Xue-shi had been thinking about this ever since Yan Ting’s death was confirmed.
Although it was a little heartless, humans were selfish creatures. She naturally had to consider what was best for her. Furthermore, Xue-shi wasn’t just being selfish here. What was going to come would come. It was better to be prepared instead of being caught unaware.
The atmosphere immediately froze at her words.
The old madam let out a shout from the bed and then fainted once again.
The scene grew chaotic. Luckily the old madam had fainted several times in the past few days so the maids and Matron Zhao were all experienced. They pinched her central acupuncture point and forced down some medicine. Soon, the old madam slowly awoke.
Right after waking, she let out a hysterical cry. The sound was extremely ugly, as though her neck was being squeezed by someone. She thrashed around on the bed. Matron Zhao stepped up and held her down while crying: “Eldest madam, something bad has just happened to the lord marquis. How can the old madam withstand so many things at once? It’s better if you said less.”
Xue-shi angrily closed her mouth.
Chen-shi muttered quietly: “Eldest sis-in-law is really good at alarmist talk. Second brother-in-law has just passed away. How can those above kick us out so soon!? Especially since second sis-in-law is still here. As long as her maternal family puts in some effort, perhaps our nobility can be extended another generation. It’ll be passed on to Ah Mo after all.”
The third lord scolded: “Quiet!” He then cupped his hands at Shen Yi Yao: “We will have to trouble sister-in-law on this matter. Such a large household is currently backed into a corner. The heavens are collapsing so how can we worry about having to move!?” As he spoke, this man started wiping his tears with his sleeve, making it hard for others to look at him.
This third lord Yan Qu had grown up under his parents and his siblings’ wings. Although it wasn’t normally obvious, his character could be seen at times like this.
Ever since Yan Ting had gone missing, Yan Qu was panicked. Once they received word of his death, Yan Qu almost became bedridden like the old madam. He wasn’t young anymore but didn’t have any opinions of his own. Therefore, many matters needed to be handled by Yan Zhi. Yan Zhi wouldn’t be so exhausted otherwise.
Shen Yi Yao was extremely speechless. The mother wanted her to find the culprit and the son wanted her to extend their nobility by a generation. Although he said it was to save the household from suffering, the truth was that he merely wanted to remain under the Weiyuan Marquis Estate’s roof and hold an idle posting.
Yan Ting had worked for almost two decades, and spent a lot of effort but with nothing to show for it. Why would it be that easy for Shen Yi Yao? Perhaps she truly could have her dad obtain some pity for his newly widowed daughter from his majesty, and perhaps have their nobility extended by another generation. After all, they had no authority, and merely received a salary.
But why would she do something like that?
A wave of annoyance and disgust suddenly permeated her heart. Shen Yi Yao no longer wanted to stay here. She turned around and left.
Xue-shi wasn’t able to hold it in any longer. She smiled mockingly and followed behind.
Yan Qu was still a little confused. He didn’t understand what he had said to offend his sister-in-law. Yan Zhi was extremely helpless. Unfortunately, his wife could run but he could not. He still had to keep an eye on the old madam’s condition. He had to at least play his part on the surface.
Seeing Shen Yi Yao not give them any face, the old madam once again thrashed about before finally calming down. She had Matron Zhao call Yan Zhi over to the bed.
The old madam looked tearfully at Yan Zhi. Matron Zhao wiped her tears and interpreted: “Eldest lord, the old madam said you’re still her closest son after all. That second madam is becoming more and more outrageous. We’ll have to trouble you regarding the estate’s matters.”
Yan Zhi smiled bitterly: “Second sis-in-law is just too overcome with grief. Especially since she cannot do much anyway as a woman.”
The old madam babbled something unclear. Matron Zhao leaned over and listened for a while before speaking: “The old madam says she hasn’t cherished you in vain. Her son is the most reliable in a crisis. However, the eldest madam….”
Yan Zhi laughed mockingly: “The only influence this estate has left, apart from eldest sis, is second sis-in-law. Since we’re on the decline, we have to rely on others for everything. It’s better not to have a falling out.”
