Chapter 2 Flattering and Insulting
Flower Fairy Festival was a feast for flower enjoyment but held in the twelfth month of the lunar year. There were no flowers in winter, so the festival was actually held to enjoy fake flowers—made of tissues and silks by maidens. Those ingenious maidens whose fake flowers were the most vivid and shining would be the queen in this competition.
Besides, there were also other activities, such as random draws of flowers and poetry singing. The winner would gain plentiful rewards from the empress. Even just a visit to the imperial palace and a look at the emperor and empress were aspirational dreams for many girls.
Nanny Liao was waiting for service outside the palace together with the maidservants. Qin Yunuan, followed by Qin Yunzhuang, with her crescent color flower sachet hanging on her waist, was walking on the palace path made of black bricks, together with two dozen maidservants. Those maidens were gossiping. To many of them, it was their first time to visit the imperial palace, so they felt so excited.
“Um, what do you think the Iron General’s appearance? He wears the mask all day. I think it must be so choky to wear that.”
“I think he is definitely such a brave and strong hero no matter what kind of face he has, even if he has a pockmarked face. I have heard that he is so handsome that he has to wear a mask to cover his face for not getting some trouble.”
Qin Yunuan was walking aside those gossiping girls and heard their words. The word “Iron General” touched her heart. In the last life of her, she was forced to marry this person. Finally, she was burned to death before she knew the real appearance of him in the bridal sedan chair.
Though they finally did not get married, her heart was touched when hearing the name. She just woke up from the nightmare of her previous life and she still remembered the torching heat of that fire.
“Humph,” Shangguan Yee heard that conversation and said in an arrogant voice, “he is just an illegitimate member of Palace Ning, inferior to the concubine’s children. Nobody would care about such a menial person. I think he must be an ugly guy.” She said to Qin Yunuan deliberately without any goodwill, “Sister Qin, am I right?”
Qin Yunuan knew that Shangguan Yee wanted to insult her.
“Bah,” before Qin Yunuan answered, one of the gossip girls shouted, “Leng Changxi is the first-class general. He once got the head of the enemy’s general and stayed clean when riding a horse in yellow sand. You, Shangguan Yee, are just jealous of him. Because your elder brother is just an idiot. I heard that he failed five times in the examination of Imperial College. In our Qi land, you can’t find the second idiot like your brother.”
Shangguan Yee almost cried, “humph, my elder brother looks foolish, but he has great wisdom. Your family Fang has five daughters without a son. Your family line seems to get broken.”
The words of Shangguan Yee were so malicious. Qin Yunuan frowned and thought she was such as big-mouth witch who teased and even cursed her family.
The anger of Shangguan Yee did not disappear after she said that. Facing the tongue-tied girl from family Fang, she added, “And if you really admire General Leng, you can ask for marriage awarding from the empress. I wonder if you still say that he’s bold and strong after you marry such a cold and violent guy.”
“Forget it, sister Shangguan. Let it go.” It was for a long time before Qin Yunzhuang came out to persuade Shangguan Yee. For Qin Yunzhuang herself, she also thought lightly of Leng Changxi, the illegitimate member of family Leng. Though he had great military exploit and gained focus from the emperor, he was not the authentic member of family Fang, and even could not get listed in the ancestral temple.
“Fine, fine. There are always many differences between mistress’ children or illegitimate children and the children of a legal wife.” Shangguan Yee squinted at Qin Yunuan and said arrogantly, “Qin, am I right?”
“I think Shangguan Yee is incorrect.” A melodious female voice came and cooled the intense phenomenon like the babbling streams among mountains.
Shangguan Yee turned back and found the words came from Qin Yunuan. She disdained Qin and rolled her eyes arrogantly.
Qin Yunzhuang felt surprised at first but soon covered her emotion. She frowned, “Yunuan, don’t be naughty.”
“Sister, it was ShangguanYi that asked me first. If I do not answer her, it will be so impolite for me,” Qin Yunuan said confirmedly. Shangguan Yee apparently was insulting Qin Yunuan, and she should not tolerate it! Qin Yunuan suddenly smiled and asked Shangguan Yee, “I am just wondering about the family background of Mr. Shangguan.”
Shangguan Yee raised her head and said, “my dad was successful in the highest imperial examination and has worked as a higher-class officer in the Palace for 22 years without any error.”
“Oh, so what about his father?”
Shangguan Yee felt prouder, “my grandpa Shangguan Yi was a famous Confucian scholar in the regions south of the River and had many followers.”
