Who Cares – Chapter 103
Chapter 103 Dead End
To test whether a clan wife was qualified, not only depended on whether she could take charge of the central-feed, handled family affairs, served her in-laws well, assisted her husband and educated her children, but also whether she could hold up the big scene. The so-called big scenes were none other than sacrificial offerings, including family sacrifices, clan sacrifices, big sacrifices, small sacrifices, annual sacrifices, and festival sacrifices, for the mistress of high gate big clan, she even had to participate in the county sacrifices.
A funeral sacrifice such as the present was the most common but also most important ceremony, not to mention that the hostess’ family could not make the slightest mistake, even the insignificant servants or guests must follow the rules from the beginning to the end.
If Ye Zhen couldn’t support it because of her serious illness, that was still fine, but she was raised too well by Emperor Sheng Yuan. After a few months imprisoned in the palace, not only did she not look haggard, but she became quite plump, her skin was shiny and lustrous, and her posture was graceful. Just kneeling on the praying mat was already panting, dripping with sweat, her cheeks became more rosy due to anxiety, her eyes were misty due to grievance, and her red lips that opened and closed seemed to be groaning and moaning, showing a bit of coquetry for no reason.
Anyone with discerning eyes wondered, where she was sick? It’s clearly because the body was too delicate to bear any tiredness! The Ye family was a family that used to offer “tribute”, and the rumors that the women in that clan cultivating the art of seduction since childhood to be favored by the nobles resurfaced in everyone’s minds, making them both disgusted and contemptuous.
Every time Ye Zhen gasped, the old madam’s forehead jumped violently, and finally she couldn’t hold back and scolded, “Enough! If you can’t hold it, then hurry down, what are you doing lying around here? Old first (tn: referring to ZLL), send her down. Don’t come back for the sacrificial offerings in the future!”
Zhao Luli felt uncomfortable by his mother’s sharp knife-like gaze, then turned his face to look at Madam, only to see that she had turn a deaf ear and a blind eye, just continued to recite the scriptures, stood up, bowed, and knelt down to worship. She stood at the front of the mourning hall, and everyone stared at her and followed her. When she recited the sutra, everyone recited it; when she got up, everyone got up; when she knelt down, everyone knelt down in an instant. Her every move was natural and smooth, steady as a mountain, and quickly suppressed the chaos caused by Ye Zhen.
Gradually, no one paid any attention to Ye Zhen’s blunder, and no one talked about the Ye family’s scandal, the Sanskrit sound were loud in the mourning hall, the mournful thought were like waves, and the previous solemnity was restored.
Zhao Luli didn’t dare to delay, he quickly lifted Ye Zhen and hurriedly stepped outside. Feeling the delicate and weak body under his hands, smelling her rich and extravagant fragrance, listening to her extremely coquettish breathing, the flames in his chest became more and more intense, but not from desire, but from uncontrollable anger.
“Enough, this is sister-in-law’s funeral, can you be more solemn?” he asked in a low voice.
In order to attract Emperor Sheng Yuan, Ye Zhen often pretended to be sick like this. After five or six years, it became a habit that had been carved into the bone marrow. How could she change it at will? What’s more, the rumors outside were correct, the daughter of the Ye family had indeed practiced seduction techniques since they were a child. Let her hook up a man she could, let her be pretentious she could, but let her stand on the bright altar, burn incense to pray, correcting oneself and setting an example, she was completely helpless, because she never knew that women could also have courage and iron bones.
“Li, I’m really uncomfortable.” She touched her ex-husband’s cheek with trembling fingertips, but was quickly avoided.
Zhao Luli stared at her tear-filled eyes, but in the end there was no more flare up, only his footsteps were much faster. When he arrived at the east wing, he put the person on the soft couch and said in a deep voice, “Sit down for a while, I’ll get some hot water, and after you wash up, lie down and rest. You don’t have to go to keep watch tonight.”
