Adagio - Chapter 6
The newlyweds, dressed neatly in newly made clothes for a couple, went to offer their greetings to the elders the first morning after their wedding.
A middle-aged couple sat side by side behind the ceremonial table, and their eldest son and his wife sat below them. Their gazes on the two people bowing were subtle. Even though they tried to pretend not to know that the newlywed couple had stayed inside the bridal chamber for five full days, they couldn’t hold it in, eventually.
It was customary not to disturb a newly married couple for five days, including the first night. But it wasn’t necessarily a practice to be followed. Usually, it was rarely practiced for more than three days.
Yeon Hak-seo, who coughed to clear the awkward air, glanced at his son and spoke to Ha-young with a kind smile.
“Now that the new bride has taken off her wedding dress, she looks like a member of our family. It must have been difficult for you since your bed changed overnight. Did you sleep well?
“Yes, Father. I feel at ease, thanks to your concern.”
Yeon Hak-seo nodded his head with a satisfied expression.
When he first received the royal order to be in-laws with the Ju family, it was like a bolt out of the blue. But it was something that happened six years ago.
The uncomfortable feelings subsided while meeting several times with Ha-young’s father, Ju In-cheol, to discuss the frequently delayed marriage.
The animosity that they had for each other was something that they had inherited from their parents, but in fact, Yeon Hak-seo and Ju In-cheol had never directly gotten involved in any severe conflicts. Maybe that’s why they could tolerate each other, although it was still uncomfortable.
The character of Yeon Hak-seo was quite simple. Once someone became close to him, he took care of them till the end. He was very pleased with his new daughter-in-law’s bright eyes and neat appearance.
Seeing his second son’s relaxed face which was different from normal, it seemed he was besotted with his wife. It was said that the youngest daughter of the Ju family was an outstanding beauty, and the rumors sure turned out to be true. He smiled, ‘Ah, Mu-eun, you punk, you too are a man who can’t help it after all.’
After giving words of blessing to his second son and his wife, Yeon Hak-seo told Mu-eun, “You, go and greet your in-laws with your wife today. They must be feeling very lonely since their precious daughter has left the house.”
After finishing the greetings, when the sons and the daughter-in-laws, all four came out, her mother-in-law also followed behind them and called out to Mu-eun.
“Mu-eun, come with me for a second.”
He said looking back at Ha-young.
“Wife, you head in first.”
Ha-young hesitated as she watched Mu-eun’s back move away with her mother-in-law. If they weren’t going to have a long talk, she wanted to wait and go together with him.
Ha-young took some time to respond due to her being unfamiliar with this form of address.
“I have something to tell you, so come with me for a moment.”
Ha-young followed her older sister-in-law to the lower inner house3. As she was walking, her eyes nimbly flitted around and examined her surroundings.
The old houses of the Ju and Yeon families were the second largest in the capital city after the palace. This was because they were built before the national law limiting the size of residences was enacted. Since both families have been maintaining their prosperity from generation to generation, they were able to inherit the old house prepared by their progenitors without having to knock it down.
‘The two houses are similar in size, but their structures are different. The lower inner house here is much bigger here.’
The lower inner house was the place where the wife of the eldest son stayed. Generally, a single inner house was shared by the mother-in-law and daughter-in-laws, but since the two families’ houses were so big, they alloted separate spaces to the women.
‘I guess it might be because the Yeon family has been having only one son every generation.’
Ha-young’s maiden house had several outbuildings for the second and below ranked sons’ children. So, the lower inner house was smaller than here.
The Yeon family had a hard time getting a child. From generation to generation, only one son was born in the family. She had heard it was rare for them to have two sons to be born in this generation.
“You must be well aware that every family has a tradition they follow. But it is quite hard to master them overnight..”
From her sister-in law’s expression and manner-of-speaking, she sensed that she was here to suppress her using her authority. Her attitude was akin to those who lorded over newcomers. Ha-young answered modestly, wearing a gentle expression, pretending to not have noticed what she was doing.
“Yes, sister in law. I’ll be grateful if you could teach me.”
“… You’ll learn it with time. For now, just keep this in mind that Mother handles the housekeeping of the household, but to ease her burdens, I am taking care of the management for her. If there is anything you need, or money for managing your residence, you can report it to me. Only after I see the necessity will I inform Mother to have her permission.”
There were too many things in her words that were unpleasant. Still, Ha-young answered without showing her emotions.
As Ha-young calmly bowed her head, the sister-in-law told her to go with a sullen expression.
On the way out of the lower inner house, Ha-young frowned and thought.
‘The father-in-law I was most worried about turned out to be a cheerful person, but winning over the others won’t be easy.’
When she offered her greetings earlier, she sneaked a glance at her mother-in-law’s expression. She exuded such cold air that Ha-young felt a chill when she gave them her blessings. So she guessed that her mother-in-law wasn’t a generous person.
Since her mother-in-law gave birth to two sons in a family where it was hard to have children, her mother-in-law should have a considerable influence in the family. It was roughly clear from the appearance of the sister-in-law prostrating to curry favor from the mother-in-law.
‘Does sister-in-law think of me as a rival threatening her authority? When the opportunity arises, I should ease her guard against me.’
Ha-young had no intention of intervening in the relationship between her mother-in-law and sister-in-law and didn’t want to break the order that had been already established in the house. She only wished they would get along with her just the way they used to.
As she exited the middle door of the lower inner house, she found her husband’s back, standing across the yard. Ha-young smiled and hurried her steps.