This time the old madam didn’t express any objections.
Seeing this, Yan Zhi hurriedly said: “Mother, your son still has some matters to take care of and will leave first. Third brother, you and sister-in-law should accompany mom some more here. Console her a little. Her health is most important. She shouldn’t worry too much.”
After a pause, he pulled Yan Qu to the side and quietly said: “The estate isn’t like it was in the past. We can no longer weather any storms. If anything happens to mom, we won’t be able to keep our postings. After three years of mourning, no one would know our Yan household. You should know we currently have no one to help us. There is no more shelter for us.”
Yan Qu froze. He nodded, a trace of panic in his eyes.
Yan Zhi sighed and patted his shoulder before leaving.
After returning to the Yusheng Pavilion, Xue-shi wasn’t back yet. She was undoubtedly accompanying Shen Yi Yao at the Jinse Pavilion.
Since the estate was in a period of mourning, the decorations were now all plain and simple. All the brightly colored things were put away. Previously the Weiyuan Marquis Estate still had the makings of a noble household. Now, it looked bleak and declining. It was like someone who was past his prime. It was once reputable, and it was once glorious. However, it couldn’t withstand the cycle of life and death, and gradually walked towards its demise.
Yan Zhi looked at the sky for a long while before letting out a sigh and walking inside the residence.
Before long, Xue-shi returned.
Yan Zhi said: “How is it? Have you figured out sis-in-law’s intentions?”
Xue-shi was full of depression as she said: “From her appearance, it doesn’t seem like she intends to manage the household again. Actually it’s clear that second brother has thoroughly hurt second sis-in-law’s heart over the years. Ever since she returned from the manor, her attitude completely changed. She became completely focused on her son and daughter. Nothing else seems to stir her emotions.”
Yan Zhi sighed and didn’t speak.
Xue-shi smiled bitterly: “In the past we always felt this estate wasn’t good. There were too many rules and mischief-makers. It gave off a thick smell of decay. But now that we’re about to lose it, I somehow feel uncomfortably panicked.”
Yan Zhi felt the same way.
Often times, due to all sorts of annoyances, the eldest branch inevitably thought how good it would have been to have moved out back then. They could live their own lives without getting caught up in anything.
But when the moment truly came, just like what Yan Zhi said to Yan Qu earlier, losing the Weiyuan Marquis nobility, the Yan household would fade into the crowd. Not only would they be excluded from the capital’s social circles, nothing would be as convenient anymore. Perhaps the Yan household would soon fade from everyone’s memories.
“It’s better if we made plans earlier!” Yan Zhi concluded: “As for what plans, it would depend on second sis-in-law’s actions. Since we’ve already kowtowed ninety-nine times, doing so one more time wouldn’t hurt. The Zhenguo Duke definitely made preparations for his daughter and his grandchildren. For the sake of some goodwill, we must still help them fulfill their wishes.”
Xue-shi nodded, “You don’t need to say it, I’m well aware. Now that our daughters are married off, only we two incompetent parents are left. It’s best if we could have a couple of relatives to rely on so that our sons could have some assistance when they get married. I just feel sorry for our sons. Due to this matter, how long will it be until they can get married?”
Xue-shi’s hair was turning white from worry. After all, Yan Xiao and Yan Rui weren’t young anymore.
“A man of character won’t have problems finding a wife. If they are capable, they would naturally have the pick from the capital’s young misses. Not having a noble status is also a good thing. Perhaps my sons can successfully pass the civil service exam now.”
Xue-shi glared at Yan Zhi, “Keep dreaming!”
Although she said so, she inevitably held a bit of hope. Noble descendants were forbidden from taking the exam. However, since Yan Zhi hadn’t achieved anything himself, he placed high hopes on his two sons. When they were young, he had invited a teacher over to instruct them.
