Chapter 85: Arrangement (II)
Fifth cousin-in-law’s eyes were wide-opened and staring. Although she was looking at Qin Yining, her eyes weren’t focused. Tears gushed out of her eyes continuously, as if never-ending springs.
When the duchess saw her thus, she walked slowly forward and placed her hands on her knees, slowly sitting down on the bed. Her voice spoke of great experience and calm.
“He can leave with a peaceful heart knowing that you delivered the child safely. The dead are gone and the living must be strong. They actually have it easy in just closing their eyes and leaving everything. Duties and responsibilities fall on those living. Shuang’er, I know you were a young couple deeply in love. Listen to your grandmother, just pretend that he’s gone on a long journey and that you’ll meet again one day.”
“Grandmother.” Fifth cousin-in-law choked out and grabbed the duchess’ hand while her other held her child. She clutched to the duchess’ hand so strongly that it seemed she would crush the matriarch’s hand.
Everyone couldn’t help but cry all over again. In the face of such a great disaster, one would either be defeated by what life had flung at them or take a breath in and stand up straight with a back that had been curved. The duchess remembered clearly what the duke had said to her before he left. She was a woman worthy of her reputation alright. In this crucial moment, she was the weakest and should’ve been absolutely prostrate with sorrow. But here she was, able to calmly analyze the situation and choose the correct path for the grief-stricken women.
Qin Yining looked at the duchess with admiration and heartache. What she herself could do was to take good care of them and make sure they didn’t go short on clothes and food.
The Duke of Ding and his descendants’ tragic end were soon public knowledge thanks to Great Zhou propaganda. Their fliers were posted not only over bulletin boards, but also all over streets and alleyways. Anyone who could read could quickly take in everything off of them.
The emperor of Great Zhou had executed twenty thousand captives due to the Yan emperor’s impudence. That made another twenty thousand sons who would never be able to see their parents again. And the vaunted Yan emperor? He still lived a luxurious and plentiful life with his trampress. in fact, he’d even forced the Duke of Ding’s grandson to offer his brains in a bid for Great Zhou forgiveness. Sun Yu had refused and so the Great Zhou envoy had thrown a tantrum. Just that had been enough to make the Yan emperor metaphorically pee his pants and slaughter all of the Sun males! He hadn’t even shown mercy to a five year old child! After killing off one of his subjects, he’d immediately sent word to Great Zhou and wagged his tail for forgiveness like a shameless dog.
The people were riled to great fury because of this useless, sex-crazed emperor who cowardly feared death. How can he dispose of loyal subjects this way! Although the new year was upon them, the capital was immersed in pain and fury. The people were greatly disheartened whenever they thought of this news, how Elder Statesman Cao had killed a citizen in broad daylight, and the emperor’s complete indifference. Someone who was even more demoralized was née Sun.
“Mother!” She was wearing a sapphire blue vest and silver hair ornaments. Her black cloak flared as she entered the house and flung herself to the duchess’ legs with a sob. “Mother, Qin Meng is an ingrate of a bastard! He’s turned his back on me and our family!”
The duchess felt her mind buzz as she looked at her sobbing daughter. This daughter really is beyond hope. She only knew to cry and wail against the heavens whenever she ran into anything. No wonder she would raise a daughter such as Qin Huining.
“Stand up and speak.” The duchess rubbed her temples.
“Don’t cry, lady.” The newly rescued Bao-mama helped née Sun to a sitting position on a garden stool. “You should think about the old madame’s health.” Née Sun hadn’t done much for the family after such an enormous thing had happened, and she hadn’t even been by these two days. It’d been Qin Yining running herself and fro. Thus, Bao-mama wasn’t kindly disposed towards née Sun at the moment.
“Qin Meng. He’s, he’s going to take the Cao widow as a concubine!” Née Sun sniffed and responded, highly aggrieved. “She’s entering the household today! Nothing I said made a difference and he even tried fob me off with lies saying that the emperor had given née Cao to him! Mother, how can he treat me this way?? Would he have his position today if it wasn’t for father’s help before? Now that something’s happened to our family, his is being utterly ungrateful and wiping the slate clean! I’m dead inside!”
The duchess looked up to see née Sun’s wan face, dark circles under her eyes, and eyes puffy from crying. She sighed. “Daughter Han, you’re no longer a child. I’ve tried teaching you some things a long time ago, but you just wouldn’t learn it. You don’t spend your efforts on making a smooth life either. You only think of your illustrious background. Are you going to look down at your in-laws forever because of the merits of your family? I already said this before. The Suns are no longer and so you have no backer. When I’m not by your side in the future, you should use your brains more.”
Née Sun’s tears burst forth again. “How will you not be by my side, mother!”
The duchess stroked her face and looked at Qin Yining. “Granddaughter Yi helped us a lot this time. We have nothing to thank you with.”
“Don’t say that, grandmother. This is just what I should’ve done. I’m also doing this for mother as well.” Qin Yining responded seriously.
“I know. You are a clearheaded child. I’ve already thought of where we should go and made appropriate contact. We’ll prepare to move starting today. Serve your mother well in the future and live well in the Qins. Let’s not contact each other much in the future.”
The room instantly quieted after this. Née Sun reacted frantically, “Mother, are you mad at me?! I, I just wanted to vent some. That’s why I said all that. I know I shouldn’t have. Don’t be angry, mother. Don’t leave me!”
“It’s not because of you.” The duchess sighed. “Daughter Han, you should trust your husband more in the future. Listen to granddaughter Yi’s suggestions. The emperor must have really bestowed née Cao onto Lord Qin. Her background isn’t simple so don’t place yourself at odds with her in the future. Take more care and don’t easily believe anyone. If you run into anything, have a good discussion with darling Yi before doing anything. She sees things clearly.”
Née Sun grew even more panicked when she listened to what sounded like the last words from her mother. Qin Yining understood what the duchess meant and frowned. “You don’t actually need to worry, grandmother. I’m not the one who set the precedent of the Institute hiring from the Royal Academy. It’s a tradition from our ancestors. I have the desire to bring our family here and such is my freedom to do so. Can the emperor reach into even private business?”
“Silly girl.” The duchess responded. “Do you think the emperor is rational? If he was, our family wouldn’t be in these straits. Your father has a special status and it’s not proper for us to remain. Additionally, I have things to do.” She stood up and patted née Sun’s head, then said benevolently to Qin Yining, “You haven’t returned home for long but I can tell you’re a smart girl. Let’s avoid visits in the future. We’ll each live our own lives. Growing old peacefully will be the greatest blessing of all.”
Qin Yining’s forehead was furrowed tightly, while Bingtang, Songlan, and Qiulu all felt that the duchess was being too coldblooded. Their mistress had spent more than just silver in saving the females and bringing messages into the dungeon so that the males might not pass onto the next world with great uncertainty. She’d also assumed enormous risk in giving them a good burial and retaining all of the needed servants. But the duchess now saying “avoid visits and cut down on contact” was drawing a clear moat between the two.