“You ya! Just… what can I say!” Those words made Shi Yumei disappointed at Gu Fangzi for failing to meet her expectations. She carefully looked at the furnishings in the house. It was just like an ice cave! It had lost the splendor it once had, and compared to the past, this was heaven and earth apart!
Shi Yumei seemed to have neglected the fact that Gu Fangzi was still in her mourning period, and she grunted, “She rearranged your place into such a state, yet you’re still helping her speak! Even the house of our management servants looks better than this!”
On the topic, she went on to ask, “What happened to your items? Why are you so obedient? You should have picked out a few pieces to look at!”
To fuel the hatred within Shi Yumei, Gu Fangzi distorted the facts as she spoke of the incident regarding how her items were all taken away from her by Sang Wan before adding slyly, “I originally wanted to keep the white jade Guanyin statue edged with gold, a set of gold accessories, a string of top quality pearls, and a few other items to gift to Cousin Yumei, but all those were taken away by Sister Sang Wan. Even though Cousin Yumei is now back, I do not have a gift ready…”
“That Sang family’s lass is stepping over the line!” Shi Yumei was so furious that she jumped from her seat and slammed the table with her palm. “I will find her and let her have a taste of my anger!”
“No, Cousin Yumei! Please, don’t! You can’t ah!” Gu Fangzi hurriedly pulled her as tears formed in her eyes.
Shi Yumei’s original intention of confronting Sang Wan dispersed immediately. She looked at Gu Fangzi, whose tears trickled from her eyes while trying to stop her, and she hesitated for a while before letting out a sigh, “You’re right. If I go now, she would surely not dare to do anything to me. But later on, she will surely toss all the steam onto you! I should not be so impulsive, or you might be exposed!”
That is it! Gu Fangzi thought to herself.
“Thank you, Cousin Yumei, for being considerate!” Gu Fangzi wiped away her tears before taking two steps back and bowed. With a gentle tone, she spoke, “I’m really fine, really.”
“Enough, I’ll deal with it my way!” Shi Yumei let out a slightly deep grunt before sneering, “Don’t worry, even if I did do something, she won’t ever link that to you!”
Gu Fangzi quickly added, “Aunt and Big Cousin already have it difficult. If they were to worry—”
“My mother has already turned foolish! As for my Second Brother, he must have been bewitched! I won’t even bother discussing with any of them!” The thought of Wang Shi and Shi Fengju protecting Sang Wan hand in hand made Shi Yumei somewhat frustrated, and she fumed, “Wait until the day I tear off that woman’s mask. My mother and my brother will surely be able to see light when that happens!”
“Cousin Yumei no doubt thinks very wholesomely!” Gu Fangzi quickly sent in the high hat. The two took their seats once again before talking over tea.
Hearing the news that Shi Yumei and Ren Zhixian would be staying in the household, Gu Fangzi got happier. Her grin stretched from ear to ear, and a piece of gleeful music played in her mind.
“That’s great! That’s really great!” She held onto Shi Yumei’s hand firmly, and she smiled brightly as she exclaimed, “Cousin Yumei, we can talk more often together, just like before!”
“Yes ah!” Watching Gu Fangzi’s heartfelt joy filled entirely with welcome, Shi Yumei could not help but feel a sense of joy. Reminiscing about the time they had spent together, she felt a sense of warmth in her heart.
“Since Cousin Yumei will be staying, I can relieve some of my boredom!” Gu Fangzi smiled before sighing, “Still, I’m afraid that Cousin Yumei won’t be staying for long. Once Brother-in-law Zhixian becomes an official, you ah, can finally enjoy yourself! When that time comes, don’t forget about this cousin of yours. Remember to come back often ah!”
Everyone loves to listen to lovely words, especially those that would deeply touch the hearts. Shi Yumei became even more gleeful the more she listened, and her eyes dazzled, as if the day her husband would achieve top place in the imperial examinations was just around the corner. “I will, I will.” Shi Yumei answered repeatedly.
Now that Gu Fangzi had successfully made her happy, she added more flattery which made Shi Yumei smile even more brightly while feeling even more dissatisfied about Sang Wan.
Time passed by swiftly, and it was soon the time for dinner. Xiu Chun came over and invited the Shi family’s eldest daughter to return to have dinner.
“Time really flies!” Shi Yumei was surprised, and she looked up at the sky. She then pulled Gu Fangzi and smiled as she invited, “Come, let’s go together!”
“Cousin Yumei, you should go!” Gu Fangzi refused and smiled apologetically, “I still have to mourn, so I won’t be going over! I’ll eat something in Peony Garden.”
Hearing her, Shi Yumei could not help but feel sympathy for her. She gently patted Gu Fangzi on the hand and said, “Then I won’t force you, and you shouldn’t think any more of those negative things! Eat a little more, a healthy body is important!”
“En, I understand! Cousin Yumei, you’re just like a sister to me!” Gu Fangzi gratefully nodded.
“Haven’t we always been as close as real sisters!” Shi Yumei smiled before leaving with Xiu Chun. On the way, they went to call Ren Zhixian. Together with the concubine Cui Zhu, they followed Xiu Chun from behind.
The dishes were spread across the table, and the three took their seats. Shi Yumei looked around and frowned, “Why don’t I see Sang Wan?”
“Why are you looking for her!” Wang Shi smiled in surprise.
Shi Yumei snorted, “What kind of daughter-in-law is she? When her mother-in-law is having her meal, not only is she not serving by her mother-in-law’s side, she isn’t even present! Now that she’s managing the household, her arrogance must have increased!”
