And even if anything was said, the severity would definitely be lessened.
Gu Fangzi was not reborn, so she was unlike Sang Wan who was always on her guard and treads carefully. She gave a quick nod to show her answer before rushing off hurriedly.
Hearing that Gu Fangzi had left, Nanny Li came out from the small kitchen and gave a deep sigh before speaking, “Young Mistress, you truly are too big-hearted! That lady is shrewd! You ah!” As she spoke, she shook her head and sighed again.
Of course Sang Wan knew, but there were words that Nanny Li could say but she could not. Smiling, she responded, “Nanny Li, you’re thinking too much. As a relative, I’m just doing this out of courtesy!”
Nanny Li acknowledged, “That is also good. But it’s just that there are some who do not understand the word ‘courtesy’ and only knows how to be unreasonable! Young Mistress, you are Young Master’s wife, you’ve got to make sure that everyone remembers that!”
To have everyone remember, to have them ingrain it in their hearts, it isn’t easy. But hearing those words from Nanny Li, she felt a sudden burst of warmth enveloped her heart and she nodded gently with a smile.
In a blink of an eye, two days went by. Watching the sun slowly rise, the day gradually brightened and the birds began chirping. Sang Wan instructed a few servants to ready some chairs and tables beneath the shade of a large pagoda tree in the costus orchard. The furniture was surrounded by paper screens embroidered with images of twigs, flowers, and grass; and the ground was spread with a large red carpet. She then lay down another set of instructions for the different colored fruit pastries to be readied and the small mud furnace to be started for the water to boil before making the tea. Once the instructions were given, the maidservants completed them systematically.
While strolling with Cousin Fangzi and two other sisters to the garden, Sang Wan suddenly remembered Second Shi family’s Young Mistress, Zhou Jingyi. It would not be too thoughtful of her for missing her out, and thus she instructed a servant to invite her to see if she would come.
Unexpectedly, Second Shi family’s Young Mistress accepted with no sign of hesitation and left together with two servant girls, Su Qing and Su Bi.
When Second Shi family’s Young Mistress arrived, Sang Wan, Gu Fangzi, Shi Lian, and Shi Rui were already there. Sang Wan and Gu Fangzi were chatting while having a hot cup of tea; Shi Lian was at a side admiring the blooming peony flowers, but with the pink robe she was wearing, she looked extremely beautiful; there was also Shi Rui who pulled the maidservants in to fly the kite with her on a patch of grass. The sound of laughter could be heard from afar as Shi Rui played together with the maidservants.
“I’m here, and it sure is lively!” Second Shi family’s Young Mistress grinned and she approached the group before gently waving the fan in her hand as she lowered her head to greet. “Sister-in-law Sang Wan, Cousin-in-law Fangzi!”
Sang Wan and Gu Fangzi rose from their seats. Sang Wan was the host and Gu Fangzi’s position in the household was not small, thus the two stood to greet.
Tea was already served, and the three went to get seated once the greeting was over.
“I should have visited Sister Sang Wan first, but to think that Sister Sang Wan would be the first to initiate it!” Second Shi family’s Young Mistress took a sip from the cup and smiled before speaking.
Face shaped like a melon seed, eyes bright and lively, and her skin fair and smooth. The moment she opened her mouth to speak, her cheeks summoned a slight dimple and her brows revealed a sense of gentleness and generosity. On a whole, she looked extremely delicate.
“Not at all. We’re a family so there’s no need to draw such a distinct line.” Sang Wan hooked the edges of her lips to show a smile.
Gu Fangzi gazed at the two people and laughed, “My two cousin-in-laws sure are dignified and polite, gentle and generous. Before, my thoughts were that the both of you were similar, but now upon seeing so, the both of you truly are!”
Sang Wan and Second Shi family’s Young Mistress looked at each other and smiled before laughing out in unison, “Cousin Fangzi sure speaks well!”
Gu Fangzi smiled, but her heart actually looked down on how pitiful Second Shi family’s Young Mistress was. To have married to an insensible husband, she was destined to never be able to lift her head up! All that because she was incapable; if it were her, Gu Fangzi, so what if his heart had someone else? All that matters was to snatch him back! However, that current person had no such capabilities, and thus deserves to live the rest of her life as a widow under the rage of her mother-in-law.
