Fields Of Gold / Fields of Gold Chapter 564
After Xiaocao and her sister changed their clothes, they went back into the reception hall and faced the guest of honor, the empress. Their first kowtow was to her, their second was to show their respect to their elders, and then they stood up and kneeled towards the east. The guest of honor washed her hands three times and then took the offered hairpins for the ceremony.
All of the matrons and young maidens present, who had envious hearts, had no reaction when they saw the two lavishly decorated hairpins that had valuable pink pearls embedded in them. This was because they were already numb to the situation. It was as if there weren’t these extremely expensive hairpins present, then it would be abnormal for this ceremony.
The empress looked at the identical hairpins. Each one had several pink pearls decorating it. The pearls were all around the same size, perfectly round shapes, and seemed to glow gently under the light. Any one of these pearls would be considered a top-notch pearl on its own, let alone the dozen or so that were on each hairpin. It was said that Xiaocao herself had personally gathered these pearls from the ocean. It was already considered fortunate for an experienced pearl diver to get one such specimen during their career. The fact that she was able to get around twenty or so in one trip made it a bit odd.
Although the empress’s heart was full of doubts, she still remembered why she was the guest of honor here today. She chanted, “By the auspiciousness of this day, and by the times of the moon, I give you this robe. With your family here, use these to actualize your virtues. May you enjoy boundless longevity and receive the joys of heaven.”
Following that, she inserted invaluable pearl hairpins into Xiaocao’s and her sister’s hair and stood up to go back to her original position. The guests all squeezed out a smile and congratulated the two of them for reaching their coming of age. The two sisters then went back to the changing room and changed into extravagant long ceremonial robes with long sleeves that matched their hairpins perfectly.
Now that the two sisters were wearing their pearl hairpins paired with beautiful ceremonial robes that were embroidered all over with peonies, it made their previously slightly immature looks seem more charming and mature. Even the jealous female guests had no choice but to admit that the two sisters looked quite lovely and attractive. In fact, anyone in the room could tell that Royal Prince Yang’s eyes were almost glued onto Yu Xiaocao and couldn’t be pulled away. The two sisters then faced the emperor and saluted gracefully to show their respect for the imperial throne.
The heir of Marquis Anning and his wife directed the maidservants to set up the ceremonial table and to lay out the ceremonial wine and offerings out on the west side of the room. The empress took the two girls to take a seat and He Wanning presented the sweet and nourishing fruit wine. The empress took the ceremonial wine and walked to Yu Xiaocao and her sister, revealing a contented smile as she started to recite verses again, “A goblet full of sweet wine to add auspiciousness and fragrance. Accept it in worship for settling your prosperity. Take unto the beauty of the Heavens and remember this for a lifetime.”
After the two of them kneeled again, they took the goblet of wine and saluted the guest of honor. This wine wasn’t for the two sisters to drink. Instead, they kneeled again and sprinkled some of the wine onto the floor as a libation. Following that, they symbolically touched a bit of wine to their lips and returned the cup back onto the ceremonial table. There was some sweet cooked rice on the table, so the two of them symbolically ate a mouthful each. Then they kowtowed to the guest of honor and the empress returned the bow before standing back up at the east side of the steps.
They had to admit that the coming of age ceremony was quite complicated and full of rituals. The two of them had gone back and forth between the rooms, changing their clothes and kneeling and bowing all the time. The two of them were starting to feel quite dizzy from all of this. Xiaolian was well aware that she was riding on her younger sister’s coattails in order to have all of these guests here to celebrate. Furthermore, it was also the only reason why she was able to get so up close to the empress herself.
Although she was quite nervous, she was also incredibly proud and a bit joyful too! She was proud and happy that she had such a capable younger sister who had brought so much glory to their whole family. She stealthily took a look at those noble young maidens, who usually had their noses up in the air, and saw their envious and jealous expressions. From that, the slight bit of inferiority and timidness she felt completely melted away and her movements became even more graceful and calm.
