Chapter 134: The Rich and Famous
The younger Mr. Chen was stunned. He looked up and frowningly scolded her: “Ah Rong, you should respect your sister-in-law as you would your mother, how can you utter such words?”
When he saw Chen Rong dropping her gaze, his heart softened and he gently said, “If outsiders heard a young lady saying such a thing, they would accuse you of being disrespectful and imprudent. Ah Rong, wisemen have said an older sister-in-law is like a mother. The world will ostracize you for being unfilial and unrighteous. But do not despair, there are only the two of us in the room and you can be sure I won’t tell anyone.”
“Aye, I would not dare,” Chen Rong softly replied. She knew her brother was a little old-fashioned and had thus dismissed everyone else when she spoke to him.
Seeing that his sister remained reticent, Mr. Chen sighed and said, “Ah Rong, your sister-in-law has given me a son even if she’s base and vile. Furthermore, I’ve also made her go through a lot during these years.”
Chen Rong again hummed to acknowledge him.
The siblings continued to chat until sundown when her brother hastily left to go home.
Once he exited Chen Rong’s courtyard, he turned around to take in the sight of the charming house and thought to himself: It’s hard to believe that my stubborn and silly little sister has grown so much after only a few years. She journeyed south on her own yet not only did she befriend the literati, she can even buy a house in Jiankang.
With his thought, he happily smiled, turned around and briskly returned home.
He hadn’t yet stepped inside when he heard his own fishwife swearing up and down, and the victim of this castigation was no other than the lesser madam who had entered his household before her.
Thinking of Ah Gu who recoiled in fear and secretly cried every time she got yelled at, Mr. Chen sighed and simply halted his feet.
At long last, when the courtyard had settled down, he cropped up a smile and went inside.
He saw that Ah Gu was busy with work; tear marks were still on her face. His wife was sitting in her bedchamber, he was unsure what was on her mind.
He walked to her.
He had barely entered when his wife shrilled, “You jerk, so you still know your way home?”
Mr. Chen was quick to produce a smile. “I had gone to see Ah Rong.” Seeing his wife glaring back at him ready to shout, he added, “Interestingly, I saw Jiulang of the Huan House driving out from Ah Rong’s courtyard just as I entered. My sister is amazing. She went south on her own yet she could even befriend these famous scholars.”
His voice was full of pride.
He knew his wife liked to listen to this kind of thing. Sure enough, she sprang from her seat, widened her eyes, and cried in surprise, “A direct descendant of the Huan House comes and goes at her place?”
Mr. Chen laughed and excitedly continued: “I was shocked myself. I had thought that Ah Rong was his mistress. But it turns out he sees her as a friend. Ha ha, Ah Rong is amazing.”
Suddenly, Mrs. Chen gave herself a slap.
It was a great slap. Mr. Chen immediately realized what was causing the agitation on her face. He was quickly filled with regret: Why did I have to tell her this when I know she’s a greedy woman?
He was always like this. He couldn’t help wanting to tell his wife any good news he came across because he would always want to win her smile, or even just to exchange for a day of peace. He got so used to doing it that he sometimes couldn’t control his mouth.
Mrs. Chen got up. She held her husband’s hand and affectionately asked, “Husband, tell me, what else is at your sister’s place? Did Jiulang of the Huan House talk to you? What about the servants? You just said something about a courtyard. How was she able to buy a house in Jiankang when property value is so high?”
Mr. Chen hesitantly answered each of her questions.
Upon hearing his replies, his wife let go of his hand, got up and yelled, “Ah Gu, Ah Gu, take the hen out, we’re going to visit my sister.”
But then she looked at the night sky outside and murmured to herself, “It’s too late now, maybe tomorrow’s better after all.”
She impatiently glared at Ah Gu and barked, “What are you looking at me for? Can’t you tell what time it is? It’s already so late, go get the fire ready, I’m still waiting for my bath.”
“Aye, aye, aye,” Ah Gu repeatedly replied and scrambled away.
Mrs. Chen did not sleep soundly tonight. She grabbed onto her husband to ask about Chen Rong’s situation over and over again, tossing and turning until the rat hour (midnight) before she would drift off to sleep.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
In the early morning hours, Mr. Chen woke up to his wife’s shouting: “What are we taking all these things for? Just the hen is enough for my visit to my sister.” She then added, “Go and call my brothers so that we can visit the young lady.”
Mr. Chen left his bed and asked, “Why are you calling your brothers along?” His wife turned back and shot him a glare that made him duck his head and swallow the rest of his words.
