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Chapter 25: Old House, New Look
That night, Su Shuilian and Lin Si Yao returned to Fan Lou City and lodged at an inn close to the large plaza.
Just as the sun peeked out the next morning, Lin Si Yao hired a cement mason and a carpenter from the plaza. They made their way to their house to organize the renovation, leaving the two wolves to keep Su Shuilian company as she went to purchase an assortment of needlework supplies.
She made her way through the stores, but it wasn’t until the sun had risen several bamboo poles tall (late morning) was she able to pick out a few colors that she liked. She had always liked simple floral-patterned cotton cloths and picked out five bolts of cloth, light purple for the base, faint white, fowl yellow, scarlet red, and interlaced cotton. This was for making curtains for the windows and doors, and for tablecloths and napkins of various sizes.
Thinking about her engagement, Su Shuilian shyly smiled as she picked out a dark cyan satin and a smokey grey silk brocade. She planned to make two sets of clothes for Lin Si Yao. For herself, she picked out a lotus green fabric with a maroon satin brocade. She then picked out two pieces of thin, white cotton cloth to make a set of undergarments and mid-garments for them. Finally, in front of the smiling employee, Su Shuilian picked out a large amount of red fabric for their wedding garments. She quickly paid and had the shop attendant deliver the fabrics to their current inn.
When the cloth arrived at the inn, Su Shuilian took out the five floral cloths. She planned to first sew the fabrics needed to decorate the house. Fortunately, before they left the house yesterday, she had remembered to measure the windows and doors of the house, or else she would have not known how to start.
As she thought back to the different curtains made of all sorts of fabric in the Su House, Su Shuilian hands never stopped as she continued to work. Maybe because of her embroidery skills, she was able to do anything related to sewing without a moment’s hesitation.
Although in her prior life, she would never have been allowed to do this type of coarse sewing. It was as her father, Su Fanting, had said. Her hands had been born for embroidery.
At this memory, Su Shuilian once again sank into her thoughts, recalling her time in the Su family. In the Su House… mother, big brother… It was then Su Shuilian realised that she had already started to forget about her grandfather and father. If they knew, they would surely be sad. After all, they had raised her for over a dozen years to follow the Su family’s embroidery, but in less than half a year, she had already started to forget about them.
Su Shuilian shook her head and sighed lightly. She pushed aside her bitter thoughts and continued to work.
“Hu!*” When Su Shuilian finished the last stitch, she stood up and shook her stiff wrists. Because she hadn’t embroidered in a while, the movements of her hands were a bit rough/unfamiliar.
(Chinese equivalent to ‘phew!’)
She smiled as she looked at the completed pieces of cloth curtains and towels.
After admiring them, she then spread them out to neatly fold and put them away. They would be brought to the house once the renovation was complete.
Coincidently, Lin Si Yao had also just made his way back from Fan Hua Town.
When he saw Su Shuilian busy cleaning the cloth scraps off the table, he frowned.
“The waiter said that you haven’t eaten anything today.” Lin Si Yao took the basket from Su Shuilian and, with a wave of his sleeve, all the cloth scraps flew into it.
“Eh? Is it that late?” Su Shuilian walked to the window and looked outside. Sure enough, it was already evening and the sun was about to set.
Lin Si Yao swept a glance at the bag of finished pieces that had yet to be knotted. Looking at the exposed warm, purple cotton clothes, he realized that she hadn’t stopped working since he left.
Just as he was about to pull her to his room for dinner, he noticed a stack of folded fabric at the side. The most particular was the dazzling, bright red silk. Seeing this, Lin Si Yao could not help but smile.
“What is it?” When Su Shuilian returned from cleaning the room and washing her hands, she looked in confusion at Ling Si Yao’s awkward smile yet not a smile.
“Cough…” Lin Si Yao covered his mouth with his hand, trying to hide his lack of manners caused by joy. Pretending to remain stoic, he gently took Su Shuilian’s hand before saying, “Let’s go eat first. After that, we still have to talk about the house.” He was aware of her naturally shy character and knew that if he were to ask about the wedding gowns, she would flush red for a very long time. He secretly enjoyed seeing her embarrassed expression, but was afraid that she’d be angry at him. *Cough* Let’s just pretend to be unaware and wait for her to give him a big surprise.
