Published at 27th of April 2019 08:17:51 AM

Chapter 78

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The Tranquility After the Mutiny (2)

Precisely, Sheng family in its heyday had its bad news.

"Mother, please rethink about it. Long journey would exhaust anyone at your age," persuaded Sheng Hong who hurried to Hall of Peaceful Age without even a minute to change from official uniform to casual wear. Sitting down there were Wang shi and the children.

Old Madam Sheng shook her head quite firmly. Thumbing the prayer beads of eaglewood, she said, "As sisters-in-laws for dozens of years I can't just stay away from her when she is on her death bed."

Sheng Hong then frowned and asked Taisheng who sat quite restlessly by the side, "How on earth is Elder Aunt?"

Taisheng grew much taller than several years ago when Minglan visited Youyang. The then fat and short boy was now a slim youth. He stood up and bowed quite apologetically to Sheng Hong, "Uncle, please pardon me. Grandmother has not been feeling well ever since the Spring Festival. We've invited retired Imperial Physician Bai to help who told us that grandma's final days would be in a few months. Third house has been coming to make trouble ever since that leaked out, claiming that great grandfather had left behind great wealth which they also enjoy a share. While next time they would offer to manage the family matters for Elder Uncle. Third grandfather would always sit there unwilling to leave. With his old age we dare not to force him out...We really don't know what to do with them."

Upon hearing that, Sheng Hong heaved a long sign and turned to Old Madam Sheng, "Mother, how shall I forgive myself should anything happen to you?"

Changwu who was sitting in silence with shame by the side immediately kneeled before Sheng Hong, pleading sincerely, "This nephew is unfilial. Being a grandson yet unable to wait upon grandma's side. And now even exhaust second grandmother with such a long journey...Taisheng will escort Old Madam to Youyang this time and Mother will try every means to look after Old Madam. Please rest assured, Uncle."

Wang shi grumbled with a long face, "It's easy to say so."

Just as Sheng Hong was about to continue the persuasion, Old Madam put down the prayer beads and waved her hand, "Say no more of it. I've made up my mind. I'll set out tomorrow." With a short pause she continued in a rather gentle voice after seeing Sheng Hong's worried face, "I know you're filial, yet for a matter important as this I must go as long as I can move my old body. Speaking of that, we not only survived safe and sound through the riot, Bai'er and Wu'er are both promoted, which couldn't be possible without your daily discretion but we should also thank Buddha and our ancestors for the protection. Thus, we should bear kindness and gratitude in heart to accumulate more luck and blessings. It is more so with our family members."

Sheng Hong and Wang shi exchanged a glance and knew the persuasion should stop here. Then Changbai walked Changwu and Taisheng out. Minglan knew the matter was settled so she stood up and vowed earnestly to her father, "Please rest assured, father. I'll take good care of grandma along the way."

To all's surprise, Old Madam Sheng shook her head, "No, you're not going with me."

Minglan was astonished. She had been spending nearly every second with Old Madam Sheng for these years, now it would be too unbearable for her to part with her dear grandma. However, Old Madam Sheng turned to Wang shi before Minglan could manage a word, "Minglan is growing up and it would be inappropriate to take her around. I'll leave for Youyang first, if my elder sister-in-law do...then you can let the girl come."

Wang shi immediately stood up and bowed with respect as response. Old Madam Sheng continued, "Bai's wife is now in confinement of childbirth, then please take the bother to run the household." Then taking a glance of Minglan's sad face, Old Madam Sheng couldn't help but add, "Sixth girl has never been away from me for long. She's such a foolish girl that I'm quite worried. Please watch over her in case she misbehaves."

Wang shi was quite clear about the unsaid meanings in the words so she smiled, "Old Madam Sheng over worried. Minglan is a considerate girl, better than her two elder sisters."

Old Madam Sheng nodded, "Thanks for the bother."

Seeing Old Madam Sheng caring so much about Minglan, Molan could no longer constrain her jealousy so she smiled, "How partial you are, grandma. Why you just worry about sixth younger sister? Fifth younger sister and I are indeed poor girls no one cares for."

Rulan felt bumpy too yet she was not willing to be used, "Sixth younger sister is still young. It is only natural that grandma worries for her...Bur grandma does favors sixth younger sister the most." With that, she even pouted her mouth out of unjust treatment.

