Title: ChongFei Manual
Chapter: 036 out of 171
The guard blocked her path and explained, “Fourth miss, our prince has something he wants to say to you.”
This guard was Yang Hao. He had been hiding in Duke Ying’s residence for almost three months. He had long become familiar with this residence’s topography. He was strong and healthy and his martial art skills were outstanding. During these three months, no one had discovered him. Even Wei Luo didn’t know that her every movement was being monitored.
Wei Luo could only stop walking and turn around to look at Zhao Jie.
Her small face was prim and proper when she said, “What does big brother want to say to me? Why did you bring me here? If someone discovers that I’m missing, daddy will worry.”
Zhao Jie stood up and told her to come closer, “I heard that you grew your adult tooth, so I came here give you a congratulatory present.”
Wei Luo blinked and looked at him in puzzlement.
Today, there were two reasons for the banquet at Duke Ying’s residence. One reason was Duke Ying’s sixty birthday. The second reason was Wei Chang Mi’s one month old birthday. Neither of these reasons had anything to do with her. Why was he giving her a gift? “Grew her adult tooth” What a ridiculously offensive reason. Was he really not deliberately teasing her?
But no matter what his reason was, it was still a happy occasion to receive a gift. Wei Luo looked up. Her small face was surrounded by the white fur from the hood of her cloak.
Her beautiful face seemed as if it was carved out of white jade, “What gift?”
Zhao Jie thought she looked a little bit adorable and reached his hand out to scratch her nose, “What do you want?”
Wei Luo wanted to roll her eyes, but answered the question in a way that would attract people’s affection, “As long as it’s given by big brother Prince Jing, Ah Luo will like it.”
What a clever and quick-witted child! Zhao Jie couldn’t help laughing softly.
From his sleeve, he took out a bag embroidered with persimmon stems and handed it over to her, “For you.”
Wei Luo received it and pinched the bag with her fingers. There was something hard inside, but she couldn’t guess what was it was.
She curiously asked, “Can I open it to look?”
Zhao Jie nodded to express that she could.
She lowered her head and untied the red string. From inside the bag, she took out a circular reddish orange jade pendant that was completely transparent. It was bright and glimmering. One look showed that it was good jade. But why did he give her a jade pendant? Ah Luo tilted her head and swayed the item back and forth in the palm of her hand
“Big brother, what kind of jade pendant is this?”
Zhao Jie took the jade from her hand and had her stand in front of him. As he leaned over to help her wear it on her neck, he explained, “This is called hong yu. When you wear it in winter, it’ll heat up and keep you warm, so you won’t fall sick as easily.”
Wei Luo obediently stood there without moving. At first the jade pendant was cold as it hanged from her neck, but afterwards, it started to gradually become warmer. The mild heat was very comfortable. She looked at Zhao Jie with a pleasantly surprised expression.
Her round eyes curved as she smiled, “It really does heat up.”
When Zhao Jie leaned over to tie the jade pendant, he was very close to her. After he was done, he looked at her with clear full moon eyes.
His lips were slightly curved and he asked with a gentle voice, “Do you like it?”
She nodded and looked at him to say, “I like it.”
Liking was the correct answer. This jade pendant was a difficult to find treasure. When he had been dispatched to Wurong, he had relied on this jade pendant to keep himself warm. Wurong was in the northwest. Once it was winter, it was devastatingly cold. People would often freeze to death.
He had worn this jade pendant for three years. And now that he gave it to her, he didn’t feel any regret.
During this period of time, he had been listening to Yang Hao report about the situation in Duke Ying’s residence, and he understood what was going on. Wei Luo’s stepmother had given birth to a son that had been given to fourth madam to raise. Wei Kun was powerless and incapable. He couldn’t provide Wei Luo a peaceful and stable environment to grow up in, so Zhao Jie could only secretly lend him a helping hand. In his eyes, Du-shi and Liu-shi were only droplets in the sea. Once he finished off Liu-shi‘s parents’ family, his next target would be Count Zhongyi’s family.
When he thought of the arranged marriage between Count Zhongyi’s Song Hui and Wei Luo, Zhao Jie paused for a moment. He wondered if Wei Luo would blame him when the time came. But, never mind. That wasn’t important. When she grew up, he would find her a better husband. Song Hui’s qualifications weren’t very outstanding.
After he turned over this plan in his mind, Zhao Jie looked at the delicate little dumpling face in front of him.
He said this as if the thought had just occurred to him, “Ah Luo, this prince’s birthday is next month.”
Wei Luo was confused. Why was he telling her this? Should she say an early birthday greeting to him?
He rubbed her head, “At that time, this prince will send you an invitation. Do you know what is meant by proper behavior is based on reciprocity?”
