Lu Shi gave a small smile and said, “Since that’s settled, then I’d like Nanny Lin to leave first and wait a while. I’ll pass it to you once the letter is finished!”
Nanny Lin also did not want to stay in Zhou Jingyi’s room for too long as she was afraid of the illness being passed on to her. Now that the task assigned to her was done, she could finally answer to her master. She nodded without hesitation and followed the lead of a maidservant who was bringing her out.
“This Shi family really doesn’t have any good people!” Lu Shi hissed between her teeth.
Zhou Jingyi laughed softly at the comment but said indifferently, “Sister, there’s no need for you to get offended because of some servants! Which servant serves without being selective? It’s my fault that my husband is wandering out there and my mother-in-law takes all of her anger out on me. The servants only serve those in favor, so why would they treat me respectfully!”
Lu Shi’s heart ached and she sighed softly, “You’re right, our husband is everything to us women!”
If Sang Wan were present, she could not have agreed more with them. The two lives she had lived were living proof of this philosophy. Her own personal experience was sufficient without drawing any comparisons with others.
As these words seemed to rub salt in the wound, Lu Shi realized that her words were somewhat inappropriate so she smiled and said, “My good sister, hurry up and write this letter. It is only right to send that Nanny away from here!”
“Right!” Zhou Jingyi smiled and got up, but she sighed again all of a sudden before saying in a soft voice, “I can fool them this time around, but what about next year, if they come again——”
Lu Shi paused and pondered before smiling, “What is so difficult about that? Anyway, isn’t our grandmother celebrating her birthday in May? When the weather turns warm after the new year, why don’t you stay for awhile at Grandmother’s place. It’s not as if they could keep going there to find you? Two of our cousins are still single and staying under the same roof, you won’t be bored there!”
Zhou Jingyi clapped her hands in elation, “Sister, you are so smart! I will go after the new year!” The two glanced at each other and gave a knowing smile.
Nanny Lin kept Zhou Jingyi’s letter carefully and accepted the return gift from the Zhou family before hurrying back.
It was no surprise that Second Old Mistress Shi was enraged when Zhou Jingyi was not brought back and she gave a severe scolding.
Nanny Lin did not dare fan her fury further and kept quiet. Once Second Old Mistress Shi was done venting her anger, Nanny Lin quickly gave her the letter during a small window of opportunity and rambled on about whatever she saw in the Zhou household. Of course, she skipped the strong words by Old Mistress Zhou —— She knew that would be the same as adding fuel to the fire if she spoke about it and she would only be finding another scolding for herself. Thus, she did the opposite and spoke well about the Zhou family as well as their welcoming attitude. She even went on to exaggerate Zhou Jingyi’s illness and how she could not get off her bed.
Shi Second Old Mistress was a little suspicious at first, but after hearing Nanny Lin make an oath and seeing the return letter, she finally it go. However, she laughed coldly and said, “Remember this for me! After the new year, you will go again, and you will bring her back! She can’t possibly be sick every single time, right?”
Nanny Lin quickly accepted with a smile but in her heart, she complained bitterly to herself and decided that she would never be the first to mention it if Second Old Mistress Shi did not bring it up. With the temper that Second Old Mistress Shi had, Nanny Lin was sure she’d lose her dignity; she definitely did not want to make another trip there!
While there was this commotion in the second family, the members of the first family did not have it easy too.
Early in the morning, when Third Old Mistress Shi got up and was about to head to Wang Shi’s place for a chat, who’d have known that the ground at the front door would be slippery, especially when the carpet was not laid? Third Old Mistress Shi slipped and fell, shrieking as she fell down the steps. Unknowingly, the servant, Ying Fang, who was holding onto her, fell as well. In the end, both the mistress and servant fell together.
Luckily, Third Old Mistress Shi only had a small abrasion on her wrist. However, Ying Fang was not so lucky. Her left thigh bone was fractured and there was a large bruise on her right arm.
Nanny Gui and the rest hurried forward and helped Third Old Mistress Shi up before Nanny Gui reprimanded loudly, “What were all of you servants doing! You knew that the weather is cold and the ground would be slippery, so why wasn’t a carpet laid on the floor? Will you be able to bear the responsibility if Third Mistress were seriously injured!”
At the side, three servants who were sweeping the ground looked at one another fearfully and kept very silent.
Nanny Gui was Third Old Mistress Shi’s closest servant. She had a prideful personality and a habit of bossing others around. Seeing how those servants remained stunned on the spot and were not begging for forgiveness, infuriated her. She pointed at them angrily, “What are all three of you still standing there for? Hurry and kneel to seek forgiveness!”
Why would the servants obey a nanny who appeared out of nowhere only to start ordering them around? The three servants looked at one another, but they remained stationary. After a brief moment, one of them was kind enough to reply, “Nanny, you’re mistaken. That isn’t part of our duty and we don’t know about it!”
“Don’t know!” Nanny Gui saw that they still had the guts to talk back and anger swelled within her. She snapped angrily, “Then what are all of you still doing, standing there at a side when you see a master fall down? You don’t know how to step forward to help her up? Where is your decency! Has it been eaten by dogs?”
The three servants were beginning to feel a little vexed too and one of them said, “Us servants are tasked to sweep the floor; we can’t just leave! In any case, isn’t Nanny right beside?”
“Precisely, and we have dirt on us, how can we go up to hold onto a master!”
Nanny Gui was so furious and she pointed at Ying Fang, “Then how about her! Can’t you help her up?”
