Noble Daughter | Chapter 8 Discussing Jiangnan

The art of archery involves both coarse and fine skills. It’s not just about physical strength; otherwise, the legendary “hitting the bullseye from a hundred steps” wouldn’t be a myth.

On this day,Wei Heng listened attentively as Li Yong explained the influence of wind speed on archery. She repeatedly used a specially crafted small bow to test the impact of wind speed until Gé shi called her for dinner, reluctantly putting down the bow and arrows.

Géshi wiped the sweat off Wei Heng and asked, “Why do you like archery so much?”

Wei Heng thought for a moment. The practice of archery was tedious and painful. Her inner thighs were still sore from the friction. However,Wei Heng knew the answer. Though she enjoyed archery, being pampered since childhood, enduring such tedium and pain was beyond her usual comfort.Wei Heng looked up at her sister-in-law and said, “Sister-in-law, in the world of literature and martial arts, there is no absolute supremacy. Archery, despite its difficulty, provides a sense of achievement with every step. Besides, I feel that my talent in literature is limited. To enter the women’s academy, I must take a different path.”

Gé shi sighed. She had indeed noticed Wei Heng’s mediocre talent in literature. However, she didn’t expect Wei Heng, at such a young age, to see through her weaknesses. This insight was admirable.

“Don’t worry; you will definitely get into the women’s academy. Diligence can compensate for shortcomings. With more practice, you will improve,” Gé shi comforted Wei Heng, but entering the women’s academy without excelling in literature was impossible. she refrained from mentioning it for now.

Wei Heng looked at Gé shi, silently asking, “Is that what you really think?”

Gé noticed that Wei Heng’s eyes spoke volumes—bright and clear, like a lake reflecting autumn leaves. This charming girl had won not only her mother-in-law’s affection but also her heart during these days of interaction.

“In this month, you’ve gained strength in your hands, and your progress in calligraphy is evident. Observing your archery skills, which stabilize your legs and enhance hand strength, is also beneficial for your calligraphy,” she remarked.

Encouraged by her sister-in-law’s words,Wei Heng gained more confidence. The women’s academy admitted dozens of female students each year, attracting girls from all over the country.Wei Heng thought it wouldn’t be any easier than the imperial examination for scholars. Having neglected her studies for decades and possessing limited talent, her only way forward was to take an unconventional path.

With this determination,Wei Heng focused even more on practicing archery. She genuinely enjoyed the sense of accomplishment when her arrows hit the bullseye.

Nearly two months had passed since Wei Heng stayed at the estate. When He shi and Wei Jun came to persuade her to return home on the days Wei Jun had off, she firmly rejected their offers.

On this day, entering the 28th day of the twelfth lunar month, the yamen had closed its doors for the holiday.Wei Heng expected her parents to come and take her back to the Marquis Mansion. Unexpectedly, along with Wei Jun and He shi’s, her younger uncle, He Bin, also accompanied them.

“Uncle.” Wei Heng was more delighted to see He Bin than her own parents. He Bin frequently traveled to the capital for business, so Wei Heng, although not recognizing him as well, at least knew her younger uncle.

“Haven’t seen each other for over a year, and our zhuzhu’er has grown so tall,” He Bin, who had no daughters of his own, was fond of Wei Heng to the bone. “Guess what, Uncle brought you something good.”

Wei Heng actually knew what he brought but pretended to be clueless. He Bin led her to see a colt walking in the courtyard—entirely red, with fur like flames, proudly raising its head. Although not fully grown, it already exuded an arrogant aura among the horses.

“Thank you, Uncle, I love it so much.”Wei Heng exclaimed loudly, almost wanting to leap onto the fiery horse immediately.

Luckily, He Bin pulled her back. “Zhuzhu, this horse hasn’t been tamed yet, still very wild. Be careful; it might kick you. Let someone tame it first before you ride.”

“I will tame my horse myself, Uncle, you don’t need to worry.”Wei Heng said confidently, looking as if she had everything under control, causing He Bin and Wei Jun to burst into laughter.

“Yes, Uncle won’t underestimate zhuzhu.” He Bin agreed.

