Published at 12th of March 2017 07:43:40 PM

Chapter 20.1

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The Legend of the Concubine’s Daughter Minglan Chapter 20 Part 1

That four little maids are all below ten, two of them younger than Minglan, two older. Their names to distinguish them: Er’ya, Zhaodi, Xiaohua and Niu’zi.1 Old Madame Sheng smiled and let Minglan give them a new name. Minglan has some experience in this, Xiaotao’s name was given by her. This four might as well be called ‘Li’zi, Lizhi, Pipa, Guiyuan’,2 the entire set of fruits. How orderly.

When she was just about to open her mouth, Danju lightly coughed from the side and said with a smile “The two older sisters by Fourth Young Lady are named Luzhong and Yunzai. Heard that it came from the books, no wonder that it sounds pleasant and refined.”

Xiaotao who stood beside Danju used her eyes to express her despair over her name. Old Madame Sheng and Mama Fang teased Minglan with a smile yet not a smile, causing her mind to be in chaos. Is it not just Tang poetry, who does not know?

Under great distress, Minglan immediately flipped a poetry book and looked for a poem quickly. Gao Chan is good right, as impressive as Li Bai? That person is immortal of poetry all right!3 Minglan stood in the middle with infinite grandiose. She pointed at the small-sized girl “You are called Yancao.” Pointing at the skinny girl “You are called Bisi.” Pointing at that tender and shy girl “You are called Qinsang.” Finally, that neat and bold girl is called Luzhi.4

Danju is the most considerate, immediately went forward and accommodated “Young Lady gave such good names, pleasant and good-looking. Moreover, the four of them are green, Xiaotao and I are red.5 Thank you, Young Lady for favouring these two stupid ones.”

After she spoke, she still pulled Xiaotao along to bow to Minglan. Minglan more or less found her self-respect back. Xiaotao is also very happy and followed to sing praises “Yes, Older Sister Danju and I still can be eaten, they cannot be eaten.”

Minglan: ……

Old Madame Sheng immediately laughed on the couch, happily watching the children make a scene. The four new girls covered their mouths and softly laughed, Mama Fang sat on the small stool and smiled. She thought with agreement: since the coming of this Sixth Young Lady, this Shou’an Hall is really good.

Old Madame Sheng became more cheerful as the days go by, perhaps her heart is at ease, her body is also much better. Sheng Hong is very happy, frankly saying that wanting to raise a child is right, Old Madame has the energy to govern the house already. It has not been long since the change in personnel within the Sheng household’s inner residence, Changbai has returned from sending Hualan off. Because Sheng Wei and Changwu still have to remain in the capital to do work, Changbai returned first. There is also another skinny old mister who came— Scholar Zhuang.

Sheng Hong has already begun to invite Mister Zhuang into the household to teach a few years before, sending gifts in many carriages, writing abundant dozens of earnest letters. To no avail since Mister Zhuang had extensive teaching reputation, the rate of students becoming worthy of respect is high, causing his business to be very good and always busy. A few months before, Mister Zhuang celebrated his seventy birthday, drank too many cups in happiness at the banquet and unfortunately caught a cold. He lied in bed for a few months, the physician proposed that he should go to a place with warm climate and recuperate. Jiangnan is too far, Prefecture Deng is just nice.

Mister Zhuang touched his weary old body that barely weighs anything and felt that his old life is important. Thus he agreed to Sheng Hong’s invitation and followed Changbai from the capital. Together with him there is also a confident woman,6 their daughter has already been married far away to Jinzhong, it is unclear whether the son is ceremonial official or registrar official in a southern county. Sheng Hong specially opened a little courtyard on the west side of the household, refurbishing it for several days to let Mister Zhuang and wife stay.

The two elderly couple’s servants who accompanied them were merely just two or three but there are twenty thirty big chests in the wagons, each and every heavy. After Minglan heard the report from busybody Xiaotao, she lamented: seems like being a private tutor in the ancient times is very profitable.

Inviting Mister Zhuang, Sheng Hong originally did it for the studies of the two oldest sons but after Governess Kong’s profound education, he felt that he should not waste the benefits from having qualified teachers. Thus he respectfully discussed with Mister Zhuang and added a sum of money to count in the three girls and the youngest Little Boy Feng to sit in.

The day before school opens, Sheng Hong and Wang shi called the children before them to warn them. Firstly it is Changbai and Changfeng. Sheng Hong as usual start to speak from prosperous society peace citizens to bring honour to the ancestors, saying a few words in the middle about faithful patriots and such. The two big boys bowed their heads and replied yes.

