Hearing these words, Yan Yan’s anger flared.
She gripped the corner of her clothes tightly and suppressed her temper: “Even if he was being naughty, shouldn’t he come apologize and admit his mistake after accidentally pushing his brother into the lake?”
Before Yan Yan finished speaking, Fang Cao spoke on the side: “Concubine Pei did send someone over to check on the situation, but since things were too chaotic, this servant arranged for them to go back.”
Yan Yan glanced at her and smiled coldly: “What great prestige you have, even greater than your mistress. You made arrangements before the mistress even said anything?”
Fang Cao lowered her head and appeared timid, “This servant doesn’t dare….”
Shen Yi Yao really couldn’t get used to seeing her daughter’s eccentric behavior. She frowned and wanted to speak, but was interrupted by Yan Yan.
“Matron Qin, you speak. Tell us whether it was an accident due to mischief, or if it was on purpose. Also, did all those maids and grannies by Yan Hong’s side truly try to help at that time? It’s best if you can describe things in detail, in case someone tries to obscure the facts. You are elderly, and have always been attentive and earnest. You’ve also taken care of Ah Mo for such a long time. Since no one believes Yan’er and Ying’er’s words, you should be the one to speak.”
“Yes, third miss.”
“Since the weather was nice today and it wasn’t too hot, the fourth young master said he wanted to play in the garden. This servant took him, Yan’er and Ying’er to the garden. The fourth young master wanted to play by the water but this servant wouldn’t let him. In the end, he wouldn’t be convinced. However, he was always obedient and well-behaved, and didn’t get too close to the lake. He merely stood there and watched the water. The third young master came at that time….”
“…..the fourth young master held a small wooden horse that third miss gifted to him. The third young master wanted it but the fourth young master didn’t want to hand it over. The third yang master went up to snatch it…..us servants tried to block him but the third young master had his servants hold us down before going to struggle with the fourth young master….after the fourth young master fell into the water, everyone watching was scared silly. This servant yelled at them to help but no one moved. In my helplessness, this servant couldn’t only run out and yell that “fourth young master has fallen into the water”….”
Yan Yan had been brought over by Matron Qin at that time since her pavilion was the closest to the garden.
After Matron Qin finished speaking, Ying’er and Yan’er both added a few words. The room fell silent.
Shen Yi Yao’s expression turned rigid. She grasped her handkerchief as she stood up, her voice filled with anger: “You are all telling the truth?”
“Madam, every word.”
“Fang Cao, go call the third young master and Concubine Pei over!”
Fang Cao slightly froze before lowering her head and said: “Yes.”
Afraid to disturb Yan Mo, the group moved to the living room. As they walked, Yan Yan gave Shen Yi Yao a glance and her brows remained furrowed.
Concubine Pei was quickly summoned over as well as the third young master Yan Hong.
She bent her waist respectfully at Shen Yi Yao and saluted. Shen Yi Yao gave her a complicated glance before ordering someone to grab Concubine Pei a seat.
Yan Yan’s gaze turned sluggish as Concubine Pei beamed.
“Not sure why big sis called for little sis. Is something the matter?”
Concubine Pei looked extremely relatable. She appeared delicate and tender, making anyone who saw her feel for her. Shen Yi Yao’s initial indignation faded quite a bit at seeing Concubine Pei, and after offering her a seat out of habit, faded even more. When Concubine Pei spoke, Shen Yi Yao ended up seeming a little at a loss.
But Yan Mo was her beloved after all. Her only son had always been frail, and only managed to grow up after countless efforts. This incident had frightened Shen Yi Yao and made her display a rare hint of anger.
“About Mo’er falling into the water….”
Before Shen Yi Yao finished speaking, Concubine Pei started crying mournfully. She wiped her tears with a handkerchief while saying: “Turns out big sis is talking about this matter. The fourth young master falling in was all Hong’er’s fault. I asked about it after getting back. It’s all Hong’er’s fault for not being sensible. How can he fight with his younger brother over a toy? It even caused the fourth young master to accidentally fall into the water.”
Concubine Pei was truly too frank, making Shen Yi Yao feel at a loss. She didn’t know what to say next. Seeing Concubine Pei’s sorrowful appearance, she even started consoling her.
These two women were both part of the Weiyuan Marquis’s harem, and their relationship was normally pretty good. They could even be said to be as close as sisters. Of course, this was only Shen Yi Yao’s own assumption, and also what those who didn’t understand the situation assumed.
Regardless, Yan Yan started laughing.
She was only ten years old but her face revealed an intensely mocking expression. At that instant, her eyes flashed brightly.
She let out a cold sneer: “Concubine Pei is really good with her words, truly downplaying things. An accident due to insensible children fighting over toys? Can the truth be obscured in this manner? Calling you over wasn’t to hear you cry, but to ask you questions.”
“Third miss….” Concubine Pei revealed a timid expression. She stopped her cries out of fear.
Shen Yi Yao’s expression also turned rigid and she let go of Concubine Pei’s hand.
Yan Yan couldn’t be bothered to care what her mother’s reaction was. “Ying’er, Yan’er, Matron Qin. Repeat your words from before.”
The same situation was repeated once again. Concubine Pei’s expression was slightly rigid, but since she kept wiping her eyes with her handkerchief, it wasn’t obvious.
“It wasn’t me. I didn’t, I didn’t push him….” Yan Hong yelled and hopped around on the side.
Concubine Pei turned and hugged Yan Hong, crying loudly: “Madam must see things clearly. The third young master is so young, how could he possibly push the fourth young master. He doesn’t have such a wicked heart. You mustn’t listen to these servants’ nonsense….”
