“They can’t even handle something this trivial? Just what’s the meaning of this? Do they still consider me as their son-in-law! Is it because they’re filthy rich so they’re looking down on others? In the future when I pass the imperial examinations and get an official position, if they’re capable enough, they’d better not come and look for me!” In Shi Yumei’s ears echoed the words of her angry husband, how would she dare to call him over?
“No need!” Shi Yumei said, “Just prepare it as you would for others! I can handle a small matter like this personally. If I say I can, it means I can!”
“If that’s the case, then so be it!” Wang Shi looked at her daughter first, and then her son, before looking at Sang Wan at last, “Sang Wan, just take the lists and prepare according to them quickly! Once you’re done, send them to Mengxian. The elders of your sister-in-law’s husband are still elders, be respectful to them!”
“Yes, Mother.” Sang Wan could only rise and nod in agreement as she answered with a soft voice.
“Brother-in-law sure is busy!” Shi Fengju smiled faintly again, “Mother, I still feel that this isn’t a good idea. After all, they are Brother-in-law’s elders, how can he not show up and clarify the items personally so that things can go perfectly? Since Brother-in-law has such a heart to respect the elders, how could he not show up or give a single word for something this important? Isn’t this very disrespectful of him?”
“Second Brother, are you deliberately trying to clash with me!” Shi Yumei questioned. Her eyes turned red and she glared at him.
“Big Sister,” Shi Fengju did not flinch, “Do you think so? All I don’t understand is why Brother-in-law can’t come down personally to tell us? Does he treat us as relatives or servants? Do we have to do as instructed whenever he orders us to? And we’re not even allowed to ask him at all!”
“Second Brother! Why would you think that way! When did I ever mean that!” Shi Yumei became anxious and felt wronged as well.
“Fengju!” Wang Shi saw that her daughter’s eyes and face were red, and could not help but glare at Shi Fengju angrily.
“Big Sister!” Shi Fengju was upset at himself for clashing with his sister, but what made him angrier was the anger within him that could not be vented on her. He held back his feelings and said apologetically, “My bad, Big Sister, I didn’t say that on purpose, it was just that my heart was feeling uncomfortable! How can Brother-in-law be like this? He didn’t show his face and give a single instruction about something this important; does he still treat us as his relatives!”
Even though Shi Yumei was unwilling to admit it, she knew that Shi Fengju was right but even more so how prideful of a person her husband was; he would never step forth and “beg” the Shi family to help him prepare the gifts and only knew to vent his anger on her. In short, this matter could go either way but she would remain stuck in between them!
On one side, she was unable to make herself clear to her mother and brother, and on the other, she could not persuade her husband at home to change his mind.
“No wonder Second Brother is angry. This, this should’ve been done by us. We shouldn’t have troubled Second Brother, I, I…” Shi Yumei could not find anymore words to speak, and her tears fell from her eyes as she promptly wiped them off with her handkerchief.
“Yumei! Yumei!” Wang Shi quickly held her hands and patted them gently, “You fool, what is there to cry for! Your brother doesn’t mind, so stop being sad; this small matter is nothing!”
Sang Wan had mixed feelings as she watched from the side. She could not help but be moved by how great it was to have the support of a strong maternal family! Otherwise, for a couple like Shi Yumei’s, their life would have become dire and miserable!
“Fengju! Say something!” Wang Shi glared at him angrily.
Shi Fengju could only push back the grievance in his heart and speak gently, “Big Sister, please don’t cry anymore. You’re making Mother sad too! I didn’t say I wouldn’t help you! Mother is right, this matter is nothing. It’s just that I was disappointed at Brother-in-law.”
Shi Yumei stopped weeping as she lowered her head and found herself at a loss of words. After a moment, she raised her head and said firmly, “Don’t worry, Second Brother, in the future when he passes the imperial examinations and becomes an official, I will not allow him to be ungrateful. I will make him return our Shi family’s kindness!”
That isn’t something I’d count on! Shi Fengju thought to himself. To count on him to return our kindness? The sky would be raining blood by then! Besides, can someone like him even pass? Big Sister, you’re really thinking too highly of him!
“There’s no need for that,” Shi Fengju smiled faintly and said, “Our Shi family doesn’t need it. It’s enough if he treats you well in the future!”
“He sure will! He didn’t abandon me now even though the days are hard; he’ll definitely not in the future!” Shi Yumei hurriedly smiled and said.
It was Shi Fengju’s turn to become speechless. That man wasn’t a fool, there’s no way he’d abandon you now! Otherwise, he would end up cold and hungry! In the future if he ever becomes successful, it would be hard to say for certain!
Of course Shi Fengju would not dare to say it in front of Shi Yumei as it would be like stabbing his sister at her heart.
Shi Fengju flipped over the first piece of paper to look at the second piece. He frowned at what he saw and said bluntly, “We can prepare the gifts for the elders, but the names on this paper are by no means part of the Ren family. As for these study items, paintings, and such, who are these for?”
Shi Yumei was startled. She could only lower her gaze and answer softly, “They, they are for your brother-in-law’s friends in Mengxian… Your brother-in-law said to prepare gifts for them too.”
“Absolutely not!” Before Shi Fengju had the chance to open his mouth, Wang Shi was already panting with rage and scolded, “Those group of scoundrels who don’t set a good example for my son-in-law, I don’t see the point of being good to them! It’s best to break contact with them!”
