“Ming guniang.” 

 

“Sun guniang.” 

 

Sun CaiYao stared at JiuZhu’s innocent smile; it was the type that was carefree and relaxed, not tainted by the secular world.

 

“I felt sorry that we couldn’t have a good chat when I met Ming guniang at the foot of Mount FeiXia a few days ago.
Fortunately, you came here today.
Come, let’s sit and chat slowly.” Lightly holding JiuZhu’s hand, Sun CaiYao asked with a gentle smile: “Although we are about the same age, I’m a year older than you.
You can call me jiejie1 from now on.”

 

After hearing this, the girls around them covered their mouths with handkerchiefs and chuckled.

 

They would marry into the Imperial family and become zhouli2.
How could they be sisters?

 

JiuZhu turned her head and looked at the girls who were laughing.
She blinked her eyes.

 

“Don’t pay attention to them.
All of them have a playful temper.” Sun CaiYao’s eyes stopped at JiuZhu’s hair, where a matching ruyi-patterned hairpin with tassels3 was put in.
This hairpin was once worn by Su Guifei to His Majesty’s birthday banquet.

 

She lowered her eyes, not looking straight into JiuZhu’s beautiful pair of eyes: “There is a small garden in the backyard of our humble residence.
If JiuZhu meimei4 doesn’t mind, why not take a walk with us to the garden?”

 

JiuZhu turned around and looked at Shen-shi, who was talking to the other madams.
The latter nodded slightly.

 

“Then I would have to bother Sun guniang.” JiuZhu smiled and nodded to Sun CaiYao.

 

“Please come, meimei.” Sun CaiYao let go of JiuZhu’s hand, held her skirt up slightly, and led the way.
The girls accompanying them conversed eloquently, flattering JiuZhu and Sun CaiYao occasionally; overall, the atmosphere was exceptionally harmonious.

 

The courtyard of the Sun family’s residence was peaceful and surrounded by rockeries.
Although it was not luxurious, it was a sight to behold.
The Sun family’s behavior was like their garden.
Their every word and action brimmed with a sophistication that came with their profound background.

 

It was inevitable for young girls to play around a little when they gathered at a place.
JiuZhu had already learned the names of the Young Misses from the noble families by heart.
Each one of them was friendly and easy to get along with; she couldn’t pick out the slightest hint of resistance from them.

 

JiuZhu recalled what her mother told her when they left the house this morning.

 

“How to get along is a matter for others to consider.
When you go there, you will naturally find that each of them is gentle, considerate and understanding.”

 

“Are all the guniangs of the capital so gentle?

 

“They don’t have a gentle temperament.
Rather, it’s a matter of what’s in their heart.”

 

JiuZhu looked at the girls gasping for breath after running around the garden in small quick steps.
She suspected that if she went to catch them, it would become a one-sided battle.

 

No wonder her masters said that the climate of the capital could not sustain people.
The physical strength of these guniangs was too poor.
They were exhausted after running only a few steps.

 

“JiuZhu meimei, are you tired?” Sun CaiYao walked to her side, “Let’s sit and rest for a while.”

 

JiuZhu: “……”

 

She glanced at Sun CaiYao’s flushed cheeks, skeptical that the other party herself was tired but was embarrassed to speak, so she asked her to take some rest together.

 

Alright ah, taking care of the old, the weak, and the sickly and disabled are supposed to be good works that accumulate merit.

 

In the gently blowing autumn wind, Sun CaiYao poured a cup of fragrant tea and put it in front of JiuZhu: “Is meimei used to everything in the capital yet?”

 

JiuZhu picked up the teacup and nodded.

 

As the atmosphere quietened down, Sun CaiYao looked at the pretty girl in front of her.
Her fingers holding the teacup tightened, and then slowly released it: “Meimei… do you blame me?”

 

“What?” JiuZhu felt there was something wrong with her ears.
She looked up at Sun CaiYao.
The other side’s expression was complicated.
Perhaps because it was so complicated that JiuZhu was unable to make a sense of it, she even felt a chill run down her back.

 

“Nothing.” Sun CaiYao smiled: “Jiejie substitutes wine with this tea and asks for a toast.
If I said anything rude, I request meimei to be magnanimous and forgive my faults.”

 

JiuZhu had barely picked up the teacup when a servant hurriedly walked up in front of Sun CaiYao: “Young Miss, His Highness Qi Wang heard that our residence is holding a tea tasting banquet today, so he sent his head attendant to deliver a lot of things.
You should go quickly and take a look.”

