Chapter 20 (V2): Distrust
Shi Fengju spoke patiently. “Mother, the servants are garrulous but unknowledgeable. What’s there to fuss over about? Just throw the noisy ones out and the problem will be solved! We can always employ more to replace those who are thrown! Gu Fangzi isn’t so petty; I’m sure she wouldn’t take that incident to heart!”
Which large household did not have unruly servants? Only a pond with no fish is a pond that’s clean. How could Mother not understand such a simple principle? Busy enough having to look after heaven and earth, who had the time to look after the mouth of humans?
“Nonsense!” Wang Shi scolded. “Don’t you know that gossips are powerful weapons? Or do you not intend to marry Gu Fangzi?”
“Miss Gu!” Nanny Jiang spotted Gu Fangzi standing at the entrance with her eyes wide open.
The quarrel between mother and son immediately paused. They immediately looked in the direction of the entrance, only to see Gu Fangzi’s pale and sorrowful face as she choked on her tears and ran.
“That… when did she come?” Wang Shi looked at Nanny Jiang.
“I don’t know!” Nanny Jiang hurriedly replied in remorse.
Wang Shi could not help but feel anxious. “This is bad, she must have heard our conversation! What should we do? That child is already pitiful, yet this— all because of you!” Wang Shi glared at her son.
“Mother, no need to feel anxious. I’ll find and explain everything to her. So Mother, do not interfere in this!” Once he spoke, Shi Fengju hurried out.
In a pavilion of Peony Park, Gu Fangzi quietly let her tears flow. Her slender shoulders trembled slightly and she would sniffle once in a while. Clearly, she was pitiful.
Hearing the footsteps behind her, Gu Fangzi became motionless for a moment before slowly sitting up straight. With her back facing the man who was rushing towards her, she quickly wiped the tears off her face. She tidied herself up and slid away her hair that was sticking to her face before casting a glance behind her. It was Shi Fengju. She immediately lowered her head, “Big Cousin.”
Seeing her teary swollen red eyes and her face wet with tears, she was like a beautiful flower under the rain, both lovely and pitiful. His heart immediately softened.
“Fang’er!” Shi Fengju patted her back gently. “Don’t cry!”
Gu Fangzi sniffled loudly but did not respond to his words. Her body involuntarily leaned away from his hand.
He does not wish to have me married into the family; he does not wish so!
She had never thought that he would bluntly refuse her! She had only worried about her aunt. But now it seemed that it was not her aunt who was actually refusing her, but him!
That was unacceptable! His attitude was like a sharp knife, piercing mercilessly at her heart.
“Fang’er, don’t be like that!” Shi Fengju smiled bitterly.
“Why did you not agree? You…” Gu Fangzi raised her head and looked tearfully into Shi Fengju’s eyes. “Do you not want me anymore?”
“No, it’s not like that!” Alarmed, Shi Fengju immediately pulled her into his arms. “Fang’er, have you forgotten the words I said to you before? I said that I would never betray you!”
“But you refused in front of Aunt Wang! You should know that my heart only has— Big Cousin, you can’t do this to me. My heart hurts; it hurts a lot!” Gu Fangzi could not help but once again let her tears flow down her cheeks.
Those were tears filled with humiliation.
“My feelings for you have never changed. Believe in me, Fang’er!” Shi Fengju increased the seriousness in his tone. “And the words I said to you before will also never change; you have to believe in me!”
All Gu Fangzi could feel from those words was a thick layer of satire. The fury in her heart rose to the doors of her mind. She sneered at Shi Fengju. “Believe? How do you want me to believe in you? Before Sang Wan married into the family, you couldn’t bear to hear even her name being mentioned in the household, and during the day of the marriage, your face showed no sign of happiness! At that time, I’m sure you know that I was feeling both happy and upset. Upset because the one marrying you wasn’t me; happy because your feelings for me were evident! But now? You don’t seem to even wish to have me married into the family! Why? You’re worried that she might suffer humiliation? In just the short timespan of three days, you’ve forgotten all about me and the one who’s taken my spot in your heart instead is her? For you, I was willing to become a concubine, but just what do you want? Your words say you would never betray me, but just from your actions alone, you have already betrayed me!”
Shi Fengju’s heart felt hurt and was in a disorder; he was all of a sudden taken aback by her words.”Fang’er, you don’t believe in me?”
“The evidence is all laid openly, how do you want me to believe in you?”
“Fang’er,” Shi Fengju’s eyes darkened. He could not help but feel disappointed. His tone became rough. “What you think may not be true. So long as you believe in me, you’ll understand that my feelings for you have never changed!”
Seeing that he was unwilling to repent and was pushing all the blame onto herself for making a fuss, she laughed coldly. “Is that so? Then explain to me how I’m wrong! Big Cousin, you’ve never lied to me before, but just because of Sang Wan, who has just entered into the family for no longer than three days, you throw out those words to fool me. Though I may not be from a scholarly family and knowledgeable, I am not a fool to believe in whatever I hear!”
With that said, she lowered her head again and wiped the tears off her face before letting out another wave of tears.
