Chapter 42: Appearances
Between the two servants, one rushed off to Snowpear Courtyard to fetch clothing and accessories while the other adroitly helped Qin Yining wash up. Xiaoling came back with an outfit in short order and respectfully helped the fourth miss into it. Her attitude was much more reserved compared to a few days ago.
Qin Yining found this amusing. The official daughter of the grand preceptor is more eminent than one of the prime minister, hmm? But she didn’t feel proud, because this was the trampress’ background as well.
The area outside the ancestral hall became boisterous after a moment. Cheery servant chatter could be heard through the door. Wife Ge and Xiaoling pulled back the doors to join in the conversation. Qin Yining was curious as well and took a few steps out of the door, looking at servants carrying in scented candles, worship goods, and others not too far in the distance. She noticed that Qin Huining’s maids Bitong and Bitao were also present. They were helping Jixiang and Ruyi from Garden of Loving Piety.
It was easy to see what was going on here. She was much worse than Qin Huining when it came to maintaining appearances. She had much to learn.
Bitong and Bitao had long since glimpsed Qin Yining as well. When they saw her in complete formal attire, Bitong smiled and couldn’t stifle her laughter.
“She’s daydreaming that the lord will let her out.” Bitong’s voice was loud, but she hadn’t tried keeping it low either. Everyone in the vicinity heard and perked up their ears, keeping their hands firmly busy on the task at hand.
Bitao pulled at Bitong. “Do you want to do? Just do your job, why are you trying to start things?”
“Don’t you pull at me!” Bitong flung off Bitao’s hand and snorted. “They all say that the tone is set at the top. That cheap whore Ruilan dared steal Old Dowager’s jade bracelet. We can tell from this that her mistress isn’t anything good either. The old dowager was merciful and only threw her out of the manor with a beating. If it’d been anyone else, Ruilan would’ve been beaten to death. But some people still sit and sleep easy after their servant’s done something so shameful. It really chills my heart to see this.”
She’d had more than enough! Qin Yining had beaten her before and bullied her miss again and again. Now that Qin Yining had fallen out of favor, it was time to get a few stomps in! They all said that Qin Yining was a barbarian. It’d be even better if she could provoke this barbarian into a fight on this grand day. Her miss would reward her greatly! Bitong was feeling very proud of herself, so the taunting look on her face grew even deeper. “They say she’s the lord’s official daughter, but who knows what’s really the case? Even Senior Madame doesn’t like her, and here she is lording it like she really is something noble. If she is, why did she slip out to meet with some outside male and get locked up in the ancestral hall for punishment? She’s just a barbarian with the savagery in her still. She’s going to taint our good reputation in entering the manor with all these base airs!”
Everyone fully took in these harsh words and also weighed up Bitong’s provocation. Those who’d heard of the fourth miss’ heroic feats before were already waiting for a good show with bated breath. However, they were only greeted by Qin Yining’s amiable smile when they looked at the ancestral hall doors.
“To hear such words from sister Bitong on this joyous occasion is proof of how well Miss Huining teaches her servants. I wonder if you thought of these words yourself, or where they from your mistress?” Qin Yining remained where she was, still smiling gently, but the look in her eyes made Bitong recall the biting pain of the night when Qin Yining’s fists thudded onto her body.
The maid really wanted to stick her hands on her hips and go at it with Qin Yining again, but she cowardly gave up the fight with resignation. Her lips vibrated as she looked at the fourth miss, but she didn’t say anything in response.
“Since your mistress has never taught you the manners a servant should have, I’ll make sure to do so when I have free time some day.” Qin Yining smiled faintly. “Just you wait.”
Bitong shuddered involuntarily.
Qin Yining’s beautiful eyes took in the surroundings and lingered on those who had laughed just now. “If anyone wants to join Miss Bitong in lessons, just imitate her all you want.”
Those who had laughed at Qin Yining earlier didn’t even dare breathe loudly now. It had nothing to do with them to begin with, so why anger the fourth miss? As much trouble as she would get into, she was still the official daughter of Grand Preceptor Qin, and Qin Huining was just a foster daughter.
