Yan Yan had brought a total of twelve people with her, and they were all carefully selected by Second Madam Shen.
There were two grannies, one surnamed Dong and one surnamed Zou. They were both astute and steady. The eight maids were also the calm and steady types. There were two who were in charge of the others. One was called Yi Yun and the other called Yi Meng.
Yi Yun and Yi Meng were promoted by a rank, and personally served Yan Yan along with Mei Xiang and Mei Xue. Matron Zou was the managing granny and was in charge of managing the courtyard and various other matters. Yan Yan then chose four of the junior maids. She planned on sending the remaining four maids and Matron Dong over to serve Ah Mo.
Yan Yan had asked for these people because she clearly knew having two people by her side wasn’t enough. She planned on shedding all pretenses this time and was prepared to fight a long battle. She understood that there cannot be internal strife if she were to resist external assault.
Once things were arranged, Matron Zou started busying herself. Everyone’s roles needed to be arranged, and the selected few maids and grannies from earlier who weren’t expelled also needed to be reorganized.
Yan Yan didn’t expel those other people without consideration. Those were all people who had someone backing them. The ones who remained were all those who did their duties. They had been bullied and shunned by those who abused their power, and were a little cautious as of now. But they saw the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s people had excellent etiquette and were all very friendly, and thus let out a breath of relief.
Yan Yan ordered Mei Xiang and the rest to sort out the two large carriages of things she brought back. She picked out a few that were clearly for Ah Mo and took them over to the Jinse Pavilion.
Ah Mo lived in one of the small lateral courtyards of the Jinse Pavilion. It had a row of three houses as well as porches in the front and back. This was sufficient for Ah Mo and those serving him to live in. It was also closer to the Jinse Pavilion’s main residence, making it convenient for Shen Yi Yao to see her son.
When Yan Yan arrived, Yan Mo was drinking medicine.
The tiny person was sitting on the rosewood bed brocaded with flowing cloud patterns. It was daytime during the summer, but he was still covered in a layer of thin blankets and seemed especially frail.
Yan Mo had a pair of large eyes and long eyelashes. He had a high nose-bridge and his skin was so fair it seemed almost translucent. His dark veins were clearly visible. If it weren’t for his sickly appearance and his frail physique compared to the other children his age, Yan Mo was quite a cute and elegant looking boy.
Seeing Yan Yan arrive, not only did Yan’er, Ying’er and Matron Qin look happy, even Yan Mo’s expression lit up.
Yan Yan sat on the side of the bed, “Ah Mo, are you a little better? Why are you still taking medicine? Isn’t your fever already gone?” The last part was directed at Matron Qin.
“This medicine is to nourish fourth young master’s body. Doctor Tian said the young master lost a lot of vital energy after falling into the water and needs to be properly nourished.”
Yan Yan frowned and felt Yan Mo’s little hand. The house was warm during the summer, and Yan Mo wore a jacket under his blankets. However, his hands were still cold.
“This medicine doesn’t seem to be of any use despite taking it daily.” She muttered to herself and said: “I’ll have someone send a letter to grandfather tomorrow, and have him help send an imperial physician over for a look.”
Yan Mo smiled faintly and nodded.
Yan Mo was an extremely obedient child. Normally children would cry and make a fuss if they had to drink such bitter medicine every day. His health had been poor since birth, and he ate more medicine than food, but he never made a fuss. The servants served him without worries but Yan Yan’s heart ached.
Matron Qin helped Yan Mo finish his bowl of medicine and then wiped his mouth with a handkerchief. Ying’er brought over a small dish of candied fruits and had Yan Mo suckle on one. Yan Mo offered one to his big sis but Yan Yan shook her head.
“I’ve brought some servants over from grandfather’s place. I’ll arrange some in your room later. These are all our own people, you can be at ease in using them.”
Yan Yan nodded obediently and didn’t ask why he needed people in his room. Yan Yan stroked his hair and ordered those servants to come in.
Yan Yan had those four maids take care of Yan Mo’s various matters along with Ying’er and Yan’er. As for Matron Dong, she had been especially chosen by Yan Yan for Yan Mo.
