Chapter 133: Right to the Doorstep
The night passed by without trouble.
Chen Rong awoke to the golden sunshine. She turned her head to the side and looked towards the light outside, hearing the birds’ chirping, human voices, and even faint cheers. She smiled and thought to herself: I made it to Jiankang.
Jiankang was such a beautiful and distant name – where money was treated as dung, and meat and wine were fed to the animals; where laughter never ceased and food could never be finished.
It existed as a land of paradise in both of her lives’ memory. It was far from the flames of war and disputes, and the only things it had were luxury, prosperity, and peace.
Chen Rong slowly sat up and walked to her bronze mirror. She now had plenty of gold and silver to lead a good life in Jiankang… She only needed to not become a man’s concubine or plaything, to be sent back and forth for their amusements and fighting with other women. This was why she must do her best to see His Majesty and get his permission to stay unmarried for the rest of her life.
At this thought, Chen Rong softly hummed.
Nurse Ping had been waiting outside her door. She couldn’t help from laughing when she heard her song. “Are you up, miss? What makes you so happy today?”
She brought the washing items in.
Chen Rong laughed. “Not just today, but I’ll always be happy from now on.” She playfully winked at her lovely face and long tangled hair in the mirror.
Nurse Ping laughed. She combed her hair and asked, “Then will you acquire some land and property in Jiankang?”
“Of course I will have to, but Jiankang is full of powerful families. I will first have to meet the emperor before I can do anything.” Only that way could she protect those property. One should know that all the property in Jiankang belonged to the major clans. Even if they weren’t now, they would be taken by force in the future.
Nevertheless, stores and shops could be considered.
Chen Rong got up, stretched her arms to put on a green outfit, and then hummed again.
She went to the yard.
Behind her small courtyard was a lively small street where the commoners made their daily exchanges.
Chen Rong had a servant move a divan and lazily lay there, sunbathing while listening to the hustle and bustle outside.
After a while, she said with her eyes closed, “Old Shang, prepare a card and send it to the Chen House of Jiankang to ask for a visit.”
Old Shang gave her a reply and then went out.
Soon after, Chen Rong again bade: “Nurse, tell two men to secretly look into my brother’s matters. I must know everything about him.”
After another while, she opened her eyes and told the only maidservant that was left by her side: “Bring me the bronze mirror.”
Soon, a mirror appeared before her eyes.
Chen Rong retrieved it and tilted her head. Looking at the fair and bewitching reflection in it, she scraped a nail across her cheek and suddenly asked, “Say, what if I make a slash here?”
The servant girl cried out in alarm: “Miss, that’s out of the question. You must never!”
Chen Rong glanced at her and snapped: “What are you panicking for? I was just saying.”
She was still looking at herself in the mirror, her nail still drawing lines across her face. After a while, she put the mirror down and murmured, “It’s not as if I have the courage or willingness to.”
With these words, she lay back down and closed her eyes.
The maidservant was scared witless. Seeing her close her eyes, she quickly stepped up to put the mirror away.
Some time later, Nurse Ping’s whisper sounded: “Miss, your brother is looking around for you.”
“Bring him to me.”
This translation belongs to hamster428.
After her nurse left, Chen Rong muttered to herself: “It’s a little boring to just lie here like this. I’ll have to tell Old Shang to drill a hole in the wall so I can take a look outside.”
Someone laughed just as she finished her words. “Ah Rong, why would you even do that?”
Chen Rong started at his voice. She whipped around, glaring at the man, and cried, “You? How did you come here?”
Ignoring her glare, the frail young man slowly went to her with the help of his maid. Once he stopped, two other maids automatically went inside and brought out a table for him.
They lit incense, warmed wine, and, when he had taken a seat, placed a plate of pastries in front of him.
He ate the snacks brought before his mouth by a maidservant, glanced at Chen Rong, and asked, “Why are you so startled? Ah Rong of the Chen House, don’t tell me you think you are a recluse, and as long as you didn’t go out no one would know where you live?” This sharp sarcastic voice was indeed that of Huan Jiulang.
Chen Rong slowly sat down. She regarded the pale lad and at length asked, “My good sir, do you have instructions for me on this visit?”
