A few days before Yan Ru’s wedding, a stream of relatives came to the door to add to her dowry.
Xue-shi’s older brother, his wife and her sister-in-law all came. They didn’t add anything too precious to the dowry but it fully represented their sincerity.
Yan Feng had also returned to the estate to add to Yan Ru’s dowry before hurriedly leaving again.
These years, Yan Feng had rarely returned. Apart from coming back twice when the old madam’s illness worsened, she hadn’t come back since. Every time she came she would be in a hurry. It was clear the Chen household restricted her strictly.
Chen-shi also took her two daughters over to add to the dowry. Having not seen her in a while, she had become scarily grey. She hurriedly left right after.
Because the old madam had lost a grandson, she hated Chen-shi a lot. If it weren’t for the fact that she couldn’t move about, she would have wanted to swallow her whole. The third lord no longer looked at her which was within Xue-shi’s expectations. Now the third lord was truly sympathetic towards Concubine Cui. Although he couldn’t remain at her place during the day, he would still visit her daily.
Chen-shi had made a ruckus about it several times but was ignored by the third lord.
Shen Yi Yao and Yan Yan had also come to add to Yan Ru’s dowry. Yan Yan had given her a set of pure gold headwear. Shen Yi Yao had directly added three thousand taels’ worth of banknotes. She had an idea of the eldest branch’s situation. Yan Ling was going to get married after so Yan Ru wouldn’t have a solid bottom layer of silver. The more silver in the dowry, the more options she would have if anything happened in the future.
Xue-shi wouldn’t accept it and wanted Shen Yi Yao to take it back. She said she had already received so much help from them. Shen Yi Yao ignored her and said it was for her daughter. After shoving it back and forth, she still managed to stuff it to Yan Ru.
Xue-shi was incessantly moved. She wiped her tears and told Yan Ru to remember what this second aunt did for her, and to repay her properly in the future. She said within the entire estate, only this second aunt kept Yan Ru in mind.
These words were criticizing Chen-shi and the old madam. Chen-shi had merely given a golden hairpin. It was pitifully light when she weighed it in her hand. Furthermore, the old madam didn’t say anything at all. She used her situation to pretend to be muddled.
It wasn’t that Xue-shi was greedy for their things. It was just that their lack of sincerity was obvious.
Soon, Yan Ru’s wedding day arrived.
On this day, the Weiyuan Marquis Estate was extremely lively.
The eldest lord Yan Qu was marrying off one of his daughters for the first time. He spent a lot of his savings to make it a grand occasion. Various firecrackers were set off the entire day and red streamers covered the entire street in front of the estate doors.
Only when night fell did things grow quiet again.
Xue-shi escorted her daughter onto the bridal sedan chair. After it departed, she cried for a round. Shen Yi Yao hadn’t been able to comfort her. Yan Zhi had sent the guests off and took her back to the eldest branch’s pavilion.
The next day, Xue-shi put away her sorrow and started busying herself again. Tomorrow was Yan Ru’s bridal return.
On the day of the bridal return, Yan Ru wore a crimson dress with golden flowers. Her hair was done into a heart-shaped bun and she wore a pure golden head ornament. Yan Ru had always been an unobtrusive person and rarely dressed so glamorously. This proper bridal attire made her suddenly seem like a different person.
Her fair face held a slight hint of red and there was some bashfulness in her eyes that couldn’t be concealed. It was clear the two days at her husband’s household had been pretty good. Along with the elegant and refined Liang Qi Fan, they made a good pair.
Xue-shi had dressed in a dignified manner and was waiting early within the hall. Seeing the married couple walking over, she helped Yan Ru up before she could kneel. Her eyes turned red and she couldn’t get enough of her daughter.
Yan Zhi laughed with Liang Qi Fan on the side, “Your mother-in-law misses her daughter already, making son-in-law laugh at us. Let the women chat for a bit. We men can go talk on the side.”
Liang Qi Fan cupped his hands and agreed, following behind his father-in-law.
Yan Yan and Yan Ling had been hiding in the side room. They both walked over at this time.
Yan Ling pulled Yan Ru and looked her up and down. She felt that she had somehow changed, but she couldn’t point out what was different.
Yan Ru couldn’t hide her shyness from being stared at and scolded: “What are you looking at? Why are you looking at me so creepily!?”
