Chapter 136: In the Spotlight
Looking at the closed door, Wang Hong sighed and shook his sleeves before turning to leave.
Once he was gone, the maids and servants poured out again. When she heard their whispering, a vexed Chen Rong strode to the door despite herself.
She wryly smiled when her hand reached the handle. Why am I even angry? She knew that even though she was the courtyard’s owner, in the servants’ hearts, her status wasn’t necessarily higher than theirs.
After giving it more thought, she still opened her door and came out.
She quietly stared at them with a scornful smile, flapped her sleeves and turned back in.
The servants traded glances and helplessly shook their heads at the closed door. Chen Rong did not say anything, but the contempt in her eyes had shamed them so.
Jiankang was festive today.
Chen Gongrang’s group was arriving.
Of course, he wasn’t the only one to arrive, but had come with a legion of several thousands.
Chen Rong sat in her carriage.
Outside, her fourth uncle Chen Zifang was leading the Chen House of Jiankang to welcome their arriving relatives.
Nurse Ping looked outside, smiled and said, “Once Chen Gongrang comes back, your audience with the emperor won’t be too far away.” She longingly looked towards the palace and remarked in envy: “I wonder what the princes look like. They must be extraordinarily handsome, like fairies in the sky.”
Chen Rong just smiled.
At this time, Nurse Ping suddenly poked her mistress and whispered, “Look, miss, it’s the young master and your sister-in-law. They’re staring this way.”
Chen Rong didn’t lift her head. She merely bade, “Lower the curtain.”
Lower the curtain? What a hurtful thing to do. Nurse Ping was surprised, but upon seeing Chen Rong’s tightly pressed lips, looking dead set, she reached out and pulled the curtain down.
Her sister-in-law was craning her neck towards Chen Rong’s carriage. She pushed her husband and yelled, “Look, there’s your sister. Call her!”
Mr. Chen frowned in reply. “It won’t do. If you really want to see her, I’ll have to go to the Chen estate and pay a visit.”
These words vexed Mrs. Chen greatly. She stomped on his foot and barked, “Are you crazy or are you stupid? You have to call her in front of everybody so that she won’t ignore us.” She gave him another stomp. “Call her! Look, the old servant saw us.”
Mr. Chen hedged.
At this very moment, the curtain lowered and blocked Chen Rong from their view.
That servant had clearly seen Mr. Chen but she still lowered the curtain down, obviously not wanting to recognize him.
Momentarily, both Mr. Chen and his wife were dumbfounded.
After some time, Mrs. Chen shook with anger.
She pulled her husband’s ear and shrieked, “You useless garbage! Take a look, you go on and on about your sister every day but what about her? She doesn’t even want to see you!”
While the city was getting more crowded, her raised voice got into the ears of the noblemen traveling on the road.
Several guards instantly turned around and shot her a glare.
Mrs. Chen blanched. She gave a fright when she saw the disgusted looks they threw her way. Quickly putting on a smile, she pulled her husband’s hand and retreated to the side.
Soon, Chen Rong’s carriage reached the city gate.
Noises gradually fell and people began lining on either side of the street as they waited for the smoke of dust in the distance to get closer.
“Miss,” a maid called her.
Chen Rong made a reply.
“After Chen Gongrang arrives, please accompany him into the city.” After a pause, she softly explained, “Several noblemen have just come.”
Chen Rong shivered. “I understand.”
She looked at her reflection in the mirror, which was dressed in a light blue dress with yellow trims and flower embroidery. This dress and her plain face made her look particularly fresh-faced and refined. It diffused her stunning beauty and made her look more innocent.
Yes, I can see the aristocrats like this.
When Chen Rong was satisfied and withdrew her eyes, Nurse Ping asked from behind, “Do you want to comb your hair again, miss?” For simplicity’s sake, her hair was in a simple bun fastened by a golden hairpin. Additionally, her wooden clogs were the ubiquitous kind found everywhere in the city. She looked elegant, true, but also fairly informal.
Chen Rong shook her head. “No, we don’t need to try too hard.”
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Noises and laughter filled the air.
Chen Rong turned around to look.
