The Landowner And His Wife

Chapter 129: The Question Of Betrothal Money


1. This is an unofficial translation and no permission has been obtained from the author/ official publisher. It may be taken down if the author/official publisher requests. 

2. This is a fan work and the interpretation represents only the translator’s personal views without any input from the author. 

3. No permission has been granted to use, publish, upload and/or copy this translation to any other site except for Second Life Translations.

Old Man Liu drew on his pipe before starting on the next topic, “Now let’s talk about Shu’s matter! The family that the Chen woman was talking about. What do you think about them?”


Liu Changgeng immediately recalled his children’s words and quickly said, “That family is not suitable. It’s obvious that they saw that our family is doing well now, which is why they are looking for a match. They weren’t especially close to our family before – they didn’t even really talk to us. We are all from the same village, so we have an understanding of the family; when our family had difficulties before, they never stepped forward to help. No, I don’t think they are suitable.”

Liu Gao shi shared the same opinion as her son. She too nodded and said, “That’s right. I don’t think that family is suitable either! Shu is your eldest son, and is also the eldest grandson in that generation. His wife must be carefully chosen! It concerns all of the younger generation! If she is virtuous, all the others who marry in can model themselves after her! The sisters-in-law can also enjoy a harmonious relationship. If the eldest daughter-in-law has poor conduct, and keeps quarreling….” The next sentence revealed her fears, “You just have to look at your first dasao, Ma shi to see what can happen.”

Liu Changgeng and He shi both nodded. He shi was originally unwilling to consider the match. Marrying within the village was already difficult enough. The fact that their family really had made a fortune made the situation doubly difficult. They needed to choose a bride carefully; they didn’t want a fortune hunter.

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After testing the waters, and confirming that both parties were interested, they would start the formal process of engagement. It wasn’t that they were trying to avoid the expense of the expected gifts by proposing formally. Rather, everyone wanted to avoid losing face in the event that one party was uninterested. After all, it would be rather shameful to be refused formally, and it would be very embarrassing for the one refused when they started to look for another partner. 


Shi Cheng’s family was very familiar with Liu Xu’er’s family. They had been neighbours after all! Still, there was protocol to follow, and so, Shi Qian had first sent someone to inquire about their interest, and to give the Liu family a heads-up. After all, even though everyone felt that their engagement and marriage was the natural progression of things, the two of them were still quite young. 

When the Liu family gave their approval, the Shi family began discussing and preparing to formally propose. After a couple of days, the matchmaker brought a line of people bearing gifts over to the Liu household. 

After she entered, the matchmaker gave a deep bow before smiling at both Liu Changgeng and He shi, “I come bearing good news!” The line of people behind her immediately offered their bows and said as one, “Congratulations, congratulations!”

Liu Changgeng and He shi were both from humble backgrounds – they had never witnessed such a formal ceremony! They looked at each other and didn’t know how best to respond. He shi quickly returned their bows before saying, “Please come in, come into the house!”

The matchmaker smiled and nodded. She followed He shi and Liu Changgeng into the main room. The five or six people behind her lifted their elaborately decorated trays and baskets of gifts and followed her in. 

It was only then the matchmaker smiled and said, “This slave is a matchmaker registered with the Feng County government office. My husband’s name is Li, Master Liu and Madam Liu can call me Li shi.”

Liu Changgeng and He shi were rather embarrassed. Their faces were red – it was the first time that Liu Changgeng had heard anyone refer to him as Master Liu!

After Li shi had finished with the traditional greetings and auspicious words, she took out the gengtie1 庚帖/ gengtie – a card to propose marriage. It would contain information about the person, e.g., their date of birth and so on.that the Shi family had prepared. With both hands, she offered it to Liu Changgeng, “This is the gengtie that the family has prepared.”

Liu Changgeng quickly moved to receive it, then he called for He shi to bring over the gengtie that they had prepared for Liu Xu’er earlier. Her gengtie had been printed on silk, with the letters written in gold. When Li shi saw, she covered her mouth to smile. 

This occasion would usually mark the first formal visit that the male side would send the matchmaker. And it would be during this visit that an offer was officially accepted or declined. If the family agreed, they would take this opportunity to find out more about the man’s situation. And if everyone was still in agreement, they would then exchange their bazi, to see if they were compatible. Although there was the informal probing visit earlier, He shi was unwilling to give up this opportunity to find out more, so she started to ask questions about the Shi family. 

Li shi smiled and said, “Weren’t you neighbours with their family? You should be aware of their situation.”

He shi replied,”We were neighbours before, but the family moved away quite a few years ago, and our relationship with them slowly grew more distant. We are roughly aware of their situation, but what we want to know is what the family is like these days… You can just share your rough impressions.”


Li shi didn’t know what He shi wanted to know, but it was only right and proper for the girl’s family to try and find out more about the other side. So she smiled and shared the Shi family’s circumstances. Actually, He shi was already well aware of these facts, what she wanted to know was what Shi Cheng’s mother was like usually. Would she get along well with her daughter? But how could she find out about that in this conversation! So despite doing her best, she didn’t manage to find out what she wanted to know. Everything that was said was already well known to her. Still, she couldn’t pin the matchmaker down for specifics, so she kept nodding and smiling. 

