Chapter 35: Ran Min’s Marriage
Chapter 35: Ran Min’s Marriage
Chen Wei had been a little distracted up to this moment. By the time Ran Min and his men disappeared from sight, she had twice proposed to go home.
By the third time, Chen Rong offered, “Ah Wei, let’s go home together.”
Chen Wei was thrilled to hear this. She looked at Chen Rong with sparkles in her eyes and hurried to reply: “Yes, yes.”
While sitting inside the carriage on their way back, with her cheeks flushed bright, Chen Wei wrung her skirt and moved her lips awhile before turning to Chen Rong and said, “Ah Rong, we’re just the same, you and I.”
“Why do you say that?” Chen Rong looked up at her in surprise.
Chen Wei’s eyes were amazingly bright when she stared to the road ahead and replied: “You are in love with Qilang of the Wang house while I am in love with General Ran.” She squinted and then added a little smugly: “However, the person you love is the one and only Wang Qilang. You’ll only look at him from afar your whole life. But I, I will be marrying my love in the very near future.”
Really? Chen Rong quietly sneered and then turned to look in the other direction.
Chen Wei did not notice her expression for she was immersed in her own reverie. At the thought that she could see her admired soon, her grip on her skirt fabric tightened with each twisting motion.
While the two were lost in thought, the driver’s voice came to them from outside: “Misses, we’ve arrived at the estate.”
“Oh? Very good.”
Chen Wei recovered and quickly grabbed Chen Rong’s hand to dismount the carriage. Because she jumped in haste, Chen Rong staggered and, if not for her quickness, had fallen to the ground.
Slowed down by Chen Rong who almost fell, Chen Wei impatiently cast her cousin’s hand away and said, “Ah Rong, I’ll go on first to change my clothes.”
And then she was quickly off.
Chen Rong stared after Chen Wei’s back as she thought to herself: She is unusually eager. Is Ran Min coming directly to the Chen estate?
While she wondered about this point, she slowly walked forward.
This translation belongs to hamster428.wordpress.com
Tall bare trees reached for the sky on either side of the road. Each time the wind blew, withered leaves would float to the ground. Chen Rong walked on, suddenly feeling a chill. She swiftly pulled on her sleeves, turned the corner, and walked toward the edge of the woods.
The windy currents alleviated once she was in the woods. She slowed down and let her thoughts wander again.
It was after more than an hour of aimless walking that a burst of boisterous laughter rang from behind the rockery to her left. Chen Rong strolled to the sound.
There, Chen Wei’s shy voice came to her ears: “Ran da’ge (Brother Ran), this time, this time, you’ll…” She was stuttering in her bashfulness when Ran Min’s strong and deep voice had impatiently snapped: “Speak up! Come talk to me when you’ve thought of what you want to say.”
His tone was stern and irritated. Stunned, Chen Wei’s blushing face drained white, tears also threatening to fall.
Ran Min frowned and turned to go at this sight. Chen Wei hastily held onto his sleeves, crying. “No, don’t. I…”
At this time, a lovely crystalline voice spoke on her behalf: “General Ran, my cousin wanted to ask how long will you stay this time now that you’re back?”
Chen Wei repeated in delight: “Yes, yes.”
She gratefully turned her head to look at Chen Rong, who was walking out from the woods. “Ah Rong, you’re here.”
The one who came was indeed Chen Rong.
Ran Min had turned around when she last spoke, staring at her quietly. His eyes were as paralyzing as she remembered them, as if there was an eternal flame burning in them yet also as if they were a bottomless abyss. This time, however, was she perhaps seeing from them a hint of curiosity and interest?
Chen Rong raised her head to meet his gaze.
She moved away after a brief glance, turned to Chen Wei, smiled and said, “Ah Wei, General Ran is accustomed to the battlefields, so he prefers things to be straightforward. When you speak to him, you must be direct.”
Chen Wei’s face suddenly darkened. She watched Ran Min, who was watching a charming Chen Rong. Suddenly, she stewed with an intense loathing for Ran Min’s excessive attention to Chen Rong and for the knowing tone of Chen Rong toward him. Moreover, how could Chen Rong, being so bold and direct, possibly understand the coquettish way of a young maiden like her?
