Ren Zhixian’s actual meaning was: Do you see that? Even if you, a Sang family’s lad, were the Shi family’s Ma’am’s younger brother and a top escorted examinee, you aren’t anything brilliant! My Cui Bao will not spare even you a glance!
But who knew Cui Bao would get startled. The Shi family’s Ma’am would be the mistress of the household in the future ah! Her brother was not someone she should offend! What’s more, he was also the top escorted examinee ah!
“Cui Bao was disrespectful and seeks for Sir’s forgiveness!” Before Ren Zhixian could react, Cui Bao had immediately kneeled down towards Sang Yufei with a bashful smile that was sweeter than honey.
Ren Zhixian’s face turned slightly twisted, and he was unhappy, but he was the one who chided her. Regardless whether she did so in good faith, her taking the opportunity was not something he could speak of.
Sang Yufei was feeling even more uncomfortable than Ren Zhixian. With an awkward smile, he accepted the apology.
Cui Bao chuckled demurely, “The top escorted examinee is indeed gentlemanly!” That made Sang Yufei’s stomach churn, and he almost barfed.
Shi Fenghua laughed to himself at the sight. That’s what you get for laughing at me just now!
“Come, come, drink some tea, drink!” Ren Zhixian was not pleased, and he gave a cough before raising his cup.
However, Shi Fenghua and Sang Yufei were already disinterested in their cup of tea. The two followed, raising their cups to their lips, just for show.
Ren Zhixian did not seem to have noticed. After a cup of tea, his mood was instantly lifted, and he began wording his words excessively using lots of historical allusions to identify with Shi Fenghua and Sang Yufei’s understanding. Shi Fenghu and Sang Yufei were forced to exchange words with him perfunctorily.
Cui Bao silently stood behind Ren Zhixian, but her pair of lively eyes would take a glimpse at Shi Fenghua and Sang Yufei from time to time. The more she looked at them, the more she liked them, to the point where Ren Zhixian was pushed to the mud deep inside her heart.
Seeing how Shi Fenghua and Sang Yufei were answering him with servility, the two had almost no words during the exchange except some vague remarks such as ‘You’re right!’, ‘That’s right!’, ‘Yes!’, and a few others with similar meaning. Basically, he was just talking off the top of his head. He was secretly delighted, and he thought to himself, These two lads are still inexperienced. Compared to me, they’re far behind! His self-esteem was greatly satisfied, fueling his arrogance. He looked towards Sang Yufei, but there was not as much disgust in his eyes as before. The lad was, after all, a bookworm to not even know what it meant to be an ‘outstanding’ scholar! From top to bottom, he was neither elegant nor was he outstanding! What a pity, what a pity ah!
Ren Zhixian’s arrogance rushed to his head, and he suddenly became more generous. With a smile towards Sang Yufei, he said, “Brother Sang can now be considered as having a foot into becoming an official. Was there someone whom you like who cared for you and supported you from behind?”
Shi Fenghua could not help but be in awe, “Brother Sang is truly admirable! Not only does Brother Sang have a good character, but you’re also both filial and respectful!”
However, Ren Zhixian did not think so, “How can that be fine? What’s done is done, but you’re now a top escorted examinee. If there’s no one to serve and support you, you’ll become a joke and an insult!” With that, he waved his hand before turning his head to point at Cui Bao, “What do you think of this lass?”
Sang Yufei was taken aback and he forced a smile, “…Good, I guess.” How could there be such a person who would ask others to judge his servant? Sang Yufei shook his head disapprovingly to himself, but did not give it much thought.
But who knew that what was to come would give Sang Yufei a greater shock! All he heard was Ren Zhixian who was grinning senselessly, “I also think the lass’s not too bad. She’s clever and knows how to serve in the study room. Since Brother Sang thinks so too, I’ll give this lass to you. What do you think? In the future, you’ll have a beauty in the night to add flavor as you study! Hahahaha!” Ren Zhixian supposed he was being generous, and he let out a pompous laugh.
Cui Bao was overjoyed. Her eyes shimmered as she gazed towards Sang Yufei, and with her delicate neck lowered, she was exceedingly lovely.
To be with the top escorted examinee was, of course, much better than this odd, inconsistent, and shabby scholar.
“No need, no need!” Just the thought of this woman which belonged to Ren Zhixian was enough to make Sang Yufei’s stomach churn in disgust. There was no way he would want her, and he quickly refused, “How can I accept that? I dare not receive and would wish for Brother-in-law to withdraw the arrangement!”
“Ai, that’s nothing!” Ren Zhixian only understood Sang Yufei as being too embarrassed to accept, so he became even more generous by saying, “For us scholars, sharing the good things we have is an elegant thing to do. Brother Sang, there’s no need to feel reserved!”
Shi Fenghua could no longer hold himself back. With a fist clenched, he chuckled into it as he glanced at Sang Yufei with enjoyment expressed in his eyes.
Sang Yufei didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but there was no way he was going to accept any dirty or stinking things thrown at him. In a moment of desperation, he shook his head and refused, “I do not wish to rob you of your precious, hence my request still stands! Besides, I’ll be rushing off to take another exam at the capital in due course and do not wish to be distracted. However, Brother-in-law’s kindness is enough and I’m happy to receive! Please forgive my refusal!”
