Chapter 626 - Engagement

However, once ‘Buddha Jumps over the Wall’ was served to the table, He Wanning immediately forgot the words she had just said when the dense, mesmerizing aroma of the dish hit her nostrils. She couldn’t restrain herself and completely ignored her protesting, full stomach and rushed to grab a bowl to start stuffing herself with the fragrant stew.

As she ate, this lass continued to compliment the dish without end. She stated that she had never eaten something as delicious as this. The other young maidens around them all nodded their heads in agreement with their cheeks stuffed full of food. He Wanning even complained endlessly, grumbling that Xiaocao had such culinary talent but had only shown it off today. Clearly, she had slighted the other girl as He Wanning had to wait this long in order to eat such delicious food. In the end, the remaining food left in the ceramic bowl had been unceremoniously partitioned out to her.

Xiaocao was truly afraid that her good friends would end up with stomach aches after eating this much. Thus, when the digestive soup was passed around, she hurriedly added a few drops of mystic-stone water to the pot. She personally served a bowl to all of her friends and made sure that all of them drank it. By the time they said their farewells, her friends had recovered to their normal state and were no longer holding their stomachs and crying out in pain.

This banquet had truly given a lot of face to both Imperial Prince Jing and Princess Consort Jing. Everyone told them that this was the best feast they had ever been at. There were even some people who surreptitiously asked Yu Hai and his wife whether the ‘Yu’s Line of Business’ planned on opening up a restaurant in the future.

Yu Hai had been prepared by his youngest daughter and vaguely let out the news that the Yu Family was planning on opening up a medicinal cuisine restaurant. In fact, ‘Buddha Jumps Over the Wall’ was going to be the main attraction there. Some of the guests were quite surprised by this and asked, “This dish is incredibly delicious but it’s actually a type of medicinal cuisine?”

Yu Hai described the effects of Buddha Jumps Over the Wall. It could make a person blossom with their innate beauty, stymie the inevitable aging journey, increase immunity, and had an overall energizing benefit. He described all of these effects to the people around him. Everyone’s interest in medicinal cuisine had immediately increased by a notch. It was a dish that not only could benefit one’s body but it also satisfied a person’s craving for delicious food. Clearly, this was something to look forward to.

Although the medicinal cuisine restaurant had not been established yet, its reputation had already been quietly disseminated throughout the capital. The dish ‘Buddha Jumps Over the Wall’ had also been discussed enthusiastically by all of the officials who had attended Imperial Prince Jing’s banquet in a bragging manner. Those who hadn’t been fortunate enough to receive an invitation were now incredibly curious and looked forward to the day when the medicinal cuisine building would open. Even if they had to tighten their money belts, they still had to try the dish that has been praised to the skies by other people, ‘Buddha Jumps Over the Wall’. 

Xiaocao pasted on a smile and dealt with another batch of young noble maidens whom she was unfamiliar with. After sending them off, Xiaocao rubbed at her face. Just when did her relationships with other people become so good? Why did all of these noble maidens in the capital, who usually didn’t even deign to nod their heads at her, sidle over to speak with her? Furthermore, they always directed the conversation towards the speculative ‘Medicinal Cuisine House’. 

The high-ranking officials and their wives were all quite in touch with the capital’s gossip. In only a few days, the rumors that the Yu Family’s Business was planning on opening a medicinal cuisine restaurant had pretty much been transmitted to every corner of the capital. Even the dish, ‘Buddha Jumps Over the Wall’, had become blazingly popular. Those who had tried it bragged that this was a dish that ‘was something that could only be found in the Heavens, and was a rarity in the mundane world’. 

Well! At least that saved her the trouble of racking her brain to come up with a method to advertise this new business. The location of the Medicinal Cuisine House has already been decided; it was going to be located at one of Princess Consort Jing’s dowry shops. The building was situated on the west side of the capital, which was a wealthy district and was also quite close to the imperial princes’ estates and the imperial palace. The shop itself had seven interconnected rooms on each floor and had three floors in total. Thus, it had the ideal layout for a restaurant-based business.

In order to avoid Xiaocao becoming uneasy at getting this building, Princess Consort Jing had prepared early and had already transferred the deed to this building to her youngest son’s name. Furthermore, she stated that this was to be a betrothal gift to the Yu Family. When the Imperial Prince Jing’s heir’s wife had married over, she had been given a few more shops and stores than this. However, the stores that she was given were in slightly worse locations than this one. Both of them were daughters-in-law, so they had to avoid these betrothal gifts causing friction between the two later. Thus, Princess Consort Jing did her best to make things as equal as possible. She still had some dowry shops left in her hand and those would be used in the future when her second son got married as betrothal gifts.

