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夫人 furen: mistress or madam/lady, referring to the legitimate wife

王妃 wang fei: princess consort; the official wife of a (qin)wang or prince

府 fu: compound or estate; (jun)wang fu: prince's estate/compound

亲王 qinwang or 王 wang: first-rank prince; also called wang ye

堂姐 tang jie: father's brother's (older) daughter

儿媳 erxi: daughter-in-law

太监 taijian: court or palace eunuch

嫂子 saozi: older brother's wife

侧室 ceshi: the highest rank of concubine

堂 tang: relatives with the same surname

堂嫂 tang sao: father's brother's (older) son's wife

郡王 junwang: second-rank prince

Chapter Forty-One: Laurel Flower Wine

A burst of light footsteps came outside the door. When Zhou Furen heard this, she put down the tea in her hand and stood. A short while later, she saw Xian Wang Fei come in with several beautiful servant girls. There was a small smile on her face, but no one dared to underestimate her.

"This old woman greets Xian Wang Fei." Before Zhou Furen could complete her curtsey, she was held up by Hong Ying.

"Zhou Furen doesn't have to be so courteous." Hua Xi Wan sat down at the front and indicated for the servant girls to switch out the guests' tea. "There are many things going on in the fu these last few days, and I am one without ability. I have been busy up until now and has caused Furen to wait for a long time. I really cannot let this pass."

"Wang Fei is too humble. The elevation of Wang Ye is a major event, and naturally there are many matters." Zhou Furen was sitting properly, but her back was slightly bent to show a respectful attitude. "If it were anyone else, they would be in a panic right now. This old woman sees that the servants in the fu have quick hands and feet, and are very composed. It can bee seen that Wang Fei is virtuous but is afraid that we will be ashamed, so you are purposefully being humble."

"I cannot accept such great praise from Zhou Furen." Hua Xi Wan's gaze swept across Hua Yi Liu. She saw the other was slightly thinner than before her marriage and her complexion was slightly pale. She saw that Miss Zhou, sitting beside the other, had a pink complexion which caused Hua Yi Liu to seem even more pale. "Has Eldest Sister been well recently?"

"Thanks to Wang Fei for asking. Everything is well." Hua Yi Liu jerked out a smile and responded. However, there was no energy in her eyes, and she seemed as ancient as a woman of fifty and sixty.

Zhou Furen saw this and her heart jumped. She knew that her son had gone over the line, but she only had this one son. She did not bear to restrict him but was afraid that Xian Wang Fei would be angry.

"Eldest Sister seems thinner—should I invite a grand doctor to take your pulse?" Hua Xi Wan's brow furrowed slightly, and then she said in a helpless tone towards Zhou Furen, "Tang Jie has the gentlest of personalities, and does not like seeing the doctor usually. Furen, please teach her more. As the younger sister, my words have no weight. However, this older sister is a filial one. If Furen speaks, she will definitely listen."

Zhou Furen said with a normal smile, "Wang Fei is right. My erxi's appetite has decreased recently, and this old woman has been worried. With Wang Fei's urgings, this old woman will have less worries." Even though she said this, her hand that held the teacup tensed.

"It is erxi's wrong to worry Mother-in-law." Hua Yi Liu smiled at Zhou Furen and then looked with a complex gaze at Hua Xi Wan. Thinking about her younger brother who had not yet attended the fall examination, her lips moved, but in the end, she did not say a word.

Zhou Furen saw her acting like this and was satisfied inside. Then she turned her head and said, "When I heard of the joyous matter for the fu, this old woman has come to give good wishes. Please, Wang Fei, forgive us for disturbing you."

"Furen is being too polite in saying this." Hua Xi Wan elegantly blew on the steam rising from the tea and then said, "You are an in-law of my Hua Family, so we are technically relatives. We should not say such courteous things."

Zhou Furen went with the flow and gave a few flattering words regarding Xian Wang Fu. Then somehow, the topic turned to the examinations. "The next year will be a Spring Examination Year again. I wonder how many famous people and scholars will come to Jing."

