Changying the Lady - Chapter 22
After having the meal, Wei Zhenghong still had some energy, so he asked his wife and daughter to stay and have a talk with him. Mostly it was Wei Changying who was talking, and Madam Song grumbled every now and then. Wei Changfeng listened quietly and peeped at his father’s demeanor from time to time, trying to figure him out. Demeanor was highly valued between families, so even though Wei Zhenghong was weak and suffered from sickness and pain all the time, his demeanor was enough to make most of those self-praised children of the gentlefolks admit defeat.
Needless to say, back in the days Madam Song was the clan’s lineal daughter, the precious and beloved apple of the eye in the Song Family in Jiangnan. Although marriage between the Song Family and the Wei Family gave priority to children of the appropriate age within the families, as the daughter of the Family Head of the now Song Family in Jiangnan, if she wasn’t willing to marry, neither the Song Family nor the Wei Family could force her. Having such a strong disposition, Madam Song surely knew it would be difficult for her to marry Wei Zhenghong. But the fact that she was glad to marry him had a lot to do with Wei Zhenghong’s demeanor. If Madam Song weren’t truly in love with him, she wouldn’t be willing to sacrifice herself.
Having a father like this, although Wei Changfeng didn’t say anything from the outside, in his heart, he was eager to learn from his father’s demeanor and dignity. Therefore, every time they met, Wei Changfeng didn’t focus on having a conversation, but instead put his entire heart into learning and pondering about his father.
But Wei Changying, who was whole heartedly determined to rely on Wushu for her future, apparently had no such thoughts. She had been chirping around Wei Zhenghong talking about this and that, her eyes and eyebrows moved lively. Under the green shade, the man wearing a lake blue gown listened to her smilingly, looking pleasant and glad. Only when his daughter was not paying attention did he frown and suppress his pain, being like this for more than half an hour, it was not until the manservant had come up to remind that Wei Zhenghong had to rest did Madam Song get up to leave, hoping that she could stay more time.
After leaving Leyi Yard, Madam Song looked back disconsolately, and then said to her children lethargically, “You two go back now, and don’t forget your schoolwork, so your father won’t worry about you. Have you got it?”
The sister and brother agreed. Madam Song said again in a low voice, “Today Changying has done a great job. Your father loves seeing you looking lively and energetic. But Changfeng, you were too quiet today, this will make your father think that you are not affectionate to him. Remember to improve your behaviors next time!”
Wei Changying wiped away the sweat on her forehead and said, “I saw that Changfeng had been staring at father all along, and it looked like he had something to say to father.”
“No, it’s not that.” Although Wei Changfeng looked mature at his young age in comparison to his sister who was active and unruly, and that he liked to keep an appearance of being calm and composed as a child from a prominent family. However, he was still young, being reprimanded by his mother and joked by his sister, his face flushed with awkwardness. He looked a bit bewildered and said, “I just saw that father looked like he was in a good mood today.”
Although Wei Zhenghong was constantly ill, he had great inner strength and didn’t like to tell his pain to others, especially in front of his children. Even if he was feeling tremendous pain, he would simply frown slightly, and when talking to his children, he was always smiling lightly… Madam Song felt sad in her heart thinking of all these, but she still tried to smile and said, “He was always happy to see you two.”
Because she was worried about Wei Zhenghong, Madam Song wasn’t in the mood to talk to her children. After urging them with a few words, they all departed and left for their own place.
After Wei Changying returned to Xianshuang Court, Mrs. He brought an invitation to her and said, “The invitation from the mansion of Duke Jingping has arrived.”
“Is it for second sister’s birthday?” Wei Changying took the invitation and read it. Seeing that it was the same as the previous years, she put it down casually and said, “Just prepare something according to last year’s gift.”
Mrs. He knew that Wei Changying had always been disapproving of the way Wei Changxian had bullied the third branch. Thinking that Wei Changxian was hurting the reputation of Wei Huan’s branch, her gift for her had always lacked effort. She reminded Wei Changying, “It is said that the Liu Family is about to adopt an heir for second Miss, should we add something more to her gift?”
“Adopt an heir?” Wei Changying was surprised, and then she responded immediately, “It has been two years since Liu Jizhao passed away, why only bring it up now?”
Although nowadays most of the young widows would remarry for a living, prominent families still valued etiquettes. For a lady like Wei Changxian who had been widowed only a few years after her marriage, even if she returned to her maiden family, she would basically live in widowhood for the rest of her life. Wei Changxian was the Wei Family’s clan lineal daughter, and her husband Liu Jizhao had quite some status in the Liu Family. Besides, he had died for his country, so it was natural that he should not have no heir. Earlier when Wei Changxian was newly widowed, Wei Huan’s branch had already discussed privately why the Liu Family didn’t adopt an heir for Liu Jizhao.
