Published at 29th of June 2019 07:49:07 AM

Chapter 109

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Molan's Marriage, Rulan's Impatience, Minglan's Good Mood (1)

The next morning, Minglan sat in front of the washstand, a big cotton towel wrapped around her chest, while Yancao was helping her wash her face. Dangju walked into the room gingerly, leaned over and whispered in Minglan’s ear, “In the third quarter of Yin (3:30-3:45), Concubine Lin was tied up and carried out of our mansion. I hear that she is sent to a village estate belonging to Old Madam Sheng.” If she was sent to Wang shi’s village estates, she would die within three months.

Minglan gave no indication and asked leisurely, “I heard the sound of crying and cursing from the Forested Pavilion all night. What happened?”

Dangju blushed at once. She cast a glance at Yancao and replied under her breath, “Last night after Old Madam punished Concubine Lin, Liu Mama brought Jufang a bowl of liquid herbal medicine…After taking it… she got a violent bellyache and cursed Concubine Lin the whole night. She was in continual pain... until she gave birth to the stillborn baby at daybreak.”

Minglan felt sad about Jufang’s unfortunate experience and fell silent.

When Minglan went to give her greetings to Old Madam Sheng and Wang shi, she didn’t saw Hai shi because the young madam was busy dealing with the servants of the Forested Pavilion. Hai shi punished all the servants including stewards, old female servants, young maids and manservants. Some of them were sold and the rest were driven out of Sheng Mansion. Concubine Lin’s trusted servants, Xia Xian and his family, who had made a great contribution to the success of Molan seducing Liang Han, became a thorn in the flesh of Hai shi. So she searched their house thoroughly and confiscated their property.

In the following days, Hai shi wore a cold smile and began to clean up the whole Sheng Mansion. All the servants related to Concubine Lin, including the maids of the House of Mountain Moon and the kitchen purchaser, were given the severe penalties. Finally, Concubine Lin’s influence having lasted for 20 years in Sheng Mansion completely disappeared. It was considered improper to talk about elders’ mistakes. Afraid that his son would be an immoral person like Molan, Changbai often stared at his one-year-old son, Quan, with a straight face and thought about what he could do to educate Quan and guide him to be an all-rounder. Quan was sensitive. So he grinned at the sight of Changbai’s serious face to show that he was a well-behaved boy.

Sheng Hong went to Hall of Peaceful Ages three times a day and pretended to be a filial son in front of Old Madam Sheng, chatting with his legal mother with an obsequious smile. After leaving Hall of Peaceful Ages, he usually went to scold Changfeng to relieve his tight facial muscles resulting from smiling for a long time. Wang shi became a grumbler like Xiang Lin’s wife whose pet phrase was “my poor Mao”. Different from Xiang Lin’s wife, Wang shi’s opening sentence was “my poor Rulan”. She said this more than ten times a day.

T/N note:

Xiang Lin’s wife: a poor woman in Lu Xun’s short story, the new year’s sacrifice.

Every time the ladies went to the main house and greeted their legal mother, Wang shi always took Rulan’s hands, stared at her with sad eyes and sobbed for a long while. Minglan stood by and draw a conclusion: Wang shi was extremely grieved as if she was in a memorial meeting held for a distinguished leader.

Two days later, Rulan ran out of her patience. She shook Wangshi’s hands off and roared, “I’m not dead yet!” Then she left straight away.

Wang shi turned to Minglan with a handkerchief covering her eyes and said in sorrow, “Good girl. Please go to visit your fifth sister as often as possible and advise her not to worry too much… Keep her away from needles and scissors…”

Minglan nodded obediently and felt that Wang shi was not familiar with her daughter's character at all. If Rulan held a sharp weapon in her hands, she must want to kill Molan instead of herself.

Wang shi wiped her tears with the handkerchief. The wrinkles around her eyes were clear though she painted heavily. She stared dreamily at Minglan and said slowly, “You look like Concubine Wei but your nose is like Master’s… Do you still remember Concubine Wei?”

Minglan was dazed for a second and shook her head honestly, “No.” In fact, she had never seen Concubine Wei who had died when she had come to this world.

Wang shi let her eyes settle upon Minglan’s delicate beautiful face and leaned against the soft cushion on the bed to relax her back muscles, and then said leisurely, “You are as honest and well-behaved as Concubine Wei. Rulan is your elder sister but she is wayward. You have always tolerated her over the years. Minglan, I know it’s not easy for you.”

Minglan immediately lowered her head with shyness and replied, “It doesn’t matter. We are sisters.” She felt that Wang shi was not familiar with her character.

Wang shi drew Minglan close to her and patted the young girl’s hands while sighing, “Although you are not my biological daughter, I have treated you as my own child these years. You are a good-looking girl of good character. I always want to marry you into a noble family. Alas… Molan, this immoral girl ruined your good marriage.”

Minglan whispered with a flush in her cheeks, “Old Madam always says to me that marriages are made in heaven. Perhaps this good marriage is a god’s gift to Sister Molan. We are both daughters of the Sheng family. No matter who marries into Marquis Yongchang Household, I shall be happy.” She was puzzled as to why Wang shi said such things to her at this time.

Wang shi frowned, her spirits suddenly lifting for some unknown reason as she raised her voice, “Silly girl. Do you know why Marchioness Yongchang came to our mansion several times? She likes you and wants you to be her daughter-in-law!”

Minglan kept her head down and spoke haltingly, “Madam, you flatter me. Sister Rulan has her own good points. Though… Though I’m always closer to Sister Rulan than Sister Molan, I know that she has many merits.” Minglan was not skilled in playing a traditional kind-hearted girl. She felt it difficult to control her emotions. ‘Should I be more enthusiastic? Maybe I shouldn’t show too much affection for Molan because it will annoy Wang shi,’ she thought to herself.

