Reborn After Widowhood – Chapter 11
At this Dragon Boat Festival family banquet, because Sun shi and Chen Tingjian, this husband and wife, expected the daughter-in-law princess would not show up, the seats were arranged as before.
It was Chen Tingjian’s couple and Chen Tingshi’s couple seated side by side in the two main seats facing north. To the left and right, there were two additional seats arranged, with Chen Bozong, Chen Xiaozong, Chen Jingzong, Chen Jizong, and their respective wives seated. The children sat on small seats behind their parents.
When Hua Yang came, her status was the most noble.
Chen Tingshi was nervous, but Qi shi’s brain was more flexible than him. After the greetings, she smiled flatteringly at Hua Yang and then said to Sun shi, “Sister-in-law, ask the princess to sit at the main seat here. Let’s sit below.”
Sun shi looked at her husband. It was right for the princess to take the main seat, but wasn’t there still her own Old Four? Would he have the nerve to step over his uncle and brothers?
Before Chen Tingjian could speak, Hua Yang took the initiative first, “Our family cares more about seniority. I will sit with Prince Consort.”
Chen Jingzong followed her words then led her to the table on the left near the entrance of the hall.
Seeing this, Chen Tingjian smiled: “The Princess doesn’t bother with trifles, just sit like this.”
Everyone sat down again.
However, with the arrival of Hua Yang, the atmosphere could no longer return to its previous relaxed state, soon there was an awkward silence. Wan Yi walked up to Hua Yang cleverly, her small white hands was holding a wrist rope made of five-color silk threads: “Fourth Aunt, for the Dragon Boat Festival, I weave some colorful silk threads and gave them to my grandmother, cousin, and my mother. This one is for you, do you like it?”
It was said that wearing colorful rope during the Dragon Boat Festival not only could ward off evil spirits, but also pray for blessings.
Hua Yang also made this when she was seven or eight years old, but she lost interest as she got older.
“I like it, Wan Yi’s skills are getting better and better.”
Wan Yi’s eyes lit up: “I’ll put it on for Fourth Aunt.”
Hua Yang smiled and stretched out her hand.
She lifted up her sleeves slightly, revealing a wrist as white as snow, but the position was lower than the table, just enough to be blocked by the tall man next to her, Chen Jingzong.
Therefore, only Chen Jingzong and his niece saw such a beautiful wrist.
Chen Jingzong couldn’t help but think of the charming image of her two thin wrists being held above her head with one hand.
There was cold tea on the table. Chen Jingzong grabbed the tea cup, raised his head and drank it all.
Boldness was boldness, but it was not the occasion.
Chen Tingjian glared at him secretly. As the saying goes,. The princess was so dignified, how could the Old Four dare to be so rude?
Sun shi then took the opportunity to chat and laugh with Qi shi to lighten the atmosphere.
The hungry Sanlang secretly tugged on his mother’s sleeve. Luo Yuyan shook her head at her son and told him to continue to endure it.
After a cup of tea, Sun shi ordered the maid to go to the kitchen to pass the meal.
Soon, the little maids came in an orderly manner carrying trays. On each table there were a plate of four bamboo leaf rice dumplings, a plate of mung bean cake, and four vegetarian dishes.
The bamboo leaf rice dumplings had just come out of the pot, and under the white mist, the little maid deftly removed the rice dumpling leaves, bowed her head and left.
Four rice dumplings, onerice dumpling to dipped in sugar, one with bean paste filling, one with candied jujube filling, and one with egg yolk filling.
Chen Jingzong asked Hua Yang: “What kind do you want to eat?”
Hua Yang took some candied jujube rice dumplings and said in low voice, “One is enough for me.”
She ate slowly, and Chen Jingzong also tried his best to think of the rice dumplings in his mouth as meat fillings. As he was eating them tastelessly, he suddenly heard a whimper, like a pheasant being choked by the throat, then it stopped abruptly.
The couple looked up at the same time.