Both the grannies that came were steady and astute. Matron Dong was a little more forceful in doing things. Prior to giving her the people, Second Madam Shen had told Yan Yan that things should be used where most appropriate, and people were the same way. Suitable people needed to be put in suitable positions.
Matron Qin who had served by Yan Mo’s side was attentive and loyal. She was just a little bit of a pushover and wasn’t forceful enough. She was fine dealing with normal people, but she wasn’t able to deal with those troublemakers. Yan’er was forceful enough, but she was young after all. It was more appropriate to have someone older.
“Matron Dong. I’ll leave you by Ah Mo’s side. I won’t say anything about serving wholeheartedly. If you serve him well, you naturally won’t be mistreated. You are steady and firm. Don’t have any misgivings about dealing with troublemakers while serving Yan Mo. If anything happens I will cover for you. Of course, I’m not telling you to go around bullying others. Hopefully you are able to grasp the difference.”
Matron Dong patted her chest. “Miss Yan can rest assured. This servant will definitely serve the young master wholeheartedly.”
Prior to coming here, they had all met individually with Second Madam Shen. Regarding the fishy aspects of the Weiyuan Marquis Estate, they had also been warned. They naturally understood what was going on. Even if Miss Yan wasn’t able to protect them due to her age, there was still the Zhenguo Duke Estate behind them. Prior to leaving, Second Madam Shen had told them to report back if anything happened. As long as they weren’t unreasonable, as long as they did the right thing, even if the heavens collapsed the Zhenguo Duke Estate would take care of it.
Furthermore, Miss Yan didn’t seem to be a mistress who wasn’t able to protect her people. Earlier at the Ningxiang Chambers, that large crowd of people didn’t dare make a sound towards her.
Matron Dong also felt her heart ache for Yan Yan. She had to stand up for herself at such a young age. Children without their mom protecting them were just so pitiful. The group of people from the Zhenguo Duke Estate had all seen Shen Yi Yao’s attitude earlier. It was impossible for them not to feel weird about it.
No wonder the estate had given them directly to Miss Yan instead of the eldest miss. This eldest miss was truly muddleheaded! However, it wasn’t convenient for servants to comment on their mistress’s affairs. Matron Dong could only think about it in her heart.
Yan Yan nodded and said: “Then you will serve Yan Mo with Matron Qin in the future.”
She used the word “with” and not “follow”. This was pointing out that Matron Dong would have the same status as Matron Qin. Matron Qin was someone who tried to please everyone to begin with, and would occasionally complain about herself for not doing enough. Seeing that she had a helper, she naturally pulled her along and helped her familiarize herself.
The other few maids and grannies in the room were all those who had served Yan Mo in the past. Ever since Yan Yan gave Matron Qin, Ying’er and Yan’er to him, he had never used anyone else. He was young anyway and he rarely left the house, so he didn’t need that many people serving him. These people were Yan Mo’s in name, but had been put in storage at some point.
Seeing so many people come and receive assignments, some people couldn’t sit still any longer.
A thin and long-faced granny spoke up: “Third miss, did you check with the madam before adding people to the fourth young master’s room? This lateral courtyard isn’t big to begin with. What are we supposed to do if they move in?”
Yan’er glared, “What are you being impatient for? Since the miss called you all here, she naturally has something in mind for you.”
That granny lowered her head and glared, not daring to retort. She wasn’t afraid of that little hussy Yan’er, but she was afraid of the third miss who was sitting there.
No one understood the third miss better than those serving by the fourth young master’s side. That year when the third miss arranged people into the fourth young master’s place, they had secretly made a fuss. They were suppressed by the third miss every time, and furthermore, the fourth young master listened to her words. After Matron Qin, Yan’er and Ying’er came, he never let anyone else serve him.
Not only this, after the third miss suppressed the troublemakers, the fourth young master went and complained about them to the madam and caused a few to get expelled. The remaining people naturally became well-behaved.
Yan Yan was going to speak but Yan Mo pulled her sleeve, “Big sis.”
“Ah Mo, what is it?”
Yan Mo looked at those people and gave Yan Yan a bashful smile. “Since these are my people, let me make the arrangements.”
Yan Yan realized her younger brother wasn’t that young anymore. She also couldn’t keep making decisions for him, and thus nodded her head. She thought to let Ah Mo handle it first, and then deal with things if he didn’t handle it well.
