Chapter Twenty: Drink in Her Stead
When the main guests arrived, Princess Rui He personally led the guests to see the scenery at the estate. In Hua Xi Wan’s view, the estate that had been decorated in a grand manner was not as beautiful as the other furen said, but she still cooperated and gave sighs of surprise.
After admiring the exquisiteness of the estate, the game of throwing into the jar that both males and females could participate in started. Hua Xi Wan looked at the long and thin jar, and then at the male and female guests who were rubbing their hands eagerly. She tried to make her expression more excited.
“We are old, so we’ll just watch you young people play.” Xu Wang Fei and the older female guests indicated that it would be enough for them to sit at the side and be judges. The other people did not have objections since it was the young people who liked playing this game. Those older did not have good enough vision and could not throw the arrow into the mouth of the jar.
Princess Rui He was the mistress and she should let the guest go first, but because she was the only daughter of the Holy One and was favored, naturally no one tried to compete with her to go first. After a few rounds of letting the other go first, Princess Rui He threw the first arrow. The arrow brushed against the mouth of the jar and almost dropped in.
堂弟妹 tang dimei: father’s brother’s (younger) son’s wife
“Oh, almost.” Princess Rui He clapped and took an arrow from a servant girl. She turned and swept the crowd with her gaze, then presented the arrow to Hua Xi Wan. “Tang Dimei is a new wife—you should throw the second arrow. However, if you do not get it in, the punishment is a cup of wine.” When she said this, Princess Rui He smiled ambiguously at the male guests who were standing at the side. “If someone doesn’t bear for her to be punished, they can substitute for her and drink three cups.”
Hua Xi Wan took the arrow and shook her head with a smile. She said, “This is not good.” Finishing, she walked forward a few steps and threw the arrow crisply at the jar.
The arrow hit the jar and then landed at the side
弟媳 dixi: younger brother’s wife
“Dixi does not have as good a skill as Imperial Sister.” Hua Xi Wan sighed and then turned to look at Yan Jin Qiu.
“My wife is not good at drinking wine. Let me drink the three cups for her.” Yan Jin Qiu walked forward next to Hua Xi Wan. He bowed towards Princess Rui He with a faint smile. “Please, Imperial Sister, have mercy.”
Princess Rui He rubbed her palms together and smiled. “I just knew someone would take care of his wife. Come, pour wine for Xian Junwang.”
The wine was quickly presented. Three cups the size of a woman’s fist were filled to the brim with wine. Yan Jin Qiu did not prevaricate, reaching out and throwing his head back to drain the first cup. He used his index finger to wipe away the drop at the corner of his mouth. He laughed lowly and said, “Good win.” Finishing, he smiled at Hua Xi Wan and then drained the second cup.
When the womenfolk saw this, they laughed and said how much he cared for his wan
g fei. There were those who felt admiration, but they only thought about it, and on the surface, they only showed warmth.
Min Huai Junzhu watched as Yan Jin Qiu unhesitatingly drank three cups of wine for Hua Xi Wan, and couldn’t help but feel a thread of discontent and anger. Other than having some beauty, what part of this woman was a match for Xian Junwang? She clearly knew that if she did not hit the target, Xian Junwang would have to drink on her behalf, yet she had been so uncaring. She really was hateful.
After the three cups of wine went down, Yan Jin Qiu’s expression did not change. He gracefully took the arrow that Princess Rui He handed him. Under the eyes of the crowd, he easily threw the arrow into the jar.
“Great.” Princess Rui He smiled and said, “I just knew that this little game wouldn’t be a difficulty for you.”
“Just good luck. Imperial Sister is too complimentary.” Yan Jin Qiu took the cup of tea that a servant brought over and rinsed his mouth of the taste of alcohol.
Hua Xi Wan handed her handkerchief to him. He took it with a smile and wiped his mouth before putting the handkerchief into his sleeve. “Next time, I’ll teach you when you throw. It is all right if you cannot throw it in; my alcohol tolerance is pretty good.”
“Won’t fall after a thousand cups?” Hua Xi Wan was going to start joking with Yan Jin Qiu when she heard the servant report that Lin Ping Junzhu and her junma had arrived.
Hua Xi Wan raised an eyebrow and looked at Yan Jin Qiu whose expression had not changed one bit. She curled her lips and thought, this Lin Ping Junzhu had come as expected. She had been right.
Just moments later, she saw several servant girls usher a male and female over. The well-dressed female seemed just into her twenties, and there wasn’t much about her appearance that was similar to Yan Jin Qiu. She could only be said to be clean and delicate. However, the youth beside her had red lips, white teeth, an elegant presence. He had a good, fleshy body.
After Lin Ping Junzhu arrived, she apologized to Princess Rui He. She said that she had encountered some matters on the road, so they had come late.
Princess Rui He smiled and passed this matter. Then she pointed at Hua Xi Wan and said, “You have just been talking to me. Look who that is?”
Lin Ping Junzhu followed her finger and turned to look at Hua Xi Wan. After some examination, she said neutrally, “This must be my dimei Hua shi. A good appearance.”
It probably was that her words were too incorrect, that all the womenfolk present detected something was not right. In this moment, no one spoke. Several people looked in sympathy at Hua Xi Wan.
姐夫 jiefu: elder sister’s husband
“Jiejie, Jiefu, greetings.” Hua Xi Wan went forward and curtsied, and then looked smilingly at the junma, Luo Zhong Zheng. “Jiefu also has a good appearance.”
