“Nothing less from my mother!” Shi Yumei was impressed and happy. As she followed Xiuchun, she went on asking, “How’s my mother’s condition? Is she doing well? Has she been doing anything?” and so on.
Xiuchun briefly answered every question.
Seeing that Xiuchun had not returned for some time, Wang Shi affirmed for herself that her eldest daughter had arrived. After a moment of pondering and doubting, Wang Shi soon rejoiced and she smiled. “I didn’t think that Yumei will be back. The festival will surely be lively! Good, good, that’s really good!” After saying so, she asked Nanny Jiang whether she wore the appropriate clothes and whether a change was needed.
Nanny Jiang could not help but smile. “Eldest Miss is your daughter, and her husband is your younger generation. There’s no need to be so stressed about it!”
That is true. Wang Shi thought for a while and nodded her head as she ordered the servants to quickly prepare the pastries and tea.
“Mother! Mother! I’m back to see you!” Upon arriving at the courtyard, Shi Yumei scurried and announced herself loudly without any cares for her husband’s dissatisfied face.
Ren Zhixian furrowed his brows tightly and cussed a few times about how disgracefully his wife behaved.
Wang Shi could not help but blink a few times as she stood with a smile. “This kid, this kid! Why are you still yelling at such an age!”
“Mother, mother!” Pushing the gold silk curtains embroidered with peony dark patterns aside, Shi Yumei rushed into Wang Shi’s arms before gently hugging her. Rubbing her cheeks in Wang Shi’s embrace, she smiled affectionately, “Mother, I miss you so much!”
“Aiyo, you ah!” Wang Shi smiled and patted her back gently before smiling as she replied, “You’re already this old yet you still act like a child! Show me that you can sit still properly!”
Shi Yumei chuckled and helped her mother to her chair, “Mother, your daughter isn’t able to remain by your side and be filial. For that, I’ll kowtow to show my sincerity!” With that, she took a few steps back. Without waiting for the servants to bring a cushion, she immediately kneeled on the dark red brocade rug before gesturing to her husband with a wink.
Having observed how disgraceful the interactions were between his wife and his mother-in-law, Ren Zhixian was extremely dissatisfied. He stood silently at a side and ignored his wife’s gesture.
He thought to himself, Wasn’t I forgotten just then? Oh, now that a kowtow is needed, I’m suddenly remembered? Business people sure are disgusting! Your entire family truly is treacherous!
Moreover, why should I kneel in front of a disgusting old lady when a clean scholar like me has no need to do so in front of the country’s leader?
“Aiya, there’s no need for this, no need for this,” Wang Shi quickly had Xiu Chun help Shi Yumei up before she smiled and exclaimed, “My child! Being filial isn’t about this! Do get up quickly, we’ll talk while seated! Quickly invite my son-in-law to have a seat too! Please!”
Furious, Shi Yumei could only remain speechless while in front of her mother, and she finished three kowtows before taking her seat with a smile. Even though Ren Zhixian could act as if he had not seen her glare, Cui Zhu did not dare to, and she kowtowed before crawling up to stand obediently behind her.
“Your son-in-law has come to visit!” Only then did Ren Zhixian step forward. He rolled up his sleeves before cupping his hands and bowing in front of Wang Shi.
“Son-in-law, there’s no need to be so polite. Quickly, have a seat, have a seat!” Wang Shi smiled and motioned.
“Understood, thank you, Mother-in-law!” Ren Zhixian’s expression was serious. In an orderly manner, he gave his thanks and rolled down his sleeves before straightening his clothes. Walking up to a seat, he lifted the end of his robe before taking a seat. Once seated, he gracefully hung it to a side.
I’ll have all of you see what being disciplined means and not with those foolish kowtows! Ren Zhixian sneered secretly to himself.
Seeing how he went by the book and had a solemn face as he sat still motionlessly, the crowd could not help but nibble their lips for they dared not to laugh. Even Nanny Jiang watched him in disdain. Why’s there such a huge difference between two scholarly people!
The lively atmosphere was immediately dampened by Ren Zhixian, and Wang Shi felt somewhat uncomfortable. She forced a smile and asked, “Since you’re both here, why not celebrate the festive season with everyone! It’ll be a good opportunity for us family to get together!”
Ren Zhixian’s parents had passed away several years ago. Being the only child, he was left with a small house for himself, Shi Yumei, and his concubine.
“Then I shall give my thanks to Mother-in-Law for your hospitality!” Ren Zhixian cupped his hands again and said with a grave face.
“Keke, you’re being too polite! We’re a family!” Wang Shi smiled and instructed Nanny Jiang to have the guest room prepared. “Have you brought any luggage with you?” Wang Shi asked Shi Yumei.
Shi Yumei then answered, “Just a few sets of clothes. They’re still left at the second gate’s waiting area!”
“Don’t forget to have someone bring that over!” Wang Shi added as she turned to Nanny Jiang, “Check if there’s anything they’re lacking and have someone prepare them for my eldest daughter and my son-in-law.”
Nanny Jiang nodded and left to give instructions to the other servants.
“You must all be tired from the travel. Will some rest do you well? I’ll have a servant give a call when dinner’s ready?” Wang Shi suddenly thought of something and she gently knocked her head as she said, “Oh, I must’ve been too happy. How could I have forgotten about Sang Wan! Quickly, have someone invite Sang Wan and the third lass over! Tell them that the eldest miss is back!”