Liu Changgeng was also paying close attention, but he too didn’t manage to hear anything of significance. The matchmaker stayed with them for about two hours, sipping at her tea and chatting with them, before rising to leave. He shi quickly took out a prepared red packet for her. 

The matchmaker accepted it and smiled before leaving. 

To see if their bazi was compatible, they would bring both parties gengtie and place it in front of their ancestral tablet, keeping them under the incense burner for three days. During that period, they would see if anything unlucky happened in the family. If something did, or if the family started to quarrel amongst themselves, it meant that their bazi were not compatible. Of course, ordinarily, family members would usually be very careful during those three days, and ensure that nothing unlucky happens. 

Even if nothing happened during the three days, the process still wasn’t over. They would then need to go to someone to read their fortunes. If their fortunes were good, they would be deemed a match. 

The next step after that would be guodali2 过大礼/guodali – part of the engagement and marriage process where the male side would send gifts over the female side. Guodali was when the male side would come with the contract and gifts over to the female side. They would choose an auspicious date and bring everything over. 

Guodali was a very important step in the process. After their bazi were deemed compatible, the matchmaker had to liaise between the two families to fix a date for it. 

Because all of this took time to prepare, the date for guodali was decided to be the 16th day of the 10th month. They had originally wanted it to be the 10th day of the 10th month – after all, the number 10 was auspicious, and double 10s would be ideal, but Shi Cheng was unwilling. He said that if the date was too auspicious, it might actually have repercussions, and insisted on them changing the date. 

Although this really wasn’t for him to decide, ever since the Liu family had agreed, he had immediately involved himself with the process. He had many, many opinions about how everything should be done, and refused to accept no for an answer. Since they valued this eldest son of theirs, his parents had no choice but to indulge him. 

The two of them could clearly see how important this matter was to Shi Cheng!

As for the betrothal money, Shi Cheng’s mother decided to openly broach this topic with him and his father today. She would give 60 taels of silver in betrothal. This was an auspicious sum. As for the rest of the gifts, she would make sure that everything that was traditionally given would definitely be given. 

Shi Cheng was immediately unhappy. He felt that this sum was much too little. “Considering our and her family’s situation, isn’t this a bit stingy? I can’t afford to lose face this way!”


Shi Cheng’s mother was angered beyond words and said, “Then what would you say is a suitable sum?!”

Shi Cheng paused to think for a moment and said, “Dad, are we going to be opening a jewelry store in Hanzhong city or not….”

He hadn’t finished when Shi Cheng’s mother said in a raised voice, “Are you thinking of giving her a store as betrothal?! Why don’t you just let her run this family then!”

Shi Cheng rolled his eyes when he heard, “Mum, why don’t you let me finish? That way, you wouldn’t misunderstand and say something… that you can’t take back. Wouldn’t that be bad?”

Shi Cheng’s mother turned her face away in anger. 

Shi Qian then said, “The betrothal money is still under discussion. We haven’t confirmed anything yet, so why are you so anxious?” Then he turned and said to Shi Cheng’ s mother. “You shouldn’t be too quick either. 60 taels of silver really is too little. We still need to talk about this, and listen to Shi Cheng’s thoughts.”

Shi Cheng then said, “ Our jewelry store shares some similarities with the store that Xu’er runs. I am just asking if dad is aware of the market price of a store? Because Xu’er would definitely open a store here in Hanzhong city before she gets married. She would probably stock it with similar items as she does here. At that time, that store will be her dowry. Mum, I want to ask, if you give Xu’er 60 taels of silver in betrothal, and she comes over with a store as her dowry…. Don’t you think that I would be horribly embarrassed?”

Shi Cheng’s father, however, had a question, “Is Xu’er really intending to open a store in Hanzhong city?”

“That is for sure. And it will definitely be within these two years.” Shi Cheng answered. 

Shi Cheng’s mother was stunned. After a while, she asked, “Will their family really give her a store as her dowry?”

Shi Cheng nodded his head, “Of course; there’s no need to doubt that. I imagine that Xu’er will leave the two stores in Feng town for her family to manage, while she manages the store in Hanzhong city. The dowry would all belong to Liu Xu’er, but if the betrothal money is worth less than half of what she brings in dowry, wouldn’t you feel terribly ashamed? Furthermore, it’s not as though your son is unaware of our family’s financial situation. Your eldest son wants to wed a wife, but you are only going to give 60 taels of silver in betrothal. Aren’t you worried that your son won’t resent you for it?”

Shi Cheng’s mother frowned and turned away. She was again persuaded by her son. The last few sentences her son said made her face burn. She didn’t know how to explain herself, but she refused to give in, afraid it would lessen her dignity as his mother. She could only turn away. 


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  1. Annie_Anne

    Arrrrrggghhhhh…. Shi Cheng’s mother stresses me!!!!!!!!! Why is she is she soooooo fussy and annoying!!!! I’m really convinced that she won’t be a good MIL…

    Thanks for the chapter!!!

    1. pawdles
      pawdles [Translator]

      IKR!!! But again, she’s pretty harmless.. It’s quite clear that Shi Cheng can talk rings around her, and that he’s capable of handling his mother, so there’s that!
      Glad you’re enjoying!