“Eldest Missy, which way to?” The driver asked with a smile.
Shi Yumei glanced at Sang Wan before answering, “You should ask your young mistress! Your young mistress is the true mistress of Shi household! Don’t you know how to be tactful? If you don’t even know simple etiquette like this, are you not afraid that your young mistress will sack you when we return!”
“I have never been around Qingzhou city and there isn’t anything that I want to buy. Let’s just go with wherever Big Sister wants to go!” Sang Wan smiled gently, and casually countered.
“I’m all for that as well. We’ll go where Big Sister wants to go!” Shi Lian quickly expressed her stand. The one who was most afraid of Shi Yumei was actually her. That was because if Shi Yumei became unhappy and complained in front of mother, there wouldn’t be anyone who would help her explain herself! She understood the meaning behind Sang Wan’s invitation, but if not for her relationship with Sang Wan, she would not have agreed to come along.
Shi Lian was fixated on being docile today and would not speak more than she had to.
“Go to the east of Qingzhou city and head to Guanghe Main Street. I want to have a look at the jewelry there!” Shi Yumei ordered.
“Yes, Eldest Missy,” the driver answered decisively. After swinging his whip, the wheels moved and they travelled towards the direction of Guanghe Main Street.
Guanghe Main Street was a street famous for its jewelry and cosmetic shops. There were big and small shops on both sides of the broad street and the traffic there was heavy. It was a very bustling area.
Shi Yumei pulled the curtain and looked outside. She suddenly felt pleased, and sighed softly, “It’s still as crowded as before; nothing here has changed! Oh, no, it has become more bustling than before. There are so many shops that weren’t here in the past! Just look at the front of these shops, really, no other place can compare!”
After Shi Yumei finished, an awkward silence was left. Both Sang Wan and Shi Lian did not follow up with a comment.
Sang Wan wanted to keep a distance from her as much as possible. It was already enough having to withstand her sarcasm and insults daily; Sang Wan had no obligation to fawn over her. Shi Lian did not want to create trouble for herself so she remained quiet.
There was a moment of awkwardness. Sang Wan and Shi Lian looked at each other on reflex and they both saw a bit of helplessness in each other’s eyes.
Shi Lian quickly laughed dryly and said, “Big Sister is right…”
Although Sang Wan and Shi Lian did not exchange any words, their wordless communication and mutual understanding still fell into Shi Yumei’s eyes. Thinking about how the both of them normally had a good relationship, and neither of them were particularly close with her, she suddenly had a sense of emptiness and disappointment. She felt as if she was an outsider and did not fit in.
How could Shi Yumei stand that? She immediately felt sour, and snorted coldly before saying domineeringly to Shi Lian, “You said I’m right? What am I right about? Tell me? I didn’t expect Third Sister to be very familiar with the city outside!”
“Big Sister… Big Sister, you jest… This is my third time going out onto the streets in my entire life. What would I know…” Shi Lian panicked and forced a smile.
“If you don’t know, then don’t agree so foolishly! Do you know what I was saying? You hypocrite!” Shi Yumei glared at her once before going on to insult Sang Wan, “Our Shi family has always been honest, don’t learn from a certain someone and say what you don’t mean!”
Shi Lian’s face flushed red and she lowered her head without saying another word. Feeling wronged, she subconsciously looked at Sang Wan.
Sang Wan did not take note of what Shi Yumei said. Just like a headservant, she smiled gently, “This area looks quite crowded, why don’t we get down and have a look around?”
“No!” Shi Yumei saw the indifferent expression on Sang Wan and felt even more infuriated instead. She increased her volume and said snappily, “Hurry up! Drop us at Qiong Fang Tower!
“Qiong Fang Tower… isn’t that at the south of the city, near the florist——” The driver paused momentarily.
“Yes! We’re going there! What?” Shi Yumei’s mood became even worse than before.
“Yes, yes, right away. Right away!” The driver cursed himself secretly for being nosy and got a move on while thinking to himself. He would go whereverthe eldest missy of the family says. Even if she wanted him to drive around in circles, he could only submit. If even Young Mistress did not argue with her, him getting scolded for being nosy was something he brought upon himself!
Sang Wan and Shi Lian both had no objection. After all, it was not their idea to go shopping, neither was it their objective. Shi Yumei could do whatever she wanted, but so long as they were able to get by this day safely, all was well.
Qiong Fang Tower was the most famous jewelry shop in the city, focused on doing businesses using top quality jewelry. It was built ten years ago by a Fujian businessman. Today, that Fujian businessman had settled his family in Qingzhou and his jewelry shop had always been doing well. Even though they kept themselves on a low profile, they were the invisible rich and were quite famous among the upper echelons of society, with a yearly earning of at least ten thousand silvers.
“Oh, isn’t this the Shi family’s Eldest Missy! Please come in, come in! You are our honored guest, it’s been so long since I’d last seen you here! And these two are——”
The shopkeeper immediately greeted Shi Yumei warmly when he saw her, but he was unfamiliar with Sang Wan and Shi Lian.
“I’ve only come here twice, but Shopkeeper Sun still recognizes me. You have a really good memory!” Shi Yumei immediately felt happy and there was a smile on her face.
Despite being married for many years, her family doted on her and did not treat her as an outsider. With Shi Yumei’s careless personality, she did not see herself as an outsider. When someone called her “Shi Eldest Missy”, she would become happier than usual!
