Chapter 14: Hand in Hand by the Roadside
Madam Yun also laughed. Although she had more than ten children, from the beginning, the position of the eldest son from the principal husband was above those of the other children. Shi Yi and Shi Wei were Master Yun’s children, thus had a status that her secondary husbands’ children were not capable of standing shoulder to shoulder with.
“After you all have finished eating, you two brothers and Zhu Zhu come over to my courtyard. I’ll ask the kitchen to add some more dishes so don’t return to your residence tonight. Shi Yi, Mother knows you are busy with your shop in the city, but it’s not often that you return home so just stay another night!”
The head of the Yun household earnestly said in a well-mannered fashion while putting on airs. The way his parents spoke to him were unlike how they spoke to their other sons, where they usually instructed and admonished.
“Understood. This son will do as Mother bids.”
Madam Yun looked with satisfaction at her son and daughter-in-law before leaving Jian Garden. The two Yun brothers and Ruan Zhu sent her to the entrance, staying until they could no longer see no figure. Afterwards, Yun Shi Wei shouted loudly: “Dao Qiang, Jian Ji, go order Xiao Feng and Xiao Shan, those two disgraceful dogs, to come over for this old master! Fuck, they even dare to sell out this old master. I must get rid of these two backstabbers[a].”
Madam Yun must have received the information that he had been insulted by Ma Cui Yun from Xiao Feng and Xiao Shan.
Ruan Zhu pfft in laughter. She had heard Yun Shi Yi mention Xiao Feng’s and Xiao Shan’s backstories on their ride to the Yun family manor. They were originally slaves that had been born and raised in this residence and then later, followed Yun Shi Yi. All their contract expenses had been paid by the eldest young master of the Yun family and had zero connection with the second young master. From what basis did he want to use to call them backstabbers?
Suddenly, her waist felt tight–Yun Shi Wei had picked her up into the air, freely laughing: “Zhu Zhu, Spouse, you can’t leave. You’ve already agreed to stay in Jian Garden and accompany me.”
He had agreed, but when did she agree?
Ruan Zhu looked at Yun Shi Yi, her eyes crying out for help. He smiled at her, signaling soundlessly with his mouth: Be at ease!
Helpless, Ruan Zhu was carried by the Yun family’s second young master into his bedroom.
Nowadays, there were many things that caused one to feel depressed. The Chinese football team failed to qualify for the World Cup; basketball has finally come close to football, joining hands and succeeding in becoming fellows in the same boat, both contributing to corrupting the world of sport; women’s volleyball has slid from its legendary state in the 80’s to now being below average; and at the Olympics, Liu Xiang hurt his leg.
But, now all of that has nothing to do with her. It’s better for her to look after what is currently in front of her eyes!
Ruan Zhu was carried by Yun Shi Wei onto the bed. Miserably, she sized up his bedroom. There was no trace of an attractive style at all. It was all furniture: chairs and tables, a bed. There was none of Yun Shi Yi’s literary and elegant style. No famous paintings, no guqin, there weren’t any calligraphy scrolls or anything that even remotely resembled paper.
The bed’s mattress was not thick enough–it looked to be about the same thickness as her waist. It could be said that the one sleeping on this mattress had to have a strong body. Rather than saying this was the room of a rich second generation, it was better to call it a military barrack.
“Hey, rich second generation....ah, no, Second Cousin, are you poor?” When it comes to Ruan Zhu, this person, she was normally unusually absent-minded and her temperament was also a little muddle-headed. Prior to age fifteen, even if she had walked a path three of four times before, she would still get lost. With an exception for the romance novels she loved to read where she could remember every single characteristic of all the attractive male leads, she could still sometimes forget to do the homework that her teachers had assigned the same day. Even she herself was surprised by how she got into college. How had she managed to muddle her way to a passing score?
“Poor?” Yun Shi Wei was in the middle of untying her clothes. Hearing her question, his movements stopped.
Ruan Zhu’s waist and legs were still sore from this morning’s passionate scene. Feeling somewhat uneasy after remembering his reckless enthusiasm, she looked all around her for a topic to divert the attention of the other party. “This bed will injure my back and waist. If I lay down on it, the muscles of my back will become strained. You are a man so your body may not feel uncomfortable, but if a woman’s back has the slightest injury, she will be unable to bear children.”
Yun Shi Wei’s expression became serious. Not being able to have children was a grave matter as it was a major problem with severe consequences. He spun on his heel, heading towards the living room before pushing the door open to go outside.
“Dao Qiang, Jian Ji, go to Steward Zhao and bring two thick mattresses over. Hurry, I’m impatiently waiting to use them!”