Sang Wan and her were the same, and so should their fate!
“Anyhow, I’ll go fly a kite with Fifth Sister and I shall not disturb my two dear cousin-in-laws! On such a day, flying kites is truly the best! Cousin Sang Wan truly knows how to pick a right date!” Even though Gu Fangzi looked down on Second Shi family’s Young Mistress, her heart despised Sang Wan even more; she simply wanted to be away from them.
Sang Wan and Second Shi family’s Young Mistress nodded and watched as Gu Fangzi left.
“Those roses seem to have bloomed pretty well. Sister Sang Wan, lets not sit here any longer and take a stroll over there, shall we?” After no more than two sentences, Second Shi family’s Young Mistress smiled and suggested.
“That would be good too!” Sang Wan smiled gently. The two got up from the seats and strolled over to the roses as they chatted.
With just a facial expression, the maidservants following behind took their leave.
Sang Wan’s heart began to beat loudly with a believe that Second Shi family’s Young Mistress had something to speak to her in private. On the surface, she spoke leisurely but her heart was discreetly urged to be alert.
However, Shi family’s Young Mistress seemed to be only admiring the flowers. Other than her pointing and explaining the roses ahead, no other topics were raised.
Moreover, she was very knowledgeable in the topic she was on. Speaking at the end of her fingertips, she explained that there were about ten varieties of roses among the patch of roses with some which looked very alike. Casually, she added how some of them bloomed well, pointed out those varieties that should not be planted the way they were, which roses needed pruning to make their color more distinct, which colored rose should compliment each other, and such. Listening enthusiastically, Sang Wan was simply amazed and her horizons were broadened.
“Sister Jingyi clearly is intelligent and good natured that is hard to come by!” Sang Wan could not help but exclaimed.
Second Shi family’s Young Mistress covered her mouth and giggled lightly before speaking humbly, “Sister Sang Wan’s praise is too much! That was nothing but what I do when I’m idle and wishes for time to pass me by blindly!”
Second Shi family’s Young Mistress’s eyes darkened a little and a sense of loneliness flashed past her which did not escape Sang Wan’s eyes. Sang Wan’s heart softened for the situation they were in were similar: having to marry to a husband who’s madly in love with another woman.
However, from what Sang Wan saw, Second Shi family’s Young Mistress was way more fortunate compared to her. Even though Shi Fengming had eloped with the tavern girl, a tavern girl was still a tavern girl and Shi Fengming would sooner or later return home. Although Second Shi family’s Young Mistress looked lonely, there was still hope for her!
But as for her? Her husband’s love of his life was just right in front of him. She held a position and their love was mutual. Not speaking for the distant future, but as to what would happen after a year, she dared not think about it.
“To have observed so detailedly, I’m sure you’ve put in the effort and heart to it. If you didn’t like it, then why the effort, no? Having a hobby to pass the time is nothing but a good thing! And it’s good to see that Sister Jingyi is an open-minded person!” Sang Wan laughed.
“You flatter me,” Second Shi family’s Young Mistress laughed embarrassedly but smiled and continued, “Sister Sang Wan, if you would like, I can come over to have a chat with you whenever you’re idle in the future. How about it?”
“That’d be great! I wouldn’t dare wish for anything else!” Sang Wan smiled and her eyes met with Second Shi family’s Young Mistress.
As their gaze connect, the bond between sister-in-laws formed. However, a burst of noise could be heard from not far away which sounded very excited, especially the ear-piercing shrieks from that lass, Shi Rui, that might even pierce the heavens!
“What’s wrong?” Second Shi family’s Young Mistress became startled.
“Let’s head over there quickly and see!” Sang Wan quickly responded.
The two hurried over. Seeing them, the maidservants made way for them and their expressions quickly dampened.
