light novel translations > Jun Jiuling > Chapter 2: The Girl with the Engagement

Jun Jiuling Chapter 2: The Girl with the Engagement

The light filtered in through the window and onto the folding screen. It was painted with a landscape scene, which cast a mottled shadow.

Just because this was only a small room of the Ning Family for receiving guests, it did not mean it was overlooked. It was still decorated elaborately with expensive gold and jade ornaments. The luxurious decorations had the refined elegance of a learned family.

Today, the weather was very pleasant. The fire in the fretwork stove was blazing. Two servant girls wearing winter clothing had a thin sheen of sweat on their noses. But the warm, springlike feeling did not make people feel pleasant as it had in the past. Instead, there was a kind of indescribable sense of oppression and impatience.

Someone lifted up the curtains and entered the room. Alongside the person came the winter wind from the courtyard. It was unknown whether it was the wind or the person coming that roused the two servant girls attention and made them hurriedly step forward.

The one who entered was another girl carrying an exquisite bronze kettle. It was quickly taken by one of the girls who then also picked up a cloisonne enamel teacup from the table on the side.

These series of moves did not make any noise, but it broke the stagnant atmosphere of the room.

Please drink some tea, Miss Jun, the girl whispered. She carried the cup over while looking at the person who sat down on the chair.

It was a fourteen or fifteen-year-old girl. She was pretty as a picture without wearing any makeup and without even a hairpin or beads. She wore a green plain cotton dress which was faded from constant wash.

The sumptuous waiting room she was sitting in was not poor looking in the least. Rather, it made people feel it had an exquisite elegance of flowering orchids.

Yet when the servant girls gaze fell onto the table, it was like she had been stung by a bee. With her gaze directed downwards, her mood became complicated.

On the red wooden table inlaid with jadeite laid a swathe of white silk. It was especially eye-catching against the red and green.

At present, there was an aged woman looking at that swathe of white silk.

The Ning Family of Beiliu, Yangcheng, not only produced a dozen imperial secretaries of the Hanlin Imperial Academy, but also possessed half of the Ze Prefectures coal reservoirs. So, the small waiting room window was not made of ordinary window paper, but of glass from the south seas.

In the whole of Yangcheng, and even in the whole of the Ze Prefecture, there were only two families who could use this kind of glass.

The glass was somewhat fuzzy, but the woman could still see the swathe of silk and the girls silhouette.

This was not the first time she had seen the girl. She had, actually, come here two days ago but hadnt taken out the white silk at the time.

The girl extended a hand to take the teacup and took a sip. Wrinkling her eyebrows, she set it down.

The woman could only guess as to why.

She could see the girls facial appearance through the multi-colored glass, but not her minute expressions.

Yet, after seeing the girl put down the cup, she was almost certain it was because the only kind of tea in the room was Yuqian Longjing [1] tea.

Although this girl wore shabby clothing, she came from the other family in the Ze Prefecture that could have glass windows, the Fang Financial Exchange.

Her surname was Jun. Her mother was the eldest daughter of the Fang Family. Although she married into a poorer family, the extravagance of her wedding, which took place several years ago, was still being discussed among the people of Ze Prefecture.

A miss of that family would not be accustomed to drinking the rough tea like Yuqian Longjing. At least, the last time she had come to visit, the servant girl had brought Mingqian Longjing [2] tea.

The woman watched the room. The girl, who had set down her cup, had a beautiful sitting posture as she waited without the slightest bit of impatience. The little servant girl standing next to her pulled at her sleeve.

Give my servant girl a cup of tea, Miss Jun said.

The woman heard the soft voice come from the room.

The servant girl immediately served a cup of tea to the little girl. She happily took the cup and drank it.

Another cup, the young servant girl said.

Unlike the last time they had paid a visit, she was no longer shy. Instead, she was confident and proud.

{They probably thought that they could intimidate us.}

A sneer flashed across the womans eyes.

Mama Song," a young servant girl called out while waving quietly at the woman.

The woman turned to leave from the windowside and passed through a narrow path to another courtyard. Servant girls stood on the veranda of the main courtyard building, talking and laughing. The sound of bright banter and laughter came from behind the door curtains, which were embroidered with thick golden thread.

Upon seeing the woman arrive, all the chatting girls called out, Mama Song!

Then, they spoke to someone inside the room, and two servant girls pulled open the curtains, letting the woman strode in. A soft fragrance assailed her senses. There were many people either standing or sitting in the room, however, all of their gazes and actions revolved around the middle-aged woman in the center.

She looked to be over forty years old and had elegant features with long eyebrows delicately traced on. There was a soft smile on her face as she listened to the two women seated in front of her.

The two were a bit younger, each wearing extravagant clothing.

Around a large square table in the eastern side of the room, three teenage girls sat. Each of them wore a red coat over a yellow dress, and all were beautiful. However, unlike the outer room filled with faint laughter, their room was silent as they wrote characters.

Mama Song did not immediately speak, but rather took a cup of tea from a servant girl on the side and stood next to the women, listening to their talk with a smile.

Eldest Sister-in-law, the winter stage has already been set up in front of the temple.

I must trouble Third Sister-in-law to deal with the matters of the theater troupe. I do not care much about them.

This month, there has been more than the usual amount of refugees. The turmoil in the northern border is becoming more and more serious. I am making preparations to hand out gruel.

Second Sister-in-law will also send out people to help with that.

The sisters-in-law talked while the middle-aged woman smiled and nodded.

Good, this plan is very good. I must trouble all of you, she said.

The Ning Familys Eldest Madam was friendly and benevolent. She was filial to her parents-in-law and respectful to her sisters-in-law. Everyone praised her.