Ye Zhen knew that she had lost all her face, and did not dare to entangle too much, so she agreed in a low voice. When the tall man’s figure disappeared into the corner, she picked up a bronze mirror and looked at it carefully. Although the woman in the mirror was in her early thirties, she looked like a young girl. For some reason, there was a tear mole under her right eye, and she couldn’t wash it off.
She rubbed and rubbed, rubbed and rubbed, and saw that her skin was slightly red and swollen before she reluctantly gave up. There was no doubt that this must be the handwriting of Emperor Sheng Yuan. Back then she changed one character from Ye Zhen to Ye Zhēn; now she had added a mole and changed from Ye Zhēn back to Ye Zhen, after going around she still get nothing, leaving only resentment and humiliation.
There was no way to go back to the palace, and the Zhao family seemed to have no place to stand, she suddenly felt a little confuse and helpless. But if she admits defeat easily, she would not be Ye Zhen who had a heart higher than the sky, so when Zhao Luli asked the monk to boil hot water, make a vegetarian meal, and ordered the servant girl to bring it back, he found that she had returned to normal, sitting by the table slowly writing something.
“Come and wash your face then eat.” In order to avoid suspicion, he stood at the door and never entered.
“Back then I was infected with snake venom to save someone, since then my physical strength has always been poor. I’m afraid I won’t be able to attend the next ceremony. But I can’t do nothing. After thinking about it, I only have literary talent on my hand, then I’ll write a sacrificial eulogy to comfort sister-in-law’s spirit in heaven. Li Lang, come and help me take a look.”
Ye Zhen was imprison in Ganquan Palace for several months, how did she know about the outside world? She prided herself on being talented, but she never thought that Guan Suyi’s talent was much higher than her. Even a crafty talent like Xu Guangzhi didn’t dare to steal her edge, then who was this Ye Zhen? What virtue, what ability did she have?
Not to mention Zhao Luli’s face was strange, even the maid who brought the water gave this “first madam” a deep look, and cursed in her heart, ““.
“You have a heart. After you write it, burn it for sister-in-law.” Zhao Luli stood by the door with his hands behind his back, resolutely refusing to enter.
Ye Zhen’s hand that was preparing to wipe away her tears froze slightly, she never expected that he would not even look at it, let alone take it in front of the coffin to recite, and actually let her burn it on the spot. Did he thought that the article she wrote with painstaking effort was paper money and incense candles?
“I remembered that brother-in-law was still fighting at the border, but his wife and child encounter great catastrophe, Heaven and people were separated forever. For a while, sadness came, thoughts gushed out, and wrote this sacrificial eulogy hastily. Help me take a look, if you think it’s acceptable then take it to the front of the spirit and read it. Younger sister came from literary family, and should have also written a sacrificial eulogy. Although I can’t compare to her, thinking about sister-in-law who are still wandering on the, I had to reluctantly pick up the brush and try my best.” Ye Zhen’s mouth was humble, but her heart was full of pride.
Zhao Luli was repeatedly asked by her, in the end he could not resist, so he had to come in and read the manuscript, and finally sighed in his heart. This was indeed a good article with beautiful rhetoric. Ye Zhen’s poetic essay had always been good, combining the most gorgeous words and sentences with the most harmonious rhythm, making people who read it felt it was an eloquence writing. But that was it, except for beauty, the words on the paper were actually empty, and the most important thing that should not be missing in the sacrificial eulogy were actually an inner mourning and pain.
“This is the sacrificial eulogy made by Madam. After you read it, you can decide whether to take this article out and recite it.” without much dissuasion, he took out a neatly folded manuscript from the sachet he carried with him, and laid it flat on the table.
Ye Zhen was still a little indifferent at first, but after reading two paragraphs, her eyes were flushed, and at the end, she shed two lines of tears silently. The thrill of that day was intertwined with life and death, it was suspended in her mind, making her immersed in the situation, and the pain penetrated into the bone marrow. Although the writing in this article was simple and not put emphasis on rhythm, it had the power to directly hit the soul, which was by no means comparable to ordinary words.
