These few days, the Shen family was caught in a very strange mood. Because of Shen Miao's bestowed marriage, everyone seemed to be clouded with anxiety. Even though everyone was trying to express joy, one could not hide the bleakness of it in the end.
Shen Xin and Luo Xue Yan would leave early and return home late daily, most likely they were searching for ways to get this marriage rescinded but they returned without success. It was of no doubt that Emperor Wen Hui had written the Imperial Decree in secrecy to sever Shen Xin's intention of refusing. A monarch's words were not of a joking matter and words spoken were like water that was splashed. In the previous dynasty, there was a Princess who fancied a Zhuang Yuan (top scorer in the Imperial examinations) but that Zhuang Yuan already had a wife but it was it not because of the phrase of 'Monarch's words were not of a joking matter' that he divorced his wife and married another?
Every time when Shen Qiu saw Shen Miao, he would have a conscience-stricken expression and these days, he would often gift Shen Miao some rare treasures. He only said, "Gēgē do not have any abilities and can only find these playthings for you."
Shen Miao was rather speechless with the Shen family's mood. She naturally knew that things were not that bad but she could not tell the Shen family so. If Shen Xin knew of Xie Jing Xing's real reason, one feared that there would be even more trouble.
In Ming Qi, she has to think about the Shen family but on the contrary, it was not convenient for her to take action but once she was in Great Liang, it would likely be much easier to do many things by using Xie Jing Xing's name.
She was relaxed but the people by her side all thought she was pretending. When she was reading in the room today, she saw Bai Lu run in a hurry and said, "Xiǎojiě, Fūrén want you to quickly go to the main hall. The people from Rui Wáng Residence had come to send the list of betrothal gifts."
Shen Miao was startled. List of betrothal gifts?
Xie Jing Xing was really extremely daring. He obviously knew that the Shen family did not want to see him and even hated him but he actually dared to send the list of betrothal gifts over. Wasn't this adding fuel into the fire?
However, thinking about Xie Jing Xing's absolutely unrestrained temperament, this was indeed something he could do.
Upon reaching the main hall, one could see from afar that Luo Xue Yan was holding a long thing and beside Luo Xue Yan, Shen Qiu and Shen Xin was standing as they stretched their heads over. Luo Tan pursed her lips while Luo Ling's gaze became complicated. In short, everyone was behaving very strangely.
When Shen Miao stepped into the room, she only then found out that other than the Shen family, there was someone else standing in the room. After looking clearly at that person's appearance, Shen Miao almost choked. Shen Miao had seen this middle-aged man that had a big beard before, he seemed to be a guard that was always following Xie Jing Xing and Cong Yang would call him 'Tie Yi'. From a glance, one could tell that he was a brave person with martial arts but today he deliberately wore a red robe and on it, there were gold-embroidered peaches and clouds. Most likely it was to bring out the cheerful atmosphere but Tie Yi's complexion was dark so by wearing this attire, the heroisms were all covered up and on contrary, he looked foolish.
Upon seeing her, Tie Yi bowed at her and said seriously, "Wángfēi."
This time, even Shen Qiu could not help but cough and glare at Tie Yi, "Don't call that inconsiderately."
Tie Yi simply did not pay any attention to him.
Shen Miao wanted to laugh somewhat inexplicably. Was Xie Jing Xing trying to muck up the place? Even if one were to send a list of betrothal gifts, he should find a happy and festive looking married woman to read. The residence of Prince Rui was so rich but only let Tie Yi, such a rough big male to come over. Wasn't this purposely making one laugh?
Seeing that Shen Miao was being startled, Luo Tan called her, "Xiǎo biǎomèi, what are you standing there for? Quickly come over to take a look at this list of betrothal gifts." She looked surreptitiously at Shen Miao, seemingly very excited with it.
Shen Miao walked over.
The list of betrothal was exquisitely done. It was made from scented wood, sprinkled with gold dust and there was an emerald cat eye on the front, making it very valuable. Just this list itself was already expensive. Even though Shen Xin and wife were not vain people, Prince Rui doing so would express the value of Shen Miao to him and their expression became better.
Luo Xue Yan handed the list of betrothal gifts to Tie Yi and said, "Read it."
In Ming Qi's customs, the list of betrothal gifts would be 'sung' by the male side. The longer it was sung, the generous the betrothal gifts were and the more honourable the female side would be.
