Chapter 12Part 1
“This knowledge doesn’t deserve the attention, but I hope that mother will not take it too lightly!” Sang Wan smiled and softly explained the cooking process.
As Wang Shi listened, she praised Sang Wan and held her hand with her two hands, “You’ve done well to come up with such a recipe! Nothing less of a daughter from a scholarly family; a mind different from many others!”
To have such a good daughter-in-law married into the family, Wang Shi was extremely pleased while thinking of when she should invite Lady Zhuang over to enjoy the flower garden and at the same time introduce Sang Wan to her; and wrong her for mocking the ties between the Shi family and the Sang family.
The thought made a better impression of Sang Wan. Feeling more satisfied, she praised her daughter-in-law a few more times.
On the other hand sat Gu Fangzi who was extremely angry. Just recently, she had got wind of a great way to prepare a bean curd with mahogany dish and was planning to cook it two days later after Sang Wan got into trouble with her aunt for the winter melon soup. However, things did not go her way; the winter melon soup was not served, and Sang Wan was instead praised by her aunt. From where did Sang Wan learn to cook the dish the exact same way as what she had gotten wind of? And what’s more, she had even beaten her to it!
Holding back her bitterness, Gu Fangzi remained silent. But upon seeing Wang Shi praise Sang Wan generously, Gu Fangzi blinked a few times before smiling, “Cousin-in-law sure is both virtuous and skilfull! Aunt Wang Shi is right; none, other than her filial daughter-in-law will be able to come out with such a method to cook the dish which can please her! Still, did the winter melon soup splatter on cousin-in-law?”
The crowd could not help but turn their attention to Sang Wan, and Shi Fengju was not an exception. Concerned, Shi Fengju raised, “were you get hurt anywhere?”
Before anyone else could speak, Gu Fangzi continued and said jokingly, “Ah yes; cousin-in-law, were you hurt anywhere? It would break my cousin’s heart if you were!”
The broad smile on Wang Shi’s face immediately turned slightly sluggish.
Sang Wan did not feel anything amiss at first, but upon taking a glimpse at Wang Shi’s annoyed expression, she was taken aback! No mother would like to see her son express his explicit concern towards his wife in front of her; even though that “explicit” was Gu Fangzi’s own intention.
Shi Fengju secretly chided himself for being talkative and immediately seized his mouth from opening any further. Helplessly, he looked towards Gu Fangzi and managed a smile.
To Wang Shi, that smile undoubtedly represents acceptance and she could not help but feel a little annoyed.
Although Sang Wan is her son’s wife and Gu Fangzi is her son’s would-be concubine, Gu Fangzi is still her niece, who had been by her side for many years, nevertheless; as such, her heart would somewhat be biased towards Sang Wan. For her son to cast aside his cousin, whom he had spent lots of time with together, and pay so much attention to his wife whom had just recently married into the family, how could she feel pleased?
Sang Wan intentionally hang a foolish smile on her face. Looking towards Shi Fengju, she spoke, “Sir, no need to worry; I wasn’t hurt anywhere! Anyway, I’ll promise to prepare another winter melon soup for mother-in-law! Sir sure is filial; to remember in mother-in-law’s stead that if I were injured, I would not have been able to prepare another winter melon soup! Mother-in-law, be at eased for your daughter-in-law shall prepare and serve another winter melon soup personally tomorrow; and guarantees it’ll taste better than the one before!”
Once Sang Wan said her piece, Wang Shi immediately laughed and the tiny seed of annoyance disappeared.
“The days ahead for you as a member of our family is long. Though I’ll remember this, the thought is enough for now. You have your homecoming tomorrow so I’ll not trouble you.” Though the words Sang Wan had spoken might be a little far-fetched, it would not stop this old mother-in-law from listening; or rather, it was something she had liked to hear! And as for what Gu Fangzi said just then, wasn’t it all just something she had said jokingly?
Wang Shi giggled to herself. As one aged, do they become more narrow-minded? To have treated a joke as if it were true!
Gu Fangzi followed and laughed, but beneath that laughter was a sense of anger. She had wanted to craft a few more sentences to harass Sang Wan, but the thought of Shi Fengju made her endure. That bitter smile that he produced just then… if she does not keep her act together, Shi Fengju might feel disgusted towards her! She must not do anything that would put herself in a disadvantage!
At the same time, Sang Wan heaved discreetly. Look at that, that is the way Gu Fangzi is! A composed person who harbours ill intent; never can she lower her guard against such a person! That person’s words may sound pleasant to the ears, but if not for the sufferings she had experienced in her past life, she would not have thought too deeply and would have been incredibly inclined to foolishly listen to those pleasant words.
Afraid that Gu Fangzi might say something foolish again, Shi Fengju smiled at his mother and coaxed, “Mother, the food will turn cold if we talk any further; why don’t we start eating? As an old lady, aren’t you hungry yet?”
“Ah yes! Yes! Let’s dig in, let’s dig in first!” Wang Shi smiled. Looking at Sang Wan slightly, she spoke, “My daughter-in-law, have a sit and let us eat together! You must be tired today after preparing these dishes! Quickly, have a sit!”Sang Wan spoke humbly and smiled before sitting next to Wang Shi, but not without using a clean pair of chopsticks to serve her mother-in-law occasionally. This in turn scored a few more points in Wang Shi’s heart.
Dinner ended perfectly with a breathtaking and relaxing atmosphere.
Together with Shi Fengju, Sang Wan left the courtyard. Wang Shi had already instructed for Shi Fengju to accompany Sang Wan throughout the homecoming while holding onto her hand. Sang Wan hurriedly gave her thanks.
