Accepted the wrong betrothal gifts?!
Long Er’s facial muscles spasmed in response, was it even possible to accept the ‘wrong betrothal gifts’?
It was a well-acknowledged fact that when a man and woman were betrothed, if the woman accepted the man’s betrothal gifts and the betrothal letter, then it meant that she had accepted the offer of marriage. Then, the bride’s side would send a card with the bride’s Four Pillars of Destiny (Birth Time Eight Characters @ BaZi) as well as the dowry gifts to the groom, and the marriage would effectively be ‘cast in stone’.
These customs had all been recently explained by Mómo Yu to Long Er. As it stood now, Old Father Ju had already accepted these ‘betrothal gifts and the betrothal letter’ of unknown origins, and this essentially meant that he was making a promise to allow Mu’er to marry into someone else’s family. This way, everything that he, Long Er, had personally discussed with Ju Mu’er, would no longer be valid.
All in all, recounting the recent turn of events was extremely frustrating, but Long Er remained cool and calm. The more challenging his tasks were, the more level-headed he got.
Long Er summoned Steward Tie from the main hall, informed him that he had to leave to deal with an emergency, and instructed Steward Tie to entertain the shopkeepers. Then, he called for a manservant to bring Mómo Yu to him, and directed another manservant to prepare the carriage.
After conveying the necessary instructions, he called for Li Ke, and began to pull the runner with him at brisk pace, saying, “Is this still (happening) inside the Winery? Old Father Ju is waiting for me to go over there, isn’t it?” This must be it! Otherwise Old Father would have never sent this unfamiliar runner to inform him, he would have come here himself!
“That’s right, that’s right. As we speak, Old Father Ju is trying to stop them from leaving!”
Long Er waved his hand in the air, and said to Li Ke, “Take two men with you and ride there by horseback. Survey the situation there, and make sure to keep those people there, until I reach. If the other party tries to use brute force to get away, there’s no need to be courteous with them.”
Li Ke nodded in understanding, then hastily went on his way with the others.
Long Er led the runner out through the side-door to wait for the carriage, then turned to him to say, “Tell me everything in detail.”
The runner had more or less caught his breath by now, and seeing how Long Er made arrangements in such a calm manner helped him to find his own control over himself, and his speech was much clearer this time. Hastily, he began to speak, “This is what happened, early this morning, two matchmakers led a convoy of people with boxes of gifts and presents in nearly every size and shape, to the winery! The reality is, Mómo Yu has recently visited to discuss the details of how to exchange gifts and host celebratory events, and it was also mentioned that you were planning to send someone with the betrothal gifts soon. As soon as Old Father saw the matchmakers arrive, he instantly thought that they were people from the Second Master’s residence, and without much thought they were soon invited inside. The two matchmakers did not say much, they just kept congratulating Old Father. Old Father served them some tea and cordially invited them to be seated, then he hurriedly asked the other servants to continue serving them, while he retreated to go and retrieve the BaZi Card as well as the return-gifts that had been prepared much earlier.”
As he reached this point in his explanation, Mómo Yu appeared in a rush, and the carriage was also ready for them. They all got into the carriage and headed straight for the Ju Family’s Winery. The runner briefly greeted Mómo Yu, repeated the inital part of his explanation, then continued to say, “I think that Old Father is not to blame for this, I spent some time in the company of those two matchmakers, I even casually conversed with them, but neither of them ever showed any signs of something wrong. Later on, when Old Father reappeared, he passed the BaZi Card and the gifts over to them, even asking why they had come so quickly! He mentioned that Mómo Yu had told him about today and the day-after-tomorrow being good days to send the betrothal gifts, but he had been under the impression that the plan was for the betrothal gifts to be sent on the day-after-tomorrow.
Mómo Yu nodded in agreement, “That’s correct, today and the day-after-tomorrow both are auspicious days, but I do recall telling Old Father Ju that before we exchanged the betrothal gifts, I would personally visit him to confirm the date. Furthermore, exchanging betrothal gifts is such an important step, it would only make sense for me to come along with the matchmaker ah! The only reason why I did not choose to exchange the gifts today, was because I found some fault with a bolt of satin that the matchmaker had chosen. I intended on revisiting the shops to take a look again, and according to Second Master’s BaZi, exchanging the betrothal gifts was more auspicious for him if it were to take place on the day-after-tomorrow. Initially, I thought of rechecking all the gifts before visiting Old Father Ju again today to confirm that the betrothal gifts would be exchanged on the day-after-tomorrow.”
