Chapter 19 – Presage
After listening to Jia Wen’s reading of the letter and looking at the drawings that Jia Bao painted, Zhang Hui Niang wiped her tears. “This child’s paintings are so good. That pastry looks just like real.”
“It seems like Jia Bao’s life in the palace is good, so I can rest assured.” Lin Da Zhuang was also very happy. “Tomorrow, make a trip to our in-laws. Jin Er has also been worried all this time.”
Translations by Vanilla Muse.
When Lin Jia Bao’s eldest sister, Lin Jin Er, heard the news that Lin Jia Bao had entered the palace, she was so sad that she nearly had a miscarriage*. Luckily, it was just an alarm and not actual danger, and she safely gave birth to a pair of twins of mixed sex**.
[*T/N: 动胎气 dong tai qi – when a pregnant woman gets upset, stressed, or angry and it affects the fetus negatively.]
[**T/N: 龙凤胎 long feng tai – one male twin and one female twin, it’s auspicious, with the male baby representing a dragon and the female baby representing a phoenix]
The Qin family was happy to the extreme with this birth. The rarity of giving birth to twins of mixed sex reaffirmed Madam Qin’s belief that Lin Jin Er has a good life fortune. After Lin Jin Er’s one month confinement* was over, Madam Qin handed over the rights to manage the household to Lin Jin Er, and she became a good grandma who spoiled the children.
[*T/N: The Chinese believe that a woman’s body is weaker after birth, and that she should stay indoors for an entire month to recuperate.]
Lin Da Zhuang opened the kerchief, and indeed there was a lot of money. They counted a total of one hundred and thirty-five silver taels. “So much money, ah!”
“Wow! Wow!” The dragon and phoenix twins were very excited. With so much money, how much delicious food could they buy?
“Why so much? Isn’t the salary one silver tael per a month? Plus the twenty taels that he brought into the palace before, at most there should only be thirty something taels. I heard that Lin Jiao Jiao only sent back twenty something taels.” Lin Jia Wen said with doubt.
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When Xuan Yuan Han Cheng saw that Lin Jia Bao had packed thirty-five taels of silver, he had someone add another hundred. Then he thought about it again and was afraid that it would not be appropriate, so he ordered them to use fragmented pieces of silver*. This was why the bundle that the Lin family received became a much bigger package.
[*T/N: Because a giant piece of silver would be too conspicuous for commoners to use. It’s like paying with a hundred-dollar bill versus paying with a ten-dollar bill.]
“So what? Jia Bao is working in the empress’s palace. The empress in the biggest in the harem, of course she is the most generous, and gives out lots of rewards.” Zhang shi* said. When the family heard this, except for Lin Jia Wen, everyone thought that it was reasonable!
[*T/N: Zhang shi = Zhang Hui Niang (the mother). 氏 shi is a suffix meaning “clan name / maiden name” so it is attached to a married woman’s maiden name to indicate the family that they came from. I see this used a lot in stories with a harem to differentiate the harem members without referring to them by their full name.]
Lin Jia Wen’s wife, Wu shi, was also thinking that there would be enough money for when her husband goes to Xu Province for the xiang shi* exam next year.
[*T/N: 乡试 xiang shi – the triennial provincial imperial exam during the Ming and Qing Dynasty]
Lin Li Er touched the exquisite embroidered pouch. The embroidered flowers and plants on it were so beautiful. The pouch was also bulging. The contents spilled onto the table. “There is still more in this pouch!”
Five silver fruits and three gold melon seeds poured out of the pouch.
“Ah! This is made of gold. It’s so beautiful!” The little girl pinched a seed to examine it up close.
“This really is palace made. It’s so skillfully carved. This silver fruit is about two taels in weight.” Zhang shi estimated the weight of the silver fruit by bouncing it in her hand.
The entire family was so happy that they circled around the table in delight.
They discussed what to do with this large sum of money. First, it was travel expenses for the trip to the capital. Second, it was money for Lin Jia Wen’s xiang shi exam at the provincial capital of Xu Province.
As for what was left, Lin Da Zhuang planned to renovate the house and add a few more rooms to expand the house. Seeing as there would be a new addition to the family population and the children were getting older too, matters of the house were of imminent concern.
Originally, he had wanted to save money for his son’s xiang shi exam next year, but now he didn’t have to worry about it. Building a house in the rural area was not expensive, manpower plus raw material; a few dozen taels of silver could get the job done well.
If there was still money left, they could buy more land. Right now, there was no need to pay land taxes. And more land equaled more income.
No one had any objection to putting this new land under Lin Jia Bao’s name. And if Jia Bao sent more money back in the future, they could buy even more fields. Then, when Jia Bao came back, he would have something to rely on.
The things in the embroidered pouch were left alone for now. If by any chance some pressing matter came up, they could use that as emergency funds to respond to the problem.
Early the next morning, Zhang shi went into the city to visit her daughter. Lin Da Zhuang and Lin Jia Wen went to Li Zhen’s house to discuss the renovation of the house and the purchasing of land.
Translations are by vmnovels [dot] com, if you’re reading this anywhere else, then it was stolen.
Not long after they left, Lin Jiao Jiao’s family showed up at their door.
Lin Jiao Jiao’s mother heard yesterday that Lin Jia Bao had sent something back and was very curious, so she came bright and early today to get the news.
It was not good for Wu shi to chase her away, so with Lin Li Er supporting her, she could only invite the other person to sit down. “So early in the morning, is there some matter?”
“I heard that your ger sent some things back, so I came to inquire. Haha. Your family’s ger, where is he working now? My family’s Jiao Jiao is working at a high-ranking niang niang’s palace, ne!” Lin Jiao Jiao’s mother gossiped.
Wu shi could not stand her manners. “Our Jia Bao is working at the snack kitchen in the empress’s palace, ne!”
“At the empress’s palace, ya!” Lin Jiao Jiao’s mother paused, and then proudly said, “That’s just doing odd jobs in the kitchen. My family’s Jiao Jiao works in the presence of the niang niang. How much money did your family’s ger send back?”
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