Chapter 71: He Calls Her Darling
Wang Hong took two steps forward and offered his hand to Chen Rong.
His tall figure wavered with each undulating wave. Under the sunlight, his lofty and clear eyes were carrying a hint of a smile as they gently regarded her.
Chen Rong’s heart somehow missed a beat when she looked into those eyes. She quickly lowered her head to avoid his gaze and thought to herself: This man is too handsome, and knows his ways with women. I have to avoid his gaze if I want to talk to him.
While she was busy thinking, he reached out to grab her supple hands. Chen Rong trembled at his touch and instinctively pulled back, but Wang Hong tightened his grip, preventing her from doing so. He held her hand and gently drew her onto the boat.
He did not, however, let go of her once she was aboard. Instead, he held onto her hand and walked to the bow.
Chen Rong halted and didn’t move again. “Let me go,” she issued a low shout, blushing and with her head lowered. Her voice was laced with a defensive tone.
Wang Hong turned around, squinting his eyes at her with a soft smile. “Darling (1), who are you talking to with such a fierce voice?”
卿卿: a term of endearment between spouses or very close lovers
The blush on Chen Rong’s face deepened. She bit her lip and stated: “I’m not yet married.”
“Oh?” Wang Hong nodded, turned his head disapprovingly and continued to pull her hand along. “I already know that,” he replied with a ‘but of course’ expression.
Chen Rong glanced around, momentarily feeling rankled. She saw several scholars merrily watching her and Wang Hong, all of them having a good time with the show.
She buried her head in embarrassment and quickly went on, letting Wang Hong lead her to the front.
Two tables were anchored down with wires, and meat and wine, as well as a zither were placed on them.
Wang Hong sat down and pointed across from him: “Have a seat.”
After Chen Rong obediently sat down, the man at the stern helmed the boat and let it lightly float away.
She couldn’t help herself from cowering as the boat glided out. She had come from the north, and while she liked to ride and use the whip, she couldn’t swim to save her life. As rippling waves crashed against the boat, her eyes lost their focus and her legs buckled.
Chen Rong looked elsewhere, both of her hands now clasping her cup, as she forced herself to stop looking unto the rolling waves.
At this time, Wang Hong’s soft voice came to her from the opposite side: “Did you have something to say to me, darling?” As soon as he asked her, the boat landed inside a whirlpool and made a sudden turn. Chen Rong hunched over in panic and reached her hands out to grab onto something, anything. Her beautiful face had gone terribly blanched.
By the time the boat finally stabilized some moments later, Chen Rong heaved a sigh and suddenly discovered that whatever she was pressing down on was very warm.
She turned her head. Do not steal this chapter from hamster428.
Her small face immediately flared red. It turned out she had grabbed Wang Hong’s arm. And this fact wasn’t even what mattered. What mattered was that her body was now falling forward against his in a classic posture that a girl might throw herself at someone.
At this time, Wang Hong’s wine cup had been transferred to his left hand while he helped Chen Rong with his right one. His lips slightly upturned into a faint smile.
When she looked at him with blushing cheeks, he raised a brow and softly asked, “Are you nauseated? Come sit with me, then.”
“No.” Chen Rong hastily retracted her hands as her cry flew out. She had already let him see her panicked state, in any case, so she simply gripped onto the boat.
Once she calmed down after finally finding stability, she looked around to see that everyone was enjoying the lake and mountain view. She sighed in relief before returning her gaze back to Wang Hong.
Looking at him at this close distance, Chen Rong discovered that not only were his features extremely handsome, but his face was also glowing in a kind of light. Furthermore, his extraordinarily clear and lofty eyes were robbing her of breath.
She was surprised to realize that this was the first time she saw his facial features up close. It was the first time she had the courage to look at him, and the first time her eyes were no longer blinded by his radiance even though she had known him for so long. Do not steal this chapter from hamster428.
While Chen Rong was staring at him fixedly, a sharp ringing laughter rose from behind them: “When this young lady looks at Wang Qilang, her eyes are as bright as a thief’s.” It had been Huan Jiulang’s voice.
The others roared with laughter, discomfiting Chen Rong with their jollity.
