☆ Chapter 99
儿 | er | (lit. child) diminutive marker used as a form of endearment
The lotus seeds reached maturity in the ninth lunar month. Nuan Chun paddled a small boat atop Bi Qing pond towards the lotuses and picked them one by one, placing them next to him.
Freshly-picked lotus seeds were very sweet and because they were full of moisture, each bite would be soft.
He wanted to wait until the evening meal to simmer and bring out a bowl of lotus seed soup as Eldest Miss had a special liking for fresh lotus seeds.
Ruan Zhu sat inside Shui Xie Ark. She was currently planning on transforming her high-tech demonstration field into Tian Chu’s Department of Agriculture. It was best to establish an animal husbandry school next to it that specialized in recruiting talented children as students.
But only thinking wouldn’t do. Wanting to expand; wanting to do well–both of these endeavors still required the support of the emperor.
It was impossible for her to write a memorial towards the emperor as she wasn’t even clear on how to do so. Although she had entered college in her past life and her literacy level could be considered not bad, her skill in classical Chinese was pretty much the same as a child of this era.
Even after frowning for a while in bitter concentration, she had only managed to squeeze out a few intact sentences. But as long as she wrote her plan down colloquially, she could wait until tonight when Zong Zhi had returned from the barracks and have him modify it into classical Chinese.
When she had finally finished everything, she walked out of the pavilion and stretched. From afar and among the greenery, she saw a white figure that looked especially clean and fresh, with a pure air around him that made him very eye-catching.
Nuan Chun piloted the small boat back and forth across the pond as he searched for quality lotus seeds and unexpectedly caught sight of his lady in Shui Xie Ark.
“Eldest Miss!” He smiled as he waved his hand before rowing the boat towards her.
Ruan Zhu held onto the hand he stretched out and jumped onto the boat. The outstretched hand was firm and really warm, causing her to become absent-minded for a split second. Since the beginning, he had always been like an older brother who took care of her, cherished her, and was steadfastly loyal. She could no longer continue to let him suffer.
“Eldest Miss, these are fresh lotus seeds. Wait for me to simmer some porridge for you tonight; it will be very delicious.”
Standing in a pile of lotus seeds, she lowly said: “Nuan Chun, sail the boat to among the lotuses. I want to kiss you.”
Nuan Chun was in shock and stuttered: “El……Eldest Miss…….”
“Don’t say any of your nonsense. Are you not willing?” After saying that, Ruan Zhu felt bashful. Why did it seem like she wanted to ** the other?
“Wil……willing…….” Nuan Chun’s ears immediately turned red and he no longer held himself back as he spit out his consent. The Heavens knew how full of expectation he was. Looking at her with his eyes full of tenderness, he paddled the boat towards the depths of the lotuses.
They were surrounded on all four sides by plants. The green jade-like scenery exuded their sweet and strong fragrance, so concentrated, it was like an enchantment from another world had wrapped up the small boat.
Ruan Zhu threw herself into his arms and raised her head, offering her red lips.
Having experienced this before, Nuan Chun was no longer flustered. Because he was taller than her by a head, his instinct was to hold her close as he lowered his head and aimed for that captivating mouth. Poking the tip of his tongue between her lips, a sweetness tinged with the woman’s fragrance seeped into him and he became bewitched in a flash.
While she responded to him, her left hand wrapped around his neck while her right hand roamed around his chest……In summer, people wore thin clothes and after his one changsan was removed by her, there was nothing else on his upper body.
She removed her left hand from around his neck and rested both her hands on his sturdy chest, softly kneading and pinching his two vermilion buds.
A limp feeling traveled throughout his entire body. It actually made him feel incredibly at ease but it was also incredibly hard to bear. He wanted more but she stopped.
“Nuan Chun, do you want it?” Ruan Zhu raised her head to look at him, her eyes full of passion and inquiry: “If you do, then give yourself to me here, without a bridal room and fancy ornaments, without a house full of guests, but with my sincere heart.”
“Eldest Miss……I……” How could he not feel embarrassed saying it out loud? Lowering his head, he gently offered the key around his neck towards her: “This…….this is the key to the chastity belt. I have carried it on me ever since that day.”
He had started carrying it with him ever since they had returned from the high-tech experimental field, always fantasizing that the intimacy from that day would suddenly manifest and he and his beloved mistress could share their love.
