When Wang Shijing came back, the four children were laughing and joking in the house, while Shao Yunan and Zhao He were preparing dinner in the kitchen. After hearing Shao Yunan say that Zhao Congbo and Wang Yan were at home and that Zhao Yuande and Zhao Yuanqing were also coming for dinner in the evening, Wang Shijing said that it would be better to invite Wang Shuping and his family over as well. Zhao Congbo sat in the room with Wang Qing and Wang Nizi, eating mochi and drinking chrysanthemum tea. Wang Yan was quite relaxed. With a packet of hot bean paste mochi in his pocket, he ran all the way to his house.
In the afternoon, Zhao Congbo came to visit and took Wang Yan away with just a few whispered words, so he left without saying where he was going. Now that the day was about to get dark and Wang Yan still did not return, Wang Qian asked Wang Shuping to go to Zhao Lizheng’s house to look for him. Wang Shuping was about to go out, when he opened the door and collided with his son who just ran in. Wang Shuping held his son and asked, “What are you doing?”
Wang Yan was sweating, but said while smiling, “Father, Uncle Shijing asked me to call you and mother over for dinner and said to give you this.” As he spoke, he stuffed a bag of hot things into his father’s arms. “This is the bean paste mochi made by uncle Yunan. He asked me to bring it back for my grandparents to eat.” Wang Shuping asked in surprise, “You’ve been at Uncle Shijing’s house this whole afternoon?”
“Ah, Dean Cen from the county school gave Qing several books that couldn’t even be bought at the county town and they all have his notes in them. Uncle Yunan agreed for me and Cangbo to go over there every afternoon to copy the books, so that we could help Qing learn to read and write. Uncle Yunan also said that he would make us some good food since uncle Yunan made mochi this afternoon, I already ate a lot over there, so these are for my grandparents to eat.”
“Little Yan, really?” Wang Shen was surprised. Wang Yan nodded. “Really, I didn’t believe it at first when Zhao Congbo came for me, but after I went there Uncle Yunan treated me really well. He made me chrysanthemum tea and gave me mochi to eat. When uncle Shijing came back and saw me, he only asked to bring back my parents and sister over for dinner. Father, where are mother and sister? Let’s hurry over.”
Wang Qing hurriedly urged her son, “Shuping, hurry and call Shen and Yiting and go over.” Wang Shuping looked back and handed the paper bag to his mother. “I’ll go and tell father. Little Yan, your mother and sister are in the backyard, you go and call them.”
“Alright.” As soon as he heard Wang Shijing and Shao Yunan invited his son over and his grandchildren would go there to copy books every afternoon from the next day onward, Wang Wenhe froze. However, he did not stop his son after coming back to his senses, but only urged him not to mention any clan business when he went over there and to eat properly.
Wang Shuping, carrying a jar of pickled vegetables, took his wife, son, and daughter to Wang Shijing’s house. Shao Yunan liked to eat the village people’s pickled vegetables since he didn’t have any himself, so Wang Shuping thought it was appropriate to take a jar of pickled vegetables over.
When they arrived at Wang Shijing’s house, Zhao Yuande and Zhao Yuanqing with their husband and wife were already there. Since Zhao He and Shao Yunan were busy in the kitchen, it was not good for Li Caijuan as a woman to help them, so she was in the yard washing vegetables.
Zhao Yuande, Zhao Yuanqing, and Wang Shijing were talking in the house, so when Wang Shuping and his wife arrived, Li Caijuan finally had company. Wang Shuping was pulled into the house by Zhao Yuande, while Wang Shijing gave him a cup of chrysanthemum tea with red dates and wolfberries. Since the day was cold, drinking only chrysanthemum tea might be a bit chilly. Wang Yuting was brought to Wang Qing’s side by her brother. Wang Yuting was one year older than Nizi, so both girls took a piece of mochi and sat quietly beside her brother.
Since Wang Shijing behaved generously, Wang Shuping finally relaxed. Zhao Yuanqing pushed the plate with the mochi in front of Wang Shuping and said, “Sister-in-law made it, it’s delicious. Brother Shuping, if you came just a little later, it would already be gone.”
