The sedan shook rhythmically and gently from side to side. The joyous cheers could be heard to welcome it. The members accompanying the sedan to the bridegroom’s family were lively as ever and the bridesmaid’s sentences sounded like smooth-flowing water, auspicious to the ears. Sang Wan gently lifted the red veil on her head and her eyes gazed at the bright red surroundings. She reaffirmed that she was definitely sitting in a red sedan chair.
Gently raising both her hands, she observed that her hands were delicate and white in color; the nails were polished; fingers were long and slender; and her palms were small and delicate… This is definitely a pair of healthy and flexible hands. These were indeed hands that she once had.
She was born again.
The panic she received from the beginning gradually receded and she fully accepted the fact that she was born again.
Reborn, from the withered and desperate life she experienced, to the beginning? Sang Wan could not help but shiver from the thought of it as her nails subconsciously dug into the icy palms of her hands.
“No! I don’t want to!” The darkness and desperation where life is equal to death. Never did she want to experience it again.
Sang Wan clenched her hands tightly to hold back the impulse of lifting the sedan curtain.
She knew that outside the thin sedan curtain, there was a handsome man clothed in red clothes and a red silk flower as he rode a horse with his head held high. That man was her husband and the husband she had lived with for four years in her previous life. That man was the eldest son of the Shi family, Qingzhou’s wealthiest family.
Thinking about her husband, Sang Wan’s heart became even colder. A sense of indescribable sadness gradually spread from the bottom of her heart. That sense of sadness grabbed her attention tightly which made her gasp for air.
The sedan she was in now was not a sedan that was bringing her to a beautiful and sweet family, but to meet her future battles where she would have to fight to preserve her little foothold within the family.
Her father and mother died prematurely. Although the name of her family continued to deteriorate, her marriage to Qingzhou’s wealthiest person still proceeded. The feelings she had in the past when she got married to her husband was not only anticipation but tension and apprehension.
She was afraid. Really afraid. She was afraid that her mother-in-law and sister-in-laws would look down on her; afraid that the Shi family’s servants would despise her; afraid of the cruel world she had never seen before; afraid…
Not knowing the future which lies ahead of her, she was afraid of everything she would have to face.
The only person who could ease all her problems was her husband. If he had respected her and protected her, then maybe her life ahead in the family could have been a little better. For her, he was like her life-saving straw; her one and only support.
However, reality was cruel…
That man had a childhood sweetheart, his cousin. After living with her husband for less than two months, he made his cousin, Gu Fangzi, into his concubine! After that, whatever she feared started to turn into reality. Her Mother-in-law started to dislike her; her husband started to treat her coldly; her servants started to despise her; and rumors about her being an outcast within the family also started to spread.
She gradually became invisible in the family and was forgotten about. As days went by, her heart slowly withered and her will to live vanished.
It was even more painful than any torture in the world; enough to make a living man insane. She did not want to end up that way, but no one gave her a chance to not be.
Sang Wan’s mouth gently brought up a smile. Her previous self was insensible, distressed, and doubtless. Recalling those fragments of her past memories, she was shocked and surprised; “that woman, Gu Fangzi, openly displayed her friendliness to me, but behind my back, she prevented me from bonding with my husband and his family. Worst of all, she influenced them to turn against me…”
That sweet smile; that cordial laughter; that friendly attitude… how could it all be false? Why must it all be false?
“She was loving, lively and trustworthy with no room to doubt her, thus I fully accepted her. The result? My downfall, unhappiness, and lifeless life!”
“Bride, please get off the sedan ––––“
The bridesmaid shouted loudly with a festive smile on her face which interrupted Sang Wan’s thoughts. Outside, the drums became more high-pitched, and the crowd’s laughter and frolic became livelier.
This might seem like a good day; an auspicious day.
Once again! Once again, she had to step into the Shi family as a bride…
Sang Wan’s brain went into a dizzy trance. Her heart started beating nervously which felt as if it could jump out of her throat at any moment. Taking in a deep breath, she calmed her nervous heart. Gently stretching out her slender hand, she reached out for the bridesmaid’s hand and exited the sedan.
She did not have a choice!
Knowing full well the path ahead would only be full of difficulties, she could only continue moving forward.
Fortunately, everything was just the beginning… everything… there was room for change! Since God had given another chance to relive her life once again, she would not let this opportunity slide!
Reborn into this moment must have been God’s will; both a compensation and a challenge!
Countless voices could be heard; just like during her past life. Sang Wan felt vexed. Like a doll under the mercy of its maker, she had to obediently follow orders until she was in the bridal chamber. Sitting in the chamber was a beautifully laid out bed with a gold painted landscape on it.
The noisy hustle and bustle of the world outside had finally quietened down, but Sang Wan’s heart could not help but skip a beat; the further one tries to escape from reality, the more nervous one will become.
Recognizing reality and accepting reality was one thing. Integrating them into reality was another. Her husband, someone she knew well, yet remains unknown… that unknown man whom she knew very well, how would she be able to get along with him?
Sang Wan felt a headache.
The heavy coronet became heavier and heavier, adding pressure to her neck. It felt like her neck could snap at any moment.
