When the carriages stopped, the people inside didn’t think too much about it.
Along the way, Eldest Madam Wu had spent a lot of time comforting her daughter. Wu Qiong Qiong was still brooding over being hit. Not only was she embarrassed in front of everyone, Lu Xiu Ling had also complained about her a little afterwards. Then, her grandfather who normally cherished her had scolded her sternly, leaving her in a bad mood the last few days.
Eldest Madam Wu felt bad for her daughter but also had quite the headache. She could only persuade her daughter to be more restrained in the future and not provoke that queen of hell anymore. She didn’t know what else to say.
Wu Qiong Qiong didn’t say anything but her heart was filled with resentment. She had suffered losses from Yan Yan since they were children. After growing up, she still couldn’t escape this outcome.
A guard came up to report. Wu Qiong Qiong’s personal maid Mo Li1 went to ask what was going on. Afterwards, she returned and reported that a miss had stopped the carriage, saying she knew their miss and wanted a ride.
Right as they were puzzled, a familiar voice sounded out. “I really know your noble estate’s miss. Just let her take a look.”
Wu Qiong Qiong’s eyes flashed and she raised the curtains. As expected, it was the person in her memories.
Although her appearance had changed and she looked rather bedraggled and covered in dirt, Wu Qiong Qiong still recognized her after staring for a bit.
“This miss said she got separated from her family, but she’s unwilling to say which household she’s from. Miss, what…..”
Wu Qiong Qiong smiled. “I truly do know her. This is Yan Yan’s concubine sister Yan Qian, the Weiyuan Marquis Estate’s miss. Mom, she’s the one who tricked Pei Yu Jia last time, resulting in your daughter going against Yan Yan.”
Eldest Madam Wu frowned. “Then hurry and drive her away. Don’t interact with this sort of person in the future!”
Mo Li was just about to do so when Wu Qiong Qiong called her back. “Hold up.”
She turned and said to Eldest Madam Wu: “Mom, go back to your carriage up front first. From the way she’s dressed and the fact that she’s alone, there’s clearly something going on.”
“My obedient daughter, what are you planning on doing now?”
Wu Qiong Qiong’s eyes turned and she smiled coyly, “Your daughter isn’t planning anything, just curious about her appearance. Mom, just give your daughter some space!”
Eldest Madam Wu couldn’t withstand her daughter’s spoiled act and got off while shaking her head.
Yan Qian was panicked and nervous. She saw a noblewoman get out of the carriage before a maid came walking over.
“This miss, my household’s miss invites you onto the carriage.”
Yan Qian was overjoyed. She glared at the two guards who were blocking her and followed the maid onto the carriage.
She had been a little worried. Last time she had caused Wu Qiong Qiong to lose a lot of face. Perhaps she wouldn’t help her. Unexpectedly, she was treated very courteously. Not only was she invited onto the carriage, they even gave her tea and snacks.
Yan Qian had snuck out of the estate and gotten rejected from the Pei household. She had planned on going to find her concubine mom but ended up being robbed by an unscrupulous carriage driver. She was very frightened and hadn’t eaten in a day. Her stomach had long since been rumbling. Seeing that there was food, she didn’t stand on ceremony and ate two pastries in one go. She drank two cups of tea before stopping.
Wu Qiong Qiong’s face was full of sympathy. “Yan Qian, how did you end up like this? Why are you in such a place and in such a getup?”
Yan Qian burst into tears. Her lips trembled as she lowered her head, her shoulders shaking. After crying silently for a while, she slowly described her “tragic outcome” after being brought back to the estate that day.
She put on her habitual pitiful appearance wanting to evoke Wu Qiong Qiong’s pity. She wanted her to bring her along and also to help with her schemes. She didn’t realize that they each had their own schemes.
She didn’t try to hide her current situation, and even exaggerated it to be extremely tragic. She described both Yan Yan and her principal mother Shen Yi Yao as ruthless and vicious. She said her principal mother planned on marrying her off far away to someone both old and ugly who had forced his previous wife to death. She had no choice and ran off, but was robbed by a greedy driver and abandoned.
Wu Qiong Qiong’s mouth was open in amazement. “That Yan Yan is too vicious. Your principal mother as well.”
