Chapter 63: Wang Qilang’s “Kindness”?
Chapter 63: Wang Qilang’s “Kindness”?
Chen Rong watched the departing carriage for quite some time before she turned around and walked to the Chen estate’s entrance.
It only took her a few steps by the time a black shadow hurtled out from the roadside ditch.
Startled, Chen Rong was about to scream when this shadow raised his clasped hands and said to her, “Are you Ah Rong of the Chen house? General Sun has asked me to wait here for you.”
Sun Yan? Chen Rong recovered herself and inquired, “Where is he?”
“After slashing the two advisors sent by the prince, General Sun has moved out of the city on Wang Qilang’s advice.” He paused. “General Sun was worried about you, so he told me to stand here and wait. Now that you’ve come home, I’ll take my leave.” He again raised his clasped hands to Ah Rong and turned away. When his figure disappeared from the ditch, Chen Rong noticed other shadows joining him as they all left together.
The surroundings resumed their frightening silence when he was no longer with her, and she hastily ran toward the gate.
The iron gate creaked wide open the moment she got to the front. Two doormen gave her a bow as they said in unison, “You’ve come back, miss!”
Chen Rong nodded, knowing these people must’ve heard the noises outside and had been waiting behind the door. She hurried inside and to her own courtyard.
It was late; besides a few scattered lanterns hung for decoration, there only existed the chirping of insects at the Chen estate.
Chen Rong’s pace quickened, rushing to her courtyard. When she got to the door, she pounded on it and called: “Old Shang, Nurse Ping, I’m back, open the door for me.”
Her loud call was resounding in the silent night. She hadn’t detected any movement inside her courtyard while a candle had already lit up in Chen Wei’s courtyard.
Chen Rong quickly hushed herself and just desperately continued to knock on the door.
Footsteps sounded. go to moc.824retsmah
“Who’s there?” Nurse Ping’s voice nervously asked from the other side of the door.
The nurse’s voice went hoarse, shakily asking: “Miss?”
The door opened to the nurse and Old Shang with a lantern raised, both thrilled to see her.
Their eyes moistened when they saw her bright and refreshed face. Nurse Ping quickly walked over and touched her face, gasping, “Miss, miss, have you really come back?”
“Yes, it’s me.” Chen Rong’s voice was similarly raspy. She had been thinking of them every day during her stay at the prince’s estate. To her, the two people standing here were even closer than her father and brother.
Nurse Ping raised her hand to dab the tears on her face, then tugged Chen Rong’s sleeve and repeatedly said, “Come in, come in.”
By the time the door closed, four or five lanterns must have been lit in Chen Wei’s courtyard.
Chen Rong glanced that way, asking Nurse Ping in a low voice: “Nurse, that day you…”
The nurse struggled to find her voice as she said, “You had barely left that day when the master had sent people here to watch me. It was the same for Old Shang. We were only allowed to go about our activities in the courtyard. Old Shang tried to climb out a few times at night, but they always caught him.”
Chen Rong’s face grew dark. “Did Chen Yuan send them to watch you? And now? When did they leave?”
“I reckon it was an hour ago.” Noticing Chen Rong’s expression, Nurse Ping quickly tugged her sleeve and whispered, “Miss, the master is your elder. Filial piety stands first among all virtues. You must never speak imprudence.”
Chen Rong nodded, suppressing her loathing, and whispered back, “I know.” Having lived twice, she certainly knew how important ‘filial piety’ was. Many humble-born scholars had risen to fame due to their filial piety. Likewise, an unfilial reputation could destroy any man.
Old Shang, who had been standing in the back, looked at Chen Rong in concern. “You look so pale, miss. You must not have had any rest. It’s late. Let’s talk tomorrow, whatever it is.” He then glanced to Chen Wei’s increasingly bright courtyard next door.
Chen Rong and Nurse Ping knew what he meant; both nodded their heads and said no more.
The night passed by in Chen Rong’s tossing and turning.
Early next morning, she heard noises outside when she was yet fully awake. The chattering of girls came to her ears from time to time: “Why isn’t Ah Rong up yet?”
“Old man, why are you standing there? Go and wake your mistress up! How can she be so rude when she has guests waiting?”
Listening, Chen Rong sat up and opened her mouth to say: “Come to help me wash.”
The noises outside came to a halt. go to hamster428
Nurse Ping and another maidservant carried a water basin inside.
As she helped her comb her hair, Nurse Ping angrily said in a lowered voice: “None of them mean well.” And then she worriedly looked at Chen Rong, wanting to say something but thought better of it.
After they had finished washing and combing, Nurse Ping turned to watch Chen Rong, concernedly saying: “Miss, you must think twice about everything you say.”
Chen Rong nodded and stepped out.
As soon as she appeared, Chen Wei, Chen Qian, and the other girls all turned around, their eyes lighting up as they watched her, their faces curious and pitying.
Chen Rong smiled. She curtsied to them and then sat down on the host’s seat, saying: “You’re here so early, sisters.”
