The carriage stopped after travelling the amount of time it took to finish a cup of tea.
The carriage hadn’t even made it to their destination yet, yet a servant was already reporting to his master. Jiang Qin was extremely happy, his only little sister was returning home. He brought his wife, Madam Li, and went to the gate ahead of time. Madam Li had been Jiang Qin’s head maid. She was a gentle and virtuous housekeeper as well as smart and good with money. Even before the marriage, she always acted as Jiang Qin’s good wife, and had a good relationship with the Jiang family.
Xie Lanyin was sitting in the carriage, so Madam Li first saw Xie Lanqiao riding on horseback. She spoke, pleasantly surprised, “Lanqiao, you can ride a horse now?”
She didn’t have any daughters so she loved her nieces even more than her husband.
“Aunt!” Xie Lanqiao hopped off the horse, and in three steps, arrived in front of her aunt, giving her a big hug. “Aunt, I’ve missed you so much. If I wasn’t afraid that mother would worry, I would have long ridden here myself instead of travelling so slowly with them.”
Hearing her niece’s sweet words, Madam Li couldn’t help but smile. She praised her niece, then they walked hand in hand to the carriage.
Xie Lanyin couldn’t wait any longer. She rushed to get out before her mother, and called out sweetly to her aunt.
The 13 year old young lady was wearing pink, and her smile made her look prettier than a flower. She was like a doll, with skin as smooth as polished jade. She would clearly become an outstanding beauty. Madam Li was stunned for a moment, then released Xie Lanqiao’s hand to personally help Xie Lanyin off the carriage. Still in shock, she said: “Lanyin, how did you grow to be so beautiful. Aunt almost didn’t recognize you. This won’t do, Aunt doesn’t want you to leave. Just stay here and be Aunt’s daughter!”
Xie Lanyin shot a glance towards Jiang Huaizhou, and complained, “But 3rd cousin said I should leave after the wedding feast…”
Her peach blossom eyes seemed as if they were really about to cry, looking adorable and pitiful, yet the corners of her lips faintly curled into a cute and crafty smile.
Madam Li immediately glared at her third son, “How old are you, still talking rubbish. You dare to bully Lanyin, I’ll kick you out!”
Seeing that his mother had become unreasonable, Jiang Huaizhou was frightened. He rubbed his nose and stood behind his eldest brother.
“Sister-in-law, don’t listen to Lanyin’s nonsense. She’s been bullying Huaizhou the entire trip. You don’t have to care about her.” Madam Jiang soon got off the carriage. She reached out, wanting to flick her daughter’s head. Xie Lanyin quickly dodged behind her aunt and saw her uncle who after all these years still looked as handsome and refined as before. She quickly ran over and embraced him.
His little sister had brought her daughters back. Their home would be more lively than it was at newyears. Jiang Qin patted his little niece’s head, and his eyes passed over Xie Lanqiao who was with his 2nd son Xia Hangzhou. Since the Xie Family had snatched his darling sister from them, then he should at least take one of his nieces back as daughter-in-law. His eldest niece was training under his sister’s husband. His youngest niece was only 13 years old. It seemed only Lanqiao and his 2nd son were appropriate.
Once his new daughter-in-law married into the family, he would talk to his little sister about this.
The party first went inside to catch up.
The Jiang family was wealthy, so the courtyard was extremely wide. With the nieces here, Madam Li and her husband discussed, and decided to build 3 new courtyards in the women’s section of the Jiang family home. These would be left for their nieces to use when they visited. Madam Jiang disliked Madam Li’s reckless spending. The courtyards wouldn’t even be used for a few days every year, it would be enough for the sisters to live in her own courtyard. Madam Li replied back that even after the girls married, they should still come back to visit. At that time, if they brought their family along, they would obviously need their own courtyard. Madam Jiang didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. She was extremely moved. Everyone said that her sister-in-law was marrying for social status, but she knew her sister-in-law’s good points. It was the Jiang family’s good fortune that her big brother could marry such a good woman.
After their meal, the sisters each returned to their own courtyards to rest.