What she saw was about a dozen carriages that was slowly approaching. But when she saw emblems of the Wang House from Lang’ya and the Xie House from Chen County, she lost interest and withdrew her gaze.
By this time, the dust had dispersed to reveal the cavalcade behind it.
As they looked out to the endless caravan, a man remarked from the crowd: “There are so many people coming this time. Even though they are coming through four separate gates, it’s still quite a frightening number.”
“That’s not it,” someone else interjected, “There are rich and there are poor people. How can they all come into the city together? I heard that’s why they’ve divided into four groups.”
While the discussion went on, the cavalcade outside the city was getting closer and closer.
Chen Rong peered outside and discovered that the Chen House of Nan’yang was out in front.
Ah yes, the Wang House of Lang’ya and people such as Yu Zhi and Huan Jiulang had arrived earlier. Among the rest of the clans, the Chen House held the highest status; of course they would lead.
When the Chens’ banners and carriages appeared in people’s sight, their laughter and voices grew ever louder.
At this moment, ten carriages drove by without regard for the crowd or her carriage. “Miss, the princess’s entourage is here!” Nurse Ping exclaimed.
It was indeed the princess’s entourage that was charging to the front. Following closely behind were a number of imperial relatives and young ladies from the new noble families that the Empress Dowager and the Emperor had retained.
These girls drove out as they laughed, cheered, waved their whips, and sang. It was clear that these girls had come to draw attention.
At this moment the maidservant’s voice sounded: “Miss, go on.”
Chen Rong quickly caught on and let Old Shang know what to do.
Old Shang’s carriage also drove out.
When the noble ladies drove out, their tall guards were also riding out to protect them. No one paid attention to Chen Rong’s carriage.
In the blink of an eye, her carriage had dashed to the Chen House of Nan’yang.
The vehicle suddenly stopped, at which time a hand lifted the curtain. It was Chen Gongrang’s retainer. “Please come down, miss,” he respectfully said.
Chen Rong hopped off and followed him to Chen Gongrang’s carriage.
Behind the curtain, Chen Gongrang kindly looked at her and smilingly said, “Very good, come in.”
Chen Rong folded her hands on her knees and softly said, “I was told the aristocrats are here and that I should go into the city with you.”
Chen Gongrang stroked his long beard and chuckled. “That’s fine.”
The two maids in the carriage crawled on their knees to help Chen Rong set her seat, after letting her and Chen Gongrang sit to the left and right, they lifted the curtain and retreated into the corner.
The noises ahead grew increasingly louder.
The cavalcade gradually began to pull apart. The guards on either side slightly retreated as the carriages added distance between each other.
Out in front was Chen Gongrang’s carriage, which reached the gate before long.
It pulled to a stop, prompting the fleet behind to likewise do so.
Chen Gongrang swept the curtain aside to step down. He clasped his hands towards Chen Zifang and said, “Zifang, sorry for the trouble.”
He then turned to greet the Wang House of Lang’ya and the Xie House of Chen County.
Behind him, Chen Rong matched his pace and smilingly raised her head to accord them a curtsy.
Her debut instantly drew all attention.
“Who’s the girl that came with Chen Gongrang?”
“Her demeanor is refined while her dimpled smile is graceful. I reckon she must be an accomplished lady from the Chen House in Nan’yang.”
“An accomplished lady so bewitchingly pretty? Who’s the blessed gentleman, then? Haha.”
Amid the voices, a single laughter sounded.
It was sharp and resounding, and somewhat frivolous.
It was as if all noises stopped the moment this laughter sounded. Next, the crowd gave way for a dashing carriage.
It was an ordinary carriage without any clan emblem. It headed straight towards the large crowd and charged past the Chens.
It reached the city gate in a flash and then slowed down when it was less than ten paces from Chen Rong.
Before the vehicle could pull to a complete stop, the curtain lifted and out came a man in his late twenties with a pale complexion and handsome features.
When he did so, all the stunned guards around him stepped up to help.
The man stumbled two steps to the front. Before he could find his balance, he had waved his hands to dismiss the guards. He next reached out and, as he was wanting to grab onto something, touched a woman’s bosom. She looked somewhat like Chen Rong’s sister-in-law, having murky eyes and a foul face.
