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- 郡王妃 junwang fei: the official wife of a junwang
- 郡王 junwang: prince (of the second rank); also referred to as junwang ye, i.e. “His [Your] Royal Highness”
- 府 fu: compound or estate; (jun)wang fu: prince’s estate/compound
- 太太 taitai: married woman, madam
- 氏 shi: clan/maiden name; used to refer to a woman’s original surname before marrying into another family
- 夫人 furen: mistress or madam/lady; usually refers to the legitimate wife
Chapter Eight: True Self
No light came into the dark and secret room. The person lying on the ground did not have one piece of unharmed skin. Hair was tucked together and fell beside a face with protruding and wide eyes. He looked like a ghost that came from hell, and gave people a frightening feeling.
In this room covered in dirty water, there was a person that was idly sitting and drinking tea. That hand that was manicured perfectly slowly raised a white jade teacup to the lips. After a light sip, there was a perfect smile on the corner of the lips. “Good tea.”
Putting down the teacup, he flicked his snow-white sleeves and slowly walked towards the man that was lying on the ground, as though he did not care at all about the unclean water dirtying his white outer robe.
“I’ve long heard that Master Zhang is a hard bone to crack. Today, I have seen it is so.” The white and clean hand grabbed the hair of the person on the ground, pulling it back until he was forced to raise his head with difficulty. No matter how unwilling he was, he could only groan as the other held him like this, unable to even swear.
Perhaps it was because the hair in his hand was too dirty that the man in the white robe released the hair in his hand and allowed this Master Zhang’s face to smash into the dirty water. Two dirty water droplets splashed onto his silvery-white brocade shoes.
In a flash, someone walked out of the dark corner and presented a white cotton handkerchief. The man then bent down to wipe the two dirty drops off his shoes.
He used the cotton cloth to wipe his hand and then threw the cloth next to Master Zhang. He said in a sedate tone, “But I do not like people who are hard bones, especially ones that have been sent to assassinate me.” He raised a foot and stepped on Master Zhang’s head, causing the other’s entire face to be pressed to the ground. His tone became dark. “Since your bones are so hard, then stay hard for me. Do not cry and beg when the time comes.”
He took off his foot and turned to walk out of the room with his hands behind his back. When the door to the secret room was opened, the light outside the door penetrated in. He said with mirth in his tone, “You all, continue to serve Master Zhang well; do not let Master Zhang pass.”
The door to the secret room closed again and the room became dark. Master Zhang closed his eyes in hopelessness and roared hoarsely. But he, whose tongue had been cut off, was fated to never speak another word in his life.
“You say that Junwang Fei is practicing martial arts in the yard?” Yan Jin Qiu adjusted his robe as he faced the copper mirror. After he finished hearing Mu Tong’s report, he raised an eyebrow and said smilingly, “Junwang Fei is really a daughter of a descendant of generals. It is good to practice martial arts to strengthen the body.”
Mu Tong used a cloth to carefully wipe Yan Jin Qiu’s slightly damp hair. He said, “Junwang Ye is right; these years Junwang Fei was unable to go out to ride or to ascend any mountains to sightsee due to her weak health. Practicing martial arts is a good way to exercise the body.”
When Yan Jin Qiu heard this, he curved his lips but did not speak. Seeing this, Mu Tong did not dare to speak more, and dried Yan Jin Qiu’s hair with even more care.
In the main room of the main compound in the junwang fu, Hua Xi Wan’s hair was loose after her bath. She was half-reclined on the couch as she flipped through a ghost story that was very popular at the moment. Lu Zhu used silver toothpicks to deliver precut fruit to her mouth. Zi Shan was sitting on a little stool and using a small sandalwood mallet to massage her legs. Expensive silk incense was burning in the room. It was a luxurious and indolent scene, but because the person enjoying it was a beauty, it became a scene of beauty.
Bai Xia came up and helped Hua Xi Wan adjust the cushion behind her back so she could recline more comfortably. “Junwang Fei, Junwang Ye is going to come soon. Do we need to help you dress?”
“Dress?” Hua Xi Wan pulled her attention away from the ghost story. She raised a hand and brushed the hair next to her face, and lethargically covered her mouth as she yawned. “I’m too lazy to bother, this is good.”
Bai Xi looked at the white plum silk dress she was wearing and her feet that peeked out under the dress. She retreated to the side and did not speak more.
After reading the entire ghost story, Hua Xi Wan was finally willing to move. She put on her shoes and got off the couch. Looking at the sky that was dark outside the window, she said to Lu Zhu, “Go to the Meal Room to get the food.”
“Junwang Fei, are you not waiting for Junwang Ye?” Lu Zhu asked upon hearing this. “Junwang Ye said he was coming tonight.”
“No matter, go prepare.” Hua Xi Wan waved her hand. “If he has not come over yet, he must already have eaten at the Crown Prince’s palace.” Previously, someone had come to say that the Crown Prince was keeping him, and then someone now said that he was coming back soon. Who knew if he was returning or not? If she waited, she wouldn’t get to eat tonight.
Lu Zhu bowed and then left. These years, they had become familiar with Junwang Fei’s personality. They knew that she was often too lazy to speak. As servant girls, they should not bother their mistress.
Yan Jin Qiu might have been tracking the time to step into the main rooms. The moment the dishes were put on the table, he arrived.
Hua Xi Wan glanced at him. This person was still dressed like an elegant gentleman. The purple soft brocade robes would make one look like a fop, but on him, this became nobility.
This ruthless world where everything depended on one’s face.
Hua Xi Wan took her gaze away, washing her hands as she said, “Jin Qiu has returned at the perfect time. Come sit and eat.”
