The next day, Xue-shi called Yan Ru and Yan Ling over for private discussions. The two of them looked bashful and they didn’t have any objections.
Yan Ru liked the scholarly type to begin with. Liang Qi Fan was refined and also a scholar. Just his status alone was enough to make Yan Ru have good inclinations towards him. After seeing him, she liked him even more. As for Yan Ling, being able to marry into a noble household was already a blessing from the heavens. Therefore, she had nothing against it.
Furthermore, Shen Yi Yao had also called Yan Ling over and explained the Dou household’s situation. Although it was a little complicated, every family had its problems. Who could guarantee everything would be smooth when marrying into one? Might as well choose a household she knew about. The principal second son of the third branch Dou Qing Bo looked to be a steady one. For Yan Ling, this marriage had many advantages and no drawbacks.
Once things were settled, Shen Yi Yao sent messages over to the two households. The Liang household and the Qingan Count’s household responded by saying they would send a matchmaker to the door to propose the marriage once things were prepared.
This won’t be mentioned for now. Right as the eldest branch received one blessing after the other, the third branch also had its own blessing.
The concubine the third lord had raised not too long ago was pregnant.
That concubine used to be one of the third lord’s senior maids. Her name was Hong Cui. After being elevated, she became known as Concubine Cui. Concubine Cui was very fertile. Chen-shi hadn’t been able to get pregnant again after giving birth to the seventh miss. Unexpectedly, Concubine Cui had just started serving the third lord when she got pregnant.
When the old madam heard the news, she was very happy. Matron Zhao represented the old madam and visited Hong Cui, and had the kitchen raise her allowance by a level. If Concubine Cui wanted to eat something, they shouldn’t restrict her.
Chen-shi’s face turned a mixture of colors and was very interesting to look at. She had a huge argument with Yan Qu that day and the entire estate heard about it. They had even gotten physical. It was said that during their disagreement, Chen-shi struck at Yan Qu. He wasn’t able to endure and gave her two slaps in return.
How could a woman’s strength be compared to that of a man? These two slaps caused Chen-shi’s face to swell up for several days. Of course, Yan Qu also wasn’t much better off. There were several bloody scratch marks on his face, and he remained inside for several days. He even asked off at his job.
The old madam had always kept in mind how Chen-shi had pressured her, and now she had a good reason. The old madam couldn’t speak but she had Matron Zhao as her mouthpiece. She ordered Matron Zhao to go to the third branch and give Chen-shi a proper scolding for her. She was punished to copy out the women’s scripture a hundred times, and wasn’t allowed to go out until she was done.
Chen-shi was in a rage from humiliation so how could she take a servant like Matron Zhao seriously? She insisted that Matron Zhao was falsifying “imperial decrees” and trying to get back at her! It still required the third lord Yan Qu to appear and deal with her before Chen-shi became obedient.
Xue-shi was rather amused at this falling out. It was during this chaos that the Liang household and the Qiangan Count’s household came to propose. The households exchanged the personal information of the people in question and a few days later they were informed that “they were a good fit, a match made in heaven” and things like that. Before long, the two households sent someone over to set the wedding date.
After that was done, Yan Ru and Yan Ling were officially betrothed.
Then came time to prepare their dowries.
Because Yan Ru was the oldest and her age was also getting up there, the Liang household was anxious for the wedding to happen. Especially since Yan Yan’s wedding was in October. It was best if Yan Ru got married before Yan Yan.
After a few rounds of discussions, Yan Ru’s wedding was set for September. This meant that Yan Ru would be married off in a little over half a year.
With the current state of the estate, there was no hope for using public funds for the dowry. Xue-shi could only do it herself. Luckily dowries were always prepared early on. The major things weren’t a problem, but they had to consider just how many minor things needed to be included.
Yan Zhi and Xue-shi had been discussing this matter in private ever since they started discussing marriage for the two misses.
Yan Ru was the principal daughter and also the eldest. They could naturally not skimp on her. Quite a lot of the eldest branch’s personal bits and pieces over the years were sold off. Xue-shi was planning to give her daughter two hundred mu of farmland, a small two-compound residence and a storefront. This was over half of the eldest branch’s properties over the years. For the sake of letting their daughter live well, they were giving it to her.
As for the jewelry and daily necessities, Xue-shi decided to spend three thousand taels on it, and then another two thousand taels for Yan Ru’s storage. All in all, around ten thousand taels were spent on Yan Ru’s dowry. For her daughter’s sake, Xue-shi had spent all her hard-earned capital.
