Because she had stopped by the Jinse Pavilion, by the time Yan Yan arrived, everyone else was already present.
At the seat of honor position, on the cedar inlaid sandalwood arhat bed with mountain and river patterns sat Old Madam Yan with a benevolent and amicable expression. Beneath her were two rows of sandalwood rattan chairs with curled grass patterns, upon which sat the eldest madam Xue-shi, second madam Shen Yi Yao and third madam Chen-shi.
The eldest miss Yan Ru and the fourth miss Yan Ling sat next to Xue-shi on small stools. Behind Yan Ling stood her biological mother, Concubine Wang. The third branch’s madam Chen-shi was a delicate and pretty woman. On the stools beside her sat sixth miss Yan Xia and seventh miss Yan Juan.1 The two of them were still young, one was seven and the other was eight. They were fair and tender, both looking cute and obedient.
Shen Yi Yao sat at the first chair on the left. On her right sat the fifth miss Yan Chan and second miss Yan Qian. Concubine Pei and Concubine Wu stood behind them.
Concubines didn’t get a seat during such occasions, not even Concubine Pei.
The people from the three branches were all divided into their own groups, and all the women in the Weiyuan Marquis Estate were present.
The third young master Yan Hong was present as well. He sat on the old madam’s arhat bed and was held in her arms. The rules of the estate stated that once boys turned ten, they didn’t have to come pay respects daily in case it delayed their studies. It was fine to come every once in a while. Yan Mo should have been present as well, but since he was bedridden, he didn’t come today.
The old madam liked liveliness, so the Rongan Hall was the liveliest during the daily paying of respects.
Yan Yan saluted the old madam, and then did the same to her aunts Xue-Shi and Chen-shi. She then sat next to Old Madam Yan under her eager encouragement.
Yan Hong sat on the old madam’s left when Yan Mo wasn’t present. Based on the same reasoning, Yan Qian sat in Yan Yan’s spot when she wasn’t present.
They had always been substitutes. No wonder Yan Qian and Yan Hong hated Yan Yan and Yan Mo. But they never considered the fact that their mother was a concubine. If it weren’t for her being the old madam’s niece and the Weiyuan Marquis’s cousin, they wouldn’t even get to sit by the old madam’s side based on their status.
But many people preferred to blame others instead of doing some self-reflection. Therefore, Yan Yan received two gazes of loathing, one of which faintly contained some malice.
Yan Yan raised her brows and returned the gaze, scaring Yan Hong into hurriedly lowering his head.
Because Yan Yan had made a huge fuss, Yan Hong had been locked up in the small worship hall for three days.
Whether or not his treatment inside had been the same as Yan Yan’s, the experience was still carved deeply into his bones. Mei Xiang had told Yan Yan about this when she got back. Yan Yan was merely dissatisfied at the malice in Yan Hong’s gaze.
“Did Yan Yan have a good time at grandfather’s place? Why does grandmother feel little lass Yan seems to have lost weight?”
After Yan Yan sat down, Old Madam Yan warmly wrapped her arms around her.
“Ah Yan had a great time at grandfather’s place.” Yan Yan half lowered her eyes and said quietly.
Her body was slightly rigid. She wasn’t someone good at acting, and if she felt revulsion and hatred towards someone, she wasn’t able to act intimate. She had this feeling early on, and after she understood more and more as time went by, things became more serious. Now she even felt like struggling free.
However, she still managed to suppress the urge, though wasn’t able to force a smile.
Old Madam Yan was experienced and could naturally sense it. She released her with a smile, not letting anything show on the surface. In her heart she cursed this little lass for refusing to accept her goodwill, as though she were all that!
Concubine Pei was standing behind Shen Yi Yao. She wore a pink jacket with a string of autumn colored silk sash around her waist, appearing beautiful and moving. She had a faint smile on her face, putting on an honest expression and saying warmly: “Looks like the old madam cares about the third miss too much. This servant concubine doesn’t see where the third miss seems to have lost weight. Looking at her, she’s as cute, bright and lively as before. She’ll definitely become one of the top young mistresses of the capital in the future.”
Everyone in the hall laughed accordingly.
Yan Ling interrupted: “How could third big sis not have a good time at the Zhenguo Duke’s place? Third sis, your skirt is made of misted silk, right? Such a precious material was actually used to make a skirt.” Her voice sounded surprised.
