Hearing Matron Zhao’s summary, Concubine Pei couldn’t help but furrow her brows.
The second miss Yan Qian interrupted: “Since she won’t come out, let her stay in there, right? Why should we waste our energy in trying to get her out?”
Yan Qian was older than Yan Yan by a month. She was the second oldest in the estate, and was Concubine Pei’s daughter. She had never seen eye to eye with Yan Yan, but had to treat Yan Yan with respect the way Concubine Pei treated Shen Yi Yao with respect. No need to ask why. This was how Concubine Pei had brought her up.
Yan Qian had never been fond of Yan Yan and went against her secretly countless times. But Yan Yan was birthed by the principal wife and had never been easy to pick on. Yan Qian naturally never had the upper hand. Yan Yan being locked up this time made Yan Qian smile even in her sleep.
“Get out of here. Why are you interrupting when adults are speaking?” Concubine Pei’s usually pitiful and neat face showed a rare hint of sternness. She only showed such an expression towards her own two children.
Yan Qian pouted her mouth, squeezed her handkerchief and left.
“Lady Cousin, what do you think we should do?”
Concubine Pei thought carefully for a while before suddenly letting out a breath: “Looks like I have to take care of things for my aunt this time. Let me go discuss things with the madam.”
Matron Zhao’s eyes flashed and she didn’t speak. She had some disdain towards Concubine Pei’s pretentiousness. Taking care of things for the old madam? Wasn’t this situation caused by you?
Although she cursed her silently, Matron Zhao still said smilingly: “Then we must thank Lady Cousin for your wisdom.”
Concubine Pei went over to the Jinse Pavilion. At this time, the Jinse Pavilion had also received word of Second Madam Shen’s arrival.
Shen Yi Yao tidied herself up and prepared to go meet her second sister-in-law. The one who reported the matter naturally didn’t know what Second Madam Shen was here for, so Shen Yi Yao merely treated this as a friendly visit.
Seeing Concubine Pei at the door, she said she was going to the Rongan Hall. However, Concubine Pei had her wait and said she needed to speak with her. True to her character, Shen Yi Yao turned around and went back inside where the two of them sat down to talk.
Concubine Pei didn’t beat around the bush and got to the point straight away. She said Second Madam Shen was here to bring the third miss to the Zhenguo Duke Estate, saying how her grandparents missed their granddaughter.
Shen Yi Yao was a little startled, her eyes turning a little red, though it wasn’t noticeable.
“Since mom and dad miss Ah Yan, then let her make a trip.”
Concubine Pei’s expression was a little awkward as she said quietly: “Madam, don’t forget. The third miss is still locked up in the small worship hall.”
Hearing these words, Shen Yi Yao squeezed her handkerchief. Afterwards, she seemed to have thought of something and said: “Since this is rather sudden, let’s just waive the rest of her punishment.”
Shen Yi Yao’s attitude was very natural and open. Apart from revealing some heartache and a look of relief, there wasn’t anything else.
Concubine Pei had a hard time responding to these words. After some thought, she said: “The third miss isn’t willing to come out.”
“The third miss said that since madam ordered for her to be locked up for half a month, she naturally won’t come out before time is up.”
Shen Yi Yao’s expressions was both distressed and gratified as she mumbled: “My Ah Yan is obedient after all. Her temper’s just a little overbearing. She also knows she was in the wrong….”
Concubine Pei was a little desperate. She knew she couldn’t drag things out any longer and had to ask: “Madam, but what should we do?”
“What should we do about what?” Shen Yi Yao looked at her in surprise.
“If the third miss won’t come out, how is she supposed to go to the Zhenguo Duke Estate?”
Shen Yi Yao muttered to herself for a while before saying: “It’s naturally good Ah Yan wants to repent. Tell second sister-in-law that Ah Yan will go over in a few days. The estate will have someone send her over.”
Concubine Pei couldn’t maintain her smile any longer, and said: “But what should we tell Second Madam Shen? Isn’t it bad if she finds out the third miss was locked up?”
“What’s bad about it? Children should be punished if they do something wrong. Our Shen household has always raised our younger generation this way.”
