Due to Chen-shi’s ruckus, the little bit of energy the old madam had finally regained was scattered again.
In the middle of the night, the Rongan Hall made a fuss about calling for a doctor, saying the old madam wasn’t doing well.
The lamps at the various pavilions were lit. Everyone put on their clothes and hurried over to the Rongan Hall. A doctor was called and medicine was brewed. This lasted until dawn before everyone could finally rest.
At first Xue-shi’s group was worried that something had really happened to the old madam. After staying past midnight, they noticed that the old madam was putting on an act. Chen-shi had reason on her side previously, but after this performance it made it seem like she was in the wrong.
Look how tragic the old madam was. She was tormented to this extent by her children at her age. They didn’t appreciate her efforts in managing the household early on. They squandered away the household fortune without bringing in income, and are now complaining about their old mom. They also disregarded her illness and made a fuss in front of the sickbed. Now her illness got worse and her life was in danger.
This was what the old madam wanted to express more or less with her actions.
Xue-shi was glad that her husband was a steady one. He had persuaded her several times, which allowed her to avoid being the one that stepped up. The third lord Yan Qu’s expression wasn’t too good the entire night. Chen-shi’s eyes were swollen and red. She looked bedraggled and shrank on the side without daring to speak. Shen Yi Yao and Yan Yan sat on the side and didn’t say anything either. The younger generation didn’t need to come, but Yan Yan was afraid Shen Yi Yao wouldn’t be able to handle this sort of situation by herself. Therefore, she pulled an all-nighter to accompany her.
When Yan Ting arrived at the Rongan Hall, he was greeted with this scene.
After finding out about the situation, his face was dark.
Matron Zhao sobbed and complained on the side: “When the old marquis passed away back then, the estate’s situation was already deteriorating. You three lords were also aware of this. These years the situation hasn’t improved. Such a large household comes with large expenses that couldn’t be covered by the income. This was why the old madam had ordered for expenses to be cut despite the disagreements that arose. The old madam had to worry about dignity but also the reality, how could she keep it up….”
These words made everyone fall silent. Even if they knew she was obscuring the facts, no one dared to refute her.
This was because the old madam almost passed away due to this matter. At least, that’s what it seemed like on the surface, no matter if it was true or not.
Who wanted to get the reputation of causing their mom’s death over wealth and property? Did they not plan to keep living afterwards!? This was why Yan Zhi kept silent even if he knew things weren’t so simple.
The Grand Xi emphasized filial piety. Just this concept alone had suppressed many people firmly!
“Enough, no need to speak further!” Yan Ting waved his hand and interrupted. He said gloomily: “How is the old madam doing at the moment?”
Matron Zhao wiped her tears and sobbed: “The old madam suffered too much stimulation yesterday and almost couldn’t last through the night. Since we called the doctor and gave her medicine, she is now fine. The doctor said the old madam cannot suffer any more stimulation.”
“Second brother, it’s all due to the lacking upbringing in my branch!”
Compared to Chen-shi, Yan Qu’s thoughts were a lot more innocent. He thought that because Chen-shi was insensible, she had angered their mom. He naturally felt rather guilty. The third branch’s properties were important, but not more important that filial piety. No matter what Yan Qu truly thought in his heart, he still had to express this on the surface.
Yan Ting didn’t speak. He turned and walked into the inner room.
Inside, the old madam lay in bed with her turbid eyes wide open. Seeing Yan Ting, she babbled a few words. She seemed to know that they were discussing the household’s properties outside and was rather worried.
The old madam had used up a lot of energy. With her current health, she had still put on a show of her life being at risk. The Weiyuan Marquis Estate’s properties were all managed by her. Now that she was bedridden and couldn’t speak, along with what happened yesterday, things ended up being exposed. The old madam had spent quite a lot of effort for Yan Ting’s sake.
How could Yan Ting not understand this? This included the many times the old madam told him the household wasn’t doing well. He also understood why the various businesses were sold off.
Wasn’t it for his sake!?
“Mom, it’s all your son’s fault for wearing you out!”
As the saying goes, men don’t shed tears easily only because they weren’t truly upset!