Hearing this, Yan Jin Qiu sat down next to Hua Xi Wan and put his hands into the copper basin she had been washing her hands in. He said with a smile, “There’s no need to get another basin of water, this is all right.”
Hua Xi Wan looked at the flower petals that were swaying due to the movement of their hands as they cleaned, and silently took her hands out of the basin. After wiping the water off, she said, “Is there some matter in these two days? I see that you have not been in the fu.”
“Something did happen, but it has been taken care of. Tomorrow, I will accompany you to Mt Tai’s home to play for the day. When it is five in the afternoon, we will return to the fu.” Yan Jin Qiu wiped his hands and said apologetically, “I had wanted to accompany you these last three days, but some things suddenly came up.”
“Since there is a reason, Jin Qiu does not have to be like this. At most, accompany me more in the future.” Hua Xi Wan smiled unconcernedly, picked up the chopsticks and did not speak further.
In this year, the females must leave their paternal family on their first visit after the marriage before sunset. Otherwise, it would be considered inauspicious. Yan Jin Qiu said that he would accompany her to stay until five on the visit. Even though it was not the time of sunset, it was not far off. It was rare that the other was able to do this, even though she did not know if it was an act or in sincerity.
After the two used the evening meal, the servants served them in cleaning before retreating out the door and leaving a few people behind to guard during the night.
The shadows in front of the window slowly swayed, and the two shadows gradually merged into one. Then the candle fire in the room went out and the entire room darkened.
In the morning when Hua Xi Wan woke up, the sky had already turned light. Because today was an important day, the day she made a visit back to her family, she rolled around a few times on the bed and got up. Among the rows of clothing, she picked a bright red floor-length dress with wide sleeves just because the color of the flowers embroidered on the dress was very beautiful.
When a daughter that had married returned to visit, the parents would worry how her days were and look at her attire, complexion, speech, as well as the attitude of the son-in-law. Even though she was not their true daughter, the sincere feelings that Yi’an Marquis Fu treated her with deserved her own sincere feelings to treat them back.
Yan Jin Qiu saw Hua Xi Wan sitting before the mirror and carefully dressing herself in a reversal of her attitude in the past two days, and suddenly thought of something his mother had said to him in childhood.
Never underestimate women, no matter how virtuous, gentle and harmless they usually were.
Maybe it was because Mother had been heavily ill when she had said this, he remembered these words clearly—perhaps because he had wanted to remember every bit of his mother, or because he had not understood the meaning of the words when he was young. He had unconsciously imprinted the words in his mind.
No matter what the reason was, he remembered the words clearly up until now, even the expression of his mother, rueful yet pleased.
After Hua Xi Wan finished dressing, Yan Jin Qiu found that the jewelry that she wore included only things that he had prepared for her after she entered the wang fu. Not one item was from the dowry she had brought from Yi’an Marquis Fu.
He understood why Hua Xi Wan had done so after a slight bit of thought. Standing, he walked next to Hua Xi Wan and picked out a mutton-jade pendant carved out in the shape of a fish to put around Hua Xi Wan’s neck. “This jade pendant is complementary to your dress.”
Hua Xi Wan caressed the fine-feeling jade and saw the smiling face of Yan Jin Qiu in the copper mirror. She ignored the hands on her shoulders, smiled faintly and said, “It is pretty complementary.”
In Yi’an Marquis Fu, the old taitai, Main Branch’s Hua He Shen and Lu shi, Second Branch’s Hua Zhi Ming and Zhang shi, Third Branch’s Hua Zhi Xun and Yao shi were all waiting in the front hall. If the person who Hua Xi Wan had married was not of the Imperial House, then there would not be so many people waiting in the marquis fu. But right now, she was a junwang fei. The Hua Family, as the paternal family, needed to all be present whether they were there to support Hua Xi Wan or to give Xian Junwang face.
The three brothers were present and harmonious on the surface. But only they knew what they were thinking.
Hua Zhi Ming and Hua He Sheng were full-blood brothers, and he naturally hoped that Hua Xi Wan would marry well. So when he came to the marquis fu, he would occasionally look towards the door of the hall. Compared to his worry, Hua Zhi Xun appeared calmer and only sipped tea idly from beginning to end.
Lu shi had gotten up early and dressed quickly to hurry to the front hall. Her heart was jumping up and down, and she did not have the mind to spare to eat, much less to think about what her two sisters-in-law were thinking.
Just as Lu shi became more fretful, a servant girl ran in and said with a joyous expression, “Old Taitai, Marquis, Furen, Junwang Ye and Junwang Fei have arrived.”
Lu shi was overjoyed at hearing this and stood up from the chair. She walked in large strides towards the door of the hall and saw a group of servant girls and women ushering her grandly-dressed daughter towards her. Beside her daughter was Xian Junwang that was outstanding in appearance.
Yao shi supported the old taitai to the doorway and twisted her mouth when she saw Xian Junwang considerately accompanying Hua Xi Wan. She was just relying on her beauty and freshness—how long could she stay this way?
The old taitai saw her action and reached out to pinch her. She then went forward. “This old one greets Xian Junwang.”
After she married the old marquis, the old marquis had never sent up a request for her to receive a title. So after the old marquis passed away, she was in an awkward state and did not like to go out, but she did not forget the etiquette she should observe.
This Xian Junwang was the son-in-law of the Yi’an Marquis Fu in name, but more than that, he was a junwang of the Imperial House. In front of imperial privilege, nothing took precedence.
Translator Ramblings: In addition to editing, Adnana is now providing mini-glossaries for the pinyin used in each chapter. There is also a main glossary for this entire novel if you mouse over Eight Treasures Trousseau in the menu bar. Capitalization has also been standardized and I’m going back to put edited versions into the past posted chapters.