Yan Ling laughed naughtily and blinked her large eyes: “Eldest sis seems to have gotten quite a bit prettier. What’s your secret?”
“Secret” was an inside joke amongst the three of them. Yan Ru was envious of Yan Yan’s fair skin so Yan Yan had described her skincare routine. Yan Ru thus set her heart on it and had her maids help her go through it daily. A few days later, she bugged Yan Ling and asked her about the results. After several rounds of this, Yan Ling would joke whether she had used some secret again whenever she saw her.
When Yan Ru heard her words, her face suddenly turned bright red.
Yan Yan laughed and said: “Enough, stop making fun of your eldest sis. Since it’s her bridal return today, eldest aunt is still waiting to speak with her!”
These words were spoken quietly but Xue-shi did raise her head hopefully.
Although her daughter looked well and nothing seemed to be wrong, she would only feel at ease after asking.
The three spoke a little longer before Yan Ru went with Xue-shi to the inner room.
Xue-shi pulled her daughter onto the kiln and asked urgently: “Your husband treats you well?”
Yan Ru lowered her blushing face and nodded.
Seeing this, Xue-shi felt relief.
“I’ve already asked around in advance. Your husband is pretty highly educated and enjoys the literary arts. You should have some topics in common. You have to remember that the relationship between husband and wife is nurtured over time. Find some topics in common and your relationship will naturally develop.”
After these two days as a newlywed, Yan Ru had also realized how much effort her mom had put in to find this marriage for her.
Liang Qi Fan was elegant and educated, and was meticulously considerate towards her. The two had similar interests and they had chatted constantly over the past couple of days. Her mother-in-law was benevolent and didn’t put on airs in front of her. Her younger sister-in-law was an introverted young miss and was very agreeable. She was very respectful.
Her life after marriage was better than she could have dared to imagine. Looking at her worried mom at this time, her eyes involuntarily turned red.
“Mom, your daughter is very well. Husband treats me well, father-in-law doesn’t concern himself with the rear residence. Mother-in-law and sis-in-law are both pretty good.”
Xue-shi patted her hand in gratification. “That’s good then. Mom can be at ease if you are well.”
After a pause, she asked: “Does your husband have people in his chambers already? How are their looks? Are they respectful towards you? How does your husband treat them?” As a mom, there were endless things to worry about.
Yan Ru pursed her lips: “Husband has a chambermaid who has served him from a young age. She’s very respectful towards me. Since I just married over, it’s not convenient for your daughter to ask too much about this matter. However, it seems husband doesn’t care much about her. Mother-in-law has also said that prior to me giving birth to a son, that chambermaid will continue drinking birth control medicine.”
Xue-shi nodded, “This is already pretty good. You must know that in major households, everyone has people in their chambers prior to marriage. Since your husband protects you and your mother-in-law is on your side, you don’t have to be afraid and you don’t have to bother with her as long as she doesn’t make mischief. As the principal wife, she will never supersede you. The Liang household is quite principled so something like scrapping the principal wife for a concubine wouldn’t happen. You must remember, your heaven and earth is now your husband. As long as you have him coaxed, you don’t have to fear anything else. Treat your husband well and respect your parents-in-law. Be kind and considerate to your sis-in-law. Everyone has their own principles, and they won’t mistreat you.”
Yan Ru nodded vacantly and stroked her bracelet.
Xue-shi looked at her daughter. That swaddled baby from back then had actually gotten married already. She felt another wave of sorrow.
“You’ve married now and your actions will be different from before. Remain modest in conduct, and if there’s something you can’t figure out you can discuss it with your husband. Or, you can also come back and discuss it with your mom. Although you are from the Weiyuan Marquis Estate, this title isn’t really much use. Your dad’s status isn’t high, and can’t be much use either. You must remember to interact with your second aunt more in the future, as well as the third miss. Your second aunt has the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s backing and your third sis will be a royal consort. If something really happens, you can ask for their support. Relationships are all developed over time. Since you don’t have any backing, you must attentively cultivate it.”
The mother and daughter spoke for a long, long time until a maid came and reported that the banquet was ready. They finally went outside.
Yan Ru and her husband remained in the estate for an entire day. Only when the sun was setting did they return to the Liang estate.
