Published at 20th of March 2019 09:38:48 AM

Chapter 57

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After nearly two months away from home, Minglan suddenly felt a surge of hotness around her eyes, finding herself already regard this family as her own since the time she didn’t noticed. Sheng Hong grew three wisps, longer or shorter, of goatee, which was said to be the most popular style among officials in the capital. Wang shi had a circle of blisters that even couldn’t be concealed by foundations around her mouth resulted from the exhaustion of preparing Changbai’s wedding.

“Old Madam, if you don’t come back home, I’m about to throw myself into river. So many domestic or public things to deal with!” Wang shisaid while holding Old Madam’s arms, more intimate than ever before.

This time Old Master Hai seized a position out of the capital, so they decided to hold the wedding ceremony before the Spring Festival for fear of long-distance bride-sending in the future. Wang shi had been fully occupied by settling down all family members in the capital and at the same time preparing the wedding ceremony, almost working her head off.

Although Old Master Hai, teacher of two emperors, had retired, he enjoyed great reputation among noble families. The marriage of Hai family’s daughter attracted nearly half of well-known scholar officials, and their wives and children were all wealthy upper class speaking posh language.

“Your grand mansion is really a place of scholarly elegance. Look at this Picture of Playing Guqin by Lin Anzhi. What ingenious design to demonstrate form through spirit, a perfect demonstration of Gu Kaizhi’s style.” Wife of an official of Imperial Academy commented genteelly on the picture on the wall.

“A nice picture it is, yet the words are a bit solemn, suppressing the ethereal touch. Only by the brushwork of Artist Tanwei could the beauty of integration between Gu and Lu be achieved. Madam Sheng, what do you think?” Wife of a scholar smiled after asking and the two cast their eyes onto Wang shi simultaneously.

T/L: Both Gu Kaizhi and Lu Tanwei were celebrated painters of ancient China.

Wang shi put on a face like this=_=...... She faked some laughter and quickly changed to another topic.

Who could tell her what they just said?

The chief ignitor of Wang shi’s embarrassment, Changbai, looked emotionless as usual. He pulled over Minglan against himself to check Minglan’s height and said without inconspicuous expression, “Still shorter than I am.”—Were you selling cloth to measure me like this?

Changfeng failed again in this year’s autumn examination but he made a few friends in the capital to write poem and essays together. Lately, he was reputed as Childe Jiafeng who held a folding fan in his hand regardless of the cold weather. Changdong changed most, getting much taller like a sprout shooting from branches, “Sixth elder sister, I’ve kept an eye on your staff; even the case covers aren’t a bit scraped.” Changdong said in a hurry.

“Good job, Changdong. Later, come and get your gifts in my place; I’ve reserved some for Concubine Xiang.” Minglan whispered to him.

The nine-year-old Changdong’s little face was red and he seemed to be shy, “Thank you, sister. But mom asked me to tell you not to prepare any gifts as old madam already did.”

Minglan bowed down to his level and whispered, “They are great apparel fabrics our aunt gave me. You’re getting taller, so let your mom make you some new clothes so that you’ll look decent when attending school in the future. Don’t forget we’re here in the capital.”

Changdong was grateful and thanked Minglan in a low voice, his head lowering.

Minglan was clear that only on monthly allowance, Molan and Changsong couldn’t be dressed up so luxuriously. Everyone knew this expect for Sheng Hong, a master who never paid attention to trifles.

“Sixth younger sister, you finally came back, otherwise your cases will be opened by others.” Rulan didn’t a bit change her nature, shooting at first word which irritated Molan. Minglan hurriedly put her arm around Rulan’s shoulder and grinned while leaning over, “I have my fifth elder sister here and will know where my staff goes even if I lost them. This time, I save you many bottles of osmanthus oil!”

Rulan’s eyes lit up, “Made in Cangxiang?”

“Right!” Minglan smiled, her eyebrows forming a cute curve, and added, “Though osmanthus in Cangshan is not as good as that in Xiyunshan, this is provided to the imperial family in a fixed number. Aunt tried hard to spare some from imperial workshops and I asked some. I’ll give them all to you to apply to your hair!”

Rulan was also happy. She put her arm around Minglan’s waist and smiled, “That sounds nice. I’m just in need of it. Good sister, thanks for thinking about me.” Her hair had been dry and thin since a very young age. It only got a little better after years of care, so Minglan’s gift was exactly what she needed.

