Published at 28th of March 2019 08:44:48 AM

Chapter 61

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Hualan Visiting Sheng Mansion (2)

Cuiwei pointed to the direction of House of Mountain Moon and House of Carefree and whispered, “They live quite close to us and are always watching over us. Our lady brought gifts to the young maids with obvious labels when she came back, but the young maids acted so recklessly to rummage without any manner. Despite all these, what should you do with possible theft and fire in the future? Ask our lady to solve the problem or let Mama in charge to punish our sisters? Both will hurt the harmony. Now here came a tricky Mama, which means we have to be more careful. Dear sister, you should really learn to be tough or you will be the first one kicked out by Old Madam. You are not irreplaceable to our lady. Were it not for our lady’s care for you, Old Madam would have already sought out a capable one from those maids named Cui.”

Minglan looked at Cuiwei adoringly and felt that Fang Mama was really good at training capable maids. Cuiwei’s words were logical to point out all the critical concerns and consequences. As expected, a sense of resolution showed on Danju’s face. She nodded seriously while listening to Cuiwei’s instruction. With exceptionally solemn expression, Danju could even directly swear into the party if you set up the flag of sickle and hammer there for her.

Although Minglan had never worked in a company, she knew that the central idea of ​​management was to move forward gradually and implement the responsibility system. There was no way for a CEO to check attendance records. Every time Minglan wanted to rush out and yelled at them, she just kept her temper. Shouting was not her job. Only making decisions and judgements needed her intervention.

"May lady!" Xiaotao ran and jumped from the outside and gasped, "The big young lady, oh no, the married lady came, -Old Madam called all young ladies over for the gathering.” Approved Only. For any use of this content, please contact us at [email protected] for authorization, or we’ll resort to legal means for copyright protection.

Danju acted faster than said. She immediately found a pair of snow-proof boots in magenta that were made of sheep leather inlaid with gold. Then she kneeled down and served Minglan to wear them. Cuiwei hastened down the brick bed and fetch a light-red camlet coat with silver squirrel-skin lining from the inner room. Xiaotao opened the stove to add some charcoal and poked the flame. After the three young maids got everything done for Minglan, Cuiwei hesitated between the snow cap and the gold hair pin for a while, finally she chose the snow cap for Minglan. Cuiwei stayed to watch over the house while Minglan went to the Hall of Peaceful Ages with Xiaotao and Danju.

In fact, Hualan meant to come the second day after Old Madam Sheng returned. But unfortunately, her mother-in-law, Countess of Zhongqin (Lit. Loyalty and Diligence), fell ill. As her daughter-in-law, Hualan couldn’t return back until today.

Hurrying into the main hall, Minglan saw a beautiful woman cry on Old Madam's knees. Old Madam gently stroked the lady’s back with affectionate expression. The grandmother and granddaughter hadn’t met for six or seven years, so they cried on each other's shoulder once met. Wang Shi pretended to be sad by wiping her face with handkerchief but her envy grew inside. Two months ago, when they reunited after a long separation, Hualan didn’t cry sadly like this.

Molan and Rulan stood on the side and entertained a girl about four or five years old.

Upon hearing the hailing voice of a young maid who was lifting the curtain, everyone in the room looked up. The lady stood up and smiled with tears still on her face, "Isn’t this my sixth younger sister? Come on, let me see."

After Danju helped Minglan take off the snow cap and camlet coat, Minglan immediately stepped forward to let herself be held by Hualan, greeting with a clear voice, "Big sister."

Hualan’s eyes landed on Minglan and showed faint amazement. Perceiving Minglan’s good manners, Hualan recalled her clever childhood and smiled with more fondness, “Indeed, our Old Madam is a really nurturing expert. Minglan was skinny like a sick cat when I left here, but now she has become a real beauty.”

Minglan also secretly glanced at her big sister whom she had not seen for years. Her overdress was a front-opening Chinese style robe made of brocade from Sichuan with buttons engraved with gold, on which embroidered peony patterns. Beneath it was a light long dress with vertical stripes. Her attire was elegant and luxurious, her face fine and charming as it usually was but with a touch of the graceful bearing of a married lady which was somehow shadowed by some faint worries between her brows.

Hualan took from the hands of the maidservant beside an embroidered pouch and tucked it to Minglan’s hands, then pulled from her own head a hairpin of gold flowers and pinned it to Minglan’s plain coiffure. After that, she said with a warm smile, “My dear sister, please do not mind the humble gift I offered for all these years of parting.”

Minglan felt something dazzling flashing by before she could get a clear view of what the hairpin looked like. However, it must be made of pure gold as it was quite heavy. Then she weighted the pouch in her hand touching something like jade pendant. So after bowing to show her gratitude, she raised her head and smiled, “Thanks, Big Sister. No wonder fourth elder sister and fifth elder sister always anticipate your visit.”

All laughed upon Minglan’s words. Wang shi pulled Minglan over and pointed at a little girl, introducing, “That is your niece, Zhuang Jie’er.”

It was a little girl, chubby and cute, with eyes and brows quite akin to that of Hualan. However, quite contrary to the easy and poised manner of Hualan, the little girl hid shyly behind her Momo and only stretched out half of her little head upon Wang shi’s coaxing, greeting in a timid voice, “Sixth auntie.”