Tie Yi was obviously not accustomed to doing such a thing so he flipped to the first page and sang dryly, "One yellow daylily, crab-apple flower and begonia bed. One blackwood three screen panel arhat bed. One set of yellow daylily pear wardrobe, bookcase and display shelving. One pair of black-eyed bean vases. One pair of conch inlay yellow daylily pear desks. One speckled conch yellow daylily pear money chest. One pair…"
The first page consisted of furniture which made everyone who heard it dumbstruck. Even if one were to put these many things in the current Shen Mansion, it would not be enough. It was enough to place in three mansions.
The second page was a list of display items and one only heard Tie Yi singing, "One incense aloeswood Ruyi. One mountain peak jade Ruyi. One tin paper lamp. One gold-gilded table clock One silver pocket watch. One green jade bamboo bonsai. One gold-gilded hexagonal pot of plum blossom bonsai. One three coloured eighteen sectioned serving plate. One coloured dust jar for tea leaves. One barrel of Chén Nǚ Zhēn wine (陈女贞酒). Bamboo and plum blossoms folding screen…"
(HidAnas: Somehow, Zaza missed a paragraph? So I am adding it in below with Zaza's translation)
Luo Xue Yan and Shen Xin also raised their eyebrows. Every single item is worth a lot of money, and it can be exchanged for ordinary people's expenses for a few years. This Prince Rui's list of betrothal gifts is rather generous. Luo Tan sniffed, and pulled Shen Miao's sleeve timidly, and said, "What is Rui Wáng's family business? Are they salt dealers?"
However, there was no time to be surprised as Tie Yi had continued to sing. The third page was daily necessities, "Six boxes of boxwood combs. Two boxes of bamboo brushes. One red sandalwood table. Sandalwood cub for gurgling, perfumed soap, satin canopy, glass bean hanging screen, eight mandarin duck tasselled cushions…"
Everyone in the Shen family, "…"
Tie Yi continued onto the fourth page, "One coat of silver rate, grey rat, sheepskin, pearl feathered each and twelve different cotton wadded coats. Thirty-two sets of robes of silk, satin and cotton. One fox-hide satin jacket. Twelve flower chiffon overcoats. Twelve sets of clothes with five fortune, phoenix, and thousands of fortune and flowers embroidered. Thirty pieces of top graded silk hide. Twenty bolts of pattern brocade. Ten bolts of Yun brocade. Ten bolts of Shu brocade. Twelve bolts of different coloured muslin. Thirty-six embroidered satin quilt. Twenty pairs of embroidered shoes. Forty pairs of Jiang silk socks…"
Luo Xue Yan could not help but asked, "This… xiǎo xiōngdì, could it be that you have taken the wrong list of betrothal gifts? This… This is not right."
How was this marrying a wife? This was like for a Princess instead. One feared that even a Princess would not be that detailed.
Tie Yi spoke expressionlessly, "It cannot be. There is only one list of betrothal gifts in the residence of Rui Wáng. May Fūrén continue listening."
He started singing the fifth page of the list of betrothal gifts, "One tray of coral, gold leaves, scented agarwood prayer beads. Four pieces of different types of green jade each. Four pieces of different types of white jade each. Two pieces of different crystal accessories each. Strings of pearls, jadeite, coral…"
The sixth page he sang was on antique, calligraphy and paintings, "Four pairs of Zhi Jin porcelain bottles. One pair of spring balas vases. One pair of Chen Hua ware bottles. One blue glazed white plum blossom bottle…"
The seventh page that he sang was all on the works of the four scholarly arts.
The eighth page that he sang was for servants and exclusive guards.
The ninth page was on horses and carriages.
The tenth page…
Everyone in the Shen family, "…"
The more Tie Yi sang, the smoother it was. He sang with one long breath that was even better than those older students in the theatre in Xiao Chun City. Every lingering note in every sentence made everyone feel as if they seemed to have taken a glimpse of large sheets of money. At the very end of the last sentence, he even sucked in his tummy and breathed out deeply as he closed the list of betrothal gifts. Then he finally looked at Shen Miao.
"Storefronts and estates are not entered in the list of betrothal gifts because they are all in Great Liang." Tie Yi smiled sincerely, "Diànxià has converted all of them to gold, which amounts to ten thousand Jin of gold (1 Jin = 500g)."