Next came the process of choosing a ‘courtesy name’ for the two sisters. The empress stood up and faced the east while Yu Hai, his wife, and Fang Zizhen and his wife stood up and faced the west. The empress chose the courtesy names for the two young maidens and recited a few more lines, “The rites and rituals are prepared, and on this auspicious day and month, I announce your courtesy names. By a splendid courtesy name, it shall benefit your virtues. To show you chaste virtue, and forever keep you. You two shall be named ‘Weihe’ and ‘Yongxi’.”
The empress had recited so many ceremonial verses that were all written in classical Chinese. The two sisters felt like they were listening to an entirely different language and their heads were just floating along. They only understood the last verse. One of their courtesy names was ‘Weihe’ and the other was ‘Yongxi’. Xiaolian’s courtesy name came from ‘Fine Rain on a Lotus Pond’, as a misty rain falling upon lotus flowers was an enchanting sight. The mood the name evoked was good and the meaning behind it was auspicious. Xiaocao’s courtesy name was ‘Yongxi’. The character for ‘Xi’ referred to the first light of day and the character for ‘Yong’ meant forever. The meaning of her name evoked that she would forever bring light to the people and also gave them hope.
The emperor and empress had discussed this for a whole night before coming up with these two courtesy names. The profound meanings behind them caused the noble ladies in the crowd to fall into deep thought——this Yu Yongxi had given the common people hope, so was this person someone who they could afford to offend? Did it matter if you were jealous? Or envious at this point? After all, their daughters were only slightly talented but they had not done anything to benefit the people, so what leg did they have to stand on now?
At this time, Yu Xiaocao and her sister simultaneously replied, “Although I, Xiaocao (Xiaolian), may not be worthy, I dare not refuse the honor…” Following that, they bowed to the guest of honor and the guest of honor returned the salute. Then, all three of them returned to their respective places.
Xiaocao and her sister kneeled in front of their parents and listened to the instructions given to them. Yu Hai and his wife gratefully looked at their two beautiful daughters who had finally grown up. They had slight smiles on their faces as they said, “In a wink, you two have become adults. As your parents, we don’t have any requests or expectations for you two. All we hope is that your lives in the future will be smooth and happy.” Although their speech was quite plain and simple, their words showed just how deeply these two loved and cared for their daughters.
Fang Zizhen was also an uncouth fellow and didn’t bother trying to make things sound poetic. He lifted his adopted daughter up with his arms and trumpeted loudly, “Your father is right! Young maidens shouldn’t think so much. Supporting one’s family and chasing positions and wealth is the job of a man. You two sisters should just be preoccupied with having happy lives in the future. If there’s nothing to do, then spend more time with your friends. Play whatever you want to play and don’t take such heavy responsibilities on your shoulders all the time. You’ve taken on so many weighty responsibilities on these slim shoulders of yours that we, as your fathers, feel very ashamed ah…”
The emperor, who was seated high above, felt the corner of his eyes twitch. Was Fang Zizhen encouraging his beloved official to stop working ah? Did Old Fang really think things through before he said such words in front of him?
Yu Xiaocao grinned broadly at her two fathers and said, “Father, Godfather! This daughter understands what you’re both trying to say. However, my greatest happiness is to make a lot of money and count the money I make whenever I get bored! Therefore, you two may think that I’m very tired from engaging in so many businesses, but I actually take a lot of pleasure and fun in managing them!”
When her two sets of parents heard this, they all revealed helpless smiles. Fang Zizhen guffawed heartily and said, “Alright! Daughter, as long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters!”
Xiaolian pulled at her younger sister’s sleeves and the two of them became solemn again and seriously answered, “This daughter may not be worthy, but I dare not disobey!” Then, they kowtowed again towards their parents.
The final segment of the ceremony required Xiaocao and her sister to be present and salute all of the guests to express their gratitude for attending. The two of them first bowed to the guest of honor, the other guests, the assistants, and the attendants. Everyone smiled gently at them and nodded their heads.
Yu Hai bowed to the crowd and thanked them, “My daughters, Yu Xiaolian and Yu Xiaocao, have now completed their coming of age ceremony. Thank you, honored guests, for your great kindness in participating. We have prepared some drinks and light refreshments downstairs. Please, everyone, head down and take your seats…” Madam Liu and Lady Fang respectfully led the female guests downstairs and also had the maidservants lead people into the already prepared private rooms.
