Tonight, everyone was spending the night at Wang Shi’s place. The moment she arrived at the main courtyard, she could already feel the liveliness and hear the laughter. Compared to the cold and empty feeling emanating from her own place, Shi Yumei almost teared up again.
The courtyard was well-lit because of the lanterns along the corridors; a servant immediately spotted Shi Yumei and her servant as soon as they entered. The young servants all went to welcome her with a bright smile on their faces, “Eldest Missy, you are finally here! Old Mistress kept thinking about you!” One of the servants had already run off to inform everyone else about her arrival.
“I know that Mother’s thinking about me, so I came right after tending to my husband!” Shi Yumei smiled. She was once again the prideful Eldest Missy of the Shi family.
Wang Shi and the others were still playing cards. Nanny Jiang, Nanny Lin, and Nanny Gui, together with the other important servants, were watching by the side. Upon seeing Shi Yumei, Wang Shi waved her hands and smiled, “Yumei, you’re finally here! Hurry, hurry, help me to look at my hand! Your two aunts are really too good!”
Second Old Mistress Shi and Third Old Mistress Shi both smiled and said, “We have no one to assist us, so we can’t do without being careful!”
Wang Shi was careless by nature, where would she get the mind to come up with strategies? Her losing was not surprising. Shi Yumei laughed and went forward, “This is Second and Third Aunt’s strong suit. Mother, if I spot wrongly, don’t make me pay for you!” After she finished speaking, everyone laughed.
On Sang Wan’s end, she was playing with the few missies in the warm room while gazing out from time to time. She had already prepared the supper, the fireworks for after midnight, and red packets to be distributed.
After midnight, the beautiful fireworks and loud firecrackers lit up the night sky, marking the start of a new year! All the youngsters kowtowed to their seniors in the household and spoke auspicious words to collect their red packets for the new year. The servants in the household also kowtowed to wish a wonderful new year, and they gave their thanks upon receiving the reward. Everyone was tired after a night of fun, and they all went home to sleep.
There were still firecrackers to be lit early the next morning and offerings to be given to pay respect to the ancestors. Sang Wan and Shi Fengju washed themselves quickly and went to bed. Sang Wan was so exhausted that her breathing turned steady as soon as her head touched the pillow. Shi Fengju shook his head and smiled. He lay gently beside her and inserted his hand below her neck before pulling her into his embrace. Soon, he fell asleep too.
Shi Yumei and Cui Zhu returned to Jiao Garden only to discover that the gate was locked from the inside. She and Cui Zhu stared at each other in dismay.
“Open the door! Open the door! Eldest Missy is back!” Cui Zhu knocked on the gate and called out softly.
However, there was only a dead silence.
“Hurry up and open the door!” Shi Yumei was so infuriated that she kicked at the gate.
“Eldest Missy! Careful not to hurt your foot!” Cui Zhu quickly pulled her back before going back to knock incessantly. However, there was no movement from the inside at all.
“Enough, no need to call out anymore!” Shi Yumei’s face darkened and she said, “Ren Zhixian that scoundrel, it must be him who gave the order not to open the gate. There won’t be any use even if you continue to knock!” If they were to draw the attention of the servants on night patrol, then her face would be completely lost!
“Eldest Missy!” Cui Zhu was too angry to speak, “In such a cold weather, what should we do?”
They couldn’t possibly stand here the entire night, right?
Shi Yumei was out of ideas as well. She suddenly felt that there was no place for her under the boundless sky, and almost teared up again.
“Why don’t we spend the night at Old Mistress’ place and settle this tomorrow?”
“Definitely not!” Shi Yumei refused, “Mother will be sad and angry if she sees me in such a state. It’s the start of a new year, I can’t cause trouble for her!”
“But——” Cui Zhu was at a loss for words and she raised her head up to look at the high courtyard walls. There was nothing she could do right now.
“Then let’s go to Ning Garden1Ning GardenSang Wan & Shi Fengju's place of residence and find Young Master and Young Mistress!” Cui Zhu added, “We can’t stay here for the entire night! It’s too cold, your body won’t be able to handle it!”
Shi Yumei moved her lips but no words came out. Even when Cui Zhu pulled at her to go, she remained adamant.
It would be fine if Ning Garden only had Shi Fengju, but there was Sang Wan too! To let herself become a victim of Sang Wan’s joke? She would definitely be laughed at!
“Then please wait for me here, Eldest Missy. I’ll be back shortly! Eldest Missy, please wait for this servant!” Cui Zhu had no other choice but to bring her aside to take shelter from the wind before hurrying towards Ning Garden.
At this moment, Shi Fengju was hugging onto Sang Wan and had just fallen asleep. When Liu Ya saw Cui Zhu running anxiously to see Shi Fengju, she did not dare to stop her and went to knock on the chamber’s door.
Shi Fengju was a little unhappy but he knew that Liu Ya was not insensible and would not have done so if it was not something urgent. As such, he gently let go of Sang Wan. Who knew that he would end up waking Sang Wan. Sang Wan held his hand and asked softly, “What happened?”
“I don’t know,” Shi Fengju said, “Liu Ya mentioned that Big Sister’s servant, Cui Zhu, is here and something urgent came up! Go back to sleep, I’ll go and take a look.”
“I will come with you!” Sang Wan immediately pushed her body to sit on the bed. As soon as she heard that this had something to do with Shi Yumei, how could she sleep peacefully? Who knew if Shi Yumei would complain that she did not care enough for her husband by going back to sleep to her mother-in-law!
Shi Fengju gave a helpless smile and said, “Alright! But put on another layer to not catch a cold!”
“Right!” Sang Wan obliged as she added another layer of clothes nimbly before tidying her hair.
