Noble Daughter | Chapter 11: Can’t Lose

The rules of the Flying Flower Game are quite simple. Each person recites a line of ancient poetry containing the word “flower.” The first person’s line must start with the first character, the second person’s line with the second character, and so on, forming a seven-character round.

Wei Xuan opened with, “Flowers blooming are meant to be picked.”

Next, Wei Fang continued, “Peach blossoms, the pond’s water is a thousand feet deep.”

While starting such a game is easy, the difficulty lies in the subsequent rounds, where finding poetry with the word “flower” becomes increasingly challenging. As the game progresses, only Wei Xuan, Wei Heng, Fan Yong, and Mu Jin’s older brother, Mu Shikang, remain. After another round, only Wei Xuan and Wei Heng are left.

It appears as though the two sisters are evenly matched, but Wei Heng knows the truth. Wei Xuan, with her remarkable memory, effortlessly recalls extensive poetry, while Wei Heng struggles to keep up, even with a lifetime of knowledge.

“In flowers, watching the butterflies dance,” Wei Heng recites.

“Where is this line from? I haven’t heard it before. Did you make it up?” Mu Jin asks, as Wei Heng is the next in line after Wei Xuan.

“It’s from Chang Sun Hou’s ‘Spring Outing Song,'” Wei Xuan replies.

“Xuan sister is indeed knowledgeable. She even knows such obscure poetry,” Fan Yong praises.

Feeling the injustice, Wei Heng challenges, “Lotus flowers in countless numbers fill the riverbank.”

The group is puzzled, clearly unfamiliar with this verse.

Fueled by irritation, Wei Heng retorts, “This is from the master Miao Zong’s ‘On the Road in Linping,’ isn’t it, Second Sister?”

Wei Xuan nods with a smile.

Fan Yong remarks, “Younger Sister Xuan’s broad knowledge and learning make us, her elder brothers, feel ashamed.”

Unsettled by Fan Yong’s words, Wei Heng glares at him. It seems Fan Yong admires everything Wei Xuan does, even if Wei Heng said the same lines.

“Lily flowers abound on the riverbank,” Wei Xuan recites.

The group appears puzzled again, unfamiliar with the source.

Enraged, Wei Heng confronts, “This is a line from Monk Miao Zong’s ‘On the Road in Linping,’ isn’t it, Second Sister?”

Wei Xuan nods once more.

Only to hear Fan Yong say again: “Sister Xuan has studied so extensively that it really puts us brothers to shame.”

This situation intensifies Wei Heng’s frustration. Fan Yong’s ability to appreciate everything Wei Xuan says, even when spoken by Wei Heng, infuriates her. Wei Heng silently vows to settle the score with Fan Yong in the future, planning to deduct some of the money he spends on socializing once they are married.

However, it seems that Wei Heng’s intense gaze catches Fan Yong’s attention. Observing her with two buns atop her head, adorned with jeweled golden hoops emitting a soft jingling sound, combined with her big, watery eyes, Fan Yong finds her quite adorable.

Fan Yong teases, “Why is Sister Heng glaring at me?”

Caught off guard by Fan Yong’s words, Wei Heng can only retort, “Which eye of yours saw me glaring at you?”

Fan Yong pauses, thinking she is just a child. He laughs and redirects his gaze to Wei Xuan.

Regardless of Fan Yong’s remarks, the group’s attention returns to Wei Heng, waiting for her next line. However, Wei Heng has emptied her mental reservoir of memorized verses. She concedes, “I can’t think of any more. I admit defeat.” With that, she raises her cup.

Wei Xuan covers her hand and says, “Younger Sister didn’t lose. In fact, I’m unable to continue either. Let’s call it a draw, shall we?”

Although everyone knows Wei Xuan still has plenty to offer, she graciously gives Wei Heng a way out to maintain her dignity.

“I know it’s because Second Sister let me win. I’ll toast Sister for your generosity,” Wei Heng says with a smile.

“Who said I let you win? You’re a year younger than me,” Wei Xuan responds, raising her cup.

The party ends early as each sibling must return to their respective homes.

On their way home, Mu Jin can’t help but complain to Mu Zhen, “Sister, why do you protect that girl, Wei Heng? Am I your sister, or is she your sister?”

Mu Zhen, sighing, replies, “Of course, you’re my sister. You should consider what you say. If I hadn’t stopped her, she would have argued with you, and you’d be the only loser.”

“I lost to her in what? Afraid that everyone wouldn’t know her mother came from a merchant family? She has some money, big deal. What’s there to show off about?” Mu Jin pouts.

