Ren Zhixian always thought of himself as some brilliant person by acting all pretentious of his self-righteousness. He had always looked down upon Shi family as a family that stunk of money, and Shi Fengju was aware of that. Hearing his mother say that he was willing to stay in this ‘stinky’ household, Shi Fengju was very surprised.
“Is this Big Sister’s or Big Brother-in-law’s idea? Does Big Brother-in-law also agree to this?” Shi Fengju felt that it was necessary to have his doubts answered. If this were his big sister’s idea, then that single-minded big brother-in-law of his would surely make a huge ruckus in the future!
“It’s something that we’ve discussed and come up with!” Shi Yumei hurriedly said, “Since it’s also very comfortable here, it’ll surely make him feel at ease as he studies. Qingzhou is also closer to Hangzhou, so going over there three years later for the exams will also be more convenient! Moreover, my husband can help guide Third Younger Brother! Three years later, they can both journey to Hangzhou together and take care of each other while on their way there!”
“No need!” When Shi Yumei mentioned about having Ren Zhixian give some ‘guidance,’ Wang Shi and Shi Fengju quickly refused in unison.
“Third Younger Brother already has a tutor to guide him. That tutor has also said that he can take the exams in two years time. Changing a tutor halfway through will not be beneficial for Third Younger Brother! And doesn’t Big Brother-in-law also have to study? We can’t have Third Younger Brother affecting him in his studies ah!” Shi Fengju added.
“Agreed, agreed! Your Second Brother is right!” Wang Shi quickly went along with it.
Shi Fengju felt uncomfortable letting an unreliable person guide his younger brother. Let’s say that this unreliable person really did give his younger brother guidance. If he were unable to pass the next exam, he would surely complain that he had spent most of his time guiding his wife’s younger brother and thus neglected his own studies! Moreover, if Shi Fenghua were to pass, that person would surely brag that it was all because of his guidance!
After listening to Shi Fengju’s explanation, Shi Yumei’s expression, that had changed slightly, returned to its usual again, and she could not help but smile with a nod. “That’s understandable! But, is that tutor of his reliable? He better not hold down our Fenghua!”
“Reliable! He’s reliable! He is a senior from Hanlin Academy who returned back to his hometown after retiring!” Wang Shi’s mouth spoke quickly.
Shi Yumei let out a long “Oh!” and spoke no further. Even though she did not fully agree with her mother’s words, she did not have the confidence to refute.
Although she had remained quiet, Shi Fengju understood her meaning, and he thought to himself, No matter how unreliable he is, he must at the very least be more reliable than my big brother-in-law!
Seeing her so, Shi Fengju quickly diverted the subject as far away as possible, “Let’s see, how about Banana Courtyard? The area is spacious, and the environment there is quiet. Big Sister, what do you think?”
“Banana Courtyard? Banana Courtyard ah… En, let’s go ahead with it! We’ll have that then!” Shi Yumei thought for a while, and the smile on her face seemed to be a little forced.
Banana Courtyard was located at the south of Shi household. Its main entrance faced the outer courtyard with its residence and yards facing inward. A wall ran between the inner region of the household and Banana Courtyard, with a small gate to allow passing through. The entire courtyard happened to be built between the inner and outer regions of the household. At night, those servants on their night duty would lock the small gate, isolating the inner and outer regions.
There were two yards in Banana Courtyard—one in front and one at the back of the residence. The residence itself consisted of two corner rooms connecting to the main room, one back room, one rear room, and two side rooms. In the backyard, there was a one-acre square flower garden decorated with rockeries, a clear pool, and plants. Although small, the garden was decorated beautifully. The front yard was planted with banana trees, plum trees, and bamboos, making the atmosphere extremely elegant and quiet—it was a place very suitable for studying.
A place like that was already considered the best for someone who brought her husband back after being married off.
However, Shi Yumei could not help but feel somewhat saddened because what she had originally wanted to propose was to return to her own individual building where she had stayed before her marriage. But as of now, that building was no longer a place for her! The Shi family would very soon have a new missy—the daughter of her younger brother, and that place would belong to that new missy! How could she, who brought her husband back, ever return to the inner region of the household?
Feeling saddened, she could sense the new restraints that were holding her back as an “outsider” which she did not have in the past, and she quickly forced a smile and said, “Then, I’ll have to trouble Second Younger Brother! When Banana Courtyard is ready, we’ll move into it. In the future, we’ll eat by ourselves.”
“Why are you being so polite to your own brother!” Seeing that Shi Yumei was restraining herself, Wang Shi also got a little saddened. Thinking back to when her daughter used to be so strong-willed and troublesome, she had changed after an ill-matched marriage. Her father-in-law and her mother-in-law passed away three years after their marriage, and from then on until now, it had not been another three to four years before her immoral husband ruined the entire household clean. Even her dowry was sold off!
Seeing her daughter in such a state with a timid expression that would have been impossible to express in the past, these few years really must have not been easy for her. For her daughter’s disposition to have even changed, as a mother, how could she not be saddened?
Wang Shi could not help but hold her daughter’s hand. Her next words were for Shi Fengju to listen, “There’s no hurry, let your younger sister-in-law handle the tidying of Banana Courtyard after the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. Once it’s tidied, you can move in immediately! In the future, if there’s anything you wish to eat, just feel at home and have the kitchen send the dishes you like over! And if there are times when you think of Mother, you can just come over and accompany Mother! Keke, Mei’er ah, you’ll always be Shi family’s Eldest Daughter! Whatever you want, just voice it out. If anyone dares to disrespect you, I’ll be the first to have no mercy on that person!”
