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Published at 20th of March 2019 09:36:25 AM


Chapter 42

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まだまだだね (You’re Still Wet Behind the Ears)-1

As parents of elder youths, Sheng Wei and Kang family demonstrated unlimited potential in preparing a wedding ceremony, rushing to finish every preparation just before the ceremony which was set in late September when the weather was cool with fresh air. The date also permitted the bride to visit ancestral hall and offer incense to ancestors before the end of the year. Getting the news, Sheng Hong postponed his working time and convened all daughters in one room to give them instructions.

Minglan couldn’t help yawning and when dragged into the room by Danju, she saw that Sheng Hong and Wang shi had been seated on two high chairs made of paulownia wood in the center, one at east front and the other at west front. On back sides sisters and brothers stood in age order. Changdong, who was the last one in the row, threw a soothing glance to Minglan, so she walked slightly to Rulan in a relief and stood in good manner.

Sheng Hong took a sip of hot tea, and Wang shi started to talk only after he put down the tea cup, “You may all sit down. Master will give you some instruction.”

Minglan sat down, and looked up at Sheng Sheng who, looking joyful, said, “Your uncle’s family is going to hold a wedding ceremony, a good connection between relatives.” He then smiled as he stroked his beard.

No one dared to ask Sheng Hong, so all of them looked to Minglan, who revealed the answer in smile, “It’s between second elder brother Changwu and cousin Yun’er. After meeting, big aunt really liked cousin Yun’er, praising she was pure and graceful. Big Old Madam sent a letter, telling that our Old Madam was the great match-maker. Father, did big uncle give the match-maker red envelope?”

Sheng Hong laughed and pointed to Minglan, “You girl! You are not young to be naughty!”

Wang shi was proud, saying, “Either her character or family background is impeccable. What a blessing that your uncle’s family could marry such a lady! It’s indeed fate!”




Molan spread a smile, “Putting fate aside and probing into the reason, uncle should thank daddy for the luck.”

This sentence was implicit. It was due to Sheng Hong’s identity that a noble family like Kang was willing to marry their daughter to Sheng Wei’s family, a merchant one. Molan’s implication pleased Sheng Hong right to the point. As one can guess, Sheng Hong remained silent but looked more joyful after hearing the words. He nodded to Molan with praising.

Minglan bowed her head and looked at Rulan next to her, who squeezed the fist in her sleeve. Minglan sighed in secret. If Molan used to be an idol type, she now was a true actress. However she might behave in front of Rulan and Molan, she would act as a gentle, thoughtful and nice daughter who cared about seniors and sister, as long as Sheng Hong was present.

Sheng Hong said with a smile, “Big Old Madam sent a message that Old Madam is sure invited to the wedding. If our madam doesn’t show up, she would come in person. Yesterday, I discussed with Old Madam and decided that she would set off for Youyang at the end of this month, but I can’t go along with her since I have public duties and my tenure will expire at the end of this October. Recently Changbai is leaving for the capital to have our mansion cleaned up while Changfeng is preparing for autumn exam. Changdong is too young and Minglan is sure to go with Old Madam, so Molan and Rulan my daughters, are you willing to go with them?”

Rulan turned to look at Minglan who, in fact, was also surprised because she thought Old Madam wouldn’t go outdoors due to her indifferent nature and inclination to quietness. To Minglan’s surprise, Old Madam approved immediately before Minglan tried to find an excuse for her.

Molan took a glance at Minglan and smiled, “I’m really willing to go with you to celebrate such a blessing. However, since we’re moving to the capital and Madam is busy with loads of domestic affairs. Besides, we have to pack up our own staff before heading to the capital and I should help with fifth younger sister and third elder brother. Therefore, I’d better not go with you. Sixth younger sister, please take my congratulations to second elder brother Changwu.”

Ming Lan nodded with a smile.

Compared with the hustling and bustling capital, Youyang was no match, let alone that Qi Heng was there in the capital! Rulan also thought of this, so she replied in a cold voice, “Who needs your help? If you don’t want to go, don’t use me as an excuse!”


Wang shi frowned and looked to Sheng Hong who as expected scolded in a low voice, “Look what you said! You have been a careless girl since you were young. Your sister was being nice to help you, how can you be so ungrateful? What an undisciplined girl! It’d better you not go with them, otherwise you’ll disgrace the family’s name!”

Rulan blushed and didn’t dare to talk back while Wang shi feared Sheng Hong might continue his scolding, so she hurried to advise him, “She is just too young. It’s common that sisters bicker with one the other. Do you have other things to tell the children? You might be late for work.”

Sheng Hong gave a glare to Wang shi and turned around to Minglan, saying gently, “Minglan, Old Madam only has your company on this journey. She is gaining age, so do take good care of her!”

Minglan was willing to hang out because she had never gone outside the mansion since she arrived in the ancient time. However, the thought of taking a carriage made her distressed, “Daddy, you should think the other way around. I myself will dazzle at the sight of a horse cart. I only wish that Old Madam won’t be exhausted by taking care of me. What about I walk there?” Minglan’s depressed expression made Sheng Hong feel funny but he continued with a serious face, “By your short legs, you can make it to the newlyweds’ baby’s month-old feast even trying your best!”

The atmosphere in the room was lightened and everyone laughed. Minglan was even more worried, “Should I stay at home?”

