Wei Luo tore off the cloth covering her eyes, and called out in surprise: “Ah Zheng?”
The little girl’s pupils were pure and clear like water, her confused and helpless manner was without the slightest hint of falsehood. She seemed to have gotten scared by the scene before her. Tightly grasping onto the hem of Song Hui’s clothes, she burrowed into his chest, preventing him from going to save Wei Zheng, “Big brother Song Hui, I’m very scared, how come Wei Zheng fell into the water? I didn’t know she was standing on the edge, she called me over to catch her…”
Song Hui gently patted her back to comfort her, signaling for Liang Yu to rescue the other girl, as he carried We Luo over to a safe spot by the pond, “Don’t be scared, don’t be scared, it’ll be okay. That area has always been wet and slippery, if one doesn’t pay attention, they could easily fall into the pond. It’s all my fault for not telling you all earlier…”
Liang Yu had practiced martial arts to build up his strength from childhood, and was even better at swimming. It didn’t take him long to carry Wei Zheng out of the pond. It was only for a few moments, but Wei Zheng had drunk a lot of water and was clearly scared silly. Having been placed on the ground by Liang Yu, she couldn’t regain her senses for a long time, shivering with cold as she hugged herself.
She had wanted to harm Wei Luo, she didn’t think she’d harm herself instead… After all, she was still a small child. Feeling that she had received a grievance, she couldn’t help but immediately cry, big round tears rolling down from her eyes. She was rubbing her eyes as she cried. On top of that, when she fell into the lotus pond, she had smacked her nose. Bright red blood was now flowing out of it. Since she was rubbing at her face, the blood had gotten smeared all over, making for a rather ghastly sight.
The several people at the side were also frightened by this appearance of hers. Song Ruwei was the first one to react and go over. She hurriedly took off a maidservant’s coat to drape over Wei Zheng’s shoulders, and took out a silk cloth to wipe off the bloodstains from her face: “Quickly lift your chin, don’t lower your head, or the blood flow will get worse… Younger sister Ah Zheng, how is it? Are there any other injuries besides this one?”
Wei Zheng stopped crying with great difficulty, and said through sniffles and sobs: “No, none…”
Seeing her like that, Song Ruwei felt sorry for her and turned her head to ask Wei Luo: “Ah Zheng fell into the water, but you, as her older sister, didn’t even realize. The both of you stood by the edge, why is it that only you are alright?”
Her words were too unreasonable. Even though Ah Luo and Wei Zheng had both been standing by the edge right then, who didn’t know that Ah Luo had been blindfolded? Moreover, at that time it was Wei Zheng, who had guided Wei Luo there. Once the accident happened, it was because of Song Hui promptly rushing over, that Wei Luo had narrowly escaped the disaster.
Song Ruwei’s partiality was rather too obvious.
Standing nearby, Liang Yurong got annoyed as she heard this, and immediately jumped in to refute: “Big sister Ruwei means to blame Ah Luo? Ah Luo was blindfolded then, but Wei Zheng could clearly see. She, herself, decided to go to the pond’s edge, but still wants to blame others when something bad happened. What kind of logic is this? If big brother Song Hui hadn’t saved Ah Luo, would Ah Luo be alright now? Or do you mean to say that big brother Song Hui should rescue Wei Zheng, but shouldn’t bother with Ah Luo?”
Those few derisive remarks rendered Song Ruwei speechless for a good while.
Liang Yurong and Wei Luo both had the same skill, namely their innate eloquence. Arguing with others, they would never lose. How else would they have become such close friends? After all, birds of a feather flock together, it was the same for people.
Song Ruwei took a few breaths. Unwilling to resign, she came up with a good excuse, and responded: “I mean…”
“Wei Wei.” Song Hui called out her name, his expression somewhat disapproving, “The pond water is cold, quickly take little sister Ah Zheng to change her clothes. Don’t waste time here.”
This tone obviously meant to say she was making a scene.
Song Ruwei couldn’t go back to her previous imposing manner. Her heart was unwilling, but she didn’t dare defy her brother’s words. With no other choice, she mumbled an ‘Oh’, and instructed an old servant behind her: “Quickly take little sister Ah Zheng back to my room and let her change into my clothes.”
Wei Zheng’s nosebleed had already stopped. The small, deathly pale face was freezing. When the old servant picked her up to go back, she was still endlessly shivering.
This event ought to become a lesson for her, right?
Wei Luo’s small head popped up from within Song Hui’s embrace, looking in the direction Wei Zheng had departed, disdain flashing through her eyes. She was actually hoping Wei Zheng would become a little smarter through this experience, otherwise, she’d also get bored of always fooling around with such inferior schemes. By that time, she wouldn’t have the patience to play with her.
