The Farmer’s Wife has a Magical Spiritual Spring
The Farmer’s Wife has a Magical Spiritual Spring Chapter 4

Chapter 4: Main House

Everyone gazed at the cornbread in The Fourth Grandson’s hand. The Third Daughter-in-law and her husband looked flustered, Old Man Shen’s face darkened like the bottom of a pot, while Wang Shi stood there tightly holding Sun Shi, preventing her from running.

“Third Daughter-in-law, what do you have to say for yourself?”

Old Man Shen’s face was devoid of light. He knew well that this daughter-in-law had a habit of sneaking food, although he had never caught her in the act. Just after he had finished scolding his fourth son, the truth came out. Where could he hide his face now? Naturally, he was furious.

Sun Shi immediately lowered her head and admitted her mistake. In this household, the father-in-law held considerable authority. If he became angry, even the possibility of her being divorced was on the table.

“Dad, I was wrong. I had no choice. Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sons were all so hungry. I felt sorry for them, especially my Fifth Son, who is now thin and small. I’m truly afraid something bad might happen to him, and if that happens, I won’t be able to live with myself.”

“Shut your mouth! Just because Fifth Grandson is hungry, you’re making a scene!”

Shen Youfu, seeing Sun Shi about to start wailing again, cut her off with a shout. He was initially angry, but when she mentioned their grandsons, half of his anger dissipated.

Shen Ziping added, “Dad, that sickly woman won’t die from missing a meal. She’s deceived our Shen family. Keeping her here instead of kicking her out is already lenient. We’ve spent money on her medicines and doctor visits. Missing a meal is nothing compared to what she’s cost our family. We could have bought a heap of corn with that money.”

Shen Youfu found this reasoning sound. In his mind, his grandsons were more important than his daughter-in-law, and food was paramount. Spending on a sick daughter-in-law who couldn’t even see people was, to him, a waste.

Seeing Shen Zi’an’s serious expression, Shen Zhang shi comforted him, “Zi’an, don’t be upset. If the Conbread is gone, let it be. We still have some flour at home. Punish your Third Sister-in-law to make your wife some flour cakes. Rest assured, this time, it won’t be taken away for others to eat.”

Upon hearing this, Fourth Grandson immediately exclaimed, “Grandma, I want flour cakes! Grandpa, I want to eat them, don’t let that sickly woman have any! She’s just wasting food; she’ll die sooner or later!”

“Fourth nephew! What nonsense are you talking?”

Shen Zi’an reprimanded, feeling uneasy at the thought of someone implying Su Zhi might die.

Terrified, the fourth grandson ran over and clung to Shen Zhang shi’s leg, saying, “It’s what Mom said! Mom said that sickly woman is here to bankrupt the Shen family. She says only when she’s gone will the house be peaceful.”

Shen Youfu scolded Shen Zi’an, “Why are you arguing with your young nephew? She’s eating our food, and it’s our family’s. Giving her food for the younger generation would only make her feel wronged, wouldn’t it? Those flour cakes are for the grandchildren, and no one else is getting any! Go back, don’t upset me here!”

Shen Zi’an clenched his fist and reached out to Sun Shi, demanding, “Give me that cornbread!”

Sun Shi, frightened by Shen Zi’an’s fierce gaze, instinctively pulled out another bun from her embrace, only to regret it moments later. What was she trying to achieve by giving it to him? She had injured herself and struggled for this two cornbread; they should belong to her. However, it was too late. Shen Zi’an took the bun and left.

Wang Shi snorted, “Third Sister-in-law, you don’t need to feel sorry. You’ve benefited from this. That bun was oily; just look at how much got on your clothes. Wash them when you get back; you might be able to get half an ounce of oil out. What a big advantage you’ve gained.”

With that, she turned and walked away, leaving Sun Shi seething with anger behind her.

Shen Youfu glared at Sun Shi and instructed Shen Ziping, “Take your wife back inside. You won’t have dinner tonight!”

Shen Zhang shi followed Shen Youfu, casting a disapproving glance at their son and daughter-in-law, feeling frustrated by their behavior.

Back in her own room, Wang Shi sat on the bed. Her two sons, two daughters, and the eldest son of the Shen family, Shen Zifu, all looked at her, inquiring about what had happened. They had refrained from intervening to avoid trouble.

The eldest son and the second son, one steady and the other sharp, both knew that involving themselves with Third Aunt’s affairs would be troublesome. The daughters, Chunlan and Chunxiang, were curious, but Wang Shi suggested they spend their time making more clothes to earn some money instead. Shen Zifu, being gentle, was even less inclined to get involved in such matters, fearing being roped into assisting. He wanted to avoid offending anyone. Therefore, it was Wang Shi who ultimately went to handle the situation.

