Prince Wei was going to have a grand wedding.1
This news was disseminated very abruptly with not a shred of warning. The woman he was marrying wasn’t some noble woman from a prestigious family, but the younger sister of a fifth-rank petty official in the south.
This marriage was bestowed by the Jianping Emperor, and it was very urgent. From when the imperial edict of their marriage was issued to the date of their wedding, it was only a short two months.
For the common people, this was enough time to prepare for a wedding. However, when it came to families of dukes and marquises, or even families of officials in general, this period was not enough. Which among them didn’t set their wedding date one or two years in advance? They needed that much time for the preparations. Now, a dignified Prince of First Rank was getting married, but the date was in just a brief two months’ time.
However, since Prince Wei and the Jianping Emperor had decided on the marriage, no one naturally dared to offer an opinion.
Because of this news, many in the capital had their eyes peeled on the future Princess Consort Wei.
It was for no other reason than wanting to know who had the guts to marry Prince Wei, who had the reputation of being fated to mourn his wife’s death. One had to know that Prince Wei had married twice before, both of whom had passed away after only half a year of entering the prince manor’s door. Since then, no one dared to clearly voice it out, but in secret, who didn’t say that Prince Wei’s life was too tough, fated to always mourn his wife’s death?
Later, when the woman’s identity became known, everyone understood. Such a person of humble origins, when given the chance, would struggle to climb up at the cost of one’s life. If a person was presented the opportunity to be like fowls and dogs rising to heaven,2 would it still matter whether or not the other had a fate of mourning his wife’s death?
However, no matter how much discussion occurred outside, all this did not affect Prince Wei’s wedding date.
After Uncle Yu hastened to the capital from Yangzhou, Feng Sheng moved out of the Wei Prince Manor.
He came here especially to assist Feng Sheng with the wedding.
It was pointless to expect the Fang family to come forward. No one from the family had expected Fang Feng Sheng to incite such a terrible disaster, but since she had the surname Fang on her head, no matter what would happen, the Fang family would have to take responsibility for her.
For example, the fact that Feng Sheng was actually a woman was something that no one would dare divulge even if a member of the Fang family was killed. Moreover, as for Feng Sheng risking public condemnation by reversing Fang Yan’s case, the Fang family’s feelings about it were quite complicated.
On one hand, the Fang family’s name was cleared of the stigma, so the Fang family members were still quite happy. Although the Fang family was not a family of officials, it was still a family with a literary reputation, one that had never produced a guilty person, including the former patriarch.
On the other hand, Feng Sheng and the Crown Prince had enmity between them. The central palace’s influence was so tremendous that, even if the Crown Prince had been removed from power, no one dared to say that they wouldn’t retaliate in the future. Therefore, now, the Fang family was still keeping a low profile, continuing to attend to their virtue in solitude. That said, they naturally couldn’t step in to manage Feng Sheng’s wedding.
So, this matter could only be left to Uncle Yu.
As far as Uncle Yu was concerned, avenging the Master had been his topmost priority. Now, Miss was getting married, which could be considered her first time in the real sense. Naturally, he could not take it lightly.
Anyway, there was no shortage of silver. Before Uncle Yu rushed to the capital from Yangzhou, he had purchased a lot of items according to the dowry list. Two big boats were fully loaded with everything one would expect to find, from furniture, to utensils, to clothes and jewelry. How ample the current one was compared to when Feng Sheng married into the Sun family, no one knew. Feng Sheng was marrying into the imperial family this time. If her dowry was meager, she would become the object of ridicule.
This was Uncle Yu’s idea, and Feng Sheng’s objection was ineffective. Prince Wei was quite in favor of Uncle Yu’s approach. He seemed to have no idea that he would be marrying someone who had no knowledge about being a wife. Anyway, as far as Feng Sheng knew, the situation in the Wei Prince Manor ought to be monumental.
She informed him of her worries about this, and Prince Wei told her not to think too much.
Her identity had crossed the clear path on the Jianping Emperor’s side, and arrangements had been made on this side to marry her with the identity of Fang Feng Fu’s sister.
As for Fang Feng Fu himself, the Jianping Emperor said nothing about him. No one dared to ask. It was a mystery and would remain a mystery.
