Her honest big brother was not good with words, not to mention the one he had to face was his own uncle; he dared not go against him. If her big brother could not stand up against second uncle, second brother was in an even more disadvantageous position to do so! If someone were to accuse him of being ‘disrespectful towards the elders, and does not conduct oneself properly’, he would not be able to stay in the academy. Sang Wan felt that if that were to happen, the one who accused her second brother would definitely be none other than her second uncle.
As for Sang Wan herself who was married into another family, she was in no position to go against her uncle and was rightfully supposed to endure.
Fortunately, there was sister-in-law in this family. Her sister-in-law was a bold and upright woman who was extremely outspoken. Though she would not openly go against her second uncle and second aunt, she would discreetly cause them to regret their actions and make them be at a loss for words! With her in this family, all second uncle and second aunt could do was go around gossiping about the Sang family, but would not dare cross the line.
At present, the Shi family went on with the arranged marriage and married her into their family. In an instant, second uncle and second aunt had a complete flip of treatment towards the Sang family!
“How could I?” Sang Wan smiled. “In the past, I dared not trouble second uncle and second aunt; and at this time, I dare not trouble my two elders even more so!”
“How could my niece still see us as an outsider? What trouble? We’re a family, aren’t we? Your second uncle has never felt troubled before; come, come!” Sang Pingliang’s raised his thick brows as he said with a straight face.
“Yes, that’s right! Second aunt also has a lot of things to talk to you about! Your mother left early, how could I as your aunt not worry for you! When you were young, I doted you as if you were my own daughter; well, the only difference was you were not in my womb for that ten months!” Li Shi’s face displayed an affection that a mother would towards her daughter.
But Sang Wan was almost at her limit. How dare they say as if it was true!
Even Sang Quan could listen no more. He made a face at Li Shi before hiding behind Sang Wan and shouted, “Second great aunt never doted my aunt. Hmph! She even called her a jinx! The women in the village said that the word ‘jinx’ is an offensive word!”
“You little devil, what nonsense are you spouting?” Red with anger, Li Shi glared at Sang Quan.
“Disrespectful! Is this how you talk to your second great aunt? Who taught you that? Ah Hong, you’ve got to be stricter with your kids for them to become successful in life!” Sang Pingliang glared.
Nanny Xu hurriedly called at “Young Master and Young Miss” before leaning towards the two and gently told them off. Sang Hong frowned but quickly forced a smile and responded with a ‘yes’.
Sang Wan felt both frustrated and angry, but quickly relaxed. Gesturing towards Sang Pingling and Li Shi, she persuaded, “Second uncle and second aunt, please return first. Your niece shall pay a visit to your house later on. But as for today, I’d like to return to where my sister-in-law is and at the same time greet my parents’ memorial tablet. I hope second uncle and second aunt could understand where I’m coming from!”
With that, she turned to Liu Ya and instructed, “You’re not a guest this time around, quickly invite the two ma’am inside! Zhan Huan, carry the things in and have the carriages parked nicely!”
“Yes, Ma’am!” Liu Ya anxiously awaited for Sang Wan’s instruct
Liu Ya had been waiting for Sang Wan’s instructions anxiously. Upon hearing so, she agreed crisply and smiled before inviting Li Yan and Song He into the house. Occasionally, she would take a few glimpses at Li Shi.
Seeing their own master give his acknowledgment, Zhan Huan and Li Yan proceeded to get the job done; moving each gift into the Sang house.
Sang Wan had already stated clearly that she and her husband would pay a visit to their house, and had even pulled her late parents into it. Sang Pingliang and his wife could only watch at sidelines silently.
Watching the countless number of wrapped gifts being moved into the Sang house, Li Shi felt extremely unbearable and forced a laugh, “Our niece is right, let’s all go in, go in! Aiya, so many things to be moved; by the time they are all moved inside, the sun might have already set. Let us help out too!”
With that, she began walking towards the carriage.
“I dare not trouble second uncle and second aunt to do such labour suited for the servants! Second uncle and second aunt, please return and rest. We’ll head over to your house later to have tea!” Sang Wan smiled.
Li Shi stopped in her tracks and her back suddenly straightened. Even Sang Pingliang’s eyes dimmed a little.
That’s right, those people were nothing but servants. Being Sang Wan’s aunt, her position is naturally higher than those servants. How could someone like her do the work of the servants? In front of so many people, she had an image to keep! Regardless, Sang Wan had already promised to visit her. Surely, she will bring along a few gifts on the visit. Hmph, even if she were reluctant to do so and brought an insufficient number of gifts, asking for more from Sang Hong isn’t impossible! It’d just be a matter of course before the gifts end up in their house anyway since they were elders, and since these were gifts, it’ll surely be regrettable if they did not get their hands on them.
“Hēhē, then we’ll head back first. Do come over as soon as possible!” Though Li Shi felt a little unwilling, she retracted that unwillingness before saying sourly, “That sister-in-law of yours sure is irresponsible! I’m sure she already knew that your homecoming is today, yet she isn’t around to welcome all of you! Aiyo, I think I’ve spoken too much. I hope the new son-in-law doesn’t keep it to heart. She’s a very self-centered person; barely a decent woman, that is!”
“Let’s go in!” Sang Wan had no interest in going down the route of the conversation. Acting as if she had not heard her aunt, she gazed at Shi Fengju and gave an apologetic look.
“I apologize on her behalf!” Sang Hong apologized as he followed into the house. “Your sister-in-law was originally waiting at home to welcome all of you, but upon hearing our next door neighbor, Da Hai, alerting us that the cow from the Li family was grazing our crops, she hurriedly rushed out. Why don’t all of you take a seat first? I’ll call her back and have her prepare lunch!”
