儿 | er | (lit. child) diminutive marker used as a form of endearment
时辰 | sichen | time system comprising of 12 two-hour periods of the day; one sichen is the equivalent of two modern hours
Last night, Lu Piao Xiang was too excited, causing Ruan Zhu to also not have slept well. Squinting her eyes at his figure that had already risen, she called for Nuan Chun to enter and serve his Master the morning meal before flipping over and going back to sleep.
Ruan Zhu would have continued sleeping until the day was bright if it wasn’t for Ruan Yu running over in boredom.
“Eldest Sister, get up. While Pa isn’t home, let’s go bring Ma back.” Ruan Yu rocked her shoulder and pat it a few times before shouting: “It’s already this late yet you’re still sleeping. Even pigs wake up earlier than you.”
“There are no classes on the weekend.” Ruan Zhu dazedly said a sentence and pulled the blankets over her head.
“Hurry and get up; ‘the weekend,’ my butt.” Ruan Yu tore her blankets off.
“Hah? Weekend?” Ruan Zhu started and sat up. She stared blankly at her before pointing a finger in her direction: “You’re a transmigrator; who are you? Quickly come out from inside, otherwise I’ll pour black dog’s blood all over you.”
“Eldest Sister, you’ve gone insane.”
Ruan Yu picked up a pillow and swung it at her head. Luckily, Ruan Zhu’s pillow was different from the ones typical of this era and was filled with cotton, or else she would not have avoided sustaining an injury. Although the pillow was not heavy, it was still able to hit her into wakefulness. She dazedly looked at her second sister. Thankfully, she was still normal. She then lowered her head and looked at herself. Last night after she had finished messing around in the study with Lu Piao Xiang, they had returned and changed into pajamas. If they had messed around in bed, then they would have simply gone to sleep right after.
“Yu’er, in the future when you want to enter my room, remember to knock.” Ruan Zhu stretched: “Leave first, I want to change.”
Ruan Yu scoffed and said disdainfully: “It’s not like I don’t know what’s on your body. We used to bathe together when we were little, hmm? What are you now pretending to be pure for when you have already become a mother? Hurry up and get ready, we still have to bring Mother back.”
“I got it.”
One sichen later, Ruan Zhu was ready. Because she was going to her nominal maternal grandparents’ home, she did not want to lose face and intentionally dressed up. Her upper body was attired in emerald green floating Su silk that was threaded with gold, while a trailing skirt with scattered pink daffodils and green leaves was on her lower half. The slender and delicate waist was bound by a jadeite brocade belt with a purple border and on the side of her midriff hung a crescent mutton-fat jade.
Her hair had been coiled by Nuan Chun into a suiyunji.
Her hair had been coiled by Nuan Chun into a suiyunji and an emerald jade hairpin had been inserted, reflecting a face that was like a hibiscus with a pair of sparkling phoenix eyes and spotlessly white skin that was like a freshly peeled egg. The mesmerizing small mouth was like a just-bloomed plum blossom and a pair of small dimples were symmetrically placed on either sides of her cheeks. With a faint smile, these dimples would faintly appear, making her as lovely and cute as a fairy.
As the weather was still a little cold, she draped a brand new arctic fox fur cloak lined with pink satin over her shoulders, and the lotus flower stepped out of her room.
Ruan Yu had also changed clothes. Her long hair was bound by a hairpin and an indigo satin long gown with tight sleeves was on her body. On her feet were a pair of delicate and small moccasins and her entire outfit was like her temper–all fresh, relaxed, and in order. She looked Ruan Zhu up and down a few times: “Eldest Sister, it’s hard to imagine but you actually look rather good after dressing up.”
Ruan Zhu wanted to curse as her words made it seem like she looked unsightly when not dressed up.
Two carriages had already been prepared in front of the residence. The two sisters boarded the leading carriage that was decorated and of red mahogany while their male attendants boarded the second one.
The coachmen urged the horses forward and they ambled along Zhu Que Street. Passing the most flourishing areas, they gradually went further away from that section. After winding through several streets, they entered a grand and broad alley. It could be seen that honorable families lived in this district.
