“Yes of course, of course! I hope Young Mistress doesn’t see this old lady as being long-winded, but this old lady shall provide advice without any reserve!” Nanny Li could not help but smile. Deep down, she was truly happy.
She had almost wanted to speak from another direction, saying, “This Ning Garden1Ning GardenSang Wan & Shi Fengju's place of residence has always been under my care. Not just the Young Master, but everything from top to bottom of Ning Garden, this old maidservant here knows it all!” The thought of spouting that had come about. After all, she headed over the moment she heard that Sang Wan would be taking over the management of Ning Garden, how could her actions not show her pettiness? Nanny Li felt a sense of being robbed of her authority as she rushed over to Ning Garden.
Of course, Nanny Li had indeed come with grievances, because her old neighbor’s granddaughter heard from someone that the young mistress who’d recently entered the Shi household was going to put Ning Garden in order and lay down new regulations. The moment she had heard that, she had to rush over angrily. But it seemed that was not the case at all.
Nanny Li was a knowledgeable person. Reflecting on herself, she realized that she had almost fallen into someone else’s plan to cause her to become estranged from the young mistress of this household. Then again, Gu Fangzi was definitely the one doing this. After all, if she were to embarrass the young mistress, only Gu Fangzi would be at an advantage.
That sly fox! Nanny Li clenched her teeth tightly.
Gently taking a quick look at Sang Wan, her strong sense of responsibility rose spontaneously: The young mistress, with such a temperament, is the sly fox’s opponent? That’ll definitely add to my worries! Young Master was brought up by me single-handedly, I definitely cannot watch him be destroyed under the hands of that sly fox!
Young Master’s wife should be someone like this young mistress, gentle and polite. Such a character is then worthy of the young master. Unlike that sly fox who acts like a spoiled brat and thinks that everything revolves around her. That fox knows nothing of being considerate towards Young Master’s feelings. Every now and then, she’ll throw her temper around and request for him to head over immediately to coax her!
The Shi family is a big household with a large business. Working outside was already enough to make him busy and tired. At home, he should enjoy a comfortable life, rather than having to make every effort to please and flatter that woman.
Just from the thought of Gu Fangzi in those days, Nanny Li felt a sense of anger deep within her. Seeing the young master being eaten away slowly by that lady, she had felt both distressed and angry, but she was utterly helpless.
“Really? Then Sang Wan shall give my thanks!” Sang Wan smiled as she spoke. Nanny Li was like a cow protective of her calf, and Sang Wan was entirely aware of that. With Nanny Li helping her, things would definitely become easier to handle.
“Young Mistress is too modest!” Nanny Li smiled. After thinking for a short while, she sighed. “Young Mistress treats this old maidservant as her own, as such, this old lady is very grateful! Young Master is a good man, and in the future, I’m sure Young Mistress will understand! All you need to do is to take care of Young Master well, and when you’re idle, head over to where Old Mistress Wang is and have a chat with her. At present, you can ignore every other thing, but you’ve to be careful not to look only at the surface.”
In this household, and in both lives, Nanny Li was the first to treat her well and to talk to her from the heart. Sang Wan at this moment was having mixed feelings. Her nose felt a little sour and tears formed in her eyes.
“Nanny’s words, Sang Wan will remember them! Thank you, Nanny, for the advice!” Sang Wan blinked a few times before nodding at Nanny Li.
Nanny Li could not openly criticize Gu Fangzi, for she was still unfamiliar with Sang Wan, so she gave no further advice.
But the meaning behind the advice she gave was extremely obvious. In this household, the only two important people Sang Wan should focus on are the young master and the old mistress, for they were the only two whom she could rely on and place her trust. But if she were to walk off the right path due to someone else’s presence, then that would be due to her stupidity and was unworthy to receive any help.
How I wish this girl will not disappoint me. Nanny Li’s body had always been frail. With the roller coaster of emotions she had experienced – rushing here angrily before having a calm talk with Sang Wan, her body began to feel slightly lethargic.
Sang Wan immediately instructed for some ginseng tea to be served. “Nanny, have some rest first. I’ll call for someone to accompany you back later! Do be at ease as you recuperate. When your body is healed, have someone deliver a message and I’ll call for someone to pick you up!” Once done, Sang Wan continued to ask whether Nanny Li would like to have a rest inside the chamber.
“I’m just a servant, and should not be given such an honor!” Nanny Li smiled. Taking a few sips of the ginseng tea, she rested a little before leaving.
The storm had passed and Sang Wan could finally let out a sigh. Two days went by calmly with no one coming up to her doorsteps to give her trouble. Gu Fangzi was also busy with the household affairs, so she did not provoke Sang Wan for the time being.
With nothing to do, Sang Wan grabbed Liu Ya to sincerely improve her literacy. In the Sang house, Liu Ya had been her personal maidservant and had always stayed by her side. As such, she was able to understand a number of words. However, her library of words was still very limited. Because of the financial situation they had been in, being a sensible girl, Sang Wan also had to help out with the house chores. Only rich people had no need to do so!
Although her oldest brother had doted on her, she also had to take into account her sister-in-law’s feelings. However, since her oldest brother was very determined to not let her work in the fields, she hadn’t been able to act as if the chores in the house were none of her business. Even she herself dared not take a book out to read when there were chores to be done, so how could she even find the time to teach Liu Ya?
But all was different now. Perhaps in the future, she’d need to continue to survive together with Liu Ya, and thus, being literate would make them more sensible. And since her late father, her oldest brother, and second brother also said that studying was irrespective of gender, she took that as a fact. As such, if time permitted, she would also teach Liu Ya. And maybe in the future, Liu Ya could become a reliable assistance.