“Mother! How can you say that!” Shi Yumei panicked.
“Why can’t I!” Wang Shi said angrily, “From how I see it, those people are the ones leading my son-in-law astray. If not, they wouldn’t have brought him to those suggestive places! Yumei, it’s not that Mother wants to nag you, but there are some things where you have to use your authority as a wife; you cannot let him do as he pleases!”
“I agree,” Shi Fengju said with resolve, “It is a must to pay respect to the elders, but these friendships and favors shouldn’t be handled by me, right? If not, I will really end up being deemed as his servant!”
Those words were right. Shi Yumei moved her lips but no words came out. In the end, she could only close her mouth and agree.
“Then it’s settled!” Wang Shi made the final decision. She turned to Sang Wan and said, “Sang Wan, you’ll be having a little more to do now. Ask the purchase department to hurry and arrange another set of gifts before having someone deliver it to Mengxian!”
Wang Shi let out a sigh as she was feeling sullen. For the Ren family to use the Shi family to send New Year gifts to their elders, no matter how she thought about it, it just did not seem right!
“Yes, Mother!” Sang Wan rose and agreed before leaving together with Shi Fengju.
By chance, Zhuang Weixian had pressing matters and was looking for Shi Fengju. As such, Shi Fengju had a change of clothes first before leaving and left Sang Wan with the lists to pass to a head servant to do as he saw fit. Sang Wan accepted with a smile.
Once Shi Fengju had left, Sang Wan said to Liu Ya and Zhide, “Your old mistress and young master had refuted your eldest missy. Who knows whether she might come over and find trouble for me. I’ll need all of you to be quick-witted. If you see someone approaching, don’t speak of any nonsense; I think I should hide for a while!”
“Understood,” Zhide and Liu Ya smiled and answered. Liu Ya exclaimed all of a sudden, “Eldest Missy is actually quite pitiful!”
“There you go again, what nonsense are you saying!” Sang Wan became angry at her.
“Isn’t it the case!” Liu Ya said, “Women are afraid of being married to the wrong husband, this isn’t wrong! I say, our young mistress has a good life only because Young Master is a good husband!”
“That’s right,” Zhide smiled and approved, “Young Master dotes on Young Mistress more than before; who in this household doesn’t know that!”
“You two sure are free to be mocking me here. Hurry along and do your work!” Sang Wan could not help but smile as she scolded them.
While they were talking, they heard the greetings from the servants outside, “Eldest Missy, you’re here!”
In the warm room, the faces of the three changed. Sang Wan hurriedly instructed, “Say that I’m not here. Hurry and leave now!”
Liu Ya ran out frantically and was immediately met with Shi Yumei walking in from outside. “Eh, where’s your young mistress? Is she inside?”
“Eldest Missy!” Just her luck! Liu Ya quickly signalled to stop the servants from answering and moved forward to greet Shi Yumei, “Eldest Missy, welcome. But coincidentally, our Young Mistress has just left!”
“She left?” Shi Yumei raised her brow in disbelief, “Where did she go?”
Liu Ya shook her head and said, “This servant does not know. This servant was only just done with my task and Young Mistress had already left… Does Eldest Missy have something for Young Mistress?”
Shi Yumei snorted and said in a bad mood, “Would I be here if there’s nothing? Since she’s not here, forget it then. Later when she’s back, ask her to wait for me in the house and send someone to inform me at Jiao Garden. I have something important to talk to her about!”
“Understood,” Liu Ya hurriedly replied as she saw Shi Yumei out.
“Young Mistress,” Liu Ya returned into the house after seeing that Shi Yumei had left and she said, “We may have fooled her, but if Eldest Missy finds out that you lied to her, she would definitely throw a fit!”
Sang Wan said with a smile, “I will leave from the back gate and walk about this instant, that wouldn’t count as deceiving her!” If they met, things would become more problematic, especially when she did not know how to handle her! Even though Wang Shi and Shi Fengju had used their authority to bicker with her, they still had to be considerate of her feelings. If so, how was she going to talk back to her? As if she would buy it!
Sang Wan then called for the lynx overcoat to be draped over her shoulders.
Zhide smiled and said, “But in this cold day, where will you be headed to? Oh right, Second Missy, Third Missy, Fourth Missy, and Fifth Missy are having a barbeque and plum blossom viewing at Qing Ying Pavilion, why don’t Young Mistress join in the fun! A word that you were concerned about them and went to have a look should make a good excuse!”
“Not bad, not bad!” Liu Ya also smiled and said, “That’s a great idea! This morning, Second Missy and the rest even asked you for the different types of fresh meat, condiments and charcoal, grill and hammer! We should head over there and have a look!”
Sang Wan also agreed with a smile. She left Zhide to look after the house and brought Liu Ya and two other servants with her as she left using the back gate. They headed towards the plum forest to find Shi Yuzhen, Shi Lian, and the rest.
Shi Lian’s injured leg had recovered, and it had been a long time since the sisters had met so they gathered together to eat and play. The entire place was bustling with noise and excitement. Seeing Sang Wan arrive, they hurriedly smiled and shouted “Sister-in-law!” as they rose and greeted her.
“All of you sure have a knack for enjoying good food! I could smell the aroma from far away!” Sang Wan could not help but laugh.
Shi Yuzhen smiled, “It’s all thanks to Sister Sang Wan who gave us these fresh beef and venison. Sister Sang Wan arrived at the right time, we were just about to start grilling the best meat!”