Sang Hong was at a loss for words but exclaimed after a moment, “What you said does make sense! But this is the Shi family’s problem, us getting involved may not be good for Sang Wan!”
“It isn’t because I like to get myself involved, alright!” Fang Shi sneered, “It’s nothing but a reminder for Sang Wan only! Let me ask you, if the Shi family were to bully our Sang Wan in the future, will you care or not care?”
“Of course I’ll care!” Sang Hong’s face turned hard as steel as he went on, “She’s my younger sister! Still, Brother-in-law Fengju’s not too bad of a person, he’ll definitely not let her suffer!”
Fang Shi sneered again and spoke sadly, “That’s difficult to say!”
Sang Hong could not help but stare at her strangely, “I say, why does your words sound so ambiguous? Is there something you’re not telling me?”
“Not for now! And maybe not in the future too!” Fang Shi rolled her eyes at him.
A woman’s intuition is very sensitive, and what’s more, Fang Shi was not foolish. Recalling the words from Liu Ya and Sang Wan last night, and what she could gather from yesterday’s dinner table about Gu Fangzi, even though she could not inquire from the Shi family’s maidservants, Fang Shi’s heart nevertheless had some faint suspicions. Only, Sang Wan refused to tell her and that she could not pursue the matter since she was her sister-in-law and not her mother! Moreover, the Shi family did not do anything over the line so she was not foolish enough to let out the secret which may cause others to push the boat along with the current.
“Ai, ” Sang Hong could not help but laugh, “Why do you have to sound so mysterious! Why? Have you been learning meditation?”
Fang Shi snorted and glared at him, “I have, so what?”
Sang Hong laughed and shook his head, ignoring her.
“You just keep laughing! Later when we meet up with Second Aunt and Second Uncle, I’ll see how you can keep that up!” Fang Shi casually said.
Sure enough, Sang Hong’s face stiffened immediately and he started stroking his forehead.
Besides, Second Old Master Sang and Li Shi were left waiting anxiously in the dark for Sang Hong and Fang Shi who did not arrive. The two could not help but become furious and could not stop cursing the young couple for not having any conscience and having a bad heart for they were sure that those two must have abandoned the family of three here.
Reluctantly, they had to spend the night on a farm.
The next day when the sun first rose, the two, along with Sang Yan, eagerly left. They were in a hurry to return home to scold Sang Hong and Fang Shi, and also see how much of the gifts were brought back and whether any was swallowed away from them greedily.
Reasoning with each other, the two hitched a ride on an ox cart as it wobbled back in the direction of the town. The thought of having to use her own money for the travel fee, her heart ached and she once again wished to scold Sang Hong and Fang Shi more severely.
And because of that, when Sang Hong and Fang Shi called for the carriage to be pulled to a side for it to pick those people up, they were told that those three had already left. The two gazed at each other and smiled bitterly; certain that the old couple had misunderstood.
The ox cart wobbled slowly. Second Old Master Sang and Li Shi were anxious to a point where they would rather walk than remain in the cart. When they were soon to arrive at Yangliu Town, the carriage, which Sang Hong and his family were in, finally caught up with them. Sang Hong immediately stopped the carriage before waving and calling out, “Second Uncle! Second Aunt!”
Stunned, Second Old Master Sang and Li Shi had their eyes wide open.
“Why – why are all of you here!” Li Shi grunted and jumped off the cart before rushing madly at Sang Hong with a finger pointed straight at him.
“Outrageous!” Second Old Master Sang caught up and sneered, “You all sure took your time and made us wait!”
“I know right! If you were to spend the night, why not send a carriage to pick us up!” Li Shi glared.
Sang Hong could not say that the original plan was to deliberately abandon them, so all he could do was force a laugh and say some soothing words.
“If I may ask, Second Uncle and Second Aunt, have you all had lunch yet? Are your tummies hungry?” Fang Shi asked with a smile.
At this moment, Second Old Master Sang and Li Shi suddenly felt the hunger rising up to their head and they could not help but swallow a mouthful of saliva in unison.
“You still have the cheek to ask!” Second Old Master Sang grunted, “We haven’t even had breakfast, all because of you all! Quickly, we’ll eat in town before going back!”
Second Old Master Sang folded his sleeves before climbing into the carriage. Li Shi pushed Sang Yan in before going in herself.
Second Old Master Sang, with anger rolling in his stomach, entered the town’s best restaurant and ordered a large table’s worth of good food before feeling much better.
After eating and drinking well, the old couple’s anger disappeared almost completely.
Li Shi then asked a waiter to pack the remaining dishes into a bag before her face finally revealed a smile.
After raising enough of their spirit, the two kept asking about what had happened in the Shi family while on the way back. Once they arrived, the two kept staring at the gifts as Sang Hong and Fang Shi took out the gifts they had received from the Shi family.
“Just all these?” Second Old Master Sang and Li Shi could not believe their eyes.
“The list’s here.” Fang Shi spoke no more and bluntly handed the list in the red envelope over.
Second Old Master Sang received it miserably before opening it up to compare. Seeing that was no difference, he became a little disappointed and asked, “Then, is there any extra silvers from Sang Wan?”
Only gold and silver was Second Old Master Sang interested in.
“According to the custom, shouldn’t this be all? The Shi family’s money doesn’t belong to our Sang Wan, and there’s no way for our Sang Wan to have given us any.” Fang Shi stated plainly.
Second Old Master Sang grunted but declined to comment. The two old couple were still somewhat dubious but there was no way of searching Sang Hong and Fang Shi’s body.
Li Shi glanced at Sang Nuan and Sang Quan, and her heart wondered when would be a good opportunity to open their lips. Children are much easier to pry. Hmph, it’s not because she wanted to do so, but otherwise, they might be taken advantage of!
