Side Story 3: Illicit Dealings – Qiu Ning Couple (Part 1)
Feng An Ning always felt that she feared Shen Qiu.
It was very strange. She was the Young Lady of the Feng residence and was used to being proud and picky as Master Feng and Feng Furen doted on her and all the brothers and sisters at home would give in to her, letting her develop a prideful and arrogant character.
However there were two exceptions.
The first one was Shen Miao. Feng An Ning did not know how did she started playing with Shen Miao. Shen Miao had the reputation of being stupid and rude but unknowingly she no longer take ridiculous actions like she did before. As they were all taking lessons in Guang Wen Tang and Shen Miao was sitting at the same desk as her, Feng An Ning gradually noticed that Shen Miao was considered somewhat intelligent.
When one was young, one would often admire who are unfathomable and due to Shen Miao, who was previously boorish but now became dignified, the difference became much more obvious.
Feng An Ning could not help but want to play with Shen Miao. She considered the rest of the official’s daughters in Guang Wen Tang to be beneath her notice but thought extremely highly of Shen Miao. Shen Miao did not flatter or flaws on her and treated her like she was not essential. Feng An Ning instead felt that Shen Miao was more real than those other Young Ladies that would speak beautiful things to her and followed her.
Feng An Ning also felt there was something wrong with herself.
Not mentioning Shen Miao, the second one who would not give in to her was Shen Qiu.
To put it bluntly, no matter if it was in the eyes of elders or the younger generations, Shen Qiu’s reputation was excellent. Even with a infamous Younger Sister, it did not affect his good name at all.
Previously Feng An Ning had seen Shen Qiu once or twice before. She only felt that he was a handsome youth that was as bright as the sun and looked easy to talk with.
However when she gradually became familiar with Shen Miao and even was in close proximity with Shen Qiu a few times, she felt inexplicably fearful of Shen Qiu.
First it was because Shen Qiu did not treat her with extreme courtesy, like the other noble gentlemen. Perhaps it was because Shen Qiu had a military background and did not have a detailed enough personality. But the second point was that he treated Feng An Ning like a passer-by and did not seemed to attach any importance that Feng An Ning was Shen Miao’s good friend.
This was considered unbearable for the always prideful Feng An Ning.
However every time she wanted to lose her temple, she would see Shen Qiu’s sharp eyes when he scold his subordinates and strangely retreated.
Feng An Ning could not understand herself. If it was said that Xie Jing Xing of the residence of the Marquis of Lin An was Ding capital’s male overload, she at least could hold the title of the female overload. She did not put anything in her eyes so how could she be helpless towards this pair of siblings?
The Eldest Brother of the Feng family scolded her being meek and civil in public but a tyrant at home.
Feng An Ning sulked and would say that she would hold her head high at the next when when she saw Shen Qiu but when it really came, she would lower her neck and eyes and walked pass.
Even Shen Miao’s Older Biao Sister, Luo Tan, had also felt it, “Why is it that when An Ning comes to the Shen mansion, she would be quieter than usual?”
Shen Miao would smile, “It would be better to say that she is quieter when seeing my Eldest Brother.”
Feng An Ning’s ashamed turned into anger, “What nonsense are you saying? I am quiet when I want to be quiet. Do I need to have another’s agreement?”
Luo Tan shouted out towards the direction behind Feng An Ning, “Older Brother Qiu, why do you come so suddenly?”
Feng An Ning’s body suddenly became stiff and she wanted to run away when she saw Luo Tan pointing her overjoyed, “Youngest Biao Sister is right. Could it be that the Eldest Young Lady of the Feng family feared Older Brother Qiu the most?”
Feng An Ning got up in anger and vowed never to speak to Luo Tan again.
Contary to Feng An Ning’s expectation, the events happened latter was unexpected. She went out with Shen Miao and because of her negligence, it was Shen Miao who fell into the hands of deceitful people. Feng An Ning placed the blame on herself but Shen Qiu’s attitude made her heart alarmed and tremble in fear.
Shen Qiu questioned her unrelentingly.
Feng An Ning was very upset about Shen Miao’s disappearance and she did not know who told her Older Brothers about how Shen Qiu had scolded her. The few Older Brothers said, “That Eldest Brother of the Shen family is just too much. The matter has come to such a point, the most important thing is to search for the Young Lady of the Shen family. Why be so calculative with a young female like you? You are already feeling so remoseful, why add hail to snow?”
“It is not that.” Feng An Ning covered her face, “He is right. This is my fault.”
She was worried about Shen Miao and also felt some hate to herself. She hated herself so Shen Qiu would also hate her.
