The Wife is First

By Lu Ye Qian He,绿野千鹤

The Wife is First Chapter 6

The Wife is First Chapter 6

Translated & Edited by Amaryllideae

“Ge-ge!” The closer he got to the tea hall, the more excited he got, and his footsteps couldn't help but speed up. He hadn't even entered the room and had already called to the person.

Jing Chen put down the tea cup in his hand, and wrinkled his brow slightly. Seeing Jing Shao who was hurriedly walking in he couldn't help but scold: “You are already married now and still so impatient, you shouldn't be like this!”

  

Jing Shao repressed his natural disposition and stopped, then shook his head and as he forced a smile. Ever since he was small he was used to being reprimanded by his brother, and once he heard him begin scolding, all he wanted to do was run. But now as he heard the sentence "you shouldn't be like this", there was an incomparable sense of familiarity, and he only hoped that his brother would from now on reprimand him for a long time. He walked in casually, and seeing his brother furrowing his brow staring at him, he couldn't help but smile and go over to pay respects to his elder brother and sister-in-law.

  

“Shu-shu*,” his sister-in-law Consort Xiao who was sitting next to him rose and returned the greeting. Seeing that Jing Chen was still cold-faced and not speaking, she smiled and said, “Originally we weren't supposed to come. However, hearing that younger brother was unwell and not seeing you go to your office, your brother was not at ease, so he brought me here with him.” In ordinary people's families, they went over to their parents, brothers and sister-in-laws to pay respect in the morning, and in the afternoon they would visit their parents-in-law, so although them coming this time was somewhat unexpected, it was still acceptable.

[T/N: Shu-shu usually means uncle but it is also used to address your husband's younger brother.]

  

Jing Shao naturally understood the reason behind it. Hearing his sister-in-law say this, he raised his head and looked at his brother whose brow was still wrinkled. It suddenly felt warm in his heart. During his last life, he was really blind, thinking that his brother wrinkling his brow at him everyday was him thinking he (Jing Shao) was an eyesore, yet not knowing that this person was doing so much for him in places he was not aware of.

  

“Brother…” Jing Shao slowly walked in front of his elder brother and opened his mouth, yet only that one word came out.

  

Jing Shao stared blankly. Astonished, he raised his head to look at him. Since their Imperial Father had decreed for him to marry the second son of Marquis Bei Wei, this younger brother whom he had loved and protected ever since he was a child would not call him “brother” again. When meeting each other he would only call out “Second Imperial Prince” making his heart ache. Today, he didn't have any hopes that he (Jing Shao) would come visit him, but he did not expect the stewards of the prince's manor to personally come and apologize (for shirking previously), allowing him to raise some hope in his heart. After waiting until noon had passed, and seeing that he had still not come, he couldn't sit still and went over himself. He didn't expect that there would be such a pleasant surprise.

  

Seeing that the two brothers seemed to have words to say to each other, Consort Xiao smiled as she got up and said: “I will go see your Wang Fei.”

“Sao-zi… Jun Qing has not gotten up yet, you and Ge-ge wait here for just a moment, I will go call him to come out.” Jing Shao quickly blocked Consort Xiao.

“Oh, look at me, I'm all muddled!” Consort Xiao blanked for a second, then annoyedly wrung the handkerchief in her hands, so embarrassed that her face turned crimson. His Wang Fei is a man. Although she is his sister-in-law, he is still a man and she couldn't just go visit his bedside. But his elder brother could go into the bedroom to visit his sister-in-law*.

  

Jing Chen glanced thoughtfully at his wife, got up and said to Jing Shao: “Younger brother's consort* is sick, don’t make him suffer. I will go with you to see.”

[T/N: The words used were "弟胥". I think it's probably an archaic form used to address someone of MHZ's rank, which is JC's younger brother's official consort/wife. Thus I use the terms sister-in-law and "younger brother's consort".]

Duofu who was on the side heard this, and quietly called the little servant girl to run fast and go inform the Wang Fei.

  

When Jing Shao took his brother into the bedroom of the east wing, he saw Mu Hanzhang wearing an outer garment, leaning on a soft divan* in the outer room, covered with a thin blanket. The outer garment was loose and had a soft texture. At first glance, one could tell it was something for wearing at home. Although it was not very formal, the way the clothing was tied was very neat and proper, and seeing that the person in question was sick, it was also not considered lacking in manners.

[T/N: Something like this, you see it in those ancient dynasty C-Dramas a lot~]

Looking at this situation, Jing Chen nodded to himself and stopped Mu Hanzhang's action of getting up to greet: “How come on the second day of being newly married you are already sick?” Jing Chen looked at his younger brother; today when he heard that Cheng Wang's wife was ill, his first reaction was wondering what must have happened when visiting the court in the morning.

  

“This…” Jing Shao coughed lightly, rubbed his nose, no matter how thick one's skin was, under his brother's gaze he would still blush a little.

Mu Hanzhang looked at the embarrassed Jing Shao, slightly curved his mouth and said: “Elder Brother Prince does not have to worry, I just caught a little cold and had a bit of a fever, drinking some medicine has helped bring it down.”