On the right side of the main seat, Qi shi was covering her face with a handkerchief. Seeing everyone staring at her, she simply stopped covering up and cried a few times.
Chen Tingshi blushed for her and scolded helplessly: “It’s a good holiday, why are you crying?”
Qi shi sobbed twice, wiped the corners of her eyes with a handkerchief, and choked up: “I miss the old lady. Every year during the holidays, she always talks about our big family. This year, we finally got together, but she can’t see it.”
Hua Yang had already put down her chopsticks when she heard the cry. Now she looked at her father-in-law and saw her father-in-law sitting quietly with his head lowered, his eyes slowly turning red.
Regardless of whether Qi shi was just putting on a show, what filial son could bear her words?
Hua Yang heard that father-in-law came from a poor family. When he first came to the capital, he lived in an official residence, a simple two-room courtyard. When father-in-law finally established a foothold in the capital and got a house, he immediately brought over his mother, brother, wife and children from his hometown. It was just that the old lady preferred the comfort of her hometown, and she really couldn’t adapt to the climate of the capital, so father-in-law had to send the old lady back.
The capital and Lingzhou were too far apart. Even if the officials in the capital had a month off during the New Year, father-in-law would not be able to come back and fulfill his filial piety.
The heavy emotions spread like a tide. Sun shi cried, Eldest Sister-in-law Yu Xiu and Third Sister-in-law Luo Yuyan also picked up handkerchiefs to wipe their tears. Chen Bozong and Chen Xiaozong also lowered their heads. Even if they didn’t shed tears, their eyes were still red.
Hua Yang was quietly observing when she suddenly saw Chen Jingzong pick up the Qingshui rice dumpling, dip it in sugar as if nothing happened, brought it to his mouth, and bit off half of it.
Although he didn’t make much noise, the whole family was mourning in silence. As long as he made a move, who could not see it?
Hua Yang looked at her nose and her nose pointed to her heart, but her left hand quietly reached over and twisted Chen Jingzong’s thigh.
Chen Jingzong originally held the chopsticks with his right hand, but now he suddenly put down his chopsticks, quickly lowered his hand, caught Hua Yang’s before she could retreat, and held her tightly.
He didn’t just hold it, but rubbed her soft palm with his calloused thumb.
Just like a hunter who was waiting for a rabbit, when he finally caught the rabbit leg, even if he couldn’t eat it, he needed to satisfy his craving.
In full view of everyone, she didn’t dare to move, but her face turned red little by little, and her palms felt numb.
Fortunately, others interpreted her expression as being ashamed to have an “unfilial” descendant like Chen Jingzong as her prince consort.
Qi shi knew that Chen Jingzong had always been an outlier in the eldest house, disliked by people detested by dogs. She resented Chen Jingzong for kicking her son, when she saw Chen Jingzong took the initiative to hand over the excuse, Qi shi immediately wiped away her tears, and said, “Jingzong, the old lady loved you the most when she was here. Don’t you miss her at all?”
Chen Jingzong squeezed the soft and boneless little hand of his beautiful wife, feeling good, and smiled at Qi shi: “Miss. But if you have to cry to show you’re missing someone, then when you don’t cry, is it mean you don’t miss the old lady?”
Qi shi was almost choked by these words!
Even knowledgeable people such as Chen Tingjian, Chen Bozong, Chen Xiaozong, or the old and new Zhuangyuan would not know how to refute Chen Jingzong’s words.
Sun shi stepped in to smooth things over: “Alright, alright, it’s a big holiday, let’s continue to eat. The old lady is the kindest, she definitely doesn’t want to see us to lose appetites for her.”
With these words, everyone picked up their chopsticks.
Chen Jingzong let go of Hua Yang silently.
Hua Yang ate the rice dumplings calmly, mentally locking Chen Jingzong in the wing room with more than a dozen layers of locks, and just see how he could do anything.
After the family banquet, Chen Tingjian took the men away, while the women continued to stay in Danyuan Hall.
