When Sang Wan returned to Ning Garden1Ning GardenSang Wan & Shi Fengju's place of residence, Shi Fengju had already left for work. She found an excuse to send Nanny Li away after washing up and changing into a new set of clothes before ordering Zhide to watch the door while she sent a servant to call Liu Ya into the side room to talk about the details.
She received a huge shock when Liu Ya spoke about everything she knew.
“That Mister Hong is actually the son of the magistrate?”
“Yes.” Liu Ya said angrily, “Who knew that the magistrate would have such a hedonistic son! How shameless of him!” Liu Ya was disgusted when she recalled the scene of him greasily introducing himself as he dragged Third Missy Shi while saying words like “It’s your blessing to be with me as I can assure you that you can enjoy your life wonderfully here in Qingzhou! No one will challenge your authority in this city!”
“Young Mistress, you don’t have to worry. Young Master promised that he would handle it! Our Shi family is not for others to trifle with and will not sit idle when our missies are taken advantage of!” As she spoke, she sighed as she had yet to get over the fear, “It was fortunate that Young Mistress wasn’t there at that scene, and Young Master was there in time, otherwise, this servant and Cai Yun were really…really…”
Sang Wan’s hands trembled and her face paled slightly. If not for Shi Fengju being there, there was no way such an incident could be easily kept hidden! The temple was very likely to be alerted, and when that happened, how would Wang Shi remain oblivious? The situation would only become messy——
“Since Young Master already has a plan, you and Zhide have to keep this a secret and not mention a single word about it, do you understand? You must not babble about it even in front of Third Missy; behave like how you always do and pretend like it never happened, am I clear?”
“Yes, Young Mistress!”
Sang Wan nodded and let her leave, claiming that she was tired and wanted some rest.
Since this incident had to do with Magistrate Hong, Sang Wan could not help but be worried that Shi Lian’s reputation might get damaged.
Early in the morning, Magistrate Hong received a letter from Third Old Master Shi. Although Third Old Master Shi was on leave, it was a simple task for him to use his personal connections to return to the imperial court with the help of the Shi family’s wealth. Third Old Master Shi’s position in the court was around the same as Magistrate Hong’s and he had visited and greeted Magistrate Hong during the new year. As such, Magistrate Hong did not dare to neglect the letter and hurriedly opened it.
After reading through the letter, his face turned green with anger.
Third Old Master Shi had been obscure with his message. Written in his letter, he mentioned that what has passed is past and nothing about the incident was to be mentioned again. However, in his letter, he also wrote that he hoped for nothing like that to ever happen again. The meaning behind the letter was clear: It was to keep peace and ask him to discipline his own son.
Magistrate Hong had two sons. The eldest son was helping his grandfather with the family business in their hometown, while the second son followed his father and mother. His second son had just reached nineteen this year and had not gotten married yet. However, he had three concubines.
It wasn’t them who were not worried about their son’s marriage, rather he was not in a hurry to get married. Hong Xi, their second son, indulged in his mother’s love, and with his father as a local official, he idled and played everyday, how would he be willing to marry a wife and end up having his activities restricted?
Magistrate Hong was aware of his activities, but he was not so bothered about it as wasn’t it normal for a young master like his son to behave slightly hedonistic? He had never been strict on him as his wife was always protective of him and the fact that he had been sober enough to not make any intractable trouble; at the very least no lives were threatened.
But who knew that he would end up involving the Shi family? How could he attempt to assail a missy from the Shi family?
Magistrate Hong went back to his residence furiously. Unable to find his son anywhere, he said to his wife with a dark expression, “Where is that unfilial son of ours? Where did he go fooling around again?”
“Old Lord, what’s going on with you today? What made you so angry all of a sudden?” Old Mistress Hong was frightened and she hurriedly stood up to help her husband take a seat.
Magistrate Hong shook her hands away and sat down angrily by himself. He said coldly, “Send someone to bring me back our unfilial son! I have something to ask him! Hmph, did you ask him about what happened? You’d better ask your son what fine deed he has done outside!”
Old Mistress Hong was dissatisfied by his reply and pouted, “Xi’er is still young, isn’t it normal for a young man to be playful? Which one of the young masters doesn’t behave this way? Why is it only our son getting criticized? He will naturally change for the better in a few years time when he gets married and build a family!”
Magistrate Hong became even more triggered when marriage was mentioned, and he slammed the tea table while yelling, “Don’t think that I have no idea what that disgraceful son of mine is thinking. He is just afraid of being chained down once he gets married, isn’t he? You should quickly pick a decent family for him, wait no, pick a girl who is astute and firm for him. This unfilial son would really have no self-restraint if there is still no one to get him under control! If you are not going to discipline him, then getting our future daughter-in-law to do so would be the same!”
Did he just disparage her as being inferior to their future daughter-in-law? Old Mistress Hong immediately scolded, “What kind of father are you? How could you bear to see your son married to a shrew! Your son won’t be left with any face if he was to live under the control of a woman! He would never be able to amount to anything in his entire life!”
“Amount to anything?” Magistrate Hong sneered at her dismissively, “It would be a blessing from our Hong family’s ancestors if he doesn’t cause any trouble for me!”
Old Mistress Hong was unable to respond for a moment, but sighed soon after, “Old Lord, you have been angry ever since you got back, shouldn’t you at least tell me what happened?”