Misted silk was a precious commodity that was as thin as mist and contained flowing colors. It was extremely hard to work with and it’s said there would only be ten batches made every year. Apart from the imperial concubines, it was rare for anyone else to get ahold of it. Since the Weiyuan Marquis Estate’s status wasn’t sufficient for his majesty to bestow things, it goes without saying that it came from the Zhenguo Duke Estate.
The moment Yan Yan came in, many gazes had landed upon her skirt.
The skirt made of misted silk looked to be pale blue, but would reveal vivid colors when in motion, making it extremely eye-catching. Women were all fond of clothes and jewelry. It wasn’t just Yu Ling who had noticed this, but she was the only one who spoke up.
Of course it was natural for children to forget themselves and blurt things out. It would have been even more natural if it weren’t for the eldest madam Xue-shi secretly pinching her.
Yan Yan’s gaze was dull. “Oh? This is misted silk? I didn’t notice. The servants brought it over so I just put it on.”
She was cherished by her grandparents. Whenever they made clothing every season, they would never forget to include her. If she went, she would bring it back. If she didn’t go, someone would send it over. The people at the Weiyuan Marquis Estate knew this as well. Therefore, Yan Yan only cared about the appearance and comfort of her clothing, but never whether the material was precious. This was because she had never been lacking in such things.
Since she wasn’t lacking, she naturally didn’t care for it. But this sort of attitude was a huge eyesore to others. Not only did Yan Ru’s eyes contain jealousy, even Yan Qian’s contained hidden resentment. Instead, Yan Ling who had taken the lead had a much more innocent expression. She seemed to have spoken because she had to take the lead, not for the sake of the skirt.
“Third little sis’s grandparents are wealthy. What would she be lacking? Didn’t you see how many carriages of things arrived yesterday?” Yan Ru did her best to appear nonchalant, but since she was still young she still revealed some jealousy.
“Look at you two, coveting your sister’s things again.” Xue-shei scolded angrily and squeezed Yan Ru. She smiled towards Shen Yi Yao and said: “Second sis-in-law, don’t blame them. Your sis-in-law will discipline them properly when we get back. These two lasses are inexperienced and have never seen nice things before.”
In the past, since Shen Yi Yao was a pushover, she would go with the flow and say that it’s natural for these young girls to like these things, and will have people send some over to everyone later.
But today, for some reason, she seemed to be preoccupied, and merely had her eyes lowered without speaking.
The air was a little frozen. Something that usually happened didn’t happen, and not only were those of the eldest branch frozen, even Concubine Pei and the rest were a little shocked.
Everyone knew those of the eldest branch were vain and shallow. They would always sit and watch them put on this performance. If the eldest branch got something, the rest naturally wouldn’t be left out. This included the old madam. Shen Yi Yao would also offer up one or two good things out of piety. Although the old madam always put on a show of reluctance, everyone liked good things, so she was naturally happy to receive them.
Seeing Shen Yi Yao missing her cue at this time, they were all a little surprised.
The Zhenguo Duke Estate was truly wealthy. Whenever they sent things over to their grandchildren, there would be many things that was meant for Shen Yi Yao. However, since she was a married woman, having her maternal family send things over all the time would be gossiped about. In the past, Shen Yi Yao had mentioned that her husband Yan Ting disliked this.
Since then, the Zhenguo Duke would specify that the gifts were meant for the grandchildren. Yan Yan and Yan Mo were still young, so the things naturally were handed out via Shen Yi Yao. This way, they could pamper their daughter while leaving face for everyone.
The Zhenguo Duke Estate’s thoughtfulness unfortunately ended up being taken advantage of by a bunch of ingrates. This time Matron Xu didn’t mention the gifts while they were at the Jinse Pavilion and the servants had directly sent them over to the Ningxiang Chambers.
How was Shen Yi Yao supposed to pick up on the cues this time?
Her brows were slightly furrowed and she felt a little awkward.
“Third big sis always shares the good things she brings back with her sisters, right, big sis?”
Yan Ling’s cute voice rang out in the silence. She blinked her large eyes, her face full of childish innocence.
Concubine Wang stood there with her head lowered and arms by her side. Xue-shi frowned and scolded her a couple of times, making like she was going to hit her, “You insensible little thing, how can you ask for your big sis’s things? It’s all my fault for not teaching you properly as a mother.” The last line was said for everyone else to hear.
Yan Ling wanted to dodge but didn’t dare, and took a couple of hits. She covered her eyes and cried quietly: “Third big sis has always treated her sisters well….”
“You’re still going on about it!?”
Everyone understood that Xue-shi was using the fourth miss Yan Ling as the scapegoat.
