There were only the second and third branches left in front of the hall.
Ming Shuo endured it for a long time, and at this moment, she finally couldn’t bear the grievance.
She tugged on the third madam’s sleeve and said, “A’Niang1, Taiping Gongzhu’s invitation was for the Ming family, not just for the main branch.
For what reason can’t we go, yet Ming Huashang can go out with second eldest brother?”

The third madam quickly glanced at the mother and daughter pair of the second branch, and gave Ming Shuo a meaningful look, “A’Shuo, you cannot be rude.
Your eldest uncle is an Imperial Duke, so naturally, the main branch should take priority in all matters.
It’s snowing too much outside, and you still haven’t fully recovered from last year’s cold.
Even if your grandmother let you go, I would worry about letting you go out.
Let’s go, it’s time to go back and drink your medicine.”

Ming Shuo was dragged away reluctantly by the third madam.
Ming Yu was the last to go.
Only when all the maids and servants of the third branch left did she snort and say to her mother, “A’Niang, third aunt is really calculating.
She takes us for fools.
She’s not willing to make the first move, instead, she’s trying to urge us to come forward.”

“Your grandmother is still inside, so speak less, alright.” The second madam said indifferently, “Besides, what she said is correct.
Doesn’t this Zhen Imperial Duke manor belong to the main branch?”

They belonged to the concubine-born second branch.
The position of the first branch was stable and with Ming Huazhang being renowned all over the capital city, no matter what, this title would not fall on them.
Ming Yu had never coveted the position as the daughter of the Imperial Duke, she just wanted to prepare as much dowry as possible for herself before the family separated.

Regrettably, Old Madam Ming was biased.
Being biased towards Ming Huazhang was reasonable, but that good-for-nothing never did anything, so for what reason could she get everything just because she was Ming Huazhang’s younger sister?

Ming Yu was unwilling to concede and said, “Occupying such a good position, yet she is still ignorant and incompetent.
There is no young lady in Luoyang who is more shameful than her.
Clearly, the names of the girls in our generation are supposed to contain “女”, but only hers gets to use the boys’ character.”2  

“Okay, let’s not say anymore.” The second madam said, “Who let her be a dragon and phoenix twin and be inseparable from the second young master.
She was naturally born to be closer to him than others.
Let’s go, it’s time to go back.”

According to the genealogy of this generation, women should follow the ‘female’ (女) character, like Ming Yu and Ming Shuo, while only the men can use the ‘hua’ (华) character.
But who told Ming Huazhang and Ming Huashang to be born together? When Duke Zhen named them, he didn’t care about the genealogy order.
Instead, he found the names Huazhang (华章) and Huashang (华裳) from a phrase in the Book of Songs, “裳裳者华,芸其黄矣。我觏之子,维其有章矣”: wishing them to be bright and flourish without losing their propriety and principles.

With one glance, these two names were obviously a pair, filled with expectation and love.
Even strangers could tell that the person who named them loved them deeply.
Ming Yu was very indignant, stomped her feet vigorously, and followed her mother away.

At this moment in the pure white snow and wind, Ming Huashang followed Ming Huazhang, not minding how cold Ming Huazhang expression was, and chirped, “Second eldest brother, thank you for being willing to take me out.
Where is Feihong Garden? Is it far away? What do I need to bring? Will it be cold on the way there?”

Ming Huazhang got a headache from the noise.
He was very helpless in his heart.
She was one of only two people he had ever met who despite knowing he was cold-faced yet still approached him – the other was Xie Jichuan.
Except Ming Huashang was not the same as Xie Jichuan.
Xie Jichuan was rough-skinned and thick-skinned, so he could show his displeasure and leave whenever he wanted, but Ming Huashang was a girl, so Ming Huazhang couldn’t really leave her alone.

Ming Huazhang said, “You don’t even know where Feihong Garden is, so why do you have to go? How about I tell grandmother that you will stay in the manor…”

“No.” Ming Huashang jumped up as if her tail was stepped on, and firmly grasped Ming Huazhang’s sleeve, almost hanging onto him, “No, no, you have already promised me, you can’t go back on it!”

Ming Huashang was already used to doing this kind of thing, so she grabbed Ming Huazhang’s cuff with familiarity, and looked up at him pitifully.

The two of them were the same age, but the boy was much taller than Ming Huashang.
His structure retained the slenderness of a young man, but his shoulders have broadened, and his legs were long, and his limbs were lanky.
Standing under the eaves, he was as slender and straight as a new bamboo shoot after the rain.
Even after raising her head halfway, Ming Huashang could only see Ming Huazhang’s chin.