Yu Zhi slapped his thigh in high spirit and cried out: “Don’t be that way, Miss Chen. Qilang is already yours. There’s no need to stare at him like a thief.”
The crowd’s laughter grew louder as Chen Rong’s small face flushed deeper.
She quickly looked down and even raised her sleeve over her face. Her large and lovely eyes were firmly glued to the rippling water, not daring to look in Wang Hong’s direction.
Seeing her so, Huan Jiulang said with a quizzical smile: “My, is the young lady embarrassed? Let me tell you, Miss Chen. The entire Jiankang stares at Qilang as if they were a pack of wolves. You merely look at him as if you were a thief. That being the case, there’s really no need to feel bashful.”
Chen Rong reckoned he was right. Whether in Ping or Nan’yang, girls always made a commotion whenever they saw handsome men. What did she need to feel bashful for?
She lifted her chin and boldly looked at Wang Qilang again. She saw him suppressing a smile as he received a cup of wine from the boatman’s hands. Ignoring the drifting boat, he took a sip and chuckled: “I only now know that Ah Rong really does like me.”
Chen Rong froze and then almost told him off by reflex. Fortunately, she saw Wang Hong glancing over with narrowed eyes the moment her lips started to move and quickly closed her mouth.
Chen Rong bowed her head, took a deep breath, and bravely said to him: “Qilang, you-you should really stop calling me ‘darling’.”
“Oh, why?” Wang Hong looked at her curiously.
Chen Rong’s small face began to crumple. She blinked her long lashes and mumbled: “If you call me like that, how will I get married?” She took a deep inhale and begged him: “Though I may be humble, I really won’t be a concubine. Sir, kindly take back what you said.”
Wang Qilang glanced at her, placed the wine cup into her left hand, and softly smiled. “I’m afraid I can’t.”
His tone was extremely resolute. go to ham ster 428
Staring at him, Chen Rong lowered her voice and hastily demanded, “B-but what am I going to do?”
Wang Hong smiled brightly and dismissively said, “Do nothing. Just console yourself and try to shower Wang Qilang with lots of love in the future. Try harder, and perhaps this man will marry you as his wife.”
Chen Rong was completely stunned by what he said.
“Qilang, pay attention!” Yu Zhi shouted at this moment.
Wang Hong stood up and turned his head. With his elegant white robe fluttering in the wind, Chen Rong discovered that all the boats had come into a circle on the water. Leading them, Yu Zhi was now pouring wine into a cup and then spinning it toward a corner of the lake.
The light cup stayed afloat until Yu Zhi gently stirred the water and created a few rings of ripples. It then slowly turned toward Huan Jiulang and Wang Hong.
“Same rules,” Yu Zhi said when the cup began to move. “Whomever the wine cup spins to would have to recite verses or play music.”
He glanced at a puzzled Chen Rong and gave a peculiar smile. “Qilang, you can also ask your ferocious darling to play the zither in your stead.” He capped his sentence off with a howling laughter.
Chen Rong was still staring numbly. She blinked and took quite a while before she turned her eyes to Wang Hong.
She slowly rose to her feet. ham ster 428
“That’s it, it’s over for me,” Chen Rong glumly sighed as she looked at Wang Qilang, standing against the wind as though he was in a cloud castle. Her voice was beyond dejected.
Wang Hong’s lips curved upward. The cup had, at this time, swung to him and Huan Jiulang.
He took over the bamboo pole from the boatman and gently drew the cup to him. He next reached over and fished it out, then stuffed it into Chen Rong’s hand and said, “Your turn.”
Chen Rong finally awoke. She blinked a few times at Wang Hong and asked in surprise: “I thought the cup has to spin to us. Why did you fish it out and give it to me?”
Wang Hong smiled. He hadn’t answered by the time Huan Jiulang intruded: “Isn’t it obvious? Your Qilang wants to enjoy watching the beauty play music.”
Chen Rong wasn’t stupid. She caught on quite quickly.
As Huan Jiulang said, Wang Qilang didn’t want her to dwell on that incident and foul her mood. He wanted her to relax and enjoy the lake scenery.
At this thought, Chen Rong beamed and answered, “All right, then.”
The boatman brought her zither over. go to moc.824retsmah
Chen Rong received it and sat down.
But just as she got seated, she remembered that they were still on a boat.