“Sister Sang Wan, Sister Jingyi, come and see, come and see!” Shi Rui’s eyes sparkled as she pointed her little finger to a white cockatoo that sat obediently on Liu Ya’s hand before shrieking again in excitement, “Liu Ya’s so impressive! That cockatoo is father’s new precious. It’s very vicious that even father wasn’t able to tame it! To think that Liu Ya is able to do it instead!”
Second Shi family’s Young Mistress was bewildered and could not help but laugh, “That truly is!”
Sang Wan quickly land her gaze on the cockatoo. A cockatoo covered with feathers as white as snow; has a pointed beak; claws colored red like fresh blood; and two black glaze-like eyes. It had its head held high with great arrogance but sat obediently on Liu Ya’s hand as she gently fondled its feathers.
An explanation from Second Shi family’s Young Mistress came from the side of her ear, “Sister
Sang Wan, you may not know but this white cockatoo was recently gotten by my father-in-law. I heard that this white cockatoo is very difficult to get hold of and costs almost more than three hundred silvers! Although its nice to look at, it’s also very clever; whatever it sees, it learns! But because it is too clever, it doesn’t give in to treats and listens to no one. Yesterday, it even pecked my father-in-law’s hand! However, I’m not sure how it actually got here!”
Sang Wan’s mind was suddenly hit with a burst of dizziness and her legs almost gave in. Her heart felt an ominous premonition and stared at Liu Ya, “Why are you still holding onto that for? Zhide, send it back to Second Uncle!”
“Yes, Young Mistress” Liu Ya complied and moved the hand, with the cockatoo sitting on it, closer to Zhide.
The cockatoo unexpectedly flapped its wings angrily at Zhide and screamed, “Go away! Go away! Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me!” Amused, the crowd burst into laughter.
Liu Ya hurriedly made some chirping sounds with her mouth and her other hand gently stroked the cockatoo’s feathers. Only then did it calm down.
“Young Mistress, why don’t this servant send it back to Second Old Master!” Liu Ya smiled.
Already, Shi Rui was overcome with curiosity and asked, “Liu Ya, Liu Ya, why does the cockatoo only listens to you? How did you do it?”
Liu Ya smiled contentedly. She was born a hunter, and taming birds was a trait she had!
Just before Liu Ya could open her mouth to speak, Sang Wan coldly spoke ahead of her, “She, was just lucky. What does she know! Alright, send it back with Zhide! Go!”
Even though Liu Ya did not know why her master did not allow her to speak of her background, she knew that she would never do anything to harm her. As such, she zipped her lips tightly and accompanied Zhide to leave.
The two were not able to walk a distance before the call of a few servants could be heard. “Xiao Bai! Xiao Bai!”, “Xiao Bai, where are you?” They were definitely servants sent by Second Uncle Shi to find and retrieve the white cockatoo.
“Xiao Bai’s here! Xiao Bai’s here!” Shi Rui waved and projected her voice.
The few maidservants heard her and quickly ran over. Seeing the white cockatoo sitting obediently on Liu Ya’s hand, they all became startled.
After confirming the situation, Sang Wan instructed Liu Ya to hand the white cockatoo over to the group of maidservants. However, just like what happened with Zhide, the group of maidservants were unable to touch Xiao Bai. The few maidservants looked at each other and requested for Liu Ya to be the one to send it back.
Sang Wan eventually changed her mind and remained silent.
The crowd felt that something was strange but Gu Fangzi laughed it off and smiled, “Cousin Sang Wan, why don’t you just let Liu Ya go? Second Uncle Shi sees that cockatoo as his precious. If Liu Ya were to send it over, I’m sure she’ll be rewarded very generously!”
“Then that’s even more so to not let her go!” For the first time, Sang Wan was opposed to Gu Fangzi’s idea in front of a crowd. Her gaze quickly swept back to the few maidservants and she smiled, “It must’ve been hard on my few dear sisters, but I feel that the group of you should be the ones to return it!”
Having said, Sang Wan approached the cockatoo and personally took it with her hands.
The white cockatoo became furious and was about to shriek, but Sang Wan fiercely glared at it and leaned her face closer before threatening it under her breath, “Keep your beak shut! If you scream again, I’ll pull all your feathers off!”