The man quickly turned around when he felt the softness in his hand. At the sight of her, he began to retch.
Chapter 137: Your Majesty, Please Make Me a Daoist Nun
The young man retched as he hastily retracted his hand. He retrieved a handkerchief to scrub his hand and said in disgust, “What is the use of being so fat and ugly? Men, feed her to the dogs.”
Several guards immediately approached at his order. They were obviously well trained. As the woman was about to scream in fright, her mouth was gagged and her hands caught.
They dragged her down and vanished into the crowd.
The young man finally wiped his hands clean and tossed the handkerchief away. He next strode to Chen Rong and Chen Gongrang.
Standing before them, he cocked his head to stare at Chen Rong and then almost suddenly, he pointed at her and blurted, “I like her.” His words caused Wang Hong’s closed eyes to fly open.
Before the young man could speak any further, Wang Hong lightly nodded from the carriage.
Just as he said to Chen Gongrang, “This girl isn’t too bad, let her…” a series of voices cried out: “All hail His Majesty, the Emperor!”
Everyone was instantaneously stunned by the loud roar. Thereupon, countless ‘All hail His Majesty, the Emperor’ rang, along with the sound of people dropping to their knees. The noblemen were just bowing, but the scattered commoners by this time had prostrated on the ground.
These noises drowned out all other sounds so that even the young man’s next sentence was covered up.
Shocked, Chen Rong stared at him and then stepped back to accord him a curtsy.
The young man frowned. He waited for the noises to die down and unhappily looked around. “What the hell? Didn’t I tell you not to recognize me?”
Seeing everyone bowing their heads, some still retreating in fear, he looked to be greatly disappointed and mutteringly turned to look at Chen Rong.
At the sight of her bowing deeply, he sighed in disappointment.
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”
He sighed and ordered, “Go, you’re all dismissed.”
Only the commoners followed his order and dispersed, his bodyguards just took three steps back, and the dignitaries didn’t move at all.
The man was apparently used to this situation. Unfazed, he stepped forward and leaned closer to Chen Rong.
The minister by his side immediately received a multitude of looks from all directions. He stepped forward and whispered to the young man, “Your Majesty, there are too many people here.”
The young emperor’s face fell.
He scowled while, at the same time, his eyes remained locked on Chen Rong.
At length, he softly said to her, “I’m called Sima Zhang. And you? What is your name?”
Never in a million years would Chen Rong expect the emperor to use this tone to speak to her. She raised her head. Chen Gongrang clasped his hands in a solemn reply: “Your Majesty, she is Ah Rong of the Chen House.”
“I’m asking the pretty girl, why are you answering?” the young emperor bristled.
The emperor’s anger did not cause Chen Gongrang any unease, nor did it draw any reaction from his guards and the noblemen.
Chen Gongrang smiled and deeply bowed. “Your Majesty, have you heard of a woman who went to Mo’yang out of gratitude when Murong Ke laid siege to the city? The same woman who charged into battle in a bloodied robe when Nan’yang was under attack?”
He straightened his posture and then pointed at Chen Rong to announce: “Your Majesty, that woman is right here. She is Ah Rong of the Chen House.”
This translation belongs to hamster428.
His voice echoed in the air.
Surprised at first, the thousands of people present quickly buzzed.
Under people’s scrutiny and amid their whispering, Chen Rong at Chen Gongrang’s signal moved two paces forward to stand in front of her uncle.
She slightly raised her head so that her face clearly appeared before people’s eyes. She dropped to a curtsy and said, “I am Ah Rong of the Chen House. Greetings, Your Majesty.”
The young emperor was still in shock. He stared at Chen Rong and asked in disbelief, “Eh? Why did you want to die? Isn’t it more fun to be alive?”
Chen Rong faintly smiled after a brief pause. “Where will I be if my country is gone? I only did what I should.”
“Is that so?” The emperor seemed somewhat disappointed with her answer.
He continued to regard Chen Rong and then made a face. “I don’t like strong and serious women like this.”
