Part of a Memories of a Graceful Reflection translation project at fruitydeer.com.
Do not download, copy, or redistribute without permission.
Source: 猶記驚鴻照影 by Feng Ning Xue Wu // Translated By: Xin (fruitydeer)
More dirt on Nan Cheng Yao. RIP to our guy who isn’t even here to defend his honor.
Chapter 007: The Seventh Time
Neither of us spoke on the way back, but I did not lift the palanquin curtain again. Because I knew that he would continue accompanying me by my side on horseback, my heart was warm and settled.
At the xiang fu, Father, Mother, and the entire family had long been waiting outside the gates. When I stepped off the palanquin, Father’s concubine1 came forth and lifted the curtain for me. Lian dismounted his horse with a charming deportment and walked forward with large strides, extending his hand to the me inside the palanquin.
Ever since ancient times, when new brides returned to the natal him, it was considered inauspicious to descend from the palanquin by themselves. What Lian did was something that Nan Cheng Yao should have done.
I paused for several seconds. Facing Lian’s bright and gentle eyes, I smiled softly and lightly placed my hand on his steady hand, slowly departing the palanquin.
I noticed that Father’s eyes swept faintly across Lian, but he said nothing and led the everyone in the family to bow in greetings to me.
Lian had already turned sideways to avoid receiving the bow, but when Father bent over, I saw the silver threads in his hair. My heart soured and I narrowly avoided shedding tears.
After greetings, Father moved to the side to let me go first. From beginning to end, he did not spare once glance at Lian. I was somewhat perplexed. Was he blaming Lian for causing a fuss or tacitly consenting to his methods?
While contemplating, I unwittingly turned towards Lian’s direction, while he, coincidentally, turned his head this way. When our gazes met, he immediately smiled cheerfully.
Qin An personally ordered people to carry the gifts for the natal family visit into the fu. Though he acquiesced to Lian’s escorting, he still insisted on following along.
Father looked indifferently at these natal visit gifts that far exceeded normal expectations, then mildly and courteously offered thanks to Qin An.
Qin An naturally replied with full marks on courtesy and etiquette, once more explaining on Nan Cheng Yao’s behalf. Then, he followed the maidservants in the fu to the west hall to rest, leaving me with my family.
I held a porcelain cup glazed in celadon to kneel and bow, offering tea to Father and Mother tea. Mother could no longer restrain herself from rising, pulling me into her arms as her eyes glistened with tears.
Father’s expression was also deeply emotional. He stilled as he watched Mother and I embrace, only speaking after some time had passed: “Qing’er, we’ll go out first. You stay with your mother and chat with her, she misses you greatly.”
Once Father said this, the concubines and brothers all withdrew, leaving only Shu Ying, Bi Zhi, and a few servant girls to serve.
When Father walked to the door, he turned back and looked deeply at me for a while, then personally closed the doors for us.
Mother held my hand and sat on the chaise, unwilling to let go of me.
She carefully eyed me for a moment, then said softly: “Qing’er, you’ve lost weight.”
I began to smile: “It’s only been three days, how is that possible?”
Mother looked at me for some time and breathed a long sigh: “Your grievances, I know about them all.”
I didn’t even have the time to say anything before Mother murmured quietly and sent away the maidservants serving in the room.
I was a little surprised. Shu Ying, Bi Zhi, and the others currently in the room were confidants who did not need to shy away even when it came to knowing the taboo matters of me being a replacement in marriage.
So what was the reason for sending them away now?
“Qing’er, you’re different from Yan’er. Since young, she had never left the shelter of home, so she’s just too fragile. Though you experienced adversity, you were rescued by Mister Meng Su and received his teachings. Your knowledge is undoubtedly beyond what ordinary boudoir girls are capable of knowing. Though you seem as soft as water, your heart is tenacious.” Speaking gently, Mother continued to hold my hand, simply too much emotion hidden in her voice. Through this, I felt an ordinary sort of calmness, as if I were listening to the experiences of another as they were narrated to me.
“As such, there are some old matters that Mother wants you to know. If it were Yan’er, I would never divulge anything at all. She wouldn’t be able to handle it and may not even have been able to detect it later on. But now that the one who’s married the Third Highness is you, I can’t not say it. With your level of intelligence, you’d find out eventually. So, rather than find out later on, it’s better that you know earlier.”
I lifted my eyes and looked at Mother calmly, waiting for her next words. Mother held my hand tighter as she continued.
“You probably know that the emperor today was a former general who protected the previous dynasty. Five years ago, he stormed the capital with his own armies and changed the dynasty, which resulted in today’s flourishing Nan Dynasty.”
I nodded. Though I was bereft of memories, something as significant as a changing of dynasties was something everyone in the world knew of. Five years ago, it was Father who followed the current Scared One’s command and personally helped establish the Nan Dynasty. Once the Sacred One rode into Zi Jing Palace2 and became its master, Father accompanied Nan Family’s Third Gong-zi without wasting a minute. With the Third Highness, he eliminated all evils of the former dynasty, risking life and limb. It was through this outstanding military service that he received the honor of reaching the highest position of an official.
“During the wars of that year, the Third Highness made great achievements. But through this, he lost his true love, the princess of the former dynasty, Ning Yu Qing.” Mother paused for a brief moment, her eyes seemingly flashing with a trace of sympathy. But in the end, she pressed on, one word after another: “He loved her so much, but in the end, he personally forced her to her death.”