There will be a release on Sat to make up for the missed one on Monday (due to family matters).
Edited by Larkspur
Chapter 2: Dove Occupying a Magpie’s Nest (Part 1)
Meaning of chapter title: to reap where one has not sown
Zhang Mama recovered herself quickly. She realised she was once again thinking about the matter of when Fifth Young Lady returned to the residence and was lost in it. Zhang Mama concealed her thoughts and with a smile on her face, spoke to the young lady in front of her carefully, “Fourth Young Lady, you have arrived!”
“Yes. I could not sleep at night and thus woke up earlier to greet Mother.”
“Fourth Young Lady is really filial.” Zhang Mama smiled and voices in the room praised Chu Jin Miao for her filial piety repeatedly. Zhang Mama smiled as she listened to the audience complimenting but her heart was thinking, if one were to compare coming early, who would be able to beat Fifth Young Lady? She had already gone in for quite a while. However, Zhang Mama would not say such words out.
With the maids’ help, Chu Jin Yao took off her cloak. Her cloak was specially ordered by Madam Zhao as it used golden brocade on the outside and had the best cotton in it. It was made very wide, covering basically everything but the calf, like a large jacket. On the top, the collar was made to stand-up, with a pair of gold inlaid rubies as buttons while the cuffs and neckline were lined with rabbit fur. Chu Jin Miao was originally slender and thin and with this dressing, she looked even more fragile, like the frail beauty that was in vogue now.
Chu Jin Miao’s brows were very light, and lips very thin. She looked a little dull and not as good looking as the other sisters. Ever since Chu Jin Miao realised that she looked inferior to her sisters, even the Shu-born daughters, she had lashed out secretly. And from then onwards, worked hard on dressing herself and headed towards the direction of looking thin and weak. Now, with the wave of Imperial examinations, literary scholars admired beauties who were restrained, graceful and so delicate that they are scarcely strong enough to even bear the trifling weight of the clothes. Many females also dressed up to look particularly weak and even wear makeup that seemed teary. Even though Chu Jin Miao did not have facial features as good as the rest of the sisters, in terms of temperament and dressing, she was popular with the brothers.
Currently, in the Marquis Residence, it was Marquis Chang Xing, Chu Jing, that was the head of the household. Old Furen was still alive and held the overall power of managing the household. With the presence of Old Furen, the brothers naturally could not divide the family properties and live apart. There were three households in the Marquis Residence. The Eldest Household was Marquis Chang Xing’s and his Furen was Madam Zhao. The Second Household was Second Master Chu Duan’s, and Second Furen was Madam Yan. The Third Household was Third Master Chu Zhang’s, and Third Furen was Madam Qian. Marquis Chang Xing and Second Master were Di-born, while the Third Household was from a Shu line and was not liked by Old Furen. The Eldest Household had inherited the title and was naturally the most outstanding one among the brothers. Even the female members of the Eldest Household had higher expenses than other households, only second to Old Furen.
Marquis Chang Xing had a total of four sons and five daughters. Among them, only Eldest Young Lady, Second Young Master, and Fourth Young Lady were Di-born. This was considered few. In the beginning, when Marquis Chang Xing brought a young lady back and said that she was his daughter, everyone in the residence jumped in shock. A sobbing Madam Zhao refused to admit to it and clung to Chu Jin Miao, not allowing anyone to send her away. Old Furen later came over and also felt difficult to accept it when she saw the dark, thin and uncouth Chu Jin Yao. Old Furen spoke with Marquis Chang Xing behind closed doors for a long time and upon coming out, Old Furen said, “Those years ago, due to the chaos, there were some mistakes in the family lineage. Since the lost young lady was brought back, then we will raise her. It is not like our family is unable to raise a young lady. Jin Miao can just continue to stay at home. For the one that just returned, she will be ranked behind Jin Miao and become our Fifth Young Lady.”
Old Furen called the shots and acknowledged Chu Jin Yao but at the same time also protected Chu Jin Miao and did not let Marquis Chang Xing send her away. A female’s heart is always softer than a male’s. After genuinely treating her like a real daughter for thirteen years, not to mention Madam Zhao, even Old Furen could not bear to part with her. When Marquis Chang Xing saw his wife, Mother, and previous daughter, Chu Jin Miao, standing at the side crying pitifully, the fury that he harboured during the journey back had long disappeared. His heart was softened by the crying and he no longer insisted on sending Chu Jin Miao away.
Anyways, it was not that Marquis Chang Xing could not afford that dowry. It was just raising one more young lady. No one cared about this.
With an inexplicable appearance of a female, and she even became Fifth Young Lady, all the Young Ladies behind were pushed back by one position. This kind of matter was a surprising and strange thing in any family. Chu Jin Yao made such a big change when she just came back. Moreover, she was dark and thin, looking like a person from the countryside with one glance, making others fall over to take a look. The Young Ladies who had their positions rearranged were already unhappy and now to be sisters with a person from the countryside, the Young Ladies of the Marquis Residence disliked Chu Jin Yao even more.