Mu Zhen remains silent, aware of the family’s difficulties. Despite being the Queen’s family, the Mu household faces constraints because Queen Mu adheres strictly to etiquette. Furthermore, to uphold the Crown Prince’s reputation, she restricts the Mu family from flaunting their status. The Mu family struggles financially and cannot compete with the He family. Yet, Mu Jin fails to understand these challenges.

“You should focus on your studies. Being accepted into a female academy is the right path,” Mu Zhen advises Mu Jin.

Mu Jin pouts again, dissatisfied with Mu Zhen’s advice. On the other side, Wei Heng, having returned to Lan Yi Courtyard, faces more scrutiny from her mother, who inquires about the details of Wei Xuan’s birthday celebration. Hearing about the poetry game, she can’t help but shake her head and scold Wei Heng for not studying diligently and said and said, “Why did you just give up and I ask you to endorse more, but you just don’t listen. If you have the ability, don’t ask Sister Xuan to let you go.”

Wei Heng feels a tinge of redness in her eyes. Each time such events occur, her mother treats her as if she weren’t her biological child. Despite privately acknowledging Wei Heng’s hard work, her mother scolds her openly.

Wei Heng also had a strong temper. She insisted on imitating Wei Xuan in front of others and pretended to be relaxed, but she worked very hard behind the scenes. She often memorized books and practiced calligraphy in the middle of the night. When no one was around in Zhuangzi, she worked harder than usual, thinking only of impressing others.

Ge Shi was the one who knew Wei Heng’s hard work best, and couldn’t help but advise: “Mom, the third sister is very hardworking.”

“Stop talking for her. You are not helping her, you are harming her.” He Shi was still angry. She just couldn’t stand Wei Heng losing to Wei Xuan. She couldn’t lose no matter what.

He Shi was angered by Ge shi and did not dare to speak again.

Wei Heng raised his head and said, “Sister-in-law, let me and my mother talk alone for a while.”

Ge Shi nodded, opened the curtain and went out.

He shi snorted: “You know how embarrassing you are, right? Why can’t you come up with anything that’s as good as Sister Xuan’s?”

Wei Heng sighed in his heart, walked over and sat down next to He Shi, “Mom, you always have to compare me with my second sister in everything you do, so what if I win?”

He Shi puffed out his nose and said, “Let’s talk about it after you win.”

Wei Heng sighs inwardly but obediently nods. Once her mother leaves, Wei Heng mutters to herself, “This is life. Always compared, always scolded. Perhaps I’m fated to live in Wei Xuan’s shadow forever.”

He Shi was even more angry at Wei Heng’s words and twisted her arm, “Don’t be poor like me!”

Wei Heng cried out “Ouch”, hugged He’s arm and said, “I’m joking with you, everyone has their own fate, can I only compare with my second sister in this life? Whatever the second sister is good at, my mother forces me to be good at it, but have you ever seen a pig butcher forced to study better than a scholar?”

He shi really smiled this time, with a face full of sarcasm, “You are self-aware. A wealthy lady compares herself to a butcher.”

Wei Heng said coquettishly: “Isn’t it just to make my mother smile? They say that it takes ten years to smile. If my mother is so beautiful, and she frowns all the time for her daughter, she is unfilial.”

“Amitabha, you’d better not make me laugh with such jokes.” He  Shi angrily opened Wei Heng’s hand.

“Mom.” Wei Heng grabbed He Shi’s arm again, “I don’t dare to say anything else, but second sister will definitely not be able to beat me in riding.”

He said: “You for having the nerve to mention it. Is riding and archery a thing for girls to learn? Do we still want you to be a female general? Don’t go horseback riding in the future. Let your father and I save some worry and live a few more years.” 

Wei Heng said: “Mom, your daughter likes riding and shooting. Besides, what’s wrong with keeping fit by riding and shooting? Didn’t Mom also say that I have grown a lot in the past two months? You have a sense of proportion, don’t you think I’m a good person? Besides, in the women’s academy entrance, they also take the riding and archery test, and your daughter expects to win two points by riding and shooting.”

He Shi couldn’t stand Wei Heng’s insistence, so she finally nodded and let her continue studying, but gave Wei Heng more homework. Even during the Chinese New Year, Wei Heng was not allowed to be lazy.

On the fifth day of the Lunar New Year, because they were going to the Duke of Qi’s house, which was Wei Heng’s aunt’s home, He Shi spared Wei Heng a day’s homework.

Wei Heng would rather do her homework at home. She lazily let She dress up and said, “Mom, can I not go?”

“What’s wrong, didn’t you like to go to your aunt’s house before? You always said that your cousin Zhan was good-looking.” He Shi joked.

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4 thoughts on “Noble Daughter | Chapter 11: Can’t Lose”

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