Published at 27th of October 2019 04:10:09 PM

Chapter 163

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Minglan was reminded of something and thought, ‘So that’s what it is all about, I already knew about it.’

Old Madam Qin nodded with a smile. Then she nodded her head to Mama Xiang. After Mama Xiang had left, Old Madam Qin turned around and said, “Since you have already thought of that, I won’t babble about it anymore. Alas... I have planned to tell Minglan this a few days later when she settled down. But now you two are going to leave right away, so I have to say it out now.”

Gu Tingye stood up and bowed to Old Madam Qin and Madam Shao, saying in a heavy voice, “I did this absurd thing because I was too young and ignorant. I’m so grateful to you, my sister-in-law, for having looked after Rongjie’er over the two years.”

Madam Shao rose to her feet hastily and returned his obeisance, saying, “We are families, don’t regard me as an outsider. Rongjie’er is a good girl. She and Xianjie’er have got along well. As a matter of fact, I never really helped that much. Hongshao was the one who took care of Rongjie’er.

Gu Tingye put on a sullen look again and sat down. Before he could say anything, he saw the curtains being lifted. Mama Xiang led two women who dressed like madams into the room. A little girl was walked in the middle of them.

After the two women had gone down on their knees, they stood there with their head lowered and their hands drooping.

Minglan looked over carefully. The woman on the left who wore a apricot slanting long coat with Ruyi pattern edge was around eighteen or nineteen with a pretty oval face, two almond eyes and peachy cheeks. The long-faced beautiful woman on the right who seemed a bit older around twenty-seven to twenty-eight was wearing a creamy yellow, double-breasted coat with Ruyi pattern edges. The little girl in the middle was around seven or eight. She was in a light red camlet coat with dark red edges. Although the girl looked thin and weak with a timid look on her face, it was still clear to be seen that she had a fine look like that Manniang.

Old Madam Qin said to the girl gently, “Rongjie’er, come to see your father and your mother.”

That little girl glimpsed at Madam Shao and found the latter nodding lightly. Then after she stepped forward tremblingly, she knelt down and kowtowed on the ground, calling, “... father.”

Gu Tingye looked at this girl with a complicated look on her face while nodding his head.

“And your mother?” Old Madam Qin smiled and reminded Rongjie’er.

Being timid-looking, Rongjie’er peeked at Minglan and bit her lips without saying a word. Minglan really wanted to voice her opinions, so she looked to Gu Tingye. However, he only waved his hand and said to Rongjie’er, “You can call her Madam.”

Everyone there changed the looks on their faces. Madam Shao couldn’t help but say, “It’s better to call her mother. Rongjie’er, just say it!”

However, Rongjie’er just couldn’t utter that word. The women on the right opened her mouth a few times, but when she looked at the woman on the left, she shut her mouth again. Gu Tingye didn’t mind about the others but only looked at Rongjie’er straightly and said, “If you don’t want to call her mother, just call her madam.”

Rongjie’er, with a stubborn look on her face, blurted out the word, “Madam!’

Madam Shao showed a regretful look on her face and stopped saying anything. Zhu shi was drinking her tea with her head lowered. Old Madam Qin looked at Minglan with a very meaningful look. Meanwhile, Minglan felt herself wronged because after all, she was the one who hadn’t said a word from the beginning.

At the moment, a servant who came from the side led Rongjie’er to sit down on the small chair by one side and gave her some snacks. After that, Old Madam Qin pointed to the two women while introducing to Minglan, “They are the concubines of Tingye. This one is Concubine Gong, she has attended to Rongjie’er over the two years. And this is Qiuniang. She was the maid of Tingye since his childhood and later became his concubine.”

Those two women stepped forward in a hurry to give their obeisances to Minglan. Now it was Minglan’s turn to be upset. Because this time she didn’t bring any pouches with her. Having groped in her sleeves for a long while, she took off two gold bracelets and presented them to the two concubines.

When the two women raised their heads to give thanks to Minglan, they both couldn’t help glancing at Gu Tingye. Concubine Gong’s eyes were filled with bitterness as if she was weeping and complaining about something. Meanwhile, Qiuniangj, whose face was brimming over with joy almost burst into tears. However, Gu Tingye was only staring at Rongjie’er with his eyebrows knitted.

After the introduction, Old Madam Qin said to Minglan, “Now that you two are going to move out, they should also follow you there.”

Minglan nodded. Before she could say anything, Gu Tingye said ahead of her, “Of course they will. But my new mansion is in a mess right now. They can wait for a few more days. After everything is settled there, I’ll send someone to pick them up.”

With dim light flickering in Old Madam Qin’s eyes, she fell into silence for the moment. Meanwhile, Concubine Gong went down on her knees in front of Minglan, saying, “I am willing to go now. Madam, although I am a fool, I can still run errands for you when you dealing with the family affairs.” 