Chen Qian laughed. “It’s not that early. The sun has come out.” She leaned over looking at Chen Rong with concern as she said, “Why did you return from the prince’s estate in the middle of the night? I’m sure the past two days hadn’t been easy?” She sounded caring, but there was something like malicious insinuation in her words.
Chen Rong smiled. She took the teacup from her maid’s hands and, after a sip, dropped her gaze abashedly yet boastfully said, “Like me, Wang Qilang was also asked to guest at the Prince’s Estate. It was Wang Qilang who sent me home yesterday.”
“Don’t lie!” It was Chen Qian who cried out. She unkindly pointed out: “Wang Qilang had only returned to Nan’yang yesterday.”
“Is that so?” Chen Rong smiled, looking as though she didn’t care to argue. “Why don’t you ask Wang Qilang when you next see him?”
Chen Qian sneered. She had wanted to take a little jab at her but then it grew noisy outside.
The girls turned at the same time to look.
Three carriages were slowly entering the courtyard. Beside them were two stalwart-looking guards. They jumped down from their horses, raised their clasped hands toward the inner courtyard and called: “Is Ah Rong of the Chen house here?”
Chen Rong rose, replying: “Aye,” and quickly went out.
They raised their clasped hands to her and then pointed to the three horse-drawn carriages to say: “We brought you back so hastily last night that the clothes and merchandise especially ordered for you on the trip were all left behind. Qilang asked that I bring them over again for you.”
Not only Chen Qian and Chen Wei, but even Chen Rong was too shocked to move.
The other guard produced a jade ornament from his lapel, took one step forward and presented it to Chen Rong. He bowed respectfully, saying: “This is from Qilang. If you ever need to, you can use it to enter the Wang house of Nan’yang and the Wang house of Lang’ya.”
Chen Rong accepted the jade in a trance. go to moc.824retsmah
The guards stepped down. When they saw that the wooden chests had all been moved down from the carriages, they waved their hands and told the drivers to drive away. In just moments, their figures had vanished from Chen Rong’s yard.
But the girls were still frozen on the spot.
However long it may have been, Chen Qian suddenly whipped around to look at Chen Rong, exclaiming: “Ah Rong, are you that close to Wang Qilang? You-you haven’t decided on your own to become his, have you?”
Chen Wei and the other girls also turned their heads to simultaneously stare at Chen Rong, waiting for her answer.
And what was Chen Rong supposed to say? She could only gape her mouth. After a long while, she awkwardly produced a smile and bowed to the girls, saying: “Make yourselves at home. I’ll be just a moment away.” Having said so, she turned and rushed, nay fled back to her room.
While the girls looked at one another, Nurse Ping also chased after her mistress.
In her bedchamber, Chen Rong was pushing her hands against the bed’s wooden post. From behind, it seemed she was biting her lips, her small face both red and white.
Nurse Ping looked at her mistress in befuddlement. At long last she quietly asked, “Miss, didn’t you say you won’t become anyone’s concubine? Why are you and Wang Qilang…?”
Chen Rong abruptly flung her hand and sent the jade pillow on the divan flying to the ground. “Good for you, Wang Qilang,” she huffed. “How can you destroy my reputation like this?”
But she couldn’t go on. In retrospect, she had stayed at the prince’s estate for two days and two nights. No matter what excuse she came up with, her reputation had been ruined. For it to be ruined in the hands of Wang Qilang was far better than in the hands of the Nan’yang Prince.
Chen Rong gritted her teeth for a while before she suddenly said to Nurse Ping in disgruntlement: “Nurse, don’t take Wang Qilang for an angel. He’s a dastard!”
Nurse Ping blinked, staring at an embarrassed and indignant Chen Rong in bemusement.
Chen Rong was flushing now. She fiercely stomped on the ground and angrily said, “He told me to say I was with him if someone else asks. And I was even grateful for his caring consideration. What’s more, he could’ve just left but chose to remind me again to carefully consider my answers to others’ questions. Fright and joy must’ve addled my brain for me not to see it as an issue.”
She was continuously stomping her feet, her small face was flushed bright, and her full bosom rose and fell with each breath she took.
She had just told Chen Qian and the girls that she was an invited guest at the prince’s estate. With Wang Qilang also being there, she had hoped he’d defend her position. With his status, everybody would believe him no matter what he said. As long as he said Ah Rong of the Chen house was innocent, the world would have believed in her innocence.
It was, however, different now. Not only did he not clarify the situation for her, he instead sent those carriages over and even gave her a bloody piece of jade. Wasn’t he, then, telling everybody that there was a clandestine affair going on between the two of them?
He clearly knew he was Lang’ya Wang Qi and she was only a small concubine-born daughter of the Chen house in Ping. One was like a cloud in the sky, the other like the trampled mud on the ground. While she was not good enough to marry him, what he did had hindered her ability to marry any other man. The bastard!
All of a sudden, Chen Rong stiffened with anger. She stroked her lips while her beautiful face flushed as though it had been dyed by the sunset, growing redder and redder… until it became so red that it looked as if it could start to bleed.