Sandy's Read Receipts
Translations, Reviews and Other Written Worlds
I hid behind the wall and listened to Wei Tan's low voice, full of consoling words. Concubine Xu continued sobbing, and before long, Wei Tan's figure headed out of the garden, while she still kneeled on the ground, wiping her tears.
I stood there, frozen, before realizing it was inappropriate to linger, and I ambled away.
My heart wasn't without sympathy. I had discovered from the old Residence's Steward that after Wei Jue traveled to Yong Capital, he never returned. Before winter, the rest of the family had followed him, except a few guards and Concubine Xu. I understood her desperation—after Wei Tan leaves tomorrow; it was unknown when this mansion would welcome its owner again. If I were her, I might have begged for help too, regardless of the slight chance.
I thought of Wei Zhao, the primary instigator of this matter. He had only one concubine, yet neglected her. So much that she resorted to begging another master. He appeared so elegant usually, but it turned out he was also fickle.
"That's how men are......," I suddenly recalled Ruo Chan's words, when she helplessly told me, "...... They are hot and bothered when they want to find you. When you wish to keep them, they don't know what to do anymore......"
I returned to the courtyard with my mind caught in this mess, meeting Wei Tan just as I entered the door.
"Where did you go?" He frowned, "I couldn't find you anywhere."
"I strolled around the mansion to check if the trip's supplies were ready."
"Oh?" He peered at me, his eyes flashing, "Where did you check, Furen? Did you check the West?"
I froze, realizing that he was referring to where those beauties lived.
"I did," I followed his words and frowned, "You want to share those beauties with your Generals, Fujun?"
"Yes." He smiled, "I have a few officers with high morals. But since they followed me to the battlegrounds for many years, they couldn't marry. These women come from good families, so they are a perfect match." He looked at me and raised his eyebrows, "Are you unwilling, Furen?"
I was extremely willing. But I still had to show a virtuous and regretful expression: "I wouldn't dare, Fujun. But since you wanted to keep them earlier, I thought I could take a few as my maidservants, so that they could also serve you in the future."
"Is that so?" He stroked his chin, looking thoughtful, "You have a point—I take it back. The five beauties are okay; when they are free, one brews tea, one recites books, one wipes the body, one combs the hair, and one puts out the lamp......"
I assumed that since we start our journey tomorrow, Wei Tan wouldn't mess around tonight save energy.
But I guessed wrong. Like an insatiable Taotie, he kept telling me "Again". When I woke up at dawn, the gap between my legs was sore. I balled up on the bed, unwilling to move. He, who had worked much harder than I did, seemed normal, dressed and staring at my still reclining form. The corner of his lips curved, "This husband will help you dress, Furen."
How would I agree to that? I shrank under the quilt to dodge his hands. We entangled for a while, and more red spots appeared on my neck. After putting on my clothes with great strain, he offered to carry me to the carriage. Angry, I grabbed the pillow and threw it at him just as he sauntered away.
After breakfast, a long queue of carriages and horses exited the old Residence, heading towards the city gates.
The seat cushion in my carriage was thicker than when I broke my foot—the work of someone with a guilty conscience.
"Furen, it's not chilly yet. Why have you wrapped your collar so tightly?" A'Yuan blushed and snickered.
Wei Tan wasn't discreet, and even my maid dared to tease her master. I was so annoyed that I reached out to tickle her, something she feared since childhood. She kept begging for mercy in between bursts of laughter for a long time before I stopped.
After fooling around, we got down to business: Li Shang's reply had finally arrived two days ago. He, Gongyang Gui, and Li Huan had returned to Yong Capital safe and sound. He had found the Southern medicine dealers he used to trade with earlier. Fortunately, the war hadn't affected them too much.
The letter was brief, but just knowing that they had returned safely satisfied me. Determined to resume his old trade, Li Shang had the drive, and I naturally supported him. But his idea of opening a pharmacy in Yong Capital concerned me.
