Chapter 32: Preparation for the Bride
Two days have passed since Su Shuilian and Lin Si Yao came through with their previously unclear intention. Everything was planned for the marriage and their move for the two days that followed.
Fortunately she had completed their wedding clothes, otherwise it would not have been done in time. What Su Shuilian didn’t know was that Lin Si Yao already knew about it since the day she had bought the fabric. It was just that he didn’t mention it. He was afraid she was too shy to talk about it.
These two days, Su Shuilian hovered around the fabric store and picked out several pieces of satin and silk brocade in festive colors. She used the remaining bit of time to quickly embroider a pair of mandarin ducks in the water and two intertwined peonies on the auspicious quilt and small flowers on a pair of long pillow covers with matching pillow towels. She then made a pair of bright purple brocade outfits to wear after the wedding.
She then also went to the cotton store and completed two sets of blankets and bed pads, one thick and one thin. As for the cotton winter clothes, Su Shuilian ordered for a pair of inner and outer clothes to be made, but she had personally drawn out the design and embroidered the outer robes.
These few days, although the house was already completed, the two still went back to the inn to rest and would come back the next morning to clean. They had wanted to move on the wedding day and they had to respectfully wait till that auspicious day.
Therefore, the two wolves did not follow them here. Because the house that Lin Si Yao requested Feng Laoliu to make was just completed day before, it was placed in the backyard, south of the cherry tree.
When the innkeeper’s wife found out about their marriage and them moving to a new house, she had deliberately asked if she and her two sons could come and drink some wine during the wedding feast.
With this, Su Shuilian realised that they had to also prepare a wedding banquet.
Originally, she had thought because they were both alone (without family), it would not matter if there was or was not a wedding banquet. Just two hot dishes and warmed wine from the kitchen would be it. But now, Aunt Lao and the innkeeper’s wife had already asked to drink festive wine. Does that mean they have to separately arrange for it?
And so, Lin Si Yao went to find Feng Laoliu for help. Since Feng Laoliu had already completed two requests from the couple, he had received a lot of good wood and was very grateful to Lin Si Yao. When he found out this was a request for their celebratory wedding, he immediately started without a word.
It was a sunny seventh day of the eighth lunar month.
Su Shuilian made pieces of thick thread of equal length by weaving together pieces of thin red thread, and then she wove them together to make red tassels. She tied them one by one onto the furniture. She didn’t even spare the foot stools. And pasted the paper cut ‘喜’(happiness) character that she had recently learn from Aunt Lao onto the windows of the house.
As for Lin Si Yao, he went around the house once again, checking if everything was finished. Just when he returned to the cherry tree, he saw Aunt Lao with about five or six other poniang laughing as they walked down the village road. Not too long after, he heard them knock on their courtyard’s doors.
“Lin gongzi ah, is Su girl not here?”
When Aunt Lao had saw it was Lin Si Yao who had opened the door, she glanced in and looked around before nervously asking.
Lin Si Yao nodded his head and moved out of the way to let them in, “inside.”
After Aunt Lao made a sound in response, she entered in with the several other poniang. With one glance at the cold faced Lin Si Yao, they could not help but become a bit nervous. With a ‘you push, I shove,’ they all entered into the courtyard.
Seeing the originality of the courtyard, completely different from their own, the poniang could not help but praise the design. They even had forgotten about Lin Si Yao, who was following behind.
As the group walked into the house loudly chirping, they met up with Su Shuilian who had walked out of the bedroom as she had heard the noise. They then all started to throw praises at her.
“Girl, ah, your house is really well designed!”
“Yeah! Look how realistic these mandarin ducks are, Su girl, your hands are really crafty ah!”
“You don’t say, just look at their curtains. Even though we use the same curtain fabric, but it becomes completely different once it’s gone through the girl’s hands.”
“I see that roll-up curtain is not bad either, girl, you gotta teach me how to make it so we can go home and show off to our husbands.”
“Tsktsk, did ya’ll notice, right after entering this courtyard, it no longer feels like we are in Fan Hau Town, but in a big family’s house in the city.”
Su Shuilian’s ears turned red at their endless compliments. As she welcomed them into the house to sit, she was thinking about going to the kitchen to boil them a hot pot of tea. Just as she was thinking about exiting the bedroom, Su Shuilian saw Lin Si Yao come in with their blue and white pseudo-porcelain tea pot. On the other hand, he was carrying a stack of single handle teacups.
“Gongzi is so considerate, afraid that the girl will be tired, hehe….” One of the poniang saw this and started to tease.
“Of course! This Lin gongzi is really hardworking! Su girl is really lucky to have him!” When Aunt Lao heard Zhou poniang say this to Su Shuilian, she also added another praise.
Su Shuilian could not help but look toward Lin Si Yao, who had just walked out of the bedroom. She met gazes with him who had just turned back his head. As their eyes locked, the tenderness was obvious.
Zhou poniang secretly laughed and pushed at Aunt Lao. The rest of the women were also laughing. This made Su Shuilian blush red from her ears to her neck.
When he saw this, the corners of Lin Si Yao’s mouth lifted as he left the room to continue his inspection.
“Ok, enough of the jokes, our faces have thick skin, don’t you see how embarrassed the girl is.” Seeing that Lin Si Yao had left, Aunt Lao reminded the reason for coming here as she waved her hand to gesture the other poniang to stop with their frolic.
“It’s this, girl. We came here today because, since you are going to wed, it is only auspicious for others to help you dress up. But since you both are without a family, I was thinking these few days, how about us helping with that?” Aunt Lao smiled as she gently patted the back of Su Shuilian’s hands as she suggested.