"The more scholars there are, the more able people there are; this is very good." Hua Xi Wan smiled and did not pick up Zhou Furen's sentence. She turned to say, "Furen's daughter is very beautiful. How old is she this year?"

"Last month, she came of age." Zhou Furen saw Hua Xi Wan ask about her daughter and couldn't care about the topic of the imperial examination. She smiled and said, "She is an uncivilized little girl and cannot accept Wang Fei's compliment."

"If Miss Zhou is an uncivilized little girl, then aren't we savages?" Hua Xi Wan examined Zhou Jin Xi. "What books do you usually read at home?"

"Wang Fei, I have only read [The Four Books Of Women], [The Womanly Analects] and others." Zhou Jin Xi did not know what was going on. The wang fei's gaze was clearly very warm, but she did not dare to meet the other's eyes.

"En." Hua Xi Wan nodded and gave a few words of praise. She did not say anything else.

At this time, a servant came to report that Wang Ye had returned to the fu. Zhou Furen was very perceptive and stood to bid farewell at seeing this. Hua Xi Wan insincerely tried to keep her, and when Zhou Furen bid farewell again, Hua Xi Wan had Bai Xia and the others see them out.

Hua Yi Liu was walking behind Zhou Furen, and from a distance, she saw Xian Wang and a few taijian walking on another path towards the yard. She only saw the back of a figure, and when she looked again, the person had turned the corner.

When they left the gates of the wang fu, Zhou Jin Xi and Hua Yi Liu were on the same carriage. Zhou Jin Xiu said with bashfulness, "Saozi, is Xian Wang as outstanding as they say?"

Hua Yi Liu stilled slightly. Then she turned her eyes down and said, "Maybe. I only saw him twice at Eldest Uncle's fu, and did not look at him closely."

"Oh." Zhou Jin Xi was slightly disappointed. She felt that, as an unmarried female, she should not ask these questions. She looked at Hua Yi Liu and saw that the other did not say anything, so she put her head down to play with her handkerchief.

When they returned to Zhou Fu, Zhou Furen looked at her pretty daughter and suddenly had a strange idea. "Erxi, I heard there is no ceshi in Xian Wang Fu?"

"Mother-in-law, Xian Wang and Xian Wang Fei are deeply in love!" Hua Yi Liu's voice became deeper. It was the first time that she spoke in such a grave tone. "This is the good fortune of Wang Ye and Wang Fei."

Zhou Furen hadn't expected that her daughter-in-law would speak to her in a such a grave tone. After stilling for a moment, she seemed to realize that her mind was too hot and then nodded. "You are right, Xian Wang and Xian Wang Fei are people with good fortune."

After separating from the mother-in-law and the younger sister-in-law, Hua Yi Liu leaned against the hand of the servant girl. More than half the energy in her body had left.

She was jealous of Hua Xi Wan, but she did not really want someone to break up this perfection. These conflicted feelings consumed her mind and made her unable to sleep. Yet no one knew of her feelings.

When Yan Jin Qiu came into the inner compound, Hua Xi Wan gave him a general number regarding the thickness of the gifts that each family in Jing had sent, so he would know.

"Xu Wang Fu are our elders, so we can add two-tenths to the usual." Yan Jin Qiu had not expected Hua Xi Wan to have such an attentive mind. After listening to her speak, he said, "Xu Wang Fei is an extremely harmonious person. If you are idle, you can go and speak to her."

Hua Xi Wan nodded. The present Xu Wang and the present Emperor were tang brothers. Because the old Xu Wang had been very close with the previous emperor, the previous emperor had sent down a decree saying that if the next three generations of Xu Wang did not commit any great crimes, they would always inherit the qinwang position. So the present Xu Wang and his son were certainly qinwang as long as they did not have a mental problem and rebelled.

Due to this, Xu Wang was greatly respected among the Imperial Clan. Even the Holy One was very polite facing Xu Wang. The people of Xu Wang Fu were smart. They would do their own things and not meddle in other things. Their relationship with other wang fu was ordinary, but Xu Wang Fei liked Yan Jin Qiu a lot and always mentioned him.

