“You’re here.” Pang Xiao walked to the prince consort with a smile. “It’s rare to see you in this color. I’m used to seeing you in red or white.”
Ji Zeyu replied expressionlessly, “I was afraid of showing you up.”
Pang Xiao coughed, then answered brightly, “Ain’t that the truth! Ah Lan was born with such beauty. Where would my dignity be if I looked like a toad or a muddy pig next to you?”
“That’s why.” The prince consort spread out his hands matter-of-factly.
The bridegroom chuckled again.
The soldiers at the prince consort manor were Valiant Tigers who’d braved hell and high water with Pang Xiao. Though their commander was the prince consort now, their worship and adoration of Pang Xiao remained the same.
Seeing their former commander look at them, they stood even taller.
Pang Xiao smiled. “I have to trouble all of my brothers today in making this trip with me.”
“Yes, sir!” Eighty-eight manor soldiers chorused back with impressive ferocity, shaking the rafters with their roars. Somehow, their response painted the luxurious front yard of the Pang complex with a few touches of righteous bloodlust.
It also made the eighteen Elite Tigers snap to even sharper attention.
Following the disturbance, Yao Chenggu, née Ma, and née Yao were shellshocked by the imposing manner that seemed like the men were about to charge into the battlefield.
After a long while, née Ma whispered with a frown, “Just what does he think he’s doing?? This won’t do, I need to lecture Dafu. He’s going to scare the in-laws out of their wits like this.”
“Oh you, stop fretting.” Yao Chenggu pulled back his wife with a smile. “The boy’s not a baby anymore, he has his own plans. Don’t go messing things up.”
“Can I not fret?? Who delivers betrothal gifts like this? With that bunch of hooligans, is he going to fetch the bride or raze her home?”
“Mom! Keep some of those words to yourself!” Née Yao shook her mother’s arm, frowning from the inauspicious words.
Realizing the inappropriateness of her words, the Pang matriarch quickly spat three times.
By this point, Pang Xiao and Ji Zeyu were already heading outside the manor on horseback. 210 litters of betrothal gifts followed them, with 106 sharply dressed, young soldiers bringing up the rear. The procession set out for the Qin manor in a vast and magnificent manner.
Née Ma and née Yao saw them out the door, sighing together with perfect, unexpected timing when the tail of the long convoy rounded the corner.
Not only was née Ma worried, but even née Yao felt by now that it was a bit terrifying for her son to bring such a large crowd with him to deliver the gifts.
Qin Yining was teaching Lian Xiaozhou her characters when Bingtang flew in from outside.
“Miss, miss, the prince’s entourage is coming!”
“Oh my, this early?”
“That’s right, and his entourage is exceptionally spectacular.” The maid doubled over from laughter.
“How is it spectacular?”
If it hadn’t been for her mother coming by first thing this morning to tell her that she couldn’t go out to take a peek, that a bride and groom couldn’t meet before the wedding, she would’ve dashed out the front door to take in her fill of the sights.
Bingtang burst out laughing all over again when she thought of how stunned the neighbors had looked just now. “The prince and Prince Consort Ji brought soldiers with them to deliver your gifts.
“In the lead is your phoenix coronet and robes of rank. Sparkling rubies are embedded in the golden phoenix of the coronet, and they’re matched by the two litters of dazzling little gold fish right behind! Two more of red coral decorations follow it, and I didn’t see what else came after. But I’m sure they’re all treasures, and there’s 210 loads of them! The procession’s entered our front gates, but the tail is still two streets out!”
Qin Yining dimpled despite herself as she imagined how the scene might look. She naturally understood Pang Xiao’s feelings for her, and she didn’t care for material wealth at all. But her beloved being willing to go to such lengths for their wedding still moved her greatly.
The Qin fourth miss was touched, but the old dowager and others were utterly blinded by the economical prudence of the gifts.
Qin Huaiyuan calmly watched two handsome, noble young men approach on the backs of tall and sturdy horses. The other young men that followed behind them were all clearly handpicked elites. The minister could sense the depth of Pang Xiao’s efforts, which made him very happy.
Upon arriving, Pang Xiao jumped down from his horse and handed over the list of gifts with both hands.
The Qin patriarch didn’t even look at it, giving the list to née Sun instead. He smiled as he greeted Ji Zeyu. “This old man is truly grateful beyond words that Prince Consort Ji is willing to come help.”
Knowing that today was Pang Xiao fetching his bride, though Ji Zeyu didn’t like Qin Huaiyuan, he still put on a courteous demeanor and returned the gesture politely. He even responded genteelly, a first for the prince consort.
“No need to stand on ceremony, Minister Qin. I am good friends with His Highness, so I naturally had to come help.”
The friendly reply startled Qin Huaiyuan, but understanding dawned after he watched how the two young men interacted with each other.
He turned back to instruct the Qin family servants to show good hospitality to the Pang servants for the betrothal gifts and the fine soldiers accompanying the retinue. Inviting Pang Xiao and Ji Zeyu inside for tea, he also formally gave approval of the wedding on the morrow.
The atmosphere within the house was very congenial.
Back out in the yard, the variety of gifts utterly bedazzled the old dowager.
“Aiyo, aiyo, oh my heavens, what an enormous sum! All of our family valuables combined weren’t worth even one of the litters of gold fish, even back before we were robbed! This is just, simply too ceremonious, much too valuable! With this money, our family will have proper footing!”
The old dowager’s hand shook as she grasped the list of gifts, but née Sun was highly displeased by the show of avarice. She whispered, “These gifts need to be transported back to the prince’s manor tomorrow, along with daughter Yi’s dowry. As rich as they are, we need to return them.”
“Return them?!” demanded the old dowager shrilly. “Do we return them on your say-so? Are you the matriarch or am I?? I say no!”
Née Sun didn’t fight with her mother-in-law. “I’m marrying off my daughter, not selling her. We can’t keep any of these betrothal gifts. If it was you, Old Dowager, would you want the in-laws to think that we’re a greedy, grasping sort?”
There was no possible response to that, save for the old dowager flushing crimson with anger.
Within the house, Pang Xiao had finished discussing the particulars of tomorrow’s wedding with Qin Huaiyuan.
Since the Qin patriarch had already allowed the wedding, he was naturally the picture of cooperation. Everything was to be conducted based on convenience for Pang Xiao.
When his future son-in-law nervously brought up the tests at the door, Qin Huaiyuan could finally no longer refrain from smiling. “Don’t worry, daughter Yi’s cousins all know the limits of appropriateness. I’ll make sure of if.”
Pang Xiao could finally breathe a long sigh of relief and nod smilingly. Though he would formally welcome his bride across the threshold tomorrow, he still felt time was passing by simply too slowly.
The magnificent procession came, and the magnificent procession departed. Heaps of betrothal gifts filled the Qins’ front and rear yards; when they ran out of space even there, they resorted to piling the presents outside the manor walls and hiring guards to supervise them.
Qin Yining’s chance for a peek finally came around when Pang Xiao and Ji Zeyu left. She too fell silent when she saw the two litters of gold fish beneath the covered hallway.
Pang Xiao had shown the depths of his family wealth, hadn’t he?
Within the main house, the old dowager summoned her son and cut straight to the point. “Meng’er, our family’s been scrimping and saving to get by the days. Look, there are two litters of gold fish here. Keeping one will mean the family has enough to eat for a very long time.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Aw, grandma Pang is too adorable, grandma Qin decidedly less so!
My deepest apologies to everyone, I had family come in and out over the weekend and then celebrated my birthday as well. The advance chapter isn't up yet!