Published at 22nd of February 2019 03:46:58 AM

Chapter 41

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Never Strive for Things You Don’t Deserve

Everything went well even though it was the first time for Old Madam Sheng to matchmake and Madam Kang went to see Changwu in person. The big sister Wang had enough of the coward scholars who was arrogant, lust and incompetent. So, she liked Changwu at first sight, who, straight and impressive looking, was quite amicable and good natured. Although he was not very fair and delicate, he looked very upright and honest. Therefore, Kang Family agreed to be in-laws with Sheng Family just in late Spring. And given that the two of them had already passed the right age for marriage, their families were in full accord to let them get married as soon as possible.

[T/N: Here Madam Kang is Wang shi’s sister who is married to the Kang family, so she is usually addressed Madam Kang, meaning Kang’s wife.]

While all went well here, Yu Family was suffering a lot. Although Cabinet Yu had resigned for years, he still got contacts in the capital city. No matter how many good words Juzhu Pingning said for the son of Marquis Ningyuan, information got after several rounds of investigations didn’t indicate it a good match. This was just like what Molan had said – the second son of Marquis Ningyuan was really “eccentric and temperamental”.

He not only was brought up to be arrogant and domineering, but also galloped recklessly on the streets, a real troublemaker who always hung out with the black sheep of other titled families. When a little bit bigger, he even hung around with those extremely low-level vagabonds and tramps, going whoring and making actresses his mistresses, which really caused a total mess. With much ado, Gu Family finally got him engaged, but no one expected that he was dissatisfied with this engagement.

And knowing the old marquis couple wouldn’t let him break off the engagement, he even went so far as to go directly to the family he engaged to on the day when they were holding a big banquet and mocked them so hard right in front of their guests that members of that family almost died with shame. Naturally, the engagement dashed to pieces. And since then on, those decent families in the capital city dared not to marry their daughter to him. Gu Family felt so anxious that they had no choice but to find in-laws outside of the capital city.

Minglan looked out of the window with frowned eyes. For Yanran had no other person to complain to, she invited Minglan to her mansion every three or five days to talk about the information collected by Cabinet Yu and about her feelings. But there was only terrible news, one after another. And according to the latest news, that guy seemed to be a gay and got rather close with male descendants of some titled families who were known for fond of man, saying they even hung out at the brothel with male prostitutes only.

Geeze! As a professional court reporter, Minglan knew it clearly that the reality was no fantasy. Rotten people were rotten and there weren’t so many unsaid stories or people returning to the fold as people thought of. It was the same for being gay and it was never an easy thing to make a gay ungay. Didn’t you see how tragedy the life of the noted Mishima Yukio’s wife was? His wife, also with the dream of changing him from gay to straight, married him. But the result? Even after having two sons, Mishima Yukio was still a world-renowned gay.

In those few novels about boy’s love she read in her previous life, the love between the male protagonists was really soul-stirring and touching, while the female characters were almost all cannon fodders. But it was just professed love of what one feared. Not a single girl reading novels about boy’s love was willing to marry a gay!

Minglan, apparently, didn’t want a gay husband and presumably, nor did Yanran.

This day Minglan was again invited to Yu Mansion. Holding the  red-eyed Yanran in arms, they talked and cried for quite a while. Recently, Cabinet Yu (Yanran’s grandfather) and Lord Yu (Yanran’s father) argued fiercely. Cabinet Yu wanted to break off the engagement but Lord Yu strongly disagreed and even claimed that the marriage of children should be up to the parents, implying that this was none of Cabinet Yu’s business! Cabinet Yu just gave “Okay” as response, but he then sent his son, Lord Yu, an unsigned certificate of divorce, claiming that his daughter-in-law was disobedient and unfilial, and asked his son to sign on the certificate to divorce her.

While the step mother, Madam Yu, was crying and claiming that she would take her daughter back to her parents’ home, the Old Madam Yu cried to let the father and son cease fire. Yanran was the cause of the fire, and she was so grieved that she said self-abandonedly, “……Sister Minglan, I am so unfilial to make everyone so restless. I should just marry him!”

Minglan spared no efforts to pump her up, “Victory belongs to the most persevering! Sister, you’ve done nothing wrong. It’s all your step mother’s fault who tried to throw you into the living hell. If they want to climb the social ladder, why don’t they let your half-sister marry to the Marquis’s son. She’s only two-year-old younger than you, quite marriageable. But your step mother pushes only you out. This is definitely vicious!”

Recently, Yanran had been crying for too long and she was quite out of shape. Weakly and worriedly, she said, “My grandfather has got on in years and can’t stand such kind of torment. He has been feeling under the weather and lying on bed for days, if anything bad happens…”

Minglan signed, “Well, there’s actually nothing to be angry about! It’s not that your father betrays the country but that he’s used and blinded due to his will of using your marriage to climb the social ladder. Everyone makes mistakes as long as he lives in this world. I was once beaten the palm due to stealing the fruits my grandmother prepared for the Buddha. After this is over, everything will be fine again. Could father and daughter become enemies due to such a thing? As for you, things do get tough now, but if you marry a proper man, lead a rich and enviable life, and after 8 or 10 years, bring some valuables and fine gifts home with your husband and kids, could your father slam the door in your face?”