After all, if Wei Changxian could have a child to raise, she would still have something to look forward to. Otherwise, being a young widow, one could not imagine what to do all day. But Wei Changxian hadn’t mentioned an heir in the past two years after she returned, so Wei Changying thought that she wasn’t willing to have a child, and that she was planning to randomly pick someone to wail for the deceased on her death bed.
Mrs. He laughed and said, “First Miss, I know you have been thinking about martial arts all day, but how come you paid no attention to what people have been talking about? Now everyone in the mansion is aware of this, the second Miss didn’t want a child from the collateral branch of the Liu Family, and only wanted one of Liu Jizhao’s nephews. But it happened to be that Liu Jizhao’s brother didn’t have many children himself. Earlier there were no young children available, and the older ones she worried that they wouldn’t grow affectionate to her. Now that last month Liu Zhongzhao’s concubine finally gave birth to a newborn son, because he already has another two older lineal sons, the Liu Family has sent someone over to Fengzhou, asking whether the second Miss wanted this child.”
“And second sister wanted this child?” asked Wei Changying.
“Of course, she did.” Mrs. He said, “Although he is a son of the concubine, he is still Liu Jizhao’s biological nephew, and they are closely related. If this time she hadn’t said yes, who would know when the next available child would come? After all, the second Miss has been pretty lonely in the mansion of the Duke Jingping these past two years, raising an heir would give her something to do.”
Wei Changying nodded and said, “That would be a good thing. When she has some serious affairs to tend to, she wouldn’t be finding fault with our branch all the time.”
“In fact, both Duke Jingping’s mansion and our mansion were the old Family Head’s flesh and blood, and both were situated in the city of Fengzhou. If we could get along with one another lovingly, that would be the best.” Mrs. He said smilingly, “First Miss, you should not be upset with the second Miss all the time. She lost her loving husband just like that, although she could still live an extravagant lifestyle, feast on delicious food and dress elegantly, what hope could she have in the future? An adopted heir, no matter how good, could not compare with her own child after all.”
Mrs. He had a strong disposition, and she would never let anyone take advantage of her. She was very fond of Wei Changying and always listened to her. There were only two people who she had different opinions on than Wei Changying, being that she disliked Jiang Zheng and sympathized Wei Changxian. This was because Mrs. He herself was a widow as well, her husband died from a disease the year after she became Wei Changying’s wet nurse. Two of them had a son who was only three months older than Wei Changying, but unfortunately, he died when he was six years old.
Mrs. He was young then, and Madam Song pitied her for her misfortune. Since she was only a servant, she didn’t need to value etiquette like the Misses in the Wei Family who could not marry a second husband. In private, Madam Song had asked her if she would be willing to remarry, so at least she could have a child of her own. However, if she had agreed, she wouldn’t be able to nurse Wei Changying. Since in a noble family like the Wei Family, the close servants of the Misses had to be virtuous maidservants who had moral integrity, and leaving a remarried woman by the side of a lineal Miss would lead to others discussing whether Wei Changying would be taught to be an unchaste lady.
But Mrs. He was devastated by the death of her only child, and after years by the side of first Miss, she had grown affectionate to Wei Changying. Therefore, she refused to leave her young master, and thanked Madam Song for her kindness.
Because Mrs. He herself had lost her only son and became a widow when she was young, she was especially understanding and compassionate towards Wei Changxian, who had a similar experience with her.
Wei Changying knew well of this, so while she was being persuaded by Mrs. He, she responded, “There, there, the second sister hasn’t found trouble with me, and I have never offended her either.”
She thought about it, and then said, “Just add some grapes or pomegranates, or anything else that would be suitable. Anyway, granny, do as you find appropriate.”
Mrs. He was careful and scrupulous. She said, “The heir was not the second Miss’s own child after all, and second Miss has always been suspicious, so it would be better not to make her think that you are mocking her. In my humble opinion, how about selecting a gift associated with good fortune and longevity? So in either way, it would be appropriate for the situation.”
“I have plenty of these things in my private collection. Except for the very few best items, you are free to pick anything else, granny.” Wei Changying nodded.
Soon it was Wei Changxian’s birthday. Because Song Zaishui had picked on their weak spots earlier, even though the third branch sisters were vexed at the time, today they weren’t planning to go to second sister’s birthday for real. And the reason being was also hinted by Song Zaishui. Since Mrs. Pei was not feeling well, it was only right for the daughters to stay by her side and look after her.
The third branch sisters were not going, the second branch was far away in the Capital, and the only girl of this peer left in Wei Huan’s branch was Wei Changying. It was not until she had all dressed up did she realize that there was no hurry to head out now, so she went to the Mingse House to argue with Song Zaishui, “Cousin, you have convinced fourth sister and fifth sister to not go to the birthday party, and I am the only one going to the mansion of Duke Jingping today? That’s not going to happen, you have to come with me!”
