In the fourth branch’s Plum Courtyard, Wei Luo and Chang Hong came to see this child who was only their younger brother by name. To be honest, Wei Luo was unable to afford to have any good feelings towards this child. Without even mentioned his evil actions and corrupt moral character in her previous life, the mere fact that he was Du-shi’s son was enough for her to dislike him.
But, this visit couldn’t be helped. Wei Kun wanted them to come here, so they had to make a token appearance.
Wei Chang Mi was still small and his body was weak. Qin-shi had arranged for him to temporaily live with her in the same room.
After they had passed through the doorway, they saw a rosewood cradle in the main room. Qin-shi was next to the cradle and tucking Wei Chang Mi into baby clothes. Behind her, there were two wet nurses dressed in plum purple clothing.
Wei Luo walked forward. She raised her tiptoes to look inside the cradle. She only saw a small, thin child with a bright red face. His compacted facial features and thin body didn’t look good at all.
Qin-shi smiled and gestured for Chang Hong to come closer. She held Chang Hong up so he could also see the child.
She asked, “What do you think? Does your younger brother look nice?”
The two little brats said in unison, “So ugly.”
Qin-shi couldn’t resist letting out a burst of laughter, then she rubbed their heads and patiently explained, “Your little brother is still young. Newly born children all look like this. He’ll slowly look better in the future.”
Wei Luo didn’t say anything. Regardless of what Wei Chang Mi looked liked in the future, she wouldn’t like him. He had a mother with an evil heart. Regardless if he was innocent or not, he was fated to not be liked.
Because the infant heard the sound of voices, he let out two cries for attention. It seemed like he had waken up. He rubbed his clenched fists against his cheeks, and then he slowly opened his eyes. His long and narrow eyes were very similar to Du-shi’s. When he grew up, his eyes would look mean and harsh as if he was someone that would be difficult to get along with.
Right now, he looked at everyone with soft dark-colored eyes. His gaze stopped at Ah Luo and Chang Hong as if he was curious about them.
Ah Luo didn’t like his gaze. She stretched out her hand to close them, but he gripped one of her fingers without any warning. Babbling, he brought her finger to his mouth and licked it! Wei Chang Mi put her thumb into his mouth.
Ah Luo was caught off guard and only widened her eyes in alarm. An infant’s mouth was soft and wet and full of saliva. She quickly pulled her hand away.
Ah Luo shook her hand in distaste and said, “So disgusting…”
Wei Chang Mi didn’t know he was being detested. He blinked his eyes and continued looking at Ah Luo.
Qin-shi started to laugh. As she laughed, she handed a handkerchief to Wei Luo to wipe her hand.
“It seems like Chang Mi really likes Ah Luo. He wants to eat your fingertip when he’s only seen you once…”
Ah Luo showed an unhappy expression. How was this like? This was clearly malicious! He had covered her finger in saliva. So dirty.
As expected, this little fellow was like Du-shi in provoking dislike and disgust from others.
After Wei Luo finished wiping dry her finger, she retreated to the side. She wrinkled her little steamed bun face as she watched the wet nurse feed Wei Chang Mi. Although Wei Chang Mi was thin and small, he wasn’t the slightest bit hesitant as he was sucking up milk. She saw him bury his whole face into the wet nurse’s chest and drank with keen interest. He wasn’t full from one side, so the wet nurse shifted him to the other side. He drank for a while on that side before he was full.
He had such a big appetite.
Wei Luo held her check as she silently thought. She had seen Wei Chang Mi, so there wasn’t a reason for them to stay. Just as Ah Luo decided to go back with Chang Hong, a person with phoenix eyes that was wearing deep purplish-red clothes and suede boots suddenly came inside the room in a rush.
It was Wei Zheng.
Wei Zheng’s face was pale. Ah Luo didn’t know if it was because of the windy weather outside or another reason. Wei Zheng stayed by the door as she huffed and puffed until she regained her breath, and then she looked around the room. Her eyes stopped at the infant held in Qin-shi’s arms. Without saying a word, she ran over to them.
