“You!” Furious, Li Zheng and all the elders were at a loss for words.
“Mister Sang, what is the meaning of those words?” Sang Yufei said coldly. “The elders here are not related to us brothers by blood, but they still went out of their way to stand up for us in times of trouble! Towards them, we brothers have nothing but respect. Furthermore, when have they tried to take advantage of us? Or rather, how were we not aware? Before saying such words, don’t you think you should first reflect on yourself?”
“Ai, please don’t say that. That is something we ought to do!” , “Yes ah!” After hearing his words, the elders felt relieved.
“You, how dare you talk back to me, you——” Sang Pingliang became flustered.
“Enough!” Uncle Liu scolded, “Sang Pingliang! I must warn you, don’t blame us for being heartless to you in the future if you continue with your shameless behavior of harassing the Sang brothers.”
“Heartless? So what?” Sang Pingliang sneered, “Are you going to kill me? Come at me if you’ve the balls! Whoever backs out is the loser!” Sang Pingliang shouted and pointed at his own head.
Watching his ridiculous action, the crowd felt exasperated and amused. Sang Hong and Sang Yufei looked at each other in the eye and felt utterly embarrassed; this was their uncle who shared the same blood as them!
“Killing you will only stain my own hands!” Uncle Liu threw him a look of disdain before adding coldly, “The people in Sihe Village cannot tolerate people like you who are greedy and ruthless. If you dare to cross the line again, then leave this village!”
“That’s right! Try us if you dare!” All the elders were furious, and their expressions were as cold as ice.
The Sang Brothers’ expressions changed slightly when they heard the elders. They didn’t expect matters to escalate to such a point. Sang Pingliang’s eyes widened; they were going to kick him out of the village!
That would be a terrible ending for him as he would lose the village’s protection and become a nomad from then on. Furthermore, no village would accept an exile as they were often scums of their former village and would only spell trouble.
The only places left for him and his family would be in other parts of the country. And even so, it would be an arduous process to reintegrate. Alternatively, he could adapt to the city life. But there, even a blade of grass would cost money; it wouldn’t be so easy to survive!
“As if you’d dare!” Sang Pingliang was intimidated, but he refused to back down and scoffed, “Fine! All of you are shameless enough to team up to bully me! All of your consciences must’ve been eaten by dogs! I, I’ll report all of you to the government!”
“You rebel!” Uncle Liu shouted. “Today, you disrespect as well as disregard your elders! With just your words, who do you think the government would help; us or you? You wish to report to the government? Go ahead! Nobody will stop you!”
Uncle Liu abruptly turned to Sang Hong and Sang Yufei before ordering with a low voice, “Pay no mind to this person from today onwards! Do what you must to avoid him. Whoever dares to sue you guys for being unfilial, you can come and find me. This old man will stand up for you!”
“That’s right! You can come and find us!” All the elders, as well as Li Zheng, agreed unanimously as they looked at Sang Pingliang in disgust.
“Alright, enough now! Us elders should return! These few days must’ve been exhausting for you; quickly go back and rest! If there’s anything, you can find us for help! We’ll help with whatever we can! Let’s go, let’s go now!” Uncle Liu took a deep breath and smiled.
Everyone agreed and they bowed to bid each other farewell before taking their leave. Fang Shi pulled at Sang Hong’s arm and then signaled to Sang Yufei. They ignored Sang Pingliang and went back into their house, closing the front gate to their courtyard completely.
The late autumn afternoon looked rather desolate as rays of splintered sunlight shone on the ground.
Sang Pingliang’s face turned white as he muttered hatefully between his teeth, “Bastards, the lot of you. Just wait and see, don’t come begging at me when I strike a fortune!”
He raised his head before spitting at Sang Hong’s front gate, “Worthless! There’s a saying that the higher you climb, the harder you fall. I’m going to keep my eyes peeled to witness that fall!”
After he was done, he scoffed and walked back to his house with long strides.
Never had he felt so sullen before! The more Sang Pingliang thought, the angrier he got. The wings on those two brats have really grown thicker!
Raging, Sang Pingliang vented his wrath on Li Shi the moment he reached home. Li Shi felt indignant for being scolded, but she did not dare to challenge him head on and could only swallow down her resentment as she received his fury. When his anger cooled off a little, she raised her head and said, “Mister, there’s no need for us to get so worked up over our status! Nobody can deny our biological relations with them. I don’t believe that they would just ignore us if we become too poor to see the doctor or feed ourselves, would they? If they would, then I, I would sit at their doorsteps and see what they can do about that! Anyway, isn’t there still Sang Wan? We didn’t cut ties with her!”
Sang Pingliang was startled for a moment before his anger eased a little.
This vile woman seemed to be talking some sense. 'If we really were to become broke, I don't believe that they would watch their biological uncle and aunt starve to death!' Sang Ping Liang thought about how he wished that they could became broke the next second. Unfortunately, he knew that was impossible as well!
Although what she said did make sense, but his mouth still refused to admit it. He continued to keep a straight face and said, “What nonsense about fame and status, watch your words!”