Yan Hong’s wet nurse also hurriedly explained: “That’s right, madam. You definitely can’t listen to their false accusations. This servant was there at the time. The fourth young master fell in by himself. There were so many people around. We can go ask them if you don’t believe it.”
Shen Yi Yao revealed an awkward expression and said: “Then call those at the scene over.”
Apart from Yan Mo’s three people, everyone else at the scene belonged to Yan Hong. The four maids along with Yan Hong’s wet nurse all said it was the fourth young master who fell in by himself.
Ying’er and Yan’er raised their voices in disagreement and the room grew chaotic.
“What’s going on here? What’s all the fuss about?”
A woman’s voice sounded from the door. White-haired Old Madam Yan walked in with a group of maids and grannies.
The room suddenly fell silent. Concubine Pei let out a cry and threw herself in front of the old madam, “Old madam, you must mediate for the third young master. These servants are falsely accusing him of pushing the fourth young master into the water. The third young master is so obedient and well-behaved, there’s no way he would do such a thing….”
Shen Yi Yao also hurriedly stood up. She went to the old madam’s side and helped her into the seat of honor.
Old Madam Yan sat down and looked at Yan Hong: “Hong’er, come over to your grandmother.”
Yan Hong cuddled over and rubbed his eyes, saying pitifully in a quiet voice, “Grandmother, I didn’t push fourth brother….”
Old Madam Yan hugged her “darling grandson” tenderly and smacked the armrest in anger: “Those who falsely accused the third young master, step forward!”
Yan Hong’s maids and grannies revealed complacent looks as they pushed Ying’er’s group forward.
“Old madam, it was these three.”
“Servants, drag them out and slap their mouths twenty times.”
Several maids came up at once and started dragging the three outside. Yan’er anxiously cried: “Old madam, we weren’t lying….”
Yan Yan rushed up and held onto the three of them, glaring at the old madam: “Grandmother, you’re having people beaten without determining right from wrong. It was clearly Yan Hong who pushed Ah Mo. How is this reasonable?”
One of the grannies by Old Madam Yan’s side walked over and said smiling at Yan Yan: “Third miss. You mustn’t be deceived by these servants. They are the fourth young master’s servants. Since their master fell into the water, they are naturally trying to blame others. Otherwise, they would be the ones getting punished.”
“Ah Yan, hurry and come here. Grandmother hasn’t even looked into the matter of you randomly hitting others this afternoon. You’re not allowed to get involved.”
Although Old Madam Yan’s brows were furrowed, her tone and expression were both benevolent, as though a senior watching helplessly at a junior’s antics.
Those people were still pulling at Yan’er’s group. Yan Yan was both worried and angered, yelling at Shen Yi Yao: “Mom, you’re just going to believe others, and not the people by Ah Mo’s side?”
Shen Yi Yao’s expression was hesitant as she said: “Ah Yan, listen to the old madam…..”
Old Madam Yan nodded her head at Shen Yi Yao in praise. She pulled her hand and said: “Oh, Yao’er. You’re too naïve. These servants are all extremely deceitful, trying to blame others for their own mistake because they’re afraid of punishment. Yan Yan was also influenced by your simplemindedness and was easily convinced by them….”
Shen Yi Yao half-lowered her head and was a little ashamed.
Yan Yan looked over in grief and indignation. Seeing those maids still pulling at Yan’er’s group, she couldn’t help but shout, “Stay your hands, all of you!”
Her voice was both anxious and rushed, making those maids stop their actions in surprise. The old madam who was berating Shen Yi Yao, Shen Yi Yao who was doing some self-reflecting and the satisfied looking Concubine Pei all looked over in astonishment as well.
Yan Yan didn’t care and glared at those maids, “Let them go.”
“Old madam….” Those maids looked towards the old madam.
“Ah Yan—–” The old madam’s voice held a hint of warning.
Yan Yan’s face was red. She roared without looking at anyone: “It’s fine if you’re going to slap them. At least figure out the truth of the matter first. Without asking or investigating, you’re so sure it’s them falsely accusing the master?”
The atmosphere in the room froze.
Shen Yi Yao saw the old madam’s expression turn ugly and urgently said: “Ah Yan, who permitted you to speak to your elders this way?”
Hearing this, the old madam’s eyes flashed in a smile.
Yan Yan refused to look at Shen Yi Yao, and only glared at the old madam. “Grandmother, Ah Mo is grandfather’s only direct grandson. How are you going to explain things to my grandfather if you don’t investigate this matter?”
The old madam’s eyes froze over and she wasn’t able to maintain her amicable expression. She clutched her chest and coughed a couple times. Immediately, maids and grannies rushed up, crying: “Aiya, old madam. What’s wrong? Third miss is still young and isn’t sensible. You mustn’t bicker with her!”
Another respectable granny scolded: “Third miss. You’re still a child, how can you make such irresponsible remarks. Look how you’ve angered the old madam!”
“Second madam, why don’t you keep her in check!?”
Shen Yi Yao looked at the old madam and at Yan Yan in panic, her tears starting to flow.
“Ah Yan, hurry and apologize to the old madam!”
Bitterness flashed across Yan Yan’s eyes as she stubbornly looked at this preposterous scene.
“Ah Yan, hurry and apologize to the old madam!”
Shen Yi Yao walked over and pulled at Yan Yan urgently, but Yan Yan refused to move.
“You’re more disobedient the older you get. Hurry and apologize to your grandmother.”
Yan Yan’s large eyes glared as tears began to flow.
“I! Will! Not!” She spoke one word at a time: “I’m not wrong!”
From within the crowd, the old madam’s voice sounded out weakly and disjointedly. “Yao’er, forget it. Your mother-in-law knows you are filial. Ah Yan is still young…..”
“You, hurry and apologize to the old madam!”
“I…..” The sound of a slap interrupted Yan Yan’s words.