Published at 19th of September 2019 05:39:25 AM

Chapter 144

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The Discussions About the Dowry (1)

At night, Sheng Hong rested himself in Wang shi’s room. As the maid helped him take off his coat, Wang shi kept babbling about Qin shi’s visit today.

“... That lady is gentle and elegant with no sign of arrogance at all. You know, all her words made sense and sounded reasonable. Unlike that vulgar woman, Scholar Wen’s mother who only talked rubbish. Alas... I have to say that Sixth Lady is the luckiest girl!” As Wang shi was saying that, she took over the Green Ruyao cup and handed it to Sheng Hong, “Here, it’s the Maojian Tea presented by Old Madam Qin. Master, you should try this.”

After changing into the casual clothes, Sheng Hong said, “Old Madam also favors this kind of tea, don’t keep it all to yourself.” It was not that Sheng Hong had to offend Wang shi like this, but she did have records of keeping things all to herself.

Hearing his words, Wang shi felt a bit disturbed, then she said with a pout, “Master, what are you talking about? I’m not a young and innocent girl. Half of the tea has already been left in the Hall of Peaceful Ages. I only saved the rest for the children and you.”

Sheng Hong nodded slightly and took over the cup. Having taken a sip of the tea, he praised with his face beamed with delight, “Nice tea. I wonder if the tea which is presented to the emperor would taste this good.”

“Gosh. Sixth Lady now doesn’t need to worry about her future anymore. But my poor Rulan still has to serve a rude mother-in-law.” Wang shi complained that at the other side of the table while touching the gold and jade ring on her finger with anxious expression on her face. As she was pitying Rulan’s fate, she also didn’t forget to speak highly of Qin shi’s good virtue.

The more Wang shi thought about Qin shi’s goodness, the more she despised Old Madam Wen’s boorish behavior. And the more Wang shi despised Old Madam Wen, the more she admired Qin shi. Being terribly upset, Wang shi just couldn’t shut her mouth right now. However, Sheng Hong who sat beside her only drank the tea without commenting anything.

“Master, say something!” After rambling for a long while, Wang shi finally found that she was the only one who was talking and her husband had ignored her words the whole time. So she couldn’t help but shout, “Why don’t you feel worried for Rulan, are you her father or not?”

Sheng Hong put down the cup slowly and turned around to look at Wang shi while the latter also tilted her body to listen to him with attention. Then Sheng Hong said, “You have to be very cautious when you communicate with this Old Madam Qin afterwards. Save half of your words... no, save most of your words when you talk to her. You have to watch out for this woman so as not to regret in the future.”

Wang shi felt strange and asked with her eyes widely open, “Why should I do that? I see her a really nice person. Master, you haven’t even seen her. Why did you say that? What would I regret for?”

Sheng Hong stroked his moustache and shook his head, saying, “I don’t need to see her. Since you recognized her a nice person, then she must be a sophisticated woman.”

Wang shi was still utterly confused, but she had a slight feeling that her husband had been mocking her. Then she said in a loud voice, “What are you talking about, master?!”

It seemed that Sheng Hong was in a good mood. He chuckled, “When we were in Quan Prefecture, you and Zhifu’s wife were like best friends. Then later on, you two clashed over something and you have cursed her at home for almost two hours. And do you still remember your closest friend Pingning Junzhu in Deng Prefecture? How’s the relationship between the two of you right now? If the Buddhist abbot hasn’t persuaded you, you would have used a Voodoo doll to curse her! Do I even need to mention your sister? After the two of you have met again after a long separation, you never stopped praising her and urged me to help her. And now? You have almost ripped her skin off... Haha, my dear wife, I have already seen through you. All the women that you favored would definitely become your enemies afterwards. So why don’t you take some precautions first?!”

After saying those words, Sheng Hong laughed loudly with his shoulders shaking and his beard fluttering randomly. Meanwhile, Wang shi’s face turned completely red while her mouth opened and closed like the fish which just left the water. However, she still couldn’t find anything to refute him. At last, she only said with anger, “Master, you are in such a good humor today that you are even interested in teasing me.”

