Chapter 112: The Construction Begins
As Su Shuilian predicted, Lin Si Yao didn’t come home before Lunar New Year’s Eve.
However, with no news from him even till the fifteenth of the first lunar month, Su Shuilian couldn’t wait anymore.
“You know how to contact your Shifu, right?” Helpless, Su Shuilian turned to ask Situ Yun, who was playing with the twins.
She believed Situ Yun knew because Guangci House’s informants were located all over the empire.
Situ Yun hesitated for a while before talking, “It’s true that we got the news five days ago. Uncle Si Luo got hurt so it’s not convenient.” Of course, the other reason was that his Uncle Si Ling is still occupied with the disciples of the Blood Cult. Li Si Yao didn’t dare to go home as he was afraid that the Blood Cult’s disciples would hear wind and come to harm his family.
Thus, before Su Shuilian asked him, he would pretend to know nothing. It would be less harmful not to tell the truth than telling lies, right?
Su Shuilian nodded. As long as she was still receiving news, it was good. After Su Shuilian was informed that Si Luo was the one who got wounded, half of her worries were gone.
Was she too selfish? Su Shuilian held Lin Xiao’s chubby hand, reflecting on herself.
“My Lady, the workers for the private mansion’s construction are here. This servant let them wait in the Bamboo Garden’s living room.” Liang-momo came to the room and reported.
Right, the private mansion’s construction would be started after the first full moon of the New Year. With her mind occupied with A Yao, she wasn’t in the mood to remember the other things.
Su Shuilian stood up and adjusted her clothes. Then, she lifted her head, and replied to Liang-momo, “I’ll be heading there now, you stay here. When Chun Lan comes back, please ask her to go to the living room.”
Chun Lan and Guard Xiao got married on the twelfth day of lunar January. Early this year, Chun Lan’s parents had sent a letter to them, saying that Chun Lan wasn’t young anymore, and they had saved some money to redeem her(her servitude contract) so she could come back home and get married.
Unexpectedly, according to Guangci House’s intelligence, which they reported to Situ Yun, Chun Lan’s brother got into a fight with the Landlord’s son. He had almost destroyed the other’s ‘lifeline’. Thus, let alone the fact that they had to spend the two silvers they had saved for years to compensate for the other, the Landlord had reported the case to an Officer. They had to negotiate and beg a lot. Eventually, the Landlord agreed to let this go with the condition that Chun Lan must become his concubine. So because of that, they agreed to pay and redeem Chun Lan.
Chun Lan remembered that Landlord. That man was more than forty years old with a bald head and a big belly. He had already had six or seven concubines. The son he had with his first wife was his treasure. If his son quarreled with his concubine, his concubine would encounter her bad fortune. His son was, for sure, spoiled rotten.
However, when Chun Lan came to work as a maid in the Prince’s Mansion, she didn’t sign a life-time contract. If her family wanted to redeem her, unless Chun Lan herself didn’t agree, no one in the mansion could stop them.
That’s why Chun Lan had cried that night. The next day, she came to say goodbye to Su Shuilian with a pair of red eyes. She didn’t expect that Su Shuilian’s reply would change her entire future.
“You can choose not to go.” Su Shuilian suggested this seriously. “If you don’t want to go home, then you do not have to. I will take care of your brother’s matter.”
“My Lady…” Chun Lan choked. Of course, she didn’t want to go back. She liked Xiao Heng. But, right now, her family was in trouble. She must help them although it wasn’t any different from jumping into a pit of fire.
“Think about it. It sounds good being a concubine of a Landlord, but you have to compete against others to claim your husband. Or, you can be with someone else for the rest of your life. Just the two of you.” Su Shuilian lifted her cup of tea, her thoughts drifting. She recalled her biological mother in her other life, and A Yao, who was tens of thousands of miles away from her now.
“I don’t want to go home. But…” Chun Lan looked down and whispered her true desire.
“Ok. Just stay here. Don’t worry. I will help you take care of the other things.” That was just a Landlord in a small town. The name of Prince Jing’s House should suffice!
So she wrote a letter and had Guangci House deliver it to her big brother – Liang En Zai – in the imperial city. This was the first time that his younger sister had requested anything from him. No matter what kind of brother he was, he did not want to disappoint her. Especially since she had such a capable husband!
And so, four days later, a reply was received from the imperial city. The content of the letter said that not only was the problem solved, but Liang En Zai also gave her parents thirty silvers so they could buy their own land. No longer do they need to rent the Landlord’s paddy fields.
Soon after, Su Shuilian went ahead and had Chun Lan marry Xiao Heng. She sent someone to notify Chun Lan’s parents of this information, one, to reassure them, and two, to inhibit any further ideas plotting against Chun Lan’s future. A daughter was to be loved, not to be someone else’s ransom.
Chun Lan and Xiao Heng’s wedding room was arranged in the Gu family’s house, who had already moved out. It was near this big house, neighboring Lao House. It was a small house in about one acre of land with three rooms and two penthouses. Even if they had more members of the family, there would be enough room for all of them. The previous tenants also had three acres of paddy fields, which was now collected and added to the community fields. Later, all land and fields that were not owned by the tenants of Fan Hua Town, would be cultivated by hired people. After harvesting, the workers would receive their payment according to the quality and quantity, as well as a share of the harvest.
Su Shuilian reminded Chun Lan and Xiao Heng that they did not need to work for the three days after their wedding. She remembered that A Yao was badly irritated because of Aunt Lao and Xi Cui during their three-day ‘honeymoon’.
