Chapter Eighty: Close and Distant
Because of the example of the green-robed servant girl, all of the wang fu settled down greatly. Adding on that, the Empress Dowager bestowed down many rare and precious items, along with a verbal decree that Xian Wang Fei was virtuous and intelligent. It was as though she hadn’t implied for Wang Fei to have a child as early as possible.
The actions of the Empress Dowager clearly represented her reaching out to Hua Xi Wan, and also expressed the idea that she did not have any intentions of forcing Xian Wang to take a concubine. Xian Wang Fei was very good, she was satisfied, and other people should not speculate.
No one knew what the Empress Dowager was doing until someone suddenly recalled that Xian Wang had gone to the Empress Dowager’s palace a day ago and stayed in there for a considerable amount of time. Then they realized—this matter most likely was not that the Empress Dowager had thought it through but that Xian Wang had gone to beg the Empress Dowager.
The women of Jing all praised Xian Wang’s actions, and even the womenfolk who only thought he had surface beauty felt that he was pretty good. Most of the women in the world who were normal would admire a man who loved his wife. So without knowing it, Yan Jin Qiu received from the women a reputation of being a good man.
Having seen too many stupidly filial men who sacrificed their woman’s happiness, people felt that Xian Wang was a rare example. There were women who praised Yan Jin Qiu, and there were women who envied Hua Xi Wan. There were also some men who found that their recent days were not very smooth because they had this example drop on them out of nowhere.
In the Third Master Hua’s compound, the marriage of Hua Chu Yu with the master of the Lin Family was finalized and set for the end of fall. Even though there was still half a year, the fu prepared a great amount of dowry for her. But Yao shi still constantly toiled and had the servants collect rare items. She seemed to want to give Hua Chu Yu as dowry everything that was good.
The Third Master Hua was not a very significant personage in Jing, but his family had the marquis fu as support, as well as a Xian Wang Fei who was deeply loved by Xian Wang. So even though the Third Master Hua did not have any real power, the servants who were sent to the stores for purchases received a lot of face.
Today, the servant was going to collect a box of pearls for which the deposit had been paid, but in the end, the servant from Princess Rui He’s fu had forcibly bought it. The servant from the Third Master Hua’s fu didn’t have a solution and could only return with empty hands to Yao shi.
After Yao shi heard the process of the matter, she swore hatefully, “A widow who just had her husband die dares to be so arrogant. I want to see how long she can do this.”
“Mother.” Hua Chu Yu hurriedly stopped Yao shi from talking and comforted her. “It is just some pearls, nothing rare. There is no harm in not having them.”
“Silly girl, I want to make a pearl robe for your dowry. Princess Rui He does not want any face, and is stealing boldly from our fu.” Yao shi was discontent, but she knew that Princess Rui He’s personality was a strong one. Most people could only allow her to take what she wanted. The reason why the purchases that her family made
in the recent days had gone so smoothly was mostly due to the marquis fuand Xian Wang Fu. Otherwise, even if they had the silver, they wouldn’t have been able to purchase such good objects.
Thinking about Hua Xi Wan, Yao shi asked somewhat unnaturally, “Are you still in contact with the one in Wang Fu? A few days ago, there were rumors that the Empress Dowager was discontent with her—is that true?”
“Xian Wang is in true love with Meimei. As long as Xian Wang doesn’t desire it, there is nothing that will happen to her.” Hua Chu Yu thought of the rumor from yesterday that said there had been a servant in the wang fu who wanted to seduce Xian Wang. In the end, she had been sent by Xian Wang to the laundry room, and even the steward had been punished. She said, “You do not need to worry about Third Sister; she is living well in the wang fu.”
“Who is concerned about her?” Yao shi coughed awkwardly. “She is the di miss of the marquis fu, and a wang fei. Does she need us people from common families to worry about her?”
Hua Chu Yu laughed. She understood her mother’s sharp mouth and soft heart. She changed the topic and said, “I heard that there was a minor conflict on Second Uncle’s fu. Last time at Grandmother’s, I saw that Eldest Sister looked fragile and thought that maybe we should have her at the fu for a short stay…”
Before she finished speaking, Yao shi interrupted her. Yao shi said with a dark expression, “You are a girl preparing for marriage; it is inauspicious for you to have her stay in the fu.” Yao shi paused and was worried that her words would make her seem heartless. She sighed and said, “It is not that I am heartless, but I really do not like Eldest Miss’ personality. Recently, her personality has become even darker. I’m afraid that she will go crazy and hurt you one day. Your brother’s personality is like that of the shizi from the eldest branch, and he doesn’t need my concern. Whereas you might look smart, but you care too much. How can I not worry?”
Hua Chu Yu was silent. She had just casually mentioned the matter and hadn’t expected Mother to give such a speech. In reality, among the three cousin-sisters, she was closer to Hua Xi Wan. From a young age, she had found that Eldest Sister’s personality was slightly introverted and sensitive, but she also wanted to be the best. It was not as interesting and relaxed being with Eldest Sister as being with Third Sister. It was not that she cared too much, but when she saw how fragile Eldest Sister looked, she was worried that something would happen to her.
“Mother, your words…” Hua Chu Yu hesitated. “Eldest Sister is slightly sensitive, but she is not that… extreme.”