“Enough, I don’t want to hear this anymore!” Third Old Mistress Shi stopped Nanny Gui with a dark face. She was furious as well. How dare these servants who sweep the floor talk back to her own servants right in front of her! Isn’t this the same as slapping her face?
So what if they did? There was nothing she could do to retaliate! Being in an awkward position where she was neither a master nor a guest in the household, she could not display her might as a master, else she would seem petty!
In the end, it was Third Old Mistress Shi’s two servants helped Ying Fang back into the house. Third Old Mistress Shi also went back in and gave up on going out. She ordered Nanny Gui to retrieve ointment from Wang Shi and help to hire a doctor for Ying Fang.
Nanny Gui was eagerly waiting for that set of instructions. She hurriedly went to Wang Shi’s place and exaggerated the story.
Wang Shi received a shock upon listening, and ordered Nanny Jiang to invite a doctor immediately before personally going to Third Old Mistress Shi’s place. Especially since the incident happened right after the third family returned, it was only right that Wang Shi gave Third Old Master Shi and Third Old Mistress Shi a proper answer as the household was under the management of the first family.
Third Old Mistress Shi did not think that Wang Shi would come personally and felt somewhat uncomfortable. She went out to welcome her and repeatedly uttered words like, “It was nothing” and “It’s fine”. But when Wang Shi saw the abrasion on Third Old Mistress Shi’s wrist and Ying Fang’s wretched state, she immediately became embarrassed. She stayed until the doctor had left after both Ying Fang and Third Old Mistress were properly diagnosed and given medication.
The first thing she spoke after leaving the guest house was, “Bring Sang Wan over to me now!”
The young maidservant who went to Ning Garden to deliver the message told Sang Wan a little about what happened. Sang Wan’s expression changed immediately and she ordered Nanny Li to visit Third Old Mistress Shi personally. She also ordered Zhide to find out exactly what happened.
Shi Fengju had wanted to accompany Sang Wan, but Sang Wan would never dare to let that happen. Her mother-in-law was only going to become angrier if she saw him, so she remained insistent on not letting him follow.
Seeing how she remained firm, Shi Fengju conceded. He smiled and consoled her, “This is just an accident, Mother won’t blame you for it, so don’t worry!”
“Let’s hope that’s the case.” Sang Wan gave a weak smile but secretly did not agree at all.
Indeed, she was not wrong. Wang Shi’s expression was as dark as ink when she arrived. “Sang Wan! I’ve always observed that you are a careful and meticulous person, so I became lax and left the household for you to manage. It isn’t as if this is your first day taking charge of the household, so how could something like this happen? Did you know that there’s a scrape on your third aunt’s wrist, and the servant by her side fractured her thigh bone. The doctor even said that she would need half a month of rest! Sang Wan, if it was your third aunt who was seriously injured, where do you want me to hide my old face! This morning, Nanny Gui almost asked me up in my face; do you know how ashamed I was!”
“I was careless. Mother, please punish me!” Sang Wan hurriedly knelt down and lowered her head quietly.
What explanation can she offer? Can she push the responsibility to the servants? If the servants were wrong, then she should be blamed even more. No matter what, she would have to receive a round of scolding and punishment!
“Hmph!” Wang Shi said, “What’s the point of punishing you? I just don’t understand, how could something like this happen at this time? Was it because you were too nice and the servants start to become more unruly, or were your instructions to them not clear?”
Sang Wan’s heart shivered and did not dare to speak further.
Not giving clear instructions was obviously her fault. The servants becoming unruly would only be because she was not strict with them. No matter what, all fingers were pointed at her, and fundamentally had no difference at all.
“Yes, your daughter-in-law was careless! Mother, your daughter-in-law deeply apologizes to you! When I return, I will give Third Aunt an apology and a proper explanation,” Sang Wan said with her head still lowered.
Wang Shi remained quiet, but her expression changed quite a few times. Nobody knew what she was thinking. Nanny Jiang, Xiu Chun, Xiu Li, and everyone else had their hands at their sides as they stood still, not daring to make a sound.
“Mother!” Right at this moment, Shi Fengju walked in calmly from outside. Sang Wan’s tension disappeared as soon as the corners of her eyes caught sight of him.
“Why are you here too!” Wang Shi’s face became a lot less tense when she saw her son and let him sit down.
“I’m here to visit Mother,” Shi Fengju sat down and smiled, “Luckily, Third Aunt is fine. Mother, you should stop being angry!”
Wang Shi sighed and said, “This isn’t about me getting angry. Your third uncle and third aunt did not return for so many years and this happened immediately after they came back. Others might think that, as the eldest sister-in-law who manages the household, I am purposely mistreating them! Even if they don’t think that way, they will surely say that I’ve not managed this household well. Does that sound pleasant to you!”
“There were too many things to handle yesterday; Sang Wan could not have ensured that everything was well taken care of, so Mother shouldn’t be blaming her! Luckily, Third Aunt is fine, so it isn’t much of a problem. Next time, let’s be careful and make sure this doesn’t repeat itself! Mother, you should hurry and let Sang Wan visit Third Aunt, I believe that Third Aunt is not an unreasonable person!” Shi Fengju smiled and coaxed his mother.
Wang Shi glared at him for half a second and let out a snort, “Your big sister said that you always side with your wife, I see that it’s true!”
“You’re at it again!” Shi Fengju smiled and said, “Is there any use to scold Sang Wan now? What’s more, Sang Wan is my wife, what’s wrong with me siding with her and helping to say a few words? Does Mother wish to see us not get along instead?”