 

Sun CaiYao drained the tea in the cup in one big gulp, got up and bowed toward JiuZhu: “Meimei, please excuse me, I must leave now.”

 

Watching the departing figure of the Sun family’s Young Miss, JiuZhu took a sip of the tea in her cup.

 

Somewhat tasteless.

 

Putting down the teacup, she got up and walked to the lotus pond on the side.
There were withered lotus leaves floating on the water, and occasionally, some fish would swim to the surface, spitting out a few bubbles.

 

JiuZhu sat on a stone and looked at these chubby fish that were not afraid of the humans.
She couldn’t help thinking, if one ate such a foolish fish, they would also become foolish, right?

 

“Why doesn’t Miss Zheng go and play with everyone?”

 

“I don’t want to go.” A girl’s not-so-happy voice came from behind the rockery: “The future Chen Wangfei is here, who would dare to go and risk offending her?” 

 

“Why does Miss Zheng say such a thing? Miss Ming has a gentle temper.
She knows…” 

 

“If you want to flatter her, go to her yourself.
You don’t have to say such nauseating things in front of me.”

 

JiuZhu sprang up from the stone.
Did the people of the capital like to hide in remote places and talk such unpleasant words about others? She looked around and softly walked to the other side of the rockery.

 

The woman at whom Miss Zheng retorted, was a little angry: “Your brother lost face because he offended Chen Wang.
What does it have to do with Miss Ming’s family? Lord Ming is an upright official while Madam Shen has a gentle temperament, and Miss Ming has entered Sun’s mansion.
Since Miss Ming entered this mansion, when did she ever put on airs with us? What ability do you have to judge Miss Ming behind her back? If you really have what it takes, go and find Chen Wang to settle the case!”

 

“You…” Before Zheng Zhen could speak any further, she stopped in her tracks, staring at the rockery with wide eyes.
From her startled gaze, it seemed as if she had seen something truly horrifying.

 

Yao YinYin noticed her abnormal reaction, and turned around, only to see Miss Ming sitting on the rockery and arranging the silk cloak draped over her shoulders with a relaxed posture.

 

“Mi–Miss Ming?” Yao YinYin didn’t dare to guess how much Ming JiuZhu had actually heard.

 

Zheng Zhen’s face turned pale with fright.
The Zheng family was Qi Wang’s maternal family5 so naturally, she was not afraid of Ming JiuZhu.
However, she was afraid of Ming JiuZhu’s fiance, Chen Wang.

 

Thinking of her elder brother who was still copying books in the beginners’ class of the children’s school, Zheng Zhen’s feet swayed.
She took a step back.

 

“You guys can continue talking, no need to worry about me.” JiuZhu pulled the cloak to keep off the sun and smiled at the two of them, “I’m here merely to appreciate the beauty of the scenery.”

 

Yao YinYin: “……”

 

She looked at Zheng with pity.
The person involved heard others badmouthing her, but she still wanted them to continue chatting?

 

If she was in Zheng Zhen’s shoes, she would’ve wanted to dig a hole and bury herself as soon as possible.

 

Seeing that Zheng Zhen didn’t speak, an enlightened expression suddenly appeared on JiuZhu’s face: “Is my presence affecting Miss Zheng’s words?”

 

She tilted her head and jumped down from the rockery: “I’ll leave now.”

 

“Miss Ming.” Zheng Zhen gritted her teeth and called out to stop JiuZhu.
She faltered a little as she spoke, “Everything that happened just now was a misunderstanding…”

 

“Zheng guniang doesn’t need to explain, I understand, I understand everything.” JiuZhu lifted her skirt, not listening to Zheng Zhen’s explanation, and turned around to leave.

 

As a beautiful girl, why did she like to badmouth people behind their backs?

 

Should be scared to death!

 

“She must have heard us.” Zheng Zhen looked at Yao YinYin in panic: “What if she tells Su Guifei about this?”

 

Yao YinYin: “……”

 

She couldn’t block her from running her mouth a moment ago but now this girl knew how to be afraid?

 

Aside from being Qi Wang’s maternal family, Marquis PingYuan’s family had also produced many important officials from the time of their ancestors.
How could the brains of the current younger generation be one worse than the other?

 

Could it be that all the intelligence and wisdom were singularly passed on to Qi Wang, this grandson?

