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


Chapter 65

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Chapter 65: One-day Tour Around Marquis Xiangyang’s Mansion (3)




Translator: Flying-Lines

The female guests came successively. The Old and Young Madams in sumptuous costumes, sitting together in groups, were chatting with tea. More Young Ladies in prime age arrived and among them, acquaintances began to talk with each other. All the women present were from aristocratic family or high-ranked officials’, or at least bureaucratic family for generations.

Molan seemed to spot someone she knew, so she stood up with a smile, walking towards several well-dressed ladies and starting to talk with them. Lian turned to Minglan and smiled, "Your elder sister is really popular."

Rulan looked at Molan, who was socializing in the crowd, and said discontentedly with her mouth pouted, "This ability of quick intimacy can’t be acquired by everyone.”

Minglan looked at Molan and found her being all obsequious smiles and making use of every bit of time to please those noble ladies. Minglan couldn’t help disapproving secretly and thought, “Can flatteries bring about any true friendship from different social class?”

Lian belonged to a side-branch progeny of the family. Therefore, she just associated with few dignitaries. Moreover, she was tired of going through the motions, so she just sat still with Rulan and Minglan.

"Unfortunately, it is cold outside and the ground has been covered with thin ice, otherwise we can go out for a walk. The dead Marchioness was from a great family of Jiangnan Region, as a result, this garden is a reproduction of those in Jiangnan. It is quite pleasing to the eye in the bloomy Spring season." Lian looked out of the window with pity, seeming quite eager to go out.

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Lian shook her head and said with a sad face, "My aunt Junzhu is rather strict in formality. So it's not easy for us to come here as separated relatives. What’s more, she’s been inviting some important guests to the garden recently and rarely let us in.”

Rulan was sulking when hearing that, she suddenly remembered to ask, “Did you say Jiacheng Xianzhu? It is rumored that Junzhu had a good relationship with the Sixth Princess." Lian said cryptically, “I didn't say anything. Oh my! Speaking of the devil and he comes."

As they chatted, the maidservant at the door announced that the Sixth Princess and Jiacheng Xianzhu had arrived.

Pingning Junzhu went out firstly to welcome them. All the female guests immediately stood up, either following Junzhu out or standing still for the wait. The two Lans and Lian were not eye-catching, so they just leisurely watched by the side.




After a while, a group of regal madams flocked into the house. Among them, a middle-aged beautiful woman was talking to Pingling Junzhu intimately, followed by a young lady surrounded by the crowd. Minglan knew that they must be the Sixth Princess and her daughter.

The Sixth Princess looked fair and plump, wearing a red coat with golden embossed flowers. She looked kind and was surrounded by many ladies who were greeting to her. Minglan turned to look at Jiacheng Xianzhu, who was beautiful and graceful, with a charming oval face in light makeup. Minglan smiled and whispered, "Xianzhu takes somewhat after Junzhu."

Lian patted Minglan on her shoulder and whispered that she was her confidant, “That’s it! I felt the same but didn’t know how to express it!”

Jiacheng Junzhu was about fifteen or sixteen years old, prime in her years. Several ladies were swarming around her, like a myriad of stars surrounding the moon. She was laughing and bantering with all, demonstrating resourceful and tactful quality quite similar to Pingling Junzhu.

While Junzhu Pingling was devoting all herself to flatter the Sixth Princess as if she was her dear sister and had ignored the rest of the guests. Rulan glared at her coldly and murmured, “Bootlicker!"

Minglan was shocked and hurried to look around. Fortunately, it was noisy and no one heard it. Minglan quickly pulled Rulan away from the crowd and dragged her to the corner, sitting on a stool with Lian at her heels.

Minglan started to talk with Rulan about the southern scenery of Quan Prefecture. Lian never left the capital city, so she was very curious, while Minglan was too sick to enjoy anything at that time. Upon the two girls’ repeated asking, Rulan finally got some interests and began to talk about it in detail with dignity. The three girls laughed and chatted congenially.

Speaking of the famous snacks in Quan Prefecture, radish stuffed buns, Rulan was so delighted, which almost made Lian drool for it. At this time, Junzhu Pingning lifted her voice, “The stage is ready, let's go."

Clinging to the arm of Sixth Princess, Junzhu went out first. Madams and ladies filed out behind as they laughed and talked, leaving the maidservants to clear away the tables, chairs and tea sets…

Lian jumped up briskly and pulled Minglan and Rulan on their hands. She smiled and said, "Let's go to see the plays. My aunt has invited the most famous Shuangxi Troupe, whose plays Birthday Congratulations from Goddess and Taming of the Princess were extremely popular in the capital city!"