Shi Fengju was startled. He felt as if a layer of ice had covered his heart and he stared at the person in front of him in disbelief. He suddenly had the feeling that the person in front of him was suddenly unfamiliar like there was a layer between them that made him unable to hear her clearly.
He had grown up together with her, ever since they were young. With no suspicions towards each other, they were not strangers. He had already said so, yet she did not believe him? Or did she think that he was like the rest, who played around with others?
If so, what was all his perseverance and suffering for? Shi Fengju suddenly felt tired.
If he had told her before about the agreement he had with Sang Wan, then she would not be feeling the way she was now.
But now, if he were to tell her about it, she would definitely not believe him! Worse, she might become even more furious and assume that he was lying to her! Surely, she would think that she was a woman that can be easily deceived!
Gu Fangzi had wanted to quarrel with Shi Fengju until the end; all that hard work she had put in, the accumulated efforts, how could she just let them all go? All she wanted was for Shi Fengju to accept her, to not be able to live without her and to have him look strongly upon her.
In the past, so long as she had cried with grievances, Shi Fengju would step in to coax her until her teary face changed into a smiling one.
But now, even though she had already cried for some time already, all he did was stand foolishly while staring at her.
The anger in her heart burned stronger than before. She was sure that his feelings for her had definitely changed. That anger broke through the barriers of her head; she pushed away from Shi Fengju and cried, “What are you staring at the helpless me for! Go away; return to your Ning Garden where she’s waiting for you!”
Shi Fengju’s heart was in a disarray. From her push, he had almost fallen to the ground.
He was not someone without a temper. His face immediately darkened once more and he said coldly, “Since you deem it that way, there is nothing I can do! When your anger subsides, we’ll talk again!” With that, he turned and slowly walked away.
Gu Fangzi stood in a daze. How did things end this way? This was not what she had thought would happen!
“Big Cousin! Big Cousin!” Gu Fangzi chased after him and clung to him tightly from behind. With her cheek pasted stickily to his back, she cried, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I won’t fuss over this, I won’t fuss over this anymore! I’ll believe in you; is it not enough for me to believe in you? Big Cousin, please don’t ignore me!”
Shi Fengju’s heart softened again. Even though he knew that her words were untrue, at least she was willing to try and believe him. He gently turned around and patted her back. “Enough, enough crying. I was also at fault just now, so let’s not mention this anymore, alright?”
Gu Fangzi had an insatiable temperament. Seeing that Shi Fengju had finally conceded, she went on to become pretentious, unwilling to give an answer while lowering her head as tears flowed down her cheeks.
Shi Fengju was used to coaxing her. Seeing her the way she was now, though he felt frustrated, he could not just leave her crying. As such, all he could do was stay by her side and patiently comfort her.
After a long while, Gu Fangzi finally stopped crying. Wiping away the tears on her face, she pretended, “This all happened because of my bad temperament. I should not have acted that way, but instead listened to what Big Cousin had to say!” But deep down she was elated for she finally had Shi Fengju back under her “spell.”
Shi Fengju could not help but heave a sigh of relief before nodding heavily. “That should be the way! When have I ever made you feel aggrieved?”
Of course, Gu Fangzi naturally did not agree with that statement. Her not suffering from grievances was all due only to her own abilities.
And making her aunt and Shi Fengju thought only of her was also part of it.
However, on the surface, Gu Fangzi nodded shyly, with an “ah,” before showing a sweet grin on her face.
“But Aunt Wang let me continue to manage the household. The order isn’t right, I——” Gu Fangzi gave a faint sigh and looked at Shi Fengju. “I think that Cousin Sang Wan should be the one doing the management. She’s more knowledgeable and clever than me; managing the household shouldn’t be difficult for her.”
That was a problem. Shi Fengju raised a brow.
If he were to let Sang Wan manage the household and push Fangzi to a side, his mother would never agree to it! That old lady might even argue with him until the earth flipped! Why quarrel to the point where there was no peace left in the household?
What’s more, in a year or so, Sang Wan would be leaving. In the end, Fangzi would still have to return to manage the household.
“What about this, on the surface, you tell the servants that you’re working under her instructions. But in reality, you’re actually the one who call the shots. You’ll just be borrowing her name to get things done. What do you think? Then I’ll have you then married into the family after a year or so!”
Gu Fangzi was glad for the first half of his speech, but once his speech was completed, her heart sank again.
A year or so? Just what are you planning, Big Cousin? To actually have me wait for a year or so before I can enter into the family?
She wanted to ask regarding the duration of the waiting time, but she understood that now was not the time to ask Shi Fengju about it. Gently, she nodded. “If so, that’ll be alright. I’ll do so then! But as for Cousin-in-law…”
“I’ll talk to her about it. No need to worry.”
Gu Fangzi finally put down her worries and smiled.
A year or so? Hmph, there might not even be a need to wait a year or so! Who knows, it might be tomorrow, the following day, or next month when he changes his mind.
When Shi Fengju returned to Ning Garden, he immediately told Sang Wan about it. Secretly, Sang Wan sighed and accepted reluctantly. So long as Gu Fangzi did not provoke her, she may continue to manage the household however she likes!
Having won the battle this time around, Gu Fangzi went to Ning Garden happily the next day to speak with Sang Wan.