The sun had barely risen by the time the mighty group arrived at Chen Rong’s residence.
Mrs. Chen stared with wide eyes at the beautiful house that was clearly better than her own. In a flash, she had swayed her hips to the door with a smiling face.
At this time, her brawny older brother came forward and banged on the door shouting: “Open up, open up.”
A series of unhurried footsteps padded to the gate.
Soon, an elderly voice sounded: “Who’s there?”
Mrs. Chen quickly stepped forward, smiled and said, “Go let your mistress know that her sister-in-law is here to see her. Tell her to come out to meet me.”
“My mistress’s sister-in-law? My mistress doesn’t have a brother here in Jiankang, so why would she have a sister-in-law?”
He was then heard saying: “Listen well, if there are unrelated people here to make trouble, you must send them all away.”
Mrs. Chen’s face turned green. She was shaking angrily. Her thin younger brother quizzically asked, “What’s going on? I thought she’s your useless husband’s sister? Why would we be unrelated?”
Mrs. Chen did not answer him. After a while, she began to scream: “Son of a bitch, how dare you speak to me this way? Go tell your mistress that her elder brother is like her father. Does she still know what filial piety is? Tell her she can’t live in this world without a family.” At this juncture, she gulped and thought, No, I musn’t curse.
At this time, her older brother took over the shouting: “Can we stop the yapping? Just break the door down. She doesn’t even fucking let her sister-in-law in. The hussy needs to be taught a lesson.”
Mrs. Chen’s and her hooligan brother’s blaring voices made everyone’s ears buzz. While Chen Rong’s courtyard was silent, several large guards from her neighbor’s home came out from the side door. They stared at the gang and shouted, “Who’s making all this ruckus?” while pressing their hands on the blades at their hips.
It took just one sentence and a stare for Mrs. Chen and her older brother to bend over with a simper. “We’re not trying to making a ruckus, really. We only came to see our relative.”
But when had these guards bothered to reason with people of their ranks? They immediately strode to them, glowering. As they moved, the blades fractionally left their scabbards, their uniforms which signified the power of their owner also flapped intimidatingly in the wind.
Mrs. Chen panicked. “We’re leaving, we’re leaving,” she cried. She waved her hand and, in a flash, took the mob away in defeat.
Looking through the door crack, Nurse Ping sighed in relief before she went to Chen Rong’s room. “They’re gone,” she told Chen Rong who was stringing her zither. “Luckily you are smart.” What would today be like if she hadn’t decisively ended things that day? She felt uneasy just thinking about it.
The peace and quiet flew by quickly. Since that day, Mrs. Chen sent her brothers twice more; she herself also came twice. But it didn’t matter whether she was polite or effusive, the servants’ reaction was always to latch the door.
There was no helping it, Mrs. Chen would have to go find her husband. But that husband of hers was such a pedantic bookworm. Even though he was typically submissive to her, the moment Chen Rong got involved, he would use the excuse that he and his sister had cut ties and he couldn’t humiliate himself further. She once told her brothers to drag him out, but her useless husband gave only two weak calls before giving up. She couldn’t chase him down even if she wanted to.
Despite secretly resenting her sister-in-law, this was wearing a bit thin on her. She not only saw the Huan estate’s carriage enter her courtyard today, but also clansmen from the Chen House.
At the sight of the clansmen, Mrs. Chen retreated and leaned against the stone wall in the alley, staring at the entrance with interest.
The bewitchingly beautiful girl at the door was dressed in light green. She wore wooden clogs and had her hair pulled up in a loose bun with a large swaying pearl.
She was at present receiving three carriages and curtsying to the people inside them. Three men next came down, all appearing to be people of importance.
Looking at the people flitting inside, Mrs. Chen swallowed her saliva: “The hussy!” And then she blurted, “What did I say? She did this on purpose! Why would two perfectly good siblings cut ties so soon after their reunion? She’s afraid we would get some of her good fortune.” She spat on the ground and cursed: “Pooh, her brother cried so much to see her again, and I even brought my hen… the ungrateful wench.”
After muttering to herself, Mrs. Chen looked back at Ah Gu and another maidservant hiding in the corner and whispered, “Go and tell those rich people everything.” But she then gave some thought and shook her head.
She stepped forward and intimately pulled on Ah Gu’s hand. As the other woman trembled, she smilingly said, “Quietly go and see the girl. Remember to be nice first, but if she still won’t meet you, let her know you’ll rip her face off in front of the noblemen. Go.”
She then shoved Ah Gu off.
