“Yes! It’s Second Young Master Sang from Ma’am’s family!” Concubine Fang quickly added, “Sir, don’t you think he is an ideal choice? Second Young Master Sang is a fine man and is also a top escorted examinee. There will be no problem in clinching first place in the court exam next year! Sir, think of how great it would be to have an advanced scholar as your son-in-law!”
“You’re right! Why didn’t I think of that?” Second Old Master Shi slammed the table upon revelation. The more he thought about it, the more he felt strongly towards the proposal. He said happily, “Yes, Yes! The two families are already in-laws, this can bring the two families even closer!”
“Sir, you’re brilliant! That’s precisely the reason!” Concubine Fang became elated when she heard Second Old Master Shi say “Yes” numerous times. If her daughter became the wife of an official and received authority, as her blood-related mother, she would definitely have a comfortable life ahead!
“But, isn’t Second Young Master Sang already nineteen? Our Ah Rui is only twelve by the calendar, isn’t she a little young?” Second Old Master Shi could not help but to feel that the opportunity was squandered; if only his daughter was two or three years older!
“She’s not young at all, not young at all! The minimum age for the selection of royal concubines is also thirteen!” Concubine Fang smiled and said, “This marriage arrangement can be set up first. If the Sang family is anxious to marry, then Ah Rui can marry into their family in two or three years when she’s fourteen. If not, she can marry in once she becomes an adult! Our Ah Rui is so obedient, outstanding in terms of looks and characters, and is also a proper missy. She will be a perfect match for Second Young Master Sang!”
“Right! Then this is settled!” The more Second Old Master Shi listened, the more convinced he was. He slammed the tea table happily and nodded while smiling, “Tomorrow, I’ll have someone invite Second Young Master Sang over and then speak with him about this!”
“Aiya, Sir!” Concubine Fang whined, “You, must be too overjoyed that you lost your senses! How can you speak about this straight to his face? Why don’t I find an excuse to visit this household’s ma’am and hint to her about this. Then, she can deliver this message to Second Young Master Sang for him to inform the rest of his family at home so that they can send someone to officially ask for the marriage! Sir, we can’t make a mistake here! Our family’s missy is a woman; how can the missy be chasing after a man? We should let the man take the first step to give our family’s missy face. Sir, it will also give you and Mistress Mi face as well!
Second Old Master Shi heard her and he laughed out loud. He tapped his head repeatedly and said, “Right, right, you are right! How can a woman be chasing after a man? Our Shi family’s reputation isn’t poor, we can’t have people looking down on us!”
“That’s it!” Concubine Fang laughed and said, “Sir, so this is decided? Tomorrow, I will pay a visit to Ma’am then?”
“Yes! We should settle this quickly while Second Young Master Sang is still staying in our household!” Second Old Master Shi laughed and said.
“Sir, don’t worry, this concubine knows what to do!” Concubine Fang grinned.
Concubine Fang was so excited that she could not sleep well that night and she discussed with Nanny Ying for a long while before stopping. Just from the thought of the good she would obtain from this marriage, Concubine Fang was over the moon.
On the next afternoon, when Concubine Fang supposed Sang Wan had settled all the matters within the household, she got changed into a red outer coat with colorful flowers embroidered on it and a violet pleated dress before her hair was combed. The beautiful gold ornaments were carefully inserted into her hair, and she left with Nanny Ying after dabbing some makeup on her face.
Both master and servant were feeling excited and their hearts were pounding quickly as they softly discussed among themselves along the way.
“Nanny Ying, do you think Ma’am will be willing?”
“Oh! Although Second Young Master Sang’s future is bright after becoming a top escorted examinee, our Shi family is still the richest in Qingzhou. With that, who can say for certain which is more prestigious? Our Fifth Missy is such a good person, this old servant thinks that this marriage is indeed a heavenly match! Second Young Master Sang isn’t foolish, why would he reject this? Furthermore, Ma’am is only responsible for passing on the word, she has no say in accepting or denying this marriage arrangement!”
“Yes, yes, yes! Foolish me for speaking such rubbish! Ma’am is such a kind person, she will surely help us pass the word!”
“Hehe, that’s correct! But you aren’t being foolish, just overjoyed, overjoyed!”
“Right, right, that is it!”
The two started laughing.
Unbeknown to them, a tragedy was about to happen to them from too much joy. Their laughter soon became cries of pain! Two girls knocked into them in the small path; the first who knocked into Concubine Fang wore a yellow dress, and the other who stepped onto Nanny Ying’s foot wore a light blue robe!
“Aiyo, this hurts for this old woman! Which d*mned lass didn’t look where she’s going!” Nanny Ying jumped and exclaimed.
“Sorry, sorry! Nanny, I didn’t notice you!” A young maidservant quickly went to help Nanny Ying.
“D*mned lass, you——” Nanny Ying glared at the maidservant as she grinded her teeth and exhaled sharply. Just when she was about to give a stern scolding, she quickly realized that the maidservant was Cai Yun, Shi Lian’s head maidservant, and she held herself back in time, swallowing down her resentment.
Concubine Fang was knocked in the waist. Seeing the dirty footprint on her dress, she became infuriated. But after taking a clearer look at the apologetic girl that was helping her up, she had to swallow her resentment as well.
