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“No need, no need!” Ren Zhixian said faintly, “He just feels that he may not be suitable to serve in the study room!”
Shi Yumei looked at him deeply before saying, “Then who do you think is appropriate? Tell me!”
So she isn’t that stupid! Ren Zhixian thought to himself.
“There is one lass who I think is quite intelligent. But I’m just afraid that your brother might not be willing to give her!” Ren Zhixian said with no restraint.
Shi Yumei could feel a gust of anger rising up her stomach. So, he wants a female and not a male servant serving him. Without even using her head, she was already clear of her husband’s intentions! He must have fancied some lass and must want to have her as one of his closest servants.
Shi Yumei was at a loss, and she wanted to quarrel with him, but after some thoughts, she let it slide. Under the heavens, there were adulterers and men who preyed on beauty! Although her husband was lustful, he had never done anything over the line and never favored the concubine to do away with the wife. Moreover, all he had were only servants and never an actual concubine. Quite visibly, he still looked highly upon her as his wife!
Doing so was already a feat for a man, and she was thankful for that. If her husband were like her second sister-in-law’s, then her life would surely be miserable!
Having this mindset, Shi Yumei’s anger seemed to have subsided slightly, and she said with a pleasant expression, “Which lass? Ain’t it just a lass? My younger brother isn’t a petty person!”
“That’s good to hear! Then I’ll be eagerly waiting for you to ask!” Ren Zhixian said, “She’s that servant always by your sister-in-law’s side. She goes by the name Zhide!”
Shi Yumei’s eyes went slightly clouded for a moment. “Zhide? Zhide ah!”
The moment she heard that the servant was her sister-in-law’s, she felt somewhat unhappy. But after recalling Gu Fangzi’s words, and then about Zhide being a servant born in the household, she nodded with a smile,. “You sure have good eyes. That is my sister-in-law’s head servant who has always been serving in the small garden! Alright, when my brother returns, I’ll ask him!”
Ren Zhixian’s face was filled with glee, and he quickly said his thanks before saying how having a servant serving him by his side would let him focus on his studies without the need to keep on worrying about other things. Coaxed after hearing things like their future was secured because he would study hard, Shi Yumei vouched with a sigh, “If that’ll really let you settle your heart to study, then let’s forget one, I’m even willing to ask for ten!”
“My good wife!” Ren Zhixian smiled and cupped his hands before frowning. “Although you can understand me, your younger brother doesn’t. He thinks that I’m deliberately asking for too much and purposely sent a problematic servant to me! But if we were to argue until the heavens shake, then I think it’s best not to! After all, we’re living in someone else’s household. We should put up with things as much as we can!”
Although Shi Yumei was thinking the same, she disliked hearing it from someone else’s mouth. It was almost as if she did not belong to the household, and that she was not Mother’s most cherished daughter and not her younger brother’s sister!
“That can’t be!” Shi Yumei snorted, “My brother isn’t that kind of person! He won’t say otherwise to his sister! It’s just that other person… Forget it, I won’t wait until he’s back. I’ll go and find my sister-in-law! Don’t worry, I have my own way of doing things!”
Shi Yumei got up without any delay and brought with her a servant as she went to the small garden.
Sang Wan felt a chill when she saw her. These few days were enough for her to tell what those two’s personalities were. Although Ren Zhixian would occasionally try to find fault with her, Shi Yumei was different. She was stubborn and more difficult to handle compared to her mother.
“Big Sister, you’re here! Quickly, come in and have a seat!” Sang Wan smiled as she welcomed her before instructing a servant girl to bring in some tea and snacks.
To her surprise, Shi Yumei was not looking to give her trouble today. All of a sudden, that face suddenly expressed a grin. “Younger sister-in-law, I hope I’m not bothering you!”
“Nothing of the sort!” Sang Wan quickly responded with a smile.
After a brief moment of awkward conversation, Shi Yumei hurried her, “I was just bored, so I went out for a walk. I didn’t expect to end up here! You don’t have to bother about me and carry on with what you’re busy with! I’ll sit here for a while before leaving! Go, go, hurry along! We’re a family, so there’s no need for you to be so particular! Oh, let this lass stay and chat with me!” Shi Yumei said as she pointed at Zhide.
Sang Wan pondered to herself. Before, she thought that Shi Yumei was being polite towards her, and she didn’t dare to take her words literally, so she gave a perfunctory smile. But who knew that wasn’t the case. Shi Yumei was obviously trying to chase her away.
Sang Wan felt helpless, but she really had something to see to in any case, so she gave in and instructed Zhide to serve the eldest missy properly before taking her leave.
Shi Yumei held on to a cup of tea as she observed Zhide from top to bottom with a smile. Her figure was well-proportioned, her shoulders were slim, her face was oval in shape, her nose was good looking, and her eyes were sparkly. With just one look, Shi Yumei thought she was indeed beautiful. She was the honest and steady type, unlike those frivolous ones.
