This chapter has been brought to you by me, Adnana, and Vivie.
郡王妃 junwang fei: the official wife of a junwang
府 fu: compound or estate; (jun/qin)wang fu: prince’s estate/compound
郡王 junwang: second-rank prince; also referred to as junwang ye, i.e. “His [Your] Royal Highness”
太监 taijian: court or palace eunuch
亲王 qinwang: first-rank prince
亲王妃 qinwang fei: the official wife of a qinwang
王爷 wang ye: His [Your] Royal Highness
王妃 wang fei: princess consort; the official wife of a (qin)wang or prince
本王 ben wang: literally “this wang/prince”; illeism used by princes
姐姐 jiejie: elder sister
儿媳 erxi: daughter-in-law
堂 tang: relatives with the same surname
夫人 furen: mistress or madam/lady, referring to the legitimate wife
堂妹 tang mei: father’s brother’s (younger) daughter
Chapter Forty: Congratulations
Hua Xi Wan felt suspicious, but she still changed into her junwang fei–ranked attire and then put on a heavy gold coronet to go to the main hall of the wangfu. Not long after she arrived, she saw Yan Jin Qiu come back dressed in the robes of a junwang. The major stewards of the yard were waiting outside the hall.
When Yan Jin Qiu walked into the hall, he saw Hua Xi Wan’s calm expression and knew that she was not shocked by this sudden news. He smiled and walked next to her to stand. He said in a light voice, “We should eat earlier tonight.” This was akin to saying to Hua Xi Wan that they would talk in private later.
There were taijian and female officials of rank standing inside the hall. Hua Xi Wan lightly put her hand on Yan Jin Qiu’s palm. She smiled. “All right.” She knew that the Emperor was not doing this with completely good intentions, but she could see from Yan Jin Qiu’s expression that he was happy about this. Therefore, she did not think any further and just waited for the people from the Ministry of Rites to come to proclaim the imperial decree.
Not long after the two started waiting, the officials of the Ministry of Rites came with a large group of people. They then recited two long decrees. Basically, it was Yan Jin Qiu’s certificate for his position of qinwang and Hua Xi Wan’s for her position of qinwang fei. What came with the certificates was golden seals and books. The robes had not been finished, so they were still due. There was also the matter of the junwang fu that had to be enlarged. Since this had been a qinwang fu originally, the yards that had been locked would be opened, and then people from the Ministry of Works could come and do repairs. Items that could represent the identity of a qinwang were bestowed down in great numbers to show the vastness of imperial grace.
After listening for a long time, Yan Jin Qiu and Hua Xi Wan finally finished listening to the list of what had been bestowed down. Husband and wife sent off the officials of the Ministry of Rites, and then watched as things were carried into the yard in chests. In the process, there were two refills of tea.
Whenever an object was called, servants would open the box so the two masters could see it. In the end, Hua Xi Wan could not help but move her gaze away. It was not that she did not like money, but she really understood now what “gold was dazzling, and silver was stupidly white” meant. If she kept on looking, she would become blind.
“Tired?” Yan Jin Qiu saw Hua Xi Wan’s state and then gave a look to the nearby servants. He then said, “If you are tired, we will go into the room to rest. The servants can supervise here.”
Hua Xi Wan nodded and seemed to weakly touch the heavy gold coronet on her head. By now, she was a high and clean person who thought of money and gold as dirt.
Returning to the room, Hua Xi Wan first allowed the servant girls to help her change out of the junwang fei robes and put on a beautiful and loose floor-length dress before she exhaled. She rubbed her neck and said, “If that keeps on pressing down, I will be a hand’s width shorter.”
“Is it that heavy?” Yan Jin Qiu reached out to rub the back of her neck. “Is it better now?”
“Your skill is not as good as that of my servant girls.” Hua Xi Wan glanced at him with a smile. “Fine, I do not dare to have Wang Ye do such a thing. Let them do this.”