Huan Jiulang clapped his hands, unhurriedly rose, and then turned to leave.
The maidservants who had just moved everything out now cleared them away and moved the table back to its original location, restoring the courtyard to its previous state. They then mounted the carriage as if nothing had happened.
No sooner had Huan Jiulang’s carriage left the gate than Nurse Ping led the younger Mr. Chen in. He stared after the carriage’s emblem and the frail man’s face behind the curtain.
Only until they had gone to the distance did he blurt out in surprise: “Is that a direct descendant of the Huan House?!”
“I see…” He repeated these words several times and couldn’t come up with anything else to say.
When they were near Chen Rong, he heard a maid asking her: “Miss, that was really strange. Why did Jiulang of the Huan House come here if he was just going to leave like that? What does he mean?”
Chen Rong dropped her gaze and smirked. “What does he mean? He means to tell me they are well aware of my whereabouts, so I should not do meaningless things.”
She reminded herself to be more tight-lipped from now on. She must not tell anyone else about asking His Majesty to let her stay unmarried for the rest of her life.
At this point she heard her brother’s joyful call behind her: “Ah Rong, Ah Rong.”
Chen Rong turned around to greet Dalang of the Chen House (1).
(1) Dalang = eldest son
The siblings were tearful to see each other again. The maids quickly set a table for their master.
He sat down and then concernedly looked at Chen Rong. He held her hands, hastily asking: “Ah Rong, yesterday you said you have plans. What kind of plans are they?”
Chen Rong mischievously smiled at him and shook her head. “I can’t tell you yet.”
Dalang of the Chen House broke into a smile upon seeing her playful look. But he next murmured sadly, “It was so difficult to see you again. How could you break our ties?”
He slapped his forehead and hoarsely added, “It’s my fault that I’m so useless and that vile woman is abusing you.”
Chen Rong hurriedly shook her head. She held her brother’s hand and comforted him: “Don’t worry, brother. I’m quite impressive now, you know. That vile woman of yours can’t bully me.”
Her words caused her brother to rebut: “You’re only a little lass, how impressive could you be?” Here, he stared at Chen Rong and hedged, “Why did the son of the Huan House leave from your place? What’s going on?”
He looked as if he wanted to ask in detail, but he ended up biting his teeth. He stared at Chen Rong and said in seriousness, “Ah Rong, it’s fine to be an affluent man’s mistress, but you should know that the ladies in Jiankang are all arrogant. Even the former prime minister, Sir Wang Dao’s wife did not let him have any concubines. What are you going to do if you end up with an unkind lady of the house?”
He thought Chen Rong was a mistress Huan Jiulang was secretly keeping.
She couldn’t blame him. She had only found a place to stay last night, yet Huan Jiulang had already come over today. Most importantly, when a man freely invites himself over to an unaccompanied woman, anyone’s thoughts would go there.
While Chen Rong was smiling wryly, Nurse Ping unhappily refuted: “M’lord, be careful with your words. Huan Jiulang and my lady are not in a relationship. They are merely friends.”
Dalang believed her right away. He laughed, the melancholy vanishing from his gaunt face. “Aye aye, the famous scholars in Jiankang are all like that. They don’t pay attention to trivial rules. Even if they want to befriend a woman they just do it. Then all is fine and good, all is fine and good.”
Chen Rong didn’t expect that he would believe her so quickly. But she couldn’t have known that the literati in Jiankang were rather loafing idlers. There was a man who even went to someone else’s home and slept next to his wife several times, yet neither the woman’s husband nor the people in the city were surprised or thought they were in dalliance… The literati were like this. If they said no, the world would believe that nothing had happened.
Dalang of the Chen House was still laughing. He was so happy that he left his table and began taking turns around the room. He rubbed his hands and smiled at Chen Rong who was suspiciously staring at him. “You haven’t been here long enough to know that it’s different from Nan’yang and Ping. People here are uninhibited in some ways… I can’t really explain it, you’ll know in time.”
