Reborn After Widowhood – Chapter 8
Chen Tingjian and his son was like fire and water when they met, but Chen Tingshi, who was waiting outside with his shoulders hunched, the one that suffered.
Chen Tingshi had lived in the shadow of his brother since he was a child.
His elder brother was a genius. He passed the children examination at the age of nine, passed the county imperial exam at the age of twelve, passed the provincial imperial examination at the age of sixteen, and became a Zhuangyuan at the age of nineteen!
Chen Tingshi had no talent for reading, and was not very smart to begin with. The more people around him compared him with his brother, the less he could study. In the end, he just broke the pot, stopped striving to get scholarly honor, and ran to his family’s fields to farm!, although it was physically hard, no one expected him to study anymore. Chen Tingshi felt particularly relaxed, as if a big stone had finally been lifted off!
Chen Tingshi, who farmed the land honestly, did not resent his elder brother because of the comparison. On the contrary, he admired and was very grateful to his elder brother!
If his brother had not become an official, he and his mother would not have live better and better in their hometown. If his brother had not become an official, he would not have married the most beautiful girl in town!
“Brother, I was the one who stood up first just now, don’t blame Jingzong.”
When he came back in, Chen Tingshi persuaded him with a shameful look, blaming himself for getting up to greet his nephew which confuse the social rule, and causing his nephew to be scolded.
Chen Tingjian waved his hands, not wanting to talk more about his family’s Jianzhong.
Chen Tingshi looked at the letter on the desk again and asked nervously: “The princess’s letter is for the emperor? Do she dislike the simplicity of our home?”
Chen Tingshi, who had been farming for most of his life, never thought that a princess would live in his home one day!
The princess didn’t appear much after coming here, and she wore a veil every time. But just by looking at her figure and the blurry eyebrows under the veil, one could tell that she must be a fairy-like beauty.
Thinking that the princess would complain about their family to the emperor, Chen Tingshi began to sweat on his forehead, looking at the two letters like looking at death sign.
Chen Tingjian looked at the words on the envelope for a while, then touched the beard that had reached his chest and said, “You are worrying too much. The princess is reasonable and will never waste brush and ink on such trivial things.”
Looking at the princess’ writing, which was brisk and gentle, and then thinking about what his wife said yesterday that the princess actually called her mom, he knew that the princess was not dissatisfied with the arrangements at their home, except for the Old Four.
Chen Tingshi believed in him. His brother had been like this since he was a child, always had a well thought out plan in mind.
He stole a few more glances at his brother’s beard.
His brother was not only ten million times more talented than him, but also very handsome. Not to mention when he was young, even now at fifty, he was still elegant and graceful. His long beard was smoother than a woman’s hair and the roots were distinct, it wouldn’t make people think it’s unkempt or excessive.
Do all the officials in the capital have beards like this?
Chen Tingjian suddenly said: “I also want to write a memorial to the emperor. Second Brother, please go back first.”
Chen Tingshi nodded, called the servant, and carried the two boxes of account books back.
Their branch of family lived in the east house of Chen House. They consisted of Chen Tingshi, his wife Qi shi, and their son Chen Jizong’s family of three.
Qi shi was sitting in the main room.
Like Sun shi, she only wore white mourning clothes and did not use any make up on her face. However, Qi shi‘s appearance was flamboyant and well-maintained, really couldn’t tell that she was already forty years old. With her bamboo-leaf eyebrows and, she had the shrewdness of a lady in charge. Usually when Chen Tingshi stood by her side, he didn’t look like her husband, but more like a steward, obeying her orders.
Seeing her husband bringing the account book back, Qi shi curled her lips and smiled: “Brother didn’t read it, right?”
Chen Tingshi sighed: “Brother believes in us and tells us to continue to be in charge.”
Qi shi drank tea slowly, and after everyone had left, she sarcastically said in a low voice: “Believe it or not, in the capital brother is a high-ranking official with a generous salary. He got reward from the emperor above and filial piety from officials below. He doesn’t put our family’s land and shop in his eyes. If this time he comes back not for mourning, but get expelled by the emperor and loses his official position, the first thing he will do is fight with us for the family property.”