As Xiaocao got closer and closer to opening up Medicinal Cuisine House, Zhu Junyang also helped her quite a bit from the background by providing the materials and manpower needed to renovate the building. Furthermore, the day where the two of them were to be engaged also got closer. Zhu Junyang excitedly counted down the days to that date.

In ancient times, the people followed the customs of ‘three matchmakers and six rites’ and the ‘three letters and six rites’. Imperial Prince Jing had originally invited one of his uncles, who was a person of high repute and virtue, to become the matchmaker on the men’s side. However, once the emperor found out through Chief Steward Su that Royal Prince Yang and Xiaocao were going to get engaged, he insisted on stepping in as the male matchmaker with the excuse that the two of them were both important officials under him.

As for the matchmaker on the female’s side, that had already been arranged a long time ago. The person selected was Little Shitou’s, Yu Fan’s, beloved teacher, the most brilliant and famous scholar of the Great Ming Dynasty, Yuan Sinian. It must be stated that Headmaster Yuan was a giant in the eyes of scholars and had legendary status. The fact that they were able to have him become her matchmaker was a very illustrious and grand honor! 

For the ‘three matchmakers’, the male and female side had all been selected, and both of them were important people. Thus, the middle matchmaker couldn’t be someone of no repute. The two families were pondering this problem as they needed to find an appropriate person to bridge between the two matchmakers. At this time, the emperor emeritus, who had just come back from his travels in the southern part of the country, found out that the lass Xiaocao was going to become engaged with his darling grandson. He didn’t even take the time to rest a bit before he came up and insisted on becoming the middle matchmaker between the two.  

Did he actually know how to become a middle matchmaker to bridge between the two families? If you asked him that question, he would immediately glare at you with his large eyes and state in matter of fact manner, “Absolutely not!” That wasn’t surprising. After all, when the emperor emeritus was the emperor, he didn’t need to bridge things between two families at all. Instead, he just bestowed marriages as he liked. After he retired from his position, he spent all of his time traveling around the country, tasting the delicacies of the empire. When would he have the time to act as a matchmaker then? Furthermore, who would have the guts and face to ask the emperor emeritus to act as matchmaker for them?

Then what should he do if he didn't know how? Just wing it! In any case, that stinky grandson of his and the little lass already had an affinity for each other. Thus, the matchmakers in the marriage were only for show. That being said, it didn’t matter if he didn’t know the correct rituals, that was what his subordinates were for! For this matter, Chief Steward Su Ran had especially instructed his subordinates to gather all of the information and materials needed for the emperor emeritus. Once that was done, they created a special ‘cheat sheet’ for the emperor emeritus to refer to on the prospective day.

All in all, when the news came out about the ‘three matchmakers’ that Imperial Prince Jing’s Household and the Yu Family had chosen, it completely stunned all of the nobles and officials in the capital. Once again, Xiaocao had become the jealous target of all of the other maidens there. She was the first person who was able to invite such illustrious personages, the emperor, emperor emeritus, and Great Scholar Yuan, as her matchmakers. In the future, it would be hard for anyone else to top that! 

Naturally, her close friends were a bit envious but all of them were happy for their younger sister. This level of ostentation truly showed how much the male side valued the female side. So what did it matter that her background was lowly? Did it matter that her identity didn't match his? Clearly, she was favored by the heavens as she was able to find such an ideal match within the imperial family. Furthermore, she was also someone highly regarded by the emperor. The most important thing was that Royal Prince Yang truly liked that little sprout from the Yu Family, and had chosen illustrious matchmakers to show his pleasure.  

When the calculated date of auspiciousness finally arrived, Zhu Junyang set out in high spirits. He was dressed in a dark maroon brocade robe and his hair had been combed into a shiny style. On his left was his middle matchmaker, his imperial grandfather, and on his right was his lord father, Imperial Prince Jing. With them were all of the betrothal gifts that had lucky and fortuitous meanings. They waited outside the Yu Residence for the start of the formal proceedings.

This was the first rite of the ‘three letters and six rites’——the formal proposal. The male side was inquiring as to whether the female side agreed to this marriage. Thus, they first had the matchmakers enter the female side’s residence to send them betrothal gifts. After they obtained the agreement from the female side, then they would have the matchmaker conduct the formal ‘betrothal and exchanging of gifts’ between the two families.

