Can You Show a Little Dignity?
“You still want to collect money?” The matriarch was on the verge of exploding from hearing this! “What does he take this family for? Is it a mountain of gold or silver? He’s even buying antique paintings, and these paints are from Da Shun. Can someone from Qian Zhou even understand them?” She shouted while looking at the elderly man standing next to He Zhong and said: “We don’t want the painting. Go back!”
The old man was troubled and said: “But Lord Feng has already taken the painting!”
“Then we will return it to you!”
The old man pondered a little then sighed, saying: “That’s also fine. Then elder madam, please hand over the painting. After this old one has received it, I will leave!”
The matriarch pointed around the room: “Look for yourself! Which one is your antique painting?”
The man looked around the room and helplessly shook his head, “None of them is the painting.”
At this time, everyone from the Feng family had already turned their eyes to the shredded pieces on the ground. In her fury, the matriarch was unable to realize what they had noticed. The young servant that had run in earlier was finally unable to hold it in and helplessly said to the matriarch: “The one that you just tore to bits was that antique painting!”
“What did you say?” The matriarch stared wide-eyed at the torn bits of paper on the ground, as she felt her mind explode with a “boom” sound, “You said that this was the antique painting?”
The young servant nodded, “Master just sent someone to bring it back.”
“Why did you not say it earlier?” The matriarch became furious and suddenly swung her cane at the servant.
The servant quickly dropped to her knees in fear and began to beg for forgiveness. At the same time, she said: “This servant said it! This servant really already said it!”
“Small details!” The matriarch’s heart trembled.
The old man from Wonderful Treasure House squatted down at this time and began looking carefully at the pieces of shredded paper. He then stood up and said to the matriarch: “No mistake, this is the antique painting that Lord Feng took a liking to at Wonderful Treasure House. The artist is Fan Zhong Tian.”
The matriarch was lacking in culture, so she had no clue what the name Fan Zhong Tian meant, but the Feng family was not completely uncultured, with Feng Chen Yu as an example. At the time, Feng Jin Yuan had raised her in hopes that she would ascend to the position of Empress. Of the four arts, which one of them did she not have a great teacher for. How could she not know the name Fan Zhong Tian.
They saw Chen Yu say in shock: “Is it that artist from 400 years ago named Fan Zhong Tian?”
The old man nodded, “Young miss is very knowledgeable about such things.”
Upon hearing 400 years, the matriarch’s mind became even more of a mess. She did not have a very good understanding of antique paintings, but her mind’s first reaction to hearing 400 years was: If it’s that old, how much did it cost?
“400 years! I wonder, how much did father spend to buy it?” This question was asked by Feng Yu Heng.
They then heard the old man reply: “Originally, the asking price was 160 thousand taels of white silver, but since Lord Feng is young miss’ father, we reduced the price by 40 thousand taels. The total price was 120 thousand taels. Lord Feng had the painting brought back and had this old one come to fetch the money.” He said this and pulled out a piece of identification and a piece of paper. Everyone recognized it as belonging to Feng Jin Yuan. The piece of paper was a certificate written by Feng Jin Yuan. In this instant, she could not even deny it.
The matriarch regretted it too late, but the old man’s words caused her heart to relax, as she quickly said to Feng Yu Heng: “Fortunately, it is our own shop. Otherwise, it truly would cause too much of a stir.”
Fen Dai slyly said: “But of course! That hundred or so taels in the treasury aren’t even enough for many days of food. How could it produce 120 thousand.”
But Feng Yu Heng looked at the matriarch with a puzzled expression, her face filled with doubt: “How did it end up becoming your own shop? Did grandmother not hear him say that it was the Wonderful Treasure House?”
The matriarch was surprised, “That’s right! It is the Wonderful Treasure House.”
“Then what relation does it have with the Feng family?”
Upon hearing this, the matriarch became unhappy, “Heng, how many times must grandmother say this to you. You are the daughter of the Feng family! Right now, you have not yet married out of the family. Even if there is no need for you to pay your profits into the family, now that this sort of thing has happened, you cannot sit back and ignore it. Moreover, the person that took the painting was your father. Grandmother has decided that this painting will be said to be a gift to your father.”
“Ha!” Feng Yu Heng immediately laughed and was unable to stop laughing. It seemed as though she had heard the funniest joke under the heavens.
The matriarch angrily said: “Stop laughing! This matter has already been decided!”
“Stop!” Just after the matriarch made preparations to stand up, Feng Yu Heng’s laughter stopped, and her expression immediately turned gloomy, “Grandmother, most elderly people become senile. Heng will not argue with you, but there is something that I must remind you of. Wonderful Treasure House belongs to my mother, Yao shi. It has absolutely no relation to Heng.”
An shi also said from the side: “That’s right! Although second young miss is helping out with the three shops, the reality is that they were all given to elder sister Yao as part of her dowry.”
The matriarch was dazed from hearing this. She had forgotten about this. It had always been Feng Yu Heng that took care of the shops, so she naturally believed that the shops belonged to Feng Yu Heng; however, she did not think that the deeds were under Yao shi’s name.
Feng Yu Heng saw the change in the matriarch’s expression then faintly said: “My mother, Yao shi, has received an imperial decree for a mutual divorce from father. Does the dignified manor of a standard first rank official have the face to owe money to a woman that they mutually divorced? Speaking more simply, a man is marrying a new wife; however, he goes to buy things from his former wife’s shop. Do you think that this sort of behavior is worthy of praise? When word of this gets out, there will be honor?”
