Published at 27th of July 2019 11:53:04 AM

Chapter 121

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A Tryst Caught in the Act (2)

Proofread by DragonRider

Rulan parted the plants and strode over the bush, then she saw Minglan squatting among the fragrant plantain lily flowers. Minglan looked embarrassed as her skirt was caught by the branches. Rulan raised her eyebrows in anger and put her hands on her hips. “What are you doing here?!”

Minglan was dumbfounded by her question. ‘You have been caught by me on the spot when you had a secret meeting with your lover. How could you behave as if I was the wrongdoer?’ she thought to herself.

“I, I…I've overeaten this evening, so I come to the garden for a walk.” As the words fell from her lips, Minglan almost wanted to slap herself. There was no need for her to elucidate because this time she had justice on her side. So she looked steadily at Rulan and raised her voice, “Sister Rulan, what are you doing here?”

Rulan blushed and replied, “It’s none of your business.”

“Okay. I want to go on walking. Goodbye.” Minglan was about to walk on but Rulan caught her arm and stopped her from leaving. Rulan was much stronger than Minglan, so she easily dragged Minglan away.

“It's late and we should go back. Otherwise, we will catch a cold.” Rulan manhandled Minglan along the path as if she was dragging a dead dog.

“Let go of me. I can walk by myself.” Minglan hissed with pain because Rulan pinched her arms hard. She didn’t want to make a scene, so she had to give in to Rulan.

Minglan wanted to go to the Hall of Peaceful Ages and report to Old Madam Sheng about this matter, but Rulan wanted to bring Minglan to the House of Carefree. Finally, the stronger person won the battle. Rulan succeeded in taking Minglan to her house.

When the two sisters reached House of Carefree, all the maids were asleep, except for Xique who waited in the room with a light beside her. She breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of Rulan walking in; but when she saw Minglan, she turned pale with fear, close to tears. Minglan felt pity for Xique. If what had happened between Rulan and that man was discovered by others, Rulan might be fine but Xique would be punished severely. Minglan comforted the poor maid, “Don't panic. I really saw nothing.”

On hearing this Xique burst into tears. Rulan was agitated and impatiently scolded, “Stop crying! I'm not dead yet! I won't let you get punished.” Then she bundled Xique out of the room, took Minglan by the wrist and went straight into the inner room.

After entering the inner room, Rulan put her hands on Minglan's shoulders and sat her down on the bed before she looked down at Minglan with an aggressive look. However, the guilty look in Rulan’s eyes betrayed her. After thinking for a long while, she warned in a low voice, “Don't tell anyone what happened in the garden.”

Minglan gave a short laugh and replied, “I didn’t see anything in the garden.”

A dull red flush suffused Rulan's face. She swallowed hard and glared at Minglan who also looked at her with a smile. The two sisters both refused to budge. After a long while, Rulan broke the silence, “Nothing happened! Even if you tell others, I won't admit that.”

Minglan was surprised by her shamelessness and said in a teasing tone, “Yes, nothing happened. Anyway, Madam is looking for a good man to be your future husband recently. Sister, there is no need for you to meet your lover in secret. If this thing got out, it would ruin your reputation.”

Since Molan had slipped out of Sheng Mansion to seduce Liang Han, Hai shi had tightened security. That man must be living in Sheng Mansion because outsiders could not possibly slip into the garden without being spotted. Minglan thought for a moment and sorted herself out. Hai shi didn't take precautionary measures to prevent the students who lived in the row of bungalows on the edge of the back garden from approaching the garden. The Autumn Imperial Examination would last three days and the examinees could go back every day after the exam. But in the Autumn Imperial Examination, the examinees would be locked in the examination hall until all the exams were over.

Minglan stared at Rulan with teasing eyes and didn't speak until Rulan blushed with shyness, “The students in the bungalows all come from good families. No matter who he is, after he wins an official rank, you can ask him to visit Madam and bring up proposal of marriage.”

Minglan began to rack her brains to recall the names of the five students in the bungalows and tried to find out who Rulan had been with in the garden. She thought long and hard about it but failed to guess who was "Brother Jing" because she had forgotten their names. She was vexed at her poor memory for names.

When Rulan heard Minglan's words, her face paled and she said in a low voice, “No, he's not among them.”

Minglan was surprised and blurted out, “Who is he?”

Rulan lowered her head and sat down on the edge of the bed, unwilling to tell Minglan his name. Minglan was so sensitive that she instantly realized that something was wrong. She kept quiet and thought, ‘The more I know, the more trouble I will have. I'd better leave now.’ However, before she would slip away, Rulan said at last, “His... His name is Wen Yanjing. And now he also lives in the bungalows.”

Minglan put her hand to her bosom and felt her heart skip a beat. It was the greatest shock she had ever had and her heart palpitated at this moment. She took a few deep breaths to relax herself and cried out in a low voice, “Sister, are you crazy? He is… He is Sister Molan’s…” She paused and couldn't think of a suitable word to say, so she reached out and tugged at Rulan's sleeve. “Madam won’t allow you to be with him.”

Rulan’s eyes dimmed and a sorrowful look appeared on her smooth oval face before she said in a muffled voice, “I know… But I like him and he likes me too.”