Her shoulders suddenly felt heavier, her body wrapped in warmth. Ah Luo turned her head to look, and found that Song Hui had just taken off his outer robe to put it on her. Song Hui rubbed her head: “Ah Luo’s clothes are also wet, do you want to go change into clean clothes?”
When Wei Zheng had fallen in, some water had splashed onto Ah Luo’s clothes, drenching a large area. It hadn’t dried yet.
Wei Luo shook her head, her tone light, “It’ll dry soon, it’s not in the way.” Saying so, she thought for a while, then looked up at Song Hui to say gratefully: “Thank you, big brother Song Hui, for saving me.”
Song Hui smiled weakly, thinking of saying something, but eventually settled on: “Thank me for what? This is what I ought to do.”
He had saved Ah Luo, but hadn’t saved Ah Zheng. That wasn’t something worth getting thanked for. At that time, Wei Zheng’s situation had been more dangerous, but why hadn’t he rescued Wei Zheng first?
After some deliberation, Song Hui supposed it was because Wei Luo had been nearer to him, so he’d done it subconsciously, without thinking too much.
Song Hui lowered his head, meeting Wei Luo’s sparkling black large eyes, his heart couldn’t help going soft. Taking something from within his sleeve, it was actually the silver longevity locket with blue butterflies that Ah Luo had wagered earlier. He placed it around her neck with a somewhat helpless look, “This longevity locket is what I gave you on your birthday last year as a present, how could you take it down for a bet? Granted you had wagered it, but it wasn’t even for my win. Doesn’t Ah Luo have any confidence in big brother Song Hui?”
Wei Luo blinked her eyes bewildered. She had entirely forgotten about the locket’s origins. Every year, she’d receive so many gifts for her birthday, enough to get dizzy. How could she possibly remember each one? In addition, Song Hui had said it was last year’s gift. Though it was last year, it had been quite a long time since then in her memories. She simply couldn’t recall it. When she went out today, it was Jin Lu who had told her to wear the locket. If Song Hui hadn’t mentioned it, she still wouldn’t have known.
Wei Luo traced the longevity locket, explaining rationally: “I knew big brother Song Hui would win, so I wagered on third elder brother. If I had also wagered on big brother Song Hui, no one would have bet on third elder brother’s win. Third elder brother would have surely felt sad.”
Song Hui hadn’t expected that she had put so much thought into this. Pleased, he smiled and said: “So it was like that. Our Ah Luo is very sensible.”
The little bit of frustration, that he’d felt just a moment ago, suddenly vanished. What was he doing, bickering with a six year old child over a small problem like that? Besides, she was entirely unaware of it.
Song Hui tapped her tiny nose, and urged: “You should properly wear this longevity locket. You may not casually take it off again in the future, or else big brother Song Hui will get angry.”
Wei Luo appeared to understand without really grasping the issue, muttered an ‘Oh’, and asked intentionally: “Also can’t take it off in the bath?”
Song Hui laughed cheerfully, in a clear and pleasant tone: “Of course you can. Silly Ah Luo, how would you take a bath wearing it?”
Wei Luo was by no means silly. She merely wanted to see his reaction and nothing more. In the end, he still treated her as a six year old child. Wei Luo lowered her head to play with the longevity locket around her neck. Her body was now six years old, shouldn’t she pretend to be one? Song Hui took a small verbal win over her just now, but she would get him back one day.
Wei Zheng had caught a cold, and had hurt her nose as well. How long could they possibly stay at Count Zhongyi’s residence? They prepared to return to Duke Ying’s residence during lunch.
Just before they left, Song Hui handed Wei Luo something wrapped in oil paper, full and bulging inside. As he brought it closer, a sweet and fragrant scent wafted by.
Wei Luo received it, and asked curiously: “What is this?”
Song Hui answered with a smile: “This is the dried lychees that father brought back from the South. There weren’t many of them. Thinking that Ah Luo likes eating sweet stuff, I especially left some for you.”
Lychees were a fruit unique to the South. Ordinarily, they didn’t get transported north, and even if they did, they wouldn’t be fresh. Still, people had found a very clever method. They would remove the lychees’ shells and pits, and soak them in a jar of honey, letting them dry in the sun. That resulted in the most popular candied fruit at present. It could both be preserved for a long time, and meet the needs of the Northern people, who wanted to taste the lychee fruit. Moreover, they wouldn’t lose their sweet taste. Because the process was complex, and they had to be transported over a thousand li, these dried lychees were not at all cheap. The small packet Song Hui had given her, was enough to buy the longevity locket around Ah Luo’s neck. Even so, there were many well-bred young ladies in the capital, who loved eating them. The reason being that not only was the dried lychee’s flavor sweet, but it was also beneficial for the life force (qi) and could enrich the blood, it was very effective.
