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Song Jianing vowed that she would never eat lychee again in her life. If she really wanted to eat it, she would eat it slowly, but absolutely not in a carriage.

Waking up in the middle of the night, she touched her little neck and advised herself secretly.

After the self-counseling session was over, Song Jianing immediately bowed her head in contemplation. She had not slept well these past few nights. Either she dreamed that she had choked to death while eating lychees or she dreamed of becoming Guo Xiao’s concubine again. Because mother was worried about her, she had specifically ordered Jiu er to sleep on the floor to accompany her.

She also had to keep a light on in the room and as the yellow light came through screens around the bed, Song Jianing saw a pair of chubby little hands.

She sighed softly in relief. It was already the fourth night and it seemed that she had really returned to the year she was ten years old, and her mother was not yet very sick.

In the first month of the year, the small households located south of the Yangtze River couldn’t heat the kang, and the charcoal fire was also extinguished early. With a shiver, Song Jianing got back into her quilts and pulled the covers tightly. It was now warm again but her sleepiness had completely disappeared, so she lay still while frowning and worrying.

Mother’s illness …

In her last life, her father had died when she was six years old. At that time, she had been too young and could barely remember.

Father had just left, and she was sad for a long time. Occasionally when she fell ill or was wronged by her cousins, she would cry to her mother and then ask for her father. But day by day, her father’s figure and face had become more and more blurred. In the end, she hardly remembered anything. All she knew was that she had a father who was a Juren[1] but had gotten sick and died.

After eating and drinking she forgot her sorrow and at most, she envied that others had a father. But her mother didn’t forget. Of course, in her past life, when her mother was still alive, Song Jianing didn’t understand why her mother would always shed tears. She also didn’t eat much food and became thinner and thinner, till it looked like she would fall down with the wind.

The high ranking servant girl beside her mother told her that her mother was crying because she remembered her father. Song Jianing still didn’t understand. She also wished her father was alive, but why didn’t she think of crying?

Later, her mother fell ill from lovesickness and died in the autumn when she was 11 years old. Then, she became Liang Shao’s concubine.

Having tasted the love between men and women before being stabbed in the back by Liang Shao, Song Jianing suddenly understood her mother. When her father was alive, he must have been very good to her mother, so she never forgot him. If Liang Shao had been kind to her, even if she was kidnapped by Guo Xiao, Song Jianing would not have lived without her heart or soul and would always have thought of Liang Shao, even if she did not have the courage to seek death to defend her virtue.

Alas, how can she be thinking of that vile character who could sell his concubine and was intent on nothing but profit?

Shaking her head to dislodge Liang Shao out of her mind, Song Jianing continued to worry about her mother.

After living an extra lifetime, Song Jianing could now understand her mother’s yearning for her father, but she could not let her mother go on this way, otherwise she will again die in a haggard manner, leaving her alone.  She had to find a way to divert her mother’s attention. . . .

Her mother was a widow, even worse, she was a widow who was immersed in grief and could not get out. She never stepped outside their gate and did not even visit her second aunt. Other than taking care of Song Jianing, she stayed, bored, in her room all day, pining after father. It would be strange to not get sick.

The first thing she needed to do was to persuade her mother to go out. What was wrong with being a widow? Many widows have remarried. But if mother liked father and was willing to remain a widow for him all her life, Song Jiangning will accompany her. In the future, she will marry a reliable man in the County town and have more children, then she will often visit her mother with her children.

Ok! When the weather turns warm and the peach blossoms bloom, she must ask mother to take her to the banks of Lake Tai. Lake Tai, Ah! she had not been there for a long time but she still remembered that there were willow trees on its banks. There were also peach blossoms, beautiful and tender white fish and delicious white shrimps with thin shells…

Song Jianing fell asleep again and dreamed that her mother took her to the lake. The two of them sat on the gaily-painted pleasure boat and set up a table of delicious food.

In the early morning, Lin came to visit her daughter and saw that she was asleep. Her small flushed face was delicate and charming. Though she was beautiful, drool was running out of the corners of her mouth again.  Lin was full of both love and confusion. she and her husband both did not have a strong appetite, where did their daughter’s gluttonous little mouth come from?

