Published at 26th of April 2019 08:16:08 AM

Chapter 75

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Chapter 75: Tranquil Life

Translator: Flying-Lines

After the incident, Minglan hadn't been troubled for quite a long time. Her father Sheng Hong acted nice and legitimate mother Wang shi showed her concerns. In addition, Rulan frequently came to talk with her. Seeing this situation, Old Madam Sheng couldn't help pulling Minglan by her ear and pretended to scold her with a smile, "You such a cunning girl!"

Flushing in red, Minglan was a little bit embarrassed with fingers of two hands clenched, "Grandma, aren't you sick of my calculation?"

Turning eyes to newly emerged green outside the window, Old Madam said in a rather slow speed, "The calculation in our house is to some extent moderate. You won't want to see the real calculation. Even things in a slush pit are cleaner than those vicious thoughts."

Minglan was depressed to hear that, "Is there any once-for-all solution? It's troublesome to remain cautious of any calculation at any time."

A faint smile sprawled Old Madam's wrinkled face, "Of course there is. However, you need to persuade yourself first."

Minglan was confused and Old Madam continued, "All your father asked are clear and easy to satisfy. Concubine Lin is no longer a young woman. Actually, all your Dimu needs to do is just to buy an amiable woman who knows about poems and don’t give any chance for her to have babies."

Old Madam replied in an ironic smile, "Then she has to live with it. If she is able to live with it for a while, she would buy herself a peaceful life, a sound and safe life!"

"What if she can't live with it?"

Seeing Minglan's sullen face, Old Madam said lightly, "Your elder grandma and I haven't ever thought of calculation. My self-esteem stopped me while she was kind-hearted. Later I couldn't bear with my life but she did."

Minglan silenced again. Grandma listened to her heart, fought back and was satisfactory for a while. However, later she was lonely and wretched for almost half of her life. Not a single one within the whole Sheng family was biologically related to her. Nevertheless, elder grandma endured great hardship, fought for decades and was now able to enjoy her late life with grandchildren surrounded.

Minglan signed slightly after she finally got grandma's message. If there should be one needed to die, apparently it was better anyone but me. To live a good life, men needed to be harsh on themselves while women needed to be harsh on others.

It was March by lunar calendar. Magpies chattered above on trees. Weather was rather pleasant with sun in the sky. Wang shi's mood was as good as the pleasant weather recently.

At first, there came good news of Hualan's pregnancy. And it was diagnosed by Old Madam He that the baby was a boy and was in good condition. Tears of joy prompted out of Wang shi's eyes. She started to prepare decent gifts and entrusted Old Madam Sheng to give the gifts to Old Madam He. Afterwards, she was busy donating silvers to both Taoist and Buddhist temples, which annoyed the abbot of Guangji Temple for he thought believers should adhere to one religion. Wang shi's act to him was like a woman married to two husbands and according to laws should be drowned to death! However, Wang shi was just worried for she didn't know which god was more helpful. She feared that if she only donated money to one god, the others would be irritated.

When Wang shi was troubled by the religion, Concubine Lin seemed to be haunted by bad luck. This time since she was totally grounded, she couldn't check her business as usual and issues occurred. It was hard to open a business in the capital city if you were not supported by high-ranking officials. Thus, she practiced usury. However, her business was involved in deaths of people and therefore revealed.

Actually, usury was common and to some extent a legal business. However, it was not quite good for an official if he was found practicing usury. On hearing the news, Sheng Hong was as mad as a wet hen. He then took back all the estates he gave to Concubine Lin all these years and entrusted them to Old Madam for daily management.

It was said that Wang shi was striking a wooden knocker when Sheng Hong broke in a dudgeon. Sheng Hong pounded the table, cursed Concubine Lin, and rushed out. Thus, Wang shi immediately chose to be a Buddhist since the wooden knocker brought her good news.

Minglan thought in her heart that Sheng Hong actually had thought for Molan and Changfeng. His act was just to punish Concubine Lin for a while. He knew Old Madam wouldn't degrade herself by taking the estates as her own and would eventually return them to Concubine Lin.

Leaning against the door, Concubine Lin kept thumping her chest, stamping her feet, and pretending to seek death for almost half a day after she had been grounded, trying to attract Sheng Hong's attention. However, Sheng Hong ignored her and planned to keep her grounded for a year or so.

These days, Wang shi frequently visited Earl Zhongqing's mansion to see her pregnant daughter. Each time, she would go with a carriage of supplements and come back with a mouthful of gossips about upper classes, which accidently enriched lives of women in the Sheng family.

And during these days, it was also heard that Gu Tingye finally distanced his family. He ran away from home alone regardless of his wife, father, mother, and even mistress. Marquis Ningyuan was so irritated by him that he was seriously ill and could only rest himself on bed. However, to remain dignified, according to the Marquis's family, Gu Tingye was out for more experience.

Minglan was a little disturbed to hear this, "Maybe…have I ever influenced Gu Tingye's decision?"