“En, right, Marquis Bei Wei's family is too stingy, the wedding dress made is so thin.” Jing Hao busily went along with it, yet trying to cover it up only made it more conspicuous, and Mu Hanzhang could not help but roll his eyes.

 

Jing Chen looked at his younger brother and sighed: “You go to the study with me, I have some words to say to you.”

Jing Shao hung his head dejectedly and was dragged away, but before he was completely out the door, he turned back and made a pitiful expression toward Mu Hanzhang.

“Haha…” Mu Hanzhang was amused by his appearance. He didn't know that such a normally taciturn and grave person would in front of his own brother actually turn into a small child, and he couldn’t help but laugh out. The elegant as a lily magnolia* nobleman suddenly revealed a vibrant smile, creating a bright countenance that could indescribably move someone.

[T/N: Lily magnolia]

Jing Shao seeing him smile, and smiling so beautifully, contentedly followed his brother into the study room to be admonished.

  

“This one wishes sister-in-law good-health.” Consort Xiao looked at the full of greetings Song Lingxin, and couldn't help but wrinkle her brow. This person was Jing Shao's Secondary Wife. She had already crossed the threshold two years ago. By rights she was allowed to call her Sao-zi,but now the Wang Fei had already crossed the threshold, yet this Madam Song still appeared in the tea room like she was the mistress, dressed in a water-pink embroidered gauze dress, wearing a beaded golden phoenix hairpin, so ostentatiously!

“How come you have come?” Consort Xiao was still nervous about that glare the Second Prince had given her. Now, seeing this kind of Song Lingxin made her feel even more agitated, and without much politeness she just directly asked that.

“Wang Ye and his Highness the Second Prince have something to talk about, and this servant thought that Sao-zi drinking tea all alone must be boring, so I prepared some tea and refreshments in the small reception pavillion, especially to invite Sao-zi to go and taste.” Song Lingxin said this cleverly, deliberately using ambiguous words to imply that Jing Shao had instructed her to do this.

  

Consort Xiao thought about it. This Wang Fei was a man and couldn't entertain her, having a Secondary Wife accompany her to drink tea was also not inappropriate; moreover those two brothers had been gone for this long and were still not back, they definitely had some big political event to discuss, so she rose and followed Concubine Song to the west courtyard.

  

“Young master, this slave heard that the Second Prince's wife went with the Secondary Wife to the small reception pavilion to drink tea.” Lan Ting replenished Mu Hanzhang's tea and whispered to him.

“Oh?” Mu Hanzhang, who reclining on the divan, looked up from his book, and with some mirth glanced at the nervous little girl. “Where did you hear this from?” Lan Ting's character was quite quick-witted, just young, the time following him was also short, so she couldn't help but be a little timid. Today, she actually took the initiative to try to find out some news, naturally he had to encourage her a little.

   

"When I went to the tea room to replenish the water, I heard Sister Meng Xi say it." Lan Ting bit her lip and her face was quite angry. The tone of Meng Xi was clearly praising the Secondary Wife, yet towards this young master gave a cold shoulder as if reveling in schadenfreude.

Mu Hanzhang nodded: “You did well.” Then he immediately moved his eyes back to the book.

  

“Young Master,” Lan Ting was very dissatisfied with her young master’s uncaring attitude. “You don’t even know what Meng Xi said.”

Mu Hanzhang looked up grudgingly, his tone serene: “She must have said that 'the Wang Fei has just gotten married and on the second day he was already suppressed by the Secondary Wife, in the future she doesn't know who she should listen to', right?"

Lan Ting was surprised and her eyes were wide open: “Young master, how did you know?”

Mu Hanzhang shook his head and smiled. This foolish girl, everything was written on her face, even if he didn't want to know it would be hard not to tell.

  

“Reporting to Wang Fei, Wang Ye had me tell you that he will be having dinner with his Highness the Second Prince, so you don’t have to wait for him.” Zhi Xi came in and delivered the message, and let the person carrying the food box put it down.

“All right.” Mu Hanzhang put down the book in his hand and sat down at the dinner table. At noon when he had a fever he had no appetite. Now he really was hungry.

Zhi Xi personally stood at the table and served the dishes. Mu Hanzhang picked up the rice bowl and looked at the table full of exquisite dishes. It was much more luxurious than at the Bei Wei Marquis's residence, and when marrying into a Wang Ye's family, it was not necessary to pay respects to his mother-in-law every day. If a woman married into the Cheng Wang's house, and wouldn't she be very happy?

   

Thinking of Jing Shao’s tender smile, Mu Hanzhang couldn’t help but sigh. If he was a concubine from the Marquis Bei Wei's family, and was definitely not qualified to marry Cheng Wang, he still wondered whether his situation would be fortunate or unfortunate?

[T/N: I think he's thinking about whether his life married to Jing Shao and having all these luxuries is as fortunate as not marrying him and having less of a luxurious life but free to do whatever he wants.]

“Zhi Xi, is there a map of this place?” After dinner, Mu Hanzhang held a cup of tea and asked on a whim.

