Noble Daughter | Chapter 14: Returning from South

Chapter 14: Returning from South

Inside the main hall of Lan Yi Courtyard, He Shi was hugging Wei Heng, crying loudly while continuously scolding, “You heartless girl, disobedient daughter! If it weren’t for the women’s academy exam this spring, did you have no intention of coming back? Do you remember you have elderly parents at home?”

Wei Heng was initially crying too, but He Shi’s prolonged sobbing caused Wei Heng to shift from a state of longing to a mix of laughter and tears. “Mother, you don’t look a day older, even younger than two years ago. It seems you live a more comfortable life when your daughter is not around.”

Breaking into a small smile, He Shi scolded through her tears, “You unfilial daughter! You come back and upset me. You better go back to the south.”

Using even the word “go,” it was evident how much resentment He Shi held towards Wei Heng. Wei Heng, leaning against He Shi’s cheek, whispered, “I think about Mother day and night, not knowing how many times I’ve cried myself to sleep. If you don’t believe me, ask Qian Mama, she knows.”

Qian Mama was He Shi’s wet nurse and the person she trusted the most. Two years ago, when Wei Heng was going to Hangzhou, He Shi couldn’t bear to let her go alone and had Qian Mama accompany her to the south.

Hearing Wei Heng’s words, He Shi looked at Qian Mama, whose eyes were still moist. Qian Mama stepped forward and said, “Indeed, Madam, Miss Wei calls for you even in her dreams.”

Naturally, He Shi believed it. She pinched Wei Heng’s cheek and said with a smile, “Then why didn’t you come back? I’ve written you countless letters urging you to return.”

Wei Heng replied, “The instructors at White Crane Academy are excellent, and Jiangsu and Zhejiang are regions of literary talent. I’ve learned from many renowned teachers. Although I miss Mother, I also know that you hope for your daughter’s success.” In truth, Wei Heng’s words had a hint of sarcasm. She felt He Shi valued the face Wei Heng could bring her more than anything.

He Shi, oblivious to her own shortcomings, didn’t think in that direction at all. Instead, she said, “After two years, you’ve become more sensible.”

Wei Heng laid her head on He Shi’s lap and said, “Mother, comb my hair.”

“You spoiled girl, all you know is to enjoy.” He Shi scolded, but her hands were already gently undoing Wei Heng’s braided hair. Looking at Wei Heng’s thick, black hair, He Shi remarked, “How do you maintain your hair like this? So beautiful! You’re no longer the little girl with yellow hair.”

This was quite a statement. He Shi’s resentment towards Wei Heng was evident. Wei Heng, however, saw through the hidden meaning in He Shi’s tone. He Shi said with a slight frown, “I’ve missed you so much that my heart aches. Now, go and write down the recipe for me.”

Wei Heng chuckled lazily, “Mother, this recipe is a secret from my master’s family, not to be shared. But I’ll make it for you, so you won’t have to go through the trouble. I also have a jar of hair care balm; you can use it for now.”

“Did you make the scented balm yourself?” He Shi asked again.

Wei Heng, however, sensed a hidden meaning in He Shi’s subtle change in tone. She sat up and looked at He Shi.

Sure enough, He Shi’s mouth slightly tilted, and she said, “I’ve been telling you since you were little, indulging in matters of appearance is the most undesirable. A girl should value chastity, quietness, and elegance. As long as you achieve these four words, there’s no place you cannot stand in. The daughters of our Marquis Mansion cannot be like those playthings, only good at adorning themselves. A girl should love and value herself. Were you not diligent in your studies at White Crane Academy?”

Wei Heng couldn’t help but get angry, her mother was treating her like what? But she also knew her mother was overly demanding, fearing that she might make the slightest mistake.

Wei Heng stood up and said, “Of course, your daughter naturally values herself. Playing with these things is just my personal preference. I’m a bit tired, so I’ll go back to my room.” Wei Heng, who had been pampered by Old Lady Mu in Hangzhou these years, had become somewhat wilful. Her temperament gradually returned to that of her young age. The events of the previous lifetime seemed like a dream, slowly fading away.

Seeing Wei Heng like this, He Shi felt a bit guilty for speaking too harshly. However, after two years of not seeing each other, Wei Heng’s changes were too significant. Even her own mother, He Shi, didn’t expect Wei Heng to grow into such a stunning young lady. It made He Shi subconsciously want to discipline Wei Heng, preventing her from being too proud of her looks and falling into vanity.