Ten thousand Jin of gold.
Luo Tan could almost pass out.
Tie Yi continued speaking, "The mansions between the residence of Rui Wáng to the Shen Mansion were bought and will be included in it. Later on, there will be someone who will send the title deeds over." He respectfully handed the list of betrothal gifts to Luo Xue Yan, "May Fūrén accept it."
Luo Xue Yan did not accept it.
The entire room of people was as dumbstruck as wooden chickens. Luo Xue Yan dared not accept it.
That was ten thousand Jin of gold and such a long list of betrothal gifts. Was their Shen family going to become the richest people in Ming Qi?
Prince Rui did not move the entire treasury of Great Liang over right?
Prince Rui's brain was not ill right?
Shen Xin frowned but it was Shen Qiu who reacted first. He hesitated before cautiously probed, "Does your Huángdì know of the list of betrothal gifts that Rui Wáng wrote?"
Tie Yi was blanked for a bit before remembering something and smiled, "Bìxià does not value mere worldly possessions much and moreover, this is not considered a big amount."
Seeing the thundering expression of everyone in the Shen family, Tie Yi continued, "In the Imperial family of Great Liang, gold, silver and pearls could fill up Ming Qi's treasury instantly and are considered like sand and fine soil in Great Liang."
Everyone felt a deep veneration. It seemed that Great Liang was indeed rich and powerful. They were so rich that the betrothal gifts could fill the entire treasury were only sand and fine soil in their view.
Tie Yi again spoke, "However, may General and Fūrén rest assured, with regards to Diànxià marrying Shen Xiǎojiě, everything done is accordingly to Great Liang's Imperial family's procedure."
Luo Xue Yan and Shen Xin could only place their hearts down. Even though they were not short of money, they still paid special attention to Shen Miao's matter and followed all etiquette. They were moved but also sighed as the betrothal gifts that Emperor Wen Hui gave the Empress those years back were not even half of Shen Miao's betrothal gifts.
If it was a normal official who was marrying a wife, they naturally had to take into consideration and not gift more than that of the Imperial family. However, Prince Rui was not a citizen of Ming Qi but Great Liang, thus naturally, one did not have to consider. Even if the gifts were much more valuable than the Imperial family, the Imperial family would not say anything. Since it was so, Shen Miao's betrothal gifts should be the grandest in Ming Qi since the founding of the country.
Shen Xin's and Luo Xue Yan's heart finally had a trace of comfort. In any case, since the Imperial Decree could not be changed, Shen Miao was destined to marry Prince Rui. Perhaps marrying this grandly and extravagantly was a wish of many young ladies and at least was a form of compensation for Shen Miao.
Thinking of this, the ill will that they had of Prince Rui had dissipated a lot that they have a more amiable attitude towards this big bearded man.
Luo Xue Yan asked, "However, why was the Gēngtiě not sent over?" (Also known as the eight-character post. In the old days, the post was exchanged between the man and the woman during the engagement, with the name, birthplace, birth date, etc. written on it)
Before getting married, one had to match all eight characters of birth. However, because Shen Miao's marriage was special as it was bestowed directly by Emperor Wen Hui, this step was skipped.
Tie Yi said, "Diànxià had already asked the famous monk to calculate Shen Xiǎojiě's eight characters and it is said that they are a couple that is made in Heavens, one that has been in the making for five hundred years. Since Fūrén requests for the Gēngtiě, one will bring Diànxià's Gēngtiě over with the title deeds."
The other party's attitude was filled with sincerity that one was unable to find anything wrong with it.
Luo tan could not help but ask, "When will the wedding be held? There was no indication of when it will be on in the Imperial Decree."
Tie Yi smiled, "The marriage request memorandum has been completed. Diànxià will be returning to Great Liang after the end of the year, so, on the day of the return to Great Liang, it would also be the day that Shen Xiǎojiě will be married over and there will be a red procession all the way to Great Liang's city gates."
This was as good as marrying out from Ming Qi to Great Liang with drums and gongs beating all the way. The ceremony and traditions would start from Ming Qi and upon returning to Great Liang, the citizens would be officially announced. This was considered as lifting Shen Miao to a very high and distinguished position as it was the same as announcing to everyone under Heavens that Shen Miao had the identity of Prince Consort Rui.