Speaking of this, Shen Yi Yao revealed a reminiscent smile.
The Shen household’s rules had always been strict. When they were young, whenever her two brothers did something wrong they would be punished by their father in this manner. Because she was a girl and because she was younger by quite a bit, she had never been punished. Furthermore, in her mind it was just closed door reflection. She didn’t lack for food or drink. It wasn’t a big deal. Although she punished Ah Yan, her heart still ached quite a bit. But mistakes needed to be punished.
“Enough, I won’t delay you any further. I’ll explain things to second sister-in-law.”
Concubine Pei didn’t expect to suffer a loss at Shen Yi Yao’s hands, and it was quite a significant amount of silent grievance. She could only angrily take her leave.
Matron Zhao was still at the Ziyu Pavilion waiting for her. Seeing her come over with an ugly expression and asking about the situation, she could only return to the small worship hall.
Second Madam Shen had put on enough appearances. She inquired why Yan Yan hadn’t come over yet. The old madam said smiling that someone had already been sent to bring her over, and asked Second Madam Shen to wait a little longer.
Unexpectedly, they waited a while, and then another while. Second Madam Shen looked a little displeased.
“Old madam. Did something happen? Why isn’t Yan Yan here yet?”
“This…..” The old madam ordered one of the maids: “Go see what the matter is. Why isn’t the third miss here yet?”
After another while, Matron Zhao returned and spoke a few words by the old madam’s ear. The old madam’s expression immediately turned a mixture of colors. She only turned towards Second Madam Shen after a long while.
She smiled a little awkwardly and said: “We’ve made a fool of ourselves in front of Second Madam Shen. There’s been a minor hiccup. Previously, Ah Yan and Yao’er got into a disagreement. In her anger, Yao’er ordered Ah Yan to be locked up. This elder wanted to make the decision to release Ah Yan and have her go with you to the Zhenguo Duke Estate to prevent things from becoming more awkward between mother and daughter. Unexpectedly, Yao’er didn’t permit it due to her temper. What do you think…..”
Second Madam Shen’s gaze burned, her face full of smiles. Hearing these words, she said in astonishment: “Really? Just what did Ah Yan do for little sis to make such a decision?”
The old madam covered a laugh, “It wasn’t much, just an argument between mother and daughter. Yao’er wanted to lock Ah Yan up for half a month. The time isn’t up yet so she said she wants to wait until later before releasing Ah Yan. She said her household has always taught the younger generation this way. As her mother-in-law, it’s also not convenient for me to say anything. How about this? This elder will go persuade Yao’er, and send Ah Yan over to the Zhenguo Duke Estate a few days later.”
Second Madam Shen interacted with noblewomen of various estates year round. She naturally understood these people’s tendencies of saying what others wanted to hear. Although Shen Yi Yao rarely returned home after marriage, Second Madam Shen still understood this younger sister-in-law’s nature. She had always cherished Ah Yan, and wouldn’t stubbornly refuse to let her go. Especially since the Shen household was strict only towards the males of the younger generation. They were never this way towards girls. Outsiders didn’t know this, but that didn’t mean those on the inside weren’t aware.
Therefore, this old woman was talking nonsense, and she was rather skilled at it too. She pushed all the responsibility of locking Ah Yan up onto her sister-in-law, and even used the Shen household’s rules to suppress others, hoping she would be aware of this. She didn’t convolute things and also spoke very clearly, even including a hint of wanting to see the guest out.
If it were someone ordinary, they would naturally be carried along by her words and depart.
But what kind of person was Second Madam Shen?
This was the daughter-in-law praised by even the Zhenguo Duke. She was also here on her father-in-law’s orders, and had even seen many suspicious points. How could she let them have their way?
Especially since Second Madam Shen wasn’t a fool. She had been here for almost half an hour. As her sister-in-law, Shen Yi Yao hadn’t arrived yet. This was also fishy.
There was a reason Shen Yi Yao had yet to arrive. Concubine Pei saw things weren’t looking good and ordered someone to go delay her. They brought up those servants who were more seriously ill after Yan Yan beat them into the water. Shen Yi Yao definitely couldn’t extricate herself for a while. As long as Old Madam Yan could send Second Madam Shen away, they would have some time to figure things out.