Yan Jin Qiu smiled and took his hand away. Then he said, “There will probably be many well-wishers who will come to our fu soon. It will be a hardship for you in the next few days.”
Hong Ying saw the situation and walked behind Hua Xi Wan to start a massage.
“There are the stewards who will help; it will not be very hard.” Hua Xi Wan lazily leaned back and sat in the chair. She said slowly, “The great benevolence of the Emperor is a great and joyous matter. Even if I am tired, I am happy inside.”
“That is true.” Yan Jin Qiu looked at the servants who were standing inside the room. “How about you nap for a while? You would usually be having a noon nap right now.”
“That is also good.” Hua Xi Wan waved her hand for the servants in the room to leave. After the two lay down in bed, Yan Jin Qiu finally said, “I heard that just yesterday, the Emperor was angry with Sheng Junwang and had him return to his fu to reflect for three days.”
Hua Xi Wan felt that her intelligence was not enough for matters of the court, so after she heard this, she thought for a long while before she said, “The Emperor lectured Sheng Junwang yesterday, and today elevated you to qinwang—what does he intend?” This was like the hard-working child was being lectured by the parent after making one mistake, but the lazy child was being rewarded for doing nothing?
“It is not so simple.” Yan Jin Qiu reached out to hold her in his embrace. “Sheng Junwang holds great power now. A portion of the officials respects him greatly. Under this kind of circumstances, the Emperor cannot help but second-guess him. He is purposefully hitting one and pulling another. This is just to have Yan Bo Yi think that I was doing something in the middle, and to have us fight. Yan Bo Yi has the support of some officials, and I have the qinwang title that Yan Bo Yi does not. No matter who is winning, for the Emperor, we are all losers.”
This explanation did seem to fit. Hua Xi Wan yawned and did not continue to ask. There were some things that she did not know and it was best if she did not know.
The room gradually quieted. A long while later, Yan Jin Qiu stood up from the bed. Along the edge of the bed, he sat and looked at the woman sleeping sweetly as she hugged the duvet. He stood and walked to the copper mirror that Hua Xi Wan usually used to put on her makeup and coincidentally saw the smile at the corner of his mouth that had not yet dissipated.
His expression changed slightly. He turned back to look at the person sleeping on the bed. A moment later, he left the room.
Hong Ying and the others who were waiting outside saw Wang Ye come out, and all took a step back before silently curtsying.
“Serve Wang Fei with care. Ben wang is going to the study. When Wang Fei wakes up, have someone tell ben wang.” Yan Jin Qiu knew that Hua Xi Wan’s servant girls were all loyal and did not speak more.
“Yes, this servant will remember.” When Hong Ying raised her head, she saw that Wang Ye had already left, and silently released a breath. Just now, Wang Ye still seemed as warm as usual, but she was especially fearful of Wang Ye—as though if she wasn’t careful, she would lose her life.
“Hong Ying Jiejie, just now Steward Mu Tong had people deliver the things here. Do we need to report to Wang Fei?” Cheng Qiu came in with some servant women who were holding sandalwood boxes. Given the sweat on the heads of the servant women, it could be seen that the boxes were not light.
“Let’s first put the things into the storeroom and report to Wang Fei when she wakes up.” Hong Ying opened all the boxes and took a look. She saw it was just some jewelry and precious stones, so she personally led the people to put the things into Hua Xi Wan’s personal stores. In any case, Wang Fei did not lack for these things.
“What did you say? Xian Junwang was sealed qinwang?” Hua Yi Liu looked at her personal servant girl. She sat dazedly for a long time before she said, “Last night, did lord husband go to the side yard to rest again?”
She saw that while her personal servant girl did not speak her expression changed, so she knew that Zhou Yun Heng had gone there last night. She did not have the time to say anything else before she saw her mother-in-law come in with her younger sister-in-law. She could only stand and usher the two of them in.
