T/N: Hey guys, I’m back! I know I’m late for this but thank you for the ko-fi, anonymous donor, who donated back on the 11th of july! Since I don’t know which novel you are reading, I’ll be thanking you in all of my projects!

In the past, when Gu Sui’er lived back in the village, she would go to the market to buy things during the New Year.
Their family was usually quite frugal but at the end of the year, her mother would unroll the sleeping mat and take out all the copper coins and broken silver hidden underneath before handing it over to her father.
She would then instruct him to buy many things.


That was the happiest time of the year for Gu Sui’er and her brother.


Her father would buy various kinds of delicious food, red and green New Year pictures, rhyming couplets and the fortune character, a floral wreath for Gu Sui’er, and a precious little toy such as a flying top or so for her younger brother.


Later, when Gu Sui’er grew up, she went to help in the town.
Before the New Year, she would buy some snacks that were only available in the town for her parents, and some trinkets for her younger brother using the little money she saved by herself.


This was how she spent all the previous New Year.


But at the Marquis Mansion, the New Year’s celebration was substantially different from the previous times in GuJia Village.


Although there were also rhyming couplets with fortune characters posted in the residence, those were all gilded in gold and decorated with lanterns and colored banners.
Small red bamboo lanterns were hung on the bamboo outside TingZhu Courtyard, looking very festive and lively.


The women of the mansion were all very busy.
The Madam was busy overseeing the various things; she had to prepare New Year gifts for each of the families in the capital they had dealings with, as well as enter the Palace for the New Year’s greeting.
The two Young Madams couldn’t be idle either, so they followed the Madam to organize things.


Xiao Jin and Xiao Xu used to be idle in the past years.
They were unmarried girls so they had nothing to do apart from reading books, appreciating nature, and having fun with their close boudoir friends.
But this year, the Madam decided to let Xiao Jin follow her to learn how to manage everything in the household as she would be getting married next year.


Of course, this was only the surface of the matter.
Only a few people in the mansion had the actual inside information that something had happened between the eldest Young Miss and the third Young Master’s guard.
The guard had been sent outside by the third Young Master directly and was not allowed to step inside the mansion again.
As for the eldest Young Miss, someone seemed to have secretly reported it to the Marquis, who was furious and punished her with being confined in her yard for a month.
Since this kind of thing occurred, it was natural to marry her off early to avoid unforeseen complications.


On the other hand, Xiao Xu didn’t need to get married next year.
Even though she had also passed the entrance exam to the women’s school and had no time to spare for these things now, she still followed the Madam to learn to manage the household.


Xiao Xu was actually very happy to do so.


Previously, when she was admitted to the women’s school, both the Old Madam and the Madam praised her but they didn’t seem too impressed.
After thinking about it later, she guessed that it might be because Xiao Jin was too remarkable, overshadowing Xiao Xu’s own accomplishments.


Now that she heard that the Madam asked her to learn with Xiao Jin, she felt that this was an opportunity to make everyone see her in a new light.


Seeing this scene, Nanny An smiled at Gu Sui’er from behind: “The second Young Miss is too foolish.
She is under the impression that she is the same as the eldest Young Miss, thinking that as long as she works hard, she will be better than her.
She doesn’t realize that the Madam and the two Young Madams all favor the eldest Young Miss.
Everyone is kind to her and the Madam is willing to let her learn the ways because she is good-natured, not because she really treats everyone equally from the bottom of her heart.”


Nowadays, Xiao Xu came over to TingZhu Courtyard to curry favor.
Whenever she saw Gu Sui’er, she would call her ‘little sister-in-law’.
Nonetheless, Nanny An still scorned her and didn’t care too much.


As Gu Sui’er listened, she felt a bit sorrowful on behalf of Xiao Xu: “Even though her identity is not as noble as the eldest Young Miss’ from birth, it is good that she is willing to improve herself.
It is better than not being eager to get ahead in life.”


She looked down at her Little Ah Chen and caressed his head, saying softly: “I just hope that my family’s Ah Chen lives well.
Later when the third Master marries a main wife, it will be best if she is someone as tolerant and magnanimous as the Madam so that she can at least accommodate us mother and child.”