Minglan listened with apparent interests. She was about to stand up from the stool and put down the teacup with one hand when a young maid who had been cleaning up accidentally dropped a handful of candied jujube paste on the back of her hand.

Minglan screamed under her breath. Lian couldn’t help but rebuke, "Stupid maid, what are you doing?!"

The young maid was only eleven or twelve years old. Realizing her fault, she immediately kneeled down to apologize. Minglan reluctantly said, "Forget it. Luckily, it was my hand not my clothes, or it will really be awful.” With these, Minglan swung her hand and only felt it sticky and warm.

The young maid was very clever and quickly said, "Young lady, please allow me to walk you for washing up. It will be fine then."


Rulan frowned, "What about the play? It will be late to miss the opening." Lian was a playgoer, so she was also very anxious. She had admired Shuangxi Troupe for a long time. Under this circumstance, Minglan smiled, "You two go ahead, I’ll come for you after washing my hands."

Lian was overjoyed, then she gave some orders to the young maid and left with Rulan.

Minglan felt unlucky and upset, following the young maid to another room. She sat down while the young maid quickly fetched a basin of warm water and helped Minglan roll up her sleeves, remove the bracelet and wash her hands carefully. Then, she used a clean cloth to dry Minglan’s hands and helped Minglan to wear the jewelry. It had not been long before everything was done.

Minglan was surprised about her deftness. While she was flattening her sleeves, she bantered, "You are dexterous and quick in action as if you’re used to serving others wash up, does which mean you always drop jujube paste on others’ hands?"

The young maid was smart and smiled sweetly, "That’s impossible. How dare I do that?" Saying this, she repeatedly peeped at Minglan and praised, "Young lady, you look so beautiful and so kind like a fairy."

Minglan exclaimed to herself secretly, Marquis Mansion was indeed extraordinary, even a maidservant was not only great in mind but also in action!

Then the young maid volunteered to lead the way for Minglan, "Young lady, please mind out, let me help you. The ground is slippery and it is closer to the stage from this way."

Minglan had no sense of direction, so she just honestly followed her and went through the Chuihua Door. Seen all maids were busy around, Minglan’s heart suddenly missed a beat and she realized that something must be wrong. All the maids who served here today wore the concerted blue waist except for this young maid. However, it was not suitable for her to ask anything about others’ family affairs.

The young maid took Minglan by the arm and walked quickly, they circled ways through the yard and went further and further. Minglan felt anxious and even questioned the young maid several times, but every time the young maid just answered, “It won’t be long.”

The more Minglan glared at the young maid, the more Minglan thought she was a trafficker. Minglan could do nothing but follow her for not knowing the direction. After going through two long covered corridors, they still kept going towards a secluded garden. Minglan finally couldn't help but shake off the young maid and stared at her, "Where exactly are you going to take me to?"

The young maid pointed to somewhere ahead and whispered, "Young lady, here we are." Minglan was angry and rebuked, "Where is it? Is your family stage set up in such a desolate place frequented by none?"

All at once, there came a soft chuckle, "Am I not a man?" Minglan was startled and then looked up. She saw a handsome man in a golden crown, smiling quite gently in the corridor–It was Qi Heng.

Having completed her mission, the young maid bowed to Qi Heng then rushed out of sight before Minglan called her back. Minglan was exasperated and thought sarcastically that she must have practiced some lightness skill.


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Qi Heng walked to Minglan smilingly and pretended to salute, “Sixth Younger Sister, it’s been quite a while.”

Minglan was vexed and afraid of being spotted for their private meeting, so she just ignored him and turned to leave. Qi Heng hurried to stop Minglan and said, "This is a very quiet place and no one will come. Besides, Chun’er is my own young maid. Don’t worry."

Minglan felt those words were somewhat intimate, so she said coldly, "Young Master Qi, please mind your conduct.”

Qi Heng laughed at once and stretched out his hand to pat her on the head, "You young lady began to show off your knowledge. I went to your house the other day, everyone was there except you. Why didn’t you come out to meet me?"

Minglan hurriedly recoiled from his hand and tried to speak seriously, "I felt sick after tiring journey and needed some rest in bed."

Qi Heng said with a sly face, "You are a little liar. You lied to me since you were young. I’ve asked your third brother and he told me you were all right on that day. He even mentioned that you had been vigorous just hours before I was there." With these words, he began to pull Minglan by the ear.