These days were the glory days for Sheng Hong. He had been invited to the feast which had been held by his peers or his superiors every night. And people there all had the intention to curry favor with him in different ways. No wonder why Sheng Hong was in a good temper. As he thought about his promising future, he got more and more complacent. In the meantime, Wang shi got more and more furious seeing his smile. So she only straightened her face with her chest moving up and down, being in a sulk.

After Sheng Hong had done laughing, he straightened up and faced Wang shi, saying, “Tell me about the preparation of the two girls’ wedding.”

Wang shi said with a gloomy face, “Rulan has already engaged with Scholar Wen. After the result of the Imperial Exam is published at the beginning of next year, she will get married with Scholar Wen at the end of February no matter he passes the examination or not. As Rulan’s younger sister, Minglan has to wait until Rulan’s wedding finishes to get married. So we plan to hold her wedding at the beginning of March.”

Sheng Hong nodded lightly. Then something occurred to his mind all of a sudden, so he said to Wang shi, “Since we are going to hold the wedding at the beginning of next year, I suggest we do it simply. I don’t want the weddings to be widely known and draw everyone’s attention. Also...” Having paused for a moment, Sheng Hong said seriously, “At the beginning of next year, I need you to hand our family affairs over to our daughter-in-law and go to Fengtian.”

Wang shi was stunned, asking, “To do what?”

After being in silent for a while, Sheng Hong sighed, “You have to make an apology to my mother-in-law and tell her the marriages of the two girls.”

Thinking of her own mother, Wang shi felt even more annoyed, then she said sullenly, “I’m afraid that my mother is still angry at me. She just won’t forgive me no matter how many times I have apologized. People always say that the mother and the daughter never have grudges against each other after one night. Why is my mother so cruel to me?”

Sheng Hong put on a stern look and persuaded Wang shi, “It truly was our fault last time. We cannot blame your mother for being angry. For all these years, she and your brother have helped us a lot. But you really have neglected their needs. After all, your nephew is the legal grandson of the eldest son of Wang family, how could they not be angry! Now that Wang family and Kang family have already become relatives by marriage and that affair is over, we cannot always refuse to budge. This time you go back to your mother’s family, you have to apologize to your mother sincerely. And if your mother is available and healthy enough, you can invite her to live with us for a while. Then we can enjoy the happiness together.”

Sheng Hong respected his mother-in-law very much. At the time when he had proposed to Wang shi, Old Master Wang had disagreed with his proposal because he was just an illegal son who had no powerful family background. However, Wang shi’s mother had been satisfied with Sheng Hong at the first glance. She had claimed that Sheng Hong had been an honest man and would surely have a bright future. Only because of that could Wang shi marry to Sheng Hong. Thus, Sheng Hong always felt grateful for Old Madam Wang because of that.

Hearing what Sheng Hong had said, Wang shi’s eyes went red. She suddenly remembered her mother’s years of concern and love to her. After she had got married, she had had troubles in dealing with Concubine Lin, then Old Madam Wang had sent people to help her and given her lots of instructions. Thinking of that, Wang shi said with tears shedding from her eyes, “I’m such an unfilial daughter. My mother cares me so much but I have still put her in an awkward situation in front of my sister-in-law!” On these words, she wiped her tears with her handkerchief and said smilingly, “I’ll listen to you, master. I’ll apologize to my mother even if I need to kowtow to her. At the worst, she will only beat me with a cane.”

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Seeing that, Sheng Hong smiled and sighed, “That’s right! Alas... It is always easy to add brilliance to one’s present splendor but hard to provide timely help when one’s in a poor situation. These days I have seen so many people trying to claim ties of friendship with me, which made me think of our close relationship with your mother’s family in the early years. Now that things are getting better in our family, I cannot forget the ones who have helped us.”