So what he means is that since he gave her a gift, she has to give him a gift too?
Wei Luo already knew that there weren’t free lunches in the world. After such a roundabout way, this was his original intention! She dragged out a soft “oh”. Since he had already spoken, she couldn’t refuse.
“What does big brother want as a gift? Ah Luo will give it.”
Zhao Jie used her previous words to reply, “As long as it’s given by Ah Luo, this prince will like it.”
Wei Luo, “…”
Fine, she was only a child. Her gifts didn’t need to be too expensive. It would be okay if she casually prepared a gift. It wasn’t a difficult task. Other than this, there wasn’t anything else he needed to say to her, right?
Zhao Jie seemed to be able to see through her thoughts. He got up and said, “Let’s go. The banquet should have started. It wouldn’t be good if we were too late.”
Wei Luo followed him out of the courtyard. As they walked, she looked in the direction of the verandah. Wei Chang Yin and Liang Yurong had already disappeared. She didn’t know where they went.
The bits and pieces of snowflakes were still unceasingly falling down. In a short time, they covered the ground in a thin layer of snow. Wei Luo stepped down on it and left behind a small footprint.
A pair of large and small footprints was left behind as they walked to the front of the residence. They finally stopped at the entrance to the receiving room.
Coincidentally, Wei Kun was going outside. When he saw the two of them, he sighed in relief.
“Your highness, where did you go? The servants looked everywhere for you.” He lowered his head to ask Wei Luo, “Ah Luo, why are with you with his highness Prince Jing?”
Zhao Jie took off his overcoat that was embroidered with golden serpents and handed it to Yang Hao, then he explained, “This prince was walking around and ended up being lost in a courtyard with a bamboo forest. Luckily, I met Ah Luo. She guided this prince out.”
As Wei Kun listened, he suddenly realized, “The Bamboo Courtyard had been deserted for a long time. Usually, very few people pass through there. Your highness suffered a grievance.”
After he said this, he made a gesture to invite him inside, “The banquet has started. Please go inside your highness. My father has been waiting for you.”
Zhao Jie moved forward a step to go inside. When he had walked two steps, he turned his head to look at Wei Luo who was still standing at the doorway. He raised his lips in slight smile, didn’t say anything, and then continued walking inside.
But, Wei Luo understood his meaning. He was clearly reminding her, don’t forget “courtesy demands reciprocity”.
After today’s birthday celebrations, Wei Luo realized something.
She had a deep impression of Du-shi‘s desperation when she was taken away. If Wei Chang Mi was intimate with them, would she feel hopeless? If in the future Wei Chang Mi only acknowledged Qin-shi as his mother and not her, would she feel even more hopeless and desperate? As a mother, she probably couldn’t handle this type of attack.
After Wei Luo figured this out, she slightly changed her attitude towards Wei Chang Mi.
Although she still didn’t like to see him, she wouldn’t show the disgust on her face. After all, fourth aunt was now raising him. If she showed prejudice towards him, fourth aunt would feel bad. Whenever she saw Wei Chang Mi, she didn’t have to fawn over him, the little fellow already liked her very much. As long as she didn’t reject him and occasionally squeezed his small hand, he would babble happily.
From that point of view, he wasn’t that annoying.
Because Wei Chang Mi had a good relationship with Wei Luo, Wei Zheng would look at him angrily every time she saw him. She probably thought he was a little traitor.
For example, when the entire family was eating a meal together in the receiving room, while the wet nurse was holding Wei Chang Mi, he would wink at Wei Luo and stick out his tongue from time to time. Young children do these actions without any intention. He wasn’t even aware of these subconscious facial expressions himself. But, Wei Zheng thought he wanted to be closed to Wei Luo. She pursed her lips and angrily looked at Wei Chang Mi with menacing intentions.
Wei Chang Mi became frightened from her glare. He hid his face in the wet nurse’s chest and started crying.
Wei Zheng was also young and her heart was anxious. She didn’t know how to deal with babies and thought that threatening him would work. She didn’t expect that this action would be the same as shooting herself in the foot.
His relationship with Wei Zheng was like a rolling snowball that continued to deteriorate at an out of control rate. To the extent that now, Wei Chang Mi would be scared as soon as he saw her and subconsciously avoided contact with her.
The wet nurse went behind a screen to comfort Chang Mi. Wei Zheng sat on the stool with her lips tightly pursed and at a complete loss of what to do next.
During this period of time, Wei Zheng went to see Du-shi in Ginkgo Courtyard every day. Since the time that Du-shi had seen Wei Chang Mi, she thought about him every moment. But, Wei Kun wouldn’t allow her to meet him again. She seemed as if she had lost her soul and all desires. Every day, she was absent-minded and lost in a trance. Every night, she would call out Chang Mi’s name.
