Ending Part 1 The happy occasion filled the house
The light inside Plum Flower Pavilion was burning as bright as the daytime.
One ingot of a snow-white fine silver was placed on the table. Beside it, there was a slave contract.
As Shu Huan smiled, she took the silver in her hand and touched it, “I’m not going to be modest with you. As I have already said, when you want to redeem your slave contract, it will be fine as long as you give me five silver liang.”
Shang Xin looked at the slave contract on the table. Her hands were shaking a little bit, wondering whether to take it or not.
“What are you hesitating about?” Shu Huan directly took the slave contract and shoved it into Shang Xin’s hand. “Burn it. You will be free from now on. First, go live at the residence of the prefectural magistrate for three months. The wife of the magistrate will certainly teach you some know-hows of housekeeping. Be diligent in learning it. I’m still counting on you to help me with the housekeeping! When you have spare time, embroider some dowries for yourself. And when it’s the wedding day, Xihe will come to fetch you for the wedding.”
“I….” Shang Xin blushed and murmured, “Can I keep it?”
Keeping it would bring back many unpleasant memories but a lot more happy memories could be remembered. She (SX) was rescued by Shu Huan and the others from the mountain, quarrelling and fighting with Gu Xihe, punishing that beast-like uncle of her, and the bits and pieces of life of these years. These thoughts circulated constantly in her heart.
“Fool!” Shu Huan seemed to see through her (SX) mind and laughed softly. “What’s the use of keeping it? Your memories don’t need to rely on it to exist. Burn it! Then remember that your name is Jiang Yuqing. Forget the name Shang Xin and say goodbye to the past!”
After a moment of hesitation, Shang Xin nodded. Her eyes gradually revealed a joyous look. She held the slave contract to the fire to burn it, only to see the bright fire suddenly blazed up, slowly burning that paper to ashes.
Three months later, it was autumn. The weather had turned cool.
On this evening, there were red lanterns hanging in front of Gu residence’s door. Guests were coming one after the other. The neighbors with their wives and children from the nearby streets were also among the crowd to watch the rich family do a wedding. It was noisy and lively.
In this liveliness, Shu Huan was the busiest. The maidservants in the house were coming back and forth to report and taking things. It actually made her so busy that there wasn’t even time to rest. After she finally arranged everything properly, people from the accounting department came to report that the small hall that was originally intended to be used to store the congratulatory gifts, was stacked full of dowries from the magistrate at this moment. There was no room to put the congratulatory gifts. Therefore, they wanted the key to the attic where things were usually stacked.
“Shang Xin!” Shu Huan was so dizzy that she blurted out the two words Shang Xin. After she shouted, she then discovered she made a mistake and couldn’t help but laugh.
While Meijing, who was beside her, went to get the key, she laughed too, “Second young mistress is so busy that you even call out Shang Xin! She is probably sitting on the bridal sedan chair and being carried to here now!”
After the key was handed to the person, Shu Huan wrote on a paper to remind herself. While they (SH and M) were still chatting and laughing, someone came in to report again, “The escorts and the bridal sedan chair are already two streets away from here. Old madam said that second young mistress should go out with second young master to welcome them. Moreover, distribute that wedding money that was prepared early after the bride has gotten out of the sedan chair.”
“I understand,” Shu Huan responded. She went back to the inner room to change the outer clothes and put on some make-up. Just when she came out, she saw Gu Xiran and Ji Danqing side by side coming to her direction.
Gu Xiran looked at her with admiration and said gently with a smile, “Isn’t it very busy for you?”
“It’s tolerable. Madam is hosting the female guests. If old madam remembered something, she will also let a maid come remind me. Otherwise, I, who haven’t planned a wedding before, perhaps won’t be able to handle it. What about you? Aren’t there many visitors out there? I don’t know how many teacups and plates are taken from here already. I’m really afraid that it won’t be enough.”
Gu Xiran turned and looked at Ji Danqing and said with a smile, “There is doctor Ji accompanying me to welcome the guests, otherwise, I also won’t be able to handle it. My hands are exhausted from receiving the gifts alone!”
Ji Danqing said with a smile, “This is true. People who we don’t know also came to give gifts. They said that they had received grace from second young master during the disaster of Jingtian a few years ago and came to return the favor. Fortunately, most of the people left after giving gifts. Otherwise, if all of them stayed for a drink, your residence can’t really handle them at all.”
“That’s right!” Gu Xiran casted a sidelong glance at Ji Danqing and said, “Doctor Ji, when are you going to get married. You should also give me a chance to repay you too.”
Ji Danqing shook his head and smiled. Before he could answer, Meijing rushed out from the inner room in a panic. “Hairpin! Second young mistress, your hairpin!”
She was holding a jewelry box and picked out a golden hairpin with a pair of phoenix flowers on the rim.
As soon as Shu Huan saw it, she frowned in disgust and said, “No! I’m not even the main character today. Why do I need to dress up for? Such a heavy hairpin makes it impossible to lift the head.”
