Chapter 7: Refugees 1
Chapter 7: Refugees (1)
After they had turned around, Old Shang muttered to her in displeasure: “That Wang missy was very rude. You were obviously well-intentioned.”
So saying, he turned to look at Ah Rong. The Chen Rong he saw was one with clear lucent eyes and no trace of chagrin.
After lunch, the company hit the road again.
By suppertime, the house of Wang still dined as sumptuously as before. It was as if they were not fleeing but taking an outing, rather.
The Wang girls’ excitement gradually dissipated with each passing day. Slowly, Chen Rong heard more and more grumbling.
This was also when Chen Rong found out Wang Qilang did not join them because he had gone to greet another scholar.
It was no longer hot, being early autumn. But as carriages and people moved along, dust would roll up and dirty the crew.
When this happened, the Wang family who had always paid attention to the upper-class’ propriety would bathe several times daily. For this reason, they could only cover twenty to thirty miles a day.
They continued this way for seven days when more and more refugees appeared on the road. These commoners were rushing south in droves. After using up all of their dry rations, they had automatically begun to follow the Wangs’ caravan, the reason being that there would be plenty of leftovers each time the Wangs finished their meals.
The house of Wang began to feel irritated when more and more people tailed them. These filthy refugees were covered in dirt and stench. As they followed behind, the wind would pick up their smell and send it drifting for miles, and it is unbearable. Nonetheless, they didn’t dare to do anything detrimental to their good names, such as driving the refugees away. All they could do was to reduce their bathing time and increase their speed.
None of this had anything to do with Chen Rong.
She was the only master to be served in the Chen house. At mealtimes, she also ate one simple dish. After she finished, she did not sleep in a large tent like the Wangs did, but stayed in her horse carriage.
Recently, she mostly sat inside for an hour or so before changing to horseback riding or simply walking.
Because Chen Rong was proficient in martial arts and had good physique, she could follow the team for miles without pausing for a breather.
“Let’s stop to eat.” Amid the clopping hooves, a rider called out loudly while riding toward the back of the team.
Chen Rong gazed to the bright red sun in the west and then dismounted her horse.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
At this time, everyone was busy at work again, either securing tents or bringing out food.
Upon seeing Chen Rong approach, Nurse Ping lowered her voice as she carried food into the carriage: “Miss, it’s as you said.” At the same time, she cast a glance at the Wang house three hundred paces away.
The sun was now setting in the west, casting a golden light on the still-verdant poplar trees. At present, thick damask mats were spread under the poplar trees, on which stood tables, and behind these tables were family members of the Wang clan in rich, vibrant clothing and footwear. They were all handsome, and in the sunlight, appeared to be fairies from above.
However, these refined ladies and gentlemen were now frowning. Their faces displayed loathing mixed with frustration. They stared at the food in front of them, but none could bring himself to raise his chopsticks.
That was because there were, at least, hundreds of refugees about three or four hundred paces behind them. These refugees towed their wives and children along, all dressed in rags, their eyes glazed over as they looked to the Wang clan. Some children were staring in a trance at the food and wine on the tables, saliva drooling from their dirty mouths.
Receiving such stares, the Wangs were made to feel as uncomfortable as though they had swallowed a fly. A middle-aged man leaned toward Wang Zhuo and whispered, “My lord, what do you think?”
Wang Zhuo shook his head, placed a piece of dog meat into his mouth and whispered back: “Ignore them.”
This translation belongs to hamster428.
He had great tolerance, but the younger ones were not as good. A girl about fifteen or sixteen picked up her chopsticks, bitterly picked at the rice in her bowl and said in disgust: “Honestly father, how can you not get rid of these peasants?”
Next to her, a young lad replied: “It’s easy enough to get rid of them, but if the literati in the south found out we mistreated the commoners, it would inevitably lead to idle remarks.”
“Isn’t it strange?!” another lad began. “These peasants normally respect us as if we were gods, wishing to prostrate and kiss our toes, even. Why are they so audacious now?”
This question apparently stumped the youths who had been living inside a dream and who did not know what the word ‘hunger’ meant. While everyone was busy mulling over this, a girl yelled out: “Hey, this is as Ah Rong of the Chen house has said! Someone call her here. Let’s ask her what’s going on.”
The girl’s voice had just faded by the time another slightly sharp and equally anxious voice gave sound: “Certainly not. I’m sure Chen Rong was only making things up.”
This young lady had a pointy chin and a long, thin face. She was pale and pretty, the very one who had laughed at Chen Rong for being a worrywart that day. Seeing the way she looked, everyone knew she didn’t want to lose face. In the midst of their laughter, a round-faced girl spoke: “Are you afraid Chen Rong will gibe at you, Seventh Sister?”
The pretty girl with the pointy chin was about to refute but then decided to close her mouth.
Nevertheless, though these people laughed at her, in the end, they did not mention Chen Rong again.
Inside the horse carriage, Chen Rong placed her chopsticks down after she had had enough to eat and told Nurse Ping: “Tell everyone to sleep in our carriages for the next few days. Don’t wander around unless it’s necessary.”
Nurse Ping looked at Chen Rong in puzzlement. At long last, she replied with an “Aye.” Her lady kept changing day by day ever since she had those nightmares. Before she even knew it, the nurse had developed a kind of trust in her.
Nurse Ping cleared away the dishes and stepped down from the carriage. The moment she stepped away, she heard her lady’s murmuring: “I had also once admired them, but they turned out to be mere dolls carved from wood and clay.” Great disappointment was detected in her voice.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
The night wore on.
Tonight, a bright moon hung in the sky, sprinkling silver beams across the ground. On such a moonlit night, even the deathly exhausted youngsters of the Wang house reveled in the poetic atmosphere.
Chen Rong slowly neared the Wang crowd who was, at present, praising the wind and admiring the moon.
Under the moonlight, there was something indescribably beautiful about her willowy figure and her clear watery eyes. Unconsciously, several Wang lads turned around to look at her.
Wang Wulang lead the reception by saying: “Ah Rong, we have a moonlit sky tonight. With an illumination that shines for miles, we are trying our hand at composing poetry. Won’t you come join us, as well?”
At Wang Wulang’s words, a girl began chortling. “Fifth brother, are you asking Chen Rong to wax poetic? You might as well ask for her life.”
As soon as she said these words, amusement arose all around.
Watching Chen Rong’s loveliness under the moonlight, a young lad could not help but remark: “Ah Rong is indeed a very beautiful lady. Surely, you are as accomplished in poetry as you are beautiful.”
The same girl laughed again. “Everyone in the City of Ping knows Ah Rong of the Chen house likes whips and horses; she does not like poetry and verses.”
Using whips and riding horses were interests of northern nomads. People from the Central Plains scorned northern nomads with a bone-deep contempt. The girl’s laughter had contained obvious derision.
Chen Rong turned to look at the girl. She instantly recognized her as the one who had laughed at her the other day for being a worrywart.
Chen Rong lightly smiled. She curtsied to the general crowd and gracefully replied, “I beg your pardon, but I’m afraid anything I might say would only offend the moon.” And then she took leave.
Her words were remarkably classy, and she had the crowd in a daze. It took a good long while before delight rang out. While listening to their laughter, Chen Rong’s mouth upturned and revealed a slight sneer. She had originally come for she had seen the refugees acting strangely, their eyes looking unkind. She had wanted to remind everyone else. Now, she did not want to tell them. The team had more than enough guards, in any case. Even if the refugees were to come on strong, they would not be able to damage the cavalcade’s overall might. She’d just let them teach certain people on her behalf, then.