Wang Shuping picked one up, took a bite, and nodded “Delicious.”
Before Wang Shuping came, Zhao Yuande and Zhao Yuanqing were talking to Wang Shijing about the jam business. But after Wang Shuping arrived they stopped talking about it and switched topics, “Since Dean Cen was willing to give Qing the book he wrote his own comments in, is it possible for Qing to go to the White Moon Academy?”
Wang Shijing shook his head. “Yunan has this intention, but the White Moon Academy is not an easy place to enter. Dean Cen was willing to give us his books because he thinks highly of us, so it would be bad for us to ask for more. I think that as long as Qing has these books he can study anywhere.”
Wang Shuping said, “If you can talk to the county magistrate, it would be better to go to White Moon Academy.” Wang Shijing said, “We can’t bother the county magistrate for this kind of thing. Let’s first see what Qing can do. Yunan also wants to find a zither teacher for Nizi. He said that a girl should learn how to play an instrument. He also asked Nizi to learn reading and writing with Qing, saying that if a girl can’t read she can’t know manners. Nizi also likes to learn.”
Wang Shuping sighed. “Yunan is an innovative one. You should listen to him more.” Zhao Yuande and Zhao Yuanqing also echoed, “Yes, you should listen to him more.” Zhao Yuande also teased, “You, you’ve really found a treasure.” Wang Shijing nodded shamelessly, “Well, Yunan is a piece of treasure that I had the fortune to pick up.”
“You’re cheeky…” The other three became speechless, but in fact, Wang Shuping was happy that Wang Shijing was treating him so casually. The aroma came in from outside the house, making the four men unable to sit still. They waited anxiously for a while until they finally heard the Zhao He’s ‘heavenly voice.’
“Dinner is ready, prepare the table in the room.” The four men immediately moved the big table, taking away the tea bowl, as the children also rushed over from the next room for dinner.
Since it was cold. Shao Yunan made boiled sliced pork, steamed pumpkin, stewed chicken, shredded pork with fish, radish and pork ribs soup, sliced pork with pickled vegetables, stir-fried mushrooms, and Wang Qing and Wang Nizi’s favorite shredded potatoes with vinegar. A total of seven dishes and one soup. When the dishes were brought up in pots and pans, everyone’s mouth began to water.
Shao Yunan divided the dishes into two portions, with the five children sitting around a small table and the adults sitting around a large table. Li Caijuan and (Wang) Shen Susu, who felt uncomfortable at the men’s table, also sat at the children’s table.
Wang Shuping, Zhao Yuande, and Zhao Yuanqing praised Shao Yunan’s delicious cooking, while Zhao He said that he wanted to learn how to cook from Shao Yunan, so Li Caijuan and Shen Susu couldn’t help but follow suit. Shao Yunan however just indifferently laughed as he spoke. “As the saying goes, to capture a man’s heart, you must first capture his stomach. Brother He and sisters in law should learn well, so when your own men are not honest in the future you can cut off their rations.”
“Haha… that’s a good idea! Yunan is really smart!” The wives laughed, while the husbands became embarrassed. The meal brought everyone closer and when everyone left after the meal, Shao Yunan gave everyone wrapped mochi to take home. Wang Shijing sent them out, but walked next to Wang Shuping. Zhao Yuande, seeing this, pulled his brother to go first, while Wang Shuping deliberately walked a few steps behind his wife and asked in a low voice, “Shijing, what’s the matter?”
Wang Shijing whispered back, “Brother Shuping, Yunan and I both hope that you can be the clan patriarch. We also think you are the only one qualified to be the clan patriarch. It’s not that Yunan and I don’t care about the clan, but we think that the clan is in too much turmoil. If you want, I can talk with old father Wang.”
Wang Shuping was very moved and after a moment of silence, he said, “I understand your and Yunan’s concern. I will also not hide it from you. I do have this intention, but because of my age, I am afraid that it will be difficult to convince the public. Anyway, I am not in a hurry, but if you are in need, don’t be polite with me.”
Edited by: Jaisland