“Have a look,” Shi Fengju stopped teasing her. He grabbed one of the small boxes and opened it in front of her. Bright golden rays escaped from inside; the box was filled completely with differently sized nuggets that were each covered with a gold leaf. Imprinted on them were various depictions: and many more. The workmanship of each and every nugget was exquisite and ingenious. Wrapped in an embroidered pouch, they were a perfect gift to children of relatives and friends when meeting for the first time during the New Year!
Sang Wan was delighted. She looked through a few of them, and the more she looked, the more she liked them. With a smile, she said, “You are the thoughtful one. I’ve been thinking about this for the past few days and wanted to discuss with Nanny!”
“Discuss with Nanny?” Shi Fengju said with a hint of jealousy, “Did you not think of discussing with me instead?”
Embarrassed, Sang Wan smiled as she quickly held his hands to please him, “Lord is someone who does great things, how would I have the cheek to inconvenience you with a matter this small! If Nanny were to catch wind of this, she would definitely reproach me for not knowing how to take care of you!”
Shi Fengju’s expression returned to his face and he said, “Oh, so it’s because you were scared of Nanny’s scolding. Then did you think of how you’re going to care for me?”
“…” Sang Wan became speechless for a moment before she spoke with a hint of shyness, “I, I’m sure Lord knows my thoughts, I’m not going to say it…”
Shi Fengju laughed out loud; consider her being let off this once. He went and open the other two boxes. One of the boxes contained the same nuggets, but they were covered in silver rather than gold, which could be used to reward the head servants and married women. The other box contained brand new copper coins which were also for rewarding during the New Year.
“I’ve suddenly thought about this a few days ago and went ahead to help you settle it. Have Liu Ya and the rest keep it away for now. Will all of this be enough for you to use for the New Year?” Shi Fengju asked with a smile.
“I’ve not experienced it before so I can’t be sure about it. I will ask Nanny later, but it should be more or less enough!” Sang Wan smiled. At that moment, she was deeply moved by this.
Shi Fengju smiled and said, “This will be your first time spending New Year at our household. Next year, you will have the experience! After you ask Nanny and it’s not enough, just let me know and I’ll have the jewelry store make more of it!”
Sang Wan responded with a smile.
“Oh right,” Shi Fengju grabbed another box and opened it. In it were stacks of banknotes that were arranged neatly. He smiled and said, “In here are three thousand silvers. Two notes worth five hundred silvers, fifteen of them are worth a hundred silvers, and the rest of are worth fifty and ten silvers. Keep them and use them for the New Year! If you need small change, you can ask someone to exchange them with the accountant.”
Sang Wan was shocked and hurriedly smiled and said, “My spending In the New Year has a limit, and there’s also enough in the household funds, why would I need so much!” Suddenly being told that this large sum of money was now hers, she couldn’t accept it on the spot. With this large sum of money in hand, she would feel uneasy,
“Just keep them if you can’t finish them! I am your husband, everything would be handed over to you to manage sooner or later. When I have to travel far away, if you don’t take care of them for me, who would?” Shi Fengju did not comply and insisted on giving it to her. He wanted to treat her well, treat her really well, and share everything he had with her.
Seeing that he was a little melancholic and seemed somewhat unhappy, she did not dare to refuse him anymore and accepted with a smile. Only then was Shi Fengju pleased and hugged his lovable wife while speaking gently and intimately with her.
Two days later, Sang Wan went to pay a visit to Ji Cui Tower, bringing with her the newly-made clothes and the list of gifts for the third family’s relatives.
Third Old Mistress Shi smiled and welcomed her in. She greeted Sang Wan intimately as though the previous unhappy incident did not happen at all.
Sang Wan was a little tense at first, but seeing the situation, she heaved a sigh of relief even though it puzzled her. She also smiled and spoke intimately with Third Old Mistress Shi as she delivered the instructions clearly for the clothes and list of gifts.
“It must’ve been a lot of trouble for you!” Third Old Mistress Shi was not invariably an overbearing and haughty person. If not, Third Old Master Shi could forget about being an official. At this moment, she held Sang Wan’s hands and earnestly said, “Our return ended up troubling you to manage everything for us, it must’ve been difficult for you to manage everything thoroughly.”
“Third Aunt is being too polite, all Sang Wan did was use her mouth, the rest were done by the servants. It was no trouble at all! If there’s any part that isn’t up to your satisfaction, I will be contented if Third Aunt does not get angry with me!”
“Why would I be angry with you! I can’t be grateful enough to you already!” Third Old Mistress Shi expressed her true feelings with a smile. She called Nanny Gui to bring over an embroidered box. She took out a pomegranate ruby bracelet and placed it on Sang Wan’s hand before smiling, “All the mess when we returned has been tidied not too long ago, and only then did I realize that I’ve not given you any present on our first meeting! This ruby is the most auspicious and efficacious one, it will bless you with sons and happiness!”
Sang Wan blushed as she lowered her gaze and thanked with a smile.
“There’s no need to be shy,” Third Old Mistress Shi couldn’t help but smile and said, “Fengju dotes on you so much, there’s no doubt that he’s looking forward to be a father! With a son, your family will be perfect!”
“Exactly!” Nanny Gui joined in from the side and said with a smile, “Young Mistress, at a glance, you look like someone with good fortune. You will definitely get a son for your first born!”
