Chapter 82: Pre-Delivery Preparations
At the oft-visited “Feng Ya Drapery”, two bolts of fine white cotton cloth were cut. They planned to sew all of the baby’s clothing using this cotton textile, the most expensive of its kind.
Furthermore, the summer days were approaching upon them. Ah Yao and her both needed two new sets of tunics to change into. Considering that, Su Shuilian, surrounded from all sides with envious gazes, without a worry in her heart, ordered the shopkeeper to cut* another three bolts.
(TL NOTES: It’s actually pull, but cut makes more sense for those who don’t sew. Basically, rather than cutting all the way across a piece of fabric to divide it, one would cut a small slit at one side and rip the fabric from the whole bolt, which is a roll of cloth.)
She had just turned in her embroidery works and received five silvers in return. She intended to use it to ready some items for the child. Before she came, she even specially asked for Auntie Lao’s guidance about the bits and scraps of things she’d need during and after the birth.
“Madame, have a look at this, this is the newest style of fabric that just came into our shop, they say it originated from overseas. And the cost, if madame takes a fancy to it, I’ll definitely give you the best price.”
The shopkeeper from the drapery was already familiar with Shu Shuilian. He knows that she favors choosing exquisite fabrics, those that are at the same time comfortable, flowy, and very breathable. Predicting this, he had instructed the errand boy to fetch a few bolts of newly arrived fabric for her, to be on call.
“Fine linen?” Without even laying a hand on them, Shu Shuilian distinguished the make of the bolts of cloth.
“Madame recognises it?” The shopkeeper was amazed. This fine linen, his drapery was one of the first to receive it, and the other stores shouldn’t have even started selling it yet.
“I saw it in a book before,” explained Shu Shuilian hurriedly, smiling. A lot of her clothing from the past was constructed from this linen fabric. The only difference was, hers had silk and cotton threads woven throughout, this factor making it slightly finer and more delicate than this pure linen textile in front of her.
“Hehe, madame really has a good eye, it is in fact fine linen. Feel this texture, though it’s not as soft as thin cotton, it provides good ventilation. Seeing that the weather’s starting to warm up, would madame like to cut a few yards to go home and try out?” The shopkeeper advised Shu Shuilian, looking at her with a smile on his face, eyes pushed up into a crinkle.
The lady standing before him, though she was a wife from an unknown gentleman’s house, has been visiting this drapery every once in a while, ever since she brought some cloth a year ago. Her heavy purchases, like the one a year back, involves selective shopping for bundles on bundles of textiles. Even when it’s a small shopping spree, her buys amount similarly to some yards of fine cotton cloth.
The shopkeeper paid much respect to this madame. Though she looks young of age, her ability in choosing fabrics was still superior to other women’s daughters; dragging their feet, wasting one hour on top of another. The fabrics she chose were often the most comfortable, as well as expensive in price.
And as such, upon seeing her enter the shop to select more fabrics this time, the shopkeeper had his assistant retrieve their newest bolts of fine linen from the backroom. These new bolts of fabric had been delivered to the shop last night, but had yet to be properly arranged and put on display.
“Alright. Then, shopkeeper, I’d like to trouble you to cut five feet from each bolt of these colours for me…” Su Shuilian smiled and nodded.
She had selected the navy blue, lilac and pale yellow cloths. ‘The dark navy colour ought to be very suitable for A Yao’, she thought. Summer was approaching and she planned to make him an outer jacket with it.
The lilac cloth would be for herself; if this fine linen was used to make a broad sleeved, high collared upper garment along with a long lightweight skirt, that set of clothes would surely be light and airy. Besides that, the voluminous skirt would be more than enough to conceal her gradually swelling stomach.
As for the soft and delicate pale yellow colour, naturally it would be used to make clothes of varying sizes for the baby.
She also selected some lengths of lively, brightly coloured thick cotton fabric. For these, she planned to make a few swaddle blankets of different thickness for use during her month of postpartum confinement.
