even if a concubine son joined the court as an official, his official position would not be very high.
The Emperor was overtly promoting and covertly demoting them, constraining the Marquis of Qinghe. They would not resist to the death, which was how it had been done in all the past dynasties. They received the Imperial Decree with thanks and proceeded with the wedding arrangements.
The wedding of a Princess was by no means simpler than an ordinary wedding, with numerous rules and etiquette. The Princess had to arrange for her servants as well, and the servants were to be counted as a dowry.
In other words, these servants were neither counted as servants of the Marquis nor were they to be regulated along with. Madam Marquis was so busy her head was spinning.
Time flew by, and in the blink of an eye, it was the day of the big wedding.
The Marquis's drums were noisy and firecrackers rang out. Rong Yi wore a big red wedding dress, embroidered with mandarin ducks and birds. He rode on a tall black horse with a large red flower tied in front of it. Where he passed by, it was lively and bustling with blowing and beating, sprinkling coins and candies.
According to the rules, he should ride a horse around the Imperial City to announce his marriage and start a family. There was no need to enter the palace to welcome the bride. The Princess would leave the palace on her own, after bidding farewell to her parents.