“How can you not wear a hairpin?! You have only a beaded hairpin on your bun!” Meijing slightly lifted her chin and said boldly with confidence, “It is fine for others but everyone from Zhang household is also coming. I think that girl from Zhang household is waiting to see if you are living well or not! If you dress so simple, she will think that you aren’t favored by second young master. Seeing you without even a decent piece of jewelry, I’m afraid she will laugh so hard that her nose will crook!”
Shu Huan hadn’t spoken yet when Gu Xiran said disdainfully, “If you didn’t mention it, I almost have forgotten about her. Who does she think she is to dare to laugh at my wife?! If she really wants to laugh, that’s because she has eyes but fails to recognize the pearl! Well, just go out like this, let’s see who will laugh at who!”
As he said that, he took the wooden scissor from under the window and went out to the yard. In an instant, he picked a cymbidium (orchid), came back inside and personally put it in Shu Huan’s hair. After examining it closely, he took Shu Huan’s hand and said, “Let’s go!”
Shu Huan was still busy telling Meijing, “Look after the children with Liangchen. They are setting off the fireworks outside. Don’t let it scare the children. Don’t bring them out yet!”
In the middle of the joyous suona (woodwind instrument) sound, the bridal sedan chair gradually approached from the beginning street. The crowd in front of Gu residence became excited and it became livelier. After waiting for Gu Xiran and Shu Huan to come out, the servants got the order to throw out the copper coins and wedding candies.
The wedding money and candies continued to fall like rain and fell onto the ground. In the middle of the sound of firecrackers, a large group of children were jumping everywhere to catch them. Their mouths were full of candies and their pockets were full of copper coins. They even imitated the adult’s tone shouting some vague festive words.
Perhaps in order to prolong this festive process, the bridal sedan chair was moving very slowly on the last part of the road, just swaying slowly around the same place. Shu Huan slightly tiptoed and saw Gu Xihe at the front, riding on a big snow-white horse covered all in red satin. He was looking back from time to time, unable to hide his smiling face.
“Pfff.” Shu Huan also couldn’t help but laugh and asked Gu Xiran in a low voice, “Who picked the white horse?”
Gu Xiran smiled at her, “Who else can it be?”
The answer was obvious. Naturally, it was himself (GXH)!
Shu Huan laughed again. “This prince charming was really cutting his way through thistles and thorns to finally marry Cinderella who had been enchanted by the witch.
- In Chinese, the prince charming is called prince on white horse.
- To cut one’s way through thistles and thorns: to overcome all obstacles on the way/ to break through hardships.
While the two were chatting and laughing, the bridal sedan chair was getting closer and closer. According to the rules, those relatives and friends who didn’t have enough status had to come out through the side door to meet the bride. After welcoming the bride, they could follow her through the main door. So, Shu Huan soon saw Zhang Hanfang’s figure in the crowd. She (ZHF) was also looking in the direction of Gu Xiran.
She (ZHF) was still dressed as an unmarried girl just like a few years ago. She was wearing a satin-embroidered red dress with a heavy jade and pearl necklace around the neck. As expected, she still didn’t like goldware and therefore the whole head was full of ornaments made with pearls and jade. She was staring infatuated at Gu Xiran but after meeting Shu Huan’s gaze, she (ZHF) sneered, raised her hand and tidied the hairpin in her hair.
Shu Huan smiled slightly. In recent years, she had often heard Lin shi mention Zhang Hanfang, saying that after Zhang household broke off the engagement, she (ZHF) caused a havoc in the house. Seeing that venting her feeling was of no use, she pretended to be ill. After she couldn’t pretend to be ill anymore, she deliberately rushed to the hall and scolded the matchmakers when they came to propose marriage to show that she really didn’t want to marry from her heart, scaring several matchmakers away. However, her bossy and domineering reputation spread like this too. As a result, no one dared to come to propose marriage again.
The young age of being frivolous and impulsive!
Shu Huan turned her face away. She knew that Zhang Hanfang was getting older and still couldn’t marry. So, she (ZHF) regretted very much her actions of the past. She had forced her parents and elder brother to find the right young man for her and find a matchmaker to propose marriage. However, some things had already been done, so regret was useless. If Zhang Hanfang didn’t change that excessive pride of her, she would never get married in her life. Unless she was willing to get off her high horse and find a man who was not equally socially matched.
- To get off one’s high horse: to dispense with posturing (and adopt a more humble or empathetic attitude).
In fact, this was also not bad. As long as the other person was of good character and talented. even if he was from a poor family, with the help of the Zhang household, there would still be a day where he would be successful. However, after seeing Zhang Hanfang today, she still had that snobbish attitude. Shu Huan knew that she (ZHF) wouldn’t choose that path. Perhaps, she would rather hold that pile of exquisite clothes and luxurious jewelries of hers at home and be a resentful old woman.