Chapter 6: The Self-Defeat of Enlightenment
“How could you say that?” Gu Fangzi never expected him to respond in such a way. Even though he may have said it jokingly, her heart still received a wave of unspeakable grief. She felt both offended and uncomfortable. Crouching on the spot, she sobbed and hugged both her legs tightly.
“Why did you cry?” Shi Fengju had always liked teasing her, but this time, she might have taken the joke too seriously and cried. Panicky, he immediately tried to coax her, “Fang’er, Fang’er, don’t cry. Please don’t cry ah. What I said just then was just to tease you. Why did you take it so seriously and cried? My good Fang’er, please don’t put me on the spot! You know I’ll never woo anyone else except you, so please don’t cry.”
Gu Fangzi grunted softly and turned away from Shi Fengju, refusing to look at him. Only after coaxing her for a long time did she finally replied, “How could you joke about that? You…you already know that she ——, how could you use that to tease me?”
Seeing that she is alright now, Shi Fengju chuckled, “Still angry at me? Wasn’t it you who started it first? Did you listen to yourself when you said those unpleasant words just then?”
She stared sternly at him and became silent. With a grin on her face, she giggled softly, “You only know how to annoy and bully me! I’m so silly to let you bully me…” With that, her voice eventually became softer and she became shy as she turned her body towards him. The girl’s coy was indeed moving.
Shi Fengju’s heart was overcome with warmth and he sighed softly, “Fang’er, I’ll not bully you anymore, so next time, don’t say such silly words!”
Gu Fangzi’s bittersweet heart couldn’t help but be discontented. “You won’t bully me? You marrying Sang Wan into the Shi family is equivalent to bullying me! If you really meant what you said, you would have disapproved the marriage! And regarding whether that will affect the Sang family’s reputation or not, what has it got to do with you? What has it got to do with the Shi family?”
Of course, those were only Gu Fangzi’s thoughts. On the surface however, her face displayed a sweet smile and softly “En” to show that she agree with him. Looking directly at Shi Fengju, she said, “Elder cousin, hearing those words are enough for me. I am a very naive person, so I’ll take your words and remember it for a lifetime!”
“Of course. Forever.” Shi Fengju smiled and nodded heavily.
Her eyes flickered and her once steady gaze wavered. Her emotions could be seen flowing out of her gaze which carried a trace of distrust and lack of apprehension.
“Actually, Cousin-in-law really isn’t that bad.” Gu Fangzi understood what he was saying, and added, “Elder cousin, she must have scored a few points in your heart didn’t she?”
“What nonsense are you spouting?” Astonished, Shi Fengju exclaimed, “How could you think that way?” His heart had always belonged to her. All these years, he only had eyes for her and his heart yearns only her. Never had his eyes left her, so how could she say that to him?
“Okay, okay. Just take it as I’ve said something wrong!” Seeing his cold face, she couldn’t help but feel remorse as he was indeed angry. For being suspicious of him, Gu Fangzi immediately apologized.
However, deep within, a shadow of doubt still remains. They grew up together and thus she knew him all too well. The day when the marriage date was set and especially the day before her cousin-in-law was married into the Shi family, Shi Fengju’s expression was unsightly and cold. But today, that cold expression had completely vanished! His eyes were calm and poised which made her feel very uneasy; as if something was very amiss.
Since this marriage was arranged by the elders, Sang Wan marrying into the family was already concluded. Gu Fangzi had already accepted that fact long ago. She was neither afraid nor worried as she believed that Shi Fengju is not a heartless and unfaithful person. The bond that the both of them shared is not something that can be easily broken; the arrival of Sang Wan into the family is not something that can change that fact, even if she were an angel dispatched by heaven!
So what if she had stepped into the Shi family and became a couple with Shi Fengju? The war has only just begun. Who can say that she has lost?
But for the time being, it seems she was a little too careless!
“In the future, do not be cranky!” Shi Fengju sighed.
“It is only because I care for you!” Gu Fangzi pouted, “Are… are you really sure your heart won’t waver; you won’t like her?”
“Of course I won’t!” Shi Fengju answered firmly.
With that, Gu Fangzi felt delighted. “Then, do you have anything you would like to say to me?”
Startled, he almost blurted out the secret between him and Sang Wan to Gu Fangzi. However, he managed to control himself. Not because he does not trust Gu Fangzi, but because he was confident that the world is not foolproof. And naturally, the less people who know of their secret, the better. And also, since half a year will be over soon anyway, letting the cat out of the bag now wouldn’t be such a wise idea.
The idea of giving her a surprise in the future would also be good!
With that in mind, Shi Fengju held back the urge to tell Gu Fangzi and smiled, “Only that. I will not be unfaithful to you.”
“En!” Although disappointed, she felt happy inside and nodded with a broad smile on her face.
After the vindication between her and Shi Fengju, she half-jokingly asked, “Well, since my cousin-in-law just got married into the Shi family, don’t you want to go back and spend some time with her?”