“Nuan Chun, I will give myself to you right now. I vow to never turn my back on you for my entire life……” She pulled off his trousers and opened the chastity belt with the key. The silver chains fell from the man’s crotch and his large member gradually rose.
She dipped a handkerchief in some of the pond water and wiped him down a few times, causing that thing to become even bigger and stiffer like a pillar.
A rough voice sounded from atop and Ruan Zhu raised her head to see the man’s face completely flushed while his eyes glowed with desire. She extended her hand and gripped him……slowly stroking him back and forth……A sparkling liquid dripped from the tip and she opened her mouth to catch it–such a fresh scent of a virgin.
“En…….Eldest Miss……” He was stunned–his honorable mistress was actually willing to do this for him? He wasn’t an ignorant youth; he was already twenty-some years old and somewhat knew of the matters between a man and woman. He had often casually chatted with those servants who were unwilling to do honest work and had heard them mention things like this quite a few times.
Ruan Zhu wished to give him a fantastic experience and opened her mouth to completely take in his member……
He suddenly became impatient. Clasping her small face, he rapidly thrust.
Continuously maintaining this movement, the man abruptly welcomed the most splendid pleasure. “Eldest Miss!” He violently groaned, giving voice to how comfortable and good he felt. His entire body trembled incessantly while his mind seemed to have flew away.
What a pleasurable feeling that surpassed any other in the world.
For the first time in his life, the young man experienced the emotions between a man and a woman. Unwilling to extract himself, he continued to move.
Ruan Zhu’s mouth was sore and she spit him out before standing and stripping herself of all her clothes.
One man and one woman were stopped among the densely packed lotuses. Neither of them wore clothes as they candidly faced and stared at the other. The man unblinkingly took in the perfect lines of his mistress, the plump mounds on her chest instantly making his eyes hazy.
She said in a small voice: “You can touch them……” and set both of his hands on top of her breasts. Lightly kneading her chest with one hand on each mound, his eyes were completely filled with perplexity mixed with desire. “Eldest Miss, here is so soft……”
Ruan Zhu shifted down and held his rod again……It was still extremely hard……Actually, it should be said that ever since she had removed his clothes, it had never softened. “Do you still want it?”
“Want……” He blurted out. A flush was on his cheeks while his eyes were incomparably shiny: “I want it all……”
She of course knew what ‘all’ meant. Releasing her hold, she laid down on the boat so that she was facing up. Her bright and clean, snow-like skin reflected the green of the lotuses and she seemed unspeakably dainty. She lifted her legs, exposing the badge of a woman towards him.
Nuan Chun kneeled down as he piously looked at it. Peeling it back with his finger, he lowered his head to give the place a kiss……Because this was his first time, his technique wasn’t any good, but she was satisfied and quickly released inside his mouth.
Right while she was still panting, a solid pillar entered her body…….Nuan Chun pressed down on his mistress’s body, quickly moving……
Once a hot liquid had been poured inside her, Nuan Chun finally became her man.
From a distant place, two tall and straight men looked towards the lotuses where the sounds of a man and a woman could be heard from deep within. One of them smiled: “Wife has finally settled her bedwarmer. Min Zhi, what do you think of this?”
Min Zhi’s voice was frosty: “Recently, I’ve been busy with handling the Hong Lu Department and have actually made it convenient for you all. I’m demanding to stay with Zhu’er for an entire month from today onwards. None of you should even think of arguing with me on this.”
Zong Zhi thought of the time he had spent with his wife during this period. He had experienced an endless tenderness and his eyes couldn’t help but to express his joy. He whistled: “Go say that to our wife. As long as she agrees, I will have no objection.” He did not believe she would–Zhu’er had just finished settling the matter with Nuan Chun. Her being able and willing to kick him away and pull Min Zhi into bed would be too strange.
The facts proved Zong Zhi really was sensible. For three days in a row, Ruan Zhu stayed with Nuan Chun for a ‘honeymoon,’ as per her words.
On the fourth day, Ruan Zhu had everyone in Guan Ju Villa assemble for a meal and gave Nuan Chun the status of an escort. An escort was also called an ‘attending husband’ and was higher than a bedwarmer by one level. However, this status was not considered a master and it did not have the qualifications or right to request children from their mistress.
