Published at 3rd of November 2019 10:31:37 AM

Chapter 167

If audio player doesn't work, press Stop then Play button again

During this meal, Old Madam Sheng listened to Minglan babbling about the people in Gu’s mansion the whole time. The room was filled with Minglan’s happy laughter and cheerful voices. Minglan actually felt sad deep down, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to see Old Madam Sheng so often in the future. So she tried her best to pretend that everything was going well by giving a vivid description of how interesting her newly married life was as if there was only happiness in Gu’s family.

Old Madam Sheng listened to Minglan with a smile. After they had finished the meal, Mama Fang ordered the maids to clean up the table and leave. Then, she also left and closed the door.

“I have something to ask you, sit there!” Old Madam Sheng put on a stern face. Minglan who had lived with Old Madam Sheng for so many years knew that her grandma was about to say something serious. So after serving the tea to Old Madam Sheng in a hurry, she sat back tamely, waiting for Old Madam Sheng’s lecture.

As Old Madam Sheng saw the tiredness hidden under Minglan’s pretended smile, she felt herself being in a dilemma. Ever since Old Madam Sheng had heard Mama Cui’s words which had been retold by Mama Fang, she had been quite indecisive as to whether she should ask the intimate details about Minglan’s married life. Most people would just ignore that. Having filled her mind with thousands of ideas, Old Madam Sheng finally said, “Did he... treat you well?”

Minglan tried very hard to interpret Old Madam Sheng’s words in a decent way. With her face turning red, she said in a low voice, “Yes, he treats me well.” Which part of our life were you asking?

Old Madam Sheng opened her mouth but then shut it again. Not knowing how to continue the topic, she changed the subject right away, “Who is in charge of the affairs in your mansion?”

Minglan hesitated, “Eh... I’m not clear about that.”

Hearing that, Old Madam Sheng seemed to put on a reproachful look in her eyes. Having pondered for a while, she sighed and continued to ask softly, “How are the houses and gardens in your mansion? I heard that place used to be the mansion of a high-ranking official when the last emperor was on the throne and has been abandoned for almost ten years. Do you think it needs to be repaired?”

Minglan answered with a confused look, “Eh... I don’t know about that, either.” She barely got the chance to walk out of the bedroom and didn’t even know what her own mansion looked like.

With eyes wide open in shock, Old Madam Sheng wore a gloomy look again and asked in a worried tone, “Then, do you know how many properties you have in your mansion?” Since Minglan had spent most of her time staying with Gu Tingye, Old Madam Sheng thought that this couple must have talked about something useful!

Minglan said embarrassedly, “I... don’t know that either.” She didn’t need to talk too much with Gu Tingye on the bed since the only two things they had done there were sleeping and doing bed ‘sport’.

Seeing Minglan being entirely ignorant about everything, Old Madam Sheng was completely speechless and could only stare at her little granddaughter in a daze. Old Madam Sheng never expected that all the skills and methods she had taught Minglan would be of no use at last. It seemed that her grandson-in-law only needed to be satisfied with his fundamental desire.

Feeling embarrassed beyond words, Minglan thought about what to say in a fluster for a long while. Then she spoke haltingly, “Don’t worry, grandma. He really has treated me nice.”

Old Madam Sheng, as feeble as she felt, could only sigh deeply.

“... Grandma, I understand what you mean. I’ll be careful.” Minglan knew that Old Madam Sheng was worried about her. In fact, Minglan knew exactly how troublesome her situation was. It was not that she didn’t want to struggle for her life. But she just really hadn’t had the time over the past two days.

“Forget about it. Tell me, has your husband been troubled by anything these days?” Old Madam Sheng asked, not even bothered to sigh.

Troubles? Minglan felt that everything had troubled him. He had a difficult step-mother, a half-dead brother, and a full house of annoying relatives. Having thought about that for a while, she suddenly said gently, “Grandma, as I see it, he... intends to inherit the title of Marquis Ningyuan.” Gu Tingyu had been beyond recovery and might be dead at any time. It was impossible for him to have a son as an heir.

“Oh?” Old Madam Sheng was intrigued by Minglan’s words and asked in high spirits, “What makes you think so?”

Minglan came over to Old Madam Sheng with a cup of tea in her hands while fumbling for the right words to say, “Only after I have seen it by myself did I know how bad his relationship with other members of the Gu family is. I can even call that ‘hatred’. There are so many places in the capital. If he really wants to make a thorough break with the people of the Gu family and cut down the contacts with them, why did he choose a mansion which is so close to Marquis Ningyuan’s. After all, His Majesty could always grant a mansion wherever he wanted.”

Old Madam Sheng nodded while taking over the tea cup. Having skimmed the tea scum with the lid, she said, “It makes sense.”

Minglan sat beside Old Madam Sheng with her eyebrows knitted slightly, “That’s also the confusing part. Last year, I have already heard that His Majesty has intended to award a knighthood to him. At that time, His Majesty had summoned Marquis Xiangyang very frequently. So why does Gu Tingye...?”

Before Minglan finished her sentence, Old Madam Sheng already understood Minglan’s doubts and said with a smile, “Your are trying to ask, if Gu Tingye really wants to be granted a knighthood, why wouldn’t he choose to be Marquis Xiangyang? In that way, he could obtain more property and get rid of those troublesome relatives at the same time.”

Minglan nodded. Actually, she had been fed up with dealing with those loathsome relatives of Gu Tingye.

“You are still too young to understand the implication in between.” Old Madam Sheng smiled softly while patting Minglan’s hands, saying in a tender voice, “Think about it, there are two kinds of pressures for him to choose. One is from his step-mother. The other one is from his newly acquired legal mother. Which one is easier to deal with?”

