Chapter 46: One Must Be Cruel When They Act
“I don’t agree!” A cool voice echoed from behind the people.
Gu Zhengyu’s hand trembled. He straightened his back at the sound, the military insignia falling from his hands hitting the floor. He turned his head, the crowd parted, and someone walked out from among the masses: his daughter. He looked at An Shufen beside him, then to his daughter. “Yun’er! You’re okay?” he murmured.
“Father! Your first daughter, your most precious daughter, Yun’er asks you, Father, why have you given the position of Mashal to that illegitimate, second born Little Sister when your first daughter, Yun’er, hasn’t married and still breathes?” Gu Yunlan asked as she made her way toward Gu Zhengyu. Her voice was clear, but carried a tone of accusation; her eyes were teary, as if she were grieving.
Everyone looked at her in astonishment; here was the Marshal’s first daughter. She wore a high-ponytail, and outfit of pure black. There was dust all over, and her black military boots had splotches of mud: she must have rushed over after hearing the news.
“Yun’er! I…” his voice caught there as Gu Zhenyu saw the tears in Gu Yunlan’s eyes. He couldn’t say anything out loud.
“Yi? So, the Gu Family actually had another Young Miss? It makes no sense for you to promote the second daughter like this.” Yan Zhikuan gave Gu Zhengyu a confused look as he scanned the marshal. “Could it be Marshal that you favor the second wife over the first and are neglecting your daughter?”
“Greetings to the Second Young Master Yan!” Gu Yunlan hesitated to speak. He turned around, his body leaning forward slightly.
“Nonsense! Our family’s Nana is no concubine’s daughter! Our Nana is also the daughter of the first wife!” An Shufen stood up and screeched.
“Yi? Didn’t they say something happened to the eldest miss of the Gu Family?” A question popped out from the crowd of people; the corners of his eyes lifted, what a familiar voice, pfft!
“Don’t believe someone blindly spreading rumors, who even knows who said that? The eldest miss, isn’t she alive and well”
“My little sister. Your older sister has never treated you badly, she has only given you love. So why are you treating her like this, after only arriving earlier than her?” Gu Yunlan looked at the two kneeling on the ground, her face a mask of grievance: those watching were moved by the injustice in her eye.
She crouched and picked up the military insignia. “Father,” she placed the badge in Gu Zhengyu’s hand, “keep this safe. You are still young, there is no need to rush and pass on the military insignia.”
“Big Sister, I didn’t say that you were dead! I promise!” An Jiaona lept up, urgently explaining.
Gu Yunlan turned toward her, whispering in her ear, “Hehe. Did someone actually tell you I died or was it instead you only wishing I were dead. Condemning me to death, coming to take the military insignia… dear sister, this isn’t right. Father is still young… he was pressured to do this wasn’t he?”
“Gu Yunlan, that’s nonsense! Father volunteered by himself. Father, say something.” An Jiaona remembered to stamp her feet, her pleading gaze looked towards Gu Zhengyu.
“Tche. To have such a commoner as a little sister, someone who doesn’t know the difference between high and low!” Xuanyuan Ying spat out. He creased his brows, why cry for no reason?
“It’s better for Big Sister to not force someone against their will. Marshal can bear witness, it was him who said so from his own mouth!” Yangjin stood up too, and looked firmly at Gu Yunlan.
“Forcing someone against their will?” Gu Yunlan looked at him seriously, “Husband-in-law! Even you think that I’m forcing someone against their will? Everyone in your family of three says that it was Father who agreed, yet how come there’s no one else who says the same?”
Seeing him staying silent, she cupped her fists in salute towards the audience.
“Fellow citizens, I only went out touring for a year, Auntie became the first wife, and the pleb daughter turned into the legitimate daughter. A poor scholar turned into a general, married her, then today Father even want to hand the military insignia over to him! What do you guys think, isn’t this too much of a coincidence? Or are they bullying my deceased mother?” Gu Yunlan didn’t pay attention to Yangjin at first, and sat directly on the ground crying, as if her family was snatched away.
She cried out loudly, “I just don’t understand, for my eighteenth birthday, Father brought home a mother-daughter pair and asked me to call them Auntie and Little Sister. I met with hardships along my journey, to think that as I returned, even my home is gone, wuwu… What’s the point of me even living?”