Although the house looked run-down, the mason and carpenter had conducted a close inspection and said they would have no problem to living in it for several years after they reinforced the structure.
Of course, Lin Si Yao could knock down the house with the wind of a single strike from his Xuan-Feng palm*. But he would naturally not say this to her — he didn’t want to scare her away. After all, they had just gotten engaged, there was no need for unnecessary complications.
(It’s the name of his move)
Su Shuilian found out that the mason only required three days. As for the carpentry, it would depend on whether he needed to make the furniture. If they were to buy completed furniture, then the carpentry would only require a day. This was because all the chipped pillars needed was just a layer of veneer.
“Tomorrow, let’s go and see the prices of the furniture here. If it is reasonable, then we can just buy it,” said Su Shuilian as she considered the remaining silvers at hand.
With her fifty silver taels, she had paid fifteen for the house and three taels and fifty coppers had been used on the fabrics. She reckoned that the mason’s three days of work along with the reinforcement and paint would cost more than one tael.
According to the carpenter’s estimates, it would be around six taels if he were to build all of the furniture with the price of the raw material included. But this only included the necessary furniture, such as their bed, wardrobe, table, chairs, cupboards, etc. Things such as a bathtub and washbasin were not included in this price. Moreover, timewise, this would take about one month to complete.
It was almost the end of summer now. After cleaning up the house and building the furniture, she estimated that it would be autumn before they could move in. Not even counting the money needed to stay at an inn until then, they would also need to prepare for winter. For example, winter coats and thicker bedding, and the preparation of (non-perishable) food for the heavy winter storms.
Su Shuilian thought about the two acres of fertile land that came with the house. In recent years, Uncle Wang had used it to plant wheat. Although the land had been transferred with the house, the harvest should be his. Therefore, this winter they would need to hoard some food themselves.
That’s why the silvers still needed to be used sparingly.
Thinking this through, Su Shuilian mentally encouraged herself, clenching her hands into fists to bolster her confidence.
Lin Si Yao was amused by this sight. However, his heart was a bit bitter, thinking about how he had become nothing after he had shed his identity as an assassin. He had to rely on a girl to care for his well-being… he felt useless. But if he were to go to that secret place to retrieve his savings, not only would Su Shuilian not use it, the people of the Si Division would be able to track him down.
“A Yao? Are you ok?” When Su Shuilian saw that Lin Si Yao was deep in thought, she gently pulled on his sleeve.
Lin Si Yao shook himself from his thoughts and saw Su Shuilian’s concerned face. He smiled slightly in assurance as he replied, “I’m alright.”
“Are you sure you’re fine?” Su Shuilian heard his reply, but was still worried as she lifted her hand. As she was about to check his forehead, Lin Si Yao suddenly grabbed her hand. Her body softened and he pulled her into his embrace.
“I’m really useless, aren’t I?” Lin Si Yao sighed as he rested his head on her shoulder. “Almost like a good-for-nothing person.”
“That’s not true!” At his words of self-loathing, Su Shuilian quickly looked up into his bleak, black eyes. She continued in a comforting tone, “If it hadn’t been for you, how could I have made it out of the forest unharmed? How could I have dared buy a house and become a resident of Fan Hua Town? How could I stay at an inn and do all of the things I enjoy doing? Lin Si Yao….” With the last sentence, Su Shuilian became a bit vexed.
“Shuilian…” Lin Si Yao sighed as he gently hugged her. “Sorry, I…”
“Who was it that said not to to regard each other as outsiders?” Su Shuilian tossed his words back at him with an unhappy mutter.
“Hur… okay, it’s me who was wrong.” Hearing the comforting tone buried in her complaint, Lin Si Yao finally let go of the knot in his heart. Smiling, he took her soft hands and held them against his face to feel her warmth. His eyes showed his deep attachment and love. How fortunate he was to have her.
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