I’ve tried to come up with English terms that convey the same meaning as Chinese ones. Expect a lot more of compound words with hyphens in future chapters. Wife-of-grandson and granddaughter-in-law … … do people ever use terms such as grandniece-in-law?
[i] 步摇: a certain kind of hair adornment that has tassels or other parts that sway with movement, hence the term step-shake
[ii] 全福 (Complete fortune, or whole fortune) means that a person has the good fortunes of parents, daughters, and has love between spouses, and harmonious relationships between brothers and sisters. A “Good Fortune” person is used during a marriage ceremony to request that the future couple will have auspicious fortune.
[iii] 喜秤: joy measure, a stick used to lift the veil in a marriage ceremony.
Chapter Three Wedding
No matter how ugly the rumors on the outside were, Xian Junwang Fu put great importance on the wedding. They did not skimp on the ceremonial proceedings. A few days later, other than the betrothal gifts that had been arranged according to the rank that came from the Department of Palace Affairs that was delivered to the marquis fu, there were also the objects that the wang fu had added. These items were not added in order to make the amount look pleasing but were actually fine objects.
After Hua He Sheng and Lu shi saw the betrothal gift list, their dissatisfaction decreased slightly. No matter what Xian Junwang thought, he had not decreased the number of items. When their daughter married over, the other would not do something as worrisome as favoring the concubine and neglecting the wife.
The one that delivered the betrothal gifts was Xu Wang Fei who was of great reputation in Jing City and who was over sixty years old. In her words and tone, Xu Wang Fei implied that Xian Juwang was not unwilling at all about the marriage, and even guaranteed explicitly and implicitly that Xian Juwang would treat Hua Xi Wan well. It caused Lu shi’s opinion of Xian Junwang to increase.
While Lu shi was of a straight-forward personality, she was from a large family. She could hear Xu Wang Fei probing for information about her daughter. With a smile, she deflected. Seeing this, Xu Wang Fei did not persist. The marriage had been decreed. No matter if this Miss Hua was truly ugly or not, the matter was set in stone and there was no meaning in speaking more.
After Xu Wang Fei left, Hua Xi Wan came out from behind. Lu shi said to her, “The people of the Imperial Family will speak like this, all of them drawing flowers with their tongues. Every word is pleasing to hear, but you do not know where the trap is behind their words. I let you hide behind and listen, not for you to know how rich and noble Xian Junwang Fu is, but how the people of the Imperial Family truly are.”
Hua Xi Wan looked at the long betrothal gift list and then said neutrally a beat later, “Xian Junwang … … is as considerate as the rumors say.” When news of this spread, everyone in Jing would praise Xian Junwang for being good. Such a number betrothal gifts, even when Sheng Junwang had married the granddaughter of Imperial Teacher He, there hadn’t been so much.
If their relationship was not harmonious in the future, others would only say that she was of rough appearance, a jealous woman, and that she was wasting such a good man.
Lu shi saw her expression was not happy nor angry and assumed that she was unhappy at getting marriage. She urged, “In the future, if you receive bad treatment, you still have us and your two older brothers. Our marquis fu is not as noble as the junwang fu, but Xian Junwang will not dare to be outrageous.”
“Mother, what are you thinking about?” Hua Xi Wan touched the buyao[i] in her hair and gave a smile, “This daughter is not one to accept humiliation. Don’t worry.”
Lu shi nodded. As a mother, she knew her daughter’s personality. So at the end, she only sighed and said, “In the following days, follow the teaching servant-ladies and learn about the matters of the Imperial House. There are no simple people in the Imperial House. It will be good for you to learn.”
Hua Xi Wan nodded and seeing Lu shi still had other matters, she bowed and left the yard. She went back to her own rooms to learn some of the etiquette of the court with the servant-ladies and then after the noon meal, just like normal, she had her noon nap.
No matter how great the matter was, there was no use in worrying. When the boat reached the pier, it would straighten with the current.
Qilong Year Twenty Eight, the twenty eight day of the third month, good for marriage and for moving.
Even though she liked to sleep in, Hua Xi Wan had to wake up early to wash and be made up. She put on the robes embroidered with dragons and phoenixes. Looking at the servant girls and women busy around her, she actually became the idlest person.
