Scheme of the Official Descendant Chapter 8- Part 2
Ren Family (2)
Passing through the Ronghua Courtyard’s ornamented gate with glazed roof tiles and lofty wall pillars, the first thing that caught her eyes was the giant Lingbi stone in the shallow pond at the center of the courtyard. The stone was named “Cangshan Eminent” after its shape that resembled a mountain range.1
It was said that the stone was brought back from the distant Anhui Province at great expense by the former head of the family, Bao Ming, and was considered to be one of the wonders of the Ren residence.
Bypassing the Lingbi stone were the three expansive Huating Pavilions2 of Ronghua Garden. They are normally closed, and would only be opened during the New Year festival and banquets. While the two courtyards on the East and West were used for accommodations when there were too many guests.
Passing through the Ronghua Garden was the front courtyard of the main hall’s main house.3
Qiu-shi, the Old Madam of the Ren Family has a peculiar hobby. She didn’t like flowers and trees and disdained those ‘red flowers and green willows’4 that attracted insects and ants. So the whole courtyard only has a neat interlocking pattern of bluestones.5 Only in spring and summer would one or two plants unexpectedly emerge at the foot of the wall, adding a little green to this place. Unfortunately, they will be uprooted as soon as they sprouted by the old maid who swept the yard.
The sky finally cleared up after two days of heavy snowfall, but before the snow could cover the ground, the northern wind turned it to ice. So Ren Yaoqi had to pick paths or walk through corridors with cotton lichen floor coverings.
Ronghua Courtyard was clean and contained no trace of ice and snow. It was cleaned so well that the unchanging bluestone ground could be seen.
In that moment, there were two twelve or thirteen year old maids kneeling on the bluestone floor at the front courtyard of the main house.
Attired in indigo winter clothes for second-class maids, they knelt with their foreheads against the ground in a proper and sincere manner, but their bodies were shaking like those few dead leaves still hanging from the branches. She just didn’t know if they were cold or frightened.
Ren Yaoqi walked past them and when she climbed the steps to the main house’s platform, she could still hear them sniffling.
“They are Fang’er and Hui’er who are serving beside Eight Miss.” Qingmei, who lagged behind, glanced at the two girls, then rushed two steps forward to catch up. Pretending to be mysterious, she covered half of her mouth and reported this to Ren Yaoqi’s ear. The excitement was clear in her voice at having watched a ‘good play’.6
Ren Yaoqi ‘turned a deaf ear’7 at her and stood outside the curtain, waiting for the first-class old maid to announce her arrival.
Ren Family rules were extremely strict, this was especially so in the Ronghua Courtyard of the Old Master Ren and Old Madam Ren. If there is no response in the main house, then one cannot enter. When Li-shi came back that day, it was because Old Madam Ren did not issue an order to let her into the house, so she had knelt under the porch for more than an hour.
Fortunately, Old Madam didn’t want to torment Ren Yaoqi today so the old maid at the door quickly opened the curtain for her, “Fifth Miss, please go ahead.”
The warm air from inside the room hit her in the face as soon as she walked in.
The main house of Ronghua Courtyard was located in the fifth house facing North to South, with the middle room being the Ming Hall which was empty at this time. Only two maids stood on each side in front of the moonlit carved patterned door.
The maids standing at attention curtsied when they saw Ren Yaoqi enter and lifted up the brocade curtain with a “fortune” word pattern. A slight sound came out from the west second room mixed with the fragrance of baked pancake.8
It was almost time for Old Madam and Old Master to have breakfast.
The younger generation of the family who paid their respects had to go to the Ronghua courtyard with an empty stomach. They had to wait upon the elders till they finished their meal before they could go back to their own courtyards to eat.
The moment Ren Yaoqi entered, she caught sight of Eldest Madam Wang-shi leading her eldest daughter-in-law Zhao-shi to set the kang table.
A large kang9 against the north wall already had a few dozen large and small dishes laid out, furthermore there were more to be placed there by the maids standing off to the side carrying food boxes with several unopened lids.