Downstairs, there was a gargantuan cake that had these words written on it bright red jam: ‘Congratulations Yu Xiaolian, Yu Xiaocao, for your coming of age ceremony’. Under the inquisitive and greedy eyes of the children there, the attendants sliced up the cake into small pieces and the waiters from Zhenxiu Restaurant served them to every table at the feast.
The banquet was sumptuous and delicious. The new style dishes especially caused the guests’ taste buds to explode in flavor. The men had all been served the Yu Family’s Winery and Distillery’s new alcoholic beverage that had a high alcohol content. The generals especially enjoyed it. As for the women’s and children’s tables, they had the sweet and sour fruit wine that also had health benefits. It was tasty and good for one’s health.
The emperor, his imperial father, and his two imperial uncles sat at the same table. After toasting three rounds of wine, Zhu Junfan suddenly discovered that the table seemed to be missing one person, “Imperial Uncle, where’s Junyang ah?”
Imperial Prince Jing drank a mouthful of the fresh and tasty Five Grains Liquid and lightly waved a hand, “Don’t worry about him. Ever since we entered Zhenxiu Restaurant, I haven’t seen heads or tails of the youngster. Earlier, if I hadn’t come down from the third floor with Your Imperial Majesty, I wouldn’t have even known that the brat had stealthily gone up to attend the ceremony! That stinky brat’s heart only has room for his sweet and adorable future wife, so how could he possibly spend the time eating food with us?”
“What?! You stinky brats all went to the third floor to attend the ceremony? How come you didn’t call your father up with you all? A bunch of good-for-nothings ah!!” When the emperor emeritus heard this, he angrily finished chewing his mouthful of honey roasted pork and indignantly slapped the table to hoot.
Imperial Prince Duan leisurely drank a mouthful of grape wine. With his body’s current condition, it wasn’t suitable for him to drink a more alcoholic drink. Following that, he calmly spoke to his father, “Imperial Father, you’re the father of us three brothers. Junfan’s father is me, your son! He couldn’t even think of his own father when there was something fun to watch, how could he possibly think of his father’s father?”
Imperial Prince Sa had shrunk down like a quail as soon as the emperor emeritus became angry. He didn’t say anything but gave his eldest brother a big thumb’s up. Only his eldest brother had the guts to tweak the tiger whiskers of their bad-tempered old father.
As expected, the emperor emeritus’s pair of bushy eyebrows came together in a frown and he was just about to flip out when he noticed the prominently pale face of his oldest son. He turned his attention to his youngest son, who was making faces and growled, “Stinky brat, what sort of face are you making? You’re old already and are already at the age of a grandfather but you still don’t do anything proper. Are you not afraid that Little Xinxin thinks you’re a joke?”
Little Xinxin was Imperial Prince Sa’s grandson who hadn’t even reached one year old. He had also been brought along. However, the child was currently with Imperial Prince Sa’s heir’s wife in one of the private rooms and eating delicious egg-drop soup.
Imperial Prince Sa revealed an innocent expression. He hadn’t even said a word but why was he always the one being targeted? Luckily his second older brother was a true brother and helped him to change the target.
“Imperial Father, you’re too right! Zhu Junyang is such a brat and doesn’t even think of me, his father! All he can think of is his future wife’s coming of age ceremony and he even boldly goes up to attend. Right now, I’m sure he’s trying to figure out some way to see his wife alone somehow!” Imperial Prince Jing deliberately complained in a sour tone.
The guests who attended today were either people who had already had a good relationship with Xiaocao in the past or those who saw that she had a boundless future ahead of her and wanted to shamelessly worm their way in. That little lass had only arrived at the capital two to three years ago but she already had so many connections. This made him feel quite astonished and grateful. However, the fact that his future daughter-in-law was so capable gave him, as the future father-in-law, quite a bit of pressure. Perhaps…once his daughter-in-law married in, he should split that stinky brat from the family?