My relationship with Li Shang wasn't secret, at least not in Wei Mansion—anyone curious just had to dig around to find out. Li Shang's pharmacy aim was to attract the high-ranking officials and nobles of Yong Capital. It will inevitably lead to many exchanges. Not that I wanted to save my name or hide that the Fu Clan's former Steward had picked up trading. But as his backer, his opening the store exposes my business relationship with him to the public, something more harmful than helpful.
I pondered, "A'Yuan, can we find another person to open the store? Keep Steward Li as a hidden owner."
She understood my thinking, "I agree. Let's discuss it with my Father after we return to Yong Capital."
I wasn't great with directions. After we left Luoyang, whether Wei Tan headed East, West, North, or South, all were the same for me. Yet, five days later, I froze in surprise when I recognized the crisscrossing mountains and countryside fields in front of me.
Wei Tan instructed his servant, "We'll rest in Shangzhou tonight. Tomorrow, we pack lightly and head to Shangnan County."
The servant withdrew after responding.
"Shangnan County?" Puzzled, I asked Wei Tan, "Why are we going to Shangnan County?"
He smiled, "I want to follow Emperor Hui's example and visit a sage in the mountains. Will you join me, Furen?"
I didn't know which sage he meant, but this rare trip was better than staying in the lodging house. So, after a night's rest, I boarded the carriage and followed Wei Tan's group to Shangnan County.
The mountain roads were hard to travel. Although we managed to drive the carriages up, the bumpy roads slowed us a lot.
We set off early morning and finally, by late afternoon, I heard the guide say, "Eldest Young Master, we're here!" I looked out and saw green hills and trees, surrounded by streams. A bridge, barely wide enough for a man and cattle, spanned the stream, leading into a verdant bamboo forest.
I took in my surroundings; the quiet and scenic place was perfect for living in seclusion.
Since we couldn't cross the bridge by carriage, Wei Tan simply abandoned the carriage and horses, leaving his men behind to guard them.
Intrigued by the bridge, Wei An stared at it and asked Wei Tan, "Brother, didn't you say hermits live in seclusion because they hope people will visit them?"
Hearing this, I couldn't help but cough out the water I had just drunk from the water bladder.
Wei Tan, this military man, behaved like a rogue and spoke so crudely. How many scholars dreamed of living in the mountains, indifferent to worldly affairs? Only he could twist such a refined lifestyle's meaning.
"Hmm?" He shot me a half-smile and asked Wei An, "Did I say that?"
"Yes," Wei An replied with certainty, and continued, "But why don't they build a wider bridge since they are always waiting for people? More people can visit if they can travel by carriages and horses."
Wei Tan smiled but said nothing. He patted Wei An's shoulder, but turned to look at me: "Does it matter to you, Furen?"
I shook my head, "No."
Wei Tan briefed the men who would stay behind and led us to the bamboo forest.
Wei An was right. If this hermit was waiting for someone to visit, he lacked sincerity. Unused for a long time, the wooden bridge wobbled. Visible through the cracks in the bridge's deck, the turbulent stream surged.
When I swayed in an unstable section, Wei Tan turned around, tugged my hand, and continued to walk forward.
His warm and strong hand didn't release mine even after we crossed the bridge. Seeing only two or three attendants around us, I let him have his way.
"Who is this sage that you want to visit, Fujun?" I couldn't help but ask as I stared at the dense bamboo forest ahead of us, feeling the fresh breeze brush my face.
"Have you heard of Master Yun Shi, Furen?"
I froze: "Lord Sun Ren?"
Wei Tan nodded: "You are right."
I was a little surprised. Of course, I knew of Lord Sun Ren. Born in Shanyang, he had become famous for his writing and speeches at a young age. He studied as an apprentice under a master and gained extensive knowledge. He served as an academician in the Imperial Court for over 20 years. After he turned 60, he left Chang'An, called himself Master Yun Shi, and traveled around the world as a famous scholar. My father held him in high esteem, and my family collected the scriptures and histories written by his hand.
"I heard his whereabouts were unknown. I didn't expect him to seclude himself here."
He smiled faintly, "Everyone's whereabouts are erratic these days. A hermit living in a stable place is rare."