“Erm, you all got to go to the Shi family while we didn’t. So it’s reasonable to say that these items are ours! But, we’re not so unreasonable, so how about this: we’ll take everything else other than these four boxes of stuffed rice dumplings!” As Li Shi spoke, she tucked the brocades in her armpits, a pouch hooked to her arm, a tea tin pressed in her arm, a hand holding two chicken, and the other holding two fish before pouting at Second Old Master Sang, “Dear, go carry those wine! I mean, the man of the house here doesn’t drink wine, right?”
Sang Hong and Fang Shi looked at each other blankly. Fang Shi’s face exposed a slight change eventually but Sang Hong quickly tugged her a little before giving a light nod and laughed, “Second Uncle, Second Aunt, take all that you want, just take them!”
“Ai, that’s what I’d like to hear!” Li Shi spoke in satisfaction. In total, the two took two trips back and forth to carry the gifts away.
On the second trip, Li Shi glanced at the four boxes of rice dumplings and said casually, “I wonder how the Shi family’s dumplings taste like, I’ll take one!” As she said, she tore the seal and picked out eight, “I won’t take much, just two for each of us.”
Fang Shi just stood and sneered without comment.
Seeing that Fang Shi had no objection, Li Shi could not help but regret not taking a few more. However, after some hesitation, she did not dare to reach out for more and left with a smile.
Sang Rou was secretly happy after hearing that her parents and younger sister did not manage to go to Qingzhou. Her mouth hung a faint smile as she watched her parents move the gifts into the house.
Watching the pair of greedy eyes, Li Shi’s anger gradually sipped from her heart and she cursed at Sang Rou, “See, see, see, see what see! Your father’s stomach still isn’t feeling well, yet here you are still standing there and not boiling some tea leaves for your father when you’ve got nothing to do at home! Go and boil some tea leaves, still see what see! I’ve raised you in vain!”
Second Old Master Sang began to reflect on yesterday. His youngest daughter would rather stay with him and take care of him than go to Qingzhou, she even went as far as getting scolded by her mother and crying. But compared to his eldest daughter whose sight was only at the goods, he could not help but make a comparison. For not caring for her own father, his face turned cold and he exclaimed, “What are you standing there for! Go and do it now!”
Sang Rou nibbled her lips and gave a shrug before stomping off.
“Oh, would you look at that. Just say a few words to her and she becomes angry already! Her temper must’ve grown with her age! Maybe two years in the future, she might even start to argue with me!” Li Shi spoke with an odd tone.
“Hmph! No matter what, she’s still my daughter! But regardless, if she dares to throw her temper, I’ll be sure to break her legs!” Second Old Master Sang spoke with a darkened face.
Furious, Sang Rou’s body trembled as she hunted for breath. Her lips cursed silently as she went to light up the stove. Resting the kettle on the flames, she scooped some water and poured it in before spitting a mouthful of saliva inside. “Peng”, she closed the lid tightly and cursed under her breath, “Drink, drink, drink! I wish all of you would drink until you die!”
Shi Fengju found Gu Fangzi and asked calmly, “Yesterday’s incident, you were the one, weren’t you?”
“What incident?” Gu Fangzi’s smile immediately collapsed.
“The one when the Sang family came to pay their visit. Why did you instruct the servants to bring them to the waiting room meant for the servants? Why did no one report to me of their arrival?”
Gu Fangzi sneered, “Is Big Cousin here to seek out the culprit? If not for Cousin Sang Wan, I’m sure Big Cousin will not even think of coming to me, right?”
“Was it you who did it?”
“Nope!” Gu Fangzi whirred, “Who said it was me? Was it Cousin Sang Wan? Just what did she say in front of you again? Evidence before words, if she’s skillful enough, have her come face me in a confrontation instead! What use is there to talk behind other people’s back!”
“Fang’er!” Shi Fengju’s expression sunk. Looking at the pretty face which revealed a hideous expression, he could only let himself enter a trance for a moment: Is this woman truly the one he loved? His childhood cousin?
“I’m no fool.” Shi Fengju cited the words clearly, “There are things that do not need evidence to confirm. Also, Sang Wan did not tell me anything.”
Gu Fangzi nibbled her lips so as not to speak. Of course, she knew, whatever the matter, so long as Shi Fengju wished to know, nothing can then be hidden from him.
“So she didn’t say anything!” Gu Fangzi laughed in ridicule. “So it seems Big Cousin took the initiative to stand up for her!”
“So, it really was you? Fang’er, why?” Shi Fengju exclaimed, “Had it ever went through your mind that if that had caused a scene, it’ll affect our Shi family’s reputation as well.”
“Big Cousin, is this really only because of the reputation? Or are you here to stand up for Cousin Sang Wan?” Gu Fangzi’s eyes were scorching red.
Shi Fengju was somewhat not daring to meet with Gu Fangzi’s gaze. After a moment of hesitation, he asked, “You haven’t told me why you did it!”
Gu Fangzi reeked with jealousy and she grunted hatefully, “And you haven’t answered mine either. Big Cousin, why do you ask me? Is it truly for the Shi family’s reputation? If that’s so, then don’t worry because no one outside will dare to speak a word of it outside!”
“Was it on purpose?”
“Yes!” Gu Fangzi sneered, “I did it on purpose! I wanted you and Aunt Wang to see, and the whole of the household to see, that her family is a total misfit for the Shi family! Sang Wan isn’t worthy of you! She doesn’t fit to be your wife, but I do!”
Shi Fengju’s head in that moment fluttered off to recall Gu Fangzi’s family situation, her parents, but he forced himself to stop and he whispered, “In the end, you still don’t believe in me, do you?”