“How did you think of giving such a precious colt? This fiery horse is not just any horse; it’s a purebred sweat-blood horse, invaluable.” Wei Jun asked. He knew his younger brother-in-law had friends all over, but finding a colt like this was still remarkable, what he didn’t undertsant is why he wanted to give it as a gift for a young girl.

Before He Bin could answer, He shi jumped in, saying, “You should ask your good daughter about this. She carried the letter I wrote to her uncle and refused to let me read it.” She turned around and complained again. He Bin, “Why are you letting Zhuzhuer do whatever you want?”

He Bin laughed but didn’t answer. He shi’s continued to complain, “How can you let her be so capricious? Writing letters to uncle without my knowledge.”

He Bin chuckled but didn’t respond. He Shiturned to Wei Heng and said, “I’ve been wondering why you refused to go to school. It turns out you’ve already decided to learn horseback riding. Always playing around, I’m worried sick about you.”

Faced with He shi’s nagging, neither Wei Jun nor He Bin dared to talk. Only Wei Heng was not afraid of her, but facts speak louder than words. Wei Heng winked at Mu Yu’er and read the stack of words she had written recently. He shi took out the big characters and sent them to Wei Jun and He Bin.

“Zhu Zhu’er’s calligraphy has made great progress. There is a sharp edge in the calligraphy, which already has everyone’s style.” Wei Jun commented.

Wei Heng smiled proudly at He shi, “I’m going to play with the flame for a while.”

“What flame?” He asked.

“That’s the horse. I named it Flame.” Wei Heng walked out quickly, afraid her mother would detain her.

“Why can’t this child grow up?” He shi sighed angrily.

In the city, the He family had a residence, but since He Bin came to the capital, his elder sister, He shi, vehemently opposed him staying outside. However, given He Bin’s independent nature and dislike for staying at the Marquis’s residence, he insisted on residing in a suburban estate. He requested He shi to stay there and also take a look out for Wei Heng.

Wei Heng’s life was now very fulfilling. After practicing riding and shooting every day, she also had to write and endorse, and then she had to cultivate a relationship with Flame. At night, she had to pester He Bin to tell her stories.

He Bin, known for his boldness from a young age, disliked reading but loved to wander like a knight-errant. From the northern grasslands to the southern seas, from the western regions to the eastern land of Goryeo, he had visited every imaginable place. To Wei Heng, He Bin was like a heavenly book. She wished she could listen to stories and learn from him every day.

He Bin was also a remarkable entrepreneur. With his business acumen, the He family engaged in trade across the vast expanse of land, continually expanding their enterprise. The exact extent of their wealth was unknown to Wei Lian, but whenever she asked her little uncle for money, he readily provided tens of thousands of taels, sometimes even giving it for free.

Despite their substantial wealth, the He family kept a low profile, showcasing their wisdom. As the year-end approached, Wei Heng should have returned to the Marquis Jingning’s residence long ago. Still, she insisted on staying due to He Bin’s presence. He Shi also welcomed her decision, appreciating the calming influence she had on her impulsive younger brother.

On the twenty-eighth day of the twelfth month, it was time for Wei Heng to return home. Old Madam Wei had inquired several times already. Accompanied by He Jun and He Shi, they came to bring Wei Heng back, and as expected, He Bin had plenty to say during the journey.

He Bin stayed in the capital because of extremely important business matters. Now that he had finished his work, he couldn’t make it back to Hangzhou for the New Year, so he had no choice but to comply with He shi’s request and stay in the capital. However, he had already decided to leave after the third day of the Lunar New Year, and He Shi’s persuasions couldn’t change his mind.

Wei Lian overheard the mention of “going overseas” and couldn’t resist running in, asking, “Uncle, are you going overseas?” The art of maritime navigation had recently reached the Great Xia Dynasty, and not many dared to be the first to venture into the unknown. However, Wei Heng’s little uncle, He Bin, was that daring individual, bringing back countless wealth for the He family with each maritime expedition.

Wei Heng, frustrated by her female identity, lacked the opportunity to travel the world like He Bin. Yet, in this new life, she was determined not to be confined to the inner courtyard.

“Yes, when Uncle returns, he’ll bring you wonderful things from overseas,” He Bin replied.

