Minglan did not know the customs of the other places’, but in Youyang, rough horseplay at weddings was impossible for people who had no small JJ (penis) – refer to girls. In addition, the amount of information received by Minglan and Pinlan that day was so huge that they took a bath and went to bed early.
Mrs. Kang, the second aunt-in-law, had a very Korean-style name – Yun’er. Early the next morning, when Yun’er offered the two old madams and her parents-in-law tea, Minglan stood aside to keep a close watch and found it was true that Mrs. Kang was gentle and sweet. And then she looked at the elder brother Changwu, who next to Yun’er, was laughing like a pumpkin. It seemed that they mixed in last night.
Sheng Wei and Mrs. Li were very fond of the new daughter, rewarding a thick red envelope and a pair of excellent jade dragon and phoenix bracelets. With her hair-clasps, in the form of five phoenixes facing the sun, trembled, Kang Yun’er flushed and took the gifts. Considering her eldest son’s wife, Mrs. Li said nothing about the reproduction of offspring but only pleasantly instructed Yun’er to live in harmony with wives of brothers.
After paying respects to her parents, Pinlan talked to Minglan by stealth that Kang Yun’er’s dowry was much less than that when Shulan married Sun Xiucai. Casting her eyes on the simple-minded Pinlan, Minglan came to know that the Kang Family was really on the wane. So it was no wonder that Yun’er, whose parents were both legitimate, would marry beneath her. But every cloud has a silver lining, Sheng Wei, Mrs. Li, and Changsong never complained about the childless Mrs. Wen (Changsong’s wife), so Yun’er was lucky enough to marry Changwu.
At the thought, Minglan could not help but sigh: God, why the only decent guy in ancient time she knew were all her collateral relatives within three generations by blood! What would her husband-to-be look like? If she was unfortunate enough and encountered a guy like Mr. Sun (Shulan’s husband), then she would have to choose one between being a red-apricot (infidelity) or lily (coming out of the closet), which would be said …
From the performance of Kang Yun’er in the next few days, Old Madam Sheng was a very good matchmaker. Kang Yun’er was modest and courteous, and she treated those sisters-in-law quite politely and gently. However, she was just so restrained that she could be bashful easily. While Changwu was an easy-going person, so they could be considered as a matched couple.
Yun’er was particularly respectful to Old Madam Sheng. One time she was preparing the table, she happened to know that there was braised arugula that old Madam liked, so she kept serving it to old Madam. Sheng Yun teased: “All said that once the couple gets married, the matchmaker will be left behind. But my nephew’s wife is a good girl, who still remembers old Madam with gratitude!”
Hearing this, Yun’er became so blushful that even her ears turned red, and she wanted to hide underground in that situation. The Eldest Madam Sheng hit Sheng Yun and couldn’t help but laugh. Pinlan, who was eating at the other table, regretted that she was not with them, as she especially liked to amuse her new sister-in-law. While Minglan often stopped Pinlan from bullying Yun’er, and Changwu would also chase after Pinlan to give her a lesson, so Pinlan could hardly succeed in making mischief. On the other hand, the elder brother and the younger sister often got into fights and laughter, having a lot of fun.
Mrs. Li was very pleased to see the family full of harmony and peace, but when she thought of the eldest daughter Shulan, she couldn’t help but feel upset. All she could do was praying in her heart, hoping that her sons and daughters would all lead a happy life.
On the seventh day after the marriage, the Sheng family went to the ancestral hall to worship the ancestors. After the men’s offer sacrifice was finished, they then withdrew and let the women go in to worship. The main procedure was to introduce Yun’er to the Sheng family’s ancestors and other living clansmen. After the naturalization, Yun’er would be a member of Sheng family.
It wasn’t long ago that Sheng family rose to power and position, so there were not many ancestors who could be traced. Minglan confusedly followed others to worship, and she both offered incense and took bows. When her mind was still a mess, she suddenly remembered that when Yun’er’s name was added into the genealogy, the Eldest Madam Sheng and her grandmother spoke something to several old madams in the clan, and then the patriarch Sheng Wei wrote a few more strikes on the genealogy. What did he write
Minglan was shocked. After a while, she stuttered: “Why, why is it so…? Did Mrs….Mother know that?” Old Madam Sheng glanced at Minglan and said simply, “I have informed her.”
Minglan’s mind was a mess, she sat in the carriage and thought: Old grandma is a woman of action, she did everything without a hint beforehand and with an understatement afterward. Minglan had a lot of words to say but didn’t know where to start. Finally, she held her grandmother’s arm and dangled back and forth, buried her head in her grandmother’s arms, and said in a small voice, “Thank you, grandmother. For being so thoughtful to me.”
Old Madam Sheng squinted, only said one word: “… Nonsense.”
Minglan looked up and watched the turquoise brocade carriage roof swaying slightly. She knew that once a child is in the legal wife’s name, he/she would be considered as the legal son/daughter. But actually, it’s only a bubble reputation. All the relatives and friends knew that she is the daughter of a concubine. Anyhow, she could be more decent than before when she gets married.
Minglan chuckled, Rulan could no longer call her “is borned by a concubine”. And she suddenly thought of something, pulled her grandmother’s sleeve and asked gently, “How about fourth sister? Was she also be recorded in Mrs. Wang’s name?”
Old Madam Sheng didn’t open her eyes, only replied lightly: “You’re not supposed to compete with Rulan. As for Molan… it’s up to her own development.”
Ming Lan forced a smile: after all, she was born by a concubine. But Minglan was glad that at least she was the daughter of the legal wife, Mrs. Wang, in the genealogy.
