“Young Mistress!” Once Zhide went out to instruct the maidservants, Liu Ya eagerly called out to Sang Wan. Rubbing her hands together excitedly, she said with a determined voice, “Young Mistress, rest assured! Liu Ya will learn with all her heart!”
Sang Wan smiled softly, “No need to hurry. Haste makes waste.”
After dressing herself up properly, a young maidservant with important news barged into the chamber. “Young Mistress, Miss Gu is here!” She exclaimed with a pinch of excitement in her voice. Hearing that, the other maidservants instinctively gauged Sang Wan with their eyes.
This was a show that could not be missed!
“My cousin-in-law has arrived? Quickly, invite her in!” Sang Wan secretly smirked to herself, but on the surface, she gently instructed the maidservants and acted as if the guest was just her cousin-in-law.
But in actual fact, shouldn’t that be the case?
“My dear cousin-in-law! Congratulations, Cousin Sang Wan!” Before Sang Wan spoke, Gu Fangzi had already entered the chamber, with Lan Xiang following closely behind. With both hands, one above the other, on the left side of her waist, she bowed elegantly to Sang Wan and smiled delicately. “It is a little impolite of me to come in unwelcomed, but I hope my dear cousin-in-law will not give me the cold shoulder.”
“Why would I? Quickly, enough manners!” Maintaining her smile, Sang Wan personally assisted her into the chamber. Upon entering the chamber, Sang Wan ordered a maidservant to serve tea before sitting down together with Gu Fangzi. With the same smile, Sang Wan said, “I’ve always wanted to have a conversation with someone, and luckily, you’re here! I’m clumsy at speech and shallow in knowledge. I hope Cousin Fangzi won’t find me uninteresting to talk to!”
“Why would I? Cousin Sang Wan, you’re too polite!” Gu Fangzi giggled, and the two ladies gazed at each other.
After finishing the tea, Gu Fangzi discreetly observed Sang Wan. Concerned, she asked, “My dear cousin-in-law, your complexion does not look too good. Is it because you were too busy and neglected your rest? A woman should care more for her own body. Us women can neglect almost everything, but absolutely not our own body. Cousin Sang Wan, there is no need to scruple; when it’s time to rest, rest well! Aunt Wang is a very nice person, and she treats others even more so! Once you’ve stayed long enough with her, you’ll understand.”
As Gu Fangzi’s soft and gentle words of concern flowed into her ears, Sang Wan felt as if she was in a trance. Snapping herself back to reality, she recalled the good Gu Fangzi’s advice had done to her! The enthusiasm and concern Gu Fangzi had displayed were like a fire pit, giving her warmth in the cold weather; it had been much better than the way Shi Fengju treated her. All of her knowledge regarding her mother-in-law’s temperament and preferences were all heard through Gu Fangzi’s mouth. As a result, she had followed the descriptions given by Gu Fangzi and caused her mother-in-law to despise her as the days went by!
The more she thought about it, the more she wanted to laugh. Credit must be given to Gu Fangzi; she was clever to such an extent that she was able to utilize such underhanded methods with ease! What’s more, despite Sang Wan being led by the nose and deceived so badly by Gu Fangzi, Gu Fangzi herself was able to slip away guilt-free!
Of course, Gu Fangzi was not the one at fault; all the fault was solely on Sang Wan herself.
“Many thanks to Cousin Fangzi for the care and concern! Ah yes, Cousin Fangzi, from where did you come here?” Sang Wan smiled as she asked.
Gu Fangzi was amazed that Sang Wan had not taken the opportunity to find out more about her mother-in-law! Her mother-in-law’s attitude directly determined her position in the Shi Family. Did she not care about her position in the Shi Family at all? Or was she already well-prepared?
“I was in the flower garden not long ago. The current weather is good, so I thought of picking some freshly bloomed flowers and placing them in a vase before giving them to Aunt Wang. However, after strolling around, I didn’t spot any good ones. But luckily, I was near Ning Garden1Ning GardenSang Wan & Shi Fengju's place of residence so I decided to come see you!” Gu Fangzi replied with a warm smile on her face.
“Is that so?” Sang Wan’s eyes lit up. Conveniently, she said, “I see, my mother-in-law likes fresh flowers. May I know which type of flower she likes the most?”
Seeing that Sang Wan was now slowly treading on the path she had wanted her to follow since the beginning, Gu Fangzi was secretly delighted. She and Sang Wan continued to have a conversation. After quite a while, she bid Sang Wan goodbye and promised to see her again the following day before making her leave.
Naturally, Sang Wan readily agreed. Smiling, she personally went to see Gu Fangzi off. As for the maidservants’ opinions regarding the scene just then, she decided to turn a blind eye.
Still, she hoped that one of them would be foolishly brave enough to voice their cynicism in front of her. That way, she would have a reason to discipline the brave soul and at the same time give a warning to the rest of the maidservants.
For her, the maidservants’ opinions of her were unimportant, but she believed that Wang Shi and Shi Fengju would not like to have unruly maidservants in their household.
At lunchtime, Shi Fengju really came. He arrived on the dot, and just as arranged, the dishes were served onto the table directly from the kitchen without the need for a food box to keep the food warm.
“I had some matters to deal with in the study room.” Shi Fengju coughed as he said it uncomfortably.
Sang Wan stared blankly at him. Had he just tried to explain why he had left in a hurry in the morning?
Still, his good intentions were not unappreciated. More importantly, it proved effective for the maidservants who were listening in.
Gently, Sang Wan nodded with an “Oh,” and continued, “You must be tired! For today’s lunch, I’ve requested that the kitchen staff prepare some of your favorite dishes. Do dig in!”