There were still lamps lit in the room. “Double joy” character cut-outs had been hung up on the windows and door long ago. Even the servant girls had changed their attire into celebratory colors.
At this time, Lu shi came in carrying a bowl of peanut glutinous rice balls. Her eyes red, she said, “Consummate and smooth.”
Hua Xi Wan took the bowl of rice balls from Lu shi’s hands. She looked at her elder brother, his wife, and her second brother behind Lu shi. With sore eyes, she said with a smile, “Thank you, Mother.”
When a woman was leaving in marriage, an elder of the family would personally cook something with auspicious meaning, and then it would be eaten in the company of those in the same generation or younger. It represented the good wishes of the family towards the woman, and told the woman about to be married that their paternal family will forever be behind them in support. This custom was very rare among the influential families, or rather, it was that many influential families could not make this promise because of the benefits gained by the family. But right now, her parents and brothers were giving her a promise that an influential family would not easily make. How lucky she was.
The peanut and sesame filled rice balls were slightly sweet and the sweetness reached her heart. She blinked her eyes and found her vision was slightly blurry.
After eating the rice balls, the Good Fortune[ii] Matron made up Hua Xi Wan’s makeup and started to do her hair. The moment the phoenix crown was put on her head, Hua Xi Wan felt her head was weighed down and then she heard the Good Fortune Matron start to speak auspicious words.
The Good Fortune Matron, Gao shi, was someone with status in Jing. If it wasn’t because of her relationship with Yi’an Marquis Fu, she would not be willing to be the Good Fortune Matron as she had heard the rumors in Jing and really did not want to get involved in these matters.
When Gao shi finally saw Hua Xi Wan’s true appearance, she finally understood what it meant that what the ears heard were false. If having such appearance meant being called a female without beauty, then there were no beautiful women in the world. The people of Yi’an Marquis Fu really could keep their composure. The outside rumors were at such a terrible level but they did not even speak up. Thinking about Hua Xi Wan’s appearance, she had to admit that the present situation was better for Hua Xi Wan.
When the firecrackers started to crackle outside, the Good Fortune Matron gave a call of “Joy” under the reluctant gazes from all of the Hua Family and put the veil over Hua Xi Wan’s head.
With the veil on, she could only see red. Hua Xi Wan tilted her head down slightly and saw Lu shi’s embroidered shoes a few steps away. She seemed to have already walked two steps towards Hua Xi Wan but in the end, she reluctantly returned to her original spot.
“Junwang fei, please rise.”
“First step, start, blessings for high position and great wealth together.”
Lu shi covered her mouth and wiped the corner of her eyes with her handkerchief. She didn’t want her daughter to find she was crying but the feelings could not be disguised.
“Second step, walk, blessings for a hundred years of living without worry.”
Hua Xi Wan’s head tilted in Lu shi’s direction. Even through the veil, everyone in the room knew the person she wanted to see was Lu shi.
“Third step, travel, blessings for sons, daughters, and grandchildren around your knees.”
Even though she could not see the road in front of her, Hua Xi Wan was being helped by the Good Fortune Matron. Every step was extremely steady and then she stopped at the doorway. The noise outside gradually neared and then she heard Xian Junwang’s voice.
“Zi Ling greets Wife, Wife, please come onto the sedan.”
Xian Junwang’s name was Yan Jin Qiu, his literary name was Zi Ling. He was the son of Xian Qinwang. Four years ago, Yan Jin Qiu succeeded the title of wang that had been demoted a level in the succession. The rumors were that this person’s appearance was outstanding. He was warm and gentle, and a rare good man.
Yan Jin Qiu’s voice was gentle and pleasing to hear, but under the veil, Hua Xi Wan was expressionless. After Yan Jin Qiu repeated the request two more times, Hua Xi Wan’s big brother, Hua Chang Bao opened the two. First, he and Yan Jin Qiu bowed to each other and then Hua Xi Wan was carried on her second brother Hua Ding Rong’s back while her hand was held by the Good Fortune Matron to go out the door.
The Imperial House males that came with Yan Jin Qiu to request the bride laughed and teased that the bride finally came out. They were enthusiastic as they crowded around the bride all the way until they were out of the fu. They were so enthusiastic it seemed they were not affected by the rumors at all.
