Noble Daughter | Chapter 16: Struggle for Husband

Chapter 16: Struggle for Husband

Arriving at the Duke of Qi’s residence, Wei Heng, accompanied by Wei Fang and Wei Xuan, approached to greet Madame Mu. Madame Mu looked at Wei Heng, momentarily stunned before regaining her composure. She pulled Wei Fang aside and praised her for her modesty.

Next was Wei Xuan, and Madame Mu said, “I watched the Prayer Dance you performed on the first day. It was excellent, truly surpassing your master. Even better than your dance instructor, Master Yushan.” Wei Xuan’s dance instructor was Master Yushan, a renowned dance master.

The Women’s Academy had a dance arts department mainly dedicated to artistic performances for ceremonies and blessings. It was elegant, distinct from the vulgar entertainment of brothels. The two were like heaven and earth, and no one dared to defile the dance arts of the Women’s Academy. Their dances, like music, chess, calligraphy, and painting, were extremely refined.

Master Yushan was a dance master who had once captivated the world with his dance. The late emperor admired her and wanted to bring her to the palace, but Master Yushan politely declined, leaving behind an anecdote. Although the late emperor admired her talent, he couldn’t bear to force her, creating a memorable story. However, Master Yushan remained unmarried throughout her life.

Wei Xuan replied with a gentle smile, “Aunt, you’re too kind. Xuan’er is not comparable to the master, but I will strive to improve.”

“Good child, victorious but not arrogant. I hope to have a granddaughter like you,” Madame Mu sighed, holding Wei Xuan’s hand.

Madame Mu’s legitimate granddaughter, Lu Yiyuan, who was standing nearby, pursed her lips at the comment but quickly restored her smile. “Grandmother, you like Sister Xuan so much. If she becomes your granddaughter-in-law, won’t she become your granddaughter?”

Although the customs of the Great Xia Dynasty were relatively open, making a joke about Wei Xuan in public like Lu Yiyuan did was still a bit too much.

However, Wei Xuan, well-mannered, only looked at Lu Yiyuan with a surprised expression. With just that look, she had already scorned Lu Yiyuan’s upbringing to the sky.

Lu Yiyuan blushed immediately.

Madame Mu continued the conversation, saying, “I would love that, but your auntie is not willing to part with Xuan’er. She wants to keep her for a couple more years.”

With this sentence, Madame Mu smoothly bypassed the matter. She praised Wei Xuan, complimented Lu Yiyuan, and ensured that everyone’s feelings were taken care of.

Then Madame Mu embraced Wei Heng, turning to Madame Zhang of the Wei family. “Old sister, when Heng’er came in just now, I could hardly recognize her. Where did this celestial-like beauty come from? This girl has truly transformed. Heng’er has grown so ethereal.”

“Stop praising her; she’s just neater than the average person,” Madame Zhang of the Wei family laughed.

“People can’t help but wish to see her every day,” Madame Mu laughed, then asked Wei Heng, “I heard you went to Hangzhou. How is my sister’s health?”

Madame Mu and Madame Zhang of the Wei family were distant cousins, but they hadn’t seen each other for many years.

“Grandmother is in good health. She asked me to convey her greetings to Aunt,” Wei Heng replied with a smile.

Madame Mu continued to chat with Wei Heng for a while before letting Lu Yiyuan accompany the three sisters to the backyard garden. “Go, I heard your poetry club is meeting again today. I won’t delay your activities.”

Today’s “Spring Snow Society” is hosted by Lu Yiyuan, taking advantage of the Duke of Qi’s banquet to gather people for appraisal. With Lady Chu and Lu Zhan present, receiving a compliment from either of them would elevate one’s reputation.

Lu Yiyuan accompanied Wei Heng and her sisters into the “Wanhe Songfeng,” a room tastefully decorated with embroidered cushions and carpets, adorned with coral and jade bonsai. The writing desk and ink were already arranged, awaiting the members of the Spring Snow Society to wield their brushes.

Many young ladies were already seated in Wanhe Songfeng, accompanied by Lu Yizhen. When Wei Heng and her sisters entered, they swarmed around Wei Xuan.

However, Wei Heng had sharp eyes and could already discern that the Spring Snow Society was divided into two factions. One, led by Princess Changzhen and Wei Xuan, and the other, centered around Zhou Yue’er and Lu Yiyuan.

After a moment of consideration, Wei Heng joined Wei Xuan’s group, as she couldn’t betray her own sisters. Taking a neutral stance would only lead to everyone alienating her.

“Sister Heng, you finally came back. Next month, you won’t be able to escape being the society leader,” said Gu Rong to Wei Heng, seemingly satisfied with her sense of propriety.

Wei Heng smiled and nodded, “I’ll post the announcement when the time comes.”

“Sister Yuan, should we invite the Madam Chu and the third young master from the house for evaluation this time?” asked Guo Yuqiong, the daughter of the Minister of Revenue, also a member of the Spring Snow Society.

After hearing this, Mu Zhen couldn’t help but ask: “The third young master is back?”

Lu Yiyuan smiled and said: “Third brother came back on the 29th of the twelfth lunar month.”

Hearing that Lu Zhan had returned to the Duke’s Mansion, many of the young ladies in the room perked up and started asking each other for news. Although Lu Zhan held the title of Jieyuan(top scholar), he did not take part in the imperial examination last year. Instead, he began to travel around the world to study. However, this not only did not damage his reputation, but made him more famous among scholars. They are all anticipating the day when he will soar to greater heights.