With pride on his face and hands behind his back, he took a turn in the courtyard, nodding as he looked around. “My Ah Rong is quite impressive. Imagine, a young girl traveling south on her own, but not only did she meet no danger, she even befriended famous scholars like Huan Jiulang and bought a such a courtyard. How excellent.” Just now when Nurse Ping told him that Chen Rong had bought this place, he had thought it was a white lie and that Huan Jiulang had bought it for his sister. Now knowing that was not the case, he spared no words of praise.
“Ah Rong, you’re probably doing much better than me,” he sighed.
Chen Rong waved her hand at this time. At her cue, her maids withdrew from the room.
In the quiet yard, she tilted her head and asked her brother in a joking manner: “If my sister-in-law is so awful, then why don’t you divorce her?”
Chapter 134: The Rich and Famous
The younger Mr. Chen was stunned. He looked up and frowningly scolded her: “Ah Rong, you should respect your sister-in-law as you would your mother, how can you utter such words?”
When he saw Chen Rong dropping her gaze, his heart softened and he gently said, “If outsiders heard a young lady saying such a thing, they would accuse you of being disrespectful and imprudent. Ah Rong, wisemen have said an older sister-in-law is like a mother. The world will ostracize you for being unfilial and unrighteous. But do not despair, there are only the two of us in the room and you can be sure I won’t tell anyone.”
“Aye, I would not dare,” Chen Rong softly replied. She knew her brother was a little old-fashioned and had thus dismissed everyone else when she spoke to him.
Seeing that his sister remained reticent, Mr. Chen sighed and said, “Ah Rong, your sister-in-law has given me a son even if she’s base and vile. Furthermore, I’ve also made her go through a lot during these years.”
Chen Rong again hummed to acknowledge him.
The siblings continued to chat until sundown when her brother hastily left to go home.
Once he exited Chen Rong’s courtyard, he turned around to take in the sight of the charming house and thought to himself: It’s hard to believe that my stubborn and silly little sister has grown so much after only a few years. She journeyed south on her own yet not only did she befriend the literati, she can even buy a house in Jiankang.
With his thought, he happily smiled, turned around and briskly returned home.
He hadn’t yet stepped inside when he heard his own fishwife swearing up and down, and the victim of this castigation was no other than the lesser madam who had entered his household before her.
Thinking of Ah Gu who recoiled in fear and secretly cried every time she got yelled at, Mr. Chen sighed and simply halted his feet.
At long last, when the courtyard had settled down, he cropped up a smile and went inside.
He saw that Ah Gu was busy with work; tear marks were still on her face. His wife was sitting in her bedchamber, he was unsure what was on her mind.
He walked to her.
He had barely entered when his wife shrilled, “You jerk, so you still know your way home?”
Mr. Chen was quick to produce a smile. “I had gone to see Ah Rong.” Seeing his wife glaring back at him ready to shout, he added, “Interestingly, I saw Jiulang of the Huan House driving out from Ah Rong’s courtyard just as I entered. My sister is amazing. She went south on her own yet she could even befriend these famous scholars.”
His voice was full of pride.
He knew his wife liked to listen to this kind of thing. Sure enough, she sprang from her seat, widened her eyes, and cried in surprise, “A direct descendant of the Huan House comes and goes at her place?”
Mr. Chen laughed and excitedly continued: “I was shocked myself. I had thought that Ah Rong was his mistress. But it turns out he sees her as a friend. Ha ha, Ah Rong is amazing.”
Suddenly, Mrs. Chen gave herself a slap.
It was a great slap. Mr. Chen immediately realized what was causing the agitation on her face. He was quickly filled with regret: Why did I have to tell her this when I know she’s a greedy woman?
He was always like this. He couldn’t help wanting to tell his wife any good news he came across because he would always want to win her smile, or even just to exchange for a day of peace. He got so used to doing it that he sometimes couldn’t control his mouth.
Mrs. Chen got up. She held her husband’s hand and affectionately asked, “Husband, tell me, what else is at your sister’s place? Did Jiulang of the Huan House talk to you? What about the servants? You just said something about a courtyard. How was she able to buy a house in Jiankang when property value is so high?”
Mr. Chen hesitantly answered each of her questions.
Upon hearing his replies, his wife let go of his hand, got up and yelled, “Ah Gu, Ah Gu, take the hen out, we’re going to visit my sister.”