Her voice was so gentle and adorable like that of a cute animal just through its ablactation. Minglan immediately fell for her little niece and squatted down to the same level with the kid. Smilingly she said, “Zhuang Jie’er is such an adorable girl. I have something good for you, my dear.”

With that, she took from Danju’s hands a square case and stuffed it into Zhuang Jie’er’s hand.

Zhuang Jie’er was in a trance with the case in hands, her big eyes blinking with great curiosity. Then Hualan came over, squatted down and opened it for her daughter.

Inside the case were a delicate and shiny puzzle ring made of copper, a brocade-skinned rattle-drum embroidered with red cornels, a chubby rabbit about palm size carved out of white jade and a pair of emerald lucky jade in the shape of plum blossoms chained by a red cord, which, judging from its lustrous and transparent appearance, was apparently valuable. Zhuang Jie’er took the rattle-drum in one hand and wobbled it, then grabbed the chubby rabbit with her other hand, her fair face beaming with joy, and her gaze to Minglan filled with fondness.

Seeing that her daughter liked the toys, Huala was quite touched and smiled at Minglan, “Thanks for the bother. You must have prepared them long ago. Your niece is a lucky one with an aunt like you. They must have cost you much.”

Minglan first showed the pouch in her hand then touched the hairpin Hualan just gave her and said with a serious tone, “Not really. I had thought so but then I got more than I gave. Big Sister, you can only earn your money back by giving birth to a fatty son so that we three can be aunt again.”

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Eyes filled with delight, Hualan pulled Minglan over the ear and teased, “You naughty girl! How dare you make fun of your big sister? I see, you must be tired of your life and want a good lesson from me!”

Feeling the pain in her ear, Minglan immediately took her chance and hid behind Old Madam Sheng, which made all in the room burst into laughter.

Wang shi was the one that laughed the most and pointed at Minglan, “Tweak her mouth for a punishment.”

Hualan pinched Minglan gently as an empty gesture of punishment and found Xiaotao when she turned her glances. So she bantered, “Are you the maid that served Minglan back then? Does your young lady still kick shuttlecock?”

Xiaotao, with much enthusiasm, went forward and bowed. She had once been ordered to watch over Minglan kicking shuttlecock, winning quite a few rewards from Hualan for her excellent job. Therefore, she favored the first lady and smiled quite honestly, “Good day, lady madam. I am Xiaotao. Since your ladyship married, sixth young lady slacked off, trying every means to delay it.”

All knew what Minglan was like so they all burst into laughter. Then there came Rulan who added to Minglan’s misfortunes by reporting in a loud voice, “Big Sister, you may not know it that sixth younger sister would never get out under three conditions, namely no going out in raining, snowing or hot days!”

The whole room rocked with laughter. All began to make fun of Minglan, who, with a blush, took it all with an honest face. While in secret, she sighed, “Pity that there is no thermometer here or I wouldn’t go out with temperatures above 28°C or below 15°C.”

All began to chitchat around Old Madam Sheng when the atmosphere in the room became more amicable and intimate. Hualan was more eloquent than before, her expression animated when talking about the anecdotes in capital and she was even polite with Molan without a minute of negligence. However, Minglan felt that Hualan pushed herself too far as if trying to hiding something. However, as a daughter of concubine, she had no stance to overstep so she just joined the talk.

While talking, Hualan, without being noticed, observed her three younger sisters in detail. Molan was pretty and elegant as well as refined and delicate but with an air of indulging in self-admiration; Minglan, a fair beauty, was the most outstanding of all. Young as she was, she was gentle and adorable with great manner who intimated with her Big Sister respectfully yet never made it far to surpass Rulan. Hualan couldn’t help but nod with approval in secrecy.

Then looking at her biological sister, Hualan sighed as Rulan took after Wang shi’s mediocre appearance. Luckily, she still got quite a fair skin and a poised and noble manner of a legitimate daughter…However, Hualan couldn’t deceive herself…Rulan was still a bit reckless, not dignified as supposed.

After quite a while of chatting, Old Madam Sheng gestured Wang shiwith her glance at Hualan.

Getting the hint, Wang shi stood up with a smile and let the girls take Zhuang Jie’er out for a walk around the garden. Minglan knew immediately that Old Madam Sheng had something private to talk with Hualan, so she stood up, letting Danju and Xiaotao help her into the warm hat and coat. The same happed to Molan and Rulan. Wang shi led Zhuang Jie’er out first after she was properly and warmly dressed. The three girls followed closely behind with a group of maidservants retreating orderly from House of Peaceful Ages.

Fang Mama and Cuiping closed the door and windows after all went out of the room and guarded with full attention at the door. Hualan was quite nervous at all this yet she still managed a smile, “Grandma must have something to share with me. But why all the secrecy?”

Old Madam Sheng, instead of replying, pulled over Hualan, scrutinizing her carefully to the extent of making Hualan panic. Then she asked, “My poor girl, for the past years, you always mentioned in your letters that you led a happy life. Now I have one question to ask and you must answer honestly, how on earth is your days?”

Hualan could barely maintain her managed smile, “What are you talking about, grandma? I truly have a happy life.”

Old Madam Sheng closed her eyes and exhaled a long sign. She brought Hualan to her arms and asked, “You want to keep it even from your grandma?”

Hearing that, Hualan could no longer control the bewilderment and panic buried within. She lowered her head and quivered, “I don’t know. Somehow I also wonder whether my life is great.”

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