Wei Heng also admired her elder cousin-in-law from her past life. Despite achieving success at a young age, he remained humble. With his talent, he could have attempted the imperial examination at an early age, and even if he didn’t achieve first place, he would likely secure a high ranking. However, entering the officialdom at such a young age would make his peers uncomfortable.

Lu Zhan chose to remain silent for six years and only participated in the imperial examination a year later. He was appointed as the Tanhua by imperial decree, and from then on, he truly flourished.

Such a legendary figure naturally stirred the hearts of the young ladies, making them flutter upon hearing his name.

Wei Heng, however, wasn’t interested in someone who had been involved with her elder sister in her past life. Besides, no matter how you looked at it, these two were the most suitable matches in the capital.

As Lu Yiyuan was the host of the society today, she proposed the topic – “Narcissus” – and each member was to compose a poem.

The results of the evaluations were quite similar, with Wei Heng making the greatest progress, surpassing Zhou Yue’e to secure the second position.

“It’s been two years; it’s time to take a closer look,” said Mu Zhen, who was familiar with Wei Heng. She spoke casually.

Wei Heng smiled, “Sister Zhen is teasing me again. Everyone is just giving me face.”

“Hypocrite,” muttered Mu Jin softly. “If you did well, you did well. The evaluations by Madam Chu and Third young master Lu are genuine.”

After two years, Mu Jin still seemed like an immature child. Wei Heng laughed, “Okay, I’m a hypocrite. Sister Jin naturally didn’t give me any face.”

This statement left Mu Jin speechless, and she could only glare at Wei Heng resentfully.

Actually, Mu Jin’s dislike for Wei Heng wasn’t entirely unreasonable. Clearly, Wei Heng, who used to be on par with her, suddenly excelled in everything, making Mu Jin naturally upset.

Take Mu Jin’s outstanding appearance as an example. She originally thought she was the most outstanding, but Wei Heng, who returned, completely stole her spotlight.

Today, Wei Heng was wearing a lavender jacket adorned with silver edges and a sakura-colored double-layered skirt underneath. Her hair was elegantly tied up with a simple hairpin adorned with a pink pearl, presenting a simple and elegant appearance. However, the pearls were pink, and Mu Jin, with her improved eyesight over the past two years, could clearly see the extravagance of the hairpin.

However, no matter how beautiful the pearls were, they couldn’t compare to the charm exuding from Wei Heng’s whole being. It was as if she had a layer of silver light, making her stand out in the crowd. Among the sisters, only Wei Xuan could compete with her. However, if Mu Jin had to admit it truthfully, among the crowd, the first person her eyes were drawn to was Wei Heng. She was truely radiant.

Unfortunately, some people seemed blind to this radiance, like Fan Yong.

A few days later, the Jingning Marquis’s mansion hosted a banquet, and the Fan family arrived early. As Fan Yong was a relative, he naturally had to greet the Old Madam Zhang.

Wei Heng openly glanced at Fan Yong. Fan Yong resembled his mother, very handsome and slightly delicate, with a faint smile at the corner of his mouth. He had the most standard appearance of a noble child in the capital. He was fifteen this year, tall and thin, and his smile could captivate a group of girls.

Fan Yong looked at Wei Heng, slightly stunned. This cousin was too exquisite. Nevertheless, Fan Yong’s gaze quickly refocused on Wei Xuan.

Old Madam Zhang frowned secretly as she observed, realizing that this girl had grown up, and her thoughts were becoming more complex. However, the Wei family must absolutely avoid any disputes between sisters over a husband.

Fan Yong had grown up under Old Madam Zhang’s watchful eye and was a good child. Old Mada, Zhang had thought about establishing a relationship with the Fan family. However, now it seemed that Fan Yong’s thoughts were likely all on Xuan’er. However, it seemed that Zhuzhu’er had some feelings for him too.

Old Madam Zhang couldn’t make up her mind for a while, so she had to put it aside temporarily. After all, the two girls were still young, and marriage talks wouldn’t happen for a couple of years. She just hoped they wouldn’t cause any trouble. Old Madam Zhang had confidence in the conduct of her two granddaughters.

“Cousin Xuan, it was your birthday on the first day of the lunar year. I couldn’t come to celebrate for you. You’ve always wanted a set of brushes made by Master Guan, and I finally found them. Take a look, see if you like them.” Fan Yong handed the box to Wei Xuan.

Wei Xuan didn’t reach out to take it. Instead, she asked, “Did Xinyu get them? She also loves Master Guan’s brushes.”

Fan Yong hesitated for a moment, feeling a bit embarrassed. Master Guan had stopped making brushes long ago, and getting even one was not easy. Fan Yong didn’t know how much effort he had put in to obtain this set, intending to give it to Wei Xuan. Now, Wei Xuan’s refusal made him uncertain.

“Cousin, I accept your heartfelt gift, but let’s give these brushes to Xinyu,” Wei Xuan’s attitude was resolute, refusing to accept them.

Fan Yong’s face turned somewhat grayish, indicating that Wei Xuan wasn’t interested in him. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have rejected the brushes. 

Wei Heng, on the side, felt frustrated seeing Fan Yong’s expression, which seemed like he had lost his wife. In her heart, she hadn’t completely moved on yet and still regarded Fan Yong as her potential husband. At this moment, she found him utterly foolish.

“Cousin, how about a birthday gift for my birthday? Did you bring it?” Wei Heng interjected.

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