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Published at 2nd of November 2017 12:40:12 PM


Chapter 23

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Chapter 023 - The Youth Brought By Spring




 

 

By a look at the juvenile’s attire, the Sheng children knew he was an important figure. They immediately stood up to show their respect to him. Mr. Zhuang waited for them finish before introducing his background. He was the only son of the envoy of the Salt Department [1], the second son of Qi Gong Gong.  His mother is Xiangyang, also an only child, had been given the title, Junzhu [2] of the Pingning region.

His title is Qi Heng [3] and seemed to be one year younger than Changbai. A few years ago in the capital, he became Mr. Zhuang's’ student but soon had to follow his father out of the capital due to work. Recently the Senior of Qi, under imperial order, needed to visit Deng Prefecture to inspect and rectify the salts. He estimated they need to stay for a while, so naturally his small wife accompanied him. Qi Heng heard Sheng Hong is sheltering Mr. Zhuang, so he asked his father to give a message notifying them of his visit.

Minglan noticed that Mr. Zhuang was very close to Qi Heng and feels that it’s strange. These days while teaching, Mr. Zhuang’s behavior when talking is like patiently waiting at the door in disdain for Wang Gong [4]. He had once publically pointout that the Earl Household’s children were ‘stupid insects’, something that no one else had dared to.  She also thought the same and even Changfeng has said, "I guess Mr. Zhuang is really proud. I shall call you my senior for now on." in a laughing manner while bowing.

Mr. Zhuang points to Qi Heng and laughs, "This kid has a great family background. They're officials that don’t take anything from donation, all they have is from their own hard work. Last winter they helped me get a heater for my broken cottage, as the Princess was anxiously walking to district masters to handle matters.”

Qi Heng's snow white skin was flushed a soft red, "Father often regrets not being able to take the exams and hopes that his descendants will have a better future. Luckily Old Madam Sheng invited Mr. Zhuang, Yuan Ruo can then only shamelessly impose."

He glances to the side to see the silent smile of Changbai. "Son of the Sheng couple, Brother Changbai, I heard that you along with your brother here, will go and take the home examination. I do not know if I may have a word?”

Changbai says: "Mr. Zhuang said that straightforward words are honest.”

After the three big boys salute each other, Qi Heng towards the Sheng family’s two son, gave advice and says, "Then, to Brother Changbai and virtuous Younger Brother Changfeng.”




Mr. Zhuang not wanting to get scolded by Old Madam Sheng for dismissing them late, had been getting impatient.  He had been wanting to dismiss the class early on but had been holding back until now,  "You are too energetic that this old man is getting pedantic.  Let your wish go for now as my class has not yet been dismissed." – Minglan secretly thought that he has been waiting to dismiss the class, even before this official came.

The servants had finished setting up a table and chair for Qi Heng as they were speaking so, Mr. Zhuang called Qi Heng to sit down. Originally Changbai was on the right of the wall while Changfeng was on the left with their sisters behind them. The seat in front of Minglan was empty while Changdon sat behind her. Mr. Zhuang told Qi Heng to sit in the empty seat in front of Minglan, blocking her line of sight.

After Qi Heng sat down, he suddenly turned back and smilingly says: "Sixth younger sister is good.”

Minglan was shocked –this guy how...? and intuitively turns to check Molan and Rulan.  They were really looking here...meanwhile Qi Heng had already settled back down and was looking forward silently.

The room went quiet until Mr. Zhuang cleared his throat and said, "Looks like the sixth lady and her maids have something they want to say, what is it? You may speak.”

Changbai smoothly laughs, "Sixth younger sister say whatever you wish to say.”

Chengfeng purses his lips, looks at Qi Heng with misgivings but no longer criticizes him.  Molan and Rulan, though childish were still beautiful ladies of the household; hence were still annoyed to death watching Qi Heng and Minglan.

Qi Heng did not hold himself back with the intention of looking very cool and bright turned back to the front.  

Mr. Zhuang did not comment, indicating that Minglan to sit down and asks Qi Heng: "Yuan if, you have just been listening for a long time behind –what can you say about what she said?”