“I don’t understand,” she cried out. “On my eighteenth birthday, Father brought home these two and asked me to call them Auntie and Little Sister. And so I did. But here, to even think that when I returned… after my long journey and so many hardships… my home would be gone. Wuwu… What’s the point of me even living?”
“I…:” Yangjin felt a bit helpless in front of her crying figure. He looked around at the guests all around him shooting him accusatory gazes. They didn’t understand anything and yet still sided with her because she was a woman.
“This… Could this be true?” A middle-aged man wearing a Chinese tunic suit asked.
“I did hear from our Li’er last year that there was a concubine-born girl who became quite active, as if she wanted to be in a sisterly relationship.” Another person nodded their head.
“Oh yes. If you didn’t mention it, I would have forgotten. I heard that back then no one knew who they were and where they came from.” Another person also nodded in agreement.
Whispers and mumblings filled the space as everyone turned to talk with their neighbor, everyone had a hard time knowing what to believe.
“Shut up!” An Shufen snarled. She glanced at Gu Zhengyu standing mute. Her pupils flashed even more intensely with killing intent, this man actually didn’t even say anything to defend her！
The crowd quieted down suddenly after being snarled at by An Shufen.
“Ah! Concubine An really is mighty!” Yan Zhikuan popped out once more.
“Yunlan!” Zi Luolan walked over “How pitiful you are. You are just too kind.” He crouched next to Gu Yunlan, with good intentions he gently reminded her “I told you back then that you must be rough with the aunt, daughter, son trio otherwise you’d meet with a tragic ending. It is always wise to tread cautiously, especially with those with an unclear background.”
Zi Luolan’s voice was neither loud, nor soft, but it still traveled far enough for everyone to hear. All throughout, she dropped words like “aunt” and “trio”, clearly poking at the hearts of the An Shufen mother-daughter pair. Each one of their faces turned pale in anger, Yangjin especially, tightened his fists rigidly.
Yangjin grasped onto An Jiaona’s hand and suggested something to her. An Jiaona wrinkled her nose, and said with an impatient expression, “Big Sister, what do you want? I’m only the Little Sister. Would everything be alright if we don’t leave this marshal symbol, the military insignia? I hope that you would then stop being so aggressive towards us and dishonor my mother?”
This woman, she’d even act weak? Gu Yunlan was absolutely stumped for what to say next. The corners of her mouth raised slightly, she stood up and wiped the tears from her eyes. “Acting aggressive am I? Good! You aren’t afraid of being humiliated in front of all these guests. We Chinese people have always held one ancient rule: pass the honor to the child of the first wife, not the second; pass the honor to the first son of the first wife, not the second.”
“Right! There is this rule!” Zi Luolan stood up and returned to her seat. She looked impassioned, as if she were fighting for justice.
“That’s right! There is this tradition!” Yan Zhikuan nodded his head approvingly and looked at Gu Yunlan with interest. The pear blossom in the rain who was crying just now, suddenly turned into a noble and strong lady–nice. He started to be interested in her!
The trio including An Shufen looked at one another in panic. Their hearts started to become uneasy, what do they mean by that?
Gu Yunlan looked around before setting her gaze on Gu Zhenyu, “Father! Our Gu Family looks for a man outside the family and has a woman inside. When Father passes away, and the first wife’s eldest daughter becomes an adult, then isn’t the first wife’s eldest daughter supposed to inherit the back courtyards?”
Gu Zhengyu nodded his head response, before sitting down on his somewhat beat-up chair. Yun’er has grown up! She’s so sensible now.
“Also, when Little Sister marries off, it’s not Mister Yang who joins the family, it’s Little Sister who leaves. Even if she were the first wife’s daughter, there wouldn’t be the slightest chance for Little Sister’s husband to become a marshal…” Gu Yunlan turned around gracefully to look at the trio, “Plus, who knows whether I the big sister will bring in a husband? Little Sister, when has Big sis ever been ‘aggressive’? I’ve only spoken the truth, all the guests would agree.”
“Right! What Yunlan said is right! The tradition of inheritance has always been noble first wife before the commoner concubines, what Yunlan said is right!” A white bearded old man nodded his head in approval.
“Great thanks for Uncle Zu’s praise!” Gu Yunlan acknowledged appropriately.
“You!” The corners of An Jiaona’s eyes reddened, as she stamped her feet, yelling at the motionless Gu Marshal in the seat of honor, “Papa! You see! Big Sister is bullying me!”