Chen Tingshi didn’t like to hear this and tried to reason with her: “Our family’s ancestral property only has fifty acres of land. Now we have more fields and several shops, all relying on brother to send money home every year. Even if one day brother really wants to go back, it’s also what he deserves.”
Qi shi: “Bah! He sent money here, but that’s his duty to honor his mother, and it’s just such a little money. If I hadn’t planned carefully to pick a land today, and buy a shop at the right location tomorrow, racking my brains to let the silver continue to give birth to more silver, afraid we won’t even scrape money together for mother’s medicine!”
Chen Tingshi: “You are telling lies with your eyes open. In the past thirty years, the total amount of money brother sent home was three to four thousand taels. This time, before returning from the capital, he sent back another five thousand taels…”
With a “bang”, Qi shi slammed the tea bowl on the table.
Chen Tingshi’s shoulders trembled and he looked over with three points of fear.
Qi shi glared at him and said, “Don’t mention what was sent before. Almost all of it were spent to take care of mother, repaired the house, added family’s property, and all of it was for public use. There is almost nothing left. As for the five thousand taels that were sent this time, more than half of it were spent to repair Siyi Hall for the Old Four and the princess, and the Babu bed in the princess’s room alone cost 1,500 taels. It was you who watch people sent it over. Have you forgotten this? Where can I cut corners?”
Chen Tingshi lowered his head. Siyi Hall was very expensive. Even the locust trees in the yard and the peonies in the flower beds were all the precious varieties. He couldn’t appreciate them, but he knew they were expensive.
Qi shi: “Five thousand taels, more than half of which was spent in Siyi Hall, and the rest was used for my mother’s grand burial. In order to wait for brother and the others to come over for the burial, we bought as much ice as we could, and we also added 1,000 taels from the public account. How could he, a Cabinet Elder, keep track of this? It was obviously our two families who contributed the money together, but you actually thought it was all contributed by brother alone. You are so stupid. No wonder you’re not even pass the county exam!
“Here, here is the account book. Every expense is clearly written down. See for yourself!”
Qi shi opened a box, took out the account book on top, and threw it directly at Chen Tingshi’s hands.
Chen Tingshi instinctively grabbed the account book but did not open it.
What to see, every time his wife spent a large amount of money, she had to whisper it in his ear, and he could almost memorize it.
He was a rough man, and it was indeed his wife who took care of everything at home all these years, including taking care of the shop, repairing the house, and receiving people and things.
His brother contributed money and his wife contributed effort, only he was the one that useless.
“Forget it, let’s not talk about it. Anyway, it’s rare for brother and the others to come back and stay for two years. Let’s not argue about money. It won’t look good if it goes out.”
Qi shi sneered: “I didn’t want to argue. It’s because you only see your brother and don’t treat me as a person.”
Chen Tingshi sighed helplessly, and no matter what Qi said next, he would never talk back.
Chen Tingjian was writing memorial in the study, Chen Bozong was studying, and Chen Xiaozong was responsible for teaching the children. All three of them, father and son, had something to do.
Only Chen Jingzong was trapped in a small courtyard, feeling extremely bored.
Yesterday’s bow and arrows were ready, and he still wanted to go into the mountains.
“I may not come back until dusk this time. If the old man comes looking for me, you can find an excuse to help me fool him.”
Carrying a bow and arrow on his back, Chen Jingzong came to discuss with Hua Yang.
He was dressed in grey plain clothes. If one didn’t look at his face and only at his figure, he looked like a mountain hunter.
In the past, Hua Yang didn’t like him running into the mountains every day, which not only violated the etiquette of mourning, but also considered not doing an honest day’s work.
Now she didn’t want to care about these, and felt that it was good for him to go to the mountains. Mastery of study lies in diligence, wasn’t hunting a kind of martial arts training?
He could only boast about this one skill, if he wasted his martial arts skills, it made people looked down even more.
“Go ahead, be careful not to be recognized.” Hua Yang warned while flipping through the book.
Chen Jingzong looked at her contented look, and his expression became strange again.
