Chapter 63 – One-Month Celebration* (20.1)
[*T/N: In Chinese culture, there is a celebration when babies reach one month of age. Infant mortality used to be high back in the day, so if a baby reaches one-month old they are considered out of the immediate danger period and more likely to survive and live. Thus it is an occasion worthy of celebration.]
Zhang Hui Niang was busy dying red eggs* in the kitchen with an elated mood. Her eldest daughter-in-law gave birth to a big healthy boy, and Jia Bao’s days in the palace were also very good. This year, the family got more land and the harvest was good, thus increasing the family’s income by a lot. These were all happy things. Just thinking about them put a smile on her face.
[*T/N: In ancient China, people celebrated birthdays with red eggs (usually in southern China) and longevity noodles (usually in northern China). Birthday cakes were a western import that did not come in until later. Most people celebrate birthday with cakes nowadays, but some people – usually the older generation – still celebrate with more traditional foods.]
Lin Da Zhuang saw how happy Zhang Hui Niang was and he didn’t know how to bring up Lin Jia Bao’s affairs.
“Oh, that’s right, when you went to Beijing a few days ago, Zhou Hai’s family came to ask me if I could let Zhou Hai and Li Er get engaged first. In my opinion, Li Er is already fifteen this year. It’s about time for her to get engaged.” Zhang Hui Niang said to Lin Da Zhuang.
“Let’s settle the engagement early. You can talk to Zhou Hai’s family tomorrow. It would be best to have it done before Bo Ge Er’s one-month celebration.”
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Bo Ge Er was Lin Jia Wen’s nickname for his son. His full name was Lin Guang Bo. This implied that he would be very erudite in the future. Lin Jia Wen hoped that his son would surpass him in the future.
Lin Da Zhuang didn’t know when the notice about Lin Jia Bao’s new status as the crown prince’s xiaoshi would be announced. He definitely would not be able to keep his calm at that time. If Li Er’s engagement could be settled earlier, then he would feel more at ease. As for the dragon and phoenix twins, they were still young, so they could only save that matter for later.
“That seems a bit rushed…” Zhang Hui Niang said.
“Settling an engagement does not require a lot of work in the first place. Besides, Bo Ge Er’s one-month celebration needs to be handled well this time. After this, we will be busy helping Jia Wen prepare for next year’s triennial provincial imperial exam. And we’ll also be busy with the Lunar New Year stuff. There are simply too many things to handle. If we delay the engagement, it will get delayed until next year. It’s better to settle it early, ba.” Lin Da Zhuang said.
Zhang Hui Niang thought about it and found his words reasonable, so she said, “Then tomorrow I will pay the Zhou family a visit.”
The next day, Zhang Hui Niang went to Zhou Hai’s house. Zhou Hai’s family also wanted to get the engagement settled earlier. With the Lin family’s economical status getting better and better, many people were keeping an eye on them… Zhou Hai’s mother knew that her son liked Lin Li Er since he was a child, and that he had his heart set on her. If something happened and Lin Li Er got engaged to someone else, then it would be too late to cry. Better to settle the engagement now, otherwise the situation might change adversely if the situation was dragged out.
Zhang Hui Niang was also very satisfied with Zhou Hai. The Lin family was indebted to the Zhou family. Back in the day when she and Da Zhuang had some difficulties, it was thanks to the Zhou family’s financial assistance that saw them out of a tough spot.
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Zhou Hai was not only good with farm work, but he had also learned how to hunt from his father Zhou Mu, so their family’s quality of life was pretty good, and they would often have sumptuous meals of wild animal meat. Sometimes, when their luck was good, they could also get some animal pelts, which could be sold for a lot of money. Zhou Hai’s character was honest and stable. Lin Li Er would not endure hardships after marrying into his family.
The Lin family and Zhou family negotiated and agreed to have Zhou Hai and Lin Li Er get married after the autumn harvest the following year. The Zhou family moved quickly, and within a few days they invited a matchmaker to propose an engagement.
Ever since Lin Li Er’s engagement was decided on, she rarely went out and often stayed in her room to embroider her wedding dress. The red brocade was included in the gift brought back from the capital this time, and the embroidered wedding gown was especially beautiful.
Sheren* Hu Si Zhan, the crown prince’s subordinate, brought along a few imperial bodyguards. He received the crown prince’s order to go to Lin Jia Village to give Lin-xiaozhu’s little nephew a one-month celebration gift. The group did not dare to tarry along the way. They hurried on the road and finally arrived in Xu Province two days before the celebration.
[*T/N: 舍人 she ren – ancient office title / rich and important person]
After arriving in Xu Province, Hu Si Zhan first paid a visit to the residence of Shi Qi Shan, the prefectural magistrate of Xu Province.
Shi Qi Shan was surprised when he heard the servant report that His Royal Highness’s sheren had come to visit, but he did not dare to slight the man, so he went to greet him personally.
“Hu-daren, what brings your honorable self to my home?” Shi Qi Shan invited Hu Si Zhan to sit in the main hall. Shi Qi Shan has met Hu Si Zhan once before when he was debriefing in Beijing. It was reasonable to say that the two did not have any interactions. Shi Qi Shan was unable to guess the reason for Hu Si Zhan’s visit. “Could it be that His Royal Highness has an order for me?”
Although Shi Qi Shan was a fifth-tier official, and Hu Si Zhan was a sixth-tier official as the crown prince’s sheren, Shi Qi Shan did not dare to slight him at all. He was very polite to Hu Si Shan. After all, he was one of the crown prince’s close subordinates…
“Shi-daren is too polite. I came here to congratulate you.” Hu Si Zhan said.
Shi Qi Shan heard that it was something good, and immediately relaxed. “May I ask Hu-daren to explain to me what is this congratulatory thing?”
“Under Shi-daren’s governance, the people of Xu Province live and work in peace and contentment. Shi-daren’s contributions cannot go unnoticed. And this time there is great news. Among the people who were sent to the palace from Xu Province this time, one of them became a noble… Today, I came here for this matter.” Hu Si Zhan said to Shi Qi Shan.
Translations by Vanilla Muse.
“Oh… this is indeed really good news. May I ask which person has entered the emperor’s sights?” the abacus in Shi Qi Shan’s heart started clicking and clacking away when he heard this news from Hu Si Zhan. There has never been a nobleman that originated from Xu Province before…
“It’s not the emperor but the crown prince. The crown prince’s Lin-xiaozhu is from Pei County. Lin-xiaozhu is a ger. Right now he is very much loved by the crown prince. This time, I have come here to deliver a one-month celebratory gift to Lin-xiaozhu’s nephew.” Hu Si Zhan explained.
“So it’s His Royal Highness, ah… that’s a really great blessing!”
Compared to being favored by the emperor, of course it was more promising to be a xiaoshi to the crown prince. The emperor has passed his middle age years, and he also had many princes and princesses, whereas, His Royal Highness was still young and had no heirs yet. If Lin-xiaozhu gave birth to a son for the crown prince in the future, when the crown prince claims the throne that would be really noble beyond words, and will benefit the family…
Shi Qi Shan warmly invited Hu Si Zhan and his party of men to stay at his residence. Hu Si Zhan declined and returned to the Xu Province’s relay station. Hu Si Zhan thought about how this news would spread within the next few days. Then the order that the crown prince gave him would soon be realized.