Chapter 196: Bribery
“This servant, Zhide, greets Old Mistress!” In the warm room, Zhide knelt and kowtowed to Wang Shi respectfully.
“You may get up now!!” Wang Shi smiled as she waved her hand and said, “I didn’t expect so many years to go by in a blink of an eye! The little girl from before has grown into such a beautiful young lady as well!”
Zhide blushed lightly and smiled as she got up and stood to the side. Without looking up, she smiled to reply, “It was all thanks to Old Mistress that I can become what I am today.”
“Hehe, it is also because you were smart and hardworking enough!” Wang Shi examined her with a smile before asking her amicably to show concern. However, the more she asked, the more insecure Zhide felt but she answered every question honestly.
Gradually, Wang Shi arrived at her purpose of calling Zhide over. With a smile, she said, “You’ve served Young Master dutifully, even until now when Young Mistress is present. And because you are loyal and reliable, it is no wonder that your young mistress would value you a lot even though it hasn’t been long since she entered the family! She even personally set your marriage!”
Zhide began to get a little worried, so she forced a smile and said, “I was only doing my job. That is Young Mistress’ grace and this servant will never forget it!”
“I’ve always knew you were a loyal one!” Wang Shi smiled in satisfaction, but her expression dampened all of a sudden and she said, “I have a few questions for you, and you have to answer me honestly!”
Zhide’s body stiffened slightly but she forced a smile, “Old Mistress, please go ahead and ask, this servant does not dare to lie to Old Mistress!”
Wang Shi nodded and asked, “Tell me, how do Young Master and Young Mistress normally get along?”
Zhide was still taken aback even though she had already made the necessary mental preparation. She looked up at Wang Shi subconsciously, still feeling a little stunned. She thought for a while before answering, “Young Master and Young Mistress… treat each other with respect.”
Wang Shi was apparently unsatisfied with her answer. She frowned slightly and said, “That’s not what I’m asking! Zhide, there are only the two of us here, and I’m asking you because I trust you. There’s no need to feel mentally burdened, you can just answer me with whatever you know! Is that clear?”
“Yes, Old Mistress…”
Wang Shi asked again, “Then let me ask you, has your young mistress ever ordered your young master about, like serve her tea? Does she lose her temper often, so much so that your young master has to coax her? Or has she ever crossed the line of being a wife? Women are supposed to be gentle and virtuous, and serve our husbands well, do you think Young Mistress has done that well?”
Zhide did not know what happened that night, so she was puzzled when Wang Shi questioned her. Without a clue about what happened, Zhide did not know how she should answer.
Wang Shi was not in a hurry to receive an answer and did not press her. Instead, she simply watched her at the side.
“Young Mistress has always been gentle and virtuous, and she is very considerate towards Young Master as well. This servant has never seen Young Mistress lose her temper in front of Young Master before! Young Mistress has always been the one serving Young Master, and never the other way around.” Zhide said after putting in much thought.
“Is that the case?” Wang Shi thought for a while before asking again, “Young Mistress never disrespected Young Master in any way?
“This servant doesn’t dare lie to Old Mistress!” Zhide knelt and secretly complained bitterly in her heart.
“Quickly get up!” Wang Shi smiled and said, “Look at you, why do you always kneel at the drop of a hat? I know that I can trust you. If you say so, then it must be so!”
Then she sighed, “You must be confused by my sudden questions, aren’t you? Ai, I’m just worrying for my own son as a mother! From what I have seen, your young master seems to be too nice to your young mistress, I am just afraid that your young mistress might develop a tendency of wanting him to do unacceptable favors for her behind my back! If others were to hear about it, our Shi family will lose our reputation! And if she ever behaves that way, I would have to discipline her well!”
Zhide did not dare to respond and could only reply with a soft ‘understood’ after a while.
“Zhide!” Once again, Wang Shi spoke affably, “You have been serving your young master since young and have always been doing your best. Although I have never praised you myself, but I’ve always noticed you and remember your good points! Zhide, I know you are a good girl; if you could help me with one more thing, I’ll definitely never shortchange you! And when you get married in the future, I will not forget to reward you!”
“This servant has always been grateful for Old Mistress’ kindness, and will never disobey any of Old Mistress’ instructions! Please tell me what I have to do, Old Mistress!” Zhide did not dare to hesitate or boggle. She hurriedly knelt before answering.
“Quickly get up!” Wang Shi went as far as to help her up and said, “I want you to be my eyes and watch everything that happens in Ning Garden1. I want you to keep an eye on your young mistress. You will inform me of any misbehavior or if she treats your young master poorly! Will you do that for me?”
Zhide’s face turned pale. She was stunned and did not dare answer her.
Wang Shi said again, “I don’t have any other meaning behind it. I am just afraid that the young couple might have little sense of propriety. Your young master has never been bothered about trifles, so what if your young mistress gets conceited from his good grace and rumors end up spreading? It would be a disgrace to our entire Shi family! It would do everyone good if I could discipline her in time! Zhide, I will leave this to you, so don’t let me down!”
“Yes… Old Mistress, this servant will keep it in mind.” Zhide stuttered and her heart was beating vigorously, “If… if this servant ever finds anything out, this servant will immediately report to you, Old Mistress!”