Minglan’s thoughts were all in a muddle and she couldn't figure out how Rulan and Wen Yanjing fell in love. She pointed at Rulan with trembling fingers and stammered, “You… You… How did you hook up with him?”

Rulan slightly raised her head with an appealing flirty smile on her face, her eyes shining with happiness. Obviously, she was in love. “… He met me before… Afterwards, he sent me a note with poems…” she spoke disjointedly.

Minglan got angry and thought Wen Yanjing a wicked man because playboys often used such a nasty trick to get around simple girls. She couldn’t help but exclaim, “So you believe that he fell in love with you at first sight? Maybe he chases you because he failed to marry Sister Molan.”

Rulan flew into a rage. She pushed Minglan aside, pinched her arm hard and complained, “You know nothing about him. Brother Jing is a gentleman. Besides, he has always liked me.” Rulan gasped for air and continued, “Do you remember that Molan was grounded by Father for beating you?”

Minglan nodded. ‘That was an important episode of my life. Of course I remember it,’ she thought to herself.

“After that, Father decided to marry Sister Molan to Brother Jing…er, Childe Wen.” As soon as Rulan mentioned her sweetheart, she blushed scarlet. “Afterwards, you went to Youyang to join Old Madam. A few days later, Father and Mother invited Childe Wen to our mansion. On that day, I was tired of lying on the bed and pretending to be ill, so I sneaked out of my house and played in the garden. Childe Wen happened to pass by and saw me... He mistakenly thought me a little maid, so he picked up my handkerchief and smiled at me. Afterwards, he came to our mansion several times. Every time he came, I played in the garden and wished to have a chat with him. He told me that… I’m good-looking, energetic and brisk, and every time he saw me, he was delighted.”

Rulan's voice dropped as she wore a coy smile, her eyes gleaming with happiness. “Later, he knew who I was, and he also knew that Father wanted him to marry Molan, so he sent me a letter saying that he was grateful for receiving help and encouragement by Father and Eldest Brother, and he didn’t want to go against their wishes. Then he didn't send me a letter anymore… until that happened to Molan. The next day he secretly had someone give me a letter telling that he was happy because he didn't have to marry Molan. He also said that he would come to propose the marriage between him and me after he passed the Autumn Imperial Examination and won an official rank.”

Stunned by her words, Minglan took a deep breath and exhaled heavilyas her thoughts were in a whirl. “But I remember you once told me that… his family is very poor; his mother is mean and his brothers are good-for-nothings. Besides, you also thought him an indecisive man.”

On hearing these words Rulan recovered her spirits. She pulled Minglan closer to her, pinched Minglan’s cheeks and stared at Minglan with round eyes before she lectured, “Don’t talk nonsense! Brother Jing is a good man.”

Minglan was speechless and couldn't help but complain in her mind, ‘I'm just repeating what you said to me before. But now you change your mind about him.”

After a while, Minglan leaned over, rested her chin on Rulan's shoulder and said softly, “Sister, have you ever thought about his intentions? Maybe… he just wants to attach himself to Father and Eldest Brother…” Before she finished speaking, Rulan suddenly stood up and glared at Minglan with angry eyes as if she was going to give Minglan a slap. Minglan drew back her head in fear and gave a hollow laugh, “I'm just kidding. Don't take it seriously.”

In a rage, Rulan sat down on a round stool with her back to Minglan. The stool was wobbling and her voice was thick with bitterness as she said, “I know what you mean. In your opinion, I'm neither beautiful nor intellectual. Luckily, I was born in a good family. So you thought that Brother Jing gets close to me because he wants to take advantage of our family, right?”

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Minglan didn’t answer and thought with disapproval, “He used to have the opportunity to marry Molan but it failed. Now he wants to marry you. It's reasonable for me to think so.”

Tears welled up in Rulan’s eyes as she said bitterly, “I know that I have been the least attractive daughter in our family from small to large. Compared with me, Sister Hualan is more noble; Molan is better atcurrying favor with others; you are more charming. Father doesn’t think highly of me and even Mother sometimes ignores me… But Brother Jing… At that time, he didn’t know my identity but he took a fancy to me… He said that he liked healthy and lively girls instead of delicate girls. He likes me because of my sweet smile and bright personality. He also said that he felt comfortable with me…”

Rulan murmured under her breath with a faraway, blank expression on her face as if she was in a dream. Minglan was moved by her affection for Wen Yanjing. Meanwhile, she couldn't help but feel sorry for this couple. “Even if Childe Wen passes the highest imperial examinations and becomes Jinshi, Madam won’t allow you to marry him.” Molan looked down on Wen Yanjing and refused to marry him, but now Rulan fell in love with him. If Wang shi knew that, she would be mad.

Rulan’s face suddenly changed. She gritted her teeth with a look of determination, clenched her right fist and hit the palm of her left hand, and then raised her chin and said firmly, “If Mother doesn’t allow me to marry Brother Jing, I will kill myself or cut my hair and become a nun.”

