Published at 18th of August 2019 12:00:52 PM

Chapter 130

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Rulan's Marriage (1)

Proofread by DragonRider

Minglan was dazed for three seconds before she came back to her senses and asked, “…Why did Sister Hualan come to propose the marriage in the name of Gu Tingye?”

Rulan threw the handkerchief onto the bed, bit her lips and replied, “It's said that Gu Tingye... he proposed the marriage in front of Eldest Brother-in-law.”

Minglan was amused by Rulan’s words. “He proposed the marriage in front of Eldest Brother-in-law? Zhuang is still too young. Eldest Brother-in-law can marry himself to Gu Tingye. Ha ha, ha ha... Ah!” She suddenly stopped laughing because Rulan slapped her hand hard. Minglan gently blew on her painful hand and swung her arms. “Well, all jokes aside. Sister, go on with your story.”

Unexpectedly, Rulan had no more plots to talk about. Her eyes reddened as if she was going to cry at any time. “You know that I love Brother Jing… What should I do now? As soon as Eldest Sister finished speaking, I rejected the proposal at once. Mother gave me a good scolding right to my face. Then I cried and ran out.”

Minglan sighed and thought, ‘Marriage is a serious business. They are talking about your marriage. How could you act on impulse? You should stay there and figure out the cause and effect before you cry.’ But when she raised her head and saw Rulan wearing a look of grievance, her heart softened. “Sister Rulan, don’t be too upset. Madam and Eldest Sister won’t do something bad to you. Brother Jing... I know Childe Wen is a good man but Gu Tingye is much more outstanding than him. Maybe it’s a good marriage for you,” she comforted.

Rulan became angrier and vented her spleen by stamping her feet and slapping the table on the bed. Xique, who walked in with a copper basin filled with warm water in her hands, sensibly chose to remain silent. Minglan rolled up her sleeves, dampened a washcloth and handed it to Rulan. “Sister Rulan, if Madam really wants to marry you to Gu Tingye, I can do nothing for you.”

“I know you can't help me." Rulan took the warm washcloth from Minglan's hand and placed it on her eyes for a few seconds, then she looked up at Minglan and said, “… Can you go to Hall of Peaceful Ages and listen to what they are talking about? Gu Tingye…” Rulan blushed and stopped speaking.

Minglan opened her eyes wide in surprise and repeatedly waved her hand to refuse. “I don’t want to go to Hall of Peaceful Ages. They are talking about your marriage. As your young sister, it's improper for me to be present. Whatever you want to know, you can ask Madam directly.”

Rulan's lips were colorless from being bit tightly as she blankly stared at Minglan. Xique came up to Minglan and implored in a soft tone, “Lady Minglan, please help my lady. Just now she was angry and quarreled with Lady Hualan. Madam and Lady Hualan were completely annoyed by her. Now she must be ashamed to meet them. Certainly, she can ask Madam about this matter later. But Madam doesn't know my lady's affection for Childe Wen. She is unlikely to get to the point. What's more, my lady is extremely worried now and she can't wait to know their conversation. Lady Minglan, my lady has always treated you as her bosom friend over the years. Please help her!”

Minglan subconsciously wanted to refute Xique's remarks. However, Rulan walked over to Minglan with a fierce look on her face and grasped Minglan's arms, her knuckles whitening from her tight grip. Minglan was unable to shake Rulan off and moreover, she was also curious about what happened in Hall of Peaceful Ages, so she agreed toit in the end.

Fortunately, Hall of Peaceful Ages was not far away from House of Carefree. Minglan strode along the path in the cold wind and sometimes Xiaotao drew her forward. Soon they arrived at Hall of Peaceful Ages and saw Cuiping and Cuimei standing at the door. Minglan took a breath, tidied up her appearance and then slowly walked into the house. There was no one in the main room. Minglan bypassed a screen and went into the secondary room, in which Old Madam Sheng, Wang shi and Hualan were sitting on the edge of the bed and talking about something. At the sight of Minglan, they stopped talking and stared questioningly at her.

Minglan curtsied to them, summoned up the courage to look up at them and gave a nervous giggle. “I don't know what happened. Sister Rulan asked me to come here. I know I shouldn't be here... Maybe I'd better go back.”

She clutched the lower hem of her coat with embarrassment, almost incoherent in speaking. Hualan burst into laughter and turned to Old Madam Sheng who gave Minglan a glare without saying a word. Wang shi said, “Well, you can stay here. Rulan is always on good terms with you. She will listen to you... Old Madam, do you think so?”

