Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
Qiao Jinniang advised Nuomi. “Don’t say those words again.”
Tomorrow was the Dragon Boat Festival, so the Duke Mansion held a family banquet today.
Qiao Jinniang finally saw her cousin brothers and cousin sisters.
Her second uncle and his family should have come to her welcoming banquet, but back then, her second aunt returned to her parental home to attend her mother’s birthday banquet, so they missed it.
And her third uncle whose mother was a concubine didn’t come to the banquet either.
Qiao Jinniang also saw her first younger brother, who would inherit the title of duke.
Her second uncle had four daughters. One of them was married to the Southwest. And the remaining three were Ruofeng, Ruowan and the youngest sister who was only seven or eight years old.
When the three saw Qiao Jinniang, they saluted. “Nice to meet you, Second Sister.”
Qiao Jinniang ordered Nuomi to give the gold locks that she had prepared a long time ago to the three younger sisters.
Her second aunt smiled and said, “How can they accept such a precious gift from you? It seems that the gift I prepared for you is too meager now.”
Qiao Jinniang had long received a gift from her second aunt, a red coral ornament, which was valuable and not as “meager” as she said.
She chuckled. “Second Aunt, if your gift is cheap, no gift can be called precious.”
Watching Qiao Jinniang and Second Aunt exchange pleasantries, Qiao Ruoshi snorted coldly in her heart.
There were three large tables in the hall to accommodate all these people.
Qiao Ruoyun had finally been able to get up from bed after a long period of recuperation, so she came to the banquet.
After learning what happened to her, Second Aunt angrily cursed the Qin Family.
The Duchess Dowager said, “It’s a big day today. Don’t talk about this.”
Third Aunt said, “Second Sister-in-law is right. But Ruoyun’s father-in-law is a duke after all, and the other girls of our family have reached marriageable age.
“I don’t think Ruoyun should divorce. Since that’s exactly what the Qin Family wants.”
The Duchess glanced at Third Aunt indifferently and said coldly, “Even Second Sister-in-law doesn’t care, why do you care? After all, you don’t have any daughters, right? The girls of our family are able to easily find good husbands.”
Third Aunt certainly didn’t dare to offend the Duchess, so she hurriedly complimented,”Yes, yes. Thanks to Ruoshui, we can taste such fresh and red bayberries. I only saw bayberry preserves before.
“If it weren’t for Ruoshui, how could we have eaten crabs during the Dragon Boat Festival?
“She is bound to have a bright future!”
The Duchess Dowager didn’t like the fake compliments from the Third Aunt. Somehow she felt it strange that the Crown Prince granted the bayberries and crabs to the Duke Mansion.
The seven girls of the Qiao Family were sitting at one table, and Qiao Ruoshui purposely had the bayberries and crabs placed at the most conspicuous place.
With Qiao Ruoshui generously asking them to taste them, the Eighth Miss reached out to get one, but Qiao Ruoshui knocked her hand away with chopsticks.
Qiao Ruoshui said arrogantly, “This is a reward from His Royal Highness. How can you just touch it with your hands… Do you know how difficult it is to get bayberries in Chang’an? How do you have the cheek to eat it?”
Seeing her sister being beaten, Ruowan taunted.
“It’s just due to the Little Imperial Grandson. Anyway, his mother is not dead, and you are just a substitute for his mother.
“When his mother comes back, you will only be thrown aside!”
Qiao Ruoshui said, “After I marry into the East Palace. I can give birth to my own son!”
Ruofeng said with a frown, “Fourth Sister, please be cautious with your words and deeds. This is not what an unmarried girl should say.
“Besides, even if you give birth to your own son, so what?
“What matters is whether the Crown Prince loves you or not. Can’t you see what happened to Prince Wise…”
“Qiao Ruofeng, shut up!” At this moment, Second Aunt came over and yelled, “You’re going to have your coming-of-age ceremony. How could you say that?”
Qiao Ruoshui was even more complacent seeing Ruofeng being scolded. Who in the Duke Mansion does not envy her now?
Only Qiao Ruoyun was whispering to Jinniang, “You told me about bayberries in the South some time ago, and I didn’t expect to see it today.
“Aren’t these your favorite fruit? If you want some, talk to Mother. His Royal Highness only said that it was a gift for the Duke Mansion and did not specify that it was for Qiao Ruoshui.”
Jinniang shook her head. “No need.”
She would choke if she ate the bayberries that jerk gave.
Looking at Qiao Ruoshui’s smug face, however, Jinniang thought, if Qiao Ruoshui found out about the truth…
The sisterhood between her and Qiao Ruoshui would be completely severed.
But she didn’t want to tell the truth now.
After the banquet, Second Aunt came to the Duchess and said,
“Are you selecting a fiancé for Jinniang? I have a good candidate in mind.
“It’s the third son of my sister. My brother-in-law will be transferred back to the capital in a few days. Although he is only a member of the Imperial Academy, he has a promising future.
“Most importantly, their family tradition is very good, and the men in their family are not allowed to take concubines unless their wives don’t give birth to a son when they are forty. He is a good choice for Jinniang.”
The Duchess was a little tempted. Firstly, the man was Second Aunt’s nephew, and secondly, they could know the man through and through.
Second Aunt smiled and said, “My nephew will participate in the Imperial Examination this year, although he is only in his early twenties.
“My sister has already arrived in Chang’an. If you think it is suitable, I will talk to my sister tomorrow.”
The Duchess waved the maids to leave and said, “We’ve been sisters-in-law for more than ten years. To tell you the truth, Jinniang was actually married when she was in the South and had a son.”
Second Aunt was surprised. “Huh? Where are her husband and children?”
The Duchess said bitterly, “My girl is unfortunate. Her husband is a scum. He divorced Jinniang and took her son. That’s why I’m only picking among the young scholars whose families are not rich.
“Go ask your sister. If she can accept it, Jinniang’s father and I will definitely support her son as much as we can.
“If she can’t accept it, it doesn’t matter. If your nephew is a talented young man, Jinniang’s father will still help him.”
Second Aunt thought for a while and said, “I will go to discuss this with my sister tomorrow. Alas, poor Jinniang…
“I’m afraid that my sister will mind it.”
“It’s okay if she can’t accept it.”
The Duchess didn’t want to force anyone to marry Jinniang because that would only harm Jinniang.
The next day was the Dragon Boat Festival. Qiao Jinniang woke up early because she could see Tuan’er today.
She knitted Tuan’er a bracelet with colorful ropes and asked Nuomi to fetch realgar wine.
Before the Dragon Boat Race of the Dragon Boat Festival began, she went to Duke Rong’s Mansion early.
After waiting for half an hour, Lu Chen finally came over with Tuan’er.
Qiao Jinniang stepped forward, put the bracelet on Tuan’er’s wrist, and dipped her finger with realgar wine and wrote the “King” character on Tuan’er’s forehead.
Lu Chen lowered his head to look at Qiao Jinniang and said, “Do the crabs and bayberries yesterday taste good?”
Qiao Jinniang said, “I didn’t dare to eat them because I was afraid of being poisoned.”
Lu Chen put down Tuan’er and chuckled. “You little ingrate, do you know how much effort it took me to transport the bayberries here for you?”
Nuomi laughed on the side and said, “Miss, just like I guessed, the bayberries and crabs are for you, but Madam and His Excellency thought it was for the Fourth Miss and gave them all to her. You didn’t even get any.”
When Lu Chen heard Nuomi’s words, he stared at Qiao Jinniang. “Up till now, haven’t you told Duke Anyuan and his wife about our real relationship yet?”
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