Edited by Halley & Larkspar
Chapter 11: Medical Ointment (Part 1)
After a night of muddled headiness, I was alone in the room when I woke up the next day.
I lay on the bed for a while, wearing a neat and tidy middle-wear, and finally recollected what had happened yesterday. Looking around, the quilt was covering my body and the other half beside me was flat and neat, without any trace of anyone having lain on it.
Just as one was staring blankly, there was a soft noise from the door as Ah Yuan entered.
“Where is Eldest Young Master?” I asked.
Ah Yuan looked at me and chuckled aloud.
“Eldest Young Master followed the Prime Minister out early in the morning.” Ah Yuan blinked her eyes ambiguously at me. “Furen, you look for Eldest Young Master the moment you wake up? Furen was drunk last night and Eldest Young Master said that he was afraid of disturbing Furen. Hence he slept in the side chambers.”
I was surprised and stunned for a moment before straightening things out.
“Eldest Young Master slept in the side chambers?”
“Yes.” Ah Yuan puckered in a smile. “Furen, Eldest Young Master treats you very well.”
I did not say anything and just sat on the bed to think for a while before asking, “Did Madam Guo send people over?”
“Someone came over.” Ah Yuan said, “But upon seeing that Furen has yet to wake up, they returned and did come over again.” I nodded and got up to dress.
After some tidying up, I headed over to Wei Furen. After the greetings, she looked at me with the usual expression, “Young Furen has gotten up. Have you had breakfast?”
I nodded, “It has been taken.”
Wei Furen smiled gently, “Heard that Young Furen was drunk last night? Is everything all right?”
I quickly spoke, “I had some hangover soup last night. No harm was done.”
Wei Furen nodded.
“Young Furen,” She paused in her words and said slowly, “Eldest Young Master follows the Prime Minister on expeditions, it is not easy for them to return. As a woman, one has to be more sympathetic, rising early to make arrangements, taking care of everything, allowing Daren a peace of mind.”
These words were spoken rather amicably, but I understood the underlying meaning. She was saying that I had let Wei Tan sleep in the side chambers last night and should not have slept until so late this morning, causing delays in looking after one’s husband.
My eyebrows moved slightly and there was some annoyance in one’s heart but one did not justify and instead spoke courteously. “This daughter-in-law will keep Madam Guo’s teaching in one’s heart.”
Wei Furen seemed to be quite satisfied with my attitude and revealed a smile.
After exchanging pleasantries for a while, Wei Xian’s and the few nephews’ wives brought their children over to visit Wei Furen, the room became rather lively.
Among Wei Jue’s sons, only Wei Tan had married a wife, while Wei Zhao had a concubine who did not reside in the Yong Capital. Thus, other than I, who could come over to accompany Wei Furen, it was only these wives of the nephews.
Wei Furen was very pleased to see them arrive and instructed the servants to bring fruits and sweet snacks for everyone.
Wei Ping’s wife, Madam Zhou, said, “I was passing by the market today and saw that the Lu Residence, at the city’s North, is adorned with coloured ornaments. One heard that Lord Lu’s birthday is in two days and has invited hundreds of officials for a banquet.”
Wei Furen said, “It is exactly so. Lord Lu’s steward came over this morning to cordially invite the whole family. In addition to Lord Lu, there are also a number of invites from other families but the Prime Minister is busy with state matters and will probably be unable to attend.”
Upon hearing that, Madam Zhou said, “That is true. It is after all a merchant’s family and it would not be appropriate for the Prime Minister to attend.”
Wei Xian’s wife, Madam Zhu, was feeding a child some rice cake by the side and smiled when she heard those words, “It is said that this Lord Lu is not an ordinary person. He is a well-known, wealthy household in HuaiZhong and had once donated huge sums of money for the renovation of His Majesty’s temporary Palace. Last month HuaiZhong was invaded by pirates and thus he moved his family to Yong capital.”