“Yeah, that’s true,” Qin Yunuan nodded and sighed, “Mr. Shangguan Yi had great wisdom and delicate handwriting, and even the deceased emperor once sighed ‘Mr. Shangguan in our Qi land is just like an invaluable treasure in our country’.”
Qin’s words made Shangguan Yee feel so happy but Qin Yunzhuang frowned. And even the girl from family Fang also felt confused. The third daughter of family Qin was retorting or flattering Shangguan Yee?
“OK, and then, what’s the background of Mr. Shangguan Yi’s father?” Qin Yunuan, now with cold eyes, said the words, just like a sharp knife poking to Shangguan Yee.
The little face of Shangguan Yee became pale. She gritted her teeth without a word. Through her angry and furious face, the girl from family Fang suddenly understood something.
“You must forget that, sister Shangguan. Let me tell everybody here for you,” Qin Yunuan smiled, “the father of Shangguan Yi is Shangguan Cong. He was just an ordinary man who passed the imperial examination at the county level, working as a teacher. And, the father of Shangguan Cong is Shangguan Quan, a fisherman in the regions south of the River. And then the father of Shangguan Cong is Shangguan You. He was born in a noble family of Shangguan, one of the four famous families in the regions south of the River, but he was just an illegitimate member of the family, and he even could not be listed in the family pedigree.”
Qin Yunuan underlined the last sentence. Actually, she just knew that from her father’s wife. The wife admired Shangguan Yee and wanted to settle down the engagement of their children, so she searched for some information about family Shangguan. Qin knew this unconsciously when she sent the embroidery. The ability of remembering skills still existed.
Looking at the bad face of ShangguanYi, Qin Yunuan said in a softer voice, “so, sister Shangguan, please check your behavior before insulting others, and you will get involved with much disgrace if you keep insulting. What’s the problem of a child of a mistress? What’s the matter with a humble man? People don’t care about the family background of heroes. The famous scholar Zhang Lian in previous dynasty, the marshal of country-establishment Meng Zhen, and now, the Iron General, they are all the heroes fighting for the Qi Land. Without their struggling, there wouldn’t have the present Qi Land. Miss Shangguan, you focus much on family background, but you do not know that the peace and prosperity in the capital are given by those soldiers who have ordinary family backgrounds. Miss Shangguan, all people are born equal.”
The last sentence was significant. It reminded us of the hard-won peace and underlined the family background of Shangguan Yee.
Shangguan Yee felt so urgent and furious that her eyes seemed to ooze a drop of blood. She thought Qin Yunuan was just the menial daughter of the concubine, and Qin had no right to give her a lecture. Now Shangguan Yee felt extremely outrageous!
Qin Yunzhuang pulled Shangguan Yee to stop her from keeping insulting others.
Looking at the furious face of Shangguan Yee and the admirable eyes of the girl of family Fang, she felt the pleasure of the first counter-revenge. She understood the feeling of self-protesting.
“Why do you all stop here? Come on!” The fat guide nanny was about to curse them more, but she found it was Qin Yunuan standing in the center of the crowd.
Qin Yunuan just nodded to the fat nanny with a lovely face. The fat nanny did not say anything. She thought she should not provoke the noble girls in the capital in this Flower Fairy Festival. Finally, she waved her hands to let them walk fast.
Now there was no one saying anything, and all were just walking towards the garden for the festival.
From other’s gossiping, Qin Yunuan finally knew that it was not just an annual Flower Fairy Festival, and this one was also held to welcome the victorious returning of Senior General Leng Changxi from East Qin.
East Qin? Victorious returning? She felt so strange that in her previous life, Leng Chngxi would gain victory from East Qin one year later, but now he did it ahead of time. But she then thought that it was not a strange thing compared with her resurgence.
From their gossiping, it seemed that many people thought highly of Leng Changxi. He guided his troops to support the front army and then turned the whole circumstance. As soon as he and the other 100 thousand soldiers arrived, they successfully conquered the capital of east Qin. They forced the emperor to give his Imperial Jade Seal and agreed to regard Qi land as their suzerain.
It was the utmost glory of Qi land. The threat existing for 20 years of East Qin was solved by the 19- year-old young man so easily.
Through the shyness and expectation from those gossiping noble girls, it seemed that so many girls like the girl from family Fang regarded Leng Changxi as a superhero.
After they entered the garden, they found so many valuable and rare red plum. The guiding fat nanny said to them that the empress had not been to the garden yet, so they could idle around in this garden. The bored girls got excited and walked around, showing to each other and talking about everything around.
When they came to a peculiar rockery, someone shouted, “Look! There is a Persian cat!”