First Arc ー Chapter 2 (Part 1): Missing Fate
On this day, when Jiang Chenyu had woken up in the morning and was dressing up, her personal maid, Wo Yu(Wò Yú) came in happily and smilingly said, “Congrats Miss! Congratulations Miss!”
Huai Jin(Huái Jǐn) who was helping to comb her hair spat, “What gargantuan happy occasion is it for you to be making such a ruckus early in the morning?
Wo Yu giggled and blinked her eyes as she said, “It’s really an enormous happy occasion. Madam invited the capital’s number one matron Huang Jin who has a glib tongue and entrusted her to go to Marquis Qi Ao’s place to act as a matchmaker. She’s in the vestibule writing the marriage proposal card* right now.”
*T/n: It states year, month, day and hour of one’s birth. These are called the “bazi” and can be compared to determine if the couple is compatible.
An image for your reference:
Jiang Chenyu was both bashful yet elated as her face instantly turned red.
Wo Yu pulled her hand and said, “Miss, let’s go see!”
Huai Jin furrowed her eyebrows. “How can Miss show her face in public at this type of occasion?”
“I didn’t even say that we’re going in to look, we can just furtively sneak a glimpse outside. Miss, they all say that Matron Huang Jin has a glib tongue like a reed. When she speaks, she can make a pockmarked face surpass a beauty goddess and make something dead become alive. Aren’t you curious?”
Even though Jiang Chenyu felt that it was not appropriate, she ultimately could not overcome her curiosity. She immediately changed her clothes and followed Wo Yu to rush towards the vestibule and directly entered by the side door. Separated by a windshield screen, she saw her mother and a married woman past her forties drinking tea while they sat. Needless to say, that married woman was the very famous Matron Huang Jin.
The married woman had long eyebrows and a broad forehead, a slightly sharp chin and possessed a clever and fine disposition. At this moment, an invitation card was opened up in her hand. She repeatedly looked at it and said, “It’s not that I’m trying to exaggerate, but just with this name, this date and time of birth, these birthdate characters of Third Miss, it’s honestly a very auspicious fortune! There is absolutely no reason for the Marquis to reject! Great birthdate characters*, really great birthdate characters!”
*T/n: As mentioned above, this is referring to ‘bazi’. I’ll be using ‘birthdate characters’ instead so that it may be less confusing I hope.
Wo Yu moved her head over and whispered, “Miss, they all said that your birthdate characters are great!”
Jiang Chenyu smiled faintly. She was wondering what a matchmaker would know about fortune-telling from birthdate characters. It was obvious that she was picking words that the masters would like to listen.
At that side, Madam Jiang said, “We’ll be troubling you for everything.”
Matron Huang Jin waved her hand and said, “What is Madam saying, your residence’s Third Miss is a well-known beauty in our Nation Bi. Not only is she beautiful and talented, her temperament is also one of the best. It’s this Matron Huang Jin’s good luck that I can help such a young lady act as a matchmaker! Besides, what kind of figure is that Marquis Qi Ao. If I can really pull together this marriage where they are a match made in heaven, it’s really Amitabha, Buddha’s blessings. I wonder how many of those in the same trade will be jealous. Madam can be completely reassured and count on me. This old woman dares to pat my own chest and say that this marriage, will certainly be a success! When that time comes, I’ll still need to ask Madam to bestow me a cup of liquor during the wedding feast.”
As expected, Madam Jiang felt immensely comfortable after hearing these words and smiled as she rewarded her some silvers. That Matron Huang Jin was also not long-winded. She promptly stood up and said, “This matter should not be delayed so I’ll be going to the Marquis residence to send the marriage proposal card right now. After roughly three days have passed, I’ll bring the Marquis’ marriage proposal card back again.”
Madam Jiang sent her out all the way to the hall’s entrance before she turned around and laughed at the screen. “Come out.”
Jiang Chenyu knew in her heart that her mother had already known that she was hiding behind and that she only needed to walk out. However, when she saw that her mother’s vision was full of jubilance, she suddenly felt uneasy again and hastily lowered her head.
Madam Jiang held her hand and sat down together. “After preparing your marriage, I will also be reassured then.”
“It has been hard on Mother.”
Madam Jiang coiled the few strands of hair beside her ears to behind her ears and sighed with emotion. “Without me even noticing it, in the blink of my eye, even my youngest daughter has already grown up so much and has reached a marriageable age. Come to think of it, among my three children, although your Elder Brother, Xiaocheng(Xiào Chéng) is a boy, he has failed to live up to expectations since young as he can neither study nor practise martial arts. Although he relied on your father’s protection and became the Commander of the Palace Guard Calvary and I’m afraid that he will also muddle through like this for his whole life; Your Elder Sister, Huayue, is actually very bright-minded but she’s too competitive and eager to win that she’s inevitably vitriolic; As for you, you have your looks are good, your disposition is also good and you have the most sense of propriety when handling matters, but you’re overly pure and kind which makes Mother really scared that you’ll be bullied in the future. Hence, after I thought about it over and over again, out of all the younger generations of aristocrats in court, there is only Marquis Qi Ao who can guarantee my child’s riches and honor as well as treat her magnanimously.”
