Chapter 50: Food
Chapter 50: Food
All the way until she was seated inside the carriage, Chen Rong’s limbs were still in want of strength.
The vehicle slowly pulled out of the Huan estate and headed for the street.
Old Shang looked back from time to time as he drove along the quiet street. From his vantage point, he could see his mistress’s flustered look, one he hadn’t seen before.
The night passed by with Chen Rong’s tossing and turning.
The weather began to turn cold the next day, chilly wind sweeping by bitingly.
Chen Rong was sitting in her courtyard and absentmindedly plucking her strings. At length, she suddenly called for Old Shang.
The elderly retainer ran to her side and replied, “What is it, miss?”
“What’s the commotion outside?”
“It’s General Sun. He’s lining empty carriages in the middle of South Street, waiting for the major clans to send food over. Haha, this young general really doesn’t give a hoot. Can’t he go to their homes and quietly discuss with them? Making such a big racket is the same as forcing them to provide rations.”
Is that so?!
Chen Rong smiled, her eyes curving. “He is someone who would do such a thing.” This very moment, Chen Rong suddenly came to respect Ran Min. He must’ve known this about Sun Yan’s character, as well as his identity as the direct descendant of the Sun clan of Jiangdong and had thus let him come to Nan’yang, calling it protection but raising rations in reality. Only someone with his background would have the gall to do such things. The major clans hadn’t the courage to resent him. Not only could they not resent him, but if anyone were to mention anything about it, they would also have to praise him for ‘acting in a way the literati would’.
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While Chen Rong was feeling amused, a series of footsteps arrived. They were odd sounding, somewhat chaotic and pressing, and made her look back.
She saw from the corner of her eyes Chen Yuan and several stewards striding toward her.
Why are they coming here?
Chen Rong furrowed her brow, her mind turning almost instantly.
She quietly glanced to the door. Just as their figures arrived at the courtyard, Chen Rong’s voice sounded, calling Old Shang.
“Luo’yang had fallen and the Hu now run rampant. If not for General Sun’s stationing in Nan’yang, we wouldn’t have our present peace.”
Old Shang peeked up and quizzically looked at her, not getting why she was speaking such banality all of a sudden.
Without warning, Chen Rong gave him a shrewd smile and said in a crisp, resounding voice: “Old Shang, lead the guards to load ten carriages with grains from our warehouse and send them to General Sun.”
Chen Yuan and his stewards were entering the courtyard at the same time these words landed.
Among them, one had already stepped into the door and poised to speak. He froze on the spot when he heard Chen Rong’s words. Whirl – they all turned their heads to look at Chen Yuan.
Chen Yuan, too, was dumbfounded.
He stayed silly for a moment before clearing his throat, stepped into the courtyard and called Chen Rong. “Ah Rong.”
Surprised, Chen Rong quickly stepped away from her seat, respectfully curtsied to him and said, “Uncle, you’re here.”
Chen Yuan nodded and then cleared his throat again. “Ah Rong, when I came in, you were saying…”
This was all he had managed before Chen Rong interrupted him. Like a child wanting to win the adult’s praises, she excitedly explained: “Oh, did you hear me? If General Sun hadn’t led his army to protect Nan’yang this time, I as a woman wouldn’t have this peace to enjoy. Uncle, uncle, I just told Old Shang that I want to send them half of my food. I’m sure General Sun will be delighted.”
Chen Rong turned around, shot Old Shang a look and shouted, “What are you freezing there for? Go load the food! Remember, you must bring it over with big fanfare so that the world will know that this food is sent by the House of Chen!”
She said one sentence after another, giving no room for Chen Yuan to interrupt.
After Old Shang left with her orders, Chen Rong turned around to see her uncle. She again curtsied and said to him: “Dear me, I kept talking about my own matter. Don’t mind me, uncle. Is there anything I can do for you today?”
Chen Yuan opened his mouth but could not spit out half a word.
He had come to take Chen Rong’s grains under the pretext of General Sun’s supply urgency. He had intended to take about ten carriages and then with his own name give Sun Yan five while keeping the rest for himself. It should be known that food in Nan’yang at present was becoming increasingly scarcer. Possessing food was much more important than possessing gold and gems.
For this, he even brought four stewards along and thought of all the excuses and pretexts that could be used. Chen Rong was under his control to begin with. If he asked for food from her, it was but for the overall good and there was nothing anyone could say.
But he never imagined that this young girl, whatever mental illness she might have contracted, had taken it upon herself to announce she would be giving food to General Sun and even sent all of ten carriages in her own name before he could open his mouth to speak!
This translation belongs to hamster428.wordpress.com
He was livid, but what could he do? There was no longer any excuse for him to demand her grains.
Chen Rong turned around and blinked her large eyes curiously at a tongue-tied Chen Yuan. “Uncle, uncle?”
Only after she called a few times in a row did Chen Yuan snap awake. He again cleared his throat and wanted to open his mouth, but stopped himself after looking around and seeing the admiration his stewards accorded Chen Rong. After a length, he nodded and somberly said, “Excellent, excellent. Ah Rong, though you’re only a young lady, it is very good that you know how to handle tough situations.”
He gave another cough. “I only came by to visit you. Now I see that you are very commendable.”
Chen Rong blushed as she happily bowed toward him saying: “Thank you, uncle.”
“All right, let’s go,” he barked at the others.
Chen Rong swiftly sent him out with due respect. “Uncle, take you time.”
After Chen Yuan was sent away, Nurse Ping asked in surprise, “Miss, what does the master mean?”
What does he mean? What else but scheming against me? Chen Rong inwardly sneered.
Not receiving a reply, Nurse Ping sighed and muttered: “Miss, aren’t you a little too generous? Gifting all of ten carriages of food. Ten carriages of food, we’re talking about! Even the entire Chen estate cannot come up with so much food.”
Chen Rong lowered her eyes and thought to herself: If I didn’t come up with this number, would Chen Yuan have let me off the hook?
She naturally wouldn’t explain to Nurse Ping, only telling her: “Let Old Shang know that when he gives the grains away, he needs to smile and, if anyone asks, tell them loudly that the person who sends the grains is Ah Rong of the Chen house – a young lady from the Chen estate who’s not yet fifteen. If they seem interested, you may then tell them about my generous act of distributing my wealth in Ping and about the prophecy matter on the way here.”
“Aye,” Nurse Ping answered bewilderedly.
Staring after Nurse Ping’s retreating back, Chen Rong slowly sat down and again plucked her zither strings.