Yan Ting knelt in front of the old madam’s bed and held her withered hand. His voice trembled as his manly tears slowly flowed down his face.
The old madam used all her energy to shake her head. Although she couldn’t speak, Yan Ting understood her meaning.
For your important matter, mom didn’t feel tired!
The old madam had said such words to Yan Ting countless times, but this time was the most he felt moved, sorrowful, wretched and even resentful that fate was unfair.
Thinking back, after twisting and turning for almost twenty years, just what had he achieved?
He had tried to climb upwards with all his might, but seemed to have remained in place. Not only were their properties lost, he even ended up in such a miserable state physically…..
No one knew what sort of emotional torture Yan Ting experienced. When he stepped out of the old madam’s room, he had recovered his previous calmness.
There were only slightly over a thousand taels left within the estate’s accounts. Chen-shi no longer dared bring this up.
Luckily, Yan Ting came back two days later and put five thousand taels in. This settled their hearts quite a bit.
The remaining two properties were gathered up by Yan Ting. There was also still their allotted land. This was everything the estate had left at the moment. Chen-shi still managed the household but not the income. Yan Ting said he would think of something for the expenses.
The Weiyuan Marquis Estate recovered its previous calm. Only Shen Yi Yao was busy daily preparing for her daughter’s wedding, and Xue-shi was worried about settling Yan Ru’s marriage.
Based on the estate’s situation, it was probably impossible to use any public funds for the misses’ dowries. Shen Yi Yao hadn’t been hoping for it to begin with, but Xue-shi looked bitter for several days. Luckily, at the end of the year, the store she and Shen Yi Yao opened sent over its dividends. This alleviated the situation somewhat.
Chen-shi was now extremely silent, like she used to be before she started managing the household.
It was said the third lord hadn’t given her a pleasant expression since that time. If it weren’t for the third branch’s two misses stopping him, he had almost gotten rid of her. A few days later, Yan Qu raised a concubine.
Yan Qu and Chen-shi’s relationship had always been pretty good. Yan Qu could be called a kind and honest person. Even when Chen-shi failed to give birth to a son all these years, he had never thought about marrying a concubine. This time, he had elevated one of his maids to be a concubine. It was said she looked inclined to give birth to a boy. It seems Yan Qu was no longer planning to endure, and wanted to get a son.
No one knew whether Chen-shi made a fuss. However, she didn’t look too good when they saw her during the day. It seemed she had a lot on her mind.
Soon, the New Year arrived.
This year, the Weiyuan Marquis Estate was more silent than before.
The old madam was bedridden and Yan Ting was very busy. He was rarely in the estate. Even when he occasionally appeared, he seemed extremely gloomy. The matter that time seemed to have stimulated him, and he seemed to have changed completely.
On the last day of the year, the banquet was held in the Rongan Hall.
The old madam wasn’t present and no one seemed to be in the mood to eat. Yan Ting ate a few bites before putting his chopsticks down and going inside to accompany the old madam. As of now, out of the entire estate, only the old madam seemed to be able to make him care a little.
The rest all went back to their respective residences. Shen Yi Yao took Yan Yan and Yan Mo to the Jinse Pavilion to ring in the New Year.
Compared to the other places, the Jinse Pavilion was much livelier. The courtyard was decorated with lanterns and colored banners. The maids and grannies all looked cheerful. Shen Yi Yao was generous. Not only did the servants get twice their monthly salaries, many people even got bonuses. This was already better than the other servants during the estate’s early days, let alone now. Since even the masters had to cut down on expenses, the servants were naturally worse off. The entire estate’s servants were jealous of the Jinse Pavilion and the Ningxiang Chambers’ servants.
After midnight, they all went back to rest.
A New Year was upon them.
On the first day, Shen Yi Yao took the two children back to the Zhenguo Duke Estate.
This time Yan Ting wasn’t present, and she also hadn’t notified him. Yan Ting also didn’t bring up going back with her. The two hadn’t spoken to each other in a long, long time, as though they were strangers.
