Chapter 48: Clarification
After having whispered to herself for a while, Nurse Ping then turned to Chen Rong, saying: “Miss, young Mr. Sun isn’t that young anymore. He shouldn’t have a wife yet, right? Should I go see him and get a feel for what he thinks?”
Chen Rong shook her head. She stared into the distance and faintly said, “Some things can’t be hurried. If you’re hasty you’ll only be left with nothing.”
“I’m not sure I understand what you mean, miss.”
Chen Rong lowered her gaze and plucked the strings. After a series of melodious notes was issued, she went on saying: “At present everyone in Nan’yang thinks I’m in love with Wang Qilang. If right away I seek another man to marry, then wouldn’t my affections have been insincere? Nurse, you should know how damaging an insincere reputation can be.”
Anxious, the nurse exclaimed, “Then what will we do? Are you saying that you can’t marry anyone else in your life besides the Wangs’ 7th son?”
Chen Rong’s right hand continued moving along the zither strings as the instrument issued a flow of crystalline notes.
Nurse Ping stood quietly for a while and at last couldn’t refrain herself from crying out: “Miss, miss?”
Chen Rong relaxed her hands and brought the music to a halt. “Nurse,” she slowly began, “I can relax for a few days now that Sun Yan is back.”
She slowly looked up.
Her eyes seemed a bit strange. It contained a faint smile, one that was nevertheless somewhat faraway.
She stared at her nurse and then suddenly asked, “Nurse, do you know where Wang Qilang is?”
Nurse Ping didn’t expect for her to suddenly mention Wang Qilang. She stared blankly and shook her head: “Nay miss.”
“Tell Old Shang to go and see where he is.”
The nurse rounded her eyes. “Miss, what are you planning to do?” she asked with some caution and concern.
“Nothing.” Chen Rong raised her small chin, turned around in the direction of the main compound and said, “Young Mr. Sun has returned, wielding two thousand soldiers in his hands. The whole of Nan’yang is under his protection. Would you say that I am now very safe? And nobody will easily touch me?”
Nurse Ping nodded in bewilderment.
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Chen Rong glanced at her. “Then tell Old Shang to go find out where Wang Qilang is. I want to see him. In fact, I believe he’s waiting for me to come see him and make things clear.” I’ll stop feel guilty once I see him. He, too, won’t develop bad impression because of my intentional dallying.
One should know that it didn’t matter to the scholars whether one had made mistakes. What mattered was when someone had the nerve to talk glibly after not admitting to his mistakes.
It wouldn’t be too late if she could see him now.
Nurse Ping again nodded dumbly.
By the time the sun completely sank to the west and numerous stars emerged in the vast sky, Chen Rong’s carriage made its appearance on the street.
At this moment, cries had taken over the streets of Nan’yang.
There were very few pedestrians out and about; those who were had their eyes glued to their feet. Houses were tightly latched, as if the city dwellers believed doing these things would ensure their safety.
Before long, Chen Rong’s carriage had pulled up to the facade of the Huan estate.
As the third largest family in Nan’yang, the house of Huan was hosting a banquet at this time, its compound awash in light and music.
Old Shang announced himself to the guard and, after showing the Chen estate’s bamboo card, smoothly went into the compound.
When the carriage drove past the Huans’ nine-section corridor, Chen Rong stopped Old Shang and said to him, “Go over there and wait. Let me know when Wang Qilang comes out. He actually doesn’t like to socialize, I’m sure he’ll leave eventually. Pay careful attention.”
After Old Shang was gone, Chen Rong leaned her hands on the railing and looked down to the bending corridors below. There, acres of azure water rippled and gleamed in the strewing starlight.
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Some time later, a series of rapid steps neared her. Forthwith, Old Shang came up behind her and whispered: “Miss, as you expected, Wang Qilang had gotten to the other side of the South Bridge.”
“Good, you may go.”
Old Shang did not leave. He took a few dithering steps before looking back to Chen Rong. “Why are you in such a hurry, miss? Why can’t we make an appointment to see him at the Wang estate?”
Chen Rong looked up, her eyes dark and gloomy under the starlight. “Old Shang, the literati have always believed that people should be free-spirited. If I wanted to see him, I should do what my heart is telling me to do. But if I made an appointment, my visit would then become deliberate.”
Old Shang only stared at her with a confused expression.
Chen Rong shook her head and walked ahead.
Her wooden clogs made particularly clear tapping that sounded almost like music.
As she walked on, Ah Rong’s feet flitted as though she was dancing. Perhaps because the weight had been lifted from her heart, her footsteps, too, became lighter.
With her dancing steps, she tread on the starlight and went down the winding path.
After making a turn, she took a misstep and saw a handsome man leaning against the railing, his face turning sideway and looking at her with a faint smile.
It was Wang Hong.
Chen Rong lit up at the sudden sight of him.
She quickly stopped her waltzing and retreated backward, then she curtsied to him and said, “Are you just now leaving, Qilang? Ah Rong of the Chen house has waited for you for some time now.”
Under the moonlight, Wang Hong’s eyes were as bright as the stars. He clasped his hands behind his back and quietly regarded Chen Rong, giving a low chuckle: “Have you especially come to see me?”
“And without the Huan estate’s consent nor a prior appointment, you’ve come and then wait by yourself?”
Wang Hong laughed. He smirked his lips saying: “Ah Rong, this doesn’t seem like something you’d do.”
Smiling, Chen Rong briskly replied, “Perhaps it’s because I can finally let go of a few things today.”
“Oh, what are you letting of?” Wang Hong watched her with interest.
Chen Rong looked up.
She looked at him quietly, her eyes remarkably bright in the dark.
Watching the man who looked as ethereal as a heavenly being though he was standing under the celestial stars themselves, Chen Rong took a step forward, carefully bowed to him and raised her voice: “I’ve come to see Qilang for I have something to say.”
Wang Hong didn’t ask her what. He only stared at her in silence, his eyes deep and unfathomable.
Chen Rong lowered her head, clasped her hands together and continued: “I’ve arrived in Nan’yang only to inadvertently learn that my uncle Chen Yuan was going to send me to the Nan’yang Prince the night he invited the prince to our banquet.” She bit her lips, her originally crisp voice turning timid: “I know I’m only an orphan girl. I have no one to depend on, no one to beg. If my uncle really chases me out, there aren’t any other options for me besides my death.”
“For that reason, you thought of me and how you could borrow me to get rid of the Nan’yang Prince? Is that why you played ‘The Phoenix’s Love Song’ for me?”
Startlingly, Wang Hong sounded a little cutting.
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