Chapter 28: Uncovered
It had not been long since Chen Wei left when Nurse Ping returned. But she did not bring back a doctor. Seeing Chen Rong pacing to and fro in the room, the nurse relayed: “Master sent you a ginseng, miss. He asked me to take good care of you. He also said…” Her voice was quiet: “He said that your body is in good health and you should not be too gravely ill. Even if you are, you’ve weathered it for a few days already. He also said there will be many young folks tomorrow evening and that you should go and meet them.”
At this juncture, Nurse Ping looked eagerly to Chen Rong, hoping her mistress would agree.
Seeing her nurse’s expression, Chen Rong thought with a headache: No wonder my uncle doesn’t believe us. How can I be gravely ill with the way my nurse is looking?
Chen Rong mulled for a moment, lowered her gaze and said, “Say no more. Henceforth you must put on a look of anxiety. If the master sends people over tomorrow, you must tell them my illness is severe and I cannot step down from bed.”
She looked to Nurse Ping and decided to explain to her: “Think about it, nurse. There will be many young men tomorrow night, but with my status, I can only be a concubine, right?” She paused, her obsidian eyes showing a flash of cunning. “Nurse, you didn’t know this, but when we were still in the City of Ping, I faintly heard Uncle Wu say that my father has done something that gained him a respectable reputation and the approval of an important man. He even got a promotion of some sort.”
“Is that true, miss? Is it really?” Nurse Ping hastily exclaimed in joy.
Chen Rong nodded and replied, “That’s what Uncle Wu said. I wonder if it’s true.”
“Why, that’s great news!”
Nurse Ping lit up. Due to her excitement, her tiny eyes were drawn into lines. She covered her mouth and sounded a little tearful: “How good. Nothing would be better if it’s really so.” She hastily turned and walked toward the door while beginning to fuss: “You’re right. The matches the master lined up for you can’t be favorable at all. I will now tell the servants that you are sick and bound to bed.”
Just as the nurse opened the door, a burst of noises entered their ears. Very clearly, Chen Rong heard a middle-aged woman’s gentle voice: “Where is your mistress?”
“She’s in her bedchamber, ma’am.”
“Is she unwell?”
“This I do not know, ma’am.”
This translation belongs to hamster428.
As their dialogues progressed, Chen Rong dashed to her bed, took off her shoes, and dove under the quilt.
As her curtains dropped, a man loudly announced from beyond the door: “Is Ah Rong inside? Your aunt has brought a doctor here to see you.”
Because these people came out of the blue, Nurse Ping did not have enough time to react. She blankly turned to look at Chen Rong. When she saw the fluttering curtains, she quickly turned around and replied, “My mistress is asleep. Elder, please enter.”
Then she hesitatingly opened the door.
A sumptuously dressed woman in her late twenties led an older doctor in.
Chen Rong’s heart pounded louder with each of their nearing footsteps.
She couldn’t believe her aunt had actually found a doctor for her. One should know that those who came south this time were mostly of the wealthy and delicate breed. It couldn’t be counted how many got sick in the wilderness. With patient demand exceeding doctor supply and considering her standing, it couldn’t be her turn so quickly, could it?
It seemed she was of high value to her clan.
A whiff of fragrance followed the footsteps in. The ornately-dressed woman stepped to her bedside and, not stopping there, reached out to lift Chen Rong’s bed curtains while smilingly saying: “I heard that Ah Rong likes to use the whip and so should have the courage of men. I wouldn’t think she is shy like ordinary females.”
Her voice had barely landed by the time she had the curtains drawn. Following the ray of light, Chen Rong appeared to view. She was lying in bed, her hair had not been let down, and her clothes had not been changed.
The woman gave her a glance and retreated, then turned to the doctor and politely said, “Elder He, please take a look.”
The doctor nodded his head and then took a seat by his patient’s bedside. Chen Rong dithered awhile before slowly extending her hand.
Suddenly remembering that she had not taken off her outer robe, she rolled up her sleeves and thereby revealed her smooth porcelain wrist so that the doctor can check her pulse.
The doctor rested three of his cold fingers on her wrist. After a few seconds, he let go of her hand, nodded and stood up.
“Elder He, how is she doing?” asked the woman, her eyes acutely bright.
Elder He shook his head replying: “She has adequate energy and blood flow. Some dizziness isn’t worrying, there’s no need for a prescription.”
“See Elder He out.”
After the doctor’s footsteps had died away, the ornately-dressed woman turned to look at Chen Rong and her servants. She glanced at Chen Rong, who was still buried underneath her quilt, her back turned to her, her eyes closed and body motionless. Smiling, the woman said, “Ah Rong, stop playing around. Your uncle said few men in our clan have better health than yours. How can you fall ill so suddenly like this?”
She didn’t wait for Chen Rong’s answer when she turned around and reprimanded the nurse and maids: “Your lady is young. If you indulge her frivolousness the next time, all of you will be expelled from the estate! Hmph, there are presently too many people for the amount of food we have anyway. We actually need to get rid of a few idle ones.”
When she finished, she flapped her sleeves and swung her hips to walk out.
By the time the door squeaked close and only until she no longer heard those footsteps, an ashen Nurse Ping recovered to ask: “Miss, what are we going to do?”
Chen Rong slowly pulled her quilt away.
She sat up and brushed aside her tangled hair, clenching the bedsheet before quickly letting it go: “Leave me.”
In the evening, a gown for the next day’s banquet was sent to Chen Rong’s courtyard.
Time slowly trickled by.
Chen Rong sat in her courtyard late into the night, listening to the laughter ringing in from other courtyards.
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