Home Post 1920-chapter-21


Wang Xi didn’t hide anything from Chang Ke and said, “My mother hopes that Madam Dowager can oversee my Coming-of-Age ceremony. It would be more respectable if it were done that way. So, I plan to stay until my Coming-of-Age ceremony and then decide. But now, it seems that rather than relying on Madam Dowager or Madam Hou to find a marriage proposal for me, I might as well rely on my grandmother or my uncle’s wife. They are both experienced in managing marriage arrangements within the family.”

In a household with hundreds of people, there had never been anyone who dared to oppose the words spoken by Madam Dowager or Madam Hou once they were uttered. 

Chang Ke fell silent for a while. She hadn’t noticed it before, but after being with Wang Xi, she gradually realized that both her grandmother, whom she had once held in high regard, and her eldest aunt were indecisive and weak when handling matters. 

Wang Xi sighed, looking at her. She asked Chang Ke, “Can your mother make decisions regarding your marriage? If she can, I suggest you take a look for yourself first and then have your mother go to propose.” 

Third Madam’s willingness to allow her daughter to be manipulated like this indicated her lack of determination. 

Chang Ke widened her eyes in surprise. She hadn’t expected Wang Xi to be so bold. Nervously, she said, “Please don’t act rashly. Parental orders and matchmakers’ words are the proper way. Your hasty actions might lead to complications and tarnish your reputation.” 

Wang Xi rolled her eyes at Chang Ke. “Who told you I’m privately making arrangements? Can’t you find opportunities to socialize more with Madam Dowager and Madam Hou, attend a few gatherings, and discreetly inquire about the character and appearance of young masters from various households? Then persuade your mother to approach their families one by one for a proposal.” 

Chang Ke smiled awkwardly. “You’ve misunderstood me—I’ve been influenced by you. I see you even dare to sneak onto the wall to watch Chen Luo. I thought you could do anything, even orchestrating marriage proposals!” 

She hadn’t meant to mention Chen Luo. Wang Xi felt a pang in her heart.  

Not only had he not become her guard, but he had also caught her spying. Pity that she had wasted so much energy waiting for his messages those few days. She even climbed walls to watch him practice swordplay.  

In the end, she gained nothing, and there was a possibility that her identity might be exposed.  

If Chen Luo complained to his elders, all her dignity and face would be lost, not to mention the time she spent observing him would have been in vain.  

She had never done something so unrewarding before. 

Wang Xi hung her head in frustration.  

Both she and Chang Ke were absorbed in their own thoughts as they leaned against the carriage window, watching the lively street scenes. 

At noon, they stopped near a forest beside a post road, hastily had their lunch, and then continued their journey. Even though tomorrow was the Bathing the Buddha Festival, the festive atmosphere was already palpable everywhere.  

Along the way, they encountered pilgrims heading to the temple fair. The closer they got, the more people there were. 

Wang Xi guessed that they were all heading to Yunju Temple. 

In the evening, they arrived at Yunju Temple. The bumpy ride had made Wang Xi as weak as a blanched cabbage.  

Supported by Wang Mama, she only felt the dissipating stagnation in her chest when she lay down on the guest room’s bed. However, she caught a whiff of a somewhat pungent aroma that irritated her senses. 

Baiguo and the others hurried to light an aloeswood-scented incense burner. Only then did Wang Xi feel significantly better. 

Shi Mama came over and invited Wang Xi to the main Buddha hall for a vegetarian meal. She said, “The Madam Dowager of the Marquis of Xiangyang’s mansion, along with Madam Hou, several other ladies, and old madams, are there. The Madam Dowager said to let you recognize some faces.” 

The ability to recognize faces was a basic skill every member of the Wang family had to possess. If the men wanted to do business, they had to recognize people right away. If they couldn’t identify someone immediately, how could they make guests feel at home and win money from their pockets?  

As for the women, if they wanted to manage the household, handle social interactions, and deal with conflicts among different branches of the family, how could they handle the relationships if they couldn’t recognize people? How could they become the family’s internal managers trusted by the men? 

But Wang Xi was too tired; she didn’t want to socialize with anyone. “Tell them I’m not feeling well,” she said politely but with an implied warning. “I thought we’d arrive by the Rooster Hour today and could rest in the guest room for half an hour before paying respects to the Madam Dowager of the Marquis of Xiangyang’s mansion.” In marriage matters, emphasizing her family’s wealth excessively could attract individuals who don’t value virtues. They might consider her as a mere commodity for marriage, leading to potential troubles.  

If the Madam Dowager and Madam Hou were strong-willed, she wouldn’t have to worry.  

Perhaps even her mother didn’t expect the Madam Dowager to be so weak? 

She had the cook prepare various traditional Cantonese breakfast items like red bean buns, steamed salted egg yolk dumplings, and radish cakes.  

The next morning, she went to the Madam Dowager’s residence and had a heart-to-heart conversation with her.  

The Madam Dowager suddenly realized she had misspoke, but she couldn’t admit it in front of Wang Xi. She stumbled through the conversation and avoided similar topics afterward. This became a matter of the past. 

After having breakfast, Wang Xi met the Madam Dowager of the Marquis of Xiangyang’s residence.  

Unlike her grandmother, the Madam Dowager of the Marquis of Xiangyang was petite, fair-skinned, and slender. She dressed modestly, but her eyes were sharp and bright. Although she smiled kindly, she made people cautious.  

The women from her family showed extreme respect to the Madam Dowager. It was evident that this respect was sincere, not just for show.  

The Marquis of Xiangyang’s ladies wore simple clothes, yet they appeared calm and composed. They handled themselves with grace, much more disciplined than those from the Marquis of Yongcheng’s mansion.  

No wonder the people from their mansion looked down on the Marquis of Yongcheng’s mansion.  

Wang Xi glanced at the Second Madam of their residence. She was of average height, round and plump, appearing very friendly. She stood quietly behind the Madam Dowager of the Marquis of Xiangyang.  

If one didn’t know in advance, they wouldn’t be able to tell that her eldest daughter was the wife of the Marquis’s heir, and her eldest son had obtained an official position through the military examinations and was currently an assistant official in the Tongzhou Guard, possibly even higher in rank than Chen Luo.  

They spent the entire day at Yunju Temple, both praying and sightseeing.  

The Marquis of Xiangyang’s ladies grouped together, Chang Ning and Chang Yan together, Wang Xi and Chang Ke together, and Miss Pan stayed close to Madam Hou.  

Although the ladies and Madam from the Marquis of Xiangyang’s mansion didn’t talk much to the people from the Marquis of Yongcheng’s mansion, Wang Xi still memorized their appearances. 

In the afternoon, when everyone was resting in the temple, the venerable and wise Master Jingxian came with a few young monks to pay their respects to the two Madam Dowagers. He also brought talismans he blessed himself, giving them to the young masters and ladies of both mansions.  

While they were talking, Wang Xi noticed Chang Yan peeking outside the temple.  

She was sure someone from the Marquis of Xiangyang’s mansion must have followed them.  

She wondered if she’d have the chance to see the handsome men Chang Ke mentioned during Princess Baoqing’s birthday celebration. 

Uninterested, she instructed Wang Mama to donate two hundred taels of silver to the temple. Apart from the talismans, she also received a string of blessed bodhi beads made from eighteen chicken-wing wood beads.  

Wang Xi received numerous such items every year. 

She wasn’t particularly fond of the temple monks’ belongings. She found items from hermitages more acceptable. 

At dawn the next day, they made their way back to the Marquis of Yongcheng’s mansion, enduring another bumpy ride.