Noble Daughter | Chapter 5: Dripping Grace

In her heart, Wèi Heng already sensed the underlying issue in Hé Shì’s mind. Two shops might not mean much to Hé Shì, the renowned lady of the capital, but for Gě Shì, it meant a lot more.

Hé Shì believed that the only area where she could exert influence over Gě Shì was in matters of wealth. Gě Shì had received education, unlike Hé Shì, who had not qualified for women’s education. This had always made Hé Shì feel somewhat inferior to those accomplished women. Consequently, she chose Gě Shì as her daughter-in-law, thinking that despite Gě Shì’s scholarly accomplishments, her lack of financial acumen would make her a more compliant wife.

Wei Heng flipped over and sat up, looking at Hé Shì. “Mother, you’re a bit confused. Although you may seem authoritative on the surface, it can’t compare to earning genuine respect from the heart. You said sister-in-law is knowledgeable and reasonable. She’s not ungrateful. If you treat her sincerely, she’ll only treat you better.”

Hé Shì still had some reservations, even though she understood the reasoning. Preferences and dislikes are do not easily change.

However, Wei Heng’s persuasive words had an impact, “Mother, haven’t you always criticized sister-in-law for not being as generous as Sister Bǎi and Sister Fēng? Once she has some spare money, she’ll definitely be no less generous than them.”

These words touched Hé Shì’s heart. She compared everything – sons, daughters, and even daughters-in-law. To be honest, Gě Shì was a bit more reassuring than the other two.

“That makes sense. I just don’t like your sister-in-law taking our family’s money to support her natal family,” Hé Shì said. She had a misconception, thinking that since Gě Shì married her son, her focus should be entirely on the second household. Constantly worrying about her natal family seemed to be a problem, and she didn’t consider herself an easygoing mother-in-law.

“But that’s inevitable. After all, it’s her natal family. If she doesn’t take care of them, wouldn’t that be worse than animals? Mother, our family isn’t lacking those few coins. If sister-in-law’s family improves, she’ll look better, and we’ll look better too. If her in-laws struggle, people outside will shake their heads when they talk about our family. It’s all connected,” Wei Heng said.

Hé Shì chuckled, “You, this child, always have a set of big principles. Look, it seems that reading a lot is indeed beneficial. Your words are so reasonable.”

Just a few sentences and it’s about studying again. Wei Heng knew that female education was probably Hé Shì’s “obstacle.” She had to pass the exam; otherwise, she couldn’t ease Hé Shì’s concerns.

“I haven’t finished explaining my reasoning,” Wei Heng shook Hé Shì’s sleeve and continued, “Besides, older brother is already a scholar. He frequently attends literary gatherings, and if he passes the imperial examination next year, there will be even more social events. He’s in his twenties now. It’s awkward for him to ask you for money. If my sister-in-law has some, it would make things more convenient for my older brother.”

“You always have so many ideas. Do you think I would neglect your brother? His monthly allowance is fifty taels,” Hé Shì said, a bit exasperated. “Do you think I don’t take care of them?”

“Of course not,” Wei Heng nestled in Hé Shì’s arms and said, “Mother is always the most thoughtful. I just mentioned it on a whim.”

“Alright.” Hé Shì pulled Wei Heng back onto her lap to continue combing her hair. “Let’s go with your suggestion. Give her two shops to learn how to manage the accounts. It’s better to prevent others from taking advantage in the future.”

As for how Wei Heng could be willing to help Ge Shi, the scene in Ruì Yún Hall in the morning, where Ge shi was face turned red, made Wei Heng feel a sense of shared sympathy. It is normal for sisters-in-law to compare each other, and Ge shi has nothing to lose to those two, but lacks a bit in terms of family background, which happened to be the easiest thing to address. Wei Heng didn’t want the members of her family to fall behind in any aspect compared to the main branch.

Two days later was Ge Shi’s twentieth birthday. Being young and having two generations of elders above her, unless the elders insisted, there was no reason for a grand celebration. Besides, Ge shi was not the extravagant type.

Therefore, Ge shi’s twentieth birthday was celebrated in a manner similar to any other day. She had a bowl of longevity noodles in the morning, and Wèi Yue sent her a delicately crafted pair of gold filigree pear blossom bracelets. Though not heavy, the craftsmanship was exquisite, and Gě shi couldn’t help but admire them, feeling sweetness in her heart.

Putting on the bracelets, she examined them repeatedly, her thoughts turning to Wèi Yue studying at the Dongshan Academy. Considering the unusually cold weather this year, she resolved to make him several pairs of gloves and leg warmers, ensuring the cotton shoes were thicker. Wèi Yue was diligently preparing for the provincial exam next year, and even though he had initially planned to return for her birthday, she persuaded him to focus on his studies. She assured him they could celebrate properly once he passed the exam.

