Edited by Halley & Larkspur
Chapter 6: Birthday Banquet (Part 1)
Although the servants were bought for me, Wei Furen was the matriarch of the family.
During the journey, I had thought about the plea and led Ah Yuan to Wei Furen upon returning to the residence to tell her the story, from the past up till now, about the deep sentiments between master and servant and the separation between the living and dead. I did not conceal the matter of giving Ah Huan gold as that was from my dowry and naturally, it was up to my willingness to give.
I had the abilities of a good lobbyist and also somewhat added details to make the story interesting thus when Wei Furen had finished listening to it, she had an expression of being somewhat moved.
She took a look at Ah Yuan, whose head was lowered all along, and sighed, “Since it is an old acquaintance and it is difficult to be reunited, it is appropriate for one to lend a helping hand. Let this maid stay by your side then.”
After giving my thanks, I officially brought Ah Yuan into the Wei residence.
When old friends meet, a long talk was unavoidable.
That very night, Ah Yuan and I huddled together on the bed and chatted under the quilt, just like when we were back in the Fu residence.
After listening to what I had experienced, her eyes widened and she sobbed uncontrollably.
“That… How does Eldest Young Master treat NiuJun?” After thinking about it for a long time, she suddenly asked.
I smiled, “There is nothing good or bad. My interaction with him has not exceeded a day.”
Ah Yuan blushed and smiled in embarrassment.
“NiuJun,” she bit her lips before whispering with hesitation. “I have once seen Young Master Ji Yuan.”
When this name was mentioned, the smile on my face froze.
“Oh? When?” My voice sounded calm.
“Last year at Zhang Province, when one left the countryside.” Ah Yuan carefully watched my expression. “At that time he was under the tutelage of the HeBei’s Pang Cuo, seemingly an advisor. At that time we were walking and he walked past us from the opposite direction, leading many troops.”
I did not know what to say and only spoke after a moment, “He was considered to be acquainted with you all, yet he was unwilling to help?
Ah Yuan shook her head, “Young Master once helped us, that day he especially looked for us and stuffed a bag of money and valuables in Father’s hands. However, Father was unwilling to accept and said that he had vowed not to accept favours from people who turned one’s back against righteousness.”
My heart warmed. This was indeed what Li Shang would do. Father had not misread him.
“I understand. In the future, do not mention him in the residence again.” I said faintly.
“I understand.” Ah Yuan nodded her head and smiled, “NiuJun, Father had previously said that a physiognomist had gone to the residence to take a look at you. He had said that you have a face of good fortune.”
“It is true.” Ah Yuan said, “NiuJun, first there was the Empress Dowager, then one encountered the Wei family thereafter. It is always misfortunes turning into blessings.”
I smile in ridicule. The Empress Dowager indeed saved my life but for the Wei family… One fears that one was unable to say precisely if it was a blessing or misfortune.
Ah Yuan still wanted to speak but I nudged her and interrupted, “All right, it is not early anymore, time to rest. Don’t forget that this is not the Fu residence.”
Ah Yuan pouted and went off the bed.
“Oh yes. Ah Yuan.” Just as she was leaving, I called out.
“Hmm?” Ah Yuan turned her head.
I said with a smile, “In the future I am Furen. Don’t make a mistake in addressing.”
Ah Yuan was startled and after a moment nodded her head before leaving.
That night, even though I was calm, I was unable to sleep well at all.
In the dreams, there was always a figure appearing in front of me, either playing chess, playing the Qin or chatting with others. Without paying much attention, he would turn his head to look at me and that handsome brows would suddenly smile with some craftiness.
“… Ah Qian, are my clothes nice?” That is my voice.
“… Ah Qian, I heard that you’ve bought a white horse. Will you lend it to me tomorrow to pull a cart?”
“… Ah Qian, I sold a plum bottle yesterday. Guess how much for? I only wanted to sell it for a hundred coins but that person used a hundred and fifty coins to buy it from me!”
“Ah Qian. Ah Qian…”
There were a lot of voices. I watched as Ah Qian rode his white horse, wearing brand new wedding clothes as a carriage followed behind him. An unfamiliar female sitting inside…
I woke up from my dream and gasped slightly.
What appeared before my eyes was the vast and deep night, and the soft insects called outside the windows.
“It was a dream…” I said to myself but my hands unconsciously touched my empty wrist. I lifted my quilt and lit the candle before opening my jewelry box. However, I was unable to find the thing I was looking for even after searching for a while.
Anxiety rose in my heart and I turned around to rummage through the unopened bundles. Finally, in a pile of old clothes, one found a small peach talisman. The handiwork was simple but there was a ‘Jin’ word and a ‘Qian’ word linked together.
I felt as if one was relieved from a burden and closed my eyes to take deep breaths while holding it tightly in my palms.
Tears suddenly sprang out and they could not be stopped.
The moonlight was like water, shining through the window still. I was able to see my shadow shrinking on the ground, just as helpless as I was those years back.
“It is in the past. It has passed. You will forget…” Mother’s words seemed to ring softly and soothingly by my ears.
As each day passed, in a blink of an eye, one month had passed.
Almost half of spring was over and the weather had already begun to heat up.
I lived my days in the Wei residence considerably well. Although Wei Furen was the matriarch, she was a person who was well versed in managing a family and handled the household affairs thoroughly with consideration. I knew that I had newly arrived and was hence very courteous to everyone and thus lived in harmony with everyone.
Ah Huan had sent some news over. He had found a small house with a courtyard in the west of the city and had moved over with Li Shang. He also invited a physician over specially for Li Shang. Two days ago, I allowed Ah Yuan a visit and upon her return, she said that Li Shang’s illness was much better and he could now get out of bed.
Not long after, there was news from the East. Wei Jue had killed Dong Kuang and his three sons, incorporating their generals and soldiers into the troops and would be able to return to Yong Capital in the coming month. This piece of news stirred up the family’s spirits and Wei Furen even decided what type of banquet should be held on the day of Wei Jue’s return.
“Eldest Sao, Eldest Brother and Second Older Brother are all coming back!” Wei Rong smiled as she said to me.
I smiled and instructed Ah Yuan to give her a newly made outer garment, “It is Furen’s fortieth birthday banquet in two days. Keep these new clothes well and do not ruin them again.”
Wei Rong stuck her tongue out and looked curiously at the new clothes before smiling, “Eldest Sao is really good.”
I smiled, “Where is Fourth Shu? I have new clothes for him too but I do not seem to see him.”
“He?” Wei Rong raised her brows, “Most likely playing with those oddments.”
“Oddments?” I was astounded.
“Yes.” Wei Rong seemed to be somewhat scornful but smiled mysteriously when looking at me, “Eldest Sao still does not know about it? I will bring Eldest Sao over to take a look.”
Although I was the new bride of the Wei residence, I was after all a newcomer and would not be family with many matters or people. Wei An was one of them.
Logically speaking, Wei An and Wei Tan were born from the same Mother and should hence have a closer relationship with me. His courtyard was near Wei Tan’s courtyard but he rarely appeared and would often have a cold expression during greetings and would only speak a few words. I did not know the reason and also did not like to plaster on a cold expression, thus one let Wei An go with such an attitude.