Changbai may be a blue-eyed boy among middle-aged and old women so that Mrs. Hai’s incoming letters were more and more enthusiastic, and there was a condescending tone in the beginning, however, she addressed Changbai’s mother and father as ‘dear co-parents-in-law’ before long, and was only too anxious to ask Changbai to live in her own home when she came to know that Changbai was living in the Sheng Mansion alone. At the same time, thought that his duty period would expire, Sheng Hong just asked the myrmidons to clean up the house in the capital as well and in order that the whole family could live in there in the future.
Another no less than half a month passed, saying goodbye to the enthusiasm of the mother-in-law and being greeted by immediate enthusiasm of his mother, Changbai came back finally. Lady Wang touched Changbai’s head, realized that her ten months’ pregnancy and emotional investment for more than ten years were not in vain, out of excitement, her eyes brim over warm tears. In fact, planned to parade Changbai through the streets to show the glory, Lady Wang prepared a tall white horse and a flower ball made of red silk. But Changbai refused to do it even unto death, so Lady Wang was bound to be depressed. Actually, Minglan knew it well that no matter who married a husband like a boss and gave birth to a son like a father had to be depressed.
As compensation, chose a cool and vernal day Sheng Hong gave a banquet in Sheng Prefecture. It happened to be the leave of absence day, so he also invited his fellow officials and superiors to join together.
The scenery of the garden during late spring and early summer was so beautiful that it just in time to entertain the guest.
Lady Wang had wanted to hold a communal gathering for celebration and invite a group of opera actors to perform, but Sheng Hong thought it was better not to make it public, so he only gave a small banquet, during which the male guest was eating and drinking in antechamber while the female guest had another banquet in the backyard. In Deng Prefecture, there were many households who cottoned to the Sheng’s, some of whom were close with the Sheng Household arrived early, but little does one thought, the earliest guest was the Pingning Princess.
It’s not that Lady Wang’s extraordinary personality, but there were not many female relatives who can be equal to the dignified Pingning Princess be titled by the imperial in the boundary of Deng Prefecture. The other official female relatives would only toady to or be obsequious blindly, but the Pingning Princess would naturally feel a bit jaded after suffering a period of compliment time. Anyhow, being of gentle birth, Lady Wang had gone through the boudoir circle of the capital, so her intercourse was neither humble nor pushy. And the middle-aged women talked about the gossip of the royal and noble families, which was in full swing as same as water drops on burning rocks. Although Lady Wang was somewhat overbearing, she dared not to give herself airs in front of the Pingning Princess. On the contrary, her frank temper hit it off with the scheming Pingning Princess, especially after she didn’t sell her daughter anymore.
After congratulated Lady Wang, the Pingning Princess lamented her son’s failure in the entrance examination. Lady Wang had been very happy today, but it was discourteous to beam with delight in the presence of Pingning Princess’s plaintive face, so she racked her brains to figure out a sad event, “…it’s said that the marriage between families of equal social rank is the best. But the Hai Household is such a noble family and their family customary is so serious that I was unable to subject the daughter-in-law to discipline in the future!”
Lady Wang’s noble sentiment that entertained others at the expense of herself immediately received the effect, and the Princess broke into laughter: “You too! Attempt to have a nice daughter-in-law on the one hand and to control her on the other hand, how can there be such a good thing in the world!”
If someone else teased her like that, Lady Wang would have burst into anger, but she could only pull her handkerchief and smirked when the one was the Princess.
After a short time, there were more and more visitors, only to see the full circle of luxurious dress up, the Old Madame Sheng was sitting on the middle top, the three Girls Lan dressed in new, being shy and stood by to wait for guests. Being kneaded and touched by a group of aunts, Minglan smirked almost cramped. A burst of powder and perfume dizzied her. And in the opposite, standing next to an old woman of Yu Gelao Household, a girl of fifteen or sixteen dressed in bright purple narrow sleeves waist gown yarn shirt and lotus root color long skirt, she snickered toward Minglan to make a playful look after looked at the Ming Lan’s fake look. Ming Lan became furious, stealing the teeth to her.
After a few words, the Old Madame Sheng pulled Old Mrs. Yu to Shou’an Hall to chat. After Lady Wang exchanged conventional greetings with other Ladies and Mrs., she wanted to talk about the adult topics. In consideration of the girls beside, Lady Wang asked them to play by themselves.
Molan was up to all dodges, so her besties were the most. She was surrounded by four or five girls when she went out, and then they chatted and laughed together. Rulan was self-assured for her identity, only be a good term with two legal daughters of Liu and Li ’s. Minglan hadn’t seen a few guests before, because she was always stopped by the Old Madame Sheng, but now, she had to pretend to be well-behaved in front of Lady Wang. As a result, Minglan didn’t get to know a few girls. Only the old lady of Yu’s often came to pay homage to the Buddha with Old Madame Sheng, so that Minglan was well acquainted with Yu Yanran.