Yan Yan’s wedding was a month apart from Yan Ru’s. After Yan Ru’s matter was settled, the estate started busying itself with Yan Yan’s wedding.
The wedding of a consort was naturally not ordinary.
Since times were different now, Shen Yi Yao didn’t quibble with others and directly used her own savings to renovate the Jinse Pavilion, the Ningxiang Chambers, the reception in the front court and even the front doors of the Weiyuan Marquis Estate.
Whether the managers reported this to Yan Ting, Shen Yi Yao didn’t know. Regardless, he didn’t prevent it.
Banners and lanterns were put up everywhere. The walls got a fresh coat of paint and the flowers and plants by the walkways were replaced. Shen Yi Yao brought over from her manor whatever the estate was lacking. What she couldn’t replace, she ended up using silver to buy.
Her daughter would only get married once so Shen Yi Yao was also using up her savings.
On Luo Huai Yuan’s side, there were also complications that ended up in disagreements.
According to regulations, princes lived in the palace prior to coming of age. Their weddings would naturally be in the palace. But the fourth prince was different and had long since been kicked out. What should they do for the wedding in this case? This was something that caused people some headache.
People from the Ministry of Rites requested the emperor for his guidance. Emperor Xi couldn’t be bothered to waste his efforts and ordered them to have the phoenix palanquin carried directly to the fourth prince estate at that time. Since the fourth prince had already moved to his estate, there was no need to make a commotion at the palace.
The Ministry of Rites received the orders and went to coordinate with the fourth prince estate’s people. The matter reached Luo Huai Yuan’s ears and he wasn’t going to have any of it. He didn’t bicker with the Ministry of Rites’ people and directly asked Emperor Xi for an audience.
Emperor Xi hadn’t wanted to meet him at first but Luo Huai Yuan shamelessly refused to leave. The emperor could only summon him inside.
The moment he entered, Luo Huai Yuan started crying.
This was real crying. He was a mess of snot and tears. Such a large person didn’t care about his appearance and directly pounced over, hugging onto Emperor Xi’s legs and crying heavily.
He cried about his foolishness, and how he had been fat from birth and didn’t receive Emperor Xi’s affection. He cried about how pitiful he was. He had been so small (he was clearly huge) when he got kicked out. He cried about how he finally got to marry a beautiful wife but was still not liked by others….
As he cried, he wiped his snot onto Emperor Xi’s robes, making him feel completely disgusted.
He wanted to struggle free but couldn’t. Emperor Xi had never seen such an unkempt person.
Luo Huai Yuan did make himself sound pitiful, but he was also quite reasonable.
There was no reason that the crown prince consort was carried into the palace, the second prince consort was also carried into the palace (the second prince was too old so he had gotten married two months prior already), but when it was his turn, his own consort was tossed into a corner. Even if they wanted to discriminate against him, they shouldn’t do it that way.
Of course, Luo Huai Yuan didn’t put it so bluntly, but put it in a more amusing way.
He merely focused on the way the second prince consort was carried in, and after going back and forth, Emperor Xi couldn’t miss his point.
Ho, this foolish brat also knew to establish his wife’s face!
Recalling how this brat went to oversee the internal affairs daily regarding the betrothal gift, Emperor Xi felt a headache coming on.
He had thought this brat was a little smart in the past. How come he grew fatter and dumber as he matured?!
Emperor Xi couldn’t accept this.
But this was his son after all, and he was also a proper prince. He couldn’t give him a lower level of treatment in front of everyone. Especially since this brat was crying like this. Emperor Xi could only compromise.
He gently comforted Luo Huai Yuan and said it was those fools at the Ministry of Rites who mixed things up. The prince’s wedding would naturally be held in the palace. He told him to go back and wait properly to bring his beautiful wife home.
Actually, Emperor Xi was feeling sympathetic towards his poor royal robes and his digestive system, which is why he suppressed his anger.
Luo Huai Yuan wiped his chubby face and blinked his eyes as he asked a dumb question: “For real?”
“Of course it’s for real!”
Emperor Xi’s veins throbbed in his temple.
Luckily Luo Huai Yuan didn’t continue to test his patience. He happily kowtowed and left.
