Home Post 1853-chapter-35


Now that Rutong had memorized a short passage, she wanted to learn to write those characters. However, there was a problem: writing required writing tools like ink, brushes, paper, and inkstones, which Gu Xian hadn’t brought with her this time.

Gu Xian turned to Qing Shu and said, “Qing Shu, lend a pen to Rutong.”

She knew that Qing Shu had brought two pens with her.

Qing Shu was unwilling to lend the pen, saying, “Mom, if I lent it to Big Sister. If I damage this pen, then I won’t have any left.” This brush was fragile, and she had only brought one spare.

“You can lend it to your elder sister for now.” This child, when did she become so stingy?

Qing Shu intentionally said, “Why lend her mine? Second Uncle is a scholar; he must have writing materials. Big Sister, go and get Second Uncle’s writing materials.”

If she lent it, she probably wouldn’t get it back. The things her grandmother bought for her were all of good quality, and she didn’t want Rutong to benefit from them.

Rutong hesitated and said with a distressed expression, “My father doesn’t allow me to touch his things. If I touch them, he’ll beat me.” Her father’s calligraphy and painting supplies were only to be touched by her elder brother; even her mother couldn’t touch them.

Gu Xian felt sorry for Rutong.

Qing Shu didn’t buy it. She said, “You can’t take Second Uncle’s, but you can use Big Brother’s writing materials, right?”

Lin Lezhu was two years older than Qing Shu and was taught by Grandpa. Even now, Grandpa was still teaching him, so his room had all the necessary writing materials.

Ruotong shook her head and said, “Big Brother won’t lend them to me.”

Qing Shu wasn’t pleased with this response and said, “You haven’t even asked yet. How do you know that your elder brother won’t lend it to you?”

Rutong hung her head and said pitifully, “My elder brother doesn’t have enough for himself; how could he lend it to me?”

Although the Lin family had produced a Jinshi1, Jinshi in the Ming Dynasty didn’t enjoy as many privileges as those in earlier dynasties.

In previous dynasties, once someone became a Jinshi, they would receive a monthly stipend and their land and shops would be exempt from taxes. But in the Ming Dynasty, aside from being exempt from taxes on fifty mu of arable land, Jinshi didn’t enjoy many other benefits.

The Lin family’s population had been steadily increasing, and expenses had been rising. Therefore, they had to be thrifty. Lin Lezhu’s calligraphy and painting supplies were all old, and the paper for practicing calligraphy was limited. If they gave some to Rutong, then he wouldn’t have enough for himself.

Qing Shu immediately said, “Mine won’t be enough either.”

Rutong’s eyes welled up, “Qing Shu, please lend me some. I promise I’ll repay you once I earn money.”

This was an artful request from Rutong. Gu Xian couldn’t refuse it, and she couldn’t help but relent, “I can lend you a pen, but not paper. I don’t have enough paper for myself.”

Qing Shu didn’t back down, and Gu Xian couldn’t do anything about it. In the end, she had to let Rutong fetch a bowl of water and use the brush dipped in water to write on the table.

As Rutong wrote, she revealed the pearl bracelet on her wrist. The pearls were about the size of peanuts, each one round and smooth. While they might not be a treasure, they were still worth quite a few taels of silver.

Qing Shu was puzzled. When did her second aunt become so generous and willing to buy such valuable jewelry for Rutong?

In the evening, Rutong complained to Wei shi with frustration, “Mom, she’s so stingy. She wouldn’t even lend me a piece of paper. Big Aunt just let her be like this, and she didn’t help me persuade her either.”

Why was Lin Qing Shu so fortunate? She had a gentle and literate mother, as well as a generous and wealthy grandmother. Meanwhile, her own grandmother was miserly and tight-fisted, not only refusing to buy her things but also trying to profit from them.

Thinking about Qing Shu’s attire, Rutong couldn’t help but feel resentful. She had so much money this time, yet she wouldn’t even lend her a few pieces of paper. It was truly infuriating.

Wei shi said, “Try to persuade her nicely. If you make her happy, not only will she lend you writing materials, but she might also convince your big aunt to take you to the county to study in the future.”

