Edited by Larkspur
Chapter 31: An Unforeseen Event in the City Center (Part 1)
Chu Jin Yao was considered late in arriving. She lived far away and it was not as convenient as the other young ladies. When she reached, Rong Ning Tang was already filled with people.
Old Furen was wearing a dark red with gold woven outerwear, siting upright on the Arhat bed. When she saw that almost everyone was here, she cleared her throat and gave a rare kind smile. “Your GuGu spoke to the Prince Consort upon returning home about our family’s matter. The old ancestor at the Prince residence liked it and the Prince Consort also liked our family’s young ladies. Your GuGu has passed the message back that after a few days the Prince Consort would officially send an invitation to invite our residence of Marquis Chang Xing for a visit. The messenger has already been sent back by her so it is estimated that in a few days’ time, the Prince Consort’s invitation would be delivered.”
The young ladies immediately let out soft cheers. Seventh Young Lady threw herself into Old Furen’s arms and said, “That is great. I haven’t been to the Prince residence!”
Seventh Young Lady was young, not old enough to be taken out by her mother, thus she was very keen on going out. The other young ladies were older than Seventh Young Lady but seldom went out. Upon hearing that they would be going out after a period of time and would be even heading to the residence of Prince Huai Ling, the few young ladies were so excited that they squeezed their handkerchiefs as they could not wait to discuss it with their close sisters.
Old Chu Furen smiled as she watched them clamour and did not reprimand them for not paying attention to the rules. The world during this period was particularly harsh on females, thus a large number of girls would be locked in the inner courtyard from when they were born. The furtherest they could go was the second doors. Other than the lantern festival, the third day of the third lunar month, they would not be able to go out easily. Now that they suddenly learned that they could go out to attend a banquet, moreover at Tai Yuan’s noble residence of Prince Huai Ling, no matter how prudent a young lady was, it would be difficult for her not to be excited.
Old Chu Furen waited until their excitement passed before continuing, “This visit to the Prince residence is of no trivial matter. You all seldom go out, so you must look well in public. Madam Zhao…”
Madam Zhao took a step forward and replied, “This Daughter-in-Law is here.”
“Have the clothes for this season been made for the young ladies?”
“The four sets of clothes per season for our family’s young ladies have been distributed.”
“It has been distributed…” Old Chu Furen pondered for a while. “It is rare for them to go out, so let’s make a set of new clothes for them. I will call the daughter-in-law of the Li family over later, so you all can select whatever material you like. The cost would be paid at my end. And for the head ornaments, I remember that the last time new head ornaments were made was during the New Year’s. Do you all have enough jewelry at the moment?”
The younger generation were all exceptionally bright, naturally they spoke in unison upon hearing the question, “ZuMu, we have worn the head ornaments for a few times, may Old Ancestor feel sorry for us!”
The young ladies acted coquettishly and the more favoured maids also spoke, “Old Furen is the most generous, there isn’t anything that the young ladies want that they do not have.”
Old Chu Furen was coaxed into laughter. “You monkeys! Then fine, go call Zhen Bao Ge’s people in. You can select what you like. I am already old and there is no need to dress up. It is you few young ladies that are still vibrant and young, there must not be any neglect.”
Madam Yan flattered Old Chu Furen, “Mother, I cannot agree with your words. You are still very young. That time when my maiden family came over, they even told me secretly that if they did not know that you are the older family matriarch, they would have thought that you and I were of the same generation!”
These words were so blatant. Even if this was to please Old Furen, Madam Zhao was unable to say such words. However, Madam Yan could do so, so it was not surprising that Madam Yan had the most face among the three daughters-in-law. Old Chu Furen waved her finger at Madam Yan. “You are cheeky. How can you say such words? Not afraid that the younger generation would laugh?”
Madam Yan replied, “Mother, I am wronged! I am obviously telling the truth!”
Seventh Young Lady hugged Old Chu Furen and agreed, “Mother is not wrong. Old Ancestor is still young and healthy!”
While Gu Momo and the others laughed in agreement, Chu Jin Xian sat by Old Chu Furen’s side smiling faintly. Chu Jin Yao stood in the hall and did not speak wittily like the other sisters and instead smiled at the scene.