Hearing this, Nanny An actually smiled and said, “Regarding the third Master’s matter, I’m afraid it’s different.”


Gu Sui’er wasn’t aware of the rumors, so she wondered: “Why is it different?”


In fact, they were all the same.
She was also a concubine, so her Little Ah Chen was also a child born of a concubine.


Nanny An hesitated for a moment, recalling the rumors about the third Young Master.
But after all, it was a matter of chasing the wind and clutching at shadows1Chasing the wind and clutching at shadows [捕风捉影] – It means groundless accusations or to act on hearsay evidence..
Although she believed it, she didn’t dare to spread matters about her master.
So she just mumbled vaguely: “It’ll be clear in the future.”


Seeing this, Gu Sui’er didn’t care much, and bowed her head to play with her Little Ah Chen again.


After the New Year was over, it was almost time for Ah Chen’s hundred-day banquet.
As preparations began for this celebration, it seemed that their residence was bustling with joy and excitement almost every day during the first month of the lunar year.


Everyone was busy.
Only Gu Sui’er herself had nothing to do.
These days, all she did was accompany her Little Ah Chen, listen to Xiao Heng to learn to read more characters, and occasionally seize some time to embroider a few small things for her Little Ah Chen.


She counted the days with her fingers, hoping that the family’s spring plowing would pass quickly, and her father, mother and younger brother would come to YanJing City to meet her.


This day, when she was embroidering, a maid reported from the outside that a distinguished guest had arrived and that she was asked to go over.


As soon as Gu Sui’er heard this, she let GuiZhi take care of Little Ah Chen, and went over to the Old Madam’s side with the maid, not daring to delay.


After entering the yard, she heard a noise coming from within and saw several elderly women servants and maids standing outside.
Furthermore, there were many new faces among them.


Just at this time, RuYi, who served by the Old Madam’s side, came out.
Gu Sui’er hurriedly stepped forward and asked, “RuYi girl, which family’s Madam came here ah?”


As soon as RuYi saw Gu Sui’er, she covered her lips and smiled: “The one who came here today has some sort of a connection with the Young Mistress.
There might be a great happy occasion in the TingZhu Courtyard soon.”


Gu Sui’er was slightly stunned: “A great happy occasion?”


JiXiang, who was beside her, poked RuYi lightly.
She stopped talking: “You can go in first, the Old Madam is waiting.”


Gu Sui’er was a little doubtful when she saw this.
However, since she had already reached the door, she simply went in.


After coming in, she saw the Old Madam sitting on the soft couch, surrounded by two rows of people, all of whom were richly bedecked.
Lu QingYi was also there, talking to everyone happily.
Among them, she noticed two unfamiliar faces; one was a madam in her forties.
She had some wrinkles on her face, making it apparent that she had undergone quite great changes.
Nevertheless, she was dressed extremely richly.


The other person, who was sitting next to the Old Madam, was a young girl of about sixteen or seventeen years of age.
She was wearing a snow-white brocade double-layered jacket over a delicate pale green pleated satin skirt.
Her soft white skin and dainty appearance made her surpass everyone around her easily.


Seeing her, Gu Sui’er recalled what RuYi said about TingZhu Courtyard soon having ‘a great happy occasion2Happy occasion [喜事] – It can also mean ‘wedding’ in Chinese.‘ just now.
Immediately, she seemed to have realized something.
She took Ah Chen in her arms, lowered her head, and went to greet the Old Madam first.


The Old Madam chuckled: “I forgot to mention that this is Sui’er, Ah Heng’s concubine.” 


After speaking, she turned to Gu Sui’er, “Come here and greet Madam Zuo and the Zuo family’s Young Miss.”


Gu Sui’er had a faint feeling that today’s scenario was a bit different from the other times.
As a result, she became even more respectful, not daring to be careless.
She quickly handed Ah Chen to GuiZhi, and greeted them respectfully.


Madam Zuo sized her up with a smile, “I reckon she is a pure and simple child.” 


