She really was a good woman, in fact, it was not just her appearance.
“The way you’re dressed up, you look really good.” Shi Fengju smiled and complimented.
Sang Wan slightly looked up to see his expression on his face, no doubt it was like a light breeze under the clear moon, and her heart became somewhat disappointed. She wasn’t even a flower vase or a drawing! She thought quietly to herself.
But the way he was looking at her made her feel that way.
“Is that so?” Sang Wan spoke plainly.
“You, don’t get angry because of it; I didn’t have any other meanings behind that! I’m truly speaking from the bottom of my heart,” Shi Fengju sensed that she was slightly unhappy and felt that it was because of his abruptness and quickly added, “Yes yes, it was a praise, a praise!”
A wave of malice swept over Sang Wan and she spoke to him angrily, “More than your cousin?”
Shi Fengju was suddenly taken aback and was slightly confused as to what she meant.
Sang Wan immediately felt regretful for those words as they sounded much like jealousy and laughed to break the atmosphere, “I think my oldest brother and sister-in-law should be arriving anytime soon. Sorry to trouble Lord to entertain them on their arrival!”
“No need to say that, we’re a family!” Shi Fengju cited all of a sudden. Family? Shi Fengju was surprised by his own choice of words. Thinking that in a year or so, a family would soon become strangers, there was a strange feeling in his heart.
Looking up at Sang Wan, he saw that her head accessory near a side of her temple was slightly tilted and he moved closer to her before reaching his hand out.
“You——what are you doing?” Sang Wan’s body stiffened. She should have avoided his hand and shun to a side, however, she was unsure why she did not but instead remained seated without making any movements; maybe just her lower jaw moving a little.
“Your head ornament is a little slanted.” Shi Fengju said while gently helping her raise it a little.
The two were very close; so close that they could feel each other’s breathing. Their breathing went by turns as if they could hear each other’s heart beating.
The faint fragrance gradually traveled into Shi Fengju’s nose and he became lost in thought. His eyes drooped a little to look at the slightly spread lips that were cute. It was radiating a soft glow of attractiveness which replayed the scene of the surprisingly good kiss during the accident which they had. Shi Fengju could not help but force a lump down his throat.
Suddenly, his mind thought of Gu Fangzi which took him by surprise and he quickly backed away to his seat. Giving a light cough, he got up and smiled, “I——I’ll go and check if they’re here!” With that, he left hurriedly.
Just what was wrong with him!
Sang Wan might have sensed it herself as her eyes suddenly dimmed a little. She could not help but raised her hands to feel her cheeks which were burning hot.
In a rush for time, Sang Hong and his family arrived at Qingzhou City in a carriage a little past afternoon.
Looking out from the carriage, there were shops everywhere with shouts to promote their goods and the city was bustling with people as they squeezed their way forward.
“Qingzhou truly is a huge city. What a lively place this is!” Fang Shi could not help but lament before letting her two children gaze out from the carriage window.
“Of course! This place is a passage between the north and the south where merchants gather here and cross flow of goods are conducted here. It’d be amazing if this place isn’t bustling with people!” Sang Hong followed and lamented too.
“Master Sang, where should we head to?” Parking itself at a secluded corner, the coachman turned and asked.
“Oh, to the Shi household.” Sang Hong quickly answered.
“The Shi household? Which Shi household?” The coachman spoke a little impatiently. There were countless number of people under the sky surnamed Shi, so how could they answer with just that? The Sang family seemed sensible enough to not have responded so foolishly!
However, that was not the case because Sang Hong felt that since the Shi family had such a huge influence in Qingzhou, telling the coachman just that would have been enough. Before hiring the carriage, he had already understood that the coachman ran his business between the town and Qingzhou and thus concluded that he should be extremely familiar with the city.
But because of how commonly the family was dressed, the coachman had never thought that the Shi family they were actually visiting was the Shi family famed to be the richest in Qingzhou.
As such, Sang Hong conveniently responded, “That is the richest Shi family in Qingzhou, the one located somewhere around the Qingxi Avenue…”
“You want to go to the house of the Shi family’s household, the one richest in Qingzhou?” The coachman’s eyes widened.
“Yes,” Sang Hong nodded embarrassedly with a smile.
“Oh, I understand then!” The coachman nodded. They might be relatives of one of the Shi household’s servants, and so the carriage continued on its route without a word.
The coachman drove the carriage away from the bustling area and turned into a quiet path which led to the Qingxi Avenue. Upon reaching the end, the carriage took another turn and followed the pebbled ground before arriving in front of a towering gate where on each side, left and right, sat two stone lions. The carriage halted and Sang Hong, together with Fang Shi, carried the children and the gifts down.
Looking at the broad gate and the mighty lions at the sides, the forest of pagoda trees, and the two large eaves doors with carvings; the sight in itself revealed an infinite amount of wealth. The doors were wide opened which exposed a giant marble carving surrounded by luxuriant trees and flowers. With a hand holding onto their children, the Sang family took their steps through the gate.
“The Shi family truly is the richest in Qingzhou. Just look at all these around us! No joke at all! That gate there, it may even be bigger than our house!” Fang Shi could not help but pulled on her skirt as she whispered softly.
That usual boldness and straightforwardness, upon seeing the wealth of the Shi family, was immediately kept within her and she became somewhat timid.
“Of course!” Sang Hong also gave a sigh. He could not help but think, with such a huge difference between the Sang and Shi family, how would Ah Wan’s life here be like; and also how was she usually treated like in here? Others claimed that the Sang family was trying to climb a branch higher than they could reach and would look at them with envy, but had anyone ever thought of the difficulties his younger sister had to face?