Qin-shi asked why Wei Zheng why she was here. Wei Chang pursed her lips and reached out to grab Wei Chang Mi!
In surprise, Qin-shi held the child tighter. However, Wei Zheng wouldn’t let go.
Qin-shi was worried that they would accidentally injure the child by their tug of war, so she could only temporarily loosen her hold, but her tone of voice was strict, “Ah Zheng, what are you doing?”
After Wei Zheng had snatched away Wei Chang Mi, she wrathfully glared at the people in the room, “He’s my younger brother. He’s my mom’s child, not yours! I’m going to bring him back to my mom.
Since Wei Zheng was still young, she didn’t know how to properly hold a baby, so Wei Chang Mi was very uncomfortable. He was only an infant. When he was uncomfortable, there was only one way he could express it. Crying. Wei Chang Mi loudly cried without stopping in her arms. His cries were heartbreaking.
Qin-shi hurriedly walked forward and said, “Chang Mi is crying. Give him to the wet nurse quickly. Be good Ah Zheng. Your younger brother is still small. If you hold him like that, he’ll get hurt…”
Wei Zheng shook her head, tightly held the infant, and said, “I won’t. I won’t give him to you. My mom is very heart-broken without my younger brother. She was crying!” After she said this, she turned around to go outside. Wei Chang Mi had cried until he was out of breath. He impatiently looked at Qin-shi with a pitiful expression.
Qin-shi hurriedly gestured for the servant girls to stop Wei Zheng. But, Wei Zheng’s body was small and her movements were nimble. She ducked her head and avoided the servant girls’ hands.
Seeing that Wei Zheng was about to reach the porch, Qin-shi became angry. Just as she was about to tell a servant to go inform Wei Kun, she saw Wei Zheng suddenly stopping.
Qin-shi questionably walked forward. When she reached Wei Zheng, she saw the reason.
Since Wei Chang Mi had just finished drinking milk and was held uncomfortably, he had vomited up the milk. This little fellow’s vomited milk was all over Wei Zheng’s neck and clothes. Knowing that Qin-shi was near, he babbled and cried.
Qin-shi took Wei Chang into her arms and looked at the completely dismayed Wei Zheng.
Without a better option, she told the servant girls, “Bring fifth miss inside and change her clothes. In the future, when fifth miss visits Plum Courtyard, notify me first.”
The servant girls led Wei Zheng away.
From not far away, Ah Luo couldn’t hold back her laughter anymore as she was leaving. She held her stomach as she laughed. Her laughter was melodious and clear and her smile was bright.
Wei Zheng turned around to fiercely glare at her in humiliation and anger.
When Wei Kun returned from Imperial Hanlin Academy, it was dusk. The multicolored sunset was brilliant. The red and orange radiance was scattered over the glazed roof tiles. The entire Duke Ying’s residence was enveloped inside the rising, rosy clouds.
He had heard from the servants about the situation in Gingko Courtyard. After he changed his official clothes and put on purple cashmere clothing, he decided to go there to look.
Gingko Courtyard had been noisy for a day. It was finally quiet now. But, it was quiet to point of excessiveness as if there was no life inside and the courtyard was showing depression.
After he walked into Du-shi’s room and passed the room divider that was decorated with four joyful magpies, he saw her sitting on the ground as if she had lost her soul. Her hair was disheveled and her clothes were thin. She only had a cloak wrapped around her clothes.
At this time, it was winter. Although there was a burning brazier in the room, it must have been ice cold on the ground. But, she seemed totally unaware as if she had lost the ability to think. Her tears had dried. She only had desperation and emptiness left.
Du-shi’s head was lowered. Suddenly, a pair of snow-covered shoes appeared. The shoes were embroidered with golden thread. She raised her head and looked at Wei Kun without joy or sorrow. She thought she had finished crying, but her tears started again.
