The white cockatoo immediately became scared and had its beak shut tight, but its eyes glared at Sang Wan with resentment. It drooped its head and lay motionlessly.
From the view of the crowd, Sang Wan seized the white cockatoo with her hands and casually handed it over to a maidservant, “Go and return it! Here!”
The group of maidservants joyfully gave their thanks before running off. The crowd had their eyes wide opened as they gaze at Sang Wan and her servant as if they were some kind of monster.
“Sister Sang Wan, Sister Sang Wan! That was awesome! Sister Sang Wan, how did you do that?” Shi Rui screamed in excitement as she looked at Sang Wan, her eyes sparkled full with admiration.
Sang Wan leaned over and pinched her tender cheek gently and smiled, “Because, Sister-in-law raised a white cockatoo before!”
“Oh!” As if overcome by a sudden realization, Shi Rui gasped and went on, “No wonder Xiao Bai listens to you and Liu Ya!”
Sang Wan smiled speechlessly and pouted, “Your large kite fell again!”
“Aiya,” Shi Rui covered her face in exasperation and scolded the maidservants for not keeping an eye on it before turning to fly the kite.
The one responsible for holding the kite spool gleefully apologized. Just then, the focus were all on the commotion, who would have the thought to mind the kite at all?
Sang Wan’s attention became rather unsettled thereafter and would occasionally drift away when having a conversation with Second Shi family’s Young Mistress. Thinking that she might be tired, Second Shi family’s Young Mistress sat for only a while longer before smiling and taking her leave. At the sight of Second Shi family’s Young Mistress leaving, Shi Lian followed and left. Eventually, the crowd scattered.
However, just before then, unnoticed by Sang Wan, was a profound gaze eyeing at her and a strange hook emerged at the edge of Gu Fangzi’s lips.
At night after Shi Fengju returned, he proceeded to ask Sang Wan jokingly, “Ai, how did you make that white cockatoo yield?”
Sang Wan understood that the excuse she gave to fool those lasses in the day would not work on Shi Fengju. Firstly, a white cockatoo was not cheap and money might not necessarily be able get one. With the Sang family’s current financial situation, getting one was impossible. Secondly, by her temperament, her reading and writing in her parental household was mostly dependent on her sister-in-law’s mood, let alone raise such a vain and delicate bird.
Sang Wan felt a little uncomfortable and cited coldly with a tone a little harsh as she stared at Shi Fengju, “How would I know? All I did was give it a little scare!”
Shi Fengju became more interested and went closer to her before asking with a smile, “That’s interesting, how did you scare it?”
Sang Wan leaned her head partially to a side and looked at Shi Fengju, “I said, if it doesn’t listen obediently, I’ll pull all of its feathers off!”
Shi Fengju became startled for a moment before laughing and pasting himself onto a nearby couch. Zhide was taken aback by the sudden noise and pushed the screen to enter but Shi Fengju waved her out. As his laughter continued, he added, “No wonder! I must say, that truly is something you would come up with! Second Uncle wasn’t able to handle it because he couldn’t even bare to say such words to it! Haha, hahaha!”
Giving a gaze at Sang Wan’s tranquil and tender face, and then thinking of her everyday kind and polite behavior, before imagining the expression she had when she spoke those words to the bird; Shi Fengju felt his laughter almost bursting out from his heart, but he held it in. In a serious tone, he shook his head and sighed, “That’s strange! To think it can actually understand! Well, many said it was smart, it seems that’s really true!”
Once he finished, the laughter in his heart burst through his mouth and he laughed non-stop.
Shi Fengju laughed until his stomach hurt. Lifting his gaze back at Sang Wan, he felt that something was not right. Her brows were somewhat pressed and her lips were lightly zipped. A feeling of gloominess could be seem in her eyes.
“Is something bothering you?” Shi Fengju’s heart suddenly sank and he hurriedly sat himself straight and asked in concern.
“Nothing!” Sang Wan tilted her head to a side and quickly dabbed her eyes lightly with her handkerchief.
“Sang Wan, did something happen?” Shi Fengju could not help but held onto her hand, “Sang Wan?”