But then she looked at the night sky outside and murmured to herself, “It’s too late now, maybe tomorrow’s better after all.”
She impatiently glared at Ah Gu and barked, “What are you looking at me for? Can’t you tell what time it is? It’s already so late, go get the fire ready, I’m still waiting for my bath.”
“Aye, aye, aye,” Ah Gu repeatedly replied and scrambled away.
Mrs. Chen did not sleep soundly tonight. She grabbed onto her husband to ask about Chen Rong’s situation over and over again, tossing and turning until the rat hour (midnight) before she would drift off to sleep.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
In the early morning hours, Mr. Chen woke up to his wife’s shouting: “What are we taking all these things for? Just the hen is enough for my visit to my sister.” She then added, “Go and call my brothers so that we can visit the young lady.”
Mr. Chen left his bed and asked, “Why are you calling your brothers along?” His wife turned back and shot him a glare that made him duck his head and swallow the rest of his words.
The sun had barely risen by the time the mighty group arrived at Chen Rong’s residence.
Mrs. Chen stared with wide eyes at the beautiful house that was clearly better than her own. In a flash, she had swayed her hips to the door with a smiling face.
At this time, her brawny older brother came forward and banged on the door shouting: “Open up, open up.”
A series of unhurried footsteps padded to the gate.
Soon, an elderly voice sounded: “Who’s there?”
Mrs. Chen quickly stepped forward, smiled and said, “Go let your mistress know that her sister-in-law is here to see her. Tell her to come out to meet me.”
“My mistress’s sister-in-law? My mistress doesn’t have a brother here in Jiankang, so why would she have a sister-in-law?”
He was then heard saying: “Listen well, if there are unrelated people here to make trouble, you must send them all away.”
Mrs. Chen’s face turned green. She was shaking angrily. Her thin younger brother quizzically asked, “What’s going on? I thought she’s your useless husband’s sister? Why would we be unrelated?”
Mrs. Chen did not answer him. After a while, she began to scream: “Son of a bitch, how dare you speak to me this way? Go tell your mistress that her elder brother is like her father. Does she still know what filial piety is? Tell her she can’t live in this world without a family.” At this juncture, she gulped and thought, No, I musn’t curse.
At this time, her older brother took over the shouting: “Can we stop the yapping? Just break the door down. She doesn’t even fucking let her sister-in-law in. The hussy needs to be taught a lesson.”
Mrs. Chen’s and her hooligan brother’s blaring voices made everyone’s ears buzz. While Chen Rong’s courtyard was silent, several large guards from her neighbor’s home came out from the side door. They stared at the gang and shouted, “Who’s making all this ruckus?” while pressing their hands on the blades at their hips.
It took just one sentence and a stare for Mrs. Chen and her older brother to bend over with a simper. “We’re not trying to making a ruckus, really. We only came to see our relative.”
But when had these guards bothered to reason with people of their ranks? They immediately strode to them, glowering. As they moved, the blades fractionally left their scabbards, their uniforms which signified the power of their owner also flapped intimidatingly in the wind.
Mrs. Chen panicked. “We’re leaving, we’re leaving,” she cried. She waved her hand and, in a flash, took the mob away in defeat.
Looking through the door crack, Nurse Ping sighed in relief before she went to Chen Rong’s room. “They’re gone,” she told Chen Rong who was stringing her zither. “Luckily you are smart.” What would today be like if she hadn’t decisively ended things that day? She felt uneasy just thinking about it.
The peace and quiet flew by quickly. Since that day, Mrs. Chen sent her brothers twice more; she herself also came twice. But it didn’t matter whether she was polite or effusive, the servants’ reaction was always to latch the door.
There was no helping it, Mrs. Chen would have to go find her husband. But that husband of hers was such a pedantic bookworm. Even though he was typically submissive to her, the moment Chen Rong got involved, he would use the excuse that he and his sister had cut ties and he couldn’t humiliate himself further. She once told her brothers to drag him out, but her useless husband gave only two weak calls before giving up. She couldn’t chase him down even if she wanted to.
Despite secretly resenting her sister-in-law, this was wearing a bit thin on her. She not only saw the Huan estate’s carriage enter her courtyard today, but also clansmen from the Chen House.