Old Chu Furen was coaxed so well that she was unable to close her lips. “All of you have better lips than the oriole! You think I do not know what you all are doing? You are eyeing my personal funds! Fine, it is difficult for our family to be this lively so there is no need to call Zhen Bao Ge to come over, instead you three daughters-in-law shall bring your own young ladies out to select suitable headwear. No matter how much you spend, it would all be on me.”
When Madam Yan heard that, she smiled so much that her eyes almost disappeared. Chu Jin Yao also felt happy when watching this scene.
Rong Ning Tang was filled with peace and happiness but Chu Jin Miao smiled forcefully. After watching for a while, she quietly withdrew.
She was still confined in name, but upon encountering such a big event, she too had to go over to Old Furen. If no one mentioned it and everybody would turn a blind eye, then her confinement would be lifted.
If it was before, Chu Jin Miao would be the liveliest of the sisters. She was the Di-daughter of the Eldest household, so she was far nobler than the daughters of the Second and Third households. There were only two Di-daughters in the Eldest household, Chu Jin Xian was dignified and composed, so she would not speak such flattering words, whereas Chu Jin Miao was the younger Di-daughter, so she was the most qualified person to act like a spoilt child and attract everyone’s attention. Unfortunately, with the arrival of Chu Jin Yao, all of this had ended abruptly.
In addition, after the last incident, Chu Jin Miao felt somewhat uncomfortable upon seeing Old Furen. When she saw Old Chu Furen, she would be reminded of the fact that she had failed in scheming. She could not tell if it was fear or deliberate avoidance, but she did not want to face Old Chu Furen. Even when all sisters were acting coquettishly in such an occasion, she spoke very little.
Chu Jin Miao avoided the crowd and walked out by herself. As she stood in the veranda of the Marquis residence, she looked up at the tiled-blue skies. The laughter of Chu family young ladies continued to ring behind, but as Chu Jin Miao heard it, she could not help but stretch her hand out to tighten the cloak around her.
She too had once been a part of these laughters, but now, the ZuMu instead was not her ZuMu and the sisters were no longer her sisters. She could no longer stand straight and argue with the young ladies of the residence of Marquis Chang Xing and instruct the servants in the residence. Furthermore, there was a gap between her and ZuMu. All of this was due to Chu Jin Yao.
Chu Jin Miao thoughts churned uncontrollably. Why did Chu Jin Yao have to come back? She was the one that grew up here. The title of the Young Lady of the Marquis residence and the sisters of the Chu family, were originally hers! Now with Chu Jin Yao suddenly appearing, saying her thirteen years were erroneous, how could Chu Jin Miao accept it willingly?
Chu Jin Miao stood in place for a while, and when she was finally unable to withstand the continuous laughter from the room, she left looking glum. Never mind. Since the Chu family no longer accepted her, then she would not value them! She was already thirteen and soon there would be talks of marriage. She will find a noble family and marry out with honour, living her life well while making the people of the Chu family regret it!
In Rong Ning Tang, the grandparent and grandchildren had been laughing for a long time when a maid looked around and said, “Where is Fourth Young Lady? She was here just now.”
The atmosphere in the room stagnated for a while and Old Furen’s smile gradually diminished as she counted the Buddhist beads in her hands without speaking. Chu Jin Xian sat by Old Furen’s side as if she did not hear anything. Second Young Lady, as usual, stood on the spot, as if she was an invisible person, whereas Third Young Lady rolled her eyes and snorted. Chu Jin Yao had a susceptible position. She had long discovered that Chu Jin Miao was gone but did not say anything. Now that the question was asked publicly, she would not answer it. In the end, it was Sixth Young Lady of the Third Household that spoke, “The room is somewhat warm. Fourth Young Lady perhaps went out for a breather.”
Madam Zhao anxiously said, “She is not of good health and it is difficult for her to breathe when there is too many people. Mother, why not I go out to look for her?”
Old Furen replied lightly, “Since she went out for a breather, then let her take it easy. She will come back herself after some time.”
Unexpectedly, she could not even look? Madam Zhao was very anxious but dared not disobey Old Chu Furen and could only bow her head reluctantly, “Yes.”
Madam Yan squinted her eyes at Madam Zhao and smiled secretly.