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    Rong Shu mentioned that particular zither, and Rong Xun recalled it was crafted by Master Wu, a renowned lute maker from the previous dynasty, an extremely rare instrument. In the first year of their marriage, upon learning of his affection for playing the zither, Madam Shen had placed it in his study.

    Later, he had given it to A Yun, and currently, it resides in Qiuyun Hall.

    After a moment's contemplation, Rong Xun replied, "That zither is now in Qiuyun Hall. I'll have it delivered to you tomorrow."

    He was about to lift the curtain and enter the inner chamber when Rong Shu called out to stop him, "Father, there's one more matter."

    Eager to attend to Madam Shen, impatience flickered across Rong Xun's face as he hurriedly asked, "What else? Speak quickly."

    "In the past two decades since Mother married into the Marquis household, she has depleted most of her dowry to maintain the family's dignity. Now, with Mother needing to recuperate, a great deal of precious herbs will be required, yet her private treasury is empty. Father, it falls upon you to find a solution; I truly have no means to help."

    This was not an insurmountable issue.

    Rong Xun knew that Ho'an Hall was well-stocked with fine medicinal herbs. Ever since Lady Rong broke her leg, she had been spending a considerable amount of silver each year to store rare medicines.

    "I'll need a list of the herbs required. In two days, I'll have them prepared and sent over," he paused before adding, "Is there anything else?"

    Rong Shu smiled. "Nothing significant, but I do have a question for Father's enlightenment. My second sister will be married in a few months. As Mother is the legal wife and has contributed additional dowry for her, I wonder if second sister will depart from our Qingheng Courtyard on her wedding day?"

    Rong Xun was taken aback; he had never considered this matter before.

    Previously, Zhen Niang hadn't cared in the slightest where Wan'er would marry from. Just the other day, Wan'er had asked if she could leave from Qiuyun Hall, and Rong Xun hadn't yet given an answer. Now, hearing Rong Shu's suggestion, he suddenly realized that marrying out from Qiuyun Hall was highly inappropriate.

    Since Zhen Niang was his first wife, Wan'er should naturally marry from Qingheng Courtyard.

    "Of course, your mother is Wan'er's birth mother, so Wan'er should marry from Qingheng Courtyard."

    In her previous life, Rong Wan didn't marry from Qingheng Courtyard. Her mother disliked taking credit for others' children, and, admiring the character of Minister Pei, showed great empathy for Aunt Pei's predicament. Thus, it was Aunt Pei who received Rong Wan's respect and tea during the marriage ceremony.

    Rong Shu wouldn't have it. Mother had provided Rong Wan with a generous dowry to ensure a grand wedding at the Jiang family. Why shouldn't Rong Wan show respect and offer tea?

    Satisfied with the response she had sought, Rong Shu bowed and left the room, followed by Yingyue and Ying Que.

    Ying Que was indignant. "Miss, overseeing the Cold Clothing Festival is the right of the head wife. How can we give it to Qiuyun Hall?"

    Yingyue tugged on Ying Que's sleeve. "Lower your voice. Do you think organizing such a grand festival is easy? It's a thankless task that costs money. What use is the title of head wife? Miss wants that woman in Qiuyun Hall to find the funds herself. If she doesn't have the money, she'll surely go to Ho'an Hall to ask Grandmama. Doesn't Grandmama dote on Aunt Pei? Let her use her silver to show her affection!"

    With the preparations for the Cold Clothes Festival at hand, Rong Xun returned to Qiuyun Hall and mentioned it to Pei Yun.

    Pei Yun nodded in agreement and asked, "Third Master, how is Lady... now?"

    She knew that the people from Qingheng Courtyard wouldn't be pleased to see anyone from Qiuyun Hall since Madam Shen was gravely ill. Thus, she hadn't sent anyone over and only asked about her when Rong Xun came back each day.

    Rong Xun remained as he had been in the past few days, simply saying, "She'll be fine."

    Pei Yun's hand paused slightly while pouring tea.

    On the day of Madam Shen's accident, Rong Xun had returned to Qiuyun Hall in a daze. When she had asked about his wife, he had sat there blankly, repeating, "She'll be fine. How could anything happen to Shen Yizhen?"

    Pei Yun had seen such an expression on his face for the first time.

    As the clear tea began to overflow from the teacup, Pei Yun snapped back to reality and quickly put down the teapot, reaching for a cloth to wipe up the spill.

    Rong Xun held her hand and said, "There's no need to rush these things. Go rest, I'll visit Ho'an Hall. By the way, I'll send someone to deliver that zither with the charred tail to Qingheng Courtyard tomorrow. Zhaozhao wants to play the Purification Spell for her mother as a sign of filial piety, and that zither's tone is most suitable. In a little while, I'll bring you another one."

    Pei Yun loved playing the zither, and she had used that particular charred-tail zither for many years.

    A musical instrument, much like a beloved pet, can foster deep emotions with prolonged use. Rong Xun was well aware of her affection for this particular lute; it had never crossed his mind that he would one day part with it.

    At this very moment, she was unable to say no.

    For that zither had never belonged to her.

    Pei Yun slowly lowered her eyelashes, unaware of when the tea on the table had grown cold.

    Two days hence marks the Cold Food Festival, and Rong Shu rises early to fashion paper garments from five-hued paper.

    At Ho'an Hall, the clanging and banging started before dawn. Ying Que went to investigate and found that mourners hired from outside had arrived.

    Of course, they were there to honor the ancestors of the Rong family. Rong Shu had no intention of attending such a ceremony. Instead, she closed the gate of Qingheng Courtyard and continued making paper clothes for her maternal grandfather.

    Rong Shu had never met her grandfather; he had passed away before her birth.

    Still, it was her grandfather who had given her this name, Rong Shu. He believed in the balance between giving and letting go - one must understand both the act of contribution and the art of surrender to live a contented life.

    Sometimes, Rong Shu mused, these words might have been intended for her mother.

    By the time the paper clothes were meticulously prepared, it was almost noon.

    Ying Que returned home and, upon coming back from the rear annex, her face was filled with astonishment as she exclaimed, "Miss, a major incident has occurred at the Donghua Gate!"

    As an accomplished translator of Chinese and English novels, I am currently working on a translation of an ancient Chinese romance novel, rich in imperial court elements. However, you haven't provided any text for me to translate. Could you please provide the passage you would like me to translate?

    Donghua Gate North Avenue.

    Thousands of iron-clad cavalry charged forth, their armor shimmering and hoofbeats echoing thunderously through the heavens.

    The leader, wearing a phoenix-winged helmet and armed with a long halberd, reined in his horse at the entrance of the Eastern Depot and sternly shouted, "I am Xie Hushen, the commander of the Imperial Guards. By the Emperor's order, I have come to quell this chaos!"

    The arrival of thousands of armored Imperial Guards, with their imposing presence, startled the frenzied citizens back to their senses. Upon hearing Xie Hushen's declaration, they promptly dropped their makeshift weapons and fell to their knees in unison.

    As tens of thousands of people knelt, the gruesome sight of the two dozen or so mangled corpses at the foot of the long staircase was laid bare before everyone.

    Even Xie Hushen, accustomed to seeing dead bodies, couldn't help but feel a jolt in his heart when he saw the disfigured corpses.


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