Qi Heng starts to get up and says: "This student had just come recently, how to say absurd things but..." He pauses and then laughs, "Sixth younger sister’s last question... what she asked was excellent.”

The atmosphere immediately loosened as everyone remembered the question and how funny it was, while Mr. Zhuang was pointing while shaking his head.

Mr. Zhuang says to the boys in the first row, "I’m only going to say today's words once, after I go out of this door I will not recognize this. When a man is loyal and patriotic, regardless of if the whether outside is windy or raining, it will remain in the past and locked up tightly. (Regardless what happens in the past should remain there). We must not be naive to fall into them. (We must not let them demons in our hearts and allow them to overcome our now). colleagues sometimes do unnecessary dispute, to be a loyal official is the only right thing (Being loyal to the emperor is the only way to succeed)!”

As all the students nod to this, Minglan thought, This old man is truly cunning, Saying that it does not matter if you do not legislate nor is it important where to stand, as long as you are loyal to the emperor until the end, it's fine. This should not be said but cannot help but say; as it’s too painful to say that to truly complete a task; one can’t do everything but can only rely on oneself.

Because Qi Heng wanted to pay his respect to Old Madam Sheng, the children would be eating their lunch together at Shou'an Hall. Old Madam Sheng observed Qi Heng carefully, her heart secretly happy, and then looks at the side where the three flowers - her three little granddaughters - were. Her heart inevitably made a move, thinking of Minglan, she could not help but sigh. Wang Shi stood at the side and especially made an elated introduction.

When Sheng Hong saw the message by Madam Qi, he felt unhappy with Qi Heng personally looking for him and paying his respect to him on his own accord [5], at that moment he invited Qi Heng to the household to study. Madam Qi had been worrying about his son delaying his studies, at that time there were also speculations and rumors, after using their influence to dig around, there was actually a magical discovery - the Qi Houshold and Wang Shi's family had a close family relationship with each other.

Wang Shi smiles and says: "It was my maiden’s family’s distant relatives, though they’re distant relatives, my family decided to be close again." This time, the used to be colleagues in the past had become relatives [6]. In the room, more people talk about the heat, even the sisters did not shy away.

Minglan after hearing Wang Shi's explanation, she understood why Qi Heng intimately called her sixth younger sister but she found it uncomfortable. During their discussion about the heat, Rulan had been calling him, 'brother Yuan Ruo' along with Molan who has also been prettily calling him that, Minglan could not help but shake her head and copy them. Qi Heng also courteous replied, "Fourth young lady, fifth young lady, and sixth younger sister."

Looking down at Minglan, he observed her and saw her coiffure, as she was just idly standing at the side; her fat little hand covering her mouth as she couldn’t help but yawn, making her plump tender white fat cheeks that were like buns move. Qi Heng bent a little, suddenly he felt his hands itching.


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Minglan had never felt a day would be tough as this day. The weather in the early morning wasn’t good hence she didn’t teach the little Changdong. While Mr. Zhuang refused to continue the class, at lunch time everyone was talking, unwilling to end the banquet. That afternoon that old tiger-like mother, Mrs. Zhuang wanted to slaughter her but she wasn’t able to sleep last night while her two sisters obviously feel very beautiful and active today.

During the afternoon guqin class, Molan’s guqin made sounds that flowed smoothly like water, moving emotions and changing the mood. Mrs. Zhuang closed her eyes as she appreciated this. Rulan had also changed and was no longer like in the past as became more intolerant, with a crook in her mouth, she laughed and bow down, Minglan was just listening to the song as her gaze went to see her and saw their face flushed and eyebrows stretch; it seemed happy to laugh out.

Minglan sighed; as she continues to pluck her own strings, spring ah…

Coming to this era, only to find out the gap between the modern and ancient times was far beyond imagination. An ancient girl's first priority is to marry and then become a mother - this was the old life - but in the modern times learning is the priority.  Females have to think for themselves, manage house affairs, reason things out, learn how to reading and writing; and all this is just in preparation for a larger goal, a better future.