Chu Jin Miao took off her cloak, revealing a wide-sleeved flower coat. It was a blue satin dress that had gold embroidered flowers and bird patterns that were two chun (1 Chun = 1 Inch) large. Zhang Mama and the rest who were used to seeing luxury were all silently stunned. Not including the headwear, what was the value that Fourth Young Lady worth? Fourth Young Lady had almost a different outfit every day but even so, Madam Zhao still mentioned that there were not enough clothes and called people to the residence to purchase fabrics to make clothes for Eldest Young Lady and Fourth Young Lady.
Zhang Mama recalled the clothes that Chu Jin Yao wore when she entered the room. One feared that it was not even one-tenth of the value of Fourth Young Lady’s. The genuine Young Lady lived like this. One heard that she did rough labour since young and had corns on her hands. Zhang Mama sighed. In all fairness, she also felt that Fifth Young Lady was pitiful but what use was there? Fourth Young Lady was the one that grew up like the pearl on one’s hands. She was accustomed to the wealth of Marquis Residence and the luxuriousness that oozed out was due to her being soaked in golden nectar. To compare with such an individual, Fifth Young Lady was suddenly rendered as nothing.
Chu Jing Miao took off her cumbersome outer clothes and was as relaxed as she was in her own room. She went straight to the Western room, calling out as she walked, “Mother, I have arrived…”
As soon as Chu Jin Miao arrived, she saw Chu Jin Yao standing at the side. Chu Jin Yao had long heard that Chu Jin Miao had entered and upon seeing Chu Jin Miao, Chu Jin Yao turned and smiled sweetly.
“Fourth Older Sister, you have arrived,” Chu Jin Yao said unaccustomed. She had seen the other young ladies greet like this but she was not sure if she had learnt correctly. Since Chu Jin Yao returned to her biological family, she really wanted to get along well with her parents and sisters. Even though this person had taken her position and was a fake young lady, Chu Jin Yao wanted to get along well with her. Who could blame her for the matter? One could only be angry with Father Su and Mother Su for being selfish, evil, and befuddled. However, Chu Jin Miao, Chu Jin Yao, Marquis Chang Xing, Madam Zhao, and the rest were unaware of it, so what fault did they have? Even though Chu Jin Yao grew up in the village, she was sensible from young and felt that she could not just keep on complaining about it, else her relatives would distance themselves from her. People would always exchange a sincere heart for another and it worked when one talked well.
Chu Jin Miao did not show the smile Chu Jin Yao was expecting. Chu Jin Miao contained her expression and replied indifferently, “I see.” After saying that, Chu Jin Miao quickly said, “Who is your older sister.”
Even though Chu Jin Miao’s voice was not loud, she did not deliberately lower it. The maids around, including Chu Jin Yao herself, had heard it. Chu Jin Yao immediately felt embarrassed but the maid following Chu Jin Miao revealed a mischievous smile. When no one was noticing, she secretly exchanged looks with the maid she had a good relationship with and moved her eyes to look at this so-called ‘Fifth Young Lady’, a sparrow that just flew back from the mountain village.
Chu Jin Yao had heard that in large households, one would wake up early to greet one’s parents and elders. She dared to make a mistake and got ready very early. Fortunately, she was used to getting up to pick firewood, as such it was not at all difficult for her to wake up early. However, she was overwhelmed by the special treatment. She only needed to wear a dress but there were so many people waiting on her.
Getting up early was easy but Chu Jin Yao was stumped on what she needed to do at Madam Zhao’s. The village previously did not have such particularities. Upon waking up, she would head to the courtyard to sweep and fetch water. When Older Sister Su Hui was not married, tasks concerning the courtyard and kitchens were all completed by them. When Father Su and Mother Su woke up, they would be able to see a clean yard and warm food. Afterwards, Father Su would farm and at times Mother Su would head together with him. After the parents left, Chu Jin Yao would return to wake up her Younger Brother Su Sheng by knocking on the door. Su Sheng was the only son in the house and was considered more valuable than daughters like them.
So, Chu Jin Yao really did not know what needed to be done when she greeted her parents. The Marquis Residence did not require her to sweep or wash clothes, thus Chu Jin Yao stood in Madam Zhao’s room at a loss. Madam Zhao was surrounded by a swarm of maids, some maids were handing the servants clothes, some were wiping Madam Zhao’s hands, and some were carefully styling her hair. The people around Madam Zhao were filled up and even if Chu Jin Yao wanted to go up, she could not get in at all.
Now that Chu Jin Miao said this in front of everyone, it was obvious she did not want to be Chu Jin Yao’s older sister and did not think that Chu Jin Yao was her younger sister at all. Chu Jin Yao was stunned for a while, whereas Chu Jin Miao went past her and walked briskly towards Madam Zhao.