At the sight of the clansmen, Mrs. Chen retreated and leaned against the stone wall in the alley, staring at the entrance with interest.
The bewitchingly beautiful girl at the door was dressed in light green. She wore wooden clogs and had her hair pulled up in a loose bun with a large swaying pearl.
She was at present receiving three carriages and curtsying to the people inside them. Three men next came down, all appearing to be people of importance.
Looking at the people flitting inside, Mrs. Chen swallowed her saliva: “The hussy!” And then she blurted, “What did I say? She did this on purpose! Why would two perfectly good siblings cut ties so soon after their reunion? She’s afraid we would get some of her good fortune.” She spat on the ground and cursed: “Pooh, her brother cried so much to see her again, and I even brought my hen… the ungrateful wench.”
After muttering to herself, Mrs. Chen looked back at Ah Gu and another maidservant hiding in the corner and whispered, “Go and tell those rich people everything.” But she then gave some thought and shook her head.
She stepped forward and intimately pulled on Ah Gu’s hand. As the other woman trembled, she smilingly said, “Quietly go and see the girl. Remember to be nice first, but if she still won’t meet you, let her know you’ll rip her face off in front of the noblemen. Go.”
She then shoved Ah Gu off.
When Ah Gu stopped only after two steps, Mrs. Chen glared at her and barked, “If you won’t go, I’ll sell you to the whorehouse.”
All colors drained from Ah Gu’s face. She shakily dragged herself to Chen Rong’s door.
When she was ten steps from the courtyard, she heard a shout: “Who’s there?”
Several tall guards came out.
They were even taller and more imposing than the soldiers on the streets.
Ah Gu froze. As she was about to speak, Nurse Ping cried out from the courtyard, “They’re people we don’t know. They want to bother us because they see that my mistress is all by herself. Please chase them away.”
The guards politely nodded at Nurse Ping and withdrew the blades at their hips.
Ah Gu gave a scream and scrambled back. She ran to Mrs. Chen, dropped to her knees, and grabbed the woman’s legs. “Madam, I can’t, I really can’t,” she cried.
Mrs. Chen was drenched in sweat to see the guards’ belligerent eyes. She slapped Ah Gu when she heard her pleading. “Scram.” She next turned her head and hurriedly retreated.
In Chen Rong’s courtyard.
A steward from the Chen House of Jiankang stepped out from behind. He clasped his hands towards Chen Rong and politely said, “M’lady, I have to regrettably inform you that the card you sent the other day was received by a new servant who did not know any better. We’ve expelled the ignorant bloke.”
While the steward pleasantly greeted her, a man standing in front of Chen Rong laughed: “Alright, alright, let’s not dwell so much on irrelevant matters. Ah Rong, go and pack up.” He cast the courtyard a glance and furrowed his brow. “This courtyard may be shabby but it has a few positive things. Leave some servants behind to take care of it.”
Chen Rong smiled, curtsied and softly said, “I dare not disobey my elder’s words.”
The man laughed to see her agree. “Very good. Ah Rong, the Chen House of Nan’yang will arrive in two days. I heard you have joined Chen Gongrang’s household, correct? Then why don’t you stay in the courtyard that is arranged for Chen Gongrang.”
“Aye,” Chen Rong respectfully replied with a curtsy. Although the man in front of her seemed amiable enough, he was a direct descendant of the Chen House from Yingchuan. For a man of his standing to deign himself to come and welcome a little girl like her into the estate, the clan’s attitude could not be clearer.
Her audience with the emperor was already in sight.
The servants had informed Chen Rong of these people’s arrival early on. Thus by the time the middle-aged man gave his order, the carriages at once began moving.
Chen Rong only took Nurse Ping and Old Shang along, leaving the rest behind to watch the house.
As the vehicles slowly drove out onto the street, those standing around would crane their necks looking from time to time.
Mrs. Chen had not left.
She retreated into a corner, unblinkingly staring at the carriages coming closer and closer. Not far behind her, a nobleman wondered, “Is that really the Chen House of Yingchuan? And the Huan estate? How strange, who is this aristocratic lady that she is taking shelter in the small courtyard behind us?”
