Chapter 12: Grandmother
Judging from everyone’s reactions, she had accomplished her goal. Qin Yining’s lips curved slightly with pleasure. “Not to mention, which noble house has a rule where servants can bully their masters? Even a ‘barbarian’ like me knows this, so those of you who grew up in a noble house would know too.”
By the end, Qin Yining’s tone had dropped to a dangerous low, and Zhu-mama and Ruilan led the others in a kowtow as soon as she paused. “Yes, we understand.”
Nodding with satisfaction, Qin Yining’s tone returned to normal as she continued, “Speaking of rules, morning and evening greetings to grandmother every day is a rule, all of you greeting me whenever you see me is a rule, and me teaching Qin Huining a lesson for stirring the pot is also a rule. When grandmother found out about this, she had both of us copy ‘The Classic of Filial Piety’. This too is a rule. All of you are smart people, and I’m sure you’ll understand the right and wrong of this matter without needing me to explain further.”
Her next words shocked everyone present. She’d thoroughly beaten up Old Dowager’s most beloved Miss Huining, but her only punishment was to copy a classic work?! Moreover, Miss Huining had been the one beaten, but she had to share the punishment as well? None of them were fools and instantly understood that there was more than met the eye in this matter. Perhaps Miss Huining wasn’t as innocent as she’d always came off as, and the old dowager didn’t look down on Fourth Miss as much as they’d all thought.
Zhu-mama, Liuya and the others instantly had a new opinion of their miss’ sharpness. It’d been less than a day since she’d stepped foot in the manor and she’d already coolly given Miss Huining such a setback! Ruilan was even more fearful! Miss Huining had been the apple of the old dowager’s eye, but now she resembled a pig with her swollen face. Even then, the old dowager had only punished Fourth Miss with some lines! And the two of them were being punished together! Ruilan herself was just a servant, the old dowager was such a lofty existence that she would never deign to take note of Ruilan, but wasn’t Yuxiang courting death in wanting to cry for justice tomorrow?!
When her thoughts reached that point, Ruilan kowtowed heavily again. “Miss, this servant knows her wrongs! I will serve you with the best of my efforts in the future and won’t dare breathe a word of complaint. If I go back on my word, may my head be covered in sores and the rot spread throughout me to my stomach!”
The severity of her oath was a testament to Ruilan’s sincerity and further shocked those around her. Ruilan had been a favorite of the senior madame before, but now even she was wholeheartedly devoted to Fourth Miss. Were any of them stronger than Ruilan? Following her cue, all of them curtseyed and expressed their loyalty.
Qin Yining smiled and waved her hand. “Forget it, all of you can rise. I say this only for you to understand what’s happened. After all, my mother was provoked by Qin Huining into exchanging angry, callous words with my father before returning to her parents. My mother has no fault in this. If anyone asks you about this, you should know what really happened.”
How manipulative of Qin Huining, creating such discord between the senior madame and the lord! The servants kept her words carefully in mind and assented in unison.
“As for Miss Yuxiang, none of you are as good at boiling water as she is. She’ll be the one working tonight. But all of you should learn from her example, you may end up in charge of it in the future.”
The servants assented again, but they were well aware that the miss was forbidding them to help Yuxiang. Her last sentence hinted clearly that Yuxiang wouldn’t even have the opportunity to boil water in the future…
Qin Yining dismissed the servants, keeping only Ruilan by her side. She picked up the brush again, recalled “The Classic of Filial Piety”, and quietly started writing from memory.
Zhu-mama, Liuya, and Qiulu left with the three serving girls, all of them exchanging a glance when they cleared the doorway. In the distance, the little kitchen had a small trail of smoke coming its chimney. As they watched it be whisked away the wind, all of them felt goosebumps prickle their arms. This miss is too strong! We’ll have to serve her carefully in the future!
Just as things came to a close in Snowpear Courtyard, the news of the fight between née Sun and Qin Huaiyuan and Qin Huining’s savage beating at Qin Yining’s hands spread on the back of wings. Before long, every branch of the family had their own version of the story, each one born with a fresh retelling.
In the depths of the night, the usually quiet Duke of Ding Manor saw a burst of uncharacteristic liveliness. The Duchess of Ding, née Zheng, listened to the servants babble their news. She comforted the irritated Duke of Ding, flung on a padded cotton jacket and made her way to the warm receiving hall. Upon arrival, she was greeted by the sight of her daughter’s reddened eyes and tear streaked face. It was enough for her brows to wrinkle into a frown.
“Daughter Han, what are you on about this time?!” Née Sun’s full name was Haihan, and frequently referred to by her “Han” character as a nickname.
When née Sun heard her mother’s familiar voice, she paid absolutely no attention to the content of her mother’s words and burst into aggrieved sobs. She launched herself onto her mother and enveloped the latter into a bear hug. “Mother, you need to seek justice for your daughter! The bastard Qin Meng is going to bully me to death!”
The duchess reeled backwards from the sheer momentum of her daughter’s lunge, and if it hadn’t been for a quick-witted Bao-mama reaching out and subtly bracing her mistress with a hand, both mother and daughter would’ve ended up on the ground.