After he left, Emperor Xi finally leapt up as though he got burned and his roars sounded throughout the palace.
Therefore, rumors spread soon after that “the foolish fourth prince enraged his majesty again, supposedly for his consort’s sake”.
Therefore, Empress Xiao also came to help mediate. When Emperor Xi went to the Chunluan Palace that night, Senior Concubine Xu also gently urged him not to be angry. The fourth prince was still small and insensible. Since he cherished his consort, might as well let him have his way.
Senior Concubine Xu, which eye of yours saw that the fourth prince was still “small”?
In the blink of an eye, the wedding day arrived.
Three days prior, an endless stream of people came to supplement Yan Yan’s dowry. It definitely couldn’t be compared to what happened with Yan Ru.
Shen Yi Yao was good natured and had good relationships. Along with the burning stove that was the Zhenguo Duke Estate, even those with the slightest relationship would take this opportunity to curry some favor. Furthermore, they were all very generous regardless if they were close or not. They all congratulated Shen Yi Yao with huge smiles.
Xue-shi stepped up and helped Shen Yi Yao receive the guests. She was also speechless at the situation.
The Zhenguo Duke’s side also arrived with their chests of things for the dowry. This wasn’t just a couple of pieces, but entire chests. It also wasn’t small wooden chests, but huge boxes.
Within the entire Shen household, there was only this young girl. Everyone went all out.
The Zhenguo Duke and his wife sent over five large chests, Second Madam Shen and her husband sent over two. The eldest branch had long since sent things over from the border and it was also delivered at this time. The various cousins also sent some things over. Shen Xuan had collected a chest of western rarities.
At this rate, there were enough things for Yan Yan to come up with a second dowry.
However, since she was the only girl out of the Zhenguo Duke Estate, Yan Yan’s aunts and uncles had long since started preparing a dowry for her. There was also the Zhenguo madam, her grandmother.
Shen Yi Yao had prepared a hundred and eight pieces for Yan Yan’s dowry. Now, it seemed another hundred and twenty-eight pieces were going to be added? This was too eye-catching! But these were all the intentions of her elders, and represented their blessings for Yan Yan’s future happiness. It wouldn’t be appropriate to leave it all behind.
Shen Yi Yao was fretting about what to do when Yan Yan came up with the solution.
Her solution was to contact Luo Huai Yuan, and have him think of something.
At some point, Yan Yan had gotten into the habit of asking the little fatty for help.
Luo Huai Yuan was very direct and decided right away. He would send all the extras over to the fourth prince estate in advance.
Of course it was done secretly to avoid attracting attention. They thus picked a moonless night with the wind blowing. Fine, that’s a little exaggerated. Regardless, it was at night that a group of carriages entered the fourth prince estate.
With the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s support and also having given the five-cities troops a heads up, the night was extraordinarily quiet. This large group of carriages encountered no obstacles.
On the eighth of October, the Ningxiang Chambers started getting busy bright and early.
Bathing, changing, facials, hair brushing…by the time Yan Yan put on her phoenix crown and crimson cloak, it was already noon.
The front court was extremely lively. An endless stream of people came to give their blessings.
Because the consort would be directly taken to the palace, the wedding banquet would naturally take place at the Weiyuan Marquis Estate first. They couldn’t have alcohol set up in the palace after all. Guests would arrive from time to time. The couples from the eldest branch and the third branch all came out to help greet the guests.
Even Yan Ting had made a rare appearance. He had been invisible from the time his daughter was getting ready to be married until the final arrangements were made. However, he had to show up today no matter what.
The street outside the estate was full of hustle and bustle. Firecrackers sounded out endlessly. Every now and then, servants would scatter fruits and coins of blessing into the crowd outside.
At the Ningxiang Chambers, a bunch of women were hanging around.
Second Madam Shen, Ma Quan Fang, Chen-shi, Yan Ru and the estate’s other misses were all present.
As the auspicious hour slowly approached, Shen Yi Yao grabbed her daughter’s hand. She wanted to speak but couldn’t, and wanted to cry but couldn’t either. She could only hold her hand with reddened eyes, unwilling to let go.
Soon, someone announced that the fourth prince’s bridal sedan had arrived.
The chamber grew chaotic. Mei Xiang hurriedly brought over the red veil and covered Yan Yan’s head.