“Well said!” Third Old Mistress Shi said with a smile. Sang Wan was not in the position to speak and could only sit with a forced smile on her face. She remained for a while and hurriedly searched for a reason to excuse herself.
“I know that you have many things to handle so I shall not delay you! When you are free tomorrow, come to Third Aunt’s place!” Third Old Mistress Shi personally saw her off until the door. She held her hands and moved two steps forward to avoid the servants following them before saying softly, “Sang Wan, Third Aunt was impulsive a few days ago and had gone too far with my words, please don’t take it to heart! Third Aunt knows that you are a good child and does not act fictitiously!”
Sang Wan hurriedly replied, “Third Aunt, please don’t say that. You are the elder and Sang Wan is the younger one, I am not worthy of these words! You are making Sang Wan uneasy!”
“Alright, alright, Third Aunt won’t speak of it anymore,” Third Aunt said with a smile, “Next time, when you are free, come over and chat at Third Aunt’s place!”
“En, if Third Aunt does not mind Sang Wan’s ignorance, Sang Wan will gladly accept!” Sang Wan smiled and nodded as she took her leave.
Even though she did not know what caused Third Old Mistress Shi’s change in attitude, it was a good thing for Sang Wan. As though a huge rock had been lifted from her heart, she heaved a sigh of relief.
However, problems soon started to arise at Shi Yumei’s end.
On the next morning when Sang Wan and Shi Fengju went to Wang Shi’s place to give their morning greetings, Shi Yumei said unhappily, “Sang Wan, I heard that the list of gifts for friends and family has been planned and prepared already?”
“Yes…” Sang Wan nodded hesitantly while casting a glance at Shi Fengju subconsciously, “Fengju and I have gone through it two days ago and we are sending the gifts to relatives and friends starting today…”
“Is it?” Shi Yumei raised her brow, “Then what about my family? Why didn’t you prepare any for my family’s relatives and friends?”
Your family? Sang Wan was startled. Then she remembered that Shi Yumei must mean the Ren family. Sang Wan was speechless and looked at Shi Fengju in distress. Shi Fengju knitted his brows and was about to speak, only to hear Wang Shi let out a sound of realization, “Ah? Your family? Are you referring to the Ren family?”
Sang Wan bit her lip as she almost laughed out loud. Her heart was greatly relieved. She had originally thought that her mother-in-law was the one who made Shi Yumei ask it, but in fact, her mother-in-law was just as unaware. Moreover, from the tone of her words, it was clear that she did not agree with it. This made matters a lot easier.
“Mother!” Shi Yumei was hurt and yelled at Wang Shi before she said unhappily, “It’s almost New Year and we are still considered as part of the Ren family. We should at least send some New Year gifts to their elders! If not, people will definitely gossip about it!”
Shi Fengju snorted silently as he thought to himself: Afraid of people talking behind our backs? How strange! Without even giving much thought, he was sure the idea was stirred up by Ren Zhixian. If not for him, his big sister would not have come up with that herself.
Shi Fengju sneered secretly. How clever of him to make use of Big Sister to take the front while hiding behind her back. Is he even a man?
“This——” Wang Shi knitted her brows too. Her daughter’s words made sense. They were considered part of the Ren family; if they did not respect their elders, the Ren family might not be willing to help them if they were in difficult times in the future. After all, their surname was Ren; the Shi family were in no position to help others.
“Sang Wan,” Shi Yumei saw that her mother was moved and she immediately became very pleased with herself. She ordered Sang Wan, “Be quick and prepare them today, if——”
“Big Sister!” Shi Fengju suddenly interrupted her. He smiled and asked, “Brother-in-law is the head of the house, shouldn’t this important matter be ordered by him? Why is it Big Sister instead? I think we should get Brother-in-law over to discuss about this!”
Shi Yumei became distressed and hurriedly replied, “He, he is busy with revision these few days! Let’s not disturb him! Oh right,” Shi Yumei took out two pieces of paper and said, “These are the lists drafted by him, just prepare according to it!”
Xiu Chun took papers and passed them to Shi Fengju. Seeing the lists made Shi Fengju angrier, but he did not express it on his face and spoke instead, “No, no, we should still trouble Brother-in-law to clarify it to our faces! If he does not clarify this with us, how can we prepare them properly? Two pieces of dried meat, but who knows how big they should be or what kind of meat? Should the pair of chicken be male or female? And how big should they be? We have to clarify this! Brother-in-law is from a literary family; what he listed may not be what we think it is. What if the things we prepared did not suit him? Doesn’t that mean we were busy for nothing!”
Shi Fengju sneered in his heart. Asking others to prepare his New Year gifts and not even showing up or giving a word of thanks. Does he treat our Shi family like servants to order around? Does he think that he’s the master of this household?
Sang Wan pinched her handkerchief and sat unperturbed as she acted as if she had heard nothing. However, she felt that all this was ridiculous and this brother-in-law of theirs was not what he claimed to be! No wonder Fengju was furious.
Shi Yumei remained silent for a moment. She could hear her brother’s displeasure, so she looked at Wang Shi for help. “Mother!”
“I think Fengju is right,” Wang Shi said, “Go and call my son-in-law over. Being away from his revision for a moment won’t affect him much, and wouldn’t clarifying this matter save us lots of trouble?”