Long before the imperial decree arrived, a pageboy by Qin Huaiyuan’s side caught wind of what had happened. He sprinted from the palace doors to the horse tied up to the tree, jumped onto its back, and sent it in a fast gallop back home.
Qin Yining and née Sun were working on their embroidery within the house when they heard the granny servant on duty at the inner doors exclaim, “Old Dowager! Madame! Miss! Great news! Wonderful news!”
The cry startled everyone inside and the old dowager lifted the door curtains.
“What is it? Out with it!” she demanded anxiously.
Beaming from ear to ear, the granny servant responded, “Old Dowager, such wonderful news! The boy at the lord’s side just came back with news that the emperor is sending an imperial decree to us. He’s bestowed our fourth miss to the Faithful Prince of the First Rank as his princess consort! The boy came back as soon as he heard, so the decree will be here soon.”
The news stunned the entire family beyond recognition. With unspoken accord, they looked at Qin Yining standing beneath the covered hallway, who was offering support to née Sun.
The girl’s hands slowly tightened into fists and she lowered her head self-consciously.
Recovering from her shock, the eighth miss declared happily, “Congratulations, fourth sister!”
The girl’s felicitations brought everyone back to their senses, and a hubbub of best wishes rose up.
The old dowager was beside herself with joy. “Good, good! Though being a princess consort isn’t as glorious as being the emperor’s favored consort, it’s still a good outcome for one of our girls. Now that fourth lass is married, it’ll be granddaughter Hui and Bao next.”
The men in the outer residence also caught wind of the development. Qin Yu, Qin Han, and the second and third elder masters came in to offer their happy wishes, then rushed off to prepare a table and incense with which to welcome the imperial edict.
The old dowager clasped her hands together and bowed at the sky. “To think that our family would have continuous good news after arriving in Great Zhou. Our ancestors smile down on us, our ancestors smile down on us!”
The second elder master smiled. “Not only do our ancestors bless us, it’s also all thanks to big brother’s arrangements. I have a position in the Bureau of Personnel and Rites now, and third brother’s industries have been properly laid out. It’s all thanks to big brother.”
“That’s right.” The third elder master nodded with a smile.
After enduring a war, famine, and robbers, the Qins had finally found their footing again. Though many had been sacrificed for it, they’d never lost their strength of character.
Just about when the family preparations were complete, the imperial decree arrived from the palace.
A brazier of incense sat on a table in the spacious yard, and round, kneeling mats were laid out in front of it. The family knelt according to the family hierarchy.
The eunuch bearing the decree merrily unrolled the golden cloth and read aloud in a shrill voice, “The Emperor, who governs with the Mandate of Heaven, has learned that Yining, daughter of Minister Qin Huaiyuan of the Bureau of Personnel and Rites, being sixteen years of age, is demure and refined, possessing of uncommon talent, modest and courteous, and beautiful in both heart and mind.
“Hearing of such qualities delights the Emperor and Empress Dowager. The Faithful Prince of the First Rank, Pang Xiao, being twenty four years of age, is at an appropriate age for marriage. The prince is skilled in both martial and civil subjects, and is loyal and respectful to his liege.
“Née Qin is yet unmarried and a wondrous match with Pang Xiao. Née Qin is hereby bestowed unto the Faithful Prince of the First Rank, Pang Xiao, as Princess Consort.
“All ceremonies are under the jurisdiction of the two families. The wedding is to be conducted on the eleventh day of the fifth month. Proclaimed to all under the Heavens, so let it be known!”
“Our gratitude for the emperor’s gracious favor.”
The Qins kowtowed solemnly. Qin Yining knelt in the middle of the family, her head down and arms raised high over her head to accept the edict.
The eunuch handing it over smiled. “Congratulations, Miss Qin.”
The second and third elder master, as well as her two cousins offered polite pleasantries to the eunuch. After gifting a large red envelope, they directed their guest inside for a spot of tea.
Qin Yining cupped the imperial decree in her hands, reading the words over and over again. It all felt so surreal, like she was drifting through a dream.
She’d always felt that though she and Pang Xiao had feelings for each other, it would be very difficult for the two of them to actually get married. The emperor wouldn’t allow Pang Xiao to gain formidable in-laws, and Pang Zhongzheng’s death was something ever-present between the two of them.
Who would’ve thought that her father would be able to swing it so that Li Qitian would give the order of his own volition?
Was she really to marry Pang Xiao?
It wasn’t until this moment that she finally felt her heart settle in its right place, leaving room for anticipation and uncertainty for the future to flourish.
“Aiya, has the girl lost herself in happiness?”
Qin Yining came back to herself when she heard the good-natured teasing. She looked around to find the second madame next to her, and that she’d already followed the family back into the main house.
The old dowager took the imperial edict from Qin Yining’s hands with a smile. “I’m going to lay this out in the Hall of Ancestors. I’ll put it next to the decree for your father’s position. This is such good news, wonderful news!”
Now that everything was decided upon, née Sun could finally put all her grudges to rest. She exclaimed happily, “The wedding’s on the eleventh of the next month? That’s less than a month away! Daughter Yi’s coming-of-age ceremony hasn’t been held yet either, and here we are, preparing for the most important matter of all. Second sister-in-law, you have to help me.”
“Naturally! This is such a wonderful thing. My daughter-in-law is about to give birth and now niece Yi has sublime in-laws. Isn’t this twin joys knocking on our doors? How lovely!” The second madame smiled happily.
After arriving back in Qin Yining’s bedroom, née Sun gave urgent orders to Jin-mama.
“We don’t have enough time for her to embroider pieces for her trousseau. Go hire the best seamstresses and put careful attention to the matter. Daughter Yi’s going to make only a pillowcase so she can show her respects. My daughter, you're not allowed to go anywhere during this time. Just stay in your room and sew quietly!”
After delivering her words, Née Sun didn't wait for the girl to respond. She charged out in fine fettle, ready to roll her sleeves up for other tasks.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Hahaha getting enough stuff together for her dowry is probably going to be the most challenging! So happy for Qin Yining!! We thought this day would never come!