“How old are you?” Yao shi laughed lightly. “I’ve seen people like Eldest Miss before. Not just me, even that female tiger from the eldest branch doesn’t like her very much. Didn’t you see that when Third Miss came back to visit the paternal home, that female tiger didn’t like to call Eldest Miss over to talk to Third Miss? Whenever she invites you, what is her excuse?”
Hua Chu Yu finally recalled that, when Third Sister had returned to the marquis futhe last few times and she had gone over to talk, she had never seen Eldest Sister. She finally realized—so Eldest Aunt disliked Eldest Sister so much now. But when Third Sister had returned to the marquis fu last winter, it had been fine.
Seeing her puzzlement, Yao shi could only restate it more baldly. “That female tiger might not have any good qualities, but she is not a small-minded person. As long as one doesn’t touch her children, she will close her eyes to the other minor matters. But if one dares to target her three children, she will fight to the death.”
When Hua Chu Yu thought of this, she thought, Mother liked to verbally win against Eldest Aunt—was it because she had a grasp of Eldest Aunt’s personality?
“Last winter when Third Miss came to the fu, did you notice how Eldest Miss looked at Xian Wang?” Yao shi lowered her voice and said mysteriously, “That girl doesn’t have proper thoughts.”
Hua Chu Yu felt a cold sweat. Did Eldest Miss have such thoughts about Xian Wang? But Xian Wang was Third Sister’s husband—how could she think about something that was impossible?
“It would have been fine if it was just that. When Third Miss came to the fu at the end of the year, did you see what Eldest Miss was wearing? Tsk tsk, she had great self-pity. Tell me, who does she want to seduce looking like that?” Yao shi snorted disdainfully. “Zhang shi, she says that she’s from a scholarly family, but look at what she really is, and what the daughter she raised is. Wanting to seduce your brother-in-law—I feel embarrassed for her.”
Yao shi would admit that she wasn’t a virtuous and generous person. She looked down on Zhang shi pretending to be high and virtuous while acting in such a disgusting fashion. At least, she herself would never sell her daughter for glory. And her daughter wouldn’t target her brother-in-law.
“Just those looks of hers and she thinks to seduce Xian Wang. She should look in the mirror and see which part of her can compare to Third Miss.”
Yao shi’s words were crude but truthful. Hua Chu Yu was not a person who could not separate right from wrong. After hearing this, she decided to stay further away from Hua Yi Liu. Not for anything else, but because Hua Yi Liu had thoughts she shouldn’t have.
Even leaving aside how deeply in love Third Sister and Xian Wang were, Third Sister had helped Eldest Sister escape. Eldest Miss shouldn’t have such thoughts. She looked down on this kind of people. Their way of conduct was not the same.
In Xian Wang Fu, Hua Xi Wan picked out some brightly-colored precious stones from her private stores, and had Bai Xia and Hong Ying organize them before picking out a portion of them.
“Have a servant send this to Third Uncle’s fu. Second Sister is getting married at the end of autumn. It is perfect for her to have these as part of her dowry. If this is delayed, then it will be too late.” When Hua Yi Liu had married, she had also added to the dowry, so when Hua Chu Yu was going to be married, she could only give a share equal to that of Hua Yi Liu. But she was closer to Hua Chu Yu, and it was normal for her to send some more in secret.
There were close and distant relationships between people. She treated Hua Yi Liu like they were cousins, and treated Hua Chu Yu like they were good sisters.
“Wang Fei, do not worry; the items have been organized. Later, I and two servants will go to deliver this to Second Miss.” Bai Xia smiled as she put a box of rubies into the pile to be given away, and then put the list in front of Hua Xi Wan. “Please look and see if there is anything missing.”
Hua Xi Wan carefully inspected it and said after thinking, “Didn’t Mu Tong have someone deliver a box of pearls? I saw their color was good. Send them to Second Sister. If they are stored for a long time, their color will not be good. Second Sister’s skin is fine and beautiful when she wears pearls.”
Hong Ying went into the private stores and took out a full box of pearls before Hua Xi Wan was satisfied.
When Yan Jin Qiu walked into the room, he saw the table was filled with all kinds of precious stones and pearls. He smiled and said, “What are you doing—preparing to have new jewelry made?” A few days ago, she had been saying that there was too much jewelry and it was blinding to her eyes. How come she now had the interest in fiddling with these things today?
Hua Xi Wan pulled him to sit down next to her and told him the reason. She pointed at the list and said, “If Second Aunt knew, would she make a fuss?”
“When you hellped her daughter out of that predicament, did she say a word of thanks?” After merging all the reasons, Yan Jin Qiu didn’t have any good feelings about Zhang shi at all. So he was happy to see that Hua Xi Wan was distancing herself from Zhang shi. Originally, he had been worried that, because Father-in-law and the second Master Hua were full-blooded brothers, Hua Xi Wan would be closer to Zhang shi. Now it seemed that he had worried for nothing.
“Who cares if she fusses? The things are yours, and it is your freedom to give them to whomever you want.” Yan Jin Qiu did not have any misgivings at all. “Do not worry about this. After you organize this, I will have Mu Tong deliver it tomorrow. I want to see who dares to speak.”
Hua Xi Wan: “…”
Even the most cunning man was crude and simple when dealing with affairs of the inner compound.
However, she liked that quality.