“Hai! Eat your food!” Wang Shi waved her hand uncomfortably as she smiled, “It was I who told her not to come. It’s enough to have Nanny Jiang, Xiu Chun, and Xiu Li. There’s no need to bother her!”
Shi Yumei was extremely displeased, “Mother, because you treat her so well, she doesn’t know the heights of the sky! It is your generosity if you didn’t mind it, but isn’t that just wrong? Aren’t the Sang family reputable for being knowledgeable? Then how could their missy behave in such a way! When my mother-in-law was still around, when have I ever not been beside her to serve her when she was having her meal! As a daughter-in-law, she should do her duty!”
Ren Zhixian also nodded, “That’s right, Yumei is indeed right! This is about being filial, so it cannot be ignored! Seeing that she’s such an intelligent person, how can she be so silly?”
She was no doubt an outwardly attractive but worthless person, Ren Zhixian thought disappointedly. It seems that in this family, there was no one who resonated the same way he did!
Shi Yumei was about to agree after her husband, but after he had finished his sentence, her expression sunk and she sneered, “Intelligent? How many times have you seen her to be able to tell that she is intelligent?”
How should he answer that? Ren Zhixian was at a loss for words, and he replied in scorn with a solemn expression, “It’s not like how you said it! Seriously!”
Arriving from Gu Fangzi’s place, Shi Yumei brought along a stomach full of resentment towards Sang Wan. Ren Zhixian’s words were like fuel to the flame, and it kept on pouring. With a sneer, she raised her volume, “Tell me ya, tell me how you know that she’s an intelligent person!”
“What in the heavens above!” Ren Zhixian had never been a polite person. He rolled up his sleeves and spoke sternly, “Just look at you, yelling all of a sudden! Whatever will be next? Can’t you at least be a little more ladylike! You’re no different than a shrew from the marketplace!”
“What! How dare you call me a shrew!” Shi Yumei’s face was red with anger. She pulled on his coat and raised a ruckus, “You actually dare to call me a shrew! I tire myself to serve you day in day out, yet all I ever see is your back! There’s no way I can live for another day!”
“Let go! Who ask you to be so unruly! How dare you put your hands on me!” Ren Zhixian was furious and embarrassed, and he flung her hands away from his coat.
“What, what is this that I’m seeing!” Wang Shi was furious to the point where her voice trembled, and she did not notice Shi Yumei yelling something about aback. She pointed at the two with her trembling finger and glared at the servants serving by the side, “What are all of you still standing there for, pull them apart! Now!”
The servants looked at each other, and as if waking up from a dream, they quickly yelled “Eldest Missy, Sir!” as they went to pull them apart. With great difficulty, they finally managed to pull Shi Yumei away from her husband.
“Mother! I, I—” Shi Yumei wept as she felt both ashamed and embarrassed.
Seeing so, Wang Shi was furious and distressed, but before she had the chance to speak, Ren Zhixian snatched it from her.
He brushed at his coat as he spoke coldly, “Mother-in-law, have you seen this clearly? This woman is rude and unreasonable! Is this how the Shi family educate their daughter!”
With a gust of anger trapped in Wang Shi’s chest, her face turned pale, “You, you, are you questioning me? You, your Ren family must have such great etiquette, to think that the son-in-law would dare to question his mother-in-law and offend her right in her face!”
Ren Zhixian was startled by his own words, and he quickly rephrased his words, “I do not dare and have no intentions of questioning mother-in-law! All I seek is for Mother-in-law to properly educate your daughter, or the Shi family’s reputation will be thrown towards the ground!”
“There’s no need for you to worry! My daughter has no need for your cares!” Wang Shi gritted her teeth as she spoke, “My daughter has always been a good person at home. I really do mean to ask, just what is this? It has only been a few years, and you’ve ended up in such a state!”
The more Wang Shi thought about it, the more saddened she was. She could not help but let her tears fall.
Ren Zhixian spoke bitterly, “Exactly, even I want to ask. How come there was such a great difference from the past, as if the entire person has changed!” Deep down, Ren Zhixian thought to himself, Hmph, don’t think you can look down on me just because I may look hopeless! You think I don’t know what all of you are thinking? Just wait and see, the moment when I rise in power, all of you will surely regret it!
Nanny Jiang could no longer stand this, and she went to persuade Wang Shi to remain calm while pleading to Ren Zhixian, “Young man, couldn’t you have spoken less? At any rate, the mistress is your elder ya!”
How dare a servant tell him what to do? Ren Zhixian was so furious that he felt as if he had died twice. He tugged at his coat before walking away coldly.
“He, he, how dare he—” Wang Shi desperately gasped for air, and she almost choked on it. Shocked, Shi Yumei cared not for herself and quickly went to pat Wang Shi on the chest while calling out to her. After a short while, Wang Shi was finally able to breathe normally.
The mother and the daughter looked at each other.
“It is all my fault. This temper of mine just doesn’t change!” Shi Yumei forced a smile, “And because of that, it has made Mother feel sad. It is all my fault! Even the dishes have turned cold. Nanny Jiang, have someone heat these up!”
Wang Shi let out a long sigh before taking a long look at her daughter silently. She hadn’t sensed it before, but after taking a good look at her own daughter, she realized that she had lost quite some weight. Her eyes no longer had the blazing energy and were now dull and gloomy. Her lips were pale, and right at the edges of her eyes, as well as her forehead, there were several fine wrinkles! After a careful look, her entire vigor and spirit might not be as good as hers!