Xie Lanyin’s courtyard was called The Moon Inviting Pavilion. Both their little courtyards had a pond and a pavilion. It was currently late spring, and the scenery was beautiful. Xie Lanyin had visited before, so being here was like being in her own home. She comfortably took a long bath, and laid down in her cozy bed to nap.
Having travelled for over a month, she was really tired. After relaxing, she ended up sleeping until evening.
“Miss, this afternoon your esteemed aunt sent a message. She said her body is feeling heavy so she won’t be coming, and to come and play when you have time.”
Sangzhi was combing her miss’s hair. Yingge was at the side, helping, while telling her miss the message.
Xie Lanyin looked at herself in the mirror and gave a wry smile. “Who would happily go visit her?”
She had two aunts on her father’s side. One was his father’s blood related older sister. She was in the capital, married to an official. To Xie Lanyin, that was the only aunt on his father’s side that she would acknowledge. The other one was her father’s cousin from his mother’s side, Xie Yao, 22 this year. Xie Lanyin could remember the times before Xie Yao married out. She remembered Xie Yao mocking her mother for being miserly with her money. She remembered that even Xie Yao’s servant girl would ridicule her mother, calling her a lowly merchant’s daughter. She even more remembered that when Xie Yao was getting married, she had patted her head and said with a beaming smile: “No matter how pretty you become, with your status the most you can be is someone’s concubine.”
At that time, Xie Lanyin was barely 6. Since none of the Xie family men had concubines, she didn’t know what that meant. She only knew that whatever Xie Yao said was definitely not good. She had gone back to ask her mother, and her mother’s face became extremely unsightly, not answering her question. Xie Lanyin had then asked her wet nurse. Only then did she know the difference between a wife and a concubine.
Ever since then, whenever Xie Yao returned home, Xie Lanyin completely ignored her, treating her words as passing wind, and keeping her distance. When Xie Yao’s husband, Fang Ze, was transferred to Shanxi to be a government official, Xie Lanyin was very happy. Finally, she didn’t have to meet this hateful aunt anymore. Who knew if Fang Ze was lucky or if he actually had the talent but he was quickly able to rise to the position of Xi’an prefecture’s magistrate by the age of 30, becoming her uncle’s superior.
“The madam sent a reply. She’s letting the two of you girls go pay your respects tomorrow.” Knowing their miss was not in a good mood, Yingge spoke quietly.
Hearing that, Xie Lanyin pursed her lips and didn’t say anything.
No matter how much she hated Xie Yao, they were still proper relatives. Her mother, as the older sister-in-law, could choose not to visit, but her and her sister were of the younger generation, so would attract criticism if they didn’t go. If this was somewhere else, Xie Lanyin wouldn’t care about what other people think, but this was Xi’an. She didn’t want to implicate her aunt and uncle.
Madam Li was currently with Madam Jiang, criticizing Xie Yao. “Her body is heavy? She’s only 4 months pregnant. Her sister-in-law came from so far, even if she was 6 months pregnant she should still drag herself and her child over! Since she’s not treating you as a sister-in-law, you don’t need to care about her. Tomorrow, neither Lanqiao or Lanyin have to go. They can just obediently stay home with me!”
Back when Xie Hui had proposed to Madam Jiang, and they learned that he had a stepmother, Madam Li didn’t want her to go through with it, but she wasn’t able to persuade her silly sister. She didn’t know what her sister’s time in Hangzhou was like, but just looking at Xie Yao’s condescending attitude, she could guess what the Xie family’s esteemed mother, Madam Chen, was like.
Madam Jiang’s heart was unperturbed as she tried to console her sister, “What’s there to be mad about? Isn’t it just going out for a bit and showing their face? You still don’t know Lanqiao and Lanyin’s temperament? They won’t even stay a quarter hour before leaving. Elder sister, just relax and prepare for Jizhou’s wedding. There’s only 5 days left, is everything ready?”
She wanted to change the topic, Madam Li looked at her resentfully, “Oh… You… Worrying about everything. Where did that fearless little girl go?”
Madam Jiang smiled helplessly. She’d already given birth to 3 daughters, if she continued to act wild, wouldn’t her daughters learn from her?