Barbarian! I asked out loud, "Are you paying Master Yun Shi a visit to invite him to come out of seclusion, Fujun?"
"He is over 70 years old. I'm afraid he can't walk these mountain roads even if he comes out of seclusion. I'm visiting him to ask for advice."
"Right," I laughed, thinking he was joking.
We came upon a house a hundred steps into the bamboo forest. Its thatched roof rested on mud walls, and a bamboo fence surrounded its four sides.
I heard someone playing the zither. The smooth and relaxing music completed this secluded place's charm.
When one of our attendants knocked on the wood door a few times, the zither's sound halted. Before long, a boy came out.
"Who is it?" He asked, standing guard at the door and surveying us.
Wei Tan told his attendant to retreat, stepped forward to the boy, and cupped his hands in greeting: "Wei Tan of Hexi, here to pay my respects to Master Yun Shi."
The boy gazed at him, before staring at us behind him, "And they?"
"They are my wife, my brother, and our attendants."
The boy frowned, "Master doesn't have enough teacups for so many, wait......"
"Who is it, Qingming?" An unhurried voice emerged from inside the main hall.
The boy turned around and replied, "Wei Tan of Hexi, and his wife, and brother, and......"
"So they are noble guests," the voice contained a smile, "Quick, Qingming, open the door."
The boy agreed, opened the wood door, and bowed to us, "Come in, please."
Wei Tan smiled, instructed the attendants to wait outside, and led Wei An and me inside the house.
Green grass, lush flowers, and trees, bounding a neat white sand path greeted us when we entered the courtyard. Tea steam curled up towards the thatched roof, and two people were playing a game of chess.
Without a doubt, the man with the white hair and emaciated body was the Whitehead, Master Yun Shi. Opposite him sat a youth with a fair face and a focused expression, his side profile showing a composed aura.
The boy brought us to the front of the hall, but without announcing our presence or speaking, he took off his shoes and walked into the hall. He took the zither beside the two men, placed it on his lap, and continued to play.
As the zither's sound drew out, the two concentrated on their game, and we waited in silence.
My father once said that most famous hermits were aloof and that visitors, regardless of their status, always encountered a few intimidation tactics. At last, I experienced it firsthand. When I glanced at Wei Tan, he looked calm, staring at the thatched hall, seeming to enjoy the music and their game.
An hour later, the Master sighed aloud, clapped his palms, and laughed: "This old man has lost again. In the end, I'm inferior to the youngster."
The man opposite him bowed to him, his voice limpid: "I, Ting, admire the depth of your chess skills, Master."
The Master stroked his beard and shook his head. Suddenly, he twisted his head and rose with a smile, as if he had just spotted us.
"This old man was so greedy for chess that I forgot I had visitors..... I was rude, I was rude." He stepped out to the hall's front and greeted Wei Tan.
TN: Hello all! Thanks for voting on the poll. It was split pretty much right down the middle. But those asking for a change to Chinese terms were 3% more. But still, I will change to using Chinese terms for certain relationships from this chapter onwards. Hopefully this reduces some confusion.
NSFW: This chapter contains contents se*ual nature. Readers' discretion advised.
Shocked, Wei Tan stared at me. His face tinged with a red flush, but his gaze brightened.
"You want to see, Furen?" His voice was husky with a half-smile.
I smiled provocatively, "Are you backing out, Fujun?"
He nipped my lips and moved to get up from the bed. Instead of letting him go, I rolled over and pressed him back.
"I want to see for myself," propping my hands on his chest, I peered into his astonished eyes and chuckled.
His gaze seared me, and he didn't resist as his Adam's apple rolled.
I sat on his midriff, drawing my eyes down his body.
In our earlier tussle, his robe had come undone. The open lapels showed a solid chest covered with a thin layer of sweat, shining a honey colored luster.
I swallowed as my throat dried. Like a child fiddling with a doll, careful and curious, I opened his clothes wider. His arms freed themselves from the sleeves, tight muscles stretching all the way from his wide shoulders. At the ends, the large, rough hands roved under my skirt.
"Keep still," I pulled his hands out, pressing them at the sides.