Wang Shi picked up the half-finished cloth and recounted the entire incident from start to finish, concluding with, “Your Third Brother and his wife are truly shameless. One steals, and the other covers up for her by accusing his brother of lusting after his sister-in-law. Disgraceful! That Sun Shi looks so plain; Fourth Brother must be blind to fancy her.”

Laughter filled the room. Wang Shi realized it might not be appropriate to discuss such matters in front of her daughters, but since she had already started, she wanted them to understand the true nature of Third Brother and his wife, so they wouldn’t be taken advantage of in the future.

Chunlan sympathized with her Fourth Uncle, having married such a wife and constantly being mistreated.

Chunxiang remarked that Fourth Uncle didn’t care about trivial matters like this, but now that he was married, he would have to stand up for himself.

The eldest son and the second son nodded in agreement, thinking it would be good for Fourth Uncle to deal with Third Uncle and Third Aunt. Fourth Uncle usually kept quiet but had his own ideas. He was considered a rare talent in the family, even more valuable than Fifth Uncle, who could read. Unfortunately, not everyone saw it that way. Now, with his choice of wife, some people were treating him like dirt.

“I wonder if Fourth Aunt’s illness can be cured. It would be great if she gets better. Fourth Uncle seems to really care for her,” Chunlan remarked. “I saw Fourth Aunt the other day, her face was unbearable to look at. I don’t know why Fourth Uncle treats her so well.”

Shen Zifu said, “Men should treat their wives well once they marry them. I treat your mother well, don’t I?”

The children chuckled, nodding in agreement.

Wang Shi glanced at Shen Zifu and huffed, “Flattering me with words won’t work. In the future, stay away from Fourth Brother. If only he had married someone from my aunt’s family, would we have attracted this trouble now? Who knows when this will end? The doctor said her illness is hard to cure. She’s been taking a lot of medicine lately. It might really end up draining our family, just like Sun Shi said. All our hard work over the years might go to waste. It’s truly worrisome.”

Wang Shi was displeased with Shen Zi’an and even more so with Shen Zi’an’s wife.

“Mom, hasn’t Fourth Uncle already been asking money from Grandma anymore? He’s now responsible for Fourth Aunt’s illness. Don’t worry,” the eldest son said.

Wang Shi glared at her son and replied, “What do you know? How much can he earn? In the end, he will have to use the family’s resources!”

The room fell silent as everyone listened to Wang Shi’s scolding. When Wang Shi got angry, it was truly intimidating, and no one dared to provoke her when she was in such a mood.

Su Zhi, unaware of what had transpired, had waited until her hunger had subsided before Shen Zi’an returned. His expression was grim as he handed her a cornbread. She took it, feeling its warmth, made of golden cornmeal, slightly coarse but with a hint of oil on top, emitting a pleasant fragrance as she savored each bite.

Noticing his wife nibbling on the bun, Shen Zi’an suddenly realized he had forgotten to bring her a bowl of vegetable porridge in his anger. He inwardly cursed his forgetfulness, realizing that Sun Shi might have already eaten it, which only added to his frustration. Pouring a bowl of water for Su Zhi, he watched her drink it, feeling a pang of guilt for his oversight.

Resolving to ensure she had her meal in the future, even if it meant not covering it to keep it warm while she slept, Shen Zi’an made a mental note. He understood that it was better for her to have something to eat, even if it had cooled, than not to have anything at all. He vowed to be more attentive to her needs and not let his emotions cloud his responsibilities as a husband.

Seeing Shen Zi’an’s demeanor, Su Zhi knew something must have gone wrong again. She could sense the tension in the air as he entered the room, his expression troubled. Concerned, she gently inquired, “Zi’an, what happened?” But Zi’an decided not to divulge any details, fearing it might upset her and impact her recovery. Instead, he offered a reassuring smile and said, “Xiaomei, as long as you take good care of your health, don’t worry about anything else.”

Su Zhi felt a slight discomfort upon hearing Shen Zi’an call her by the name “Xiaomei.” Although she inhabited this body, she was not Zhao Xiaomei. She preferred her own name as it gave her a sense of being alive, a name given by her beloved grandfather in her past life. She didn’t want to let it go.

“Zi’an, could you please call me Su Zhi instead? ‘Su’ from purple perilla and ‘Zhi’ from white angelica, both medicinal herbs, which might be better for health… The name Xiaomei sounds childish, and as I’ve grown up, it feels like it should be changed to avoid any ill omens.”

Su Zhi quickly thought of an excuse. It couldn’t be a good omen, or else why would she have died so early?

“Alright, I’ll call you Su Zhi. It sounds lovely,” Zi’an agreed, appreciating his wife’s reasoning and the depth of her knowledge, likely acquired during her time at the nunnery. “Did the nun’s told  you about those?”

Su Zhi, upon hearing Shen Zi’an’s speculation, thought it might work out well. After all, Zhao Xiaomei might not even recognize the characters. With the excuse of being from the convent, she no longer feared displaying her knowledge.

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