The Noble Woman’s Guide On How to Tease One’s Husband – Chapter 70

Translated by: Oinkoink

Chapter 70 – Past Incidents

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After the New Year, the imperial edict was promulgated as scheduled and upheaval immediately turned the three provinces of Jiangnan into a complete mess. Merchants who had existing stock demanded exorbitant prices while the crooked bandits on the canals specifically robbed the salt and iron ships whereas hardened thieves ran amok in the city. The market and the city defense were frequently in chaos that the bottom rung civilians could only live miserably behind closed doors with their belts tightened while secretly pouring out endless grievances.

This however, was to be expected.

The royal court had not been at peace too these past few days. Once it reached the hour of chenshi (7am-9am), there would be bustling squabbles where the poor family faction quarreled with the prominent family while the royalists argued with the reform parties and the subordinates of the Wang family would bicker with the Xie’s. Chu Jinglan did not participate much in this matter. He would occasionally add some apt words to clinch the points that set off even bigger storms which provoked incessant indignation from Chu Sanghuai. The momentum only quelled after he dismissed several ministers who were in line with Chu Jinglan’s arguments.

In this way, the situation of all the parties locking in the seesaw struggles become more and more obvious with only few clear streams in the royal court. The contradictions and conflicts between them are enough for Chu Jinglan to exploit then thoroughly subvert the development of the chess game.

[T/N: Clear Streams (清流 -Qīngliú) – refers to the name of a uncontaminated political faction within the ruling class. It is also a metaphor for political clarity]

Nevertheless, compared to the turbulent royal court, King Lan mansion is peaceful without the least bit of storm. Meng Xuan had returned to Northern Land not long after Chu Jinglan rejected the marriage while Meng Chen did not follow him nor did she stir up any trouble. There’s also no action from Ye Huaiyang as she has been occupied with the gold mine all day long and has no chance to meet her face-to-face.

The only one who was fractious was Lu Heng.

“She came looking for you? When was that?”

Staring at the jade pendant on the table, Lu Heng’s eyes were full of wariness with imperceptible hints of resentment as if it was a key that unlock the past memories, causing him to see his father spitting blood then dying in front of Xie family’s main hall as well as an arrow piercing through his elder brother’s chest when he came back to report the news and himself kept running for his life on the horseback before blood-red finally oozing out amidst the lustre glistening green surface as if it was forged with flesh and blood.

He moved his line of sight abruptly, unable to linger for even a second longer.

“She wasn’t looking for me, it’s Yang’er.” Chu Jinglan’s voice rang out faintly.

“That would make sense.” Lu Heng smiled coldly. His expression became bitter, “When we returned to Wangdu, you and I had a consensus that the four prominent families are all enemies but what about now? Not only have you married Ye Huaiyang, you even condone her dealing with Xie Yun. Are you lambasting that you’re not dying fast enough?”

Chu Jinglan seemingly used to him pricking everyone like a hedgehog whenever the Xie family was mentioned. Without any changes in his expression, he merely stated indifferently, “Yang’er did not reveal anything to her rather wanted to find out if she is actually credible and in the course, solving the mystery perhaps would be a great help.”

“What mystery?”

“Yang’er secretly investigated what happened back then. Saying that when the Great Teacher died, he voiced out some very odd words asking Xie Yuan to let Xie Yun go. Do you have any impression about this?”

Lu Heng replied with harsh frigidness, “No, my father was benevolent and had always treated her extremely well. He was probably afraid Xie Yuan would make things difficult for her due to her relationship with the Lu family. So it was normal to say such things.”

“I initially thought the same too but eventually, something felt amiss.” Chu Jinglan’s slender knuckle tapped on the table lightly, making a rhythmic clear sound when it suddenly stopped a while later. He raised his head and looked at Lu Heng solemnly, “Ah Heng, you are more familiar with the Xie family. Put aside your emotions for the time being and think carefully, have you seen anything out of the ordinary?”

Lu Heng spoke bitterly, “All I can remember was her personally brewing and giving my father a cup of poisonous tea which killed him on the spot. What’s there to say about such a vicious person? Back then when she lost her father, I was with her every step of the way yet she …”

The speech suspended as traces of reasoning emerged that forcibly pulled the train of his thoughts to another direction.

