Meanwhile, back at the Jing’an Estate’s Songtao Court, Chu Lian was peacefully sleeping, completely unaware of all that had transpired.
After eating the desserts with the servants, Chu Lian had retired to her bedroom.
There was a small study by the bedroom she shared with He Sanlang, and it was meant for her use. It wasn’t very big, but since it was right next to the bedroom, it was convenient.
Chu Lian whiled away her afternoon inside the small study. The books she had brought over from the Ying Estate were placed on the bookshelves here, as well as the books that the Jing’an Estate had added on. There weren’t many of them. On the bottommost shelf, there was a pear blossom wood container with copies of some of the works by a few famous calligraphy masters.
In the original story, although ‘Chu Lian’ hadn’t been exceptional in calligraphy, her handwriting had still been neat, delicate, and pretty.
Chu Lian didn’t have any big ambitions, but she still understood that her calligraphy skills weren’t good enough. She couldn’t even read all of the traditional Chinese characters in that comedy book she had been reading… she usually just guessed at them.
Thus, come afternoon, Chu Lian sent away her maidservants and left Xiyan to guard the door outside. Then, in the safety of the study, she practised her writing in secret, making use of an empty book that she had found earlier.
After writing for two hours, Chu Lian tossed the previously empty book into the charcoal brazier and burned it. She had a good memory, so the two hours of practice was good enough to learn over a hundred or so characters. Chu Lian was pretty satisfied with her progress.
Following her calligraphy practice, Chu Lian sent Xiyan out to bring back the box she kept her money and accessories in. She wanted to see exactly how much money she had.
Senior Servant Gui watched from the side.
First, Chu Lian looked at the public account books, where the expenses of their courtyard had been recorded. Every month, they would be given a stipend from the Jing’an Household. Of course, the salaries of all the servants in their courtyard were to be paid from this stipend.
There were almost eighty taels of silver in the public account. These were saved up from the time when He Changdi had been the sole master residing in this courtyard, and when there had been fewer servants around.
Otherwise, in most situations, the stipend wouldn’t be enough to cover the monthly expenses, and they would have to fork out a portion of their own personal accounts.
Chu Lian put down the account books and ordered Xiyan to open up the chest where they kept the silver for daily expenses. It was a huge chest with several layers, but only the first layer contained anything: a few silver ingots, some loose silver pieces, and a few strings of bronze coins.
There were fifty taels in total.
Together with the silver she had gotten on the day of her wedding, and after giving Senior Servant Gui a hundred taels, she only had four hundred taels left with her.
She hadn’t saved much from when she was still living at the Ying Estate. Furthermore, her mother had died when she was young, so she didn’t have any silver lying around.
In total, she only had about four hundred and fifty taels of silver she could use.
Although Chu Lian’s expression didn’t change at all, Senior Servant Gui and Xiyan appeared to be holding back their emotions.
Their mistress had lost her mother at a young age, and wasn’t in favour at the Ying Estate. Chu Lian’s stepmother, Third Madam, had kept Third Young Madam’s dowry in her clutches. Third Master wasn’t on her side either. The Ying Household all thought that their Sixth Miss must have had some tremendous luck to marry into the Jing’an Estate, and that she would be rolling in riches. The misses of the second branch were all jealous of her, so of course, none of them would contribute anything to the dowry of Sixth Miss.
If not for the Jing’an Estate adding on a little to the dowry, then this pitiful amount would have been mocked by all.
As a legitimate daughter of the family, her dowry couldn’t even be compared to the dowry of an illegitimate daughter who was favoured.
After marrying into the He Family, Sixth Miss had also been treated callously by Third Young Master…
It was fortunate that their Sixth Miss wasn’t upset over her marriage, otherwise she would have probably gotten sick from anger.
Chu Lian wasn’t bothered by what the servants next to her were likely thinking.
She picked up the last box.
This was her accessory box, and she had kept it since she was a young girl.
After so many years, she only had this one box of accessories. Looking down at the box, Chu Lian felt a pang of sympathy for the original owner of this body.
At the very least, she was a legitimate daughter of a duke’s estate. However, her clothing and accessories were way too poor for her status. No wonder her personality had warped like that.
Anyone’s personality would change if they grew up in such an environment.
Chu Lian retrieved the key she carried on her and opened up the box.
The craftsmanship of the box was exquisite. There were ten layers in total, and each layer was lined in bronze. There were even complicated-looking patterns carved on top.
The bottommost layer in the box held the accessories she had been given when she was just born. Senior Servant Gui had told her that she had probably worn them when she was around a year to three years old.
There weren’t many accessories she could wear in her infancy. So, this layer only had a few pairs of gold bracelets and anklets, as well as some necklaces and flowers made from gold and pearls. After rummaging about in the box, there were even a few good jade ornaments. It was clear that the original ‘Chu Lian’ had been treated well when she had just been born, since she was Third Master’s first child.
The accessories in the second layer were the accessories she had worn after she had turned three.
There were a few head accessories, but it was obvious that they weren’t as exquisitely made as the ones from her infancy. As she went through the layers, there were fewer and fewer accessories that were actually worth something. After the age of ten, there wasn’t even a single gold accessory in the tray.
All the accessories in the box weren’t fit to wear now, because they had all been used before. Chu Lian picked out a few jade ornaments that had sentimental value, then sorted the gold accessories from the silver. She passed them to Senior Servant Gui and instructed her to have them melted into gold and silver pieces for future use.
After organising the box a little, Chu Lian turned to the accessory case she was currently using.