The Noble Woman’s Guide On How to Tease One’s Husband – Chapter 24
Translated by: Oinkoink
Chapter 24 – Lake Tour (1)
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Even the rain didn’t know that spring had left. Once it was clear, it was already summer and suddenly, Wangdu was steaming hot.
Many things have happened in the past few months. Bai Xingzhi was executed with immediate beheaded and Bai Xizhi returned home after resigning from his official post on grounds of illness. Even Bai Zhixuan, who was pregnant with the dragon descendant could not escape from this implication. She was demoted to Noble Lady and subjugated to Zhuo Xin Yuan with bleak circumstances as everyone commented that the Bai family was surely gone.
[Glossary: Bai Xingzhi – clan family younger uncle. Bai Xizhi – father of Bai Zhixuan]
In sharp contrast was the Ye family. Ye Huaixin advanced triumphantly in the palace examinations and ranked in top three. He successfully entered and held a post in Zhongshu Province* and formally acknowledged Yue Ting as his mentor. This move undoubtedly painted a subtle stroke for the confrontation between the prominent family and the poor family factions. The groundbreaking in the future began from this day onward, however this part of the story would be recounted later and would not be mentioned at this moment.
[T/N: Zhōng Shū Shěng (中书省) – Zhongshu Province is one of the three provinces in the central government system. It is mainly responsible for discussing the drafting of bills with the emperor]
Dragon boat races had always been popular in Chu Country during the summer and this year was no exception. The Emperor had spent hundreds thousands of silver in building a viewing platform on Huanhu Lake which was known as Youlong water veranda. Half section was erected on the lake shore and the other half was suspended above the water with copper and gold plated eaves. The glaze colored window could gaze afar looking across the river that was like a long sleeping dragon which was vastly magnificent. After it was built, it had been left unused for the entire winter and could finally be put to good use now.
On the day of the summer solstice*, the Emperor along with his imperial harem and hundreds of the officials as well as their families came to watch the dragon boat race. The carriages stopped in a line on the shore yet the water veranda still appeared empty which proved its vastness. The womenfolk particularly liked the suspended side of the veranda as they could see the scenic view of the lake and mountain. So, they gathered in groups of two and three by the side of the handrails. As soon as they approached, the sound of swallows and orioles reached the ears which was thoroughly delightful.
[T/N: Summer solstice ( 夏至 – Xiàzhì) – June 21 or 22, the longest day of the year]
When there was excitement, there would naturally be desolation too. In the room at the end of the covered veranda, Pei Yuanshu was standing alone and silently enjoying the scenery.
On the surface of the lake, flags and banners fluttered in the air. Dragon boats were in rows abreast and innumerable topless brawny men were beating the drums while rallying loudly in great momentum. Seeing that the race was about to start, his sight kept gazing around Youlong water veranda, accompanied by frequent sighs.
Such a huge viewing platform which extended for several miles that exhausted lots of manpower and material resources just for the enjoyment of the annual dragon boat race. It was truly a waste of the people’s money and depletion of the treasury!
There was a creaking sound from the door behind him. He wondered if it was the arrival of Yue Ting. He couldn’t bear the righteous indignant anymore when he turned around and unwittingly blurted out, “Teacher, look at the golden silk screens, the east pearl lanterns, the mahogany tables and the drawings of court ladies. Which of these are not enough to feed the common people in the drought-stricken areas of Xibei for several months? This was simply wasteful and overly extravagant. Student is really……”
He stopped abruptly in the middle of the speech, his cheek instantly flushed with a hint of panic.
Chu Jinglan strolled in with hands clasped behind him, imposing as the wind and calmly as the forestry without anger nor overbearingness. Pei Yuanshu was dumbstruck and only regained his senses by the sound of the closing door.
“This..this official doesn’t know the arrival of Wangye. Has been insolent in words and deeds. Where I have offended, requesting for, for Wangye’s forgiveness!”
“Get up.” Chu Jinglan walked past him and stepped onto the patio to look into the distance of the unfolding magnificent scale of the lake, “Aren’t you eloquent of speech a moment ago? Why are you stuttering like this when meeting this King?”
Pei Yuanshu got up with beaded sweat and almost knelt down again after hearing the second half of the sentence.
“…. this official is just a little nervous.”
“What are you nervous about? Afraid that this King will indict you in the presence of His Majesty for vilifying His Majesty?” Chu Jinglan gave him a sidelong glance. He instantly stiffened like a rod and stood woodenly for a long time before he gradually spoke.
“This official doesn’t mean that. It’s just that the damages caused by the disaster in Xibei last year were severe while the local officials could only perform in perfunctory manners. Many common people still have nothing but rags on their backs and insufficient food to fill their stomachs. When this official thinks about this….. just couldn’t help…”
He didn’t finish his words. There wasn’t anymore of the initial panic in his eyes but were replaced with profound regrets.