Yanran, still having teardrops on face, tittered and said hopefully, “Really?”

Minglan patted her shoulder with some force and replied, “Just rest assured! When your grandfather was the Cabinet Prime Minister, he went through so many violent storms and big waves. Then how could he fail in such a small gutter? Ah, I don’t mean that your father is just like a gutter! You must pull yourself together to take good care of your grandfather while he lies on bed sick. Don’t pull a long face; instead, smile from your heart. That’s not a big thing because their family do not give your family any betrothal presents, so there is no engagement to break off at all!”

In fact, in Minglan’s opinion, this matter could be well managed. Since Cabinet Yu was so enraged, it was no doubt that Lord Yu in the capital dared not to be too disobedient. Plus that unsigned certificate of divorce, Madam Yu dared not to act rashly. Otherwise, it would be too troublesome to break off the engagement if she nailed it down without reporting it! Listening to the detailed analysis of Minglan, Yanran finally relaxed a bit for now.

Things got into a stalemate. For Yanran, Minglan was like the guiding light in the dark and whenever she felt helpless and panicky, she would call Minglan in to make some jokes to comfort herself and relieve her anxiety, which was the thing Minglan must do as the best friend of Yanran. Gradually, Cabinet Yu, the Old Madam Yu, even Yanran’s second uncle and his wife also spoke highly of Minglan, saying she was well-disposed, kind and sincere.

Maybe it was out of the depth of misfortune came bliss. Several days later, things took a turn for the better. It was said that the second son of Gu Family paid a visit to Lord Yu with definite sincerity and sought a marriage alliance in person. Besides, the old Marquis also wrote an earnest letter asking to unite their families by marriage. Then Cabinet Yu and his wife was kind of moved and persuaded. After all, the second son of Gu Family was from a noble family, and if he himself wanted to repent and mend his way, in all probability he was still a good match.

Hearing her grandparents’ words, Yanran, as meek as before, kind of bought the story, but Minglan flatted her mouth and didn’t say a word.

A monkey in silk was a monkey no less. Minglan who had been a court reporter for long deeply believed the words of Gu Long, the old drunkard: A woman might change for her man, but a man would never do the same for his woman and the only difference was how long he could make others believe he had changed.

Sheng Hong set Changbai’s wedding ceremony at the beginning of the next year, which would be held at the capital city. Because his term of office would run out at the end of this year, Sheng Mansion had started to count the inventory of their fortunes and servants since the end of Summer, if necessary, selling those lands and mansions and disbanding some of the servants they had bought locally. Minglan also started to talk to the maids serving at House of Clear Dusk one by one to ask if any one didn’t want to leave with her.

There was no doubt that the maids born in Sheng Family would definitely follow her. Maids bought from outside was Xiaotao, Ruomei and three others. And due to the kindness Sheng Family had towards servants and the good temper of Minglan, none of them wanted to leave. Among dozens of maids being asked, only two of them wanted to stay with their parents.

Then Minglan started to count her possessions. Actually, she didn’t have much money. Although Old Madam Sheng gave her lots of pocket money but a majority of them was used to reward the maids and elderly woman servants. Now Minglan only had about dozens of ounces of silver. She computed carefully according to the current price of commodities that the money should be enough for a farmer’s family with six or seven people to live for about two or three years. Although it seemed a lot, in families of aristocrats and bureaucrats the money was barely enough for two or three things. But she did get a large number of ornaments and furnishings made of silver, gold and jade. Besides, the calligraphy and paintings given by Brother Changbai were worth a great deal. So, Minglan used another notebook to keep a categorized register of all her things.

Before she moved into House of Clear Dusk last year, Old Madam Sheng sent her a set of jewelry cases stored away in the old house at Jinling, which included nine boxes with the largest one about one foot high. The nine-floor box had 49 invisible drawers and 18 invisible drawers. And even the smallest casket about the size of a palm showed its nine drawers after being opened. These boxes one inside the other were all detachable, made of classy ebony decorated with open-work begonia and dark gold mother-in-pearl inlay. Besides, there were locks of different sizes including nine big locks in the shape of two lying fishes and eighteen half-fish shaped small locks.

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Although the whole set of cases seemed have gone through quite some years, the wood was still smooth and bright. The white copper and brass were well polished as if they were newly made, giving off beautiful shim under the light. Minglan was astonished by how exquisite and delicate the set was. It was the top-grade artifact made by Works of Heaven at its peak. To make it, several best masters of Works of Heaven worked around the clock for a month. And it was just one of the dowries of Old Madam Sheng.