When she first moved here, she was like a canary locked in a cage. Although she didn’t struggle desperately, her face was full of reluctance to be trapped.
Why it changed after just one night?
“Wouldn’t it be boring for you to stay here all day?” Chen Jingzong asked, sitting opposite her, in no hurry to leave.
Hua Yang looked outside the window and said calmly: “I’m used to it.”
The palace was a big cage, Chen House was a small cage, and the Grand Princess Mansion was neither big nor small, but it was still a cage.
So what about being a princess? Like all women in the world, she could only be trapped in the inner house. At most, she could go shopping in the streets and go to other people’s houses to eat and be a guest.
The only difference was that as a princess, she had the best food and clothing in the world, and she didn’t have to worry about money.
Chen Jingzong couldn’t understand what she was thinking, but he could only tell that if she had a choice, she wouldn’t want to stay at home all day long.
With a turn of thoughts, Chen Jingzong asked: “Perhaps you can go into the mountains with me? Going there every few days is just a way to relax.”
Hua Yang’s heart moved slightly, but she gave up the next moment.
There were also a few mountains near the capital. When she traveled, there were guards in front of her to clear the way, and there were palace maids in the back to serve. Moreover, the mountains on the outskirts of the capital were beautiful, and the stone steps for climbing were neatly paved. At a glance, the mountains behind Shiqiao Town were only wild trees and mixed forests. Every time Chen Jingzong came back, the uppers of his shoes and trousers would be stained with mud, which showed that there were ordinary dirt paths inside.
Plus there may be snakes and insects in the mountains…
Chen Jingzong did not force it, and said before leaving: “If you feel interested one day, just tell me.”
Hua Yang looked up and saw that his figure had disappeared.
Without Chen Jingzong, Siyi Hall became even quieter. After a while, the crisp and neat sounds of children reading came from the schoolroom on the other side of the Main House.
Hua Yang sat under the shade of the trees in the yard and couldn’t help but think about the appearance of his nieces and nephews.
Counting the one in the belly of her second sister-in-law Luo Yuyan, Chen Jingzong had a total of three nephews and two nieces.
Hua Yang didn’t like children very much, but Wan Yi, Chen Jingzong’s niece from eldest brother’s family, was sweet and well-behaved, and had always been her favorite.
An eight-year-old girl was the age when she first learns the female arts.
Her sister-in-law Yu Xiu came from a poor family and might not have much good things in her hands.
Hua Yang called Zhu’er: “Go to Guanhe Hall and tell the eldest madam that I miss the eldest miss. If the eldest miss willing, let her come here to eat at noon.”
Zhu’er immediately went to Guanhe Hall.
Yu Xiu was sewing summer clothes for the children. When she saw that her princess sister-in-law had sent a maid, she hurriedly put down her work and came out to welcome her.
Zhu’er smiled and passed on her master’s words.
Yu Xiu was flattered and responded in a panic: “Okay, you go back to the princess. As soon as Wan Yi comes back, I will ask her to come and pay respect.”
Zhu’er bowed and left.
Yu Xiu was still standing blankly under the eaves.
Chen Bozong walked out of the study.
When Yu Xiu saw her husband, she quickly walked up to him and said nervously: “Why did the princess think of calling Wan Yi over? Wan Yi is clumsy, what if she accidentally broke things over there. I heard that the princess used imperial gifts…”
Chen Bozong frowned and said: “Wan Yi is eight years old, how can she be so careless? Don’t be nervous and say something belittling the children.”
He looked the most like Chen Tingjian, and his temperament was also the most similar, dignified and serious. After being scolded, Yu Xiu turned pale and lowered her head.
When Chen Bozong saw it, his brows furrowed deeper. Knowing that her cautious temper probably could not be change, he said no more and went back to his room to continue reading.
Yu Xiu was depressed for a while. Thinking of the princess, she went to get ready and took out the best clothes she had brought for her daughter this time they came to Lingzhou.
Around noon, the children came back.
Yu Xiu first took her daughter into the house to change clothes. When Chen Bozong saw it, although he did not approve, he didn’t say anything more, so as not to spoil his wife’s appetite and make her unable to eat later.