“That’s right ah, Big Sister, since you’re back, you should settle down with a peace of mind! You’re also Father and Mother’s daughter. A portion of Shi family’s assets belongs to you, too!” Shi Fengju also laughed.
Shi Yumei’s heart loosened a little, and she quickly smiled to say her thanks to her mother and her younger brother. Then, she dismissed Shi Fengju, “And just listen to what you just said! The family’s business is run single-handedly by you, so I didn’t do a single thing for it. Father and Mother married me off lavishly with exceptionally good dowry. The Shi family doesn’t owe me anything anymore. The entire assets belong only to you and Fenghua, and they have nothing to do with me! If you ever dare say that again, I’ll really die of shame!”
Mother, daughter, and brother—all three of them let out a good laugh.
Shi Fengju then smiled. “Hmm, in the future, I’ll give Big Sister and Big Brother-in-law twenty silvers as monthly allowance from my account. Then Big Sister won’t need to be put in a difficult spot when in need of money. Also, for the renovation of Banana Courtyard, it’ll be a small gift from me as a younger brother! Since Big Sister and Big Brother-in-law only arrived yesterday, why not pay Second Aunt and Second Uncle a visit! Oh, as for the gifts, I’ve already had someone prepare them for you. They should be arriving here in a moment’s time!”
In the end, Shi Yumei was a daughter who was already married off, so it would not make any sense for her to continue receiving money from the Main House. Although there would not be any complaints from the Main House, there was still the Second House and the Third House’s Aunt and Uncle who were officials. Their opinions must also be taken into account. Shi Fengju pondered. He would have to pay a visit to Second Uncle and Second Aunt to explain to them personally later on and make it clear to them that his big sister’s expenses, as well as his big brother-in-law’s, would be taken from his own account and not from the joint account that the entire household owned.
Shi Yumei was indeed worried about that, but after hearing Shi Fengju’s words, she was extremely pleased, and she laughed. Wang Shi also laughed as she praised her son for his thoughtfulness and capability.
At a side, Nanny Jiang held back the urge to roll her eyes. Oh Mistress ah, this sort of thing should have been handled by you! Really, the young master here is a rare breed! Mistress truly is blessed! He has already handled it all, so much so that he has saved laonu breath from having to remind you!
“Oh yes, since Big Sister and Big Brother-in-law will be staying here, have you arranged for your former estate and land in Mengxian to be put up for sale? If not, I can have a servant to go over and take a look!”
There was no way to rely on that incarnate of a worm, but in order for Shi Fengju to save himself the effort of getting angry, he quickly brushed that thought aside.
“Yes, yes, have Fengju send someone to do that! You can always rely on Fengju to do that!” Feeling concerned, Wang Shi added.
But who knew that Shi Yumei’s face would suddenly express an unnatural expression, and she mumbled, “No need, no need! E, before we came, we, we had already handled all that. Really, everything’s already handled! There’s no need to trouble Second Younger Brother!”
“Really?” Shi Fengju glanced at her suspiciously before saying, “Alright then! But I still think it’ll be good to have someone to go over and do some inspection!” There was a slight sneer in his tone. After all, Big Brother-in-law is a scholar. There’s a high chance that he might get deceived due to his unfamiliarity with these kinds of mundane affairs! It’ll be more assuring to send someone over to take a look!
“I think that would be for the best!” Wang Shi also nodded.
“No!” Shi Yumei became so anxious that she almost jumped up from her seat.
That shocked even herself, and she quickly calmed down as she revealed a smile to decline, “Really, there’s no need to! Mother, Second Brother is very busy, so how can I make him worry about something that matters so little? It’ll make me and my husband feel bad ah! We really handled it already, so there’s no need to make things so troublesome.”
Wang Shi snorted before letting out a sigh, “How is that troublesome! The troublesome matter has yet to be said!”
“Mother…” Shi Yumei’s face turned stiffer, and her head was lowered.
“Mother, Big Sister, is there still something else that you’re keeping from me? Tell me!” Shi Fengju glanced at them, then he added, “I’m sure you all understand me.”
What he meant was, even if they were to keep quiet, there was no way he would not find that out for himself.
Wang Shi quickly spoke, “That was why we called you here mah! It’s that, in Mengxian, your big brother-in-law owes a calligraphy house 600 silvers, Hongtai Restaurant 380 silvers, Rongji Satin Business 240 silvers…”
“Mother, enough!” Shi Fengju could feel his anger rising up to his head, and he spoke plainly, “Is there a bill? Let me have it!”
“Oh, it’s right here!” Shi Yumei awkwardly smiled as she fished the bill out and handed it to Shi Fengju.
That did it. The anger rushed all the way up to his head. Although he was the one who had asked, seeing his big sister pull out the bill that belonged to his big brother-in-law made him angrier!
Shi Fengju’s expression darkened as he scanned the bill from the head to the bottom. Hah, what a fellow! Almost everything is included in there, from clothing to food to shelter. From the long list of items in the bill, it almost looked like a list of a family’s assets.
There were things like 5 silvers from a certain snack shop and 3 silvers from a certain grocery store. Although ridiculous, Shi Fengju was too lazy to get mad at that, but his eyes suddenly widened. “Drinking House, 800 silvers?”
“Drinking House?” Wang Shi’s expression changed, and she asked with a darkened face, “What’s this? You didn’t tell me about that last night!”