Molan pouted and said coldly, “This trip to our hometown, I suppose sister had learnt a lot as how to deal with worldly affairs and how to apple-polish. How pleasing your gift is!” Minglan wasn’t a bit angry and turned around with a smile, “Yes. I didn’t forget you forth elder sister. Look, this is pure-fragrance ink from the south. It’s said that it consists of top-quality perfume in it so when you write, the characters will smell good and elegant. I’m a stupid girl that knows few words. It would be wasted if I keep it myself. It’s yours now, sister.”

Molan took over a tiny black wood lacquered box. When she opened it, subtle and elegant scent could be smelled. The ink sticks themselves demonstrated purplish black color with smooth surface without any crack, apparently of top quality. Molan liked them very much but she pretended to be cool, “Then I should say thank you sister. Later, I’ll give you half of my southern pearls Madam Hai gave me last time.”

Minglan didn’t pretend and clapped her hands, laughing, “That’ll be so nice. Right, fifth elder sister, what about you?” She raised her eyebrows and reached out, displaying a look of asking for gift. Rulan shot her a glance and cursed, “You shortsighted girl! You’ll get your gift. I kept for you a pair of best jade rings.”

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Minglan pulled her two elder sisters and sighed with satisfaction, “After all, it’s good to have sisters. Even if I missed the wedding, I still have nice gifts. How blessed I am!” Minglan’s joy touched them, so they all laughed together, forming a harmonious atmosphere.

In the evening, Sheng Hong returned back home. The father, mother and daughters also had joyful talks. Wang shi even demanded a bigger table to accommodate everyone for dinner. Minglan toasted to Sheng Hong and said loudly, “To father’s smooth career. Without your hard work, we as children could never enjoy such a comfortable life. I wish father health, longevity and fortune!”

Sheng Hong was really moved by Minglan’s sincere tone and candid manner. He drank the wine in a sip and continuously praised Minglan, “What a considerate girl my Minglan is!” The other daughters, seeing this scene, also raised up glasses to propose toasts to Sheng Hong, which made him really glad. He said, “Nice, nice, nice. Seeing you’re all so well-behaved and considerate, I, as your father, am even happier than getting promoted!”

The boys all drained their cup while girls, as Old Madam Sheng ordered, took a sip.

Today, all family members really enjoyed the dinner, so they started chatting and listening to Minglan talk excitedly about her experience during the trip to hometown.

“When we arrived there, it was just golden autumn when osmanthus across the mountain were like gold paving all around and gave out fragrance that went far. If you walk through the osmanthus forest, you yourself will have the same scent!”

“When picking osmanthus flowers, you order someone to knot a rope on a branch, then you can hold the other end of the rope under the tree and shake hard, so that osmanthus flowers will fall down and rain all over you! Pinlan had really ‘good’ luck. Others shook off flowers while she shook off worms! She was under the tree with a wide-open mouth. Good heaven, a worm almost fell into her mouth!”

“Buffalos near the field had mild temper. I slightly pulled them by the rope and they slowly walked ahead. Pinlan was stupid and pulled too hard that the buffalo was irritated and nearly kicked her over with rear feet. I was so scared!”

Minglan had a clear voice, telling stories in an interesting way with vivid facial expressions. When talking about dramatic fool incidents, her volume ran up and down; when depicting landscape, the voice turned elegant and soothing as if to present before people’s eyes the interesting mountainous scenery and pastoral sight in countryside, making them laugh again and again. Sheng family’s daughters had led an extravagant life within the big mansion and never had a taste of such fun.

“Our hometown is indeed a nice place with talented people and enchanting landscape!” Sheng Hong praised with nostalgia being evoked in his mind.

Changfeng couldn’t help cutting in, “Is Youyang really that fun? I’ve been there.” Molan, seeing that Minglan kept showing off, was jealous, “Brother, you’re a scholar. How can you compare yourself with a wild girl?”

Sheng Hong frowned, “Your sister is young; it’s normal she likes hanging out. In addition, with servants around her, she couldn’t become too wild! In the letter from your big uncle and aunt-in-law, they all praised Minglan for being a well-behaved girl. She even has good influence on Pinlan.”

Molan bowed her head and stopped talking, dissatisfied. Rulan got happier by this than being praised and ate one more chicken leg joyfully.

Minglan was a little embarrassed so she said in a low voice, “I’ve promised grandma that after hanging out with Pinlan, I’ll behave well back in the capital.” Sheng Hong smiled, “It’s good to befriend with relatives and not proper to be pretentious. Just be a good girl when you’re back at home.”

Minglan said to herself, “Of course having relatives is nice.” Since they moved to the capital, Sheng Wei sent them money again and again for fear that the prices in the capital were too high and Sheng Hong needed money to settle down as well as holding a wedding ceremony.

However, officials and businessmen were used to assisting each other to achieve win-win result.

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