ervant saw Miss Ren standing under the rockery motionlessly; it was quite frightening.”

Ming Huashang thanked her, lifted her skirt, and walked in the direction the servant girl pointed to.

There was snow outside the corridor, and the snow reflected a burst of brightness.
Even without additional light, she could still find her way.
Ming Huashang walked along the servant girl’s path and soon saw a dark figure leaning on against the rockery in the corner, staring blankly at the snow falling from the sky.

Ming Huashang struggled to lift the large and heavy hem of her clothes, and called out, “Sister Ren!”

Ren Yao turned her head and squinted for a long time before recognizing Ming Huashang, “Why is it you?”

Ming Huashang ran over and said with a smile, “I’m appreciating the snow here.
I heard the servant girl say that you were here, so I came to chat with you.
Why are you standing in the snow? Is it cold? My stove has just been refilled with charcoal, and it is still hot, here you go!”


Ren Yao glanced at the steaming hand stove and then looked at Ming Huashang’s bright eyes, and for some reason, she became even more downcast, “No, I’m used to training in martial arts, so this kind of coldness is nothing at all.
You look delicate, so you should keep it for yourself.”

Ming Huashang let out an “oh” and silently took the hand stove back, but still stood beside Ren Yao, chatting with her, “I heard about what happened at the banquet.
This world will always have more people who can’t watch others succeed than people who sincerely wish you well, so don’t pay too much attention to it.”

Ren Yao snorted lightly and said, “A group of young misses who depend on others for food, clothing, shelter, and transportation, why should bother about what they say? I just find it difficult to bear.
I don’t want to become like them.
All these years, I’ve been practicing martial arts relentlessly only for the day when I can finally depend on myself.
But, I’ve realized that there is no way for women to rely on themselves in this world.”

Ming Huashang listened silently.
If her downcast mood was caused by others who sneered at her then Ming Huashang could explain in a way to make her feel better; but what Ren Yao cared about was the invisible oppression by this society to which Ming Huashang couldn’t say a word.

Ren Yao forgot that the girl in front of her was someone she had known for only a day, and the frustrations that have accumulated in her heart for many years rushed out, “After my father and brothers’ old friends heard about what happened, they all sympathized with me and said that they would definitely take care of me in the future.
But whenever I mentioned wanting to inherit the Marquis manor, they acted like they heard a fairy tale, as if they couldn’t understand how I came up with such a bizarre idea.
Everyone agrees that my shu uncle who only eats, drinks, enjoys prostitutes, and gambling is not a good person, but they still take for granted that the Marquis manor should be handed over to a man, if not my shu uncle, then a young cousin who can be adopted and raised by me.
There are still men in the Pingnan Marquis manor, so why should they hand the title over to me, a woman?”

“But, that’s obviously my home! When did living in my own home and keeping my parents’ property become someone else’s favor?”


Ming Huashang was silent for a long time, walked down the steps, and silently held Ren Yao’s hand.
Sure enough, her hands were cold, who knew how long she had stood in the snow?

Ren Yao didn’t cry when she practiced martial arts rigorously in the hot summer or cold winter; she didn’t cry when she was punished by her grandmother to kneel in the ancestral hall; she didn’t cry when she repeatedly faced rejections at banquets; but now, being held with warm hands, she was suddenly defeated.
Ren Yao lowered her head, and her tears fell, she choked up and whispered, “If women can be emperors, then why can’t they inherit a Marquis title?” 

Ming Huashang understood the bitterness in Ren Yao’s heart, but she still had to remind her, “Sister Ren, speak cautiously.”

Ming Huashang’s voice was deep and soft, and at the same time as she spoke, a piercing scream resounded through the night sky, completely overpowering her voice: “AH, a ghost!”

 

Footnotes

Reminder: Concubine born

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