Published at 3rd of August 2019 10:44:32 AM

Chapter 124

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The Triumphant Return (1)

Proofread by DragonRider

On the way back to Sheng Mansion, Minglan sat quietly and felt herself caught on the horns of a dilemma. It seemed as if she had fallen into a mire and would be suffocated to death if she struggled randomly. She burned with anger in her chest but her extremities grew cold and her mind went blank. After visiting He family, she reached the point of exhaustion. Suddenly, tears welled up in her eyes and streamed down her beautiful face. Old Madam Sheng sitting beside her looked at her quietly with loving eyes, reached out and gently stroked her hair.

Minglan couldn’t hold back her grievance anymore. She leaned on her grandmother’s arm and buried her head in Old Madam Sheng’s sleeve which was full of the fragrance of sandalwood, trembling and crying quietly.

“Minglan, I know your feelings.” Old Madam Sheng held Minglan in her arms and said slowly, “But the marriage will be blessed only if both families are consensual. A forced marriage won't come to a good end. You are unable to convince a muddle-headed person by argument.”

Every girl in the world wanted to marry a man she loved and live together till old and grey. Every morning her husband would paint her brows and help her make up her face, and they would lead a harmonious and happy life. However, few girls had their wish fulfilled. Most of the couples in the world treated each other with the respect due to guest, and only a few couples were closely attached to each other. Minglan was always clever and sensible but this time she was obsessed with He Hongwen's promise and strayed into difficult territory.

Old Madam Sheng sighed and hoped that Minglan could sort herself out.

At night, the wind blew hard and the rain came down in sheets. Minglan lay sideways on the bed and stared out of the window. The rain fell onto the roof, streamed down the windowsill and permeated the soil. Gradually, the rain stopped and the bright moon appeared in the night sky, pouring down its silvery light which reflected off the drops of rain hanging on the leaves, creating a singular luminescence. Minglan kept her eyes open and had a sleepless night.

The next morning, Minglan got up early and went to Hall of Peaceful Ages. At the sight of Old Madam Sheng, Minglan knelt down, her eyes red from lack of sleep last night.

“I have done many stupid things these days. Grandma, I'm sorry to trouble you a lot and make you lose face. It’s all my fault. You can punish me.” Minglan respectfully made a kowtow to Old Madam with a pale face. “The children's marriage should be decided by their elders. Grandma, from now on you can take full charge of my marriage and I won't intervene in your decision.”

Old Madam Sheng sat on the arhat bed, a silvery grey brocade headband inlaid with sparkling emeralds wrapped around her forehead. She looked steadily at Minglan with mixed feelings for a while before she gave a deep sigh and said, “Let's forget it. Now get up off the floor.”

Minglan put her hands on her knees and slowly picked herself up. Old Madam Sheng drew the young girl close to her, patted her hand and said softly, “Most girls will go through a phase of adhering stubbornly to their own ideas in youth. They will be obsessed with men's false promises and try their best to be with their sweethearts. But at last they will wake up to reality and give up. You are a sensible girl. I hope that you can marry a man who will treat you sincerely. Don't be stubborn, or you will hurt yourself.”

Minglan nodded with tears in her eyes. As they chatted, Cuiping suddenly ran in and reported in a low voice, “Here comes Young Master He.”

Old Madam Sheng and Minglan were stunned for a second, wondering why he came here so early.

This time Old Madam Sheng treated He Hongwen as her old friend's grandson. She changed into formal clothes and asked maids to bring tea and fruit to the guest. Minglan went into the inner room and didn't intend to meet He Hongwen.

When He Hongwen walked into the room, Minglan, who was hiding in the inner room and peeping through a chink in the curtains, and Old Madam Sheng were both startled by his appearance. The young man had two blacked eyes with a scratch on his left cheek as if someone had nicked him from the corner of his eye to his ear with fingernail. Besides, he had quite severe bruising on his right cheek and a cut lip, his wrist wrapped in a thick gauze.