This time Shen Yi Yao was no longer refused at the door. The Zhenguo Madam teared up happily at seeing Shen Yi Yao and her two grandchildren. The Zhenguo Duke’s expression was complicated, but he also didn’t say anything. It was like everything that happened in the last few years had already faded like smoke.
The mother and children spent an extremely lively day at the Zhenguo Duke Estate. The Zhenguo Madam and Second Madam Shen chattered with Shen Yi Yao, asking about Yan Yan’s wedding preparations. Only after hearing Shen Yi Yao summarize things did they relax.
Regarding what had happened at the Weiyuan Marquis Estate, the Shen household was also aware.
The Zhenguo Duke sneered disdainfully, and couldn’t even be bothered to discuss it. Second Madam Shen looked disgusted and the Zhenguo Madam wiped her tears and blamed herself for not being firm back then, resulting in her daughter suffering.
Shen Yi Yao seemed to be doing fine and could live well with her children just on her dowry. However, which woman didn’t want a man by her side? She had figured things out now, but was also less than acquaintances with Yan Ting.
Shen Yi Yao didn’t feel it was a big deal. In her mind, everything was for the sake of her children. Like previously mentioned, since she had already gotten through the coldest moment, a little wind and rain occasionally wouldn’t phase her! But others felt it hard to bear. After all, family always cared about you the most.
Second Madam Shen recommended Shen Yi Yao to divorce.
Divorce wasn’t rare in the Grand Xi. Based on the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s background, it wouldn’t be hard for Shen Yi Yao to remarry.
Shen Yi Yao however refused. The reason was self-evident.
Even if Yan Yan was going to be married soon, there was still the young Yan Mo. The Weiyuan Marquis Estate was currently in such a state. Second Madam Shen also understood this but she still couldn’t resist saying it.
Shen Yi Yao asked about her eldest brother Shen Dong. The Zhenguo Madam said her eldest son hadn’t returned in several years for the New Year. The border hadn’t been peaceful recently and the northern tribes were stirring. How could the commander of the Pingsha Pass leave so easily? The eldest branch’s other people also didn’t return.
It wasn’t only them. The second branch’s eldest son Shen He also didn’t come home.
Shen He had already been gone for several years. It was said he had gone to the Ryukyu Islands, and seemed to have met Shen Xuan once. His safety wasn’t a matter of concern. The descendants of the Zhenguo Duke would always have quite a few guards with them when they went out. However, Second Madam Shen would still worry. Her son wasn’t young anymore, so how could he remain unmarried.
The Zhenguo Duke sighed, saying it was also good not to come back. The Zhenguo Duke Estate was a hot seat. The princes were all maturing and continuously struggled with each other in the dark. The old fellows were still fine since they were experienced and knew to stick to regulations. If the younger ones came back and ended up getting involved, it would cause a major disturbance.
After all, with the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s status, even if they stayed inside and didn’t provoke anything, it wasn’t certain if something would end up provoking them. Yan Yan was such an example. She was just a granddaughter, but was implicated because of the Zhenguo Duke Estate.
The Zhenguo Duke Estate’s people had seen this happen far too many times, one generation after another. They had long since learned how to avoid calamity. This included Shen Qi. The Zhenguo Duke was planning on sending him out of the capital after this New Year’s celebration. Part of it was for training and another part was to avoid the quarrels in the capital.
Second Madam Shen teared up when thinking about this again. She had lost quite a lot of sleep, and would often have nightmares about her son encountering dangers outside. This had happened when Shen He left as well.
However, they all knew this was for his own good, as well as for the good of the household. As the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s descendent, there was plenty of glory to be had, but also plenty of responsibilities to shoulder.
Mentioning this, Shen Yi Yao was a little worried if Yan Yan marrying the fourth prince would bring the household disaster.
There would definitely be some trouble, but the Zhenguo Duke wasn’t worried.
The things happening inside the palace weren’t hidden from his eyes. That fourth prince had been clever from a young age. The reason he put up that performance in the palace earlier was partly because he didn’t want the internal affairs estate to skimp on Yan Yan’s betrothal gift. However, it was also a sort of performance, showing that this prince was a dumb pig without any prospects. Even if he married the Zhenguo Duke’s granddaughter, he definitely wouldn’t be a threat.
