The hall was scarily silent. The maids on the side all shrunk their necks in without daring to speak. At this time, a maid from outside reported that Miss Yan had woken up.
The Zhenguo Madam asked about her. The maid reported that the miss was in good spirits and that she had eaten. Only then did the Zhenguo Duke speak and ask for Miss Yan to be brought to the Ninghui Hall.
When the maid came to report that her grandfather asked her to go to the Ninghui Hall, Yan Yan was in the middle of eating.
The Zhenguo Duke Estate servants had excellent etiquette, and knowing that Miss Yan was cherished by the duke and the madam, they naturally served her attentively.
The moment Yan Yan opened her eyes, a maid had carefully asked if she wanted to get up. Warm water and snacks were already fully prepared. Yan Yan had come to the Zhenguo Duke Estate several times when she was younger, and had even stayed for extended periods of time. Therefore, she treated this place as her own home, and had the maids serve her in taking a bath and changing her clothes before eating a few things.
The maid came to report as she was half full, and Yan Yan didn’t delay. She let the servants clean her hands and rinse her mouth, put on a new set of clothes before heading over to the Ninghui Hall.
Yan Yan felt refreshed after her bath and in her new clothes. Walking on the paths of the Zhenguo Duke Estate, she finally felt free of that stifling Weiyuan Marquis Estate, and felt like she was born again.
Yan Yan had some idea why her grandfather called her over. Nothing had been revealed back at the Weiyuan Marquis Estate, but her second aunt was intelligent and her grandparents loved both herself and her mom. They would definitely have done some investigating, and at this time probably intended to ask her about the details.
Yan Yan decided to speak honestly. From when she was six or seven, her mom gradually brought her back to the Zhenguo Duke Estate less and less. Especially in recent years when her dad was stationed at the border. She only returned once during New Year’s.
Yan Yan definitely didn’t believe there wasn’t someone causing mischief behind the scenes. Why didn’t they want her mom to return home? Wasn’t it because they were afraid the Zhenguo Duke Estate would see some signs, making it difficult to control her mom?
Of course, Yan Yan felt the shadow of her dad Yan Ting behind the scenes. Every time she thought of this, her heart would tremble incessantly. This was also why she had never made a fuss despite having these thoughts in the past. If she truly made a fuss, her opponent was someone who should be her most intimate person.
Whether this list of “most intimate people” included her mom, she didn’t dare think about…..
Lost in her thoughts, Yan Yan arrived at the Ninghui Hall.
The Zhenguo Madam’s many matrons and senior maids had long since been waiting outside the doors. Seeing Yan Yan arrive, they crowded over and intimately called out to her, asking how she was doing and saying how she’s grown so big.
The one who said she’s grown was Matron Xu. She was an old servant of Yan Yan’s grandmother, and had often held Yan Yan when she was young.
Hearing the commotion outside, the Zhenguo Madam called from inside: “Come in, Ah Yan. Hurry and let grandmother take a good look at you.”
Yan Yan heard the summons and ran into the hall like a baby swallow returning to its nest. She ran straight up to the Zhenguo Madam who was sitting on the arhat chair1 up above.
The Zhenguo Madam Zhou-shi’s head of snow-white hair was done up tidily into a bun at the back of her head. It was held in place by an emerald inlaid gold ruyi-shaped hairpin. She wore a set of golden yellow colored robes embroidered with phoenix eye patterns. Her face was oblong-shaped, her features kind. Her eyes were filled with benevolence as she looked at her tenderly.
“My little Ah Yan, you’ve suffered…..”
The two of them embraced warmly for a while. Yan Yan finally rubbed the tears from her eyes and left the Zhenguo Madam’s arms before saluting both the Zhenguo Duke and Second Madam Shen.
“Grandfather, second aunt.”
The Zhenguo Madam pulled Yan Yan to sit beside her. The people chatted casually for a bit before getting to the main topic.
This was the first time Yan Yan revealed everything that had been hidden in her heart. She knew the people present all truly cherished her, and therefore didn’t feel ashamed.
It had to be said that Concubine Pei and Old Madam Yan’s methods were extremely good.
