In contrast, Wang Shi did so because she did not want her daughter-in-law to be by her side at all times else she would feel uncomfortable. After all, with her servants serving her, she could do whatever she wishes without reservations and not having to always exert her seniority!
While on the topic, the position of an elder in the Shi family sure was difficult and tiring to hold.
Sang Wan was slightly surprised. It seemed that her mother-in-law truly disliked having her daughter-in-law serve her and it had not been an act in her past life when her mother-in-law had been wholly displeased with her. At this moment, Sang Wan finally understood.
“Yes, your daughter-in-law shall head back now!” Sang Wan bowed before retiring. But as she did so, she raised her head and smiled gently and added, “Mother-in-law, have someone call for me whenever you feel listless. Your daughter-in-law shall help dispel that listlessness!”
“Yes, yes!” Feeling cared for, Wang Shi grinned and nodded.
“Nanny Jiang, what do you think of my daughter-in-law?” After seeing Sang Wan leave, Wang Shi sat comfortably on the couch before asking Nanny Jiang.
“This old servant thinks that she’s not bad! Old Master’s arrangement for the marriage was right; Old Mistress, you’re truly blessed!” Nanny Jiang smiled as she praised.
“That is true! I can’t bear to say this but I have to admit, a member of a scholar family sure is different! Truly a blessing to have!” Wang Shi smiled but suddenly began to sigh. “Both are good; both aren’t bad, eh, not bad…”
“Go, take a look at what my niece is doing and invite her here!” Wang Shi’s brow rose and she instructed a young maidservant while feeling slightly satisfied with herself.
Gu Fangzi had been waiting in the Peony Park2Peony ParkGu Fangzi's place of residence restlessly. Upon hearing that her aunt had summoned her, she briskly went over. Arriving at the courtyard, Gu Fangzi stopped in her tracks. Adjusting her expression, clothes, and complexion, she entered the parlor gracefully.
“Come! Come! Have a seat! We’re a family so there’s no need for the ceremony!” Wang Shi cut the greeting short and gestured with a smile.
Gu Fangzi smiled and agreed before sitting next to Wang Shi.
Wang Shi held Gu Fangzi’s hand and spoke, “I’ve spoken to Sang Wan; the management of the household will remain in your care. Sang Wan has no objections! In the future, I’ll leave them to you! Aunt trusts in the way you manage the household!”
“That —” The edges of Gu Fangzi’s lips unconsciously curled up in a grin. Though her appearance was like a beautiful flower and her heart as sweet as nectar, her mouth questioned, doubtingly, “That isn’t good, right? After all, she’s the young mistress of this household… is she really alright with this arrangement?”
“Don’t worry!” Wang Shi smiled. “Though your aunt may be old and is no longer managing this household, my words still contain power and are the final say! Since she has agreed to it, it means that she has fully accepted it! In the future, other than the vicinities of Ning Garden1Ning GardenSang Wan & Shi Fengju's place of residence, everything will be managed by you. I hope that your management won’t disappoint me.”
“Ning Garden?” Gu Fangzi’s smiling face stiffened slightly.
“Yes. Ning Garden is where she lives, so that place is naturally given to her to care for. Also, that’s to save you from embarrassment. What’s important now is that you do not act out of line.” Without knowing, Wang Shi had gotten closer to Gu Fangzi and spoken with an intimate voice. This showed that she cared for Gu Fangzi as if she was part of Wang Shi’s immediate family.
Gu Fangzi nodded gently before agreeing softly. Smiling, she spoke, “Aunt truly is considerate towards me! Maybe more intimate when compared to my own biological mother!”
Deep down, she could not help but feel slightly frustrated. Ning Garden might be where Sang Wan lived, but her cousin also lived there. She had originally wanted to put all her focus on Ning Garden and obtain information about her cousin’s whereabouts. But because of a sentence from her aunt, that plan had shattered into pieces!