How was Yan Yan planning to deal with things? She was naturally going to expel them all. Yan Yan’s way of doing things had always been simple and crude.
“Then it’s settled. Big sis will go back to the Ningxiang Chambers.” Yan Yan still remembered the matter about the imperial physician. It was better to arrange this matter sooner rather than later.
Yan Mo nodded obediently.
After Yan Yan left, Yan Mo sat in his bed gazing silently at those servants. He pointed at a few of those people and told Ying’er: “Take these people over to my mom. Tell her I don’t want them serving me anymore. They don’t serve me well, and big sis has given me some more people. I’ll be using them instead in the future.”
Those few people immediately started wailing and crying, all calling out “young master don’t expel us” while kneeling and kowtowing.
At this time, Matron Dong walked in from outside. Her hands were at her hips and her brows were furrowed. “What are you bawling about? Do you still have the slightest etiquette!?” She signaled with her eyes and the four maids from the Zhenguo Duke Estate rushed up and pulled those people out while covering their mouths.
Matron Dong followed them out and loudly berated them in the courtyard: “You dare start bawling in front of the master? Who gave you such guts? Are you looking to get beaten with a plank?”
She was a managing matron back at the Zhenguo Duke Estate and was used to training subordinates. This round of scolding was naturally awe-inspiring.
Since Yan’er’s group of three had been able to suppress these people all this time, they naturally weren’t anything impressive (the impressive ones had been expelled due to Yan Mo’s tattling). Being berated, they were all scared silent.
Seeing the people fall silent, Matron Dong then put on a slightly more gentle expression: “Who the master wants serving him is his business, we servants cannot say anything about it. Since the master has given the orders, everyone must face reality. Don’t make a fuss and properly go with Ying’er to the madam’s place. Madam knows you have all served the young master for many years, and weren’t expelled due to making mistakes. Would she mistreat you? Don’t tell me you insist on crying and sobbing, making the master feel irritated. Would this be beneficial?”
They weren’t fools and could naturally tell good from bad. Would they insist on fussing until they were “expelled due to making mistakes”, or until the master grew irritated and hated them? Especially since the madam had always cherished the fourth young master. In the past, those troublemakers had been expelled by the madam with a few words from the young master. How can servants out-stubborn their master!?
Seeing their expressions change, Matron Dong indicated for Ying’er to take them away.
Inside the room, Yan’er’s eyes glowed. She clapped and said: “Young master, how satisfying.”
Yan Mo sat in bed and merely smiled bashfully without speaking.
“The Zhenguo Duke Estate is going too far!”
Despite quite a bit of time having passed, Old Madam Yan’s gloominess had never faded. Especially after Concubine Pei came over from the Ningxiang Chambers and embellished the story, making her even angrier.
“The old one’s abusing her position and the young one’s doing the same. How are we supposed to live?!” Old Madam Yan smacked the table and the sound of teacups and plates clattering rang out.
“That’s not all!” Concubine Pei sobbed: “Your niece was embarrassed to death back there and the madam didn’t even speak up for me, letting that third miss step on me. No matter what, I’m still her elder, right?”
“Every time she comes back from that place, she becomes more of a troublemaker. It’s all those people instigating her. That little thing is like a dog using its owner’s power to bully others!” Old Madam Yan didn’t consider the question: if her granddaughter was a dog, what did that make her?
The room was extremely silent, with only the sounds of Concubine Pei’s sobs.
“Enough, don’t cry anymore. Just endure a little longer. In Ting’er’s last letter, he said he’s almost figured things out.” Old Madam Yan said.
Concubine Pei’s eyes lit up and she leaned over. “Does cousin have some certainty? It’s not easy to obtain military accomplishments.”
Old Madam Yan smiled complacently, “That Shen Dong is Ting’er’s older brother-in-law. Would he not protect and help him? With the Shen family’s influence within the military, he has nothing to worry about.”
As she spoke, she seemed to have forgotten she was just cursing the Zhenguo Duke Estate for bullying others based on their position.
“That’s good then. All I want is for cousin to obtain some military accomplishments and bring honor to our ancestors, extending our household’s glory.”
Not sure if anyone’s noticed that little Ah Mo seems to be developing two faces.