At that point, the surrounding people were shaking their heads. A noble lady really does have a noble air; she can argue her out of any situation with logic. Someone from a lower class background really can’t just turn into a noble lady, she can only act so spoiled.
“Don’t be in such a hurry Little Sister! Big Sister hasn’t finished talking yet? Aunt An…” Gu Yunlan looked at An Shufen, saying while smiling, “Even if Aunt An was promoted, even if you’re a concubine, our Gu Family really is too great of a family. You cannot become a part of our Gu Family.”
An Shufen’s long nails bit into the palms of her hand, she dares randomly dismiss her as a concubine?
“As for Little Sister!” Gu Yunlan curled up the edges of her mouth in a smile, “I am a very generous person. Having this kind of husband, you wanting to marry out is only natural! It can’t be helped that the Yang Family is poor. As a Big Sister I shall allow you two to live within the household!”
“You’re just faking kindness!” An Jiaona looked at how father refused to acknowledge her, then glared angrily at Gu Yunlan, “Gu Yunlan! Your bullying has gone too far!”
“Bullied too far?” Gu Yunlan wrinkled her brows then smiled coldly saying, “Then ok! From today on, you are not allowed to step into the household of my Gu Family. You are to beaten to death if you enter!””
“Gone too far?” Gu Yunlan wrinkled her brows before smiling. “Okay then” her tone was icy cold, “from today on you are not allowed to set foot in the household of my Gu Family. If you enter, you will be beaten to death.”
“You!” An Jiaona was shocked so much, that she closed her eyes and fell to the ground, fainted.
“Nana!” Seeing her daughter fainting to the ground, An Shufen immediately dropped down to the ground and looked at her in despair.
“Nana!” Yangjin held onto the unconscious An Jiaona, glaring viciously at Gu Yunlan. He said angrily, “Gu Yunlan! As sisters, there is no need to be so ferocious towards your own family. Don’t forget that you two are connected by blood. You are all one family, must you be so cruel?”
“Indeed! We are indeed connected by blood” Gu Yunlan nodded her head thoughtfully. “But I don’t think this is very cruel. I had originally offered to allow you guys to live in the household.”
“You.” Yangjin sucked in a breath. While carrying An Jiaona, he bowed humbly towards An Shufen and Gu Zhengyu before turning around to leave.
Gu Yunlan curled up the corners of her mouth in disdain: she’s cruel? As her second chance at life, she had originally planned for this life to be one where she could be content with her place. She just can’t forget the grievances from her last. Too bad it was them who had pressured her. The next time she makes a move will be their last days alive; they tied up Uncle Zong and Xin’er, and even threatened Father! Does this count as cruel anymore?”
“Nana!” An Shufen yelled out to stop them. Yangjin’s footsteps only stopped for a moment before the two exited the Ancestral hall.
“Apologies! Everyone, the Gu Family’s wedding shall end here. The Marshal is feeling unwell; return home now!” Xuanyuan Ying glanced at Gu Yunlan, then immediately stood up, looking towards the chattery guests as he cupped his fist.
“Good-bye!” “Good-bye! General Xuanyuan!”
“Yunlan! I shall return too!” Zi Luolan stood up, blinking towards Gu Yunlan.
“En! Many thanks for all the support from Luolan, shall we meet up some other day when we have the chance?” Gu Yunlan thanked, smiled slightly.
“Alright.” Before leaving with the girl, Zi Luolan nodded at Xuanyuan and Yan Zhikuan before glancing over at the still unresponsive Gu Zhengu.
“Xuanyuan,none of us have a place to stay for the night. What if we stayed here at the Gu household?” Yan Zhikuan observed the guests who have pretty much all left already, then looked at the guests who were apologizing to Gu Yunlan. His pupils turned about.
“Zhangyu!” Xuanyuan Ying sat down on a chair, saying to the military officer behind him, “Bring the Miss and Second Young Master Yan back to the house and we may as well bring my two friends in too!”
“Zhangyu…” Just as Xuanyuan Meng moved in closer to Gu Yunlan, she noticed the cold-faced man next to her big brother. She was scared and she immediately hid behind Gu Yunlan, “Yunlan! Save me! I… won’t go!”
Gu Yunlan glanced at Zhangyu, then looked at Xuanyuan Meng. This unruly, and wild Miss Xuanyuan is suddenly frightened so much? She thought about this for a moment, “Xin’er! Come out. Bring them back to the household and settle them down!”