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2. This is a fan work and the interpretation represents only the translator’s personal views without any input from the author.
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On the 16th day of the 10th month, the Shi family sent over the betrothal gifts. With the suona wailing in the background, the gifts were brought in one by one through the door. It was only when two whole songs were played that they managed to send in all the gifts.
Liu Xu’er was seated in the main room, dressed in bright red. The quanfuniangniang that the Shi family had invited had helped her to comb her hair and put in her hairpins. Along with other young married women, they adorned her hair with flowers. When she was fully made up, she went out to receive the gifts before passing them over to Liu Changgeng. Liu Changgeng and He shi received them, and sent a return gift to the Shi family.
After all these formalities were exchanged, it was time to relax and congratulate each other. He shi ushered all the visitors over to the banquet they’d organised.
Outside, a few other family members who had been invited to the celebratory banquet milled around.
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Gqvla y hlau cwpu eyu, Nkw Dw’la oykvle qsa yzz vbl twlpvp vs zlyhl clqsal nbydtkdt bla nzsvblp yde pkvvkdt esod vs bla qkapv xlyz sq vbl eyu. Ekvb vbkp, pbl nswze qkdyzzu alzym. Tla xyaakytl bye clld nsdqkaxle. Fbl oyp nsxrzlvlzu wdyoyal sq obyv bye byrrldle kd vbl Fbk qyxkzu yde Fbk Ubldt bye ds kdvldvksd sq vlzzkdt bla. Ebld vblu tsv xyaakle, Dw’la dllele vs kdvlaynv sqvld okvb bkp xsvbla. Jsvb Dw’la yde bkxplzq olal hlau raynvknyz xkdele – vblu oswze dyvwayzzu es yzz vblu nswze vs ldpwal vbyv alzyvksdp olal pxssvb.
Gp qsa vbl clvasvbyz pkzhla, bsdlpvzu, dlkvbla Nkw Ubydttldt dsa Tl pbk qlzv vbyv kv oyp vss xwnb. Mblka ralnkswp eywtbvla oyp osavb lhlau nldv. Wwavblaxsal, vblu bye zsdt yts elnkele vbyv xspv sq vbl xsdlu oswze cl tkhld vs vblka eywtbvla yp ryav sq bla esoau. Mbkp xsdlu oswze bldnlqsavb clzsdt vs bla.
Xd vbkp eyu, Nkw Ubydtpbk caswtbv Tl Swuw, vblka zkvvzl psd yp olzz yp Xze Yyd Nkw yde Nkw Qys pbk shla. Nkw Ubydtik bye nsxl cu bkxplzq – bl oyp olzz yoyal vbyv Nkw Zwd’la oswzed’v cl olznsxl yv vbkp tyvblakdt.&dcpr;
Mbld kv oyp vkxl vs elnkel sd obld vblka oleekdt oswze vyjl rzynl. Gqvla yzz, vbl vos sq vblx olal pvkzz ayvbla uswdt. Fbk Ckyd vbswtbv vbyv vblu nswze rlabyrp oykv vkzz 15 vs xyaau. Fbk Ubldt oyp kd qwzz ytallxldv, bl sdzu okpble vblu nswze xyaau yv 14! Jwv Nkw Dw’la’p qyxkzu pvkzz qlzv vbyv oyp y zkvvzl lyazu. Gqvla plhlayz aswdep sq ekpnwppksd, vblu qkdyzzu ytalle vs oykv vkzz pbl oyp 16 vs xyaau.&dcpr;
Xd vbl 30vb eyu sq vbl 11vb xsdvb, vbl vos pvsalp sodle cu vbl Nkw qyxkzu olal vyjkdt pvsnj. Wasx vbl dlmv eyu sdoyaep, vblka pvsalp oswze cl nzsple vkzz vbl 16vb eyu sq vbl qkapv xsdvb.&dcpr;
Mblka dlo pvsal oyp xwnb lypkla vs kdhldvsau – vblal olal zkxkvle kvlxp yhykzyczl kd vbl pvsal, ps kv oyp iwknj osaj vs xyvnb dwxclap. Mbl sze pvsal sd vbl svbla byde oyp xwnb xsal ekqqknwzv – vblal oyp y zyatl hyaklvu sq tssep, yde kv vssj y zsv sq vkxl vs vyzzu lhlauvbkdt wr. Nkw Fbw yde Nkw Nkd olal csvb vblal osajkdt sd kv.&dcpr;
Nkw Dw’la saktkdyzzu oydvle vs blye shla vblal yp olzz, cwv Fbk Ubldt bye fwpv nsxl shla okvb y pvyavzkdt rklnl sq dlop.&dcpr;
“Zswa pydpbw’p xkpvalpp – R’hl qswde swv psxl dlop ycswv bla.” Mbl pvsal bye fwpv nzsple obld Fbk Ubldt nyxl kd yde pyv bkxplzq esod. Tl pvalvnble bkp zltp zsdt yde rzsdjle vblx sd vbl nswdvla, czsnjkdt Nkw Dw’la qasx lmkvkdt.&dcpr;
However, she had no intention of leaving – she wanted to hear the news! She quickly asked, “What’s her situation?”
