“Younger Sister-in-law, you’ve got so many good things here ah! Just one glance is enough to blind almost anyone! Every one of these is good!” Shi Yumei smiled and praised, “Why don’t Sister-in-law pick two for me? Anything’s fine!”
Of course, Sang Wan would have to refuse. She knew that no matter what she picked, Shi Yumei would surely not like them, so she might as well let Shi Yumei pick them herself. After all, all these didn’t really belong to her, so she wasn’t really pained if others were to have them.
As Sang Wan insisted on her picking them herself, she could only smile, and she went to pick the fine mutton-fat jade hairpin which Sang Wan had worn in her hair when they first met. Then, she went on to pick a pair of eighteen beads bracelet, a string of pearls edged with ruby, a set of jewel embedded hairpins, and a pair of gold-made lantern earrings embedded with ruby.
As she picked, she secretly observed Sang Wan’s expression from the corner of her eye. However, there was not the slightest bit of pain expressed on her face, and Shi Yumei was somewhat unamused. Upon a closer look, Sang Wan’s expression did not seem fake, and that made Shi Yumei feel that she was acting a bit too much. This much of a lesson should be enough! Shi Yumei thought to herself and stopped.
“Younger Sister-in-law being so generous will really make me embarrassed as the big sister! I didn’t bring any gifts along with me, yet here I am choosing my younger sister-in-law’s things! What would others think if they saw this!” Shi Yumei smiled half-sincerely.
“That’ll surely not happen!” Sang Wan quickly smiled and said, “You’re the eldest daughter of the Shi household. Also, Sir’s sister is also my sister! Big Sister, your words are too polite!” Sang Wan said before instructing Hong Ye to pack the pieces of jewelry selected by Shi Yumei into a decorated jewelry casket and hand it to Cui Zhu.
Shi Yumei enjoyed listening to such words, and she saw that the jewelry casket was not only made using a fine material, but was also beautiful in appearance. The inside was covered with red velvet pads and was divided into different compartments. Each compartment could store a single item, which showed her thoughtfulness. Evidently, the casket was a valuable object. Shi Yumei could not understand Sang Wan’s initiative to give this away, but the howling sense of fighting against the injustice had slightly receded.
“Oh, not to forget,” Sang Wan smiled and informed, “Sir has also told me to prepare Banana Courtyard for Big Sister and Big Brother-in-law. Once it’s tidied, I would like Big Sister to come along with me to see if there’s anything else you’d like to add! I don’t know Big Sister’s preferences too well, so it would be better for Big Sister to have a look first!”
Hearing the words “Big Brother-in-law,” Shi Yumei felt somewhat uncomfortable, and she smiled, “Okay! But I’ll have to warn you, I have this little picky habit, but I hope you won’t find it bothersome!”
“Big Sister, please don’t say that! I won’t!” Sang Wan smiled.
“Then that’s good!” Shi Yumei smiled and went her way. “It’s busy over here, so I won’t bother you any longer! I’ll head off first!”
“Big Sister, be careful! If there’s time, please come again!” Sang Wan secretly heaved a sigh of relief as she went to see them out.
In the evening during the Mid-Autumn Festival, the entire family gathered to have a meal together at Wang Shi’s courtyard, but the place was only lacking of Gu Fangzi.
In Peony Park, Gu Fangzi ate the cold and plain food all by herself as she gazed at the moon outside her window. The moon was bright, and it hung high up in the sky, reflecting a faint light beneath it and making the branches visible in the night.
She looked up at the moon before hanging her head low in self-pity, and her eyes turned red. Everything around her was quiet, and only the occasional breeze rustling the branches and leaves could be heard. In this silence, she seemed to be able to hear the faint laughter and lively atmosphere. Comparing it to the cold and silent one in here, Gu Fangzi felt even more miserable.
It doesn’t matter if the others don’t come to see me, but how can Big Cousin not do so! Not even a single greeting! Gu Fangzi could not hold back the huge anger in her heart, but little did she know that Shi Fengju had only made it home shortly before dinner.
Sang Wan, it must be that vixen pulling the strings!
Picturing Sang Wan, now dressed glamorously as she accompanied Shi Fengju, Gu Fangzi could not help but have a head full of hatred towards her.
At the courtyard, Ren Zhixian seemed to have become a little more obedient during the meal. He and his wife ate without any problems, and the others did so as well. Everyone had a wonderful meal.
Shortly after dinner, the entire family went to Furong Ting, which faced the waters, to watch a specially invited troupe perform in the open. As they chatted and watched the performance under the moonlight, the atmosphere was very lively.
It had been some time since Shi Yumei had watched a performance so peacefully that she did not care to find any trouble for Sang Wan. Wang Shi only cared to chat with her daughter and her in-law, and she was even more keen on not making things awkward for Sang Wan. Ever since Second Mistress’s daughter-in-law went back to her family, she was reluctant to return. Her face had been lifeless, and she was sure to not let her tongue run loose about her sister-in-law’s daughter-in-law. After busying herself for a few days, Sang Wan was finally able to relax. She went to the back and leaned her head on her arms before falling asleep.