Shen Xin and Luo Xue Yan exchanged a look and both of them saw the doubts in each other's gaze.
For this Prince Rui to treat Shen Miao this meticulously, why did it look like… It was really sincere and committed to Shen Miao?
How could it be possible? Shen Miao did not see Prince Rui more than a few times.
Luo Ling's gaze was so dark that the light was barely visible. He kept his head lowered as he looked at the floor as if he could see a flower.
The different people in the room had different expressions but Shen Miao's reaction was on the contrary, bland. She nodded her head and said to Tie Yi, "Many thanks."
After Tie Yi left, everyone looked at each other. Shen Xin and Luo Xue Yan had discovered some abnormalities. If Prince Rui's goal was to incite disharmony between the Shen family and the Imperial family of Ming Qi or make the Shen family unusable by the Imperial family of Ming Qi, then when the Imperial Decree was handed out, Prince Rui had already accomplished his motive.
Since he had already achieved his goal, then, the other matters were no longer important. So why did he have to make a big deal out of this and even if one had so much money, there was no need to do this unless Great Liang's treasury was too small and could not contain any more money and brought it to Ming Qi and gift them with both hands to the Shen family for dowry.
Wasn't this doing unnecessarily more?
It was Shen Qiu that noticed this point and said angrily, "Isn't Rui Wáng like a weasel going to pay it's respect to the hen, sure to be ill-intended? By sending so many things, does he think that our Shen family is greedy for wealth? We are marrying a gūniáng off and not selling a gūniáng. With so much money, how do other people think of Shen's family?"
Shen Xin and Luo Xue Yan kept silent.
This was also true. The Imperial family would also be red-eyed upon seeing these betrothal gifts, not to mention ordinary people. What made others more amazed that it was gifted by Prince Rui of Great Liang, so even if others had some thoughts on these betrothal gifts, they dared not act rashly and only looked on and who knew how many more people in Ding capital city would not be able to sleep. Even Shen Xin's opponents would vomit out blood.
Luo Tan was all smiles as she spoke, "No matter the case, Mèifū is very generous. When a man is willing to spend money on a female, then that is considered a good man. Xiǎo biǎomèi have yet to marry over and he had already sent over so many things, if Xiǎo biǎomèi marry over, the food, clothes and treatment would not be anywhere bad." Luo Tan's words had always been straight forward and direct and she did not know how to cover things up. It was just that the 'Mèifū' word was painful to the listener.
Shen Xin covered his head, "Where can all these things be placed?"
"That's right." Luo Xue Yan started to get worried, "There is not enough space in our mansion to put all these things. Just the storeroom itself would not be able to continue all the antiques and there are still furniture and textiles. One even has to build a granary in the residence to put all of it?"
Shen Miao wanted to laugh out when she heard it but said, "Didn't he buy all those mansions? After leaving, all those mansions will belong to the Shen family. Just buy some guards and place all the things in. Or one could simply stay in the residence of Rui Wáng."
Shen Xin shook his head, "Yan Qing Lane is not a place where we can live." That was the place where Imperial families lived and if the Shen family stayed there, who would know what others would think. Thinking of what Tie Yi said previously, pain flashed in his eyes, "Leaving after the year ends. Jiao Jiao, you…"
After the year ends, Shen Miao would be going to Great Liang.
Everyone in the room became quiet.
Separation, especially separation from family was always an unpleasant thing.
When Shen Miao saw it, she was afraid that they would be emotional and quickly changed the topic, "Rui Wáng had sent so many betrothal gifts, how does one calculate the dowry?"
Luo Tan was feeling a little thirsty and picked up the tea on the table to drink when upon hearing the words, she spurted out the entire mouthful of tea onto Luo Ling. However, at this moment, she was not concerned if Luo Ling's clothes were dirty but said, "Dowry? Heavens."
Everyone in the Shen family seemed to have been struck by lightning.
Rationally speaking, how much betrothal gifts were sent would be around how much dowry was given. Even though it would not be more than the betrothal gifts, it would not be much lesser than it, else, when the young female entered the husband family, she would be suppressed by others. If the dowry was substantial that was even more than the betrothal gifts then she would be well regarded after marrying over. Thus, the more favoured a young lady was marrying over, the closer the betrothal and dowry would be.
