Chapter 104: You too?
“Previous… previous life?” Su Shuilian covered her mouth in disbelief. Heavens, did she hear it correctly? Long Xi Yue was… was just like her? A soul that came from another world?
“Yes, my previous life,” Long Xi Yue gazed at Su Shuilian and didn’t blink, her expression was serious without a hint of humor.
“Xi Yue…” Su Shuilian mumbled. It seems like it wasn’t just her that had encountered such a bizarre event in this world…
“Do you assume that I’m a monster? An alien, different from the norm?” Long Xi Yue sighed.
For close to nine years, she had carefully concealed her identity and never done anything that could show her origin from another world. Even so, she couldn’t help but reminisce.
She missed her family and her friends there. She missed the developed medical technology and her trustworthy operating instruments.
And it was because of that, she had privately requested the blacksmiths in the palace to forge her a full operating surgical knife set. Even so, she had never used them. The only function of her set of knives was to keep her memory alive.
This time, she had thought that she would have a chance to use them, but Su Shuilian had endured through it. The mother’s body looked fragile and the twins were a big bundle. It was hard to believe that this weak-looking woman in front of her had bravely completed the challenge.
“How could I (think so)?” Su Shuilian sat up all of a sudden, pulling Long Xi Yue’s hand. The question that Long Xi Yue had asked reflected the fear in her heart.
“How could you not? Although people in this world are pure and honest, it doesn’t mean they can accept someone like me. A change of souls after being unconscious for a while, if it happened to you, wouldn’t you be scared?” Long Xi Yue smiled faintly. Her low-pitched voice reached Su Shuilian’s ears, it allowed her to confirm her decision.
She wasn’t a lonely soul anymore. There was someone like her here. Her soul also came from another world. This thought had unconsciously made Su Shuilian feel safe. This safe feeling was different from the safe feeling A Yao had brought her. The subtle fear in her heart had quietly dissipated.
“It’s true that I used to feel fear. I feared that, once discovered, people would tie me and burn me on a stake.” Su Shuilian talked gently. The lonely gleam in Long Xi Yue’s eyes made her forget her hesitation.
“So, you didn’t really lose your memory, right?” Long Xi Yue listened to her before nodding with a smile; it was now confirmed. Thus, she asked directly, “But you don’t look like someone from the twenty-first century?”
“The twenty-first century? What dynasty is that?” Su Shuilian was surprised, raising her elegant brows. “I remembered it was year twenty-three of the Republic of China*.”
*(The Republic of China ruled the Chinese mainland between 1912 and 1949)
“Heavens!” Su Shuilian’s words had surprised her greatly. This woman came from Republic of China! No wonder why every move of her’s was so elegant, it reflected the manner of a noble lady from an aristocratic family!
“Let me guess, you must be a young lady from a rich family, right?” Long Xi Yue said resolutely after pondering for a while.
“Yes, you can say so. Have you ever heard about the Su’s Embroidery House in Suzhou?” Su Shuilian smiled shyly, nodding. During the time of the Republic of China, the Su family was famous in Suzhou, right? At least, the Su’s Embroidery House in Suzhou was famous all throughout their country.
“Embroidery House in Suzhou? That means … ah! You’re from Suzhou? Your family name’s Su? No wonder! Oh! You’re from the Su Family’s Embroidery House in Suzhou?” The more Long Xi Yue spoke, the more astonished she became. Eventually, with both eyes opened wide, Long Xi Yue exclaimed, pointing at Su Shuilian.
Long Xi Yue’s maternal family was in Suzhou. She had heard from her grandmother that the mansion with many towers and big houses surrounded by high walls not far from her house was the renowned Su Family’s house who had been there since the Republic of China. Her grandmother told her that it was the famous Suzhou’s Embroidery House.
When she was small, Long Xi Yue often visited her grandmother’s house in Suzhou during the summer. Being a mischievous kid, she had swaggered around with her cousins. They used to climb the high walls of that Su Family’s House. The government had issued the area as a “protected cultural heritage”, public entry was forbidden.
Such a complicated mess! How did this even happen? Two girls that weren’t related to each other, now be it place or time, have now met after crossing from another world and time…
They exchanged looks before bursting out in laughter. How fortunate, in heavily populated Da Hui Empire, they had actually met someone from the ‘same hometown’.
“Look at this baby girl, so full of life! She looks exactly like Shuilian! She’ll sure be a famous beauty later!” Aunt Lao and Aunt Tian had came to visit Su Shuilian. They chatted for a while when Lin Long woke up. The two women happily teased the lovely and delicate baby.
“Say no more! Xiao’er looks like A Yao and Long’er resembles Shuilian. They are truly a dragon and phoenix pair!” Aunt Tian clicked her tongue in admiration. The old proverbs were always correct. Dragons give birth to dragons and phoenixes give birth to phoenixes… Like Su Shuilian and Lin Si Yao; the wife was tender and graceful and the husband was tall and hunky. How could their kids be ugly! If they wanted to seize the fortune, they should engage their grandchildren to Su Shuilian’s children before it was too late.
Speaking of another auspicious event, Aunt Lao’s daughter was two-months pregnant. She was due in next summer. And because of that Aunt Lao happily rushed to prepare baby clothes and shoes.
And as for Tian Niu, who would get married next year. Due to the groom’s family persistence to marry earlier. Eventually, the two families agreed to hold the wedding before Lunar New Year. To be exact, they would have the wedding on the twentieth day of the twelfth lunar month, which meant they had only half a month to prepare. And so Aunt Tian is currently happily prepping for her daughter’s wedding.