Chu Jinglan wasn’t bothered with his disrespect as he briefly asked the crucial point, “Why does Minister Pei so concerned about this matter?”
Pei Yuanshu lowered his head. His face seemingly sank into a midst of haziness that took him a long while before he replied, “When this official was young, my hometown suffered the locusts plague. Thousands hectares of fertile farmlands turned into scorched plains. The fields were strewn with bodies of the starved and mourning sounds were everywhere. This official’s parents and elder sister were starved to death then. Hence, this official knows very well the sufferings of the victims, but heaven doesn’t grant people’s wishes. This official has presented many petitions but were rejected. It is really a shame for failing to help even a little.”
“Has Minister Pei submitted any petition recently?” Chu Jinglan suddenly asked.
“No, this official recently….” Pei Yuanshu was once again stumped. After all, he couldn’t say he had been coerced by Ye Huaiyang to do this and that thus no time for anything else? But it was indeed rather difficult for him to lie. While he was in extreme anxiety and thinking of how he should phrase the words, Chu Jinglan spoke again.
“Is now the same as before?”
Pei Yuanshu was taken aback before his face brightened all of a sudden.
Indeed! How could he have overlooked this? This time, he had helped the Imperial Censor obtain a great meritorious service. Though there were no changes in the official position, the Emperor however had taken notice of all this and the Imperial Censor had also regained attention. It could then be expected that the subordinates of the Menxia Province* will no longer dared to casually reject his booklet and perhaps there will be hope to get funding for the disaster relief!
[T/N: Ménxià Province (门下省- Ménxià shěng) – is one of the three provinces and six ministries. It is responsible for reviewing important national edicts.]
He immediately lowered his head, gathered his sleeve then clasped both hands towards Chu Jinglan and expressed his gratitude, “Many thanks for Wangye’s pointer!”
“Forget it. The officials of Xibei have occupied the position without doing any work for too long. This King also wants to see what kind of sorry state they will end up with.”
Pei Yuanshu opened his mouth but he didn’t know how to continue the thread of conversation. After thinking for a long time, he once again saluted Chu Jinglan. However, his action was so big that Tang Qingfeng unavoidably casted him a sidelong glance.
“Wangye, this official will ask to be excused first.”
After that, he hurriedly left the room and rushed along the steps outside the water veranda and almost slipped in the middle of the way. Fortunately, he reached the shore without mishap. Tang Qingfeng looked at his hasty departure as if his ass was on fire and felt as if his laughter acupoint might had inexplicably been tapped.
“Wangye, why did Lord Yue accepted such a stupid student?”
“He managed to determine it was Ye Huaiyang who set the trap based on only one sentence from Ye Huailing and secretly convinced the Imperial Censor supervisor to submit the crime evidences of Bai Xingzhi for him, how could he be stupid? It’s just that his disposition is upright and unaccustomed to seek benefits from power.”
Tang Qingfeng nodded once he understood and said, “Perhaps it is also related to Lord Yue who doesn’t usually discuss political affairs. Unknowing if Ye Huaixin will be like Pei Yuanshu under his mentorship in the future?”
Chu Jinglan snorted coldly. He turned around to look at the lake again. The race had already begun and dozens of dragon boats shot towards the crisscross waterway like the arrow shot from a bowstring. The sound of drums shook the sky and red silk fluttered in the wind which created a sight of bustling activity.
Seeing that he was silent, Tang Qingfeng mumbled to himself, “With an elder sister like Miss Ye, there will most probably be no dissimilarity with the younger brother. Come to speak of it, when we came up a moment ago, Miss Ye is truly good at pretending she absolutely doesn’t know Wangye at all….. Huh? Isn’t that her?”
Chu Jinglan side-glanced slightly. Ye Huaiyang was indeed at the corner under the three-story tower.
As Youlong water veranda was built in the shape of a dragon, there were two dragon claws on one side that protruded over the surface of the water. A small slope was built at the end that led directly to the middle of the lake, where one could feed the fishes and play in the water. One could also enjoy the waves in the shade from afar which was particularly chic. Ye Huaiyang was standing there and looked like she was talking to someone.
They would never have expected that the other person standing under the eaves was Bai Zhixuan.
“With such an appearance, I don’t know if I should congratulate or feel sorry for the Noble Lady.”
Ye Huaiyang looked at Bai Zhixuan as her pink lips curled up. Merely seeing her dressed in a pink palace outfit with a slight bulge on her belly. Pearl hairpins were all over her temples and her makeup was exquisite, as peerlessly beautiful as always, but her complexion was a little haggard, unknowing whether it was due to the family’s misfortune or her pregnancy.
“Ye Huaiyang, Bengong really underestimated you.”