However, Shen Yi Yao didn’t speak and Yan Yan remained silent. It wasn’t convenient for others to say anything, and they could only watch them make a fuss.
Shen Yi Yao felt a little embarrassed. She understood her maternal family’s initial intentions, but she had always said she didn’t want them gifting her anything. Now that her family had “truly” gifted the things to their granddaughter, what could she say about it?
Based on Yan Yan’s temper, it was already a miracle she could endure up to this point. Seeing Shen Yi Yao’s embarrassed expression, she felt a little complicated in her heart.
She sneered coldly and said: “Yan Ling, how laughable. Why should I have to share my things with you all? What, you’re going to demand it openly if I don’t wish to hand it over? If you’re going to put on a show, go do it back home. Stop making a fuss in the Rongan Hall.”
Although she was addressing Yan Ling, it actually also included the eldest madam Xue-shi. Her words were too sharp, making Xue-shi unable to maintain her expression.
“Third miss, how can you speak this way? No matter what, I’m still your eldest aunt. Isn’t it normal for children to covet other people’s things? Am I not disciplining them already?” It wasn’t clear who the words at the end were meant for.
Yan Yan sneered and turned her face away.
Xue-shi’s narrow face was flushed, and she shrieked: “Second sis-in-law, aren’t you going to manage her a little? Look at the third miss. Does she still know to respect her elders?”
The moment Shen Yi Yao was brought up, the word “manage” was used again. Yan Yan immediately grew enraged. Her brows flew up and she stabbed over with her sharp gaze.
“How do you want my mom to manage me? You want me to turn out like them?” She pointed at Yan Ru and Yan Ling, her expression disdainful. “If eldest aunt thinks of them as role models, then you can go back and manage them some more. Just make sure not to throw away the Weiyuan Marquis Estate’s face when you go outside. You don’t need to interfere in our second branch’s affairs!”
Yan Ru had never been humiliated this way before. Her little face was red and her eyes teared up. Yan Ling saw things weren’t looking good and continued to cry into her hands.
No one spoke in the hall. Xue-shi was about to speak further.
Yan Yan stood up, impatience written all over her face. “Enough, how disgusting. You guys can play by yourselves all you want.” She then spoke again, “Grandmother, Ah Yan will take her leave first.”
After speaking, she left like a gust of wind.
Everyone in the hall was frozen.
Xue-shi yelled in shame and anger at Shen Yi Yao: “Second sis-in-law. You’re still not going to manage things at this point?!”
Shen Yi Yao’s expression was complicated. She quietly said, “Ah Yan has been spoiled by her grandfather. As her mom, I am no longer able to manage her.”
After speaking, she stood up and saluted the old madam. “Mom, your daughter-in-law will take her leave first.”
Mother and daughter both left. Xue-shi stood there, her face flushed and extremely embarrassed.
The old madam lifted her tea and took a sip. Her eyes were dull. “Have you made enough of a fuss? Not even caring about your dignity!”
Xue-shi calmed herself down and put on a smile, “Mom—–aren’t I just doing this for everyone’s benefit? Look at that lass Yan. Her words are so ugly.”
“Enough, take your leave first. There’s no need to have you all stay for breakfast after this mess.”
The old madam’s expression seemed a little weary as she waved her hand.
Xue-shi swallowed her anger. “Yes.”
After leaving the hall, she angrily pinched Yan Ling. “It’s all your fault for being useless. Look at the mess you made.”
Yan Ling lowered her head in pain. Concubine Wang’s eyes turned red and her heart ached extremely, but she didn’t dare say anything.
The third madam Chen-shi and the sixth and seventh misses had been sent out as well. Their group of three had been decorations on the wall back there, only watching the show without speaking.
On the way back to the third branch, the seventh miss asked: “Mom, why are they demanding third big sis’s things?”
The seventh miss Yan Juan was only eight and the sixth miss was only seven. Normally, Chen-shi shielded them well, and they were still very innocent. They had been taught by their mom to speak less when they were outside. Only after getting back did she ask the question.
Chen-shi pulled her daughter’s hands and said quietly: “Don’t ask about grownup affairs. Remember what mom told you. In the future, play with the misses from the other branches less.”
The two little lasses nodded.
Those who want to see the mom getting bullied, don’t be impatient. Isn’t it already starting? When something that usually happens doesn’t happen, everyone would be shocked but Shen Yi Yao herself would also feel uncomfortable.
Yan Yan’s already an unbridled horse at this point. Those who like to put on an act will probably suffer at her hands. However, they will continue enduring. As for until when, of course it’s when Yan Ting…hehe…returns.