Like brothers, Chu Jinglan is extremely familiar with his expressions. Seeing this, he asked stiffly, “Ah Heng, have you recalled something?”  

After a long silence, Lu Heng finally spoke, “Does Xie Qian’s sudden death count?”

[T/N: Xie Qian was Xie Yun and Xie Miao’s father while Xie Yuan is their uncle.]

Stroking his chin and pondering for a while, Chu Jinglan said, “Xie Qian had heart disease. I remembered that day he and Xie Yuan received the imperial command to enter the palace for an audience. Father Emperor then let them go back a while later after they had discussed some political affairs. He subsequently fell ill halfway and when the imperial physician arrived, he was already at the verge of death. Many people in the palace saw this and there was nothing strange about it.”

“But there was something not quite right afterwards.” Lu Heng hung his head to recollect appearing inexplicably solemn when the luxuriant greens shadow from outside criss-crossed on his face through the thin screen of the window panels. “Xie Miao was assigned to another place and not in Wangdu at that time. Xie Yun could not even take part in the funeral procession as the only daughter by Xie Qian’s side, saying it was the large family’s custom. I couldn’t restrain my anger and wanted to attest Xie Yuan but who knew I was stopped by my father who strangely did not say anything else. He just told me to hurry up preparing for the wedding and marry Xie Yun into the family once the mourning period ended.”

Chu Jinglan did not speak for a long time after hearing that.

Based on his understanding of Great Teacher Lu, he would have stood up boldly to voice out if his future daughter-in-law met with such unfairness no matter how powerful or influential the other party was. Yet contrary to expectation, he prevented it when Lu Heng wanted to do so hence, there was surely something strange amongst it.

Lu Heng also had a similar thought. When both looked up, they noticed profound suspicions in each other’s eyes except Lu Heng soon resumed his indifferent expression, as if this matter had nothing to do with him.

“Just investigate if you want to since my opinion is not to trust Xie Yun and to prepare everything to deal with the Xie family.”

He was about to leave but was stopped by Chu Jinglan. Turning his head back, Chu Jinglan hinted towards the jade pendant placed at the corner of the table. Lu Heng’s gaze hardened. He turned back to grab the jade pendant then threw it out the window when merely a plop sounded and a tiny turquoise spritz of water splash as it sank into the bottom of the clear pond, leaving only a small ripples and fragmentary floating rays.

Possession can be unchanged but people do, so could a broken predestined love be redeemed by a bygone article? It may not be a bad idea to throw it away to unravel everyone’s unsettled heart.

With such thought in mind, Lu Heng left the study resolutely. The front of his long robe streaked across the side of the carved railing without the least bit of nostalgia as it swung far into the distance yet the figure wrapped in it appeared extremely desolate that even the courtyard full of spring could not hide it.

Chu Jinglan returned to the room after that.

It was already very late when he returned from the royal court and the discussion with Lu Heng took a long time when it was almost evening before he had time to see what Ye Huaiyang was up to.

Come to speak of it, these two people have not eaten together for many days. Without saying, there was already a lot to handle with the clan’s affairs while on top of that, the matters of the gold mine could not be side-tracked too, so Ye Huaiyang had been extremely busy for a period of time. Both of them could only be affectionate for a short while when they returned to bed every day. Since it was not easy to have some free time and seeing that Chu Jinglan was busy, she went to find Lan-lan alone where she spent the whole afternoon feeding and bathing it.

She was sleeping soundly in the rocking chair once Chu Jinglan entered the door.

As the air in spring was still chilling, she should have been covered more tightly but the thin moon-white quilt was presently crumpled and hung on the armrest leaving most of Ye Huaiyang’s body uncovered with her chest and ankles exposed. The most significant was that a certain huge black and white thing was still arching around her body, emitting indistinct laughter from time to time.

How did Lan-lan come into the room!

With a darkened face, Chu Jinglan stepped forward to lift it and tossed it to the side.

“Oooh!”