“Mister Zhuang’s knowledge is excellent, although he is a little old but he is well-known quick creativeness. He taught people for ten over years and is the clearest regarding taking the imperial examinations. You guys must properly ask for advices, cannot be lazy! Must not depend on your achievements and talents and then show off and be haughty. If I were to learn of it, I will immediately break your bones!”

This were Sheng Hong’s concluding remarks, harshly and sternly reprimanding. According to the Confucian school of thought, fathers cannot be friendly towards the sons and the best is to beat them thrice a day but towards the daughters who in the future will become part of another family still can be a little friendly. When Sheng Hong turned to the three daughters, he looked more friendly. “Although it is said that girls do not study till they are politically astute but to conduct oneself in the society, sensibility is the most important. It is also good to know more principles so as to avoid being mocked for your small-mindedness. I have already discussed with Mister Zhuang, from now on you three will attend classes in the morning and need not attend the afternoon classes on essay writings and regulations in taking examinations.”

When Sheng Hong said these words, Wang shi’s face turned a little green. She herself is illiterate, as for what is wet and dry it is even more foreign to her. It is still alright when they were newlyweds but as the days go, it is inevitable for Sheng Hong to be a little gloomy. He posed himself to be refined and scholarly so when he sighs ‘the moon waxes and wanes’ facing the moon. Even if he does not expect his wife to immediately pair it with ‘there is joy and sorrows, parting and reuniting’, he expects her to understand that her husband is lamenting that the world is transient and not talking about irrelevant things like ‘today is not the fifteen, it is obvious that the moon is not round’!7

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As time passes, Wang shi became aware that she is spoiling the scenery in this aspect thus she proactively advocated for her daughters to study. Hualan is still okay but Rulan is completely like her. In other aspects, she is still quick-witted but only detests the books. Being forced to learn a few words everyday, simply cannot be compared to Molan who recites and composes poems everyday. Thinking till here, Wang shi’s expression became constrained and said “What your Father said is right,  it is not for you girls to learn poems and essays these superficial things but it is honourable to learn some principles. In the future when managing the household, there is style!” Molan lowered her head eve more, Rulan breathed a sigh of relief.

Sheng Hong felt that Wang shi’s words were not anything wrong and then did not say anything. He suddenly remembered something “When going to classes, the three of you must not wear that big gold necklace.” Turning towards Wang shi “The scholars usually feel gold and silver are only material goods. The three gold necklaces Big Brother gave are especially dazzling, it is still okay when receiving guests but when meeting mister it is showing off.”

Wang shi nodded “Then do not wear it.” Thinking for awhile and said to the girls “It is not good for you three sisters to dress up differently from one another when meeting the same person. Did Old Madame not make three jade locks the day before? Wear your respective jade locks, it is said that jade is the noblest of the rocks. Mister Zhuang will certain like it.”

Sheng Hong is very satisfied “What Madame said it right, it is good this way; … but, does Ming’er have a piece of jade?” Looking at Minglan as he spake, his gaze is somewhat apologetic.

Wang shi smiled “The days Ming yatou spent with me were short, I have also overlooked. It is still Old Madame who is attentive, specially searching for a block of top-notch jade from her own house and sent the treasure house’s master craftsman to carve. I see that it is superb, the colour is warm, texture sleek and the craftsmanship is both meticulous and beautiful. See that it is better than the jades of Fourth yatou and Fifth yatou. In the end it is the Old Madame, the things she takes out is better than most!”

Minglan lowered her head and silently sighed: oh woman oh woman, will you die if you do not hide these profound words when you speak?

1. 二丫(Er Ya): Second girl; 招弟(Zhao Di): Recruit Younger Brother, parents would usually name their daughter Zhaodi in hopes of having a son next; 小花(Xiao Hua): Little Flower; 妞子(Niu Zi): Little Girl
2. 李子(Li Zi): Plum; 荔枝(Li Zhi): Lychee; 枇杷(Pi Pa): Loquat; 桂圆(Gui Yuan): Longnan
3. Li Bai is famous poet and widely considered to be the immortal of poetry.
4. 燕草 (Yan Cao): Consolida ajacis; 碧丝 (Bi Si): a plant used commonly in hair products; 秦桑 (Qin Sang): Mulberry tree; 绿枝 (Lu Zhi): Green branches
5. The red would refer to fruits while green means plants. 丹橘 (Dan Ju): Red mandarin orange; 小桃 (Xiao Tao): Little peach
6. 师娘 (Shi Niang): Wife of a teacher
7. Wane is translated from the original 圆缺 (Yuan Que) meaning lacking in roundness

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