Chapter 80: Undercurrents
“I shouldn’t have told Meng’er to be an official! Look at all this madness He dealt a great blow to Northern Ji with that ploy back in the day, but now that demon Pang Zhixi hates him to the bone! And now that Meng’er’s the Grand Preceptor of the Heir Apparent, the emperor goes to him for help with any matter, no matter big or small. Which might even cause others to be jealous and start to scheme against him! My heart hangs in the balance with him everyday, like it’s roasting over a fire!”
Qin-mama tried in vain to comfort her mistress when she saw how inconsolable the old dowager seemed to be. On her other side, Qini Yining was still on auto-pilot as she supported the old dowager. Her heart had been caught in the claws of an overwhelming grief.
So many Suns had been ripped from her life, including even her seven and five year old nephews. But when the old dowager heard the news, the only emotion she displayed was fear for the potential danger to her own family. But such is human nature… haven’t I always known this? She compartmentalized her sorrow and thought furiously. With the old dowager’s personality, she’ll probably burst into fury and ground me too if I ask her to let mother out so we can send off the Sun males.
The old dowager would likely let their corpses rot in the open if she had her way about it. In all fairness, it wasn’t a hard reaction to understand. It wasn’t easy to summon to courage to test the emperor’s temper by arranging a proper burial for those he’d had executed in a fit of fury. But Yining couldn’t let her grandfather and his family have such a tragic ending! She had to give them a proper burial, and in a completely flawless way!
Having discussed with Qin Huaiyuan earlier, Qin Yining was feeling much more confident. She wiped off her tears with a plan in mind. But as she mused on it, a woman’s crying wail traveled in from outside, the words faintly discernible.
“Let go of me! All of you let go of me! I want to go out! Let me out!”
“Senior Madame, you can’t go!”
“Don’t go out senior aunt! Everything is a mess outside! Grandmother will worry about you if you go!”
“I must! None of you care because it’s not your father and brothers that this has happened to!”
“Please keep your voice down! Oh my word, this is the Garden of Loving Piety! Oh my ancestors and oh Buddha!”
“Am I afraid of anyone hearing me? That ingrate of a flip flopping hag! 1 What was she like when my family was prosperous?! Now that something’s happened, she’s tucked her bitch of a head in and is worse than animals!”
The old dowager couldn’t hear clearly what was going on outside, but she could hear the last couple of sentences very clearly. Flip flopping hag, ingrate, lower than animals…
“Slap her mouth! Slap her!” The old dowager flushed beet red and shot to her feet. “Is that breeding of that idiot woman?! What, has she forgotten all her manners now that her father’s dead?! How is she filial at all in cursing her mother-in-law like this?? I’m going to divorce her! I’ll hold a family meeting and divorce this unfilial, stupid woman on Meng’er’s behalf!”
Qin Yining was still supporting the old dowager’s arm, but the look in her eyes had slowly chilled. Even though pursuing self gain was human nature, the old dowager’s actions were simply too ugly. Thus it was apparent that not only was she the profit-seeking sort, but so selfish and self-centered that she was absolutely coldblooded in her pursuits.
Qin-mama was also disapproving off to the side, but she could only mutter silently as she was a servant. She happened to glance at Qin Yining and felt a cold chill travel down her back. It felt like she’d looked at Qin Huaiyuan just now, not the fourth miss! She was compelled to try to defuse the situation.
“Don’t be angry, mistress. Senior Madame’s home has just been destroyed and her family no more. It’s normal that she would be this sad. She must not be thinking clearly and sprouting all sorts of nonsense. Why take a crazy person to task for their words? Besides, we must consult the lord for divorce. You have to think of his reputation no matter what.”
Qin Yining had had enough. She had thoroughly seen through this self-serving paternal grandmother. It might actually be a good thing if mother is divorced. I have a thousand ways for her to live a good life outside. It’d only been one day since the Duke of Ding had fallen, but the attitudes within the Qin manor were already thus. How much more would her mother have to suffer if she remained? She wasn’t the sort who could endure and plan. She’s be swallowed whole! Even if Qin Yining’s father wanted to intervene, he was still a filial son.
“Grandmother, I’ll go take a look.” She curtsied and walked out without waiting for a response.
Qin-mama helped the old dowager down to a sitting as the matriarch was huffing with anger and stomped her foot. “Look at this! All order’s gone out the window!”
Qin Yining trotted out the doors of the Garden of Loving Piety to see Jin-mama and Bingtang flanking née Sun, trying to comfort her. There was another maid and granny servant kneeling on the ground with their arms wrapped around née Sun’s legs. The maid was called Cuifu, and the granny servant surnamed Zhang. Cuifu was the sixth miss’ head maid, and the granny servant the wet nurse. The sixth miss happened to be standing not too far away and exchanging words with the other servants while watching the show.