All of a sudden, she felt someone putting a coat over her. Sang Wan gently opened her eyes and saw Liu Ya. With a smile, she said, “You sure are thoughtful! But it isn’t too cold on this day, so there’s no need for it! Why are you here and not watching the performance though? Hurry along, it’s enough to have a few of the other servants here, so there’s no need for the rest of you to serve here!”
The entire household’s management servants, masters, as well as the other maidservants, liked to watch the opera. Zhide, Liu Ya, and the rest even urged Sang Wan to hurry along. At this time, the masters, esteemed management servants, as well as the other nannies sat at a side while around them were large groups of servants stretching their necks to watch the scene of bustle.
Wang Shi liked the liveliness, so she ordered for a few long benches to be placed at the side with many melon seeds and candies for the servants to enjoy among themselves. She felt that the more people there were, the more lively the atmosphere would be.
Hearing so, Liu Ya sneered and laughed, “Nubi was enjoying the opera, but Sir suddenly called nubi over. He said that Ma’am is tired and might catch a cold sleeping outside, so he had nubi bring Ma’am a coat! Ma’am, look at how thoughtful Sir is towards you ah!”
Sang Wan was taken aback, and she glanced in the direction where Shi Fengju was. When Shi Fengju noticed that she was looking at him, he smiled back at her. Sang Wan’s face suddenly felt warm, and she chided at Liu Ya, “You sure have a lot of words! You already got the coat, so hurry back! If you’re too late, you might not be able to join what you had seen with what is being performed now!”
“Yes, Ma’am! Then, nubi shall leave!” Liu Ya giggled and left.
Sang Wan gently put on the crimson red embroidered silk coat. The smooth and delicate silk felt extremely good to the touch. Accompanied by the evening breeze, it was comfortable.
She lowered her head, but her heart was filled with complex feelings which made her sleepiness and tiredness disappear away with the clouds.
The kitchen sent over supper as the night grew older. Each person had a bowl of steaming and fragrant chicken soup cooked with fine noodles, tender cabbage, scallop, ham, fresh bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and many more. It was absolutely delicious.
After having it, the crowd slowly dispersed with a smile on their faces.
Sang Wan went to instruct the servants with their errands. What had to be wiped, had to be wiped, and what had to be kept, had to be kept. As for the tables, chairs, vases, incense burner, and many others, they must not be forgotten and must be returned to the storage room the next day.
“Ma’am, don’t worry. We’ll settle everything over here, so that Ma’am has nothing to worry about! It’s already late at night, Ma’am. You should go back and rest! The young master must still be waiting for you!” Before Sang Wan could finish with her instructions, a management servant glanced at Sang Wan before chuckling.
Everyone knew that this Ma’am was very serious in the handling of affairs, and her temperament was also good. She spoke with a gentle voice, and so long as everyone followed by the given instructions, she would never get angry nor would she vent her anger on anyone. Because of that, they dared to crack some jokes with her. It sounded amusing, and the rest of the servants claimed so, saying how she should not keep the young master waiting and that the young master had glanced over at them quite a few times!
Sang Wan’s face turned somewhat red, and she scolded with a smile, “Each one of you better zip your mouth and clear everything up carefully. If there’s anything missing tomorrow, all of you will have to see me!” With that said, she turned around and walked away from the servants.
Shi Fengju was indeed waiting for her on a small pavement. He had a slender build and wore a long white robe with a sash. With his hands behind his back, he gazed right forward. And as the breeze blew by, his robe fluttered slightly, and he looked just like a deity
Upon seeing Sang Wan, Shi Fengju smiled at her as he gestured to her to walk towards him.
Sang Wan was a little embarrassed and glad as she walked towards him with her head slightly lowered.
“Let’s go back!” Shi Fengju raised his hand and placed it around her shoulder. But after some thought, he quickly kept his arm.
“En!” Sang Wan nodded. The two went back together. Although they might seem close, in fact, the two’s shoulders were not even touching each other. Sang Wan’s pace was slightly behind Shi Fengju’s by half a step. And even though Shi Fengju could hear her shallow breathing, there was a gap between them, as if something was lying there, causing neither of them to be able to come closer to each other.
Along the way, the two were silent until they returned to the small garden.
After washing up and returning to the chamber, Shi Fengju suddenly stopped Sang Wan, “The mutton-fat jade hairpin that I gave you, you… gave it to my big sister?”
Sang Wan was startled. She suddenly recalled Shi Yumei putting that mutton-fat jade hairpin on tonight and she nodded before smiling, “Yes, just as you saw it!”
Shi Fengju suddenly felt somewhat uncomfortable. That was the hairpin which, at first glance, he knew was suitable for her, and he bought it especially for her as a gift. He did not expect her to give it away. Although the recipient was his sister, he still felt uncomfortable.
“It was fine on you, so why did you give it to her?” Shi Fengju asked, “Although a mutual gift to each other is necessary for meeting the first time, but you’ve already worn that hairpin, so how could you give it to her? If you want to give her something, you should have told me, and I would have had someone buy it again!”