“I told you before, those two are extremely skilled. That day I was truly too frightened and was pressured into going along with Yan Yan’s words. Unexpectedly it also harmed big sis Wu.” Yan Qian lamented and said sobbingly: “But I’m truly helpless. I am a concubine born daughter after all and depend on the principal mother to survive. If I don’t go along with them, I probably wouldn’t be standing here right now. Big sis Wu, you mustn’t blame me.”
“How could I? I wasn’t aware of this before and even called you crafty and vicious. I was even resentful of you. Who knew your situation was so pitiful….”
Yan Qian cried for a long time before finally stopping after Wu Qiong Qiong continuously consoled her.
“What do you plan on doing?”
How could Yan Qian have any plans? The Pei household didn’t let her in for some reason and she had nothing left. With no other options left, she could only return to the Weiyuan Marquis Estate.
But she had finally escaped, and wasn’t resigned to just return like this. Especially since she had snuck out, so she had no idea what she would be facing after she got back. She might very well be married off immediately after returning. Then it would be too late to do anything.
“If you really don’t have anywhere to go, how about staying at my place for a few days? Then you can think about what you want to do.”
Yan Qian was filled with anxiety at this moment. Hearing these words, she grabbed onto the lifeline.
“Then I must really thank you, big sis Wu.”
“Why did you let her stay in our estate?”
After getting to the Wu estate, Wu Qiong Qiong had people take Yan Qian to go rest. Eldest Madam Wu took the opportunity to question her daughter.
Wu Qiong Qiong smiled smugly. “Mom, did you know that she snuck out?”
“So what?” Eldest Madam Wu then understood her daughter’s meaning. “You’re thinking…..”
Wu Qiong Qiong’s mouth curved in a malicious arc. “Mom, don’t you think this is a good opportunity? Our household has continuously suffered at the Shen household and Yan household’s hands. Such a good opportunity for revenge, it would be a shame to let it go.”
“Our household can’t go against the Zhenguo Duke Estate on the surface, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do so secretly. Especially since this Yan Qian ran off by herself. It has nothing to do with us. If she ends up being recognized in a brothel, what do you think Yan Yan’s reaction would be? She’s currently betrothed to the fourth prince. If something like this happens, do you think she can still become the royal family’s daughter-in-law?”
“No one will find out we were responsible. We have to make sure things are watertight and top secret. Mom, did you forget how that Second Madam Shen treated you when you endured humiliation and went to apologize? This is a very good opportunity for revenge!”
Eldest Madam Wu naturally hadn’t forgotten. She had always live the good life and looked down on others. That was the first time she had to lower herself and let others trample over her.
“Mom, just listen to your daughter!”
The Weiyuan Marquis Estate naturally didn’t know what the Wu household’s mother and daughter were scheming.
After searching for several days, there was still no news of Yan Qian. All the women in the estate were burning with anxiety.
Losing a miss was a major matter for any estate. All these households had more than one miss, and if anything shameful really happened, it would implicate all of them.
Yan Ru and Yan Ling were both worried as well. Shen Yi Yao hadn’t slept well in days. Xue-shi also had a bunch of pimples around her mouth.
Yan Zhi said she was overthinking things but Xue-shi didn’t think so.
For some reason, she felt her eyes twitching these days. She had the feeling something bad was going to happen.
After enduring for several days, Xue-shi couldn’t take it anymore and went to find the old madam. She also had Shen Yi Yao and Chen-shi go along with her.
“This matter cannot be delayed any longer. This daughter-in-law feels it’s time to make a declaration!”
“Eldest daughter-in-law, you mean to say?”
Xue-shi pursed her lips. “Let’s put up some white in our estate.”
Shen Yi Yao was startled. “Eldest sis-in-law….”
“Second sis-in-law, this matter cannot be delayed further.” Xue-shi’s appearance was very determined. She tightly gripped her handkerchief and spoke very urgently: “No one knows where Yan Qian ran off to. The estate has searched for so many days without any news. Who knows if she was kidnapped, sold off or if she encountered some evildoer and was killed outside. No one can find her and anything could happen. Our estate has so many misses, and cannot afford to take this risk!”