Moreover, having something to keep Liu Ya with her would also be good.
But Sang Wan was afraid. She was afraid that Liu Ya would wander off, resulting in something like the past where Liu Ya no longer belonged to her!
“Young Mistress! Young Mistress!” This day, after breakfast, Sang Wan was teaching Liu Ya to read and write in the kitchen after the dishes were cleared. Unexpectedly, a round-faced maidservant, wearing a blue upper garment with a long white skirt, dashed in. Startled, Sang Wan immediately looked at her. She was a maidservant who served at Mother-in-law Wang’s side, Xiao Que’er.
Sang Wan hurriedly questioned her.
“Young Mistress, Old Mistress Wang calls for you!” Xiao Que’er spoke hurriedly.
“Mother-in-law calls for me? Whatever for?” Sang Wan dared not neglect Wang Shi when she called for her.
Xiao Que’er shook her head, “Young Mistress will know when you reach there!”
Sang Wan nodded. Adjusting her clothes, she went to look into a bronze mirror and adjusted her hair. Turning to look at Liu Ya who had stopped writing diligently and was staring back at her, she could not help but give a small laugh and said, “Write the ten characters I taught you twenty times each. And have you memorized the literary work which I taught you yesterday? I’ll take a look and test you on it later when I get back!”
“Yes, Mistress!” Liu Ya felt depressed but went back to bury her head deep in writing.
“And as for you, come along with me!” Sang Wan smiled and turned to Zhide before instructing her.
Zhide agreed. Holding onto Sang Wan, they followed Xiao Que’er.
Halfway through the route, they came across a maidservant holding onto a young lady. The lady had a fine and slender waist, a gorgeous handkerchief in her hand, wore a skirt woven with many fine magenta lines of cotton roses, with an emerald flower hairpin on each side of her temple. Lifting her gaze, she stopped in her tracks.
This was Mi Shi’s daughter-in-law, Zhou Shi, whose husband had eloped with a famous tavern girl and never returned not long after she had been married into the family. Zhou Shi was reclusive; as such, Sang Wan had only met her a few times in her past life. But in this life, this was their first meeting after she had been married into the Shi family.
Sang Wan deliberately became startled and stopped, before giving an inquisitive glance to Zhide.
“She is the Second Shi Family’s Young Mistress!” Zhide hurriedly introduced the lady to Sang Wan. Together with Xiao Que’er, Zhide greeted Zhou Shi.
“Ah, Cousin-in-law Jingyi!” Sang Wan nodded before greeting.
“Cousin-in-law Sang Wan!” Zhou Shi returned the greeting.
Once the greeting was over, Sang Wan casually laughed and requested that their chat be conducted at a later date before hurriedly bidding farewell.
“Cousin Sang Wan is heading to where Aunt Wang is?” Zhou Shi suddenly asked.
“Yes. Mother-in-law is looking for me, so I’m heading there now!” Mother-in-law had the absolute position and authority. As such, Sang Wan could not continue to chat with Zhou Shi idly and had to hurry over.
Zhou Shi swept over Sang Wan’s appearance and her eyes seemed to darken a little, but she spoke no further and smiled. “Then I shall not occupy Cousin Sang Wan’s time. Cousin Sang Wan, please!” She left only after seeing the three off.
Through the courtyard and across the hallway, Sang Wan could hear the crisp laughter of a middle-aged woman. Sang Wan’s heart began to pound and her pace slowed down. There wasn’t a clue who the lady was, but she was laughing so arrogantly and confidently in front of Wang Shi.
A clear thought suddenly surfaced in her mind. Immediately, Sang Wan’s face turned pale and she tightly clenched the handkerchief in her hand.
If she wasn’t wrong, that lady might be Old Mistress Zhuang— she was her mother-in-law’s rival!
Although the Zhuang family did not have the title of being rich in Qingzhou, they were reputable. However, the fact remained unknown as to why Old Mistress Zhuang liked to compare with Wang Shi. Regardless of the matter, she would always stir a fight with Wang Shi, as if only by winning would she finally be at ease!
In the last few years, the battles between them had become more and more intense. In the past, they competed over whose business was better, whose sons were better, whose maidservants were more caring, who was more filial to their mother, whose garden was more beautiful, and so on. But now, it was different; they would contest even the smallest of things!
Sang Wan secretly heightened her vigilance and put her all to becoming cautious; only then did she enter. In her past life, Gu Fangzi had gone through means to ridicule her in front of Old Mistress Zhuang. Because of that, her mother-in-law was heavily ridiculed by Old Mistress Zhuang, and Sang Wan’s life in the Shi family became worse and worse. Who would have thought that she’d have to face Old Mistress Zhuang so soon!
And in this life, who knew if that Old Mistress Zhuang and Gu Fangzi would set any pitfalls for her to fall into?
“Daughter-in-law is here!” Sang Wan came forward and curtsied to Wang Shi before greeting politely.
Seeing Sang Wan, Wang Shi was taken aback, and her eyes showed a sense of unhappiness. Sang Wan immediately caught it and could not help but begin questioning herself. She had only just arrived, and only said a greeting; what did she do wrong?
“Keke, come and greet Mistress Zhuang. She is a reputable person in Qingzhou!” Wang Shi gestured intimately and introduced Old Mistress Zhuang with a smile.
In front of Old Mistress Zhuang, whatever Wang Shi was thinking deep inside her was never portrayed out. Above all, she had to showcase her intimacy with her daughter-in-law so as not to be mocked by Old Mistress Zhuang.