With her throat itching, Lin hurriedly walked around and behind the flower and bird screen in front of her daughter’s bed. She covered her lips and coughed lightly, feeling infinite sadness in her heart. Lately her daughter always had nightmares and as her mother she should have slept beside her daughter, but she did not dare do so because she was afraid of passing her illness on to her.

The suppressed cough awakened Song Jianing, who had been sleeping. She rubbed her eyes and called out vaguely: “Mother?”

When Lin heard this, she quickly tucked her handkerchief back into her sleeve, put on a smiling face, walked closer to the bed, and said softly, “An’an is awake?”

Her daughter had been born prematurely. She was thin and small when she was born. Lin had been so afraid that she would not be able to raise her, so she gave her the nickname “An’an[2]” with the formal name “Ning[3]“, hoping that her daughter will have a peaceful life. The name probably worked. By the time she was a year old, her daughter was already white and fat. The children of other families had to be coaxed to eat and their elders were chasing them around with bowls. But her daughter was very good. After eating a bowl, she was reluctant to let go of it and even wanted to eat more.

Leaning over the bed, Lin pinched her daughter’s chubby face.    

This was a rare mother and daughter moment, so Song Jianing also looked at her mother happily.

From children to adults, the women around Song Jianing, whether 5 to 6 year old girls, or women in their 40s and 50s, were all trying to make themselves thinner. Unlike them, the flesh on Song Jianing’s face trembled slightly when she walked and people would laugh at her as soon when she went out, calling her “Fatty Song”.

Song Jianing, also thought that women who were thin were good-looking, with their small waists and long narrow skirts they looked just like fairies, but she preferred to eat. This was the so-called “fish and bear’s paw” are not compatible[4]. After several attempts at dieting, Song Jianing resolutely abandoned a slim waist and chose delicious food.

Further, Song Jianing slowly found that though people were thin, some were as shriveled as bamboo poles. However, another kind was like her mother, with a graceful posture and stylish gait, she looked like a weak willow trembling in the wind.

In Song Jianing’s heart, her mother was the most beautiful woman in the world. Unfortunately, while she also had the same apricot eyes and the same melon shaped face, her mother had an elegant temperament. At first glance, mother was full of honest poetic charm. However, when it came to her, others said that her eyes were not honest and that she was thinking about seducing others!

Mother, please teach me calligraphy.” Song Jianing hugged her mother’s arm and said in a playful voice full of coquetry.

Lin was surprised. She held on to her daughter’s small hand and asked: “Did you quarrel with your elder sister again?” Because of her poor physical strength, she had specially invited a female master to teach her daughter. Her husband’s brother had also sent their daughter here. The two sisters studied together and accompanied each other. However, this niece had a domineering personality, and the two little sisters occasionally got upset with each other.

Song Jianing shook her head, buried it in her mother’s arms and said, “I want to write the same characters as mother.” If she took up a quarter of an hour more of time from her mother, that would be a quarter of an hour less for her mother to think of her father.

Seeing her daughter act like a baby, Lin thought about it for a while and, agreed: “then you will study for your class first, afterwards mother will teach you alone.”

Song Jianing nodded obediently.

After eating breakfast with her mother, Song Jianing led her servant girl to the front courtyard to study with her eleven-year-old cousin Song Jiao. Song Jiao still looked just like she remembered, and still wanted to surpass Song Jianing in everything. Whenever the female master asked questions, she rushed to answer them. Song Jianing had secretly envied her cousin’s cleverness in her previous life, but now with her heart full of problems, she was frequently absent-minded.

In the days to come, how will my family get along with the second room?

When her mother died in her previous life, her second uncle and aunt had treated her well for a while and coaxed her to take out her mother’s dowry for them to use. Then the real faces of the couple were revealed. They treated her worse day by day till she was finally sent out to become a concubine. During this period, Song Jianing wrote a letter to her uncle and aunt in the capital, hoping that her uncle would take her away to the capital, but her aunt turned her back and persuaded her to rethink, meaning that if her elders were not good to her then she must have made a mistake first.

Song Jianing felt bitter. Maybe her mother insisted on keeping her filial piety, because her family did not welcome her to go back, right?

But no matter how bad second uncle and second aunt were, they would be afraid of her mother. As long as her mother recovered and lived a long time, her second uncle would never dare to arrange her marriage.

