Edited by Kiskaiya
Updated on 8 Aug 2019
Chapter 4: Old Shen Furen
In the early autumn, the geese from the North lined up as they flew across the sky towards the warmer South. The lush summer foliage in the courtyard had begun to wither in autumn and the coloured fishes in the pond looked much calmer than usual.
The young female’s ink black hair was combed into a deer bun and secured by a delicate coral hairpin as she wore a dark red outfit with clouds and geese embroidery, bringing out her slim and exquisite body.
Bai Lu draped the embroidered cloak gently over Shen Miao’s body and said, “Young Lady’s health has yet to recover and one must be careful not to catch a cold.”
Shen Miao shook her head.
Her stature was still small and she was not as tall as Shen Yue and Shen Qing. Her face was also rounded and, combined with her usual cowardly characteristics, she seemed to be a few years younger than her actual age, just reaching eleven or twelve years old.
But today she was somewhat different.
Shuang Jiang watched by the side and felt slightly peculiar in her heart.
The young female’s complexion was fair and she was small and petite, without even a smile on her face. She did not look cold or foolish but was somewhat indifferent and one could feel some sense of yearning as she gazed into the skies. She was standing like before but gave off a slightly dignified feeling, like she had gained a unique air overnight and there was a sense of grace in the atmosphere.
Shuang Jiang shook her head as if she could wipe the absurd thought from her mind. She smiled and looked towards Shen Miao, “What is Young Lady looking at?”
After having her breakfast, Shen Miao stood at the courtyard staring at the sky in a trance.
“Was just wondering if these wild geese that fly from the North to the South would pass by the Northwest Desert.” Shen Miao softly said.
The Northwest Desert was the region where Shen Xin was guarding and also where Shen Furen and Eldest Shen Young Master were at. Last month when they wrote back, the capital had just turned colder but already all kinds of trees were withered and a little snow was forming.
“Young Lady is missing Master and Furen.” Shuang Jiang smiled, “Master will return at the end of the year and will be so happy to see that Young Lady has grown taller again.”
Shen Miao smiled with a trace of bitterness at the corners of her lips.
The Great General could only return once a year and upon his return, the first thing he faced was that his own daughter did not know shame and was made a joke by rushing to be a wife herself and forcing a marriage upon others. How happy could he be?
Not to mention the one that she was obsessed with was a vile person who only wanted to use the Shen family army to fight for the throne. The fight for the throne was a messy affair that the Shen family was not willing to interfere in but unfortunately they were dragged into it by her blind love which lead to the destruction of the entire clan.
Shen Miao closed her eyes.
It was just a short time of half a year, but it was long enough for so many things to happen. Once she reached marriageable age, her marriage had become a matter that the East courtyard could use against her as leverage. It seemingly started from this year that the East courtyard removed the disguise to show the evil beast beneath and forced her step by step to a dead end, until she was unable to return.
“Young Lady, Young Lady?” Bai Lu saw that little mistress’s expression was not right as she clutched the cape so tightly that her fingers had turned white, so she softly called out.
Shen Miao recovered to her senses and saw Gu Yu jogging over, “Young Lady, Rong Jing Tang has come over to hasten.”
Rong Jing Tang was where Old Shen Furen stayed. Early in the morning, a maid by Old Furen’s side came over to see Shen Miao. When she saw that Shen Miao was unhindered, she said to go over to Old Furen’s to perform her greetings when her health was better. Was it in fact a greeting, or was it to condemn Shen Miao with more people at her side, who wasn’t aware of it?
Shen Miao lightly smiled and tightened her cloak before saying, “Let’s go.”
In the Shen residence, the East and West courtyards were entirely different.
When Old General Shen was still alive, he would often practice his swordplay and boxing in an empty yard in the West courtyard. After Old General Shen died, Shen Gui and Shen Wan took the route of literary officials and only Shen Xin took up the Old General’s mantle, thus the empty yard together with the West courtyard was given to Shen Xin. The East courtyard was spacious and the Second and Third Households stayed there with Old Shen Furen.
In actual fact, the location of the West courtyard as compared to the East courtyard was much further away and the sun was not very adequate, only half of what the East courtyard would have, and thus was not a place worthy of praise. Only Shen Xin was happy about it, as if getting that piece of empty land was like getting a heaven worthy of advantage. Considering that Shen Xin and Shen Furen came from military lineage, their way of looking at things was uncomplicated. So the white walls, black tiles and surroundings were extremely simple, which could not compare to the delicate and graceful restored East courtyard.