Her hesitant tone to express her unwillingness and dismay; her gentle words to show her benevolence. Those were the principles she wanted him to see; to see the good side of her.
“That would not be necessary.” Shi Fengju shook his head and said without hesitation. Deep within, both of them knew they weren’t even actual couples to begin with. What’s more, she might not even want him to always be by her side anyway.
Hearing such a firm answer, Gu Fangzi felt happy. However, her act must go on. Raising her eyebrows gently, she whispered, “That…might not be good right? After all, the maidservants treat people differently according to their social status and also, Cousin-in-law just got married into the family… which would mean…”
Shi Fengju was stunned, and soon after gained an “epiphany”.
She was right! Sang Wan still has to live in the house for around half a year! Half a year… seemed neither long nor short. Not being able to rely on her own family background, if he were to treat her ‘coldly’, her half a year in the house would definitely be miserable!
On his helpless face, his eyes could not help but expose a soft sweetness as he recalled her pitiful plea after they left the courtyard together; the “Ouch” sound she made after twisting her ankle; and her stealing a march on saying those cleverly crafted words after they entered the small garden.
Immediately, Shi Fengju understood! With his eyes fixated only on his cousin after the ceremony, that problem was not something he’d bother coming up with. However, Sang Wan had already thought of that problem but did not voice it out to him.
His heart suddenly surfaced an unspeakable complexity and felt kind of bad for her.
To have solved the problem that beset him for years, he definitely had to return her a favor!
The consequences of giving up the seat of being his wife, she knew it all too well but still insisted on it anyway. While he felt sorry for her, he couldn’t help also feel secretly annoyed. If only he knew what her heart was thinking, he would have stood firm and requested his mother to cancel the marriage! If so, things wouldn’t have to end up the way they are now.
As he thought things through, he shook his head and sighed.
It was both his grandfather and father’s will that his mother carry it out. Knowing his mother’s temperament, she’ll definitely not have agreed to cancel the marriage.
“Elder cousin, you…what’s the matter with you?” Gu Fangzi saw that her words had greatly affected her lover and secretly regretted.
I’ve really shot my mouth off and dug my own grave this time around!
“Nothing much! I’ve got some account books to check. Why don’t you go accompany my mother and have a chat with her, and maybe see if there is anything you can help her with?” Shi Fengju smiled.
After the ceremony, there’ll definitely be chores that have to be done.
“Okay. I’ll go ahead then.” Gu Fengzi nodded. “It’s almost noon. Don’t immerse in your work and forget about your lunch again!” She reminded him before taking her leave.
“En! Off you go!” Shi Fengju nodded and smiled.
Without a choice, Gu Fangzi turned and left. Deep within, she felt a little disappointed. If this were in the past, he would have asked her to stay for lunch with him and thereafter head together to have a light chat with his mother!
After Gu Fangzi left, Shi Fengju thought for a while before calling for Zhan Huan, a manservant. “Go to the small garden nearby and tell one of the servants there that Sir is going back for lunch.”
Surprised, Zhan Huan stared at him blankly. Seeing a glaring pair of eyes staring back at him, he quickly withdrew his gaze and said, “Yes, yes Sir!”
After leaving the study room, Gu Fangzi, accompanied by maidservant Lan Xiang, made a detour through the flower garden. As they drifted, Gu Fangzi suddenly turned and headed in the direction of the small garden with Lan Xiang following closely behind.
“Miss…” Lan Xiang’s face was pale. She looked a little nervous, and at the same time a little excited.
Miss is heading to the small garden. Is she going to show dominance over Sir’s wife? Her opponent has already seized the position of being Sir’s wife! Would it be appropriate for Miss to go there? Will Miss be at a disadvantage? En, that can’t be. Our Miss has both the Shi family mother and son protecting her; even the young Messrs and Misses have to be courteous towards her. Certainly, she won’t be at a disadvantage, right?
“My cousin-in-law just got married into the family. Me being her cousin-in-law, I can’t not give her my greetings!” Gu Fangzi raised a corner of her lips and her face hung a huge grin.
After having a long conversation with Liu Ya, Sang Wan returned to rest on her bed. Soon after, her rest was interrupted by Zhide who knocked and entered the chamber to inform her of Sir returning for lunch.
Sang Wan was surprised. But since her “husband” had already so, she had to agree, and certainly not continue laying lazily on her bed. Sitting upright on her bed, she instructed Zhide, “Since that is the case, ask the kitchen staff to prepare a few more dishes that Sir likes to eat, but be in no hurry to serve them now. Only serve the food when Sir returns.”
Zhide agreed with a decent reply. Taking another glance at Sang Wan, she said, “Zhide will now ask some maidservant to help Ma’am wash both face and hair!”
“That would be great.” Sang Wan smiled and nodded while resisting the urge to blurt out “thank you for the trouble” these five words. By saying those five words to the maidservants, instead of receiving gratitude from them, rather they would look down her etiquette. If there comes a time when she needs to show authority, it would prove difficult! This is the hierarchy of the Shi family, not a haven like the Sang family.