Chapter 275 - A secret that she hadn't known (2)
Because Ji Man had to help Ning Mingjie manage his estate while he was away, she visited to Ning Residence twice.
Ning Residence didn't have a steward. Everything was being managed by a servant girl name Luoqi. For some reason, she saw a bit of hostility in Luoqi's eyes when she handed over the account book.
"Young Master ordered this servant to hand over the account book to Madam, so there isn't much for this servant to say about this." Luoqi stood up. Her gently and lovely face showed a bit of resentment as she said, "This servant will naturally follow Young Master when he leaves, but there will still be many servants remaining here. No matter how you look at, it'll be inconvenient for Madam to be in charge of this estate. How about letting Nuanyu assist you? You'll make the decisions on important matters, but you won't need to be bothered by having to constantly come here to decide on minor issues."
Hearing the tone of her voice, Luoqi wasn't an ordinary servant girl. Ji Man nodded. She seriously took the account book, then she glanced at the nearby Nuanyu.
Both of the servant girls had charming appearances. Luoqi somewhat resembled Lin Daiyu, and Nuanyu resembled Qin Keqing.
(T/N: Lin Daiyu and Qin Keqing were both characters in The Dream of Red Chamber. Lin Daiyu was described as having a slender and willowy figure, and Qin Keqing was a beautiful and flirtatious woman.)
Ji Man said, "Since Young Master has put his trust in me, I'll do my best."
Some of the red ribbons in the estate still hadn't been taken down and gave off a desolate feeling. The last time she had been here, the splendid red ribbons had been accompanied by a happy crowd. But now, there was only the sparse winter snow. No one would ever mention again the bride that had been happy from the bottom of her heart when she had married into this household.
"Where's Young Master's study?" Ji Man asked.
Ning Mingjie had left for the imperial court and hadn't come back yet, so Ji Man was taking this opportunity to brazenly look around.
To her surprise, Luoqi showed a slight overreaction. She blocked her path and abruptly said, "You can't enter Young Master's study."
Ji Man slightly froze in surprise.
It took Nuanyu pulling on Luoqi's sleeve and shaking her head at her for Luoqi to remember her manners. Luoqi said in a low voice, "Young Master normally doesn't allow anyone to enter his study. Madam, if there's something you need from there, tell Luoqi. Luoqi will go get it for you."
"Never mind then. I was just curious and wanted to take a look." Ji Man smiled and turned around. "I can't go to the study, but I can visit other places, right?"
Luoqi nodded. "This servant will give you a tour of the estate."
What could possibly be in the study to make Luoqi so nervous? Ji Man felt very curious, but Luoqi was in front of her and leading her around. She obviously wouldn't lead her to study and let her look. After thinking about it for a bit, she decided to drop the subject. Everyone had secrets that they wanted remain private.
After they had taken a stroll around the entire estate, Luoqi was called away by another servant. Ji Man had only vaguely heard the servant saying someone was drunk before Luoqi lifted her skirt and hurriedly rushed towards the estate's front entrance. The other servant was left behind to look after her.
Ji Man curiously asked, "What happened?"
The servant sighed and said, "The emperor had bestowed Prince Gong's daughter to the third prince. The first prince dragged our Young Master to the third prince's residence to celebrate the wedding. Young Master seems to have gotten drunk."
Really, Zhao Zhe's behavior was too outrageous. Why did he have to poke at Ning Mingjie's sore point? The amount of wicked thoughts in Zhao Zhe's mind was enough to fill all of the rivers in northern China. Ning Mingjie was already feeling bad that his bride had been taken from him, but Zhao Zhe insisted on dragging him out and rubbing it in. He might as well have said, "Hey, look, your wound is bleeding."
He really deserved to be thoroughly beaten.
Ji Man didn't know when Luoqi would return. After thinking it over, Ji Man probingly asked the servant, "Where's Young Master's study?"
This servant normally guarded the doors and didn't serve in the inner court. Knowing that this madam was his master's younger cousin's wife, the servant solicitously showed her the way. "It's in that direction."
As it turned out, only Luoqi knew that Ning Mingjie didn't want other people to enter his study. Ji Man raised her eyebrows and followed the servant.
As the doors to the study were opened, Dengxin quietly asked, "Master, what do you want to do here?"
Ji Man scratched her head and whispered, "I just want to go inside and look around."
While it was true that the more you know, the faster you'll die, Ji Man subconsciously thought; Ning Mingjie wouldn't harm her. At the very least, this man was the secondary male character. He didn't have a shadowy background, so he naturally wouldn't have any terrible secrets.
The other servant politely stood outside by the doors with Dengxin.
After taking one step inside, Ji Man saw neatly arranged books and many calligraphy scrolls hanging on the walls.
Ning Mingjie's calligraphy was very beautiful, and he had also written a lot of poems. With the exception of one calligraphy scroll, they were all simply hung up. That one scroll was hanged on the middle of the opposite wall and very carefully hanged up.
“In spring, I sleep, unaware morning is here,
From near then far, I hear trilling songbirds,
In the night's pitter-patter of winds and rains though mild,
Who know how many petals have fallen? Know not, I fear!”
Once, there had been a young man that gently smiled as he wrote this poem inside a garden pavilion. By his side, with a blushing face, someone had quietly praised, "Young Master’s writing is really beautiful."
"Really? Then, I'll give it you."
(T/N: Poem’s translation is taken from here. Ji Man is thinking about what had happened in chapter 209.)
Ji Man blankly stared at those words. Her heart actually felt a bit pained.
Next to that scroll, there were paintings of a beautiful woman. Or, to describe them in another way, none of them had faces. But, when Ji Man carefully looked at them, she could tell who it was.
She had never sat by a river and let Ning Mingjie paint her. Perhaps, she was imaging feelings that didn't actually exist, but that figure looked too similar to herself, especially because that figure was wearing a plum blossom hairpin. For a period of time, that plum blossom hairpin had been her favorite hairpin. Also, the figure was always painted with a plain sash around her waist and a simple douma hairstyle. This was obviously what she had been wearing during the Southern Trip.
(T/N: Below are pictures of douma hairstyle.)
Ch 031 - duoma hairstyle.png
Why had he painted so many pictures of her and hanged them up in his study?
Ji Man paused before she resumed looking around the study.
The treasure from Luoyan Pagoda's fifth floor, "Inviting you to drink wine", was also here. There was even that ink smudge on the first part of the poem.
Feeling as if she was fleeing from a battlefield in defeat, Ji Man ran out of the study. Just as she was about to pull Dengxin over and leave this place, she saw Ning Mingjie and Luoqi. They were slowly walking over here.
Ji Man paused. She quickly fixed her breathing and said with a faint smile. "Didn't you say that Young Master was drunk? He looks quite clear-headed."
Luoqi raised her head to look at her, then she looked at the study's open doors. Startled, she slightly furrowed her brow.
Ning Mingjie's cheeks were flushed red, but his eyes were especially clear. He firmly stopped five steps away from her, lightly smiled, and said, "If I didn't say that I was drunk, I'm afraid that I wouldn't have been able to escape from there."
"I already got the account book from Luoqi. It's not early anymore, so I should be going back now." Ji Man saluted him and pretended that nothing had happened.
Still smiling, Ning Mingjie nodded. His expression was very calm. He was acting as if he hadn't just seen her leave the study.
As she briefly brushed past him, neither of them looked at each other. Ji Man thought; sometimes, it's better to discard strange feelings sooner rather than later. 5 Best Chinese Romance Books of 2020 So Far