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Third uncle and the fifth uncle took the documents and readily signed their names as witnesses. 

Second Master Gu didn’t immediately sign. Instead, he looked at Eldest Madam Gu and said, “Elder sister-in-law, if Heping moves out, you’ll be the only one left in this house. If something happens, you won’t even have someone to take care of things for you.” 

He genuinely cared for Eldest Madam Gu when he said this. 

Eldest Madam Gu smiled and said, “I’m still strong and healthy. I can easily live for another ten or eight years. As for the future, we’ll talk about it later. Right now, I just want to live peacefully for a few days.” 

To be happy every day was a blessing; to be burdened with worries and troubles every day was a form of suffering. She knew this well. 

Originally, Eldest Madam Gu had wanted to arrange for Gu Xian to have someone marry into the family. After all, the relationship with her through an adopted child would be different. However, Elder Master Gu disagreed.  

First, eligible men were unwilling to be son-in-laws or marry into the family; second, he didn’t trust son-in-laws as much as he trusted nephews.  

Eldest Madam Gu couldn’t argue with him and had to go along with his decision. 

Then she wanted to adopt the Second branch’s son, Gu Herong. He was honest and sincere, and both Second Master Gu and Mao shi were upright people, unlike Third Master Gu and Madame Yuan, who were always scheming. However, her wish didn’t come true. 

At this point, Second Master Gu couldn’t persuade her anymore. After all, Gu Heping and Yuan Shanniang were indeed causing trouble. 

After receiving the document of family division, Third Master Gu looked at Gu Heping and said, “You can still regret this.” 

Eldest Madam Gu sneered inwardly. Even if Gu Heping regretted it, she wouldn’t agree to cancel the arrangement now. 

With determination, Gu Heping stopped hesitating. “Third Uncle, I don’t regret it.” 

Even though he was filled with resentment toward Gu Heping, Third Master Gu didn’t think about signing and stamping the document of family division. 

Eldest Madam Gu had anticipated his response. She smiled. 

Beside him, Hua Mama whispered in a mosquito-like voice, “Qianhe Street.” 

Third Master Gu trembled all over, looking at Eldest Madam Gu. Seeing her smiling, he couldn’t help but shudder before obediently signing and stamping the document. 

Gu Heping followed the steward to the yamen1

Everyone from the Yuan family, including Yuan Shanniang, was driven out by Eldest Madam Gu. 

Yuan Shanniang was unwilling to leave. “I need to go back and pack my things.” 

Eldest Madam Gu sneered, “Your things? Aren’t you afraid of choking on those words? You took the dowry of six hundred taels that I sent back then. Everything you’ve used in these years, from clothes to food, is paid for by the Gu family.” 

When Eldest Madam Gu sent the dowry of six hundred taels, Yuan Shanniang only brought two sets of bedding and some clothes. It was truly pitiful. 

Yuan Shanniang refused, “No, I must take my things with me.” 

Eldest Madam Gu had lost her patience. “Drive this whole family out of here.” She cursed her day in and day out. She even dared to ask for things. It was truly a pipe dream. 

Third Household’s sister-in-law knew the situation well. Seeing Yuan Shanniang still wanting to argue, she grabbed her hand and said, “Let’s talk about it after we go home.” This outcome was already better than expected. 

Third uncle and the fifth uncle didn’t say much after the matter was settled. Anyway, the eldest niece-in-law will not treat them badly. 

Second Master Gu said, “Elder sister-in-law, if there’s anything, send someone to inform me. If I’m not around, call Heyuan or Herong.” 

Mao shi also sympathized with Eldest Madam Gu. She nodded, “Yes! Elder sister-in-law, if there’s anything in the future, send someone to inform us. Heyuan and Herong might not be good for anything else, but they can definitely run errands.” 

Third Master Gu, hearing this, looked at them with vigilance. Could these two have some evil intentions after seeing Gu Heping being driven out? 

Second Master Gu and his wife comforted Eldest Madam Gu for a while before leaving. 

When Gu Heping returned from the yamen, he was led back to his residence by Zhong Mama. 

Seeing the courtyard full of packed boxes and trunks, Gu Heping was stunned. “What are all these…” 

“Master, the boxes contain your and Young Master’s, as well as Miss’s belongings. Master, the carriage has been prepared. We can move the things now.” Except for Yuan Shanniang’s belongings, everything from the three of them was packed and ready to go. 

Gu Heping said painfully, “Does Mother really want to drive me away so eagerly?” Even though she wasn’t his biological mother, they had been mother and son for over a decade. Being forced out like this, he felt incredibly bitter. 

Zhong Mama had a tray brought in. On the tray were two cloth dolls, each with numerous pins stuck into them. 

Gu Heping took a step back, horrified. “What is this?” 

Zhong Mama said expressionlessly, “Master, these were found under your bed.” When she saw these dirty items, she wished she could go to Xiushui Street and kill Yuan Shanniang. The Old Madam had done nothing to deserve this, yet she was treated so maliciously. 

Gu Heping said angrily, “I’ve agreed to move out. Why do you still want to frame Shanniang?” Shanniang had a bad temper and might scold people when she got angry, but she would never do something like this. 

Zhong Mama thought that Gu Heping had been bewitched by Yuan Shanniang. Otherwise, how could he turn a blind eye to these things? However, she didn’t bother explaining. He had chosen this path, and he had to bear the consequences. 

Even though the three of them had a lot of belongings, the servants and manservants from the mansion helped with the move. Their belongings were quickly loaded onto the carriage. 

When Gu Heping said he wanted to bid farewell to the Old Madam, Zhong Mama looked at him with disdain. “No need. The Old Madam has already ordered. Once the things are packed, you can leave!” 

Gu Heping sighed. “I’ll come see her after her anger subsides.” Regardless, she had raised him for over a decade. In the future, he would still fulfill his duty to take care of her in her old age. 

Zhong Mama didn’t bother saying anything else. She just hoped that he wouldn’t regret his decision in the future. 

Eldest Madam Gu was generous. She not only packed all the clothes and items for the father and son but also allowed them to take the maids and servants who served them. 

After seeing off Gu Heping, Hua Mama returned to the main courtyard. “Master doesn’t believe it. He says we’re slandering that wicked woman. Old Madam, fortunately, they don’t know your and Madam’s birth dates.” Otherwise, they might have harmed Old Madam and Madam. 

Old Lady Gu looked somewhat dispirited, weakly saying, “Put them away.” 

Hua Mama disagreed, “Old Madam, it’s better to burn them!” These inauspicious items should be burned to ensure peace of mind. 

“Keep them. By the way, sell all the maids and servants who served Yuan Shanniang. Send them to the fields in the countryside for manual labor.” 

Mama Zhong nodded her head and asked, “Old Madam, what about the clothes and jewelry?” 

“Sell them all. Half of the money earned will be donated to the Caring Orphanage, and the other half will be given to the Women’s Relief Society.” Rather than letting Yuan Shanniang benefit, it was better to use the money for a good cause. At least this way, she was accumulating merits for herself. 

Hua Mama nodded. “I’ll arrange it right away.” 

  1. government office