Chapter 72: Thunderous and Swift Methods
Qin Yining’s overwhelming ferocity caused the ashen faced Qin Huining to shake her head repeatedly.
“You wouldn’t dare! What gives you the right to say any of this? Who are you in this family? There’s the old dowager, father, and mother above us! What gives you the right to punish me?! Grandmother! She’s trying to kill me! Save me!” Qin Huining tried her best to scramble away while summoning help from the inside.
But in one smooth motion, Qin Yining grabbed her collar and casually flung her to the side, which forced Qin Huining to stumble back a few steps and collapse in a heap in the yard. “Keep trying to make a fuss, huh!”
The harsh tone petrified Qin Huining. She didn’t dare shout any longer. Instead, she covered her face and cried, immensely aggrieved. The servants around them were all frightened silly. They didn’t even breathe too loudly. The only sound that could be heard was Qin Yining saying in a markedly different, tender tone, “Don’t be afraid, mother. The doctor will be here shortly.”
Qin-mama took a look at Qin Huining and padded silently inside. “Old Dowager, the matters outside?”
The old dowager shook her head with a sigh. “My heart has truly chilled towards granddaughter Hui. Now that I’ve calmed down and gone over what happened, I only flew into a rage and said all that because she mentioned Meng’er. It isn’t the first time she’s done so either.”
Qin-mama murmured silently, you’re not intervening in this because you didn’t see how the fourth miss slapped a tooth out of Miss Huining. “However, Miss Huining lost a tooth just now because Fourth Miss slapped her.”
“Ah?!” The old dowager stood in surprise. She could hear the argument going on outside but didn’t see anything. Dear Hui’er had lost a tooth? She wanted to rush outside, but Qin-mama held onto her arm.
“Old Dowager, you already weren’t feeling well today and was further angered by the senior madame. It wouldn’t do to catch a cold if you went out like this. I feel that the fourth miss knows what is appropriate when doing things. Her making a move is actually teaching a lesson to Miss Huining on your behalf, no?”
“But granddaughter Hui…”
“Old Dowager, Miss Huining dared stir the pot only because she was fearless and bold from your favor. It’s about time that someone taught her a lesson. Let’s see if that reins her in a little. Not to mention, haven’t you been wanting to see how the fourth miss handles matters? I would quite like to see if the fourth miss takes after the lord when he was young.”
Qin Huaiyuan was the old dowager’s soft spot. When he’d been young, he’d used thunderous and swift methods to put many concubines into their places. If anyone wanted to touch the old dowager, her son would be the first to resist and consign others to sheer humiliation.
The old dowager smiled. “Granddaughter Yi is indeed very similar to Meng’er. She takes after her father in filial piety.”
“Isn’t that so?” Qin-mama helped the old dowager to a sitting position. “It won’t be too late to take action after assessing the situation. Besides, you’re not abandoning Miss Huining. Have her learn her lesson first and then send her comfort when she needs it most.”
The old dowager concurred after some thought and nodded, then sighed. It was saddening to realize that the girl she’d watched grow up was now a scheming and calculative individual. Qin Huining had plotted against even her mother of fourteen years! The Qins had never mistreated her and kept her treatment the same as the other misses of the family, but she still didn’t know to be content. It was time indeed for her to be taught a lesson.
Jixiang came running back with Bingtang in tow. After assessing née Sun’s condition, Bingtang fished out an old, simple wooden box and opened it to take out a long, silver needle. She poked at née Sun several times and poked last at the acupuncture point beneath her nose. Née Sun exhaled with a burp and blearily opened her eyes.
“Senior Madame’s awake!” everyone exclaimed. Those who didn’t know Bingtang’s identity marveled at the adept skillfulness of Qin Yining’s maid.
“Mother! You’re awake? Are you alright?” Qin Yining pulled happily on her mother’s hand and carefully helped her up.
Née Sun shook her head and leaned on Qin Yining’s shoulder. Her voice was still a bit raspy. “I’m alright, what happened to me?”
“Madame’s been too tired lately and overly grief-stricken.” Bingtang smiled reassuringly. “Your body naturally needs rest. Your health is good to begin with, so your body will be fine. It was just emotional distress. You’ll be fine after resting for two days.”
Née Sun was still angry when she thought about what’d just happened, but her body was really out of energy to continue the argument. She nodded.
“Bingtang, have someone bring over a carriage.” Qin Yining had just finished speaking when Ruyi led strong granny servants with a warmed carriage.
“Qin-mama had already given orders for me to prepare a carriage. The doctor has already arrived at the Garden of Tranquility. Please set foot into the carriage, madame.”
Qin Yining didn’t let anyone else help and stuck her arms beneath née Sun’s armpits and hauled the lady up, then helped her mother into the carriage. She bent and held up the curtains. “Go back and rest, mother. I’ll have Bingtang go back with you. I’ll go see you as soon as I take care of everything here.”
Née Sun nodded, leaning tiredly on the inky-green velvet that hung on the carriage walls. Qin Yining patted Bingtang’s hand. “Take care of her for me.”
“Don’t worry, miss.” Bingtang smiled. After sending off the carriage with her eyes, Qin Yining took a glance at the still and silent house. A trace of a cold smile graced her lips after some thought and she turned to grasp Qin Huining’s collar, hauling her up from the ground.”
“What do you want?!” Qin Huining shrieked. “Mother’s already awoken! This is grandmother’s yard, how dare you!”