When the words came out, some womenfolk used their hand and handkerchiefs to cover their mouth and the smile that was revealed. Four years ago, because Lin Ping Junzhu was attracted to this Scholar Luo’s appearance, she had made a ruckus to get married to him. Now she was being so impolite to this dimei that she had never seen before when she had just returned to Jing—no wonder the junwang fei was not giving her face.
弟弟 didi: younger brother
“Didi really has a good wife. Her conduct and education are rare to see.” Lin Ping Junzhu had not expected Hua Xi Wan to speak to her so. Her expression was slightly ugly. As to Luo Zhong Zhen who had been praised by Hua Xi Wan to have good looks while she was actually implying that he was a boy toy living based on his appearance, there was no anger on his face.
“Xi Wan has always had this personality. Even Imperial Grandmother, the Emperor and Empress praised her and are worried that I will bully her,” Yan Jin Qiu said neutrally. “If Xi Wan was not rare, why would the Emperor decree her in marriage to me.”
When Lin Ping Junzhu, heard this, her expression became uglier. Luo Zhong Zheng beside her spoke first. “It is a cause for celebration for Didi to marry such a beauty.”
Hearing Luo Zhong Zheng speak, Lin Ping Junzhu’s expression was ugly, but she did not speak again. After glancing at Yan Jin Qiu and Hua Xi Wan, she sat down at the side with a dark face.
The womenfolk present saw this, and while they did not show it, they did not understand. Xian Junwang Fu was Lin Ping Junzhu’s paternal family. Her parents had passed, and there was only her younger brother left to be of aid to her. Why would she make this relationship so strained? Wasn’t this pushing her didi further away from her?
Regardless of what Lin Ping Junzhu intended with her actions, based on Xian Junwang’s attitude towards Xian Junwang Fei and how Xian Junwang Fei appeared when she faced Lin Ping Junzhu, some of the womenfolk already decided to stay away from Lin Ping Junzhu. One was a junzhu who had a distant relationship with her paternal family, and her husband’s family was not high in status. The other was a junwang fei who was loved by her paternal family and had married into a noble family. Those who had eyes knew which one they could not afford to offend.
表姐 biao jie: mother’s sibling’s (older) daughter (here); or father’s sister’s (older) daughter
“It is perfect for Biao Jie to come now. Right now, we are playing tossing the arrow into the jar. You should come play as well.” Min Huai Junzhu saw the atmosphere was frigid and took out an arrow to present to Lin Ping Junzhu. Pulling the other’s hand, she smiled and explained the rules of the game. “In the past, Biao Jie would score nine times out of ten. Even now, I do not forget how valiant you were then.”
“That was a few years ago.” Lin Ping Junzhu took her hand out of Min Huai Junzhu’s hand and walked to the line. Her throw did not go in. She said with a faint smile, “I haven’t played this for the last two years. My skill has rusted.”
When Hua Xi Wan heard this, her eyebrows shifted. When prestigious families invited guests to banquets, they would frequently play elegant games like this one. Lin Ping Junzhu had married and moved to Jiang City four years ago. How could it be that she didn’t even know anymore how to play games like this that were common to prestigious families?
When the wine was presented, Lin Ping Junzhu did not try to avoid it. She used her sleeve to cover her mouth and drank. Wiping her lips, she said, “You all can play this. My skill is not fit to be seen.”
The people smiled and said a few things when they saw this. After a round, it was Hua Xi Wan’s turn again. Even though she was not good at throwing, she had support.
Under Yan Jin Qiu’s guidance, the second arrow still landed outside the jar. She said with a helpless expression, “It seems that I have no hopes of becoming an expert in this life.”
When she said this, she caused the womenfolk to laugh. Yan Jin Qiu also laughed and shook his head. He said, “I’m getting closer to a thousand cups.” Finishing, without needing any urging, he drank down three cups.
Lin Ping Junzhu looked at the three empty wine cups on the tray and instantly felt that the wine she had just drunk was uncomfortably burning. Even her tongue felt bitter.
After a busy while, everyone went to the front to eat. After they were full, it was time to admire plays and sons. When they were halfway through, a taijian from the palace came with a message from the Empress summoning Princess Rui He and Lin Ping Junzhu into the palace.
Since the mistress was going to leave, there was no reason for the guests to stay and play. Everyone got on their carriages and left the princess’ estate.
Hua Xi Wan sat on the carriage and looked at the busy streets rather than Yan Jin Qiu’s expression. “Jin Qiu, does Elder Sister have some misunderstanding about me?”
Yan Jin Qiu gripped her hand. “Do not think too much.”
Hua Xi Wan turned her head to look at him. She smiled and did not speak.
“You are the mistress of Xian Junwang Fu. It is not important if other people misunderstand, as long as I do not misunderstand you.” He reached out and caressed her hairpin. “I only believe what I am willing to believe. How other people are is not connected to me.”
These words meant that he would not keep the words of other people on his mind, he would not accept the influence of other people and was willing to protect her?
Hua Xi Wan still had a smile. She knew that Yan Jin Qiu was not as simple as he appeared on the surface, and Yan Jin Qiu was almost deliberately letting her find this. Yan Jin Qiu was hoping that she could stand on the same battle line as him? But she was too lazy. A person who wasn’t even willing to stand, how could she step onto the battlefield?
When the carriage just arrived at the gates of the junwang fu, Hua Xi Wan got off and saw the carriage from Second Uncle Hua was by the gate. She paused in her steps and glanced at Yan Jin Qiu before walking shoulder-to-shoulder with him through the gates of Xian Junwang Fu.