Chapter 5: Visiting Yun Manor
里 | li | unit of measurement that has varied over time but has now been standardized to 500 meters (Wikipedia)
Sitting on his lap, Ruan Zhu found herself in a situation that she’d be embarrassed to show other people. Smiling sweetly, she replied, “That’s right~ In the future you better not infuriate me else you’ll suffer.”
He placed his hand on her forehead that had just been bruised: “Does it still hurt?”
She shook her head. After her mother’s death, she had suffered so much. How could this little bruise be painful? There actually wasn’t anything bad with leaving her previous modernized world! Back there, she had practically been an orphan and had been poor in love and poor in wealth.
In a flash, she discovered that she had hit the jackpot. How blessed she was to be loved so by the ones currently surrounding her. The things that she previously could never have, despite desperately craving for them in her past life, have all been perfectly obtained after she crossed over. It seems she was still favored by the Heavens.
After exiting the city, they traveled on one road and signs of other humans gradually became sparse. Farmland dotted the landscape as far as the eye could see. Because it was still spring, they frequently saw farmers busy tilling their fields.
Yun Shi Yi provided an explanation: “Lan Zhou is located at the border of a large river, thus has fertile soil and abundant rainfall. Most of the land is used to plant rice paddies. Every year, the majority of the planted food is transported to the Imperial Capital on ships via Lan River. Not only is it convenient, it also reduces the amount of manpower required if other methods of transportation were used.”
Tian Chu’s Lan River was equivalent to her previous world’s Grand Canal in China, both linking north and south together. Many travelers heading to the capital from Lan Zhou choose to travel by boat, as it was much more convenient compared to riding in a carriage and having to rest in inns.
京杭大运河 | Grand Canal
Oldest and longest canal in the world (Wikipedia)
Yun Shi Yi pointed at the vast expanse of cultivated land outside the window, proudly saying: “From here on forward, all of this is land belongs to the Yun family. Those farmers are all tenants of ours and there’s around five or six hundred of them.”
The Yun clan is a large landowner in Lan Zhou. Yun Shi Yi is the eldest son and also the son of the first husband. In the future, he would receive a large part of the family’s production capital but because he had numerous male siblings, it’s inevitable that resentments would form in regards to the topic of dividing the family’s property. Four years ago, Yun Shi Yi had abandoned everything to do with his family. Taking his one full brother with him, he went to Lan Zhou to try to make his living. He wanted to use his own two hands to create something of value, and sure enough, the Heavens couldn’t bear to turn its back on such a resolute man, letting him succeed halfway.
“How far is it from here to the Yun manor? If it’s not far, is it possible to go on foot?” Ruan Zhu felt that staying inside the carriage was too stuffy. It being spring, the weather was not too cold or too hot, just perfect for taking a walk.
“It’s not considered far, only about three to five li away. That distance is fine for a male, but I’m afraid it’s not that easy for a girl like you.” Yun Shi Wei smiled and held her while exiting the carriage. He was truly addicted to carrying her. The girl had a soft physique unlike the hardness of a man, revealing her clean scent and making it so that he loved it too much to part.
With a red face, Ruan Zhu said: “You always hold me, making me embarrassed. I can walk by myself.”
“Oh, is that so?” Yun Shi Yi joked close to her ear: “But I think my little wife is awfully delicate, hmm? Otherwise, why would you faint when doing that?”
“Doing what?” Ruan Zhu was flabbergasted before remembering the 3P incident from last night. She couldn’t help but be ashamed and buried her face in his chest.
Yun Shi Yi laughed, his heart filled to the brim with happiness.
Once off the carriage, Ruan Zhu walked next to Yun Shi Yi, matching him stride for stride, seemingly as if they were casually strolling through a forest or other scenic location. Seeing them, Yun Shi Wei became envious. He threw the horsewhip to the side at Xiao Feng, before eagerly going to join in the fun.
Having just crossed over, Ruan Zhu was curious about everything, even running over to look at the plowed lands of the ancient era. Yun Shi Yi could only think of her as a city girl that had never come to the countryside before. Taking the initiative, he explained various aspects of farming, such as how much land could be plowed in a day, and how much grass the cows needed to be fed.
“How is it that you know all of this? Are you not the young master of the Yun family?” Although it’s too far-fetched to say there was no need to fend for oneself,[a] his life shouldn’t have required this knowledge, right? Ruan Zhu had thought young masters in the ancient period were all like Jia Bao Yu,[b] adored and protected in their warm homes where even the slightest hint of a cold would be cause for concern. Of course, there were exceptions to this sheltered lifestyle, but it would be rare to find an heir that even understood farming matters.