Yu Yanran was in good shape and also gentle and sweet, even once the Old Madame Sheng wanted to have her as the wife of Changbai. However, Yanran’s father, who was the assistant minister in the Ministry of Revenue, thought it’s a pity that his daughter married to be the daughter-in-law for Sheng Hong who was the same official rank with him. So no one mentioned it anymore.
A group of girls were led to Luxuriant Pavillion have a cup of tea. The maids had already brought out a set of luxury chairs and tea tables and set up delicate snacks and tea ware.
Rulan smiled and said, “Here’s the White Tea my uncle brought back from Yunnan. My sisters, please take a taste. How is it?” The girls were very happy, they took the teacup, opened the lid, and sipped the tea. Molan looked up from the corner of her eye, covered her mouth and smiled: “Five Sister, not to mention the Yunnan White Tea, last time when the Wu’s Sister visited us, she even brought us the Tibetan Brick Tea.”
Rulan showed an unhappy face immediately , just she managed to be tolerant. The disagreement between the sisters was not a secret. The girls sitting around didn’t express any opinion, just chatted and drank the tea as usual. Wu Baozhu is a sophisticated person. She laughed: “Sister Molan, just don’t mention it. The tea I brought here last time tastes bitter. I was indeed regret about that. However, the White Tea served today is just fine. It tastes gentle and elegant.”
The girl of Liu’s also smiled and said: “Everything has its own special taste. Sister Rulan is so hospitable that if there’s no good stuff, don’t bring it out for sisters.”
Chen Xinya was the only daughter of the prefecture, so she had always been tempered and arrogant. Alienated from Rulan, the legal daughter like her, she was willing to be flattered by Molan. She pouted and put down the tea bowl, “I ate it and nothing more than this, it was too light to taste, inferior to the Bailu Tea (White Dew) my father brought back from Lushan Mountain.”
Rulan curled her mouth, turned to Minglan, who was sitting silently at the corner, and said: “What do you say, Sister Six?”
Minglan gradually got closer and closer to the doorway. When she was going to leave quietly without others’ notice, she was named unexpectedly. So she was a little stunned, then said, “Though its taste is a little light, its clean aroma lasts for a longer time. So the tea has a different taste. Thanks to all sisters, or even I, her biological sister, can also not have a drink. Because Sister five hid it for several days and wanted to save it to treat sisters today!”
As the proverb goes, goose feather sent from afar, a trifling present with a weighty thought behind it. Then all girls around expressed their thanks to Rulan, which made her very satisfied.
Over there, Yu Yanran was entangled by a concubine’s daughter, then she took the chance to walk to Minglan. She gave a point lightly on Minglan’s forehead with her fine and slim index finger and said a little unhappily: “You, a girl without conscience! Why not talk with me today.”
Minglan frowned: “Last month, the weather was gradually warmer and flowers and trees had been freshed. At that time, fish also began to be active again. So I asked you to finish and drink fish soup together. However you only let others take me a message and tell me you have no time without any cause. I won’t talk with you anymore!”
As soon as the words were finished, the girls in the room looked strange and squinted. Minglan was confused. She looked at Yanran and found that she was somewhat uncomfortable. Chen Xinya turned her head and joked: “Molan, your sister really has no eyesight, and Yanran is now catching a big fat fish. She has no time to come to your house to catch small fish!”
More than half of the girls chortled, but they didn’t say anything. Only the youngest Hong Qingyu was still naive, clapping: “I know, I know, Yanran and the second son of the Marquis of Ningyuan, the Gu family may be going to be married!”
Minglan was surprised: “Really? Congratulations.” A piece of true or false congratulations sounded around, but Minglan felt the atmosphere was a bit weird. It seemed…somewhat not quite right. She turned to look at Yanran and saw that she was very shy and didn’t dare to lift her head. Minglan then smirked and turned aside from the topic under discussion: “Which Gu family? The Pingning Princess’s father also has the surname of Gu. Are they relatives?”
Rulan immediately said: “They are family! The Marquis of Xiangyang and the Marquis of Ningyuan are brothers. They fought for the first founder of our country, and then they were knighted as marquis together!” Minglan was very happy for Yanran, laughing: “That’s awesome – such a family must be very good.”
Hardly had Minglan’s voice died away, Molan chipped in, “But… I heard that the second childe of Gu is somewhat perverse in temperament.”
People around whispered again, Yanran was ashamed to hide behind Minglan, dared not say a word. Minglan forced a smile and spoke loudly to all people while tipping Molan the wink: “My elder sister talked nonsense, we have never been to the capital since we are mature enough to know what should do, not to mention such a thing.” Molan pouted lightly, spoke no more words.