“Mother……” Jiang Chenyu held her mother’s hand back and only felt that it was nice and warm within her heart. Just as she was touched, a family servant hurriedly came to report, “Third Miss, there is a guest who paid a visit.”
Eh? She had a guest too? Who would come to pay a visit to her at this time?
Madam Jiang stood up and said, “In that case, please invite the guest here. I’ll return to my room first. Chenyu, receive the guest properly and don’t neglect them.”
After Jiang Chenyu accompanied her mother as she left, she saw a young man dressed in green walked into the large vestibule under the family servant’s lead. As the rays of sunlight on the winter day illuminated on that person’s face, she involuntarily cried out “Ah”.
“Your pupil, Luan Zhao(Luán Zhào) pay respects to Miss Jiang.” The young boy’s eyes were rolling around non-stop and smiled as she came up to grasp her hand, acting very frivolously.
Jiang Chenyu dismissed the servants at once and lowered her voice as she said, “Princess, why did you come here?”
It turned out that this short and tiny young lad who was wearing a small hat on his head was none other than Princess Zhao Luan who was disguised as a boy.
Zhao Luan muttered, “It was terribly bored staying in the palace, so I left the palace to play. I didn’t expect that when left in a hurry, I actually didn’t even bring a single coin. I happened to pass by Right Prime Minister’s residence and ran here to seek your help.”
Jiang Chenyu jumped in fright. “Princess ran out of the palace secretly?”
“You can consider it that way, but when I had also run out to play in the past, Imperial Elder Brother actually did know, he simply turned a blind eye to it and pretended that he wasn’t aware. As long as it doesn’t spread to the Empress Dowager, then anything is easy to handle.” As Zhao Luan was saying, she waved her hand and said, “Good Elder Sister*, lend me some money, I’ll return you later.”
*T/n: jiejie: It doesn’t really signify a biological elder sister in this case, it is more like an affectionate term to call an older female.
Jiang Chenyu was thinking that since this unruly princess had already come to her doorstep, it was already impossible for her to stay uninvolved in the matter even if she wanted to. The only plan right now is to hold her up on one hand and dispatch someone to the palace to bring a message to let the Emperor make a decision. She immediately said on the spot, “There are many people and troubles out there, what fun is there? Since Princess has already come here, why don’t you play at my place? My house’s female cook is an expert in making pastries……”
She had not even finished speaking when Zhao Luan had already called out in a sweet voice, ”My goodness, what fun is there in the house, what I want is the stimulating and novelty outside. Good Elder Sister, why don’t you accompany me to go play since it’s also quite humdrum for you to be cooped up in the house all the time right?”
“Don’t this here and that there. Quickly grab the money and while you’re at that, change into male clothing like me. I’ll bring you to a few enjoyable places and I assure you that it’ll broaden your horizons!”
Seeing how Zhao Luan was in high spirits, it was certainly impossible for her to keep her in the house. Fine, instead of letting her go out on her own to fool around, she might as well follow along too, since she could at least look over her so that she doesn’t get into any trouble. As she thought up until here, Jiang Chenyu also changed her clothes and carried some cheques. After informing her mother, she then arranged for four covert guards to protect them before they went out.
For the whole journey, Zhao Luan was indeed very familiar with the big streets and small alleys. Especially for the few places she brought her to, despite living in the capital for fifteen years, she only knew them knew them for the first time.
Firstly, it was a stall which sold noodles in an extremely desolated small alley. The customers were not that many, there were only four tables and coarse kitchenware. When you looked at it, it was extremely simple and crude. Jiang Chenyu was originally worried that it was not clean enough but when those noodles were served, as soon as she whiffed in the fragrance that assailed the nostrils, she forgot everything.
When they were done, Zhao Luan asked her, “How was it?”
Jiang Chenyu sucked in a deep breath then let it out in a long sigh. “I only realized today that all the noodles I have eaten in the past have been in vain. This aunt’s skills are really good.”
“That is the Fang Family’s noodles’ temptation that even Yan Rui couldn’t resist, let alone you and me.”
Jiang Chenyu was surprised. “This is the Fang Family’s noodles?”
Zhao Luan nodded. “It’s a pity that the principal owner is already dead. It is said that the one making the noodles now was her helper in the past. Even the noodles made by the helper already has such a favor, it’s really regretful that I can’t personally taste the authentic Fang Family noodles of the past!”
Jiang Chenyu turned her head and glimpsed at the married woman who was cooking the noodles and a slight melancholy arose from within her heart. Once, Xihe’s mother, née Fang was standing exactly at this place to sell noodles day and night right? Then had Xihe also helped to wipe the tables and wash the bowls here? And who could also expect that the former girl from the indigent family who was dressed in coarse clothes and had bare feet would become the Emperor’s imperial consort in the inner palace today?”
It was really very hard to say for life’s circumstances……
Following that, they went to a teahouse next. It was also situated in a small street and had a small shop front. The upper and lower floors were fully seated. Jiang Chenyu was initially thinking of using a large sum of money to ask for a private room, but Zhao Luan instead dragged her towards the side of a pillar to stand and told her to hush. She heard the gavel on the table sound loudly and as soon as the story-teller teacher opened his mouth, Jiang Chenyu was stunned ー A woman?
The storyteller teacher here was actually a woman?
Sorry if you all are spotting lots of mistakes. I’m trying to do speed translating which means no editing. ><