Shi Cheng hmphed and said, “She’s from Shandong, and lived next to the sea. Her parents were fishermen. It seems that she was either sold or ran away from home when she was young. In any case, she became a merchant’s concubine before being given to your sanshu.”
Shocked, Liu Xu’er stared at him.
Shi Cheng shrugged, “That’s what I found out. That merchant is in Hanzhong city – he has a porcelain store. He has many concubines and minor wives. It seems that he likes to gift his women to his business associates.”
Liu Xu’er was stunned. Then she puzzled over a discrepancy, “But if she has that kind of background, wouldn’t she be on poor terms with her family…. Why would she be trying to make a match for her nephew?”
Shi Cheng then said, “It seems that after she was given to your sanshu, she went back to her home village once and reconnected with her family. It was only at the end of the year before, that others noticed her nephew apprenticing with your sanshu. There really isn’t any other news. If you want to know more details, we would need to send someone over to Shandong to find out. But that’s really not easy….” Shi Cheng looked over at her, “Xu’er, do you know how old her nephew is?”
Liu Xu’er shook her head, “I don’t know… He can’t be 30 right?!” She widened her eyes suddenly!
The only reason she suddenly wondered was because of Shi Cheng’s expression. Shi Cheng smiled and shook his head, “Nothing so extreme. This year, he’s 20…. But that’s bad enough! You’re only 12. Your uncle really has no conscience! With this woman blowing sweet nothings into his ear, he would throw his own family members under the bus.”
Liu Xu’er sneered, “Did you only just realise that?! I’ve always thought that my sanshu was rather treacherous…. He always looks so helpless – at first, it seemed as though it was Jia shi who instigated his leaving home…. No matter what, it’s always other people’s fault, and he’s the poor victim of their decisions. But actually, I think he’s the worst culprit!”
Shi Cheng nodded, “No matter what, they are all bad!” He started to jiggle his legs, “There is still another piece of shocking news!”
“There’s more? Why can’t you just say everything at once? Must you keep stringing all this out?” Liu Xu’er glared at him. “What news?”
Shi Cheng shook his head, “I got someone to watch that mistress’s house. There’s a frequent visitor there. Can you guess who?”
Liu Xu’er was about to say that she didn’t know, when something suddenly connected. She immediately asked, “Could it be Liu Yun’er?!”
Shi Cheng gave her a startled look, “That’s right! It’s her! How did you know?”
“When Liu Tao got bitten by a snake, there was once my mother and I spotted her visiting them, while we were out buying groceries…. Liu Yun’er has always behaved like her mother – she would suck up to anyone with money. And trample over those who don’t.”
Shi Cheng said, “But it’s still a matter we need to pay close attention to. The person watching the house said that Liu Yun’er was seen with the nephew more than once, going out together…. The woman’s name is Fang Yun, and her nephew is Fang Jicheng. Liu Yun’er and Fang Jicheng – it looks like their relationship isn’t ordinary.”
Shocked, Liu Xu’er asked, “Ah? No way?” She thought for a moment before saying, “This matter…. Why does it seem strange? There seems to be something up?”
Shi Cheng nodded, “That’s right! I sense something is wrong! I thought that I should check and find out exactly what business your uncle is up to. What is Fang Yun and Fang Jicheng’s history? Especially for Fang Jicheng – is he really Fang Yun’s nephew? He’s a full grown man – why should he seek help from his aunt? Where is his family? Surely his father should have shown up by now? But I’ve never gotten any news of him visiting.”
Liu Xu’er shook her head, “It really does need to be investigated further…. That’s right! Who did you get to look into the matter? Your family’s servants?”
