Lady Lishu’s food was poisoned in the garden party and Maomao is tasked with finding out the culprit.
At the garden party, Maomao discerns that a dish she tastes is poisoned and soon concludes that the intended target was Lady Lishu.
The plot against Lady Lishu was foiled inadvertently by her own ladies-in-waiting, who had been tormenting her and swapped her meal with one containing an allergen.
Subsequently, a servant from the Garnet Pavilion is discovered dead, and speculation arises that she committed suicide, having been responsible for the attempt to poison Lady Lishu.
However, Maomao harbors doubts about this theory and shares her reservations with Master Jinshi.
In a separate incident, Lady Lishu receives an invitation to Lady Gyokuyou’s Pavilion for tea.
When served honey during the gathering, Lady Lishu’s expression turns to one of sheer terror, hinting at deeper complexities in the ongoing intrigues.
Maomao is then assigned to assist with an extensive cleanup at the Garnet Pavilion for several days.
During this period, she meticulously observes the behavior of all the servants there, paying particular attention to Lady Fengming, the head lady-in-waiting, and pondering her role in the ongoing events surrounding Lady Lishu.
A loyal servant
During the clean-up, Maomao comes across a pantry filled with jars of honey. She learns that Lady Fengming’s family owns an apiary which explains the abundance.
While relaying information to Master Jinshi, Maomao has a sudden realization and asks to meet with Lady Lishu urgently.
She confirms that Lady Lishu had an allergy to honey since she was a baby, hence her apprehension when she was served it at the Jade Pavillion.
Maomao also notices the concubine’s fearful reaction at the mention of Lady Fengming’s name and decides to do a little more research.
Master Gaoshun brings her history records from the library and Maomao finds out that Lady Ah-Duo had given birth around the time that the Emperor Dowager also gave birth.
However, her child passed soon after and everyone in the Garnet Pavilion took it hard.
Maomao hypothesizes that Lady Fengming fed the child honey, unaware of its toxic effects on children.
Years later, when she learns from Lady Lishu that honey can have that effect, she realizes that she was at fault for the baby’s death.
To keep her indiscretion a secret, she attempts to poison Lady Lishu because the young concubine had grown quite close to Lady Ah-Duo.
When confronted about this, Lady Fengming confesses to the truth, and Maomao has no choice but to report her crime.