After responding to the the younger women, Eldest Madam turned to look at Mama Song.

Did you see someone? she asked.

This open-ended question halted all conversation in the room.

Mama Song voiced her agreement.

Eldest Sister-in-law, why did the young miss of the Jun Family come again? Didnt she leave? questioned Third Madam Ning next to her.

Eldest Madam Ning smiled and set down her teacup.

She did not leave. She found an inn nearby and played a joke about committing suicide, and now she has come again, she said.

Suicide?

Third Madam Ning and Fourth Madam Ning exchanged looks.

This is too excessive. Could it be that the Fang Family doesnt care?

Or could it be that the Fang Family did it on purpose?

They frowned as they spoke angrily.

Eldest Madam Ning shook her head.

It was definitely not on purpose or to cause any trouble," she said.

The two sisters-in-law smiled.

Eldest Sister-in-law is so benevolent in her judgement of others, they said while sighing.

A girl in the eastern side room, who had been listening very closely to the talk, violently turned her head around.

Mother, it is not rare for Jun Zhenzhen to do such things. She acts tyrannically within the Fang Family! The Eldest Madam of the Fang Family only tried to talk to her, and she instantly threatened to commit suicide, even going as far as suggesting to go to the feudal authority to tell her uncle about how she was being abused! she exclaimed.

These words shocked the people in the room.

Yanyan. Eldest Madam Ning frowned. Discussing others behind their back wasnt a behavior that a girl from a noble family should have.

This was Eldest Madam Nings eldest daughter, the seventeenth eldest in her generation of the Ning Family, Ning Yunyan.

Eldest Aunt, Eldest Aunt, its really true! She is a young miss from a government official family and looks down on her maternal family because they are merchants.

I know some of it too. I saw her and another person ridicule her older cousin at a banquet. It resulted in her older cousin withdrawing herself from the event, crying!

The other two girls hurried to speak.

The three continuously chattered, and none of them were discouraged by Eldest Madam Nings soft voice. Soon, the room became chaotic.

This Miss Jun had only been in Yangcheng for half a year, yet she already had a reputation that rang loud and clear in everyones minds. Furthermore, this reputation was not a good one.

The Fang Family are uncouth merchants, said Third Madam Ning while frowning. This Miss Juns father came from a scholarly background. With one side of the parentage being government officials, how could they raise such a daughter?

How others daughters were raised was of no concern; daughters from other families had nothing to do with their Ning Family, but it was just that this daughter of the Jun Family shouted out that she had an engagement with their Ning Family.

The engagement is real? Fourth Madam Ning could not help but ask. She truly has an engagement with our familys Zhaoer? Did Father-in-law confirm it? This is a big issue, and Father-in-law never said anything about it in his life.

Eldest Madam Ning sighed with helplessness.

I asked Mother, and she said that Father-in-law has met the master of the Jun Family, she said. Fifteen years ago, Father-in-law resigned from his post and decided to travel the world. While he was going through Runan, he fell ill. He was diagnosed by Doctor Jun, who was passing by as he returned from a housecall. Doctor Jun prescribed him medicine and cured his illness. Father-in-law could not thank him enough. He heard that Doctor Juns son just got married and blurted out without thinking that their families should marry. At that time, Zhaoer was just three years old.

Could not thank him enough. Blurted it out.

The implications of these phrases were instantly understood by the two madams in the room.

The master of the Jun Family was a doctor, so wasnt giving sick people treatment only natural for him? asked Third Madam Ning. Father-in-law was just rambling out of gratefulness. Does that doctor not know the duty of a physician?

It seems that he just had an idea of hitching a ride with a dragon and a phoenix [3]. If not, then he wouldnt have disregarded his status and truly agreed to the marriage.

Maybe Father-in-law was coerced at that time, said Fourth Madam Ning while shaking her head.

Otherwise, the master would have never said something as big as betrothing the eldest son of the eldest branch.

Father-in-law never brought this up, so I dont know what is going on, said Eldest Madam Ning. When she said this, her voice took on a more serious tone. The Old Madam declared that none of this is to happen. When the people from the Fang Family came to inquire about the matter, I had gently explained it to them. However, it seems that the young miss of Jun Family did not hear it. The Old Madams body is not well; I do not dare to make her go out herself. The young miss of the Jun Family lost her parents at a young age and is very pitiful. I also do not want to be too forceful with her

Mother! Ning Yunyan had already stopped writing characters, so she immediately stood up and cried out, She is pitiful, but Tenth Elder Brother is not pitiful. Tenth Elder Brother is just unlucky? Her parents did not die because of us, so why must we use such a major part of Tenth Elder Brothers life to compensate her?

Yes, yes. Tenth Elder Brother is a genius praised even by the Emperor. How could he be encumbered with a vulgar, ignorant person like Jun Zhenzhen? The other two girls immediately followed up.

The room again broke into disorder.

Eldest Madam Ning seemed to have a headache from the noise as she kneaded her forehead with a helpless expression.

But I can not just watch blankly as the young miss of the Jun Family commits suicide before my eyes, she said.

Right now, she has brought out a bolt of silk and laid it out on the table. It is an obvious threat, interjected Mama Song. Last time, she threatened to hang herself in the inn, and now, she might swear to do it on our doorway.

She dares! cried Third Madam Ning, eyebrows raised.

[1] Longjing: a variety of green tea. Yuqian: picked before mid-april

[2] Mingqian: before "pure brightness" or beginning of april

[3] Hitching a ride with a dragon and a phoenix: curry favor with the rich in the hopes of advancement

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