Seeing Qin Yining remain silent and some hints of shyness appear at the edges of those exquisite brows, the older women off to the side chuckled softly.
The second madame smiled. “That’s just the phoenix coronet! Those of us who went to the prince’s manor to set up the wedding room yesterday—oh my my! I’ve had my share of wealth and riches and seen some of the world, but apart from the palace, I’ve never seen a more magnificent complex than the prince’s!
“The prince is truly diligent towards our miss. We can see that with how the manor has been decorated. Each flower and blade of grass, every bit of silver and gold, and the exact setup of each decoration all brim with exquisite elegance. It’s obvious to see how much the prince and the grand-madame of their household likes our miss.”
According to custom, family of the bride was to decorate the newlyweds’ room the day the betrothal gifts were delivered.
It’d been the second madame accompanying née Sun yesterday. Though née Sun still wasn’t that satisfied with the match, her heart could more or less return to its proper place after meeting the in-laws. Hearing her sister-in-law say this now further soothed some of her uneasiness and worries.
Thinking of how gentle the grandmother-in-law and mother-in-law was in the family that her daughter was about to marry into, Qin Yining wouldn’t suffer too much even if the prince’s temper was a bit on the poor side, right?
The Qin fourth miss noted her mother’s expression in the mirror and met her second aunt’s eyes, flashing a grateful smile.
Her aunt returned a sincere half-smile.
They were family, after all, and had weathered much hardship and trial. Of the Qin girls now, there was only eighth miss Qin Baoning of the third branch left. Qin Huining was a petty, grasping thing that would never warm up to them. That one, the second madame stayed far away from.
She didn’t possess enough good fortune to be a mother-in-law, so she could only hope for the two Qin daughters to marry well.
The nobility and authority of Qin Yining’s husband would only help the family, and it would enable Qin Baoning to select a good husband in the future.
“Fourth sister.” The pearl curtain lifted to admit the eighth miss and the second wife.
Qin Yining’s hairdo was complete at this time and the phoenix coronet placed on the dressing table. Her head was tilted back so that the madame of all-embracing fortune could apply lip makeup. An under-robe of pure white draped over her body while scarlet marital robes, threaded with gold and silver, laid spread out on a nearby rack. It was placed directly behind her, bedazzling in its vividness.
The eighth miss breathed an exclamation of surprise and happily walked up. “You’re so pretty today, fourth sister!”
Qin Huining also walked up and bent her knee with a low head. She murmured, “Congratulations.”
Madame Miao stilled her movements.
Qin Yining smiled in response. “My thanks to both of you.” She turned to the second wife. “Second cousin-in-law, you’re here too. Please, grab a seat.”
The woman responded with an easy smile.
A jovial atmosphere permeated the atmosphere, wrapping around a houseful of happy chatter and laughter. Only the old dowager remained solidly in her room, puffing on her tobacco pipe. She wasn’t tempted by the merry dialogue at all.
Qin Yining disappeared behind the divider after finishing her makeup. Jiyun and the others helped her properly put on her wedding robes.
On the bright-red brocade, gold thread picked out flowers representing good fortune and wealth. For the round collar, faint, silvery hue of multi-colored embroidery traced prosperity brought about by dragons and phoenixes. It was fastened by two dainty ruby buttons. The expertly cut loose-robe highlighted the girl’s fine figure. Hitting beneath the knee, the eight-panel skirt sported delicate patterns of well-wishes outlined with red thread.
Taking a spin out of the divider, the girl lowered her head for Madame Liao to place the phoenix coronet. The ruby beads dangling from the pheasant’s mouth swung slightly behind Qin Yining’s head and cheeks. She deemed a nuisance the tassels meant for covering one’s face, so they were temporarily pinned up against the two sides of the coronet.
Silence reigned in the room.
Qin Yining blinked before tugging at the fabric on her with a smile. “Mother, why do I feel like this robe is a bit tight?”
That broke the thick stillness. The senior madame quickly walked up and grasped her daughter’s hands, pulling her left and right for a good look. “No, not at all. This is perfect. It’s not too tight at all.”
“Is that so?” Qin Yining looked down at herself with a smile. “Mother is always right.” She grasped the older woman’s hands tightly. “Don’t be nervous mother, the days to come will only be better.”
Née Sun’s eyes immediately reddened, but she held back tears with force of will. Inhaling loudly, she replied, “Yes, yes. My daughter will have a husband who loves her and respects each other, growing old together. My daughter, I really can’t bear to let you go. You haven’t experienced a single day of good fortune by my side, and I wasn’t good to you after you returned. I haven’t had time to properly compensate you, but here you are getting married…”
The senior madame’s tears trickled down like a broken string of pearls at this point.
Qin Yining’s eyes grew hot and she shed tears as well. “Mother, it’s not your fault. The days ahead are long, and we have plenty of time to spend with each other.”
Choked up, her mother bobbed her head.
The second madame dabbed at the corners of her eyes with a handkerchief and walked up to take née Sun’s arm. “Sister-in-law, don’t make niece Yi cry. You’re supposed to cry when marrying, but the marchioness only just finished niece Yi’s makeup.”
Madame Miao chuckled. “This miss looks like a fairy and is completely entrancing even when she cries. I couldn’t even look away.”
The beautiful remark sent the womenfolk tittering.
After completing her outfit, Qin Yining took a seat on the bed. The phoenix coronet was relegated to the dressing table due to its weight.
Née Sun and the second madame invited Madame Miao elsewhere and tended to the rest of the guests. There was only the eighth miss and Qin Huining left in the room.
On guard against the foster girl stirring up trouble on this day, Bingtang, Qiulu, Jiyun, and Xianyun found various places within the room to work on their embroidery.
The eighth miss stuck to Qin Yining’s side in accompaniment. Though much had happened to the family, the eighth miss was as pure and sincere as before.
Seeing the two get along fabulously, Qin Huining found no opening for her to join the conversation. The fourth miss’ status now was far beyond her’s and in fact, there was no way to compare the two. Qin Huining decided to just not do anything at all, in case someone claimed that she was currying favor and fawning over her superiors.
The respite was just as well; Qin Yining turned all of her attention to recounting some interesting matters for the eighth miss.
“Once I leave, you can come find me if anything happens at home,” reminded the girl. “If there are any conflicts, try to mediate some of it. My mother has an impatient temper, and there will be no one to calm her down when I’m not present. Take care of her for me.”
“Don’t worry, fourth sister.” The eighth miss took Qin Yining’s hand and promised. “Senior aunt has always been good to me. I would’ve done so even if you hadn’t said anything.”
Qin Yining relaxed slightly upon hearing this.
Afraid that her daughter would want to relieve herself when riding the bridal sedan,  née Sun only allowed Qin Yining one bowl of porridge for lunch. Her makeup and outfit were adjusted again after a nap, and the auspicious hour arrived with the darkening of the skies.
Noticeably nervous, née Sun’s hands were clammy with sweat when she took her daughter’s hands. Dismissing the maids, she sat on the edge of the bed and whispered to her daughter, giving many reminders of what it was to be a wife.
Seeing how red her daughter’s face was, she was too embarrassed herself to speak much more. She summed up her advice with a single line, “Just listen to His Highness.”
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I can't believe this is really happening!!