Chapter 23: Preparations Before the Banquet
The Chrysanthemum banquet in the sixty-eighth year of Ming Qi eventually came.
Guang Wen Tang was different than before as the academy examination became a contention of talents. Only the person with the highest talent would be able to stand on the stage to challenge their fellow schoolmates. This would enable the youths to be infused with vitality and for others to see that the students of Guang Wen Tang each had their own merits.
Both the male and female students would be on the same stage and not like the past where it was generally divided into groups of male and females. If one like, a female can challenge the male in horse riding and shooting and males would also challenge the female’s four scholarly arts. However, such scenes were indeed rare.
Early in the morning, the Shen residence was in abuzz. In the West courtyard, Shuang Jiang carefully inserted the silver hairpin into her hair and smiled, “Young Lady, it is done.”
Shuang Jiang was the best in styling one’s hair. Previously Shen Yue wanted her over at her side to style her hair but Shuang Jiang was a maid that Shen Fu Ren personally picked for Shen Miao and Shuang Jiang was not willing, thus Shen Yue had no way out.
“Young Lady really look extremely good in this outfit.” Bai Lu smiled as she look but then said with some hesitation, “But it is a little plain around the head area.”
Shen Miao’s hair was very black and thick and with Shuang Jiang styling it to a cloud bun, it looked elegant and chic. Even after reaching a marriageable age, Shen Miao still put her hair up in a pair of looping topknots thus with this change of style, it seemed that she had grown up a lot. That round adorable face seemed far more graceful and there was finally a hint of a young lady.
There was just a silver hairpin inserted lonely in her hairstyle, which looked quite pitiful.
Gu Yu could not help but to show some anger on her face. The Shen residence was great and renown but however did not have a set of decent jewellery. The entire Shen residence all depended on Shen Xin but did those cruel and unscrupulous thing. Unfortunately Shen Miao was unable to say anything. Why? Because they were the one who custom made it for Shen Miao and it was just vulgar gold jewellery that if one were to wear, it would be a joke.
Shen Miao only had to glance at Gu Yu to be able to guest what Gu Yu was thinking and could not help but to shake her head. In fact, since young, the Second and Third Household of Shen family had crack their brains in order for her to develop bad habits and did everything possible for her to believe that these gold are the best. Thus from the public, it was not that the Second or Third Household that deliberately embarrassed the daughter of the First Household but because that person originally love such shiny gold!
Seeing Shen Miao not getting tired in wearing those exaggerated jewellery, everyone would reach to a common thought that the Di daughter of First Household of Shen residence was greedy, love wealth and was snobbish.
Even though gold was good, but there was no need to wear in on one’s body.
Gu Yu was afraid that Shen Miao would feel sad and quickly changed her words, “But Li Liang’s skills are truly really good. Young Lady look really beautiful.”
They did not know if Li Liang pitied Shen Miao from her bottom of her heart but this set of clothes that Li Liang brought over was surprisingly exquisite embroidered. It took into account that her small appearance and even though the green colour was somewhat solemn, there were large embroidered flowers at the hem of the dress which was so lifelike, beautifully blooming. It was indeed beautiful.
Shen Miao also felt that it was fitting to her body and did not feel or look any bit of discomfort.
Shuang Jiang and Bai Lu exchanged a look and saw surprise in one another’s eyes. Currently Shen Miao could even restrain such a heavy colour like this. They really did not know how was this the case.
“Let’s go.” Shen Miao stood up, “One cannot wait for too long.”
Just when they were out of the courtyard, they saw the Begonia flowers blooming, one bigger than the next. She stopped and pinched one small flower and inserted into her black hair and it was like adding flowers on brocade.
“Young Lady is really good looking.” Gu Yun praised.
Gui Momo just came out from the small kitchen and had prepared some snacks for Shen Miao to eat in the carriage. As she was carrying the basket out, she saw Shen Miao and could not help but be startled at the sight.
She had waited on Shen Miao for so many years and Shen Miao grew up with her milk thus it can be said that she watched Shen Miao grew Up. But now she felt that Shen Miao was a complete stranger. She had a calm and steady manner, coupled with the noble lotus blue colour, there would be no doubt if one were to say she was a princess. She almost did not hold the basket tightly and just stood on the spot looking silly.
Until Bai Lu called out with a smile, “Gui Momo, what is this look for?”
Gui Momo was surprised for a moment and habitually wanted to say a few beautiful words but suddenly remembered that today was the Chrysanthemum banquet. If Shen Miao attended it this outstandingly, then Shen Yue and Shen Qing would be pushed down. She swallowed the words of praise that were on the tip of her tongue and turned around with a worried look, “Young Lady, the colour of these clothes are just too serious. Young Lady is still young, why wear such a colour which would cover one’s natural tone. Wouldn’t it be better to wear that peach coloured jacket that is embroidered with a spray of flowers and magpies? It would look much better. And about this hairpin, this old servant remember Second Furen had conferred quite a number. Like that, no one will say that the young ladies from the General’s residence would be so plain and simple.”
Gu Yu’s lips twitched. That peach coloured jacket that was embroidered spray of flowers and magpies was given by Ren Wan Yun. Not only was the colour tacky, coupled with gold and silver jewellery to be worn, it was like a young lady from a local wealthy landlord. Shen Miao would definitely be laughed at if she were to go to the Chrysanthemum banquet in that today. Obviously Gui Momo had bad intentions. Just as she wanted to reprimand a few words on Shen Miao’s behalf, she heard Shen Miao gentle voice, “Currently Ming Qi is enjoying peace and prosperity, and the common folks live and work in peace and contentment but His Majesty advocates on thriftiness. The principle of the world is not to take advantage of extravagance and waste. Is it not good to be plain and simple? If others were to see, one would say that my General’s residence is upright, honest and conduct proper family principles. This would be a good thing. So one would not need to care about clothes at all.” Shen Miao’s lips raised, “Today’s purpose is to appreciate the flowers and people are contending with their talents and these have no relation to how one dress.”
Her words were gentle and cordial but there was an unquestionable imposing manner. Gui Momo’s mind erupted in chaos. She did not fear Shen Miao’s temper but since when could Shen Miao speak to her with all these grand principles? Shen Miao normally did not like studying and was thus dumb. But now to spout out such grandeur of principles, that made Gui Momo, someone who did not study before, not know how to refute back.
Bai Lu could not help but burst out a ‘Pu’ as laughter escaped her. She quickly kept quiet and kept a straight face but her brows was unable to cover up the fun she had.
Gui Momo wanted to refute but unable to do so and was made a fool in front of these few maids thus she felt vexed but she was unable to understand why upon her return to the residence this time, she would always be at a disadvantage whenever she talk to Shen Miao. To say sharp tongued, Shen Miao’s tone was very mild. To say she was gentle, each word would render one speechless.
Gui Momo somewhat embarrassingly handed the basket in her hands to Gu Yu, “This are snacks for Young Lady to much during the journey as there is a distance to the Chrysanthemum banquet and hope Young Lady would not be hungry.” She directly said to Shen Miao, “This old servant will return to the courtyard to work.”
“Go then.” Shen Miao replied in a flutter.
When Gui Momo left, Gu Yu and Bai Lu was rejoicing. The stronger Shen Miao was, the more she had the appearance of a mistress. Like this, those people who had no eyes in Shen residence would not dare to bully her.
As she reached the doors, one could see the two horse carriages parked at the entrance. The first carriage was getting ready to set off while the second one was empty.
Shen Qing’s maid, Chun Tao stood in front of the first carriage.