Unwilling to Lose Either the Palm or the Back of One’s Hands1

Seeing his response or lack thereof, Grand Eldest Gongzhu Ningyang felt a deep sense of powerlessness.

On the one hand Rouwan-junzhu is her biological daughter, but the other is her grandson.

As they say, both the palm and the back of one’s hands are made of flesh.

She was reluctant to part with either side, and wanted to protect them both.

But things didn’t go according to her wishes, and the mother-child relationship between Rouwan-junzhu and Li Ji has all but completely broken down.

Even if she used all her strength and influence to deal with this matter, she still couldn’t mend the relationship between this mother and son.

Ningyang-gongzhu is already very old.

Even though she took good care of herself, there were still many deep lines on her face, her hair had already gone white, and her pupils were slightly glassy.

She let out a long sigh, her tone full of helplessness and the gravity of one who has lived through many great changes in life.

“Never mind.
You should try to go back to Duke Zhen’s Residence as little as possible in the future.
Perhaps after a while, your mother’s mind will become clear again, and you’ll be able to have a good chat.

Li Ji didn’t respond to this.

Ningyang-gongzhu fiddled with the white jade beads on her wrist and sighed.

“I heard that Hua-ruren stepped forward to protect you this time.
It seems like the scholar Zhili from the Bureau of Astronomy was correct.
You’ve killed too much, and the evil energy you’ve accumulated is too strong, which can easily lead to disasters.

Fortunately you married Hua-ruren in time, and she was able to prevent this disaster for you.

She deserves credit for this matter.
I’ll ask someone to send her some rewards later.”

Li Ji didn’t believe a word of what those quacks at the Bureau of Astronomy had to say.

But he didn’t refute his grandmother’s words either.
Instead, he responded casually:


Ningyang-gongzhu earnestly reassured him:

“You don’t have to worry about Li Lou potentially taking your place.
Even though you both have the Li surname, you are the only one who can inherit the title and residence of Duke Zhen.

Later, I will personally go to Duke Zhen’s Residence to have a good talk with your mother, and send Li Lou back to where he belongs.”

“There’s no need for you to worry about such a trivial matter,” Li Ji replied casually.
“I can handle it myself.”

Ningyang-gongzhu didn’t insist, and instead changed the topic to discuss other matters.

“The two Han-shi2 will enter your household and arrive at your residence in two days.
You should prepare well after you return.
Once the Han-shi enters your household, they’ll be able to help serve you alongside Hua-ruren.

In the future, you can entrust all the trivial matters of the inner court3 to them.
You can just focus on resting in peace and recuperating.”

Originally she was planning on sending the two concubines to Zhao-wang‘s residence tonight, but in consideration of Hua-ruren who was injured after saving Zhao-wang, she decided to give Hua-ruren some face and send the two concubines after Hua-ruren recovered from her injuries.

This way, Hua-ruren will also have more opportunities to spend time alone with Zhao-wang, which can be considered a reward in disguise for her.

Li Ji responded indifferently:


There were already many women in his inner court.
Most of them were arranged by Ningyang-gongzhu, others were sent by the Emperor and Empress.

After those women arrived at his residence, Li Ji immediately sent them all into the inner court, so they’ve never even seen his face.

At this moment, these women were gathering in front of the Liuli Pavilion where Hua Manman lives.

They were all dressed gorgeously and painted a picture of swaying flowering branches, and they had come to pay respects to Hua-ruren who had just officially entered the household.

Hua Manman looked at this large group of orioles and swallows4 chattering pleasantly, gathered over single man, in front of her.
She couldn’t help but sigh in her heart.
To be a Wangye in ancient times really is fortunate; to think that one man can have so many beautiful young ladies.

Ever since they were sent to Zhao-wang‘s residence, they haven’t even seen Zhao-wang‘s face, so naturally none of them have a rank or title.

Therefore, when they all bowed to Hua Manman, they all addressed themselves as “servant”.

Hua Manman didn’t waste time putting on airs.
After she exchanged greetings with them with a smile, she signaled for them to leave.

However, two girls were unwilling to leave.





“unwilling to lose either the palm or the back of one’s hands” = an idiom meaning that means you cannot choose between one or the other because you’re fond of both options.
The literal translation is “both the palm and back of one’s hands are made of flesh”.
I’d love to know the story behind this idiom if there is one. -shi = suffix that denotes a person’s family name.
Think of it like how you’d use “Miss [Last Name]”.
This is also the same -shi suffix of Hua Manman’s mother, He-shi. Inner Court = basically the personal apartments where everyone officially registered in the household resides.
Managing an inner court includes managing a household’s personnel and concubines.
Can also be translated as “back palace”. “orioles and swallows” = originally this just meant “a crowd of women chattering pleasantly, like the sounds of orioles and swallows.” Now it has a more derogatory meaning of “a crowd of women all going after the same goal/man”.

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