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Published at 11th of July 2019 06:02:06 AM


Chapter 114

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Molan Gets Married (1)

The weather was getting hot. Molan’s wedding day was drawing near. Minglan wondered whether she should send a wedding gift to Molan and warn her in passing that she would have an intractable rival after marrying into Marquis Yongchang Household. After all, they two were sisters.

While thinking about that, Minglan asked Dangju to move the box given by Old Madam Sheng onto the bed. She was at leisure to do what she wanted this afternoon, so she had the maids close the door and windows, and then took out the key in the shape of two fishes from beneath her gown, opened this box with small drawers and began to count her treasures.

This gorgeous ebony box engraved with begonia flower was half-empty because the ornaments that Minglan used most often were put in a rosewood dressing case inlaid with mother-in-pearl. Minglan opened the bottom drawer which was filled with gold accumulated by Minglan from small to large and old gold ornaments that she hadn’t used for many years.

As an idle ancient girl, Minglan had three sources of income: the reward given by elders on the Spring Festival and other festivals, the subsidy given by Old Madam Sheng and her monthly pay.

Sheng Wei and Li shi were most generous because they gave Minglan a small bag of gold bars every year. Besides, Minglan had returned to Youyang twice and got lots of ornaments, jades and porcelains from the couple. Aunt Sheng Yun was also kind to Minglan and had sent her nine pairs of golden pigs, each of which was 100 grams.

Minglan basically spent all her monthly pay every month, and most of the subsidy given by Old Madam Sheng was spent in rewarding old female servants and stewards and improving the quality of maids' lives. As a lady in such an ancient big family, it was difficult to save money because she would be regarded as a stingy girl if she didn’t treat her maids well. Although Minglan wanted to save up money, she had to go native and do as others do.




After counting the treasures for some time, Minglan picked out a pair of gold bracelets with patterns of mandarin ducks, which she had never wore. She asked Dangju to weight them on a small steelyard and knew that they were about 400 grams. She took out three pairs of golden pigs and some fish-shaped gold bars from the box and intended to send these golden pigs and fishes to the Shop of Crystal Jewels and ask the jeweler to cast them into latest fine ornaments. Minglan felt herself generous to give Molan such a gift.

The ruling class led an extravagant life. In the previous life, Yao Yiyi had only spent a month's salary on a bottle of Chanel perfume and given it to her best cousin as a wedding present. Now she was going to give Molan gold ornaments. It was really a prodigal behavior.

In a word, it was uneconomic to be someone's young sister. Minglan threw herself onto the bed with her hands on the chest and wailed mournfully for a while.

The next day Minglan asked Dangju to put the gold bracelets in a brocade, embroidered bag and had Luzhi hold it and two rolls of new cloths before she walked out of the House of Clear Dusk and went straight to the House of Mountain Moon with Xiaotao and Luzhi. It was very hot in July. Xiaotao held an umbrella to shade Minglan from the sun and was dripping with sweat. Minglan quickened her pace.

The House of Mountain Moon was quite different from the past. The two courtyard gates were guarded by stern female servants and it was not easy to go in and out. Every day Hai shi came to see Molan and told her something about etiquette and rules that women should obey. But no one knew whether Molan took Hai shi's remarks to heart or not.

When Minglan went into the inner room, she saw Molan, who had a thin face and wore a green muslin coat, leaning against a rattan chair. Although her skin wasn't as lustrous and soft as before, she still looked delicate and attractive. Luzhong took the gifts from Luzhi's hands and showed them to Molan. However, Molan just rolled her eyes and made no response. Minglan suddenly regretted having given Molan the gold bracelets and cloths.

Minglan kept silent. Afraid that she would be unhappy, Luzhong hastened to say, “On behalf of my lady, I want to thank you for your gifts. Lady Minglan, please have a seat. I will serve you a cup of tea.”


Now that Molan had accepted the gifts, Minglan thought that she had done her duty as a sister. So she didn't want to stay with Molan anymore. Minglan waved her hand and told Luzhong not to make tea. But when she was about to say goodbye to her sister, Molan, who lolled back in the rattan chair, suddenly straightened up and said, “Now that you are here, why not stay a little longer?”

Minglan turned around and gazed at Molan who looked lonely. Her heart softened. She walked to a round stool and sat down.

Molan turned to Luzhong, “Sister-in-law Hai has sent me some fruit. There must be still some left. Take them out to eat some fruit. I want to talk to Sister Minglan alone.” Luzhong got her meaning, so she turned around and tried to draw Xiaotao and Luzhi out of the room. However, the two girls stood still and looked at Minglan, waiting for her order. After Minglan nodded to them, the three girls finally went out together.

Molan watched them walking out of the room, and then swivelled her head to look at Minglan with a sarcastic smile. “Sixth Sister, you indeed have the capability to control your maids. No matter how long you are out, they will guard the courtyard gates of your house well.” Minglan dropped her eyelids and replied slightly, “They are my maids. Since they are loyal to me, I will protect them, that's all.”