While her mind was preoccupied with troubles the morning class passed by. Song Jianing and Song Jiao sent the master out together, and then the two sisters went back to their homes. Song Jianing walked briskly to find her mother. When she arrived at the upper room, she unexpectedly discovered that second Aunt Hu had actually come and was sitting in the main room talking to her mother, as if discussing something.

“Mother, second aunt.” Song Jianing cleverly called out a greeting. Her small short leg moved towards her mother’s side, while she shot a complex look at her aunt.

Second aunt Hu was twenty-five this year. She was two years younger than Lin, and though she was also a thin woman, her complexion was darker and her face longer. At best she was medium-looking. At this moment, she smiled and asked Song Jianing: “The day after tomorrow Jiaojiao‘s grandmother will have her fifty-fifth birthday, will Jianing go? This time we invited the chef from Zuixianlou, Jianing will definitely love it.”

Zuixianlou was a famous restaurant known to all. Song Jianing still remembered the dishes there. But while she wanted to eat, she did not want to visit the Hu family.

“My mother doesn’t feel well. I’ll stay at home with her.” Song Jianing leaned on her mother and appeared reluctant to leave her side.

Knowing that her daughter was greedy, Lin said happily, “An’an, should go, your elder sister and elder brother will be there too. You can play together.”

Song Jianing did not speak, holding her mother to wriggle around and quietly act like a spoiled child.

Lin’s heart melted, and so she said to second Aunt Hu: “then let An’an accompany me. You go and say hello to the old lady on my behalf”.

Seeing that the two of them were united second Aunt Hu got up and walked away with a dry smile. When she left the courtyard of the main room her face immediately became tense and discontented.

A day later, Lin sent a maid to deliver a birthday present to the second room, then Hu became a little more comfortable. She looked up and saw her husband looking in the direction of the main room regretfully. Hu hated him all over again. A foxy woman with a foxy daughter, especially Lin, she had not only conquered her own man, but also hooked her husband’s younger brother out of his mind.
Though she felt hate in her heart, it was not obvious on the surface. She called her pair of children, and the family of four rode a mule cart to the next county to visit relatives.

There was a younger brother under the Hu family named Hu Zhuang, who was in his early twenties. He idled about all day and had not yet married. He had been waiting at the door since early this morning. Seeing the Song family’s mule cart from a distance, he hurried over. However, though his brother-in-law’s family came down, there was no one else in it.

Hu Zhuang’s face was stinky. He took the opportunity to drag his elder sister aside and whispered, “where is the person?”

Lin was beautiful and he had been worried about her since the day she was widowed, but Lin didn’t leave home easily, and his sister didn’t allow him to mess around in Lin’s house so he could only wait for an opportunity. His sister had promised to bring Lin with her a few days ago. He had been so excited that he did not sleep well for three consecutive nights. After thinking about it over and over, his head was full of Lin.

Both her husband and her younger brother coveted Lin, and this proved that Lin was no good. Hu was unhappy, and hummed: “She does not want to come, can I drag her to come?”

Hu Zhuang was too anxious, touching the back of his head he begged his sister: “Then sister let me go? I promise…”
“You dare!” Hu gave him a stern look and said in a deep voice: “she has a strong temper. Who can afford this responsibility? Just wait for me. I don’t believe she won’t go out all her life! ” At that time, in the wilderness, even if Lin would rather die than surrender, then as long as her brother’s hands and feet were clean, the authorities will not find him.

At that time, there will be only a half old girl left. Coax her with good words and the rich dowry brought by Lin’s family will be hers.

Translator Notes

Still testing things out. This may just work out. Do let me know if there are any typos + If you like this story do give it a 5 star review on NU and add it to your lists so we can entice more people into reading :D. Thanks

[1] Juren was a rank achieved by people who passed the xiangshi exam in the imperial examination system of Imperial China, also known in English as the provincial examination

[2] An An – meaning peaceful and serene.

[3] Ning – peaceful and tranquil

[4] Meaning that you cannot have both things

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4 Comments on NATIONAL BEAUTY – CHAPTER 2Tagged , , , ,
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2 years ago

I make an entire spoiler thread to lure people.

2 years ago

I was looking for something new to read and looks like I found one. Thanks for picking this up!
What’s a CNovel without scheming, jealous relatives and repulsive, lustful good-for-nothings.

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