If a female corpse appeared at some point, or if some other unimaginable thing happened, it would be too late to cover things up. Although the capital was under the son of heaven’s nose, it had always been filled with both snakes and dragons. Some misses from common households had been raped and killed, their corpses abandoned in the wilderness. These were all things that had happened before.
Even if she didn’t die, the Weiyuan Marquis Estate would also become famous if she ended up in some filthy place. At that time, all the misses would be implicated. The eldest branch had two misses waiting to get married. This could be called vicious, it could be called selfish, but regardless, Xue-shi didn’t dare take this risk.
What Xue-shi meant by putting up white was an extremely vicious method. It was also the best way to prevent problems from arising in the future.
Putting up white was an announcement of death. This was to come up with some illness and say Yan Qian had passed away. If something really happened in the future, they could say the world was large and people looked alike. Their household’s concubine daughter had long since passed away. If she ended up returning, they could still make arrangements accordingly.
If the Weiyuan Marquis Estate truly put up white, it would cut off Yan Qian from ever returning, and even prevent her from using her identity in the future. This was why Shen Yi Yao was so startled.
After all, this sort of decisive move was hard to come to terms with.
“Second sis-in-law, don’t forget Ah Yan is betrothed to the fourth prince. Third sis-in-law, your branch’s misses aren’t young anymore either. If anything really happened, it would ruin these children. It isn’t like we didn’t search for her. The capital has more or less been turned over. We’ve already fulfilled our obligations!” As she spoke, Xue-shi grew emotional. “What does our estate owe Yan Qian for us to go through such lengths? After the matter last time, second sis-in-law merely confined her and didn’t punish her further. She even found a matchmaker and planned on finding a wealthy family to marry her off to. Instead, she viewed her family as jackals and wolves, and vanished without a trace.”
“If she’s fine, then as her aunt I’d be overjoyed. But she’s so pigheaded. A grand marquis estate’s miss decided to run off by herself. I won’t speculate what she was thinking for now, but I really doubt she can keep herself safe outside.”
The hall was silent and the people seemed hesitant.
After a moment of silence, before anyone else could speak, Xue-shi continued: “If mom and second sis-in-law or third sis-in-law feels doing so isn’t virtuous, then let me do it. I will handle this matter. I’m not afraid of harming my virtue.”
Shen Yi Yao hurriedly spoke: “Eldest sis-in-law, you mustn’t put it this way. Since we’re discussing it, we naturally aren’t going to make you do it by yourself. Let’s do as you proposed. I’ll do it with you.”
She naturally understood the seriousness of this matter. Her Ah Yan’s marriage was already so full of twists and turns. She couldn’t afford any disturbances. Forget it, forget it. Let her be ruthless for once.
Xue-shi nodded and glanced at Chen-shi. “What about third sis-in-law?”
Chen-shi laughed awkwardly and lowered her head. “Eldest sis-in-law knows I’m trying to adjust my body and give birth to a boy in the third branch. I’m also managing the household, and don’t have time to handle such things.”
The old madam spoke up. “Old third daughter-in-law has her hands full. Why don’t the two of you handle this matter?”
Xue-shi and Shen Yi Yao didn’t say anything and merely looked at each other.
Actually, putting up white was quite simple. Those above didn’t even need to make a move. They just had to give some instructions.
The reason Chen-shi said she was busy was merely because she didn’t wish to have this stain on her name.
As an elder, to declare a junior “prematurely deceased” due to her going missing was ultimately something uncomfortable. Especially since Yan Qian still had a brother who might end up hating them. The losses outweighed the gains. Regardless, since someone was willing to step up, Chen-shi naturally hid far away. This had always been her style.
Yan Qian was concubine born and also died prematurely (girls dying prior to coming of age was called premature). Premature deaths were rarely of natural causes, and there would be no funeral rites. Unmarried women who died prematurely also couldn’t be buried in the ancestral tombs. The burial was extremely simple and random.
If a premature death occurred in the estate, a strip of white would be hung upon the estate’s doors. Outsiders would then know a young miss had passed prior to coming of age.
Although they knew this was a pretense, Xue-shi and Shen Yi Yao took this matter seriously.
Hanging up the white strip, getting the coffin and the burial site, and even getting people in Yan Qian’s pavilion to hold an extremely large event. The old madam having to spend a sum of pointless money naturally didn’t need to be mentioned.