Young people in love were brave and fearless. Rose wasn't frightened away when the Titanic crashed into an iceberg. Although thousands of people were drowned in that accident, Jack's love for Rose would never die. Rulan was a strong-minded girl. Now that she fell in love with Yan Wenjing, nothing could change her mind even though Sheng Hong enforced the domestic discipline on her. Minglan felt that she had tried her best to persuade Rulan but it didn't work. “But Childe Wen comes from a poor family… Er… Are you really willing to marry him?”

Rulan instantly understood what Minglan meant. She wiped her eyes with the handkerchief, proudly raised her head and snorted, “Eldest Sister has married into a noble family, but she doesn't lead a snug life because she can't do as she wishes. Madam will give me a handsome dowry. With the whole Sheng family behind me, none of the Wen family dares to bully me.”

Minglan sighed, speechless. She didn’t know whether Wen Yanjing was a base man who would fawn upon the rich and powerful persons to achieve his goal. But since Brother Changbai took a liking to him, he must be a man of good character. Therefore, the reason he had dared to meet Rulan in secret at night was that he really liked Rulan.

‘Alright. Everyone has his own particular tastes. Perhaps Brother Jing really fell in love with Rulan,’ she thought.

Minglan smoothed the wrinkles on her skirt and was about to leave. But Rulan grabbed Minglan by the hand, shook her fist in the air and threatened, “Don't tell anyone what happened tonight. Otherwise...”

“Otherwise, what will you do?” Minglan was curious.

Rulan puckered her lips, gritted her teeth and gave a grim smile, “Otherwise, I will tell them that you had a secret meeting with a man in the garden and I was the passersby.”

Minglan was not afraid at all. She clapped her hands and laughed, “That’s great! By then I can marry into the Wen family. Father has a good eye for people. Since Father is satisfied with Childe Wen, he must be a good man.”

Rulan paled with shock at these words. She grabbed Minglan by the shoulders, breathed heavily and gave Minglan an indignant look as if she was going to bite Minglan. Then she gnashed her teeth in anger, “… Don't you dare tell on me!” Minglan broke into a fit of giggles and replied, “I dare not to do that. So take it easy, I won’t tell anyone what happened between you and Childe Wen because I don’t want to marry him.”

Rulan let out a long sigh of relief and set her mind at rest, then she lowered her head with a sheepish look on her face and said, “Sixth Sister, don’t blame me. I know you are a good girl. You have humored me from childhood and even though sometimes I blew up at you, you didn't take it to heart…”

‘In fact, I did take it to heart. I was completely annoyed by you several times, so when I went back to my bedroom, I beat the pillow hard and visualized me beating you.’ Minglan thought to herself.

“You are different from Molan. She is evil-minded and selfish, and she thinks of nobody but herself. Brother Jing is waiting for the Autumn Imperial Examination, so it's not the best time to tell Madam the truth. Sister, you are reliable and I trust you. Madam has given me some new ornaments and you can pick and choose what you want.” After threatening Minglan by force, Rulan began to resort to mild measures.

Minglan waved her hand and sighed, “I don't want your ornaments. And I will pretend that nothing has happened in the garden… Recently you have been interested in needlework… I guess you want to make an embroidery and send it to him…” She was suddenly enlightened and understood why Rulan had suddenly got interested in needlework.

After promising to secrecy, Minglan was tired and wanted to go back to the House of Clear Dusk to sleep but the gods were against her and it began to rain. Rulan expressed that Minglan could stay and sleep with her tonight. What Minglan feared most was going out on rainy days. Besides, she didn’t want to bother her maids in the middle of the night. So she agreed to stay at House of Carefree.

“If tomorrow someone asks why Lady Minglan has slept at our house, what should I say?” Xique, who had come in to make beds, was so cautious that she decided to make up an excuse and unify their explanations in advance.

Minglan got into bed while saying casually, “You can tell them that your Lady and I watched the moon and stars, talked about verses, ditties, odes, songs and the like last night, and at last I was tired and slept at the House of Carefree.”

Rulan gave Minglan a glare and said to Xique, “Just tell them that I asked Sister Minglan to teach me to do needlework and she slept at my house because it was too late. Remember to go to the House of Clear Dusk and inform her maids tomorrow morning.”

Minglan couldn't be bothered to remind them that it was really a bad excuse. Certainly, Dangju wouldn't be fooled by such a bad excuse. Before Dangju had gone to bed, Minglan had been lying on her own bed. However, the next morning she was found in the House of Carefree. ‘It's hard to explain. Alas, maybe I should put it aside and have a sleep first,’ she thought.

Minglan felt sleepy and fell asleep at once. But when she woke up in the small hours, she regretted having stayed at House of Carefree and felt that she should have gone back to her own house even if it had been hailing.

After Rulan fell asleep, she put her leg on Minglan’s stomach. Minglan was gradually winded and awoke. Then she used all her strength to move Rulan's legs from her own stomach.

Minglan sat on the side of the bed and looked at Rulan who was sleeping soundly in a lying position of zigzag and drooling. Minglan rubbed her belly and thought with a kind of dark pleasure, ‘Wen Yanjing, since you dared meet Rulan in secret, you have to endure her bad sleeping position in the following decades.’

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