Then...... I continued to shift my gaze lower. Only a Hakama remained on his body, hanging slack around his waist. Further down, something tented the cr0tch area of his trousers up high.
My breath burned hot, and my neck steamed with sweat. As I stared, not daring to raise my eyes, a strange silence filled the room. Yet, an undercurrent surged, making my heartbeat unsteady.
When I reached out to untie the Hakama's belt, I sensed Wei Tan's chest ripple as he sucked in a breath.
My hands chilled as I loosened the straps and dragged the fabric away, exposing the underlying thing to the light.
Speaking of males' things, I had seen them in the past. In courtyard corners, in hidden alleys of markets, there were always parents who were too late to find the toilet, letting their young sons relieve themselves on the spot. Whenever I came across such scenes, my wet-nurse covered my eyes, scaring me that I would contract eye stye. Despite her efforts, I still saw them a few times. In my heart, I didn't take her words seriously. Just a tiny thing, smaller than my fist. After I grew older, I learned it hardened when I made out with Pei Qian. But although Pei Qian also liked to get handsy, he was a gentleman. When I asked, he reddened and glared at me, saying that unmarried women who look would contract eye stye......
Finally, I learned how it really looked. Well, to be honest, it looked weird. Thicker and longer than I expected, head held high, it grew in spirit under my gaze ......
"How is it?" Wei Tan's deep and hoarse voice strained for control. His hand reached out to my lapels and jerked the tied sash. The half-open lapels of my already disheveled clothes slid off with his movement. His thick and strong palms caused my body to tremble, and I sensed an indescribable wetness welling up in my depths.
I continued to stare at that thing, my throat burning dry: "Well...... it's like a worm."
"Worm?" He laughed low, the hand caressing my waist creeping up, "Is there such a big worm?"
I shut up, the back of my ears burning red. If I was a rogue, he was more roguish than me.
"A'Jin......," Wei Tan's voice was urgent, "Let it in."
My face was on fire, and I recalled the earlier pain.
Just as I hesitated, he grabbed my arm and pinned me under his body.
"A'Jin......," as he nibbled on my chest while lifting my legs, steam curled up my neck like devil's magic, "Don't be afraid......"
I gasped without answering, and my hands clutched his shoulders.
Wei Tan's muscles tensed, and he jerked straight.
I muffled a cry, and the bed canopy overhead rocked with his impact. Gradually, the sky's dense rosy glow enshrouded the candlelight......
The nightingale sang outside the window again.
Oh...... No, that wasn't right; it was an oriole.
That wasn't right either......
I shrank under the quilt, and when Wei Tan retracted his arm, I didn't move a muscle.
He eased it away as if he feared waking me, rising from the bed after a while. The rustling of clothes emerged from the back rack.
Someone knocked on the door lightly.
"Eldest Young Master......," a servant's voice echoed from outside for an instant before all fell silent.
I ensured he had left before I peeked out from under the covers.
Just then, I didn't pretend sleep because I feared embarrassment. Instead, I feared that Wei Tan, that lecherous devil, would return to teasing me; it wasn't fun to lose my temper.
I slipped into a more comfortable pose. Though it ached, it wasn't intense. Instead, there was an indescribable feeling. Was it...... satisfaction?
Holding my sore waist, I gazed up, my heart still "thumping" in my chest.
I already forgot last night's events, I only remembered the deep impact. I was like a soft dough ball in a hot pot, steamrolled and re-kneaded into a dumpling.
Wei Tan nibbled on my ear, calling my name out again and again.
When I couldn't take it anymore, I begged, "Please spare me, Fujun." He told me, "Call me A'Tan." But when I called out, he got even more excited and worked harder.
I shuddered beneath him, moaning unreservedly. When a dizzying sensation overwhelmed me like a river tide, I almost lost consciousness. Ashamed, I believed if I had looked in the mirror at that instant, I'd have looked insane.
When Wei Tan returned from a trip out, he told me that we would set off to Yong Capital in two days.
Surprised, I wondered, 'Returning to Yong Capital? But last night he told my Jiumu we would stay longer.'
