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Chapter Sixty-One: Paternal Family
Just as Hua Xi Wan finished attiring herself for the day, Yan Jin Qiu walked in from outside. Because of the snow, a small part of his shoes was wet. When Hua Xi Wan saw this, she immediately had the servant girls take out shoes for Yan Jin Qiu to change into. She handed a cup of warm tea to Yan Jin Qiu. “It is a major court session today—how is it that you came back so early?”
Yan Jin Qiu allowed Mu Tong to change his shoes and then waved the other people out. He then took a sip of hot tea before saying, “The Emperor fainted in anger because of the case that the Judicial Office is investigating right now.”
With a son like this, it would not be right if he did not faint a few times every year.
While she thought this, Hua Xi Wan said with slight concern on her face, “What do the imperial doctors say?”
“What can they say? It is just too much anger.” Yan Jin Qiu saw Hua Xi Wan’s splendid attire and remembered that Hua Xi Wan was going to visit his in-laws at the marquis fu today. He said, “The snow has decreased slightly. I will accompany you to visit the parents. Even though today is not the old taitai’s significant birthday year, as one of the grandson generation, it is proper to go wish her well. Also, it has been a few days since I have played a match with Mt. Tai.”
“All right,” Hua Xi Wan said with a smile. “A few days ago, Mother was saying to me that ever since Father played with you, he disdains my two brothers’ skills. Once you go today, you can satisfy some of his weiqi yearning.”
Even if they were simple and frugal, the procession of the wang ye and wang fei still looked ceremonial and noble in the eyes of other people. Fortunately, the people in Jing were already used to this. In Jing where the Imperial Family members could be found on the streets, and the nobility was as numerous as dogs, they would just exchange gossip between them when they saw a grand procession appear on a snowy day.
“I heard Xian Wang once gave Xian Wang Fei a night pearl the size of a fist to curry favor with her. That is a very rare object.”
“What are you saying? I have a distant relative who works in the fu of a certain Imperial Family member, and they heard that Xian Wang Fei doesn’t like night pearls at all. So in the things that they send as gifts to Xian Wang Fei, they have to avoid things like night pearls.”
“I’ve also heard this. What night pearl, that is so cheap. Would someone as beautiful as Xian Wang Fei like something like that?”
The people on the street fantasized about the days that the Imperial Family members lived. In their imagination, people like Wang Ye and Wang Fei would definitely live differently from them. Also, Xian Wang had a good and elegant reputation before. If Xian Wang Fei was the object of such affection from him, she definitely would not be a woman who only had beauty.
Even though there were warming stoves placed in the large carriage, Hua Xi Wan still felt slightly cold. When she lifted the curtain slightly, she felt the cold wind scurrying into the carriage. She moved towards Yan Jin Qiu and inhaled the cold air. She neatened the sleeve of her palace robe that was trimmed with fox fur and said, “The days are getting colder.”
“I wonder what the harvest will be like next year.” Yan Jin Qiu’s brow furrowed. “The day is cold and the ground is frozen; I wonder how the poor will manage to pass the winter.”
“Jing is like this every year when it is winter. Fortunately, some prestigious families will give out rice and porridge in the winter, or give out warm clothing to some of the poor families. Otherwise, it really is difficult to live as one of the common people.” What Hua Xi Wan did not say was that, right at the feet of the Emperor, the people did not need to worry about dying from being frozen or starvation. Those who really endured hardship were the people in remote areas. With the Emperor so far away, no one knew how much of the Imperial Winter Funds that the Ministry of Revenue sent each year would truly land in the hands of those who needed them.
Hua Xi Wan did not say it, but that did not mean that Yan Jin Qiu did not think of it. However, it was not appropriate for people of their station to think of this matter. Right now, the Imperial Clan of the Great Zhao was showing signs of becoming disorderly.
The Emperor had become old and turned from a wise emperor into a paranoid, stubborn and muddle-headed emperor. The inner palace had a hard time producing children, the Crown Prince was unskilled and of poor conduct. If things continued to develop like this, it was undoubted that the Great Zhao Dynasty would turn into chaos. At that time, it would still be the innocent people who would suffer the most.