Unfortunately, they were going to be disappointed—–
Second Madam Shen put on a distressed expression and said urgently: “How could sister-in-law be so muddleheaded! Ah Yan isn’t that old, and has always been a bright one. Her grandparents love her to death. How can things be stuck like this? How am I supposed to explain it to mother-in-law? To be honest, mother-in-law would definitely have trouble sleeping. This won’t do, I must bring little Ah Yan back today. Where’s she being locked up? If I went to bring her away, sister-in-law definitely won’t say anything against it!”
After speaking, Second Madam Shen stood up, giving off the appearance of waiting for someone to lead the way.
The old madam sat there looking completely unwell.
“Old madam, can I trouble you to have someone lead the way?”
Could she refuse?
Matron Zhao who had rushed over could only lead her over. She even had to maintain a smile, though that smile was extremely rigid.
Ah Yan sat there stubbornly, and no one dared to touch her.
Matron Zhao had returned after a while and ordered everyone to leave. The doors were shut once again.
Yan Yan felt a little anxious. Could her second aunt have been tricked into leaving by grandmother?
No, no. Second aunt was a smart one, and Lady Hui had sent the message over in the middle of the night. She definitely wouldn’t be sent away so easily. After thinking this, Yan Yan calmed down and sat there hugging her knees.
Suddenly, footsteps rang out and the tightly shut doors were opened.
“Little Ah Yan!”
A cry of alarm sounded and Second Madam Shen rushed forward and embraced Yan Yan.
Second Madam Shen simply couldn’t believe her own eyes. She had some idea in her heart since with Ah Yan’s stubborn nature, she wouldn’t ask grandfather for help unless she was truly suffering. However, only after seeing the truth did she realize just what the situation was like.
When the doors were opened, dust flew everywhere. The small Ah Yan sat on the floor hugging her knees. Her hair and clothing were a mess, and there was nothing of her past lively and unbridled appearance.
This scene stabbed into Second Madam Shen’s eyes and heart, immediately enraging her.
The Shen household didn’t have many girls. The Zhenguo Duke had two sons and a daughter. This only daughter was Shen Yi Yao. The eldest son Shen Dong had three sons and no daughters. The second son Shen Ding had two sons and also no daughter.
Not giving birth to a daughter was always Second Madam Shen’s regret in her heart. But after giving birth to her second son, her health had declined and it was difficult to get pregnant again. Therefore, she basically cherished Yan Yan as her own daughter. It was no wonder the usually steady and controlled madam would be so furious.
“Is this how the Weiyuan Marquis Estate locks up a child? This small room doesn’t even have a single window, and she was even locked up for several days!”
Matron Zhao explained with a rigid smile: “Second madam, this was ordered by the madam. You also know it isn’t convenient for the old madam to say anything!”
“Don’t give me that. This madam knows you riffraff take advantage of the mistress’s lack of knowledge and hide things from her. This madam still understands Shen Yi Yao. If she knew things were like this, she would never lock her daughter in here!”
Matron Zhao’s expression was a little rigid. She naturally could tell who was being called riffraff. This was indirect scolding. She was wise in her old age, and seeing the situation she reckoned things would get out of hand. She naturally had to extricate herself first.
“This, madam also knows this servant is responsible for serving the old madam, and doesn’t know the details.”
Second Madam Shen sneered, “Ok then. Go call someone who does. I must see how your Weiyuan Marquis Estate intends to explain this!”
Second Madam Shen patted Yan Yan in her arms comfortingly, saying: “Ah Yan, don’t be scared. You don’t have to worry about this matter. Your aunt will seek justice for you.”
As she spoke, one of Second Madam Shen’s servants carried over a bench from who knows where. She carried Yan Yan over and sat down.
Seeing this, Matron Zhao swallowed her words of “let’s talk somewhere else”. After saluting, she hurriedly took her leave.
Simpleminded people can also make one suffer a loss. This sort of feeling is very satisfying….
Second Madam Shen is formidable!