Chapter 55: Second Younger Sister

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Translated by : shl

Edited by : Anks & Ely

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Later that day, when the sun was in the west, it was time for the daughters of the Jiang fu to leave for the Lantern Festival.

The rest of the Jiang fu would also go with them, but they would not board the Ling Long Boat; they would admire the entire capital's lanterns from the restaurant on the shore.

The coachman was at the entrance early. Jiang Su Su took the lead and got into the carriage, calling out to Jiang Ruan and the others to follow her. Jiang Li and Jiang Dan were in the same carriage as Jiang Ruan and Jiang Su Su. Several of the Jiang fu's bodyguards also accompanied them to the banks of Yongding River, where the Ling Long Boat had been moored earlier on.

Although it was said that the Ling Long Boat was spontaneously organised by the capital's noble ladies, the truth was that the yearly expenses were borne by the palace. Not by the Empress, however, but by the currently favoured and untouchable[1]Shu Fei Niang Niang[2], the birth mother of the Eighth Prince. Shu Fei received the Emperor's unstinting favour and regard, and her status in the palace was such that even the Empress feared crossing her to some degree. Her own family was rich and arrogant, and she magnanimously covered the expenses of the Ling Long Boat as well as the Qing Song Boat during the annual Lantern Festival, for the silver ingots concerned were but a pittance. She said she was merely seeking excitement, though it was impossible to discern if she had a deeper intent.

[1] Zhi shou ke re ( 炙手可热 ) -lit.burn your hand, feel the heat; fig.a mighty figure no one dares to approach.

[2] Shu fei niang niang ( 淑妃娘娘 ) - the 'Decent Consort', possibly the highest ranking Imperial Concubine (status depends on which dynasty the story is set in). 

The carriage moved slowly along the capital's roads. As Jiang Li and Jiang Dan were shu daughters, this was the first time they were participating in the Lantern Festival. Jiang Dan timidly looked down without speaking. Jiang Li's expression betrayed her impatience; if she were not so apprehensive about how Jiang Ruan and Jiang Su Su would react, she would have already pulled aside the curtains and stuck her head out for a look.

Jiang Ruan had closed her eyes to compose herself when she suddenly heard Jiang Su Su asking, "What talent will Da Jiejie present?"

Just as expected. Jiang Ruan laughed grimly to herself, but her voice took on a tone of astonishment as she looked up and said, "I have nothing to display. Why would Second Younger Sister ask this question?"

"Da Jiejie does not need to be so humble." Pretending to be angry, Jiang Su Su said, "Is it possible that you are still shy when we are all sisters from the same family? Perhaps Da Jiejie is not aware, every year, on the Ling Long Boat during the Lantern Festival, the daughters from each family will all put on a display their talents to determine who the best is, and the person who wins will be awarded the most beautiful lantern on the boat."

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