Madam Liu glared at her and snorted as she remarked in a sour tone, “What’s that ah? Do you think that the shops from your parents aren’t worth much and not up to standard? Mother knows that compared to your businesses, which bring in gold every day, we can’t compare! You’re capable now, like a fully fledged bird, and can make your own money, so that’s why you're looking down on what we prepared for your dowry ah…”
As she spoke, she felt a feeling of sorrow enter her heart and her eyes turned red. Madam Liu turned around and showed her back to everyone. When she saw that her mother was truly upset, Xiaocao immediately panicked and hurried over. She apologized regretfully, acted spoiled and acted cute before she finally finished comforting her mother. Madam Liu loved this youngest daughter of hers a lot. Thus, on the night before her wedding, she felt quite sad and tried to use other methods to hide her true feelings.
She remembered back to the day when her youngest daughter was born. She was so small and thin, and could only let out a tiny noise like a small kitten. In her childhood, her youngest daughter was extremely weak and often fell ill. There were a few times when she almost passed away. The whole family did all they could to withstand Madam Zhang’s pressure to preserve her little life. In the blink of an eye, that frail medicine pot had matured into a slender and elegant young maiden who was free-spirited, optimistic, and extremely competent...however, this young maiden, who everyone in the family spoiled and loved, was about to become someone else’s wife the day after tomorrow. As her mother, how could she not feel at a loss or sad?
Her youngest daughter had done so much for her family. Before she got married, as her mother, she wanted to do something for her and add more dowry. However, her daughter wasn't grateful and always attempted to push stuff away so that she could leave it to her eldest and youngest brothers. Such a sensible and sweet daughter was about to get married, boo hoo hoo hooo...just thinking about it made her feel sad, ‘Darling daughter, I wasn’t getting angry at you, I just don’t know how to control myself!’
Lady Fang watched the mother and daughter pair worry over the dowry issue. She came up with an idea, “In any case, we love our daughter and we’re doing this out of love not because we need to show off. How about this? We’ll still go with a hundred and twenty-eight chests of dowry. Everything that was given to us today will be added. As for the stuff that gets displaced, we can secretly send it to the estate after the formal presentation of the dowry. We can also prepare two lists; one will be for the formal presentation while the other one will be the true dowry.”
Madam Liu was very satisfied with this solution and repeatedly nodded her head, “Older Sister Xia, thank you for coming up with such a good idea. I’m going to rearrange the dowry again. Shitou, come with me as I need you, the future first place examinee of the imperial service examinations, to transcribe the dowry list for me!”
Wow! He had worked on his exam for nine days straight and didn’t even get a chance to take a sip of water before he began to help his father and eldest brother take care of the guests. Now, at night, Little Shitou was still being put to work. However, for the sake of his second older sister’s dowry matter, he didn’t say a single peep and got up to follow his mother.
The next day was the day to send and present the dowry. A full a hundred and twenty-eight chests of dowry were all displayed on red platforms with servants dressed completely in festive red carrying them along. The red platforms were also decorated with crimson red silk flowers. Drummers and flute players merrily played in the front as the dowry train followed them from behind as they left the Yu Residence.
At the front were all sorts of official caps: ones made of sable fur and fox fur, hats decorated with dragons, hats made of velvet that were embedded with precious pearls...all in all, the court hats took up twelve chests.
Then there was the jewelry. There was jewelry shaped into flowers, phoenix shaped jewelry inlaid with green jade, gold and silver hairpins crafted into auspicious shapes, hairpins carved into longevity shapes, silver jewelry shaped into the character for ‘double happiness’, silver jewelry shaped into ‘as one wishes’, peony shaped jewelry, Chinese flowering crab-apple shaped jewelry...it was enough to dazzle a person’s eyes.
In terms of ornaments, there were four crafted of jadeite, four crafted from white jade, and four crafted of green jade.