“Erxi, three days later, you will go with me to Xian Qinwang Fu to give good wishes. Xian Wang Fei and you are tang sisters, and it is not good if you, the elder sister, do not go when such a joyous event occurs.” Zhou Furen received the tea that Hua Yi Liu presented and took a sip. After she chatted a while longer with Hua Yi Liu, she smiled faintly and said in a change of topic, “The disobedient ones in Yun Heng’s yard, I have sent them away. I still hope to be able to hold you and Yun Heng’s child.”
Hua Yi Liu forced out a smile. “They are all women who serve Husband. It is harmless for Husband to pity them usually.” The small bits of anticipation she had felt when she married had been ground down by these days. She did not have any more hopes for Zhou Yun Heng. Right now, the reason why her mother-in-law had come to say this much was clearly because Hua Xi Wan, Xian Wang Fei, was her tang mei. Otherwise, she would not do such a thing.
Originally, right after the mourning period of the old Zhou Furen, Zhou Yun Heng had gotten someone pregnant and the news had spread. When she married in, the people in the yard had not been cleared out. Right now, those people were being sent away because Hua Xi Wan had become a qinwang fei. Then what was she?
“Even so, if a man is enchanted with beauty, how can he accomplish anything?” Zhou Furen said with a smile, “You are a virtuous one—with you present, I have nothing to fear.”
Hua Yi Liu exchanged a few more courtesies before Zhou Furen bid farewell, but there was no mirth in her eyes.
After her mother-in-law and sister-in-law left, Hua Yi Liu thought of Hua Xi Wan who was surrounded by the servant girls, then the handsome Xian Wang, then Zhou Yun Heng who spent every day immersed in women. She covered her face with a handkerchief and soundlessly cried in pain.
The second day after Yan Jin Qiu became a qinwang, the good wishes came like a flood. Of the women who visited, Hua Xi Wan only received those of high status from the Imperial Family and from prestigious families. The other people knew this and expected it. They only sent in their cards as a matter of courtesy. If Xian Wang Fei met them, they were lucky. It was normal if she did not see them.
She definitely had to see the people of Yi’an Marquis Fu. The second day after the imperial decree came down, Hua Xi Wan saw people from her paternal family. She had said some extra words, but because there were too many people she had to see, there was no chance to talk in private.
The day before the Mid-Autumn Festival, the number of people who came finally decreased. Hua Xi Wan sighed in relief. But after she finished eating breakfast, she heard a servant report that Assistant Minister Zhou’s fu had come to congratulate her.
Hua Xi Wan sighed. She originally did not want to see the Zhou Family, but thinking that Hua Yi Liu had married into this family, she could only have the servants first settle them in and she would arrive later.
When Zhou Furen saw the servant invite them in, she sighed in relief inside. She glanced at her daughter and Hua Yi Liu behind her. She neatened her clothing. “When you are in front of Wang Fei, do not lose your composure.”
“Daughter will remember,” Zhou Jin Xi said in a small voice. She knew that Mother was trying to connect with Xian Wang Fu so that Xian Wang Fei would have a good opinion of her and so she could appear at more important gatherings.
“Zhou Furen, Mrs Zhou, Miss Zhou, please sit and wait for a moment. Wang Fei will arrive shortly.” The person who received the three of them was Cheng Qiu. After she had a servant girl pour the trio tea, she stood at the side.
Zhou Furen looked at the decorations in the hall and then saw that the servant who welcomed them was dressed better than normal servant girls. Her daughter-in-law did not recognize this servant girl, so she guessed that this was a servant girl of the wang fu, and not one who came with Hua Xi Wan’s dowry.
She’d had the good fortune to visit Ning Wang Fu. While Ning Wang Fu looked grand and distinguished, the servants did not seem as well-mannered as those of Xian Wang Fu.
It could be seen that Xian Wang Fei was a woman with ability. She had to be more careful.
Translator Ramblings: Hua Yi Liu’s marriage is, as Hua Xi Wan and others have expected, not going as well as her cousin’s. So what is the proper name for the in-law of the in-laws? Extended family?