Chapter 29: Meeting the Elders
Chapter 29: Meeting the Elders
Nurse Ping busied herself in the yard for a while and then anxiously watched Chen Rong, who was resting her hands on the zither strings motionlessly.
Seeing as it had gotten to high noon, she went to Chen Rong’s side and concernedly prompted, “Miss, you haven’t even eaten.” She paused. “Marriage is determined by the heavens. I’m sure my lady is blessed. Wang Wulang might even ask for your hand tonight.”
Nurse Ping glowed at this thought.
Chen Rong shook her head, held her zither and slowly stood up. “Nurse.”
“Tell Old Shang to ask around whether my uncle Chen Gongrang has returned. If he isn’t in, then which elders are at the estate?”
Nurse Ping had scarcely lifted her soles when she heard a series of zither notes rising behind her. The intermittent music made it hard for people to breathe.
Old Shang was hasty in nature. Within an hour he had come back to report: “Your uncles Chen Yuan, Chen Lie, and Chen Shu are all home.”
Uncle Chen Shu is also here?
“Bring the chestnuts and grains in the warehouse out and fill up ten carriages for me.”
Nurse Ping and Old Shang looked at each other for a while before Old Shang replied: “Aye.”
Loading food was not a simple matter. A dozen servants took four full hours before they could finish. In the meanwhile, Chen Rong had given herself a careful bath and put on the clothes the clan sent last night: a set of soft yellow and purple outfit.
Nurse Ping was rendered spellbound while she helped Chen Rong comb her hair. She stared at her mistress, murmuring: “I never realized how pretty you are, miss.”
Looking at the beautiful face in the bronze mirror, Chen Rong also rounded her eyes. She touched her face and whispered: “How did I change so much?” At this age, it would have been impossible to possess such looks in her previous life.
In the mirror, her gorgeous features were softened by her beautiful clothes and her youthfulness added a purity to her looks. She resembled a blossoming rose in the early morning dew at this moment, tenderly dazzling, stunningly pure.
“Nurse, we don’t need to do my hair,” said Chen Rong as she watched herself in the mirror.
“Bring me my wooden clogs.”
After she was properly dressed, Chen Rong took a deep breath, reached for the dagger hanging on the wall and hid it in her sleeve. Having done all this, she finally stepped out.
Color drained from the nurse’s face when she saw her put the dagger into her sleeve. “Miss?!”
Chen Rong did not look back, casually saying: “Don’t worry. I won’t do anything stupid.”
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Meanwhile, Old Shang’s voice called from outside: “Miss, the chestnuts and grains have been loaded.”
“Good work.” Chen Rong opened the door where she, predictably, was faced with the widened eyes of her servants. “Let’s go see the clan elders.”
It was near evening, and Uncle Chen Shu’s quarters were located on the east side of the estate.
Chen Shu was an astute and sociable man, his speech eloquent. Within the Chen house of Nan’yang, he was second only to Chen Gongrang.
Because he was sociable, carriages were always seen coming and going in his courtyard with youngsters in fancy garments fleeting to and fro. Under the current circumstances, it was a popular gathering place even among the young Chen ladies.
It was a rare sunny day and, in the garden where delighted laughter ceaselessly rang, sparse leaves rattled with the flow of a late autumn wind. A group of courtesans surrounded the guests while a stream of servants served them meat and wine.
Chen Wei and the girls were standing by the swings, looking to several young men in the pavilion while covering their mouths in giggles.
“Ah Wei, I heard uncle has decided to betroth you to General Ran, is that true? He’s remarkably handsome, and the most strapping of them all. You’re quite a lucky girl.”
Another lady belonging to the Chen house of Nan’yang disdainfully scoffed and interjected: “He’s merely a commoner who has changed his surname. So what if he is good looking?” Seeing Chen Wei glaring at her, she raised her chin and haughtily added, “But then again, if he doesn’t come from such a background, it wouldn’t be your turn as a concubine-born woman to marry him.”
“Chen Qian, you!”
“What about me?”
“Can you two soften your voices? Look, they’re all staring at us.”
The two girls simultaneously stopped.
At this very moment, they heard a stream of noises out in front and couldn’t help looking in that direction. They were surprised to see Chen Rong’s coach leading a mighty train of carriages into the courtyard.
People were enjoying music and autumn leaves swirling in the air. For so spectacular a queue to emerge in this place at this time, not only the youngsters stopped joking but even the courtesans stopped dancing, all turning around to look.
Chen Rong’s coach came to a stop.
Nurse Ping hopped down and helped her lady out.
The curtain lifted.
A milky hand contrasting against soft yellow fabric appeared in front of everyone like beautiful jade.
The youngsters were stunned by what they saw. They straightened their postures and raised their heads, waiting for the person in the carriage with interest piqued.
With the help of the nurse, a beautiful girl appeared before their eyes.
She was Chen Rong.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
At Chen Rong’s appearance, Chen Wei and the other girls widened their eyes in astonishment.
Chen Rong looked up to the crowd and then let go of her nurse’s hand, brushed her hair to the side, clicked her wooden clogs and gracefully walked toward the youngsters, which was also toward Chen Shu.
These youngsters had seen many women as beautiful as Chen Rong. What made them stare unblinkingly was that her charm was completely different from the others. There was something pure and fresh In her sophisticated ways.
Under their watchful eyes, Chen Rong went to wait in front of Chen Shu’s table, curtsied and said with her head bowed: “Good greetings, uncle.” She briefly stalled and then, with her head still bowed and her face a little flushed, abashedly said to Chen Shu: “Ah Rong didn’t know you’re treating guests. I apologize for intruding.”
She then gestured her jade-colored hand toward the carriages behind her and stammered: “When I passed by the City of Pu on my way to the south, I suddenly thought that with everyone migrating to Nan’yang, there was surely to be a food shortage in the city. I’ve traded all of my silk and money for grains and corn. I’ve just heard from my second aunt that the estate is low on food. I have no talents and can only offer ten carriages of chestnuts and grains to help you fund your travels.”
She was saying she would give all ten carriages of grains to Chen Shu alone, just so he could fund his traveling!
Chen Shu was in his forties, plump and fair-skinned, with honest features. When Chen Rong said ‘ten carriages of grains,’ a shade of surprise emerged on his affably smiling face.
This young lady was in possession of such great wealth!
Ten carriages. It must be said that each time their clan donated to the Prince of Nan’yang and Ran Min to fight the barbarians, it was also just ten carriages!
He had heard of Chen Rong’s generosity and talents but two days ago. Now meeting her, it seemed she was truly as extraordinary as they said!
Seeing a shy-looking Chen Rong, mature though young, Chen Shu could not help letting a pleased smile appear. He stood up, offered his hands and kindly smiled to her. “Why so ceremonious, child? Sit down, take a seat.”
She did not take advantage of this opportunity to stand up, shaking her head instead while stammering: “Ah Rong… Ah Rong still has something to say.”