For example, Old Madam Yan seemed to cherish Shen Yi Yao and even Yan Yan and Yan Mo extremely on the surface. If she had something good on hand, she would first offer it to the three of them. Whenever she tried something tasty, she would have the kitchen make three more portions and send it over. Furthermore, the household allowance given to the three of them were the highest level, exceeding others by quite a bit.
Even during the paying of respects at the Rongan Hall, Shen Yi Yao always sat closest to Old Madam Yan. As for Yan Yan and Yan Mo, they sat on the arhat bed with Old Madam Yan. Only when Yan Mo wasn’t present did Yan Hong get a turn. She gave the three of them the biggest benefits and the best treatment. Her actions on the surface were done extremely well.
As for Concubine Pei, she was always respectful towards them whether in person or in front of others, always observing proper etiquette. There were no faults to pick out in her behavior. After being granted authority over the household, she always made sure to ask Shen Yi Yao’s opinion on things. Only after Shen Yi Yao herself felt it was bothersome did she stop doing so.
Things probably could have continued developing this way. As mentioned before, no one was a fool in this world. Clues could be seen from the mistress’s attitude, and the servants’ livelihood all depended on her. No one understood clearer than they did.
Distance determined a horse’s stamina, and time determined a person’s heart. This saying was quite apt. Once an act went on for long enough, or once someone was tricked for long enough, there would naturally be some impatience or some complacency. Although Concubine Pei and Old Madam Yan hadn’t quite reached this stage, they weren’t far from it.
Therefore, the intelligent Yan Yan slowly started to see some clues. Perhaps it was from seeing Concubine Pei switch out the people by Shen Yi Yao and Yan Mo’s side one by one, or perhaps it was due to something else….when considered individually, these were minor things. But nothing could withstand the accumulation over a long period of time. Gradually, Yan Yan grew guarded against the two of them.
Unfortunately she was still young and powerless. Furthermore, Concubine Pei would seamlessly incite things via the few maids she had placed by Shen Yi Yao’s side. Every time Yan Yan tried to resist, she would be suppressed. Shen Yi Yao even gradually felt her own daughter was too disobedient and didn’t have the makings of a proper lady. She started managing her more and more strictly.
The scariest thing in this world isn’t killing with real weapons. It is to slowly erode someone’s willpower and change their way of thinking, until in the end they became a completely different person.
As Yan Yan spoke, she involuntarily started crying, to the extent where she couldn’t speak through her sobs.
“……Ah Yan sometimes wonders if my way of thinking is too despicable, thinking the worst of others. But I truly couldn’t convince myself that they mean well….”
The Zhenguo Madam held her in her arms. This old woman who had been firm and unyielding her entire life was also crying, mumbling about sin repeatedly.
Yan Yan was still young and she didn’t understand how her train of thought came about. However, those listening were able to tell just what sort of trials she had endured for such a young, ten year old girl to have such thoughts. Not only did she suspect her own grandmother, but her own dad as well….
No one would believe Yan Ting didn’t have anything to do with it.
The Zhenguo Duke’s face was frighteningly dark. As the commander-in-chief who had led troops for several decades before finally retiring to become an official, he would become extremely terrifying when angered.
“I had said back then that this Yan Ting wasn’t a good match. What did you say back then? Who persuaded me to agree to this marriage?” The Zhenguo Duke gripped the table tightly.
The Zhenguo Madam wiped her tears and was completely heartbroken.
“How was I supposed to know it would turn out this way? Yao’er stubbornly insisted on marrying him and cried for so many days. As her mom, my heart was truly in a lot of pain. Weren’t you the same way back then? We only have this one daughter, and merely wanted the best for her and for her to be happy. Who knew things would turn out this way!?”
This matter had to do with a “case” back then.
Initially, the Zhenguo Duke was not too satisfied with this Yan Ting as his son-in-law.
First of all, Yan Ting’s family background wasn’t worthy of Shen Yi Yao. Secondly, prior to Yan Ying marrying Shen Yi Yao, an event occurred that made the Zhenguo Duke extremely uncomfortable.