 

Molan reciting poems now is not to have a brighter future, rather, it is so that she can be counted as an capable lady, which increases her value in the marriage market and/or to please her spouse after marriage. Rulan learning basic accounting from an accounting book wasn’t because she wanted to become accountant but to be able to managed the family business and earn some money for the house. It’s the same for Minglan who’s learning the feminine arts - at least in the eyes of others.

 

As an young girl in ancient times, elders had started instilling the concept of marriage and its importance as opposed to grades and the importance of studying. When she was a child in the modern time Yao Yi always heard from her mother  "You failed your mid-term test, beware if you can’t even get into XX high school!" but now what she hears from her ancient mother, Cui Mama, "A water duck that needs four days to be embroidered [7], what would you do for your husband after the baby is alive? Don’t think you won’t be dismissed by the husband for not being capable of housework!”

Of course, this time the girls would be usually in a shy state but their hearts are very early to accept the concept of marrying, having children, to scheme against other girls and even plotting schemes in their hearts. So looking at Molan and Rulan, Minglan was not surprised. A husband for the ancient girls was not just loving or a lifetime ticket; it was the guarantee of their life and death.

Minglan did not feel weird about their attitude of pretending to be naive and having difficulties talking when the older brother was close –it's just that it’s being pretentious but then again meeting a handsome teenager from a distinguished lineage; it would be hard not to plot schemes.


Minglan suddenly felt melancholy, life in Shou’an Hall was safe and warm but she could not stay there forever, ten years old was the checkpoint –it couldn't be that while they were all outside, socializing and finding a partner, she was still inside, hiding.

...

Before going to bed at night, Minglan was looking at a guqin score. Changbai’s servant Han Niu ran towards her, carefully holding a blue and white shallow porcelain basin. Only after carefully placing it on the table was he relieved. He wiped away the sweat on his forehead: "Sixth Young Lady, Young Master wants you to take care of these two small fish. He said that since you want to study how to be a proper lady, looking after this will be good for your eyes.”

Minglan went ahead to take a look inside the basin, and saw that the shallow porcelain pot was filled with two Koi that had a pattern of snow-like white and fire-like red on their scales. It had an elegant tail and when she looked at the bottom of the pot, she saw that it was also decorated with pebbles and water green grass. The water shimmered as the fish moved elegantly; their bright red scales and the green of the grass within the blue and white porcelain was a feast for the eyes. Minglan was overjoyed. Looking up at Han Niu, she said with a sweet smile: "This is really nice, go back and tell the Young Master that this younger sister likes it. Thank you very much… Danju, go and quickly give twenty coins - to Han Niu as a reward, carrying this basin all the way here with such care must be really tiring.”

Han Niu was only eleven or twelve years old, upon hearing that there was reward money, his eyebrows raised in happiness while taking the money string [9] and repeatedly thanking Minglan. Danju then grabbed some fruits from the table and gave it to him and let Lu Zhi send him out.

Xiaotao who was still like a young child, upon seeing that Han Niu left, immediately went over to see the koi, praising how nice the kois were. When Danju went back and saw that both the master and servants were staring silly at the koi and poking it with their fat short fingers, she couldn’t help but say in laughter, "Master is really careful, I heard that in his house there is such a big tank where a number of Koi are being raised, this pair should be from that tank.”

Xiaotao looked up and giggled, "Danju sister, you’re right. I was in the house of the first wife when I also heard it, this pair of koi is Young Master’s very own favorite koi, usually no one was allowed to touch them, especially the fifth young lady. But this time, he actually sent two for our young lady. This is really strange.”

Minglan did not speak as she, with her fat short fingers, teased the bellies of the two fat koi within the water. Secretly she thought, could this be a reward for what happened in the afternoon? If it was, that was also good, as it showed that older brother Changbai had a good personality. Being able to follow such a reasonable elder was indeed worthy of celebration!

She had to admit, Wang Shi’s hit rate was still very high, there were at least two good bats out of three.

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