And so, in the blink of an eye, the day of the wedding arrived.
The eighteenth day of the fifth month was suitable for marriage.
The Directorate of Astronomy had chosen this day. It was indeed an auspicious day, because it was evident from the first light that this day was going to be a cloudless one.
In a three-entry residence somewhere in Mao’er Lane, the servants were bustling about first thing in the morning.
Uncle Yu had purchased this residence when he first arrived at the capital. Feng Sheng had been in prison, and it was certain she would be confined there for a while. Uncle Yu’s party had over ten people. With so many of them, they couldn’t always stay in an inn, so they bought this place.
This was meant to be a temporary dwelling place, but this time, this was where Feng Sheng was getting married.
While everyone else was shuffling about, Feng Sheng, the bride, was very idle.
When she woke up early in the morning, she took a stroll in the garden as if nothing was happening, a habit she had recently developed. The doctor said she was too weak, so she regarded it as exercise.
When she returned, she ate breakfast. After that, she was drowsy again, so she slept once more. This sleep lasted until noon. She first got up to eat lunch. After which, she rested for a while, then bathed.
Knowing that Feng Sheng only had Zhi Chun and Zhi Qiu by her side, Prince Wei had sent two momo3 over, specifically responsible for giving directions regarding all matters of the grand wedding.
It was also evident that two momo were experienced. They took two whole hours just bathing Feng Sheng. During this period, they changed the water twice. After they finished tossing Feng Sheng about, she touched her own skin. It was smooth, fair, and tender, similar to silken tofu.
In fact, Feng Sheng was originally fair, but due to her lack of concern for her own body, her skin had become far inferior to those noble ladies from influential families. Since the two momo arrived, they had tossed her around a lot, which was also undeniably effective. Now, Feng Sheng’s skin was now delicate, tender, and smooth. Today, she was about to get on the marriage sedan. Thus, they tossed her around until she reached her best state.
“Princess Consort, take care of yourself so you can serve His Highness well.”
At the thought of tormenting herself like this every day for the cheap Prince Wei, Feng Sheng felt embarrassed. But although the two old momo were old and stubborn, they were very deferential to her. She could not say anything and could only listen.
When her hair was half dry, the momo instructed Zhi Chun to apply floral water on Feng Sheng’s head. It was a special type of floral water. Feng Sheng didn’t know the specific contents, but the momo had mixed it on her own. Anyway, after wiping, the fragrance was pleasant and did not assail the nostrils.
Then, they cleared off the fine hair on her face and neck, trimmed the hair on her temples, and combed her hair. All the while, Feng Sheng simply closed her eyes and allowed others to fuss over her well. After finishing these, she only had to don her wedding dress.
It comprised of a red coat and a thick ceremonial sash with a dark blue base embroidered with gold clouds and red phoenixes, and on her head was a nine-tailed pheasant crown. If the commoner’s wedding dress was the abridged version of the phoenix coronet and robes of rank, this first-rank princess consort’s ceremonial attire was the ultimate version, the only one above it being the empress’s ceremonial attire, which wasn’t red, but blue.4
Feng Sheng sat in front of the dresser and peered at herself in the mirror.
The person in the mirror had a powdered face, vermilion lips, and delicate brows. Because she was wearing makeup, her eyebrows were as delicate and lush as the ink on them, tinged with an overbearing brightness.
Feng Sheng felt a little strange, but also a little emotional.
Someone outside beckoned for Zhi Qiu. Zhi Qiu went out, and when she returned inside, she whispered in Feng Sheng’s ear.
Feng Sheng was stunned, then she smiled at the old momo. “It’s still early. Momo has been working hard for quite some time. Go and rest for a while.”
“I’ll also take a break. Momo, rest assured. I won’t mess up my clothes.”
Only then did the two momo withdraw. Zhi Qiu made excuses to dismiss the other servant girls. Zhi Chun was still a bit confused as to why, but Zhi Qiu pulled her away.
Feng Sheng trod to the hall and had just perched herself on a chair when a man stalked in from outside the door. It was Fan Jin Chuan.
He was still dressed in a blue robe and seemed to have rushed over, looking travel-worn, with the usual faint smile on his face. He looked both familiar and unfamiliar.