Looking at Minglan’s fair little face, Sheng Hong was delighted and said, “No! You should take this opportunity to visit our relatives and offer incense to our ancestor in the ancestral hall. If your sisters and brothers have any gifts for the new couple, take them with you.”

After the words were finished, Sheng Hong stood up, so did the daughters and sons on both sides. Wang shi walked to him to help him tidy up the purple official sash embroidered with clouds and cranes. Sheng Hong stepped to Minglan and told her once again, “Minglan, hurry to pack up. Don’t let Old Madam worry for you. Outside our house, be a disciplined girl. When you come back to the capital, it will be Spring Festival. Daddy will take you to watch lanterns on street.”

Minglan immediately nodded like a pecking chick. Sheng Hong smiled and touched her head, then he turned to wave at Changbai who followed him outdoors. Changfeng, looking at their walking away, seemed to be lost.


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“What is it that father takes big brother out?” Molan figured out what was on Changbai’s mind and asked, as if undeliberate.

Rulan darted a distaining glance at her, “Why don’t you ask Daddy if you want to know?” Then she tossed her handkerchief and followed Wang shi into the inner room. Minglan feared this scene most, so she hurriedly run away.

Just stepping into the room, Rulan was scolded by Wang shi right into the face, “As you grow older, you should nurture worse manner. Even if you can’t be foxy as forth young lady, be as nice and pleasing at sixth young lady. Don’t you know how much your Daddy like her? He often praises her for being gentle, graceful and kind-hearted, and repeatedly reminded me to provide her enough allowance and daily supplies.”

Rulan snorted, “Just because of the several pairs of shoes and purses she made to please others!”

Wang shi was even more angry, “Yes, shoes are no big deal, but they represent her filial piety. Even I’m touched by the shoes she sent to me. Why you never made any?  All you know is bickering and fighting with forth young lady! This time your father ordered Minglan to offer incense to ancestors in the ancestral hall. This is to let all our relatives know that she will be my legal daughter!”

Rulan was shocked, “Really? What about forth elder sister? She offered incense to ancestors last year, will she also…?”

“That I do not know yet. Just wait and see.” Wang shi lied down to the brick bed out of tiredness.

Here the mother and daughter felt restless while there, Sheng Hong, who took random moves, was talking to Changbai while walking along garden lanes, “I ordered Laifu to prepare several boxes of wedding presents and your mother will check before setting off. I also wrote to Uncle Liu. If everything goes well, he will be promoted as vice minister of the Ministry of Revenue when his tenure in the Highest Judiciary is expired. You’d better write a letter to Changwu, telling him Uncle Liu’s hobbies, personality and family backgrounds, so that he could make early preparation to visit Uncle Liu after moving back to the capital.”


Changbai nodded. After a while, he said suddenly, “Big uncle is really capable.”

Merely five words made Sheng Hong toss his head to look at his son with appreciation, “It’s good that you have such insight. In this world, even between relatives, one has to show respect to others before being respected. Speaking of it, your big uncle is the one like your grand-grandfather most. Only taking advantage of my little assistance, he built such a huge family from scratch. For the two sons he has, the elder one will inherit the family and the younger one will enter political circle, so in the future the family will continue to prosper. Changbai, all I wish for you and Changfeng is that you two assist each other in the official circle. Changdong, though without talent in learning, is clever and considerate. When he gets older, I will send him to operate business, so that all you three brothers can enjoy either nobility or wealth!”

Looking at his father’s high-spirited face, Changbai coughed slightly, “On this journey to Youyang, Old Madam is sure to meet with third old master and big old madam, who is also very…outstanding.”

Sheng Hong looked at the serious biggest son with a bit bitterness. If Changfeng was here, he would definitely applaud to the plan, very likely with clapping hands, which Changbai showed no such intention. However, of all his sons, this eldest son was most valued by Sheng Hong, so he could do nothing other than signing, “Third old master’s family is declining in recent years, and frequently borrows money from your big uncle. Seeing that Changsong has no son, he even instigated family seniors to give his grandson to Changsong for adoption. I guess he’ll make trouble again on Changwu’s wedding ceremony. Big old madam has to save face in front of family members, so she couldn’t go too far. Only your grandmother, with seniority and temper, can suppress this third old master!”

Sheng Hong repeatedly smiled with bitterness as he explained. Changbai only raised eyebrows in silence, not joining his father’s conversation.

......

Most of Minglan’s cases were packed up, and she planned to bid farewell to her confidants. For others, she would just send a letter, but Hong Qingyu, two years old younger than Minglan and the naughtiest one, was her best friend to go fishing with. Therefore, Minglan specially sent her a letter and went to bid farewell with Yanran in person after getting Old Madam’s permission. Old Madam knew that Minglan had carriage sickness, so she ordered Fang Mama to prepare the four-people-lifting black wool palanquin for Minglan.

Just fifty meters away from Yu Mansion, Minglan felt that something was wrong. She lifted the palanquin curtain a little only to see that the gate of Yu Mansion was closed, and it was surrounded by many people who gossiped from time to time. Minglan heard a few broken words, “Heartless man…abandoned his wife and children…using power to bully the poor…”, so she quickly ordered Cui Mama who stood outside to detour and enter from Yu Mansion’s back door.

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