Old Madam Sheng smiled without saying anything yet Sheng Hong frowned and reprimanded, "Where did you learn your manners? Old Madam Sheng is setting out tomorrow yet you two care only about yourself not her well-being."

The two Lans lowered their head in silence.

Minglan stayed in Hall of Peaceful Age for the night, pleading repeatedly to go together with a sad face which worked perfectly with Old Madam Sheng normally, but not this time. Minglan couldn’t help but grumble, “Your granddaughter no longer suffers carriage or boat sickness and I can be useful to help you kill the boredom. Big uncle’s is not a strange place, we’re family…”

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Old Madam Sheng was annoyed then amused by her dear granddaughter’s tiny complaint. Slapping gently on Minglan’s head, she put on a serious face, “Stay home and learn from your sister-in-law. Look how she behaves under your mother and how tactfully she manages affairs. Then look at yourself? Such a clinging girl! Someday you’ll get married, too.” Worried by the thought, Old Madam Sheng couldn’t help thumping the tea cup on the table.

With mouth pouted high, Minglan whined in low spirits, “Why not you come with me when I get married?”

Old Madam Sheng couldn’t constrain her serious face any longer. Upon hearing Minglan’s naughty words, she was nearly choked on the tea. She then put down the tea cup and pinched Minglan’s face, teasing, “I should have disciplined you with hard beats when you were young. Such a spoiled girl.”

Knowing it was impossible to dissuade Old Madam Sheng, Minglan changed the topic and began to exhort her grandmother to take care of herself on the way, to drink more water over the night, to not get cold from frequent night-ups and that it would be better to wait till the sun got high to take a walk…her naggings went on and on till Fang Mama and Cuiping went in, bantering, “Time changes. Young lady is now a grown up and knows to care for Old Madam. It used to be Old Madam who nagged young lady, now it’s quite the contrary.”

Old Madam Sheng felt her ear tingling from Minglan’s nagging. Having no way to stop her granddaughter, she just signed quite helplessly, “Taisheng brought you a letter from Pinlan. Every time you hear from her, you would be happy for quite a time. Why not read it now?”

Minglan just played with her little fingers to play dumb and then wiggled herself on her grandmother like a restless squirrel, rubbing her grandmother’s neck with her little head, which drove Old Madam Sheng into laughter out of itchiness. The grandmother and granddaughter then enjoyed the game of tickling and dodging which amused Fang Mama and Cui Ping a lot, who, daring not to laugh out loud, just got out of the room without making any noise and left the two enough private time for fun.

Not until quite a while later did the two finally stop the game which disheveled the coiffure of Old Madam Sheng, who also felt the delight in it like an old child. She then patted gently on Minglan’s hand and scolded, “Stop it and listen to me.”

Minglan then sat straight quite obediently.

Old Madam Sheng then began in a rather grave tone with sincerity, “Ay…I thought I would make do with my life without any child to look after. Never had I expected that I would have a rascal to bother me as this.”

Hearing that, Minglan just buried herself in Old Madam Sheng’s arm in silence. Quite touched by her intimacy, Old Madam Sheng held Minglan in her arms and said in a rather gentle voice, “I’ve been stubborn since young. Acting rashly like a pettish girl spoiled by parents and incorrigible even when severely hurt. Looking back now, I just wished I could suffer more as a child. How long can I protect you, silly girl? You’ll have to learn how to get along with mother- and sister-in-law when you get married. I can’t always put you under my arm and shelter you from all the storms. So learn to get along with your mother and sister-in-law while I’m away in Youyang, okay?”

Minglan lifted her little head and nodded in silence, her eyes moist with tears dropping from her long eyelashes, her face so fair as jade. Old Madam Sheng could never bear to stand her pitiful look, kindly she said, “They wouldn’t be restrained with my absence. Your mother, though not excellent in interpersonal communication, excels in running the household. Your sister-in-law is a resourceful and tactful one. Look how they manage things…You’ll be of age for your ‘hair-do ceremony’ in a year or two.”

T/N: Hair-do ceremony, 及/jí/笄/jī/, to reach marriageable age, usually at a girl's fifteenth birthday when her hair will be bound.

Minglan sobbed, “I don’t wanna to part with you, grandma.”

Old Madam Sheng simply patted gently on the girl with unceasing signs.

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