Chapter 156 A Shame
Before Zhou Siming could answer, there was a sound of ritual music from outside. The Emperor had arrived. Zhou Siming breathed a sigh of relief.
He looked at Qin Miaomiao who was on the side, then withdrew his gaze and went out to greet the royal family members.
The Emperor and the Queen arrived at the Duke Qin Mansion together, and the Zhou family and all the guests saluted them. The Queen stepped forward and held Old Madam Zhou’s hand, “Mother.”
Old Madam Zhou couldn’t see her daughter often, so now her eyes were red. “Come on in, the dishes are already served. You came all the way here from the imperial palace. Don’t get a cold.”
The Emperor and the Queen sat on the table of honor and Old Madam Zhou sat beside the Queen. Most of the people present were envious of Old Madam Zhou for having a queen as her daughter.
There were very few people in the world whose birthday the Emperor would personally congratulate.
At the banquet, several cold dishes attracted much attention.
“Was this the preserved duck bought from Myriad Taste? If you want to buy one, you’ll have to queue up early in the morning. If you are a little bit late, it will be sold out.” “Wow, this preserved duck is really delicious. I can even take it as a snack.” “Yesterday morning, I sent my servant to buy some preserved ducks but only three were left, which were finished in just one meal.”
Consort Huai Li Lingling heard the words and said, “I went to visit Princess Jinghua a few days ago, and when I passed by the Qiao Mansion, it was full of the stench of poultry at their door.
“It turned out that more than 20 vendors were collecting chicken feathers, duck feathers, goose feathers, and duck blood at the door. The Princess Mansion’s air was completely polluted. Fortunately, it’s in winter. If it is summer, I can’t imagine how terrible it would smell.”
Consort Qi exclaimed, “Why were there so many chickens and ducks in the Qiao Mansion?”
Li Lingling said, “I heard that the preserved ducks and chickens were marinated and dried by Qiao Jinniang herself. I don’t mean to criticize her, but since Qiao Jinniang is already a noble lady in Chang’an, she really shouldn’t do those menial jobs that only countryside business women will do anymore.
“It’s fine she is laughed at, but what if the vendors disturb the princesses?”
Hearing Li Lingling’s words, many ladies and girls looked at Qiao Jinniang in shock.
Was Qiao Jinniang stupid? As a noble lady, why did she process these poultry and livestock by herself?
Li Lingling covered her nose and said with disgust, “Ew, I still can’t forget that stench.”
Qiao Jinniang sat on the same table with Li Lingling, so she heard her words and said, “I have already sent apology gifts to the princesses, and in order not to disturb them, I’ve asked those vendors to come before dawn.
“If Consort Huai didn’t go to Princess Jinghua’s mansion before dawn, I’m afraid you wouldn’t be able to meet them.”
Li Lingling smiled and said, “I said this out of kindness. Miss Qiao, you’re no longer a businesswoman. It’s a shame for you to do these menial jobs for a few taels of silver, isn’t
Qiao Jinniang said indifferently, “A shame? Why? Food is the paramount necessity of the people and farming is the most important thing for the people. Why are preserved ducks and chickens only available during the Spring Festival?
“This is because people can’t afford eating it every day. “They also can’t afford eating chicken or duck in one day. the South is not as dry as in Chang’an. If the chickens or ducks are not dried, they will go bad very soon even in winter.
“That’s why there are preserved ducks and chickens, which can store chickens and ducks for a longer period of time.
“It would have been a shame that I had forgotten the paramount necessity of the people just because I am rich now. Besides, I have paid taxes. And considering the people, I sell these preserved ducks and chickens at a low price and can hardly make any money.
“The money I can make from the preserved ducks and chickens shipped to the South is even less than those I can earn from a single dish in Tasty Pavilion. Plus with the customs duties on the road, I’m actually selling them at a loss. I didn’t do this for money. It’s just a tradition to celebrate the Spring Festival.
“Everyone here is very wealthy and has never suffered from starvation. Even a cabbage you eat will be matched with four or five chickens and ducks, so you certainly don’t know how difficult ordinary people’s lives are. Many farmers can have a bite of meat only during the Spring Festival.”
Tong Yingying sneered coldly. “Since County Mistress Jia’an pities ordinary people so much, why did you spend more than 10,000 taels of silver to buy a golden tuinga? Do you know how much meat the people can eat with 10,000 taels of silver?”
Qiao Jinniang said, “You’re so funny, I earned 10,000 taels of silver myself. Why should I use it to buy meat for unrelated people?
“Isn’t it the duty of imperial censors to think why the common people can’t even afford a bite of meat?”
Tong Yingying was extremely annoyed, “You…”
Duke Anyuan closed his eyes. Gosh, their Qiao family was going to lose their Absolution Token!
Emperor Huilin asked coldly, “Is it true that ordinary people can’t even afford a bite of meat?”
Qiao Jinniang saluted and said, “To be exact, they usually keep chickens and ducks to lay eggs. so they will only kill and eat them during the Spring Festival.”
“Life today is already very good for many people, but it is still impossible for them to eat meat every day.” Old Madam Zhou said to Duke Wu, “Tell our manors not to deliver anything to us during the Spring Festival and just distribute the crops and poultry to the tenants.” Duke Wu said, “Yes, mother.”
Qiao Jinniang realized that there was something wrong with what she said to refute Li Lingling, so she said, “Now it’s a time of peace and prosperity, and the people’s life will get better and better. Making preserved ducks and chickens is just a tradition passed down from ancient times to celebrate Spring Festival.”
Emperor Huilin took a piece of preserved duck and said, “How come it’s not salty? I remember that preserved duck is very salty.”
Qiao Jinniang answered, “Although salt is a good thing, it’s not good to eat it too much. Except for soldiers and peasants who work hard and sweat a lot, salt should be eaten less, so I didn’t put in much salt.”
Duke Anyuan flattered the Emperor. “Your Majesty, the people don’t have to work day and night, so they sweat less and don’t need so much salt, which shows how successful your rule has been. And the preserved ducks and chickens that only ordinary people would eat in the past are now served on the nobles’ dining table. It can be seen how united the officials and the people are under your reign…”
Qiao Jinniang really admired Duke Anyuan. He could always find a place to flatter the Emperor.
All the other officials followed Duke Anyuan and flattered the Emperor.
Li Lingling said, “That being said, County Mistress is the biological mother of the imperial grandson. It’s beneath her dignity to do these things.”
Queen Zhou snorted. “Beneath her dignity? Queen Dugu of the founding emperor often personally farmed. Isn’t it commendable for County Mistress Jia’an not to forget the essentials of the country?
“The first Duke Anyuan donated 1,000 mu of fertile land inherited from his ancestors during the famine that occurred three years after our country was founded to alleviate the food shortage.
“Now Jinniang, as his descendant, still bore the people in mind and made preserved ducks and chickens for the common people. “But Consort Huai, what about you? Do you still think this is a shame?”
Li Lingling couldn’t believe that Queen Zhou would defend Qiao Jinniang like this, so she hurriedly said, “I know I was wrong. I’m sorry, Your Majesty.”