Shi Fenghua then praised again with a smile, “Second Brother Sang is indeed humble and truly modest. Really, this calls for admiration! Second Brother Sang, let me propose a toast to you!”
“Many thanks to Brother Fenghua!” Sang Yufei raised his cup with both hands before smiling. “Under the tutelage of a wise senior from Hanlin Academy, Brother Fenghua is knowledgeable and has an even better character! The brief conversation that we had just now was undoubtedly extraordinary. If Brother Fenghua doesn’t mind, can we find another time to better discuss again?”
“Of course! I was thinking the same as well! Second Brother Sang, you have to teach me, too!” For a moment, Shi Fenghua was elated. For all three generations, the Shi family only had him who was gifted enough to study, putting major pressure on him. Having someone, who had taken the examinations and returned with a top score, guide him would surely be beneficial for him.
Wang Shi only understood half of what they said, but what she did understand was that her son was seeking to have Sang Yufei guide him and that Sang Yufei was willing to do so. That made her overly happy, and she warmly gestured everyone to eat before inviting Sang Yufei to stay a while longer in the coming days. That night, dinner in the Shi household was very lively.
Ren Zhixian watched as people flocked to Sang Yufei, and the words he said to him just then were easily brushed away without giving them a careful thought! Hmph, what a hateful lad! To think he’d do the lad a favor by giving him some advice that ended up not being appreciated.
Feeling vexed, he coughed lightly before asking Sang Yufei, “Oh, right, would you mind revealing this year’s township examination topic to us?”
Although puzzled at why that person would ask that at the dinner table, Sang Yufei smiled and said so since Ren Zhixian already asked.
Ren Zhixian suddenly slammed the table with his palm before saying with a sigh, “I can’t believe that this year’s topic was so easy! Ai, what a pity, what a pity ah! If only I could have taken the examinations this year! What a pity! For such an easy topic, getting the top score is a breeze! It’s too easy! Oh yes, I wonder how well Brother Sang actually wrote his essay!”
Hearing that, even with his self-control, Sang Yufei turned unhappy, and the smile on face stiffened. How could he say it that way? Just when he was about to reveal his essay, Shi Fenghua smiled and replied, “Brother-in-law, we shouldn’t be discussing about this over dinner! Why don’t we find another time to let Second Brother Sang write out his essay? Brother-in-law can also write one on the topic as well, then we can hold a discussion about it.” Then, he added, “I also wish to see Brother-in-law’s great work as well!”
Shi Fengju could not help but cast his younger brother a glance. Deep down, he was amazed how his brother-in-law could be so unlikeable that his younger brother’s words became thorny even with his character.
But it was a shame that Ren Zhixian did not feel that way about Shi Fenghua’s words. Instead, those words brought him joy. He interpreted them as Shi Fenghua’s seeking for his guidance, and he praised in his heart, This younger brother-in-law is way more tactful than that Sang lad! As such, he smiled and nodded before glancing over at Sang Yufei, “Brother Fenghua’s words were exactly my thoughts! It would be an honor to be able to do so!”
“Aiya, the three of you can go on with that after dinner mah! Come, come, come, let’s eat!” Second Uncle Shi pointed his chopsticks at a nearby dish. Hearing him so, everyone at the table laughed.
Ren Zhixian straightened his back before having a glimpse at Second Uncle Shi from the corner of his eyes. What an unrefined person! And you only know how to play with birds and fishes, so what do you even know!
After dinner, everyone went to the flower pavilion to chat and have tea to help with digestion. After a while, the members of Shi Second House left. Wang Shi also felt tired after a day of excitement, and so the crowd dispersed.
Ren Zhixian, on the other hand, must have gotten a screw loose in his head, and he earnestly invited Sang Yufei and Shi Fenghua to Banana Courtyard to have a seat inside his study room. Sang Yufei and Shi Fenghua could not refuse and ended up following.
“What do you think of my study room? It’s decorated nicely right? Don’t you think it fits the word ‘elegant’?” Pushing the door open, Ren Zhixian immediately swerved his head proudly and recited a few of his own poems as he felt pleased with himself.
What could Sang Yufei and Shi Fenghua say? All they did was nod with a smile, but their hearts thought in unison, This isn’t even your house, and this study room isn’t even your Ren family’s property. Really, just where in the world does that pride of yours come from!
“Keke, to decorate this, I’ve spent a lot of thought into it!” Ren Zhixian laughed out loud before turning to Shi Fenghua, “This is what you call a real study room, a room most suited for studying. Here, your mind is calm, and you won’t feel impulsive! You have to understand that the environment greatly affects the state of your mind. Brother Fenghua ah, when I have the time, I’ll help you redecorate your study room while I’m at it!”
Ren Zhixian’s words weren’t seeking for Shi Fenghua’s opinion. His tone was arrogant, almost as if having him help redecorate the study room was a blessing to be grateful for and therefore must be thanked upon!
“No need, no need!” Shi Fenghua could feel goosebumps flooding across the surface of his skin. The suggestion startled him, and he quickly refused with a smile, “I’m already used to the one I have! There’s no need for brother-in-law to bother!”