When it came to Yan Ling, Xue-shi’s feelings were very complicated.
Ever since Yan Ling changed, she became very sensible. She was so sensible that sometimes Xue-shi wondered if she had been too harsh on her. The eldest branch only had so many properties. If Yan Ru got more for her dowry, Yan Ling inevitably got less.
However, Xue-shi had already said privately that Yan Ling would get a hundred mu of land and a small storefront. Because Yan Ling was concubine born, no one had mentioned saving up for her dowry before. Therefore, Xue-shi would use five thousand taels to arrange it, and what was leftover would be given to her as her storage.
Luckily when the two households came to propose, their betrothal gifts were quite substantial. They both gave three thousand taels. Otherwise it would be hard for the eldest branch to even provide a dowry for the two misses.
Of course, everything was just discussed privately between the two and they didn’t say anything out loud.
This won’t be mentioned for now.
After Yan Ling’s marriage was settled, Concubine Wang could finally rest at ease about it. However, she inevitably started worrying about something else: Yan Ling’s dowry.
Concubine Wang was a concubine and received a set amount of allowance every month. However, Xue-shi had treated them harshly in the past. Concubine Wang’s monthly allowance came from her, and since Yan Ling got to eat and hang out with Yan Ru, Xue-shi had deducted it from the allowance. Only in the last couple of years did she start handing it over.
Concubine Wang used to be a maid. She had to raise her daughter as well as her impoverished maternal family. It was rare for her to have any savings. Normally it was possible to live frugally on her allowance. Now that she had to come up with a large sum, she realized it was almost impossible.
Concubine Wang suffered many sleepless nights. Seeing Xue-shi busily preparing Yan Ru’s dowry these days made her even more anxious. She had held Yan Ling and cried several times, saying how sorry she was. What should she do for her marriage!?
Yan Ling naturally understood her status.
A concubine born daughter had a hard life to begin with. Luckily her principal mother wasn’t bad at heart and was rather meticulous in arranging her marriage. There was nothing to pick at. Now that the marriage was set, whether she would have a good life in the future depended on her dowry.
For a marriage to the Qingan Count household’s third branch’s principal second son, her dowry should at least be sixty four pieces. Even if it wasn’t, then thirty two or forty eight would do. However, she and Concubine Wang couldn’t even put together a single piece.
When she got married, her father and principal mother would naturally help her prepare a dowry. But Yan Ling also knew the eldest branch’s situation. After her principal sister’s dowry was settled, she naturally didn’t have much left over. Especially since so many things had happened in the estate recently. Originally, they could take three thousand taels from the public funds for a concubine daughter’s dowry. Now, that was naturally not possible.
Could it be that she had to marry over with nothing? Not only would her in-laws look down on her, she would also become a laughing stock. Yan Ling didn’t dare imagine that sort of outcome.
She had been anxious to begin with, and with Concubine Wang only knowing to cry, Yan Ling became even more annoyed.
Concubine Wang was truly out of options and gave Yan Ling some preposterous suggestions. Things like secretly getting into her father’s good books and asking him about her dowry.
Yan Ling was not that stupid. Her relationship with her principal mother seemed harmonious at the moment only because she knew her place. She also occasionally helped out her principal sister, making her principal mother look at her rather pleasantly. However, people shouldn’t get complacent. She didn’t forget that the peace was only due to both sides maintaining this delicate balance like walking on ice. If she overstepped, she didn’t know what sort of treatment awaited her. After all, everything she had now was because that person wasn’t completely rotten and showed her mercy. How could she want a foot after gaining an inch?
Yan Ling was annoyed that Concubine Wang only knew to cry, and also hated the rotten ideas she was suggesting.
Of course she also felt some resentment. If it weren’t for her, she wouldn’t be in such a difficult position. If she had made some plans for her daughter, it wasn’t impossible for her to save some money over the years for a dowry.
But Concubine Wang’s silver had all gone to her maternal household. Even Yan Ling’s own small savings had been sent over when Concubine Wang didn’t have enough. Yan Ling hadn’t wanted to give it, but Concubine Wang wept endlessly, saying that they were related by blood. Yan Ling couldn’t stand her pestering and had given it a few times.
Due to the complicated mix of emotions, Yan Ling didn’t have the patience to explain the intricacies to Concubine Wang. She merely scolded her and told her not to suggest dumb ideas.