The runner from the winner hastily turned to plead with Long Er, “Second Master, you truly cannot fault Old Father for this! He said the same thing to the two matchmakers, and the two women did not speak a word of being here for another family. All they talked about was about how auspicious today was, how with the completion of this marriage ritual, then the only thing left was the wedding ceremony itself! Congratulatory phrases flowed from their mouths like water, and they really seemed so real, Old Father and the rest of us did not think for a moment that something was wrong. Then, the minute they received the things from Old Father, they instantly wanted to leave, they did not even utter an extra word, they wouldn’t even stay to finish their tea! It was at this point in time that Old Father opened the neatly-wrapped betrothal letter, and just one look at it had him stupefied.”
“Which family was it?” Long Er coldly asked, he had his own guess, but he still wanted to make sure.
“I heard Old Father shouting as he chased after them, he said ‘It’s wrong, it’s wrong, how can it be the Yun Family?!’.”
Long Er’s eyes narrowed at this, and his expression of barely-controlled anger instantly caused the winery runner to cower in the corner. The interior of the carriage soon fell silent, and after a moment’s pause the runner weakly tried to defend Old Father Ju again, explaining, “Second Master, Old Father really is not to blame. The minute he noticed that the name on the betrothal letter was incorrect, he instantly rushed out. He kept saying that he had accepted the wrong betrothal gifts and that he wanted to return them, especially the fact that he wanted them to return the BaZi Card and the return-gifts. But, by then, the two matchmakers had begun to act defiantly, saying that it wasn’t normal to just return betrothal gifts on a whim like that, and that once a BaZi Card had exited the doors of a household, there was no such thing as having it returned. They even said that this meant that this marriage was essentially set, and merely told Old Father to just wait for the bridal sedan chair’s arrival.”
As he finished speaking, the runner snuck a glance at Long Er’s expression, he noted that there was no visible change to his face, so mustering up the remnants of his courage, he soldiered on and added, “Old Father argued with them for a good half-day, and all of us came to help stop them from leaving. But the two matchmakers had come with a few manservants and labourers, they were not afraid of us at all, and they just would not return us those things. They even began to roughly push and shove at us, trying to get away. Old Father got very agitated at this and even took up a staff in his effort to stop them from leaving! The resulting chaos even reached Young Lady, and when she found out about the issue, she came out to reason with them. She said that even if they did succeed in taking the things with them, when the bridal sedan chair arrived she dared to wreck it. Hearing this, the matchmakers began to say some ugly things, and Old Father, the servants and those outsider manservants began to shove at each other again. Later on, when the altercation began to get a little out of hand, Old Father sent me to inform you Second Master.”
Long Er remained silent, and the runner turned to look at Mómo Yu, a little hapless as to what to say next.
Mómo Yu sighed, what could she say? She had lived to such a ripe old age and yet she truly had never heard of this sort of scandalous issue of accepting the wrong betrothal gifts...
None had anything to say, and very quickly they all arrived at the Ju Family’s Winery.
By now, there no longer were any people causing a ruckus outside the shop, merely two Long Residence bodyguards standing guard outside the big entrance. They soon caught sight of Long Er, and quickly greeted him by calling out “Second Master”.
With his hands behind his back, Long Er strode into the winery.
There were quite a few people in the hall of the winery, and all of them were on their feet. Two older women were dressed in red garments, with five manservants wearing blue robes standing in a corner, the ‘return-gifts’ that had been neatly wrapped with red cloth and red paper were still in their hands. Old Father Ju’s face was a mottled red colour, and together with another winery worker, they both had batons in their hands, with their eyes glued to those other people. Li Ke and another two guards were flanking the older women and others, forcing them into a corner. As for Ju Mu’er, she was standing next to Old Father Ju, tightly clasping her bamboo staff, with an equally unhappy expression.
The moment Long Er entered the hall, Li Ke and the other guards called out in unison, “Second Master.” For Old Father Ju, it was almost as if he knew his saviour had come, and he was so moved with relief that he nearly burst into tears, “Second Master, I accepted the wrong ones, but I did not let them leave! I’ve kept them here.”