There was no need to say how much Shen Xin doted on his daughter but this dowry… Prince Rui gave the Shen Mansion so many betrothal gifts and if one had to give a close amount of dowry then even if the entire treasure of Ming Qi was emptied, it would still not be enough.
Prince Rui had given the Shen family a difficult problem.
In the night, Shen Miao sat under the light and remembered during the daytime when Tie Yi held the long long list of betrothal gifts and sang, she could not help but wanted to laugh.
Xie Jing Xing was being too unruly. He actually wrote so many betrothal gifts down. Shen Miao held her forehead. If someone else saw this list of betrothal gifts, one feared that the Shen family would be envied by everyone in Ming Qi. However, in the end, this list would definitely be known by others, it was just a matter of time.
It was just that one did not know if Emperor Yong Le knew of Xie Jing Xing writing such a long list. As she thought about it, Shen Miao's heart was somewhat sad.
In her previous lifetime, when she married Fu Xiu Yi, Fu Xiu Yi did not gift such generous betrothal gifts. Not to mention the Imperial family, even the official's list of betrothal gifts were better. One could only say that it was ordinary. At that time, Fu Xiu Yi said that the residence of Prince Ding was underprivileged and he himself preferred to be simple so there was no need to do it grandly and Shen Miao believed it. Shen Xin and Luo Xue Yan feared that she would suffer from grievances and took out half of the Shen Residence as dowry for her
Those dowries, in the end, were used to help Fu Xiu Yi financially.
Fu Xiu Yi wanted to win over this and that and one would need to use the money to buy over others' hearts. She had used all her efforts to plan meticulously and did the accounting carefully and even the antique calligraphies and paintings in the Shen residence were pawned for money. Now thinking about it, after marrying Fu Xiu Yi for so many years, it had always been her paying with the Shen family's money and Fu Xiu Yi had never reciprocated. Although in the matter of emotions, everything was done willingly and reciprocation was not required but as time passed, one's heart would turn cold.
It was especially so after ascending to the throne when Fu Xiu Yi treated Mei Fūrén and Fu Sheng generously, it was like a harsh slap to her face.
Now that she was marrying Xie Jing Xing, she could not tell clearly how she was feeling in her heart. She was moved but it was not as hot as her previous lifetime but Xie Jing Xing had given her more than she had imagined.
It even made one somewhat look forward to this wedding.
The window was knocked twice by someone and Shen Miao looked up and saw Cong Yang outside before she opened the windows. When Cong Yang saw her, he first greeted her, "Shǎo Fūrén, Zhǔzi instructed this subordinate to bring you over."
Shen Miao was stunned but in a flashed she nodded her head straightforwardly, "Alright." Just nice she also has things to say to Xie Jing Xing.
The difference from the first time, this time, when Shen Miao entered the residence of Prince Rui, she recognised the way better but the one who suffered was still Cong Yang as he kept being the one carrying haystacks for Shen Miao to 'climb' over the walls. In his heart, he was thinking that the next time it was better to knock down all these walls to save all the troubles.
When Shen Miao reached the residence of Prince Rui, all the servants in the residence saw her and stopped what they were doing and respectfully called out, "Shǎo Fūrén."
Shen Miao, "…"
Cong Yang said with joy, "Shǎo Fūrén, everyone like you very much."
Shen Miao only felt somewhat embarrassed and felt five different types of emotions in her heart.
When she was led by Cong Yang to the inner courtyard of the residence of Prince Rui, from afar she saw a snow-white ball of fur running towards her and cheerfully bit the corner of her robes.
A lazy voice sounded in the night, "Jiao Jiao, come over here."
Shen Miao looked up and saw Xie Jing Xing leaning against the tree with both hands folded on his chest as he looked at her with a smile but not a smile… The white tiger at her feet was also not sure who he was calling.
Shen Miao walked over to him and the white tiger followed with joy. This white tiger's temperament was very friendly. Only after a few encounters, Shen Miao did not even tease it, but it even shook its head and wag its tail to her affectionately. If one did not know, one would have thought that this white tiger was raised by Shen Miao.
She stood by Xie Jing Xing's side and asked, "What is it you are looking for me for?"
Xie Jing Xing raised his brows, "Cloth cutting."
