Chapter 105 : A Startling Change (Part I)
Jiang Su Su is back!
Trigger Warning: brief mentions of child loss and suicide.
A plain carriage came to a slow stop at the gate of the Jiang fu. Xia Yan, who went out to greet the guest, trembled when she saw two maidservants supporting a beautiful girl stepping out of the carriage.
The girl was none other than Jiang Su Su. She was obviously taller than she had been three years ago. Perhaps due to her long stay in the family ancestral temple, her temperament seemed calm and her past arrogance had gone completely, leaving only a faint sense of aloofness. There was a smile on her lips and the scar on her face had disappeared without a trace. Her facial features were vivid and beautiful. Furthermore, it was intriguing to see that even though her appearance was beautiful and virtuous, she also seemed to have a newfound seductive charm. Anyone who closely followed her every move would become a little distracted.
When Xia Yan first saw her face, her heart was filled with joy. Then, while awkwardly holding her waist, she leaned forward and looked at Jiang Su Su’s face again. “Su’er, how did your face heal?”
The physician who had visited the fu at that time had said that the scars on Jiang Su Su’s face might never heal completely, though if he were to find some rare and precious medicinal ingredients in the future, the scars might lessen. But at present, Jiang Su Su’s skin was like a perfectly peeled boiled egg with no trace of disfigurement.
Jiang Su Su looked at her and chuckled softly. “It healed on its own.” Her glance at Xia Yan was so soft that Xia Yan unexpectedly felt a flutter in her heart. For some reason, the Jiang Su Su in front of her was so unfamiliar, as if she were a different person. But on closer inspection, she was also still the same. She held back her suspicion and said, “Su’er, it’s great that you’re back. You’re so heartless, unwilling to see your mother for the past three years…”
 T/N: 时间到了，自然就好了 – literally, the time has come, naturally it’s healed.
Jiang Su Su pretended not to hear her. Her gaze went past Xia Yan and fell on a soft sedan chair that had appeared in front of the fu’s gate.
It was a mahogany coloured soft sedan chair carried by four imperial guards in uniforms. Even though the sedan chair was exquisite and gorgeous, nothing was revealed about the status of the person inside. There had been many onlookers watching the excitement along the way, eager to see which fu the n.o.bility was from.
 T/N: 海棠 is Chinese flowering crabapple. 海棠色 refers to the colour between red and light wood, similar to that of pearwood or mahogany.
The sedan chair stopped at the gate of the Jiang fu.
Jiang Su Su stared at the sedan chair without saying a word.
Two maidservants in beautiful dresses came out from the back of the sedan. They opened its beaded curtain with a smile and welcomed the person inside to come out.
An incomparably beautiful girl in a red dress stepped out with mesmerizing elegance. She moved at an unhurried pace, and with each step she took, Xia Yan dug her fingers deeper into her palm.
Finally, the girl in red stood in front of Xia Yan. She spoke with a smile, “Ruan niang greets Mother, Second Sister. It’s been a while.”
Xia Yan felt the suffocation in her chest rush to her face. The news of Jiang Ruan’s grand spectacle in the palace had already spread throughout the capital. As Xia Yan thought of this, she itched to tear Jiang Ruan to shreds. Why did such good luck not fall on Jiang Su Su! And now, when Jiang Su Su had finally returned to the fu, Jiang Ruan picked the exact same time to appear as well. The contrast between the two was evident and the people outside could see it clearly, so perhaps by tomorrow more rumours would be spread throughout the capital . Afterall, people always flattered their superiors and trampled those inferior to them. In the same way, both of them had entered the ancestral temples at the same time, but now, Jiang Ruan returned in glory whereas Jiang Su Su arrived in a humble carriage. Xia Yan’s heart was about to burst with rage. Jiang Ruan clearly did this on purpose!
Jiang Su Su looked at Jiang Ruan calmly and suddenly smiled. “Da Jiejie, it’s been a long time. You look even more beautiful.”
Even though her(JSS) appearance was plain and a little travel-worn, somehow, her whole body revealed a distinct charm. Even a woman could not help but feel moved at the sight of her. Furthermore, if one had to describe her with one word, it would be… demoness. Indeed, Jiang Su Su’s body exuded the scent of sandalwood, her clothes were plain, and she wore no rouge or powder on her face. She truly felt like a fairy maiden. But her each and every move… unexpectedly carried temptation. One shouldn’t take a look, because with a glance, one’s soul was lost.
Jiang Ruan withdrew her gaze and smiled. “Second Sister, you went far away, so you might not know. The Empress Dowager recently conferred me the t.i.tle- Hong’an Junzhu. Although you and I are sisters, and Mother and I are also mother and daughter, the rules must be upheld. If word of it were to spread, people might call it a contempt towards the imperial family. So, Ruan niang cautions boldly that in the future, it’s better to follow the established rules to avoid those at the Censorate hearing about it and thus having Father investigated.”