She didn’t realize that due to her negligence, the usually timid Concubine Wang would end up causing a ruckus.
“What’s wrong with Yan Ling recently? She seems to be preoccupied.”
Recently, Yan Ru had been coming to the Ningxiang Chambers by herself. Yan Yan couldn’t help but feel curious when she didn’t see Yan Ling.
“I don’t know either. Probably working on her wedding dress!”
Yan Ru had also been very busy these days and naturally didn’t have the time to mind Yan Ling. Yan Ru’s wedding was too close and Xue-shi truly wasn’t at ease. She had been training her whenever she had the chance, and even brought her along when preparing her dowry. Yan Ru also had to sew her own wedding dress, and also had to make several outfits for the groom and even the in-laws.
The reason she had time to come visit Yan Yan was because Yan Yan had a lot of free time, and also because she would work while they chatted. It helped her relax while also getting some work done.
Yan Yan nodded and flipped through a book.
Yan Ru stretched her neck and looked enviously at Yan Yan: “Third sis is so worry-free and doesn’t have to do anything. You don’t even have to make your own wedding dress. My fingers are aching from all the embroidery recently.”
Yan Yan laughed and said: “It’s not like you don’t know my embroidery is famously bad. Even stitching up some clothing is hard, let alone embroidering flowers or patterns. My mom also knows this so she buys whatever can be bought, and has a seamstress do the rest. If you really don’t want to do it, I’ll have my mom get you a seamstress.”
Yan Ru was tempted but ultimately shook her head. “Forget it. My mom says it’s better for a woman to make her own wedding dress. The gifted outfits should also be made personally to show one’s sincerity and skill. Only then will the in-laws respect you. You have it good. The fourth prince lives by himself in his estate and the palace is naturally different.”
Yan Yan smiled and was about to speak when Yi Yun walked in.
She hesitated a little before speaking: “Miss, Concubine Wang is making a fuss at the eldest branch.”
Yan Yan truly couldn’t recall who Concubine Wang was at the moment. Only when Yan Ru revealed a startled expression did she remember that Yan Ling’s concubine mom seemed to be called Concubine Wang.
Concubine Wang had always been timid, and was like an invisible person even in the eldest branch, let alone the estate. Why did such a timid person start a ruckus?
This matter needed to be told starting from the matter of Yan Ling’s dowry.
Concubine Wang saw Yan Ling’s disinterest in her words and had quite a lot of complaints in her heart. She even wondered how her daughter could be so foolish. Why is she still sucking up to the principal wife at this time? But since her daughter was always opinionated, Concubine Wang also didn’t know what to say. She could only grow more and more anxious.
Seeing Xue-shi prepare all sorts of things for Yan Ru’s dowry every day, Concubine Wang couldn’t help but feel sour inside. Women under the same roof were natural enemies to begin with, especially when they had such a difference in status. Concubine Wang acted timid in front of Xue-shi only because she knew she couldn’t afford to provoke her. However, she had always hated her.
Due to all these stimuli, she gathered up her courage and went to find the eldest lord, bringing up Yan Ling’s dowry.
Perhaps Concubine Wang was unlucky. Of course, it could be also due to her stupidity. Or maybe it was because she truly had too few opportunities to see the eldest lord. On this day, she saw Yan Zhi hanging around in the walkway. Seeing no one else around, she mustered up her courage and walked up.
After a round of crying and complaining, Yan Zhi’s expression was very weird.
He was right about to speak when Xue-shi came with a dark expression.
Concubine Wang had never stopped to consider that the courtyard in the eldest branch was under Xue-shi’s eyes. She assumed no one else was around but how could that be truly the case? Xue-shi was the mistress of the eldest branch, and had made her own courtyard to be impenetrable. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say she had eyes everywhere.
Therefore, Concubine Wang truly didn’t use her brain enough.
Concubine Wang seemed to have stopped caring about anything for her daughter’s sake. Or perhaps she thought Xue-shi didn’t dare do anything to her with the eldest lord present. Seeing Xue-shi come, she even put on an extremely fearful appearance, and then looked pitifully at Yan Zhi.
Xue-shi laughed angrily on the spot. She had learned to put on an act?
Xue-shi didn’t say much, and merely told Concubine Wang not to wander about randomly, and stay in her residence if there wasn’t anything.
No matter what, even if she didn’t care about Concubine Wang, she still had to consider Yan Ling’s face. She had already done so much, and there was just the last step remaining. No matter what, she couldn’t let it all go to waste. Especially since Yan Ru and Yan Ling got along pretty well recently and their relationship was pretty good. She thus decided to leave her daughter a path for the future!