In Tian Chu, basically none of the women worked. In any case, they were raised by a whole group of husbands and only needed to take care of the important task of procreation.
Several centuries ago, during the time when the system of polyandry had just been put into practice, the idea of men being faithful until death was not at all strict. One woman may have had five husbands, but she was no match for the husbands, escorts, bedwarmers that her relatives would send over, nor to the temptations of single men……
Since this was the case, there were still many men who remained bachelors and with rape, **, homosexuality……Society became utterly confused and chaotic.
As this continued, countries no longer resembled countries and families no longer resembled families……Insightful people sensed the situation had become grave and joined forces to draw up new societal rules. Since women could not be faithful because of the law, then they would have men devote themselves to one woman their whole lives and those that derailed would be punished with the crime of adultery.
When the system was first put in place, they had also set up another law of a husband’s assets being controlled by the wife. Husbands could not repudiate their wife as they pleased and in the case that they did, they lost the right to remarry. On the other hand, the wife could also not leave her principal husband without any reason.
But a system was a system and the actual implementation was far from the ideal. Even if males were able to control their dicks, who in the world would be willing to hand over their ancestral assets over? Thus, even though the system was law, it was like a worthless piece of paper thrown in the trash for n years, of no interest to anyone.
The facts proved that no matter how large a change society went through, males could still not control their lower half.
This was true for no matter who it was–rich or poor–or otherwise, how could a peacock man fall into becoming a flower thief? And that was still not enough. He wore a veil and used the identity of ‘Wan Zi Yu’ to advertise himself in a brothel, going out every few days and meeting attractive women who he would then pull onto bed for a few rounds of lovemaking and indulge in sexual pleasure.
Among the Four Great Masters, Wan Zi Yu was the only one whose appearance had never been seen before by others. But his fame was extremely high and the reason was because everyone knew this man was too flirtatious and his skill in bed was spectacular, causing the women who had tasted being with him once to desire him again.
He had pretty much played with all of the exceptional women in the city of Lan Zhou and it’s said that even the Crown Princess had been one of his guests.
After eating so many delicacies, they would all inevitably start to taste the same. This Mister Peacock currently really wanted to bed a woman who had suddenly risen to fame during these past few years. He had crossed paths with her several times already and none of those times were ordinary, but the other party stubbornly refused to pay attention to him. He simply didn’t believe there were any kittens who did not have affairs in this world.
Ruan Yu still hadn’t found Shen Zhong Yun and she became increasingly taciturn.
Sometimes Ruan Zhu couldn’t understand her little sister’s emotions. Ruan Yu had only met the man twice–one of which was her following distantly behind him–yet despite that, she had still fallen deeply for him. If it was her, she would have long forgotten his appearance and name.
She felt Ruan Yu couldn’t continue to be so listless. In the future if she received numerous husbands and gave birth to a whole bunch of children, it was very likely she would end up like Madam Ruan who relied on her husbands to support her. How lamentable would that outcome be?
She decided to open a brand-name store and bought a beautiful three-story building in the most flourishing street of the city. Removing the previous sign, she replaced it with a large, black plaque lacquered with gold characters and suspended it high above.
The characters on the sign were written by Ruan Zhu in thin-foil calligraphy and then carved by a carpenter, resulting in five extremely bold words: Mei Yan Ying Ying Chu![a]
Not bad, she would call her newly-opened boutique Mei Yan Ying Ying Chu.
Although she had already practiced writing very well, the time she had spent doing so was shallow and her words were short of strength and lacked energy. Fortunately, the master who had made the plaque was an expert and after he was done with it, the charm in the characters was greatly improved.
Entering Mei Yan Ying Ying Chu’s front door, a four-line poem with two verses was visible with a lift of ones eyes:
Water is the rippling in her eyes;
Mountains are in the knitting in her brows.
If you ask where travelers are journeying to,
it is towards her enchanting eyes and brows.
Spring has just been sent offTo the tune of Bu Suan Zi: A Present to Bao Hao Ran of East Zhe Jiang卜算子·送鲍浩然之浙东 by Wang Guan 王观
and now you, too, are soon to depart.
If you catch up to Spring in Jiang Nan,
be sure to stay with her in that spot.