“Responding to Wang Fei, there is a map in the small study room, this slave will go look for it.” Zhi Xi respectfully answered. The small study room is in the east wing, not far from the bedroom, and she soon returned with the map.

  

Mu Hanzhang regarding Zhi Xi actually being able to go into the study to get something for him, was inevitably surprised., Jing Shao would actually let him look at the things in the study as he pleased? He didn't believe that without Jing Shao's permission, that servant girl would be able to get whatever for him. But then he thought that perhaps he was thinking too much, the small study could really just not have any important secrets.

  

He slowly opened the scroll in his hand. The precise style of painting was obviously one of a thoroughly planned out design, the outline of the prince's manor was clear with a glance. The residence is divided into the front and rear two courtyards, which are separated by the flower gardens and the Ting Feng pavilion. The Ting Feng Pavilion included a tea hall, study room, a warming room*, water room, and other such places. The rear court is divided into East and West courtyards, and the east wing is Jing Shao's residence, the west for the womenfolk. Because Mu Hanzhang is not considered part of the womenfolk, he couldn't live in the west wing and so he just lived in the east wing together with Jing Shao.

[T/N: A warming room is a small room that connects two other larger rooms or buildings usually with a furnace where people can warm up.]

His gaze swept through the whole painting and finally settled on the “Bamboo Pavilion”. This should be what they called the small reception pavilion, which is located in the center of the West Court. Mu Hanzhang closed the scroll. He is a man, having the Secondary Wife receive his elder brother and sister in law was what ought to be, but whether this what Jing Shao instructed Madam Song to do or what she did of her own accord, the significance of it was very different.

“Reporting to Wang Fei, the two concubines of the West Courtyard have come to greet Wang Fei and have tea.” Meng Xi came in from outside the door, smiled gleefully and said, secretly observing the reaction of Mu Hanzhang.

  

“En?” Mu Hanzhang hearing what was said couldn’t help but slightly frown. Cheng Wang had a Secondary Wife and two concubines, this he knew even before their marriage. Today both of them had come to greet him, yet how come the “good at understanding others, and knowing when to advance and retreat” Secondary Wife not come? Was she trying to demonstrate something to him, or trying to feel out the prince's attitude towards him?

 

The corner of his lips turned up in a smile, women’s little tricks, were truly so boring. He got up and changed his clothes, letting the two concubines wait in the reception room, not hurrying and not being too slow he switched into a long sapphire blue garment, and didn't even wear a crown on his head. He let Lan Ting use a hair ribbon of the same color and tie his hair as she wished. Finally he called for the two concubines to enter the room.

Zhi Xi seeing the situation at hand also couldn’t help but frown. In her heart she thought, could it be that the Secondary Wife had gone with the prince to send off the guests? But on her face she had a smile introducing Mu Hanzhang to them. Dressed in a phoenix-yellow dress, with a gentle and lovely countenance was Third Rank Concubine Liu, and in the jade colored dress, delicate and spirited was Fifth Rank Concubine Li.

The author has something to say:

The forms of address for a prince's wives and concubines: (info from Baidu)

Highest Rank [Principle Wife] Abbreviation: Wang Fei

Second Rank [Side/Secondary Wife] Abbreviation: Fu Ren/Madam/Lady

Third Rank ["Qie Fei"/Official Concubine]

Fourth Rank ["Wang Ji"/ Female Entertainer – Concubine]

Fifth Rank ["Shi Qie" = bed servant/attendant – Concubine]

Sixth Rank ["Bei Qie" = inferior concubine]

The saying of “Di Xu” is derived from Master Luo Bingling's "Court Marriage". [宫嫁/ "Gong Jia"] Because I like this form of address very much, and also can’t think of other suitable ones, I just used it. “Court Marriage” is a big love. I recommend everyone to go read it~ It tells a story about a small gong who is married off to a small shou.

PS: The woman from the rear court is cannon fodder. Our Jing Shao is resolute and will not have an affair, I promise~

I paid the internet fee this morning, it only turned on now, yingying

Notes:

Lol so I actually did some research about all the different wives/concubines because there were so many different terms being used but turns out the author already did some for us! There are so many ranks!!! And while they have differences there aren't that many differentiating titles in English to use. Thus, I'm keeping Wang Fei (Official wife, highest rank) for MHZ and then using Secondary Wife or Madam for SLX and just concubine for the rest, with notes to differentiate rank if it's important. I'm pretty sure the wives are "legal" partners while concubines aren't. The higher ranked concubines usually have some kind of status and are babymakers in case the wives don't produce sons, and the ones on the lower ranks are usually just people like travelling dancers, prostitutes or maidservants the prince likes to fool around with (and sometimes have illegitimate babies with).

Also, I use East/West Courtyard and wing interchangeably as well as front/rear and inner/outer.

The "Court Marriage" the author talked about seems to be another ancient Chinese setting BL novel on jjwxc, go check it out:

It seems super duper sweet and I think there's bed tumbling(?) since there are locked chapters on jjwxc.