Chapter 136

“Was that the only wrong you committed?”

Shen YI Yao’s voice faintly sounded out, winding around Concubine Wu’s ears and making her body suddenly turn rigid.

She was half prone on the floor. The Persian rug with woven peony trees in front of her eyes looked luxurious, but it somehow caused Concubine Wu to recall something over a decade ago.

At that time she was young and pretty. The lord marquis back then was tall and handsome. As Shen Yi Yao’s personal maid, she would always see the lord marquis and the madam being lovey-dovey. The lord marquis was very considerate of the madam, and cherished her extremely. Ju Fang couldn’t help but feel some admiration.

Her envy gradually became longing.

Somehow, Concubine Pei had known it all. One day when the madam was washing up, Concubine Pei came over and was received by Ju Fang. Concubine Pei had said one thing to her: you’re the madam’s personal maid from her dowry, right?

Afterwards, these words became Ju Fang’s nightmare within the deepest corners of her heart. This was truly the case. Everyone knew what dowry maids were used for. She was the madam’s favorite maid that came with her dowry, and was also the best looking one.

Somehow, she got involved with Concubine Pei. She had helped her achieve her desires and she….

She had once pondered if she could let down this madam who always treated her well. However, these thoughts were always gone in a flash, buried deep in her heart.

Concubine Wu panted anxiously and choked out: “This servant has sinned gravely. This servant shouldn’t have colluded with Concubine Pei just to achieve her own shameful desires.”

Shen Yi Yao who was sitting above was lost in her memories from long ago. These memories made her look at Concubine Wu with a complicated and disgusted gaze.

“Concubine Wu, you’re very smart. You’re smarter than I imagined. You came to admit your wrongs, but only the minor ones. Are you sure you’re here to atone?” Shen Yi Yao suddenly lost her patience. She stood up and said to Cui Qiao: “Send her out!”

Concubine Wu climbed up and charged towards Shen Yi Yao, but was restrained by Cui Qiao.

“Madam, this servant really wants to atone. This servant isn’t trying to conceal anything. I just find it really hard to mention my actions in the past. Madam, I beg you, give me another chance, I beg you….”

Concubine Wu’s face was filled with tears of alarm that flowed down her pointed chin and wetted her clothes. Shen Yi Yao looked at her with a cold and estranged gaze.

This gaze made Concubine Wu feel a sense of inferiority. Shen Yi Yao was always kind and intimate to those around her, but always gave Ju Fang a remote feeling.

This woman had everything a girl could dream of. She had status, honor, wealth, beauty and so on, and so on. Whenever she needed something, she didn’t have to reach out for it herself. There would always be people offering it to her. At her maternal family’s place, her parents, brothers and their wives pampered her. After marriage, her husband and his household worshipped her….

When did her longing turn to jealousy?

Jealousy, resentment, unwillingness, anger….

These emotions nibbled at her soul night and day. The more she couldn’t obtain, the more she hated Shen Yi Yao who had everything. Finally, with Concubine Pei’s help, this woman who had everything except brains had given her to the lord marquis. Ju Fang finally got what she wanted.

The next day she had kowtowed to Shen Yi Yao. Looking at the woman above her staring back with a cryptic gaze, she had felt smug and full of satisfaction.

Concubine Pei was really a demon. She could understand the darkest parts of people’s hearts.

“Aren’t you jealous of her? Look at her, with everything we don’t have. She’s so lofty it makes others hate her. Wealth, beauty, glory…she has everything. If we want something, we can only use our own hands to work for it….I really, really want to take everything from her. Who knows what expression she will have at that time….”

After that day, the maid Ju Fang had become a second Concubine Pei.

As a chambermaid, and even a concubine, she should be putting most of her efforts into Yan Ting. However, the lord marquis usually only minded the madam and never took the initiative to go to them. Only when the madam occasionally said something did they receive some favor. Ju Fang finally understood why Concubine Pei diligently came to the Jinse Pavilion daily. They could only pick up some scraps from this woman’s hand. Her resentment gradually became stronger….

Because she was the madam’s personal maid, Ju Fang was trusted by Shen Yi Yao. Even if Shen Yi Yao was very close with Concubine Pei, Ju Fang was able to feel the difference. With dark intentions, she and Concubine Pei conspired to slowly steal away the people by the madam’s side. Because Ju Fang was an insider, this wasn’t hard to do….

Seeing a woman with everything being manipulated by them made Ju Fang feel like laughing.