Bitong was both furious and fearful, and the feeling of being targeted prey sent chills down her back. She was regretting her early impulsiveness. She should’ve done all that when Qin Huining was present. Not only would she then receive her mistress’ commendation, but she would also be able to redirect fire from Qin Yining.
When Qin Yining saw that all was in order outside the door, she lost the interest to look around and returned inside to take a seat. Xiaoling came back before long. “Miss, the old dowager and lord are all coming.”
“I see.” Qin Yining came to the yard in time to see Second Elder Master Qin Xiuyuan and Second Madame née Su helping a formally dressed Old Dowager through the doors. Third Elder Master Qin Zhiyuan and Third Madame née Wang flanked Qin Huaiyuan and were chatting merrily. Senior Master Qin Yu and his wife, Second Master Qin Han and his wife, as well as a gaggle of cousins brought up the rear. Qin Huining and the sixth miss were at the very end, holding hands and murmuring lowly to each other. They seemed to sense Qin Yining’s gaze and giggled when they looked back at her. The whole family was here, bar née Sun.
Née Sun was likely still in the Ding Manor and refusing to return. Perhaps she was still maintaining a haughty attitude and waiting for Qin Huaiyuan to bring her back. Qin Yining sighed soundlessly and adjusted her emotions, going forward to greet the old dowager, her father, uncles, and aunts.
Qin Huaiyuan was now looking at Qin Yining with absence of anger and many more tinges of affection. If it hadn’t been for her going to the prince and demanding Tang Meng, those flip-floppers in court wouldn’t have swiftly taken a side. The Prince of Ning wouldn’t have successfully taken down Grand Preceptor Cao, and he wouldn’t have received the position of Grand Preceptor of the Heir Apparent. His career had previously been bottlenecked at the position of prime minister. No matter how hard he tried, it was an exceedingly difficult thing to even inch forward, not to mention just maintaining his position was difficult enough. To think that a problem that’d plagued him for many years would be easily resolved by this little girl! From this, one could see that not only was she smart and perceptive, sensitive to politics, and she possessed great fortune as well.
“Daughter Yi has studied well these days, I’m sure? You can go back to your residence after this.” Qin Huaiyuan turned to the old dowager. “I feel that her Snowpear Courtyard is rather far. She’ll need many servants to send out on errands. I’ll give her my Yaoqin and Yuqi. As for their stipend, still mark them under the outer study.”
The crowd was collectively taken aback. Everyone knew that there were four beautiful first-rank maids serving in Qin Huaiyuan’s study. They were all fifteen and each talented with the zither, chess, calligraphy, and painting. Their names of Yaoqin, Yuqi, Moxiang, Danqing 1 were related to their expertise. They served only in the study and received a separate stipend from Qin Huaiyuan. Their positions amongst the servants were without parallel. There were also rumors that née Sun had been jealous of these four girls on many an occasion. Second Elder Master Qin Xiuyuan had even set his eyes on Yuqi last year and wanted her for a concubine, but Qin Huaiyuan had flatly turned him down. But now he was giving two of them at once to Qin Yining!
Yuxiang had disappeared from Qin Yining’s side and Ruilan had been sent away as punishment earlier, so the fourth miss happened to be missing two head maids at the moment. It was rare that someone as lofty as Qin Huaiyuan would take note that his daughter was lacking two maids and would so generously fill in the gap! How strong was this father daughter relationship? It’d seem that everyone had underestimated Qin Huaiyuan’s fondness for his daughter! Wasn’t the word on the street that Qin Huaiyuan disliked his daughter because of the mistake she’d made and had sent her to the ancestral hall for punishment? This wasn’t the case at all!
Qin Huining ground her teeth audibly. Qin Huaiyuan was giving Qin Yining face and tell others that she was his most beloved daughter! So what of her then?!
- Direct translations of swaying zither, jade chess pieces, fragrance of ink, and crimson green ↩