After the two were ready, they came out from the chamber. As soon as Cui Zhu saw them, her eyes turned wet and she choked on her words.
“What happened, say it slowly!” Sang Wan got a big shock and she quickly held Cui Zhu’s hand.
“Young Mistress!” Cui Zhu finally cried and sobbed, “Young Master! Please hurry to where Eldest Missy is! Lord, Lord, he ordered the servants to lock Jiao Garden and not let Eldest Missy in. She’s still standing outside now!”
“What!” Shi Fengju was so furious that he almost jumped. He thundered, “There’s such a thing? What exactly happened between them tonight?”
“Lord!” Sang Wan lowered her voice and said gently, “Don’t panic! We will go there right now and listen to what Cui Zhu has to say while on the go! The weather is freezing out there, we can’t let Big Sister freeze outside!”
Shi Fengju agreed disgruntledly and ordered a servant to fetch their cloaks before heading over with Sang Wan, Cui Zhu and Liu Ya. Before leaving, Sang Wan gave a stern order to Zhide, “Tell the rest that nobody is to speak about this, and the old mistress is not to know a word about this!”
Zhide quickly obliged and went to pass the order.
Shi Fengju finally returned to his senses. This matter must not be made huge, otherwise, his big sister would become a joke. As such, he took a secluded path through the flower garden.
“Eldest Missy! Eldest Missy!” When nearing Jiao Garden, Cui Zhu quickly ran up and held Shi Yumei who was already in a daze.
“You are here!” Shi Yumei raised her head to look at her servant before glancing behind her, only to see Shi Fengju and Sang Wan. She felt bitter and quickly blinked away the tears that were forming in her eyes.
“Big Sister!” Shi Fengju’s face turned ashen, and he patted Shi Yumei’s shoulder lightly.
Sang Wan quickly passed a hand warmer to Shi Yumei, “The wind is strong out here, is Big Sister freezing?”
Shi Yumei shook her head lightly and looked at Sang Wan, not knowing what to say.
“Don’t be afraid! This is our household, how dare he do this to you! Does he consider us all dead!” Shi Fengju said resentfully.
Shi Yumei quickly remarked, “Pah, pah, pah. Watch your words during the New Year; such a horrible word that should not be spoken so carelessly!”
Shi Fengju turned his head and instructed Liu Ya, “Get me a ladder. Be careful not to let anyone see!”
“Yes, Young Master!” Liu Ya brought along an old servant with her.
“What are you planning to do!” Shi Yumei was stupefied.
Shi Fengju answered coldly, “Of course to make him pay!” If he was resolute in not opening the gate, then he would not bother to knock. As the eldest young master of the Shi family, he would not stoop to the level of begging someone to open the gate!
Shi Yumei twitched her lips and was dumbfounded.
Sang Wan did not think much about it. After all, Shi Fengju’s temper was never the best. Big Brother-in-law is in for a big trouble!
“Young Master, here’s the ladder!” Not long after, Liu Ya and the old servant returned. On the shoulder of the old servant was a bamboo ladder.
“Put it here!” Shi Fengju pointed at the foot of the wall before climbing it.
“Fengju, let the servants do it, it’s dangerous!” Shi Yumei panicked and held onto him.
“Don’t worry!” Shi Fengju answered, “This isn’t too high, I will be careful.”
“Be careful!” Sang Wan also whispered before ordering the servants to hold onto the ladder firmly and pass the ladder up to him once he was on the wall. He received it and placed it onto the other side of the wall. Soon after, the gate was opened from the inside.
“Sang Wan, go back and rest. I will handle this so you should go back quickly. You still have to wake up early tomorrow!” Shi Fengju said gently to Sang Wan.
Sang Wan knew that it was not appropriate for her to remain while he taught Ren Zhixian a lesson, so she nodded and said, “Then I will go back first. It’s still the New Year, so Lord, don’t be too angry yourself!” Don’t blow this up and embarrass everyone.
“Don’t worry!” Shi Fengju nodded towards her and ordered Liu Ya to accompany her back.
Liu Ya felt a little regret. She had really wanted to stay and watch what would happen next, what a pity!
“Big Sister, go to the room at the side and rest. No matter what I do, do not intervene!” Shi Fengju’s eyes darkened and he said coldly.
The Shi Fengju now felt very foreign to Shi Yumei, and she could not help but feel afraid. She nodded and went with Cui Zhu.
Shi Fengju ordered a servant to fetch a basin of cold water before stomping into Ren Zhixian’s room. He cast the water at the bed, before throwing the basin onto the floor mat.
“Ah!” Cui Bao screamed out loud as she was awoken from her dreams by the splash of bone-freezing water. Ren Zhixian also woke up from the sudden jerk and screamed, “Who! How dare you!”
The room was lit by a servant. Shi Fengju stood by the bed and coldly said, “You must be feeling very comfortable. Big Brother-in-law, you must be enjoying yourself a lot. May I know where my sister is now?”
“Ah!” Cui Bao finally got a clear look at the Shi family’s young master and she quickly crossed her arms, hugging herself while frantically pulling the blanket around herself. Right now, the blanket was already soaked with cold water, and Cui Bao cried bitterly to herself.
“It’s you! Get out now! Get out!” Ren Zhixian was feeling both angry and ashamed, but he still went to cover Cui Bao with his own body, as if Shi Fengju seeing her body would depreciate it.
But why would Shi Fengju ever bat an eye at a servant? To him, she was just an object and he did not look at her even once. He glared at Ren Zhixian and sneered, “Get out? Are you ordering me? You are in our Shi family’s territory, yet you are ordering me to get out? Big Brother-in-law, you’re mistaken!”