The Eldest Master Ren Shizong led his son and nephews to sit at the nanmu chairs10 on the East and West sides, while Third Miss Ren Yaohua, Fourth Miss Ren Yaoyin, and Ninth Miss Ren Yaoying stood under the Southern window.
Ren Yaohua and Ren Yaoqi resided in the same courtyard, but they never came together to pay respect to Ronghua Courtyard nor did they leave together. Previously, Ren Yaohua lived in the warm room at the east wing of the Ronghua courtyard every half of the month, and if she stayed at Ziwei Courtyard, she would come here everyday earlier than her.
Ren Yaoqi swept her eyes around the room then curtsied to greet the elders.
Eldest Madam turned her head to look at her and smiled, “Is Fifth girl well enough? Old Madam also said yesterday that you should rest for a few more days so you don’t have to rush over to fulfill your daily respects.”
Ren Yaoqi bowed her head and said, “I’m all better now so it’s inexcusable if I disregard my filial duty.”
Eldest Madam smiled and nodded her head, “Good child. Don’t forget to credit your Concubine Fang for your quick recovery. Eldest Aunt is indeed in charge of the household, but all your medical treatment this time was requested by your Concubine Fang.”11
Ren Yaoqi glanced at Eldest Madam’s smile and bowed her head in acquiescence.
Wang-shi, the Madam who was in charge of the household, had a good reputation in the family. She was fair when handling affairs and clear with rewards and punishment.
She managed what she should do, but ‘kept one eye open and the other eye closed’ to what she shouldn’t.12
Since she couldn’t take the credit, then naturally she wouldn’t bear the responsibility.
After she finished exchanging pleasantries with Eldest Madam, she went to the south window to stand beside Ren Yaohua and the others. She curtsied to her third sister Ren Yaohua and fourth sister Ren Yaoyin who were both older than her.
Ren Yaohua ignored her as always while Ren Yaoyin, her fourth sister actually smiled kindly and curtsied to her in return. The younger one, her ninth sister Ren Yaoying curled her lips and reluctantly gave her a careless curtsy to which Ren Yaoqi nodded and then she stood next to Ren Yaoyin.
Not yet muddled by the names?
Stay with me, because I created a GLOSSARY and the Ren Family Tree for you guys to cure your muddled eyes. You have to endure a bit more as these are foundation chapters, they might seem overwhelming but you’ll be able to tell who’s who soon enough. Ofc, if you’re still confused just check the character list in the glossary.
Now, who were the masterminds behind the scenes for this chapter’s completion? We’ll unveil it for you to catch on:
The greatest schemer, of course me, this chapter’s translator: Eastern W. (▰˘◡˘▰)
My partners in crime: (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧
- Editor: Jay-Jay
- Proofreader: LightBrin
- Quality checker: Lilliane
Thank you for all your efforts! <( ＿ ＿)>
Moreover, there will be a chapter tomorrow! That’s because dear Liliane decided to conspire (collaborate) with me… ≧◡≦
Lastly, join The Conspirators Club Discord to get updates, spoilers, or to report if there’s typos and grammar mistakes. Leave comments and recommend this to your friends! ❤️
Eastern W. [Translator]
A witch with a broken broom who’s struggling to fill her empty cauldron and have too much love for reading and sour foods.
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- Lingbi stone (灵璧): Stone found in Lingbi country, Anhui or most commonly known as Scholar’s rock (供石- gonshi), are naturally occurring or shaped rocks which are traditionally appreciated by Chinese scholars.
- Huating Pavilion (花厅): Reception pavilion. Generally part of a large residence, and often built in a garden.
- Main house or Central building (正房-zhèngfáng): Primary wife’s house.
- Red flowers and green willow (花红柳绿): All the colors of spring.
- Good play: Family drama.
- Turned a deaf ear (置若罔闻): Pretending not to hear; to ignore.
Baked pancake (烙盒子):[collapse]
Kang and Kang table:[collapse]
- T/N: Eldest Madam used third person when talking about herself. She is the Eldest Aunt.
- Keep one eye open and the other eye closed (睁一只眼闭一只眼): (Idiom) Turned a blind eye; meant pretending not to notice.