Again, Gu Fangzi sighed, “My father also said that all these years were all thanks to the Shi family’s care. However, with no way to repay them, he said that he will surely bless you with a long life and protect the Shi family’s business to make it a bigger success! He also instructed Fang’er to respect you and serve Big Cousin well. Only by doing so can he repay the kindness given to the Gu family!”
As Gu Fangzi spoke, she sobbed while getting up before kneeling in front of Wang Shi with her head lowered deeply.
“Oh my, quickly, get up, get up!” Wang Shi frantically ordered a servant to help Gu Fangzi up before speaking gently, “My child ah! You’ve always been sensible, and I know you’ve always looked out for me and Fengju! You’ve already done well, and you’re very filial! Be good ah, don’t be like this! Otherwise, it’ll pain my heart! Your father, too! Such a thing need not be instructed twice!”
The edges of Wang Shi’s lips were slightly raised, and her expression was somewhat joyous. Gu Jin, this kind of person, who’d expect him to be more mature after death and know how to repay kindness! If he were really to bless us and ensure that our family becomes better and better, then that can be considered doing us justice!
Choking on her emotions, Gu Fangzi said her thanks before getting up and wiping away her tears. “My father also said that he has seen how filial I was towards him, and he told me that being filial towards him in my heart was enough. With my current situation, he said that there’s no need for me to be so restricted. He said that since I have already married into the Shi family, then I’m now a Shi family member, so there’s no need for me to mourn for three years! He also said that by being filial to Aunt and serving Big Cousin well, it’ll also mean being filial towards him!”
As she said that, she pulled out a yellowish note paper and handed it to Wang Shi with both hands. “This morning, I went to seek the head priest to interpret the dream I had the night before and to instruct me what I should do. Aunt, please have a look at what the priest has interpreted.”
“Oh? Let me see then!” Wang Shi extended her hand.
She took the piece of note paper, but it suddenly dawned upon her that she was not familiar with written words. However, looking at the note paper, it was indeed something a temple priest would use. The words were also neat and beautiful, just like the ones the priest had written on in the past.
“Why don’t you read it out for Aunt!” Wang Shi handed the note paper back to Gu Fangzi.
Gu Fangzi received it and read the five to six sentences out loud before explaining to Wang Shi what they meant. It was all about knowing one’s mistakes and changing for the better—this was thus Gu Jin’s way of repenting for the sins he had committed. But there was one important point, and that was Gu Fangzi could discreetly reduce the mourning period.
“The mourning period is a heavenly principle, but Father has told me so. As his daughter, I do not know how long he’d like me to mourn for, and so I went to ask the priest to make the decision for me. The priest calculated with his knuckle and said that half a year is enough. Once half a year has gone by, he wishes for me to return to the temple to conduct a ritual and place Father’s tablet in the temple!”
After listening, Wang Shi nodded and said, “Since the head priest has already said so, then it must be right! We’ll go with what the head priest said!”
Gu Fangzi was secretly delighted, and she quickly nodded her head. “Fang’er also thought the same! This way, not only will I have done my part as my father’s daughter, I, I can also be more filial to Aunt as soon as possible! This will be the best of both worlds!”
“En!” Wang Shi nodded with a smile before sighing with a few words about Gu Jin.
As they spoke, a cheery voice interrupted from outside, “Aiya, isn’t this Cousin Fangzi! My little cousin, you’re back ah!”
It was Shi Yumei.
She went up to Gu Fangzi and pulled Gu Fangzi’s arm before looking at her from top to bottom. She was startled as she said, “Why are you dressed so plainly in white! After not seeing Cousin Fangzi for more than a year, your complexion doesn’t look as good as before! Is someone bullying you? My second brother will surely be distressed when he sees you in such a state!”
“Cousin Yumei!” Gu Fangzi’s eyes sparkled as she graced upon the red embroidered coat and crimson red skirt with sixteen folds worn by a young lady whose hair was tied into a bun. Gu Fangzi intimately held the lady’s shoulder and exclaimed, “Cousin Yumei, you’re back! It’s good, it’s really good to see you!” With her eyes still slightly puffy, she spoke softly, “No one’s bullying Fangzi, and Fangzi is still in her mourning period… Everyone in this household treats Fangzi well!”
The two cousins looked at each other gleefully, and Shi Yumei pulled Gu Fangzi back to her seat before snorting, “Of course the people here will treat you well. But as for that outsider, it’s hard to tell! There are those, ah, who are used to putting on a facade. On the surface, they might look wise, but they’re just a scorpion deep within. I’ve seen so many of these!”
“There’s no such thing! Cousin Yumei, you worry too much! Our Shi household has no such person!” Gu Fangzi quickly smiled.
Wang Shi also smiled and spoke, “Yes ah! You ah, you should think more like your cousin! Our family has no such person!”
Shi Yumei licked her lips wet and stopped talking. She turned and congratulated Gu Fangzi upon finally becoming an official Shi family member before sighing, “Why did Uncle die at just a period! Ai, the road to happiness is paved with hardships, but that might have been too much for you!”
Those words touched Gu Fangzi’s sore spot. Recalling the shameful marriage ceremony she had and how Shi Fengju no longer treated her like before, her eyes turned slightly red as tears gradually trickled down her face. “Father was not fortunate, so Fangzi isn’t too…”
“Let’s just stop here! It’s my bad, I shouldn’t have said things to make you recall those unhappy thoughts!” Shi Yumei quickly comforted her.
Gu Fangzi broke into a smile, and she nodded, “En, let’s not speak about it! It’s fortunate that Aunt and the Shi household are extremely blessed that even Fangzi is blessed!”
