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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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In the end, the Second Young Madam didn’t purchase the hand-warmer. But she did buy some silk flowers, and scent sachets1香包，香袋，香囊/ Xiangbao. Xiangdai, Xiangnang all refer to the same item; a scent sachet. It is a cloth pouch that contains fragrance as well as other odds and ends. After paying for everything, she left.
Examples of scent sachet. Source
Liu Xu’er couldn’t be more disappointed. She had placed high hopes that she would be able to sell the hand-warmer to the Second Young Madam. But now….. It seemed that nothing came easy, and that not all things would work out as planned.
After the shopkeeper sent Second Young Madam off, he turned. Disappointment was written all over the face of his young master, while the young girl next to him appeared to be on the verge of tears. He couldn’t help but smile and come over, “There are some families who become wealthy overnight. While they have the money, they haven’t developed a discerning eye yet. This is especially so when it comes to items that are new. It is only when they see other respectable families using these items that they would appreciate it, otherwise….”
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Tl eked’v qkdkpb obld y pbsr yppkpvydv nyxl shla vs pyu iwklvzu. “Fbsrjllrla, vbl sodla ypjp usw vs ts shla yp pssd yp usw yal esdl. Tl dllep usw qsa psxlvbkdt.”&dcpr;
Mbl pbsrjllrla iwknjzu ytalle. Tl tyhl Fbk Ubldt y tzydnl yde tlpvwale vbyv bl oyp dllele clqsal vyjkdt bkp zlyhl.&dcpr;
Fbk Ubldt oyp bsdlpvzu hlau ekpyrrskdvle. Tl oyp fwpv ycswv vs nsxqsav Nkw Dw’la, obld bl pyo vbyv pbl bye nsxl vs vlaxp okvb kv, “R yx yzaktbv. Kwpv clnywpl R oydvle kv vs cl psze, eslpd’v xlyd kv oswze elqkdkvlzu cl psze. Lsvbkdt kd zkql nsxlp lypu.”
“Mbyv’p vbl prkakv!” Fbk Ubldt dseele.&dcpr;
Tsolhla, Nkw Dw’la vwadle vs tkhl bkx y tsse tzyal. “Ebld R vsze usw vs plv y pwkvyczl raknl, R vbswtbv vbl xspv usw oswze plv kv vs cl oswze cl y vylz sq pkzhla…. Tso nswze usw cl ps lmnlppkhl?!”
Fbk Ubldt pxkzle pbllrkpbzu. Tl psqvzu pyke, “Wsa vblpl vurlp sq dswhlyw aknbl qyxkzklp, vblu esd’v osaau vbyv vbkdtp yal vss lmrldpkhl. Mblu sdzu osaau vbyv vbkdtp yald’v lmrldpkhl ldswtb! Fs…. nswtb, qsatlv kv. R esd’v byhl vkxl dso vs lmrzykd lhlauvbkdt kd elvykz.”
Nkw Fbw bye yzps prsvvle vbl byde-oyaxlap. Tl ypjle kd y obkprla, “Dw’la, olal vbspl uswa byde-oyaxlap?”
Nkw Dw’la dseele. Fkdnl vblal oyp ds zsdtla y dlle vs pvyu kd vbl pbsr, pbl rwzzle Nkw Fbw swv clqsal lmrzykdkdt. “Mbspl olal xu byde-oyaxlap. Fbk Ubldt’p xsvbla wpwyzzu nsxlp blal vs pbsr, yde vbl pbsrjllrla jdsop Fbk Ubldt. Fs bl ytalle vs blzr wp plzz vblx blal… Rd ydu nypl, kv eslpd’v vyjl wr xwnb prynl.”
Liu Shu was a bit suspicious. He looked at Shi Cheng for confirmation. Shi Cheng quickly nodded his support, “That’s right!”
Hearing what Shi Cheng said, Liu Shu believed the story. He was, after all, only a child and didn’t think too deeply about these matters.
After that, they went back to the carriage to wait for Shi Cheng’s dad. Liu Xu’er was indeed very disappointed. Her mood was low the entire journey back.
When they returned home, they told Liu Changgeng and He shi that they had sold the hand-warmers to the doctor for two taels of silver. Initially Liu Changgeng and He shi were uneasy about that, reproaching Liu Xu’er for accepting the money. It was only when Liu Shu explained the entire situation, including what Uncle Quan had told them, that the two of them relented. They were delighted by the sudden windfall.