Another nobleman’s voice sounded: “Aye this is very surprising. I never thought that the Chen House and the Huan House would appear in our small lane.”
A soft sigh followed his voice: “Had I known this woman’s identity was so extraordinary, I would’ve gone to pay a visit.” There were several guards standing around this man. Mrs. Chen only gave them a glance to duck her head. They were those who had interfered when she and her brothers came to make a scene.
The carriages were nearing.
Eventually, these noblemen stopped making noises. When the carriages passed by, they all bowed their heads and took a step back to show the kind of respect one might show to his superiors.
Only until the carriages pulled twenty paces away did these people look up again.
Mrs. Chen’s sluggish eyes made the slightest movement amid another round of chatter.
She slowly closed her mouth and, looking at the carriages that were gradually disappearing from the street, once more slapped herself on the cheek.
The maidservants and Ah Gu looked up at her. Mrs. Chen gave them a cutting glance that made them shrink back. She slapped herself again, stood in the dark corner and cursed as she enviously watched the carriages drive away: “Foolish woman, if you hadn’t been blind to all those gold and jade, right now you, too, would be sitting in that carriage and accepting the greetings of the noblemen.”
Even after giving herself two slaps, her eyes lit up: No, this girl really cares about her older brother. I just have to treat that useless man better and I’ll have a share of this fortune.
This thought put her back in a good mood. She waved her hands and hurried home. As she went, she did not forget to order: “Ah Gu, go back and kill the old hen to nourish your master. I’ve really been neglecting him these days.” Her jiggling face was radiating tenderness. At this time, her footsteps were light, and she felt an immense satisfaction and adoration for the husband who usually sickened her. They were the satisfaction and adoration that had only existed the first month of their marriage.
Chapter 135: Seeing Wang Qilang Again
Chen Rong’s carriage slowly drove away from the crowd’s watchful eyes.
When they got to the main street, no one gave her another glance, for Jiankang was full of aristocrats and royalty.
She lifted the curtain and watched the city go by. She hadn’t been to town during her stay, knowing her looks were provocative. So she had had to be patient despite her curiosity about this city.
She had nothing more to fear, however, now that she was entering the main house and tied to its name. Ah Rong of the Chen House was no longer someone others could offend.
Girls’ laughter rang on the street from time to time. They flit in front of her carriage, with their sweeping robes and lingering fragrance.
While she was still looking around, the vehicle slowly drove into the Chen estate.
The red gate belonging to a wealthy home and the long driveway gave the traditional and serene compound a mysterious quality. This was her first impression of the main house. It looked as though every piece of leaf and every blade of grass had been carefully spruced.
Even so, Chen Rong had lost all interest in these things. She suddenly lowered her curtain and let the wind flutter it against her face.
At length, a maidservant gently announced herself before lifting the curtain.
With a smile, Chen Rong let the girl help her down.
She met a middle-aged man named Chen Zifang who was her fourth uncle from the Chen House in Jiankang. He cheerfully pointed to the large courtyard ahead with rows upon rows of houses and rooftops. “Ah Rong, this is your courtyard. Take a look and see if you need to buy anything else. Let the servants know so that they can take care of it for you.”
He turned to the bowing young servants and said, “This is your mistress. You are to listen to her from now on.”
“Aye,” all eight replied with a bow.
They encircled Chen Rong.
Chen Zifang gave another chuckle. He kindly looked at Chen Rong and called, “Ah Rong.”
“From now on, this is your home. Remember, you are Ah Rong of the Chen House.”
Chen Zifang smilingly waved his sleeves and strode away. Just as he left, the curious gazes around them also withdrew. The courtyard quieted in an instant.
Among the eight servants, a girl about twenty years old with an oval face and a beauty mole between her brows came forth and supported Chen Rong. Using the soft southern accent that was unique to Jiankang, she asked, “Is there something you are wondering about, miss?” She covered her smile. “I’m sure it’s normal to have questions. Since you’re now the ward of Chen Gongrang of the Nan’yang Chen House, everything can wait until he arrives.”
Besides those who had welcomed her, Chen Rong hadn’t seen any other elders on this trip to her relatives’. She had thought she would meet a few elders at the very least, but she know knew why upon hearing what the maidservant had to say.