According to Hua Yang’s temperament in her previous life, she would not stay here to listen to some family gossip, but now she had other thoughts, so she smiled and sat next to her mother-in-law.
Sun shi hid her surprise and said to Qi shi, “I see we have built three walls behind us. Are we planning to expand the house?”
Qi shi glanced at Hua Yang and replied: “Didn’t I tell Sister-in-law before that when I was renovating the house in the first month, I was afraid that there would not be enough bricks, so I bought too many. It’s not good to return them, but it would a waste just to put them there, then just build a wall at the back first. It’s up to you and Eldest Brother to decide whether to build a garden or build a house for your grandchildren to use when they grow up.”
Luo Yuyan looked at Hua Yang. Chen House didn’t see many repairs. Only Siyi Hall was newly built.
Hua Yang drank tea slowly. She had come all the way to mourn the old lady. Chen House was small. If they didn’t build a new house for her, would they expect the husband and wife to live in the brother and sister-in-law’s courtyard?
It was just that this job fell into the hands of Chen Tingshi and Qi shi. In the previous life, the couple could boldly accept 120,000 taels of silver as tribute from local officials and gentry. When father-in-law sent money back this time, it was unlikely for Qi shi to spend it all on the old lady’s funeral and Siyi Hall, it was inevitable to pass off the good stuff and make false accounts to line their own pockets.
Hua Yang looked again at the beautiful woman in plain clothes who seemed to be sitting respectfully next to her mother-in-law.
As if aware of it, Qi shi looked over, but only found the fairy-like princess sipping tea leisurely, with a fair and flawless face. Qi shi prided herself for being the most beautiful woman in town. Only after meeting the princess did she knew what it meant to.
However, thinking that such a noble beauty fell into the hands of her rough nephew Chen Jingzong, and had to serve a vulgar man like him at night, Qi shi felt comfortable, and felt that she was not much different from the golden branches and jade leaves in the palace.
Sun shi was still talking by herself: “Dalang and the others are still young, so there is no rush to expand the house. The master’s idea is to temporarily divide the land into two gardens, the east and the west. The west garden is for us women to plant flowers and grass, and the east garden is for them to personally cultivated and have truly experienced the hardships of the common people working the land. In the future when they become officials, they will know how to always care about the common people.”
It sounded pleasant to hear, but in fact, the family just wanted to find something to do to kill time so that they wouldn’t be idle and get sick.
Hua Yang complimented her mother-in-law: “Father cares about the people, no wonder he is deeply relied on by Father Emperor.”
With her support, the matter was settled.
When Hua Yang returned to Siyi Hall, Chen Jingzong had not returned yet.
She took off her shoes and found a comfortable position to lie on the couch.
Outside the window, the sky was brilliantly blue, and the elm leaves were round and exquisite, displaying a vibrant emerald green as if just freshly washed.
The weather was getting a little hot. Hua Yang waved a fan with one hand while recalling what she had seen this morning, especially Chen Tingshi and Qi shi.
In her previous life, her brother dropped the guilty edict for the Chen family, which listed seven crimes for her father-in-law, one of which was corruption and bribery.
Hua Yang had read‘s investigation files. Regarding father-in-law’s corruption and bribery, Jinyiwei only found around 30,000 taels of silver at the Chen Mansion in the capital. It was clearly recorded in the Chen family’s account books that this large amount of tens of thousands taels income was all rewarded by father emperor, and the writing could prove it. However, Jinyiwei unexpectedly found another 120,000 taels of silver and the most critical secret account in the Chen family’s ancestral home in Lingzhou.
The account book recorded every tribute sent to the ancestral home by local officials and gentry during the decades long when father-in-law acted as an official.
The court put this crime on father-in-law’s head.
Anyone with a discerning eye could see that the 120,000 taels were received by Chen Tingshi and his wife Qi shi behind father-in-law’s back, who was far away in the capital, as the money was hidden in the east courtyard where the couple lived, and the account books were hidden in Qi shi‘s dowry box!