So what if you’re lofty? Ultimately, you’re just a fool!

Concubine Wu revealed everything she had done one word at a time.

Cui Qiao and Cui Ping couldn’t believe their ears. How could this person’s thoughts be so sinister? She actually conspired with others to harm her own madam. Especially since the two finally realized why they used to hear others say “the madam and the third miss’s relationship isn’t too good”. No matter how close they were, they couldn’t have withstood people instigating conflict daily!

Shen Yi Yao’s expression was a mixture of sorrow and joy. Her eyes faintly flashed with tears. After a long, long time, they finally became calm.

“Since you’ve committed so many wrongs, what makes you think I will definitely forgive you? What makes you assume I will forget past wrongs and bring you with me?”

These words broke the silence. Concubine Wu whose head had been lowered in remorse suddenly looked up.

Looking at her astonished expression, Shen Yi Yao laughed: “Could it be that in your eyes, I’m someone who doesn’t hold grudges? I forgot to tell you, I actually do hold grudges. That’s right. Ah Mo being born prematurely was also due to you and Pei Yu Jin’s involvement, right?”

Shen Yi Yao didn’t stay and walked into her room.

“Have her leave.”

Her final words were light like a wisp of smoke.

Concubine Wu was extremely startled, her heart filled with fear.

She knew, she actually knew!

Actually, despite lowering her head and begging for forgiveness, Concubine Wu had never thought much of Shen Yi Yao. In her eyes, Shen Yi Yao was a naïve and clueless madam. As long as she lowered herself enough, as long as the third miss wasn’t there, the madam would definitely take pity on her due to their past relationship.

This was why she lowered herself and begged for forgiveness remorsefully. Seeing as these things couldn’t be kept from Shen Yi Yao and also being forced to reveal some things, she had ultimately not confessed everything. However, she had forgotten something. Shen Yi Yao had doubts about Yan Mo’s unusual premature birth long ago. Since Ju Fang and Concubine Pei had conspired together to do so many things, how could Shen Yi Yao not suspect them?

Yan Mo’s premature birth hadn’t been planned by the two of them. The old madam was also involved. Concubine Pei had wanted to manage the household and the old madam wanted to take over the household’s income from Shen Yi Yao. This was how the dirty scheme was carried out so smoothly. Afterwards, Concubine Pei had discussed things with Concubine Wu. Concubine Wu merely assumed Concubine Pei had wanted to manage the household and didn’t realize the old madam was involved. However, whether she knew or not didn’t matter anymore. Nothing was airtight in this world. She would one day have to atone for her sins.

Cui Qiao and Cui Ping’s expressions were furious. Seeing Concubine Wu remain frozen in place, they dragged her out.

Concubine Wu was thrown down the steps. Cui Qiao said to the grannies and maids: “Have her thrown out. Don’t let her enter the pavilion doors in the future.”

Cui Qiao and Cui Ping had still restrained themselves but the grannies and sweeper maids outside weren’t that gentle. The people lifted Concubine Wu up and directly threw her outside the doors.

Concubine Wu fell wretchedly on the floor. Before she could respond, she heard a faint crying next to her.

“Concubine mom, don’t beg the madam anymore. Let’s go back.” Yan Chan cried and said while helping her up.

Concubine Wu looked at her quiet and obedient daughter. Her alarmed and unsettled eyes finally became firm and decisive.

This was her daughter, her everything! For her sake, she was willing to do anything!

“Don’t be scared. Your concubine mom will convince the madam. Don’t worry, your concubine mom will definitely have the madam take you away.”

……

That night, Concubine Wu hung herself.

Because the maids weren’t really working diligently anymore during this period of time, no one discovered her. Only the next morning when Yan Chan came to find Concubine Wu did she see her hanging and swaying gently.

Yan Chan screamed and fainted on the spot.

When Shen Yi Yao received the news, she was out of it for a long time.

Concubine Wu didn’t leave behind a note but her meaning was extremely clear. She wanted to atone for her sins with her death, and was begging Shen Yi Yao not to put her crimes onto her child.

Yan Chan was in a daze. She didn’t cry or make a fuss. Shen Yi Yao couldn’t bear letting her remain in that pavilion and brought her back to the Jinse Pavilion. She ordered the servants to help arrange Concubine Wu’s funeral. She would provide the silver.

Yan Yan received the letter and returned. When she heard about the details of the matter, she flipped out at Shen Yi Yao.