After leaving the Court of Judicial Review, Feng Sheng did not inquire about Fan Jin Chuan from anyone, and neither did anyone inform him about her. She had hesitated whether or not to inform him that she was already safe and sound. After musing over it, she had ultimately dropped the thought.
“I came here in a hurry. You’re getting married. I’m here to give you a present.”
“Thanks. Have you been well these days?”
“I’ve been well. You?”
Having ran out of words, they fell into silence, both with half-drooped eyelids, seemingly immersed in their memories.
Eventually, Fan Jin Chuan broke the silence.
“I quite admire Prince Wei. He is very fearless. If……” He suddenly laughed and said, “There are no ifs. Where in this world are there so many ifs?”
Feng Sheng only smiled without saying a word. In fact, she has no idea what to say.
Instead, Fan Jin Chuan chatted a lot about the things that had happened since Feng Sheng entered the capital.
For example, the follow-up of the new policy, the establishment of the official salt shops, and other such matters. Actually, without Fan Jin Chuan needing to say it, Feng Sheng also knew. After all, the two of them had built the original structure together. Now, the follow-up matters were just adding bricks and tiles,5 conforming to the prescribed order. Fan Jin Chuan also said that he had requested the Jianping Emperor for a decree to stay in Liang Huai, as he was ready to commence the governance of the Huaibei and Huainan water circuit. This matter could not be accomplished in a short amount of time. He would perhaps stay in Liang Huai for years and would not return to the capital for a while.
After these words, there seemed to be nothing more to say, so the two sunk into silence again.
Not knowing how long had passed, Fan Jin Chuan suddenly stood up. Feng Sheng stared at him as if she had just roused from a dream.
He revealed a smile. “Alright, I have to go now. I wish you and His Highness Prince Wei mutual respect in marriage,6 happiness and peace.”
She rose to her feet.
He stole another look at her. Her in a wedding dress was a scene that had only appeared in his dreams, and today he finally saw it. He was satisfied, as if his wish had been fulfilled, even though the person she was marrying was not him.
Sometimes Fan Jin Chuan would wonder, if he had been a little more headstrong and persevered for a while more, would the outcome have been different? But as he himself had said, where in the world were there so many ifs?
“I won’t see you off. We’ll meet again someday.”
“We’ll meet again someday.”
Someone came in and went out, but Feng Sheng took no notice of it.
She just kept sitting there, caught up in her memories, shaking her head, sighing and smiling every now and then.
Zhi Chun had always wondered whether or not her own Miss was mentally ill. She surreptitiously tugged at Zhi Qiu to share her thoughts, but Zhi Qiu scolded her with a few words.
The faint noise of firecrackers seemed to be approaching. Feng Sheng raised her head and looked out the door.
In front of her eyes, there was a sea of red, as if that person hadn’t appeared. Some people were shouting that His Highness had come to escort the bride, while others were yelling to quickly search for the veil.
The moment before the veil obstructed her line of sight, Feng Sheng seemed to catch a glimpse of a tall figure marching towards herself.
I was going to write directly until the bridal chamber, but Little Fan made an appearance. So sentimental. I really can’t write about Prince Wei and Feng Sheng doing this and that.
This is a farewell to the past and a move to the future. In fact, Feng Sheng once liked Little Fan, but unfortunately, Little Fan is not as brazen as Prince Wei.
1 The term used here is 大婚 (dà hūn), which literally translates to ‘grand wedding’. It’s what they call the wedding for imperial princes.
2 鸡犬升天: lit. fowls and dogs rise to Heaven (idiom); fig. to ride on sb else’s success; Once one man gets a government position, all his cronies get in too
3 嬷嬷 (mó mo): an old female servant, but she usually has a better standing than normal servants because of her age and position. It’s common for her to be a wet nurse, but it’s not required. However, depending on where she is placed, she might be in charge of educating xiunü, which are unofficial concubines who are still servants, who usually have higher positions than regular servants (this happened in alot of dramas, no other sources that backs this up). (Source: Snowflake)
5 增砖添瓦: add bricks and tiles (idioms); do one’s small tasks
6 举案齐眉: The saying is literally, “A wife lifts the tray to a level with her eyebrows to show great respect for her husband.” Basically saying that they will treat each other with courtesy in their marriage, hopefully for life.