Gě shi let out a soft sigh, adjusted her clothes, and got up to attend to Hé Shì’s morning routine at Lányì Courtyard. In reality, Hé Shì didn’t need her to personally attend to her; she was there mostly to offer occasional assistance, passing items or fetching a cup of water. With a husband dedicated to progress and a mother-in-law not unkind, she felt there was little to ask for. The only thing missing was a son, and she couldn’t help but touch her belly with a hint of melancholy.

After Hé Shì finished dressing, and before Ge shi arrived, Wei Heng hadn’t yet risen. The doctor had advised that children needed plenty of sleep for proper growth, and Wei Heng, wanting to grow taller, adhered to this recommendation, much to Hé Shì’s amusement.

Now, the room was left with only Hé Shì and Ge shi, the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. Even the maidservant had been dismissed by Hé Shì.

Gě approached Hé Shì, anticipating that her mother-in-law had something to say.

“Today is your twentieth birthday, isn’t it?” Hé Shì inquired.

Gě hadn’t expected Hé Shì to remember her birthday, and she felt a small but genuine sense of warmth. She replied softly, “Yes.”

“In the blink of an eye, you’ve been in our family for three years,” Hé Shì sighed. “Your mother has taught you exceptionally well. You are knowledgeable, virtuous, filial, and gentle. Over these years, I’ve observed your diligence, meticulousness, and sincerity in handling responsibilities. I’ve seen and appreciated it all.”

Gě hadn’t expected Hé Shì to express such sentiments. She felt a slight emotional surge, realizing that her perseverance had not been in vain, and she appreciated Hé Shì for recognizing her efforts. Having mingled in the high-society circles of the captial for several years, Gě knew that some mothers-in-law were overly critical, making life difficult for their daughters-in-law, especially in the absence of children within the first three years of marriage.

“Mother, these are the things a daughter-in-law should do. You’ve been very tolerant of me,” Gě said with a hint of choking in her voice. She spoke sincerely, acknowledging that in the captial, it was rare for a mother-in-law not to complain about a daughter-in-law who had been married for three years without bearing a child.

Hé Shì, understanding Gě’s sincerity, acknowledged her dissatisfaction but saw more positives in her daughter-in-law. She pushed a small box toward Gě, saying, “I don’t have much to give you for your twentieth birthday. Take this box.”

“Thank you, Mother,” Gě responded. It was customary for elders to give small gifts on birthdays. As she held the box, she hesitated to open it.

Seeing that she was holding the box in both hands but not opening it,”Go ahead and open it,” Hé Shì urged.

Gě opened the box to find two pieces of paper inside. Her face registered surprise, and she asked, “Mother, what is this?”

These were the deeds for two shops—a stationery store on Changyang Street and a notions shop on Shuntian Street. While these shops might not be lucrative in Hé Shì’s dowry, for Gě, they were priceless.

“Mother, I can’t accept this,” Gě said, placing the box on the table.

“Never refuse gifts from your elders. I gave them to you because you deserve them. Also, I believe that your third brother-in-law is not adept at handling these matters. I’m giving you these two shops to practice. Moreover, your maternal family has a younger brother who is into studying. You’ll need the money for his education in the future,” Hé Shì explained.

Gě’s face turned red, feeling a mixture of emotions. Every time she gave money to her maternal family, she felt a sense of guilt, even though Wei Yue knew about it. Now, with Hé Shì revealing these documents, Gě felt even more ashamed.

Could it be that she would never give money to her mother’s family again? But in her natal family, her younger brother is still young, her father broke his leg the year before last and can no longer go out to work. It is even more difficult for the family to make a living without it, and her mother is in poor health.

“Mother, I…” Gě’s voice trembled and eyes were wet again.

Seeing her like this, He shi knew that Ge had misunderstood. She sighed, thinking that she was not as transparent as Zhuzhu’er, but it was not in vain that Ge suffered.

“You’re misunderstanding, my dear. I’m not scolding you. We’re all born from our parents. If you, as my daughter-in-law, disregard your parents, I won’t respect you either. Use these shops as you wish. If your younger brother has a talent for studying, encourage him. In the future, with an education, he and Wei Yue can help each other,” Hé Shì reassured Gě.

Overwhelmed, Gě looked at Hé Shì with tearful eyes, realizing she had misjudged Hé Shì’s intentions. “Mother, daughter-in-law is undeserving,” she said, her hand instinctively resting on her belly.

2 thoughts on “Noble Daughter | Chapter 5: Dripping Grace”

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