Chapter 106: A Strong Father
Everyone knew what a mama of joy did. Qin Yining was an unmarried girl, and even though she was going to be offered to the old lecher hosting the Great Zhou side of the talks, they couldn’t just blatantly send her a mama to teach her how to pleasure a man!
It wasn’t her wedding night, nor was she a hooker reporting for work in a brothel. The empress was serving a dish of humiliation to the Qins and shredding their face with these actions!
Qin Yining compressed her lips. She’d strongly suspected that the trampress would do something before her departure. Everyone’s expressions had gone ugly. Née Sun was still quite weak after her bout of illness and had managed to scrape together enough energy to participate in the house banquet. Who would’ve thought that this kind of news would be delivered? Her mind hummed loudly with anger, rage alternatively dimming and brightening her vision. If it wasn’t for Jin-mama acting quickly to bolster her frame, née Sun would’ve collapsed to the ground.
The third, seventh, and eighth misses all looked at Qin Yining with helpless gazes of pity. Only the sixth miss rolled her eyes, silent in the belief that Qin Yining deserved all this. She’d been lectured heavily by her father, and her father’s wife had punished her with copying the four classics for women. She’d been released from her punishment only this morning.
Meanwhile, Qin Huining dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief and said worriedly, “Something like this happening before she even sets out. What about after she sets off? Will she be able to come back alive?”
These were actually everyone’s thoughts, but only Qin Huining would actually say them out loud. The old dowager, second and third madame all felt that Qin Huining was being simply too heartless in saying this now. But due to Cao Yuqing’s presence, they didn’t dare say anything to avoid offending the new concubine.
Née Sun started coughing again from anger. She glared at Qin Huining, absolutely livid. To think that she’d raised this girl for fourteen years! She’d gone and raised an enemy!
Qin Huining sneered back proudly at the quiet Qin Yining and glaring née Sun. Who would’ve thought that it’d be Cao Yuqing who would frown and scold her, “What do you think you’re saying, Qin Huining?! Shut up!”
Qin Huining’s eyes widened with shock, stunned silent. She didn’t understand why Cao Yuqing spoke for Qin Yining time and time again! Why did everyone in this family like Qin Yining and take a stance against her?!
The clashes between the women lasted only a breath. On the other side of the divider, Qin Huaiyuan, Qin Xiuyuan, and Qin Zhiyuan all had solemn expressions. However, the younger generation, Qin Yu and Qin Han, couldn’t keep still.
Qin Han was a heroic person and loved standing up for justice. He slammed his hand on the table and shot to his feet, speaking urgently. “Senior uncle, we can’t let people bully fourth sister like this! Fourth sister joining the peace talks is due to the imperial decree. She’s doing this for our country! What do they mean by sending this person? What do they think an official Qin daughter is? If we allow that mama in, won’t we be inviting everyone to look down on us?!”
Qin Han’s words were also a reminder to the women on the other side of the divider. The second and third madame’s expressions began to grow stern and they unconsciously crumpled their clothing in tight fists. If that palace servant did indeed enter the house, all sorts of rumors would develop. What about their daughters’ dignity? Their branches of the house had unmarried daughters, to say nothing of anything else!
The second and third madame looked to née Sun for help, but the senior madame was busy trying to master her temper and didn’t look at them. It looked like she didn’t have the excess capacity to think about the larger ramifications. The two then looked at the old dowager, but the matriarch lowered her head to take a sip of tea. She didn’t look at them or anyone else. That told them everything they needed to know… the old dowager had thought of everything but was unwilling to say anything. She was afraid of offending the trampress’ sister.
The two mothers instantly flushed beet red with anger. What kind of mother-in-law was this?! The second madame hesitated; she was just about to speak when Qin Yining beat her to the punch.
“Please think about this carefully, father. I may be about to be discarded, but there are other sisters at home. They have their future to think of.”
Her two aunts looked gratefully at her, while the girls finally realized the severity of the situation. Some frowned nervously, others lowered their head to hide their emotions. Some looked at Qin Yining gratefully as well, while Qin Huining and the sixth miss glared at her, resentful that they’d been dragged down by her.
Qin Huaiyuan slowly rose to his feet and strode to the door with his arms crossed. “Have the person be brought here.”
“Understood.” Qin-mama left after this order.
A thirty five year old woman quickly walked over before long, dressed in a rose-red, flowery vest and skirt ensemble. She wore powder on her cheeks and a big red silk flower on her head. She looked very joyous. When she saw Qin Huaiyuan, she curtsied with beaming smiles. “Greetings to Grand Preceptor Qin. This servant wishes the grand preceptor good health and pays her respects to all the masters and mistresses present.”
