After Becoming the Hero's Ex-fiancée - Chapter 52
Skillful Posturing (2)
“How… sincere does the old ancestor think she is?”
Cui Wang’s eyes were dark and sullen; he folded his arms behind his back and looked out the window. There were only bare branches that had not yet withered.
“Very! A hundred percent! Really, there are those that die from droughts, and there are those that die from floods4! If I had your face, my harem would go from one to tens of thousands! And they will all be utterly devoted too.” The old ancestor touched his face and said resentfully, “Unfortunately, I was born with a babyface, all the ladies treated me as their younger brother… After I died, it became even more impossible.”
“Huh?” Just as the old ancestor was about to describe his ‘desolate’ past, he suddenly gave a cry of surprise. He stared into the sea of
consciousness for a long time before saying with a strange expression, “I have to study this thoroughly.”
At that, the old ancestor who had been grousing about not getting his clothes wet just a moment ago, rushed towards the sea of
consciousness and flew under the water’s surface. A long time passed, but he did not resurface.
Cui Wang flicked his sleeves and closed the redwood box.
The wind carried an anonymous sigh; a few moments later, it dissipated.
Zheng Wan got up early on the day of Princess Rong Yi’s birthday.
The birthday banquet was held in Yanchun Gardens. It was just a moment away from the Zheng residence, so she was in no hurry. She sat before the mirror and let Yanzhi help her get ready.
“Does my lady want to paint the plum blossom huadian today? You made a big splash at the Shanglin Banquet the other time, and now it’s become popular among all the noble girls in the capital to paint a plum blossom between their eyebrows.”
Zheng Wan shook her head. The first time she met Cui Wang, she had to make a grand appearance, so she had painted a plum blossom huadian and wore a cloud brocade dress, but today, she was going as a weak and delicate maiden, so she couldn’t do what she did last time.
“Today is Princess Rong Yi’s birthday, there’s no need to shine too brightly and steal the host’s limelight, it might make her unhappy.”
Zheng Wan only cleansed her face, then carefully applied vanishing cream5 on her face, neck and hands. She also chose a plain lip rouge; when applied, her lips were very pale, without any colour whatsoever.
“You look like you’ve had a serious illness like this.”
Yanzhi wanted to apply some of the new rouge from the cosmetics store on her to make her complexion look better.
Luodai had a vague idea of her mistress’s thoughts; she stopped Yanzhi. “Isn’t our lady indeed having a serious illness? Why bother putting in so much effort to pretend to be otherwise? It’s fine like this.”
It was someone’s birthday after all, so it wouldn’t be good to be dressed too plainly. She chose a fine cotton peach pink qixiong ruqun6 with a peach pattern running along the skirt’s hem. The early spring air was chilly; others were already dressed in graceful light robes, but Zheng Wan still wore a white dachang7. The collar of the dachang was lined with a circle of fine fleece, which made the little face seem paler than ever.
“This attire makes my lady look even gaunter.”
Yanzhi mumbled, but when she saw that neither the young lady nor Luodai responded, she let it go.
Zheng Wan pondered over her hair accessories, but she didn’t choose the bloodstone zan. She thought, since Cui Wang didn’t ask, she wouldn’t mention it, and just let the issue of the “transfer of ownership” pass ambiguously.
This time, Madame Wang and Zheng Wan rode in the same carriage. They soon arrived outside Yanchun Gardens, where the eldest princess’s nursemaid was waiting outside to welcome them in.
“Today is the day of rest. The emperor has declared that it is rare for our Princess to hold a big event, so he has specially sent the crown prince over to celebrate the Princess’s birthday with her. Presently, the young people are all gathered in Liluo Garden, Wan’niang doesn’t have to stay with old folks like us, go look for your sisters.”
The eldest princess gave Zheng Wan a meaningful look and told her to make herself at home.
After thanking the eldest princess for her kindness and exchanging a few words with her mother, Zheng Wan took Luodai and followed a maidservant to Liluo Garden.
4 there are those that die from droughts, and there are those that die from floods: a saying that uses two extreme weather conditions to compare the disparity of two extremes, e.g. rich VS poor, and in this case, the extremely good looking Cui Wang and the babyfaced old ancestor.
5 vanishing cream: 雪花膏 xuehua gao; literally translated as “snowflake cream”. It’s named so because it dissolves into the skin like snowflakes when it is applied to the skin. A cream that protects the skin from dryness, cracking or roughness.
6 qixiong ruqun: 齐胸襦裙; also known as “chest-high ruqun”, a kind of hanfu characterised by a high waistline above the bust. (The skirt is tied above the chest rather than at the waist) It was worn by women during the Southern dynasties, Sui dynasty, Tang dynasty and Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period.
7 dachang: 大氅; a winter robe characterised by a straight collar, parallel opening, large sleeves and a pair of laces on the front lapel to tie the knot. The length of the coat is up to the calf or ankle. Contrary to the novel, this type of robe is only worn by men.