When Hua Yang came to Lingzhou in her previous life, she was filled with displeasure. She spent most of her time in Siyi Hall and had no interest in understanding everything that happened in Chen House. She also did not put Chen Tingshi and Qi shi, this small-town couple, in her eyes. After being reborn, Hua Yang remembered the Chen family’s “corruption and bribery” case and asked Zhen’er and Zhu’er to carefully inquire about the personalities of the five members of the East Courtyard family.
Chen Tingshi, at best, was honest and simple, but at worst, he was useless and had no control over the big and small things in the family.
Qi shi was shrewd and powerful, and grasped everything in the Chen family.
Chen Jizong was the only son of the couple. His cowardly father could not control him, and while Qi shi could control him, she let him became arrogant and wilful. Chen Jizong seemed to be the tyrant of Shiqiao Town.
As for Chen Jizong’s wife and son, one was submissive towards Qi shi while the other one was a baby.
Those 120,000 taels, Hua Yang speculated that Qi shi was the mastermind, as Chen Tingshi did not have the guts to be greedy.
Qi shi‘s ambition was reflected in all aspects. Before father-in-law brought them back here, the chief steward of the ancestral home was Qi shi‘s cousin!
Suddenly, a big hand touched her leg.
Hua Yang was startled and instinctively hit down with the fan in her hand.
With a “pop” sound, the fan hit Chen Jingzong’s hand hard.
Seeing that it was him, Hua Yang, who was half sitting up, kicked over hatefully.
Chen Jingzong grabbed her ankle very easily. Looking at Hua Yang’s annoyed face, he smiled and looked down.
Hua Yang was wearing a skirt, and now one of her feet was being held by him. She wondered what he could see.
She covered the hem of her skirt in time!
Chen Jingzong pressed her feet down, seemingly caressing them nonchalantly and doing frivolous things, but then he asked Hua Yang: “Why did you touch my thighs at the banquet this morning?”
How could he have the nerve to say it!
“Did I touch you? Everyone else was mourning the old lady, but you didn’t even pretend to do it, so I pinched you as a reminder.”
Chen Jingzong looked surprised: “Pinch? Okay, blame me for having thick skin. I thought you were lustful after me.”
Chen Jingzong let go of her ankles, sat next to her, and looked at her inquiringly: “What are you thinking about? When I came in before, you looked like you were guarding against wolves.”
When he entered the door just now, what he saw was her graceful back lying on the couch, lazy and sultry.
Hua Yang ignored his inappropriate behavior and retracted her legs under her clothes. She shook her fan and whispered, “Are you too unpopular? Your father doesn’t want to see you, and your second aunt seems to be quite dissatisfied with you. Her words this morning, if you weren’t so thick-skinned, anyone else would have to kneel down and repent.”
Chen Jingzong looked at her face, which was sometimes covered by a fan, and wondered, “When did you become so concerned about our family’s affairs?”
The aloof princess never bothered to discuss the rights and wrongs of the house before.
Hua Yang hummed: “Who asked me to marry you? I have to guard against others making me angry because of you.”
Chen Jingzong: “You can rest assured, even if those people eat the bear’s heart and the leopard’s guts, they will not dare to provoke the golden branch of the palace.”
Hua Yang put down her fan and said impatiently, “Just tell me what kind of relationship do you have with Qi shi.”
Chen Jingzong: “No relationship. I’m the kind that people hates and dogs detests, so I’m not close with anyone.”
Hua Yang smiled, at least he was self-aware.
However, Chen Jingzong did not respect Qi shi as his aunt, which was good news for her, it would make things easier for her in the future.
Why her brother hated her father-in-law so much? After returning to the capital, she would pay close attention to it and then find a way to resolve it.
But before that, she must eradicate the bane on the side of Chen family’s ancestral home. As long as she prevented her father-in-law’s “crime” from being carried out, even if her brother still wanted to settle the account with the Chen family in the future, without the key evidence, her brother would at most remove the official positions of Chen Bozong and others. It would not fall the point of them being exiled to the frontier.