After Becoming the Hero's Ex-fiancée - Chapter 1
Awakening from a Dream (1)
“Lady Zheng, look, this is a new cloud brocade1 from the Jin’s in Hexi. It took twenty weavers one whole month to complete just this one bolt. Such a wonderful, atmospheric, mist-like effect— if you put this on, no one can hold a candle against you!”
The shopkeeper of the largest silk fabrics store in the capital stood before the young lady, and bent over slightly in deference; his wide smile creased his aged face into a multitude of wrinkles.
He spoke in complete earnestness from the bottom of his heart, not exaggerating in the slightest.
There wasn’t a single person who wasn’t aware that the Zheng family of Xingyang had only one daughter. As the sole heir of the family, she had been raised like a precious pearl since childhood. Her daily meals were only the finest delicacies, all served on jade platters; her stores were filled with plenty of silks and satins so much so that they all seemed as common as cotton to her.
Her family was also something else; Lady Zheng’s father was the Liang court’s most esteemed Senior Grand Secretary, second in rank only to the Emperor; her mother was from the royal Langya clan, which although was said to be in decline, still had wealth and power far beyond that of the average nobility.
When such a lady goes out in her carriage, even a princess would step aside. On top of that, in two months’ time she would be marrying the future, most revered ruler of the Liang Dynasty, and become the Crown Prince’s consort.
Which girl in the capital, upon the mention of this Lady Zheng, was not full of envy and jealousy, wishing she could take her place?
In the words of the shopkeeper: in this world, there would always be lucky people who were favoured and adored by the Heavens.
But today, this lucky person didn’t seem to be in high spirits; she casually ran her hand over the bolt of fabric that had been presented to her.
“Is this all you have?”
“Yes. This time, there were only two bolts of cloud brocade in total; one went to Princess Rong Qin, and the remaining one is right here.”
Zheng Wan frowned and let her go first, “Nothing, then shopkeeper, wrap it up.”
Zheng Wan wrinkled her nose; she’d got to it first again. “Forget it. Shopkeeper, wrap this up.”
Although the dark green tones of this brocade were a little too intense, causing it to seem a touch dull, it was, after all, still more outstanding than what she had on hand. The day after tomorrow was the Shanglin Banquet; it would be unpleasant if Rong Qin outshone her.
The shopkeeper was secretly stunned; this cloud brocade cost one tael of gold per foot, but Lady Zheng didn’t even blink when making the purchase. But then again, when he thought of Senior Grand Secretary Zheng’s enthusiasm for pampering his daughter, it seemed reasonable; to this little lady who used to play with pearls from the South China Sea as marbles, what was a mere bolt of could brocade?
The maid took out the purse and followed the shopkeeper to make payment, while Zheng Wan sat at the table and sipped tea.
Before leaving the house, the winds were still mild and the sun bright. But right now, a brisk wind swept the rain across the skies as layers of snow misted the sight as it fell; in a short while, the streets would all be covered with a layer of silver frost.
Zheng Wan noticed that there was a little sparrow shivering with cold by the window. She was about to open the window to let it in and warm it up by the fire, but then she saw a carriage from the Defender-General of State’s residence come to a loud stop downstairs.
Third Lady Jiang, who she had just met yesterday at the Ladies Academy got off the carriage, and quickly disappeared around the corner.
She was on her way up.
Jinxiuzhuang2 received male guests on the first floor and female guests on the second floor, with a staircase specially made for the female guests to enter the building. Looking at Third Lady Jiang’s movements, it seemed like she’d come with the intention to look for her.
Zheng Wan slowly took a sip of tea; as expected, she heard light steps coming from the stairs, and Third Lady Jiang appeared.
“Wan’niang3, I’d been looking for you.”
Zheng Wan was not aware that she had become friends with Third Lady Jiang; the nobles and the aristocrats had always been opposing factions in court.
1 Cloud brocade: 云锦 Yun(cloud) jin (brocade); Also known as Yunjin, it is a traditional Chinese silk brocade that often incorporates gold and silver threads with the coloured silks. It is regarded as one of the best forms of silk and famous for its cloud-like colours and intricate patterns.
2 Jinxiuzhuang: 锦绣庄; the name of the silk fabrics store; it means ‘beautiful brocades’.
3 Wan’niang: 菀娘; the Third Lady Jiang is calling her by her given name directly, with the suffix, ‘niang’, something that is only done between people who have a close relationship.