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Published at 30th of March 2019 09:57:40 AM


Chapter 62

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Pearl and Fish Eyeball (2)

This evening, Yuan Wenshao came to Sheng Mansion after finish work and kowtow-greeted Old Madam Sheng. Then he went to chat with his father-in-law and three brothers-in-law. He was a smart guy because as a military officer inherited from the family, he could hardly build connections with noble official families. Sheng Hong’s arranging of his daughter’s marriage in this way made Sheng family connected with both sects.

Wang shi, in view of the fun they had, also invited her own sister and brother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Kang. Coming along with them were the newlyweds Changwu and his wife. Therefore, Sheng family opened two large tables for dinner.

On the outer table, men toasted to one another and talked about what happened in the political circle, drinking and enjoying themselves to the full. Next to them in the inner room was the table set for women. Minglan listened carefully to conversations taking place outside and thought to herself, “Indeed they have families of clans in ancient time. Even a family that gained official ranking through examinations greatly value the complicated connections with teachers and peers, but…what is the difference in modern time?”

Minglan remembered to have read in a magazine that in the future political leaders in foreign countries would be selected from several top universities such as alumnus from Cambridge or Oxford University. Once throwing a bomb in the group, the big political faces in Britain could be crashed by one drop.

Although the rankings of the officials sitting on the table outside were not too high, with Sheng Hong’s fifth rank being the highest, the unity of their families formed a strong power.




Wang shi was happy about families gathering and after drinking many glasses of wine, her face turned lovingly rosy. Yet, Aunt Kang looked a bit haggard, much less beautiful than her own sister. However, Yun’er looked even prettier after getting married, which was a soothing fact. At least her daughter’s marriage was a happy one. She kept toasting to Old Madam who accepted the toasts without hesitation and then went back to her room for rest with the help of Fang Mama.

Little Zhuang’s face was blushingly red like having applied makeup. She and Minglan had chased each other in turn during the whole afternoon, so at present she turned active and asked to sit next to Minglan during the dinner. Hualan got more delighted seeing her daughter become outgoing.

Minglan was exhausted and began to understand a truth. No matter how shy or little a child seemed to be, once it was switched on, it would be high energy-consumption because now she wanted to get rid of it.

In the evening when the dinner was over, for fear that Minglan might feel uncomfortable after drinking too much and being blew by wind and that the girl servants couldn’t take good care of her, Old Madam Sheng ordered Fang Mama to bring Minglan to the Hall of Peaceful Ages and forced her to drink a bowl of sober-up tea and a bowl of ginger soup, after which Minglan felt much better and began her wash with the help of servants in a daze. At last, with a fully crammed belly, she lied down in bed holding grandma’s arm. After a while, somehow, she didn’t fall asleep immediately, but turned rather sober, so the grandma and granddaughter began to chat with each other.

“When I met uncle-in-law Kang for the first time… Why is he different from what I heard of? He’s much worse than daddy.” Minglan recalled the scene when she kowtow-greeted him before the dinner. He had been a handsome elegant youth like Sheng Hong when they were young, but now Sheng Hong was still a cute middle-aged man while uncle-in-law Kang looked drained by excessive wine and sex with a pair of muddy eyes and arrogant manner.

Old Madam sighed, “Your daddy went through all kinds of hardships of this fickle world at a young age, so he knows what he has today is to be cherished and he acts cautiously. Yet, your uncle-in-law is the only son of his family and grew up being spoiled by Old Madam Kang…” The speech didn’t go on.


Minglan added herself: a loving mother would produce spoiled children.

“Aunt Kang is really pretty, but she doesn’t look like Madam.” Minglan was reminded of the haggard beautiful middle-aged woman. An idea suddenly occurred to Minglan, so she, carrying her full belly, moved next to Old Madam Sheng, “Why didn’t grandma choose her as your daughter-in-law?” 

In the dim light of charcoal fire, Old Madam Sheng slightly twisted Minglan’s warm little face and cursed, “You little thing pretend to be numb outside but dare to say anything in front of me! Should you ask such questions?” Minglan rubbed grandma with her head, making Old Madam laugh from itching.