While the old taitai of the Hua Family lived with the third master of the Hua Family, this birthday was still celebrated and hosted by Hua He Sheng, the di son, at the marquis fu. No matter how the relationship between the three Hua Brothers was, in the eyes of other people, they were brothers of the same blood. If they made a spectacle, that was just providing something for other people to laugh at.
Fortunately, the three could be considered to have a harmonious relationship. While Hua Zhi Xun was born of the second wife, he had some talent in scholarly fields and he was a very rational person. So there was no conflict between him and his two brothers who were born of the first wife. In their eyes, the little matters between the women of the inner compound were so insignificant that they were not worth a mention.
Even though the marquis fu had already stated that, because it was not a major birthday for the old taitai, they would not hold a large celebration, still many people in Jing sent gifts. This gave the Hua Clan enough face.
The families by marriage such as the Zhang, Lu, and Yao Family also came in person to celebrate the birthday of the old taitai. The old taitai’s own family, the Luo Family, was a small prestigious family, and naturally would not miss such a chance to curry favor with the Hua Family. So early in the morning, the mistress of the Luo Family, the old taitai’s nephew’s wife, came to the marquis fu. She accompanied the old taitai, amusing her and causing the old taitai to be very happy.
However, Luo Taitai also knew her own status in addition to the fact the old taitai was just the second wife of the old marquis. The present head of the family was the oldest son of the original wife, so she did not do anything inappropriate using her identity as one of the old taitai’s paternal family members. Her words were respectful of all three Hua Brothers, and she did not favor one over the others.
The Old Hua Taitai was satisfied with this. She was perceptive, smart, and had a tight mouth. Therefore, of the womenfolk in her paternal family, who she saw the most was this nephew’s wife.
“Old Taitai, Xian Wang and Xian Wang Fei have arrived,” a young servant girl reported with a happy expression. “I heard that they have reached the main gates already.”
“Such heavy snow—why did these two children come? Didn’t I say that I was not going to hold a banquet? What happens if they get cold?” While the old taitai was stern in words, the smile on her face was visible. Hua Xi Wan really wasn’t her true granddaughter, but she gave enough face by coming on a snowy day with Xian Wang to celebrate her birthday.
“Aunt, you cannot say something like that. Who in Jing doesn’t know that Xian Wang and Xian Wang Fei are extremely filial people? They have come in such heavy snow to celebrate for you, that is their filial virtue. How can you blame them for their concern—wouldn’t this hurt their hearts?” Luo Taitai’s words were very skilled. She did not just make Xian Wang and Xian Wang Fei into filial people, she also complimented the old taitai for being an elder who was benevolent.
The young master who had been adopted from a branch of the Zhang Family also added a few words. However, his status was awkward, so he was not willing to speak more after saying a few words. His furen was also someone who was not skilled in speech, so the two sat there and seemed slightly transparent.
The second taitai of the Hua Family, Zhang shi, was not very warm towards this younger brother who had been adopted and his wife. In fact, she looked down on this adopted brother. If it was not for the face of her paternal family, she probably wouldn’t even look at them.
When she heard that Xian Wang and Xian Wang Fei had arrived, Zhang shi had a slightly complex expression. Hua Xi Wan had rescued her daughter but broke the path she had arranged for her son. Therefore, she did not feel any gratefulness towards Hua Xi Wan.
Lu shi did not care about these matters. Turning, she took her daughter-in-law to the second door to greet her daughter. The people seated also followed. Who here had a higher status than Xian Wang and Xian Wang Fei?
When they walked to the second door, they saw a group of female servants ushering people in. The ones leading the way were Hua Chang Bao and Hua Ding Chen.
“Mother.” When Hua Xi Wan saw Lu shi, her steps quickened. However, as the ground was slippery after it snowed, she stumbled. If it was not for Yan Jin Qiu who was quick of eye and hand, she would have fallen to the floor.
“Careful.” Yan Jin Qiu reached out to neaten her skirt. “It is snowing, and it will hurt for a few days if you trip.”
Hua Xi Wan coughed dryly and touched the hairpin in her hair. “I know.”
Lu shi smiled as she looked at the interaction between her daughter and son-in-law. After the two stopped moving, she went forward and said, “Already grown up, and you are still so rushed when walking.”