Arriving at the courtyard, he pulled open the door and shouted out. He was so loud that Ruan Zhu could clearly hear him from the bedroom. This idiot, how could he say it like that? Wouldn’t the people listening to him have their imaginations run wild?
Feeling satisfied, Yun Shi Wei returned to his bedroom only to find the room empty of people except him. There was no sight of his beloved woman’s footprints and he stared blankly for a while. Abruptly, he flew into a rage: “Yun Shi Yi, you despicable bastard, lacking in morals. I, Yun Shi Wei, am not finished with you!”
On a sandstone road outside the Yun manor, Ruan Zhu wandered side by side with her hubby from the ancient era. Immersing herself in the warm breeze, she admired the vast open country and fields full of the figures of bustling farmers working in groups of two or three people, sowing seeds. Her mood also became tranquil.
The ancient era did not have internet or modern civilization but this primitive atmosphere that was pure and dignified really fascinated her.
“Second Cousin won’t be angry, right?”
“No matter. He has an irascible temperament but also cools down quickly. Later, if you just say a few words and coax him a little, I promise he will be all smiles.” Yun Shi Yi smiled and reached out a hand to smooth her long jet-black hair that had been blown in disarray by the wind. “But tonight you should still sleep in Jian Garden or else the lion would probably roar in rage.”
“Then you accompany me.” She didn’t have the courage to face the wild beast alone.
“That’s exactly what I was hoping for.” Yun Shi Yi’s voice was as bright and clear as the sky.
The two people walked hand in hand. From their back came a carriage, and as it came closer, it turned out Fifth Husband Zhao was the one driving. Seeing the Yun heir by the roadside, he immediately got out of the carriage to bow in respect.
The status of a secondary husband was much stronger than that of a bed warmer. The former were able to be recorded into the household registry by the authorities and were considered to be half a slave of their Wife while the latter were considered to be true slaves. It could be said that bed warmers did not have any status whatsoever and were considered their master’s property. Under Tian Chu’s laws, it was not illegal for a family to beat one of their bed warmers or other ‘true’ slaves to death.
“Is Hai’er inside the carriage?” Yun Shi Yi glanced at the carriage window. The weather was nice and warm so there was only a layer of muslin obstructing the window of the carriage. A single breeze caused the muslin curtain to flutter, allowing a pale man enter their eyes. Although his face looked a bit haggard from his sickness, some of his heroic spirit managed to penetrate through.
“Replying to Eldest Young Master, Zhao the Fifth is on the way to bring Hai’er to the city’s Tianyi Pavilion, just as Eldest Young Master has arranged.” He pushed the muslin curtain to the side, saying into the carriage: “Hai’er, we were fortunate to receive Eldest Young Master’s benevolent favor. Because of this, you have a place to live. Quickly come down and pay your respects.”
The man inside made a sound of assent but just as he was about to get up, Yun Shi Yi waved his hand: “That is not necessary. You should hurry and send him to Tianyi Pavilion and settle him down.”
“Thanks to Eldest Young Master.”
Zhao the Fifth bowed to him again before returning to the driver’s seat and setting off.
Ruan Zhu gazed at the vehicle as it traveled away from them. Her mind was filled with suspicion. Just now, she had carelessly looked at Hai’er and found him to be a little familiar as if she had met him previously in some location. But she couldn’t remember. After thinking a bit, she could only laugh at her poor memory. It has only been a few days since she crossed into this ancient period and she had only met a few people, so why was she letting her imagination run wild? Is it possible that other than her, there were others that had also crossed over to Tian Chu?
The two of them continued to hold hands and walk along the road but a little while later, another carriage came from behind them. This time, it was Lou Yun and Cai Yue in the drivers’ seat. The two of them were following Madam Yun’s orders to send Qian Feng Jiao home. Seeing their own young master on the road, they got off the carriage to bow in greeting.
“Eldest Young Master, Eldest Young Lady, the Master and Madam has requested us to send Miss Qian Feng Jiao back.” After Lou Yue finished speaking, he thought a bit: “As we were leaving, we chanced upon Second Young Master searching for Eldest Young Lady all throughout the manor. His expression was not good. He also requested for us to immediately report back if we happened to see our young lady.”
“I understand. The two of you can send Younger Cousin back!” Yun Shi Yi said in reply.
The carriage’s window was wide open. Ruan Zhu’s eyes wandered over and saw that Miss Qian sat inside the carriage. The latter had prominent tear stains at the corners of her eyes and seeing her love rival, she glared over with bitter resentment, cursing: “You depraved prostitute that likes to court disaster, I will blind your dog eyes. When stealing men, you dare to steal from this great-aunt. You really have no sense of shame!”