Xie Yao leaned lazily against the couch, listening to the servant girl’s reply. She learned that tomorrow, her two nieces from her family would come, which made her smile. “Good, it’s been a few years. I’m also curious to see how they’ve grown.”
Not receiving any more instructions, the servant girl bowed and backed out of the room. As she left, she accidently bumped into the elderly lady Liu.
Elder Lady Liu was Xie Yao’s wet nurse, and was the one who Xie Yao listened to most. She rubbed the arm that had been bumped sore, then reached out to pinch the servant girl’s face, “Are you blind or something? Right now the madam is pregnant, yet you’re still so careless. What if you accidently bump into the madam? I see you no longer want to work here, I’ll go tell the madam to quickly sell you off. The sooner the better!”
The little servant girl began to cry and beg for forgiveness.
Elder Lady Liu fiercely pushed her out, then continued to scold her before turning to enter the room.
Xie Yao knit her brows and looked over, “Things were fine, what’s the ruckus?”
Her favorite thing to do was to tease Madam Jiang’s daughters, so she happened to be in a good mood, but when people around her fussed over nothing, it soured her mood. Naturally, she wasn’t pleased.
Elder Lady Liu’s chest tightened as she met the leisurely and carefree madam, and thought of the situation she’d seen at the garden. She moved to Xie Yao’s side and whispered, “Madam, just now master brought a young lady to fish by the lakeside. That slut was all dressed up, pretending not to know how to fish so that master would teach her…”
Xie Yao suddenly sat up, tearing at her handkerchief, eyes opening wide. “He’s teaching?”
Elder Lady Liu didn’t utter a word, her old face was dark as if it was about to rain.
Men aren’t anything good. When a beautiful girl takes the initiative to approach them, who would refuse?
Xie Yao understood, but was so mad she almost shattered her white teeth. She looked out the window and spoke, “Go. I’m going to go pay a visit. See if he still dares to teach her in front of me!”
Elder Lady Liu quickly helped her into her shoes and clothes, then supported her as they walked to the lakeside.
Fang Family’s Garden.
Xi’an prefecture’s magistrate Fang Ze wore a green garment as he stood behind his little cousin Du Yinger. It seemed as if he was teaching her to fish, but his eye’s were fixed on Du Yinger’s neckline. Du Yinger was 15 this year, the age when girls began to blossom. She had grown beautiful with a figure any woman would be proud of. Her chest bulged visibly, supporting her robe, the sight of her neckline was erotict, the exciting feeling of being half visible yet half hidden.
“Ok, I got it. Cousin, move aside.” The man’s burning gaze, how could Du Yinger not feel it? Although she was doing it intentionally, it was still embarrassing in broad daylight, so she shyly shifted to the side.
The servants had already all been dismissed. Fang Ze looked at his 7 year old daughter who was nearby, his right arm still embracing his little cousin, helping her hold the fishing rod. His left hand then secretly held Du Yinger’s waist, using his body to hide his action. “Little Cousin, what perfume are you using today?”
“Cousin…” His hot breath blew against her face, making Du Yinger panic, afraid he would do something rash in front of his daughter. She quickly attempted to move aside, but Fang Ze held onto her tightly, taking a deep breath full of her scent. “Little cousin, you look so nice today. Later, after you look around the shops, wait for me at the Bright Moon building.”
She was smart, she had hooked him, but couldn’t easily give him what he wanted, otherwise Fang Ze would just eat her up. Although he couldn’t have her, being able to cuddle and be intimate for an afternoon was still good. At the very least, it was better than being home with Xie Yao.
Du Yinger gave him an angry glance, and was about to say something when she saw the mistress and servant duo making their way over.
Xie Lanyin: Tsk~ Tsk~ looks like there will be some drama tomorrow.
King Qin: I’ll come watch with you.
Xie Lanyin: Making me wait so long, get away from me!
King Qin: … say it again?
Xie Lanyin: Get away from me!
King Qin: It turns out your yelling voice is also so pleasant to hear.
Xie Lanyin: …!!!