“Why did you bring her over? Are you really planning on bringing her to the Zhenguo Duke Estate? Don’t forget why Concubine Wu died. Are you planning on bringing someone back to hate you every day?! I really can’t figure out what these people are thinking. What makes them think we’ll let bygones be bygones and grant her wish?”

Luo Huai Yuan was also speechless. This whole matter made him feel an indescribable sense of disgust.

Just because you admitted your faults and repented, you’re obligated to be forgiven? Seeing that you weren’t, you used your death as a threat!

That’s right, it was a threat. At least that’s how Yan Yan felt. Otherwise, she wouldn’t be so furious.

Yan Mo said on the side: “Mom, this person can’t be kept by our side. If you can’t bear it, just leave her to eldest aunt. We’ll find her a husband and have her directly married off.”

“It’s not that mom can’t bear it. I just felt she looked pitiful.” Shen Yi Yao paused and said: “Since you guys said so, I’ll go find your eldest aunt later and leave Yan Chan to her. This fifth miss has always been obedient. It’s just unfortunate….”

It’s just unfortunate that Concubine Wu made a mistake in her calculations. If Shen Yi Yao was by herself, she might have gotten her wish. This was because Shen Yi Yao’s heart had truly softened. A person dying was like a light being extinguished. She also wasn’t someone to take her grudges out on children. Unfortunately, Yan Yan and Yan Mo were both grown up. Since her children objected, Shen Yi Yao naturally wasn’t a fool. How could she disregard her children’s opinion for the sake of this person who made her feel extremely complicated?

Luo Huai Yuan said: “I feel that it’s better for mom to move out faster. This estate is filled with demons and monsters. Who knows what other schemes will pop up?”

Shen Yi Yao felt his words were reasonable and ordered the servants to speed up. Due to this incident, Yan Yan didn’t plan on leaving. She prepared to oversee the matters personally and escort her mom out before heading back to the fourth prince estate.

During this time, Shen Yi Yao went to Xue-shi. Xue-shi agreed straightforwardly. Shen Yi Yao was a little embarrassed and said she would pay for Yan Chan’s expenses. Xue-shi smiled and said there was no need to mention it.

When it was almost noon, all the bits and pieces were transported out. Only the large pieces of furniture remained. Yan Yan had Shen Yi Yao and Yan Mo leave with the carriage first. Moving the furniture could be left to the servants.

Shen Yi Yao had promised her servants that if they wanted to leave with her, she would take their life contracts from the Weiyuan Marquis Estate. Yan Yan remained behind to deal with this matter.

The moment Shen Yi Yao left with Yan Mo, the Rongan Hall received the news and issued summons.

Since the matter of the life contracts needed to go through the Rongan Hall, Yan Yan had Luo Huai Yuan remain in the Jinse Pavilion and went to the Rongan Hall herself. When she arrived, she realized everyone was present. Even the second branch’s Concubine Lan, the fifth young master and Yan Hong were there.

Seeing Yan Yan arrive, Chen-shi chose to raise the difficult questions first: “Third miss, it’s good that you’re here. Your mom only cared about herself and returned to her maternal family. Your second branch has so many people. How do we deal with this?”

Yan Yan wasn’t soft like Shen Yi Yao. She never left anyone any face. She was filled with anger to begin with, so this was good timing.

She looked over at Concubine Lan’s side and smiled coldly at Chen-shi: “I never knew when a widow gets brought back home, she has to bring a bunch of concubines and their children. Is third aunt trying to say they aren’t surnamed Yan?”

Chen-shi was choked up at these words. She said in a fluster: “The estate’s in this state already. Second sis-in-law really plans well, tossing all the baggage to us and going off to live comfortably. Why should our third branch and the eldest branch help raise your second branch’s people!?”

Xue-shi smiled brightly and said: “Third sis-in-law, speak if you want to speak. Don’t bring our eldest branch into it.”

Yan Yan was angered into laughter by Chen-shi, “If third aunt isn’t willing, that’s fine. I remember the old madam gave your third branch both businesses which are under my dad’s name. The old madam couldn’t recall that she still has some pitiful grandchildren, but as their older sister I remember. How about you hand those businesses over to these two pitiful little brothers of mine?”

“You….” Chen-shi’s face immediately twisted and she shrieked: “Those businesses were given to us by the old madam. Why should we hand them over?”

