As the lessons continue, the gap in learning achievements and progress were further exaggerated with the difference in ability between sisters, to the point where Molan could no longer keep up with Hualan. This is after all very natural, the learning speed that of an elementary school student compared to a junior high student were fundamentally different. However, Molan who seemed demure was in fact extremely strong-willed, deliberately attaching herself to Hualan’s side and constantly bombarding Governess Kong with questions. At times it was obvious Hualan could progress to the next step but due to Molan’s persistence, Governess Kong could only slow down the lessons.
Hualan weathered and endured, she lost count of the number of times she complained to Wang shi. Wang shi was also helpless, whenever she went to Sheng Hong he merely spouted lines such as ‘Mo’er is also eager to study, sisters ought to behave amicably’ and similar sentiments. However regardless of how it was worded, his reaction was not anger but instead indifference. Ancient China did not have access to capable psychiatrists therefore it was inevitable that Older Sister Hualan exploded.
This fateful afternoon, the weather was slight dry and chilly. Once Governess Kong finished teaching a particularly long section, she felt her throat slightly parched thus instructed the girls to practice greeting peace to the elderly. She herself retired to her rooms to drink Fuling1 to moisten her throat. Hualan seeing Molan hunched on the embroidered stool resting while gasping for air, her heart gave in to a burst of resentment and couldn’t help but sneer “Fourth Younger Sister is really giving your all. Normally, these complicated rules do not of many uses but Younger Sister being this dedicated, it seems like you will definitely have use for them in the future.”
Molan turned slightly red and softly answered “Governess said that although these are merely vain formalities, I would rather learn and not use them than be made fun of by others. This Younger Sister is stupid and is afraid to dishonour the family, so can only use all of my strength to study.”
Hualan is after all the First Young Lady, after she vented her little anger she was no longer willing to lower herself to the level of a child and merely sat by the window looking out at the scenery. Unfortunately, Rulan was different. The past couple of days whilst listening to Wang shi’s grievances she too nurtured a stomach roil with anger. She jumped out at once, receiving the quarreling baton and coldly said “Since Fourth Older Sister knows that you are stupid then be more sensitive. Do not bother Governess Kong all day long, being a burden to Big Sister.”
Molan was enraged and bickered “In what way did I ever bother Governess Kong? It’s only that Father instructed me to properly study under Governess Kong and he wants to test me after. I dare not disobey, whatever areas I do not understand, I must clarify.”
Rulan snorted and looked at Molain in disdain “Do not use Father’s name to suppress me. Governess Kong was specially invited by the Old Madame for Big Sister. Big sister is her student and teaching us is merely a bonus. Everyday you snatch Big Sister’s limelight, hindering Big Sister from properly learning from Governess Kong. How is that reasonable? Hmph! I do not know where you’ve learnt such underhanded methods. You do not like to see the good fortune of others and like to snatch others belongings!”
Molan’s face turned red all of a sudden and the tears in the eyes grew. In a trembling voice, she said “What is Fifth Younger Sister saying? I do not understand! What underhanded methods? What snatching others belongings? We are born from the same father, you are just taking advantage of the fact that I am concubine-born! Okay! Okay! Okay! I am the only unnecessary one, why do I bother staying on this earth to obstruct others eyes, why not I just die cleanly!” Finishing her tirade she bent over and wept loudly.
Rulan panicked, rushed before Molan and shouted “Cry again! Cry again! Each time there’s a problem, you just drop golden peas and pretend. If Governess Kong sees this, she would think I am bullying you and ask Father to punish me! You! You! You!” In anger and in panic, she stomped her feet and choked silent. Seeing this Hualan couldn’t ignore the situation anymore and came over, she spoke in a neither cold or warm tone “Fourth Younger Sister, do not come to tears so quickly, we no longer dare provoke you in the future. Every time there is a disagreement you cry as if your mother passed away, we’re definitely afraid of angering you.”
When Molan heard her, she felt even more hurt and redoubled her tears. Slowly she began to get breathless and hear body heaved up and down, Rulan stomped her feet, Hualan smiled bitterly. Minglan was quickly tidying up her notes and watched the drama unfold from the side, she felt her head hurt but did not want to get involved now, there was only trouble waiting to be found. She merely massaged her temples and hopped off the round stool. When she neared Molan, she softly said “Fourth Older Sister, you should stop crying. It is not good to let Governess Kong witness this, she will think that we Sheng family daughters do not have any upbringing.”
Molan ignored her and continued to weep till her throat turned hoarse. It seemed like she wanted blow this up into a big affair. Unfortunately, Minglan studied law and not psychology and could only sigh sorrowfully in her heart and soldiered on. Thus she approached the side of Molan and said again “Fourth Older Sister, I have something to ask you. How long do you think Governess Kong will be at our place?”
Although Molan was crying loudly but there were no problems in her hearing. When she heard Minglan ask this ridiculous question, she cried softer and looked at her. Minglan rattled her brains and continued “I’ve heard Old Madame say that once Spring arrives and the weather turns warmer, when the ice thaws and the roads are good for travel, Governess Kong will leave. There are undoubtedly not many days left. Let me ask this of you Fourth Older Sister, in these remaining days, would it be better to have Governess Kong teach us more or teach us less?”
Molan choked her tears and looked at Minglan through red eyes. She was unable to breathe deeply enough to speak. Minglan seeing that she finally raised her head quickly advised “I know that Fourth Older Sister wants Governess Kong to give more personal guidance but if she teaches according to your speed, firstly Big Sister will be burdened and secondly Governess Kong will be unable to teach much. Why don’t Fourth Older Sister put up with it a little? You should firstly completely record Governess Kong’s lessons and then slowly think on them later when you are free. It will both be better for the sisterhood and we will be able to learn more, would that not be the better way?”
After speaking, Minglan felt very smug. With her eloquence, being a court clerk was clearly a waste of her talents, she should have been a lawyer instead!
Listening to Minglan put things into this perspective, Molan gradually stopped crying. Soon the situation came under control but unexpectedly Rulan just had to add “Why should you expand so much effort to think? Big Sister is marrying into a Count’s household, all of us here would not necessarily have the same good fortune. Let me remind Fourth Older Sister, somethings are better for us not to be delusional about!”
Adding oil to the fire!2
Molan immediately stood up, pointing at Rulan and Minglan. She was angered to the point where her body trembled and spat hatefully “Good! Good! You guys look down on the fact that I am concubine-born. Destroying me with words from the left and right! Treating me inhumanly! Why do I have to continue living in this world unnecessarily!” Having said that, she draped herself over the table and resumed crying in an earth-shattering voice.
Minglan looked up at the skies and sigh deeply. She was also a concubine-born daughter. Why was she also accused!
At this moment, they heard the sound of curtains rustling. Governess Kong had returned. She allowed a young maid support her in and upon seeing the situation, her face turned cold.
I think I kinda like how feisty Rulan is, never afraid to say what is on her mind. Cute little Minglan should really have been a lawyer instead, guess the courts have trained her well. Next up, uh no scolding and punishment is waiting ahead!
Eers’s Notes: Hi all, I’ve changed the way I edit Rulan and Molan’s dialogue. I used to make them as eloquent as possible but the author herself makes their dialogue less smooth compared to the others so I’ll go with that considering their ages. Also this chapters dialogue is a bit weird as things like Good! x 3 and Ok! x 3 make more sense in Chinese but there’s no English equivalent. I hope the message comes across. I mainly edit to make sure the general tone is preserved with the smoothest flowing English I can manage ^^. Let me know if its too jarring or if you have any other opinions.