Based on what Ruan Zhu knew, her maternal grandfather was a seventh-rank military official and had led troops against bandits in his younger years; he was one with a bit of skill. One day, he had saved a traveling merchant that was Ruan Zi Xu’s father, which was precisely Ruan Zhu’s paternal grandfather. Thus, a betrothal was formed between their two children and the Ruan Zi Xu with such abundant ability wedded a lioness and brought her home.
The coachmen stopped the carriages in front of a residence’s entrance.
Nuan Chun walked over to support his Master in getting off the carriage. He hadn’t yet advanced to announce themselves at the gate when the courtyard door was suddenly flung open and several men and women were driven out from inside. An elderly man with anger evident on his face swung a large broom in his hand at each of the men.
Soon after came an elderly woman who held several parcels and threw them at the woman with a petite figure. Once she had thrown everything, she crudely berated them: “An entire group of useless and destitute beggars. You have all ate for free and stayed for free and should have long left!”
The old man used the broom to sweep the men outside, then helped the old woman inside before tightly closing the door with a clatter.
The petite figure picked up the parcels while swearing: “Aren’t those old farts still spending my Ma’s money? What sort of things do you believe you are? If my Ma hadn’t spent silver to redeem your house back, you’d both long have been sleeping on the streets. Wanting to kick me out of the house while my Ma isn’t home, this aunt is telling you it’s impossible! Later when my Ma returns and I tell her what happened, she’ll sort out both of you old farts.”
Whose family’s woman was she to make such an unreasonable scene in the middle of the street without even a single bit of etiquette?
Ruan Zhu had just muttered that to herself, but she didn’t expect that the female was actually Ruan Ju! The clothes on her body were very gorgeous, but it was obvious they were a little big and that she was wearing someone else’s clothes.
Ruan Zhu and Ruan Yu were standing in front of the carriages. Nuan Chun and Nuan Qing were afraid the other group would offend their Master and carefully stood by her side.
Ruan Ju at this time saw the two sisters. Upon seeing their expensive and noble clothing, her originally indignant expression became so angry her entire face flushed red, and her beautiful facial features immediately distorted. Throwing the dirty parcels in their direction, she shouted: “We are all Ma’s daughters so why is it both of you can eat well and clothe well while I have to actually live like a beggar!?”
Nuan Chun caught the packages that had been thrown in Ruan Zhu’s direction and quickly cast them to the ground.
Ruan Yu did not buy her words and coldly responded: “Because we are Pa’s daughters. You are not.” With this girl’s aloof attitude, there was a sentence left unsaid–Because my Pa has the ability to earn large sums of money whil your Pa only knew how to use his fox charms to fool around with women.
But Nuan Chun did not care who it was and spoke out the thoughts in his Master’s heart. He coldly snorted: “Your Pa is earning money for you in a whorehouse, hmm? You should go there to look for him!”
Ruan Ju shrieked: “By no means is that filthy and shameless thing in the whorehouse my Pa. I am Ruan Zi Xu’s daughter; I have always had the ‘Ruan’ family name.”
“There has always been affection between the Ruan family members, but I fail to see where you resemble that at all?”
“You are a lowly dog slave. To dare speak this way to this miss, you truly are bold.”
“Younger Sister Ju!” Wei Jia walked out from a side door and stopped in front of Ruan Ju, handing over a small bag of silver: “This is the several tens of taels of silver I have saved up. Take it to use. If it’s not enough, Elder Brother will think of a way.”
Disdain appeared on Nuan Chun’s face: “Isn’t this all my Ruan family’s silver? Seems you’re just as courageous and forceful in setting up the members of the Ruan family as you are in using the Ruan clan’s money.”
Wei Jia widened his eyes in a glare and shouted: “Dog slave, aren’t you just a dog raised by the Ruan family? What qualification do you have to address this young master?”
Nuan Chun laughed, blinked his eyes, and then smoothed the small mustache above his lip: “I am precisely a dog and one that understands to be thankful for eating my master’s food; unlike some people who, after eating master’s food, turn around and bite them.”
Wei Jia was so angered, his entire face was ashen.
