Edited by Halley & Larkspar
Chapter 13: Ruo Chan (Part 1)
When Wei Jue was recalled, the Heavenly Son personally went to the city gates to welcome him. Although it was majestic, it was just going through the motions. The real rewards came a few days later.
It was said that during court, a decree drafted by Wei Jue was stamped with the Emperor’s jade seal. On it was a densely packed list of Generals, starting from Wei Jue, who had made meritorious contributions. As Wei Jue could no longer be bestowed with any more rewards, one could not hand the Imperial Seat to him, thus there was only gold and silver as reward under his name. Wei Tan was bestowed as the Marquis of HuaiYang, Wei Zhao was bestowed as the Marquis of ShanYang. The rest of the densely packed names listed numerous unheard titles such as Marquis Ting, Marquis Xiang and General titles.
Wei Tan was promoted to nobility and I became Marquis Furen. However there was no change in my life in the Wei Residence. Wei Tan still lived in the Wei Residence and I still had to wholeheartedly attend to the in-laws and husband.
Sometimes Wei Tan would be at home and sometimes away. There were many advisors and Generals under Wei Jue’s tutelage, thus there were many discussions in the main hall and Wei Tan would accompany him by the side. Due to this reason, I rarely went to the main hall after their return from the expedition and also did not leave the residence. One either went over to attend to Wei Furen or remained in one’s own courtyard to while away time.
However, Wei Tan continued to not sleep with me.
He would often stay overnight in the barracks and if it was not convenient to go out, he would lay out a bed in the outer chamber.
I was very puzzled and wanted to ask him exactly why, but one was thin-skinned and was unable to ask. However, this was like nothing to Wei Tan. Sometimes in the morning when I encountered him in the outer chamber, he would be incomparably natural as he wore his clothes and smiled at me, “Morning, Furen.”
Only Ah Yuan knew of these things. She would pack up the bedding for Wei Tan and look at me strangely.
There was once when Madam Zhou came to the residence and giggled as she told me that among the adult males of the Wei family, only the Eldest Young Master had no children. Thus the family hoped that I could quickly make an addition to the family.
When I heard those words, I almost vomited blood. I too wanted to make an addition but one’s husband also had to put in effort!
But on the surface, I could only smile to evade the matter. Madam Zhou thought that I was embarrassed and showed an ambiguous expression, like we were talking about an extremely interesting topic.
I did not know when Wei Tan last had intercourse or if he had ever touched a woman before. What frustrated me the most was that I, Fu Jin, was publicly considered as a beautiful ChangAn lady. How could one not even be able to interest one’s husband at all?
That day Madam Zhou mentioned about Lord Lu’s birthday banquet and as expected, Wei Jue would not be going.
However, after all Lord Lu had provided financial aid to the courts thus Wei Jue had to give some face. He handed the matter over to Wei Tan but he had to inspect the barracks outside the city that day and thus it ended with me going to the banquet alone.
Lord Lu’s Residence was indeed lively, with various carriages blocking the street in front of the residence. It was said that Lord Lu wanted to distribute porridge and as such almost all of the city’s refugees and beggars gathered. They were stopped by the household staff at the entrance.
It was bustling with activity and I got out of the carriage with great difficulty, before being escorted to the door by my household staff.
“Wei Furen.” When Lord Lu saw me, his red glowing face was filled with smiles as he stepped down to welcome me.
“May Lord Lu live as long as the Northern mountains.” I smiled while congratulating, “One’s Father-in-law and Husband are preoccupied with work matters and could not come. Thus they have requested me to come over to congratulate and show our hearts.”
“Furen’s arrival and presence brings light to my humble dwelling.” Lord Lu quickly and politely replied and his fat stature made him seem like he was struggling. After speaking, he instructed the family to receive the gift and let his wife, Madam Wang, lead me in personally.
Lord Lu had invited more people than I had imagined as all three courtyards were decorated with banquet items. There were many people like the Wei family, whose masters were unable to come yet did not want to brush Lord Lu’s face away and had thus let their wives attend instead.
As a result, I unfortunately encountered Yu Ying again.
“Ah Jin.” When Yu Ying saw me, her face was filled with joy, as she came forward, “I was wondering if you will also attend and it was just as expected.”
Her words were affectionate as she held my hands. Her eyes were plastered on the brocade clothes and jewelry I had donned on as she praised profusely.
I took a glance and noticed that other than Madam Zhu, there were many people who were looking over here. Upon looking back at Yu Ying’s happy eyes, I also smiled, “It is exactly so. I trust Yu Ying has been well since we last met.”
Yu Ying’s smile flourished and she exchanged a few more words before pulling me over to a few beautifully dressed young women, “Ah Jin, I was talking about you to my friends and they have been admiring you for a long time.”
“Oh?” Looking at her charming face, I then looked at those young women. They quickly greeted me in succession and looked at me before looking at Yu Ying’s pleased face with flickering smiles of bashfulness and eagerness.
I grew up in the midst of noble ladies. How would one not know about the thoughts behind these meaningful glances?
I greeted them individually and finally separated from Yu Ying when the banquet started.
The banquet was divided by genders and Lord Lu had specially created a loft for the female guests to stay at, with Madam Wang personally accompanying.
In terms of age, I was the furthest away from being the most senior person but in terms of position, I represented the Wei family and was undoubtedly the most prominent one among these people. Thus I sat at the first seat below Madam Wang in grandiose.
During the banquet, Madam Wang was very attentive and would from time to time ask me if the dishes were to my liking or whether a replenishment was required. I answered politely while looking at the table filled with meat and noodles but my heart was thinking about Li Shang’s matter.
One did not know how much meat would be used for such a birthday banquet and if Li Shang’s business took off, it would be impressive.
My heart was itching and seeing that no one was around, I asked Ah Yuan softly, “Is there any news from your father?”
Ah Yuan nodded, “There was some news in the morning and one did not have the time to tell Furen. Father had said that the meat business is set up and the livestock that was bought a few days back were all sold to Lord Lu for this banquet.”
When I heard it, I was secretly overjoyed.
Li Shang had lived up to my expectations and even had the same ideas as I.
“How much was gained?” I asked quickly.
Ah Yuan replied, “One does not know. Father said that calculation is required.”
I nodded my head. This was the first business transaction thus I did not care so much about profits. What mattered most was that it was successful.
As such I was secretly happy and ate the meat on the plate with relish as if this was the most delicious food in the world. After finishing the meal, Yu Ying took the initiative to come over to chat as the singing performance continued. I continued smiling.
Those women that she had good relations with were all from ChangAn. Even though their family backgrounds were not as good as Yu Ying, they all married into officials’ families. Yu Ying brought them to me, seemingly elated.
I listened as they flattered one another with words and watched as the dancers performed diligently with a wine cup in my hand and a faint smile on my face. It was filled with acts before my eyes; one show at the banquet centre ground, one act behind the scenes. For the Wei family to welcome my entry into the household, wasn’t it a large act too?
Just as my thoughts were running wild, I suddenly heard a burst of laughter.
The laughter came from under the loft and upon looking through the thin bamboo separator, one could only see the courtyard filled with bright lights and in the middle of the red carpet, there were a few dancers dancing seductively, with their colourful clothes fluttering around like butterflies.
“Really! Here again—” When the young women saw it, looks of disgust appeared on their faces.
Yu Ying turned over and said, “Don’t care about them. What remains unseen is deemed to be clean.”