Mud would always be mud. Even if you forced it to stick, it wouldn’t hold up a wall.
The crown prince’s side and Senior Concubine Xu’s side were still a little worried at first. However, after observing for several days, and along with the fact that the fourth prince had embarrassed himself once more at the New Year’s celebration, no one bothered with him anymore. Because of this matter, Emperor Xi had been furious. Not only did he scold the fourth prince, even the fourth prince’s mother Concubine Ma was implicated and demoted to an attendant.
This matter just happened yesterday. Many people without the proper network weren’t aware of this yet. The Zhenguo Duke wasn’t just anyone. He had heard about it right after it happened.
When Yan Yan heard about it, she cursed Luo Huai Yuan for being so careless, and was a little worried about his situation.
Shen Yi Yao was also worried. She didn’t think about anything else, but merely wondered if Yuan’er that child had been tripped up by someone to end up in this situation. She naturally didn’t know Luo Huai Yuan had done it on purpose. After all, he had stuck out too much these days, and the distinguished would always invite jealousy. He wanted to marry his little consort and live in peace!
“You guys don’t need to worry about him. He’s much more meticulous than you. From what I see, he isn’t a stupid person and knows to conceal his edge. Princes can leave for their vassal states after coming of age. It’ll be fine after a few years.”
They could only assume this for now.
The person in question, Luo Huai Yuan, was currently sitting in his carriage gloomily on the way back to the fourth prince estate.
He had been kicked out. Having embarrassed himself in front of the crowd yesterday, that cheap dad of his considered the scene wasn’t appropriate and didn’t flip out at him. That night he received news that his mom was demoted to an attendant. He himself was then scolded by the servant sent over by his cheap dad.
Not only this, he was also kicked out of the palace bright and early.
He did put on an act and beg to see that cheap dad of his, wanting to beg for forgiveness. Unexpectedly, his cheap dad got even angrier and had him scram on the spot.
Therefore, he scrammed.
Xiao An Zi looked like his father had passed. Instead, it was Luo Huai Yuan who half reclined in the carriage with his legs crossed, looking leisurely.
“Highness, can we drop the act!?”
Having been raised by Luo Huai Yuan, the current Xiao An Zi’s manner was quite similar to his. He was clearly admonishing him but his words gave it an amusing effect.
Luo Huai Yuan rapped him on the head “Act your granny’s legs. When was this daddy acting? The thoughts of a smart person can never be fathomed by someone dumb like you.” He gave off the appearance that it was lonely at the top.
Xiao An Zi rubbed his head. “First of all, Xiao An Zi’s entire family is dead, otherwise I wouldn’t have entered the palace. There is no granny, so there are no granny’s legs. Furthermore, people will be making fun of you. Be careful Miss Yan doesn’t shun you after hearing about it.”
Xiao An Zi was now well versed in hitting weaknesses. Every strike hit its mark, leaving Luo Huai Yuan gritting his teeth yet unable to deny he was right.
He didn’t know if the little consort would think he was an idiot after hearing about this. Or would she mock him and shun him?
Even though he felt it wasn’t likely, Luo Huai Yuan still felt a little worried. After getting back to the fourth prince estate, he had no appetite the entire day. Xiao An Zi was happy and didn’t remind him to eat. In his eyes, his highness’s weight surpassed everyone. It wasn’t a big deal if he didn’t eat for a day. In fact, he might lose some weight.
The extremely vexed Luo Huai Yuan naturally didn’t realize his lackey’s twisted thoughts. He pondered for a long while before making up his mind.
Therefore, on this cold and rainy, moonless night, Luo Huai Yuan wrapped himself up like a ball and appeared outside Yan Yan’s chambers.
The large residence had a few lamps lit in the corner casting a faint yellow glow. The room was warm and cozy, but didn’t feel too dry. The yellow light shone on the various decorations and gave them a faint golden glow. A subtle fragrance lingered in the air, making one feel intoxicated.
This was the little consort’s chambers!