The ministers behind him frowned at his words: His Majesty should give praise now that we have a righteous woman in our court. Who knew he would say he doesn’t like her? Never mind, His Majesty had always been like this.
As for Chen Rong, she both felt humored and surprised. Even if she had thought of countless countermeasures for today’s meeting, she did not expect he was this kind of a monarch.
The young emperor sighed, waved his wide sleeve and asked Chen Rong, “Speak, how would you like to be rewarded?”
Chen Rong had not spoken by the time a minister came forward to say, “Your Majesty, we must hold this honorable woman up as an example for the country.”
The emperor knitted his brow in thought and then nodded.
When he next turned to Chen Rong and was about to speak, she suddenly stepped back and dropped to her knees.
Chen Rong’s action was unexpected. His eyes lit up as he excitedly asked, “Why are you kneeling to me?”
“I have a request to make,” she looked up at him, “I hope Your Majesty will grant me your permission.”
The emperor’s mouth could not help from smirking to hear her make a request so quickly. Seeing this, Chen Rong tilted her head and playfully winked at him.
Her action was very cute and it pleased the young emperor. He happily asked, “Then tell me, what is your request?”
Chen Rong suddenly gained courage. She looked up at the emperor and suppressed her nervousness to say: “Please make me a Daoist nun, Your Majesty, so that I may stay unmarried for the rest of my life.”
Please make me a Daoist nun, Your Majesty, so that I may stay unmarried for the rest of my life.
Please make me a Daoist nun, Your Majesty, so that I may stay unmarried for the rest of my life.
Wang Hong sat up. His lips drew into a line and his fingers gripped onto the carriage shaft as he unblinkingly stared at Chen Rong.
Not only Wang Hong, but also Chen Gongrang, Chen Zifang, the surrounding aristocrats, and even her older brother and sister-in-law looked on in shock.
No one could have guessed that a young lady like Chen Rong would make such a request after having risked her life to win the recognition of the literati and meet His Majesty.
The emperor blinked in response. He incredulously asked, “You want to be a Daoist nun?”
Chen Gongrang stepped forward and made a deep bow, but not waiting for Chen Gongrang to speak, Chen Rong’s voice abruptly raised. She innocently smiled at the emperor and playfully said, “Everyone is scared silly by my request as soon as I said it. Don’t you think this is fun, Your Majesty? Haha for the amusement, won’t you say yes, Your Majesty? Please say yes.”
Her voice was supple and full of coquetry by the time she uttered her last two sentences.
The emperor’s mood improved. He waved his hand at Chen Gongrang and shouted, “You’re not allowed to talk.”
Chen Gongrang did not dare to disobey him. He at once closed his mouth.
“Get back, don’t stand between me and Ah Rong.”
Chen Gongrang had no other choice but to bow to him and take two steps back.
The emperor’s eyes weren’t idling while he was instructing Chen Gongrang. He glanced around with interest and took relish in seeing the looks on their faces. He turned back to Chen Rong and made a wink. “You’re right, this is really fun.”
He cleared his throat and stopped smiling. Upon seeing his expression, Wang Hong made eye contact with a minister.
The minister hurried over.
But without waiting for him to speak, the emperor had raised his chin and declared, “Granted!”
His minister didn’t think he’d so simply agree. He froze on the spot, suddenly feeling a chill behind him.
Overjoyed, Chen Rong again prostrated and cried, “I thank you, Your Majesty.” She emphatically kowtowed to the emperor.
Her thanks were met with stunned looks from the surrounding dignitaries and a pleased expression from the young emperor. He raised his voice: “How about this? The monastery on Mount Xishan isn’t so bad, you can go live there.”
The monastery on Xishan?
Chen Rong was jumping for joy. That monastery was famous for its scenery but, more importantly, there were nearly a thousand acres of farmland attached to the temple! A thousand acres was a great reward as far as she was concerned.
At present, Chen Rong immediately beamed. “Thank you Your Majesty! Your Majesty is wise!”
The young monarch was still relishing. He again glanced at the aristocrats around him to see that they were all looking ill with displeasure.
