Chapter 22: Déja Vu
Very quickly, Chen Rong’s horse carriage arrived at the forefront of the queue.
Several elders were talking to Ran Min. Since she came at an inopportune time, Chen Rong quietly remained on the side.
The beautiful, frail girl finally recovered her gaze at this time. When she saw Chen Rong, she approached her with the help of a maid and then looked at her smilingly. “Are you Ah Rong? They were just talking about you a moment ago. They have nothing but praises for you.”
“My name is Chen Wei,” she then added. “I am your older cousin.”
Of course Chen Rong knew she was her cousin.
“How do you do,” she raised her voice in reply while dropping her gaze. When she found herself unconsciously wringing her garment, she drew a deep breath and relaxed her grip.
Chen Wei blushed; there was an abashment on her beautiful face that commonly belonged to young maidens in love. She again stared dreamily at Ran Min and actually imprudently asked Chen Rong: “Ah Rong, do you think is he a true man of honor?”
The ‘he’ she spoke of was, of course, Ran Min.
Chen Rong turned her gaze in his direction. At this time, a faint smile was found on his face, the blaze was gone from his dark eyes, and his entire being looked to be much gentler.
She removed her gaze and indifferently said, “Yes, he is a man of honor.”
Having received Chen Rong’s confirmation, Chen Wei’s small face grew redder. She happily looked at Ran Min and said, “I’m glad you also feel he is a man of honor.” Her blush had now spread all the way to her neck. She looked down and said to her cousin in embarrassment: “For some reason I like you the moment we met. I just want to tell you everything.”
Really? Chen Rong sneered deep down inside.
She lowered her eyes, smiled and said, “Jiejie (older sister), you’re like a lotus flower. Your purity stems from within.”
Chen Wei was overjoyed by Chen Rong’s assessment. Only now did she begin to properly look at the other girl for the first time.
Watching the undisguised joy and pride on Chen Wei’s face, Chen Rong could not help but feel taken aback: The truth was that she had forgotten. She had forgotten that after the last segment of their journey, she was no longer the old Chen Rong of the past. Her opinions now carried with them a certain weight.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
At this time, the elders surrounding Ran Min had dispersed, leaving only a middle-aged scholar who beckoned Chen Rong over.
She stepped down from the carriage, curtsied to him and bowed her head while saying in an honest manner: “I’m Chen Rong from the City of Ping. Good greetings, uncle.”
The middle-aged scholar nodded. “So you are Ah Rong? You don’t have to introduce yourself. I know who your father and brother are. I saw them a year ago before they followed everyone to Jiankang.”
He paused to wave Chen Wei over.
Chen Wei’s gaze quickly withdrew from Ran Min, running to her father’s side with her face still colored with a flush.
“Wei’er,” the scholar lovingly said to Chen Wei, “Ah Rong’s guardians are not here. We are her family. I hope you’ll take care of each other as though you are sisters.” Then he turned to Chen Rong and said, “Since your father and brother are not here, I will be your guardian. When we arrive in Nan’yang, you and Wei’er will stay together.”
Chen Rong bit her lips, wanting to say something. After some deliberation, however, she could only whisper an “aye” in reply.
Chen Wei smiled and happily complied. “I got it, father. We were just talking moments ago. Ah Rong even said I’m just like a lotus flower.”
There was a naiveté in her voice. The middle-aged scholar laughed and caressed her hair, shaking his head. “When will you ever grow up? All right, run along with Ah Rong now.”
Chen Wei laughed and bounced to Chen Rong, taking her hand and skipping off to the crowd. Even as she ran, she could not help looking back toward Ran Min.
One glance at that masculine handsomeness rendered Chen Wei’s face a deep red again.
Perhaps sensing Chen Wei’s gaze, Ran Min suddenly turned around and cast a glance at the girls with his deep electrified eyes.
Chen Wei blushed terribly and quickly lowered her head, almost to the point of burying it into her chest.
At this sight, Ran Min raised a brow in curiosity and then walked over to them.
Holding Chen Rong’s hand, Chen Wei involuntarily trembled as she asked, “H-he’s coming over. Ah Rong, what should I do? What should I do?” Embarrassment, joy, and fear were all detected in her voice.
Chen Rong quietly watched the man who was making his way over. “He’s only coming over,” she lightly said, “He won’t eat anyone. What are you afraid of?”
Despite saying so, her left hand clenched into a fist under her sleeve. In her previous life, she had never understood this man. Years later, she would recall this scene and think that he had likely walked toward the two of them out of affection for her cousin.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Living it all over again, she could finally see things clearly.
Ran Min had at this time reached the two girls.
He was a tall man. When he stood like that in front of them, looking down from above, he felt strikingly towering. Chen Wei shook despite herself.
Chen Rong was much calmer. Her eyes were not directed to Ran Min, nor were they to Chen Wei. She just stood there as if she didn’t know that he was standing in front of her.
Ran Min gave Chen Wei a glance before turning his attention to Chen Rong. “What are your names?” he inquired with a pleasantly deep voice.
Right, in the past, he had also opened with this line.
Chen Rong didn’t answer this time. She turned to her cousin waiting for her to speak first.
Chen Wei blushed and nervously curtsied to Ran Min, stammering: “I’m… I’m Chen Wei.”
Ran Min’s eyes returned to Chen Rong.
She slightly moved her lips to say in a low voice: “I’m Chen Rong.”
“Ah Rong of the Chen house? I know you,” he remarked, nodding. These were not words he said in the past. Back then, he had looked at the whip in her hand and asked, “Are you fond of using riding whips?” How had she answered him then? She had likely wanted to say yes, but thinking of the world’s opinion on a woman who uses a whip, she had quickly hid it behind her and answered, “This is someone else’s. I’m only borrowing it to play.”
He said he knew her. Though they were three simple words, Chen Wei’s rosy face drained white the moment he said them, and then she extracted her hand from Chen Rong’s.
Chen Rong looked over to Chen Wei, this time not answering Ran Min.
He watched her for a while, nodded, then turned and walked away.
Chen Rong stood rooted to the spot all the way until his back disappeared from her sight. So too, did Chen Wei.
All of a sudden, Chen Wei whipped around and hurried back to her carriage.
Watching her departing figure, Chen Rong frowned in puzzlement and thought to herself: Could it be that he also doesn’t feel much more for her? I used to think he fell in love with her at first sight, was that just a mistaken speculation?
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