Chapter 7: Lost Marbles
“Ma’am!” Once Zhide went out to instruct the maidservants, Liu Ya eagerly called out to Sang Wan. Rubbing her hands together excitedly, she said with a determined voice, “Ma’am, rest assured! Liu Ya will learn with all her heart!”
Sang Wan smiled softly, “No need to hurry. Haste makes waste.”
After dressing up herself properly, a young maidservant with important news barged into the chamber. “Ma’am, Miss Gu is here!” She exclaimed, with a pinch of excitement in her voice. Hearing that, the other maidservants instinctively gauged Sang Wan with their eyes.
This is a show that must not be missed!
“My cousin-in-law has arrived? Quickly, invite her in!” Sang Wan secretly smirked to herself, but on the surface, she gently instructed the maidservants and acted as if the guest was just her cousin-in-law.
But in actual fact, shouldn’t that be the case?
“My dear cousin-in-law! Congratulations, cousin-in-law!” Before Sang Wan even heard it, Gu Fangzi had already entered the chamber, with Lan Xiang following closely behind. With both hands, one above the other, on the left side of her waist, she bowed elegantly to Sang Wan and smiled delicately, “It is a little impolite of me to come unwelcomed, but I hope my dear cousin-in-law will not give me the cold shoulder.”
“How could I? Quickly, enough of the manners!” Maintaining her smile, Sang Wan personally assisted her into the chamber. Upon entering the chamber, Sang Wan ordered a maidservant to serve the tea before sitting down, together with Gu Fangzi. With the same smile, Sang Wan said, “I’ve always wanted to have a conversation with someone, and luckily, you’re here! I’m clumsy at speech and shallow in knowledge; I hope cousin-in-law wouldn’t find me uninteresting to talk to!”
“Why would I? Cousin-in-law, you’re too polite!” Gu Fangzi giggled, and the two ladies gazed at each other.
After finishing the tea, Gu Fangzi discreetly observed Sang Wan. Concerned, she asked, “My dear cousin-in-law, your complexion does not look too good. Is it because you were too busy and neglected your rest? A woman should care more for her own body. Us women can neglect almost everything, but absolutely not our own body. Cousin-in-law, there is no need to scruple; when it’s time to rest, rest well! My aunt is a very nice person, and she treats others even more so! Once you’ve stayed long enough with her, you’ll understand.”
As Gu Fangzi’s soft and gentle words of concern flowed into her ears, Sang Wan felt as if she was in a trance. Snapping herself back to reality, she recalled the good Gu Fangzi’s advices had done to her! The enthusiasm and concern Gu Fangzi displayed were like a fire pit, giving her warmth in the cold weather; much better than the way Shi Fengju treated her. And regarding her mother-in-law’s temperament and preferences, those were all only heard through Gu Fangzi’s mouth. As a result, she followed the descriptions given by Gu Fangzi and caused her mother-in-law to despise her as the days went by!
The more she thought, the more she wanted to laugh. Credit must be given to Gu Fangzi; clever to an extent that she was able to utilize those underhand methods with ease! What’s more, being led by the nose and deceived so badly by Gu Fangzi, Gu Fangzi herself was however able to slip away guilt-free!
Of course, Gu Fangzi was not the one at fault; all the fault lies solely on Sang Wan herself.
“Many thanks to cousin-in-law for the care and concern! Ah yes, cousin-in-law, from where did you come here from?” Sang Wan smiled as she asked.
Gu Fangzi was amazed that Sang Wan did not take the opportunity to find out more about her mother-in-law! Her mother-in-law’s attitude directly determines her position in the Shi Family; does she not care about her position in the Shi Family at all? Or, is she already well-prepared?
“I was at the flower garden not long ago. The current weather is good, so I thought of picking some freshly bloomed flowers and placing them in a vase before giving them to Aunt. However, after strolling around, I didn’t spot any good ones. But luckily, I was near the small garden so I came to see you!” Gu Fangzi replied, with a warm smile on her face.
“Is that so?” Sang Wan’s eyes lit up. Conveniently, she asked, “I see, my mother-in-law likes fresh flowers. May I know which type of flower she likes the most?”
Seeing Sang Wan slowly treading on the path she wanted her to follow since the beginning, Gu Fangzi was secretly delighted. Smiling, she and Sang Wan continued to have a conversation. After quite a while, she bid Sang Wan goodbye and promised to see her again the following day before making her leave.
Naturally, Sang Wan readily agreed. Smiling, she personally went to see Gu Fangzi off. As for the maidservants’ different opinions regarding the scene just then, she decided to turn a blind eye.
Still, she hoped that one of them would foolishly be brave enough to voice out their cynicism in front of her. That way, she would not need to find a reason to discipline the brave soul and at the same time give a warning to the rest of the maidservants.
For the maidservants, their opinions of her are unnecessary, but she believed that Wang Shi and Shi Fengju would not like to have unruly maidservants in their household.
Lunch time, Shi Fengju really came. He arrived on the dot, and just as arranged, the dishes were served onto the table directly from the kitchen without the need of a steam box to keep the food warm.
“I had some matters to deal with in the study room.” Shi Fengju coughed as he said it plainly.
Sang Wan stared blankly at him. Did he just tried to explain why he left in a hurry just then?
Still, his good intention will not be unappreciated. More importantly, it proved effective for the maidservants who were listening.
Gently, Sang Wan nodded with an “Oh” and continued, “Sir, you must be tired! For today’s lunch, I’ve requested the kitchen staff to prepare some of your favorite dishes. Do dig in!”
Seeing her smile gracefully, he became more natural. And just like that, they were like a real couple; a real family. The awkwardness in his heart gradually disappeared. Of course, the night before they had already spoken their mind, so the awkwardness disappearing is not something impossible.