Followed by Gu Tingye's incident was a scandal. The lady of Marquis Fuchang was kidnapped by gangsters when she was out one day. Only one of her servant girls escaped and was lucky enough to be rescued by Madam Zhao, wife of a secretary of Zhongjidian and Madam Qian, wife of assistant administrator of the Department of State Affairs, who were on their way to temples. Lady Rong was finally rescued, but…

"Lady of Marquis Fuchang? Sister Feiyan?" Minglan suddenly figured out who was involved in the scandal.

"You bet!" Rulan rolled her eyes and then said with uncertainties, "Could it be that … she…?" Her pauses totally revealed what she wanted to say.

Their sister-in-law Hai shi signed, "Even if nothing happened, who would believe! The girl's reputation is ruined. What a pity. The Rong family only has one girl now. Paralysis struck Marquis Fuchang when he heard the news. Imperial concubine Rong blacked out after crying her heart out."

Minglan also felt sad for Feiyan and asked in a low voice, "Did these gangsters get arrested?"

Hai shi shook her head in a mysterious way and said implicitly, "Governor of Shuntian Prefecture (equivalent to Beijing Municipality in today's People's Republic of China but the prefecture jurisdiction was different) has searched the city for gangsters at the very night, but no traces were found."

Rulan was surprised, "Could it be that they can fly in the sky and proceed underground? Or, is it that the officers are not competent?" Hai shi said with a gentle smile, "Officers are competent enough since it is Imperial Concubine Rong's family that is involved."

Minglan lowered her head and said nothing.

According to the strict identity management system of the capital city, even Ximen Chuixue (lit. Simon blows wind, a figure of a wuxia novel by Gu Long with top martial skills) was able to be found by the government of the capital city and armed forces of five cities, let alone a group of common gangsters. Since no signs of gangsters were found, it meant that they were not really gangsters!

Few days later, words came out that Rong Feiyan couldn't bear the shame and committed suicide by hanging herself from a beam.

One month later, the daughter of the sixth prince and the son of Duke Qi got married. The daughter-in-law of Princess Royal was the matchmaker for the bride and the royal highness of Duke Liang for the bridegroom. Xianzhu Jia Cheng finally married Qi Heng with generous dowry. Almost half of the city witnessed the marriage. Feasts were held for three days and nights. Tables for the dinner served to guests as they arrived extended for miles.

On this very day, Molan was grounded and listless. She only had two bowls of porridge. Rulan ate three bowls of rice for a row and had a midnight snack to ease her sad feelings. Minglan closed doors of House of Clear Dusk and sent away all her servants. She sat alone, cleaned all things Qi Heng had sent to her one by one, packed them up again, and locked them up with a box.

It was early cool summer. Since He Hongwen's mother got better, Madam He sent an invitation to the Sheng family, asking them to come over. Hai shi was pregnant and occupied by morning sickness. Rulan got cold. Wang shi needed to take care of them both. Molan was grounded. Only Old Madam and Minglan had the spare time.

Minglan was a little bit anxious to see her future mother-in-law. However, what she saw was a gentle woman. Though with a pale face due to sickness, her smile was just like that of He Hongwen's and was as comfortable as hot-spring water.

He Hongwen's mother was first worried that Minglan would act awkward because she was the daughter of a concubine. However, she found Minglan was a soft girl who acted in a dignified way. What was more, she was quite cute with a pair of dimples when she smiled. On a second thought, the girl was raised up by Madam Sheng and must be educated well. He Hongwen's mother was rather happy after figuring all these out. She then held Minglan's hands and talked to her with smiles. When she coughed, she would move away from Minglan, avoiding infection. She even reminded Minglan to bath first with honeysuckle and mugwort before seeing others such as the pregnant woman.

As for the herbs, they were absolutely provided by He Hongwen for free.

"Brother Hongwen's mother is so nice. Her disease is not infectious at all, but she acted carefully." Minglan finally relieved on her way home.

Madam Sheng held her granddaughter in arms with an amiable smile, "It's too early to be relieved. Even if she wouldn't call her daughter-in-law to serve her in the future, as her daughter-in-law, could you rest when your mother-in-law gets sick?"

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On a second thought, Minglan raised her head, flushed and said in a low voice, "I'm willing to be a filial daughter-in-law. She is lonely to stay alone. I'd like to talk to her and kill time with her together."

Old Madam Sheng was delighted to hear the answers. She touched Minglan's hair softly and smiled, "Our Minglan is a good girl."

Burying herself in Old Madam's arms, Minglan said in a low voice, "I would serve her well. If she is fond of me later, I would be able to invite my grandma to live with me for quite a while. At that time, grandma, we two and the two madams of He could play together. What a lively scene!"

Madam Sheng managed a poker-face and pretended to scold Minglan, "Nonsense! Not a single married girl had ever asked grandma to live in her mother-in-law's house."

