Published at 11th of April 2019 08:27:53 AM

Chapter 64

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Chapter 64: One-day Tour Around Marquis Xiangyang’s Mansion (2)

Translator: Flying-Lines

Reminded of her late father, Wang shi could hardly keep composed with the corners of her eyes turning moist with tears.

Junzhu Pignning came to the rescue and bantered, “Sister Wang is here for your birthday. Why mentioning your old days?”

Old Marquis favored her little daughter quite much and echoed in approval, “Alright, I’ll stop it. Now, help her to sit. Then these must be your daughters?”

Wang shi hastened to beckon the girls up to pay respect to the Old Marquis. All three Lans immediately went over and kneeled down. Kowtowing respectfully for three times, they all spoke simultaneously with their clear voice as rehearsed before, “May your Lordship remain strong like the evergreen pine. May you live long and prosper.”

After Old Marquis Gu accepted their congratulations, Junzhu Pingning ordered a maidservant over with a tray, on which lay three embroidered pouches prepared by the Old Marquis as gifts for the girls.

Taking the pouch, Minglan finally got the chance to raise her head to look around. Coming into her view were a group of boys varying in age from seven to a bit over twenty, who looked quite similar with one another, apparently all descendants of Gu.

Junzhu Pingning pointed at them and smiled, “These are the brothers and nephews from Gu family. They are here to offer birthday felicitations to my father before guests arrive. Since we are close like a family, so there is no need for the girls to shy away like the old school.”

The rules of the noble families in ancient times stipulated that all unmarried descendants were juveniles so girls and boys should not meet. However, that did not apply to ladies of the same family.

On the other side of the Old Marquis stood his many daughters-in-law who all wore demure makeup and luxurious ornaments.

“These are my sisters-in-law and nieces. Let’s get to know each other,” Junzhu Pingning introduced.

The ladies went up, starting another round of greetings and chatting, which indeed made the three girls suffer as they had to constantly bow to the ladies to pay respect and then called “Uncle”, “Brother” etc., to greet all the men present in the room. Minglan’s head spun out of the frequent kowtows and nearly fell upon standing up. However, the always athletic Rulan stumbled and threw herself upon Minglan, nearly making her fall right on the face. Thank god that she herself was such a great girl of manners and merits that she managed to support Rulan with a smile.

In her hands were quite a few more pouches she just received. Weighting them habitually, Minglan found the pouches were of different weight. Then she stole glances over her two elder sisters, only to find Rulan still in her dizziness while Molan muttered something with her head bowed, which, as Minglan leaned over to listen, were all the names and families of the ladies Molan trying to memorize. Wang shi was probably the poorest this day as she suffered unexpected financial losses for giving gifts.

Due to the ancient ritual that a distinction should be made between males and females, Junzhu Pingning led the females to another yard where there was a spacious hall with a lot of chairs and benches. Maidservants severed some tea and refreshments after all ladies took their seat. Then the chatting began as they waited for the rest of guests to come.

Minglan sat quietly at one corner of the room and couldn’t help but marvel at the fine art of the teacup after examining the paint on it in detail. Molan was chatting with a girl from Gu family who seemed to be her old acquaintance.

“Why aren’t members of Duke Qi here? Are they late?” Rulan asked Minglan with eyes peeking involuntarily at the girl of Gu family.

Minglan didn’t know who she was asking while the girl of Gu family failed to get her true meaning. Minglan couldn’t help but sigh, answering casually, “Perhaps they just find it hard to get up in cold days, just like us.”

The girl from Gu family burst out laughing upon hearing Minglan’s words. She was charming and innocent. Smilingly she spoke to Molan, “Your younger sister is interesting.”

Molan managed a smirk with the corners of her mouth twitching then asked lightly as if she didn’t care at all, “Speaking of that, Lian, why wasn’t Old Marquis’s grandson present?”

Lian was Junzhu Pingning’s niece. Gu family had countless girls but most of them were under ten, so only they four at similar ages grouped together for the chat.

“My elder cousin came last night and offered birthday felicitations early this morning. I have no idea where he went to help now.” Lian knowingly talked with a tone of an old lady, amusing the three Lans quite much.