“It’s nothing!” Sang Wan forced a smile and looked at him, “Really, it’s nothing. It’s just that I suddenly thought of something else, and even if I said it, nothing will change! Nevermind, it’s nothing, really.”
Since she refused to say, Shi Fengju insisted no more and smiled, “If it’s nothing, then that’s good. If there’s anything, just tell me and I’ll deal with it.”
Sang Wan’s heart felt somewhat disappointed after hearing him say ‘I’ll deal with it’ instead of ‘I’ll help you’. Still, compared to her previous life where him showing any concern towards her was like trying to ascend the heavens, he was already a few folds better this time around! As such, she kept that disappointment back into her heart and nodded with a smile before giving a soft “En”.
Shi Fengju thought for a bit, but laughed, “Do you like white cockatoos? If so, want me to buy you one as a gift?”
Sang Wan suddenly became angry and glared at him fiercely before the two could not help but laughed together.
After two whole days, Second Shi family’s Young Mistress suddenly sent someone to invite Sang Wan to the grove. As it was an invitation that was difficult to refuse, she left for the grove together with Hong Ye.
Second Shi family’s Young Mistress personally greeted her at the entrance and warm-heartedly led her in.
“I was a little idle so I made some pastries and asks for Sister-in-law Sang Wan to come and have a taste. If it doesn’t taste good, don’t blame me!” Second Shi family’s Young Mistress laughed.
“Why would I? Sister Jingyi’s is good with her hands!” Sang Wan giggled and she fixed her gaze at the deep-fried golden rectangular pastry that was served on a white porcelain dish. They were each about two inches long and looked very delicate and lovely. It did not take long before the rich aroma began to drift along with the steam and into her nose.
Second Shi family’s Young Mistress smiled and invited Sang Wan to have a taste. Sang Wan skillfully used the small chopstick that was in a small silver pouch beside the pastry and had a taste of the pastry before nodding her head with praise, “The outside is crisp and tender, sweet but not too greasy. Amidst that sweetness is also a little bit of sourness. But what’s best of this would be how the fire was controlled just right so that there’s no charred taste. This deep-fried milk custard truly is flavorsome!”
Deep-fried milk custard uses fresh milk that is curdled into cheese. The cheese is carefully cut into smaller pieces before being bathed in flour to form a thin layer covering the cheese. Once done, the cheese is then deep fried until golden brown. Cheese is a staple for the grassland people but is rarely seen eaten by people from the South.
Without even thinking, Sang Wan recognized it.
Second Shi family’s Young Mistress was surprised and she laughed, “It seems Sister Sang Wan has eaten this before! There I thought I was the only one who knew of this and wanted to show off a little!”
Sang Wan shook her head and laughed, “I’ve only seen them in books, but I’ve never eaten them before! Sister Jingyi truly is good with her hands!”
Second Shi family’s Young Mistress giggled, “Sister Sang Wan’s feedback is right on point, truly from a literary household. What’s more, I heard that Sister Sang Wan’s culinary skills are also very good; Sister Sang Wan, when will you let me have a taste of it to broaden my vision?”
Sang Wan did not reject with an excuse but smiled and nodded, “If it doesn’t meet your expectations, you mustn’t laugh!” Before marriage, she had learned many main course recipes, making pastries, and cooking porridge and soup. As for those sort of pastries which she saw in the collection of books she had, she had secretly tried making them herself and their end results were not too bad.
“Why would it not? I would even want Sister Sang Wan to give me some cooking lessons!” Second Shi family’s Young Mistress spoke. The two looked at each other and smiled.
After sitting for a while longer, Sang Wan then took her leave. Second Shi family’s Young Mistress followed her before seeing her off at the gate where they both said their goodbyes.
“Second Young Mistress, why didn’t you raise it up?” Gazing at the back of Sang Wan and her servant as they left, Su Qing softly asked.
Second Young Mistress sighed shook her head, “I just couldn’t! Tell me, how should I even put those to words!”