“Dig in!” Shi Fengju laughed. Skimming his eyes across the table, he noticed that the soup and all the other 8 dishes were his favorite. He said, “In the future, no need to take me into account. If you’ve something you’d like to eat, feel free to ask the staff to serve them.”
Sang Wan smiled slightly. As she sat, she spoke, “I don’t really have anything in particular that I like to eat. We are not too fastidious about our food.”
Shi Fengju stared at her blankly before giving her a smile and stopped pursuing further into the conversation. He knew full well of the Sang family’s current situation. However, never did he thought that Sang Wan would say it so gracefully, as if it was not embarrassing. This scored a few points in his heart.
After all, such words are not something a man can easily express. But for a woman, the difficulty is on another higher level!
After the two had their lunch, Shi Fengju instructed Zhide to bring in all the maidservants, who are assigned around the small garden, to meet their Mistress. For now, she’ll have to live her life in this world. And as for him, to ensure she is not looked down upon, and her stay here is without misery.
Sang Wan was astonished. He must have hit his head when he went out just then! Never could she imagine his temperament and actions to make a complete flip! Of course, she was delighted nevertheless!
Immediately after Shi Fengju displayed his affection towards Sang Wan, the maidservants assigned around the small garden quickly went to give their respect to her. Some of the maidservants who were previously unruly towards Sang Wan now felt very perturbed as they fear that the new Mistress might carry a grudge towards them. This made them more polite and cautious.
Sang Wan ordered Liu Ya to take out the gift that she had prepared beforehand. The gift was colorful pouch, embroidered with a variety of auspicious patterns. In the pouch were a few scattered coins. The current Sang family’s financial situation isn’t well off, thus Sang Wan’s gift could not be too generous. The sum of coins in the pouch could be anything ranging from 2 silver to 2 copper coins. In the eyes of the maidservants in the Shi family, such amount amounts to nothing! In her past life, because of the gift, she received a reputation of being stingy, thus losing the hearts of her maidservants. However, due to her family’s current financial state, the most she can give amounts to only that little.
“I can only give you this much, treat it as a figure of luck —— What I’m saying is the truth and not just for show! If you dislike it, you may return it! If you all work diligently, maybe in the future I might take advantage of Sir’s family fortune and reward all of you generously!” Sang Wan said half-jokingly.
Upon hearing that, the maidservants could not help but laugh. Even Shi Fengju smiled slightly.
With that, the slight unhappiness towards Sang Wan vanished like the wind! No one in the chamber does not know of their Mistress’s family financial state. But still, the pouch is nothing but a figure of luck! Being a maidservant of such a wealthy family, who would really lack such a meagre sum of money? However, since their Mistress had already given her word, worrying about the present would not bring any benefit to them in the future!
And since Sir remained silent and did not rebuke, her words might be true!
“Since Ma’am has already given her word, for tonight’s banquet, have the kitchen staff prepare two more extra tables for all of you to attend and enjoy! Tell the kitchen staff to put that into my account! Zhide, you’ll do the relevant arrangements!” Shi Fengju carried the spirit of helping others till the end, and laughed.
The maidservants’ eyes glistened and their faces exposed a broad smile. Rarely was the young master this generous, thus given such opportunity, who’ll not be happy? Again, Young Master did this only because of their Mistress, and as such, their attitude towards Sang Wan took a turn for the better.
Liu Ya was even more excited, and she laughed without restraint.
Seeing that his part has been played well and done, staying with Sang Wan still made him feel a little uncomfortable. Thus, he came up with an excuse and left. Sang Wan and the maidservants hurriedly went to see him off. And after that, the maidservants accompanied Sang Wan back into her chamber. This was still much better than her previous life by many folds!
Sang Wan did not let such a great opportunity, to win over the hearts of the maidservants, slip by. She had a long conversation with them before instructing them to return to their tasks. Deep down, she sighed.The incidents in the past, she too was responsible for them; by trying too hard to maintain her image and for being too submissive! If not for the dreary lesson gained after her death, perhaps in this life, changing her usual temperament might pose a challenge!
At night, a banquet was held in the courtyard, and together with Wang Shi, they had a hearty meal. No less, the couple’s act continued; husband and wife on good terms, and respectful towards each other. This made Wang Shi very pleased. Occasionally, she would smile and nod.
Deep down, Wang Shi is against the marriage. But immediately, she suppressed it. After all, it was her father-in-law and husband’s will. As a daughter-in-law, and a wife, it is her duty to fulfill their final wish. Unless Sang Wan is handicapped or has a bad reputation among the people, the marriage will go as arranged. As for him, he’ll have to endure for the time being.
Once in awhile, Gu Fangzi would look away from the crowd and discreetly convey her goodwill and friendliness. And from time to time expose a friendly smile at her. Seeing Gu Fangzi smiling at her, Sang Wan politely smiled back. Even though she knew full well of her intentions, she couldn’t help but feel worried, but since Gu Fangzi is keeping her act, why not play along?
At night, the awkwardness lingered in the air as the couple were left alone in the chamber.
A small group of maidservants would occasionally scurry past the small garden. Clearly, Shi Fengju sleeping outside in the small garden would be impossible. As a newlywed, him sleeping in the study room is even more of a no-go.
And because of that, he was in a more awkward situation compared to Sang Wan.
“It’s already very late! I’ll sleep on the floor, and you’ll sleep on the bed!” Immediately after saying so, he swiftly grabbed a mattress from the cupboard and lay it gently on the floor. Right after removing his robe, he tugged himself under the quilt. Looking up at Sang Wan, he wanted to say something but quickly stopped himself.