Qin Yining didn’t say a word and firmly grasped the foster girl’s hair, dragging her outside and scattering her hairpins and decorations all over the ground. Qin Yining’s hand was forcing Qin Huining’s down, so the latter could only stumble along with her waist bent. She couldn’t reach Qin Yining no matter how wildly her arms flailed. She struggled and shrieked along the way, like prey being carried by a hunter.
Jixiang and Ruyi were flabbergasted! They’d served in the manor for many years but had never seen a miss with such eye-popping strength! The two quickly went in to make their report.
“Old Dowager, Fourth Miss has dragged Miss Huining off by the hair!”
The matriarch could finally no longer sit still. “Let’s go take a look, don’t let any actual harm happen!”
Qin-mama was also a bit worried. What if the fourth miss really chops up Miss Huining in a moment of impulse? She grabbed a cloak to fling onto the old dowager and helped her mistress out with Jixiang and Ruyi.
Curious maids and granny servants were trailing Qin Yining from the Garden of Loving Piety all the way to the rear gardens. It was winter. Although the water surface wasn’t thickly iced over like it would in the north, there were still ice flakes in the ponds. Qin Yining arrived at the side of the lotus pond and flung the foster girl in without another word.
Splash! Qin Huining plunged into a pond full of mud, withered lotuses, and chunks of ice. The water only reached her waist, but she’d done a belly flop into the water. Survival instincts kicked in when one was frightened stiff. When the old dowager reached the pond, all she saw was Qin Huining splashing in the water and crying for help.
Qin Yining snorted coldly on the banks. “You won’t die. Stand up.”
Qin Huining paddled and splashed a while longer before standing up skeptically, finally realizing that the water reached only her waist. She was both furious and humiliated; the immense range of emotions swiftly morphing into a singular notion: hatred. She was covered in mud and looked like something the cat dragged in out of the storm. The second madame, third madame, third, sixth, seventh, and eighth miss had come running over when they heard what’d happened. Everyone was stunned.
“What are you all standing there for? Pull Miss Huining up!” Qin-mama frowned.
Qin Huining felt her support arrive in the form of the old dowager and stooped on the banks, hugging her shoulders and bawling. She looked like she’d been so frightened that she only knew how to cry.
“I threw you down there to have the muddy slop in the pond clean your mouth out,” Qin Yining said. “I hope it cleans out your brains and heart as well!”
Qin Huining sobbed even louder.
“The Qins took care of you for fourteen years and never mistreated you. Even if you aren’t a Qin daughter, the old dowager, father, and mother have never thought of sending you back to the Hall of Fosters. Instead of being grateful, you try to drive a wedge between mother and the old dowager instead. Are you even fit to be human?!”
Qin Huining shook her head. “I know you hate me, but how is any of this my fault?”
“You were indeed innocent for being swapped at birth, but look at what you’ve done afterwards! I don’t hate you because you’re not worthy of hate. I’ll just see that I end you!”
Qin Huining hugged her knees and shook. Qin Yining laughed coldly. “Don’t use that pitiful act on me. I’m a barbarian and am completely immune to that. Since Old Dowager and the sisters are all here today, I’ll tell you this. If I find out that you’ve stirred up trouble or used mother in the future, I won’t let you off as easily as today!”
As easily as today? She’d knocked a tooth out of Qin Huining and even thrown the girl into the lotus pond to eat ice chunks and mud. If that was easy, then what wasn’t?!
“How dare you!” Qin Huining finally lifted her head as she shuddered.
“Don’t you know already if I dare or not?” Qin Yining turned to kneel in front of the old dowager and spoke sincerely. “Granddaughter was too violent and knows my faults. Please tell me my punishment, Old Dowager.”
The old dowager didn’t know whether she should punish Qin Yining or not. Her looks were so very similar to a young Qin Huaiyuan, and the aura of not allowing anyone to harm her mother reminded the old dowager of her firstborn as well. She knew that a strong hand was needed to rein in Qin Huining, or the inner residence would be become a chaotic mire. She frowned. “Although there was reason behind your actions, you were too ruthless. You threw her into the pond on such a cold day. You could’ve gotten her sick.”
There was no mention of the tooth. Qin Yining instantly understood the old dowager’s thoughts and heaved a silent sigh of relief. “Understood, your granddaughter knows her wrongs.”
Qin Huining lifted incredulous eyes to the old dowager. “Grandmother, do you not love me anymore? How can you treat me like this?!”
The old dowager was both pained and angry by Qin Huining’s muddy form. “Granddaughter Hui, I watched you grow up. I know what you’re thinking of. You should think of your actions.” She turned to everyone. “Let’s all disperse now. There’s no reason to stay here further.”
She left with Qin-mama, Jixiang, and Ruyi after speaking. She didn’t seem inclined to punish Qin Yining at all. The second and third madame, third miss and others had been a bit confused about the happenings but now understood. Qin Huining must’ve done something again that made even the old dowager unwilling to help her. Qin Yining curtsied to her aunts and cousins, explaining that née Sun had fainted and she wanted to serve at her side. The girls immediately expressed concern and followed her to the Garden of Tranquility.
Meanwhile, Qin Huining was carted back on a litter when her maids Fugui and Caiyun came hurrying over after they received the news. When the rear gardens quieted down, Qin Huaiyuan and Weichi Yan appeared from behind the nearby artificial mountain with their followers.
“Please forgive us for the sight you just witnessed, Your Highness. My daughter grew up in the wilds and her behavior is unmannered. Please forgive us for any offense.” Qin Huaiyuan bowed.