But Concubine Wang didn’t understand Xue-shi was being considerate. She even assumed that Xue-shi was being lenient because the eldest lord was present. When she heard Yan Ling was going to marry into the Qingan Count’s household, Concubine Wang couldn’t help but feel a little smug and conceited. Yan Ling rarely spoke with her and rarely talked about her own matters. Everyone in the eldest branch was saying how Xue-shi was benevolent and found such a wonderful marriage for the fourth miss. It wasn’t even that far off from the eldest miss’s marriage. The Qingan Count Estate was nobility after all.
Yet Concubine Wang didn’t think this way. She felt that the reason her daughter had such a good marriage was definitely due to the eldest lord still caring about her. Since Yan Ling was good looking, at least more so than Yan Ru, Concubine Wang couldn’t help have a few thoughts. She felt the eldest lord definitely favored her daughter a little more.
As the saying goes: a person’s perception was limited by their status.
Yan Zhi did indeed care a little about this daughter of his, but definitely not as much as Concubine Wang was thinking. He had only asked Xue-shi not to harm Yan Ling, but make do with a decent marriage. Unexpectedly, Xue-shi had put in all her effort for Yan Ling’s sake. Yan Zhi loving Xue-shi even more due to this naturally doesn’t need to be mentioned.
Concubine Wang assumed Xue-shi was cautious due to the eldest lord being present and thought this was a good opportunity. Thus, she said everything she wanted to say in a tone filled with grievance. Overall, she said that the fourth miss was about to marry into the Qingan Count’s household, which exceeded the Liang household by more than a level. Even if the eldest miss was the principal daughter, they couldn’t just ignore the fourth miss’s matter.
As she spoke, she couldn’t avoid voicing some complaints, and even some disdain. She seemed to be saying that the fourth miss was marrying into nobility. How could they be compared to that Liang household!
This directly infuriated Xue-shi.
Right as she was about to flip out, a person suddenly ran over and fell to her knees.
“Mother, you mustn’t be angry. My concubine mom didn’t mean it that way….”
Didn’t mean it that way? What else could she have meant? Even the servants on the side were wondering whether Concubine Wang had jammed her head in a door or what. She actually dared make such a fuss in front of the madam! No one misunderstood Concubine Wang’s meaning because she had expressed it truly too clearly.
Yan Ling also knew this matter couldn’t be denied. She didn’t expected Concubine Wang to make such a ruckus. If she had known, she would have made her stay home even if she had to tie her up. But now it was too late to say anything. She could only hope her principal mother would leave them some face for the sake of her marriage.
Unexpectedly, Concubine Wang viewed Yan Ling’s arrival as giving her extra support, and her voice grew even louder.
“This servant concubine knows she and the fourth miss are lowly people, but the fourth miss is also someone whose marriage has been settled. Madam is busy with the eldest miss’s dowry daily, but have you thought about the fourth miss? The fourth miss’s husband’s household isn’t bad either. They are nobility!”
This was what having a pig for a teammate was like. Especially since this pig teammate was one she could never be free of!
Yan Ling directly shed tears in anxiety. She got up and was about to cover Concubine Wang’s mouth and was also in a rush to explain things to Xue-shi. She was beset on all sides.
At this time, Yan Ru’s voice sounded out. “What are you all good for? Why aren’t you covering Concubine Wang’s mouth and dragging her away!?”
The servants were waiting for Xue-shi’s orders. Due to this sudden performance, Xue-shi was also dazed from anger. She wasn’t thinking of anything else apart from ripping off Concubine Wang’s mouth.
Hearing the eldest miss’s words, the servants hurriedly crowded over and gagged Concubine Wang before dragging her away.
“Thank you, eldest sis.” Yan Ling first thanked Yan Ru before hurriedly saying to Xue-shi: “Mother, don’t be angry. My concubine mom is shortsighted, I, I…..”
Xue-shi sneered and left.
Yan Zhi hurriedly followed behind. Yan Ru sighed and did the same.
Yan Ling knelt by herself, seeming extremely pitiful.
“Everyone’s gone already. Why aren’t you getting up?”
It turned out that Yan Yan had come with Yan Ru. It was just that the scene was too chaotic and no one noticed the third miss’s presence.
Yan Ling was embarrassed to death. She covered her face with a handkerchief and started sobbing.