Yan Yan raised her brows: “Because those businesses are under my dad’s name. Don’t say whatever about the old madam handing them over. My mom is gentle and didn’t want to bicker with you guys. She was also overly upset and overlooked the matter. Otherwise, let’s bring it up in front of the Heaven’s Abiding Estate and have them arbitrate. Let them see how my dad’s younger brother stole his businesses before his bones were even cold, and even left his poor descendants with nothing. Shall we see what they charge you with?”

Yan Qu’s face was flushed. He stood up, “Niece Yan, don’t you slander people! The third branch also has a share of the businesses in the public funds.”

Yan Yan looked nonchalant: “I only know those businesses are under my dad’s name. As for where your third branch’s businesses went, third uncle can go ask grandmother.”

“You….”

Everyone knew that for the sake of maintaining the estate’s livelihood, the old madam had sold off many of the businesses. After so many years, they were only left with these two small ones. From the third branch’s point of view, they had a share of the public funds. Yan Qu was also the old madam’s biological son. Now that Yan Ting was gone, it was reasonable for it to be given to them. But from a legal or an outsider’s perspective, only the name on the deed was recognized. Who would care about anything else?

The reason Yan Yan bickered with these two was to vent her anger. She felt that these people were shams. It was also part of Luo Huai Yuan’s plan. After all, no matter how they looked at it, Yan Hong and Yan Qing were part of the second branch. With Yan Ting’s death, it was reasonable for Shen Yi Yao to take care of them as the principal mother. However, Luo Huai Yuan and the Zhenguo Duke Estate came up with the thought of having her mom move home due to her widowed status. This meant that the second branch’s juniors would fall to the old madam or Yan Qu, their biological uncle.

However, it was clear from the third branch’s expressions that even if they did take them in, their lives wouldn’t be good. There was also the matter of Concubine Wu hanging herself. To save Shen Yi Yao and Yan Mo from trouble in the future, Yan Yan decided to “help” the two juniors.

“Your niece didn’t want to bring this up at first. Since third aunt is so passionate, your niece really has to speak some reason. Although your niece is already married out and shouldn’t be minding the household’s matters, seeing the second branch’s people so unsettled made me involuntarily feel compassion. What, the grand Weiyuan Marquis’s descendants need to be raised by outsiders? Even though their father passed away, don’t forget that you are standing in the Weiyuan Marquis’s bestowed estate. Don’t act like you’re a random guest here!”

Concubine Lan held the fifth young master Yan Qing and sobbed, looking extremely pitiful. The usually silent Yan Hong also looked sorrowful.

Not waiting for the third branch to retort, Yan Yan continued speaking: “Therefore, third uncle and aunt shouldn’t blame your niece for overstepping. Even if it’s just for the sake of my deceased father, I must intervene in this matter.”

Yan Zhi stood up: “Niece Yan is reasonable. As the eldest brother, I didn’t with to bring these matters up. However, it was truly too excessive. I wasn’t birthed by mom so our eldest branch doesn’t dare think too much. But it’s reasonable for second brother’s things to be left to his descendants. Ah Mo has second sis-in-law as his mom, and the Zhenguo Duke as his backer. It is clear second sis-in-law doesn’t want to struggle for these things. But these two children, one not yet of age and the other still an infant, what are they to do?! Mom, you should speak up. Don’t let second brother’s spirit feel cold up there.”

Everyone’s gaze fell upon the old madam in bed. She didn’t make a sound for a while as though struggling internally. She didn’t deny being biased towards old three, but she also liked Yan Hong. Yan Hong had been raised by her after all. Along with her cherishing Yan Ting, the scales in her heart slowly shifted.

After a long while, she finally made a sound.

Matron Zhao said: “The old madam said her previous decision was truly a little muddled. Her intent now is to have the two businesses placed under the third young master and the fifth young master’s name. Since they are still young and cannot operate things by themselves, they will live with the old madam and the third lord temporarily. The third lord and the third madam will be responsible for managing the businesses.”

The third branch was naturally unwilling but Yan Yan was there glaring at them from the side.

This second branch’s eldest daughter had always been tough. When she got angry, she didn’t leave any face for anyone. Yan Qu and Chen-shi were really scared that she would make a ruckus at the Heaven’s Abiding Estate. The moment she did so, the two of them wouldn’t be on the side of reason. They would lose both properties and face, and perhaps even end up in jail. After all, Yan Ting was a marquis prior to his death. Although he wasn’t any longer, the court usually settled for the most severe judgment in such cases.

