Chapter 33: A Phoenix’s Love Song 2
Chapter 33: A Phoenix’s Love Song (2)
While the two of them were standing there whispering, nearby, Wang Hong was as still as water. He strode to the front, and in a flash, had come ten paces in front of Chen Rong.
As if their hearts were linked, Chen Rong looked up upon his arrival.
Her face flushed at first, head bowed in fluster. But before long, she quickly looked up again.
She opened her eyes wide to look bravely at Wang Hong – her eyes becoming increasingly bright. For perhaps she was too discomposed, her hand trembled and plucked a few wrong notes in a row.
The crowd erupted in laughter.
These voices seemed to have no impact on Chen Rong. She merely kept her gaze on Wang Hong and then, slowly, she looked down again. The moment she lowered her head, a flush of red dyed her jade-like neck.
“Oh, could this young lady be playing the ‘Phoenix’s Love Song’ for Qilang?”
This line broke the calm, sparking a wave among the crowd. Wang Wulang, who stood next to Wang Hong, was also watching Chen Rong with a sharp gaze. He was moving toward her at the time he heard these word. He knitted his brow and involuntarily stopped.
As if to answer the man’s question, Chen Rong lowered her gaze and slowly rose, then she curtsied to Wang Hong from behind her table. Afterward, she bowed her head and let her dark, willowy hair cascade down her white collar. She trembled in the autumn breeze as she fearfully said, “I was very happy when I heard that Qilang is here.”
Pausing, she took a deep breath before shakily raising her voice again: “I hazard to ask the gentleman: does my rendition of the ‘Phoenix’s Love Song’ please you, sir?”
Her words were followed by a stretch of silence.
Wang Hong was dumbfounded.
Wang Wulang was dumbfounded.
The Prince of Nan’yang, too, was dumbfounded.
Chen Yuan, Chen Wei, and everyone else were all dumbfounded.
In this silence, Chen Rong shook so much that she could hardly speak. “The song is vulgar and so am I. But in consideration of my sincerity, I hope you’ll give it a listen.”
When she finished, she sat down again.
Carrying a wandering sorrow, the music floated in the air again.
A terrible silence still enveloped the crowd.
The host of eyes watched Chen Rong for a long while and then relocated to Wang Hong.
At length, a strange voice spoke up: “Qilang, this lass is quite a looker. Since she harbors such feelings, why don’t you just take her in as a concubine? Make tonight the wedding night and fulfill her love.”
Upon the arrival of this voice, as if frightened, Chen Rong’s fingers trembled and issued a series of sharp broken notes.
With everyone’s eyes on her, her face blanched white and she bit her lips to articulate: “No one, since the days of yore, plays the ‘Phoenix’s Love Song’ to become a concubine.”
Silence returned at her words.
This silence lasted but a moment. It was uncertain who took the lead, but a burst of laughter roared from all sides, rising louder and louder.
Facing this laughter, Chen Rong’s face was as white as a sheet. She dropped her gaze and curtsied, then picked up her zither and receded in fright. Her song hadn’t concluded.
Seeing her recede, the jesting noises increasingly blared. Soon, the entire courtyard were filled with laughter from the young nobles.
As the amusement grew, suddenly, the music just moments ago now resumed from the green path outside.
Ah Rong of the Chen house was actually continuing her song.
Chen Wei and the others were amused. A young lad excitedly cried out: “Let’s go, let’s go. Let’s look at the young lady who dares to confess to Lang’ya Wang Qi.”
The others at once took up his suggestion. They followed the music and left the courtyard.
By the time everyone stepped out of the yard, the ‘Phoenix’s Love Song’ finally entered its conclusion. After Chen Rong had finished playing the last few notes, she bowed her head and held the zither to stand up. Faintly smiling under the moonlight and letting her fringe cover her forehead, her hoarse voice breathed an enchanting ring in the night sky: “One ‘Phoenix’s Love Song’ that speaks of infinite loneliness and sorrows – Sima Xiang’ru did not know he’d be able to marry Zhuo Wenjun when he played this rhapsody that year. His song was but a cocoon for his feelings. If the person he wished to hear it did not hear it, then his heart would be shrouded in its silk-spun case. I, too, am like him. I do not ask that my feelings be returned. I do not ask for an outcome. My wish was merely to let you know.”
Upon the deliverance of her profession, Chen Rong held her zither and again bowed toward Wang Qilang, then turned her head and unhesitatingly turned to leave.
At this time, an autumn wind passed by, fluttering her hip-length hair and gown, making it seem as if her figure was gradually fading into the night.
“My, isn’t Chen Rong shameless to actually dare say such things?” the 7th lady of the Wang house snickered on the sideline.
A few girls laughed along with her.
“Silence!” Wang Hong frowningly shouted at this juncture, startling everyone.
In this muteness, Wang Hong raised his head to stare after Chen Rong’s retreating figure, slowly saying: “Nobody is to ridicule her for this matter hereupon.”
He then flapped his sleeves and walked away.
Only until he disappeared behind the arched doorway with his servants did the scholars snap awake. Chen Yuan watched Wang Hong’s retreating figure in the distance, stunned. After a long time, he startlingly turned around to look at the Prince of Nan’yang.
There was a gloomy irritation on the prince’s plump face. Seeing Chen Yuan looking in his direction, he glared and shouted: “Let’s go!”
“Aye, my lord.”
The aide escorted his master to where the carriage was parked, and when he saw Chen Yuan chasing out, gave a wink.
Chen Yuan halted.
He was discovering that in just a short while, the full hall of guests had dwindled to half. Those who remained were small groups of youngsters prattling about what had just transpired.
Chen Shu came to stand behind Chen Yuan, sighingly saying: “What did I say? This lass is very headstrong and prickly, but you wouldn’t listen. Well, it’s great now. The Prince of Nan’yang got thwarted just as he became interested in her. Aren’t you just setting yourself up to irritate him?”
The Prince of Nanyang’s status was such that even if he wanted Chen Rong, he could no longer take her in. He could not make her his concubine knowing she harbored admiration for Qilang, even if all it was, was admiration. If he took in such a woman, how would he be able to face the public’s scrutiny?
At this thought, Chen Yuan gritted his teeth bitterly and growled: “I won’t let her get her way! Hmph, as soon as this matter dies down, I will send her to the Prince of Nan’yang!”