T/N: Thank you patrons for sponsoring this chapter.
Title: The Dreamer in the Spring Boudoir
Chapter: 097 out of 513 – A source of catastrophe (2)
Ji Man was lost in her thoughts for a while before she finally said, “Errong, help me apologize to your older brother on your way back.”
“Ah?” Ning Errong widened her eyes. “No way! Did you slap my older brother?”
Ji Man dryly coughed. “I didn’t. He took off his mask today and I looked at him for a little bit longer than I should have. He seemed really angry because of this."
Ning Errong gaped and her entire body froze.
Ji Man stretched her hand out and poked her. “There’s no need to be so alarmed. It’s not like your older brother is a virginal maiden that can’t be seen by other people.”
“No…” Ning Errong slowly closed her mouth and her expression returned to normal. “My older brother didn’t wear a mask when he was a child. But later on, other people always stared him at, whether he was attending a banquet or walking outside on the streets. He felt bothered by this, so he had a mask made. He hadn’t taken off his mask in a long time.”
Ji Man nodded. If a man was too beautiful, it truly wasn’t a good thing. Fortunately, he was born with a high social status. Otherwise, who knows what kind of place he would have been sold to?
“Still, it doesn’t make sense that he would angry just be you looked at him for a bit too long,” Ning Errong said in a curious voice. “Do you want me to ask him what happened?”
Ji Man nodded and said, “That sounds good. All in all, we’re relatives by marriage, it would the best if there aren't any misunderstandings between us.”
And so, the little junzhu, who was filled to the capacity with knowledge about how a married woman should conduct herself, pushed open Ning Mingjie’s door on her way back to her room.
Ning Mingjie’s expression still wasn’t very good, even his mask couldn’t conceal this fact.
Ning Errong said with a bright smile, “Older brother, Sangyu asked me to come here to apologize on her behalf. You’re too good-looking, so her gaze lingered for a bit. It wasn’t deliberate.”
He looked at his younger sister for a long time before finally lifting the corners of his mouth and saying, “Alright.”
“Then, I’ll be going back to my room.” Holding the rice paper, Ning Errong happily returned to her room.
There were twists and turns in the river and also a gentle wind in the evening. It had been decided that the two boats wouldn’t dock for the night. Instead, they would follow the steady river channel down south.
Ning Mingjie blankly stood in the doorway for a long time. He felt a slightly headache.
For an inexplicable reason, he kept dreaming about Wen Wan during the past two days. He didn’t know why. He didn’t have any improper feelings towards her. Instead, it was Nie Sangyu that he thought about when he opened his eyes every day…
There was a voice that kept reminded him; this is wrong, the person is wrong. It made his entire self feel somewhat irritable.
What was right? What was wrong? He had always followed his conscience when doing things. Who had the right to say he was doing something right or wrong?
He coldly harrumphed, brushed away the voice in his head, closed the doors, and went to sleep.
The next day, the boats arrived at a simple, destitute-looking city. The city walls were only made of packed loess. When the boats were docked, a court lady came to inform everyone to change into their plainest clothing and address the emperor as “Old Master” and the noble consort as “Madam”. They were going to stay in this simple city for a few days.
Ji Man felt that this emperor’s interests were quite extensive. He had eaten enough of the expensive meat and fish during the journey and knew to try different flavors and types of food.
“Master, how about this outfit?” Gancao held up a white dress with a simple design. It was probably the type of clothing that would be worn by the common people, but the material was slightly better than sackcloth.
After Ji Man nodded, Gancao and Dengxin helped her change into the new outfit and combed her hair into an ordinary married woman’s hairstyle with only one wooden hairpin.
After she was finished dressing up, Gancao and Dengxin didn’t speak for a long time.
“What’s wrong?” Ji Man looked at them. The expressions in their eyes seemed strange. “Does this look weird?”
Dengxin spoke, “Master, do you want to wear a veil?”
They were told to dress ordinarily. Wouldn’t it seem out of place to wear a veil? Ji Man turned around to look at herself in the mirror.
The young woman in the mirror looked very lovely. Although she was dressed plainly and she wasn’t wearing makeup, her lips were brilliantly red and her eyes were beautiful. It made Ji Man think of Pan Jinlian.
(T/N: Pan Jinlian was a beautiful heroine in the novel The Plum in the Golden Vase. While she’s considered one of the most infamous villainesses in classical Chinese books because she cheated on her husband, she’s seen as a controversial literary figure in modern times. There were mitigating reasons for her affair.)
She wasn’t referring to Pan Jinlian’s lack of moral integrity. She meant it reminded her of beauty hidden under simplicity. It would increase a person’s desire to peel away her layer of simplicity to carefully love her dearly. To put it in more academic terms, it was the beauty that came from suppressing desire.
Ji Man’s lips twitched. Nie Sangyu’s face truly had a touch of inviting disaster. How come she hadn’t noticed this before? It seemed as if Nie Sangyu was becoming more and more beautiful.
Ji Man took the veil and compared the difference between wearing it and not wearing it. “It’ll be better if I walk with my head lowered. Wearing a veil would be more noticeable.”
The two servant girls felt apprehensive. When their master was wearing glamorous clothing along with everyone else, their master’s beauty wasn’t conspicuous. However, after she changed into simple clothing and wasn’t wearing any makeup, she was probably going to attract unwanted attention and criticism when she joined the group of people that included the emperor's relatives.
They heard Marquis Moyu’s impatient voice from outside, “Are you ready yet?”
“Ready.” Ji Man sighed, lifted up her skirt, and opened the doors.
The person in the doorway raised his eyes to look at her.
Ji Man lightly smiled and winked at him. “My lord, does this servant look pretty?”
Ning Yuxuan was slightly dazed. Feeling as if he had been put into a difficult position, he turned his gaze away and said, “Too conspicuous.”
“Eh?” Ji Man lowered her head and looked at her dress. There wasn’t any decorative embroidery on it. Then, she felt her hair and only touched the wooden hairpin. “What part is conspicuous?”
“Face.” Ning Yuxuan passed by her and entered the room. He found her veiled hat and placed it on her.
Ji Man innocently blinked. Her phoenix eyes sparkled like water in the sunlight. Covering the lower half of her face was the same as not covering her fact at all. In fact, it only made her face more conspicuous.
Marquis Moyu stared at her for a long time. Seeing that this wasn’t a better option, he took off the veiled hat. “Let’s go, just follow behind me.”
“Understood.” Ji Man obediently agreed, lowered her head, and followed him off the boat.