When Ah Gu stopped only after two steps, Mrs. Chen glared at her and barked, “If you won’t go, I’ll sell you to the whorehouse.”
All colors drained from Ah Gu’s face. She shakily dragged herself to Chen Rong’s door.
When she was ten steps from the courtyard, she heard a shout: “Who’s there?”
Several tall guards came out.
They were even taller and more imposing than the soldiers on the streets.
Ah Gu froze. As she was about to speak, Nurse Ping cried out from the courtyard, “They’re people we don’t know. They want to bother us because they see that my mistress is all by herself. Please chase them away.”
The guards politely nodded at Nurse Ping and withdrew the blades at their hips.
Ah Gu gave a scream and scrambled back. She ran to Mrs. Chen, dropped to her knees, and grabbed the woman’s legs. “Madam, I can’t, I really can’t,” she cried.
Mrs. Chen was drenched in sweat to see the guards’ belligerent eyes. She slapped Ah Gu when she heard her pleading. “Scram.” She next turned her head and hurriedly retreated.
In Chen Rong’s courtyard.
A steward from the Chen House of Jiankang stepped out from behind. He clasped his hands towards Chen Rong and politely said, “M’lady, I have to regrettably inform you that the card you sent the other day was received by a new servant who did not know any better. We’ve expelled the ignorant bloke.”
While the steward pleasantly greeted her, a man standing in front of Chen Rong laughed: “Alright, alright, let’s not dwell so much on irrelevant matters. Ah Rong, go and pack up.” He cast the courtyard a glance and furrowed his brow. “This courtyard may be shabby but it has a few positive things. Leave some servants behind to take care of it.”
Chen Rong smiled, curtsied and softly said, “I dare not disobey my elder’s words.”
The man laughed to see her agree. “Very good. Ah Rong, the Chen House of Nan’yang will arrive in two days. I heard you have joined Chen Gongrang’s household, correct? Then why don’t you stay in the courtyard that is arranged for Chen Gongrang.”
“Aye,” Chen Rong respectfully replied with a curtsy. Although the man in front of her seemed amiable enough, he was a direct descendant of the Chen House from Yingchuan. For a man of his standing to deign himself to come and welcome a little girl like her into the estate, the clan’s attitude could not be clearer.
Her audience with the emperor was already in sight.
The servants had informed Chen Rong of these people’s arrival early on. Thus by the time the middle-aged man gave his order, the carriages at once began moving.
Chen Rong only took Nurse Ping and Old Shang along, leaving the rest behind to watch the house.
As the vehicles slowly drove out onto the street, those standing around would crane their necks looking from time to time.
Mrs. Chen had not left.
She retreated into a corner, unblinkingly staring at the carriages coming closer and closer. Not far behind her, a nobleman wondered, “Is that really the Chen House of Yingchuan? And the Huan estate? How strange, who is this aristocratic lady that she is taking shelter in the small courtyard behind us?”
Another nobleman’s voice sounded: “Aye this is very surprising. I never thought that the Chen House and the Huan House would appear in our small lane.”
A soft sigh followed his voice: “Had I known this woman’s identity was so extraordinary, I would’ve gone to pay a visit.” There were several guards standing around this man. Mrs. Chen only gave them a glance to duck her head. They were those who had interfered when she and her brothers came to make a scene.
The carriages were nearing.
Eventually, these noblemen stopped making noises. When the carriages passed by, they all bowed their heads and took a step back to show the kind of respect one might show to his superiors.
Only until the carriages pulled twenty paces away did these people look up again.
Mrs. Chen’s sluggish eyes made the slightest movement amid another round of chatter.
She slowly closed her mouth and, looking at the carriages that were gradually disappearing from the street, once more slapped herself on the cheek.
The maidservants and Ah Gu looked up at her. Mrs. Chen gave them a cutting glance that made them shrink back. She slapped herself again, stood in the dark corner and cursed as she enviously watched the carriages drive away: “Foolish woman, if you hadn’t been blind to all those gold and jade, right now you, too, would be sitting in that carriage and accepting the greetings of the noblemen.”
Even after giving herself two slaps, her eyes lit up: No, this girl really cares about her older brother. I just have to treat that useless man better and I’ll have a share of this fortune.
This thought put her back in a good mood. She waved her hands and hurried home. As she went, she did not forget to order: “Ah Gu, go back and kill the old hen to nourish your master. I’ve really been neglecting him these days.” Her jiggling face was radiating tenderness. At this time, her footsteps were light, and she felt an immense satisfaction and adoration for the husband who usually sickened her. They were the satisfaction and adoration that had only existed the first month of their marriage.
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