An immense gratitude showed unintentionally from Yanran’s sight. Unexpectedly, Chen Xinya talked like an unconcerned person: “No one knows the inside story, there is one thing, however, it’s said that he was almost tied up by the Marquis of Ningyuan to Imperial Clan Court to denounce the disobedience.”
Miss Liu pretended to be amazed and inhaled deeply, leading to many discussions of the girls around her. Minglan took a pause and looked back at Yanran whose look was ashamed and angry, and then looked around at the girls who were ridiculing or evading. Even the kindest girls in peacetime were merely consoling Miss Liu neither hostile nor friendly, Minglan was furious inside, she knew why they are so mean, it’s nothing more than ‘jealousy’.
Speaking of it, Yu Yanran was the most prominent among the girls. Although her father was only the Minister of Revenue, her grandfather was the Grand Secretary, and the late Emperor wrote an inscription which read “diligent, hard-working, and careful”. Therefore, she was qualified to directly marry the legal second son of the Marquis. Back to before, Hualan was the legal eldest daughter of the Sheng family, and it took a lot of effort to marry the legal second son of the Count of Zhongqin.
Minglan wanted to make a clearance for Yanran, and pointed to himself, saying loudly: “The boys were naughty when they were young! What’s more, the rumors are not reliable. Miss Liu didn’t see me before and she ‘heard’ that I was so weird. However, look at me – I’m such a kind-hearted beauty!” Miss Liu smiled with embarrassment, while the other girls sneered out. Minglan was cheeky and continued: “I said something wrong? Isn’t I beautiful? Not kind-hearted?”
Rulan pointed to Minglan. “You, you, you…” She convulsed with laughter.
The whisper in the room turned into a loud sneer. Looking at Yu Yanran whose cheeks turned red, Minglan said:”Why you are so surprising? Yanran is just going to be married, and I hope that Xiaohong and Xiaobai in my aquarium can also find their lovers!”
Now everyone convulsed with laughter, and Minglan said seriously: “Xiaohong and Xiaobai have also spent a lot of time with me. I think they are not too young, and I have to consider them for life!”
The girls laughed and screamed, and Wu Baozhu was on the shoulder of a girl with her face turned red. She wiped her eyes and said: “Have they found lovers?” Minglan shook her head and said: “It is quite difficult.”
Chen Xinya laughed too much that she had a stomachache. She hardly squeezed out a few words and screamed: “…why?” Minglan looked cautious and shook her head: “Marriage should be decided by their parents, but I, I… Where are their parents?”
Chen Xinya guffawed: “You can be their parents and I can be the matchmaker! Just perform the formal wedding ceremony now!”
The girls almost laughed crazy, and Rulan smiled and ran over, and twisted Minglan hard: “Little girl, you have a lot of jokes. If we laughed ourselves sick, what can you do?” Seeing what Rulan had done, the other girls ran one by one to pinch Minglan’s face. Minglan struggled desperately, but she was a little weak and could only run around, but shouted: “Be serious! Here is saying love!”
The girls are happier, and they fight in jest around the house. Seeing everyone turning their focus to her, Minglan breathed a sigh of relief. She glanced at Yanran, who had moved to the door, and Yanran nodded, glaring at others without paying attention. Minglan finally broke the girls and her clothes were twisted. She used the excuse to sort out the costumes. Before she left, she only heard Rulan still laughing: “My little sister is fun, my father and brother also love her very much…”
Then it was Molan’s voice. She sneered: “Minglan is so articulate.”
She heard the voices of several other girls: “I feel that the little sister of the Sheng family is very good, amused and kind.”
Another girl faintly said: “…She is very kind, … cheerful and humorous…”
Minglan ignored them and Danju accompanied her back to the House of Clear Dusk. They saw Yanran as soon as they entered the house. Minglan raised her eyebrows and pointed at Yanran, saying: “You dare to say that I have no conscience! We are friends, but when I invite you to fish, you are not coming;now you are going to marry but I don’t know! When you are laughed at, I get you out of trouble! I should be compensated!”
Minglan raised her wrinkled skirt and looked indignant. Yanran walked over to Minglan and put her palms together. She said: “Good sister, good sister, it’s my fault. If I deliberately glared at you, my face will grow a tumor. I was going to tell you today. If it were not you, they would definitely laugh at me!”
When they were talking, Cuiwei took a green sleeved over-dress and green embroidered skirt, Minglan changed clothes behind the embroidered satin screen, and squinted: “What the hell is going on? Be honest to me.”
Yanran said with a grimace: “Well that’s the thing… My father’s superior is the matchmaker…” She wanted to speak but stopped on a second thought.
