This is going to end up a regency novel … …
- 步摇 buyao: a dangling head ornament
- 郡王妃 junwang fei: the official wife of a junwang
- 郡王 junwang: prince of the second rank
- 府 fu: compound or estate; (jun)wang fu: prince’s estate/compound
- 王 wang: shortened form for qinwang (亲王), the title of a prince of the first rank
- 郡王爷 junwang ye, 王爷 wang ye: His [Your] Royal Highness
-  庶 shu: born from a concubine
-  公公 gonggong: how to refer to a taijian
- 太监 taijian: eunuch occupying a specific position in the Imperial Court or government
-  朕 zhen: how Emperors refer to themselves; is the equivalent to the royal “we”
Chapter Five: Thanking
The ancients used the “Ode to the Nymph of the River Luo” to describe the beauty of the Nymph Luo. Yan Jin Qiu had not put great attention on it in the past. Where would there be such a beauty in this world? If there really was such a beauty, how many men would go crazy?
However, after the meal last night and having their wedding night of candles and flowers, he finally knew what was:
“Her body soars lightly like a startled swan
Gracefully like a dragon in flight
In splendor brighter than the autumn chrysanthemum
In bloom more flourishing than the pine in spring.”[i]
He had changed his clothing early in the morning and was now looking at the woman getting dressed in front of the mirror. She clearly was just propping her cheeks in her hands, but it became a lazy beauty when she did it. It made the watcher want to be the jade bangle she held in her hand, and be satisfied with just a smile from the beauty.
Because the marriage had just occurred and they had to visit the Emperor and Empress, Hua Xi Wan picked out a wide-sleeved flowered palace dress. The colors were bold, but when Hua Xi Wan put the dress on, she suppressed the boldness of the large red flowers. People only saw her white skin and beautiful figure.
Looking at herself in the mirror with a flying immortal hairstyle, Hua Xi Wan picked out a buyao in the shape of a blue bird holding a pearl to put into her hair. This caused the yellow flower in the middle of her brows to also become bright.
Bai Xia and the others did not ask why the junwang fei had picked this gold buyao that was outrageously beautiful. They only dressed her according to her wishes beautifully, so that no one could pick any flaws.
They had attended Junwang Fei for more than seven years and rarely seen Junwang Fei put any attention on her attire. Usually, she would wear whatever was most comfortable. Only when she went to Third Master Hua’s fu to make morning greetings to the old mistress would Junwang Fei put on the attire befitting of a miss of a marquis fu. They had never seen her like today as she personally picked everything from the hairpins to the scent pouches.
Hua Xi Wan used the eyebrow brush to draw out the most suitable shape and even used a specialized pen to draw the corners of her eyes. After she finished putting on her own makeup, she stood and let the servant girls order the adornments and pouches on her body.
Each woman had a side that was lazy, but when they needed to go out to see people, exquisite makeup and grand clothing were essentials. Some people like to use the phrase “women dressed up to please others.” Hua Xi Wan snorted at this. She would dress herself up beautifully before going out, not for some man, but to satisfy her own desire for beauty. Which man in the world did not want to be a bit more handsome, which woman a bit more beautiful?
But men always thought that all the women in the world attired themselves beautifully in order to attract them. She didn’t know if they thought they held that much significance to be so self-centered.
She could have loose and messy hair at home when she did not have to see others, but when she walked out the door, she would be the bright and beautiful empress.
After the servant girls put on the last tassel to weigh down her dress, Hua Xi Wan finally turned to Yan Jin Qiu who was sitting at the side. She had a faint smile as she said, “Jin Qiu, you have waited for long.”
“To see a beauty put on her attire, it is a pleasure, not a wait.” Yan Jin Qiu moved his gaze slightly aside, walked in front of Hua Xi Wan and said, “The sun is not yet up. Why don’t we use the morning meal before going in to see the Imperial One.”
“I will listen to your arrangements.” Hua Xi Wan nodded. She knew that Yan Jin Qiu’s mother had died early and his father, Xian Wang, had died four years ago, so she did not need to serve the elders in the tea ceremony. There was a smile on her lips as she naturally gave her hand to Yan Jin Qiu to let him support her. Coming out of the inner room into the outer hall, she saw a procession of servant girls come in with dishes of all kinds. They put out cutlery and plates before they retreated.