But wait a moment! Gu Fangzi was suddenly struck by a thought: Aunt Wang is used to being idle now, so coming up with such an idea should not be possible. This must have been thought of by that vile woman, Sang Wan! Well, I can affirm my guess just by asking a maidservant who was present during their conversation. If that were so, that vile woman sure is clever!
“Your biological mother is my biological younger sister. Doesn’t that make you just like a daughter to me? Silly child!” Wang Shi smiled and glanced at Gu Fangzi intimately.
Gu Fangzi forced a smile in return. The word ‘daughter’ made her felt somewhat uncomfortable; what she’d wanted wasn’t to become her aunt’s daughter, but her daughter-in-law!
“Aunt, I’ve something I’d like to say, but I’m not sure if it’s proper. If what I say offends you, I hope you’ll not take it to heart!”
“Keke, your words are always reasonable. When have you ever said anything improper? Speak! Your aunt will listen!”
Gu Fangzi then let out a laugh. “Although Aunt values me, and Cousin Sang Wan has no objections, Big Cousin already has a wife! If I were to still be the one managing the household, then isn’t that illogical? What I fear is that the servants may not obey me, I— I might end up disappointing Aunt Wang!” Looking at Wang Shi pitifully, Gu Fangzi’s voice gradually softened.
As if that thought had never come to her, Wang Shi’s face immediately darkened. But soon after, she groaned, “Let’s see who will dare to do so! This is the Shi family household and those on the sidelines have no say! If anyone ever bickers with you over this, I’ll show them what I’m capable of!”
“We can’t have that! To have Aunt Wang make an appearance over such a small matter, it would all the more portray me as being unfilial! Still, I’m not the young mistress of this house, so they cannot be blamed for not obeying me! Though Aunt Wang’s words against those unruly servants are effective, their hearts may not be intimidated and they may even go around gossiping. I’m afraid Aunt Wang might even be pulled into it!”
In that moment, Wang Shi was brought back to her senses. Gloomily, she nodded gently and agreed. “What you say truly is reasonable! If only you had married into the family first, then this wouldn’t happen!”
“Aunt Wang!” Gu Fangzi’s face was flushed and she lowered her head in embarrassment. Hurriedly, she replied, “I, I wasn’t trying to imply that, really! I just didn’t want others to cause chaos in the household, but what I said seems to have directed to another path! Still, Cousin Sang Wan was just recently married into the family; if I were to do so— wouldn’t Cousin Sang Wan be humiliated? Her future here may, as a result, be awkward!”
After hearing the words Gu Fangzi wanted to say, Wang Shi couldn’t help but feel a little apologetic towards Sang Wan, for she was a sensible daughter-in-law. However, being aware of the fact that she was sensible, Wang Shi spoke, “Why would she be awkward in the Shi family? She is the wife of Fengju; who dares embarrass her? Unless she is incompetent, saying that she’ll be humiliated isn’t right! If I may add, which young master has never had any concubines? It is already considered good that our Fengju never had any before the marriage! From every aspect, we’ve given her face!”
Gu Fangzi was secretly delighted. But on the surface, she spoke hesitantly, “That, I’m afraid that might —”
“Enough, enough! I call the shots on this! No need for your care! When Fengju returns, I’ll inform him regarding the arrangement! As for you, just wait for the good news! Keke!” Wang Shi glanced at Gu Fangzi. Seeing that she was hesitant, Wang Shi deliberately said, disappointed, “What’s the matter? Do you have an objection?”
“Aunt Wang!” Gu Fangzi unconsciously stood up and said bashfully, “We’ve spoken enough. I, I have things to attend to so I’ll head off first!”
“Go then!” Wang Shi said with a big grin and laughed. In the midst of the laughter, Gu Fangzi turned and left.
Sang Wan was in deep thought as she returned to Ning Garden. She was puzzled as to why her mother-in-law had even begun the conversation with her in the first place.
