That night, Sheng Hong wanted to drink through the night with Sheng Wei. Wang shi accompanied Old Madame Sheng to talk. Before dinner, Mama Cui lead Minglan back, Danju and Xiaotao hugged two big bags of presents and there was still two coarse-work maids carrying a chest behind.
Old Madame Sheng pulled Minglan to her side, rocking her like a little darling for a long time. She smiled “This time, our Ming’er is really rich. Tell grandmother, what did First Uncle send over?”
Minglan did not see it clearly from the start, opening up her little fingers to recall “There is… gold, satin, pearls, bracelets, erm… hairpins, more hairpins…… erm, still, still…” She said still for a long time and could not recite it in the end. Old Madame Sheng listened till her eyes turned white, she extended her finger and poked Minglan’s little head, with a strict face she said “… still, still you this little dummy!”
Minglan’s face turned red. Everyone laughed together.
Having said, Old Madame Sheng then asked Cuiping to instruct the maids to open the cloth and box to take a look— four bolts newly made satin, three bolts of brocade from Sichuan, Guangze designs were extremely bright and neat. Two sets of Four Treasures of Study1 from Huizhou, a pair of pure gold sardonyx bracelets, a matching set of beaded gold hair pins, red round coral bead and all kind of coloured beads in a box. Five new types of rings and the remaining ones are all sorts of girly gadgets.
Old Madame Sheng frowned “This gift is a little too much.”
Wang shi smiled “First Brother-in-law said that he has not seen them for many years and might as well make up for it.” Then she turned her head towards Minglan and said “You this silly child, everyone says can remember words quickly. Why can you not remember all these things? No wonder Old Madame says you are a little dummy!”
Minglan laughed a little while in embarrassment, she is better at remembering numbers and law. Old Madame Sheng heard Wang shi’s words, her eyes seem to have a flash of condemnation but she did not say anything.
Wang shi continuously said to the Old Madame with a smile “Our Ming’er is a kind and generous child. When she was living at this daughter-in-law’s place, she wore whatever she was given, ate whatever she was fed with. She was never once picky and never coveted her sisters’ belongings. When she stayed together with Ru’er, food and toys are displayed everywhere but Ming’er did not even touch them once! No wonder the Old Madame loves you, still have some dignity.”
Old Madame Sheng lightly looked at Wang shi and said without batting an eyelid “After Girl Hua marries, Madame must spend more energy to properly educate the remaining three. It is not good for the girls’ eyes to be too shallow, letting others belittle.”
Wang shi immediately smiled with delight, who knows Old Madame Sheng said another sentence that seems to be unrelated “Girl Ming, just now after you left, you asked Xiaotao to bring over that bag of goldfishes gifted by your First Uncle. Why? Urgently show off to your older sisters?”
Minglan opened her eyes and answered, “It is not to show off, it is because I want to share it with older sisters.”
Wang shi’s expression immediately became a little ugly. Old Madame Sheng smiled in an unfathomable way “Did your older sisters want it?”
Minglan shook her head and pouted “We endured the beatings together, naturally I ought to share the goldfishes. I asked Xiaotao to also bring along the ivory small scale. But Big Sister refused no matter what, she said First Uncle gave it to me alone and they all received one when they met First Uncle.”
Old Madame Sheng felt gratified “As expected Big Girl is sensible. This time Nephew has also added quite a bit of dowry to her, we need to learn to be sufficient.”
Wang shi then left out a sigh of relief.
Minglan silently sighed. The words of these groups of women living in the inner households are filled with hooks. Once you are careless, you will be coiled around.
After a while, Old Madame Sheng instructed for food. Wang shi normally return to her house to eat with her daughters, she then took the maids and said goodbye. Once she left the courtyard of Shou’an Hall, she immediately quickened her footsteps and hurriedly went towards Weiru Pavilion. The maids have not opened the curtains to the primary building, Wang shi heard the voices of Hualan reprimanding Rulan.
“Why are your eyes this shallow, seeing those few gold ingots of Minglan and thinking of splitting half. Can it be that you have not seen gold ever?!” Hualan’s voice, Wang shi heard till her eyelids jumped.
“First Uncle must be out of his mind, you and I are then born of Madame. What woman’s concubine girl, he still treated her seriously, for what reason did he give her so many gold ingots? They ought to be given to us!” Rulan retorted.
Wang shi listened till her veins popped. She let Caihuan and Caipei watch the door and she marched and burst into the inner room with. She pointed at Rulan and loudly scolded “Damn girl, still do not to shut up! What nonsense is this, should have let Governess Kong beat you more the last time!”
