“Mother!” Zhou Jingyi was distressed and said, “But, but there will eventually be a day when I have to return. What you’re doing will only make us feel better for now, but how am I going to live with that in the future!”
Old Mistress Zhou snorted, “What’s so difficult? Just divorce if you can’t live with that! As the daughter of our Zhou family, do you think you can’t find a better family to marry into?”
“But I don’t want to!” Zhou Jingyi’s expression changed slightly and she said firmly, “Mother, I…I will never marry again!”
Old Mistress Zhou was very disappointed at her daughter. She poked her daughter’s forehead and said, “Don’t tell me that you are still thinking of that heartless man! That b*stard! This daughter of mine, why can’t you wake up! A man like him, who would elope with a woman from the tavern, is not reliable! Even if you aren’t going to remarry, you definitely won’t be able to live with him for the rest of your life! If he can elope with a woman from the tavern, who knows if he would elope with a servant next time? Who knows what else he can do? Are you trying to stop your mother from resting in peace even after death?”
“Mother!” Tears swelled in Zhou Jingyi’s eyes and she started crying, “Mother, please don’t say that! I…I…”
Her mother words did not leave her the slightest amount of face. Although she was scolding Shi Fengming, he was still her husband and it wasn’t any different from scolding her! Zhou Jingyi’s face turned red as she felt ashamed and she couldn’t stop crying. No matter how bad of a man he was, he was still her husband; furthermore, she was really fond of him.
Old Mistress Zhou sighed and hugged her daughter. She patted her back gently and sobbed, “You disappointing girl, do you mean to sadden your mother?”
“Mother!” Zhou Jingyi suddenly became anxious and she couldn’t help but cry even louder.
“Stop, stop crying!” Old Mistress Zhou loved her daughter the most, so she sighed, “You shall tell me then, what is it you want? Are you going to follow them back now?”
Go back? Her mother-in-law was definitely up to no good by sending servants to bring her back, she would definitely have to bear all sorts of torment as well as her mother-in-law’s anger; only a fool would go back!
“I’m not going back!” Zhou Jingyi wiped her tears and shook her head, she said with a nasal voice, “I will never go back before my husband returns!”
Old Mistress Zhou was slightly mollified by her word. She thought to herself, luckily, this girl is still rational enough not to make me so angry!
“What if he never comes back? Are you going to live like this forever? Mother isn’t saying that I would not acknowledge you, your brother has always cared for you dearly, and your sister-in-law is very virtuous as well; they will never dislike or avoid you even if you stay at home forever. But my dear daughter, it isn’t worth it!” Old Mistress Zhou couldn’t help but speak of the worst.
“No!” Zhou Jingyi’s heart seemed to have received a sudden blow, but she shook her head and said, “No, he won’t, he definitely won’t! How can my husband not come back? There is still my father-in-law and mother-in-law; even if he never cares for me, I don’t believe that he will stay outside forever! And Brother-in-law Fengju has sent people looking for him for the past two years, we will definitely hear news about him one day!”
Old Mistress Zhou sighed with resignation. “What if he had already died outside?” Old Mistress Zhou wanted to ask. However, it was too ominous considering that it was going to be the new year. In addition, she couldn’t let herself hurt her daughter’s heart, so she said something else, “I hope that’s the case! And hopefully, that man will be able to correct his own mistakes! Humph! If he ever shows up, I will never let him leave again even if I have to tie him up with a rope!”
Zhou Jingyi almost laughed after hearing so, but she quickly asked, “Mother, what about those people from the Shi family——”
Old Mistress Zhou rolled her eyes at her daughter and said to Auntie Yang, “Go and invite them in!”
Nanny Lin and the rest of the servants had been sitting in the sitting room for quite a while. When they did not receive any follow-up, Nanny Lin got worried and she politely asked the gatekeeper to report their arrival again. Who in the Zhou household did not know about their young missy’s bitter experiences? They inevitably felt sickened at the sight of the Shi family and would not listen to her requests. All they did was put Nanny Li off.
This was someone else’s territory; Nanny Lin couldn’t say anything else after seeing that all her efforts were in vain and could only wait patiently.
Finally, when a servant came to inform them that Old Mistress Zhou had invited them over, Nanny Lin quickly stood up and tidied up her clothes. She thanked them with a smile and left with the rest.
Old Mistress Zhou was waiting at the hall. Behind her stood her daughter-in-law, Lu Shi, while Zhou Jingyi had already stepped away.
“This old servant greets Old Mistress Zhou!” Nanny Lin went forward and forced a smile. She then knelt before giving a kowtow.
Only after she had kowtowed did Old Mistress Zhou smiled unenthusiastically, “There’s no need to be so polite to a relative, get up! You look familiar, you must be Nanny Lin who serves our in-law!”
Nanny Lin was secretly happy as she didn’t expect Old Mistress Zhou to remember her, so she quickly nodded and said, “Old Mistress Zhou, you have a good memory! Precisely this old servant!”
Old Mistress Zhou laughed, “Right! Our in-law has taken such good care of my daughter, of course I would be more aware of her servants! Hehe, have a seat!” She ordered for a small bench to be brought in.
The smile on Nanny Lin’s face stiffened slightly. She was absolutely clear of how her Old Mistress “took care of” Second Young Mistress Shi. Presumably, Second Young Mistress Shi must have at least told her mother a thing or two when she got back home. Now that she had met with Old Mistress Zhou who casually mentioned it, she immediately felt insecure as she foresaw that this trip would not be smooth.
Nanny Lin smiled awkwardly and thanked Old Mistress Zhou before she sat down on the bench, tilting her body slightly.
“What brings you here?” Old Mistress Zhou asked with a smile.