"Cloth cutting?" Shen Miao was suspicious but before she could continue to ask, Xie Jing Xing suddenly reached out and pulled her into his embrace and lightly hugged her before letting her go.
His actions were too fast and the hug was only for a short moment before he let go, making Shen Miao filled with annoyance but unable to say anything. If she said anything, it seemed like she was being calculative but if she did not speak out, it seemed that he had taken advantage of her.
Xie Jing Xing said, "With your temperament, most likely you will not obediently embroider the wedding dress. I found the best seamstress but one do not know the measurement of your clothes." He looked up and down at Shen Miao and said meaningfully, "After hugging one would know."
Shen Miao, "Audacious. Shameless."
Xie Jing Xing slowly replied, "Oh? But you looked like you like it just now."
Every time this person spoke three sentences, he would be able to make another angry. Shen Miao said in sarcasm, "Your means and methods are very high level that with one hug you are able to know the measurement. One must have done a lot of such stuff in the past?"
Xie Jing Xing stared at her as Shen Miao felt her back shivering before his lips hooked up, "Jealous? Then you can hug back." He opened his arms and put on a gentlemanly appearance.
"Who wants to hug you?" Shen Miao said in disdain, "Yes. I have something to ask you."
Xie Jing Xing's eyebrows raised, "What is it?"
"The list of betrothal gifts was received. Why did you send over so many betrothal gifts?" Shen Miao felt that it was funny when she thought about it, "My Shen Mansion could not contain all those things and moreover you sent over so much stuff that the Shen family would not be able to afford the same level of dowry. Are you deliberately finding trouble?"
"Just this?" Xie Jing Xing said heedlessly, "I still plan to gift more."
Shen Miao, "…" She was just about to speak when one saw a guard running in from outside. Upon seeing Xie Jing Xing, his expression became one of great difficulty as he spoke, "Diànxià, there is someone outside. These subordinates were stopping him but it was like he had gone crazy and kept shouting your name. In order to avoid causing misunderstanding, one had to temporarily hold him down."
"So?" Xie Jing Xing asked.
"It is the Dà Shàoyé of the Count of Ping Nan, Su Ming Feng." The guard said.
Shen Miao's head suddenly went up.
At this moment, in the front hall of Prince Rui Residence, there was a young man that was tied up and his body was tied up as though it was like a scorpion and there was a piece of rag in his mouth as he glared angrily at the guards by the side and still struggled in vain.
That person was Su Ming Feng.
Su Ming Feng had instructed people to monitor the residence of Prince Rui for a long time and also monitored the Shen Mansion and Princess Residence. However, the longer the monitoring went, the deeper the suspicion was in Su Ming Feng's heart. He suspected that Prince Rui was that dead Xie Jing Xing and even though this kind of conjecture was outrageous and ridiculous, as time went by, not only did the thought not disappear, it became even more profound.
Xie Jing Xing and Shen Miao had some relations and now Shen Miao was bestowed with marriage to Prince Rui. If Xie Jing Xing was Prince Rui then everything could be explained.
Su Ming Feng had an attachment to Xie Jing Xing's matter that could not be understood by others. After all, this was a childhood playmate that he grew up with. He had learnt a lot of things from Xie Jing Xing and the importance of Xie Jing Xing could be said that he impacted his entire life.
No matter if Xie Jing Xing was or was not Prince Rui, Su Ming Feng had to personally investigate.
He wanted to sneak into the residence of Prince Rui and take a look at Prince Rui when he took off his mask. At that time, the truth would be out.
This was an insane move but Su Ming Feng felt that there was an undeniable reason. He was not that stupid that he went in directly himself but instructed his people to make a declaration in the East and strike to the West. After the guards in front were distracted, he would take advantage of the chaos and sneak in.
However, Su Ming Feng did not expect that the guards of the Prince Rui Residence were so proficient and caught him in a short time.
He was dispirited but there was more disappointment. At this time, Su Ming Feng thought that since he had been caught, as long as he did not admit to it, nothing could be done. Thus, he struggled desperately and even announced his family, hoping that it would attract Prince Rui's attention.
Just as he was thinking, a bearded man who was clad like a guard walked in from outside and stopped in front of him.
Su Ming Feng's heart could not help but tighten. The bearded man gave a look to the surrounding people and someone came over to untie him and took off the rag in his mouth.
"Zhǔzi wants to see you. Come with me."