It seemed that although there was no female in charge, the protocol of this fu was not lax at all. Hua Xi Wan swept a look across the eunuchs and servant girls that were standing with bowed heads in the room. After she sat down together with Yan Jin Qiu, she allowed the servant girls to serve her in washing her hands before she started to use the meal.
Even though the number of dishes was the same as in the marquis fu, she could taste that the ingredients were finer than in the marquis fu. Mu Tong must be a very attentive housekeeper, and the servants were also clearly respectful and fearful of Xian Junwang, their master.
The outside said that Xian Junwang was warm in conduct and considerate. So how was he able to get the servants to respect and fear him so?
She used her movement of drinking porridge to peek at Yan Jin Qiu beside her. From an objective perspective, Yan Jin Qiu’s skin beauty was very good. She had not seen many that were more perfect than he was in her past life while she was in the entertainment circles. There was also his presence. He really was an attractive male. No wonder he had such high fame among the females of Jing.
The porridge was made from carefully-chosen purple rise that was firm to the bite, pleasing to eat and not too rich. It was very suitable to eat after getting up. She thought in satisfaction, she didn’t have to worry about food now that she had married into the junwang fu.
After finishing the morning meal, Hua Xi Wan used a handkerchief to cover her mouth as she rinsed and then she took a towel to wipe her mouth. She said to Yan Jin Qiu with a smile, “I wonder who the main chef in the fu is. This meal has been very pleasing. Hong Ying, reward the main chief ten taels of silver, the other chefs each five, and the rest who work in the kitchen half a string of cash.”
Hong Ying bent down slightly. “This servant will remember.”
Hua Xi Wan nodded. Turning to look at Yan Jin Qiu, she said, “Married to Jin Qiu, I will have great fortune in food in the future.”
Yan Jin Qiu was washing his hands and wiping them on a towel. Hearing Hua Xi Wan speak, he smiled and said, “It is their duty to serve to their master’s comfort, and also their good fortune.”
Hua Xi Wan said with a smile, “Even so, we should reward those that work hard. We also need to let other people know. This is an example.”
“Xi Wan is right.” Yan Jin Qiu looked at the color of the sky outside. Standing, he said, “The time is right. Let’s go out now.”
Hua Xi Wan nodded. As she prepared to stand, she saw Yan Jin Qiu reach a hand out in front of her. She was not awkward, and put her hand in the middle of his to use him as support to stand. She followed Yan Jin Qiu out of the room.
There was a considerable garden outside the main house that the two of them lived in that was planted with all kinds of strange and unique flora. There were also vast fake mountains which caused this to appear extremely artistic. Outside the main house, there was a large lotus pond with a nine-turn bridge constructed on top of it. When Hua Xi Wan passed over the bridge, she could see fish swimming in the water.
This Xian Junwang Fu was very interesting. The main house was near mountains and water, it was a very good fengshui setup, not to mention the lotus pond which represented auspicious luck. It could be seen that the old wang ye had put great effort in when the fu had first been built.
Coming out of the Door of Drooping Flowers, there were two sedans waiting outside. Hua Xi Wan got on the sedan. When the sedan was carried to the main gate, she stepped off the sedan and looked at the pair of intimidating lions standing at the front gates of the wang fu. She then looked around. There were not any people that were watching, only the guards that were standing up straight with their heads bowed. The six black horses that were in front of the carriage did not have any other color in their hides and contrasted against the copper bells on their necks.
“Come.” Yan Jin Qiu stood on the carriage and bent down to reach out a hand to Hua Xi Wan. “Come up.”
The person in front of her was wearing Shu[ii] brocade robes in the color of the sky after rain. His black hair was restrained in a jade coronet. That slight smile and the out reached hand really made him like the perfect male of a woman’s imagination. Hua Xi Wan smiled and handed her hand to him, stepping on the stool to get on the carriage. Her buyao swung lightly, and a hint of the bashfulness unique to females appeared on her face.
But there were never people that were perfect and flawless in this world. If a person had desires, they would have flaws.
“Careful.” Yan Jin Qiu put an arm around Hua Xi Wan’s waist as he sat down. “Don’t be nervous in the palace, I’ll be there for everything.”
Hua Xi Wan smiled and turned her eyes down. “En.”
Qilong Emperor could be considered a very able man. Winning the throne from his brothers was proof of his ability. After he succeeded the seat, he also proved that he was suited to being an emperor. His greatest regret in this life was probably that he did not have many children. In this, his brothers were much stronger than he was.