“Look at you, how old are you? Still flying off the handle like this, think of the sight you present! And look at the time. Why aren’t you at home? What are you doing here, and why are you crying as soon as you see me? So tell me, how big is the matter? Is the sky falling in?” The duchess was unhappy enough to start lecturing immediately. Her head ached as she looked at née Sun’s tearful, sniffling self. She had been preoccupied with being a good wife when she was young and personally tended to all the various matters, large and small, of the house. She busied herself with personally teaching the sons, and could only give her daughters to the care of her mother-in-law. Who knew that her mother-in-law would just spoil the girls to no end? Look at what daughter Han has become now.
Her daughter had always been headstrong and demanded her way in all things. As a child, it had been labeled as emotional honesty and explained away as the ignorance of youth, but daughter Han was almost forty years old now! How could this still be the endearing ignorance of the young? Even the duchess was troubled her daughter’s behavior, much less her son-in-law.
Née Sun had come back to loudly vent her grievances, but who knew she’d be in for a round of lecturing before she could manage a word in her defense? She felt more and more like a victim as she sat there and decided to sprawl on the luohan bed off to the side for a good cry. As she listened to her daughter wail, the duchess rubbed her throbbing temples.
Bao-mama immediately came to née Sun’s side with a handkerchief and patted her back lightly, finally coaxing her into silence. The old servant gave née Sun a bowl of warm water before discreetly retreating to the side.
The duchess tightened her collar, prompting Bao-mama to immediately come over with a hand warmer. The duchess allowed the hand warmer to soothe away the cold for a while before asking slowly, “Alright, what is it this time? What momentous occasion has sent you scrambling back like a headless chicken?”
Née Sun sniffled, but didn’t answer immediately. Rather, she grabbed her mother’s hand first. “Mother, you have to help me!”
“Tell me first.” The duchess furrowed her brow ever so slightly.
“I, I want to find someone!”
“Who do you want to find?”
“I, I suspect that Qin Meng has a mistress outside the manor!” Née Sun spilled the beans without the slightest hesitation as she’d broached the subject of her distress, speaking with increasing speed. “I told mother before right? That Qin Meng’s men found a child near Liang that looks very much like him? He brought the child back today, and she looks just as handsome as he did when he was young. Qin Meng dotes on her as the apple of his eye, but that child bears no resemblance to me at all! I suspect that Qin Meng is secretly keeping a mistress outside. That child is definitely a bastard!” She rose at this point and spoke through gritted teeth, “Then I questioned Qin Meng today and he actually talked back to me! Although he didn’t touch me, he looked like he wanted to eat me alive! He did all this to me for a girl of unknown origins! Am I supposed to take any random child he brings home as my daughter? He can keep dreaming! I demand an investigation!”
The duchess pursed her lips, falling silent as she allowed her daughter to vent. Off to the side, Bao-mama also lowered her head in thought, occasionally glancing at née Sun sideways with a look of unknown intention.
Née Sun drew closer to her mother, pulling on her hand and pouting cutely when she saw that her mother wasn’t speaking. “Mother, help me~ Give orders to have your people investigate if Qin Meng has a mistress. It’s not like I don’t allow him to take concubines! If he really has a mistress, father has to teach him a good lesson! And, I want to conduct a test between that girl’s blood and mine and see if she really is my child! I can’t just believe whatever people tell me!”
“Not only did you argue with your husband, you also want to investigate if he has a mistress, and conduct a maternity test with the child?” The duchess’ words were measured, but unmistakably angry.
“Yes! Why are you being so mean, mother!?” Née Sun felt very misunderstood by her mother’s tone.
The duchess clenched her teeth, trying to hold back the urge. But in the end, she couldn’t control her temper. She threw aside the hand warmer, and slapped her daughter. It wasn’t a hard slap, lighter than the one née Sun had given Qin Yining, but then again, née Sun had always led a pampered life.
She’d rarely ever seen her mother in such a temper, not to mention she was almost forty. But here she was, being slapped by her mother! Her mentality couldn’t take it and tears began to trickle down her face again, seemingly endless. She wanted to burst out into loud wails, but didn’t dare enrage her mother further. Née Sun could only remain collapsed on the ground, sniffling and hiccuping, the very image of a piteous woman being bullied by the world.
The duchess was even angrier at this display and pointed at née Sun’s nose, exhorting loudly, “Daughter Han, you’re not a young girl anymore, so why do you still act like this? What kind of person is Lord Qin? How many look up to him and wish for the chance to fawn on him? How could you argue with him like this and come back here at the drop of a hat? You leave him no face in doing so! And you want to investigate if he has a mistress, and conduct a maternity test!? Where did your brains go?! Anyone with the slightest shred of intelligence to them wouldn’t do that in such a situation! Not only can you not conduct any investigation at all, you also have to take her as your daughter, and happily at that!”
“Why must I?!” Née Sun flew into a rage at this seemingly unreasonable mandate from her mother and shouted right back, “Why do I need to take her as my daughter if that wild brat is a bastard?!”
“Fool! Idiot!” The duchess stamped her foot in sheer anger. “How many years have you and Lord Qin been married, and yet you only have daughter Hui to this day? Lord Qin has already said that daughter Hui isn’t yours, the new one is. If you use a way to prove that the new one isn’t, then doesn’t that mean you’ve borne him no children at all?”
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