Chapter 110 : Dong Yinger (Part II)
In the inner courtyard of the Capital Magistrate fu, a group of young ladies sat chatting and laughing together around tables laden with tea and snacks .
Rongya Junzhu smiled and asked, “Why hasn’t Eldest Jiang Miss arrived yet? Could it be that now that she’s a junzhu, she wants to show off her power*?”
* 下马威 (xiàmǎwēi) – display of severity immediately on taking office; fig. initial show of strength.
Rongya Junzhu was the pearl in Grand Prince Yong’s palm. Grand Prince Yong, being the elder cousin of the previous Emperor, had a close relationship with him. Thus, when the four princes rebelled, Grand Prince Yong helped the current Emperor to suppress them. As a result, she also enjoyed a high status in the Great Jin. In fact, Rongya Junzhu had met Jiang Ruan three years ago on the Linglong boat, only she had been arrogant since childhood and someone unfavoured like Jiang Ruan, who grew up in a faraway village, didn’t enter her eyes at all. However, unexpectedly, in the blink of an eye Jiang Ruan had managed to receive the same ranking as herself and could now compete with her as a junzhu! It was impossible for her not to be jealous, filling her words with barbs.
Zhao Jin frowned while Wen Fei Fei also felt a little unhappy. These two, being daughters of military families, had always been somewhat scornful of other n.o.ble ladies’ circuitous ramblings, and instinctively felt there were some unpleasant undertones hidden within Rongya Junzhu’s words. Lin Zi Xiang was more straightforward than those two, clearly expressing her dislike and stiffly retorted, “According to Yinger’s invitation to Ruan Meimei, it’s not time to start yet. Rongya Junzhu was the one who came almost an hour in advance. Could it be that it doesn’t matter what Yinger’s invitation says, only what Junzhu thinks?”
Rongya Junzhu flushed at Lin Zi Xiang’s words, anger burning a hole in her heart. If it were anyone else, she could snap back, but it had to be the obstinate Lin Zi Xiang. If she kept arguing, it would only bring shame upon herself. Although she internally gritted her teeth in hatred, on the surface Rongya Junzhu only expressed that she couldn’t care less about Lin Zi Xiang: “I’m too lazy to argue with you.”
Lin Zi Xiang still wanted to continue but Dong Yinger hurried over to mediate. “ Let’s not fight. I’m the one who invited everyone, if you quarrel I’ll be embarra.s.sed.” She had invited a lot of n.o.ble young ladies over to relieve her boredom, but this didn’t mean she welcomed such a big ruckus.
A few other young ladies also came over to help them reconcile. Before long, Dong Yinger’s maid trotted over, all smiles. “Junzhu has arrived.”
When the young ladies turned towards the door, they saw a young lady in red slowly approaching. She wore a pink and orange skirt decorated with white magnolia flowers and a double-breasted ivory-coloured robe with red and gold brocade, along with a ruby hairpin carved in the shape of auspicious clouds. The skirt remained motionless as she walked, clearly resembling a ball of fire, but when she got closer it seemed more like ice. There was even less need to discuss her appearance. When Jiang Ruan was young, her features, though charming, had not reached their full potential. But now she had fully developed into a budding beauty, showing a more mature freshness. The combination of a blossoming young woman and her own enchanting nature- it could take the breath away of the beholder.
As she stepped closer, Rongya Junzhu’s face increasingly turned uglier by a few degrees because in front of such a beautiful countenance, she was merely a clown. The more arrogant a person was, the more they couldn’t abide others being better than themselves, not to mention it was Jiang Ruan, whom Rongya Junzhu had deemed beneath her. It was utterly insulting. Once Jiang Ruan arrived before them, she covered her lips and chuckled. “Eldest Jiang Miss, why is it just you? I thought your second sister would also come. Second Jiang Miss is a wonderful person and you’re both the Jiang family’s di daughters. Is your relationship not as harmonious as rumored?”
Jiang Ruan could guess what Rongya Junzhu thought with a single glance. She smiled and replied, “That’s not right.”
“What?” Taken aback, Rongya Junzhu didn’t know what Jiang Ruan meant by this.
Dong Yinger originally wanted to intercede, but upon hearing her reply, she was rendered speechless and could only look warily at Jiang Ruan.