“He Bin, you can’t do this. Going to sea is too dangerous. Nine out of ten ships might not return. Our family lacks nothing, why do you have to risk your life?” He Shi anxiously protested.

He Bin responded, “Sister, I’m not risking my life. I just don’t have grand ambitions. I only hope to use my eyes to see more of the world. I’ve never been overseas, and I want to see what’s on the other side of the sea, how those blue-eyed people live.”

“A man’s aspirations should span the four seas. Don’t hinder your little brother. You know his temperament. He won’t listen to your advice. If you push too hard, he might leave tomorrow,” Wei Jun advised He Shi.

Wei Heng vigorously nodded in agreement with He Jun’s words, then turned to He Shi and said, “Mother, I want to go to Hangzhou with my little uncle to see our maternal grandmother.”

No one expected Wei Heng to suddenly say such a thing, especially He Shi.

“I’ve never seen my maternal grandmother all these years,” Wei Heng said somewhat sadly.

“But when you were born, your grandmother came to the capital,” He Shi replied.

“I was so little back then, I didn’t understand anything, and I don’t remember anything. Except for my little uncle, I don’t know my eldest uncle, aunt, and my cousins. It would be embarrassing if I said it out loud, wouldn’t it?” Wei Heng pouted, refuting He Shi.

Hearing this, He Jun sighed. In all these years, due to taking care of him, He Shi had never visited her mother-in-law in Hangzhou. The close relatives had not seen each other for many years.

“Mother, let me go with Uncle to see my maternal grandmother. I’ll write you letters every month and send you drawings of what my maternal grandmother and the others look like.” He Shi did miss her mother, and hearing this, she pinched Wei Heng’s nose, “Don’t try to fool me. You promised yourself. After the New Year, you’ll start going to school. You’re already ten years old in the twelfth month, and in two years, you’ll be taking the female scholars’ exam. If you don’t pass, I’ll see how you face people.” In the end, it was still about Wei Heng’s education.

“Even if I go to Hangzhou, I can still attend school. Mother, have you forgotten? The Baihe Academy in Hangzhou. In the past two years, the top scorer in the female scholars’ exam came from Baihe Academy.” Wei Heng said.

“Yes, sister, speaking of it, our Baihe Academy in Hangzhou is not inferior to the female schools in the capital, just slightly less renowned.” He Bin also spoke up for Wei Heng. He was a filial son, thinking that the old lady often missed He Shi and a few other grandchildren. If he could bring Wei Heng back this time, the old lady would definitely be delighted and eat three extra bowls of rice. “Mother, she often mentions Zhu Zhu, saying how lucky and tender she was when she was a child.”

“Can Zhu Zhu enter Baihe Academy?” He Shi asked.

He Bin patted his chest and said, “Absolutely, the headmaster there is my friend.” The He family donated a considerable amount of money to Baihe Academy every year, otherwise, how could Baihe Academy thrive so well?

“Let Zhu Zhu go. Although she’s a girl, it’s good for her to travel and see more. The climate in the south is good, and Zhu Zhu is delicate. It’s suitable for her to go there and recuperate. It’s also an opportunity for her to show filial piety to the old lady.” Wei Jun also supported Wei Heng’s trip to Hangzhou.

He Shi naturally had nothing more to say. She turned her head and admonished Zhu Zhu, “You mischievous girl, you found two good helpers to speak for you. You can go, but you must write to me every ten days and send me your schoolwork. If there is no progress, I’ll immediately send someone to bring you back. Do you understand?”

“I understand!” Wei Lian laughed loudly. “Thank you, Mother, you’re really good.” Wei Heng hugged He Shi’s neck, pressed her face against He Shi’s face, and kissed her again and again.

“You naughty girl, always full of ideas.” He Shi helplessly scolded with a smile. “Hurry up and pack. You should be coming back to the mansion with us today. The old lady misses you all the time, and her eyes have almost worn out.”

“Everything is already packed.” Wei Heng nestled in He Shi’s arms and said, “But there’s one thing. I get along very well with Flame. I think it no longer rejects me. Please, Dad and Uncle, be there to witness as I tame Flame.”

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