Wang shi was touched by his words. She looked at her husband with tenderness in her eyes and then said in excitement, “My mother was not wrong about you. You surely are a considerate man.”

After Sheng Hong finished talking about the good things, he now needed to bring about the sensitive parts. As a tactful civil official, Sheng Hong knew well about the talking skills. He held up the tea cup and took another sip, then asked, “How many dowries are you planning to prepare to each of the girls?”

When Sheng Hong talked about that, the expression on Wang shi’s face turned stiff. Having opened the warm cage on the table and took out the tea pot, she refilled Sheng Hong’s cup tardily while saying, “We have already agreed on this! Same as usual, I’ll do it according to the protocol.” However, Sheng Hong didn’t buy Wang shi’s perfunctory answer and only stared at her. Therefore, Wang shi said reluctantly, “To be honest, Rulan should get more dowries than Minglan. After all, Rulan is indeed a legal daughter. Moreover...” After biting her lips, Wang shi continued, “The family Rulan will marry into is so humble. I have to prepare more dowries for her.”

“Stupid!” Sheng Hong fumed without any hesitation while thumping on the table violently, which made the tea in the cup spill out.

Wang shi felt wronged and retorted, “Minglan has already got a noble husband, she should be satisfied!”

Then Sheng Hong raised his voice and sneered, “Have you done anything helping Minglan find this noble husband? Or did Rulan voluntarily give up this man to her sister?”

Wang shi was choked by the words.

As he was saying that, he goggled at Wang shi and waved his sleeves. Then he realized that his sleeves had been damped by the tea. So he scolded Wang shi with a sullen face as he wrung out his sleeves, “Old Madam is reluctant to accept Minglan’s engagement with Gu Tingye at first. As Rulan’s mother, you are the one who’s responsible for Rulan’s shameless action. And Minglan has to sacrifice herself for her sister. Aren’t you ashamed of saying those words?”

Every time they mentioned about Rulan’s affair, Sheng Hong couldn’t help but rebuke Wang shi harshly. As a civil official who attached great importance to moral principles, he considered his daughter’s private meeting with another man as a slap on his face. And every time, Wang shi could only listen to his sharp word obediently. Because it couldn’t be denied that it was her duty to teach her daughter well.

Every time Sheng Hong remembered what Rulan and Wen Yanjing had done, he felt disgusted as if he had swallowed a fly. Then he couldn’t help reproaching Wang shi again. After he finally cooled himself down, he came to the point straightly, “I’ll just make it clear with you! You have to prepare the same amount of dowries for the two girls! Also, that includes the house you have bought for Rulan a few days ago! And don’t add anything to Rulan’s dowries secretly!”

With her lips shivering, Wang shi didn’t utter a word, but she showed a really long face.

Sheng Hong stood up and watched at Wang shi’s reluctant look, then said in a low voice, “Ever since you married into Sheng family, have I ever coveted on your dowries? You want to leave your dowries to all the three children to whom you have given birth, I never has any opinions about that! Just think of your sister, where has she spent all her dowries? Her husband squandered her savings wantonly and all her illegal children used the money from her dowries for their own weddings. But have you seen your sister complain about it?!”

Wang shi had to admit that she really was more fortunate than her sister. So she had nothing to say in reply.

Seeing the expression on her face changed, Sheng Hong then pressed, “Forget about Molan and Changdong. Minglan was registered under your name. So you have to give Minglan the dowries as many as Rulan has! If you have to blame, just blame yourself for failing to be a good mother. Rulan is such a spoiled child. Don’t you know that she nearly dragged the whole family down? Just tell your mother about this thing and see if she would agree with you! When your sister and you got married, my family was not as celebrated and rich as Kang family. Did your mother give you and your sister different amount of dowries?”

Having completely lost her tongue, Wang shi sat on the bed disappointedly while keeping wringing the handkerchief in her hands.

Sheng Hong observed the look on Wang shi’s face and added, “That’s not enough. You can’t ask how many dowries Old Madam has prepared for Minglan either.”

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