He Shi, who had experienced life, knew that although men might be attracted by a woman’s appearance at first glance, in the end, their hearts would settle on the woman who earned their respect. Take Wei Heng’s father, the well-regarded husband Wei Jun in the capital, for example. Initially, he couldn’t control his attraction to a charming lady, but as he grew older, he naturally understood the type of woman he should cherish.

Of course, this is He Shi’s perception. For Wei Heng, she is indeed good-looking, but in her past life, she didn’t take pride in it. Instead, she felt it was a burden, as people couldn’t see the modest and virtuous qualities beneath her appearance. Therefore, she wasn’t very keen on grooming herself, not even bothering to look in the mirror.

It wasn’t until later, after Wei Heng got married and experienced the ups and downs of life, that she realized a truth: for a woman, relying on others’ affection and a man’s admiration is not advisable. Wei Heng would say that the crucial thing is to live a long life. If a woman can outlast her husband and live to become an old lady, that’s when she can truly enjoy comfort and freedom. Unfortunately, Wei Heng’s life was not long, and she didn’t live to see the day when she could hold her head high.

However, between her and Fan Yong, during their youthful days when her beauty was at its peak, there was a period of apparent sweetness. As they reached middle age, Wei Heng, after daily medication for childbirth, witnessed her beauty gradually fade. In contrast, Fan Yong, as He Shi described, was left only with “respect” for her. Wei Heng experienced it herself, realizing that respect is crucial, but without love, the taste might not be pleasant.

Wei Heng faced the mirror, combed her hair. In this life, she didn’t take care of her appearance for the sake of men; she simply enjoyed seeing herself beautiful, for her own pleasure. Her mother underestimated her. For men, it wasn’t worth the effort to spend so much time on hair care.

In the evening, when Wei Jun returned from socializing, He Shi helped him change his clothes while complaining, “Your good daughter’s temper is getting worse. I just said a few words to her, and she gave me a cold look. I told you to send someone to pick her up earlier, but you didn’t listen. Now, she’s been spoiled by my mother with such a bad temper.”

Wei Jun was not foolish; he avoided commenting on his mother-in-law’s complaints and instead smiled, “When she’s not around, you can’t sleep because you miss her. When she comes back, you find fault with her.”

He Shi was just venting to her husband; it wasn’t genuine complaining. “Alright, I just hope she can pass the entrance exam to the women’s academy examination in the spring. My heart will be at ease then. Master, is it time for dinner now?”

Wei Jun nodded. The servants were already inviting Wei Heng, her brothers, and sisters-in-law.

As the youngest, Wei Heng’s family was the most complete. Today, everyone, including her father and brothers, deliberately set aside time in the evening for a family reunion dinner.

The table was filled with dishes provided by He Shi, who personally prepared a variety of delicacies. However, it couldn’t compare to the daily meals in the salt merchant’s mansion in Jiangnan, let alone the meals at Wei Heng’s maternal grandparents’ house.

When Wei Heng entered the room, she first greeted her parents and then affectionately called “Third Brother” and “Fifth Brother.”

Wei Heng was much younger than her two brothers, and both Wei Yue and Wei Yang doted on her. Wei Yue had failed the imperial examination this spring but was now a jinshi. Given three more years of study, becoming a juren should not be a problem.

Wei Yang, on the other hand, was inclined toward military affairs. He had secured a position in the Godly Machine Corps with the help of the old marquis. The family enjoyed a harmonious meal, and He Shi even had the nurse bring over Ge shi’s newborn son for everyone to play with.

Ge shi, having cleaned her hands, stood by the side to serve her in-laws during the meal. He Shi teased Wei Yan for a moment and then said to Ge shi, “You should sit too. We’re all family during the meal.”

Ge smiled and took her seat. Since giving birth to her son, she gained confidence, becoming more confident and at ease. If it were before, even if He Shi invited her to sit, she wouldn’t dare.

Wei Heng looked on from the side and felt happy. It seemed that in the two years she was not in the capital, the relationship between He Shi and Ge shi had become much closer. Now that Ge shi had given birth to a son, and they were not lacking in money, she had become more generous in her actions, and He Shi found her more pleasing.

Wei Heng whispered to Ge shi, “Sister-in-law, the exercise method you taught me is really effective. I’ve only been practicing for half a year, and my entire body feels more flexible. When I was at the academy, the teacher praised my dancing talent.”

Ge shi smiled and said, “That’s great.” When Ge shi graduated, she entered the top five with the “Magpie Bridge Immortal” dance, catching He Shi’s attention.

He Shi, upon hearing this, said, “There’s nothing to be proud of. Your second sister will be entering the palace to perform the ‘Prayer Dance’ on New Year’s Day.”

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