“Hmm,” Wang Shi nodded with satisfaction and smiled, “I have faith in you! Alright, you may go back now! This pair of gold hairpins is my reward for you. Do your task properly, and don’t disappoint me!”
“This servant thanks Old Mistress for the reward!” Zhide took them respectfully and left with her head lowered after she kowtowed.
After she returned to Ning Garden, she showed Sang Wan her reward from Wang Shi. Sang Wan took a look at them in her hands and smiled, “This a reward from Old Mistress, keep it properly!”
Zhide smiled and nodded before she left to keep the reward.
Zhide remained hesitant for more than half a day before she finally sent the rest away under the pretext that she would stand vigil at Ning Garden. When Shi Fengju went to take a bath, she found the chance to tell Sang Wan in detail about Wang Shi’s orders as she knelt in front of her.
“This servant has no idea why Old Mistress would want this out of nowhere, and this servant doesn’t dare to hide it from Young Mistress after giving it much thought! Young Mistress’ grace to me was like giving me a second life, this servant does not dare to forget about it!”
It felt like a bolt from the blue when Sang Wan heard so, as she had never expected her mother-in-law to remain unappeased after scolding her and even called for her close servant to become her eyes. Fortunately, Zhide, Liu Ya, and Hong Ye were servants close to her who were not arrogant and have their own agenda. Otherwise, if it were someone else who had received the instructions from Wang Shi, they would definitely take advantage of it to make her suffer! Even if she did behave herself, she would definitely still end up being framed.
Sang Wan was startled and angered at the same time. How could her mother-in-law be so distrustful of her?
“Old Mistress’ uneasiness is because she cares for our Shi family as well. I’m still young and she may have witnessed my lacking in areas that worry her! Since Old Mistress has already told you to do so, then you should just report to her honestly with whatever you see! So long as nothing is made up, it’ll be alright! Don’t betray the trust Old Mistress has for you!” It wasn’t easy for Sang Wan to calm the rage within her heart before she told Zhide.
Zhide was relieved when she heard her, so she quickly answered with a nod, “Yes, Young Mistress, this servant understands!”
“Alright, you may excuse yourself now!” Sang Wan waved.
Zhide thanked her before she left and closed the door behind her softly.
Sang Wan slowly leaned against the couch and watched the flame in the lamp sway gently. The more she thought about it, the angrier she felt.
When Shi Fengju came in and saw her not in bed but sitting on the couch in a daze, he went closer to her and hugged her shoulders. He smiled and said, “What are you thinking about so seriously? Don’t you feel cold sitting here with so little clothes?”
Of course she wouldn’t feel cold as there was a heater beneath the house. Sang Wan looked up at him before she smiled all of a sudden and placed her arms around his neck. She whispered softly by his ear, “Carry me there.”
Shi Fengju’s heart turned soft by the gentle and warm body. Her body exuded a fragrance which shook his heart and there was nothing more that he could ask for. He smirked as he carried her in his arms before saying gently, ” I would carry you like this every night if you’d like…”
Sang Wan’s face turned red, but deep down, she felt somehow satisfied. She nibbled her lip and said softly into his ear, “We better not, what if Mother finds out about it?”
Shi Fengju was suddenly amused, so he lowered his head and rubbed his nose against her forehead and said, “How would Mother know about what happens in our room?” As he spoke, he walked towards the bed with long strides before putting her down gently. He could feel and smell the warm fragrance from her delicate body. In the end, it was yet another night of ceaseless passion.
Half a month passed and Shi Fengju found an opportunity to talk to Wang Shi about Gu Fangzi.
“Mother, I’m thinking of finding Cousin a better husband, what do you think?”Shi Fengju thought that his mother was going to get mad at him and would argue over it, but who knew she’d only raise an eyebrow instead. Her face remained somewhat calm, which surprised Shi Fengju entirely.
After all, how could he know that Wang Shi had unintentionally heard stories about the past from Shi Yumei and became disappointed in Gu Fangzi just as much as how she used to think of her in the past. In her eyes, the most important person was only her son! She was only nice to Gu Fangzi because she had always assumed that girl was nice to her son! But since she wasn’t, why would Wang Shi still treat her the same as before?
“Where did such a thought come from?” Wang Shi simply asked. She was even somewhat pleased deep down after knowing that her son might not like Gu Fangzi as much as she thought he would. There was no need to worry about Gu Fangzi ensnaring him in the future anymore!
Shi Fengju had already thought about the excuse, and said, “Cousin Fangzi has stayed in our household since young, if others knew that we had married her in as a concubine, it would be a shame on our family! To those who are not clear about the situation, it might seem like we’re ill-treating her and turn our grace into hatred! I didn’t think about this at all before, but now I really regret marrying her! Fortunately, such an event wasn’t made huge and not a lot of people know about it, so I will find her a husband who isn’t from around here and marry her off when the situation quietens down! Her new family wouldn’t dare to treat her poorly as long as she has our Shi family backing her! Isn’t it better for her to get married as a wife instead of a concubine? I am only thinking for her as well!”
Wang Shi studied him doubtfully and said, “Do you really think so? Did you hear some gossip outside, or was it Sang Wan who is asking for this?”