That year, Shen Yi Yao was of marrying age. Crowds of families within the capital came to the door to propose marriage but the Zhenguo Duke never agreed to any of them. All he wanted was to pick a good match for his daughter.
Unexpectedly, Shen Yi Yao somehow got to know Yan Ting at a banquet hosted by another estate, and it was love at first sight. She said she wanted to marry Yan Ting when she got home. The Shen household’s only daughter of that generation was Shen Yi Yao, and she had been pampered since birth. This resulted in her innocent nature. The Zhenguo Duke saw his daughter unabashedly declaring that she wanted to marry a man, and angrily berated her on the spot. But since she was his cherished daughter, he also didn’t restrict her in any way.
Afterwards, the Zhenguo Duke sent people to investigate and found out that his daughter had actually met Yan Ting in private several times before. Although the two of them hadn’t done anything, it was still harmful to a woman’s reputation.
With his daughter crying on one side wanting to get married, the Zhenguo Duke had Yan Ting brought over in secret for questioning.
Yan Ting said it was only because of his deep feelings for Miss Shen that he would secretly meet up with her, and swore that he had never done anything that would harm Miss Shen’s virtue. He also said he had long since asked his family to come bring up the matter of marriage.
The Weiyuan Marquis Estate had truly come to the door asking for marriage, but the Zhenguo Duke hadn’t agreed. Yet seeing this talented and earnest youngster, the Zhenguo Duke felt peculiar in his heart.
For the sake of marrying Yan Ting, Shen Yi Yao’s gentle temperament changed and she made a huge fuss. Not only was her face filled with tears daily, she even went on a hunger strike. In the send, the Zhenguo Duke couldn’t overcome Shen Yi Yao’s determination and agreed to the marriage. This event had also shaken the capital.
No one expected the ZHenguo Duke household’s beloved daughter to be married off to the rundown Weiyuan Marquis Estate’s son. Even if that person was the Weiyuan Marquis’s heir, no one expected it because he truly wasn’t a worthy match.
Because of this, even though Shen Yi Yao married Yan Ting, the Zhenguo Duke had never shown a pleasant expression towards Yan Ting.
After Yan Yan was born, Shen Yi Yao brought her over once every few days. Only after seeing Shen Yi Yao truly seemed to be doing quite well and also because he cherished his granddaughter, along with the Zhenguo Madam’s urgings, did the Zhenguo Duke finally look at Yan Ting in a better light.
Shen Yi Yao truly lived very well after marriage. She managed the household right after marrying in. Her in-laws cherished her and her husband pampered her. It was possible to see if a woman was doing well based on her appearance and words. Only then did the Zhenguo Duke’s dislike of Yan Ting slowly fade.
Although Yan Ting had taken a concubine within a year of marriage, he had earnestly reported it to the Zhenguo Duke Estate at this time. He claimed it was in order to use the blessing of marriage to drive away his father’s illness. Since his own daughter agreed to it, the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s people didn’t take things to heart.
Which wealthy household didn’t have concubines? Yan Ting’s attitude had been upright, and the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s people didn’t overthink things.
But who would have thought that after ten years, things would end up this way?!
Yan Ting is a scheming weasel. That’s right, he’s the combination of a self-made man and a scheming weasel. However, he’s much cleverer about it than self-made men nowadays.
Ha! Really hate this type of man’s despicable way of thinking. They feel that after a woman marries them, and gives birth to children, that she won’t be able to go anywhere else. Where they were equals at first, a feeling of superiority would be formed.
This author isn’t lamenting for herself, but for some examples around me. Since ancient times, such men weren’t in the minority, and have even increased. Disdain them. Of course Yan Ting also has these thoughts, but merely keeps it better hidden. Sit and watch how he courts disaster….
Actually this author doesn’t want to write about the female lead’s parents falling apart. However, this has to do with the male lead’s appearance which is coming up soon. The little fatty will come after two more chapters. Haha.
Ah Yan: Damn fatty, why aren’t you coming out yet? Don’t you see this mommy getting bullied hard?!
Little Fatty Luo: Yan Yan, don’t be scared, don’t be scared. I’ll take you leveling and to farm trash mobs.