Indeed, even when the girl comes from a small farm and has a modest dowry, her wedding adornment should always be elaborate. It may be expensive, but it wins with the praise: The more attached, the more future fortune amassed.
Su Shuilian nodded her head, unaware of this custom, “Aunt Lao is really thoughtful, this job, I will trouble you aunties then.”
“Of course not! We all have daughters at home. Once they have their wedding ceremony, we will be inviting you to put something on them too. Haha…” The straightforward Tian House’s poniang said in frank explanation.
They had already counting on it before they heard Aunt Lao’s request; Su Shuilian was better off than their own households, not mention what she will receive will definitely be reciprocated, maybe she can also think of new ideas for them. And so, when Aunt Lao asked five poniang to come, none of them rejected her offer.
“But of course.” Su Shuilian nodded. She did not say anything else, from their enthusiasm, she’ll be sure to generously help their daughters in the future.
“Ok then, how ‘bout this, we’ll first go back and prepare a bit. Around Wu time (11am-1pm) we’ll come back and help you put on makeup and accessories!”
“Aiya, what’s with the rush, Ol’Lao! Let’s first go around the girl’s house, since we’re out, better take this time to anger that Hua House’s poniang.” Tian House’s poniang called to Aunt Lao before turning back and smiling at Su Shuilian, “You don’t know this, but when Liu-shi found out that you had bought village elder’s old house, she actually said: Why buy such a run down house, it would be better to have just rented a part of our house. Wasted fifteen taels, tsktsk, they really don’t know how to live.” Tian House’s poniang dutifully repeated the worlds of Hua House’s poniang that had spread throughout town.
When Su Shuilian heard this, she shook her head. It seems that during house buying, she and Liu-shi have forged a certain distance between them. But the problem was that, the contract was obviously not breached by them, but from her words, people unaware of the situation will think otherwise and that is was them that had provoked Hua House.
But of course there was no pain. They weren’t able to fish out their forty silver taels and all of their face was clearly lost. The Madam and first wife of Hua House must feel a large pimple has grown on their hearts (hold a grudge). Now that they had transformed this old crumbling house into a new and refreshing look. With not just the change in appearance but also in atmosphere, they naturally will no longer be able to lift their head to talk once they find out.
At Wu time, Aunt Lao and her five friends returned to Su Shuilian’s house.
Oh, almost forgot to mention, Lin Si Yao had requested Feng Laoliu to make a horizontal inscribed board, on it was ‘蘇宅’ (Su House) to be hanged in front of the courtyard, but it was taken down by Su Shuilian who said if they were going to hang something like this, it should be ‘林宅’ (Lin House). In the end, they did not hang anything.
The six people deliberately changed into new clothes. Every one of them had something under their arms, a big or small bag.
Aunt Lao had Lin Si Yao place a new wash basin on the round table of the bedroom.
As the six continued to say auspicious words, they carefully took out the things in the bags.
“Girl, don’t you laugh, Aunt Lao, I apply a slightly coarse/vulgar style. But it will definitely be used in the future.” As she said this, Aunt Lao took out a thin rod with small and delicate weighing scale, presumably, it was made by her eldest, blacksmithing son.
“Yes ah, we are all adding to your luck.” The next one to add was Aunt Tian. She had placed a Incense wood combs made by her husband, Tian Dafu. There was six in total, each with a different size, it was placed in a box made of the same incense wood. It was elegant, Su Shuilian happily thanked her and received it.
“I see now, this Su girl like these small exquisite little things and highly prefers them over our usual practical things.” When Aunt Lao saw this, she could not help but laugh jokingly, causing Su Shuilian to blush in embarrassment.
When Lin Si Yao heard this, laughter flashed though his eyes. But of course, thinking back, even during their stay at the forest, she was able to carve almost art-like wooden chopsticks and spoons.
“I ah, was able to add a purse I embroidered. But looking at your skill, I don’t have the confidence to take it out.” He House’s poniang was supposedly the best at embroidery in Fan Hua Town. But when she saw Su Shuilian’s pillow towel this morning, she knew there was a large gap in skills. When she went back home, she was hesitant whether or not to give her the purse, but she had nothing else.
Because Aunt Lao had introduced them earlier, she had already known that she was the best embroiderer of Fan Hua Town.
“Aunt He, don’t say that, I really like this purse. Mine is already really old, and I can use it starting tomorrow.” Su Shuilian shyly accepted the purse embroidered with green branches, as she wholeheartedly thanked Aunt He’s gift.
“Miss, none of us in our family had any hands on skills, so this is what I can give you and hope you don’t laugh at sight.” The one who spoke was Fang House’s poniang, who lived not that far from their house. Her house were full of farmers, so she had gifted a big package of seeds. There were various seeds, from different kinds of beans, melons, fruits, wheat, and other vegetable seeds. Seeing this, Su Shuilian endlessly thanked her. This was something they had not prepared. After the harvest in fall, those two acres of fertile land will be theirs to cultivate.
The last two, Wang poniang and Shui poniang, gave ornaments; one gave a finely carved sandalwood hairpin, the other gave a pair of delicate pearl earrings.
Su Shuilian could not thank them enough. She had always liked ornaments with a simple style. The gaudy pieces she initially had found in her bag were already pushed to the bottom of a box. The ones that she had been wearing these days were the jade jewelry that Lin Si Yao had given her on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month.
“Just look at this girl, anything is good in her eyes.” Aunt Lao could not help by make fun of her again, causing the people all around to laugh.
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