Ah Luo put one in her mouth, the lychee’s sweetness quickly spreading inside. There was still some juice preserved in the candied fruit. Biting through with her teeth, the juice rapidly flowed out, so sweet that she couldn’t help squinting her eyes. The advantages of eating a dried lychee was that one didn’t need to peel off the skin, nor spit out the pit. After she was done chewing, Ah Luo swallowed, her voice also becoming a little sweeter: “Thank you, big brother Song Hui. Ah Luo likes it.”
Song Hui slightly curled his lips, “It’s good that you like it. However, you shouldn’t eat too many, eating too many will likely cause excessive internal heat.” (related to Chinese medicine, qi, etc.)
From the side, Wei Zheng was observing enviously. She pouted and mumbled to herself: “Why did elder cousin only give to Wei Luo, and didn’t give me any… I also like eating dried lychees, elder cousin is biased.”
Song Hui stroked Wei Zheng’s head kindly, and explained: “Ah Zheng’s nose has recently bled, so you cannot eat lychees. If you eat some, the blood may flow even stronger.”
Wei Zheng looked anxiously at the oil paper packet in Wei Luo’s hands, half believing and half doubting Song Hui’s words. Her expression eventually eased up, no longer feeling aggrieved.
That was more or less Song Hui’s talent, and also his only shortcoming. Wei Luo shoved another dried lychee in her mouth to suck on, and pondered indifferently. Song Hui would show a gentle and amiable appearance to anyone, and didn’t really know how to reject others. It was still alright when he was a child, but it would easily cause misunderstandings once he grew up. Whether people were aware of his natural disposition or not, he would look like a playboy, kind to anyone. That was why Wei Zheng was always noisy around him, he would only scold her half-heartedly and be too forgiving. In fact, that was simply his character, he didn’t really like other girls.
But that was also no good, as Ah Luo was intensely possessive. If she married someone and that person dared to be good to some other girl, she would certainly break his legs and lock him in a room, where he would have no choice but to be good to her only, unable to see anyone else.
Back in Duke Ying’s residence, Wei Luo and Changhong directly returned to Pine courtyard, while Wei Zheng turned around halfway to go back in the direction of Ginkgo courtyard, presumably to find Madam Du in order to complain.
She was truly pitiful today, not only falling in the water, but also hurting her nose. Who knew how sorry for her Madam Du would feel once she saw her.
Wei Luo rested her head on both hands, visualizing Madam Du’s appearance throwing a fit. She couldn’t help smiling, as she called for Jin Lu to come in: “Elder sister Jin Lu, where is daddy?”
Jin Lu took a wet cloth to wipe Ah Luo’s hands, while stating: “Fifth master has just come back from outside, and has brought back some guests. He’s currently entertaining the guests in the front courtyard. Miss, do you want to see Master?”
Wei Luo shook her head, saying quite honestly: “We went to Count Zhongyi’s residence today, Wei Zheng wasn’t careful and fell in the water. She went to find Madam to complain, Madam will surely demand to see daddy. Recently, just at the mention of her, daddy’s mood will get bad. Elder sister Jin Lu, I don’t want to let daddy see her. Moreover, Wei Zheng got diagnosed at Count Zhongyi’s residence, and it was nothing major. Daddy has been a bit more cheerful these last two days, could we not let Madam affect daddy’s mood?”
She spoke those words reasonably, and Jin Lu immediately nodded, “Miss is thinking of master. Once master learns of it, he’ll surely be very happy. Miss can relax, this maid will go to Ginkgo courtyard. If the person inside demands to see the fifth master, this maid will say that fifth master is entertaining guests, so it’s inconvenient to meet the madam.”
Wei Luo curved her eyes (^ ^), thinking to herself that Jin Lu was really astute, understanding everything right off, without needing to be told explicitly.
And Wei Kun was indeed entertaining guests in the front courtyard, those words were not false.
Just as expected, when Madam Du heard Wei Zheng’s tearful complaints, she got upset and immediately said she had to see Wei Kun. Currently, she wasn’t by Wei Zheng’s side and couldn’t constantly look after her. The day had just started and she had already gotten into an accident. Then how would it be like in the future? How would Zheng get to live? She was thinking of using this opportunity to convince Wei Kun to let her move back in Pine courtyard, however the maidservant spoke a few words, explaining that Wei Kun was with guests and didn’t have the spare time to meet her.