The tenant farmers treated Yun Shi Yi very respectfully. “Young Master’s Wife doesn’t know this but from a young age, Young Master loved to do all kinds of farming-related duties. It was Young Master that improved the plow that we use, making it more convenient and simple.”
Ruan Zhu was not used to being called the ‘young master’s wife’. Every time she’s addressed as such, it reminds her that she’s married and that her husband wasn’t just one man.
When they had almost arrived at the Yun manor, she became so tired that she couldn’t walk anymore, and could only rest in the carriage.
Yun Shi Yi’s parents had long sent a large group of the younger generation to wait for them by the road.
The Yun family is very large, with seven large buildings totaling over a hundred rooms. However, this only accounted for Yun Shi Yi’s parents’ residence as the numerous uncles that left to start from scratch weren’t included in this estimate. Thus, around twenty people total lived in this residence with fifty or sixty servants.
Ruan Zhu first paid respects to the Yun parents and presented her gifts for them before handing them out to the remainder of the concubines. Strictly speaking, the female stallions of this world were in no way outdone by the men of her previous world.
Her mother-in-law had five titled husbands, four untitled bed warmers, and seventeen or eighteen children, with the youngest still being held at her bosom. Ruan Zhu was dazzled as all the twins and other multiple birth children looked the same. Later, she listened to Yun Shi Yi introduce everyone while nodding. As for who was who, the names went in her left ear and out the other.
After dinner, everyone sat in the living room, snacking on tea and refreshments. Madam Yun held Ruan Zhu’s hand while shedding tears: “It has been over twenty years since I left home to marry in Lan Zhou. I have been meaning to return for a while, but never had the chance. How is everyone doing?”
Sitting next to her, Master Yun comforted her: “Didn’t the letter Zhu Zhu brought over say that all in the family was well? If you are still worried, this husband will accompany you to return to your maternal home once all the fields are plowed.”
Madam Yun sighed: “There’s still a large family matter to handle, how could there be time?”
Ruan Zhu rummaged in her mind for any remaining information related to the Ruan family. Picking up the teapot and refilling the cup in front of Madam Yun, Ruan Zhu smiled: “Paternal grandfather, paternal grandmother, and Father have all kept worrying about Paternal Aunt. Before this niece left, they specially instructed that this niece must pay respect and give their regards to Paternal Aunt, and to become a good wife for Yun family.”
Madam Yun cheered up a little and patted her hand. “This little mouth is so sweet. You have been wedded for how many days now, you should be calling me ‘Husband’s Mother’ instead.”
Ruan Zhu pouted: “That’s such an alienating term, I’d rather call you ‘mother-in-law’.”
Madam Yun beamed with joy: “Good, just call me mother-in-law then. It is still females that act the most intimate.”
Yun Shi Wei made full use of his status as a secondary husband. When eating, he selected dishes for Ruan Zhu and placed them in her bowl. When having refreshments, he poured the tea for her. Seeing this, the third son of Yun family sneered: “Our Second Brother has truly forgotten about Mother after receiving a wife. I’ve never seen you treat Mother this well before.” These two brothers did not share the same father, so from a young age, they did not have much interaction. Due to this, there were also few instances of them fighting.
Yun Shi Wei was not skilled with words and preferred to use his fists when angry while holding on to grudges. Hearing Third Brother trying to sow dissension, he was so furious he was about to hurl abuse. But then he heard Eldest Brother Yun Shi Yi smiling: “Who told Shi Wei to copy Father, hmm? A father taking care of the mother of the family is right and proper. But Third Brother being a secondary husband’s child naturally won’t understand this principle.”
The ‘father’ Yun Shi Yi mentioned could only be one person–Yun family’s legitimate husband, Master Yun. No matter how many men Madam Yun has, or how many children she gives birth to, the position of the official husband was unshakable and all the children had to address the legitimate husband as ‘father’. Yun Shi Yi’s words not only cleared the situation but also mocked Third Brother for being concubine-born, thus without knowledge.
Knowing Yun family’s eldest son was extremely favored, Third Son’s heart became resentful but didn’t dare express it outwards. Madam Yun had previously never liked her third son, so she glared at him: “You useless brat, you even dare to speak in this place and you still haven’t left?!”
Concubine-born sons in feudal times generally had no status, but who told him to be so foolish? Ruan Zhu had not the slightest amount of sympathy.
[a] 十指不沾阳春水; idiom, to lead a pampered life
[b] 贾宝玉, main character of Dream of the Red Chamber (Wikipedia)
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