“Aunt Lao, please give Xi Cui these little clothes.” Su Shuilian asked Chun Lan to bring out two baby clothes made of fine cotton, two green embroidered doudou, and two pairs of tiger shoes to Aunt Lao.
“No, no, no. You little girl, Xiao’er and Long’er are still small. They can still these. Don’t worry, I still have a lot of time to prepare for her.” Aunt Lao waved her hands continuously to decline her offer.
Those two cotton clothing sets should cost at least several hundred taels. How could she bare to receive them.
Only the outfit that would be made of new cloth will be used during the one-month ceremony of Xi Cui’s baby. The rest of the clothing, she had made were resized-old-clothes worn from when her son and daughter were children. They couldn’t afford to use new fine cotton to make clothes every time a child grows out of their clothes.
“Aunt Lao, just accept them. I made them myself. The fabric is really soft. Moreover, Xiao’er and Long’er have enough clothes to use.” Su Shuilian was insistent as she asked Chun Lan to wrap the clothes and give them to Aunt Lao when she leaves.
Su Shuilian had calculated that she didn’t need to make any new clothes or shoes for Lin Xiao and Lin Long for the next five years. Before she gave birth to them, she had prepared the twins several sets of clothing for different ages. Furthermore, when Liang-momo came, they brought multiple closets full of clothes. When Wangye Jing and Wangfei Jing had visited, they had brought even more.
It was actually a humble calculation, to say that Lin Xiao and Lin Long had ‘just enough’ clothes to wear until they were five years old.
“This…” Aunt Lao was still somewhat reluctant.
Su Shuilian had given them plenty of gifts already. They received gifts from her almost every time they visit.
Previously, Liang-momo had sent Chun Lan with a box of brocade to their house. Although it was hard to accept, she knew if she didn’t, her oldest daughter in-law would take it instead. Thus, she made her and her husband a new set of clothing for the Lunar New Year’s celebration. It was a good chance to show to her maternal family, too.
“Since she said it’s for Xi Cui, just take it. We’re neighbors. There are many chances to repay the favor.” Aunt Tian nudged Aunt Lao’s elbow, smiling and coaxing her to take it. She’s a straightforward person. Since Su Shuilian said she wanted to give it to her and even asked her maid to wrap them, why is she still hesitating? Later on, once they’ve returned home, (Aunt Lao) can pack some fresh foods over to repay her favor.
“It is just as Aunt Tian says. We happily remain as neighbors for a long time.” smiled Su Shuilian.
After that, Su Shuilian requested Chun Lan to take out the finely-carved silver phoenix bracelets from her jewelry box. Wrapping them in a silk handkerchief, she handed it to Aunt Tian. “When Da Niu gets married, I’ll be still in my puerperium. So, I want to give her this as a wedding’s gift.”
“But… these are too much!” When Aunt Tian immediately knew these were an expensive pair of pure silver carved bracelets.
“Oh, yes, I remember Da Niu likes porcelain… Chun Lan, you go to the cellar and check if you can find a suitable porcelain vase. Bring it to Tian House for me as a congratulatory gift.”
“Yes, Lady. Chun Lan remembers that we have a vase decorated with auspicious dragon and phoenix. Let me look for it now.”
“That is great then.” Su Shuilian nodded and signaled Chun Lan to go and find a good vase to be the wedding gift.
There were many porcelain pieces in the cellar. Some of them were ancient and extremely precious, but others could be used to hold flowers. There were about fifteen/sixteen pairs, wrapped in thick cotton and placed in a big wooden chest.
When they moved to the new house, she had chosen four pairs of simple, but elegant white vases to replace those Feng Qing Ya had broken.
“You girl…” Although Aunt Tian was a frank person, she now felt a big embarrassed.
These were real porcelain! Decorations that only the rich could afford!
The porcelain items they saw in the city were bottom tier. However, they were still priced at several hundred taels, and was used only as a flower vase.
Thus, although Da Niu had wanted to buy a pair as her dowry, her mother had stopped her. The money they would need to fork out to buy the porcelain vases would be enough to buy multiple yards of new fine cotton cloth!
“Aunt Tian, I know Da Niu loves flowers. If I gave her these porcelain vases, they will help her decorate her new house.” Su Shuilian smiled, comforting Aunt Tian.
Tian Niu* was different from Xi Cui. Xi Cui was quiet, but she has excellent embroidery techniques. And, Tian Niu was like Aunty, who was frank and generous. She didn’t like needlework, but enjoyed picking flowers, plants, etc. Every time she came to visit Su Shuilian, she loved to sit and admire the porcelain vase with flowers on the table. She often took seasonal flowers from the other neighbors’ garden to put them in Su Shuilian’s vases.
(TLN: In case it’s confusing, Tian Nu and Da Niu are the same people. The Da in Da Nu means big/eldest, so it’s like an enduring name for Tian Nu.)
Eventually, Aunt Tian couldn’t dissuade Su Shuilian. She received a pair of auspicious ‘dragon, phoenix, and red apricot blossom’ white vase from Chun Lan. She adored them very much. Carassing and feeling the smooth surface, she couldn’t help but ask, “Shuilian, this… Aren’t they really expensive?”
“Expensive or not, they are just to display the flowers. As long as Da Niu likes them, they are worth it already.” Su Shuilian shook her head as she comforted Aunt Tian. In this Fan Hua Town, there were only two or three families that she was truly close to.
Now that she was in her puerperium, she couldn’t go out select gifts for Tian girl’s wedding… Su Shuilian could only choose something that was sent from her parents to give Tian Niu. It was relieving to know that Tian Niu truly loved these kinds of elegant vases.
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