This had lasted for a decade whether rain or shine. Because children all liked to play, Yan Zhi had given his sons a good amount of beatings. This lasted until the present day. Since Yan Zhi wasn’t capable, he couldn’t tell how intelligent his sons were. However, just based on their hard work, they wouldn’t be worse off than others.
The couple spoke for a long while before eating dinner and turning in. The night passed without words.
Xue-shi’s previous words weren’t a shot in the dark. The moment Yan Ting’s seven days of departure ended, the Ministry of Rites sent people over with a document.
Basically it stated that the Weiyuan Marquis title had reached the final generation. The people needed to move out of the marquis estate bestowed by the court within a set time limit, and also hand over the cinnabar metal seal and their land.
This matter was a stone that caused countless of waves. The entire estate grew chaotic.
Everyone’s emotions were unstable and many of the servants born into the estate were anxious. They were deeply afraid they would be sold by their masters. After all, there were quite a few examples of fallen noble households in the capital. All their servants ended up getting sold off one by one.
Chen-shi was no longer able to call Xue-shi an alarmist. She was completely panicked. Everyone else was the same. The only steady ones, apart from Shen Yi Yao and Yan Mo, were the couple from the eldest branch.
These days, the old madam and Yan Qu had spent a lot of time on Shen Yi Yao. Shen Yi Yao would sometimes show up at the Rongan Hall and sometimes refuse to go using her newly widowed status and grief as an excuse. These days, everyone could tell that Shen Yi Yao didn’t care at all about the Weiyuan Marquis Estate.
The old madam was willing to try anything in a crisis and made quite the fuss. Yan Feng was also called over and fussed at several times. She had to act as the communicator between the Rongan Hall and the Jinse Pavilion. Shen Yi Yao spoke as little as she could. When she wasn’t silent, she was shedding tears.
After one too many times, Chen Chun grew furious and said Yan Feng should go beg his majesty for mercy herself since she liked to get involved so much. Yan Feng was embarrassed. She knew this matter was difficult, but the Zhenguo Duke’s influence was right there. Even if his majesty didn’t give them any face, he had to give some to the Zhenguo Duke. He just had to open his golden mouth, how was it such a big deal?!
However, was the Zhenguo Duke’s face something so easily brought out? Should he ruin his relationship with Emperor Xi over such a little thing? Sometimes it’s necessary to be tactful. Don’t take other people’s regard for granted.
Furthermore, Yan Ting and the Zhenguo Duke’s relationship wasn’t good. Many people were aware of this. It isn’t unexpected for him not to help. To put it plainly, the Yan household had nothing to do with the Shen household. Now that his daughter was a widow, he would only take care of her, and no one else.
However, some people’s thoughts were rooted too deep. After the Ministry of Rites sent over the documents, Shen Yi Yao’s place became lively. One came after the other. She wasn’t able to get any peace.
Not only Chen-shi and Yan Qu had come, even the second and third branches’ few invisible concubines were dispatched.
The third branch’s Concubine Cui had just given birth to a son. Yan Qu was overjoyed so her status wasn’t low in the estate. She brought the sixth young master over, saying he missed his second aunt as an excuse, and ended up crying in the Jinse Pavilion. She cried about how pitiful she was, how pitiful the sixth young master was. He was too young to be facing such a hopeless situation.
There was also Concubine Lan. She wore plain white clothing and brought the fifth young master Yan Qing over several times to cry. She cried about being a widow and about the fifth young master losing his dad at such a young age. She hoped to arouse the madam’s sympathy. All these actions made Shen Yi Yao not know whether to laugh or cry.
The old madam couldn’t move or speak. Matron Zhao had been embarrassed by Shen Yi Yao a few times so her words were naturally useless. She just kept sending Yan Feng over, hoping to pressure Shen Yi Yao using her identity as her eldest sister-in-law.
Yan Feng had to worry about her husband getting angry while also getting angry herself at Shen Yi Yao’s stubbornness. After several days, her expression was no longer good, and her tone became worse and worse.
On this day, Yan Feng came to the Jinse Pavilion once again, and flipped out at Shen Yi Yao on the spot.