Cui Bao was extremely disappointed and anxious. With a sorrowful look, she said to Sang Yufei, “Does Sir dislike Cui Bao that much?” Then, she looked towards Ren Zhixian, revealing her grievance.
Ren Zhixian was also somewhat unhappy with Sang Yufei for not knowing how to appreciate a favor and for tainting such a beautiful instance. But upon hearing Cui Bao’s words, he became unhappier and he thought to himself: Do you dislike me that much, or do I not have an eye for people?
“Oh Brother Sang, don’t you see how you’re hurting this beauty’s heart? We’re gentlemen, how can we not bat an eye!” Ren Zhixian spoke, seemingly serious or as a joke.
Sang Yufei acted as if he had not heard him, and he glanced at Cui Bao, “Missy, what are you implying? Does Missy not wish to stay by Brother-in-law’s side and serve him? We’ve all witnessed how well Brother-in-law treats you, so don’t you think your words were a little cold?”
“I—Cui Bao didn’t…” Cui Bao became more anxious in that instant and her expression changed.
She should have kept silent. Unlike Ren Zhixian, acting and thinking on her own was a sin. That was the difference between master and servant.
Sang Yufei’s words immediately made Ren Zhixian uncomfortable. Being cast aside by a beauty, that would be the most embarrassing thing to happen for a man!
“Then, Missy, please serve Brother-in-law well! Don’t take advantage of Brother-in-laws favoritism!” Sang Yufei’s eyes darkened.
Cui Bao was taken aback, and she immediately knew there would never be a chance for her to leave Ren Zhixian’s side. Her gaze immediately fell on Ren Zhixian and she implored affectionately, “Yes, nubi will serve my master properly!” With that, she then said pitifully to Ren Zhixian, “Master, Cui Bao doesn’t wish to leave! Cui Bao doesn’t wish to part to Master! Please Master, please don’t send Cui Bao away!”
Shi Fenghua grinned broadly, “Brother-in-law, since the missy has already said it, I’m sure Brother-in-law wouldn’t refuse her especially since Brother-in-law is a person most fond of women! I think this matter should rest here!”
“Urgh, that—” For a moment, Ren Zhixian hesitated and the unhappiness in his heart vanished.
Sang Yufei once again declined sincerely, and Ren Zhixian finally let out a sigh, “Alright then. Since that’s the case, nevermind then. Keke, next time, your brother-in-law will buy you a more fitting one. I gurantee, just one look and Brother Sang will not regret!”
Although those words were said, Sang Yufei just listened with a foolish smile without commenting. After exchanging glances with Shi Fenghua, the two stood and excused themselves, remarking on how the night was no longer young.
After leaving Banana Courtyard, the two happened to sigh at the same time, almost as if they had just walked through a perilous cave. The two looked at each other and could not help but laugh.
As they laughed, Shi Fenghua suddenly felt there was a need for him to apologize. After all, Ren Zhixian was his sister’s husband. After a cough, he sighed, “I don’t know what happened to my brother-in-law, but he didn’t use to be like that. It may be because he studied too much and became pedantic, but his studies is actually not bad!”
In the past… Shi Fenghua could not help but recall the day when his brother-in-law went to receive his sister on their wedding day. On the third day when they returned to visit Mother, who wouldn’t praise his brother-in-law’s manners and elegance? Who wouldn’t claim that his sister was fortunate to be able to marry such an outstanding man!
At that time, he was eight and only began studying. He admired that man! Just when did he begin to show changes? All the way to now, he seemed to have transformed into an entirely different person!
Sang Yufei also felt it was rude of himself to be making fun of someone else, and he nodded, “He indeed has a good grasp of his studies, but if he truly is knowledgeable, he wouldn’t have said all those words!”
The two exchanged a few more words with each other before parting to rest as Sang Yufei had to return on the road the next morning.
By the time Sang Wan and Shi Fengju left Wang Shi’s place and was on their way back to the small garden, Sang Wan finally expressed her gratitude towards Shi Fengju for helping her second brother. Her mood was great, and she laughed and talked with him. And unknowingly, her heart got closer to him which gave him a sense of bliss he could not express.
“Sister! Big Cousin!” Who knew that the moment when they stepped into the small garden, Gu Fangzi appear out from a cluster of hibiscus plants, wearing entirely white except for her blue cloak, together with Lan Xiang.
Sang Wan’s mood dulled, and a look of vexation furrowed Shi Fengju’s brow.
“Why’re you here?” Shi Fengju questioned.
Gu Fangzi smiled faintly as she went up to give her congratulations, “I heard that Sister’s elder brother has emerged as the top escorted examinee. I’m also happy for Sister and thought to come here to express my best wishes. But who knew I would be early, so I waited here for Sister to return! Sister, congratulations ah!”
“Thank you!” Sang Wan smiled and invited her, “Come in and have some tea! You ah, the air tonight is very chilly. If you caught a cold standing out here, that wouldn’t be good! Don’t do that next time. If we aren’t around, you can go back first, just your well-wishes from your thoughts are enough!”
Gu Fangzi was slightly disappointed for she assumed Sang Wan would say words along the line of “Why don’t you go in and wait?” That would have given her the chance to enter the small garden whenever Sang Wan wasn’t around. But who knew she was asked to go back instead!