After that Liu Shu explained that they had returned the money to Uncle Quan. Liu Changgeng repeatedly nodded, “Good, good! Since Uncle Quan was the one who paid previously, then it is only right for us to quickly return the money to him! His money is also very hard earned.”
He shi also nodded. Taking over the silver from Liu Shu, she happily smiled at Liu Xu’er, “This was the money you earned! My Xu’er is so capable. At such a young age, you’ve earned some money!”
It was only then that Liu Xu’er’s mood lightened. She smiled and declared, “This is nothing. My rabbits can earn me lots more money!”
He shi laughed, “Are you trying to tell mum something? That I shouldn’t have tried to stop you buying the rabbits?”
Liu Xu’er was stunned briefly before she joined her in laughter. Climbing up the kang, she said, “Mum, what are you saying! I am just happy…. Wasn’t the rabbit fur the only reason the hand-warmers could fetch such a good price?”
Liu Changgeng also smiled and said, “That’s true, that’s true. We should have known that my Xu’er is most sensible, and wouldn’t waste money! With this, Xu’er has already made back the cost of the rabbits….”
He shi was annoyed, “You always have to play the good guy. So everything is my fault, I am the mean parent!”
Liu Xu’er moved swiftly to mediate, “Both of you are good people, very very good people!”
Senzi was originally occupied playing by himself. But when he heard that, he raised his head and declared, “Senzi is also a good person!”
That made everyone laugh. Liu Xu’er went to give him a hug and a kiss. “Senzi is the best little kid. My most favourite kid!” She looked closely at Senzi’s face. Although there was still some redness on his face, it seemed that the past few days had been doing some good. His face looked plumper than usual. Liu Xu’er planted another kiss on his cheeks.
After the 20th of the 12th month, the atmosphere started to get more festive in anticipation of the coming New Year. Everyone was extremely busy, except for Liu Xu’er’s family. With her parents still stuck abed, things were rather quiet at their household.
However, since they had just moved over to the new place, the house was still rather tidy and clean. There wasn’t a special need to do spring cleaning. As for their meals, they had to rely on Liu Gao shi and Liu Hong for help.
However, even in her busyness, Liu Gao shi remained in very high spirits. She had come to their place thrice in two days and had delivered a lot of braised meat, steamed buns and noodles. This was to prepare for xiaonian2小年/ Xiaonian – A special day which, in most places, falls on the 23rd of the 12th month according to the chinese calendar. The main activity of the day is to offer sacrifices to the kitchen god tomorrow. She told Liu Xu’er, “Tomorrow, nai has to entertain guests. Heat this up for your meals tomorrow. Don’t let your mum move around too much.”
Liu Xu’er quickly agreed and placed the items in the kitchen cupboard.
Liu Gao shi relaxed when she saw that Liu Xu’er had managed to keep the place organised and tidy. Out of the kitchen, she dusted off the flour on her body before heading back to the main house to excitedly show something to her son and daughter-in-law. “Have a look at this.”
For convenience, He shi was sitting at the side of the kang. At this moment, she took the item over, and saw that it was a rather stiff red paper that was folded in half. When she opened it, she saw that the paper was speckled with gold flakes. Glittering away, it was a puzzle how they even managed to get the flakes to stay on. On the paper were densely packed gold letters.
He shi couldn’t read, so she didn’t understand what was written. Dazedly, she passed it to Liu Changgeng and asked, “What is this? It looks very expensive.”
Liu Changgeng turned it over and over, but he didn’t understand anything either. He asked in a strange tone, “I can’t tell either…. Mum, what is this?” He directly asked Liu Gao shi.
Proudly, Liu Gao shi was about to explain when a tiny person ran in from outside and climbed up the kang. Reaching, she took the item over. After glancing at it, she exclaimed, “This should be the list of betrothal gifts!” It was Liu Xu’er.
Everyone stared at her, mouth agape. Liu Gao shi asked, astonished, “How did you know?! Even your parents couldn’t figure it out….”
Liu Xu’er smiled and pointed to the top of the paper, “Doesn’t this say, boxwood comb, fine toothed comb…. Dad, don’t you at least recognise the character for “wood”?”
He shi rapped her smartly on the head. In mock anger, she said, “This girl! Is that how you speak to your father?”
Liu Gao shi was still rather astonished, “How does this girl know how to read? Where did she learn?!”
Liu Xu’er casually said, “Shi Cheng started to learn how to read when he was three, so I also learnt some with him. I know quite a few words! Now, even my gege both recognise some words…. But they don’t know as many as I do!”