Fortunately Shen Miao returned alive and nothing had happened to her. However Feng An Ning no longer dared to set foot in Shen residence. It was not because of anything but that she felt ashamed. If it was not because of her, Shen Miao would not have to suffer such hardships. Even though the ending was good but the journey was undesirable.
She actually really wanted to go to the Shen mansion to visit Shen Miao and bicker with Luo Tan or just take a look at Shen Qiu but she could only restrain herself. Even though Luo Tan send her an invitation, Feng An Ning rejected it.
She had a proud character and others would view it as being not sensible but it was begin unbending. She would not bend her head down and could not act as though nothing had happened, thus she punished herself like this.
Who knew that such a big mishap appeared with Shen Miao’s marriage?
When Feng An Ning head her Father and Older Brother talking abt matters of court, she came to know that the Shen family was attacked on all sides. To the Shen family, it was not a good thing for whoever marrying Shen Miao, much less to Shen Miao. Shen Miao marriage had become sacrificial, what could she do?
Feng An Ning thought about her Eldest Brother.
Feng Zi Xian had a mild temperament and the most important was that Feng An Ning understood her Eldest Brother that he was definitely an upright gentleman. Compared to marrying the Crown Prince, it was a much better choice. Thus she convinced her Eldest Brother to go to the Shen residence to propose marriage.
Feng Zi Xian was initially stunned but he had listened to the many things that Feng An Ning had spoken about Shen Miao. He felt that even though Feng An Ning was arrogant, she did not have a suspicious mind, thus for a person to be thought as good by Feng An Ning would at least not be a sinister character.
Feng Zi Xian had promised Feng An Ning to go to the Shen residence to take a long but at the end was rejected by Shen Miao.
Despite that, Feng An Ning’s and the Shen mansion’s relation was somewhat eased due to this matter. On her way back to her residence, she had encountered Shen Qiu and he had known about the matter on Feng Zi Xian coming to the residence and gave her his thanks after giving her a glance.
Only a thanks and Feng An Ning’s emotions were so stirred up that she tossed and turned in bed.
Feng An Ning’s personal maid asked her cautiously, “Young Lady valued the Eldest Young Master of Shen family greatly and become happy and worry for him… Is it… Is it admiring the Eldest Young Master of the Shen family?”
“What nonsense are you talking about?” Feng An Ning instinctively retorted as her brows became upright, like she had stepped onto a cat’s tail.
The maid jumped in shock and quickly knelt down, “It is this servant that spoke glibberish nonsense and hope that Young Lady would spare this servant once.”
After a long while, the servant did not hear Feng An Ning’s reply and her heart had turned into a state of uneasiness, she heard some words from the top of her head, “Never mind. Get up.”
Feng An Ning looked at the mirror and bit her lips.
Some matters could not be conceded and laid bare but that did not mean that it did not happen. For a matter that could be seen clearly by her own personal maid, Feng An Ning thought that her current behavior was very odvious. If she could not hide it from her personal maid, then it was not possible for her to hide it from Shen Miao’s eyes.
Shen Miao knew her thoughts. Would she tell Shen Qiu… Did Shen Qiu know about it?
Feng An Ning looked at the mirror with some irritation.
She feared nothing in Heavens or on the land but only feared the two siblings of the Shen family. It was needless to mention about Shen Miao as she was somewhat mysterious but Shen Qiu was perfectly all right and in everyone’s eyes, he was the amiable and the easiest to speak to with a uncalculative personality. So what was she afraid of?
What she feared was not Shen Qiu but herself. The perhaps arrogant, troublesome, willful and ignorant self that appeared in Shen Qiu’s eyes.
When one was in love with another, one would always look at oneself repeatedly. What little thing was not done well or when the other party was very outstanding, then one would be suspicious if one was worthy to the other. One would carefully show the best side in front of him and work hard on matters but would still feel restlessness in one’s heart like it was hanging in the balance, fearing that one had done something wrong.
Unfortunately the more one was nervous, the more mistakes one would made and the more one would make a fool of oneself in front of the other. Shen Qiu was angry with her because of Shen Miao’s matter and she feared of being update due to the other party’s hate and thus when Shen Qiu thanked her, she was immediately happy. But because she was happy, she became worried and Feng An Ning could hear how those troupes in theatre were singing about.
‘A red bean is planted on the grave of yearning, as the bean fall sharply into one’s heart, one ask if the other know about it?’
The lyrics were very cheesy but Feng An Ning felt that it was very accurate, like it was singing out all the thoughts in her heart.
However she felt that she was generally speaking, hopeless. That was because one could not see any difference in Shen Qiu’s treatment of her. Feng An Ning dimed and became sad, finding that singing alone was dull and tasteless.
Unfortunately Shen Miao got married at such a time, to Great Liang that was thousands of Li (1 Li = 1 mile) away.