Seeing her smile gracefully, he became more comfortable. And just like that, they were like a real couple, a real family. The awkwardness in his heart gradually disappeared. Of course, they had already spoken their minds the night before, so the awkwardness disappearing was not something impossible.
“I will!” Shi Fengju laughed. Skimming his eyes across the table, he noticed that the soup and all of the other eight dishes were his favorites. He said, “In the future, no need to take me into account. If you’ve something you’d like to eat, feel free to ask the servants to serve it.”
Sang Wan smiled slightly. As she sat, she spoke, “I don’t really have anything in particular that I like to eat. We are not too fastidious about our food.”
Shi Fengju stared at her blankly before giving her a smile and stopped pursuing the conversation. He knew full well the Sang family’s current situation. However, never did he think that Sang Wan would say it so bluntly as if it was not embarrassing. This scored a few points in his heart.
After all, such words were not something a man can easily say. But for a woman, the difficulty was on another higher level!
After the two had their lunch, Shi Fengju instructed Zhide to bring in all of the maidservants who were assigned around Ning Garden to meet their mistress. For now, she would have to live her life in this world. It was for him to ensure that she was not looked down upon and her stay was without misery.
Sang Wan was astonished. He must have hit his head when he had gone out just then! Never could she have imagined that his temperament and actions were going to make a complete flip! Of course, she was delighted nevertheless!
Immediately after Shi Fengju expressed himself, the maidservants assigned around Ning Garden quickly arrived to give their respect to Sang Wan. Some of the maidservants who were previously unruly towards Sang Wan now felt very perturbed as they feared that their new mistress might carry a grudge towards them. This made them more polite and cautious.
Sang Wan ordered Liu Ya to take out the gifts that she had prepared beforehand. The gift was a colorful pouch, embroidered with a variety of auspicious patterns. In the pouch were a few scattered coins. The current Sang family’s financial situation wasn’t well off, thus Sang Wan’s gift could not be too generous. The sum of coins in the pouch was anything ranging from 2 silver to 2 copper coins. In the eyes of the maidservants in the Shi family, such amounts meant nothing! In her past life, because of the gift, she had received the reputation of being stingy, thus losing the hearts of her maidservants. However, due to her family’s current financial state, that was the most she could give.
“I can only give you this much, treat it as a figure of luck. What I’m saying is the truth and not just for show! If you dislike it, you may return it! If you all work diligently, maybe in the future, I might take advantage of this family’s fortune and reward all of you generously!” Sang Wan said, half-jokingly.
Upon hearing that, the maidservants could not help but laugh. Even Shi Fengju smiled slightly.
With that, the slight unhappiness towards Sang Wan vanished like the wind! No one in the chamber did not know of the Sang family’s financial state. But still, the pouch was nothing but a figure of luck! Being a maidservant of such a wealthy family, who would really lack such a meager sum of money? However, since their young mistress had already given her word, being bothered about the present would not bring any benefits to them in the future!
And since their young master remained silent, then her words might be true!
“Since Young Mistress has already given her word, for tonight’s banquet, have the kitchen staff prepare two more extra tables for all of you to attend and enjoy! Tell the kitchen staff to put that on my account! Zhide, you’ll take care of the relevant arrangements!” Shi Fengju continued in the spirit of helping others until the end and laughed.
The maidservants’ eyes glistened and their faces exposed a broad smile. Rarely was their young master this generous; given such an opportunity, who would not be happy? Again, the young master had only done this because of their young mistress, and as such, their attitude towards Sang Wan took a turn for the better.
Liu Ya was even more excited, and she laughed without restraint.
Seeing that his part done, staying with Sang Wan still made him a little uncomfortable. Thus, he came up with an excuse and left.
Sang Wan and the maidservants hurriedly went to see him off. After that, the maidservants accompanied Sang Wan back into her chamber. This was much better than her previous life by many folds!
Sang Wan did not let such a great opportunity to win over the hearts of the maidservants slip by. She had a long conversation with them before instructing them to return to their tasks.
Deep down, she sighed. The incidents in the past, she too had been responsible for them by trying too hard to maintain her image and for being too submissive! If not for the dreadful lesson gained from her death, perhaps even in this life, changing her usual temperament could pose a challenge!
At night, a banquet was held in the courtyard, and together with Wang Shi, they had a hearty meal. The couple’s act continued without a pause; the husband and wife were on good terms and respectful towards each other. This made Wang Shi very pleased. Occasionally, she would smile and nod.
Deep down, Wang Shi had been against the marriage. But immediately, she suppressed it. After all, it had been her father-in-law and husband’s will. As a daughter-in-law, and a wife, it was her duty to fulfill their final wish. Unless Sang Wan was handicapped or had a bad reputation among the people, the marriage would go as arranged. As for her son, he would have to endure for the time being.
Once in awhile, Gu Fangzi would look away from the crowd and discreetly convey her goodwill and friendliness. From time to time, she exposed a friendly smile at Sang Wan. Seeing Gu Fangzi smiling at her, Sang Wan politely smiled back. Even though she knew full well her intentions, she couldn’t help but feel worried. But since Gu Fangzi was keeping her act up, why not play along?
At night, the awkwardness lingered in the air as the couple was left alone in the chamber.
A small group of maidservants would occasionally scurry past Ning Garden. Clearly, Shi Fengju sleeping outside Ning Garden would be impossible. As a newlywed, him sleeping in the study room was even more of a no-go.
Because of that, he was in a more awkward situation than Sang Wan.
“It’s already very late! I’ll sleep on the floor and you can sleep on the bed!” Immediately after saying so, he swiftly grabbed a mattress from the cupboard and laid it gently on the floor. Right after removing his robe, he slid himself under the quilt. Looking up at Sang Wan, he wanted to say something but quickly stopped himself.