Well, isn’t Qin Huining a quick learner. She knows that she shouldn’t be putting in an appearance here, so she found a spear to do it for her instead. Qin Yining walked up and picked up the two with their arms around née Sun. She hauled them up on their collars and threw them away.
“Who the hell are you to touch the senior madame? Even if the Duke of Ding is no more, she is still my father’s wife of many years! What are you all trying to do, seek death?!”
Cuifu and Zhang-mama collapsed onto the floor. They weren’t in pain, but they had been so frightened that their faces were white. Impulse got the better of the sixth miss and she charged over.
“Senior aunt wouldn’t listen to our advice and insisted on going out, which is why Cuifu and Zhang-mama are holding her back. How can senior aunt leave the ancestral hall of her own volition without telling the old dowager first?”
“What happened?” Qin Yining ignored the sixth miss and asked Jin-mama instead.
Née Sun had latched onto Qin Yining with loud sobs at this time and was a blubbering mess on the girl’s shoulder. She kept murmuring, “I want to go out! Daughter Yi, I want to see your grandfather!”
“Fourth Miss, the sixth miss just came by with news of the beheading of the duke and the others,” Jin-mama responded in a low voice. “The madame was in a hurry to get out and we couldn’t hold her back no matter what. Please help calm her down.”
Qin Yining put an arm around her mother and looked sideways at the sixth miss. “You listen to Qin Huining’s orders well. How many bones did she give you?”
The sixth miss didn’t react immediately. She blinked a few times before retorting angrily, “Who are you insulting as a dog?!”
“Calling you a dog is an insult to dogs! I won’t do anything to you out of consideration for second aunt. But your actions are really unbecoming. Bingtang, go see second aunt immediately and tell her that Qin Shuangning took it upon herself to go to the ancestral hall and provoke my mother with that message, then had her maid and wet nurse hold my mother here and incite her to further outcries. It’s your word against hers, so bring along two eloquent witnesses.”
“Understood.” Bingtang nodded.
“Qin Yining, you and I are both Qin misses! You bully the foster daughter and turn on a daughter of the blood now? How dare you go stir up trouble in front of the second madame?!” Qin Shuangning shrieked.
Qin Yining ignored her and swept a glance at the surrounding granny servants. She immediately saw Mama Jing, mother of Third Shopkeeper Jing, step forward with another swarthy granny servant. “Fourth Miss, this servant is willing to bear witness.”
“Very well, my thanks.” Qin Yining nodded and pretended not to know the old servant. Mama Jing immediately followed Bingtang for a quick trip to the second branch of the family.
The sixth miss panicked. She hadn’t been adopted in name by the official wife of her branch! The madame would punish her for this!
“What are you all waiting for?! Stop them!” She shrieked as she pushed Cuifu and Zhang-mama to pursue. The two obeyed and chased forward, but the strong granny servant that Mama Jing had with her shoved them roughly to the ground.
In the midst of all the chaos, Qin Yining surreptitiously whispered a few words to née Sun. The madame first blanked in surprise and then rolled her eyes up, fainting with a sharp cry.
“Mother! Mother! Someone help! Get the doctor!”
“The madame must’ve fainted from sorrow! Someone come help!” Jin-mama had heard Qin Yining’s words just now and charged into the Garden of Loving Piety proper for aid. The old dowager had come out by now, wrapped in a cloak, with Qin-mama, Jixiang, and Ruyi at her side. She was standing at the top of the steps with a frown down at née Sun.
Qin Yining had pulled the limp née Sun into her lap as helpless tears streamed down her voice. Her voice was so gentle that it seemed like she was speaking to a kitten. “Mother, don’t scare me! Wake up please.”
The old dowager opened her mouth, but the old servant at her side pinched her in the arm. She looked at Qin-mama, affronted, but the old servant responded, “The lord is still in the palace. Mistress, you should at least consider his wishes. Besides, there are so many around.”
The old dowager took another glance at the crowd of servants around before she managed to swallow the words of, “Divorce this stupid woman immediately and throw her out!” She cared about her own reputation after all. Besides, a great happening had just occurred in her daughter-in-law’s family and née Sun had fainted away right in front of her. Could she not take née Sun in?
“Bring her inside to wait for the doctor.” Qin-mama immediately brought the spring bench over 2 and had née Sun carefully moved onto it. The group stumbled their way inside while Qin Yining took advantage of the confusion to run to the second branch’s side of the manor. She happened to bump into Bingtang, Mama Jing, and the strong granny servant. They’d just concluded their business.
“Mama Jing, please find a way to get a message to Grand Steward Zhong. You’ll have my thanks!”
“Not at all, not at all. Just tell me what you’d like, miss.”
Qin Yining whispered some instructions by Mama Jing’s ear, then took Bingtang with her back to the Garden of Loving Piety. Meanwhile, Mama Jing scooted her way out of the manor through the kitchen delivery door.