“Poor boy! What happened to you?” Old Madam Sheng gave a cry of surprise.

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He Hongwen lowered his head and looked around the room, disappointed to find that Minglan was not here. His eyes dimmed and he made an obeisance to Old Madam Sheng and respectfully replied, “It's all because of my foolishness and ignorance that Old Madam and Ming...”

Old Madam Sheng gave a warning cough and He Hongwen immediately corrected himself, though he felt upset, “It’s all because of my foolishness and ignorance that Old Madam has been dragged down. I’m very sorry. Last night I went to my uncle’s house and made all things clear. I’m going to ask my mother to adopt Cousin Jinxiu as her daughter and invite my clansmen and elders to be the witnesses at the adoption ceremony. She will be my sister in the future and I won’t do anything against the moral standard.”

Old Madam Sheng realized that He Hongwen must have gone to Cao Mansion to have a showdown with the Cao family last night. As a result, obviously, he had been severely beaten by his uncle, aunt and probably his cousins. The mere thought of what had happened cheered Old Madam Sheng up. ‘Adopted daughter? It’s a good idea,” she thought.

Old Madam Sheng fixed her eyes on He Hongwen’s bruised face and felt the anger in her chest gradually disappearing as she asked doubtfully, “Do you think your mother will agree with you?”

He Hongwen raised his head, his face badly swollen, and smiled at Old Madam Sheng with difficulty, which made his wounded lips ache. He couldn’t help but hiss in pain and then gave an irrelevant answer, “Last night when my mother saw me, she was quite... angry.”

What he said was significant. Minglan understood it and knew that he had deliberately allowed the members of Cao family to hit him in order to win her mother's sympathy. Old Madam Sheng’s eyes flickered over He Hongwen's face and she asked meaningfully, “I’m afraid that… they won’t give up so easily.”

‘The shrew has three ways to threaten others: crying, making a scene and hanging herself. Now Madam Cao and Cao Jinxiu haven’t adopted the last way,’ Old Madam Sheng thought to herself.

He Hongwen bowed his head and thought for a moment before he raised his head with a firm expression on his face and said sincerely, “When I was a child, my mother wanted me to study hard and take the imperial examinations but I refused her and followed my heart to study medicine. Old Madam, trust me. I know my own mind, and I won't allow anyone to interfere with my decisions. I can distinguish right from wrong, so I won't disappoint my grandmother and you!”

These words touched the heartstrings of Old Madam Sheng who raise her head and looked carefully at He Hongwen. The young man wore a sincere and solemn expression, his face covered with severe bruises. She hesitated for a while and smiled, “Don't say that. Your grandmother and I are old friends, and we often play a joke on each other. Don't take it to your heart. I know you are a good boy. If things happen as we wish, it can't be better. But sometimes things won't take place as planned. In this case we should give up. Marriages are made in heaven. Don't try so hard.”

This was the ancient Chinese art of speech. Minglan couldn’t help but admire Old Madam Sheng for her tactful answer. It seemed that Old Madam Sheng said some kind words to He Hongwen, but in fact she meant: Young Master He, I know you are trying hard to win this marriage, but the result is unpredictable. So just keep trying. You can come to our mansion to talk about the marriage only after the adoption ceremony is held. But a girl's youth is short and I will begin to look for another right man for my granddaughter. So you should take time by the forelock.

He Hongwen knew what Old Madam Sheng meant. What Cao family had done must have annoyed her. If he didn’t take steps to resolve the issue, Sheng family wouldn’t marry Minglan to him. To make matters worse, his grandmother also got angry and had no intention of lending him a hand. He Hongwen was in a gloomy mood and continuously pleaded with Old Madam Sheng who, however, refused him gently with an amiable expression on her face and showed no inclination to ask Minglan to come out to see him.

A few moments later, He Hongwen excused himself and left with disappointment.

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