“Just listen to yourself! Who in this city doesn’t know the Shi family’s eldest missy! Even if it were just once, this old mister mustn’t forget such an important guest!” Shopkeeper Sun smiled as he invited the three people into the private room, and instructed his subordinate to prepare their best tea.
“Aiya, Shopkeeper Sun, you’re too polite!” Shi Yumei laughed.
“This old mister was only speaking the truth, but it made Shi Eldest Missy laugh!” Shopkeeper Sun smiled along as he agreed, but gave a questioning look to Shi Yumei, hinting at her to introduce Sang Wan and Shi Lian.
Once they were seated and tea was served, Shi Yumei glanced at Sang Wan subtly before winking at Shopkeeper Sun mischievously. Half jokingly, she said, “This time, I’ll have to test your judgement. Why don’t you guess the identities of these two special guests?”
Shi Lian was dressed in the attire of an unmarried young lady. Even though she was dressed very well, there was some form of deference in her eyes, and her facial features had a few similarities with Shi Yumei. He could somewhat guess that she must be a missy from the Shi family who was born from a concubine and was not favored. The reason why Shopkeeper Sun was able to come to that conclusion was because he had never seen Shi Lian before. If she were favored, why would the Shi family’s Old Mistress not bring her along when she went out?
However, the other young woman, who wore a married woman’s hairstyle, had a serene and graceful aura around her. She must belong to a class which could not be ignored. Even though he and Shi Yumei ignored her coldly on the way in, he never saw her express any sort of awkwardness or looked like she minded. She remained polite and gentle, and was amiable.
Shopkeeper Sun narrowed his eyes, and smiled, “Since Shi Eldest Missy thinks so highly of this old mister and wants to give a test, this old mister will not refuse the fun! Hehe,” After he had finished, he clasped his fists together at Sang Wan and bowed with a smile, “If this old mister were to guess wrongly, then I would like to seek forgiveness. After all, it is just for fun! You must be—— the Shi family’s Young Mistress?”
“Shopkeeper Sun eyes are good, this is indeed our Young Mistress!” Zhide smiled and said softly.
“Aiya, an important guest, an important guest! I didn’t know it was Shi family’s Young Mistress earlier on, please forgive me for any impudence!” Shopkeeper Sun smiled earnestly.
Sang Wan smiled slightly, but before she could reply, Shi Yumei robbed her of that chance, “Shopkeeper Sun, you are too polite. This sister-in-law of mine is the most polite and generous person, why would she be particular about that!”
“Hehe, that is so, that is so!” Shopkeeper Sun looked at Shi Lian and smiled, “Then this must be a missy from your family as well?”
“This is the third missy of our family!” Shi Yumei smiled impatiently and said to Shopkeeper Sun, “I say, Shopkeeper Sun, do you have anything good with you? Hurry up and take them out, don’t keep talking about the unnecessary things!”
“Hehe, yes, yes. I will take them out now, I will take them out now! This old mister is just too happy. Ladies, please don’t blame me,” Shopkeeper Sun smiled, and swept a glance across them before asking with an eager smile, “May I know what you ladies want to see?”
“Just bring out anything that is good! We’ll only know when we see them!” Shi Yumei said.
“This old mister is foolish!” Shopkeeper Sun quickly smiled and covered his mouth. He went and unlocked the most precious items in the shop.
In total, Shopkeeper Sun took out three complete sets of exquisite accessories and a few other individual precious items. Using four separate trays covered with a piece of red cloth, he presented them to the important guests.
One set was named “The Drunk Hibiscus”, sculptured with pure gold, and matched with red sapphires and emeralds. The main piece was a hibiscus crown made with golden threads and decorated with eight gems. It was made with pure gold and was an exquisite handicraft. Not only were the different colored gems big, their colors were also strikingly beautiful. They had a faint sparkle in them and did not have any impurities. Another set was called the “Lantian Blue Pearl”, a dotted handicraft. The hairpin had a phoenix spreading its wings and a pearl in its mouth. There were twelve exquisite pearls the size of longans, thirty-six smaller pearls, and the eyes of the phoenix was made of a natural black pearl the size of a thumb size. It sparkled greatly and was extremely dazzling. The last set was named the “Colorful Falling Leaves”, using the clearest and best quality jade, matched with pink, bright red, pomegranate red, begonia red, and other shades of red gemstones to make into a flower. The red flower and green leaves were extremely eye-catching and was a unique jewellery piece.
The other tray had a bracelet with eighteen jade stones, a jade hairpin, a white jade peacock hairpin, red coral agate earrings, and green jade earrings in the shape of water droplets. Everything was top quality, made from skillful artisan. Just one look and they were obviously expensive.
“You really do have some good things! Qiong Fang Tower is still as famous as before and truly deserves its reputation!” Shi Yumei smiled and complimented as she listened to Shopkeeper Sun describe the jewelry.
“Hehe, you’re too kind! Our shop is only able to let us scrape by, how can we compare ourselves with the Shi family! You ladies are just here out of curiosity! Without a doubt, the best jewelry in Qingzhou can only be found in Liu Li Tower!”
Liu Li Tower was a business set up by the Shi family and has thirteen branches in Jiangnan region.
“Shopkeeper Sun is too humble!” Shi Yumei complimented, “Let’s not talk about the rest, but just these three accessories, Liu Li Tower might not even have such valuable items!”
“Hehe, this old mister feels very honored listening to Shi Eldest Missy words! Is Shi Eldest Missy pleased with these?” Shopkeeper Sun hurriedly asked.
Shi Yumei smiled towards Sang Wan and asked, “Sister-in-law, what do you think of these three sets?”