Magistrate Hong said angrily, “Do you have any idea what our unfilial son did yesterday? He has the utmost bravery to assail a young missy from the Shi family! I was only given the position here during the second half of the year and have yet to gain a firm foothold, how dare I fall afoul of a local influential family? The Shi family is a wealthy family and their third old master is an official at the imperial court as well. Now that their young mistress’ brother is a top-escorted examinee, perhaps he would become an advanced or even a top scholar! In front of them, even I have to be polite, but look at him, he actually dared to assail their unmarried young missy! Isn’t he finding trouble for me? Third Old Master Shi’s letter arrived today, early in the morning, telling me about it!”
“So it’s because of this!” Unexpectedly, Old Mistress Hong did not even frown when she heard about it and said with an understatement, “I was wondering what would make my old husband so angry! Xi’er has already told me about it!”
“What did you just say?” Magistrate Hong goggled and bellowed, “You already knew about this? Then why didn’t you tell me sooner since you already knew about this?” While feeling extremely furious, he could not help but scold his unfilial and disgraceful son in his heart.
This time around, he was feeling a little jealous rather than angry. That disgraceful son of his, how could he tell his mother and not him? Did he still see him as his father? He had better not forget who was the one who provided him with everything he now had!
“Oh, Old Lord, you shouldn’t be so fierce to him! Look at yourself, you can’t blame him for not daring to tell you!” Old Mistress Hong said unhappily. She then hurriedly forced another smile and said, “Old Lord, you should calm down and hear me out first! Xi’er told me yesterday that he really liked that young missy from the Shi family, and asked me to send someone to ask the Shi family for their missy’s hand in marriage to be his concubine!”
Before Old Mistress Hong could finish, Magistrate Hong interrupted her, “What are you thinking? Are you trying to get a concubine out of a young missy from the Shi family?”
Old Mistress Hong humphed and said with understatement, “Our son is a legitimate heir while their third missy is the daughter of a concubine. They are merchants while we’re officials; none among both families are unworthy of each other when it comes to family background. Surely they can’t be unsatisfied if she becomes our son’s concubine, can they? Moreover, this is also a solution to yesterday’s incident, isn’t it? Our son can be partly blamed for the incident yesterday, but I would say, it takes two hands to clap, their third missy wouldn’t be venturing about like that if she was a decent one. It was her fate to run into our Xi’er! What’s more, any woman is a woman worth chasing for. Wouldn’t it benefit us all now that Xi’er is willing to marry her since he had fallen for her at first sight? If we marry her into our family grandly, their third missy’s reputation would not be affected in any way too!”
Magistrate Hong was at a loss for words and his heart couldn’t help but waver.
What his wife had said was not complete nonsense.
Having observed that her words were working, Old Mistress Hong was secretly pleased, and she seized the chance to further persuade him, “Think about it, Old Lord, since you are new to this city, it would benefit you if you were able to form a connection with the Shi family! Since their third missy is just a concubine’s daughter, it wouldn’t be unfair to her if she’s married to our son; the Shi family has no reason to refuse our proposal as well. I’m afraid they would even be more than willing to!”
Magistrate Hong remained quiet.
“Then it’s settled!” Old Mistress Hong was pleased as she had finally resolved the issue that her son had been importuning her about. With a smile, she said, “I will get the servants to prepare themselves and head over to the Shi household for the proposal tomorrow! I assure you that they will agree to it!”
“Alright, alright! You do whatever you like, I can’t be bothered anymore!” Magistrate Hong stamped his feet as he got up and left, thinking about how he should reply to Third Old Master Shi’s letter.
“Alright, you can stop hiding and come out now!” Old Mistress Hong said lazily with a smile as she rested on the couch.
A young man in a long reddish brown gown with a round collar came out from behind the screen with a smile. He huddled beside Old Mistress Hong and said while beaming, “Mother, you’re so amazing! You got this settled so smoothly!”
“Hmph, be more careful next time and don’t be so impetuous!” Old Mistress Hong poked his forehead as she scolded him with a smile.
“Don’t you worry, Mother, I’ll bear that in mind!” Hong Xi laughed.
Although Hong Xi had not been in Qingzhou for very long, his reputation of being prurient was widely spread within the entire city. There was no way he could control his urge when he heard that there was a beauty in the forest of plum blossom trees behind Plum Blossom Temple. He rushed over in a hurry!
He did not expect to actually see a beautiful young woman there. Moreover, it was fascinating to watch a beauty admire the flowers and enjoy the scenery while he was surrounded by plenty of beautiful flowers. How could he hold himself back from stepping forward to flirt with her?
It was purely entertainment and meant nothing to him, but what he did not expect was that beauty did not want to join him even after she knew his identity. That was unacceptable to him! He was taken aback when the young master of the Shi family came while he was trying to flirt with her. To think that this beauty was actually his sister!
The servants beside him who were jeering and watching the fun immediately went quiet. None dared to take a deep breath. What’s more, he was tactfully snubbed by Shi Fengju, which made him really embarrassed. So after Shi Fengju and Shi Lian left, he said in front of the crowd, “Watch carefully, I will make the Shi family obediently deliver their daughter to me!”
And that was why he asked Old Mistress Hong for help. All he said was that he had fallen in love with the Shi family’s third missy at first sight and wanted his mother to help him to marry her as his concubine. Hmph, once she was married to him, he would gain his reputation back. How impressive did she think she was? Just watch how he was going to deal with her then!
Seeing that his purpose had been achieved and his father was no longer angry at him, how could he still remain at home obediently? He excused himself soon after chatting a while more with Old Mistress Hong and left to go idling about again.
Old Mistress Hong could not help but sigh, “This child is really like a wild horse without reins. Old Lord was right, he really needs a wife to keep him under control!”