Jiang Su Su, who had looked calm, heard this and her cheeks tightened ferociously; she looked distorted and unnatural. Then slowly, she looked up at Jiang Ruan, and the expression in her eyes changed instantly. Finally, her calm returned. With a faint smile, she bent her knees and saluted Jiang Ruan. “Su niang greets the Junzhu.”
Jiang Ruan smiled and told her to get up. Xia Yan almost crushed her teeth. Jiang Ruan thought for a moment and looked thoughtfully at Xia Yan’s lower abdomen. “Mother is exempted from this rule. Now that Mother is pregnant, if she’s hurt, even Ruan niang can’t be absolved from blame.”
Xia Yan caught her gaze and was startled. She subconsciously protected her lower abdomen with both hands, staring at her closely. Then, she forced herself to smile. “What are you talking about?”
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Jiang Ruan’s smile turned even gentler. “Mother is being so protective. Those who don’t know will think I’m going to do something to the child in Mother’s belly. Mother worries too much.” She turned her head and happened to see Jiang Su Su looking at Xia Yan’s stomach. Her eyes were filled with such an astonishing light that it would make people shiver. Jiang Ruan became secretly wary in her heart, and with a smile, she said, “Seeing Second Sister like this, she also likes the little one in Mother’s belly. It seems as though Mother will soon be able to add a little brother to the fu.” After saying that, with a smile she left without any further ado, directing her maidservants to follow her into the fu.
Fortunately, Jiang Ruan was back. Hong Ying had always felt a kind of inexplicable awe of Jiang Ruan. After witnessing all the different kinds of terrible means instigated by this seemingly gentle Eldest Young Miss three years ago, she had the intention to draw Jiang Ruan to her side. This time, her insight had been proven right. Jiang Ruan had obtained Empress Dowager Yi De’s favour. Jiang Xin Zhi had risen steadily and was highly valued by Zhao Guang. And now, Jiang Ruan had become a junzhu. Thus, if she followed Jiang Ruan’s methods, wouldn’t the fu end up under her(Hong Ying) rule?
When she thought of this, Hong Ying spoke humbly with a deferential expression. “This concubine greets the Junzhu.”
“Fifth Yiniang, there’s no need to be overly courteous.” Jiang Ruan held the teapot in front of her. “Fifth Yiniang and I are all one family. There is no need to be polite.” With a smile, she looked at the woman in front of her. “After three years of absence, I can see that Fifth Yiniang has lived well.”
“It’s all thanks to Eldest Miss’ blessing.” Hong Ying smiled. “Eldest Miss is the blessed one.”
Jiang Ruan smiled and exchanged greetings with her. After a while, sure enough, Hong Ying ventured to ask her. “Does Eldest Miss know that Furen is pregnant?”
“Father is having a child in his old age. Who doesn’t know about it in the fu? Ruan niang is neither deaf nor blind.” Hearing the faint ridicule in Jiang Ruan’s tone, the corners of Hong Ying’s eyes suddenly twitched. However, the play still had to go on. With a worried look on her face, she said, “What I’m about to say may seem ridiculous to Eldest Miss. It is just to say what this concubine is worried about.”
“Oh? What does Fifth Yiniang worry about?” Jiang Ruan asked with a smile.
“This concubine thinks of Eldest Miss as her confidante. So, this concubine emboldened herself to speak to Eldest Miss. It’s great that Furen is pregnant but in recent years, due to matters related to Master, Furen has had many misunderstandings with this concubine. And if she gives birth to a little young master, perhaps she will lose her temper even more at this concubine.” Hong Ying looked anxious, as if she were really nervous.
“What Fifth Yiniang said is too serious.“ Jiang Ruan smiled and comforted her. “Mother is kind-hearted. How can she be angry at Fifth Yiniang? Besides, my father wouldn’t let it go. If Fifth Yiniang is wronged, Father would be the first to refuse to let go of this matter. “
Hong Ying took out a handkerchief and wiped her eyes, blotting her fake tears away. With a wry smile, she said, “It is my good fortune that Master treats me well. But, it has always been dangerous for women to give birth. It might be unpleasant to hear, but if something goes wrong with Furen, the blame will surely fall on me. This concubine’s bitter grievances perhaps can’t be absolved. I have been alone all my life in this fu. If I am really charged with that, perhaps…perhaps I will be left for dead even without an intact corpse.”
Jiang Ruan looked at Hong Ying calmly. There was some truth in Hong Ying’s words, and it was obvious that she was smart and had antic.i.p.ated this outcome. However, since she already thought of this, how had she been caught in Xia Yan’s net in the previous lifetime. Jiang Ruan didn’t believe that Xia Yan’s miscarriage in the past life was caused by Hong Ying. In fact, Hong Ying was a very smart woman who was adept at judging the situation. She wouldn’t do anything that was risky and uncertain. In that case, the miscarriage was just a crime forced on Hong Ying by Xia Yan. So how did Xia Yan lose her child in the previous life?
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