Everything ended the moment the chamber doors closed. With yesterday’s start, and their purpose stated, they were now on the same boat and were now comrade in arms. With that being said, it was also much easier to get along this time around.
While laying the mattress onto the floor, Shi Fengju chatted aimlessly along with Sang Wan. Still, in his mind, affirmed that even though they may be a fake couple, Sang Wan did not have to serve his mother so faithfully, but that would be deemed as neglecting the dos that a daughter-in-law should do. However, seeing how much praise and respect Sang Wan gave to his mother, his heart was delighted and grateful. After all, why would he dislike someone giving respect to his own mother?
“Rest early today; you’ll have to wake up early tomorrow!” Shi Fengju sat on his mattress and pulled the quilt over his body while giving Sang Wan a smile.
The bed curtain has yet to be pulled down. Wrapped in a light blue embroidered robe, the pink inner nightgown was still a little exposed, and her hair was let down over the right side of her chest. Her relaxed posture and peaceful facial features would have made even strangers too comfortable with her.
“Young Master, I have a few words I’d like to speak with you!” Sang Wan smiled as her mouth opened to speak those words. In her tone, there brought a sense of embarrassment in it.
Looking at a beauty under the dim light was not something he was used to; still, he was not someone who looks for a person’s appearance. But a beauty with a kind heart was not something his eyes and heart would resent. He couldn’t help but took a glimpse at Sang Wan before sitting up straight and nodded. “Please continue; just speak your mind out.”
Sang Wan slightly thought over her words before smiling. “I’d like to thank Young Master beforehand for accompanying me for my homecoming tomorrow!”
Hearing so, Shi Fengju understood that Sang Wan had some stuff she’d like to instruct and spoke generously, “That is what I should do, so no need to thank me. If you have something you’d like me to do, please say.”
She was respectful towards his mother, so how can he not return that favor? For an opportunity for him to do so to come right up his doorstep, why not accept it?
Seeing so, Sang Wan was secretly relieved. Keeping the smile on her face, she went on, “Then I’ll continue. I’m sure you know my family’s current situation, so I was thinking that we should only bring a small number of people for this homecoming, maybe one or two maidservants to follow us there as there is no need for a big crowd to follow us into my humble home. If a large number of people follow us there, I’m afraid it might inconvenience my brother’s wife who will be doing the hosting! There isn’t any other reason behind it, just that my brother and sister-in-law had already did so much for me, thus I don’t wish to trouble them any further.”
After speaking what was in her mind, she gave a sincere look at Shi Fengju. In her past life, her homecoming was carried out impressively, but were the servants from the Shi family not full of pride? Upon arriving at the Sang family, their eyes were filled with distaste and the tip of their tongues were filled with criticism!
How could sister-in-law Fang Shi bear to hear those criticism? At that time, her face was furrowed as the anger built up in her. Even Sang Wan was not spared from that anger. But what could Sang Wan do? She was like a rat stuck between both parties.
It was a homecoming which made both parties on bad terms.
It would have been great if the matter ended there. But unfortunately, the servants who followed to the Sang family spreaded rumors within the Shi family, and there were even some who defamed the Sang family in front of Wang Shi; saying how smelly it was there, and how arrogant and mean the Sang members were. What’s more, they even went on to say how disrespectful the Sang members were just because they read a few books, and that the Sang members ridiculed how the Shi members stank of money!
These few words pierced Wang Shi’s heart and she became furious. She gave a scolding to the Sang members and called forth for Sang Wan to give a good lesson, before wishing to not see Sang Wan unless called.
After hearing what Sang Wan said, he remembered the state of her house on the day he went to receive her during the wedding ceremony. Though he cared not for its state, he could somewhat picture whatever he saw during then.
Two small courtyard and a few trees planted at the entrance. Behind the house was a fenced garden. The house was built with grey bricks and tiles, and though old, it was still well maintained and clean. Among the other villagers, that house was the most well-off.
However, that was nothing compared to the Shi family’s. That kind of house might not even be as good as those of the respected maidservants here.
This was definitely a problem! If many people were to go there, that is not a homecoming, but an event that might throw her face!
Shi Fengju was never a petty person, but disdain those children in rich families who liked to brag about how well-off their family were and refused to bend and become like them.
“It is my bad for not looking at a bigger picture.” Shi Fengju smiled and continued, “I’ll arrange it properly tomorrow, so rest assured!”
“Then I’ll give my thanks to Young Master again!” Sang Wan’s heart leaped with joy and openly displayed her happiness towards Shi Fengju by giving him a broad grin.
Shi Fengju smiled and shook his head.
Taking advantage of the opportunity in front of her, she went on to describe her family, “My family is fairly simple. My second brother studies in Wenchang Academy, and was present on the day I was married into the Shi family. However, he returned right after the whole ceremony ended. As such, my eldest brother, sister-in-law, and together with their two children, a son and daughter, would have to take care of my elderly mother. There are no exquisites at my house. On behalf of my family, I apologize for the rudeness and hope that Young Master would excuse us!”
Shi Fengju laughed. “I don’t care about any of those. But hearing you say each sentence one after another made it seemed like you’re nervous! To even bring up about exquisites; so what if there are exquisites!”
Sang Wan smiled as she listened. “Maybe I was just being a little too paranoid!”
“Yes you are.” Shi Fengju smiled in response.
With that, the two returned to rest and the room was once again in a blanket of silence. Well, not without Sang Wan rolling her eyes behind the bed curtains. Deep down, she thought, “If you were like me and remember the experiences and memories from our past lives, I’m sure you would not think that I’m being a little paranoid.”
This time around, the past life seemed a little more distant, just like a dream fluttering into nothingness. However, Sang Wan felt a little uneasy; unsure whether it was after all a mirage or an actual experience.