But in the eyes of most people Xu Wang Fei was just a woman in the inner compound. She liked Xian Wang because he had a good appearance and talent, but this did not have anything to do with the court.

The Emperor was also very satisfied with Xu Wang Fu's conduct. The other people did not have any opinions. As a result, Xu Wang Fu had very good days in Jing but no one could criticize them.

"Xu Wang Fei is a very knowledgeable elder; I actually was thinking about learning from her." Hua Xi Wan had met Xu Wang Fei before. Even though they did not have many times to see each other in private, nevertheless after conversations at gatherings and banquets, she knew that Xu Wang Fei was a very intelligent and kind person. From the bottom of her heart, Hua Xi Wan respected and liked this kind of elder.

When she had married Yan Jin Qiu, it seemed that Yan Jin Qiu had also invited Xu Wang Fei to help take care of the matters concerning the marriage, as a substitute for the elders of his family. It could be seen that Xu Wang Fei had great affection for Yan Jin Qiu.

When Yan Jin Qiu heard this, he did not take it seriously. It was not that he felt Hua Xi Wan did not respect Xu Wang Fei, but that he knew Hua Xi Wan was someone who would lie down if she did not have to sit. Why would she do something like what those normal women did in the inner compound if she did not have to do so?

"Good." Yan Jin Qiu smiled. He glanced over the gift list on the table. When his gaze swept over Sheng Junwang Fu, his brow creased slightly.

"What is it?" Hua Xi Wan noticed that his expression was not right and looked over. Then she smiled and said, "The second day after you became qinwang, Tang Sao came with gifts to visit. Is something wrong with these objects?"

"Nothing." Yan Jin Qiu put down the list. Yan Bo Yi had came that day. He and Yan Bo Yi were of different personalities. With the Emperor lighting and fanning the flames between them, he had originally thought that Yan Bo Yi would not react greatly on the surface. He had not expected the gifts this time to be so numerous. It felt as though he was trying to disguise something.

He did not know if the other was truly trying to disguise something or if he was acting for the Emperor.

His index finger lightly tapping the table, Yan Jin Qiu suddenly said, "Next month will be Sheng Junwang's birthday. At that time, why don't we give them a great gift?"

Hua Xi Wan swept her gaze across his sleeve and found that the hemming his sleeve was not right. Her expression did not change as she said, "All right, I had been planning the same thing."

Yan Jin Qiu nodded and called someone in to help him change into another outer robe. After spending a long time with Hua Xi Wan, he gradually got some of her habits. For example, when he was in private and no one was around, he liked to wear a loose outer robe and move into a comfortable position to read. It could be seen that the speed with which someone fell was much faster than that of gaining a good habit.

After putting on the clothing, Yan Jin Qiu sat down next to Hua Xi Wan. He drank tea and said, "It will be Mid-Autumn tomorrow. After the banquet in the palace, we will return to the fu and admire the moon."

Hua Xi Wan smiled and said, "If the banquet tomorrow ends early, we can try. In any case, we still have several jars of old laurel blossom wine in the wine stores."

"If that is the case, why don't we send a few jars to Mount Tai and the brothers-in-law? Even though it is not anything rare, it can fit the atmosphere." Yan Jin Qiu reached out to gather Hua Xi Wan into his arms. "It will be our good wishes."

" 'You are so tender, though of pale, light yellow hue. Far from caress of heart and hand, fragrant are you.'[i] It is suitable to taste laurel blossom wine on this kind of day." Hua Xi Wan adjusted to a comfortable position. "Then I will have someone send the wine to the marquis fu in the afternoon."

"En." Yan Jin Qiu rubbed her neck lightly. Scenting the faint laurel blossom fragrance, he glanced with a dark expression across the outer robe that he had changed out of.

[i]. Partridge in the Sky by Li Qing Zhao, Translated by Xu Yuan Chong.

Translator Ramblings: Hua Yi Liu's mother in law and her own mother are similar … … everything for advancement.

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