No wonder she has caught my husband’s eye; she is indeed perfect!
The more Shi Yumei looked at her, the more satisfied she was, and she nodded repeatedly.
Zhide stood at a side, fidgeting with her fingers. She didn’t dare look up as Shi Yumei gazed intensely at her. Just what is the eldest missy of the family thinking? That thought itself made her heart pound heavily.
“Is there something on nubi, or is there something on nubi’s face that catches Eldest Missy’s eyes!” Zhide helplessly smiled and asked as she shook uncomfortably.
“Keke, nothing, nothing!” Only then did Shi Yumei realize that her eyes had been on her for quite some time already, and she quickly waved at her, “Come, have a seat! Let’s talk!”
“In front of the eldest missy, nubi has no right to sit,” Zhide felt more and more uncomfortable and smiled. “If Eldest Missy has anything to instruct nubi, nubi, nubi…”
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“Not good!” A voice deep within Zhide suddenly shrieked. What if, what if the eldest missy is here to inquire about Ma’am? What if she wants nubi to be her eyes in the small garden? That—
Zhide’s heart trembled, and her expression changed. Shi Yumei found her quite amusing, and she pulled her to a seat before smiling to tell her, “Your pluck is too small! I asked you to sit, so sit! You don’t have to hold back! I’m sure you know my personality; I’m easy to get along with!”
“Then, nubi shall give her thanks to Eldest Missy!” Helplessly, Zhide forced a smile and carefully sat down, but her heart was pounding more than before. The ma’am was a great person who taught her how to read, thus she was greatly in favor of her. Regardless of what happened next, she would not do anything to harm Ma’am. If things were to go wrong, couldn’t she just beg to be married off and leave this small garden?
By her parents’, as well as her brother’s, position in the Shi family, she still had the assurance.
Now, after taking into consideration the worst possible option she could take, her heart finally calmed down.
“That’s it mah!” Shi Yumei smiled with satisfaction before asking Zhide some questions. They went something like how old she was, what she usually liked to do, how her embroidery skills were, what were the main tasks assigned to her by Ma’am, how many siblings she has, what do they do, and so on.
Although Zhide’s heart gradually became settled, she was not willing to elaborate on her words, and she ended her sentences after two or three. She talked about some tasks her masters would occasionally give her to do, the chores she did at home during her break, her poor embroidery skills, and words along those lines.
However, Shi Yumei asked her those to create an opportunity for their conversation to sound a little better. She did not care how Zhide answered her and therefore did not put them to heart. On one side, a question was asked, and the other just quickly brushed it aside with a brief answer. Miraculously, the conversation managed to continue on.
“Oh right, I heard that your ma’am also teaches you how to read. Is that true?” Shi Yumei suddenly asked.
Zhide’s body stiffened but she said with a smile, “It’s true… It is unfortunate that nubi isn’t intelligent and can only read a few words unlike Hong Ye and Liu Ya! Even Ma’am said that teaching nubi requires a lot of effort!”
“Your ma’am ah, she’s a talented woman. In her eyes, who isn’t stupid!” Shi Yumei said half-mockingly, “If I may add, women ah, what use is there to know how to read? It isn’t even important! The most important thing is to marry a good husband to secure a peaceful future!”
Zhide’s face turned red after hearing her so, and she could not help but lower her head silently. She was feeling both awkward as well as embarrassed, and she thought to herself, What is going on? I’m not even close with the eldest missy, so why is she bringing this up!
“Foolish lass, what’s there to be embarrassed about!” Shi Yumei saw her bashful face and was even happier. She could not help but hold Zhide’s hand with a smile. “For women, who wouldn’t think so? We’re both women, so there’s no need to be embarrassed about it! You aren’t that young anymore. Have you taken a liking to someone already?”
Zhide’s face turned even redder, and she lowered her head even further. A brief moment later, she shook her head stiffly before retracting her hand gently.
“Then that’s great! This must be the heavens’ will ah!” Shi Yumei laughed without any cares and asked, “Then, would you like to come with me?”
“Eldest Missy?” Zhide’s eyes widened, and she looked at Shi Yumei. “Nubi doesn’t understand what Eldest Missy means.”
Shi Yumei lightly brushed on her clothes before saying, “I can see that you’re quite intelligent, and my impression of you is quite positive! Well, I won’t beat about the bush and tell you straight up! I’m sure you know that my husband is now studying very hard for the upcoming examinations. However, there isn’t a clever servant to serve him which might affect his studies. I was thinking of picking one from the household, and after looking for some time, I found that you are the most suited! Keke, you’re fortunate to be born in the Shi family, different from many others. When my husband scores well in the imperial examinations, you’ll become an official concubine; even Cui Zhu cannot be compared to you! I’ve always been a tolerant person, and my husband’s temperament is already good. We’ll surely not treat you unfairly! And in the future when you have a son, your life will be complete! Tell me, has lady luck finally found you? All the servants in the household will be envious of you, and no one can be compared to you!