Chapter 330 - Unexpected Trouble Arises
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Ji Muqing dragged Ji Wanxin before her. She gave her an angry, pointed look, “Ji Wanxin, Father has already promised you to the Shen Family - you now belong to them, you will live a Shen, and die a Shen. You will never marry into the royal family, not in this lifetime or the next!” Ji Muqing concluded confidently.
Ji Wanxin swallowed her tears, “Big Sister, I…”
“‘I’, what I? The Shen Family is now in the front hall - don’t even think about running away. Follow me.”
Ji Wanxin furrowed her perfectly dainty brows, quickly backpedalling, “Big Sister, I’m not feeling well. I don’t think I should head over.”
“It’s not up to you!” She grabbed Ji Wanxin, practically dragging her the entire way to the front hall. Ji Wanxin was obviously no match for Ji Muqing.
“You better be quiet - if you were to go and ruin this arrangement, Father would kill you for sure.”
“I’m not going.”
“You have to even if you don’t want!” Ji Muqing pushed her into the hall. Ji Wanxin almost toppled over but she managed to right herself. She gritted her teeth, clenched her fists, and took a few tentative steps forward.
In the hall, Ji Li and Minister Shen were seated at the main seating areas, with Madame Shen and Shen Zhangqin seated along the flanks. Ji Heng sat opposite them, all of them engaged and engrossed in conversation. Ji Muqing stepped around Ji Wanxin and gave a quick curtsy towards the Shen Family elders, then sat herself beside Ji Heng.
Ji Wanxin shuffled in behind her. She was the epitome of a graceful lady; she took tiny steps, poised but with her head down. The old Minister Shen and Madame Shen inspected their future daughter-in-law as she entered; this daughter-in-law-to-be, sure was beautiful. They were pleased, very pleased. They only had one complaint - Ji Wanxin was known to be sickly. If not for his longstanding friendship with Ji Shuhan, he would have never agreed to this marriage arrangement in the first place, especially not when he found out his own future daughter-in-law had such poor health. He held out due to face, hoping that she would get better eventually, but who knew that she could never be cured. What luck!
Shen Zhangqin, on the other hand, looked quite pleased with what he saw; as a gentleman, he was happy to see Ji Wanxin, who was equally poised. His lips curled up unknowingly, he liked this woman.
Ji Wanxin stood in the centre of the hall and curtsied, speaking gently, “Wanxin greets Uncle Shen and Aunt Shen.”
The first one to approach her was none other than Madame Shen. She held her hands, comforting, “You’re still recovering. You should stay in your room to rest, why have you come here?”
“It’s Wanxin’s oversight that she did not pay her respects where due.”
“Nonsense, quick, sit down.”
“Understood.” Ji Wanxin nodded dutifully and sat down in the seat next to Ji Muqing. She carried herself well as the Miss of an esteemed family, but never once looked up.
When Madame Shen was likewise settled in, Ji Li addressed Minister Shen, “Minister, sir, please pardon the behaviour of this sister of mine today.”
MInister Shen replied expressionlessly, “What is Secretary Ji talking about? Wanxin is a fine young lady, I’m afraid it is our Zhangqin who may be punching above his weight.”
“Assistant minister Shen is a rare talent - much cleverer than his peers, yet still humble and respectful. This one’s sister may not live up to his name.” The two of them exchanged laughs.
Ji Heng was the opposite; he was always straight as an arrow. He remarked in his signature husky voice, “Minister Shen - Wanxin may have been a sickly child, but she just has a weaker constitution compared to other people, it’s not some big, incurable illness. You surely will have many grandchildren littering your halls. Wanxin has been taught well; she is well-versed in the arts and literature, embroidery and music - your Shen Zhangqin will never suffer a loss with this union.” He patted his chest, as if to further drive in his point, like the uncouth man he was!
Madame Shen, of course, had to compliment her own son. She immediately picked up after Ji Heng, “Our Zhangqin is a smart cookie - he read all the five scriptures by age four, and he too, is extremely familiar with verse and song. He climbed up to the position of assistant minister on his own merit, and on top of that, he’s a good, filial child. Wanxin would definitely not be mistreated.”
“Assistant minister Shen is indeed gifted - they would match each other well,” Ji Heng replied.
“Wanxin is very loveable as well.”
“That is only natural.”
The two of them continued, one after the other, paying lip service. The two characters in question did not once interrupt, much less make eye contact.
This cycle was disrupted by Ji Muqing, who remarked offhandedly, “Wanxin’s not getting younger either; since both families are agreeable, how about we push this marriage forward, lest unexpected trouble arises.” Unexpected trouble arises? What trouble would arise? What was she going on about?
Before the Shen Family could respond, Ji Heng scoffed, “Muqing, if Wanxin is old, then what are you? Your position of Crown Princess is up in the air with the Crown Prince now dead.”
His attitude towards Ji Muqing was nothing new. Ji Heng and Ji Wanxin were born to the same mother; it was only natural for him to defend his own sister. Ji Heng himself was a man who was clear about what he liked and hated, and with Ji Muqing’s nitpicking, the two of them had been at loggerheads for a very long time. His remark was in some ways expected, but also unexpected - who would have predicted that he would do this in front of the Shen Family!
Ji Muqing’s throat tightened. She gave him a deathglare, but kept her demure smile on her face, “Second Brother sure loves to joke around.”
“Who said I was joking.”
“You…” How annoying!
Ji Li intervened timely, “Enough. We’re discussing Wanxin’s and Assistant manager Shen’s matters today - the two of you need to watch what you say.” Ji Heng and Ji Muqing had no choice but to call it a truce.
Ji Muqing did not leave it at that. She glanced at Ji Heng, tossing out, “Kindness sure doesn’t beget kindness.” She stood up and curtsied, “Uncle Shen, Madame Shen, Muqing isn’t feeling well and would take her leave here today.” She was feeling uncomfortable, not physically, but mentally!
Grenn's Rants Corner
In celebration of Volare Anniversary, more chapters to come today. ^__^
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