The presents that Imperial Prince Jing’s Estate had brought over were all displayed in the main reception hall. The gifts included all sorts of expensive and valuable silk bolts, gold and silver, jewelry, and a few dozen boxes of expensive pastries. The most conspicuous and eye-catching gift was a pair of live geese. They had just passed the first month of the year, so all of the geese should have flown off to the south already to spend the winter months in a warm climate. Thus, it was incredibly hard to find any live large geese in the capital area, which was far up north.

It must be mentioned that Zhu Junyang had long started to prepare for his engagement day. Thus, last year at the start of fall, he had gone out and caught a few pairs of live geese. These geese were all sent to the farmstead in the suburbs to be raised. Fortunately, all of the wells at the farmstead had been transformed by Xiaocao to contain mystic-stone water. Otherwise, these geese might have frozen to death while staying there.

The type and amount of betrothal gifts sent over by the male’s side was considered quite lavish by the capital’s standards. All of the fine fabrics were tribute goods sent into the imperial palace. They had even given the female side a dozen or so bolts of the most rare and expensive ‘floating clouds’ cloth. The jewelry, as expected, were all top-notch pieces whether it was the craftsmanship or the materials used. Among them included gems that Zhu Junyang had brought over from the western hemisphere. There were rubies, sapphires, cat’s eye gems, and colored diamonds. The jewels filled up more than a dozen boxes and the glitter from them was enough to blind a person. 

No one in the Yu Family paid much attention to the betrothal gifts. After all, there were three great personages currently at the Yu Residence and it made Yu Hai, Yu Hang, and all of the other members there a bit uneasy and unsure of what they should do. Whether it was the emperor, emperor emeritus, or an imperial prince, all of them were people that they needed to kowtow three times to. However, these people were all here with gentle smiles on their face while greeting them in a casual manner. It made them feel quite tense as they had no idea what to expect.

When Zhu Junfan saw this, he hurriedly stated, “Today we can do away with the customs between a ruler and his subjects. It is a day for celebrating a relationship. You all are the family members of the female side. If there are any requests to be had, please tell us immediately. After all, you spent over a dozen years raising your daughter and letting all that work benefit another is a shame…”

Imperial Prince Jing glanced over briefly at him——Your Imperial Majesty, just who’s side are you on anyway?

Although the emperor said it that way, these three great personages were still right there. How could the Yu Family possibly open their mouths at this point? Fortunately, Headmaster Yuan and Fang Zizhen were both there as their backing, so that allowed the awkward atmosphere in the room to dissipate a little.

As the matchmaker that was here to bridge the two families, the emperor emeritus picked up a pastry from the table in a nonchalant manner and stuffed it into his face. He noisily ate it in one bite and nodded his head repeatedly, “That’s the taste of good stuff ah! Although this lord isn’t super fond of these sweet treats that women like, it’s been decades since I’ve had any and I’ve missed them a bit. Hey you...Little Shitou, is there any coffee here ah? Get me a cup, no milk and only a touch of sugar!”

‘My dear father ah, just what are you doing here today ah? Do you really think you’re here to drink some afternoon tea ah? Asking for coffee and desserts?’ Imperial Prince Jing suddenly felt quite exhausted inwardly. Neither the elder nor the junior were here to help him. Instead, they only seemed to be making him look bad!

Coffee? Little Shitou made a noise in assent and headed towards the inner courtyard with his head full of confusion. He needed to find his second sister to save this situation. Because drinking coffee could affect the growth rate of young children, Xiaocao also didn’t really like to drink any. Thus, no one in the family knew that this stuff existed. Zhu Junyang, on the other hand, had realized the benefits of consuming this beverage, so when he was busy he’d have Xiaocao send him a cup now and then. 

When Xiaocao heard this request, she didn’t say anything as she took out the coffee that had been finely ground into a powder. She mixed an appropriate amount of powder with some cold water and then heated it up in a porcelain pot on top of a small fire. Brewing coffee required fine control over the amount of heat, but that wasn’t something that was considered to be difficult to Yu Xiaocao. Two minutes later, once the oils came out and the liquid began to foam, she took it out of the charcoal heat and placed it on a smaller flame to simmer for a few minutes. Finally, she took it off of the heat for half a minute and then filtered out the coffee. After adding a bit of powdered sugar to the coffee, she ordered one of the servants to bring it out.

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Myst.2's Thoughts

Sanguine’s thoughts: Haha, poor Imperial Prince Jing.

Translator: Sanguine