That is why Shen Miao felt very dissatisfied with her family’s West courtyard and was envious of the elegance and adorableness of the East courtyard and because of it, she complained about Shen Xin in her heart. Now looking at it, she found her ignorance ridiculous.
Their own courtyard, though plain, was not lacking in anything. It displayed tolerance and open-mindedness, so how could it compare to the monsters and demons in the East courtyard. That courtyard was adorned with gold and jade on the outside but foul in the inside.
After walking through the long corridor and passing the exquisitely trimmed garden, they then reached the main doors of Rong Jing Tang.
Most likely it was to highlight the ambience of a literary background, but Rong Jing Tang’s layout was especially elegant. There was a bamboo plaque hung on the door and the bronze crane carvings on the handles were very detailed and lively.
“Fifth Young Lady is here,” Xi-er who was beside Old Shen Furen called out.
Shen Miao took a step into Rong Jing Tang.
Rong Jing Tang was the picture of a joyous and harmonious scene and almost everyone was in attendance. The Second Furen of the Shen family, Ren Wan Yun, and the Third Furen of the Shen family, Chen Ruo Qiu were seated below Old Furen. Shen Qing sat beside Old Furen, holding a plate of snacks and seated the other side was the little brother from the Second Household of the Shen family, Shen Yuan Bo. Shen Yuan Bo was only five years old and was casually grabbing any snack to put into Old Furen’s mouth, making Old Furen laugh until she bent backwards.
It seemed that no one noticed Shen Miao’s appearance until Shen Yue smiled and said, “Why is Fifth Younger Sister only here now? Seventh Younger Brother has almost finished the sweet steam milk pastries.”
Shen Miao nodded her head, “Most likely my body has yet to fully recover. I was late because I felt dizzy after taking a couple of steps and rested by the pathway for a moment.”
The people of Rong Jing Tang were silent.
Shen Yue wanted to say that she purposely came late, so Shen Miao was not afraid to point out that Old Shen Furen took advantage of her old age and did not care about her granddaughter’s health, insisting on her coming over for her greetings.
After a while, Ren Wan Yun smiled, “I see that Little Five’s (nickname for Shen Miao since she is the 5th in rank among the granddaughters) body is really weak. The physician has been invited twice in these past few days so it is fortunate that it is no longer a problem now.”
“Is your health better?” A hoarse voice sounded with a trace of impatience that was not easy to detect.
Shen Miao looked up towards Old Shen Furen.
Old Shen Furen had already tucked away the smile on her face and had a haughty expression on. She was obviously seventy years of age but she still wore a peach red, collared button top over a tight and thin skirt. There was a green jade necklace on her neck and she carried an embroidered pouch, while her silver hair was styled into a cloud-like bun that was dotted with some jade beads.
She was a female who was very particular about appearances. In her last lifetime, during Shen Miao’s time in the women’s chambers, she always felt that Old Shen Furen was the most noble of women, the type that was still elegant even in her later years. That air of elegance fascinated her once, but now she found that it somewhat ridiculous.
Old General Shen’s YuanPei, Shen Xin’s mother, was from a prestigious household and was a genuine lady from a noble house who unfortunately died at middle age. Afterwards, Old General Shen saved a songstress from a local ruffian when his army marched through some place. Seeing that the songstress had nowhere to go and was earnestly requesting to serve as a concubine, he brought her back. She then gave birth to Shen Gui and Shen Wan for the Old General, elevating her status.
A songstress that broke clear of all hardships, becoming Shen Furen and, afterwards, Old Shen Furen. Her reputation and status had changed, but in her bones, she was still a person with vile features that came from the streets. That did not change at all. Shen Miao still remembered that in her previous lifetime, Old Shen Furen tried to force her to marry the crippled Prince Yu Zhou in order to pave the way for Shen Qing.
She looked at the woman in front of her. Old Shen Furen was very pretty when she was young, her face was sharp and her eyes were large and vivid, but when she became old, her face was like a dry and dull triangle drumhead with two abruptly protruding eyes. But she was not resigned to fate and purposely put bright rouge on her lips.
As expected… It was not dignified at all. Shen Miao used her insight from her time as Empress and indifferently evaluated in her heart before she humbly said, “One has taken the medication and am much better. Thanking ZuMu’s concern.”
In the next second, one could hear Old Shen Furen loudly shout, “Unfilial granddaughter, get down on your knees!”