The third branch ended up getting a bunch of nothing for their efforts, and even had to take in the old madam. Now, they could only comfort themselves by thinking that managing the businesses should bring quite a few benefits.

The matter was thus settled. Yan Yan ordered the servants to get the deeds from the authorities on the spot, and handed them to Yan Hong and Concubine Lan. Their expressions were complicated and they didn’t know whether to thank her or what else to say.

Finally, Yan Hong stammered out: “Thank you, third sis.”

“No need to thank me. You guys take care of yourselves in the future.”

The meaning was extremely clear. In the future, they could only depend on themselves. The third branch’s couple weren’t saints. Since they depended on the third branch to eat, they would have to get in their good books. However, with the businesses in their names, they had some backing to stand up tall. How their future would turn out would require them to plan for themselves.

Afterwards, Yan Yan brought up the matter of the servants’ life contracts. Chen-shi had fallen out completely with Yan Yan and wasn’t planning on being nice. She used the excuse that “the estate isn’t doing well and those servants can be sold for quite a lot”. Yan Yan was too lazy to bicker with her and had her name a price. They could treat her as the buyer.

Chen-shi naturally threw out an excessive sum. Xue-shi couldn’t stand it and gave her some crap. Finally, Yan Yan spent a thousand taels to buy those people.

Naturally it was a little much, but it was within Yan Yan’s expectations. Problems that could be solved using money weren’t problems. Luo Huai Yuan had told her if that woman gave you trouble, use silver to smash her to death.

This inside joke of the couple won’t be discussed in detail for now.

After Shen Yi Yao moved out, the eldest branch also moved out.

Xue-shi had a two-compound courtyard outside the city. Although it wasn’t too big, it was plenty for their family and a few servants.

The servants the eldest branch took were naturally bought from Chen-shi. However, Xue-shi wasn’t as lax about it as Yan Yan. She only paid the market price, and also angered Chen-shi quite a bit.

The eldest and second branches both left. Only the third branch remained. The deadline drew closer and closer so the third branch also started moving things out.

However, the third branch didn’t have any residences under their name and could only buy one on the spot. After picking and choosing, Chen-shi used Yan Yan’s thousand taels to buy a two compound little courtyard. Although it was a little cramped, it was sufficient to live in. Unfortunately it was very rundown. However, it was good that they had a place to live.

After the third branch left, the grand Weiyuan Marquis Estate finally became empty.

Afterwards, two seals were posted on the doors, awaiting the day the emperor bestowed it to a different household.

One day, an ordinary looking carriage stopped by the Weiyuan Marquis Estate’s doors, which were now without an inscription. No one got out of the carriage. After a long while, the carriage slowly drove off.

Author’s notes:

The old madam’s decision wasn’t just due to Yan Hong or Yan Ting. It was also for the third branch’s sake.

Yan Yan was eyeing them like a tiger eyeing its prey. If this matter got to the authorities, since the things were under Yan Ting’s name, the old madam’s word was only good within the family. In reality, the third lord had truly stolen Yan Ting’s businesses.

Yan Yan snatched them back and gave them to Yan Hong and the fifth young master not because she was compassionate, but because of Concubine Wu’s suicide. She was worried the others might come up with additional schemes. After all, those without any hope would dare to do anything. In Yan Yan and Luo Huai Yuan’s minds, things that could be solved with money weren’t a problem. Ultimately, Yan Hong and Yan Qing didn’t do anything, and could be counted as innocents. Of course their days won’t be too good in the future. The deeds are their only backing. The two are young and need to live under the third branch for many years.

Concubine Wu is also a ruthless one. She knew that if she didn’t die, Shen Yi Yao wouldn’t care about her and Yan Chan due to previous matters. She could be said to have cut off her means of retreat. Unfortunately, Shen Yi Yao was no longer the same person she remembered. However, it was still a little effective. At least Yan Chan was taken in by the eldest branch, and after marriage would have somewhere to settle down.

Translator’s notes:

Regarding the last paragraph of the chapter, I read the comments on the raws and the author was responding to them. Kind of spoiler but not really. I guess it depends if you want your thoughts confirmed or not.

Many people in the comments were saying “looks like the scummy dad didn’t die”, to which the author responds “en”.

Some asked where the body came from and she responds by saying CEO Xu used a replacement. Says he now has nowhere to go but stay with CEO Xu. Some material for your potential fanfic, Gumihou 🙂

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