“Brother, you should take a seat too. Let Liu Ya do that instead! Presumably, sister-in-law might even be on her way back now!” As Sang Wan said, she took at glimpse at Shi Fengju.
Taking the signal, Shi Fengju nodded and laughed. “It’s still early. Take a sit first; there’s no need to hurry!”
Shi Fengju discreetly examined Sang Hong. After the incident just then, he was not surprised that a man such as Sang Hong was tasked to stay at home while his wife goes out to handle matters. Such an honest person would never be able to conduct negotiations with others! Still, just what kind of role does his wife play in the family?
Thinking back to the confrontation between Sang Wan, her aunt, and her uncle, she was gentle with her words and her face hung a smile, yet she fought till the end without taking a step back; what a way to confront others imperceptibly while maintaining one’s composure!
This family sure is interesting!
Sang Hong smiled and insisted no further. “Then please!” He gestured to Shi Fengju to have a seat. Nanny Xu coaxed the two children to play in the courtyard before serving tea to the guests. Sang Hong politely gestured to Shi Fengju, “My home is fairly simple with nothing interesting. I hope my brother-in-law wouldn’t mind.”
Shi Fengju quickly responded, “we’re a family; there is no need for brother to be so polite!”
Taking a sip of tea from the cup, Shi Fengju immediately felt his senses heighten. With all those noisiness and hard-to-ward-off enthusiasm now gone, he finally felt at ease!
Without demur, Liu Ya immediately went to call for Fang Shi. Zhan Huan and a few others went to park the carriages before they unharnessed the horses. Li Yan and Song He on the other hand, sat in the kitchen cracking melon seeds while sipping tea as they rest.
The servants Shi Fengju picked truly are level-headed. At this moment, each of them did what was required of them; as if whatever happened just then had never happened! Even the topic for the leisure conversation between the two maidservants as they sipped tea were nothing about the incident just then.
“Big brother and Sir, please remain on your seat while I see what I can prepare from the kitchen!” Sang Wan smiled.
“No, no!” Sang Hong was startled and smiled before adding, “your sister-in-law will return soon! Early in the morning, slaughtered chicken and scaled fish were already washed and sliced. A few of the leaf vegetables have to be pulled from our vegetable garden before all the ingredients for today’s lunch is ready. Just leave this all to your sister-in-law! It’ll be better to prepare for the incense offering to mother and father later. You’ll still have to pay a visit to second uncle and second aunt since they’re our elders after all.”
“Big brother, I know!” Sang Wan grinned. Her second uncle and second aunt carried the title of the elders. No matter how much she disliked them, she had no say in that. “I know my position!” she added before having a change of clothes and heading to the vegetable garden.
Seeing so, Nanny Xu hurriedly halted her. “Ma’am, you’re the newly-wed lady now, such work is inappropriate for you to do! Otherwise, you and Young Master will become a hot topic for the villagers to gossip about! Why don’t you look after the children and I’ll go pick the vegetables instead?”
Sang Hong immediately nodded.
Seeing so, Sang Wan no longer insisted and nodded before heading out to the courtyard and play together with the two children.
“Sang Wan is a diligent lass, with little to no time for herself. Me, being a useless older brother, had caused my siblings to suffer quite a lot! Brother-in-law, I’ll leave my younger sister in your care; I hope you’ll take care of her, for she is a good lass!” Sang Hong gently heaved a sign of relief.
But somehow, after hearing what the older brother said, Shi Fengju felt as if his heart had dropped; as if he had a bad conscience, though he had no reason to feel as such.
“Big brother, rest assured for I will take good care of Sang Wan and not let her be treated unfairly.” Shi Fengju was a little panicky and avoided gazing into his brother-in-law’s eyes. Still, he managed to force a smile as he affirmed.
“That I shall!” Sang Hong is a downright honest person who cannot differentiate between an exaggeration and truth from the heart. In addition to the good impression he had of Shi Fengju, the moment he heard so, his face immediately revealed a broad smile and nodded gleefully, “No wonder my father were full of praise towards the Shi family when he was still alive. He even said that the Shi family was different from the rest; neither favours the rich nor despise the poor; and will not break a promised marriage. And that was so! With your affirmation, as her older brother, I’ve finally accomplished the wish of my late parents!”
Seeing the bright smile and the glistening eyes, Shi Fengju smiled. Through having a guilty conscience, cold beads of sweat from at the back of his neck.
“Our Sang Wan is back! Hēhē, due to some unforeseen circumstance, I was not able to be present to welcome you. For that, I apologize!” The door to the courtyard creaked opened. A young woman, who had straight hair hung on the side of her temples and had a silver hairpin pierced through her hair, came through the door. Silk flowers, the size of a coin, were slipped into her hair that hung on her temple. The woman wore a magenta colored blouse, and skirt, embroidered with flowers. Tall and slender, the pair of eyes on her oblong face were bright and of a perfect size. She was both competent and efficient in the things she does.
Sang Quan and Sang Nuan immediately greeted with a “Mother!” before running to her.
“Sister-in-law, you’re back!” Sang Wan smiled and welcomed her. “We’re a family, what you said made me so embarrassed!” With that, she added to ask whether the case was resolved.
Sang Wan pondered a little to herself. Though sister-in-law treated her well, it was not to the point of being very intimate. It might have been probably because of her marriage into the Shi family. Because of that, her older brother took that into consideration and forbid her to do many of the house chores; even the simplest chores were not allowed. But only when there were too many chores would she then be allowed to do them. As such, even though her sister-in-law might not have uttered a word of complaint, she was unhappy and would sometimes give her a cold face.
Still, sister-in-law was different from second aunt. Neither was she one who would take advantage of a situation nor was she one that yearns for wealth. There must have been a reason behind her change in attitude! Sang Wan could not help but gaze at Liu Ya. Filled with doubts, her brow raised.