Ruan Zhu looked at Nuan Chun’s comical appearance and finally realized to her surprise, he had long become an adult and his stubble was actually very distinct. She thought in her mind: Tomorrow, she’ll tell him to shave, for men indeed looked better when they were all clean and refreshed. She also should say a few words in reprimand to stop him from continuing to speak nonsense. If he offended Wei Jia, Madam Ruan would surely be hopping mad. It was more important to handle the business they came here to do.
“Nuan Chun, go knock on the gate.”
Nuan Chun knocked for a while but did not hear any activity of the door moving, thus he forcibly pounded on it a few times. A voice could be heard from inside scolding: “What are you knocking for? Looking for trouble in broad daylight, ah?”
The two vermilion painted gates opened and the same old man waving the large broom walked over again, curses still spilling from his mouth: “This old man will beat you dirty things to death. Eating and staying for free and even steal this old man’s silver to gamble. Truly worthless animals with rotten hearts.”
“Maternal grandfather, I am Yu’er. How could you casually hit someone?”
One couldn’t see when Ruan Yu had moved her hands, but they reached forwards and grabbed onto the broom, before pushing it to the side and neutralizing the old man’s strength. She laughed: “Maternal grandfather, you’ve been promoted and gained wealth. Fortune has come upon you so what are you doing wielding a broom like a pike for?”
Ruan Zhu walked over to bow in respect, the corner of her mouth lifting in a smile: “Maternal grandfather.”
The old man stared blankly at them before joy spread over his face: “Zhu’er, Yu’er, when did you two sisters come to the capital? It’s to take your Ma home, right? I don’t even know what happened between your Pa and Ma; they’re already this old but still make this old man worry so much. If it wasn’t that the imperial court was currently in war, I would have long gone to see you in Yu Zhou. Aiya, quickly come inside and sit.”
The two sisters followed the old man inside to the courtyard, but Ruan Ju also ran inside behind them.
“I am also your maternal granddaughter; I also want to go inside.”
“Scram. A child of a man from a whorehouse dares to pretend to be my granddaughter.” The old man shouted his curses and waved for some servants to force Ruan Ju out before personally leading the two sisters into the drawing room of the main building.
The vermilion red gates were promptly shut and Ruan Ju was locked outside. No matter how much she screamed until her throat was damaged, no one paid her any attention.
“You two old farts, later when my Ma comes back, she’ll put both of you straight!” Ruan Ju pounded the door–bang, bang–, swore for a while, and then kicked the door a few times as well.
“Younger Sister Ju, you should first find an inn to stay at. When Ma comes back, then we’ll think of a plan.”
Wei Jia looked at those several husbands behind Ruan Ju with a face full of disgust before turning away and departing.
After Wei Jia’s silhouette had disappeared, one of Ruan Ju’s husbands walked over from behind: “Wife, you’ll surely lose all of that silver if you hold onto it. How about giving it to me for safekeeping? I’m not Eldest Brother and won’t go to some stupid gambling den.”
Ruan Ju’s head shook like a pellet drum and she quickly tucked the purse inside her lapel.
Their maternal grandfather’s home was a two compound courtyard paved with glazed blue brick tiles. It could be considered as not bad and they also had around ten servants. Their daughters had already married out while their concubine-born sons had all settled out on their own. There was only the eldest son of the principal husband, which would be the two sisters’ maternal uncle, however he was currently outside leading soldiers in the war.
When their maternal grandmother found out the two sisters had come, she was so pleased she personally went to the kitchen to cook.
Their maternal grandfather selected a good tea from his collection to receive the two siblings with. The current market prices were excessively high as the tea leaves from Mount Wu Yi were currently within the area occupied by the Red Eyebrow army and simply could not be transported to the capital. As the tea route was obstructed, the people in the capital could only drink the tea from Jiang Nan. The price of that tea was not expensive, but the old man had drank Wu Yi black tea for a lifetime and was very unaccustomed to this other tea. He knew that the members of the Ruan clan had the same tastes as him. If it was other guests, he would be very reluctant to take out this tea.
Ruan Zhu thought she should say something: “Maternal grandfather, my Ma......”
Her maternal grandfather originally was in a very cheerful mood but immediately became outraged after hearing Ruan Zhu bring up Madam Ruan: “Do not mention that shameful thing.”
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