The Old Madam sighed, “Precisely! Sui’er grew up in the country and never learned to read or write.
I’m not sure how she had this ill-fated relationship with Ah Heng and conceived his child, resulting in her becoming his concubine.
Otherwise, with Ah Heng’s temperament, there would really be no one around him!”


Madam Zuo hurriedly replied, “The third Young Master is not too young now.
He is already twenty, so there should be someone to serve him.
If he were someone else, I don’t know how many concubines he would have.” 


As the Old Madam listened, she nodded with a smile, “That is also true.
Actually, our family’s Ah Heng is an upright person who only knows how to focus on court matters.”


Madam Zuo was full of praises: “That’s good, that’s good.”


Gu Sui’er stood aside silently.
As the Old Madam and Madam Zuo spoke these words, she gradually became certain in her heart.
Was she here to propose a betrothal for Xiao Heng?


In fact, she had already known that this day would come sooner or later, but when it truly happened, she was still somewhat uneasy.


She peeked at the girl from the Zuo family beside Madam Zuo.
When she looked at her, that girl also happened to look at her.


As soon as their eyes met, both of them withdrew their gazes.


Just at this time, Madam Zuo and the Old Madam mentioned Zuo girl in their conversation.


“XiuYan’s life has not been good.
Ever since she was born, she has been living in the bitter and cold land of LiaoDong.
Instead of enjoying any blessings, she had to suffer a lot.
Her health has also not been very good.”


When Madam Zuo mentioned this, the rims of her eyes turned red.


The Old Madam hurriedly said: “It doesn’t matter now.
There’s no lack of good doctors in YanJing City.
If she is not in good health, she can be nurtured back to health slowly.
Now that everything is finally coming to an end, she will have a good life in the future.”


As she spoke, the Old Madam called out to the Zuo girl, took her hand kindly and asked her about many things.


Gu Sui’er listened attentively from the side.


From her graceful posture and organized way of answering the Old Madam’s questions, she felt that this Young Miss Zuo was not a bad person.


Inevitably, she couldn’t help thinking that if she had guessed correctly and this person really became Xiao Heng’s main wife, it would be a good thing.
Maybe she could accommodate her and Little Ah Chen.


Seeing her appearance, the Old Madam spoke quite highly of her: “Looking at you now, WanNing comes to my mind.
You really resemble her ah!” 


This Zuo WanNing was the eldest daughter of the main wife of Duke AnGuo’s family; she was talented and good-looking, with a magnificent style unmatched in her generation.


The Madam also nodded her head repeatedly: “At first glance, I thought WanNing was here.
When people say that the nieces look like their aunts, they are indeed not lying.” 


The Old Madam smiled, “I don’t know how long it will be before Ah Heng comes back.
When he returns, let him come over.”


When Madam Zuo heard this, she smiled apologetically, “We had been too busy since we arrived in YanJing City.
We didn’t even have the time to meet the third Young Master.” 


The Old Madam pulled Madam Zuo’s hand: “Ah Heng has grown up extremely well, you will know when you see her.
Speaking of which, our XiuYan also looks pretty good.
I think she’s absolutely a perfect match for Ah Heng!”


This was exactly what Madam Zuo wanted.
So, although she felt a little embarrassed, she still smiled from ear to ear: “That’s right, originally I also had the idea of cementing our old ties by this marriage.
These years, I kept thinking of the third Young Master.
Now that we can meet him, my wish will finally be fulfilled!”


These two people talked on and on as if this marriage was about to happen immediately.


Beside them, Young Miss Zuo straightened her back and raised her shoulders slightly- her posture was exceptionally graceful as a faint smile hung on her lips.
Due to her lowered eyes, she looked gentle and virtuous.
However, she would inadvertently glance at Gu Sui’er sometimes.


Gu Sui’er lowered her head even more respectfully when she felt her gaze, not daring to make her unhappy by the slightest carelessness.

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1Chasing the wind and clutching at shadows [捕风捉影] – It means groundless accusations or to act on hearsay evidence.2Happy occasion [喜事] – It can also mean ‘wedding’ in Chinese.

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