Published at 30th of June 2019 11:35:35 AM

Chapter 110

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Molan's Marriage, Rulan's Impatience, Minglan's Good Mood (2)

Marquis Yongchang Household was in the inner circle of the imperial city. It took more than two hours to go there and come back. In the first quarter of Wei(13:00-13:15), Old Madam Sheng finally returned to the Sheng Mansion. After hearing the news, Wang shi rushed out of the main house and ran to visit Old Madam Sheng. When she walked into the Hall of Peaceful Ages, she saw Minglan sitting on the soft couch with a bowl of warm bird’s-nest porridge in her hands and feeding Old Madam Sheng. “… I’ve asked Cuiping to prepare lunch. Now eat some porridge first,” Minglan said gently.

On hearing that, the tired old madam glared at Minglan and scolded, “It's late. Haven't you had lunch? I try to fatten you up but you let me down.” Minglan felt a bit guilty and stuck out her tongue with an arch expression on her face.

Wang shi took a deep breath to calm herself down, slowly came up to them and curtsied to Old Madam. Minglan hastened to get out of the couch, made a curtsy to Wang shi, and then asked her to sit down. Wang shi fidgeted in the chair as she opened her mouth and wanted to ask something but swallowed it when she saw the tiredness on Old Madam Sheng's face. Minglan understood Wang shi’s intentions, so she cleared her throat and asked tentatively, “Grandmother… Have they agreed to the proposal?” Satisfied with Minglan's tact, Wang shi gave her an appreciative look.

Old Madam Sheng rolled her eyes at Minglan and said to Wang shi, “Marchioness Yongchang will come to present gifts and finalize the betrothal on 25th this month. You should be well prepared… This is Liang Han’s eight-character booklet. Take it and ask fortune teller if they two are a good match.” With that, she took out a red gold-inlaid booklet from her sleeve and handed it to Wang shi. Suddenly, Old Madam Sheng twisted her lips into an ironic smile, “Even if their eight characters are not matched, the Marquis Yongchang Household dares not break the promise.”

With the eight-character booklet in her hands, Wang shi’s jaw dropped to the floor. She raised her head and looked at Old Madam Sheng in surprise, licking her lips and hesitating about asking the detail. Minglan itched to ask what had happened but Old Madam Sheng turned to her and spoke first, “Ask the maids to put the dishes on the table in right-wing room. Then go to the secondary room and find two Gecao Pills for me.”

Obviously, what Old Madam Sheng was going to say next was unsuitable for unmarried girls to listen to. But the secondary room was next to this room. Old Madam Sheng hinted that Minglan could eavesdrop as long as she was not discovered.

This was the ancient Chinese art of speech. Minglan touched her nose and went out obediently.

Watching Minglan disappearing behind the curtain, Wang shi said in a low voice, “I should be blamed for my incapability. Mother, you have had a hectic morning… I feel guilty about not having kept Concubine Lin under control. Molan is really ignorant and inconsiderate. How could she do such a disgraceful thing?” With that she took out a handkerchief and wiped her eyes.

Minglan in the next room disagreed with Wang shi. After Hualan got married, Molan became the eldest unmarried lady in the Sheng Mansion. Concubine Lin and Molan used the crisis of the reputation of the Sheng family to force Sheng Hong to help them. As for Wang shi and Old Madam Sheng, the reason they gave in was because Rulan and Minglan's marriages would be affected if Molan failed to marry into the Liang family. So in the end the whole Sheng family had to make every effort to bring about the marriage between Molan and Liang Han. On the face of it that seemed to be impulsive for Molan to seduce Liang Han. But it was really a mature plan. From the point of view of results, they achieved their goal, although Concubine Lin was driven out of the Sheng Mansion.

“Stop crying!” Old Madam Sheng said frankly, expressionless, “I did that not only for Molan but also for other girls’ future marriages. Only in this way can the reputation of the Sheng family be redeemed. So, stop dawdling and whining! I hate to see other people crying.”

Wang shi held tears back and said softly, “Mother, you are right. We all hope that everyone in the Sheng family can have a bright future. May I make so bold as to ask why Madam Liang agree to the marriage?”

