Many years later by the side of the mountain, Ning Que would recalled the first time he met Madam Jian. At that time he still couldn’t help but think back to the event with a self-mocking laugh and sigh for a long time. But this is an event to be told later…
Ning Que at the moment went up the stairs full of hope thinking that tonight he was the lucky farmer in the legend. As he walked up, he could see a pretty Flower Girl waiting behind the curtains, but he never expected what he would witness. When that maid pushed the red door and lifted the curtain, his dreams were crushed.
The lady in front of him was already old. The crows’ feet on the corners of her eyes were very clear to see. She maintained a perfect shape, plumped chest, thin waist, and round hip. Everything were covered in a cloth gown, but her forehead was very wide and big like the little hill on the grassland. Her eyes looked kind and frank. There were extremely light hair under her straight nose and above her chubby lip. She was not ugly, but was definitely not a pretty one that was chosen from hundreds and of course she was not related to the Flower Girl at all.
Ning Que prefered pretty girls around his age. He was also fine with women a bit older, even the ladies past thirty were acceptable, but Master Jian did not belong to any of the three category. She was only a normal woman past her forties and was calm like a man.
Ning Que was slightly surprised and realized that his current attitude was some what impolite. He forced himself to calm down, made a frank smile, and made a bow to salute for Madam Jian. “Hi Madam Jian, is there anything I can do for you?”
“Who are you?” Madam Jian looked at him with a smile and asked.
Ning Que did not conceal anything and narrated his origin.
“Even though this year the military department recommended many people, the fact that you can pass the Academy’s primary exam indicates that you have some talent.”
Madam Jian looked at him approvingly and continued: “Since you came from the frontier, you probably don’t know who I am. Although you don’t know who I am, you can calm down quickly during the first meeting. Youngster, you have a steady mind.”
It took Ning Que a lot of effort to avoid looking at Madam Jian. He intentionally looked down to avoid looking at her forehead and at her light hair above her lips. After hearing her comment, he subconsciously said some modest words.
From this lady’s simple introduction and that maid’s arrogant description, he eventually knew why the people downstair would pay so much attention to the name Madam Jian.
Thirty years ago, when the Nan Jin emperor obtained the throne a dance club named the Red Sleeves won the most applauses in the ceremony. Its fame gradually spread out the world. Three years later, the Red Sleeves was moved into the Tang empire because the Tang Emperor had personally wrote a letter asking the group to move to the Tang. Since the Red Sleeves was mostly made up of Tang women, the Tang Emperor felt they should go back to the Tang Empire. The Nan Jin emperor had no power to resist and had to permit the move.
From then on, the Red Sleeves had always stayed in Chang An. In the recent twenty years, they only dance and sing for the Tang royal palace. They no longer participated in any other countries’ famous events and ceremonies. Its fame in the public gradually faded.
However, to real nobles and high officials, the dance club that Tang specifically invited and stayed in the greatest city Chang An for many years was undoubtedly the best dance club in the world. Although the brothel they stayed in did not have a name, it was the number one brothel forever.
The Nan Jin ambassadors, Yue Lun officials who came to present tribute, or the barbarian prince from the grassland all went to the brothel and inivted the Red Sleeves girls to sing a few songs and perform a few dances. As long as they visited and went to Chang An, they would visit the brothel before they leave. Based a legend, when Yan prince was sent to Chang An as a hostage seven years ago, he relied on the Red Sleeves to pass the two hardest years.
Madam Jian was the the Flower Girl.
But she was the head of the Red Sleeves dance club and she cultivated countless Flower Girls in the world.
“You are only a youngster and since you want to enter the Academy, your future of course will be bright. Then why do you mimic those pedantic scholars and follow their views that people who do not go to brothels in their life can’t become celebrities?”
Madam Jina’s smile was like marks carved by knifes. Whether she questioned, criticized, or persuaded Ning Que, her smile was always calm and the number of crows’ feet were always the same.
But Ning Que sensed the slight emotional change from Madam Jian. Previously when she called him over, her intentions was not clear. But after hearing her speak about him participating in the Academy’s entrance exam soon, the madam’s tone subconsciously became strict. Such strict tone was not animosity but more like elders wish for youngsters to improve.
Such emotional change made him not know what to do. He made a salute then explained a few sentences with a low voice.
(We Never know what Ning Que said and the next quote is from Madam Jian…)
“I am from Yue Lun, but I lived in Chang An for over two decades. Of course I know how you Tang men are. A positive aspect you guys have is generiosity, but a negative aspect of you guys is being over enthusiastic and careing too much about reputation.”
Madam Jian’s smile had turned into a frown and she looked at Ning Que. Watching the youngster’s adolescent yet rigorous face, she felt as if she saw a little green gown scholar riding a black donkey while looking up and cursing as he walked into Chang An. Madam Jian warned Ning Que with much effort because she didn’t want Ning Que to walk down the wrong road as a scholar.
“Do you know who that rich young man is? He is the son of one of the Seven Riches of East City, Master Zhu’s sole son. He has infinitive money in his pocket. He can be generous, but how about you? Based on your Tang men’s personality, you will definitely treat back people who treated you. Even if you have no money, if you meet him next time, you will sell the books you have to treat him back. Am I right?”
Ning Que embarrassedly scratched his head. He admired the way this lady envisions events. Although he wasn’t a typical Tang man, he shared the Tang culture.
“The is a brothel and you haven’t even fully grown up yet. How can you walk into such a place?”
“You are already poor enough, but you still dare to waste money? Did you have enough money for food and dorm for the Academy yet?”
“How well have you prepared for the entrance exam? Did you buy the test prep questions? Which set of test prep questions did you buy?”
Originally he was hoping to meet a Flower Girl, but he encountered an extremely moral Flower Girl’s mother and got criticized harshly by this madam. If in other situation, Ning Que might have whisper in his heart: Even if you Madam Jian knew many nobles, possessed high statues, but you aren’t my mother, how dare you scold me on your first time saw me?
Madam Jian was different and did not use power to suppress him, but rather like a diligent and nervous elder. A large word “pain” could be clearly seen on her face. He was really embarrassed to deffend himself and could only reply carefully :
“It’s my first time in Chang An…..I was just a little curioused about many things. Before I was just going to take two glances secretly outside the building, but I didn’t know that the girls in the building would laugh at me so I felt agitated….Then I walked in for no reason.”
Madam Jian felt a little surprised. She then turned around and criticized coldly at the little maid: “The emperor is going to give a banquet for the return of princess, it’s such a big thing. I just want those coquettish girls stay calm for a few days, and seriously practice dancing, but they all can’t bare it? How can they accost even a young student!”
The little maid replied yieldingly but she did not dare to refute at all.
Madam Jian rubbed the corners of her eyes, felt a bit tired, looked up and gave a glance at Ning Que who obediently stood by the door. She suddenly realized that when she previously simply glimpsed occasionally at the hall, she felt that the youngster had a similar temperament to a man. She couldn’t help but wanted to call him over and ask a few questions but for some reason she got angry and scold him instead.
More surprisingly, that youngster neither refute nor became mad at her. He simply stood obediently and let her scold him. She involuntarily laughed, waved her hand and said, “Since you are curioused, I’ll let one take you to take a look. Afterwards you should go home rest early.”