My heart ached for the death of Sweet Corn. It is a it is necessity for the plot I’ve in mind.
I knew that it was futile to have the physician come. He’s an hour away from here. It’ll take two hours before he arrived. I kept hanging on the hope that Sweet Corn can be saved.
“I’m really sorry, Your Highness. This lowly one can’t save your baby.”
Deep in my heart I knew it already. Hearing it from him, I went hysterical. He gave me something and all went black before my eyes.
When I woke up I saw Lian Er cleaning me up.
“Is Sweet Corn alright? He’s safe, right?”
I touched my belly.
“Just give me one kick, sweetheart.”
Lian Er tried to console me.
I cried until I have no power anymore. Then I felt asleep again. I dreamt about my family and Sweet Corn. So he’s a boy after all. They’re calling me. They want me to come to them. My father stretched his hand to me. I wanted to take his hands when I heard Xuan Chen’s voice telling me not to go.
I woke up again. I was drenched in sweat. I’ve fever. I felt horrible. Will it be better if I die? Suddenly I want to end all my suffering. My family left me. My child left me. What’s the significance of living when all I do is suffer? Death will be more pleasurable.
Against my will, the fever went down. For the next few days I was a person without soul. I didn’t eat, I didn’t wash myself, didn’t do anything. I sat in my room, staring at the little clothe that I made for Sweet Corn. Maybe Sweet Corn knew that I and his father don’t have a future. That’s why he left this world. He knew that we will be unhappy with each other and didn’t want to burden me. I tried to think that way to make the pain less. It didn’t help much.
The physician came to look after me. I was like a ghost. I lost much weight and was really pale. I didn’t even recognize myself in the mirror anymore.
“You need to do something about her. She’s been like that for a few days already. She didn’t eat anything. If this goes on she’ll die.”
“There’s nothing wrong with her body. She can have more children. This is a sickness of the heart. As it is sickness of the heart there’s no medicine to cure it. Give her some time.”
“Come, eat something.”
I didn’t respond.
“You need to eat something to regain your strength.”
“What’s the point? I don’t want to go anywhere. Just let me stay here.”
“How long do you plan on staying like that?! Don’t you want revenge for your child?”
It was the first time she yelled at me. She has never dared to yell at me, but I was so surprised that I didn’t even know she yelled at me. I stood up glaring at her.
“What are you talking about?! Didn’t I miscarry by accident? Was it planned?”
“The physician said you can’t miscarry like that. You and the child were fine at his previous visit. Something must have triggered you.”
“Did you check all the things I’ve eaten?”
“Yes, none of them were harmful for a pregnant woman.”
“Then what could’ve triggered me? What did I eat that day?”
“Beside the porridge I made for you, there were some dumplings the other maids made for you. I’ve eaten them and have them checked. They were fine.”
“Is there still some left? Bring them for me.”
I checked them. There was really nothing suspicious about them. Was it the porridge Lian Er made me? I shook my head. I must be really paranoid to think that Lian Er will do something like that. Lian Er will never betray me.
I took a bite of the dumpling. Since it’s been a few days, some of them were rotten. Aside from the rotting scent I smelled a faint scent of oleander. I took one more bite without the meat. It’s definitely oleander. Why didn’t I smell it the first time?
“Did you spray this with oleander powder?”
“No, but oleander isn’t bad for a pregnant woman,”
“It isn’t bad but when you use it together with 桂枝 ( guizi, ramulus cinnamomi), it can be fatal.”
I’ve been using ramulus cinnamomi for nausea and vomiting. Together with oleander it will harm a pregnant woman. Someone must’ve known it. I slammed my fist on the table. I really must thank my mom. She’s been telling me about such tricks to prepare me for the worst. I, like a fool, fell right into it.
“Bring me the maid who made the dumplings.”
I was sitting at the table when the maid arrived.
“Did Your Highness call for this lowly one?”
“Did you make this?”
“Why did you sprinkle oleander powder on them?”
“I thought Your Highness would like the taste of oleander.”
I pushed the plate from the table. It fell with a clattering sound on the floor. She flinched.
“Stop kidding. You sprayed oleander on them but you made the meat with so much flavor, that it covered the oleander scent. Do you still deny it?”
“Please spare me. I only followed orders.”
“Who gave you the orders?”
“The empress dowager. It was really not me.
“How dare you blame the empress dowager? You dare lie to me? Was it Consort De?”
“I swear in my mother’s name, I didn’t lie. It was really the empress dowager. I wouldn’t do it, if it wasn’t for someone higher than Your Highness. She promised to take care of my family. I’m just a lowly maid with no power, how dare I harm anyone?’
“So this lowly maid dares to harm the heir of the throne? You are really brave.”
“Spare me this one time. I promise I won’t do it again.”
I signaled for some guards to drag her away.
“How do you plan on dealing with her?”
I took a sip of tea and looked coldly at Lian Er.
Comment: This chapter will mark the beginning of the change in An Ning. She’ll no longer be the docile girl.