Wei Furen smiled slightly, “Lord Lu is different from ordinary merchants. The court currently lacks money and has to rely on something. Do you all still remember the silk muslin that was distributed a few days ago? Those were sent over by Lord Lu.”
On the topic of silk muslin, the women all became excited, as they chatted about how exquisite the muslin was. Everyone joined in on the conversation. They then went on to discuss what kind of clothes would be best suited for silk muslin.
I sat by the side and listened with a smile and would contribute a sentence or two every now and then, but my heart was thinking of something else.
The world was in chaos and Yong Province was considered a safe place as the Emperor and officials were present. Thus, there were many wealthy families moving into the city daily from other regions. Wei Jue was the Prime Minister and controlled half of the Central Plains, including Yong Province. Wealthy families sought stability, Lord Lu donated money and held banquets solely to be acquainted with the rich and powerful in Yong Capital. There were a number of people that thought like him.
Upon returning to the courtyard, Ah Yuan closed the doors and frowned as she spoke to me, “Furen, how could Wei Furen speak to you like that? You pay your respects daily in both the morning and evening, do not procrastinate in handling matters of the household and treat people and matters amicably. It is only waking a little later after getting drunk last night and Wei Furen made things difficult with her words.”
I sat on the couch in front of the desk and stretched my stiff body. “What of making things difficult, or not? It is natural for her to do this.”
“Why is it natural?” Ah Yuan was puzzled.
I looked at her and said, “I have entered the doors of the Wei Family and the first elder I met was Wei Furen. Madam Guo thus holds the role of an educator. If my behaviour is wrong and it falls into another’s eyes, others would say that Madam Guo did not educate me well.”
Ah Yuan still had doubts, “But she has never said anything to you before.”
I continued, “The past is the past. Presently, the Prime Minister and Eldest Young Master have returned.”
Ah Yuan thought for a while before a look of realisation bloomed on her face.
“Wei Furen is the matriarch. To be this careful …” She muttered.
I smiled. Wei Furen was of course careful. She came from a humble family and one heard that she had even entered the Chang Family in the past. Wei Jue was so formidable and she could only raise herself from a concubine to a second wife. Each step relied on being careful.
“It is good to know. In the future you also have to be cautious in everything you do, do not provoke others into unliking.” I warned.
Ah Yuan complied, “Yes Furen.”
She was just about to open the doors to leave but turned back and took out a piece of paper from her sleeves to give to me, “This is what I saw when I went to the kitchens this morning.”
I opened it and was greeted by the densely filled words written by Li Shang. After I had reached an agreement with him on the business, he had immediately tasked Ah Huan to visit families who reared animals and ask about matters of the trade. He said that he had taken a fancy to a few families and had also inquired about the meat prices in the city, intending to try it out with a deal.
I thought about Lord Lu. People like him who were eager to make friends, would definitely host a lot of banquets. One’s heart could not help but feel a little excited and immediately fetched a brush to write a reply, allowing Li Shang to do as he liked and not to have any misgivings.
When Wei Tan returned, it was already night.
Wei An followed beside him, hugging something that looked like a crossbow.
“The armoury has recently developed a scaling ladder and will be demonstrating it before the army tomorrow. Are you going?” One only heard Wei Tan asking.
“Going.” Wei An nodded his head.
Wei Tan patted his shoulders, “Since one is rising early tomorrow, it is better to rest early today.”
“En.” Wei An hugged the crossbow and turned around to leave when he suddenly saw me.
“Eldest Sao.” He stopped in his tracks and took the initiative to greet.
I smiled and greeted back, “Fourth Shu.”
Wei An did not speak anymore and quickly walked towards his courtyard.
I looked at Wei Tan as he stood under the corridor with the lantern reflecting his tall stature.
“Husband has returned.” I said.
“En. Has returned.” He looked at me and his facial features seemed to soften under the candlelight.
Wei Tan had eaten in the barracks and went directly to bathe upon his return to the courtyard.