 

“Don’t think too much, Miss Ming didn’t say anything.” Yao YinYin comforted: “I think she is not a narrow-minded person.”

 

Zheng Zhen glared at Yao YinYin.
Even at this time, she still remembered to flatter Ming JiuZhu.

 

Pretending not to see Zheng Zhen’s dissatisfaction, Yao YinYin bowed: “If Miss Zheng is really worried, go and apologize to Miss Ming.
Then this matter will be over.”

 

In any case, after what happened today, she had to stay away from Zheng family’s Young Miss.
Sometimes people with bad brains were much more dangerous than people with bad intentions.

 

“I-I didn’t say anything.” Although she said so, Zheng Zhen didn’t dare to stay in the Sun family’s residence any longer.
She hurriedly found an excuse and left in her family’s carriage, not even waiting for the lunch banquet specially prepared by the Sun family.

 

“What happened when you were playing with other guniangs?” Shen-shi asked, seeing JiuZhu sitting beside her with a somewhat weird smile.

 

“Someone badmouthed me and I heard it ah.” 

 

When Shen-shi heard this, she became worried that her daughter might be upset because of other people’s words.
So, she was about to say something to comfort her.

 

“To criticize other people outside, Zheng family’s guniang not only seems not too bright in the mind but also has issues with her upbringing.” JiuZhu smiled with a little complacency: “When she finished speaking and discovered me behind the rockery, it was as if she was a vole which was caught stealing food ah.”

 

Shen-shi discovered something.
Her daughter seemed to have an incredible sense of self-confidence in herself; she would never change her way of thinking just because of other people’s words.

 

No matter what they said or thought, they couldn’t have any influence on her.

 

Maybe one day, if everyone thought differently from her, she would come to the conclusion that ‘these people are all weird, I am the only one who is normal’.

 

The two Daoist priests who raised her daughter must also be two odd women.
An average person won’t be able to cultivate such an unique temperament in a child.

 

Just as she was thinking about it, she heard her daughter mutter again.

 

“Any person who speaks ill of His Highness Chen Wang is the most annoying.” 

 

Shen-shi: “……”

 

Actually, sometimes, blind self-confidence is not too good.

 

After coming back from the Sun family’s residence, Shen-shi’s mentality of worrying about personal gains and losses had undergone a lot of change.
Occasionally, she would even let JiuZhu go out without Ming CunFu’s company.

 

The capital’s atmosphere was not too restrictive to women; it was much more open-minded.
When JiuZhu went out with her maid, she would see women walking alone everywhere.
It was much better than in LingZhou.

 

After being chased out by her mother to spend money every few days, JiuZhu clutched her purse in distress.
Wasn’t it good to save money? Why must she waste it?

 

“Young Miss.” ChunFen saw JiuZhu clutching her purse and standing on the street, unwilling to buy something: “Master and Madam said that even though our residence is not rich, we are well-off.
There is enough money for buying pearl hairpins, jewelry, rouge and powder for the Young Miss.”

 

JiuZhu sighed: “But I don’t lack all of these.
Mother has prepared a lot for me.”

 

“No girl would think that she has too much jewelry.” ChunFen and a few maids helped JiuZhu walk toward the shop: “Alright, Young Miss, please buy a few things to take home.
If not, the Madam will suspect us of not doing our tasks well.”

 

“Hey, Ming family’s little girl.”

 

Ming JiuZhu looked around her.
Who was calling her?

 

“I’m here.
Where are you looking?” Something fell gently at her feet.
It was a silver peanut6.
JiuZhu stooped down to pick the silver peanut and looked upward.

 

A gongzi dressed in a brocade robe was leaning against the window, smiling wantonly at her.

 

It was the kind gongzi who had found someone to help her fight last time.

 

“You want to choose jewelry?” He beckoned to JiuZhu: “Come upstairs and see, the jewelry here is beautiful.”

 

JiuZhu spread out her palm, revealing the silver peanut and looked at him: “You’ve dropped your silver.”

 

“Then, come up and give it to me.” Chen Wang laughed, cupping his hands together: “Thank you for your trouble, Ming guniang.”

 

His posture when cupping his hands was not at all the standard one, but when he did it, it looked relaxed and unrestrained.

 

JiuZhu had just faced upward when his smile was reflected in her shiny black pupils.

 

His smile, was extremely familiar.

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