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Old Madam Sheng certainly didn’t mind Minglan staying here. But she made a pretence of meditating for a moment before she nodded in agreement. Minglan cautiously took a taboret and sat beside them with her mouth shut, acting like a quiet spectator.

Hualan looked back at Old Madam Sheng and smiled, “Grandma, what was I saying just now? Oh, I remember… They talked with each other for almost two hours. General Gu and Shi's father grew up together in the capital. General Gu says that most people are friendly to those who are in power, but few people will help a lame dog over a stile. When he fell on evil days and had to leave the capital, Wenshao, your son-in-law, didn't look down on him. General Gu dislikes the social climbers. But he thinks Wenshao is dependable. So he asked Wenshao to find him a good marriage. My husband has only one sister but she has been engaged. So Wenshao thought of Rulan. Yesterday he asked General Gu if he was willing to marry Rulan. General Gu agreed.”

Wang shi had mixed feelings of euphoria and anxiety, as if a piece of pig's-head meat had dropped from the clouds and hit her on the head. She would really like to eat this meat, but she feared that it was poisonous.

Old Madam Sheng could see the hesitation on Wang shi's face. She weighed what she would say and asked, “I have to say that it's not a marriage between families of equal social rank because General Gu is more powerful than your father. But General Gu has a bad reputation... Apart from anything else, I have heard that he has a mistress living outside and she has borne him a son and a daughter. She must be in his good graces. If Rulan marries him, won't she suffer? Parents always take the job of proposing the marriage. Why did he bring up the marriage by himself? At least he should ask Madam Gu of Marquis Ningyuan Household to come to our mansion and propose the marriage.”

Old Madam Sheng had been troubled by Rulan's marriage these days. So she had a clear-sighted view in analyzing the advantage and disadvantage of this marriage. Wang shi repeatedly nodded in agreement. With a convoluted expression on her face, Old Madam Sheng glanced at Wang shi who looked obviously excited. There were some more bad rumors about Gu Tingye but Old Madam Sheng was embarrassed to tell Wang shi all about him.

Hualan looked at Old Madam Sheng and hesitated for a moment before she held the hand-warmer tightly, leaned over close to Old Madam Sheng and said in a low voice, “It's a long story. Last night my husband told me that... Madam Gu of Marquis Ningyuan Household is not General Gu's biological mother.”

All the people in the room were shocked. Old Madam Sheng promptly asked, “Was General Gu born of a concubine?” The question was connected with Gu Tingye's status. If he had been born of a concubine, he wouldn’t have been as noble as they thought.

“No. He is legal son of Old Marquis Ningyuan,” Hualan immediately answered. “I can hardly believe it. Marquis Ningyuan Household has kept the secret for so many years. In reality, Old Marquis Ningyuan took three wives in total. His first wife, Madam Qin, was the daughter of Marquis Dongchang. After marriage, Old Marquis Ningyuan went to garrison Sichuan and Yunnan with his family. A few years later, Madam Qin passed away after giving birth to a son. Then Old Marquis married his second wife, a lady of Bai family. She gave birth to General Gu. Before long Madam Bai also passed away. Afterwards, Old Marquis took his third wife, the younger sister of his first wife, Madam Qin. After many years, Old Marquis returned to the capital by order of the emperor. For a considerable period of time, no one of Marquis Ningyuan Household mentioned that Old Marquis had married Madam Bai outside. Outsiders always thought that Old Marquis only had a wife because both his first wife and his third wife were surnamed Qin. Marquis Dongchang Household also has no intention of telling the truth. So, only a few families which are on intimate terms with Marquis Ningyuan Household know the truth. Recently, many families want to marry their daughter to General Gu. So they have made some careful inquiries about his birth and the truth is gradually out.”

Minglan slightly opened her mouth with a puzzled look on her face. Why did Gu Tingye tell Yuan Wenshao about his birth?

Wang shi didn’t take what Hualan said to her heart. She only wanted to know if Gu Tingye was reliable, but Hualan told her a long story about Old Marquis Ningyuan. Old Madam Sheng got the point of the story. She straightened up on the bed and asked with interest, “So, General Gu is really at odds with Marquis Ningyuan Household, right? But I guess it's not because of the gap between General Gu and his father. The real reason is that he is on bad terms with his stepmother.”

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