Shen Yi Yao’s tears finally started flowing as she cried incessantly.
It was still Yan Yan who was blunt. She released her hand and knelt, giving her three kowtows.
She stood up and said: “What are you crying for, I’ll come back to see you the day after!”
This scene made Second Madam Shen, who was also teary-eyed, burst out laughing. She walked forward and grabbed Shen Yi Yao’s hand: “Alright, this day was bound to come. No matter how unwilling, daughters will have to be married off and become someone else’s wife.”
Yan Yan’s veil hadn’t been lowered yet. She wore a red robe embroidered with a golden phoenix. She looked unbelievably noble. Her red outfit made her look unbearably gorgeous.
She looked around at the crowd though her gaze seemed to be focused on Chen-shi and Yan Chan. She said to Shen Yi Yao: “You take care of yourself at home. If some clueless people bully you or Ah Mo, just send me a letter. I’ll come help you skin them and break their bones!”
Actually Yan Yan was making it sound too serious. As of now, only the old madam and Chen-shi could still make a bit of trouble. The rest were all very well-behaved. Concubine Wu had long since become an invisible person and Concubine Lan was pretty much the same way.
However, it was inevitable for her to worry. These words revealed that Yan Yan was actually a mess as well.
Second Madam Shen hurriedly knocked on wood: “You foolish child, why are you saying such things on this auspicious day? Your aunt is still here, and I’ll help watch over your mom and your brother. Our Shen household’s people aren’t so easily bullied.”
People in front were hurrying them and there were many words that had no time to be said.
The red veil was lowered and covered Yan Yan’s eyes.
The eldest branch’s eldest young master Yan Xiao had long since been waiting outside the door, waiting to carry Yan Yan out. Yan Mo stood there looking pitifully but the Grand Xi’s tradition was that the bride would be carried out by the oldest brother.
The sound of weeping was followed by the crackle of firecrackers. Yan Yan couldn’t tell who was crying anymore. She was lifted up onto Yan Xiao’s back by her maids.
She felt herself moving one step at a time. Yan Yan’s eyes finally turned wet as well.
Yan Yan no longer remembered what the entire process was like. She had merely followed along with the instructions.
It wasn’t clear how long it lasted. Only when a pair of familiar hands grabbed onto hers did she finally feel at ease.
An interior attendant called out and Luo Huai Yuan supported her arms as they paid respects. Yan Yan could sense there were a lot of people in the palace hall. Hearing the interior attendant calling out, she knew that Emperor Xi and Empress Xiao were both present.
Only after the final paying of respects did Yan Yan get led out.
She got onto another sedan chair and after being carried for a while, they stopped somewhere. She was supported inside.
She sat on the nuptial bed as a female official was speaking on the side. Yan Yan only felt that it turned bright in an instant. That pleased and chubby face appeared in front of her.
Then they shared a nuptial cup of alcohol.
The female official brought over two golden goblets connected by a red silk. They each had a cup that had to be emptied.
Yan Yan’s face was crimson. It wasn’t clear if it was due to the redness of the room or due to the effects of the alcohol.
She lifted her eyes. The room was filled with palace maids and eunuchs who stood there silently. Outside the palace hall, ceremonial officials would come to report the time every now and then. Yan Yan knew the royal family had a lot of rules. Every move had to be made at an auspicious time.
The candles in the room made it seem like an ocean of flames, and looked extremely dazzling.
Yan Yan sat on the right and Luo Huai Yuan sat on the left, both upright and proper. However, they didn’t realize that the fourth prince had taken advantage of his wide sleeves to secretly grab onto Yan Yan’s hand.
He stroked and rubbed, and occasionally used his finger to tickle her palm.
Yan Yan was still able to endure at first, but afterwards was bothered until she wished she could give him a beating.
What was he messing about for at such a time!?
When the final announcement of time sounded out, the female official who had been standing there smiled and saluted: “Congratulations fourth prince and fourth prince consort. May you live long and happily together.”
Xiao An Zi walked up and stuffed the female official a large red envelope before sending her out.
Only now did Yan Yan roll her eyes at Luo Huai Yuan and stand up.
He beamed. “Yan Yan, it’s getting late. Let’s turn in.”
Fatty finally got married with Ah Yan!!!