There, Shi Yumei was already laying in her mother’s embrace as she cried intermittently and terribly. Wang Shi gently patted her back and coaxed her softly.
Seeing Shi Fengju and Sang Wan, Wang Shi was unhappy and said, “You’re here, sit down!”
Sang Wan felt that if not for her second brother, her easily influenced mother-in-law, who doted on her daughter, would have taken her anger out on her.
Shi Fengju pulled Sang Wan over and sat down, ignoring Shi Yumei’s presence completely.
When Shi Yumei saw them, her crying became even more intense, and “Mother!” and “Help me!” was mixed in between her sobs.
“Alright, alright, stop crying! Your voice is hoarse from all the crying!” Wang Shi glanced at her son who did not look too happy and her daughter-in-law who was looking down. She patted her daughter’s back and coaxed.
“Mother! I think that my husband and I should leave the Shi household! We are unwanted here and discriminated against! A married daughter is like spilled water; I was foolish to think that others would treat me as a Shi family member!” Shi Yumei sat up and said between her sobs.
“Nonsense!” Wang Shi said unhappily, “Our Shi family cannot even afford to take care of its eldest missy? What an utter joke! Yumei, you are never an outsider, so stop thinking too much! If you are bullied, I will stand up for you!”
“Mother!” Tears fell from Shi Yumei’s eyes again.
“Big Sister, Mother won’t be the only one, I will do so too. You’ll have to tell me what exactly happened today!” Shi Fengju sighed.
Wang Shi was stumped, and she asked in disbelief, “You don’t know what happened?”
“Mother, ask sister for me. Has she ever told me about anything at all?”
Shi Yumei was unhappy and said, “What do you want me to say? If I do, will you really help me at all? Now that you have your wife, you won’t stand up for your sister!”
“Big Sister, if you really must say that, then I have nothing to say as well!” Shi Fengju shrugged, “If Big Sister doesn’t feel too happy staying here, then you may return to Mengxian! All the debts there have been settled and I can arrange for someone to help you find a house and buy some fertile lands!”
“You!” Shi Yumei suddenly became speechless.
“Big Sister!” Shi Fengju gently cut her off, “Can I ask Big Sister, not talking about the past few years, have I mistreated Big Sister during your stay in this household?”
“… No, you, you treat us very well.” Shi Yumei said softly.
“For us siblings to reach such a state, do you think I pass as a younger brother?”
“What are you saying!” Shi Yumei became anxious, “I never said you aren’t good!”
“If so, then why did Big Sister not tell me at all when you are mistreated? Why are you so sure that I won’t take your side?”
Wang Shi was taken in by Shi Fengju’s words and thought of all the good that Shi Fengju had done. She nodded, “Yes Yumei, Fengju isn’t wrong. You’re both my children; if there’s anything, just speak your mind! How could you hurt your brother’s feelings!”
“Big Sister, tell me! I want to hear it now!” Shi Fengju stared at her and spoke solemnly.
Shi Yumei could only swallow her criticism for Sang Wan, and said, “Okay, I am waiting for you to stand up for me! My husband and Fenghua got along well, but that top scorer brother-in-law of yours is creating a rift between them. He prevented Fenghua from having contact with my husband, and said that my husband was incapable, a degenerate who throws the face of intellectuals! You say, how could he, as an outsider, dare to say that? Other than being prideful of his title, there must be someone instigating from behind! Someone must despise us so much and wants to chase us away!”
Shi Yumei glared at Sang Wan hatefully.
“Big Sister, did you hear this with your own ears?”
“Hmph! If I had heard this with my own ears, I would have already given him a slap. Why would I wait until now? What, are you doubting me!” Shi Yumei widened her eyes.
“Big Sister, if you did not hear it yourself, can I know who told you about this? Big Sister, tell me and I will call that person over to get a clear understanding of things.”
Of course, Shi Yumei would not expose her own husband. Since Shi Fengju had already phrased it that way, she simply did not dare to point her finger at someone else as well and could only mumble, “Regardless, this is all I know. Since I’ve already told you, are you going to stand up for me or not!”
Shi Fengju remained quiet and glanced towards Wang Shi.
Wang Shi sighed softly as she creased her brows, “Yumei, you are messing around! You, what do you mean by this!” Even if Wang Shi was foolish, she was able to realize that her own daughter was only listening to peoples’ hearsay.
“Mother! You don’t believe me too? “ Shi Yumei became anxious again.
“Big Sister, these words, don’t tell me it was Brother-in-law Zhixian who told you these?” Shi Fengju said all of a sudden.
“No, no! He is an honest person, why would he say something like that! Even if he was bullied, he would swallow all his resentment!” Shi Yumei denied decisively.
“Now this is simple,” Shi Fengju said lightly, “I do not want anyone to feel accused or unhappy. In order to settle this, I think it’s better to invite Brother-in-law Zhixian over now! Or I could have all the servants from Jiao Garden interrogated; the truth will be out eventually.”
Shi Yumei was agitated by his words: there was nothing to hide! “No need, you’re right. Your brother-in-law grumbled a few sentences to me, but he was only grumbling and told me to not take it to heart! I was the one who couldn’t swallow this resentment! I’m not used to seeing others acting so arrogant!”