Because of her distaste and differences, Chen Wei pursed her lips to say: “I naturally cannot compare to you. You dared to play ‘The Phoenix’s Love Song’ last night for the celestial Wang Qilang in the presence of so many people. But this is how I am. I cannot do that embarrassing kind of thing.”
Ran Min scowled at her words. There was a flash of displeasure on his handsome face at the time he beheld two ladies of the Chen house.
As Chen Wei was beginning to regret her words, he turned away and strode toward the grassy front where the elders were congregating without saying another word.
Chen Wei was flushed with anger; she furiously stomped on the ground and turned to berate Chen Rong: “You-you-you why did you have to appear? Now you’ve made General Ran angry with me.”
Chen Rong gave her a brief glance and then moved to go around her. When she passed by Chen Wei, she gently advised: “Ah Wei, I had meant well, and I was only trying to help. Why are you so hostile toward me? A man like General Ran does not like petty women causing a rowdy scene.”
After leaving behind these words, she went ahead without turning back. Behind her, Chen Wei sputtered furiously: “Who do you think you are? Who told you to put on that knowing look in front of him?”
Chen Rong started at these words, but her feet did not stop. She turned away with the intention to go home.
Just then, Chen Yuan, who was sitting on the grass to enjoy the courtesans’ performances, suddenly raised his voice: “Ah Rong, come here.”
Chen Rong halted.
She looked up and slowly forced a smile onto her lips. Then she fisted her hands and walked to Chen Yuan with her head kept low.
By the time she approached, Chen Shu was in the middle of gaily conversing with Ran Min: “General Ran, that girl there is Ah Wei. She’ll be sixteen in a few months. You were talking to her just moments ago. How do you feel about the lass?”
Chen Shu’s tone had carried a touch of spontaneous pleasantry. It seemed he was only saying what he said offhandedly and meant nothing more.
Ran Min took a swig of his wine. After a long while, he insouciantly replied, “Let’s talk about this some other time.”
He caught everybody by surprise. Chen Shu was taken aback. Chen Rong, too, whipped her head up to look at him.
Chen Yuan retrieved his attention from Chen Rong and turned around to look at Ran Min, asking unhappily: “What do you mean, General?”
Ran Min placed his cup back on the table and curtly answered, “Merely that I do not want to talk of marriage these days.”
Four sides quieted at his words.
Everyone looked to one another. Originally, the Chen house invited Ran Min and he also accepted their invitation to come. For both sides, the intention had been very clear. That is, the Chens would betroth one of their daughters to him and he had also agreed. What’s more, hadn’t Chen Yuan talked to him about Chen Wei on the way to Nan’yang?
In all of Nan’yang and in addition to the prince, the Chens were the most prominent nobles. With this said, this union not only concerned the house of Chen and Ran Min, but having been tacitly agreed by the prince, it was also an affair between Nan’yang and Ran Min.
He had come to the estate, met with Chen Wei, and spoken to her. Did he mean to say he was having second thoughts?
Ran Min looked up only to come to face with a stunned crowd. His dashing countenance all the more rendered people spellbound with the sudden birth of a smile. He poured himself a cup of wine while slowly saying: “Gentlemen, don’t be this way. It’s not as if your family only has one daughter named Ah Wei.” Whether intentional or not, his eyes cast a glance on Chen Rong’s figure before he continued. “It’s still best to carefully consider one’s marriage.”
Thus said, he threw his head back and downed his wine. He then pounded the empty cup onto the table, flapped his long sleeves and strode out.
When he had gone a long way off, Chen Yuan peevishly muttered: “He’s nothing but a commoner without a surname. If it were not for his escorting grace, who among the nobles would even see him out of the corner of their eyes? Don’t tell me that this commoner dares to despise my Ah Wei for being concubine-born in favor of marrying a legitimate daughter of the Chens? Bah! Legitimate daughters of the Chen house are all worthy of princes and aristocrats. The bloke should take a look at his own background!”