He cleared his throat, watched the aristocrats and adopted a solemn tone to say: “Ah Rong of the Chen House is admirable for her fearlessness. Listen well, do not touch her just because she is beautiful. She is the priestess whom I ordained!”
He laughed aloud and triumphantly walked away to his carriage.
As the young emperor went, his glance intentionally or otherwise fell on Wang Hong before it returned to Chen Rong.
Chapter 138: All That’s Needed Has Been Said
Chen Rong rose from her kneeling position under the crowd’s watchful eyes.
Her mouth formed a smile.
Wang Hong as well as the others could see that it was a genuine smile borne from within. It radiated from the happiness of having removed all her shackles and yokes. It could even be said to be burning with life.
She withdrew her smile and then turned around to face Chen Gongrang and Chen Zifang, at which point she knelt down to them.
Again on the ground, Chen Rong articulated, “I’m sorry I have disappointed you, uncles. But despite having survived on the battlefield, the killing and bloodshed have made me weary. It had been my wish for some time now to leave the secular world.”
She knocked her head on the ground in several kowtows. “I know you both sincerely care for me. However, I am disheartened with life and just want to spend my days quietly. Though I am unfilial –”
Her forehead had bruised from her emphatic kowtows. But even with bruises and dirt on her forehead, her smile was relaxed and brilliant.
“I hope you can forgive me,” she tremulously pleaded as she looked up at Chen Gongrang and Chen Zifang.
Afterwards, she knocked her head on the ground again.
Everyone was looking their way. Though Chen Rong’s actions were outside of her clan’s expectations, there could be no discontentment as the literati were known to endorse a reclusive life away from money and fame.
Chen Gongrang hastily helped her up. He wiped the dirt on her forehead and wryly smiled. “Child, why are you kowtowing so hard?”
He could only shake his head and sigh.
Chen Zifang also stepped forward. He looked at Chen Rong and quietly said, “Silly child, if you wanted to become a nun you could have talked to the clan in advance. Never mind, never mind.”
Chen Rong curtsied to them and softly replied, “Aye, it was inconsiderate of me.”
Chen Zifang shook his head. He turned and waved his sleeve, “Let’s go.”
The carriages moved at his order.
Chen Gongrang mounted his carriage and was followed by Chen Zifang. After saying a couple more things to Chen Rong, they began to depart.
Chen Rong also climbed onto her carriage.
Nurse Ping was still at a lost for words. She looked at Chen Rong and suddenly burst into tears.
Chen Rong glanced at her and smiled, but offered no reassurance.
In the crowd, Mr. Chen stood rooted to the ground as he murmured, “My Ah Rong must be suffering so much!”
His gossipy wife was staring and clucking by his side when she suddenly gasped in delight. “Doesn’t that Xishan monastery have a lot of good farmland? Those are fertile land, you know!” She whipped around, grabbed Mr. Chen’s arms and cried, “Now that she’s a nun, she’s not going to marry or have children in the future. Doesn’t that mean the land is actually ours?”
Upon hearing her words, Mr. Chen abruptly turned around.
He stared at her happy jiggling face and handed her a severe slap.
Mrs. Chen didn’t think her submissive and cowardly husband would do this to her. She momentarily clutched her face in shock.
Mr. Chen stared at her, gritted his teeth and scolded, “How can you think about such things at a time like this? You may as well have the heart of the animals!”
Not waiting for his wife to flare, he pushed through the crowd and chased after Chen Rong’s carriage.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Only until her carriage had driven to the far distance did a guard quietly call, “M’lord?” He sounded extremely cautious.
The man inside did not answer him.
Through the curtain, his handsome face with eyes as clear as water was absently looking at the billowing smoke.
His gentle strokes on the stag’s tail (1) suddenly snapped.
(1) 麈尾 (stag’s tail) is a fly whisk, similar to a 拂尘
“Rip,” the white whisk tore in half.
Slowly, his lips lightly pressed together to quietly ask: “You would rather never marry?” He softly chuckled.
His laughter gently drifted and soon disappeared in the air. By the time the guard was collected enough to look, he saw his master slightly leaning forward like a predatory beast, silent and expressionless.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Chen Rong’s carriage was still driving forth.