Being betrayed twice by the brother and the sister within one day, Minglan was infuriated. She pushed Qi Heng away and shouted, "Are you the God that needs the welcome of our whole family? And you were even irritated by my absence."

Minglan struggled hard and blushed anxiously. Her face was as white as snow and delicate as babies’, by which Qi Heng was suddenly tempted. He grabbed Minglan's arm, reached over and whispered, his voice gentle and affectionate, "I just want to see you, you know that."

Minglan was dumbfounded. She grew up without showing any kindness or saying any good words to him. But he just appeared and took delight in teasing her. Nobody knew when he had made up such a story. Being pulled by the arm, Minglan came so closer to Qi Heng that she could almost feel his masculine smell. Minglan got vexed and made up her mind. Lowering her head to spot the target, she exerted all her strength and stamped hard on his foot once finding a great chance.

Qi Heng backed up a few steps in pain and squatted down to touch his foot. Minglan breathed a sigh of relief and said soberly, "Mind your words and don’t act inappropriately anymore."

Qi Heng saw Minglan stomping up and down like a child, and soon was obsessed with her small cherry-like mouth, so he said forcefully, "If you were willing to talk with me normally, why should I make such an indecent plan?" Minglan sneered, "Young Master Qi has really made great progress. If you devoted all yourself to studying, you might have won the first or second place in imperial examinations."

Qi Heng turned pale abruptly, then he slowly stood up and took a few steps to Minglan, whispering, "You don't need to satirize me, I know you are angry. I haven't seen you for half a year and I just want to know how you’re doing."

Minglan heard the grievances in his words, so her heart couldn’t help but soften a bit. She knew she can’t act on impulse, even though she had to keep a distance from him, she could not do it in an offensive way, so she eased her voice, "I am right here, go ahead."


Qi Heng looked Minglan up and down. For only a few months not seeing each other, Minglan appeared to have changed considerably. Her face was like sunshine on the lake and her eyes bright like a moon. Qi Heng smiled dreamily, “You’ve grown taller and become more beautiful."

Minglan thought for a moment and came up to Qi Heng, asking earnestly, "Brother Yuan Ruo, have you seen Jiacheng Juzhu?"

Qi Heng got stunned and replied, "Yes, why?"

Minglan sighed heavily and decided to make it clearer, "Brother Yuan Ruo, you are a smart man. Don’t you know what the whole capital city knows? You should long have realized Junzhu’s intention as a son.”

Qi Heng’s lips quivered and his face turned colorless, then he gradually became resolute after being panic, suddenly he raised his head, "But I can’t, I don't……I don’t even like her."

Minglan felt so helpless but still softly persuaded him, "Whether you like her or not, you shouldn’t come to see me anymore. There is no doubt that you have a good relationship with my siblings since childhood, but now it’s a taboo since we girls have grown up. All of our girls’ reputations will be permanently damaged by a few rumors."

Qi Heng seemed to figure out something. He surprisingly smoothed frowns and beamed with a smile. Gently he said, "I am not a playboy and will never do that because I know what's what. However, your Big Brother joined the Imperial Academy, I am afraid that it’s really not suitable for me to come to your house in the future." By saying these, he lowered his voice gently and continued, "I just wanted to see you, I miss you so much."

Although Minglan had been tempered into steel in the courtroom, she couldn't help but blush with these sentimental words of love. But the iron-like reality was just ahead of them. Minglan steeled herself, "Young Master Qi, please mind your words. I’m too commonplace to accept your great kindness.”

Qi Heng looked confused and dumbfounded, "I just like you." She was weird and picky, smart and honest in public while lazy and sloppy in private. She never cared about him and even escaped and lied to him, but he just involuntarily fell for her.

Minglan felt slightly sad, forcing herself to look directly into his eyes and pleading, “I beg you, please don’t say anything about me wherever you are. I can’t even live with any gossip. How dare my family offend the Sixth Prince, not to mention Junzhu? Even if it is not Jiacheng Xianzhu, it will never be me, a concubine born daughter to match you. Young Master Qi, you’ve grown up in such environment, don't you know it?"

Qi Heng knew that she was telling the truth. His face turned pale with disappointment.

Minglan firmly pressed on with her persuasion, “Don’t come back to see me again and don’t talk to me when you meet me. Make sure to be courteous if you must speak to me! It is more than difficult for women to live in this world. Remember! Any rumor would be my doom!" Minglan glared at Qi Heng and threw an intense look of appeal. Qi Heng nodded blankly.

Minglan sighed helplessly, and turned to leave with bowed head. Qi Heng gazed in daze after Minglan till she disappeared at the end of the corridor.

 

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