Angry and hopeless, she intended to rush outside, but there were two bodyguards watching the entrance of Ginkgo courtyard. As soon as she approached, the bodyguards blocked her way.
The two bodyguards were unmovable, ignoring anything she said, truly infuriating.
Madam Du was extremely angry, but thinking of her pregnancy, it wasn’t good to get stirred up, so she forced herself to calm down. Unfortunately, it was useless. Walking back and forth, she only got angrier instead.
In Pine courtyard, Wei Luo was preparing for tomorrow’s lesson with Mr. Xue, when a maidservant called Jin Wu entered to announce: “Fourth Miss, fifth master has invited you to the front courtyard.”
Wei Luo jumped down from the decorated pear wood chair, and patted the dust from the book cover, “He invited me? Why?”
Jin Wu shook her head, “This maid also doesn’t know, it seemed like he wanted to let you meet someone.”
To meet someone? Who?
Wei Luo was unsure of the purpose. She placed the ‘Zeng guang xian wen’ (to widen the virtuous youth’s culture), which she had pulled out from the bookshelf, onto a red sandalwood table with black and gold lacquer, her young voice saying: “Alright then, I’ll go have a look.”
Jin Wu led the way, passing through the corridor with folded arms. They went through the main hall to arrive at the entrance hall, stopping on the patio outside the front courtyard. On the way, Ah Luo had been trying to guess whom Wei Kun wanted her to meet. That was until she saw the image of a man standing by the gate of the front courtyard…
Wasn’t that the bodyguard Zhu Geng, who had carried her off on that day?
The person inside…
Wei Luo had a hunch who it was.
Sure enough, as soon as she walked in, she noticed a youth sitting on the ironwood chair ahead. The youth was wearing a sky-blue lined robe with gold brocade, an ivory folding fan and a jade ornament with a dragon and a tiger carved on it were hanging on his waist. There wasn’t a single spot on his clothing that wasn’t elegant, as his whole body emanated a noble aura, with a luxurious appearance. He didn’t have the kind of soft and tender beauty that Song Hui had. Compared to Song Hui’s looks, one third was stern, another third was arrogant. His demeanor was several times more appealing.
His chin was resting on his hands. As he saw Wei Luo pass through the gate, his calm and languid phoenix eyes watched her enter, showing a mischievous laughing expression inside.
A lot of people were sitting in the room, such as Duke Ying Wei Zhangchun and several of Ah Luo’s uncles. Surprisingly, Wei Zhangchun had voluntarily occupied a lower seat, yielding the top seat to the youth. It seemed like his identity wasn’t simple at all.
Wei Luo quietly cursed on the inside, while she bounced over to Wei Kun, “Daddy…”
Wei Kun caught her small body, laughing as he said: “Ah Luo, quickly greet prince Jing. It was precisely his bodyguard that saved you the other day. Daddy specially invited prince Jing today, so we could properly express our gratitude.”
Wei Luo stared blankly at Zhao Jie.
She had guessed that his status wasn’t low, but she hadn’t expected it to be this high!
Ah Luo hadn’t seen prince Jing’s face before, but she had heard rumors about him. In the future, he was going to be a significantly important person. After Emperor Chong Zhen abdicated, he would pass the throne to his (Zhao Jie’s) younger brother Zhao Zhang. However, Zhao Zhang would be merely seven years old. Having no authoritative power, he would become the country’s first puppet emperor. Zhao Jie would naturally become the ruling regent, all the ministers only acting upon his orders. He was a ruthless person, stubborn and assertive, would seek revenge for the slightest grievance, his schemes deep and profound.
Ah Luo gazed at his right hand’s sleeve cuff embroidered in gold patterns. The sleeve slid back, exposing a row of deep tooth marks.
Obviously, during the past few days, those tooth marks hadn’t faded one bit, but became more distinct instead.
Extra from the author’s notes:
Zhao Jie: Now you know what is fear? You were so pleased when you bit me that time.
Ah Luo: …Alright with the biting. What do you want?
Zhao Jie: Come, let me bite you back.
Ah Luo: ……
Ah Luo: Wait a minute, oh, aren’t you biting the wrong place?
Zhao Jie: Where is it wrong? Isn’t biting wifey’s lips a matter of course?
Ah Luo: (slaps) I’m only six, you pervert!
Notes: If you feel that the kids talk like grown-ups, it’s because I’m not skillful enough to translate language subtleties. I just translate the meaning straightforwardly, and it might sound too mature.
Song Hui is lucky that Wei Luo doesn’t consider him hers… This yandere’s future husband better have eyes only for her, lol.