After hearing what Nanny Zhang said, Sang Wan did not know what more to add and therefore reprimanded, “This is your responsibility, so how could you so easily forget about it? If your memory is not up to the task, then you should quit your job! Also, this was clearly your fault so how could you blame it on Third Old Mistress’s servants? If the carpet is dirty, you should’ve taken the initiative to change it. They were kind enough to remind you, yet you rather accuse them for this!”
“This servant has misspoken, this servant has misspoken!” Nanny Zhang slapped her mouth lightly and pleaded, “It is this old servant who has spoken wrongly. Young Mistress is right to reprimand me! From today onwards, this servant will complete all tasks earnestly, please forgive this servant this once!”
On account of her old age and that the incident was unintentional, Sang Wan intended to give her a warning and cut at most two months of her pay. However, Shi Fengju simply spoke, “A fault is a fault, if everyone just apologized after a mistake, what’s the point of having rules?” After he finished, he called in Hong Ye to ask what the punishment for the three servants were and Hong Ye answered him respectfully.
Shi Fengju then said, “On account of her old age, ten floggings will be enough. As for the rest of the punishment, it will be the same as the other three. Bring her out!”
“Young Master, this old servant——” Nanny Zhang was shocked.
“What? Do you have anymore to say?” Shi Fengju stared at her coldly.
Nanny Zhang’s lips twitched and she dared not speak under the cold stare of Shi Fengju. If Sang Wan were alone, she would have dared to make a scene, but Shi Fengju was present. Even though the young master would usually not interfere with matters within the household, no one had no fear of him. Nanny Zhang’s face was pale; she gave a kowtow and followed the servant out.
Did she have something to say? Of course she did! Nanny Zhang felt wronged, but she dared not say it and could only keep it in her heart.
At almost dinnertime yesterday, Lan Xiang went over to the guest house to worm her way into getting closer with Third Old Mistress’s servants. While walking over the carpet, one of them was not careful and stumbled, dropping the hand warmer which dirtied a large spot on the carpet and even burned a small part of it. Lan Xiang kindly informed them, “How can Third Old Mistress walk on something this dirty!”
The servants were worried. They smiled and came to ask for a change. Seeing that it was almost dinnertime, Nanny Zhang did not want to help and wanted to come up with a reason in order to change it the next day. However, who would have thought that Lan Xiang would help them. Nanny Zhang’s roundabout reason of refusal could work on the newly arrived servants, but it definitely would not work on Lan Xiang. She had no choice but to agree!
Who knew that after she had rolled the carpet and walked not a distance away, Lan Xiang caught up from behind and said that she was heading to the storeroom. She added that she could help her exchange the dirtied carpet on the way, sparing the trouble of delaying Nanny Zhang’s dinner. Nanny Zhang was delighted and agreed. However, after the incident in the morning, that brat hurried over and apologized that she was busy the previous night and forgot about it! Nanny Zhang stamped her feet and exclaimed, “Why did things have to be so coincidental!”
Nanny Zhang was unable to speak of her sufferings. Lan Xiang’s intentions were good so it didn’t seem right to sell her out. Furthermore, Miss Gu was known to side with her people despite faults, especially when Lan Xiang was her confidant. Nanny Zhang did not dare to invoke Miss Gu’s wrath and could only blame it on her own bad luck. Who asked her to be lazy?
Once Nanny Zhang had left, Shi Fengju smiled at Sang Wan and said, “Now, do you think I’m heartless?”
Even though Sang Wan did slightly feel that way, how could she say it in his face? She shook her head and said, “You helped me to deal with them, I can’t even thank you enough!
Shi Fengju sighed softly and said, “You are too soft-hearted. I know you took into account her age and how she admitted to her mistakes and thus didn’t have the heart to punish her severely. But think about it, she is the main offender in this incident, and yet you are letting her go despite punishing the other three harshly? What would others think? If the three servants knew about it, they would feel aggrieved and harbor a grudge towards you in their heart. Although you may have let the Tian family use them to do odd jobs, they would still be in the household. So how will you stop their mouths from blabbering? Might as well punish them all equally so that they have nothing to say!”
Sang Wan’s face turned pale and she broke out in cold sweat after hearing him.
Shi Fengju was right. She had almost made a mistake due to her soft-heartedness! If she were to let Nanny Zhang go, it would be unimaginable what the servants in the household would say!
Sang Wan lifted her head and stared blankly at Shi Fengju, she was speechless.
Seeing that she was dumbfounded, he couldn’t resist laughing and said, “This can’t be blamed on you, it’s a good thing to be kind! Alright, let’s have lunch first. It’s not too late to give an answer to Third Aunt in the afternoon!” He called Hong Ye in to instruct the servants to send their food.
Hong Ye timidly glanced at Sang Wan before relaying the instructions down to the servants. She also ordered a servant to draw some water for the two to wash their hands.
Sang Wan sighed secretly to herself. He had helped her too much these past few days; her reputation was improving daily and the servants were more respectful so there weren’t any who were rude to her. Everything was going well, thus, she had become less vigilant and meticulous than before. It seemed that words had to be thought through numerous times before speaking.