Recalling what had happened carefully in the three days since she had stepped foot in the household, there had not seemed to be any breach of etiquette. As such, her mother-in-law should not have had any reason to sweep the floor with her face.
If so, what had truly happened?
In the evening, when no one was around, Liu Ya informed Sang Wan of what information she had managed to gather from the kitchen. From there, Sang Wan understood. It seemed that yesterday when Shi Fengju had followed her back to her paternal home, two servants of the household had been in the wrong and were punished by Gu Fangzi in the courtyard.
Unhappy, the two had complained behind Gu Fangzi’s back, saying that the household now had a young mistress, so an outsider like her should not be arrogant. To actually have said that to someone who was considered part of the family!
Gu Fangzi had gotten wind of it. Feeling wronged, she returned to her chamber and let her tears flow. Sometime later, Wang Shi got wind of it too. Furious, she sentenced the two servants to twenty hits from a large board and sent them to the outer courtyard to do intensive manual labor. Wang Shi had even gone to comfort Gu Fangzi personally.
No wonder! Sang Wan nodded slightly. No wonder her mother-in-law had been in such a hurry to have that conversation with her. It was all to provide support for Gu Fangzi!
Sang Wan sighed. In her past life, Gu Fangzi taking control of the management had been a matter of course, and that was the beginning of her nightmares in the household! But who would’ve thought that in this life, she had not been able to change it! In the end, the result was still the same.
Sang Wan stiffened her heart. Since things had ended up the way they were now, then so be it. What she feared now was Gu Fangzi’s resilience. If Gu Fangzi were to marry into the family, how would Sang Wan continue to survive? Still, she believed that she could cling onto the hope that Shi Fengju would not go back on their promise! Her presence in the household was still light and simply not enough to create a change.
It seemed that what Sang Wan had expected became truth. Being led by Gu Fangzi, Wang Shi conveyed the idea to Shi Fengju.
“You and Fangzi grew up together and have known each other well. Since this is something that would have happened sooner or later, having her marry into the family soon shouldn’t be too much of a problem. What do you say?” Wang Shi grinned, her face expressing her interest in the idea since her son also liked his cousin!
Shi Fengju smiled bitterly and said, “Mother, I’ve just returned home and was called here immediately by you just to discuss this?” What’s there to hurry about regarding my marriage with Fang’er?
“Then what else did you think I’ll be discussing with you?” Wang Shi waited no longer for her son to express his joy; the sight of her son not being pleased with the idea was actually very surprising to her.
Glaring at Shi Fengju, she added, “Fangzi is no longer young; shouldn’t you be more considerate towards her? From what I see, Daughter-in-law Sang Wan isn’t unreasonable; I’m sure she’ll agree! Fangzi will first marry into the family as a concubine. Once she bears a son, her position will naturally be elevated. When that happens, we’ll hold a lavish wedding! With that, we’ve actually given Sang Wan enough face!”
“Mother, is this what you think, or— is this Fangzi’s idea?” Shi Fengju paused, before blurting out.
“What difference does it make?” Wang Shi frowned. “What’s wrong? Do you not wish for this to happen? My son, you shouldn’t do something that will betray your heart and cause unhappiness to those around you! Sang Wan is virtuous and gentle in temperament, Fangzi is clever and capable; I’m sure they’ll be able to get along well. That, my son, is also your blessing!”
“I have my own thoughts regarding this, so there’s no need for you to worry, Mother.” Shi Fengju frowned. A year… he could wait a year and he believed that Gu Fangzi could too! He wanted to give his most beloved woman a grand and complete wedding, so how was that wrong? Why make her suffer now?
“Rubbish!” Wang Shi couldn’t help but become furious. She grunted, “If not me, who then would worry about her? This isn’t something that you alone have the final say with. I do not want that child, Fangzi, to become upset! Though you may be able to bear it, I can’t!” With that, she spoke of the incident that had happened to Gu Fangzi yesterday and added, “What do you say now; can this still wait?”