She was a mess at learning the four arts, but she had a lot of experience in acting spoilt to avoid punishment.
Duke Zhen would often surrender to her gaze.
Facing her glistening, abandoned puppy eyes up close Ming Huazhang didn’t know what to do.
He tried to pull back his sleeves, but Ming Huashang thought he was going to refuse, so she hugged his arm tightly, aggrieved, and leaned on him, “Brother3!”

Ming Huazhang felt the sudden warmth and softness on his arm, he couldn’t help it, and said, “I wasn’t going to go back on it, you get up first.”

Ming Huashang’s eyes were wide and round, and she looked at Ming Huazhang suspiciously, “Really?”

The young man almost sighed, “Really.”

Ming Huashang happily let go, and Ming Huazhang heaved a sigh of relief, only then did he have the ability to answer her previous question, “Feihong Garden is located south side of Mang Mountain.
Taiping Gongzhu spent tens of thousands of gold to build a villa at the peak in order to have a panoramic view of Luoyang.
Once you enter Mang Mountain, you will see her garden as soon as you look up.
The scenery there is nice, but the road will not be easy to travel, and it will be colder on the mountain than in Luoyang.
You should prepare more thick clothes, blankets, and a stove.
Don’t worry about the weight of your luggage.
Bring as much as possible…”

“Wait, second brother, speak slowly!” Ming Huashang hurriedly turned her head, “Zhaocai, hurry over and memorize what we need to bring!”

When Ming Huazhang heard this name, his brows twitched uncontrollably.
He glanced at Ming Huashang with a subtle and complicated expression but gave up in the end.

Forget it, she can call her whatever she likes, the name Zhaocai…is pretty good too.

Ming Huazhang slowed down and started talking about the items they will need to bring on the road.
Zhaocai was fully concentrated on remembering, and Ming Huashang who had successfully transferred the pressure onto someone else had nothing to do.
Her eyes wandered about looking for something interesting to see.

In the courtyard filled with wind and snow, the most beautiful thing to look at was Ming Huazhang.
The young man stood under the eaves with his hands behind his back.
His crimson clothes reflected the snow outside the corridor, emitting an aura of beauty.

She knew that Ming Huazhang was good-looking before, but looking at him closely today, Ming Huashang discovered that it made sense for him to be the white moonlight and the person of all the Luoyang girls’ dreams.
Ming Huashang noticed that Ming Huazhang’s collar was out of place; it was probably tousled by her just now.

Ming Huazhang was beautiful like the moon above the clouds, and he himself was as cold and arrogant as the moon.
Now that his clothes were messed up, it really affected his beauty and temperament.
Ming Huashang stretched out her hand naturally and straightened Ming Huazhang’s collar.

Ming Huazhang was startled and immediately took a step back.
Ming Huashang met those cold and clear eyes, and raised her hands embarrassedly, “Second elder brother, your clothes were out of place…”

Ming Huazhang glanced quickly and pulled his collar back in place with one hand.

His expression was so apprehensive and inviolable that even Ming Huashang felt a twinge of guilt because she felt like she acted like a hooligan.
She picked at her fingers, feeling a little embarrassed.
Ming Huazhang pursed his thin lips, still looking as upright and noble as usual, “After I go back, I will ask someone to prepare a list and send it to you.
If there is nothing left, I will leave first.

Ming Huashang thought of something and subconsciously wanted to ask, but she hesitated after seeing that Ming Huazhang had an “I don’t want to talk to you’ expression.
Ming Huazhang could tell that she was hesitating to speak, and asked, “What else is there?”

Ming Huashang bit her lip, embarrassed to ask, “Well, will there be enough food at the banquet?”



Affectionate way to say mother From what I understand, Chinese families name their offspring following a naming convention.
Each generation is assigned a specific character, one for males and another for females, and the names of the children in that generation are supposed to contain that character.
As Ming Yu explained, the character of her generation is 女: Ming Yu (妤) and Ming Shuo (妁).
Ming Yu doesn’t say it here, but you can probably guess that the character of the boys of their generation is 华 (hua).
We can see that Duke Zhen truly values Ming Huashang a lot by naming her after the boys’ character. Here she uses an affectionate way to call brother: A’Xiong.
To help distinguish between when she calls him more formally and more cutely, formal will include his rank, i.e.
second elder brother or second brother, otherwise, it’ll just be a simple “brother”.
The same nomenclature will be used for the other “brother” characters in this novel, it’ll just include their family name: e.g.
Brother Ming

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