Her parents both nodded. Liu Xu’er was learning handicrafts from Shi Cheng’s mother, and sometimes she would learn some words along with Shi Cheng. When she returned, she would tell them all about it. Since everyone already knew, they didn’t think too much about this.
It was only then that Liu Gao shi understood and with that understanding, it changed the way she viewed Liu Xu’er. As a literate person herself, she understood the importance of being able to read. However, this was, after all, only a rural area. If any 10 people here were asked, it was likely that all 10 of them would feel that it was pointless for a girl to be educated. So the old matriarch said nothing, but her view of little Xu’er had started to change.
He shi was regarding the list of betrothal gifts with much excitement. Turning it over and over, she smiled and asked, “These are truly the gifts. Wow, I have never seen such a fine list. Did…. Did they really sprinkle gold flakes on this?”
Liu Gao shi returned to the matter at hand. She nodded heavily and said, “Did you know that when those noble families are arranging their young masters’ marriages, they would use this type of paper? It is exactly the same as theirs! Of course, theirs would be a much longer list…. Oh, let’s not talk about them, let’s just have a look at this list. You can see how much importance Yuan Hao places on this marriage! His sincerity is very clear!”
He shi smiled. She couldn’t stop gently stroking the gold words on the surface. She again asked, “Mum, when would they check if their bazi3 八字/ Bazi – One’s birth data used for fortune telling. In this case, it would be to check that the couple’s fortunes don’t clash with each other. are suitable for each other?”
Liu Gao shi smiled and said, “It happened a few days ago. The two are suited. This morning, the matchmaker came to ask. She said that when they checked, the two were a match made in heaven! After I agreed that they were suited, they sent this list of betrothal gifts over! They even said that we should have a look first. They were so polite! They asked us to excuse them if there was anything missing as they don’t have elders in the family to guide them. They told us to just let them know if anything is amiss. They would immediately make the adjustments.”
He shi was laughing happily as she heard. Then she sighed, “No wonder they are so wealthy! It’s because they know how to treat others well! If they weren’t wealthy, then no one has the qualifications to be rich!”
Liu Changgeng wasn’t too interested in all this. “That’s not important.” He also couldn’t care less about the expensive paper. He only asked Liu Gao shi, “What is written on the list? Mum, did you see anything missing?”
Liu Gao shi animatedly started to read it out, then she paused. Passing the list to Liu Xu’er, she said, “Xu’er, why don’t you read this for your parents!”
Liu Xu’er mentally stuck her tongue out. She knew that nainai was literate, and would thus know which words would be harder to read. She needed to be careful about what she said. As such, she stumbled her way through a few words before hanging her head and saying, “There are so many difficult words here! I think… Even Shi Cheng wouldn’t recognise most of them.”
It was only then that Liu Gao shi smiled and took over. She said, “And here I was thinking that you would know them all!” Saying this, she started to read out the important items.
Liu Xu’er secretly stuck her tongue out. But she didn’t blame her nainai. Nainai didn’t mean to make fun of her. She was just teasing.
Liu Gao shi read out about the betrothal silver, the cloth, and the different types of jewelry promised. Then she read out the more usual gifts, before closing the list and passing it to Liu Changgeng., “I think it’s quite complete. It’s a very generous list that honors Liu Hong.”
Liu Changgeng asked, “How come I didn’t hear them mention anything about the offerings?”
Liu Gao shi waved the list and said, “I didn’t read those out. There’s no need to mention those; they can’t be missing! If they weren’t there, then how could this be considered a betrothal list? Relax, even if the Yuan family has no elders, they cannot possibly not know about that! After all, both of his elder brothers are married!”
Liu Changgeng nodded, “Then that’s fine… Ok, since their bazi are well matched and both you and dad think it’s good, then I have no opinions.”
Liu Gao shi again stared at him. “Who was asking for your opinion? I am just here to read it out, so that you can celebrate with us!” Saying this, she carefully kept the list. Smiling, she said, “Continue to rest, I am heading back now. I can’t come over tomorrow. Tomorrow, Yuan Hao’s dage and dasao are coming over to discuss the wedding plans!” Saying this, she left with a little bounce in her step.
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YAY!! I’m excited about the wedding that’s about to happen! I hope nothing bad happens like that one mother and daughter interfering, hmph!
That’s quite the ominous blank smile 😀
HAHAHAH! It wasn’t intended to be.