Qin Huaiyuan inclined his head slightly. “What is your honored surname?”
“Oh no, I wouldn’t dare. This servant’s plain surname is Jiang.”
“Mm. Jiang-mama.” Qin Huaiyuan smiled faintly and asked gently. “Are you here today with the empress’ decree or the emperor’s?”
Jiang-mama looked swiftly at Qin Huaiyuan, wanting to carry on an apologetic chat. Although the grand preceptor’s smile was warm, the look in his eyes was much too cold. Jiang-mama’s smiling face froze and she hastily made another curtsey. “In response to my lord, the empress’ decree.”
Qin Huaiyuan nodded. “Servants, prepare the carriage and take Jiang-mama back to the carriage.”
The mama widened her eyes with surprise. The heretofore silent old dowager shot to her feet and charged a few steps out from the divider to grab Qin Huaiyuan’s sleeve.
“Meng’er, you can’t!”
The second and third madame almost did their best née Sun-angry-fit-imitation when they saw the old dowager thus. Even the second and third elder master frowned and pursed their lips. Qin Huaiyuan wasn’t angry as he was too well acquainted with the old dowager’s temper.
“Don’t worry mother, I have my plans. I’ll tell you later.” He spoke soothingly. The old dowager looked hesitantly at Qin Huaiyuan and nodded slowly after a long moment. Qin Huaiyuan turned back to Qin-mama. “Prepare a large red envelope for the mama.”
He then turned with another gentle smile. “I must ask Jiang-mama to exert herself and bring back a message to the empress.”
“Certainly. This servant will do as the grand preceptor says.”
“I will commit to heart the empress’ kind intentions. If the Qin Manor marries off a daughter in the future, we will certainly request a mama of joy from the palace.”
Go back and tell your mistress that we’re not marrying off a daughter today. There’s no need for this hypocritical act!
Jiang-mama’s face had gone pale with this message. She hesitated, “But the empress’ verbal decree…”
“If Her Majesty is set on doing this, then have His Majesty give an imperial decree. I will do whatever the imperial decree says!”
We didn’t defy the decree to send Yining out because we are loyal subjects and love our country. But the Qins have a grand preceptor and think nothing of a mere woman from the imperial harem! This strong display of emotion was overtly expressing anger and going head to head with the empress!
Some of the Qins found a sweet thrill in this resistance, while others were worried like the old dowager. In fact, the old dowager almost fainted on the spot from this. Cao Yuqing rose at this time to speak to the palace servant.
“Go back and tell Cao Yurou to keep her nose out of our business. Just mind her own.”
Sweat dripped down Jiang-mama’s forehead. This must be the empress’ sister? But, she can do so because they’re sisters from the same mother. If I went back with a message like this, I wouldn’t live to see the next morning! And yet, she could only assent while she quietly sweated through her undergarments. She couldn’t not pass on the message, but neither could she really pass it on. She wanted to stay alive!
Qin Huaiyuan stayed where he was with his arms crossed. He didn’t care whether the palace servant was in a difficult position. These people were accustomed to feting those in power and stepping on those who lost favor. They bullied the weak and feared the strong. She’d so happened to run into someone firm like him today. If she’d been facing someone weak, she would’ve been much more devious than any regular person. There was no reason why he couldn’t be angry when someone was bullying him to his face!
Cao Yuqing looked tenderly at Qin Huaiyuan and spoke gently, “My lord, let this concubine accompany the mama back into the palace. I can make my explanations to the empress. We’re sisters, after all, and also bound by ties of marriage. It’d be bad if misunderstandings developed.”
“Good, good. Yuqing, I’ll have to trouble you for these efforts.” The old dowager heaved a long sigh of relief and pulled on Cao Yuqing’s hand to give her intimate pats.
“Don’t say that, Old Dowager. Since this concubine has entered the Qin Manor, I’m one of the Qins. How can I sit idly by and watch us be made a fool of?” Cao Yuqing smiled at Qin Huaiyuan. “My lord, what do you say?”
Qin Huaiyuan looked at Cao Yuqing and was silent for a moment. He nodded and raised his hands in a cupped fist salute. “Then I thank you for your troubles.”
The light in Cao Yuqing’s eyes dimmed when she saw how polite her husband was being. She immediately returned the gesture. “You’re too polite, my lord. I’ll be on my way then. I will stay at the empress’ tonight and return tomorrow. Please be at ease.”
She summoned Jiang-mama after this and left with her maids.