Old Madam Sheng sneered, “You always think you’re clever. Haven’t you thought about why Madam Liang wants an illegal daughter of the Sheng Mansion to be her daughter-in-law? Liang Han is the legal son of Marquis Yongchang. Although he is just Marquis Yongchang’s youngest son, many noble families in the capital want to marry their daughter to him. You didn’t figure out Madam Liang’s intentions. How dared you ask Minglan to see her! Aren't you afraid of being dragged into the mire?” Her voice was full of sarcasm.

Wang shi blushed with shame and realized that Old Madam Sheng was digging up the past to lecture her. She replied slightly, “I hear that Liang Han is a man of good character. So I thought… since Madam Liang liked Molan, it was a good idea…”

Old Madam Sheng cast a cold look at her. Wang shi dared not say another word.

Old Madam Sheng snorted, “He is a man of good character? Are you kidding me? Even though I have just returned to the capital for a few days and have no time to inquire about Liang Han, I know that he must be indiscreet about his private life from what happened between him and Molan. If he is a well-behaved man, he wouldn’t have walked back to the carriage with Molan in his arms after saving her. There were so many female servants on the spot. They could help Molan. But in fact, he offended Molan under the watchful eyes of the people. He has been well educated. Didn’t he know that it would drag down Molan’s reputation?”

What Old Madam Sheng said filled Minglan with admiration. Although she was clear-headed in analyzing most things, she was not a patch on Old Madam Sheng who saw a lot of human nature and could penetrate other people’s mind. Wang shi would have seen through Madam Liang’s trick if she had made a thorough investigation. But she hadn’t done that because in her view Liang Han had nothing to do with her as long as Rulan didn’t marry him.

Wang shi forced a smile in embarrassment and praised, “Mother, you are very experienced. Since you point out Liang Han’s failings, Madam Liang certainly dares not to shirk responsibility anymore.”

Old Madam Sheng put down the white porcelain bowl on the small table with a bang and said ironically, “Liang Han is such a handsome and debonair young man. I don’t believe that he was well-behaved in the period of the national mourning. So I have had someone make some inquiries and discovered that he slept with a girl over a year ago. The girl is a distant cousin of Madam Liang’s illegal son’s wife. Just as the national mourning ended, her belly was bulging. It's hard to say whether she got pregnant in the period of the national mourning or not. Marquis Yongchang Household is a noble and influential family. They are descendants of the distinguished person for the foundation of the state. If the news of that girl’s pregnancy got out, the Liang family would be severely punished.”

On hearing this Wang shi’s eyes lit up. She came near Old Madam Sheng and said, “Oh, I see. Now the Liang family dares not look down upon us as we know Liang Han has done such a wrong thing. Old Madam, we needn’t worry anymore. I feel certain that they will come to propose marriage.”

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Old Madam Sheng felt disappointed when she saw the naked joy in Wang shi's face. But soon she comforted herself with the view that it was good for her to have such a straightforward daughter-in-law. She sighed, “My daughter-in-law, you don't seem to get the point. Madam Liang dislikes the girl and wants to abort her pregnancy. But Liang Han insists on keeping the girl in Marquis Yongchang Household. So he is in a hurry to take a legal wife so that the girl can be his concubine and his unborn child can have a birthright. To be honest, Marchioness Yongchang is in a predicament. Over the years, her illegal eldest son has made a lot of achievements in the army. Many officials praise him. Old Marquis Yongchang also thinks highly of him. Now their illegal eldest daughter-in-law asks for the compensation for her distant cousin, so it's not easy for Marchioness Yongchang to deal with this matter.”

This time Wang shi dared not to make comments at once. She thought for a while and said, “Oh! Now I understand. After that, Madam Liang is caught in a dilemma. She wants to punish the shameless girl but meanwhile, she is afraid of hurting her son. Today you went to persuade Madam Liang with tactful words. She surely would seize the chance to get out of the dilemma... But in this case, will Molan lead a good life after marrying into the Liang family? I’m afraid that she won’t.”

Recalling Madam Liang’s arrogant attitude toward her, Old Madam Sheng was filled with anger. At this moment, Wang shi took a kind of dark pleasure in Molan's misfortune, which inflamed her anger further. So she snapped, “Don't laugh at Molan’s misfortune. Just think about Rulan’s marriage.”