She was heading to the courtyard she had bought. As far as Chen Rong was concerned, she had found her independence. After astounding the world in such an episode, she might as well continue. Going back to her relatives now would not save anything anyhow.
She had only stepped down from the carriage when a man ran to her and cried, “Ah Rong, my pitiful Ah Rong,” pulling her into his arms.
Chen Rong recognized this voice as her brother’s, who had always loved her.
She closed her eyes in his warm embrace.
Above her head, her brother’s voice sounded hoarse and sad. He hugged Chen Rong, choking over and over again: “Ah Rong, my poor Ah Rong, my poor pitiful Ah Rong!”
Then he let go of her, hunched over and sobbed.
Chen Rong gently knelt down before him, placed her hand on his shoulder, and softly said, “Brother, don’t be sad for me. I’m very happy right now. Truly.”
She tilted her head and giggled. When her brother raised his head in surprise, she happily winked at him, made a face and pointed at herself to mischievously say: “Brother, do I look unhappy to you?”
Mr. Chen took a serious look at her.
At this point, a woman’s shrill voice sounded: “Yes, what would she be unhappy with? She has to be happy.” A plump woman whirled herself to Chen Rong, wanting to reach her with her grubby hand. After Chen Rong avoided her, she stopped and put on a friendly face to say: “Ah Rong, Ah Rong, it’s so hard to believe you were able to see His Majesty and even got rewarded. What great news, congratulations, Ah Rong.”
She cast her kneeling husband a glance before turning to Chen Rong. She pointed to the palm print on her face and grievously said, “Look, take a look, your brother slapped me! I only said you can have no grievances in this turn of event, but he hit me!”
Chen Rong backed away from her.
When Mrs. Chen finished, she tried to pull on her but Chen Rong gave her sleeve a sudden jerk.
Mrs. Chen was caught by surprise and thrown backward.
While she was staring at Chen Rong with her murky eyes, Chen Rong looked towards her brother.
Looking at her brother’s thin and kind face, she dropped her gaze and slowly said, “Brother, do you know why I wanted to cut our ties that day?”
Her future had been foggy and there were things she couldn’t say or didn’t dare to say. However, she could now say what she wanted to say and do what she wanted to do… If she could ask His Majesty to make her a Daoist nun, then nothing else she did would shock the world a second time, neither would it cause any true consequences.
Chen Rong was now a nun who did not need to worry about the world’s view or her husband family’s opinions. Henceforth, she could only be herself – a single woman with neither a home nor a family.
She trusted that, even if she were to displease His Majesty, the worst he could do was taking back the property he had granted her.
Mr. Chen didn’t expect her to talk about this. He blankly shook his head and looked at her.
Mrs. Chen also stared at Chen Rong.
With their attention, Chen Rong quietly looked at her brother and uttered each word: “It is because I cannot tolerate such a sister-in-law.”
Chen Rong flapped her sleeves and said to her older brother, “It’s repugnant to call such an ugly and vile woman my sister-in-law!”
When she finished, she turned and left.
People nearby were poking their heads out their doors. They were all ears, hanging onto Chen Rong’s every word.
Chen Rong’s blunt speech stunned everyone into silence.
And then, the whispering started.
To be fair, the people in these times placed great importance on appearances. Chen Rong’s sister-in-law’s appearance and temperament were both completely incompatible with people’s aesthetics. At a time when elegance was the crown of beauty, she would be shunned by society merely on account of her looks without ever saying or doing anything.
For this reason, whispers quickly commenced, all showing contempt for Mrs. Chen.
By and by, Mrs. Chen screamed and lunged towards Chen Rong, reaching for her head as she shrieked, “Shameless wench! You should respect your sister-in-law as you would your mother. Is there anyone in this world who despises her sister-in-law as you do? I’ll rip your mouth, you shrew!”
“Enough!” someone shouted.
It was Mr. Chen who dashed out. He abruptly grabbed his wife’s arms, but his thin body was lacking strength and not only was he unable to catch her, he also got pulled forward by his stout wife.