Jiang Ruan said lightly, “Rongya Junzhu is wrong; we are of the same rank, so you should call me Junzhu. If this spreads, wouldn’t it be slapping the imperial family’s face?”
Rongya Junzhu never imagined that Jiang Ruan would make a fuss about this – or more accurately, she never imagined that Jiang Ruan would dare to talk to her in this manner. Although Jiang Ruan had blatantly flaunted her princess status, her words were absolutely correct. Moreover, Rongya Junzhu had always maintained her n.o.ble demeanor, so with Jiang Ruan’s demand for proper etiquette, reluctantly she said, “Junzhu…”
Jiang Ruan replied gently, “No need to be polite. Since today is just an ordinary gathering of us sisters, we don’t need to care about rules and etiquette. You can call me by my name as usual.”
“You!” Rongya Junzhu had never been messed around like this to the point that in a fit of anger, she had almost lost her composure. She angrily glared at Jiang Ruan. A ‘pfft’ came from the nearby Lin Zi Xiang, who couldn’t help but laugh.
Feeling insulted, Rongya Junzhu could no longer bear to stay. She abruptly stood up and shouted, “You are all here to bully me, right? Then I’ll leave now!” She fled, full of indignation. As soon as Rongya Junzhu left, all the n.o.ble young ladies who were friendly with Rongya Junzhu also said their goodbyes until only a small group were left.
Dong Yinger wanted to call them back, but Lin Zi Xiang stopped her. “Let them go. Really, harping on about this and that, they’re just rushing to give empty flattery. It’s so annoying. And you also, why would you invite someone like that?”
Dong Yinger sighed. She wasn’t nearly as straightforward as Lin Zi Xiang. The Capital Magistrate had to deal with a variety of issues everyday, and everything had to be done perfectly. So, if Lin Zi Xiang was said to have inherited Chief Historian Lin’s impartial and reproachful personality, then Dong Yinger had taken after Dong daren’s evasive and smooth manner. Dong Yinger, known for being lively, cute, and considerate, had an outstanding reputation among the n.o.ble ladies of the capital. Thus everyone was willing to give her face.
Zhao Jin also persuaded her, “There’s nothing to be afraid of. A princess left, but there’s another one still here. It can’t be that you think we can’t finish the snacks.”
Now Dong Yinger couldn’t help laughing out loud. She laughed, but slowly frowned again.
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Wen Fei Fei looked at her. “Why are you unhappy again? Ruan Meimei is finally back, just throw those annoying thoughts somewhere else.”
Jiang Ruan was startled, and next to her she failed to notice that Zhao Jin’s expression had become strange. Her body stiffened.
Unless… She looked towards Dong Yinger, wanting to confirm her thoughts. Dong Yinger looked back at her with shining eyes that couldn’t hide their hope. Such a gaze was too familiar. In her past life, that was the expression she saw in the bronze mirror every day. It was the gaze of someone longing for the one in their heart.
The one in Dong Yinger’s heart was Jiang Xin Zhi!
This life generally followed her past life’s trend, but some things had changed ever since her return. For example, the Dong Yinger before her who, in the past, dearly loved Chang An – actually fell in love with Jiang Xin Zhi! Now that this matter had changed, what about other things?
Seeing Jiang Ruan in a daze, Lin Zi Xiang gave her a couple pokes. “What are you thinking about, why don’t you reply?”
“Oh.” Jiang Ruan said with a smile, “Nothing, Dage hasn’t sent any letters.”
Jiang Ruan caught sight of the disappointment in Dong Yinger’s eyes and became sure of her conjecture. For some reason, an ominous premonition arose in her heart. It came on so inexplicably that even she could not make sense of it.
Lin Zi Xiang frowned. “If Yinger marries, it’ll be my turn soon. Recently my father always asks me about these things, I really don’t know what to do.”
Jiang Ruan pondered for a moment, then chuckled. “Has Lin daren let any news slip?”
Lin Zi Xiang was never someone who cared about society’s niceties, and wasn’t coy at all. “Nothing like that, only he keeps frowning, so it’s probably not going well. I said so earlier that with my personality, it’s going to be hard to find someone whose household matches my status, and also has a tolerant personality.”
Jiang Ruan’s brows slowly furrowed.
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