Zhao Luli put away the manuscript like it was a great treasure and sighed, “This sacrificial eulogy has been selected to be put on the “Xuan Guang Anthology”, and in the first place. It has overwhelmed all the literary giants, won the reputation of the best in the present literary world, and has spread throughout the Wei Kingdom, enter deeply into the people’s heart. This ceremony, because both the Guan and Zhong families were present, it attracted countless literati to come to offer condolences, they should make sacrificial eulogy to comfort the dead, but because of this beautifully written article at the front, they didn’t dare the risk of showing their crudeness, so everyone put their brush back into their sleeves and concentrated on praying.”
He fixedly looked at his ex-wife and said bluntly, “I know that you are unwilling to lose the position of the main wife, so you want to compete with Madam again and again. However, you should understand your own situation. It is still the old saying, you are neither good at common affairs nor good at running the house, let alone have the graceful bearing of the mistress and a clan wife. Instead of making too much talk, too much mistake, and losing face at every step, it’s better to keep silent and know your own place. Don’t you think?”
Ye Zhen was first shaken by Guan Suyi’s talent, and then hearing her ex-husband belittle her, her resentment burst out. She even forgot that she was a weak woman who was “indifferent to the world” and scolded, “Zhao Luli, you ruthless heartless man! How did you get your title, how were you able to preserve your life, have you forgotten? I gave everything to you, and in the end you treated me like this, wanting to trap me in the back house and humiliate me for the rest of my life, you are so cruel!”
Zhao Luli also lost his calm and roared with red eyes, “Ye Zhen, you shut up! Your so-called life-saving grace and support are not what I want! If I could, I would rather die under the military punishment than live this drifting life; If I could, I would rather be stationed at the border and never return, rather than staying in Yanjing and become Marquis Zhenbei. In the end, none of this is what I deserve, I don’t feel sorry for losing them, I just feel happy! You always say how much you have sacrificed for me, why don’t you ask me if I need your sacrifice? To be a coward, a bad guy, living in humiliation forever and ever, this is what you gave me!”
He suddenly calmed down, and his tone was softer than ever before, “And Madam never give me anything on her own initiative. If I do something wrong, she will blame me, complain to me, and even scold me, but she will not cover it up for me, let me resign to my fate and lost my dignity. She made me wake up from my drunken stupor; she ordered me to bear thorns and wash away my sins; she asked me to raise my head and be an upright man. I have neither power nor title now, but I live a good life, I take in the orphans of my soldiers to cultivate the fields, I recruit the disable soldiers to set up caravans, I gave them a way to live and gave myself a new life. I am not Marquis Zhenbei now, but Zhao Luli, a commoner, but I am happy!”
He looked straight into his ex-wife’s eyes and said word by word, “I’ve never been so happy before or after you left. I know how a real couple should get along, it’s not that one person works hard and the other is forced to bear; one person’s mind is fully restrained, and the other is wildly speculating. Real couple can quarrel and even fight when they make mistakes, but they quickly unite and help each other when they encounter disasters. They have no reservation and treat each other frankly, so they can grow old together and love each other for a lifetime. Do you know? Before you come back, I thought Madam and I could love each other for a lifetime, but now…”
He slumped in his chair, finally choked up with sob.
Looking at her ex-husband who was heartbroken, Ye Zhen’s last remaining chance was also shattered. Only then did she understood what it means to “have nothing and come to a dead end”.
TN: About the “twin” Ye Zhen’s name, the Zhen in those two names are different character, one is 叶蓁, the other is 叶珍, but they sound the same and the pinyin is the same (yè zhēn), so I thought I don’t need to differentiate and just write both Ye Zhen, but turns out it’s kinda important distinction. So to differentiate Ye Zhen = Zhao Luli’s wife and Ye Zhēn = palace concubine