The coffin of a girl who died prematurely couldn’t be kept within the household. It was directly carried out the back door secretly. The burial site was also carefully chosen. Normally it would be by a mountain or by the roadside. They also couldn’t erect a tombstone. Shen Yi Yao felt a little guilty at this performance, and arranged to have Yan Qian buried at the foot of Mt. Xixia.
After the process was done, the Weiyuan Marquis Estate fell silent once more.
There was no second miss in the estate anymore.
Everyone was very silent these days, especially Yan Ru’s group. Only now did they realize that as girls, they couldn’t be too willful. The slightest mistake could consign them to eternal damnation.
After all, the reason Yan Qian had “died prematurely” was for their sake. Even if it was due to her running off by herself, they would still feel pity for the weak. Now, no matter where Yan Qian was and what she had encountered, she was ultimately “gone”. All the previous grudges and gratitude thus faded like smoke.
Yan Hong was extremely silent. Xue-shi and Shen Yi Yao had informed him of this matter prior to acting, and also explained the reasoning to him. Whether he agreed or not, they at least had the responsibility to inform him.
He didn’t say anything, but the ten year old child seemed to have suddenly matured.
Yan Hong had changed quite a bit after Concubine Pei was sent away. Now, his transformation was even more thorough. He would go long periods of time without speaking, and the old madam expressed quite a lot of heartache.
The Wu household’s mother and daughter finalized their plans and prepared to act. However, they received news that the Weiyuan Marquis Estate had put up white.
Because they had a guilty conscience or maybe because their plans involved the Weiyuan Marquis Estate, they had ordered people to keep an eye out. Therefore, they were informed they moment the estate put up white.
The servants were ordered to go to the door and get some information. They thus found out the estate’s second miss had died prematurely due to illness. The person at the gatehouse lamented, his face filled with sympathy. The person who had come for information also sighed along.
After the information was reported, Wu Qiong Qiong’s mouth dropped in astonishment.
Eldest Madam Wu could only say one phrase: the Yan household’s people were too vicious!
They also felt regretful since they should have thought of this possibility. They had wasted so much effort!
Their plans had fallen through and their emotions were very strange. Wu Qiong Qiong especially. When she saw Yan Qian again, the phrase “died prematurely” kept popping up in her mind.
She died prematurely just like that?
Due to her strange emotions, Wu Qiong Qiong delayed a few days before telling Yan Qian she had “died prematurely due to illness”.
Yan Qian had been getting accustomed to life at the Wu estate. Wu Qiong Qiong gave her the best food and drink. She gradually had the thought of wanting to remain here for good.
She was currently like a stray without a home. Apart from the Wu estate, there wasn’t anywhere else she could go. She had considered whether she should go home, but she wasn’t able to come to terms with her emotions. Returning home meant admitting defeat to her principal mother and Yan Yan. This meant she had no control over where she got married off to in the future. Furthermore, she didn’t dare consider how the household would treat her after she ran off for so many days.
Due to her hesitation, she didn’t ask the Wu household’s people to send her back home right away. Now, there was no need for her to return.
After listening, Yan Qian fell paralyzed to the floor.
She then vented her anger onto Wu Qiong Qiong, saying she had caused this miserable situation by having her stay with her false show of friendship. Wu Qiong Qiong wasn’t happy at hearing this, and argued that she was the one who didn’t dare return home. She had “kindheartedly” allowed her to stay.
Of course, since this matter had to do with her, she revealed some lack of confidence. Yan Qian also wasn’t a fool and knew she had been played. She refused to let the matter drop. Wu Qiong Qiong had been spoiled all her life, and wasn’t able to endure this. Yan Qian was sorrowful and angry, and the two of them came to blows.
All semblance of proper ladies and virtuous women were thrown out the window. When the maids finally reacted, the two were pulling at each other’s hair. They elbowed each other and even used their embroidered shoes to kick each other’s stomachs.
As they fought, they ended up rolling on the floor.
Wu Qiong Qiong was fighting to avoid suffering a loss. She was naturally no match for the hysterical and deranged Yan Qian.
By the time Eldest Madam Wu hurried over, Wu Qiong Qiong’s face had several scratches, her hair was a mess and her clothes were dirty. She looked like a mad woman and Yan Qian wasn’t far off.