Shi Cheng was caught off guard by her rapid change of subject. But he quickly shook his head and said, “It’s not a family servant… I’m not dumb. I would definitely not allow someone like that to make inquiries about your family. If I did, my mother would find out in short order, and if she does, doesn’t that give her something to hold over your head?”
Liu Xu’er giggled, “Good, good….. You are definitely experienced in the battles between a mother and daughter-in-law!”
“Chi!” Shi Cheng didn’t care much for her praise. Then he said, “I looked for someone who specialises in such investigative work. They are paid to check into other’s backgrounds and histories. If this isn’t sufficient, I will send someone over to Shandong! And investigate exactly what your sanshu is doing!”
Liu Xu’er nodded her head, “It would be best to investigate everything clearly. I keep feeling that he can’t be doing anything good. And if he really is doing something illegal, it would be best for us to be prepared. We would need to avoid him, so that it can’t bite us in the back in future!”
“That’s right, that’s what we should do!”
The two of them talked for a while before their stomachs started to grumble. Now that the two of them were engaged, they couldn’t be seen going out together. Furthermore, with Liu Xu’er at a sensitive age, she shouldn’t be seen out in public. Since Shi Cheng wanted to have a meal with her, he could only head off and buy some food back for them to share in private.
After the meal, he sent Liu Xu’er back, before heading home himself. Shi Cheng’s mother had been out of sorts these past few days, and kept picking at minor issues. Shi Cheng was unwilling to rile his mother – that would set the stage for future conflict after he married.
The reason that Shi Cheng’s mother was out of sorts was his father. Shi Cheng’s father had opened a restaurant in Hanzhong city and was often gone for months at a time. He had come back for the Mid Autumn festival, but subsequently hadn’t come back since. He would only be back for the New Year.
Shi Cheng’s mother was worried – he was after all, doing business, and would frequently be out. There would definitely be situations that might come up. Furthermore, Shi Qian was a wealthy man, so there would be women eyeing him. Also, now that they were opening a business, they would need help from others. There would definitely be occasions that he would need to wine and dine others in brothels and what not. What would happen if he drank too much one day and slept with someone else? That would be infuriating.
Shi Cheng’s mother was well aware that businessmen would definitely need to go into such places. Without being in Hanzhong city, keeping a close eye on him, she couldn’t feel at ease. As such, she was out of sorts, and wanted to head over to accompany him. Hanzhong city wasn’t far anyway! If something were to happen so close to home, wouldn’t it be the same as doing it under her eye? That would disgust her!
But if she really were to head over to Hanzhong city, then what about their home in Feng Town? Shi Cheng was older, so she didn’t have to worry so much, but Shi Qing was so young.
Shi Cheng knew what his mother was worried about. Honestly, he would much prefer her to join his father in Hanzhong city! Then his movements wouldn’t be so restricted, and he wouldn’t need to be too careful about his actions!
Leaving aside the Shi family matters.
When Liu Xu’er returned home, she waited for her gege to return and calculate the year’s intake. She had originally thought they would be back by seven pm, but unexpectedly, they weren’t back even when the sky had turned dark.
Liu Changgeng got worried, and decided to head out to bring them home. After about an hour, they finally returned. Liu Xu’er heard the noise and rushed out to greet them. Seeing that everyone looked fine, she quickly asked, “Why are you so late?”
Liu Lin then said, “Don’t talk about it! Early in the morning, dabo came over and took Liu Tao back! With one less person, we were so busy we didn’t even manage to have lunch!”
Liu Xu’er asked, surprised, “What happened? Wasn’t Liu Tao only supposed to head back tomorrow? Why did he rush back today?”
Liu Shu said, “They weren’t in a rush – it seems that something happened at home. Dabo’s face was livid, his veins were throbbing in his forehead. He didn’t say anything, just dragged Liu Tao off and said they needed to go. I even asked if they needed any help, but he said, no need, then they disappeared!”
Liu Sen shouted, “Hungry!” Before rushing off into the main house. In short order, he was chased back out by He shi to wash his hands.
Liu Changgeng entered the house and said, “Quickly wash your hands and eat! We won’t be able to find out what happened today. Tomorrow, I will head back and ask.”
Liu Shu and Liu Lin agreed. They headed back to their rooms to change and wash up. Liu Xu’er wondered – it couldn’t possibly have something to do with Liu Yun’er right? But it seemed that it could only be because of Liu Yun’er…. Dabo calling for Liu Tao – what matter were they trying to resolve?
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I think Liu Yun’er got exposed…
Thanks for the chapter!!!