Her small face instantaneously paled. She had forgotten that she was nauseated because she had been preoccupied by her troubles.
A warmth suddenly encased her small hands. It was Wang Hong, leaning over and holding her zither.
With the strum of his right hand, a melodious tune wafted to the heights as he lightly said to her, “Sing a song.”
As soon as he made the request, the zither notes surged forth like crashing waves.
There was a worldly struggle in the music. But the pain it told carried a loftiness like that of someone who was looking down at the chaos from above.
Chen Rong moved her lips, softly singing along: “We drink to today’s prosperity and let tomorrow’s ship weather tomorrow’s storm. When I ask my lord where to find the gods’ dwellings, he tells me they do not exist. The world is full of mortals, and this one is especially heartless.”
Chen Rong had an excellent singing voice. There was a sentimental enchantment in its clarity. When she sang, there was richness and splendor even in the careless song.
However, this song…
The scholars looked at one another and then turned to Chen Rong in bemusement.
Wang Qilang pressed on the strings and halted the music. He looked up, glancing at Chen Rong. “Is there such a folksong?”
“Not originally; your music has brought it to life.”
She had simply made up the song. It had no rhymes or rules, and it was meaningless and hardly presentable in front of those present on the lake. It had its good points, nonetheless. It was plain and simple, yet also interesting. do not steal this chapter
After some baffled moments, Huan Jiulang led with a laugh: “Qilang, it seems your woman’s resentment runs deep.”
“Aye, aye, Qilang, what did you do to offend the young lady?” Yu Zhi likewise guffawed. “So that she calls you a mere earthling and even says you’re especially heartless?”
The older scholars joined in with their laughter. “Has the young lady come to lament, then? Capital, capital. We rarely come across anything nearly as interesting. Miss Chen, say what you will and rest assured. We’ll do whatever you wish including chopping Wang Qilang into eighths.”
Every one of them was playfully taking Chen Rong’s side.
Wang Hong looked up and met her smug face.
He smiled, and then turned away to glance at the crowd before slowly saying: “Hey, why have all of you joined in to disturb our flirting?”
He was saying the song had been words of their flirtation… and she was too baffled to retort.
Lowering her gaze helplessly, Chen Rong drew her lips and fumed: “You’ve stained my name, sir. Be careful or I’ll cling onto you so that you’ll have to marry me.”
“And if your clan arranges any women for you,” her voice took a fierce turn, “I’ll chase each and every one of them away. Hmph, don’t think I won’t do it.”
Answering her was Wang Qilang’s faint smiling eyes. She must admit that the man in front of her was as ethereal as chiseled jade. When he looked at her like that, he really did dazzle her eyes. Chen Rong again found herself fumbling for words.
By the time she snapped awake, Wang Qi had already filled the wine cup and sent it into the waves.
Chen Rong watched him stand in the wind and sighed to herself, deciding to forget her troubles for now.
At this moment, the cup had gone to the middle-aged scholar. In the midst of wind and waves, he ordered a servant to bring a roll of parchment to him before brandishing some brushwork on it.
Chen Rong admired his strong calligraphy and was quietly impressed by it.
Soon, a flamboyant cursive script appeared before the crowd.
While the scholars marveled at it, the wine cup had drifted to Wang Hong several times. Each time it did so, he waved his sleeve and sent it away.
Yu Zhi hotly cried out: “Wang Qilang, how can you not follow the rules?”
Wang Hong gave him a glance out of the corner of his eyes and answered, “Whatever I want to do is the rules.”
His words were very capricious, and they made the scholars laugh.
Huan Jiulang led in applauding: “Good for you, well put. Whatever I want to do is the rules. Hahaha.”
While the men laughed, Chen Rong incredulously blinked at Wang Hong and thought to herself: He actually said ‘Whatever I want to do is the rules’; he actually has the conceit to say that, does he?
She had felt down and was having a difficult time trying to feel at ease. But when she was with these people, her mood was somehow lifted and she became much happier.
Without knowing it, she was now full of smiles.
Wang Hong’s lips upturned when he inadvertently looked her way. He retrieved the wine cup from the lake and took a swig. With the stroke of his right hand, a ray of music quietly wandered onto the water and floated into the clouds.
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