Sang Pingliang was so excited that he could not sleep that night. He tossed and turned as he thought about the type of concubine he should buy. The girl must be in good shape, have a pretty face, and skin as smooth as the surface of a peeled hard-boiled egg. As for the age, 16 or 17 years old would be best. But if she was really pretty and attractive, she can be 18 or 19.
But most importantly, the price must be cheap.
Thinking about it, Sang Pingliang hesitated again. The middlemen were always tricky; without a good price, they would never sell their good ones away! If he wanted a young and good one, he might have to fork out twenty or thirty silvers!
Twenty or thirty silvers! Not just two or three silvers! Sang Pingliang felt his heart ache just from that thought.
He couldn’t help but sigh. Whatever, if it was just to give birth to a son, what difference does a girl worth thirty or ten silvers make? All he had to choose was someone with a big hip that would be good for giving birth.
Then, thinking again, why should he mistreat himself! He was already at this age, if he didn’t enjoy his wealth now, he would never get to. This twenty or thirty silvers was worth spending!
Sang Pingliang finally made his decision to spend, no matter how much it would take to select a girl that he would be satisfied with! Of course, that ‘no matter how much’ was limited to fifty silvers.
On the next morning, Sang Pingliang changed into a brand new maroon floral patterned robe after waking up and having his breakfast. After counting his money and tidying his hair, he left his house happily.
At the door, Li Shi watched him leave. Staring at his back, she gave him a deathly glare and hissed at him. When she went back into the house, she vented all her frustrations on Sang Rou.
Sang Rou remained as per usual, lying low and letting all the frustrations be vented onto her. However, she was secretly gloating over what had happened and was even more excited than her father for the new concubine.
No matter what, there would be someone else to receive the gunfire in the household as well. Even if this was not advantageous for her, it was not disadvantageous as well. However, it was definitely a blow to Li Shi’s position!
Sang Pingliang hired a buffalo cart and headed towards town. He was only willing to spend six coppers. Because Sang Pingliang was miserly, the buffalo’s owner purposely travelled at a slow pace and allowed his buffalo to graze during the journey. Regardless how Sang Pingliang pushed the buffalo’s owner to hasten, he acted like he didn’t hear him. By the time Sang Pingliang arrived in town, it was almost noon.
When Sang Pingliang hopped off the cart he was feeling extremely unhappy so he gave the poor owner five coppers which angered him. But knowing Sang Pingliang’s character, the buffalo’s owner remained silent as it would only be a waste of saliva to bicker and grudgingly let that one copper go.
“Eh Xiao Xu, later, I still need you to get me home in the afternoon too, since you’ve to go back to the village as well, don’t you? I’ll give you another 3 coppers!” Sang Pingliang deemed himself generous with his offer.
Instead, the buffalo’s owner spoke with contempt, “I can’t afford to earn money from you! I still have to rush back to farming!” After he finished, he cracked a whip and left. Deep down, he understood that it was the right decision for the Sang brothers to cut off ties with such a man. Having an elder like this would be worse than not having one. Thinking again, why did he even allow himself to feel greed over a few coppers? It wasn’t even enough for him to get angry at!
“Really! Letting go of an opportunity to earn you money; you deserve to be poor!” Sang Pingliang said in disdain. With his hands behind his back, he strolled into the bustling marketplace. He had decided to have his lunch first before going to the middleman. Letting his bride-to-be have one more meal at the middleman’s place still counted as a gain for him!
Sang Pingliang chose a noodle stall at the side of the main road. He ordered a big bowl of piping hot beef noodles and requested for more chopped green onions and wonton*. [* TL Note: a type of Chinese dumpling]
As he picked up his chopsticks, he heard a series of loud and hurried gong sounds. An officer wearing black and brown was hitting the gong while announcing at the top of his voice, “Good news! Good news! I have a big piece of good news! The Sang household’s Sang Yufei from our Yangliu Town has gotten the top escorted examinee! Good News! Good News! A big piece of good news….”
The officer went on shouting. Other than Sang Yufei in the Yangliu town, another person, He Shenzhi, had also received the top escorted examinee. That created a huge commotion and the people started asking around about Sang Yufei and He Shenzhi. The town was filled with amazement, compliments, and envy; it soon became busier than ever.
“Pa” Sang Pingliang dropped his chopsticks on the table and was stupefied for a moment.
When he returned to his senses, the officer who was delivering the good news with the gong had already gone far away. Sang Pingliang quickly stood up and pulled the noodle stall owner aside before asking, “Who? Who has become a top escorted examinee?”
The owner was taken aback by his actions and stammered, “Sang… Sang Yufei!”
“From which village?”
“I think…think he’s from Si…Sihe Village!”
“Are you sure? Did you hear wrongly?” Sang Pingliang’s face turned white. The hand clutching onto the stall owner’s collar tightened and that almost suffocated him.
“I didn’t —what are you doing! You almost killed me!” The stall owner returned to his senses and forcefully pushed Sang Pingliang aside. Feeling vexed, he scolded, “Are you out of your mind! What does other people getting the title got to do with you! Why are you getting so agitated for?!”
“What do you mean none of my **** business? That is my nephew, my blood-related nephew!” Sang Pingliang stamped his feet and ran out.