Nanny Lin hurriedly stood up and replied, “The New Year is coming soon. Our Old Mistress has specially prepared some specialities and told this old servant to send them to Old Mistress Zhou!” As she spoke, she presented a list of gifts to Old Mistress Zhou with both hands.
Old Mistress Zhou’s servant stepped forward and took it from Nanny Li before passing it to Old Mistress Zhou.
Old Mistress Zhou opened the list and barely gave a glance at it before she smiled and left it aside. She said, “Our in-law is so polite! How kind of her to still think of us over such a distance! Ah Xian, prepare a generous gift in return as a response, you must not forget!”
“Yes, Mother!” Lu Shi bowed and replied.
Nanny Lin quickly forced a smile and said, “Old Mistress Zhou, you are too polite! Our Old Mistress said that since we are family by marriage, it is only natural for us to visit each other often to seem closer!”
“Right!” Old Mistress Zhou smiled and said, “Nanny Lin is so eloquent! Aren’t you tired after travelling such a distance in such a cold winter? Ah Xian, what are you waiting for? Quickly send servants to bring Nanny Lin to have a good rest, let the kitchen prepare some good dishes for them! Hehe, the road that you are going to take to return won’t be easy at night, so I won’t ask you to stay any further! Please leave after dinner! Send my regards to your Old Mistress!”
As Old Mistress Zhou spoke, she stood up while smiling.
“Old Mistress Zhou!” Nanny Lin became anxious. Her main purpose for coming had not been discussed yet, so how could she let Old Mistress Zhou leave!
However, before she could say anything, Old Mistress Zhou smiled, “This old woman really dreads the cold during winter. Just sitting here for a while made my limbs uncomfortable, so I’ll be going back to my chamber! You can inform my daughter-in-law if there’s anything else! Please don’t treat yourself as an outsider!”
How can I let that happen? Old Mistress Zhou’s daughter-in-law might not be in a position to make the decision for what is to come! Nanny Lin thought to herself. Not caring about etiquette anymore, she hurriedly said, “Old Mistress Zhou, please stay a while! Our Old Mistress has specially sent this old servant to bring our Second Young Mistress Shi back!”
Seeing that Old Mistress Zhou seemed to have shown some interest in her words as her expression seemed to have stiffened, she quickly forced a smile and said, “Isn’t it the New Year soon? Second Young Mistress Shi is our Shi family’s daughter-in-law after all, it would be better if she… could come back to spend the new year. Our Old Mistress also said that Second Young Mistress Shi can return here anytime she wants!”
Old Mistress Zhou secretly sneered and thought: Do you think I’m as foolish as a three-year-old child? Humph, go back? Going back is no different from a lamb returning to a tiger’s den, it’ll become nearly impossible to bring her back here again!
Old Mistress Zhou acted surprised and looked gleefully at Nanny Li, “Hmm? Is your Second Young Master Shi back? My son-in-law really, why didn’t he come here to take my daughter back himself? My daughter is his legally married wife after all!”
Nanny Lin blushed and prevaricated, “Our Second Young Master Shi… isn’t back yet…”
“Not back yet?” Old Mistress Zhou raised her brows and sneered before raising her voice, “Then what are you doing here if he is not back yet? You can use this time to search for that Second Young Master of yours! Your Shi family really is interesting! Her son isn’t even home for the new year, yet she wants her daughter-in-law back!”
Nanny Lin’s face turned from red to white; she didn’t expect Old Mistress Zhou to be so incisive. Nanny Lin wanted to end this and return empty-handed, but at the thought of Second Old Mistress Shi’s anger, she hesitated. If she returned without achieving anything, Second Old Mistress Shi would definitely vent her anger on her!
“Old Mistress Zhou,” Nanny Lin thought before sighing, “Like what you’ve just said, Second Young Mistress Shi is legally married to our Shi family, that means that she belongs to our Shi family now, so how could she spend her new year at her parents’ house? Our Second Young Master will definitely return sooner or later——”
The last sentence from Nanny Lin seemed like a threat. It meant that Second Young Master Shi would return sooner or later and if Second Young Mistress Shi does not give her husband’s family any face, then how would she face him in the future? After all, she belonged to the Shi family now!
Old Mistress Zhou was immediately triggered by Nanny Lin’s words. Her face turned dark and she interrupted her harshly, “Then we will speak again when your Second Young Master is back! What did my daughter do wrong? Are you saying that there’s no fault in him treating my daughter so coldly for the past two years? I’m not afraid to say this, but don’t ever think about taking my daughter away if he doesn’t show his fullest sincerity even when he comes by himself!”
Nanny Lin couldn’t help but be angered as well and she said, “Old Mistress Zhou, where the needle goes, the thread follows. Since Second Young Mistress Shi is already married to our Shi family, she is part of our Shi family now. Are you going to keep her for the rest of her life?”
“What do you mean by ‘keep her for the rest of her life’?” Old Mistress Zhou was extremely angry and she pointed at Nanny Lin as she scolded, “My heart aches for my daughter even if your Shi family doesn’t! She’s doing fine at home! So what if she really stays here forever? Others may fawn over your Shi family, but I never will! Humph, let me tell you, if I had known that your Second Young Master was someone like that, I would rather take care of my daughter forever than marry her to your Shi family to let others make fun of her! How dare a servant like you threaten us! Beat her out!”
Old Mistress Zhou’s eyes turned red as she scolded and she forgot about all the concerns her daughter had discussed with her. All she wanted was to vent her anger out!
“Old Mistress Zhou, how can you be so unreasonable!” Nanny Lin couldn’t help but be annoyed as well.
“Unreasonable? Is there any need to be for people like you? Bring your Second Young Master to me, I would like to discuss with him who the unreasonable one is! Are you even able to bring him to me?” Old Mistress Zhou refused to withdraw and ordered for Nanny Lin to be beaten out again.