Suddenly, he could not help but feel a sting, “Who knows how many gifts that lad is going to receive and we cannot even get anything at all!”
“Aiya, that, aren’t we making a huge loss there?!” Li Shi also felt the same.
"Heng!" Sang Pingliang stared at her coldly and said, "It's all your fault! If you hadn't treat them cruelly, we wouldn't have suffered like this!"
"I——", Li Shi thought in her heart, 'Aren't you the same, you are stingier than me! You were not the least bit kind to them at all!' However, she did not have the courage to speak up against Sang Pingliang.
"How did Sang Wan treat you?" Sang Pingliang asked abruptly.
"Quite good! Hehe!" Li Shi showed a victorious smile and complimented, "Sang Wan isn’t the same as that Sang Family who doesn’t have a heart! She did not treat me as an outsider."
Sang Pingliang nodded and said, "Maintain a good relationship with her and make her have a more favorable opinion of you. Tonight, go and kill a chicken. Make some good dishes and prepare a pot of good wine. Let's invite Sang Wan and her husband over for dinner tonight!"
He couldn’t take a hold of Sang Yufei so there’s no way he could just let Sang Wan slip out of his hands. That would really cause him great misery!
"Ah? Oh… Okay then!" When Li Shi thought about having to kill a chicken, she felt very unwilling. But after Sang Pingliang glared at her, she agreed unhappily. Their family with that kind of background, do you think they won’t have eaten chicken? Maybe they prefer to eat the wild plants from the countryside instead! I’ll just cook half of the chicken and leave the other half for ourselves tomorrow.
Sang Wan went into the room just to avoid Li Shi, not really to take a nap. Thus, she removed only her outer robe and rested against the bedside. She covered her upper body with a blanket and started talking to Zhide to get rid of her boredom.
Not long after, they heard a knock on their door. When Sang Wan realised it was Shi Fengju, she quickly put on her robe and got out of bed to open the door with a smile, "Why are you here too? What about my big brother and second brother?"
"They have some things to settle," Shi Fengju gave a vague smile and an equally ambiguous answer, "I'm feeling a little dizzy and I came here to lie down for awhile!"
"Oh, then please do!" Sang Wan looked at him suspiciously. There wasn't a strong smell of alcohol on him and he was not someone with a low alcohol tolerance. Was he avoiding something or someone on purpose? Sang Wan thought about his arrival and a smile suddenly formed on her face; she finally understood what had happened.
"Eh, what are you smiling at?" When Shi Fengju rested on the bed, he saw her peculiar smile and found it strange.
“Nothing!” Sang Wan quickly dismissed, “Just lie there and rest. I won’t be able to make you some hot soup now, so how about some tea for you to sip at instead?”
Shi Fengju smiled and nodded. He glanced at Zhide before saying, "Let Zhide do it!"
Zhide bowed slightly and left. Sang Wan sat on the stool at the bedside, and started to talk intermittently to Shi Fengju. They finally went out after a little more than half an hour.
Everyone had the same understanding and did not speak about Sang Pingliang and Li Shi. They focused on finalising the arrangement of the banquet to be held in two days and Sang Yufei's future prospects after becoming the top escorted examinee .
"I'm thinking of sending Zhan Huan and Auntie Li (TLN: Zhan Huan’s wife, Li Yan) back to town in a horse carriage to purchase all the ingredients that are needed in the next two days. Two days later, they can bring the chefs from Chun He Restaurant together with them. Altogether, that is pretty affordable!" Shi Fengju said.
Sang Hong had already heard from his wife about the intentions of his sister and brother-in-law. He did not show any signs of refusal and thanked Shi Fengju sincerely, "Sorry to trouble you, brother-in-law!"
"Big brother, please don't be so polite!" Shi Fengju smiled and said, "I am merely giving out instructions, if you feel bad about it, just reward the servants that are doing the hard work!"
Rumours and gossips tended to sprout when there were people. Although the Shi servants were acting under the instructions of their masters, they might feel some resentment without any tips. If word spreads, it would affect the Sang family and Sang Wan. This is the real reason why Shi Fengju had asked the Sang brothers to reward to the servants instead.
"Yes, Yes!" Sang Hong quickly nodded in agreement, “That is for sure! I’ll definitely reward them heavily and not miss out on anyone!" He gave some instructions to Fang Shi which she agreed readily. In her mind, she thought about how she should have another private talk with Sang Wan to discuss about the amount of tips she should give to a servant so that no one would talk badly about them.
"Oh right, I believe that the people from different villages and towns might head down to visit in these two days," Shi Fengju pondered. He glanced towards the Sang brothers and said with a smile, "I suppose big brother and second brother should know that these people won't be turning up empty-handed. May I know how you will respond to their goodwill?"
"Second brother, you are the one who's become the top escorted examinee and they're here for you. I won't make any decisions for you so you can decide to respond to their goodwill however you want! There’s no need to take me into consideration as I will support you no matter what your decision is!" Sang Hong had gone through many years of education and he knew that these visits were out of fraternity. However, that did not mean that their gifts were not without agendas. Accepting their gifts would mean that you were indebted to them and who knew what favor they would want in the future.