“Eh, eh, you haven’t paid me yet!” The stall owner grabbed him and stopped him from leaving, “5 copper, thank you!”
Sang Pingliang lashed out, “My nephew has gotten the title and you still want to take money from me? I need to rush home right now!”
“Even so, you still have to pay up!” Getting ruthlessly questioned by him just now without a good reason, the stall owner wasn’t going to let him off so easily. Rolling his eyes, he said in impolitely, “What’s more, there’s no way I can tell if you’re just a swindler who goes around cheating people’s money!” Having someone like you, as if your nephew can get that title! Otherwise, my son would have already been ranked top nationwide!
“Don’t you look down on me, just you wait, I will remember you!” Sang Pingliang trembled with anger but did not bother to continue arguing with the owner. He threw the five copper at him and ran out hurriedly.
After making sure that it was really Sang Yufei who had become the top escorted examinee, Sang Pingliang felt extremely happy and the smile on his face was from one ear to the other. Great, this was great news! All of a sudden, he had become the top escorted examinee’s blood uncle! The only elder in the household of the top escorted examinee!
However, that excitement did not last long. It was quickly dampened and the smile on his face froze at the thought of what happened yesterday.
“How can this happen, how can this happen!” Sang Pingliang was feeling regretful and he begun blaming the officer for not delivering the good news a day earlier.
“Regardless, I am still his blood uncle and nobody can change that! If this brat thinks he can forget me when he becomes successful, that will never happen! He’ll be scolded by everyone!” Sang Pingliang sneered to himself.
Not only that, the news must not have reached the village yet! Surely Yufei, that brat, is still oblivious about it. If he hurried home and reverted the decision made yesterday, then wouldn’t everything be well?
Alright! I will just do that! Satisfied with that idea, Sang Pingliang could no longer delay any moment and be a scrooge. He paid 3 silver for a ride home in a horse carriage. Forget about buying a concubine, he had to hurry back to the village as quickly as possible!
As the good news spread across the streets, Sang Wan and Shi Fengju were having their lunch in a restaurant’s private room. When they heard the banging of the gong and loud shouts, Sang Wan’s eyes brightened up and her lips curled into a smile.
“The news is finally here! This is great, this is really great!” Leaning against the window, Sang Wan happily said.
“The government officials will only arrive at the village tomorrow to deliver the good news. We’ll have to leave early tomorrow!” Shi Fengju laughed and said. The group that delivered the good news will have to continue banging the gong all the way to the recipient’s house, spreading the news along the way and arriving only at noon to have lunch there. By following that guideline, they would only arrive at the village on the next day.
“Okay! I don’t know what must be done tomorrow so we’ll go with your arrangement,” Sang Wan smiled towards him.
“Don’t worry! The servants I brought are all capable, I will pass the instructions properly to them.” Shi Fengju was secretly happy that she was now relying on him.
“Eh?” Sang Wan suddenly pointed at the crowd and said in surprise, “Did you see? Isn’t that Second Uncle Sang? Why is he here?”
Shi Fengju looked at the direction she was pointing to and he saw an old man in his fifties squeezing through the crowd and pulling some of them aside to interrogate. Isn’t that Sang Pingliang?
Shi Fengju felt a little puzzled at the sight, but seeing how Sang Wan’s brows were slightly creased together, he smiled and said, “I think it might just be a coincidence! I’m afraid that the news will spread the moment he arrives back at the village. How about we hurry there now as well?”
Shi Fengju didn’t know about the plan Sang Yufei and Sang Wan had come up with against Sang Pingliang. After all, it wasn’t something glamorous and neither was it suitable to let him know.
“No need,” Sang Wan said as she thought to herself. Whether or not her second brother was able to successfully carry out the plan, she wouldn’t be of much help and would instead create more trouble for him because if Sang Pingliang were to use words against her, then it would only spell trouble. Leaving tomorrow would be better.
“Okay, then tomorrow we’ll leave!” Although Shi Fengju found it strange, he didn’t give more thoughts into it.
Sang Pingliang hurried back to Sihe Village quickly. After getting off the carriage, he went straight for home.
Li Shi was very concerned about the looks of her new “sister”. Right after Sang Pingliang left, she had been eyeing at the door innumerous times. Once she saw him hurrying back, she could not help but be mad and cursed a few times under her breath.
Wait, that doesn’t look right! There was only her husband running back, with no other woman with him!
Li Shi was suddenly overjoyed and she called out, “Mister! Mister!” Running towards Sang Pingliang, she happily said, “Mister, you didn’t go to buy a concubine?”
“It’s already what time, what use is there to buy a concubine!” Sang Pingliang said unhappily.
“Eh, right, right!” Li Shi was very happy, “Let’s slowly think it through and find a good one. There’s no need to hurry, no need to rush!”
“Let’s not talk about this and go home with me right now, I have something big to tell you!” Sang Pingliang became even more impatient. Giving a glimpse at Sang Hong’s house, a sense of greed erupted from within him.
“Okay, okay!” Li Shi was still full of joy from the fact that Sang Pingliang did not buy a concubine. It was the only issue which mattered to her and she agreed without a second thought.