Molan recalled Yunzai, who had been beaten half-dead and sold, and felt uncomfortable because of Minglan's remarks. After a while, she suddenly gave a short laugh and said, “Do you remember when our eldest sister got married? At that time, all the people in our mansion were busy hanging lanterns and festoons. Eldest sister’s room was filled with festive objects of all colors. I was still young and envious of her high-profile wedding, and I couldn't help but wonder what kind of wedding I would have in the future. Now I'm going to get married, but... Humph! Look around my room. Even a widow’ room is better than mine.”

Minglan raised her head and glanced about the room. A slight wind blew through the opened windows, forlorn and uninviting. None of her sisters, brothers or sisters-in-law had come to congratulate her on her marriage. Without her biological mother by her side, no one would tell her some dos and don’ts after marriage at night. Minglan kept silent for a while and said, “Sister, you are not Madam’s biological daughter.” After a pause she continued, “You win some, you lose some.”

Molan’s face suddenly dropped to the floor, a murderous gleam flashing though her eyes as she said coldly, “You have the gumption to mock me because you know that I have broken with Father. Marchioness Yongchang wanted you to be her daughter-in-law, but I beat you to the draw. You are unhappy with my marriage, so you came here to make fun of me, right?”


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Minglan shook her head and answered, “There are lots of things waiting for you to deal with after marrying into an influential noble family. Sister, you are courageous and knowledgeable, surely you are not afraid of the difficulties. But I’m timid and don’t have the capacity to be Liang Han's wife.”

Molan was dazed for a second before she burst into laughter with a hand over her mouth. A few seconds later, she stopped laughing and said with a disdainful look on her face, “Just speak out-- There is a young lady by his side in Marquis Yongchang Household. Rulan already came here and ridiculed me several days ago. Humph! Whoever you marry, you need to fight for yourself and your children. Do you think you can be light-hearted if you marry into an average family?”

Minglan, for some unknown reason, recalled a thin and bony girl, Cao Jingxiu. Her mood darkened but soon she sorted herself out and shook her head. “You don't understand the difference between these two situations. Although Father used to be very fond of Concubine Lin, Madam is the only hostess in Sheng Mansion. Old Madam Wang sent maids to help Madam and Madam’s brother wrote to remind Father not to ignore Madam. Even though Shulan married a scoundrel, Xiucai Sun, her parents are competent to help her get divorced and find a good husband for her. But if you marry into an influential, noble family... You can barely benefit from your own family.”

Molan’s face reddened with rage but she couldn’t think of exactly the right thing to contradict Minglan. Molan knew clearly that the legal daughter should have a better marriage than illegal daughter did according to traditional ideas. But she was not reconciled to the fate of marrying a poor scholar. Minglan looked at Molan and said lightly, “Because of what you did, so many people have been dragged down by you. I hope you won't regret it.”

Molan recalled Concubine Lin and her heart ached. Sullen and resentful, she gritted her teeth and took a deep breath to calm herself down before she raised her chin and said, “I will never regret it.” Minglan knew Molan through and realized that she must be thinking what to do to turn the tide in the future.

The haughty and confident expression on Molan's face reminded Minglan of Cao Jingxiu again.

Although Molan looked gentle and frail, she always carried herself with great pride and dignity because she had grown up in comfort and ease and been spoiled by Sheng Hong and Concubine Lin. As for Cao Jingxiu, when she had been ten years old, her whole family had been deported to Xiliang, in which she had struggled for survival and suffered a lot. Now she became a poor self-abased woman with sallow skin and rough hands and feet, very thin and weak.


Minglan suddenly got in a fret. Recently, somehow, she often recalled what had happened in the He Mansion. She was a sensible girl and never buried herself in insoluble problems. Since the problem couldn’t be solved for the time being, it was better not to think about it anymore.

Minglan raised her head with a smile and looked at Molan who was still chattering about her great ambitions. At this moment, Minglan hardly realized that it would be the last time Molan spoke frankly about her real feelings.

……

On July 8th, the Liang family and the Sheng family formally became relatives by marriage. Old Madam Sheng just put in an appearance and then went back to her house to rest. Only Wang shi was making arrangements for the wedding with a straight face. At last, Molan got 128 boxes of dowries. But if Concubine Lin was here, she would know that one third of boxes were valueless as long as she checked them carefully.

Marquis Yongchang Household had no intention of holding the wedding ceremony in a high-profile way. But Madam Liang, who was much cleverer than Wang shi, fabricated a good excuse, “… The national mourning has just ended and His Majesty hasn’t held a Xiunv-Selection Ceremony. As his subjects, we'd better have a low-key wedding.”

There was no gossip; instead, Madam Liang was praised for her sensible behavior. Old Madam Sheng couldn’t help but cite Madam Liang as the role model to lecture Wang shi.

After having comprehended Madam Liang’s attitude, Wang shi had been very happy for a long time. But when she saw Liang Han who wore red clothes and rode a white horse with a smile, looking handsome and heroic, she could hardly hold back her rage. Liu Kun's wife tugged at her sleeve several times and she finally composed herself.

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