“Dad, Mom, I’ll go over then.” Wan Yi said with a smile.
Yu Xiu: “Go ahead and don’t talk nonsense when you get to the princess.”
Wan Yi smiled and walked briskly.
Yu Xiu looked at her daughter’s back and felt a little envious: “She is quite brave. When I met the princess, I didn’t even know where to put my hands.”
Chen Bozong lowered his eyes and drank tea.
The five-year-old boy Dalang looked at his nose, his nose pointed at his heart. He was not afraid of his fourth aunt princess, but the fourth aunt seemed to only like his sister and never called any of the boys over.
Hua Yang guessed that Wan Yi was coming, so she stood at the gate of the hall and waited. When the eight-year-old girl walked into the yard with a sweet smile, Hua Yang’s eyes softened.
When everyone in the Chen family got exiled, Wan Yi was just fourteen years old, which was exactly the flower bud age. Hua Yang couldn’t imagine how much suffering she would suffer in the bitter cold borderland.
“Fourth Aunt, you have lost a lot of weight.”
Since the old lady was buried, Hua Yang had never left Siyi Hall. After such a long time, Wan Yi suddenly noticed the changes in her body.
Hua Yang smiled and said: “It’s my first time in Lingzhou, so I haven’t acclimated to it. It’ll get better after a while. What about you, are you tired from studying?”
Wan Yi shook her head: “I’m not tired, but Third Uncle seems to be quite exhausted. By the way, why didn’t I see my Fourth Uncle?”
Hua Yang pointed to the inner room and said nonsense: “He sleeps lazily inside. Let’s eat first, don’t worry about him.”
Wan Yi was surprised. Her fourth uncle was too lazy, he was actually still sleeping at noon. How could he be so shameless!
Wan Yi glanced at the bedroom. In front of the princess, she even wanted to blush for her fourth uncle!
Hua Yang saw it and was secretly amused.
Who is to blame? Chen Jingzong refused to stay at home honestly, so don’t blame her for making such excuses.
There was a cute little girl beside her, and Hua Yang ate lunch with gusto. After the meal, she asked Chao Yun to take out a silk handkerchief she had prepared and gave it to Wan Yi.
There was a lifelike peony embroidered on the handkerchief, and a colorful butterfly flew over as if it was about to fall.
This was embroidered by the embroiderer in the palace. The needlework was exquisite. With Yu Xiu at her side to give guidance, Wan Yi could benefit a lot from following it.
“What a beautiful handkerchief, thank you Fourth Aunt!”
Wan Yi liked this gift so much. She held the handkerchief with both hands cherishingly, and her dark and bright eyes were full of joy.
Hua Yang smiled and touched her head: “Go back and rest early.”
Wan Yi hugged her coquettishly, then bowed and left.
Chen Bozong and Yu Xiu were both waiting for their daughter. Yu Xiu was relieved to learn that the princess had given their daughter an exquisite handkerchief.
Chen Bozong didn’t look at the handkerchief and asked casually: “How does your Fourth Uncle get along with the princess?”
He wanted to know if the fourth brother had curbed some of his indecent habits.
When mentioning the fourth uncle, Wan Yi showed a look of hatred for iron not becoming steel: “I didn’t even see Fourth Uncle. Fourth Aunt said he was still lazily sleeping in.”
With a “poof” sound, Chen Bozong almost spit out the tea he had just swallowed.
Yu Xiu also looked in disbelief. The children didn’t dare to sleep for so long, why did the fourth brother…
“How unbecoming!” Chen Bozong put down his tea cup, unable to hide his anger.
Yu Xiu and her daughter looked at each other, and walked away tacitly.
Chen Bozong decided to discipline his younger brother who was getting more and more willful.
In the afternoon, he sent the maid to Siyi Hall to invite his fourth brother over.
The little maid made a trip and came back with a complicated expression: “Princess said, there were mice in Siyi Hall last night. Fourth Master caught the mice all night and now is still asleep. If you have something, he will come to see you after he wakes up.”
The Author has something to say:
Old Four: I was wronged!
Old One: If you didn’t sleep in, what were you doing?
Old Four: ….