“Greetings to Mother-in-law.” Yan Jin Qiu respectfully gave the bow of a junior. Lu shi reached out in a perfunctory action to lift him up. “Virtuous Son-in-Law, there is no need for such courtesy. It is snowing, so let us speak inside.”
The group exchanged greetings before finally returning to the main hall. Yan Jin Qiu refused Lu shi’s request to sit at the very front, and sat with Hua Xi Wan on the first two seats on the left.
The other people saw Yan Jin Qiu was very respectful towards Lu shi, as though they really were a normal son-in-law and mother-in-law. They were very moved. Raising a capable daughter was much better than a son who had problems. Look at Xian Wang. He had such a noble status, and yet was still so respectful of the in-laws. It could be seen how much importance he placed on Hua Xi Wan.
Seeing this, Zhang shi couldn’t help but glance at her daughter who was still thin and dispirited. She felt slightly furious and unspeakably admiring. This couldn’t help but show on her face. Only when she was glared at coldly by her husband, Hua Zhi Ming, who was beside her did she put away her emotions.
Because of her daughter’s failed marriage, she and her husband had been living separately. Her son and daughter were much colder to her. She could understand if her daughter ignored her, but she had done everything for her son. Why was it that, in the end, even her son did not pay attention to her?
Zhang shi did not understand and was unrepentant. When she saw Lu shi’s good relationship with her husband, her harmonious family, and her filial children, the discontent in her heart was like a great fire that could not be extinguished.
The son of the Zhang Family who had been adopted and his wife became even more timid after Hua Xi Wan appeared. Zhang Furen was so nervous she didn’t know what to do with her hands. When Hua Xi Wan inquired about her, she stammered, “No, no, don’t dare to accept Wang Fei’s inquiry. Everyone is good at home.”
“That’s good. Marquis Zhang is a rare noble person, and the old furen is a virtuous person. If the two elders are in good health, that is best.” Hua Xi Wan could see the nervousness of this Zhang Furen. After saying some words to her in a gentle tone, she moved the topic onto other people.
She had heard that this child who had been adopted was the second son of the Zhang Family cadet branch. It could be seen now that compared to the true-born young masters and furen of the prestigious families, this pair was slightly more timid. However, the two seemed to be honest people. This was good for the older Zhang Couple. At least, in their elderly age, there would be people to take care of them.
“Right, I heard that Second Sister’s marriage has been finalized. I wonder which family has the good fortune to be able to marry such an auspicious person as Second Sister?” Hua Xi Wan and Hua Chu Yu had a closer relationship, so after the perfunctory greetings, she asked about the matters of her paternal family.
Hearing this, Yao shi said with some pride, “The elder son of the He Wen Marquis, of the Lin Family. I heard that he is a person who works hard.”
The He Wen Marquis Lin family?
Wasn’t that the paternal family of the Empress’ brother’s wife?
She did not have a good impression of the Fang Family. The Empress’ younger brother, Fang Cheng De, was not a good person in her eyes. She had seen Lin shi a few times before, and the other seemed to have a good personality. However, they did not have any private interactions, and she did not know what the other was like in person.
The eldest son of He Wen Marquis asked to marry Hua Chu Yu?
The smile on Hua Xi Wan’s face did not change, but she felt puzzled inside. She hoped that she was not thinking too much.
“Lin Zheng De is of good conduct.” At the side, Hua Chang Bao suddenly spoke. “I heard that he will attend the spring examinations. He is a person who knows to work hard and advance.”
The Lin Family had a third rank marquis title. While this was not a very noble status in Jing, they did not need to consider the court and its problems. It was pretty good for Second Tang Mei to marry into that family.
Hua Chu Yu smiled upon hearing this. It could not be seen that she had much interest in Lin Cheng De, her fiancé.
She changed the question and said, “Meimei, why have you started to tease me? It has been a few days since we met, and you are even more mischievous.”
Translator Ramblings: Everyone is connected to everyone … … or it seems like this. You can always find connections through marriage. I like the fact the author keeps the cast small. Makes things much easier to keep track of. But then it turns into you are related by marriage through to the enemy of your husband … … except, well, your enemy is already your uncle and aunt by way of your husband.