Wang shi’s eyes reddened at the thought of Rulan. She shed tears and said, “Rulan would have had a good marriage but now it has gone… There are so many rich and noble families in the capital city. We can easily find a husband for Rulan. But it’s difficult to find a good man who we know inside out. Now I have no idea what to do next. Old Madam, please give me some advice.”

“Alas…” Old Madam Sheng held the arms of the soft couch, sat upright and patted Wang shi on the shoulder before she said, “You should be blamed for what happened to Rulan. I know you love her and want to hand-pick an excellent man for her. But you shouldn’t have insatiable desires. Since you betrothed Rulan to your nephew, how could you make a promise to Junzhu Pingning? As a result, the relationship between you and your family has gone sour… Well, now let’s talk about your good sister!”

With an angry expression on her face, Old Madam Sheng thumped the arm of the soft couch and continued, “Master has helped the Kang family a lot. When your sister came to implore us to find an official position for her son and find a good marriage for her daughter, we always tried our best to help her. But what did she give us in return? She took my granddaughter’s fiancé. Does she consider us as generous suckers? Yun’er has married into the Sheng family. Except for her...” Old Madam Sheng pointed at Wang shi and commanded, “Don't contact the Kang family except on New Year’s Day and other festivals.”

Wang shi blushed with shame because of her sister’s ingratitude. What Old Madam Sheng said was reasonable. Recalling that her daughter’s marriage had come to grief due to Aunt Kang's efforts, Wang shi began to condemn the Kang family for their ingratitude too.

After venting the anger by cursing, Old Madam Sheng felt much better. She waved her hand and said, “Now Changbai’s wife helps you manage the inner mansion. You need a good rest so that you can get well soon and seek a good marriage for Rulan. I will go around and see if there is a suitable person. You needn’t worry. Rulan has just reached the age of fifteen. There's still plenty of time to hand-pick her future husband. We must take it seriously and choose a man of good character for her.”

Wang shi strongly agreed with Old Madam Sheng. She nodded energetically and squatted down to help her mother-in-law to put on shoes the moment she saw Old Madam Sheng swinging her legs off the couch. Old Madam Sheng held Wang shi’s shoulders and put on the shoes. When Wang shi raised her head, Old Madam Sheng suddenly caught her by the wrist and looked into her eyes before saying in a serious tone, “When Marquis Yongchang Household comes to finalize the betrothal, you must give them a good reception. Remember not to act on impulse. Only when Molan smoothly marries into the Liang family can our family’s reputation be redeemed. You will have many grandchildren in the future. So don't do anything that would ruin your reputation. Understand?”

Wang shi, who had been completely annoyed by Molan's shameless behaviors, hated to help Molan. But considering Rulan, she gritted her teeth and nodded. Seeing that, Old Madam Sheng loosened her grip on Wang shi and said softly, “You don't need to prepare the dowry. Master commissioned me to deal with all Concubine Lin’s property. I have divided it into two equal parts and given them to Changfeng and Molan. On Molan’s wedding day, I will give her 1000 ounces of silver as a present.”

Wang shi was good at arithmetic. After a rough calculation, she drew a conclusion that Old Madam Sheng gave Molan a suitable dowry, which was less than Hualan’s but enough to keep up appearances in front of the people of Marquis Yongchang Household. Realizing that she only needed to spend some money on holding a wedding feast, Wang shi readily agreed.

Old Madam Sheng was satisfied with Wang shi’s obedience. “When Changbai’s wife cleaned up the Forested Pavilion a few days ago, she found many gold, silver and other valuables from the servants’ rooms. This time Rulan has been dragged down by Molan. So I will give Rulan these valuables as her future dowry.”

Wang shi immediately came near with a big smile on her face and uttered honeyed words, “Mother, Rulan and Minglan are intimate and inseparable. Just divide the things in half and give to the two sisters. Minglan is about to reach the age of fifteen. I will go to Garments of Immortals and place an order for some new bright clothes for Minglan. Besides, I will also buy some beautiful ornaments for her…”

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