He stroked my hair, smiling next to my ear: "Don't worry, Furen. Even if we return to Yong Capital, this husband will still treat you sincerely."
I knew what he was referring to and blushed.
Since we were leaving, I had to start preparations today. I informed the Steward at once and asked him to assign servants to pack the luggage.
Initially, I had planned to visit my Jiumu and Third Yimu's homes. But now that I had no time, I dispatched a letter to their residences, explaining my reasons and apologizing. In fact, I was a little petty; I could have hosted a banquet at my home today or tomorrow and invited their families for a get-together to return their favor. But that meant allowing Qiao Ti to meet Wei Tan again, and the thought of her calculating gaze made me unwilling.
Yet, they both visited after they received my letter.
The first to arrive was my Third Yimu.
She gifted me Luoyang's specialty cakes for the return journey: "You must've seen many precious things in Yong Capital, A'Jin. After much thinking, I came up with these cakes you can't eat in Yong Capital. Don't dislike them, A'Jin."
As she was the sincerest of all my relatives, I accepted it and thanked her with a smile.
Third Yimu tugged my hand and stared at me. Her eyes reddened, as if she was recalling my Mother, but she said nothing and just sighed.
"A'Jin," before leaving, she told me something after much contemplation, "Your Jiumu is struggling. If she has something to ask you, and you don't think it's difficult, you can help. But if it's too much, you don't bother. I noticed how carefully the General treated you. How easy is it for women to find good husbands? You can't share certain things. Even if your relatives ask, you shouldn't give them away easily."
Her words were deep, but I understood her meaning.
I nodded and smiled, "Thank you, Yimu. A'Jin will remember."
Before long, my Jiumu arrived as well. To my surprise, she was alone and hadn't brought Qiao Ti with her.
She too gifted me candied fruits and other snacks for my journey.
After exchanging pleasantries, she stared at me and sighed: "Now that A'Jin has married into a noble family and everything is going well, your parents and your Jiufu should rest in peace." She bowed her head and used her handkerchief to pat her eyes.
To be honest, I always hated it when people said these words; it sounded like I had picked up a tremendous bargain.
Without showing my heart, I just said, "I only hope to not disgrace the family."
"What are you saying, A'Jin? Today, I'm afraid no one would dare to disagree with me when I say that the Wei Clan is the noblest family besides the Imperial household." She sighed, "A'Ti isn't as lucky as you. She turns 19 this year and still waits to be married."
Finally, here it came. I peered at my Jiumu and said concernedly, "I have been wanting to ask about this matter. Why haven't you chosen a husband for my Biaomei yet?"
"It's not that I haven't chosen a son-in-law. We had even set a betrothal earlier. Your Jiufu chose one of the best families in Luoyang. But later, that family got caught up in the chaos caused by that traitor Hé, and we lost the marriage."
I nodded and sighed, "I am sorry for your loss, Jiumu. With my Biaomei's upbringing, someone will always want to marry her."
"You are right. But the chaos has displaced the nobles. It was hard to settle down after your Jiufu passed away. Only us orphans and widows stay in Luoyang; the many proposing marriages are only of modest birth. I'm afraid of shaming the Qiao Clan's reputation, which has resounded in Luoyang for over a 100 years. In the future, I won't have any face to meet your Jiufu." She sighed again, "This has delayed your Biaomei's marriage."
I looked at her, "I see."
"A'Jin," my Jiumu held my hand, "We have seen the surrounding families in Luoyang, and none of them are compatible. Now that every landed aristocrat wants to go to Yong Capital, A'Jin must help A'Ti."
From her expression, I knew she had more words, "Do you have someone in mind, Jiumu?"
She smiled, somewhat embarrassed. She looked around to make sure no one was around, leaned closer, and covered her mouth with her silk fan: "A'Jin, I heard that the Second Young Master of Wei Residence only has one concubine, who always stays in Luoyang. Is that true?"
I froze for a moment.
So it turned out that my Jiumu set her eyes on Wei Zhao.
"You are right."