“Haha, you ah, your tongue has always been smart and has always known how to speak! How can you always make others so fond of you!” Shi Yumei laughed. Shi Yumei reached her hand out and gave Gu Fangzi’s hand a squeeze.
The first moment when Wang Shi heard the word ‘fortunate,’ she immediately recalled the words that Nanny Li spoke which made her feel somewhat uncomfortable. But after listening for a little while longer, her expression lightened again. As she observed the two who were on intimate terms, she smiled. “Enough, enough, Fangzi, you may go back. If you two sisters have things to say, don’t do it here, or else you’ll both make so much noise that it’ll annoy me! When it’s time for dinner, I’ll have someone call for the both of you!”
“I so happen to have lots of things I’d like to speak with Cousin Fangzi! Then, we won’t bother Mother anymore!” Shi Yumei smiled and got up.
“Me too!” Gu Fangzi smiled and said goodbye to Wang Shi before leaving with Shi Yumei.
Not too long after leaving the courtyard, Shi Yumei impatiently spoke about Sang Wan and asked about her.
Gu Fangzi’s was secretly glad that she had asked. Her expression remained as it was, and she subconsciously gazed at her surroundings before smiling as she skipped the questions. She then moved on to ask Shi Yumei when she had arrived and whether or not the trip here was tiring.
Shi Yumei was furious. However, she was not furious at Gu Fangzi, but at Sang Wan. Gu Fangzi had always been clear and straightforward. Without a doubt, it must have been because of Sang Wan’s “suppression” which made Gu Fangzi afraid to utter a single word about her. Just how tyrannical is this Sang Wan?
Marrying into the Shi family from a broken Sang family is already enough as a blessing! But not living fairly and honestly, while being despicable, that is just unheard of! Just who does she think she is!
“Fangzi, I don’t want to say this, but after not seeing you for more than a year, where have your guts ran off to! How could you let someone from an impoverished family scare you like this!” Shi Yumei sneered.
“Cousin Yumei, don’t say that! Fangzi doesn’t understand what you mean!” Gu Fangzi smiled and blinked her eyes. Seeing how mad Shi Yumei was and how she was about to blurt something out, Gu Fangzi quickly grabbed her arm and pled as she looked at her in the eye, “Cousin Yumei!”
Shi Yumei let out a long sigh, “Alright, that can wait until we return to Peony Park!”
Seeing how uneasy Gu Fangzi was since she was now a concubine while the other was the wife, if that person were to stir up trouble, it would not do Gu Fangzi any good. For the sake of a moment, she should not cause trouble for her dearest cousin!
“En! Okay!” Gu Fangzi loosened her expression, and she quickly nodded with a smile.
Once they returned to Peony Park, Shi Yumei questioned Gu Fangzi about Sang Wan without any cares for politeness. Gu Fangzi, of course, was reluctant to answer her.
Shi Yumei had always been impatient and outspoken. In just a brief moment, Gu Fangzi had made her want to leap from her seat just from the anger in her heart.
Under the relentless pressure and questioning, Gu Fangzi finally confessed, revealing only half of all the ill-experiences she had suffered.
She left the other half to Shi Yumei’s imagination.
As the borders of imagination were endless, the more Shi Yumei thought, the uglier her view of Sang Wan became.
“That vixen! How could Second Brother have married her! I knew that she wasn’t something good! Otherwise, why would Mother and Second Brother be so fond of her!” Shi Yumei gritted her teeth hatefully as she scornfully said, “Mother must be getting old and foolish! She should have canceled the marriage before it happened! You are better than her in every aspect and can be of help to Second Brother with the business. You are the most suited to be Second Brother’s wife!”
Those were the words which Gu Fangzi loved to listen to. Moreover, she too also felt that way. Feeling a sense of warmth in her heart, she held onto Shi Yumei’s hand tightly and whimpered, “Cousin Yumei, I couldn’t have wished for more than those words! But because Fangzi isn’t fortunate, Fangzi cannot blame others!”
Shi Yumei grunted, “Nonsense! If you aren’t fortunate, then that Sang lass is even more unworthy! Hmph, let’s just see how long she can remain complacent! That vixen, other than knowing how to seduce men, what else does she know! In what aspect is she worthy of our Fengju!”
Gu Fangzi listened with great enthusiasm, but she quickly persuaded, “Cousin Yumei, you shouldn’t say that! As of now, the household is hers to manage…”
“So what!” Shi Yumei became angrier, “What’s there for the eldest daughter of the Shi family to be afraid of? Let’s just see how she will deal with me!”
“Cousin Yumei, you’re the Shi family’s eldest daughter and also Aunt’s favorite, so she will certainly not dare to treat you rashly! You shouldn’t bother with me, so go enjoy your blessings!”
“I’m doing this for you! And also for my Shi family! Mother’s health is still well, so I’m sure she wouldn’t dare to step over the line when dealing with you, but all that might change in the future!” Shi Yumei glanced at Gu Fangzi before frowning, “If I may add, you’re too honest! What irks me is your change in attitude! With the way she’s bullying you now, why didn’t you tell Fengju?”
That immediately poked at Gu Fangzi’s sore spot. Why wouldn’t I? Unfortunately, Big Cousin’s been bewitched by her. I’m sure he wouldn’t be willing to help me!
Of course, her mouth spoke otherwise.
“How could I!” Gu Fangzi sighed before continuing, “Big Cousin’s so busy all day, and when he returns, he should be taking a good rest. How can I bother him with such trivial things! Also, Cousin Yumei, you’re thinking too much. That is really just a trivial matter. Just look at the clothes and the shelter above me. Sister did not treat me badly!”