Long Er nodded in reply, but his gaze was on Ju Mu’er.
The bandage around the injury on her head had disappeared, and her hair was free from any constraints. Obviously these women had arrived before she had risen, and the ruckus had disturbed her sleep. In her rush to come out, she had even forgone brushing her hair. Second Master walked over to her, and affectionately used his fingers to comb some of the wilder strands of her hair, asking, “Why did you come out like this?”
“Second Master.” Ju Mu’er softly called out to him, her tone was stricken with frustration and even a hint of begging.
Long Er did not respond to her, but turned to instruct Mómo Yu, “Mómo Yu, can I trouble you to escort her away from this, once she has properly prepared herself she can return. I’ll be here waiting.”
Mómo Yu agreed, and quickly hurried to assist Ju Mu’er in combing her hair.
Long Er turned back, and pulled over a chair. “Pa!” the sound of the chair being forcefully placed on the ground in front of the two matchmakers echoed through the air. Then, he calmly sat on the chair, turning his frigid gaze towards them.
The entire hall was filled with people standing, yet Long Er was the only one seated. Even though he was physically shorter than everyone, the aura he exuded was the most domineering. The two matchmakers had begun to freeze under his gaze, and after exchanging a glance, neither dared to speak.
Long Er was silent, and everyone else was silent too, the entire hall was eerily quiet. Actually, Old Father Ju was feeling a little weary by now, in his mind, now that Master Long Er was here, he ought to be able to put down his weapon...But taking a look at how no one else was moving, he also did not dare to move.
After a while, Mómo Yu escorted Ju Mu’er back out again. Her hair had been tended to, and she was now wearing an extra cotton-jacket, she also looked much more refreshed than before. Long Er watched as she slowly walked towards him, then he said, “Sit.”
Mómo Yu hastily shifted another chair for her, but surprisingly Ju Mu’er shook her head signalling her refusal to sit. Instead, she walked to the back of Long Er, and touched his shoulder. Long Er reached out a hand to hold her hands, and instantly noticed how cold her five fingers felt, his brow instinctively wrinkling at this information.
Long Er turned his head to look at Old Father Ju. Old Father Ju was extremely self-aware that he had caused all this trouble, and this one gaze from his future son-in-law made him feel immeasurably guilty.
Long Er merely said, “Old Father, sit down ba~”
Old Father Ju shot a glance at his daughter, his daughter was still standing thought, he had better remain standing too then. He shook his head, refusing to sit down, and Long Er did not waste any more time on him.
Now, Long Er directed his gaze to the two matchmakers, with his eyes boring into them, he uttered three words, “Hand them over.”
These three words were uttered extremely softly, but the frigid tone caused both matchmakers to shiver in response. They looked at each other, hesitating for a while, then, one of the two shakily placed a red paper envelope onto the table. The other waved her hand in the air, instructing the manservants to place the bride’s ‘return-gifts’ back onto the table too.
Old Father Ju instantly stepped forward and snatched the paper envelope. He opened it and earnestly checked its contents, then he said, “This is it! It’s the BaZi Card I prepared.” He looked at Long Er in awe, he hadn’t been able to get these things back with a rod in his hand, yet Second Master had gotten it done with a mere three words… Some people truly were different ah~
Long Er did not turn to look back at him, he was still watching the two matchmakers. However, he did reach out a hand in the direction of Old Father Ju, “What about theirs?”
“Ah?” Still in the throes of excitement, Old Father Ju could not process what he meant.
“Their betrothal letter and the marriage letter.”
“Oh oh!” Old Father Ju hurriedly fished them out and started to move towards the two matchmakers.
Long Er stopped him, saying, “Give them to me.”
Old Father Ju was a little dazed by this, but he obediently turned around and handed both the betrothal letter and marriage letter to Long Er.
Long Er opened them and carefully read through them. Character by character, he painstakingly read, until he came across the name “Yun Qingxian”, causing him to scoff. The sound of this made the matchmakers grow even more numb with fear.
Long Er lifted his eyes to look at them again, and softly asked, “Do you know who I am?”
The two matchmakers frantically nodded.
“Excellent.” Long Er casually stated, “This way, the two of you know who to report when you return.” As soon as he said this, he lifted up both pieces of paper together, then ferociously tore them to pieces, making sure to scatter the pieces right in front of the two matchmakers.
End of Chapter