There were ten sets of hairpins. There was a pair of long pure gold hairpins decorated with delicate threads of gold, a pair of pure gold hairpins engraved in the shape of waves, a pair of pure gold hairpins that were enameled, a pair of jadeite hairpins, a pair of white jade hairpins, a pair of hairpins made of white jade inlaid with gems, a pair of blueish-green hairpins shaped into longevity symbols, a pair of hairpins shaped into ‘double happiness’ and ‘as one wishes’ characters…
Then there were the bracelets: a pair of pure gold bracelets that were engraved, a pair of pure gold bracelets that were inlaid with jewels, a pair of pure gold bracelets decorated with golden threads, a pair of pure gold bracelets enameled with blue-green coloring, a pair of round white jade bracelets, a pair of white jade bracelets carved with flowers, a pair of round jadeite bracelets, a pair of jadeite bracelets carved with flowers…
Then there were the smaller beaded hairpins, hair clips, dangling hair ornaments. In addition, there were all sorts of earrings, jade pendants, rings, nail covers, hair decorations and other miscellaneous goods...all was in great abundance. Each jewelry type had a lot of different varieties present and they were all done in pairs or in even numbers. The jewelry in her dowry had ended up taking up twenty chests of space.
In her dowry, there naturally wouldn’t be a lack of clothing materials. There was mink furs, yuan fox  furs, red fox furs, snow fox furs, woven silk with fox fur, woven silk with weasel fur, and all sorts of damasks and silk fabrics. In fact, many of these fabrics had never been seen before and were made of materials no one had heard of before. The vast majority of clothing that she brought along was from Exquisite Garments and Modiste Jiang herself had made twelve of them. All of the young maidens and noble matrons were extremely envious when they saw this.
Furthermore, she had two tiger pelts, six silver fox pelts, six otter pelts, six black fox pelts, six wolf pelts, a black giant squirrel pelt, a sable pelt, and about two hundred bolts of a variety of highest quality silks. Then there were two hundred colorful satin bolts, two hundred flower brocade bolts, two hundred silk damask bolts, two hundred and twelve cloud brocade bolts, and two hundred and twelve Sichuan brocade bolts. Then she had a hundred and twelve bolts of silk scarves, a hundred and twelve bolts of velvet woolens, two hundred palace silk bolts, two hundred palace satin bolts, two hundred palace cotton bolts, and four hundred bolts of cloud satins. Then there was python satin, shantung satin, gold brocade, cicada's wing muslin, soft smoke gauze, pomegranate damask, etc. As for the embroidered pouches, the dowry contained four hundred of them. All of the cloth and pouches were packed into ten chests.
As for the furniture and decorations, any one of them was enough to shock a person. There was a pair of standing screens that were carved out of red sandalwood and inlaid with foreign glass, a pair of red sandalwood foot stools, twenty small boxes that were carved out of red sandalwood, twenty chests made of red sandalwood, a pair of large armoires made of carved red sandalwood, an intricately carved bed frame made of red sandalwood...a carved four-poster bed made of fragrant rosewood, an enclosed bed frame with a circular framed door that was carved out of fragrant rosewood, a set of carved fragrant rosewood screens inlaid with glass and a matching bed frame…
In addition, there were all sorts of curios, brush paintings, decorations, articles for daily use, and medicinal ingredients in the dowry. These items filled another few dozen chests. The most eye-catching chests were the ones containing the deeds for the estates and shops: over a hundred thousand mu in farmland, more than a dozen shops, and six residences. The residences included four three-courtyard estates and two five-courtyard estates. Then there were six farmsteads and two farmsteads next to hot springs...the properties that were worth the most money were the businesses under Xiaocao’s name: the pharmaceutical factory, the brewery and winery, the medicinal and flower teas factory, the canned goods and candied fruits workshop, the desserts shop, the medicinal cuisine shop, and ‘Blossoming Beauty’...
This was absolutely the most extravagant dowry that had ever been seen in the Great Ming Dynasty. The Yu Residence wasn’t very far from Imperial Prince Xu’s estate, but they deliberately made the dowry train take a roundabout route. The entire procession went along the western side of the city before circling back. Even after they did this, by the time the dowry first entered the prince’s estate, there were still more chests within the Yu Residence that hadn’t been carried out. This amount of dowry had long surpassed the record from when Imperial Prince Jing married off his daughter ten years ago and was now the new record for the most extravagant dowry.