Shi Lian was the daughter of the first family. Being a concubine of the second family, she had no authority to scold Shi Lian. After all, She wasn’t as foolish as that *** Concubine Shui .
“I am so sorry, it was all my fault! Concubine Fang, are your alright? Did you sprain your hip? Let me help you over to have a seat!” Shi Lian pulled Concubine Fang’s elbow while remaining apologetic.
“It’s fine, it’s fine! How can I trouble Third Missy? Really, I’m fine!” Concubine Fang forced out a smile between her teeth.
“Missy, let this servant hold on to Concubine Fang instead!” Cai Yun hurriedly walked over and took over from Shi Lian. Like Shi Lian, she uttered apologies without stop.
“No need to rest! I’ll head back now! I’m really fine. Third Missy, do be careful next time, an accident mustn’t be trifled with!” Concubine Fang’s waist hurt faintly. Add that to her now dirty dress, how could she still meet with Sang Wan? She had no choice but to return first!
“It’s great that Auntie Fang is fine! Thank you, Auntie Fang, for your reminder. I will be more careful next time!” Shi Lian quickly smiled and said.
Concubine Fang went excitedly but had to return midway when a pail of cold water dampened it. The dismay and anger was just indescribable! Concubine Fang held onto Nanny Ying and left hurriedly.
“This Third Missy is so obedient in front of Mistress Wang, but how could she create such a scene behind her back! Seriously!” After going far, Nanny Ying complained softly.
“Enough! We weren’t careful ourselves! Don’t speak such nonsense! Do we have the right to criticize them?” Although Concubine Fang rolled her eyes at Nanny Ying, she was also feeling angry as well.
“Yes,” Nanny Ying quickly answered and did not dare to make further comments. She smiled and said, “Lady Fang, does your waist still hurt? Should I call a doctor to have a look?”
Concubine Fang creased her eyebrows and inhaled before she said snappily, “Do you think this is already not embarrassing enough? Just have a servant quietly bring a bottle of ointment for the bruise will do!”
Call the doctor? Calling the doctor would require informing Old Mistress. Old Mistress would definitely ask for the reason and if she knew about it, I will become a joke. Besides, it took much coaxing behind the back of Old Mistress for Old Master to let me step in; if Old Mistress catches wind of this and becomes upset, she might stir up trouble for me! That would be worse!
“Understood, understood, this old servant was foolish!” Nanny Ying realized belatedly and gently knocked at her head.
“Missy, is what they said true?” As they watched Concubine Fang and her servant walk away, Cai Yun asked Shi Lian softly.
Shi Lian looked at her surroundings and whispered, “Let’s head back first!”
The master and servant returned back to Fu Qu Lodge and closed the doors shut. Cai Yun said immediately, “Missy, you have to think of a way! If not, someone else will steal the chance! We were lucky today to bump into them coincidentally and happen to hear about it, otherwise——”
“Enough, you don’t have to tell me! Let me have some time alone!” Shi Lian nibbled at her lips and raised her hand as she sighed softly.
Cai Yun studied her for a while and silently served a cup of tea before taking her leave.
Shi Lian subconsciously pressed her hand at her chest as her heart was still pounding. After a moment, she finally let out a deep sigh and came to her senses.
Shi Lian could not help but to feel indignant. Shi Rui was only eleven, yet Concubine Fang had harbored such a thought! Since Second Aunt Mi was not the one taking action, Concubine Fang must be behind this and convinced Second Uncle Shi about her plan.
After giving some thought, Shi Lian nibbled her lips again and decided to risk meeting with Sang Yufei. She called for Cai Yun and gave her instructions.
Even though Sang Yufei was with Shi Fenghua daily, there was a spare moment when they would be apart after lunch. If Shi Lian wanted to meet him, that was the best moment to do so.
After noon, the residence in every courtyard and quarters would be resting or having small chats. There would rarely be people shuttling between the quarters.
Sang Yufei’s guest room was situated in the outer courtyard. However, it was not strange for him to be within the inner courtyard as he would always be walking about in the garden during the day or resting in Shi Fenghua’s side room.
Sang Yufei arrived at a secluded corner of the garden as arranged. Shi Lian was already waiting anxiously there for him.
“Ah Lian! Did something happened?” Sang Yufei hurriedly asked.
A few months earlier, Shi Lian went out of the household to offer her incense, and she met Sang Yufei who was travelling in the outskirts. They fell in love at first sight but they remained impassive as who knew whether they would meet again after bidding farewell? Thus, when Sang Yufei came for a visit, they surprisingly met again and found out that their families were actually in-laws! Their joy and surprise were indescribable and thought it was fate that they were destined by the heavens. If not, why would there be such a coincidence?
Although Sang Yufei had become a top escorted examinee, he was still unaccomplished and was not confident enough to ask for her hand in marriage. However, he decided that next year, after passing and becoming an official, he would officially send someone to send his proposal. Shi Lian was elated after hearing his words and restrained herself from appearing in front of him all these while to avoid any complications. Of course, other than the occasional nods and greetings when they met each other “unintentionally”.
Sang Yufei believed that if not for something extremely urgent, Shi Lian would never call him out privately. If this covet relationship were exposed, the consequences would be unbearable for both of them.