Luo Huai Yuan hooted silently. He felt that his actions couldn’t have been more correct.
The maids on duty were fast asleep outside and the room was extremely silent. Luo Huai Yuan tiptoed towards the bed. He should have called out and awakened Yan Yan, but his body reacted faster than his mind. He involuntarily approached.
He sneakily lifted the curtains of the palanquin bed. There was still a layer of gauze inside. Because it was dark, Luo Huai Yuan couldn’t see the inside clearly. His heart beat violently, as though it were the only sound in the world. Luo Huai Yuan was even afraid it would be heard by others.
He swallowed nervously and lifted the gauze. In the dim lighting, he vaguely saw the situation inside….
The seaweed-like hair was scattered across the pillow. A jade-like person was fast asleep. Her exquisite face, fair skin, and rose-colored lips were exceptionally alluring in the dark. Especially since Yan Yan normally gave off a firm and steady beauty. Now, with her hair scattered and lying in bed, she seemed delicate.
He seemed to be possessed as he reached out his hand.
Closer, and even closer….
Suddenly, a jade-like hand clamped on his wrist swift as lightning. Its strength was extremely large, and Luo Huai Yuan felt like his hand was about to break.
The tightly shut pair of beautiful eyes opened and flashed with a sharp brilliance. Luo Huai Yuan was startled. He suppressed his voice desperately as he cried: “Little sis Ah Yan, it’s me!”
There was no need for him to say it. Yan Yan had seen who had come.
She would leave a small lamp in her room at night in case she had to get up. Due to her martial arts, her sight was extremely keen, and she could naturally see clearly.
“Why are you here?” Yan Yan also spoke in an equally low voice as she released his hand.
Luo Huai Yuan didn’t expect it and tumbled wretchedly next to the bed.
Yan Yan lit her bedside lamp and saw the scene in front of her….
Dressed in black fur, the ball-like person was pitifully prone next to the bed, his eyes wide as he looked at her. How should she put it? He looked like a puppy asking to be pet. Furthermore, he was the type of puppy full of baby fat.
“It’s the middle of the night. Why are you here? How did you get in?”
Luo Huai Yuan chuckled awkwardly.
He naturally had gone over the wall.
Ever since he witnessed the might of martial artists, Luo Huai Yuan had started collecting skilled martial artists. He had money after all, and those people were making a living. One side was willing to fight and one side was willing to be beaten. They came together pretty well.
Although he wasn’t skilled, he still had a lot of people who were experienced in sneaking in to places. Although he was a little fat, it was no problem for them to bring him inside. Luo Huai Yuan didn’t realize that the person who brought him in was crouched on the roof watching. He endured the cold wind while cursing countless times in his mind. The fourth highness was startlingly heavy and almost broke his arm.
Luo Huai Yuan summarized the process of how he got in. While he spoke, his eyes had long since started wandering.
It turns out Yan Yan only wore underwear while sleeping, and at this moment her collar had already half fallen open, revealing a pink chest wrap underneath.
Above the chest wrap was a slender and fair neck. Under the chest wrap were two erect peaks. Yan Yan was extremely well-developed, making Luo Huai Yuan drool and secretly click his tongue.
So visiting the chambers at night had this sort of benefit. How wonderful!
This guys was sneaking peeks, but there was a limit to his actions. Even if he was drooling inside, he still put on an earnest appearance. Along with his distracting words, the pitiful little Ah Yan actually didn’t notice this guy’s vulgar actions.
With the old madam present, the eldest and third branches wouldn’t shed all pretenses, even if just for the sake of their reputation. Even if the Weiyuan Marquis Estate was bankrupt, they still had their name. This was much more reputable than Yan Zhi and Yan Qu’s seventh-ranked idle postings. This was what they relied on for their daughters’ future marriages. Since Yan Ting had a guilty conscience, he didn’t press anything. Furthermore, he would be responsible for expenses in the future. Therefore, the other two branches didn’t really lose much. Of course, they would all have their own thoughts. They just won’t say it out loud. As for where Yan Ting got the money, everyone can use their own imagination. Regardless, Yan Ting is prepared to work hard for prosperity.