She crawled towards Wei Kun, grabbed his hand, and begged him, “Master, Chang Mi is the baby I carried for ten months. You can’t treat me like this… fourth elder sister-in-law already has three sons. Chang Mi will suffer and be at a disadvantage if he goes there. I’m begging you to return my child. He’s my son… He’s my son…”
Even now, she would think badly of other people. She absolutely hadn’t reflected upon her own questionable actions.
Wei Kun looked down at her with an unclear expression and asked, “Your heart aches for Chang Mi?”
Du-shi repeatedly nodded. He was her son. How could her heart not ache?! It had only been one day, but she had thought countless time if he was living well. Did he cry? Did he cause trouble? Was fourth elder sister-in-law treating him well? Did she treat him harshly? The more she thought, the more helpless she felt. The more she thought, the more she felt pained.
Wei Kun nodded and asked, “Have you thought how I would feel when you were selling Ah Luo to slave traders?”
She was taken back by his words. Shortly after, she suddenly realized. This was revenge. He wanted her to feel the pain of being separated from her flesh and blood. She opened her mouth, but had no words to say. She was aware that she should be admitting her mistake right now, but the words didn’t come out…
She tightly held Wei Kun’s hand and hoped that he would think about their long marriage and forgive her this one time.
Unfortunately, this wouldn’t happen and Wei Kun serenely said, “Fourth elder sister-in-law will treat Chang Mi very well. You don’t need to worry about this. Set your mind at rest and continue living here. Don’t think about him again. Pretend that you only had a long dream and that you never gave birth to this child.”
She looked at him with a total lost in spirit. For a short time, she forgot how to speak. How could she forget? When she was sent to Gingko Courtyard, she only had Chang Mi for company. When she had nothing to do, she would talk to him. He was her only hope! Now that she didn’t even have this hope, dying was better than continuing to live.
Du-shi begged him, “Let me see him, just one glance. I’ve never seen him…”
Wei-Kun took his hand back, walked back a step, and said, “At the moment, I can’t let you see him. Chang Mi is in poor health. He needs to be carefully tended. When he is one month old, I’ll arrange for you to see him.”
Du-shi’s face turned black, “One month?”
Wei Kun said, “If you don’t want to see him, that’s okay too.”
She quickly replied that she wanted to see him. One month then. As long as she could see her child, anything would be okay.
After Wei Kun left, she recovered some of her senses. She endlessly comforted herself. One month wasn’t long. It would past in the blink of an eye. At that time, she would be reunited with Wei Chang Mi. What did her son look like? Did he think about her? As she thought about this, she felt happy and sad. She started to cry again.
She scarcely realized that a child’s feelings were the most straightforward. Although she was Wei Chang Mi’s biological mother, he had spent the past month living with Qin-shi.
A month later, We Chang Mi didn’t recognize her at all. He was only close to Qin-shi.
On the third day of the twelfth lunar month, it was Wei Chang Mi’s one month birthday. It was also Wei Zhang Chun’s sixtieth birthday. Wei Zhang Chun and his wife, Luo-shi, decided to have a big banquet to celebrate his birthday and Wei Chang Mi’s one month birthday together. (T/N: Just in case it’s confusing, Duke Ying is Wei Zhang Chun’s title.)
This occasion was bustling with noise and excitement. Duke Ying’s residence was full of people. There were court ministers and nobles. These people all had good relationships with Duke Ying. Before the banquet had started, there were so many carriages at the front of Duke Ying’s residence’s gate that they obstructed the rest of the street. The gatekeepers led the guests to the receiving room. The womenfolk passed through a long corridor that was next to a garden on their way to the reception pavilion.
Around noon, the guests invited by Duke Yin had arrived. Only one person was missing. They had thought he wouldn’t be coming.
As they were about to start the banquet, a servant informed, “Old master, Prince Jing has arrived.”
The author has something to say:
Zhao Jie: A chance to see wifey. How could I possibly not come?