When the dowry was carried out chest by chest from the marquis fu, the people that were spectating from the streets gaped. They had heard that Yi’an Marquis Fu loved their daughter greatly, but they hadn’t expected it to be this kind of love. Looking at the dowry, it seemed that as the first chest entered the wang fu, the last one would not have left the gates of the marquis fu yet.
Some people felt that Yi’an Marquis Fu had prepared such a large dowry for Xian Junwang Fei in order to bolster her. Since her appearance was not good, if the dowry was not large, then wouldn’t the Imperial Family look down her even more?
No matter the reasoning, the more money a female had, the more confidence she would have. So the matrons that were watching were slightly envious. No matter how ugly Xian Junwang Fei was, she had a good paternal family. That was the good fortune of a lifetime and something many females wished for.
Thinking this way, people looked at Xian Junwang that was riding proudly on a high horse. His excited expression made it seem as though he was marrying a goddess rather than a female without beauty. Seeing this, everyone sighed again. As expected of Xian Junwang. They could not compare to his mentality.
The two-roofed flower sedan circled around the main streets of Jing and then finally arrived at the gates of Xian Junwang Fu in a chorus of congratulations. Hua Xi Wan heard the crackle of firecrackers from outside which were so loud that her ears almost became temporarily deaf.
When the curtain to the sedan was opened and she was carried, she found that the person carrying her on their back was not the joy matron, but a male.
“Wife, we are entering the door.”
The person carrying her was Yan Jin Qiu. Hua Xi Wan’s lips curled. She did not speak and just used her fingertips to lightly scratch the other’s shoulder to indicate she heard it.
Hearing the words of praise for how considerate Xian Junwang was, the smile on Hua Xi Wan’s lips grew. Yes, such a good man who did not distain his wife’s ugly appearance and personally carried her off the sedan in worry that others would look at her. It was so considerate it moved others to the point of tears.
If she really had an ugly appearance and had not lived another life, just by Yan Jin Qiu’s action here, she would fall in love deeply with him.
Entering the gates of the wang fu, Yan Jin Qiu put down Hua Xi Wan and took the red ribbon from the hand of the joy attendant. One end was tightly held in his hand, the other in Hua Xi Wan’s hand. He then carefully guided Hua Xi Wan to walk in.
Passing through one door after another, turning through one section after another of corridors, listening to the words of good wishes, Hua Xi Wan’s expression became even more aloof under the veil. But when she walked into the main hall to prepare to bow to the world, she had recovered her calm.
The ceremony only truly begun after the messenger the Emperor sent finished reciting the decree. One kneel to the heaven and earth, three bows. Second kneel to the parents, three bows. Husband and wife kneeling to each other, three bows.
The Good Fortune Matron that had been invited by the Xian Junwang Fu helped Hua Xi Wan into the marriage chambers to rest. The unrelated people all left. Only Hua Xi Wan’s four personal servant girls were left to accompany her.
Hua Xi Wan found a comfortable position against the head board. She knew that someone was guarding the door so she did not speak. Yawning, she closed her eyes to rest, waiting for the groom to be finish drinking and come to lift her veil.
Yan Jin Qiu was a very personable person and released after one circuit of toasts. The younger generation that had wanted to go to the marriage room recalled the rumors and were afraid that he would look bad so no one voiced that they wanted to see the bride. In the end, only the joy attendant and some female elders accompanied him to the rooms.
He pushed open the door that was half-closed and saw Hua shi sitting dignifiedly on the bed. From the outside, she looked of fine figure. Four beautiful servant girls that were part of the dowry were standing two each on the left and right. Seeing him come in, they simultaneously bowed towards him with elegant movements. It could be seen that the marquis fu had trained them well.
Of normal appearance but she dared to pick four beautiful servant girls to serve her, this Hua shi had a very good attitude.
“Xian Junwang, please take off the veil.” The joy attendant saw Xian Junwang staring at the bride and handed him the joy stick[iii] with two hands.
Taking the joy stick, Yan Jin Qiu walked next to Hua Yi Wan. His hand hesitated slightly as he reached out and then he quickly took off the veil without any hesitation.
Translator Ramblings: At least there is a marriage ceremony … … Qu Qing Ju didn’t get her marriage ceremony and had a troublesome family so Hua Xi Wan wins on these aspects.