Sang Hong arranged his clothes neatly and gave a glance at Fang Shi before instructing his two children to hold each other’s hands while he and Fang Shi carried the gifts. With that, they proceeded forward.
“Little brother, sorry to trouble you——” Sang Hong held his hands together and bowed as he asked politely.
However, before he could finish, the person interrupted, “Are you here to visit a relative?”
“I got it! I got it! Please follow me!” The person waved his hand and gestured the family in.
“Hey, that——” Fang Shi found it a little odd and asked, “You——”
“Please go in quickly! If you’ve anything to say, please do it inside!” The person did not let Fang Shi finish and urged them in impatiently.
“Alright, alright, we’ll talk when we’re inside!” Sang Hong signalled to his wife to stop and enter first.
Fang Shi rolled her eyes at the person before following in.
The person’s back was bent a little as he guided Sang Hong and his family, and they walked for a long while. Upon arriving at a secluded hall, he finally spoke, “Please, wait around here! I’ll go and inform someone. This is part of the regulations here, so please wait for me here and do not go looking around on your own; if something were to be knocked off when it should not have, then things would become more troublesome! Today is the Double Fifth Festival, so there were a large number of relatives and friends coming and going!”
Once the person finished, he vanished like the smoke.
“Hey, do you know who we are before you go about informing someone? Who are you going to notify! You, hey!” However, Fang Shi was too late when she shouted.
“Forget it, we’ll just wait here!” Sang Hong spoke helplessly.
“Just what is going on with them? Just what do the Shi family think they’re doing? Ah? What is the meaning of this! Is this how they treat their guests? If they truly look down so much on our Sang family, then they shouldn’t have welcomed our Sang Wan into their family!” Fang Shi scolded. Seeing her two children playing around the chairs and tables curiously, her face sunk and sighed as she settled the two down.
“Fengju isn’t someone like that; don’t jump to conclusions! If someone were to hear, it will definitely throw Sang Wan’s face away!” Sang Hong urged at his wife.
Hearing that, Fang Shi became even more furious and cursed, “Now what’s the matter with our Sang Wang? She should have known that we’ll be coming today, so how could she not have someone more sensible to invite us in? Or does she also hate her Sang family now?”
“There you go again! Why would our Sang Wan ever do that? What’s more, the Shi family still has an elder around, so it won’t come down to our Sang Wan to manage the house. Do you really have that little faith in her?”
“Hmph!” Fang Shi sneered, “It’s not that I don’t have faith! But don’t tell me you can’t sense it! Just look at that servant just now, his face and expression! Hmph!”
Sang Hong sighed to himself but gave a gentle laugh, “Enough, don’t be angry anymore! The same type of rice can feed all sorts of people; for a huge household like this, they’re bound to have a few wicked servants. We’re here to see Sang Wan, not here to bicker with them! Let’s just wait for a while longer, a while longer. If Sang Wan waited for too long and still does not see us, she’ll definitely send someone to look for us.”
Fang Shi sneered, “Fine, then I’ll wait! But let’s see how long we’ve to wait in this place!”
Fang Shi was fuming with anger. If not for her knowing Sang Wan’s character and having a good impression of Shi Fengju after the first meeting, her anger might have already broken out of the container.
Fang Shi’s face gradually became darker and darker, and the fumes gathering in her stomach churned; ready to erupt anytime soon.
The two siblings, Sang Quan and Sang Nuan, were feeling hungry and their stomach was growling loudly, but they did not dare to provoke their mother who was not looking very well. The two stuck themselves into Sang Hong’s arms, crying that they were hungry but there was nothing he could do but coax them softly.
Sang Wan reckoned that they would be arriving soon and had already brought Nanny Li, Liu Ya, and the rest to wait at the Second Gate. But after a long while, there was no sight of them. And so, she sent for someone to seek for them, but there was still no news of their whereabouts.
After a while, Shi Fengju came in again and spoke, “I’ve sent someone to the entrance of the lane to keep a lookout. Relax, when they arrive, we’ll surely know. Don’t worry anymore, why don’t you return first?”
Sang Wan was slightly anxious and shook her head, “I’ll wait right here! I’m sure they’ll be arriving anytime soon!”
After two quarters of an hour, there was still no sign of them. And so, Zhide sent for someone to lay a brocade mat in the Jade Flower Hall that was not too far away and requested for Sang Wan to rest over there as she waited.
“Did something happen to my oldest brother and sister-in-law while on the route here?” Sang Wan had someone call Shi Fengju over and she voiced her worry.
Shi Fengju then sent Zhan Huan to ride on a horse out of the city to take a look before comforting Sang Wan, “Don’t worry! The route from Yangliu Town to the city here will always have people coming and going. If something did happen to them, there’ll definitely be news about it!” He decided not to leave and stay in the Jade Flower Hall to accompany her.
There, they waited anxiously. However, what they did not know was that at wherever Fang Shi was, she had already eaten an explosive medicine and was ready to explode anytime soon!
“Oh my, you must all have been waiting for long. Come, come, come, stuff yourselves with some food first! How pitiful! Whose servant’s relative do you all belong to? It truly is insensible to have thrown the lot of you here for so long!” A woman wearing red clothes made from coarse cloth carried a tray in and spoke with sympathy.
On the tray had two pastries which released an aroma into the air.
The two sibling’s eyes immediately lit up as the aroma slowly drifted into their nose. Their two small faces showed a hungry expression and they cheered as they ran towards the woman. “It smells so good! It smells so good!”