Pinlan took the lead and stepped forward, and Minglan followed suit step by step. They entered the inner room full of womenfolk either sitting or standing, all well-dressed. Seeing Minglan coming in, Third Madam slapped her thigh and laughed: “Speak of the devil; we were just talking about you!”
Minglan neglected her words. She followed Pinlan to the elders and then stood respectfully next to the old Madam Sheng. The old woman next to cousin Shulan was her mother-in-law, who wore a brocade embroidered sleeved over-dress with several jewels and a tulle rose on her head. She wore a lot of ornaments on her neck and wrist, dressed like a million bucks. The light reflected off those ornaments dazzled other womenfolk.
Sun Zhigao’s mother had been stared at Minglan since she came in. A smile appeared on her wrinkled old face and she said: “A few days ago, Third Madam talked with me about you. At that time I thought you were a good girl and today I finally see you with my own eyes. Your behaviour shows you are really an educated girl from a noble family.”
After saying that, she smiled at those two old Madams: “My nephew is of the same age as her, and he is quite handsome. As today is a big day, what about setting the engagement of them?”
Then she stared straight at the old Madams, waiting for their reply. At the same time, most of the womenfolk in the room stopped talking and looked at them.
Minglan sneered in her heart: normally, a matchmaker wouldn’t bring up an engagement boldly for fear of refusal, but the mother of scholar Sun Zhigao was so shameless that she proposed a marriage in the presence of those distinguished womenfolk. How could Minglan refuse regardless of embarrassment?
Actually, what Minglan disliked most was the way Sun Zhigao’s mother sized her up, which looked like she was picking eggs in the market.
Old Madam Sheng kept stirring the tea with a cover and didn’t say a word. The Eldest Madam Sheng frowned and was ready to say something to lighten the atmosphere, but Sheng Yun started before her: “Hey, madam you really tell us a joke. Your nephew is almost twenty, while my niece is still a little girl. How can they be coupled with each other? It’s not an appropriate idea.” Sun Zhigao’s mother was a little unhappy: “What’s the matter with the age? Just marry some concubines and wait for the legal wife to grow up. When the legal wife formally gets married, those concubines could take good care of her.”
The womenfolk in the house showed different expressions, some felt funny, some were surprised, some shook their heads. But most of them were disdainful, bowed their heads and whispered with others. Minglan was also impressed by this Scholar’s mother. The legal wife was not sure yet, she had already put the concubines on the agenda. Sun Zhigao’s mother was either deliberately to make troubles, or she really felt it didn’t matter. The one who knows nothing fears nothing.
But you couldn’t directly say that you can’t accept concubines, or you would get a bad reputation of “jealous woman.” Sheng Yun rolled her eyes and smiled, “You madam is choosing a wife for your nephew, I should also choose the husband for my niece. We Sheng household is somewhat with political background. My elder male cousin is a senior administrative officer, not to mention his son, my nephew, who was appointed by the emperor as the officer working in Hanlin Academy. Madam, what resources could your nephew contribute to his wife? Is he with a political title, or has lands and shops? There’s a saying that, to marry a man, you should consider food and clothes. What are your nephew’s advantages?”
Sheng Yun talked quickly and frankly, and her straightforward temper was also famous in the county. What she said was a half-truth, and all the people in the hall laughed after listening to her. Everyone knew that Mother Sun’s (Sun Zhigao’s mother) nephew’s parents died when he was young so that he had to rely on his aunt to live. Although he was idle every day, he could ingratiate Mother Sun with a glib tongue.
Since her son took a test and became Xiucai, the Mother Sun felt that their family was a scholarly family. So she held the normal family in contempt and she had got to match her nephew a wife of a noble family. All of the noble households in the county were bothered by Mother Sun. She dared not to be rude to the Sheng Household for fear of the Sheng’s prestige. Mother Sun was a little discouraged after meeting with several refusals. But a few days ago, listening to the Third Madam’s mention of Minglan, she had been inspired again and thought that although Minglan was only a concubine’s daughter, she was born in the official family though. So she took it for granted that she would show favor Minglan if she proposes marriage to Minglan. But what never occurred to Mother Sun was that the two old madams said nothing and left her alone, and what’s more, Sheng Yun wore the heart on her sleeve and every word of her was heart-wrenching. Mother Sun’s face darkened with anger immediately, “Although my nephew has neither fame nor fortune, he was born by legitimate wife!”
Pinlan’s face turned red, and her eyes were filled with anger. Under the sleeve, Pinlan grasped Minglan’s hand unconsciously with great force. It was so vigorously that Pinlan grasped Minglan’s hand to bleed nearly. Minglan lowered her head and patted Pinlan’s hand gently with the other hand – Mrs. Li was also born by a concubine.
When Sheng Wei was on his age to get married, the Eldest Master of Sheng family almost lost his family’s property. Fortunately, considering his camaraderie with the Eldest Master Sheng, Old Master Li was kind and arranged a marriage for his granddaughter with Sheng Wei, but the girl’s parents were unwilling. As a result, Old Master Li’s son intervened and arranged his concubine-born daughter (Mrs. Li) to marry Sheng Wei, instead of his legal daughter. However, Sheng Wei was hardworking and loved Mrs. Li very much. The Sheng family became wealthy again, which was much better than the family of the legal daughter’s husband. As for the legal daughter of Li family who was replaced by Mrs. Li, she must have a great regret for that.
When you rebuke others, don’t go too far. As Sheng family was more and more prosperous these years, all didn’t mention the family background of Mrs. Li anymore. What Sun Zhigao’s mother said was too much. All people in this house became silent, and then they looked at people of Sheng family and Mrs. Zhu who lowered her head and was drinking tea. Mrs. Li, who did not speak for a long time, stared straight at Sun Zhigao’s mother differently. She said quietly: “There are a few girls elder than Minglan. I think the daughter of Third Madame, Girl Hui, matches more with your nephew.”
Third Madame had laughed at Minglan just now. When Mrs. Li talked about her daughter, Third Madame waved her hands and said anxiously, “No, no… I will not accept a lazy and poor…” Suddenly, Third Madame stopped speaking, seeing that Sun Zhigao’s mother was glaring at her. If the room weren’t full of people, Sun Zhigao’s mother might hurt Mrs.Li and Third Madame just like when she was a farmer.
However, womenfolk in the room all knew what Third Madame mean. They laughed, looking at Sun Zhigao’s mother and Third Madame, whose faces turned red after a while.
Pinlan was glad to see this scene, releasing Minglan’s hand. So did Minglan, who took Pinlan out of the crowd. They stood behind the lattice and took a rest there.
Sorry guys, I am busy with my thesis these days, and a lot of staff to handle in a new semester. Though I tried my best to keep updating, it seems that I could only divide one raw chapter into two parts. But I will never fake one chapter as 2 or 3 chapters, and thanks for your understanding. If possible, I will update one complete chapter randomly. <3<3<3