"No, there is." Minglan answered with her head raised, "I've heard that official Liu's mother-in-law lives in his house and is treated as his own. In addition, she maintains good terms with official Liu's mother."

Madam Sheng couldn't help laughing, "She lives there because she doesn't have children and is lonely at late age. However, I have both children and grandchildren."

Minglan lowered her head but retorted in a low voice, "So I say grandma you stay for a while and frequently stay for a while."

Old Madam Sheng was surprised to hear that. She felt warm in her heart and tears welled up in her eyes. She stopped talking but held Minglan in her arms swaying. The way she swayed was like that of swaying a little baby.

Hualan's belly grew as days went by. Minglan was absorbed in making little bellybands and clothes for the little baby. Rulan was forced by Wang shi to practice needlework in Minglan's house so that at least she could put her name on the list of gifts when clothes were sent away.

Recently, Minglan lived a happy life. At night, she could talk to grandma and play cards with her. In the day, she could either practice needlework, copy scriptures, or kick the shuttlecock with Rulan. Rulan practiced her shuttlecock skills with Minglan and was super happy since she would win every time.

Occasionally, He Hongwen would send seasonal herb supplements and took the chance to meet Minglan stealthily. If he was lucky enough, he could talk to her in several sentences. Otherwise, he could only look at her through the curtain. Even so, He Hongwen was still very excited and would flush out of excitement. He would look back repeatedly at every step when he left.

Molan was rather lucky. On the second day of her grounding, Wang shi had heard new gossips from Hualan. The gossip was rather unexpected and attracting. It was said that Qi Heng didn't get along with Xianzhu Jia Cheng very well. Xianzhu was rather imperious. She was accustomed to beating servant girls. In addition, she tended to suppress the senior branch of the Duke Qi family. It was also heard that once Qi Heng planned to make a servant girl as his concubine. However, the girl was beaten to death by Xianzhu Jia Cheng with a random excuse the next day. 

Qi Heng was more than furious. He packed his bedding up and slept in the study room. No matter how Xianzhu cried and screamed, he just ignored and was unwilling to sleep with her. The deadlock lasted for two months since then. It was not until Qi Heng was persuaded by sick Junzhu Pingning before he agreed to move back.

"Hum, what a good daughter-in-law picked up by Junzhu!" Rulan couldn't wait to express her feelings delightedly.

Molan instead commented in a more poetic way with eyebrows frowned slightly, "Poor brother Yuanruo! It isn't easy to be born into the Duke Qi family." She came to apologize to Minglan and wished to restore the relations between her and Minglan. Of course, Minglan agreed "sincerely".

Minglan then said indifferently, "They would finally be rewarded." The marriage was just a political investment, everyone got what they wanted. There was no need to pity on themselves or others.

Days of getting rewarded were coming soon.

The old emperor finally made up his mind after a severe disease. He asked the Imperial Clan Court to remake jade records at his last gasp. The sixth prince’s youngest son was adopted by the third prince as his heir. Warehouses were opened and grains were taken out to be distributed to common people for celebration. It also meant that the heir to the throne was finally settled.

"Amitabha. The emperor has made a wise decision!" Hai shi started her Buddhist rituals following Wang shi, "This event finally comes to an end. People are troubled for a long time since the heir hasn't been determined."

Minglan thought in her heart, "The emperor's decision is absolutely wise, or else he couldn't be called as emperor."

At the very night, Wang shi held a feast at home. All family members gathered together. Sheng Hong's eyes twinkled with pleasure. He drank several cups in a row and praised the emperor several times in blurred words. Even Changbai couldn't help reciting a paragraph of Lessons Taught by the First Founder of a Dynasty with a poker face. Changfeng wrote a poem on the spur of the moment, thinking highly of the emperor's decision and profound influences brought about thereby.

"Is this little incident worth celebrating?" Rulan wasn't interested in politics and was confused.

"Yes, of course." Minglan's face was totally red out of the wine. She smiled, "Common people know to whom they are going to knee down and officials know to whom they should devote their loyalty to. Everybody has goals and it's a happy ending."

It was a great thing indeed. The Duke Qi family had let off over ten thousand silvers worth firecrackers. The whole capital city was decorated with lanterns and colored hangings. Everybody was cheerful except for the sad fourth prince’s family. However, they were a family. After mediations by imperial concubine De and Shu, the two brothers reconciled with tears in front of the old emperor.

Poor chief steward and the two scripture interpreting teachers of the fourth ’prince’s camp! They were sacrifices in this event.

These were the rules in the royal family. If princes were not good at school when they were little, it was the attendant who accompanied them studying that should be beaten. When they grew up, it was the maid and eunuchs who should take the responsibilities for their wrongdoings. More often was the case that henchmen died first in power struggles between princesses.

Thinking of this, Minglan paid high tribute to previous time travelers who remained safe and sound in fights between princesses. Now, apparently, she was unable to do that. Alas! How the condition of time travelers declined these days!

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