Minglan stood with her head bowed, her face flushing red, and fiddled with her own fingers, bewildered. She stole a glance at Wang shi from time to time. Disappointed by Minglan’s timid and overcautious character, Wang shi leaned on the soft cushion again, a surge of hatred for Molan flowing through her. At this moment, she hated Molan to the extreme because it would bring her more benefits if Minglan, this honest and obedient girl married into Marquis Yongchang Household.

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Minglan felt very sorry for Wang shi. Although Wang shi wasn’t a best legal mother and didn’t take care of Minglan before, she never bullied or plotted to murder her illegal children. Changdong, who was growing up by her side, lived a peaceful life and and became a nice upstanding boy though he wasn’t given a good treatment.

So, Minglan obeyed Wang shi and went to the House of Carefree, in which Rulan was sitting in front of a wooden dressing case with a mirror. The rosewood with delicate patterns was inlaid with a bronze mirror well rubbed down. The young girl stared at the reflection of her beautiful face in the mirror. Xique standing beside her took some fragrant osmanthus oil with a small hairbrush and carefully spread it on Rulan’s hair, and then rubbed her hair gently.

Xique looked back at Minglan and smiled, “Lady Minglan, come here and have a look. Our lady’s hair is thick and glossy now. Thanks to your osmanthus oil, the texture and condition of our lady’s hair have improved.”

Rulan was annoyed by Xique’s words and snorted, “Do you mean that my hair would be like the withered and yellow straw if I didn't apply the osmanthus oil?”

Xique kept smiling at Rulan and explained softly, “My dear lady, Lady Minglan is our guest. Naturally I should praise her first. If you like to hear the flattery, next time I will flatter you first.” Rulan pouted to show her annoyance.

Minglan sat beside Rulan, looking at Xique who was busy putting the osmanthus oil on Rulan's hair while amusing Rulan with humorous words and flattering Minglan implicitly. At the same time, she also asked other maids to serve Minglan a cup of tea. Minglan couldn’t help but admire Liu Kun’s wife, who was indeed generous and visionary because she had chosen Xique as Rulan’s personal maid instead of her daughter. Besides, Old Madam Wang, who had sent Xique to wait upon Rulan, must love Wang shi very much. But now Old Madam Wang was completely enraged by Wang shi’s inconstancy. As the old saying goes, to be appreciated as a parent is quite unusual. Children can never repay parents for their kindness.

After driving the maids out of the room, Rulan turned to Minglan and said in a fit of pique, “You don’t have to visit me from time to time. I’m fine.”

“Sister, are you really not angry at all?” Minglan picked up a fresh red date and ate it while murmuring, “I’m not surprised that you don’t blame Sister Molan anymore. But aren’t you angry with Cousin Yuan’er? Madam worries about you because you have no intention of taking revenge on the persons who hurt you. That’s abnormal.” If Rulan lost her temper and kicked up a row with Molan, Wang shi would set her mind at rest. But in fact, Rulan was so calm, which gave Wang shi an illusion that Rulan disguised her sorrow beneath a calm appearance. So Wang shi was uneasy.

Rulan raised her head and gave a snort. Then she tied up her hair, sat down beside Minglan and sneered, “My aunt is a tough woman. In the Wang family, only my grandma can restrain her. When we lived in Deng Prefecture, every year I had to go to the Wang Mansion with my mother. Tut, tut! I knew very well about her bossy character. Although my uncle is very fond of me, he is unable to help me if I really marry Cousin Wang. Just think about our Eldest Sister. Eldest brother-in-law is a good man and treat her well. Marquis Zhongqin is also a good man. But they both have many concubines given by their elders. Thus it can be seen that it’s easy for a woman to bully her daughter-in-law but it’s difficult for a young girl to defy her mother-in-law. My mother doesn’t understand it because she has never been bullied by her mother-in-law.”

Minglan was shocked by Rulan's thorough analysis. Every dog has its day. Rulan had once been a reckless and hare-brained girl but now she was clear-headed. Minglan felt ashamed when she examined herself and found that she didn't make any progress in judging people though she had grown taller.

Rulan grabbed the peeled tangerine from Minglan’s hands and stuffed it into the mouth, and then continued, “What’s more, Cousin Wang is a yes-man and always obey his mother without question. I don’t like him at all. Aunt Kang thinks that she has won a good marriage for her daughter. However, Yuan’er is spoiled and arrogant. After she marries into the Wang family… she will suffer a lot.” The more she talked, the more excited she was. Rulan put another tangerine on Minglan’s hand and motioned her to peel it.

Minglan suddenly understood Rulan’s feelings. The two of them were very similar because they both felt relaxed now while the whole Sheng Mansion was immersed in a gloomy atmosphere. Although they had their reputations dragged down by Molan, they smoothly shook off the distasteful marriages.

Lost in thought, Minglan put the peeled tangerine into her own mouth and handed the tangerine peels to Rulan.

A few days later, it was a fine day. Early in the morning, Old Madam Sheng went to Marquis Yongchang Household with only Fang Mama. Wang shi indicated that she was willing to go with them. Old Madam Sheng looked at her for a while and said in a tone of self-mockery, “Today I'm going to do a disgraceful thing. And maybe my relationship with the Liang family will turn nasty. I will go to the Marquis Yongchang Household alone so that you won't be affected by this matter.”

Although Old Madam Sheng agreed to propose the marriage for Molan, she felt ashamed and embarrassed because she was a woman of noble birth and had never begged others before. So she was in bad mood with a straight face these days. Wang shi drew back her neck and dared not say anything.

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