Eldest Madam Wu shrieked for the servants to pull them apart. Yan Qian had run out of strength at this point and the two were separated.
Wu Qiong Qiong held her face while bawling. Eldest Madam Wu continuously screamed for Yan Qian to be thrown out.
Yan Qian seemed mad as she cried and yelled: “You caused me to lose my home, and still want to kick me out? Go ahead and try. I’ll ram my head and commit suicide against your doors. Let’s see how your Wu household can remain in the capital!”
It was easy to invite the devil in but hard to make him leave. This was probably what it meant.
The Wu household’s mother and daughter had kept Yan Qian in the estate without telling anyone else. Now this matter had blown up. Thing had happened so suddenly and Yan Qian seemed to be destroying everything around her. Eldest Madam Wu could only comfort her and let her remain in the estate. She invited a doctor to treat her wounds and continued to coax her with good food and drink.
Eldest Madam Wu was currently desperate, and temporarily wasn’t able to come up with a way to pretend everything was fine. She could drag it out, but Yan Qian couldn’t afford to let her do so.
She had been raised by Concubine Pei, and had seen too many shameful secrets of the women in major households. Although things looked good for now, she might end up being killed off someday and randomly buried. She had to come up with something to protect herself.
Although Yan Qian seemed to have lost her head these days, she had actually been racking her brains.
When Yan Qian moved in, the few maids by her side had all been specially arranged by Eldest Madam Wu. They had been temporarily assigned to her while the mother and daughter duo prepared to carry out their plans.
These maids previously saw Yan Qian being carefree the whole time, not seeming worried about going back home. They assumed she was some arrogant and crafty young miss of some major household. Normally they coaxed her and made her happy to alleviate her boredom. Although Yan Qian was an emotional one, she still had some experience. She had found out quite a bit of information from these maids, and had a general understanding of the Wu household’s situation.
There were two branches in the Wu household. The eldest branch had Eldest madam Wu, Eldest Lord Wu, two principal young masters and Wu Qiong Qiong. There were also a few concubine born children.
The eldest branch’s eldest son Wu Feng Hao was twenty-five. He was a meritorious candidate of the imperial exam, currently posted at the Hanlin Academy. He was a promising youth overflowing with talent. The second son Wu Wen Jun was Pei Jia Yu’s brother-in-law. He had married the Pei household’s Pei Jia Yi. He was currently still a young scholar, and planned on taking the imperial exam next year.
The Wu household’s eldest branch was unparalleled within the estate due to these two promising boys. Wu Feng Hao was especially reputable, and had quite a bit of influence within the household.
Yan Qian had her eyes on Wu Feng Hao. He was already married and also had a concubine. Yan Qian no longer cared if she were the first wife or not. In the past she had some hesitation, but her circumstances didn’t leave her any choice.
Eldest Madam Wu had ordered the servants to comfort Yan Qian. Yan Qian made a fuss about walking in the garden to take her mind off things, and no one dared to stop her.
The servants reported it and Eldest Madam Wu didn’t take it to heart. She was only worried about her daughter at this moment, and didn’t have the spare effort to worry about Yan Qian. It was fine as long as she didn’t cause trouble.
Wu Qiong Qiong’s face was injured. The doctor had come to treat her but said the wounds were too deep. He was afraid that there may be scars left over. Wu Qiong Qiong looked as though her father had passed. She hid in her room all day crying and smashing things. Eldest Madam Wu’s husband wasn’t home and she was deeply afraid her parents-in-law would investigate her if they found out. She kept things hidden and didn’t dare say anything. She spent her time comforting Wu Qiong Qiong, wishing she could swallow Yan Qian alive.
After finally settling things on this side, right as she was about to deal with Yan Qian, another unexpected and major event happened.
That, don’t say this is a sudden twist. This author has said even if there has to be melodrama, it has to be artistically done. Fine, everyone is still somewhat intelligent in this book.
Really want to tell those female leads who run away from home in novels that it’s better to think it through if you don’t have a strong backer. Otherwise, you might end up being declared dead.
Please consider when Lin Qing Wan was declared dead in my first novel. That principal mother used this as an explanation for the Eldest Lord Lin, and also to get rid of potential problems in the future.