Chapter 9: Drought (1)
Before Old Shang could answer the man, Chen Rong sat up and said with an alert voice: “I’m still awake.”
“Excellent, excellent,” the other voice said heartily.
Chen Rong’s carriage began moving and soon arrived at the forefront of the cavalcade. At this time, Chen Rong, having tidied her robe and hair, proceeded to lift the curtain.
Carriages of the Wang house lined the road. When they saw Chen Rong’s approaching carriage, all simultaneously looked in her direction.
Chen Rong met their gazes with her lucent one.
Wherever her eyes went, a good number of people turned sideways to avoid her gaze. The girl who mocked her was nowhere to be seen.
Chen Rong’s carriage drove up beside Wang Zhuo’s.
His laughter rang out from the side even before she got near. “Is that Ah Rong? Come closer, have a talk with your uncle.”
He sounded very kind.
“Aye,” Chen Rong replied with a bow.
Wang Zhuo had long lifted his curtain. He was sitting in his carriage to regard Chen Rong with a pair of penetrating eyes, sighing when Chen Rong looked in his direction. “Ah Rong, how I regret I didn’t heed your warning that day.”
His face scrunched up at the memory.
He truly regretted it. Last night’s incident would forever be a taint on their clan’s good name! Be it the fact that they had slain refugees or that they had conceded to leave food in exchange for stolen goods, either incident would make them face the clan’s reprehension. His political future hereafter would be bleak – if he couldn’t even handle a small group of refugees properly, how could he be counted upon to govern the people on behalf of the state?
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Looking at Chen Rong, he ceremoniously said, “I’ve invited you over for I want to personally make an apology. Ah Rong, I pride myself in being wise, but I am far inferior to you who are a woman.”
He was sincere in saying this.
Nevertheless, Chen Rong knew that if Wang Zhuo did not want to carry a foolish, conceited, and unrepentant reputation, whether he was willing to or not, he hadn’t any choice but to apologize to her.
At the moment Wang Zhuo bowed to her, Chen Rong quickly leaned sideways to avoid his gesture. She bowed her head and respectfully said, “Sir, why do you say this? Leading a clan to migrate south is a major undertaking. Even the sages would overlook a thing or two!”
Though her consolation was not very moving, it was nonetheless pleasant to hear. Wang Zhuo’s face immediately grew even more affable. He sighed twice and said to Chen Rong: “Ah Rong, whatever may come our way henceforth, you only need to tell me frankly. Do let me know any concerns you have.”
He sighed again.
Chen Rong glanced at a sullen Wang Zhuo, bowed and said, “I’ll take my leave of you, then.”
After such calamity, the Wang house finally understood simplicity. For lunch that day, each member of the family was only presented with four to five dishes.
Chen Rong had also been officially invited to the group, sharing meals and journeying with them.
The team had presently traveled for twenty days and had gone five hundred miles from the City of Ping. Their journey was half-way through.
Today, a small voice sounded outside: “Fifth brother, the fields on both sides are dry.”
Wang Wulang had not answered by the time he heard a swoosh. The curtain was lifted, giving way for Chen Rong to poke her head out.
The Wang youngsters all turned to look at her. Although they had only spent a few days together, they’d found that Chen Rong, despite her young age, could be very calm in the face of crises. This was the first time they saw her so flustered.
Chen Rong ignored their curious eyes and only frowningly stared at the fields on both sides of the road. After a long pause, she told her retainer: “Old Shang, bring me to see Sir Wang.”
This translation belongs to hamster428.
The carriage drove on.
Under the youngsters’ eyes, Chen Rong’s carriage soon pulled up next to Wang Zhuo’s carriage.
From inside, Chen Rong bowed toward Wang Zhuo and said to him, “Sir Wang, look at these dry fields. Perhaps there is a drought here.”
She had barely finished speaking when three ripples of laughter rang out behind her. A faint, small voice spoke: “My father was just being somewhat polite to her last time, now she thinks she’s actually special.”
The voice had belonged to the 7th daughter of the Wang house – Han’yun – the one who had mocked her.
Since that day, Chen Rong had always been respectful whenever she saw Wang Zhuo. She had not suggested anything again until now.
Wang Zhuo frowningly raised his head, looking to the fields on both sides of the road. There was no water in these fields, but he vaguely remembered that on the way here, the fields in need of harvesting were also dry.
At this thought, Wang Zhuo nodded to Chen Rong. “Thank you for reminding me, Ah Rong.” There was a slight impatience in his expression.
Seeing this, Chen Rong faintly smiled and again bowed to Wang Zhuo, then pulled away.
As soon as her carriage left Wang Zhuo’s, Han’yun, the 7th daughter of the Wang house, stared and called after Chen Rong: “Ah Rong of the Chen house, don’t tell me you want to show off again with one of your silly ideas?”
Chen Rong smiled. She didn’t need to look back to know that Wang Zhuo was still observing her. “If you don’t believe me,” she raised her voice slightly and replied in seriousness, “why don’t you ask the nearby villagers? Or ask the refugees ahead, and then we will know whether my words are true or not.”
Wang Han’yun snorted. She turned a disdainful eye and scoffed, “I can’t bother to ask those peasants.”
When she was done rolling her eyes and saw that Chen Rong’s carriage was driving to the back, she yelled out: “Hey, you’re not going to ask them, are you?” She paused to snigger. “Ah Rong, listen to me, you are only a woman. Why try to mind everything? Don’t tell me you want to be recognized for your wisdom and become a court official?” She burst out laughing as soon as she finished her words.
Chen Rong paid her no attention.
She just drove her carriage on and came back to the middle of the queue. After she returned to the Chen group, Chen Rong very soberly announced, “From now on, if you see water, be sure to remember to stop. We can’t leave until all the barrels are filled up with water. Additionally, no one is allowed to wash any longer. Unless you are extremely thirsty, do not use the water in the barrels!”
The moment these words were conveyed, the crowd looked at one another in confusion. At length, they replied with an “Aye.”
Chen Rong went back inside the carriage. She stared at the gloomy sky ahead for a while, poked her head out and added, “Nurse Ping, tell people to wet all the fabric we have and load them back onto the carriage.”
This time, people were more surprised. They hesitated for a long while before they acquiesced at Chen Rong’s cough. Looking at the drawn-down curtain, Nurse Ping turned to Old Shang and whispered, “What’s going on with our lady? Why is she making such a fuss?”
Old Shang shook his head. He looked to the people standing around and softly said, “The lady is acting very strange this time. All of you, just quietly do as she says and remember not to tell anyone.”
“Aye, aye. Exactly so.”
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