This not only mean that she would have one less friend in the future in Ding capital, it also meant that she no longer had any reason to visit Shen mansion or even have any little thoughts about her secret.
Feng An Ning felt very lost.
The affairs of the world changes. No one had expected that there would be a sudden turmoil change in Ding capital.
Perhaps those intelligent people would know, those officials would know and those Royal people would know. But Feng An Ning, an official’s daughter who did not ask about the affairs of the world would be at a loss.
In a night Emperor Wen Hui fell seriously ill and Prince Ding, Fu Xiu Yi, had grasp the power in his hands. There were Princes who died, locked up, injured and destroyed. All officials in Ding capital felt imperilled.
Feng An Ning was not clear on what had happened but could see Master Feng’s serious and heavy expression and her older brothers were bustling around daily.
It was until one day when Master Feng called Feng An Ning to the room and said, “An Ning, you are not young anymore and have reached a marriageable age.”
Feng An Ning was able to guess Master Feng’s next words but it was just too sudden for her as she had not thought about it before. Feng An Ning immediately replied, “Father, I still do not want to marry. I want to accompany Father, Mother and Older Brother.”
This time the always doting Master Feng did not go along with her words, “Foolish child. How can there be a female would will keep on stay at home and not be married off? Could it be that one wants to be a spinster? Your Older Biao Brother will arrive in Ding capital in a few days time. Go and bring him around.”
There seemed to be some suggestion behind those words. Feng An Ning had never been one who could keep her composure. She immediately stood up and spoke emotionally, “Father, what is the meaning of this?”
“What is the meaning of being impetuous like this?” Master Feng’s brows wrinkled, “What meaning? Your Older Biao Brother is coming to Ding capital so what is wrong with a Younger Biao Sister, like yourself, receiving him?”
“Receiving? I am not a servant, so what should I be receiving?” Feng An Ning said, “What’s more there is still Eldest Brother and Second Older Brother. I am not going!”
“You!” Master Feng’s face became cold, “Must go!”
Master Feng had never send a single harsh word to Feng An Ning since young but today he did not give Feng An Ning any face in front of the servants at all. Feng An Ning felt both hurt and wronged that she stood up, “Father, our Feng family is not short of money so there is no need to be involve in the shady business of selling one’s daughter. I have not seen this Older Biao Brother for many years. I have nothing to say if you don’t feel embarrassed! Could it be that you want to use the receiving in name and let me and him become a couple? I will not do it! Whoever that is willing can go but I am not willing!”
She had mixed with Luo Tan for too long and her words were somewhat vulgar.
Master Feng stood up suddenly and gave Feng An Ning a slap.
Feng An Ning was stunned. Her face was burning up as she stared at Master Feng in shock but she saw Master Feng speaking without even blinking, “Go back to your room and reflect upon it. Don’t let others say that my Feng family has raised such a shameless daughter!”
The servants around were astonished.
Master Feng had never bear even smack Feng An Ning’s little finger. There was once a teacher in Guang Wen Tang who slap Feng An Ning’s palm because of her homework and when Master Feng saw the strokes on Feng An Ning’s palm, he wanted to fight with his life with that teacher. However today he personally gave Feng An Ning a slap.
Feng An Ning cried out and ran out the door. In one breath, she ran all the way back to her room and closed the doors before throwing herself onto her bed and cried her heart out.
She only saw that faraway Older Biao Brother once when she was young. That Older Biao Brother was older than her and would smile gently and praise his Younger Biao Sister’s writing. He was also able to compose poetry when he was young. However Feng An Ning personally saw that this youth would kiss their personal maid’s lips.
Feng An Ning felt extremely disgusted. She even told the matter to her family but the Feng family had all felt that she seen wrongly and refused to believe her. Feng An Ning then hated this Older Biao Brother even more.
She did not even want to see her, much less receiving him. Moreover Feng An Ning was not a three year old child, naturally she understood the meaning behind Master Feng’s words. Master Feng obviously had intentions to match her up with this Older Biao Brother that had a gilded exterior but shabby and ruined on the inside.
The more Feng An Ning cried, the sadder she became. The male she like did not like her and most likely find her a burden. Her Father and Older Brother instead want her to spend a lifetime with a person she hated. Shen Miao and Luo Tan left and she had no one else in Ding capital to talk to, making her unable to have an outlet to her stomach full of grievances. Feng An Ning really felt that the days past difficultly.
However she was prideful. On top of them she was also very obstinate. It was alright for Master Feng not to dote on her and hate her but she was still unbending and even began a hunger strike. In short, she refused to obey and meet that disgusting Older Biao Brother.
If it was usual, with her level of protest and hunger strike, it would have long let the family turn around. However it was not effective this time, so much so that Master Feng became aggravated and his attitude became even tougher.