It let out a scream seemingly very discontented with Chu Jinglan’s behavior as it turned over its round body and began to crawl with extreme agility this way again. Yet before it got close to Ye Huaiyang, it was swept away by Chu Jinglan’s foot who incidentally gave it a cold sidelong glance. It immediately dared not move again and sat on the ground, looking aggrievedly at them.

Turning around, Chu Jinglan pulled the quilt to cover Ye Huaiyang’s body then leaned closer to lightly kiss her neck and chest. Somewhat awakened by Lan-lan’s previous cries, she now felt awfully ticklish by Chu Jinglan’s action that she shoved him away dazedly.

“Lan-lan, don’t … “

Raising his dashing eyebrows abruptly, Chu Jinglan propped his body up to stare at her for a moment before ripping open the bamboo-leaf patterned lapels and bite accurately at the utmost spot through her underclothes when the delicate body was merely seen sprung up like getting electrocuted. Feeling pleased, he let go of his mouth and looked up. Ye Huaiyang whose eyes were widely opened had already awakened from a confused dream.

“…. Jinglan?”

“What, still thinking it’s the beast?”

His body pressed down heavily with intense discontentment. Hearing that, Ye Huaiyang understood then fawningly wrapped her hands around his arms and spoke coquettishly, “I was tired and did not pay attention to it climbing up. Don’t be upset …”

As she had just woken up, her voice was delicately soft which stirred the heartstring of Chu Jinglan. When he wanted to kiss her, who knew Lan-lan would suddenly snort loudly behind him as if looking down on Ye Huaiyang’s appearance of bowing low to flatter. Tilting her head to look at its expression, Ye Huaiyang laughed heartily all of a sudden.

“The temperament of you two … are really somewhat similar, ah…”

Chu Jinglan’s face became even darker as he got up intending to throw Lan-lan out. Fearing he might hurt Lan-lan with his strength, Ye Huaiyang hugged his waist hastily and said, “Let me, let me. I will take it out.”

Not waiting for Chu Jinglan to move, she ran to Lan-lan’s side after slipping her slippers on. Kneeling on the ground, she stroked its head and softly coaxed, “Good baby, go back and play in your lair first, okay? I will come back to keep you company after daddy leaves.”

Daddy!

Chu Jinglan instantly blew up hearing that word. Without demur, he walked over and slipped Lan-lan out of the window then pressed Ye Huaiyang against the wall as he spoke angrily, “Thrilling, is it?”

Ye Huaiyang giggled non-stop without replying which was evidently on purpose.

The dark eyes of Chu Jinglan narrowed as he loosened the hold of her hands then retreated two steps back,”It appears you are not interested to know what Lu Heng had told me today.”

After saying that, he purposely walked out. Ye Huaiyang reacted very quickly. Hooking her hands around his necks, she pounced on him and incidentally clamped her legs on his waist with an instant sharp change of attitude.

“King Uncle, it’s my fault…”

Squinting the corners of his eyes, Chu Jinglan asked, “Where’s the fault?”

“Everything …” Lowering her eyes, Ye Huaiyang buried her head in the hollow part of his shoulder, bearing a remarkable resemblance to a good child who changed after knowing her mistakes, “Lord King Uncle is magnanimous, forgive me this time … “

Chu Jinglan extended both hands to support her and realized she was cold all over. So, he raised his chin towards the inner room and said, “Go take a bath first. I will tell you when you come back.”

Accepting his words readily, Ye Huaiyang slid down then walked to the clean pool while untying the soft silk sash around her waist. She stopped her track suddenly and turned around where she flung her sleeve that the end whirled like a dazzling pink mist before it finally landed on Chu Jinglan’s shoulder. Chu Jinglan glanced sideways at her as one of her arms slightly akimbo her willowy waist and her palm gently tugged while her bewitching silk-like eyes seemingly wanting to ensnare his whole person along with his soul.

“Won’t King Uncle come along with Qieshen[1]?”

Chu Jinglan turned his hands over then using the force of the silk sash, he pulled her back into his arms and princess-carried her before walking towards the clean pool with a thin smile.


[1] 妾身 (Qiè shēn) – a from of self-address formerly used by a wife when speaking to her husband.

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