"A'Jin, what happens in the Residence, is important for a married woman. The Wei Clan is huge, and you, as the eldest daughter-in-law, must worry over everything around the house. If you 2 cousins become sisters-in-law, your Biaomei can support you with all her heart. Isn't that better than outsiders?"
I nodded, but showed an awkward expression, and shyly whispered, "Jiumu's words are reasonable. It's just that it's been less than a year since I married into my husband's family. I fear if I mention it hastily, my in-laws will become suspicious and it will be unpleasant. Jiumu......"
"A'Jin, don't trouble yourself too much." She smiled, "I only proposed an idea. No one can guarantee success or failure. Your Jiumu, this old woman, thought you cousins shared a deep friendship since you were young. Won't it be perfect if you both marry into one house and become closer?"
I spoke obligingly, "I understand Jiumu's kindness. If a chance arises, I will surely help you."
She clenched my hand and beamed.
After more pleasantries and sending my Jiumu away, I stood under the porch, looked at the sky beyond the wall, and inhaled a deep breath.
Words of surely helping if a chance arises and so on were all nonsense. Jiumu really thought too highly of me. Even if I was the eldest daughter-in-law, my in-laws still sat above me. Besides convincing Wei Jue, Madam Guo wasn't Wei Tan's biological mother, while Wei Zhao was her own son. Who was I, a stepson's wife, to meddle in her son's marriage?
I recalled Concubine Xu, who lived in this mansion. It was ugly to think that my Jiumu came to plot with me to steal her husband.
I had assumed that Qiao Ti didn't get married because of Jiufu or the clan's money trouble. Yet, my Jiumu's talk of family status stunned me.
Was the Wei Clan so noble? If chaos hadn't struck the country, Wei Jue would still be an insignificant Cavalry Commandant in Chang'An. I feared my Jiumu wouldn't have spared him a glance even if he had gone to their door to ask for marriage himself.
After packing my things, I felt tired, so I rested on the bed.
When I woke up, the sky was already dark. A'Yuan told me that Wei Tan had returned an hour ago and had gone to Wei An's place when he saw me sleeping.
I responded, rising to go out.
The servants were busy around the courtyards, preparing for our departure tomorrow. Wei Tan wasn't present when I reached Wei An's courtyard. Wei An was frowning at a pile of wooden pieces he had made these days, agonizing over what to pack.
"How difficult is this," I laughed, "Pack whatever was hard to make. Plus, that wheelchair, which Fourth Shu has long been making."
He nodded and continued to squat in front of the woodpile, segregating them.
I left his courtyard, wanting to meet Concubine Xu. When I walked past a courtyard, I suddenly heard women weeping.
"Furen," the Steward walked over to salute me.
I asked, "What's with the crying?"
He replied, "It's the women sent by Governor Zhou. The Eldest Young Master ordered us to divide them among the generals under his command, but they are unwilling."
Stunned, I recalled I was still struggling with how to handle these people yesterday. I didn't expect Wei Tan to solve the problem first. Did he understand my dilemma? I felt a little moved.
"Furen," the Steward gazed at me, "do you want to enter?"
I shook my head, "No need." I turned around and walked away.
Usually around this time, Concubine Xu tended the flowers and trees in the back garden, so I headed straight there. When I reached the corner of the corridor, I suddenly heard sobbing coming from the front again. A single voice instead of many.
Concubine Xu? Puzzled, I halted my steps and peeped around the shelter of the wall. There were two people in front of the peony bushes, one standing, one kneeling. The one kneeling was Concubine Xu, while the one standing was Wei Tan.
"...... I beg the Eldest Young Master for his mercy." Concubine Xu sobbed low, "...... I served with all my heart, but Madam Guo isn't fond of me, and my husband has abandoned me. Now the only person who can help me is the Eldest Young Master......"
TN: Worm?? I choked lol
SANDY'S READ RECEIPTS
Beginning as an avid reader, I am translating novels with the help of machine translation and online dictionaries.
SUPPORT ME ON KO-FI
If you are enjoying my work and translations, consider donating to help run the website! Thank you for your support!
SUBSCRIBE FOR NEW CHAPTERS