Chapter 4: Old Shen Furen
In the early autumn, the geese from the North line up as it flew across the skies 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 embroidered, 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 must be careful not to catch a cold.”
Shen Miao shook her head.
Her stature was still small and 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 somewhat peculiar in her heart.
The young female’s complexion was fair and seeing that she was small and petite, without even a smile on her face, did not look cold or foolish but was somewhat indifferent and one could feel some sense of missing as she looked into the skies. She was standing like before but was somewhat dignified, like she had gain a unique air overnight and there was a sense of grace in the atmosphere.
Shuang Jiang shook her head as if it 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 looking at the sky in a trance.
“Was just thinking if these wild geese that flew from the North to the South, will 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 was at. Last month when they wrote back, the capital just got colder but all kinds of grace were withered and broken and a little snow were forming.
“Young Lady is missing Master and Furen.” Shuang Jiang smiled, “When till the end of the year Master will return and see that Young Lady had grown taller again, he would be so happy.”
Shen Miao smiled as she felt somewhat bitter at the edges of her lips.
The Great General can only return once a year and upon his return, the first thing he face was that his own daughter did not know shame and made a joke by rushing to be a wife herself and force marriage upon others. How happy could he be?
Not to mention the one that she was obsessed to marry 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 and the Shen family was not willing to interfere but unfortunately was dragged into it by her blinded love and ended up with an ending of destruction of the entire clan.
Shen Miao closed her eyes.
It was just a short time of half a year but it was enough for so many things to happen. Since she reached a marriageable age, her marriage had become a matter that the East courtyard to use against as leverage. It seemingly started from this year that the East courtyard removed the disguise of the evil beast and forced her to a dead end step by step, unable to return.
“Young Lady, Young Lady?” Bai Lu saw that little mistress’s expression was different as she clutched the cape so tightly that her fingers turn white, so she softly called out.
Shen Miao recovered to her senses and saw Gu Yun jogging over, “Young Lady, Rong Jing Tang there have 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 and when she saw that Shen Miao was unhindered, she say to go over to Old Furen’s to perform greeting when her health is better. Was it in face a greeting or to condemn with more people at her side, who weren’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 courtyard 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 over the Old General’s mantle, thus that empty yard together with the West courtyard was given to Shen Xin. The East courtyard was spacious and the Second and Third Housed hold stayed there with Old Shen Furen.
In actual fact, the location of the West courtyard as compared to the East courtyard was much futher and the sun was not very adequate, only less than what the East courtyard would have and thus was not a place worthy of praise. Only Shen Xin was glad about it, as if getting that piece of empty space was like he had gotten a heaven worthy of advantage. Shen Xin and Shen Furen came from military lineage and their way of looking at things was also simple, white walls and black tiles and the surroundings were extremely simple. That could not compare to the delicate and graceful restored East courtyard.
That is why Shen Miao felt very dissatisfied with her family West courtyard and envious of the elegance and adorableness of the East courtyard and because of it was also complaining about Shen Xin in her heart. Now looking at it, she finds her ignorance ridiculous.
Their own courtyard, even though it was plain, it was not lacking of anything. It displayed the wideness and open mindedness so how could it compare to the monsters and demons in the East courtyard. It was just 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 reach the main doors of Rong Jing Tang.
Most likely it was to highlight the ambience of a literary background, Rong Jing Tang’s layout was especially elegant. There was a bamboo plaque hung on the door and 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 foot into Rong Jing Tang.
Rong Jing Tang was a picture of 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 was seated below Old Furen. Shen Qing was holding a plate of snacks and sat beside Old Furen 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 snacks to put into Old Furen’s mouth, making Old Furen laugh until she bend back.
It seemed that no one noticed Shen Miao appearance until Shen Yue smiled and said, “Why is Fifth Younger Sister only here now? Seventh Younger Brother have almost finished sweet steam milk pastries.”
Shen Miao nodded her head, “Most likely my body have yet to fully recover. Was late because I felt dizzy after taking a couple of steps and took a rest by the road for a while.”
The people at Rong Jing Tang were silent.
Shen Yue wanted to say that she purposely came late, so she was not afraid to point out that Old Shen Furen took advantage of her being old and did not care about her granddaughter’s health and insisted 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 for two times in these past few days but 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 some haughty expression on. She was obviously seventy years of age but she still wore a peach red collared top button on top of a tight and thin skirt. There was a green jade neckless on her neck as she carried an embroidered pouch. Her silver head of hair was styled into a cloud-like bun, 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 made her fascinated but now she found that it was 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 but unfortunately died during her 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 request earnestly to serve as a concubine, she gave birth to Shen Gui and Shen Wan for the Old General and her status was thus elevated.
A songstress that broke clear of all hardships and became Shen Furen and afterwards became Old Shen Furen. Reputation and status had change 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 force her to marry the crippled Prince Yu Zhou in order to pave the way for Shen Qing.
She looked at the female 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 on bright rouge on her lips.
As expected… It was not dignified at all. Shen Miao used insight of Empress from her previous lifetime and indifferently evaluated in her heart before humbly said, “Have taken the medication and is much better. Thanking Zu Mu’s concern.”
In the next second, one could hear Old Shen Furen loudly shouted, “Unfilial granddaughter, get down on your kneels!”