When the set was moved into House of Clear Dusk, Rulan didn’t overreact too much because she had seen lots of fine dowries of Wang shi. She just mocked Minglan with words and rolled her eyes towards her for a few days. But Molan was so enraged that her eyes reddened which seemed like she wanted to eat Minglan alive. And she went back to cry to concubine Lin, who then cried to Sheng Hong.

Sheng Hong just shrugged and said, the dowry belonged to Old Madam Sheng and she could give it to anyone she liked. How could he butt in? To put it harshly, Old Madam Sheng didn’t have her own children and if Marquis Yongyi came to ask for her dowry after Old Madam Sheng passed away, he also had no stand to butt in.

Concubine Lin learned from the bitter experience and decided to get up at the spot where she fell. So, she came to House of Peaceful Ages to pay her courtesy to Old Madam Sheng but was barred the way by Fang Mama. Concubine Lin then cried right before Old Madam Sheng’s door, attracting the attention of the whole mansion. At this moment, Old Madam Sheng was confined to bed due to illness, groaning and moaning. Doctors came, felt her pulse and gave the conclusion: veins were obstructed due to pent-up emotions.

To be frank, it meant that Old Madam Sheng got worked up! Therefore, Sheng Hong immediately dragged Concubine Lin away.

At first, Minglan felt so sorry because she thought she was the cause of the whole matter, but beyond her expectation, Old Madam Sheng had already become inured to such things and even comforted Minglan, “This is not the first time she acts like this. Every time she wants something from me, she will come and cause a disturbance.”

Minglan was so curious that she asked what had happened immediately.

Old Madam Sheng didn’t cover up for Concubine Lin and said bluntly, “…That year when what she had done was brought to light and your Dimu wanted to drive her out of the family, but your father defended her and claimed that if your Dimu didn’t accept Concubine Lin, he would keep her outside as his concubine. Because your Dimu didn’t want to drink the tea she served, she came to cry to me and kneeled on the ground for hours just to beg me to help her. She cried day in and night out, and said that if I didn’t help her, she had no choice but to knock herself dead.

She made me so tired that I dismissed all others and asked her, ‘Why do you want so much to be the Master’s concubine?’ She said definitely that it was because she admired the talent and moral quality of the Master! Hem, if she answered directly that she was afraid of the poor days she had been living and was greedy for his high position and great wealth, I might have helped for the sake of your father. But she dared to do it in the name of true love! She might have just heard my former reputation and wanted to take advantage of it, so she did everything under the disguise of true love! Hem, how can she know what true love is? True love should be…true love should be…”

“True love should be something that neither riches nor honors can corrupt, be that neither poverty nor lowly conditions can change and be that neither threats nor forces can bend!” Minglan finished Old Madam’s words.

“Haha, how dare you use the words of the saint Meng like this! Don’t you fear to be beaten by your teacher’s plamer?” Old Madam Sheng actually applauded for Minglan in her mind but she pretended she was angry and beat the palm of Minglan several times.

“Then what happened later?” asked Minglan with glittering eyes.

“I was sick of her. So, I called in your father and said in front of them that I could help them but she should never appear in front of me hereafter. And if she agreed, then I would take the responsibility of letting her enter our mansion as concubine. At first, she just kept crying, like she was stuck in a dilemma, but several days later, she agreed to my terms but still feigning to be willy-nilly. Then I forced madam to let her in as concubine.”

Minglan didn’t say anything. Old Madam Sheng sighed and continued, “Facts have proved that none of her words were true. Years after she became your father’s concubine, she came to me, kneeling down and kowtowing to apologize, cry and beg me to forgive her for her reckless but inadvertent actions due to true love… I directly called in your father and told him that if she dared to disturb me anymore, I would move out to live alone. This time, your father finally gave strict order to forbid her from appearing in front of me!”

Hearing for so long, Minglan sighed slowly and thought that from way back she had felt Old Madam Shengs weird-temper. If one didn’t want her things, she would be willing to give, but if one tried to plot to get her things, she wouldn’t let a penny out. Minglan just kept feeling lucky every time she thought of this.

In her previous life, Minglan was killed by a debris flow which ruined her should-be promising life at her best years. After reincarnation, she again faced bad employment situations, so Minglan became a completely pessimist. Ever since she entered House of Peaceful Ages, she never asked for anything and even estimated everything of Old Madam Sheng from the most pessimistic point of view. She even bought snacks with the pocket money she saved to share with Old Madam Sheng after seeing that House of Peaceful Ages didn’t have snacks normally placed in the rooms of Wang shi, which really pleased Old Madam Sheng, making her quite speechless.

Concubine Lin and Molan were good at scheming and both of them were aggressive and ambitious, but they just didn’t know that Old Madam Sheng only liked people who knew their place and never coveted or strove for things they didn’t deserve.

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