Gu Tingye said indifferently, “Don’t you still need to take care of Rongjie’er?”

Concubine Gong’s face turned pale. Then Qiuniang who was beside her wanted to say something at once. Gu Tingye looked at the latter and said with a softer tone, “You two stay here. I’ll pick you up afterwards.” Then Qiuniang closed her mouth right away with excited expression in her eyes.

Minglan was still touching a string of bracelets on her wrist in her sleeves while thinking secretly, ‘Why did I only present them two bracelets? I should have given them all the bracelets on my wrists to match General Gu’s reputation.’

As she was pondering, she was suddenly enlightened. When Gu Tingye had left his home, most of the concubines had thought that he had actually been kicked out of the house. Then they all left Gu’s family since they had no expectations in Gu Tingye anymore. Well, it was also possible that they had been driven away by the Old Master.

After all, there was no need to feed all those concubines for a loafer who might never come back. Then what about those two concubines? Hmm, that was so complicated.

Old Madam Qin still wanted to have a chat with Minglan. However, all the women felt timid because of Gu Tingye’s presence. Therefore, the people all dispersed immediately. Qiuniang and Hongxiao (Concubine Gong) seemed to want to follow Minglan and Gu Tingye. However, Gu Tingye walked very fast and even Minglan had to trot to catch him up.

Only after they had walked out of the side yard on the east and stepped on a path from the side door did Gu Tingye slow down. He supported Minglan to let her breathe slowly. Having heard Minglan’s evenly breath, Gu Tingye then walked on the tree-lined path slowly.

“Do you... have anything to say to me?” After they had walked for a while, Gu Tingye said.

Minglan who had restrained herself for a long time asked right away, “Qiuniang looked older and more steady than Concubine Gong, why hasn’t she become a formal concubine? She was not qualified to look after Rongjie’er before. Was that because of her identity?”

Gu Tingye never thought that Minglan would ask about that. Then with the look on his face eased, he said in a low voice, “Hongshao is from the Yu’s Family. Yanhong has pointed her as my concubine by herself. As for Qiuniang... it is already difficult for her to stay in the family.”

Two sentences, two women, two kinds of attitudes. Minglan remembered that inwardly.

Then they continued to walk. After Gu Tingye had waited for a long while, he finally couldn’t help but ask, “You, really don’t have other things to say?”

Minglan was still thinking with her head lowered. Hearing his words, she raised her head blankly and said in surprise, “Say... what?”

Gu Tingye paused while staring straightly at Minglan and saying in a firm tone, “You are unhappy.”

“Why would I be unhappy?” Minglan said that with a puzzled look.

Gu Tingye watched Minglan carefully. With the expression in his eyes turning deep and dark, he said slowly, “You are unhappy about Hongshao and Qiuniang.”

Minglan grinned and said, “That’s impossible. You were wrong about me...” However, she was interrupted before she could finish the sentence.

“You don’t like them, right?” Gu Tingye asked directly.

Minglan waved her hand and chuckled, saying, “I’m a tolerant person, I think...” Then she was interrupted again.

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“Are you being jealous now?” Gu Tingye asked again with his eyebrows wrinkled deeply.

“Of course not! Listen to me, there was a saying in the Women’s Commandments...” Minglan tried her best to explain but was interrupted once more.

“Stop talking!” Gu Tingye suddenly shouted that, which frightened Minglan a lot.

Then he took a deep breath with a sullen look. The darkness in his eyes was like the endless abyss and the imposing aura kept sending out from him. Seeing his huge figure approaching her, Minglan was too scared to even say a word. He said slowly, “I have said that I have heard too many lies in my whole like. I want you to speak your mind to me. Just tell me the truth!”

Minglan said inwardly, “If I tell you all the truth about me, I will be considered as a ghost and burned!”

As Minglan was lowering her head without uttering anything, Gu Tingye just waited there in silence while forcing her to talk. Being unable to bear this, Minglan sighed slightly and tried to find another way out by saying implicitly, “Emperor Gao, our Taizu (T/N: the first founder of the dynasty) of our dynasty loved to reward the officials with beauties. However, he never rewarded the generals or officials to whom he had betrothed the princesses. Why is that? Those officials also helped Taizu conquer the land, achieved the ranks of nobility and performed immortal feats. Why couldn’t they be rewarded the beauties?”

Gu Tingye’s pupils expanded and contracted lightly while his eyes kept flickering. Minglan looked at him with a smile and said calmly, “Even a heroic man like Emperor Gao knows about it clearly. Actually all the men are clear in their minds. Why do you have to ask?”