Cuiwei and Danju knew that two young masters wanted to say some intimate words, then went out with Xiaotao who had brought the tea and snacks up. Minglan had a glance at the door and sat next to Yanran, then whispered: “Sister Yanran, don’t mind if I say something you don’t like. Now both families are just making the match, and it has not been finalized. How can people of the whole city have known about it? If the match does not succeed, what do you plan to do?”
Moved by the words to remind her of such thing, Yanran held Minglan’s hands and said, “Good sister, it’s no wonder that my grandmother always praises you pure and honest. I have a lot of good sisters, but only you talk such thing with me! It’s a pity that my mother passed away a long time ago and doesn’t leave a brother or sister to accompany me. All say that once there is a stepmother, the father will also treat his previous children like what a stepfather does. After my father remarried, he went to take up the official appointment with my stepmother and her children. Only I left here. Fortunately, my grandparents have been taking care of me. Otherwise…” She whimpered and the tears burst out of her eyes.
Minglan felt upset for that and lowered her head and gently licked Yanran’s clothes. Yanran sucked her nose and continued to say: “It is my stepmother’s intention, rather than my grandparents’. She climbed on to an unknown relative of the Marquis of Ningbei, then urged my father to agree with the post of the matchmaker. Fortunately, my grandfather said he wants to consider further and know more about the other side. Then the marriage is not fixed. However, that woman…that woman… let all people have known about it.”
Yanran couldn’t say any more, only crying in a deep voice. Ming Lan was also upset for her, but she didn’t know how to comfort Yanran. Then Minglan gently stroked her back and pulled out a new handkerchief to wipe her tears. After a while, Yanran stopped crying, took a deep breath, and suddenly turned her head down. When Yanran raised her head again, she cracked a smile, “Hey, what a good day it is for your family! But I say these words to you. Let you laugh at that! A girl is destined to marry. I will ask my grandfather not to investigative any more and agree on the marriage. And it is assumed that any father will do something unfavorable to his own daughter.”
“Don’t do this!” Minglan had been listening quietly. When she heard the words, she suddenly gave a little exclamation, “You can’t be married blindly! A woman can only marry once. If you are not careful now, you can’t regret it anymore after you marry! Ask your grandfather to do more investigation. In detail. If unsuitable, don’t marry!”
Yanran turned tears into laughter, “you a little girl, how do you always mention marrying! So this is! You also want to marry someone!”
This joke is just a piece of cake for Minglan. She didn’t change her expression, and said seriously, “Sister Yanran, I know you don’t want grandparents to argue with your father on it, but you should also consider your own happiness! Although I had never seen your stepmother, according to what I had heard, she was not a good partner and stepmother. Frankly speaking, if you marry well, she will be cling on to you, while if you are aggrieved, will you have her back? ” With a pale face, Yanran went into a mess in her mind. Minglan stood up and walked to the middle ground. She firmly said: “Sister Yanran, you should not be full of remorse. Although your mother passed away, you are a legal daughter, with grandparents alive. What about me? A daughter of a concubine and only grandmother takes care of me! However, although I am not as good as you, if someone forces me to marry a bad person, I would rather die than marry!”
Yanran stunningly looked at Minglan, with a quiet calm expression. While one can find her unswerving determination. It gave Yanran the courage in her deep mind. She walked to Minglan and held her hand intimately, then whispered: “Good sister, don’t worry! I will not despise myself! You treat me sincerely like that, and I will remember your goodness forever! “
What Yanran said made Minglan a little embarrassed. She saw Yanran’s expression was as usual. Then she stopped worrying: “Don’t talk anything about death! After that, you’d better not talk to those rappers. My grandmother doesn’t admit me out to make friends with them. And she always said, ‘there does not need many intimates, and a few are enough.’ Now I know that she is really a person with real wisdom!”
Yanran smiled, “Your grandmother’s intention is not only for that. As for your marriage, my grandmother mentioned it to me that your grandmother has the right person a long time ago. It’s a pity that they all clammed up about it, and I can’t know it.”
Minglan was very curious about it, while she felt a little embarrassed when mentioning it. With a red face, she said: “I’m too young to marry. You should worry about yourself first!”
In fact, Minglan soon understood Old Madam Sheng’s intention. After all, there were only a few boys who had come to the age to marry in Dengzhou City. There are two sisters of similar ages. And Lady Wang and concubine Lin were not easy to deal with. If there was a good man, Minglan must be the last one to consider. It might as well order Minglan not to compete with them and ressort to other methods.
It’s just that Old Madam Sheng has nothing to do with Minglan in the weekdays. Once Minglan’s marriage was involved, she would not say one word to Minglan, Ugh! Wait! Hope that Old Madam Sheng was better in selecting granddaughter’s husband than picking daughter in law.