Song Zaishui was surprised, and she said, “How come there is only you who is going? Aren’t Changfeng and others going as well?”
Because Wei Changxian had come back to her maiden family as a widow, it was natural that she didn’t want to celebrate her birthday lavishly. In fact, she only invited the family of Wei Huan and the family of Wei Jiong to have a casual meal at the mansion. Although she had already been married, she was still young, and the elder members of the family such as Madam Song would most likely not go to her party, unless there was something else to discuss at the mansion of Duke Jingping. Usually the elders would have their children bring along a gift for them. In the past, Mrs. Pei had come to second Miss’s birthday for the sake of her brother, but after being snubbed, she didn’t want to risk getting humiliated anymore.
Because Wei Changxian was Wei Changfeng’s cousin and lived quite close to him, Wei Changfeng wanted to join in the fun with the boys as well, and they could also meet other cousins.
So right now, Song Zaishui felt strange hearing from Wei Changying that she was the only one going. But then Wei Changying said, “Changfeng and the boys are going together with the first brother, ninth brother, and tenth brother, and it will only be me and the sixth sister to hang out with second sister. It won’t be long until sixth sister cries for wanting to play in the garden, and then I will be the only one to accompany the second sister and talk to her, it’s not like you don’t know that I have no common language with her all along.”
Song Zaishui said gladly, “Isn’t that perfect? Next year you will marry into the Shen Family, and who knows if you will have a common language with your sisters-in-law and aunts? Now it would be a perfect chance for you to talk to your second sister as practice. You should make good use of this opportunity!”
“No, I won’t!” Wei Changying grabbed her arms, “You are coming with me, someone who looks gentle, kind, and virtuous like you would be the most suitable to deal with the second sister. It would be dumb for me to not get my lineal cousin here to help me handle her.”
“No, I am not going!” Song Zaishui pushed her away lethargically and said, “It’s such a hot day today, and I won’t find trouble for myself! Besides, you won’t be the only one accompanying the second sister from our Wei family! It’s not like she doesn’t have any sisters-in-law.”
Wei Changying responded while dragging her along, “Every year it was the first sister-in-law who planned second sister’s birthday. First sister-in-law’s second son hasn’t been in good health ever since he was born, so even though she had sent out servants to plan the party, she would only come and hang out for a while just to celebrate, and never stayed long. Ninth brother and tenth brother haven’t reached the age to get married yet, so which time isn’t me the only one who has to accompany second sister? This was all your fault. If you haven’t persuaded the fourth sister and fifth sister to not go to her birthday, how would I be in such an embarrassing situation? Anyway, you have to accompany me to the party!”
Song Zaishui stayed on her bed and wasn’t willing to get up at all. She said lethargically, “You are not afraid of offending her, why don’t you just say a few words and then walk away? Why do you have to drag me along? She didn’t invite me, and if I just go to their mansion eagerly, they might kick me out!”
“You are the future Empress, if you come to congratulate her on her birthday, she could only be honored by your gracious presence, how dare she gives you a cold-shoulder?” Wei Changying’s words turned the originally care-free Song Zaishui into a frozen stone… After a few breaths, she almost jumped up and stared at her cousin, “You won’t be happy unless you piss me off!”
Wei Changying let go of her hand that was grabbing Song Zaishui’s sleeve, and made a face grinningly, said, “My dear cousin, I made a mistake by saying that, don’t be upset! Look, I know you are not in a good mood now, let’s go to second sister’s birthday together as a way to ease up and have some fun!”
Song Zaishui put up a sullen face and sneered, “If I don’t agree to go with you, are you planning to annoy me until I feel so bad that I have to accompany you to the mansion of Duke Jingping?”
“Cousin, listen to what you are saying. How could you think of me in such negative light?” Wei Changying said earnestly, “Cousin, you are the future Crown Princess, the future Empress, you are the one who would be a motherly model of the nation. Although I am your cousin, there is a difference between the Empress and her subjects. How could I dare offend you? Speaking of being a motherly model of the nation, I don’t think anyone else would be able to compare with cousin….”
“… That’s enough!” The chain of words such as the Crown Princess, the Empress, a motherly model of the nation… These words made Song Zaishui who was hateful towards the Great Vi Royal Family almost desperate. Her chest heaved heavily for a moment, after her face turned murky and then pale for quite a while, she gnashed her teeth in bitterness, and said, “I… I will come with you, just wait for me to get dressed.”
Suddenly a huge grin appeared on Wei Changying’s face. She flattered her smiling obsequiously, “Cousin, that’s so nice of you! You are like my real lineal sister!”
“If I were your lineal sister and had grown up with you, I would have been pissed off by you long ago!!!” Wei Changying was obviously taking her gain for granted while acting innocent. Thinking of this, Song Zaishui walked into the inner room and almost fell. She took a deep breath, turned back and roared at Wei Changying!