Why was this maidservant so smart, though? She hadn’t said anything but she already knew her thoughts.
Chen Rong’s reflection had only gone this far by the time the maid smiled and added, “You likely didn’t know this, but we had had to learn to read our masters’ minds from time to time. In Jiankang, wealthy homes like ours not only arrange special training for their first rank maids, but also for their courtesans, stewards, and guards… otherwise, how can the House of Chen call itself a century-old aristocratic family?”
Chen Rong carelessly nodded. She might have been interested in these things in the past, but now she just wanted a quiet life.
She didn’t know that the her unconcerned attitude would be perceived thus by the servants: They say this young lady is of a very humble origin, but she looks to possess poise and grace.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
The courtyard that had been arranged for Chen Rong was located on the west side of the Chen estate, whose driveway was seen behind the open side door.
It was extremely elegant in its entirety; simple and plain even.
While Chen Rong was looking around, the maid again chuckled. “There are people like Shi Chong who like to flaunt their wealth and deck their homes in baubles. Those are common households reeking of money. The true upper class only seeks comfort. The way of the world rests within one’s heart.”
After two lifetimes, this concept was one Chen Rong was familiar with. She nodded in agreement. “The way of the world rests within one’s heart. These words are surely not wrong.”
By this time, she had entered her room.
It was very large yet simply furnished: a bed and table, some curtain, and no other furniture.
There were four layers of gossamer floating on the walnut floor. A dim light glimmered from the bed behind these curtains. At a closer look, it was revealed to be crushed pearls scattering on the fabric. They shimmered like the innumerable stars.
The top was set with fifty or sixty large pearls… their color, roundness, and size did not differ greatly from the one she was wearing in her hair.
The room was filled with a relaxing scent. Although her lifestyle had been comfortable during her marriage to Ran Min, this sort of luxury simply wasn’t found in his residence.
The maids had been observing Chen Rong ever since she entered this courtyard. They were very satisfied to see that she was neither scared nor anxious. Her oblivious indifference made her look as if she had lived here her whole life, as if the pearl bed was no more than a boulder of rock. No wonder she could garner the recommendation of the Nan’yang literati even though she is only a concubine’s daughter from a subsidiary branch of the clan. Even the Wang House of Lang’ya praises her. She is indeed very graceful, they thought.
To seek an audience with His Majesty was highly uncommon for a young lady. Once she was rewarded, she would represent the entire Chen House. She could be cunning, but she could lose her calm. She could be ruthless, but she could not lose her foresight. She could even be ungrateful, but she could not forget her poise nor the temperament of an aristocrat who was already accustomed to glory.
After feeling satisfied, the servants one by one retreated.
Chen Rong sat in her room staring absently at her zither.
Nurse Ping quickly exhaled to see the door close. She went up behind Chen Rong to mutter: “Miss, I couldn’t breathe for some reason.”
“It’s not as if you are asking anything from them. What are you afraid of?”
Nurse Ping paused to ponder and then laughed. “Aye, I’m not asking for anything. Miss, I’ll make sure to breathe the next time I see them.”
Chen Rong smiled.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Chen Rong and her people had spent the first part of the year on the road, but there was still a lingering chill in the breeze.
She watched the sunset while she strummed a song.
The sound of zither unhurriedly wound through the air. The tranquility in her otherwise beautiful notes was something that even she had never known. It was the bliss one feels when one discovers that the mountain could be so spectacular, or the water could be so harmonious. And yet, there was a hidden urgency that also let others know she was in fact very thirsty for this tranquility.
The music gradually stopped, at which time an applause sounded behind her. At the same time, Huan Jiulang’s sharp laughter took over. “Bravo, bravo. There is always new enlightenment to be found every time I hear you play.”
At this juncture, he lowered his voice and quipped, “To whom should I credit this, I wonder?”
His tone was a bit strange.
Chen Rong scowled. Her finger stiffened on the zither despite herself.
Slowly, a smile bloomed on her face.
She rose and slightly tilted her face. “Greetings, gentlemen,” she offered them ceremony.
She didn’t need to look up to see that among those dapper lads was the figure she could never forget but did not want to see again.