With the magic of the laughter, the four girls gathered together for chatting. Lian was quite eloquent and talked alone in high spirits for quite a well, introducing the most popular theatrical troupes in capital, the fashion of hairpins and the poem society of young ladies…Molan echoed her speech quite skillfully. In fact, Rulan and Molan acquainted with Lian almost at the same time. Clearly, Molan was more adept at socializing. Minglan just listened with a smile without getting much involved in the conversation.

After a while of talking, Lian kept glancing at Minglan as if hesitating to ask something. Finally, she couldn’t help but ask, “Your elder sister mentioned that you and the big granddaughter of Cabinet Yu were best friends back in Deng Prefecture.”

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Hearing that, Minglan shot a glance at Molan, who, getting it, moved uneasily on the seat. Then Minglan turned back and said after some consideration, “Not necessarily the best, we just share similar taste and enjoyed some amicable conversations.”

Lian was an honest girl that couldn’t hide anything so she pursued, “Then why was she unwilling to marry my second uncle?”

Minglan was lost in bewilderment and asked back, “Who is your second uncle?”

“The second young lord of Marquis Ningyuan, the one standing beside the Old Marquis just now,” roared Lian hastily upon seeing Minglan’s confusion.

Minglan got it immediately and leaned back as if being hit in the chest, blaming herself for being so stupid as a pig. How could she forget this? It must be due to the dizziness of kowtowing.

The Marquis Xiangyang the First and Marquis Ningyuan the First were brothers. However, Marquis Xiangyang the Second failed to produce an heir yet somehow, he skipped his own brothers and adopted a son from the clansmen of Gu in his hometown that was distantly connected. From then on, the connection between Marquis Xiangyang and Marquis Ningyuan stopped that even the rituals for naming their descendants differed.

Currently, Old Marquis Xiangyang’s only son died young, leaving only Junzhu Pingning. Not until the Old Marquis reached his fifties or sixties did he finally come to realize that he would never work out a son, so he had no choice but to adopt a nephew as his son. That was why Old Marquis was surrounded by a crowd of men and boys from Gu family who were all here to strive for the title of Marquis. Father of Lian was also one of the nephews of Old Marquis.

So the ex-fiancé of Yanran was among those standing around Old Marquis? Damn! She didn’t notice.

Minglan tried hard to recall the scene…and it seemed that among all the uncles she had bowed to there were two that were rat-eyed and buck-headed, but which one was this guy? The rat-eyed or the buck-headed? Minglan was so vexed at herself for not being able to recall anything that she wanted pulled her own hair.

“We two families never connect but this time my elder uncle sent someone to invite Marquis Ningyuan over to help select an heir. It was also my first time to meet them. The First Master didn’t come due to poor health condition, only second master and third master came.” Lian, with her head raised, pouted her mouth and urged Minglan for answer, “Do tell me why the first young lady of Yu family was reluctant for the match. Is it because of some bad rumors?” Though her tone was colored by worries for her own family, while in fact her expression betrayed her, she was merely intrigued by the gossips.

Minglan was well prepared with the excuse that Yu family had cooked up so she just replied lightly with an indifferent tone, “Not really. It was because Cabinet Yu had long ago made a verbal engagement with Duan family in Dali. The two families parted later with one in the north while the other far in the south so all forgot about it. However, early this year, to all’s surprise, Duan family wrote to Cabinet Yu asking about the marriage. As a man of his words, Cabit Yu agreed the marriage without hesitation.”

Lian was quite disappointed, “Is that so?”

“Yes, of course. What else could it be?” Minglan tried to sound as sincere as she could, “In fact, Cabinet Yu himself was quite delighted to be in-laws with Marquis Ningyuan so he immediately betrothed the second young lady instead. Is the wedding date decided? When is it?”

Lian couldn’t even hide her disappointment without exciting news, so she just waved her sleeve and said casually, “Yes, it’s the end of this month.”

With that, she switched the topic to chat with Molan and Rulan. Minglan was quite relieved that she couldn’t help keeping her fingers crossed just like Wang shi did when Changbai was taking the exams, praying secretly, “Thank god that Yu family dealt with the aftermath of the matter well without leaking anything out, or I might have already been involved in trouble. In the honor of the supreme god of Taoism, I will never act on impulse.”

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