Hualan, Rulan these two sisters are sitting on a pair of beautiful Chinese Crab chairs. Seeing that Wang shi entered, they quickly stood up and bowed. Wang shi held onto Rulan firmly and in a deep voice “From now on, not allowed to speak of what woman concubine-born. Did you forget about your Father?”
Rulan suddenly tensed up. Right, Sheng Hong is also concubine-born. Although she knows that she have said the wrong thing but she still refused to give in and said “At that time, Big Sister and my gold ingots are sent over by First Old Madame and absolutely did not have Concubine Lin’s portion. That gold lock of Four Older Sister is still added by First Uncle and First Aunty later. Did Mother not say this? First Old Madame detests mistresses and concubines the most. …… Even if First Uncle looked at the face of Father and favour Minglan, bestowing some small tokens is also sufficient. Acting what gold lock on the left and bag of goldfishes on the right, spoiling that brat and revolting behaviour! I see that gold lock of hers is more exquisite than mine!”
Wang shi’s head hurt to no end and sat on the soft couch at once. Hualan saw the situation and walked over to strongly pinched Rulan’s arm. She softly said “Do you know what? That First Old Madame is the closest with our Old Madame. At that time, First Old Madame does not like Fourth Younger Sister, it is because of Grandmother. Today favouring Sixth Younger Sister, it is also because of Grandmother! To find fault, just have to blame yourself for not willing to be raised by Old Madame!”
Wang shi looked at her eldest daughter like a treasure and turned her head to scold Rulan “Your Big Sister have said it correctly! I just asked around, at first your First Uncle only gave Sixth Girl the gold lock. It is Sixth Girl that is charming, very appropriate and filial in serving tea and paying respects. Your First Uncle then took out a bag of goldfishes, but what about you? Why do you not think, when has he not gift this and that to you sisters each time your First Uncle return. Hua’er is still okay but every time you see your First Uncle, you act like a bossy young miss. Lips are lazy and not eagerly attentive, acting like a terrible fussy person. All who sees you dislikes you!”
Rulan has never been scolded by Wang shi in this way. Her little face turned red and said in anger “Who wants First Uncle to like me! Did Mother not say it, if not for Old Madame, First Old Madame would have already been divorced by First Old Master. If not for Father, where will First Uncle get such a big family property! First Uncle’s family received such a big favour from our family, taking so many things from them is just the basic. Why do I have to go fawn over First Uncle, he giving me things is a must!”
Only heard a rustling sound, Hualan stood up and chided in a stern voice “What nonsense is this? Still do not shut up, speak anymore and I will tear your mouth immediately!” Seeing her Older Sister’s face stern and eyes burning with rage, Rulan shut her mouth.
Hualan turned her body to Wang shi and reproached “Really Mother, you obviously know Younger Sister’s temper is impulsive and you still dare tell her such words? If she were to lose her mind one day and talk wildly, Grandmother and Father will tear off your skin! At that time, that surnamed Lin will be even more pleased!”
At that moment, Wang shi’s head felt like it was splitting. She supported her forehead on the soft couch with a face as if she had a stroke.
Hualan sat beside Rulan and guided her Younger Sister with her rare patience “It is true that Father and Grandmother helped First Uncle a lot but it is Minglan who is raised by Old Madame’s side. Father’s daughters do not stop at us. In a little while, I will have to marry out and at that time I cannot guide Younger Sister anymore. Ru’er have to think more by yourself in the future.”
Rulan’s lips moved a little and with a stubborn look. Hualan tried harder to be more patient “You and I are of the same mother. Even if we usually quarrel, can it be that older sister will harm you? In the future, do not quarrel with Molan easily. That damn girl is used to being affected and her thoughts are cunning, it is inevitable that you will suffer loss. At worst, you do not play with her and if you are bored, go find Sixth Younger Sister. I see that she is not bad, although younger than you, her conduct and behaviour is more proper than you. It is just a few days, Old Madame has already treated her as a darling. Whatever good things are urgently given to her, you see that these few days Father has doted on her more!”
Rulan lowered her head and pouted in disapproval. She muttered “How can they be compared to us. They are concubine-born and have to curry favour by showing reverence to have a place. But I am born by Madame.”
Hualan exerted at once “That is right. We are born by Madame and but we have to take out the style of a legitimate daughter. Must not nitpick with those inferior concubine-borns!”
1. They are mainly used for calligraphy: Brush, Ink, Paper, Ink Slab.
Trust Hualan to lead her younger sister to the correct path. I feel like Wang shi is really a child that happened to be a mother. In that society, maybe she was forced to be like an adult when she has not grown into one yet. Next up, Hualan finally gets married, FOR REAL!