Hua Xi Wan knew that Yan Jin Qiu had an elder sister, and a shu brother several months younger than him. But she had never seen the two, so she would not mention them abruptly in front of Yan Jin Qiu.
Entering the Imperial Palace, Hua Xi Wan found that, while the layout of this was different than the Forbidden Palace she had visited in her past life, the presence it gave off was the same. More accurately, because the Forbidden Palace she had visited had long been absent of any feudal rulers and had become a tourist spot, the authoritative feeling had lessened. When she stepped into this Imperial Palace, she experienced the feeling of strict social strata.
The palace females and eunuchs that they encountered on their walk who bowed to them fearfully and then avoided looking at them, and the careful attitude of the eunuchs that were leading them, told her what was truly called the Imperial House. This was something she would not experience when she acted as the Empress in the last life. This was probably the so-called Imperial authority.
Qilong Emperor resided in Guang Yang Hall of Cheng Tan Palace. Not even fifteen minutes after Yan Jin Qiu and Hua Xi Wan arrived at the outer hall, Ma gonggong, the taijian that Qilong Emperor trusted the most, walked towards them and told them that the Emperor was summoning them.
“This servant has not yet congratulated Junwang,” Ma gonggong said with a bow. “Good wishes to Junwang and Junwang Fei to have a son soon.”
“We accept Ma gonggong’s good words.” Xian Junwang smiled but he did not deliberately try to gain favor with the people around the Emperor. “Please, gonggong, we’ll trouble you to lead the way.”
”Junwang Ye is too courteous.” Ma gonggong retreated a few steps to the side and led the two of them with a slightly bowed body towards Guang Yang Hall. From beginning to end, he did not even look at Hua Xi Wan in curiosity.
“Please, Junwang Ye, Junwang Fei, wait for a moment.” Coming to the door of the main hall, Ma gonggong first bowed and then went into the hall to report. A while later, another high-ranking eunuch came out to ask the two of them in.
“Subject-nephew and wife greet Emperor.” Yan Jin Qiu took Hua Xi Wan to walk into the hall. Hua Xi Wan only saw the corner of a bright yellow robe before she knelt down with Yan Jin Qiu.
The moment Yan Jin Qiu led Hua Xi Wan into the hall, the smile on Qilong Emperor’s face faded slightly. After Yan Jin Qiu knelt down, his smile recovered. “Little Ma, quick, help Junwang Ye up.”
Ma gonggong and another female official had smiles on their faces as they went to help the pair. Hua Xi Wan nodded slightly at the female official that helped her up before she stood silently next to Yan Jin Qiu.
“There is no need to be so courteous within our family. Quick, sit down.” Qilong Emperor had an open smile on his face. As the uncle, he could not stare at his nephew’s wife, so his gaze naturally landed on Yan Jin Qiu. “Now that you have married, you should put more of your mind on governance. Zhen is still hoping that you can be an assistant and ease zhen’s burden.”
“Emperor is too complimentary. Subject-nephew is young and ignorant. Emperor, it is already subject-nephew’s good fortune that you do not disdain subject-nephew for not completing tasks well. Subject-nephew does not have the face to take on the label of assistant.” Yan Jin Qiu’s tone and action seemed scholarly. The rumors of his outstanding talent were not without basis.
“Young people will know after learning.” Qilong Emperor’s words expressed that he was not concerned as he said benevolently, “Yi’an Marquis Fu’s conduct is strict, and they are a family with good etiquette.”
“Subject-nephew will remember Emperor’s teaching.” Yan Jin Qiu stood to bow to the Emperor as he said, “Subject-nephew thanks Emperor’s benevolence. If not for the Emperor, subject-nephew could not have married such a virtuous wife.”
Hua Xi Wan pushed her head lower and let her bashful expression show even clearer.
Qilong Emperor jerked the corners of his mouth in a smile. “Haha, you are zhen’s nephew, zhen will help you juniors.”
“Subject-nephew has caused Emperor to expend great effort.” Yan Jin Qiu displayed a hint of a smile.
[i] Burton Watson translation, accessed from TeachArt Wiki. https://teachartwiki.wikispaces.com/Goddess+of+the+Luo+River+–+Gu+Kai+Zhi
[ii] 蜀 Shu: shortened form for Si Chuan province
I’m going to use “mistress” to replace taitai, “mister” to replace lao ye (老爷) and furen will become lady later on in the story. The consistency in this translation might vary since I have to go back to the previous chapters… … and it is going to end up sounding like a regency novel if I keep going.