Knowing Gu Xian’s character, persuading her to send her daughter to the county school would definitely be a challenge.

Rutong sighed, “Mom, Qing Shu is different now. Last time, I could get her to agree to anything just by being nice to her. But this time, I’ve said all the kind words I can think of, and she just ignores me.”

Wei shi frowned. She had also noticed Qing Shu’s changes. Aside from her attire, her style had noticeably transformed. In the past, when she came back, she dressed modestly and in slightly worn-out clothes. But this time, not only were her clothes new, but she was also wearing such expensive jewelry.

Rutong said quietly, “Mom, do you think that evil spirit hasn’t died and has attached itself to her? Otherwise, how could she change so much before and after?”

Thinking about the faint look Qing Shu gave her, Wei shi’s heart shuddered. Could it be that the evil spirit hadn’t been killed? Otherwise, why did that girl always make her feel so uneasy?

Wei shi said to Rutong, “In the next few days, observe that maid closely. If you notice anything unusual, don’t make a fuss; quietly inform me. Even if you tell your mother-in-law that the evil spirit hasn’t been eliminated, we need evidence to prove it. Empty words won’t get us anywhere.”

Rutong nodded.

The Lin family’s house was quite large, with eight rooms originally intended for each son. Lin Chengyu and Gu Xian were initially allocated two rooms, but since they spent little time at home, leaving one room unoccupied was wasteful. Therefore, Old Madam Lin used one to store grain.

When Gu Xian returned, she brought Chen Mama and two maids with her, and Qing Shu brought Jiaoxing along. With so many people crammed into one room, they had no choice but to sleep on the floor.

Qing Shu frowned and said, “It’s getting colder at night; sleeping on the floor is risky.”

Gu Xian replied, “There’s no other option. We only have a few rooms at home; we have to make do.”

She had suggested adding more rooms before, but both elders had disagreed. Now, even if they could temporarily accommodate everyone, Old Madam Lin wouldn’t use her money to build more rooms. If word got out, she couldn’t afford the shame.

Gently touching Qing Shu’s head, Gu Xian said, “Don’t worry too much; go to sleep quickly. We have to wake up early tomorrow!”

Qing Shu thought she wouldn’t be able to sleep, but she fell asleep shortly after lying down.

A night of peaceful sleep.

The next morning, Qing Shu was awakened by a commotion. She glanced outside and saw that the sky was still dim.

Looking around the room, she noticed that everyone was gone. Qing Shu asked, “Mom, where’s Chen Mama and the others?”

Gu Xian smiled and said, “Chen Mama take Xiamiao and the others to make rice dumplings. Do you want to go with them?”

Every family made rice dumplings for the Dragon Boat Festival. Yesterday evening, Wei shi and Zhang Qiaoqiao soaked rice, beans, and other ingredients, and today they would start making them. This way, the rice dumplings would be fresh and delicious.

Gu Xian didn’t have the skills for this kind of task and didn’t want to participate, so she had Chen Mama and Xiamiao help.

Qing Shu shook her head and said, “I need to study and practice calligraphy.” Since she could remember, she had been doing household chores, including washing clothes, cooking, and sewing. If she didn’t do them, she wouldn’t get food. Because she had done so many chores, her hands had become rough, and when she went to the capital, she was often teased by Du Shiya for looking like a country girl.

Thinking about her past life, Qing Shu felt bitter. Originally, she should have been a pampered young Old Madam Gu, but she ended up no different from a servant. However, she was determined not to let herself be bullied this time.

Her daughter’s diligence pleased Gu Xian. If Qing Shu studied well, she would be able to attend a good school in the capital. Gu Xian said, “Your eldest cousin is studying right now. Later, don’t make too much noise to disturb him.”

“Mom, I understand.” Although Qing Shu didn’t like Lin Lezhu, she didn’t want to pick a fight with him.

As the saying goes, the eldest son, eldest grandson, and old Old Madam Gu are the roots of the family. Lin Lezhu was the apple of Old Madam Lin’s eye, and if he was affected, it could lead to trouble.

Qing Shu wasn’t afraid of trouble, but she also didn’t want to be taken advantage of when conflicts arose.

  1. A successful candidate in the highest imperial examination