The first floor was for clothes, the second was for shoes and hats, and the third was for accessories.
The main items were all personally designed by Ruan Zhu. She sketched out the plans and then had her residence’s sewing department take over and distributed the work.
Ruan Zhu no longer allowed Nuan Chun to work as the steward of Guan Ju Villa. She had visited Yun manor and requested Yun Shan and Yun Feng’s father from her parents-in-law to take over Nuan Chun’s duties. Guan Ju Villa was Yun Shi Yi’s estate and could only have someone from the Yun clan to manage it.
As for Nuan Chun, she let him lead the sewing department. He was a diligent worker and she felt extremely assured handing such an important task for him to manage.
Ruan Yu was made the store’s shopkeeper, in charge of everything involved internally with the business.
The two sisters used the idea of stocks to share profits. One-tenth was for Nuan Chun and three-tenths were allocated for workers who did their work carefully and well.
The items sold included clothes, shoes, hats, all kinds of handbags, knapsacks, small accessories……After several days of active promotion, the store became full a mere while after its grand opening and they had no choice but to limit the amount each guest could purchase.
Ruan Zhu was currently a member of the imperial family despite her low birth status but her achievements spoke for themselves.
Because of the way she dressed, she frequently stood out because of the additional modern element found in her clothes. As a result of this, every design and pattern that she went out in would be copied. No matter if one was of the aristocracy or a common person, all of the women imitated her.
The Princess of Guan Ju Villa became the representative of Tian Chu’s fashion world, leading the fashion trends.
No longer did people ridicule her for being merchant-born as laughing at her was tantamount to mocking their own tastes.
Mei Yan Ying Ying Chu’s business was exceptionally good, particularly because it was almost the emperor’s birthday celebration and its reputation quickly spread around the merchants and various country envoys who were currently gathered in Lan Zhou. But because of the purchase limit, they simply couldn’t keep up with sales and even the items booked in advance were scheduled for two months later. A few merchants saw an opportunity and began copying her styles so that soon, the people on the streets were all dressed in the same styles.
But Ruan Zhu was walking the luxury path, and those with money and good taste still preferred Mei Yan Ying Ying Chu. She also had another advantage compared to other shops–her designs were constantly being replaced and the other vendors were forever following behind her in their imitations.
“Why is the shop so deserted?” Ruan Zhu arrived at Mei Yan Ying Ying Chu and saw that there were only a few guests inside. Even the number of shop assistants was nothing to write home about; it was strange.
“The Emperor sent a decree for the people of Li Yuan to perform for the commoners outside of the Wu Gate today. Once everyone received the news, they all ran over.”
“Yu’er, if you want to take a look, go for it. I will watch the store.” Ruan Zhu saw the longing on her younger sister’s face and thought about how there wasn’t much entertainment in this ancient era. It was truly too pitiful. To be honest, she also wanted to see it, but she had to act as the older sister.
Ruan Yu happily faced a tall mirror against the wall and straightened her appearance, casually taking a rice-colored knee-length coat with a lapel off of a wooden mannequin and putting it on.
Ruan Zhu looked at her younger sister leaving and couldn’t help but find it funny how Mei Yan Ying Ying Chu made it convenient for the other to dress. In any case, she wasn’t short of money and the reason why she had decided to open this store was to make her family happy.
Ruan Zhu took the outfits she had brought with her outside. Sizing up the wooden mannequins in front of the door, she dressed them. After she had done that, she didn’t feel assured and ordered the two young, pretty boys standing guard in front of the store to keep good watch.
She was just about to turn around and return inside when a person unexpectedly walked over from the street. Their eyes met, and the person immediately became astonished: “It’s you?”
Ruan Zhu didn’t even want to acknowledge the other and headed back inside the shop. Looking at this kind of flashy man who flirted all over the place made her nauseous. No matter where he was and when they met, he would always cause others to feel disgusted with his double identity of a leading brothel act and a flower thief.
[a] 眉眼盈盈处. I’m pretty sure this has been used before, but it loosely translates to “enchanting brows and eyes” and is just another way to describe how beautiful a woman is.
TN: Translation correction: Hong Lu Temple -> Hong Lu Department. It’s a government office that takes care of receiving foreign emissaries etc. I hope everyone is staying safe and doing well against COVID!