All in all, Su Shuilian bought over ten lengths of cloth.
The shopkeeper was all smiles as he totaled up the bill.
“Madame, I’ve rounded down the bill for you. That’ll be three taels.”
The shopkeeper clicked and clacked away on his abacus before looking up with a wide smile, stating a figure that Su Shuilian, who had been pushed into a chair by Lin Si Yao, that was within the expected range.
Without a second word, Lin Si Yao reached into his sleeve, dug out three taels and tossed them onto the counter by the shopkeeper’s hand. The shop assistant then handed him the huge stack of fabric secured tightly with cotton cord. He held that in one hand and with his other, he helped Su Shuilian to her feet. She looked rather exhausted, so he carefully guided her out of the shop.
“Tsk tsk, to which family does that young man belong? His wife has trained him well in the art of caring for others! It seems that she is with a child? No wonder…”
“Which family in this city has just secured such a beautiful daughter-in-law? I’ve not heard any news at all.”
“Right? And one so skilled at spending money too. Three taels at once, tsk tsk, that covers a year of my whole family’s expenses.”
“Isn’t that right? Fine linen is so expensive, and to think she purchased enough for three sets of clothing!”
“Shopkeeper, do you know which family they are from?”
“I do not.”
“Ah? If you don’t then why do you seem to familiar with her?”
“Ah ha… well, that Madame always comes to our shop for cloth, that is how she’s gradually became a regular.”
“Oh nevermind that! Who cares which family they’re from. Shopkeeper, is fine linen really that good? I’ll have five feet as well; I want to try making a set of clothes…”
“Coming up! I guarantee that after trying it on, Madame, you’ll never want any other material again!”
“Is it really as marvellous as you claim? Then I’ll have five feet too…”
“Shopkeeper, I want four feet… I’ll come again if it’s as good as you describe…”
“Hahaha, alright, alright, we’ve got enough for everyone. Rest assured, Madames…”
Thanks to Su Shuilian, all thirty bolts of Feng Ya Drapery’s newly imported fine linen were sold out on the first day. The shopkeeper was so delighted, he decided he would give Su Shuilian the biggest discount he could the next time she patronized his shop. But that is a story that we shall save for another day.
In the blink of an eye, another month flashed past; Summer had finally descended upon Fan Hua Town.
Now at the end of her first trimester, three months into Su Shuilian’s pregnancy, her issue with morning sickness finally improved. Although she still did not have much of an appetite during meals, at least she no longer got nauseous or suffered from acid reflux as often. The only problem was that ever since her pregnancy began, Su Shuilian no longer slept as well as she had before.
Every day, at about five to ten minutes past yin-shi (3am to 5am), she would wake. That was how she realized that Lin Si Yao actually got up extremely early every day. After settling the chores in the North Courtyard, he would go to the South, and then head to the kitchen after that. He never stopped for a moment, buzzing around the house all the way till mao-shi (5am to 7am) in the morning.
After she had gotten up, Su Shuilian pinned her hair up in a simple manner before making her way to the kitchen. When Su Shuilian arrived at the south yard, as expected, Lin Si Yao was there taking care of the chicken coop.
“Why don’t you sleep for a little longer?” the heartache and concern that Lin Si Yao felt for her was clear; Su Shuilian was dressed for spring in an airy green colour, but the thin material of her dress did nothing to conceal her diminishing figure. What would happen if she continued to lose weight like this? What if it caused complications during childbirth?
He decided he would retrieve the calabash bottle containing Divine Jade Essence from the bottom of their dresser case and have her consume it. If she were to remain so thin, what would happen when she goes into labor? What good were such material possessions to him, if left unused, there would be no value in having it.
“I’ve slept enough…” Su Shuilian wiped the sweat trickling down his face, smiling slightly, “I’ve not done a proper job of being your wife. I never even knew that you wake so early every day.”