After half a month, Changwu was going to work in Bianjing. Although Mrs. Li didn’t want her son to leave Youyang, she also knew that the job opportunity as an officer in Bianjing was precious as Changwu was selected from numerous candidates. What’s more, Sheng Hong had sought help from many people so that Changwu could get this position. However, Kang Yun’er was worried. She was afraid that her mother-in-law (Mrs. Li) would ask her to stay in Youyang. If Changwu lived in Bianjing alone, Yun’er was afraid that Changwu would have a few concubines when they meet again. Thinking about this, Yun’er remembered his mother’s grievances.
Thinking more about this, Yun’er was more worried. What she could only do was to be more respectful and take care of her in-laws more sincerely, getting up early and sleeping late. For this reason, Sheng family all liked her very much.
One day, Mrs. Li went to visit Old Madame Sheng. Talking about Changwu’s leaving, Mrs. Li could not help but sighed, “My son has his ambition, and I can’t stop him. But he was too young to leave his parents. When you return to Bianjing, please take care of him.”
Yun’er stood next to Mrs. Li, with sweats on her forehead. Mrs. Li looked back at her and said slowly: “Boy Wu and Yun’er only get married for a few days. I think Yun’er is better to stay in Youyang. I’ll teach her more so that she could take care of Boy Wu in the future. Yun’er, what do you think?”
Hearing what Mrs. Li said, Yun’er was unhappy and was about to cry, but she still said with a smile, “I’m so glad mother can teach me more.”
Minglan was about to get sleep next to her grandmother, but she was awake after hearing the conversation. She couldn’t help but interrupted, “Mrs. Li, I think sister Yun’er is better to go to Bianjing with brother Changwu.” Mrs. Li asked deliberately, “Why do you think so?”
Minglan said embarrassedly, “Ummmm, I’m happy together with sister Yun’er.” This reason was too reluctant that no one believed. Then, Minglan whispered more, “Actually, Brother Wu wants to live with sister Yun’er more.”
Yun’er flushed after hearing Minglan’s words. Although she knew these are children’s words, she was still grateful and secretly expressed her gratitude with eyes.
A few days later, a doctor diagnosed that the eldest daughter-in-law, Mrs. Li, had been pregnant for three months. Sheng Wei and Mrs. Li were delighted for the news and said that it was Yun’er who brought the good fortune here. Mrs. Li also believed that and was grateful to the younger brother‘s wife. They (sisters-in-law) talked hand in hand for a long time.
In fact, Mrs. Li was not a mean mother-in-law. She was just afraid that Yun’er, a young lady from an official family, would treat Changwu in an irreverent attitude. After all, it was in the capital where Mrs. Wen could back up Yun’er. But after thought, she abandoned the idea. If Yun’er does that, she could also call Yun’er back. Yun’er was nearly going to cry out of joy, while she didn’t dare to make her delight noticeable. Therefore, she listened to Mrs. Li quietly, learning how to develop good interpersonal relationships and take care of her husband. A few days later, Changwu went to the capital city accompanied by Yun’er.
Sheng family gradually became quiet. One day, the autumn wind stopped and the weather was warm. After breakfast, Old Madam Sheng suddenly said to Minglan: “Girl Ming, go to the city with me.”
Minglan was standing at the table and cutting the cloth, Danju measuring it with a ruler, Cuiwei looking for good designs, and Xiaotao watching the simmering tea stove. In these few days, Pinlan was taken to check the account book by the eldest aunt (Mrs. Li, Sheng Hong’s legal wife). Minglan was going to make a dudou (undergarment covering the chest and abdomen) for the child of Mrs. Wen. Hearing the words, she was stunned for a while and then said, “Go into the city? We are in the city, aren’t we?”
——Was Youyang not a city? If it was not, a village?
Old Madam Sheng smiled and said: “Silly
When the Sheng family divided up family property and lived apart, the Old Master Sheng left a mansion for his three sons respectively. Because the second son (Sheng Hong) completed the transition from businessman to scholar, Old Master Sheng placed the second son’s mansion in Jinling before marrying the daughter of the Marquis of Yongyi.
Taking half of the young maids and old female servants, Old Madam Sheng and Minglan got on the carriage and left for Jingling. Sheng Wei worried that Old Madam Sheng and Minglan may not be well cared for, so he sent several more strong domestic workers. The carriage was well-prepared and slowly traveled in the direction of Jinling. Just entering the city gate of Jinling, Minglan felt that the street was very lively outside. But as a young lady of a big, noble family, Minglan could not pull the curtains and look out. She could only rely on the sound carried by the wind to find what shops were located on the street.
Old Madam Sheng looked at Minglan who was like a little squirrel. The latter tried hard not to open the curtains, only pressed her ears against the carriage wall and listened carefully to the sound outside. Old Madam Sheng was amused, but she deliberately did not say anything.
After arriving at the Sheng Mansion, Danju helped Minglan to get off, then Minglan turned round and helped Old Madam Sheng get off. A dozen old servants greeted them at the entrance. Standing at the forefront was the old steward who managed the mansion. He kneeled down and saluted, saying: “Here we are, coming to welcome Old Madam Sheng and the sixth younger sister back to the Sheng Mansion!” Then a row of servants in the back all made a kowtow together and chorused in unison.
Old Madam Sheng nodded and seemed satisfied. She waved and let the servants stand up. Minglan gave Old Madam Sheng her arm and carefully supported her, and the line-up entered the mansion. Looking at Old Madam Sheng, the steward was very excited. Although stuttering, his voice went on and on along the way: “I haven’t seen you for many years, Old Madam Sheng. I am so happy. Without you, the mansion is unpresentable. Old Madam Sheng, do you want to sit in the sedan chair to take a circle in the mansion? Oh, and you must be the sixth younger sister! I have never seen you before. Your noble gesture reminds me of a pearl flower!”