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Chapter Sixty-Two: Chu Yu
While theirs mothers did not have a very good relationship, nevertheless Hua Xi Wan and Hua Chu Yu, as di daughters of the Hua Family, had been together many times during their childhood. They had a deep sisterly relationship. So Hua Xi Wan quickly realized that Hua Chu Yu did not seem to feel much anticipation about the marriage to the shizi of He Wen Marquis. Rather than say she was being smart, it would be more accurate to say that she seemed resigned.
The people present were those who were close to the Hua Family, but some things were not appropriate to say in public. After Yan Jin Qiu and the other men went with her father to the study, Hua Xi Wan said with a smile, “It has been long since I returned to the fu. Is Second Tan Jie willing to accompany me on a walk in the fu?”
Such a cold day with the snow blowing—what reason was there to walk?
Everyone present knew this meant that the two girls had private things to say. Perceptively, they did not break the illusion. Lu shi said with a smile, “The yard has been changed recently. You sisters can go see. But it is snowing outside, so take care not to get cold.”
Hua Xi Wan smiled and allowed Bai Xia to help her into her fox fur cape. She held a handstove and walked out of the inner hall with Hua Chu Yu.
Almost all of the younger generation had left, and those present had children, so they changed the topic to daily matters. But because Hua Yi Liu was present, no one mentioned how to raise their children to avoid reminding the other of hurtful matters.
“Wang Fei has a good relationship with the second miss of our family.” Yao shi was a person who was slightly selfish. However, when she saw Hua Xi Wan’s closeness in treating her daughter, she said with a smile, “In the past, the two of them always liked to stay together. Now that Third Miss has become Wang Fei, the two still seem like in the past.”
“That is so true. In the past, Third Girl had to be on bedrest for a long period of time after she rescued Second Miss from drowning, and then ended up with this vulnerability to the cold. It has finally faded these past two years. Can average people compare to this relationship?” The reason why Lu shi was at odds with Yao shi was primarily because of this matter. She had felt pained at what occurred when her daughter rescued the child of the third master Hua, but she would not blame the child. But what Yao shi had done in the past was just repaying a boon with hate.
Yao shi was definitely one of the people who had spread rumors in the past about Hua Xi Wan. Even Zhang shi had done a lot in the shadows. She really did not know what her two sisters-in-law intended when they did this. They also had daughters—could they not put themselves in someone else’s shoes?
If it wasn’t for the actions of Eldest Miss and Second Miss’ mothers, Lu shi had a high opinion of Second Miss. Eldest Miss had talent and beauty, but her personality was not steady. She was not as vicious as required and not as kind as needed. She did not have enough breadth of mind and skill. As a woman, one could not have beauty, or the best figure, but what they required was a presence of mind.
Second Miss had this mother who was slightly muddle-headed, but Yao shi was truly good to her daughter. Second Miss also inherited the personality of Third Master Hua: she had both talent and appearance as well as a clear mind. This was a rare good girl.
If the women in the world could become officials like men, how many wondrous and mythical women would appear in the world? It was a pity that no matter how talented the women of the world were, they could only submit to residing in the inner compound, their spirits ground down by the daily affairs. If they married a man who was of good virtue and conduct, that was good fortune. But if it was like Eldest Miss… Lu shi sighed. Regardless of what the court situation was like, she only hoped that Second Miss would not end up like Eldest Miss and encounter a beast in clothing.
“Let’s sit up there.” Hua Xi Wan pointed at the Moon Viewing Pavilion in front. She was walking shoulder-to-shoulder with Hua Chu Yu, with a string of servant girls following them. A jade-ribbed ink umbrella was held on top of her head and caused her to feel slightly depressed.
The two sat down in the pavilion. The servants put out pastries, coal stoves, hot tea, and then retreated out of the pavilion.
“It is snowing outside; you should go seek shelter in the room. Just leave two people to serve in the pavilions.” Hua Xi Wan felt there was no need to torment so many people just to maintain her presence, so she had these people wait in the room. Even her personal servant girls were by the fire in the pavilion.
The servant girls heard this and were very happy as they left. Only Bai Xia and Hong Ying remained, as well as a personal servant girl of Hua Chu Yu.
There was tea boiling in the little red-date pot, the steam of which spread through the air as it bubbled.
The tea already was over-boiled but no one cared. Hua Xi Wan said as she held the hand-warmer, “Just now, I saw that Second Jiejie is not very happy. Is something wrong with the shizi of the Lin Family?”
Hua Chu Yu looked at Hua Xi Wan’s pale yet hale face. She shook her head with a faint smile. “There is nothing wrong, it is just how it is. As a woman, what would determine the quality of my life is my husband and my children. With a fate that is dependent on relying on others to gain anything else, there is no need to have so many delusions.”
Hua Xi Wan looked dazedly at Hua Chu Yu and suddenly thought of the words Xu Wang Shizi Fei had said, as well as Sheng Junwang Fei’s crazy actions after she could not have a child. She felt slightly uncomfortable. In this world where men held all the power, if women had any thoughts that were not to their benefit, the women would end up with the crime of “not abiding by the womanly path.”