“From how I see it, Second Young Master Sang is not that kind of person and Fenghua keeps complimenting him! There must be a misunderstanding?” Wang Shi hurriedly said.
“Mother!” Shi Yumei was so exasperated that she was out of words.
“I think so too,” Shi Fengju said, “Big Sister, the age difference between Brother-in-law Zhixian to third brother and Brother-in-law Sang is actually quite large, it’s normal if they don’t get along well. This isn’t such a big deal, so why are you so angry about it? Brother-in-law Sang is a guest, who will only be here for a few days, there’s no way he would want to incite disharmony!”
Shi Yumei said angrily, “You really trust him so much! You’d rather trust an outsider and not trust me! Even if you know a person, you’ll never know their true colors, who knows what he’s planning!
“Keep quiet!” Wang Shi said loudly, “Yumei, you are behaving more and more unreasonable now!”
“Mother, let’s wait until third brother returns and then ask him properly to see if Brother-in-law Sang had said anything damaging to third brother. Big Sister, surely you will believe the words of third brother?”
“Fine!” Shi Yumei said crisply, “You’re right, then let’s wait until third brother returns to ask him!”
“If this matter is true, then I’ll settle it and give Big Sister a satisfactory answer. But what will Big Sister do in return if you’ve falsely accused them?” Shi Fengju questioned.
Shi Yumei sniggered, “If I did, then I will give my apology! Are you happy now?”
“Brother-in-law Sang is a guest, and I think we should just ask third brother privately to keep it from him. If you did accuse them, then you’ll have to apologise to Sang Wan!”
“What?!” Shi Yumei widened her eyes in disbelief as she pointed at Sang Wan, “You want me to apologize to her?”
“Is that not possible?” Shi Fengju said expressionlessly. “Big sister, Sang Wan is your sister-in-law and the eldest daughter-in-law in our family. Your unreasonable actions today of rushing into Ning Garden, shouting, screaming, and hitting someone, how do you expect Sang Wan to keep the servants in control? Where is her authority? If word spreads, how will people see our Shi family? How will I be seen as? My own sister and wife are involved in such an unsightly squabble, won’t this become a joke?”
Wang Shi was taken aback, “Yumei wasn’t acting reasonably in Ning Garden? She scolded, shouted, and even hit someone?”
Shi Fengju nudged Sang Wan subtly. Even though Sang Wan was still resentful, she had to get up and say, “Mother, that has already passed so let’s not talk about it anymore!”
“I don’t need your false kindness!” Shi Yumei said without appreciation.
“Keep your mouth shut!” Wang Shi was feeling angry and anxious as she reprimanded, “And I even thought of standing up for you. It seems you were really falsely accusing Sang Wan! If you continue to fool around like this, I will not bother with you next time!”
“Big Sister, Sang Wan is my wife. Even if she offended you, you ought to let me know. You humiliated her like this, have you thought of my dignity as well!” Shi Fengju was also dismayed.
“Fengju is right!” Wang Shi was so angry that she did not know what to say. Seeing how Sang Wan was still standing, she waved at her to come forward and comforted her while holding her hand, “ Sang Wan, you are a good girl so don’t be upset anymore! Mother knows you are generous, so don’t be too particular with your sister’s actions.”
Although Wang Shi was infuriated, she still had to protect her daughter’s dignity. Even though she was demanding her daughter to apologise to her daughter-in-law, her daughter was still living under her roof and may end up being ill-treated by the servants! In the end, she cared more for her daughter.
“Mother! Sang Wan is alright…” Sang Wan smiled reluctantly as she was slightly disheartened. Blood is thicker than water, even if she doesn’t relent, what can she do?
Wang Shi felt even more guilty when she saw her docility. She softened her voice and said, “Good, good, I knew you are the most understanding! Good child, I won’t allow you to suffer grievance!” She ordered Nanny Feng to take out a box embedded with mother-of-pearl. Opening the box, there was a dazzling filigree hairpin, decorated with pearls, jade and gold pieces. Wang Shi passed it to Sang Wan personally and said, “This hairpin is said to be the precious possession of an imperial concubine from the previous dynasty. This was gifted by this filial child, Fengju, to me on my fiftieth birthday. I am old and have no use for this. Today, I will give it to you as a present! Come, I will help you put it on!”
“This is mother’s birthday present, how can I accept this?” Sang Wan quickly rejected. What use did it have other than being another expensive item to safeguard! What she did not know was that Shi Yumei’s eyes were already filled with jealousy. She had coaxed her mother on several occasions to give it to her, however, Wang Shi would always obstinately refuse to give it to her. This time, she actually gave it to Sang Wan! This woman, what underhanded tactics did she use!
“Mother is giving it to you, so stop refusing! Come, I will put it on for you!” Wang Shi smiled and waved.
Sang Wan had no choice but to concede. She bent her knees lightly and leaned forward to let Wang Shi push the hairpin carefully into Sang Wan’s intricate hairdo. An enormous pearl dangled from the hairpin and it almost reached her shoulder. The accessory was dazzling and it accentuated Sang Wan’s exquisite beauty.