“Sang Wan is your younger brother’s wife, and I’m sure you haven’t seen her yet. Now is a good time for you both to get to know each other!” Wang Shi smiled at her daughter with affection.
Wang Shi had no idea that her daughter had already vaguely seen Sang Wan when she entered the household. With a snort, Shi Yumei said, “Sang Wan? That little lass from Sang family? It seems my mother likes her very much!”
“What little lass, she’s your sister-in-law!” Wang Shi was displeased. “Sang Wan has a gentle disposition, and she treats people very well! She’s an extremely good person! You sister and sister-in-law should forge a better relationship with each other. Oh, also, if you need anything else in the future, just send someone to tell her!”
In the past, Shi Yumei was never in favor of the arranged wedding, for she had always felt that Sang family attempting to take a huge advantage of Shi family. The moment she came home and found out about this, she felt even more displeased with Sang Wan. And so, she disdainfully spoke, “Not a chance! I’ll only tell my mother what I want!”
“You ah!” Wang Shi shook her head helplessly with a smile. “In here, it’s fine, but don’t ever speak like that when you leave this place. Sang Wan’s the one managing the household now. If you were to say this and be heard by others, it won’t be good!”
Shi Yumei’s heart almost leaped out when she heard this. “Mother, what did you say? The household is now being managed by her? Then what happened to Cousin Fangzi?” Gu Fangzi had always liked to flatter her, so it was natural for her to be on Gu Fangzi’s side.
“Stop with all the fuss!” Wang Shi’s temper was almost exhausted. She patted her chest before glaring at Shi Yumei. “She is your younger brother’s wife, so isn’t it natural for her to be the one managing the household? Moreover, Gu Fangzi is still in her mourning period. Even if the mourning period has passed, our family can’t just ignore the wife and let Fangzi be the one to manage the household ah!” Wang Shi softly sighed. That was one thing she felt the sorriest about for Gu Fangzi, but Fangzi herself vowed that she was willing to be a concubine and would be perfectly satisfied staying by her aunt and big cousin’s side, so there was no way for her to refuse.
“Mother!” Shi Yumei was anxious and she blurted, “Even so, you shouldn’t have let that fall in the hands of a Sang member ah! You’re still young, Mother, so why not hold the reins yourself? You’ll have the management team and the servants to support you, and surely, none of them would dare to fool you. Sang family’s so broken, and you’re letting her manage the household? Hmph, who knows ah, maybe all our furniture might end up being moved to her parental house!”
“Hush with your nonsense!” Wang Shi frowned, “Sang Wan isn’t that kind of person! I’ve also met her brother and his wife. They’re also quite good people!” As she spoke, she scolded, “You ah, why must your temper be like that! Remember this well, when in front of your brother and sister-in-law, don’t utter such nonsense! Do you hear me?”
The more Shi Yumei listened, the angrier she got, and she yelled, “Mother! You can just keep protecting her! A married daughter is like water that has been poured out ah! I’m your biological daughter and the official eldest daughter of Shi family! But today, I have to act according to an outsider after returning home!”
“You ah, why do your words keep becoming more and more unreasonable! What ‘outsider’ ya? She is, in any case, your sister-in-law!”
“Yes, yes, yes, I said wrong. I’m the outsider! Other people are closer to you! Closer than your own daughter!” Shi Yumei fumed, “You can keep doting her, and then by the time she empties the entire household, you’ll know whether I’m right or not!”
“You— Just listen to what you’re saying—” Wang Shi almost choked from Shi Yumei’s words and was rendered speechless.
Seeing this, Nanny Jiang quickly tried to mediate the dispute. “Mistress, Eldest Miss has always been outspoken and short tempered, but looking at it narrowly isn’t going to do any good! Laonu may be overstepping her power, but laonu thinks that it would be better for both to speak nicely and calmly; there’s no need for any hurtful words! Shi Eldest Miss, Mistress cares for you the most and would occasionally think about you! I’m sure you know that yourself!”
Wang Shi let out a sigh and eased her expression. Shi Yumei’s heart also melted a little, and she went up to Wang Shi with a smile as she pulled her arm. “I was at fault. I shouldn’t have made Mother angry! Mother, let’s not quarrel anymore! Let’s not talk about this anymore, or else we may end up hurting our relationship!”
“I can imagine that happening, so control that mouth of yours!” Wang Shi glared at her and used a finger to nudge her forehead. Mother and daughter looked at each other and smiled.
“Mother, we shall return to our room and take a rest first!” Shi Yumei hurriedly smiled and said as she saw Ren Zhixian’s expression becoming more and more unbearable. She was extremely clear of her husband’s temper, and when it exploded, he was sure to create a scene.
“En, go then! Ai, wait, wait!” After a short nod, Wang Shi hurriedly stopped them, “I’ve already sent someone to invite Sang Wan and the third lass over. Why not leave after seeing them?”
Then all the more reason not to wait! Shi Yumei grunted before pulling her husband to the exit while replying, “I’m tired, I don’t wish to wait anymore. After all, we’ll still be home for a while, so I’m sure we’ll bump into each other!”
“This child!” Wang Shi moved her lips, but she could only watch them leave.