Men always praised “women without talent are virtuous.” That was just because they were afraid that if women knew more, and their mind would be broadened, they would not serve men with all they had. So they would be like defenders who would suggest many things to women that were beneficial to the power of the man, while they whiled away their time at pleasure houses and brothels. As long as they had some respect towards their wife, they would receive the title of gentleman and could generously state that concubines were only playthings and the wife was the true path.
Hua Chu Yu saying this to her meant that she felt unwilling but had to compromise because she could not change anything. Hua Xi Wan felt sorrow for these exceptional women and also sighed for herself.
Of the women whom she knew, all had their unique traits. Even the Empress who was at odds with Yan Jin Qiu was a women with great skill. Yet how many of these exceptional women lived freely?
Even her mother who had a fiery personality was just slightly so in her speech and conduct. In reality, she still stayed in the small space that was the inner compound and received her reputation as a shrew because her father did not have concubines. What was worse was that most of the people who laughed at her mother behind her back were women.
“Why does Second Jiejie think so?” Hua Xi Wan sighed. “No matter how unfair the world is, as long as you are alive, you can think of ways so that you can make your life better. People have to leave some hope for themselves.”
“The outside says that Xian Wang and his wife have a love as deep as the sea. Meimei is admired by all the women in Jing—do you not have anything to regret?” Hua Chu Yu looked at the snowflakes flying. “From young, you were a special person, or rather, in my eyes, you were different from other females.”
The snow grew heavier. The pavilion was silent and the sound of boiling water in the little red clay pot seemed unusually loud.
“I’m just a common person.” Hua Xi Wan smiled. “I will compromise some things in order to let myself live better, and will do some things that I once did not like.”
Hua Chu Yu smiled as she looked at Hua Xi Wan. Her expression was exceptionally warm. “If a compromise makes your life better, than the compromise is worth it. To be able to bend and rise as needed is something you are good at, but I might not be able to reach your level.”
Hua Xi Wan looked at Hua Chu Yu’s smile. At this moment, she did not know what to say. There were some questions that did not have answers, and she was not a smart person who was seen once in a millennium.
Seeing that Hua Xi Wan did not speak, Hua Chu Yu continued, “He Wen Marquis Fu is the paternal family of the Crown Princess. I heard that the Crown Princess is the daughter of the second wife while the shizi is born of the original wife. The Lin Family is not very close to the Crown Prince, which is why the Empress is so dissatisfied with the Crown Princess.
After hearing this, Hua Xi Wan’s expression did not change. She wanted to know why Hua Chu Yu was saying all this to her.
“After I marry into the Lin Family, I will try to have the Lin Family distance themselves from the Crown Prince further.” Hua Chu Yu put down the teacup and grasped Hua Xi Wan’s hand. “Xi Wan, of us three sisters, at least one of us should have good days.”
Hua Xi Wan’s hand shook. She looked at Hua Chu Yu and thought of that day eight years ago when she jumped into the water to save Hua Chu Yu, what Hua Chu Yu had said.
“Meimei, it is I who burdened you.”
Hua Xi Wan had never expected that the other would say such a thing to her after so many years.
What was required, and what was not required?
“We should all live well.” Hua Xi Wan gripped Hua Chu Yu and looked hard at her eyes. “Second Jiejie, remember—think more for yourself. A lifetime is just a few decades; do not let your life be a misfortunate trip.”
Hua Chu Yu laughed lightly. “Jiejie will remember what Meimei has said.”
Hua Yi Liu held up an umbrella as she looked at the two people conversing harmoniously in the pavilion. She said with an unfathomable expression to the servant girl behind her, “Tell the two misses that the banquet is about to start soon.”
After the servant girl walked to the Moon Viewing Pavilion, Hua Yi Liu expressionlessly turned her gaze away. Of the three sisters, Hua Chu Yu and Hua Xi Wan were forever the two who were the closest, and she was just their hanger-on. Her beauty was not as good as Hua Xi Wan’s, and her talent was inferior to Hua Chu Yu’s. Maybe, in their eyes, she was just a joke.
Just as she turned and prepared to leave, she saw His Highness Xian Wang walk over with a black-ribbed umbrella with a painting of Jiangnan. Her steps stilled and she made a formal bow to Xian Wang.
Xian Wang only made a faint sound of acknowledgement and then walked in the direction of the Moon Viewing Pavilion.
She turned back to look and saw Hua Xi Wan step down from the stairs to the pavilion. Just as she took one step down, Xian Wang took her hand and the umbrella in his hand moved towards her.
The two of them under the umbrella were like a pleasing drawing. Anyone who saw it would feel admiration.
Hua Yi Liu felt that there was something in her heart that almost could not be suppressed.
Translator Ramblings: More relations by marriage. The empress’ brother’s wife and the crown princess are either aunt and niece or something similar.