Second Young Mistress could not help but feel a little sympathetic towards Sang Wan. Such a calm and smart, gentle and generous person; why doesn’t her husband like her? That Gu Fangzi is unkind and sarcastic, and greasy to all, who deserves no consideration for her words!
“But Second Young Mistress, how are you going to explain to Second Old Mistress?” Su Qing could not help but worry.
Second Young Mistress sneered, “I won’t!” If that lady herself did not have the face to do it and push that task onto her shoulders, did she think she was so foolish? In any case, this household felt nothing like home which even she did not wish to stay!
Back in Ning Garden1Ning GardenSang Wan & Shi Fengju's place of residence, Nanny Li heard that Sang Wan had returned after meeting with Second Shi family’s Young Mistress. She knit her brows and went to find an opportunity to speak with Sang Wan when no one was around, “Young Mistress, I’d advise you to meet with Second Young Mistress less frequently; largely because Old Mistress finds her ominous!”
“Ominous?” Sang Wan asked in surprise.
“Yes,” Nanny Li nodded and continued, “Old Mistress felt that since Second Young Mistress was unable to hold onto Second Young Master, who ran away from home the moment she entered the household, she was seen as an ominous person. Young Mistress, if you’re idle, it’d be best to interact less with her!”
How could she have been blamed? Sure enough, one’s son is always right and the wrong is always on others!
Sang Wan heart was in disapproval and deeply rejected the advice. However, she knew that Nanny Li said so with good intentions and thus nodded, “I understand. In the future, I’ll try to interact less frequently with her. Oh, one more thing, Nanny, there’s something I’d like to ask for your opinion, but I’m afraid that——”
Nanny Li laughed, “Young Mistress, there’s no need to see me as a stranger. If you’ve something to ask, just bring it out! Being able to share part of Young Mistress’s worry is a blessing to this old servant. If not, we can also come up with a solution!”
“Nanny’s right!” Sang Wan smiled and the color on her face returned, “Today, when I went to visit Sister Jingyi, I had this feeling that she seemed to have something to tell me. But since she did not say anything, I did not ask. However, my heart——”
Before Sang Wan was able to finish, Nanny Li clapped her hands and interrupted, “If I may! Second Young Mistress would usually never go about interacting with others. If she had invited you over, then it seems there must be something! Young Mistress, don’t take things too hastily; this old servant will have someone inquire about it!”
“Then, I’ll leave it to Nanny Li!” Sang Wan suddenly felt at ease. With Nanny Li’s position in the household and her seniority, inquiring about matters was an easy task for her.
Nanny Li was no doubt truly quick and efficient in her task. On the same night, she was back with the news.
“This matter is truly difficult to put into words!” Nanny Li’s face was ashen yet angry. “Second Old Master, from God knows where, had heard of the incident between Liu Ya and the white cockatoo. As such, he asked for Second Old Mistress to have Young Mistress hand Liu Ya over to him! He also said that Liu Ya would definitely be treated well, and for Young Mistress’s well-being, she shall become his concubine the moment she goes there! But because Second Old Mistress did not have the face to ask Young Mistress, she had Second Young Mistress do it instead! Today, Second Young Mistress asked you over was to discuss this matter! However, she too found it inappropriate to ask and thus did not say anything!”
Hearing so, Sang Wan felt as if her whole body had fallen into a hole during winter; cold and stiff.
At last, what she had tried to prevent still came!
She still remembered the incident that had happened in her past life. On a day when Second Old Master was drunk in the flower garden, he forcefully preyed on Liu Ya who was just passing by. After that, Liu Ya could not stop crying. However, what was done was already done and she had to stay by Second Old Master’s side.
But to Second Old Master, Liu Ya was nothing but just a temporary plaything. Had he ever truly fancied her?
As an uncle who forced himself upon a servant of his nephew’s wife was not a glorious thing to do. Second Old Mistress could not let things be and poured dirty water all over Liu Ya and saying that she was shameless for seducing her husband. She even brought that anger up to Sang Wan, complaining to her about how she never disciplined her own servant. As a result, Sang Wan received a long lesson from her mother-in-law and kneeled for a whole night, and as for her punishment, she was confined for three whole months in her chamber.