Sang Wan took in a few deep breaths and slowly lifted up her veil. She then carefully took the coronet off and placed it on an embroidered cross-necked mandarin duck. The red silk veil was then used to cover the duck.
“Missy. Missy. No… you can’t do that. That is against the custom. It is best to put the coronet back on.” Liu Ya, Sang Wan’s dowry maidservant who came with her, was shocked by Sang Wan’s actions and stammered.
The Shi family’s eldest son’s lavish wedding had burdened Liu Ya with stress for half the day which made her dizzy and clumsy. Upon seeing her missy lift her veil inside the chamber made Liu Ya startled.
“What’s wrong? No one else will know. My neck feels sore as if it’s going to break. I’ll rest a while before putting it back on my head. Don’t worry.” Sang Wan rubbed her neck and it sure felt a lot better. She couldn’t help but heave a sigh of relief.
“But…but this… this is ominous!”
“No matter.” Ominous? In the past, she would follow the custom stiffly. Even when she had to sit for half a day, she wouldn’t dare to move a finger. And the result? Was it auspicious? No matter how ominous it may be, nothing can be as ominous as what she had experienced in her past life.
“But… this… is against the custom. The Shi family will become a laughing matter…”
“Only I, you, and heaven knows. As long as a word isn’t leaked, who else will know.” Sang Wan winked and hooked a smile.
“Missy, how could you…” Growing up in the countryside, the rules were not very strict. Seeing Sang Wan so lax, she couldn’t help but return a grin and her nervousness calmed down a little.
“Tired today? Hungry?” Sang Wan asked with a smile.
Liu Ya quickly nodded but shook after. “Oh right, I almost forgot.” She took out a pink napkin from her blouse. Wrapped inside the napkin were two cakes. Liu Ya held the cakes to Sang Wan and said, “Missy, when heading here, Mistress Sang handed me these and said that you can eat these if you are hungry. Servant Liu Ya almost forgot.”
The mistress Liu Ya mentioned was Sang Wan’s elder brother’s spouse.
“That’s thoughtful of her!” Sang Wan’s nose twitched. In her previous life, because of her ignorance, she brought her elder brother and his spouse to the Shi house as guests which brought about great grievance. After being treated poorly, and seeing the luxurious treatment Sang Wan received within the Shi family, her elder brother’s spouse complained. She then broke all ties with him and their children in pursuit of finding a better husband who can bring about the same luxurious treatment Sang Wan received within the Shi family. From that day onwards, Sang Wan’s elder brother’s spouse was never heard of again. But because of that incident, Sang Wan became the laughing stock of the family. Her mother-in-law and husband were also displeased about the incident.
“That’s true. Mistress Sang always treats Missy very well. She may have a sharp tongue, but she means well.” Liu Yan stared at the cakes as Sang Wan took them from her hands and started to imagine herself taking a bite from the cake.
Being kind-hearted, Sang Wan took one for herself and handed the other to Liu Ya. “Here, let’s each enjoy a cake.”
“Ay! Thank you, Missy!” Liu Ya received the cake gleefully and opened her mouth to eat the cake.
“Missy,” Liu Ya stopped all of a sudden. She looked at Sang Wan, and laughed, “This family is so rich. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of nice food. Missy sure is blessed! Following Missy, maybe Servant Liu Ya can receive a little of the blessing.”
Liu Ya’s lively eyes shone vibrantly, and her pretty oval-shaped face looked both innocent and craving. Her face also carried a smile she had previously.
Sang Wan’s heart sank but she could not tell the truth to Liu Ya.
“Liu Ya,” Sang Wan contemplated but continued, “We grew up together and I see you as a younger sister, so I’ll tell you something. This missy in front of you isn’t from a wealthy origin but is now married into the Shi family. With my husband being the eldest son of the Shi family, I’m afraid the life we’ll be experiencing will not be as easy as you think.”
“Why?” Liu Ya was startled, “You are now the spouse of the eldest son, and your marriage was arranged by both parents and a matchmaker!”
“That is why the life we’ll be experiencing in the future will not be as easy as you think!” Sang Wan explained, more precisely this time. “The Sang family is now in a state where it cannot even be compared with a Shi family’s decent servant’s family background. Think about it… by claiming this high position, people will not be convinced that I am suitable for this position. If so, what can I do to prove that I am suitable?”
Liu Ya remained startled and stared at Sang Wan foolishly. She reluctantly smiled and shook her head, “Servant…Servant Liu Ya still doesn’t understand.”
Sang Wan smiled bitterly. Liu Ya’s rural life was simple. Her not understanding was not a surprise.
“It’s alright. Liu Ya, listen to only me. In this house, do not do more than you are told to do; do not utter a single word. Understand?”
“Yes. Understood! I just have to listen to Missy!” Liu Ya heaved a sigh of relief and smiled. Thus a relationship between them formed.
It was getting dark already. Sang Wan had once again placed the coronet on her head and covered her face with the veil. Hearing the heavy footsteps accompanied by the pleasant jokes approaching gradually, Sang Wan clenched her fist, and her body became tense.