In her extremely simple thoughts, it was Ruan Zhu’s existence that shattered the beautiful dream she had of marrying her eldest cousin. However, she had never considered if Yun Shi Yi would have accepted her. All extremely arrogant people considered themselves as the center of the universe, so they believed all others revolved around them.
The more Qian Feng Jiao thought, the angrier she became. From her hair, she pulled out a gold hairpin and ruthlessly threw it with all of her strength. She knew a little martial arts so the gold hairpin flew towards Ruan Zhu’s face in a split second. There was not even the opportunity for Ruan Zhu to dodge.
Yun Shi Yi pushed his body forward. With a swing of his sleeve, the gold hairpin was swept into the small sludge-filled ditch next to the road. He coldly looked at the culprit: “Just based on your crafty, headstrong, egotistical and ignorant temper, no man will ever fancy you. What Shi Wei said was not wrong. No matter what it is, Zhu Zhu is better than you. She is more beautiful, more gentle, more reasonable, even her voice sounds nicer than yours.”
Qian Feng Jiao’s face was pale as she blankly stared. She had always thought Eldest Cousin was an extraordinary man–pure, smart, and noble. Although he rarely spoke and did not seem to really like her, she had always thought it was because of his personality. It was due to her believing she was different in his eyes that she had said all of those things.
She suddenly burst into tears, wailing so loudly Ruan Zhu felt her ears had gone numb. She moved backwards a few steps, somewhat sympathizing with her. But if someone told you they didn’t like you, shouldn’t you look at where your faults where? Who should one blame in that case?
“Simply not knowing her place. Lou Yun, Cai Yue, hurry and take her away. I never want to see this person again.”
“Yes, Eldest Young Master.”
Lou Yun and Cai Yue hoisted themselves up to the drivers seat and drove the carriage away.
Ruan Zhu gazed at the carriage that was getting further and further away. Her two clear almond eyes looked towards the man at her side: “She should know martial arts, right?”
“That is the customary habit of this place. Ever since the An Shi Rebellion occurred several hundred years ago, the Great Ancestor came from Lan Zhou and went on to pacify the whole world. That was the start of the militaristic rule of this country. All the people who share the same hometown as the Great Ancestor proudly practice martial arts and even females will know a few moves.”
“An Shi Rebellion[b]?” Ruan Zhu widened her eyes in astonishment. Sure enough, there was some connection with some historical Chinese dynasty. But she wasn’t exactly sure who this so-called Great Ancestor was. She slanted a glance at him and whispered: “You should have multiple years of mutual feelings with your younger cousin from the Qian family, right?”
“Our two families are not too far apart physically so she often visited as a guest. Father has only this one niece so he also quite spoiled her. He had us yield to her every time but we all had our own things to do. Studying, practicing martial arts, I even had to learn how to manage the clan while Shi Wei was a martial arts simpleton. The things I had to do increased even further as four years ago, I went to the city to make a living. Any contact with the Qian family naturally decreased over time.” Yun Shi Yi’s eyes were azure and serene like a lake, displaying his deep love: “Wife, don’t let your imagination run wild. Men are not like you women. Once we accept our marriage, we will absolutely not act recklessly. We treat our wife with extreme devotion.”
Her way of thinking had indeed changed. She had completely written off the men of her original space-time who would toy with women because doing so made them happy. The more women they dallied with, the more reputation the men gained. Being indecent actually caused the womanizer to receive even more attention from other women,
“Being a man means one cannot destroy his own future prospects. In the case that it happens, it has the meaning of causing damage to his reputation for his entire lifetime. Not only would business be hard to conduct, socializing with people would also be hard to do.”
“Just like Fifth Father Zhao?”
Yun Shi Yi nodded his head. Using his finger to poke at her forehead, he smiled: “You don’t even understand this. Luckily, you are a young lady from a prominent family but it’s clear that you are rather muddle-headed.”
Ruan Zhu lowered her head, hiding her eyes. It wasn’t false that she was always somewhat confused but she is not from a prominent household. Her heart felt slightly melancholic. If Yun Shi Yi were to know that she was not the real Ruan Zhu, would he perhaps long for the previous soul of this body? Immediately, she laughed boisterously. The Heavens let her cross over so and now she clearly is Ruan Zhu and is his wife. How could it be that her relationship with him for a lifetime could not amount to the one day he had spent with the previous soul?
[a] Term used was 吃里扒外 (chi li pa wai) which literally translates to ‘eat inside, (hand) clinging outwards’. Think of when a person enters a company, learns said company’s trade secrets, quits their job, and then opens their own business based off of their previous job’s trade secrets. That kind of concept.
[b] 安史之乱 | An Shi Rebellion | rebellion that greatly weakened the Tang dynasty (Wikipedia)
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