At this time, Nurse Ping stepped in front of Mrs. Chen and yelled at the screaming woman: “Shut your mouth! Our mistress’s sister-in-law had passed away long ago on the journey south! How can you be worthy of her respect when you never once gave her any food or water? Pooh! You’re smearing the Chen estate’s century-old reputation!”
Nurse Ping spat on the ground and then took Chen Rong back to their courtyard. The door slammed shut behind them, locking Mrs. Chen and Mr. Chen outside.
Mr. Chen was frozen stiff.
Next to him, the plump woman was still shrieking her curses.
Almost suddenly, Mr. Chen screamed at the top of his lungs, “Enough, that’s enough!” He jumped up and then proceeded to blush when laughter and looks of contempt surrounded them. He stared at the heinous woman in disgust and blurted, “She’s right. You’re sullying the Chen estate’s century-old reputation!”
Mr. Chen hurried away. In a flash he had left his shocked wife to the crowd’s derision.
At this time, Chen Rong who was walking in her courtyard suddenly said, “Old Shang, send a few men to watch over my brother. Her brothers are both thugs. Don’t let them hurt him.”
“Aye, miss,” replied Old Shang with clasped hands.
Under Nurse Ping’s and the servants’ stares, Chen Rong dropped her gaze and softly said, “I want to help my brother live a comfortable life… but if my sister-in-law remains, then it really can’t be helped about me and my brother.”
She smiled and murmured, “I’ve always been capricious, right, nurse?”
Nurse Ping did not reply.
She stared at Chen Rong and then suddenly hugged her, bursting into tears.
She wept, “Miss, everything was still fine. How can you become a nun? How can you become a nun?”
The more she spoke the more heartbroken she felt. She had been so happy and hopeful when Chen Gongrang and the clansmen wanted to introduce Chen Rong to His Majesty.
She just couldn’t accept her mistress’s dancing with death only to exchange for the title of a priestess.
How could any woman stay unmarried? How could they not need a husband and children?
Furthermore, Qilang obviously cared for her. Considering Qilang’s station, his willing to accept her as an honored concubine was a great blessing. But her mistress had to be so stubborn and adamantly commit her life to a religious scripture and a Daoist robe.
In a few years when she and Old Shang both passed away, what would their mistress do? She was all by herself with no family or anyone to rely on, what was she going to do?
The more she thought about it, the more despairing Nurse Ping felt. She hugged Chen Rong and sobbed. “Everything was still fine. How can you become a nun? How can you become a nun?”
Readers told me that someone like Chen Rong couldn’t possibly exist in the Wei and Jin dynasties.
But this is wrong.
The Wei and Jin dynasties was an era of rare ideological liberation in Chinese history. There were many independent and interesting aristocratic ladies during this time. There’s no need to look far, the two most famous prime ministers in the historical records of this period were Wang Dao and Xie An. Their wives weren’t shy to show their jealousy, and it follows that they didn’t allow their husbands to take in any concubine.
It can be said that Chen Rong’s idea of monogamy isn’t that surprising. The only surprise is that she was in love with the precious son of the Wang House from Lang’ya.
Do you know how famous and widespread the story of Zhu Yingtai and Liang Shanbo is? It was popularized by the then prime minister Xie An, you know. In the name of the imperial court, he even declared Zhu Yingtai, a woman who cross-dressed to attend school, a woman who went against her parents’ wishes, a “righteous woman.” This is why later generations often say that the woman in Xie An’s heart was someone like Zhu Yingtai, who dared to lay her life on the line for love, who dared to ignore tradition and propriety.
Do I hear hallelujah from everyone now? lol
This hamster went to see the Liu Yifei & Yang Yang movie this week. The online reviews had worried me a bit there (like omg, are my friends going to hate me for dragging them to this thing?!) but I ended up liking it a lot. It was visually stunning and apropos for a fairy tale. I like LFY’s take on the character BQ, she is confident but not haughty, just but not vindictive. The pace is fast but mostly coherent (I asked my friends and they said they understood it fine except for maybe the ending where they weren’t sure who woke up between MY and YH), and the #1 factor that I care about, the heart-rending factor, is very much present all throughout.