These words not just caused everyone’s faces to darken, they even felt flustered. Even Han shi and Fen Dai felt ashamed. Each of them looked blankly at the matriarch, with Fen Dai saying frankly: “So shameful.”
The matriarch’s face alternated between being red and white. If there was a crack in the floor, she would have tried to crawl into it. She immediately began cursing Feng Jin Yuan silently, simply thinking that she had given birth to a shameless son. He could have gone to buy things anywhere, yet he went to Wonderful Treasure House. Was this not slapping himself in the face?
“Hah.” Feng Yu Heng squatted down and picked up a few scrap pieces. She could not help but sigh and say: “Paintings by Fan Zhong Tian, I fear there are only three in the entirety of Da Shun. I heard that the other two were in the palace. Who knew that this one would meet such an ending.”
She stood up and gave an unnoticed look to the old man. The old man then took a hint and immediately said to the matriarch: “I request elder madam to pay the money now. This old one was originally planning to visit the county princess’ manor later this afternoon to make a report on the accounts to the boss.”
“Ah!” Xiang Rong interjected, “Can you wait a few days to make your report? If this matter were to be heard by lady Yao… how shameful would that be!”
An shi also sighed and said: “But of course. Back then, husband brought lady Yao into the Feng manor in a large procession. After that, some things that we don’t understand happened that led to a mutual divorce. If the matter from today were to be made known over there, how much face would the Feng family lose? Elder madam, you absolutely must think it over carefully!”
How could the matriarch not understand this logic. If the shop belonged to Feng Yu Heng, she would have become extremely shameless and refused to pay the money; however, it belonged to Yao shi. That made things different.
She felt helpless. No matter how much she worried, there was no money in the treasury, and the cost of this painting was not low, as it cost a full 120 thousand taels!
The matriarch frowned, and the elderly man asked He Zhong: “Housekeeper, Lord Feng said that I could just retrieve the money from the manor. What is going on?”
He Zhong spread his hands, as there was nothing he could do.
Fen Dai had already found the things in this room to be irritating, and after some quick thought, she came up with a suggestion: “Grandmother, how about selling the gold and jade furniture in this room!”
The matriarch thought a little and found this idea to be reasonable! Thus she said to He Zhong: “I heard that the furniture in this room cost 400 thousand to buy. Call some people and take it all out and have it sold.”
Before He Zhong could comply, Jin Zhen, who had remained silent, spoke up: “While taking care of Chen shi, this concubine heard her talk about this. When buying these things, they are worth money; however, when taking them out to sell, perhaps not even half of the cost could be recovered. Unless it’s an antique, the more it’s purchased, the more of its value is lost.”
“Not even half can be recovered?” The matriarch felt distressed, but if these things were not sold, how could they scrape together 120 thousand taels?
A silence covered the room for a while. Finally, the matriarch’s eyes lit up and turned her attention to Chen Yu. Chen Yu felt uncomfortable from her stare and could only take the initiative to say: “Granddaughter is truly unable to scrape together that much money. Most of the things in my storage room were sent to grandmother. There are still some smaller trinkets, but they are just some simple accessories. They are not worth much. As for banknotes, they have also been given to grandmother!”
The matriarch then looked at Xiang Rong and Fen Dai. Xiang Rong said with grief: “Granddaughter already gave grandmother all of my monthly allowances.”
Fen Dai stared even more blankly: “All of my monthly allowances have gone towards tonics for concubine mother Han.”
They had all refuted the matriarch. Seeing that she was about to look at An shi, An shi took the initiative to say: “This concubine only has some small businesses under my name. What has been saved has gone towards third young miss’ dowry. When husband takes in a wife, it would not be good…” It would not be good to take from his own daughter’s dowry, right?
The matriarch felt even more shameless from what she said, as she fell silent.
Feng Yu Heng felt that this was very funny, as she spoke up to remind them: “Hasn’t grandmother received a number of congratulatory gifts these past days? I heard that some even directly gave money.”
With her giving them this reminder, everyone stared at the matriarch. Fen Dai foolishly said: “Why does grandmother only ask us to give money? Are you unwilling to spend your own money?”
The matriarch’s face turned red, as she felt extremely distressed! She had lived for half a lifetime and finally attained the title of noble lady. She finally managed to have people come and give her gifts. As a result, before the gifts could even warm up from her touch, they had to be sold?
Granny Zhao quietly advised her: “In any case, we must handle this matter first. Once word of this reaches Yao shi’s side, it would truly be too difficult to handle! Elder madam, think about it. That Yao shi has also has the title of first rank noble lady!”
The matriarch was truly helpless. Gritting her teeth, she simply said: “Go bring the banknotes out. If it’s not enough… pick some valuables and sell them.”
As it turned out, the matriarch had truly received a large amount of money over the past few days. After counting each banknote in the small box, there were more than 50 thousand taels, but it was still quite far from the 120 thousand they needed.
The matriarch held the 50 thousand taels of banknotes in her hand and began to negotiate with the man, “Can we just owe the remaining amount and send it to you when we have gathered it all together?”
The old man repeatedly shook his head, “Elder madam, please forgive me. The Wonderful Treasure House does not sell on credit, or should this old one tell the boss that it’s the Feng manor that owes this money?”
“Absolutely not.” An shi hastily said: “Elder madam, face is important!”
The matriarch gritted her teeth, “Granny Zhao, go fetch my personal savings.”