If Shi Fengju did not enlighten her today, she would not have noticed the changes in herself!
“Thank you.” Sang Wan did not know what to say as she quietly wiped her sweat.
Shi Fengju’s abstruse eyes gazed deeply into at hers and he said, “There’s no need for words like ‘thank you” between us. You are my wife.”
Sang Wan lowered her gaze and did not speak anymore. Recently, their conversation had been ending in such a way where she would be cornered by him after a few sentences. She did not know what he was planning in his mind!
Sang Wan’s heart was once again in disorder. She was distracted while having her meal, whereas Shi Fengju remained unaffected. He was himself and was also calm.
After their lunch, they went to a room, which was partitioned out, to have tea to help with their digestion, and a chat at the same time.
“It will be difficult for Hong Ye to manage everything alone. Zhide and Liu Ya will have to get married in the next few years; we should pick two or three clever servants next year and let Nanny Li and Zhide show them the ropes. They’ll be of help to you in the future!” Speaking of what had happened today, Shi Fengju smiled and added.
Sang Wan became slightly fidgety after hearing him and she said softly, “Lord should discuss it with Nanny Li instead. It’s none of my business!”
“What do you mean?” Shi Fengju felt that that came out of nowhere and was startled.
Sang Wan suddenly felt distressed. She did not feel this way when dealing with Wang Shi and Third Shi Family’s Old Mistress. But at this moment, her nose was stinging, her mouth had a taste of astringent, and her heart felt heavy and unbearable.
Why did he have to treat her so well? Just what was he planning!
“Did Lord really forget?” Sang Wan raised her head and glanced at him as she said softly, “After the new year, I should be leaving soon. Whatever arrangements Lord has, there isn’t any need to tell me.”
Shi Fengju entire body shook and his smile stiffened.
“No!” Shi Fengju exclaimed without even processing his thoughts, “I will not let you go!”
Sang Wan did not make a sound. She remained calm as she looked at him quietly, her eyes moist and clear with gentleness.
“I am for real!” Shi Fengju abruptly opened up his arms and hugged her tightly, he rested his face on her neck and said softly, “Sang Wan, don’t leave me! Please stay!”
Sang Wan felt a sudden pain in her heart, but she did not push him away this time. Instead, she gave a bitter smile, “If you want me to stay, how do you plan to settle me down?”
Hearing that there was still a chance, Shi Fengju felt happy. He raised his head and looked at her in the eye, “You will definitely be my first wife! And it will never change!”
“Really?” Sang Wan said dully, “Then what about your cousin? What will she be?”
Upon hearing Gu Fangzi’s name being mentioned, his heart sank. After a brief silence, he replied, “She will not rise above you. So rest your heart!”
“I’m not assured.” Sang Wan looked straight at Shi Fengju as she said every word calmly, “Lord, I am not assured enough.”
“Do you not believe that I will treat you well?”
“I don’t know.” Sang Wan shook her head before saying softly, “She is your childhood sweetheart. Because of her, you grew up with a prejudice against me and wished that I would get out of your life! And now, after just half a year, you want me to stay, promising that you will treat me well and nobody will rise above me, including her! Lord, if you were me, would you believe yourself? If someone were to appear again in the future, how would you continue to treat me?”
“It isn’t the same!” Shi Fengju retorted. He looked into Sang Wan’s gaze but found himself unable to refute.
She was right. If their roles were to change, he would not believe himself either. But he was still a man; getting deceived by a woman for so many years was not something that he could tell her. He couldn’t simply tell a woman that he had loved the wrong person.
“It just isn’t the same!” Shi Fengju thought about it for a moment and felt that he should just say it and be embarrassed this once, “You are different from her. Sang Wan, I know what I’m doing and I’ve never been any clearer. I like you. Sang Wan, I really like you! Gu Fangzi was perhaps because we grew up together. Before you showed up in my life, I did not differentiate what feelings I had for her! But now, I am clear of my feelings for you. Sang Wan, you are the one I want to be with for the rest of my life. Please don’t leave me, I will treat you well! Are you telling me that all this while, you did not feel my sincerity?”
“But, Gu Fangzi entered the family in the end!” Sang Wan gave a bitter smile.
Shi Fengju was full of regret. If only Gu Jin did not pass away so suddenly, Gu Fangzi would not have married into the family and things would not be so complicated now. Not even speaking about Sang Wan, he did not know how he should treat Gu Fangzi!
Some people just couldn’t be faced! Even meeting her would make him feel uncomfortable. But as of now, she was his concubine.
“I did not expect things to turn out the way they are now!” Shi Fengju said with a headache, “Sang Wan, I will not let her bully you! In this household, you are the mistress!”
Sang Wan sighed in her heart and remained quiet.
Not hearing a response from her after a long while, Shi Fengju could not help but try to sound her out. Seeing the calm and undisturbed look on her face, he did not know if she was satisfied. He embraced her arms tightly and said in a gentle voice, “Sang Wan, I will take it that you agreed not to leave me!”
Sang Wan glanced at him and said, “Do I have the power to refuse you? If you insist, I’ll have no choice but to stay and be your wife in name, fulfil my wifely duties, serve you and Mother, and take care of this household for you!”