Chapter 57: Lament of the Scholar
Chapter 57: Lament of the Scholar
Chen Rong did not bother about the maids’ increasingly empathic eyes. She only concentrated on making the sky lanterns and releasing them one after another to the sky.
The entire evening was spent by making lanterns and floating them.
By midnight, when Chen Rong had fallen asleep from fatigue, the younger maid gave her companion a push and whispered: “She’s just another pitiful woman, this Ah Rong.” There was a vague melancholy of youth found in her voice.
The next day swiftly arrived.
Early in the morning, reed music filtered past the windows from the woods. Chen Rong slowly opened her eyes and gazed past the silk screens.
The overcast sky was very dark and looking as though it would rain any minute now.
She propped her arms to sit up, hugged the quilt and looked to the sky in a trance.
At the same time, the younger maid called out to her: “Miss, would you like to wash?” Her voice was noticeably milder compared to yesterday; the eyes she used to look at Chen Rong were also faintly sympathetic.
Chen Rong shook her head without looking at her.
Watching a blank Chen Rong, the young maid suddenly spoke. “Miss, even though His Highness often abandons the old for the new, and has the tendency of giving the old to his subordinates, you ultimately will still be wrapped in silk.” At this juncture, she suddenly stopped to recall that Ah Rong wasn’t poor; on the contrary, she came from a large clan and had always enjoyed this kind of sheltering.
Ah Rong raised her head.
Without morning grooming, her face remained surprisingly fresh and fair. She looked at the maid and managed to whisper a thank you.
The young maid bowed her head, stammering: “Don’t mention it,” before hurrying outside.
Gradually, a flute joined the floating reed music. When the distant and lingering flute intertwined with the reed, they produced a sentimentality belonging to springtide.
Chen Rong lowered her eyes, muttering all the while: “There’s already reed music so early in the morning. The Prince’s Estate is certainly home to peace and pleasure.”
She put on her wooden clogs and walked to the screens where the window opened to two beautiful women.
They hastily turned away. By the time they reached a barren peach orchard, Chen Rong had heard one of them say: “His Highness didn’t come to keep the new woman company? That’s rather odd.”
“I asked,” the other replied. “They said she is a guest. Hah, a visiting beauty. His Highness has only ever used this trick five times.”
Taking a deep inhale, Chen Rong ordered: “Bring me water.”
“Aye,” the maids answered her in unison. They came in with a water basin, towel, and some blue salt for washing.
While they quietly helped her wash and comb, Chen Rong asked, “Is there anywhere in the estate I’m not allowed to go?”
The older maid helped put her hair into a cloud-shaped chignon as she answered, “In addition to the main courtyard, you are free to go anywhere within the inner quarters and the east and west wings.”
Chen Rong hummed a reply. She noted that this maid’s plaiting technique was rather ingenious. The quivering cloud chignon gave off a languid loveliness. With no ornamental pin on top, it had a most romantic charm.
Chen Rong wrung her sleeves. She had expected just as much and had taken her own hairpin.
When the two finished their work, Chen Rong rose to turn and leave.
The younger maid gave her long skirt and slender waist a look, cocked her head and murmured: “She has a lovely figure. No wonder the prince has to have her.”
When Chen Rong got to the courtyard, she saw fashionable girls flooding the small path, the pavilions, and everywhere else.
However, her steps halted this time.
This translation belongs to hamster428.wordpress.com
While Chen Rong stood there, a good dozen pairs of eyes stared in her direction. Facing these eyes, Chen Rong suddenly thought: The longer I live in the Nanyang Prince’s estate, the more detrimental it will be to my reputation. Even if I can deal with these women and even if I know what’s going on, the worst will be idle rumors. If they manipulate the things I inadvertently say, then what will I do? Forget it, it’s better for me to return.
Once back, she ordered: “Close the door to the courtyard.”
The two maids looked at her in puzzlement.
Chen Rong stared at them and repeated her order: “Close the door to the courtyard. Regardless who comes, you can’t open it without my consent. Did I make myself clear?”
The two maids looked at each other and then complied.
Once the courtyard closed, Chen Rong ordered them to bring the zither and then began to play.
The piece she played was called “Lament of the Scholar”, a song she had overheard one of the scholars play during her marriage to Ran Min in her past life.
“Lament of the Scholar” was lofty and distant, fairly proud and haughty. It was much to her liking due to its melodious and sinuous appeal, and she, therefore, had always remembered it.
The light zither was born and slowly mingled with the reed and flute, gradually weaving into the gloomy clouds.
Each of the present beauties, even if she did not play the instrument, was at least accustomed to listening. Once Chen Rong’s “Lament of the Scholar” sounded, the girls that had been pointing curiously at her closed doors eventually quieted down.
As they listened, they soon found that this song was a new piece they had not heard before, and quite an elegant one.
Gradually, as the zither heightened, the reed and flute came to a halt.
Steadily, the lofty and lonely zither was the only sound that wove through the dark clouds in the west wing.
A handsomely dressed girl closed her eyes as she quietly listened for a moment. “Actually quite noble,” she murmured.
Another girl with features as gentle as water lowered her gaze. She softly said, “Has the prince forced even someone so upright and honorable to come here? Her life is not for long, it seems.”
Standing behind them, an enticing woman in her thirties sneered: “So what if she’s noble? So what if she’s upright? That’s because His Highness hasn’t slept with her yet. Wait until she has gone to his bed; she would not be playing these sounds then.”
What they didn’t know was that Chen Rong was playing this song to let everyone know she was a guest of the estate, that she hadn’t had intimate relations with the Prince of Nan’yang.
Amid the murmuring and drifting zither, night gradually descended.
By suppertime, the racing wind was whipping leaves and branches, and shaking the shingles outside.
Chen Rong placed her chopsticks down and looked out to the sky. “Is it going to rain tonight?” she softly asked.
Hearing disappointment in her question, the younger maid couldn’t help but chuckle. “Do you want to release lanterns again, miss?”
Chen Rong nodded and hummed an answer.
So rare was her mild demeanor that the maid sighingly advised her: “Miss, you should forget him.”
Chen Rong made no reply.
Just then, the wind subsided outside. Chen Rong placed her utensils down, walked to the courtyard to look up at the gradually dispersing cloud in the sky and said cheerfully: “The stars have come out.”
She turned around, her eyes vividly bright. “Prepare the materials. I want to float at least ten lanterns tonight.”