“It’s no trouble, no trouble at all! We’re relatives, so there’s no need for Third Brother to feel reserved!” Ren Zhixian simply could not sense Shi Fenghua’s intention to refuse and went for a more enthusiastic approach.
Sang Yufei raised a clenched fist near his mouth to hide his chuckle before glancing at Shi Fenghua sympathetically.
Shi Fenghua quickly returned a helpless look as he was unsure whether to laugh or feel embarrassed!
“Really, Brother-in-law, there’s no need to,” Shi Fenghua forced a smile. “I’m already used to how my study room looks. I think not changing it would be better, lest it be unfamiliar to me! Moreover, I’m often lodging in the academy and rarely ever come home during the year, so really, there isn’t any need to! Oh Brother-in-law ah, I do feel somewhat thirsty!”
That brought Ren Zhixian back to his senses, and he quickly invited them in to have a seat. With a loud yell, he called Cui Bao in to serve tea, “Oh, how could I’ve forgotten to invite you two in to have a seat! But you’re right, it’s better not to change it since you’re used to it already!”
A moment later, Cui Bao entered, wearing a pink coat embroidered with roses and a pink wavy dress. A brilliant luster of jade hung on her waist, held loosely together with a shackle. Her tied hair was long and hung by both sides of her face with a vermillion flower stuck beautifully. As for her face, it was powdered heavily and her brows were drawn. Her waist was slim and her body would sway as she moved, displaying an extraordinary lazy charm, almost like a beautiful and loving woman who woke up not too long ago.
“Come quickly and serve tea to the two young men!” Ren Zhixian smiled the moment his eyes landed on her. He was captivated by her, so his smile beamed like a blooming flower.
“Sir, please have some tea!” Casting a glance at Ren Zhixian, Cui Bao acknowledged petitely. Bending her back a little, she placed a tea tray down before her fingers with red painted fingernails. She then brought the tea cups to Shi Fenghua and Sang Yufei. Her fingers held onto the cup without putting them onto the table, as if waiting for the two young men to reach out their hands to receive it.
Who knew that Shi Fenghua and Sang Yufei would only exchange gazes with each other and sit motionlessly with no intention to move a finger.
Their eyes only contained their disgust for her. What a shallow! Just one look and she’s definitely not something good!
Cui Bao raised her brows gradually as she didn’t seem to find her own behavior strange. She really believed that everyone was like Ren Zhixian who praised her and kissed up to her!
“Sirs, have some tea!” But even so, Cui Bao wasn’t foolish. She did not feel awkward when the two young men had no intention to take a cup. Instead, she observed their attire and passed a cup of tea first to Shi Fenghua, who wore a grander attire than Sang Yufei.
“Put it here!” Shi Fenghua sulked without looking at her.
Cui Bao had never been given such treatment before. Feeling insulted, she nibbled on her lips lightly while glancing at Ren Zhixian surreptitiously.
Ren Zhixian was also feeling a little unhappy, but he did not express what was currently in his mind. Cui Bao is my underling. Treating her like that right in front of me, aren’t you just outright trying to embarrass me!
However, he smiled dryly before speaking to Cui Bao, “He is the Shi family’s youngest young master, Shi Fenghua. If he asked you to put it there, put it there. Be more alert!”
After hearing that this handsome young man who was dressed elegantly was a young master of Shi family, Cui Bao’s eyes immediately glistened. The little amount of grievance in her eyes disappeared almost instantly, and she quickly displayed a sheepish smile. She responded delicately before placing the tea cup down.
The third child of the Shi family’s Main House ah, to think he’d be this elegant, a dragon among men! Compared to Ren Zhixian… Cui Bao could not help let out a regretful sigh, like a flower on a dry tree bark.
At first, when the procuress said she would be bringing them to the famed Shi family in Qingzhou, the lot of them were overly thrilled. Believing that she could have a good life ahead of her when she was picked among the rest, she finally had a chance at tasting bliss for a good moment. Using every means possible, she was sure she would be able to stand on her own one day.
But who knew that on the first night, she had her deed done. That man was not someone actually born in the Shi family. Instead, he used his wife’s name to send the request!
That knocked Cui Bao back from blissfulness, and she cried silently to herself. The Shi household was the parental household of the man’s official wife. Regardless of how greatly she was doted on, she could never become an official wife. If she were to anger the Shi family, who knew when she might get resold!
Now that she had seen Shi Fenghua upfront, Cui Bao was frustrated and wanted to vomit blood at a single thought, Why wasn’t the one who made the purchase this young master instead ah!
Cui Bao was slightly frustrated at herself, and she paid less attention while serving tea to Sang Yufei. “Sir, please have some tea,” Sang Yufei gently breathed out the air he held in as Cui Bao flatly stated before placing the tea in front of Sang Yufei without him asking.
Ren Zhixian was secretly delighted at the sight. This Cui Bao was so sweet ah, she was able to read his intentions! Without him even saying anything, she was able to sense his dislike towards the Sang family’s lad and even served his tea thoughtlessly.
That burst of delight gradually seeped onto his face, and he scolded Cui Bao with a smile, “Cui Bao ah, don’t be rude. That is Young Master Sang, the brother of our Shi household’s Ma’am. He’s also this year’s top escorted examinee!”
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