T/N: Busy day tomorrow, so I’m posting this chapter a day early in case I get overwhelmed tomorrow. Happy reading!
Chapter 18 – Presage
Half a month later, in a clearing of the Lin Jia Village, Li Zheng* was making an announcement of the notice from the county seat, it was good news, telling families that they could go to the capital to reunite with those family members who were working in the palace during the mid-autumn festival.
[*T/N: This is my first time coming across this name in the raws. I think he’s the county head.]
When the villagers heard the news they were all abuzz with chatter.
“Da Zhuang, there is a letter for your family at the post. I brought it back for you.” Li Zheng called to the party of Lin Da Zhuang’s family. “Jia Wen, come and take a look. It’s your family’s ger who sent it. What a big package.”
Li Zheng has become affectionate towards Lin Da Zhuang’s family. This year, Lin Jia Wen passed the county level imperial exam*, and he was now a person with scholarly honor and glory. He didn’t have to kneel anymore in front of the county district magistrate**.
[*T/N: Previously, he was a 童生 tong sheng, which meant that he was only a candidate for the exam, and now he is a 秀才 xiu cai, which means he has actually passed the county level imperial exam.]
[**T/N: 县太爷 xian tai ye, doesn’t seem to be an actual title of a government post, but “county district magistrate” is my best approximation in English. 县 xian = “county,” and 太爷 tai ye = “(respectful term of address for) one’s grandfather / somebody’s father / older people / the head of the house (used by servants) / a district magistrate”]
Lin Jia Wen ignored Li Zheng’s fawning attitude. He received the proffered bundle and half-heartedly exchanged a few words.
Everyone in the village heard Li Zheng’s words and was curious about that package. Several people started to coax and said, “Lin xiu cai open it and let everyone see, ah. What good things did your family’s ger send back, ah?”
Of the ten people who had entered the palace, only the Lin* family’s unwed daughter, Lin Jiao Jiao, had sent something back. Lin Jiao Jiao’s mother was so pleased with herself. Every time she met someone she would say how good her family’s Jiao Jiao was, how she was working at some high-ranking niang niang’s* palace, how appreciated she was over there, and how she sent back quite a sum of money.
[*T/N: Presumably a different Lin family, not Lin Jia Bao’s family.]
[**T/N: 娘娘 niang niang – a respectful suffix or term of address for the empress or an imperial concubine]
The bundle that Lin Jia Bao sent back this time was so big. All the villagers were staring hard at it and guessing how much money he had sent back.
Lin Jia Wen ignored their coaxing and hurried back home with his father.
Zhang Hui Niang supported her daughter-in-law who was more than six months pregnant. “Is there some good news?”
Lin Jia Wen transmitted the news that Li Zheng had announced. Then very excitedly, he said, “Jia Bao sent something back!”
The whole family was excited when they heard, and hurriedly urged, “Quickly open it and see…”
Ever since Lin Jiao Jiao had sent something back to the village, they have all been hoping that Jia Bao could also send a letter to them. It’s been more than one year, nearly two years, since Jia Bao has entered the palace. They were worried all the time. Even an oral message would be enough to ease their minds.
The family could not wait to open the package. Inside was a stack of thick letters, an exquisite embroidered pouch, and there was also a bundle wrapped in a kerchief, which should be money.
Lin Jia Wen first unwrapped the stationery. He looked over it. Lin Jia Bao’s handwriting was relatively large. Then he began to read it out loud to everyone:
Dad, Mom, I am Jia Bao.
My days in the palace are very good. Currently, I am working at the Royal Snack Kitchen inside the empress’s palace, specializing in making snacks for the empress.
Lin momo, who is in charge of the Royal Snack Kitchen, is very kind to me. She taught me how to make snacks. Now, I can make several different types of desserts and pastries on my own, and they all taste pretty good. It’s a pity that you can’t eat them. But after I leave the palace, I can make it for you all to eat every day.
Every month I get one silver tael as salary, and there would often be rewards. When I leave the palace, I can open a dessert shop inside the county. In the future I will definitely be able to make a lot, a lot of money, and then I will buy a big house in the county. Our whole family will live together!
Dad, Mom, Big Sister, Big Brother-in-Law, Big Brother, Big Sister-in-Law, Second Sister, Little Brother, Little Sister, I really miss you all!
The empress is bestowing a favor this time. You must come see me during the mid-autumn festival. I was afraid that you would not have enough money for the journey, so I sent all the money and rewards that I collected. There’s also the money that you gave me when I entered the palace. I didn’t use it, and there are no expenses in the palace.
You definitely have to come see me. Jia Bao misses you all!