The princess was the emperor’s own daughter after all. If all the madams felt happy to see their husbands marrying the concubines, why hadn’t the emperor presented the concubines to the princess’s husband?

The emperor rewarding beauties to the officials was a time-honoured custom. When the famous official Fang Xuanling had been rewarded a concubine, his wife had drunk the rice vinegar which looked like the poison to present a protest. Her move had set a precedent for virago objecting to their husbands being rewarded beauties.

Taizu was an ugly and romantic man who liked to consider others in his own place. Thus he had had the habits of rewarding women to the officials. It was said that Duchess Ying had stood in front of the door with two chopping knives in her hands and claimed that she would kill those beauties the moment they had entered into Duke Ying’s mansion then kill herself. Duke Ying who had been half dead with fright had knelt on the steps in front of the throne room for three days to let the emperor withdraw the reward.

Taizhong, also known as Emperor wu had also rewarded beauties to the officials from time to time. At that time, Duchess Han had been even more fiercer by taking her little son and daughter with her while laying the firewood with kerosene on the ground, announcing that if those beauties married to her husband, she would die with the children. Duke Han had been scared out of his wits and begged Emperor Wu with tears streaming down his face for half of the day. At last, Duke Han had finally saved himself from this crisis.

Of course, there were lots of guys accepting those beauties with joy and even being proud of that. So actually, all the problems were because of men.

Minglan’s speech sounded quite fresh. Gu Tingye nodded silently and then looked straight into Minglan’s eyes while saying, “But I already had concubines.”

“That’s right.” Minglan said smilingly with her eyes curved, “So I’ll take care of Rongjie’er and get along well with Qiuniang and Hongxiao. I’ll be a virtuous woman! I really will!”

The modern men and women hadn’t evolved that much from the ancient people. The wives of the men who were on the Forbes Billionaires List endured their husbands’ cheating without protest. But the petty dealers’ wives would always make a violent scene even if they didn’t get divorce when they found out about their husbands’ infidelity. The reason for this phenomenon was the gap of power and wealth between the husbands and wives. At present, she was the illegal daughter of a fourth grade official while he was the second grade influential official, which meant he was more powerful than her. So she had to be ‘virtuous’.

Things were just this simple.

Minglan’s words were super sincere and Gu Tingye trusted that she had meant for what she had said. However, the look on his face seemed even more gloomy. With his eyebrows knitted tightly and the expression in his eyes turning ferocious all of a sudden, he glared at Minglan bitterly as if he wanted to eat her alive. 

Minglan, as vigilant as she was, observed that the situation was going on a wrong path. So she vouched herself again in a hurry and nearly thumped her chest while saying that, “I won’t play dirty tricks! You have to trust me. I’ll treat them nice! Just wait and see!” How pathetic she was! If she could speak those genuine words when she had applied to join the Party in her previous life, she would have succeeded!

After she had said that, Gu Tingye’s face was dark like the bottom of the pan, the expression in his eyes was extremely sullen and the look on his face was peculiarly gloomy. Then the two of them just stood face to face in silence while his heavy breath spouted on Minglan’s face. Minglan was still in panic while thinking whether she should vow to show her earnest feeling.

After a long while, Gu Tingye, having let out a deep breath, held Minglan’s hand and continued to move along silently with his head lowered. Minglan, being in a trance, tried to look at his side face carefully. She felt that the words she had said had been reserved enough and the determination she had expressed was very solid. Why was he still being angry?

It was true that men and women were from different planets.

[Author’s note:]

About the titles,

First, in A Dream in Red Mansions, Jia Zheng and Jia She, as two brothers, didn’t live apart. But the titles of their sons were ranked separately. Jia Lian (Jia She’s son) was called Second Master Lian while Baoyu (Jia Zheng’s son) was called Second Master Bao. However, the titles of their daughters were ranked together. Yingchun (Jia She’s daughter) was called Second Lady, Tanchun was called Third Lady (Jia Zheng’s daughter) and Xichun (Jia She’s daughter) was called Fourth Lady. I don’t understand the reason for this.

Second, the grandfather was called Grand Master and grandfather’s brother was called Grand Uncle. The father was called Old Master while father’s brother was called Uncle. Since Pan Jinlian called Wu Song (Pan Jinlian’s brother-in-law) uncle too, then juniors like Gu Tingye should call his uncles with the rank such as Fourth Uncle.

Third, due to the high mortality rates of the children in the ancient times, the boys and girls would be named as ‘X ge’er or X jie’er’. When the boys were old enough to go to the school, he would be given a formal name. It was uncertain for the girls when they would have their formal names, someone might even be named after they had reached marriageable age.

Fourth, the titles of those relatives might not be very rigorous. I would try my best to use the titles which were easily understood to the readers.

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