Bai Zhixuan’s eyes were covered with a heavy haze, appearing like she wanted to swallow her up. Ye Huaiyang however turned her back casually to scoop up some water and played with the fishes, without the slightest notion of paying Bai Zhixuan any attention.
“There are too many people that the Noble Lady has underestimated, how am I the only one?”
“Bengong knows who you are talking about.” Bai Zhixuan sneered which overflowed with severe sternness, “Ye Huaiyang, for the sake of climbing up, you are truly unscrupulous in trampling the Bai family and actually dares to cooperate with him. Bengong sees that you must be tired of living! As long as the Emperor knows, your whole Ye family will die without a burial site!”
“Noble Lady is truly forgetful. At present, the one that the Emperor suspected is however your Bai family.” Ye Huaiyang lightly commented. The small net in her hand had already scooped up some small fishes which she set free and repeated without feeling tedious.
“Bengong will prove to the Emperor that it was all your doings!”
“I didn’t force Bai Xingzhi to turn traitor for personal gain nor had I use a knife to threaten Wangye to send someone and save him. May I boldly ask how Noble Lady is going to prove?” Ye Huaiyang turned around with a smile. Staring at her belly with a profound meaning, she said, “If I am Noble Lady, I will not bother to care about those matters of desperate situation which you are powerless to reverse but wholeheartedly protecting that piece of flesh in the belly instead.”
Bai Zhixuan covered her belly quickly, filled with wariness when she asked, “What do you want to do? Bengong is pregnant with the royal offspring. If you dare to even touch him, the Emperor will definitely not let you off!”
Ye Huaiyang clapped her hands and got up. In passing, she placed the small net aside and slowly approached Bai Zhixuan before speaking in a low voice, “Noble Lady can be at ease, I am not as perverse as you were back then when you wouldn’t even let those young children of the officials’ family who were under Wangye’s commands off. Just because I am not touching you doesn’t mean that the Emperor will not. Do remember to protect well.”
“You are talking nonsense! How could the Emperor kill his own flesh and blood!”
“His own flesh and blood?” Ye Huaiyang raised her brows. Gloomy light gleamed on the pupils of her phoenix eyes, like a deep sea without sunlight, “Noble Lady has served the monarch for six years without any good news but as soon as Wangye returned, you were pregnant. Can you guess what the Emperor would think?”
“You are making unfounded and malicious slander!” Bai Zhixuan turned pale with anger. She raised her hand trying to hit Ye Huaiyang but her hand was held in midair, unable to move at all.
“You are wrong again. I am only taking advantage of the Emperor’s oversuspicious nature. If the Emperor’s affection for you is more solid than gold, what’s the need of fearing such unfounded rumors?”
Bai Zhixuan felt a burst of pain on her belly that she couldn’t help but leaned forward. The anger within her was getting more difficult to disperse when she stared indignantly at Ye Huaiyang wishing she could skin and tear her to pieces. Looking at her distorted appearance, Ye Huaiyang felt carefreely happy as if her heart had been drenched over by the torrential rain.
“This hurts? Do you know the bones gnawing pains the Imperial Concubine Chen suffered when she committed suicide after consuming the poisoned wine or the dully ache whenever there is rain or overcast that Wangye still suffered after falling off the cliff due to the assassination of your Bai family? Whatever you suffer now is not even one tenth of that!”
Bai Zhixuan vaguely noticed something. She pointed at her with trembling fingers, “So it turns out….”
With a sudden bang, the door was forcibly pushed open from outside. Both of them looked up and saw it was actually Wang Yaru.
Why is she here?
Ye Huaiyang could discern from Bai Zhixuan’s query eyes and spoke with extreme leisure, “Noble Lady need not be surprised. She is here by my arrangement. Does she look familiar?”
Bai Zhixuan stared at her and instantly shocked.
She knew the Queen Mother had bestowed a concubine to Chu Jinglan, but she had not seen that person’s appearance. Looking at her now, it seemed as if she was carved out from the same mould as her! Not only was she dressed similarly, even her mannerism was seven points resembling her. The bearings and postures were not inferior in every aspect!
Ye Huaiyang was extremely satisfied with her reaction. When Wang Yaru approached, she made the final provocation near Bai Zhixuan’s ear.
“It was said when the Queen Mother was selecting someone, she allowed the Emperor to have the first look where he copulated with her on that night. She was ordered to monitor your contact with Wangye. It seems he has never trusted you from the beginning. All the so called doting are just playacting ….”
Hearing this, Bai Zhixuan couldn’t hold herself back anymore. With a distorted face, she charged into Ye Huaiyang with sharp nails piercing through the air aiming for her throat. With the lightning speed, Ye Huaiyang pulled Wang Yaru forward to ward Bai Zhixuan off. The thrust was tremendous which caused both retreating several steps when all of a sudden, they both slipped and fell into the water from the slope!
With a big splash and myriads of water splattered, everyone was stunned.