“That’s nonsense,” Lin Si Yao shot her a frown, “I’m doing this of my own accord, and glad for it too. It has nothing to do with you being a good wife. Don’t say that ever again.”
“Alright then…” Su Shuilian saw that he was very serious about this, so she nodded and agreed. “Oh and… A Yao, Aunt Tian told me yesterday that Uncle Tian has finished the baby’s cradle. He’ll be bringing it over later today.”
For the past few days, she and A’Yao had been busy getting everything ready for the baby’s birth, from clothing to underwear, to swaddle blankets. They were now almost done.
Lin Si Yao had asked Tian Dafu to make the cradle based on Su Shuilian’s hand drawn illustration, using the wood he had chopped himself. The wood was top quality Wenge/Wengue from the trees on Da Shi Mountain, and the design was based off Su Shuilian memory of the most popular style in Suzhou City. There would be a cradle and a crib which could be used either together or separately, and the crib itself would be half a meter wide by one meter long. Normally, a newborn baby would need a cradle for the first six months of its life, after that, they could be free of it forever and sleep directly in the crib. Based on the dimensions of this crib, it would probably last till their child was three years old.
And as for after that…
Oh, Lin Si Yao was planning to buy the unused land to the north and west of his home. Their current house was getting old and its structural integrity would deteriorate over time, so they might as well build a larger residence, a spacious two-hall-three-courtyard. And the old house? Well of course, they would knock it down. As for what would rise in its place… Lin Si Yao already knew what he wanted. He had known since a long time ago.
“Ok, let’s go and have our breakfast first. I prepared your favourite white fungus soup with red dates, so you must drink more of it.”
Lin Si Yao finished cleaning up the chicken coop, collecting the chicken manure, then went to wash his hands. After that, did he gently steered Su Shuilian, whose stomach had just started showing, into the kitchen.
After chen-shi (7am to 9am), Lin Si Yao plans to head out.
“You, be careful on your own, I’ll be back before early afternoon…” Lin Si Yao ordered Xiao Chun to keep an eye on her from a few feet beyond the shade of the cherry blossom tree. Su Shuilian was sitting on a long bench beneath that tree, working on the finer details of his new Summer jacket.
“Oh relax, it’ll be barely two hours, what could possibly happen to me in that time…” She teased him. “Fine, I promise I’ll be very carefully sitting here awaiting your return, alright?” Anyway, he had left a few plates of snacks and a flask of water on the small stone table. All she had to do was reach over to grab them.
“I didn’t mean that,” said Lin Si Yao, frowning slightly.
“I know. I’m not as delicate as you think. Besides, I’ve been consuming that Divine Jade Essence for the past few days, so there’s no need for you to be so worried.” Su Shuilian knew he was just concerned for her, but his overprotectiveness was becoming excessive especially when compared to her, the real expecting mother!
“Right, then I’ll be leaving now. Don’t open the door no matter who knocks…” He could not emphasize the importance of her safety enough.
Now that Xiao Xue had brought the three wolf pups onto Da Shi Mountain to live with the Wolf King. Now they only have Xiao Chun. How could Lin Si Yao relax?
To be fair, the past few callers who had knocked at their door consisted of romantic fools, robbers, and even those ruthless killers from his own organisation, so his worry was not unfounded.
If it weren’t for the hidden signal left by Si Tao, he would certainly not take a single step out of the house.
Something was wrong… As he rushed, Lin Si Yao narrowed his eyes. From the secret code Si Tao was using, he could tell that at least one of the three was seriously injured. Otherwise, with Si Lao’s busybody nature, there was no way they would miss ‘dropping in for a visit’ if their mission was accomplished with nary a scratch on them all.
Once he arrived at this conclusion. Lin Si Yao’s speed increased exponentially. If someone were nearby at the time, they would be sure to feel the eerily cool and cutting wind blowing past, and see an accompanying figure in green flashing by…
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