But Chang Mi? He happily got along with Qin-shi and Wei Luo. He simply didn’t know that he had a biological mother that longed to see him.
How could daddy be so cruel? Wei Zheng put down her chopsticks and resisted the urge to cry.
“I’m finished eating.” She turned around and left the receiving room. She hid underneath the porch and cried out her unhappy feelings.
The end of the year arrived quickly. From top to bottom, Duke Ying’s residence was decorated with lanterns and colorful banners in preparation to celebrate the New Year.
On New Year’s Eve, Wei Luo and Wei Chang Hong sat together in the central house to wait for the New Year. As they waited and waited, they started to become drowsy. In the end, Wei Kun took them back to their rooms.
The three days after New Years were very lively. Wei Kun had brought the three kids to Count Zhongyi’s residence and also several officials’ homes. Wei Luo received many red envelopes. Every night, she would count up her money with a scrooge-like style.
Jin Lu couldn’t resist laughing at her, “Miss, don’t you have boxes of third madam’s jewelry? Why do you care about this small amount of money?”
Wei Luo shook her head and offered a different view, “That isn’t the same. I can’t you use those jewelry now. Once I’m grown up, I’ll use them to nicely adorn myself. Although this money isn’t much, I can use it anytime I want to buy whatever I want.”
Jin Lu resisted smiling and perfunctorily said, “Miss’s words are reasonable.”
Wei Luo flattened her lips and didn’t continue to explain. In two more days, it would Zhao Jie’s birthday. What should she give as a gift? This was such a headache. His gift required money and her energy. If she had known earlier, she wouldn’t have accepted that jade pendant.
She lied on her bed to think about this for a while. Her two legs swung around as she thought. After a long time, she still couldn’t think of a good idea.
On January sixth, for Prince Jing’s birthday celebration, there were many important guests. Duke Ying’s family was also on the invitation list.
After Duke Ying’s family had finished preparing, they had left for Prince Jing’s residence early in the morning.
This was Prince Jing’s first birthday after he had return to the capital. Everyone racked their brains and spent a lot time to give a gift that would hopefully gain Zhao Jie’s favor. Every person who entered his residence had to hand over an invitation and a birthday present. The gifts were resplendent.
There were precious stones carved into Guanyin (goddess of mercy), famous paintings… One by one, the prince’s steward accepted each item, recorded it in the account books, and sent it to be stored in a warehouse.
At this time, Zhao Jie was wearing a deep black robe embroidered with auspicious patterns and leisurely practicing writing.
It wasn’t time yet. He wasn’t in a hurry to go to the receiving room. It would be fine to let everyone wait for a bit.
Shortly after, the steward came inside after knocking on the door. With an odd expression, he said, “Your highness…”
Zhao Jie didn’t look up and asked, “What’s the matter?”
The steward said, “Duke Ying’s residence sent a large-sized gift. They asked that you personally open it… This subordinate worries that there’s something wrong about this and didn’t immediately agree. This subordinate came here to ask for instructions. What do you want done?”
Zhao Jie stopped writing and tilted his head, “It was sent by Duke Ying’s residence?”
The steward nodded.
His lips lifted up in a smile. He thought of the words that he said to Wei Luo in the Bamboo Courtyard. Surely, this large gift was that girl’s idea.
He paused for a moment, and then said, “Bring it over here for this prince to see.”
The steward nodded, and then retreated.
In a moment, two guards brought over a red sandalwood box engraved with water lilies. The box was half the height of a person.
They saluted and said, “Your highness, please look.”
Zhao Jie stood up from the chair and slowly walked to the front of the box.
This was a truly a big gift. He wondered what that little girl prepared. He paused in his movement, and then slowly bent over. He unlatched the lid of the red sandalwood box with his hands. Click. The box opened.
He froze. And then he lifted up the lid.
There was a beautiful young girl curled up inside the box. Her eyes were closed. Her thick eyelashes were beneath her eyes like a pair of delicate and small fans. She had probably fallen asleep on the journey here. She wasn’t awake yet. Her white and tender cheeks were slightly red. Her small mouth was slightly open, but her sleep wasn’t that deep. Her hands rubbed her eyes as if she was about to wake up.
The author has something to say:
Ah Luo will soon grow up. (⊙v⊙) There’s probably one more story arc. Ah Yue (author) is looking forward to it. Giggles happily.
Ah Luo was given red envelopes. Does everyone else want one too? ~\(≧▽≦)/~
T/N: Just wanted to note there are still many more chapters before Ah Luo grows up and many more cute scenes with child Ah Luo and teenager Zhao Jie, especially next chapter (my second favorite chapter).