By the fifteenth, Xiao Heng and Chun Lan were officially titled the Manager and the Momo. Liang-momo happily handed over her title and responsibility.
Unlike Liang-momo, Chun Lan was a married woman now, so she took on her husband’s surname. Thus, from now on, Chun Lan, now known as Xiao-momo, would manage all things related to personnel in-house.
And, Xiao Heng wasn’t the Chief Guard anymore. He was now Manager Xiao, supervisor of everything big or small in the house. Actually, their house didn’t have any guards, since the protector of the mansion were the experts dispatched from Guangci House.
The seven guards sent to Guangci House to be trained were now Guangci House’s experts. Why these seven? Because this place was their new home. Even if they came just to send a piece of news and drink a cup of tea, their hearts already felt warm.
Chun Lan’s original tasks were divided, with Liang-momo taking on the easier jobs, and Bai He in charge of serving Su Shuilian with her daily activities. And, a maid, named Xue Qin, was assigned to feed the twins.
It seemed Su Shuilian had returned to the life where she had maids accompanying her all day long in the Su Family. Su Shuilian sighed quietly, strolling around Bamboo Garden.
To avoid bothering the twins, the Bamboo Garden was now the place to host and handle people and things that weren’t close to the family.
The workers planning the layout of the private mansion were recruited by Liang En Zai from the imperial city. They would take care of planning, constructing, and decorating afterward.
So, at the least, they had to stay here for half a year. Su Shuilian decided to let them stay in the Wangs’ house since the others had already moved out.
Wang’s house was much bigger than the Gus’ house. It was two acres large and was situated in a convenient location, right by the west side of the central lake in Fan Hua Town. The courtyard had two rows of rooms, three rooms in each row. And, it even had a vegetable garden in front and behind the house.
After the Wangs had moved out, Liang-momo took their maids and servants there to clean and purchase more necessary furniture, including 3 more beds and 4 more chairs.
Thus, the six main rooms had become single rooms. The kitchen was just a decoration to the house.
The architects and carpenters, and for the future laborers as well, were arranged to have meals in Orchid Garden until Su Shuilian and Lin Si Yao’s old house, which Feng Qing Ya had destroyed, was renovated.
They decided to renovate the old house first into a big house in the style of an ancestral hall. The design was ready. Su Shuilian had worked on it for several days recently as a distraction from her worries. The designs were rolled up in her hand and brought to the Bamboo Garden so the workers could take some reference.
In her design, the central room among the three rooms would be as big as half of the former one. And, they would build a larger kitchen.
The first two rooms in the East will receive more natural light. One of them would be used as the classroom, which could host around ten people. The room in the center would be divided into two smaller rooms. The teacher would use the room in the south to rest. This room had a desk, a chair, and two bookshelves the students could come to borrow books to read.
The room facing the North was the student activities room. During rainy days or lunchtime break, they could play chess, play musical instruments, or compose poetry there…
The large kitchen would be built in the West. It had a three-tier cook stove and an in-built simmering stove; a cabinet for bowls and dishes, another one to store tools and items, and a large shelf.
The room next to the kitchen was an eating hall. When completed, this place would provide free meals to the laborers of the house and the students.
“Fourth Lady, this design, I’m afraid it could bother you. The kitchen will always have an oily and smoky smell. If you place it in the West wing, the smoke would be blown to this area.” Liang Yu An, one of the construction masters, shook his head when he reviewed Su Shuilian’s drawing.
Of course, Su Shuilian had considered this matter. However, the East wing had more light, it was most suitable for the students to study there.
“How about this, we move the kitchen and the canteen over there. So, it would be separated and it’s not too far away from the study room.” Another master called Ding Shi pondered then pointed at the wasteland in the East of the old house. “If you worry that it isn’t convenient for the kids to go to school during rainy days, you can build a flowery corridor connecting the classroom there.”
“Good idea. We can place some benches along the corridor. When they have free time, they can sit there and relax. With this, it would be less likely that anyone would come to the West wing to play with and disturb Fourth Lady’s family.” Liang Yu An agreed, adding more details.
Su Shuilian’s eyes brightened. It was a great suggestion.
“At that time, we will plant pines, bamboo, and cherry-apples. And, we will build a koi pond. It will be absolutely beautiful.” The other workers nodded in agreement.
“Okay, we will do as you’ve suggested. As long as we have a classroom, a kitchen, and a canteen.” Su Shuilian nodded smilingly. Indeed, they were professionals. In just a few words, they were able to solve the problem that had given her headaches for several days.
However, she didn’t expect that these planners wanted to destroy the current arrangement of Fan Hua Town to do their new layout! She had assumed that they would come to build a private mansion for Prince Jing and Princess Jing, and conveniently build some houses for her, too.
But now, it seemed they wanted to build a large-scale construction. She wondered how much the cost would be and how long it would take for such a massive project.
“Fourth Lady, we need to check around so we need someone familiar with the houses and land in this town to show us around. Perhaps…” Liang Yu An scratched his head. He didn’t expect that the Fourth Lady of Prince Jing’s mansion would arrive unaccompanied by a maid or servant.
“My Lady, I’ll go with them!” Chun Lan, who had just arrived, timely replied.
Su Shuilian nodded, “Xiao-momo is the momo who will be in charge of the private mansion. If you have any questions, just ask her.”
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