“I visited them for proposal but didn’t specify which one to marry. It was the will of Old Master Wang; also, your Aunt Kang looked from behind the curtain and made her own decision.” Old Madam said calmly, “At that time Old Master Wang and Old Master Kang were both important senior officials of the previous emperor. The two families formed a perfect match. Back then, your uncle-in-law Kang stood out in the exam and became an advanced scholar (Jinshi), a really promising young man. Our family, on the other hand, lost your grandpa and had no foundation in the official circle. Therefore, Aunt Kang didn’t make the wrong choice.” 

Minglan nodded but suddenly felt confused as something occurred to her, so she leaned in and asked in a low voice, “Grandma, did you…aim not at Aunt Kang at the very beginning?”

Kang and Wang families had long-established good relations, and they had made verbal agreement to forge a marriage but didn’t decide on which daughter. However, it was known to all that the most outstanding daughter of Wang family was the eldest daughter rather than the second daughter that grew up in her uncle’s house since young. Thus, without accident, Wang family would have married the eldest daughter to Kang family and the second daughter to Sheng family with a less solid foundation.


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In darkness, Old Madam’s expression couldn’t be seen clear but she reached out and patted on Minglan’s head, praising, “Longing for a lady of both noble family and perfection, isn’t it a pie in the sky? Besides, I investigated a bit and they said though your mother is straightforward and quick-tempered but she is not vicious in nature. In addition, she is capable of managing domestic affairs and wouldn’t do things that could be called really brutish and relentless. This is good enough. If there wasn’t…Our family is quite harmonious.”

Minglan nodded in approval. Wang shi was indeed narrow-minded and calculative about trifles and intolerant towards others but she wasn’t a villain, not vicious to do anything like empoisoning. This was also the reason why she had been trapped up by Concubine Lin. 

“Your Aunt Kang, though looking kind and amiable, is a resourceful but cunning woman. During these years, many lives perished in your uncle-in-law’s house and many concubines were sold out as prostitutes.” Old Madam added.

Minglan did not rush to cut in this time but said slowly after remaining silent for a while, “If she isn’t so cunning, I’m afraid Kang family would be worse than it is now. It’s fair to say that Aunt Kang is forced to act as such and is blamed for being jealousy. Those women were just the targets of her venting rage and are also called sluts that deserved it. Yet, the one who caused all this was never blamed by people.”

This was a patriarchal world. Who didn’t want to be pearls rather than fish eyeballs? Yet, confronting real life, how many pearls there were that could maintain their luster and brilliance forever?

“Haha, it seems that our Minglan has grown up.” Old Madam seemed to be smiling, “It’s the best that you understand this. Keep in mind, a woman, no matter how excellent she is, will be wasted once she marries to a loser. Marriage gives a second birth to women.”


Minglan leaned over to put her head near Old Madam’s neck. She smelled a warm breath of sandalwood fragrance and felt the unspeakable intimacy, saying, “However, it’s easy to learn characters but never easy to see through a man. Good or bad, these losers have a cover of skin.” 

This sentence amused Old Madam who held the little granddaughter in her arms and laughed for a while before saying, “You little girl. You sounded a bit like Empress Jingan; she also seldom blames those imperial concubines but just impute it to the previous emperor.”

Minglan was astonished but before she said anything Old Madam continued, in a voice unprecedently serious and solemn, “However, Minglan, remember, that there will be life-and-death situation where if you have mercy for others, you’ll get yourself killed! The reason why Empress Jingan died at a young age was because she showed mercy to her so-called good friend!”

Astonishment took over Minglan.

She knew that in fact, Old Madam was also referring to herself. Her own baby had been killed by a poor-looking woman in that year, leading directly to the resentment between Old Madam and Old Master.

The one lost in face-to-face wars between women was the one with mercy.

Minglan sighed to herself: she didn’t want to be a fish eyeball.

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