Being enlightened by Old Madam Sheng’s words, Minglan seemed to understand Gu Tingye’s intention a bit.

Visit for extra chapters.

With meaningful expressions flashing in eyes, Old Madam Sheng smiled, “Your husband is the second legal son of Old Master Gu. Since his brother has no male descendant, he is perfectly justified to inherit the title of Marquis Ningyuan and doesn’t have to owe anybody’s favor. So this thing could be done with only a little help from His Majesty. Though Marquis Xiangyang mansion is quite prestigious now while Marquis Ningyuan’s mansion is in a low state, we cannot judge things by the appearance. If he chooses a seemingly easy way right now, he would face lots of troubles in the future.”

Minglan was greatly inspired and took a humble. Old Madam Qin was the step-mother of Gu Tingye. Even she only needed to make do with the etiquette with Old Madam Qin since her real mother-in-law was Old Madam Bai who had already died, let alone Gu Tingye. However, if Gu Tingye wanted to inherit the title of Marquis Xiangyang, he had to treat Old Madam of Marquis Xiangyang’s mansion as well as all the other brothers of the same clan generously because he wasn’t from the original Marquis Xiangyang’s lineage. Otherwise others would definitely call him an ungrateful man. There would be countless troubles for him to deal with.

Old Madam Sheng, having leaned back slowly, lay on the brick bed cozily while saying leisurely, “I guess your husband is an obstinate man who hates to be controlled by others the most.” The comments from Old Madam Sheng was so straight to the point that Minglan couldn’t help but nod heavily. That was exactly the truth.

Old Madam Sheng glanced at her and suddenly said, “Remember this, first, never confront a tough guy like him with toughness... I don’t think you can be tougher than him anyway!” Minglan sighed while giving out a wry smile. Old Madam Sheng continued, “Also, according to those things he has done, I think he is a sensible person who couldn’t tolerate lies. So if you want to do something, you should just tell him straightly. You should never agree something to his face but oppose him secretly. And don’t pretend to be a virtuous woman while keeping things from him. That would bring misunderstandings between you two.”

Minglan looked down while nodding her head, thinking, ---- Mama Cui, you did have passed on the message quickly.

Seeing the look on Minglan’s face, Old Madam Sheng knew that Minglan hadn’t fully understood the thing she had just said. Then Old Madam Sheng decided to speak frankly. She started at Minglan, saying with a fierce voice, “Being virtuous is like being the clay figure Bodhisattva or the memorial tablet of Confucius, which should only be worshiped in word. If you choose to be a virtuous woman for real, you would regret for your whole life!... Remember, your husband would at least be the support for half of your life! Even if you don’t love him, you have to make sure of his loyalty to you! Never let other women take advantages of you! Don’t try to be aloof or put on airs. Even if your husband is a devoted man at first, you have to be capable of watch him closely!” Old Madam Sheng seemed to have said those words too quickly, so she had to take a breath before saying with bitterness on the corner of her mouth, “Don’t be like me.”

Suddenly, tears ran down from Minglan’s face. She cried on Old Madam Sheng’s knees. She had known from a long time ago that all those lectures Old Madam Sheng had given to her had meant to remedy Old Madam Sheng’s own regrets. Also, Old Madam Sheng actually pined her own hope on Minglan’s happiness.

Minglan stroked Old Madam Sheng’s winkled hand while saying in a low voice, “When Teacher Zhuang taught us history, I loved to hear him telling the story of Han Bai in Former History of Jin Dynasty. General Han tried to fight against tens of thousands of enemy troops with only thousands solders in an isolated city. All the people around him persuaded him to surrender but he refused firmly. When the city was about to be conquered, he put his sword in front of his neck, saying, ‘Man proposes and God disposes. I have done everything I could and only have this life to spare.’ Hardly had his voice faded away, floodwater rushed down from the mountain across the city. More than half of his enemies were drowned in the flood. And he was also free from the dangerous situation.”

With Minglan’s voice turning clear and bright, she said slowly, “Grandma, I remembered everything you have said clearly in my mind. I’ll try my best to live a good life. No matter I am in favorable or adverse circumstances, I won’t treat anything with disrespect, nor would I be eaten up with pride. I won’t throw my weight around, nor be neglectful or careless. I won’t keep complaining or give up easily. Who knows, maybe God would finally look upon me with favor and I’ll... meet my bright future.”

Author’s note:

There are lots of old sayings about the rise and decline of the ancient families. For example, a family’s wealth could only last for three generations, or the descendants would destroy the property that the elders have struggled for. All in all, the thriving situation of the scholar’s family could always last longer than other families.

A classic example was Fan Zhongyan’s family. His clan had kept their flag flying for eight hundred years from the Northern Song Dynasty to the initial stage of the Republic of China era. Basically, all the families that could maintain their prosperity for hundreds of years had followed the pattern of Fan’s family. They set up schools in the clan, disposed the family estate fairly, cultivated the clansman and helped each other.

Chen family in Haining had carried out that procedure really well.

‘Chen’s clan has been prestigious for generations. No other families could have so many officials like Chen’s family. For three hundred years, there were two hundred Jinshi, three ministers as well as other high rank officials in Chen family. That is so abnormal.’

Meanwhile, the four glorious families in A Dream in Red Mansions were actually the parties of bureaucracy. Their family base was not as decent and upright like those scholar-gentry families, not to mention their abilities of disciplining their own clansmen.

If Xue Pan or Jia She were born in a family like Chen’s, they might be beaten to death or driven out of the family. Of course, it was also possible that they would change into decent men.

Please report us if you find any errors so we can fix it asap!