“You should manage that concubine mom of yours properly. At her age, does she still not know what she should say and what she shouldn’t? Since eldest aunt found you this marriage, she definitely won’t let you and our household lose face.”
Yan Yan sighed and didn’t speak.
Yan Ling said she knew, but she definitely wasn’t confident about it. Otherwise, Concubine Wang wouldn’t have made such a fuss. If she had been more confident, or if she had known to restrain Concubine Wang, this matter wouldn’t have happened. But Yan Ling was young after all and this matter concerned her. No one would be able to remain calm in her shoes.
As Yan Yan matured, she also understood to “do as you would be done by”. Therefore, she merely had Mei Xiang help Yan Ling up and suggested she ask for forgiveness properly before leaving.
Concubine Wang who was dragged back to her room was still a little indignant until Yan Ling came back and thoroughly cried for a while. After listening to her daughter’s complaints, Concubine Wang felt dazed.
How could this be? Why would Xue-shi kindheartedly find a good marriage for Yan Ling, and not such a good one for Yan Ru? Was something fishy going on?
Yan Ling saw what Concubine Wang was thinking and was even more ashamed.
But Concubine Wang seemed to have been bewitched into thinking Xue-shi would never be that kind. It seemed she had been suppressed by her for too long and saw all her actions in the same way. Yan Ling’s marriage was an opportunity for her. Concubine Wang had thought she could finally lift her head high, but unexpectedly nothing had changed. She still had to live under Xue-shi.
But who could she blame?
Actually, it was hard to say who was in the right.
There were wrongs on all sides, but at the same time there didn’t seem to be any wrongs. It was just a matter of different perspectives and actions.
Yan Ling was forceful and ordered Concubine Wang’s maids to keep an eye on her. She wasn’t allowed to leave until she thought things through. On the other side, she went to carefully make it up to Xue-shi.
Xue-shi’s reactions won’t be mentioned for now. Soon after, another thing happened that made Yan Ling lose a lot of face.
It turns out that Concubine Wang was born within the Weiyuan Marquis Estate. Her entire family depended on Concubine Wang for their living. Her parents were honest and unsophisticated. They had stopped working in the estate long ago. The entire family stayed at one of the estate’s farmsteads and cultivated a few fields to make a living.
Concubine Wang still had an older brother. He had been sent to the estate previously for manual labor, but he wasn’t respectable. He was kicked out after a short period of time. Once Concubine Wang came of age, she entered the estate as a sweeper girl.
Cultivating farmland meant depending on the heavens for food. The Wang family was impoverished. Ever since Concubine Wang entered the estate to work, the family started getting some income. Only after Concubine Wang got pregnant and was raised to a concubine did the Wang family make a turnaround and become different from the other households.
Because of Concubine Wang’s help, their days became easier and was actually pretty good. Concubine Wang’s brother also got married and had a child. Their lives were pretty nice.
The Wang family naturally knew about Yan Ling’s marriage. It was because they had asked for money and Concubine Wang said there wasn’t any to spare since the fourth miss needed a dowry.
The Wang household didn’t say anything when they failed to get the money. From what they saw, a concubine’s daughter from their household managed to get married into a count’s family. This was a huge blessing no matter how they looked at it. The Wang family had no money. If they did, they might have even given Yan Ling some. However, that didn’t stop them from bragging outside. They bragged that their niece was about to become the madam at a count’s family. They said plenty of things like that.
The one bragging was naturally Concubine Wang’s brother. Because the people around him were all born into the Weiyuan Marquis Estate as well, they were naturally envious.
These words were thus spread to the estate during this particularly sensitive time.
When Xue-shi heard about it, she flipped out at Yan Zhi.
Great, looks like the Wang family was now related to Eldest Lord Yan. That Wang “nobody” was calling himself Yan Zhi’s brother-in-law. What was Xue-shi’s maternal household then!?
Yan Ling had nervously and carefully tried to rectify things from last time. Right as the ice seemed to be melting, everything was ruined in one go!
The ruckus over at the eldest branch was known by the entire estate.
Chen-shi was punished by the old madam to copy out scriptures. She had found it hard to endure and was humiliated to death. When she heard about this matter, all her negative emotions vanished immediately. Her face even had a rare smile.
Xue-shi tried to be a saint!? Looks like she got her face hit repeatedly for it!
Not only was her kindness not repaid in kind, it even caused her a great deal of trouble!
The male and female leads’ wedding fill be in a few chapters. Have to wrap up some bits and pieces first.