For this reason, she swept her fingers across the strings, smiled, and lightly said, “The sun is going to set soon, night will be upon us. My shabby place can be drafty. You should leave, gentlemen.”
She was bluntly dismissing her guests.
The young men paused. Huan Jiulang took the lead to laugh. And without waiting for the crowd to react, he pushed them and said, “Aye aye, we’ll go, we’re going.” He pushed as he laughed, instantly, their footsteps disappeared beyond the arched doorway.
But the only person Huan Jiulang did not take with him was also the one Chen Rong least wanted to see.
She wryly smiled.
The white robed man came to her.
When he was three paces from her, he looked at her and softly sighed. “Ah Rong, don’t smile like this, don’t speak like this… it isn’t you.”
Chen Rong almost laughed out loud.
She slowly looked up.
Twilight flushed her porcelain skin and lit her dark eyes.
She tilted her head and looked up at him. At length, she smiled. “Qilang, it’s been a long time.”
Yes, it had been a long time. So long that it felt like a century, so long that she had gotten used to being cold and distant…
Wang Hong watched the charming yet chilly Chen Rong and slowly produced a feeble smile.
He reached for Chen Rong’s lips. His action was slow and elegant, and almost instinctive.
When his finger was inches from her lips, Chen Rong smiled an unsmiling smile and softly said, “My lord, please watch yourself.”
She was soft spoken, but her tone betrayed a firm resolve.
Wang Hong did not seem to hear her.
He gently placed a finger onto her docile lips.
His touch was very cold. Stroking her full luscious lips, he stared quietly into her eyes and at length murmured, “My Ah Rong…” There was a trace of lingering helplessness in his raspy voice.
Chen Rong raised an eyebrow: His Ah Rong?
She charmingly smiled. Her shimmery eyes gazed at Wang Hong as she took his caressing finger into her mouth.
Her action instantly stiffened him.
She coyly gazed at a frozen Wang Hong. Slowly, her tongue flicked across his finger.
As he was looking at her in rapture and bliss, she let go of his finger and reached forward to caress his throat.
Her warm and silky touch was all of a sudden replaced by a sharp object – her golden hairpin. Chen Rong’s wrist dragged downward and made a pierce in his flesh.
As she forced Wang Hong to raise his head, she stopped smiling. She looked at him and quietly said, “You’re overstepping, Qilang. If you can’t give me what I want, and I only receive disdain from you, then why don’t you just shake your sleeves and let it go?”
She leaned into him. While Wang Hong stared into her clear bright eyes, she mewled, “Qilang, stalking is very unbecoming of the Wang House of Lang’ya.” Her soft lips brushed across his ear to lightly let her words float in.
After successfully making Wang Hong’s eyes darken, Chen Rong withdrew her hairpin, turned her head, and unhesitatingly walked back to her room. “See the guest out,” she shouted as soon as she reached the door.
She shouted twice but not a single servant came out.
Chen Rong stood at her door and shouted again, “Men!”
Her voice was slightly tinged with anger. When Huan Jiulang left just now, she noticed that the servants in the courtyard were all gone. She couldn’t believe that they were still pretending not to hear her even after she had shouted at the top of her lungs.
The courtyard remained just as quiet despite her raised voice.
Chen Rong softly growled, flapped her sleeves, and strode back into her room. In a flash, her door slammed shut.
Looking at the shaking door, Wang Hong slowly reached out to touch the blood on his throat and smiled a helpless smile.
Anyone watching Lost Love in Time? It’s my new obsession. The plot moves along swiftly and I magically care about everything that’s going on, most especially Prince Zhan. I feel like he’s pretty realistic and therefore not nearly as interesting if this were real life, but because this is dramaland where things are often black or white, we can’t help but try to decipher him: are you good or are you bad? And I dig it that he’s neither baby Jesus good nor twirling whisker bad. There’s actually a purpose and drive to his every action. Me like! I’m very much a William Chan fangirl and I love Prince Ling too, but dramaland is always full of honorable and righteous heroes. Today’s episodes give me so much Prince Zhan feels. Smart men are so… sexy. Haha. Forget the 1st four episodes. They are rushed and do none of the characters any justice. Iteration #2 is so much better. I need someone to spazz with me.