For decades after, whenever people in the capital saw a dowry procession, they couldn't help but think of what happened when Princess Consort Xu got married and the grandiose dowry procession she had. Five kilometers of dowry was no longer enough to describe this occasion. Some people were incredibly envious of the Yu Family for having so much wealth to create such a dowry and being willing to part with so much. Others sourly remarked that the Yu Family was trying to make themselves look important in order to ingratiate themselves with their great patron, Imperial Prince Xu. How could these people understand that everyone in the Yu Family dearly loved this daughter of theirs and were reluctant to part with her?
After all of the dowry arrived at Imperial Prince Xu’s estate, the entire inner courtyard and front courtyard had been stuffed full with chests. The people who had come over earlier to watch the dowry procession arrive were the friends and family of Imperial Prince Jing and Xu. Naturally, their statuses and positions were quite high and they had seen quite a lot of grandiose and extravagant processions in their lives. However, when they saw this whopping dowry, they couldn’t help but become speechless either.
Zhu Junyang’s good friend made fun of him despite the risk of retaliation, “Looks you picked up a treasure here! You need to treat your future wife well. Look at how much her family loves her. If you treat her poorly, her family will definitely do all they can to get back at you ah!”
“Stop being such a wet blanket! How could he possibly be willing to treat his wife poorly? Haven't you seen how he acts around Royal Princess Jinan and how he treats her like the most precious treasure in the world? You only see this massive dowry in front of you but you didn’t see how he gave up pretty much half of his assets as a betrothal gift. If he could have, he would have wrapped himself up and sent himself to Royal Princess Jinan!” The person who replied was that fellow Lu Hao. He had seen with his own eyes just how much of a slave Zhu Junyang was for Xiaocao.
No matter how much his good friends poked fun at him, Zhu Junyang continued to keep a giant smile on his face, like a simpleton. The silly look of pure happiness on his face had truly given the people around him a whole new image. Apparently, the ‘cold-faced prince’ could also become a soft and tender gentleman ah! Royal Princess Jinan was truly very skilled to tame such a calamitous demon as Zhu Junyang!
Zhu Junyang looked at the chests of dowry but his mind was on one particular fact alone: Tomorrow, the lass would truly be considered his and his alone. His heart filled with glee. Custom dictated that the bride and groom should not see each other the three days before marriage. He had been thinking about her constantly during this time, tormenting himself. He just needed to be patient for one more day and then he could completely celebrate being hers alone! His wife, his princess consort, the person who he was going to grow old together…
On the night before the wedding, Madam Liu slept in the same room as her daughter and spoke a lot. She reminisced about their past memories, instructed her daughter on how to become a good wife and daughter-in-law, and obscurely went over the event that was going to happen on the wedding night. People in the ancient times tended to be quite conservative. Thus, Madam Liu only told her daughter to go along with her husband and to not allow him to harm herself too much!
As a modern woman who had lived for almost thirty years, Yu Xiaocao had read quite a few descriptive novels and seen some mature comics. Although she had still been an unmarried woman on that day she had her accident, she wasn’t unfamiliar with the relations between a man and a woman. If she was truly a well-bred young lady in these ancient times, judging by what Madam Liu had sketched out, she would have been completely clueless of what was to come.
The two of them finally fell asleep at a late time that night. Before the sky turned bright, Xiaocao was woken up unceremoniously. She was stuffed into a bathtub and was washed clean in a groggy stupor. After getting some sweet smelling lotion rubbed into her entire body, she was pushed into the chair at her dressing table. The complete fortune matron, who they had invited over, began using a cotton thread to clean up her face.
The complete fortune matron repeatedly praised Xiaocao when she saw her fair and tender face, which was as flawless as a chicken egg, “Look at this skin that is as beautiful as porcelain. I can’t even find a single hair. This old one has helped many noble ladies clean up but this is the first one I’ve seen such a tender face!”
As she spoke, she only symbolically went a few passes across Xiaocao’s face with the thread and then picked up the duck egg powder. She spread on a thick layer of powder and then colored Xiaocao’s lips a bright red. Following that, she colored in her eyebrows a deep black. In the end, Xiaocao resembled a geisha from a certain island country and everyone was underwhelmed by her finished makeup. Even Xiaocao’s personal maidservants couldn’t stand it——was this called makeup ah? Obviously it was clown makeup instead ah! Wutong, Yingchun, and the other maidservants all wanted to speak up but were afraid to do so.
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Sanguine’s thoughts: Too many names of stuff that have no real English equivalent in this chapter.