Apart from Luo Huai Yuan being pleased with this trip to the Zhenguo Duke Estate, Yan Mo’s mood was extremely good as well.
He had grown up with maids and grannies. When his big sis played with him, they would merely chat or play around with toys. This was his first time playing with boys, although he merely watched. He watched as cousin Shen Qi ran to and fro, and climbed up and down.
Seeing her little brother’s happiness, Yan Yan’s mood was also pretty good. She decided she would bring him over to play more often. Boys got along better with other boys. Thinking this way, she no longer felt it would difficult to go with Shen Qi to play with Luo Huai Yuan. Although it wasn’t very convenient for her to leave the estate, there would definitely be a way.
After returning home, Yan Mo was still very happy and excited. The usually bashful and timid Yan Mo grabbed Matron Qin for the first time, excitedly telling her how impressive his cousin was, and how he helped him catch birds and play with eggs. His little face was red from excitement.
The room was filled with laughter. Shen Yi Yao stood outside in the hallway.
She intended to check up on her son, afraid he wouldn’t be used to going outside. Unexpectedly, he was doing much better than she expected. She shook her head at the maid who was about to announce her arrival before silently leaving. Her emotions were incomparably complex.
Everything seemed to have changed, yet also nothing.
Once Yan Mo’s health became better, Yan Yan took him to pay respects to the old madam every day. Of course, she also went to Shen Yi Yao’s place. It’s just Yan Yan didn’t really have anything to say to her nowadays. Even when the two spoke, they merely spoke briefly about Yan Mo.
Because Yan Mo started showing up frequently, Yan Hong started getting snubbed at the Rongan Hall. This Yan Hong was used to things going his way, and had always been spoiled by the old madam. In the past Yan Mo’s health wasn’t good and would at most appear once a month in the Rongan Hall. Everyone naturally gave him attention. Now that Yan Yan brought Yan Mo to pay respects every day, Yan Hong had to take a backseat.
Yan Hong was still young after all, and even if he had more thoughts than other children, a child was still a child. He had made a fuss in private countless times and Concubine Pei had spoken with him quite a lot. Even Old Madam Yan had comforted him before. But a child wouldn’t be a child if he could control his temper.
On this day, everyone in the hall was talking about how the fourth young master was this and that. Grandmother was also holding Yan Mo, her face full of affection. Yan Hong couldn’t endure any longer and rushed forward, pulling at him with all his strength.
“Get down here, that’s my seat. Scram down here for me.”
Yan Hong’s actions were too unexpected. Concubine Pei froze for a second before stepping forward and pulling him into her arms. Yan Hong was already over seven years old, and was built sturdily. Once he started struggling, Concubine Pei wasn’t able to hold onto him. He struggled with all his might as he yelled: “Grandmother, you clearly don’t like him. You like Hong’er the most. Why are you hugging him and not Hong’er?”
Everyone’s faces turned rigid. Yan Yan laughed instead. It was just for a moment where she sneered coldly without speaking.
Concubine Pei covered his mouth and scolded: “This child has really been spoiled, speaking all sorts of nonsense. How could the old madam not like the fourth young master? The old madam likes all of her grandchildren.”
Old Madam Yan nodded and said with a smile: “That’s right, Hong’er. Grandmother likes all her grandchildren. You can’t lose your temper just because grandmother cherishes Ah Mo a little more. Your younger brother’s body is frail, are you still going to struggle with him?”
They really had a way with words. In a few sentences, the old madam expressed that she cherished Yan Mo a little more and also pointed out that Yan Hong was just childishly fighting over things, and everyone shouldn’t overthink things.
Yan Hong was carried off as though nothing had happened. Laughter resumed in the room.
But whether something had happened, only the heavens would know.
Yan Yan didn’t look at Shen Yi Yao’s expression. For some reason, after keeping her distance for a while, it no longer seemed so important.
After returning to the Ningxiang Chambers, Yan Yan was planning on comforting Yan Mo a little.
Unexpectedly, Yan Mo merely smiled bashfully, saying he had known long ago that grandmother didn’t like him. It was fine as long as his mom and big sis liked him.
Although she was mentally prepared, Yan Yan still lamented over her little brother growing up.
She felt her little brother suffered a grievance so Yan Yan wasn’t going to let things slide. She gave Matron Zou some instructions, who then went over to the Ziyu Pavilion as the third miss’s representative.
Matron Zou managed things in the Zhenguo Duke Estate in the past, and was responsible for receiving the womenfolk as guests and arranging banquets and what not. She was rather experienced in interacting with others, and was naturally more imposing than normal managing grannies.
She went with a stern expression to the Ziyu Pavilion, asking for Concubine Pei and Yan Hong.
She gave them a long speech on morality, for example how the young master needed to have a sense of propriety and understand etiquette. The third young master wasn’t young anymore, and despite being concubine borne he still represented the Weiyuan Marquis Estate when going out in the future. If he was still this insensible, he would lose the marquis’s face.
The third miss was the eldest daughter of the principal line. Her father wasn’t present so she had the responsibility of instructing her younger brother. For the sake of the Weiyuan Marquis Estate, and to prevent her younger brother from walking down the wrong path, she punished Yan Hong to write out a hundred copies of the “Rules of Brotherhood” to give him some guidance.
Of course, Yan Yan’s original words weren’t this way. She merely said to have Yan Hong copy it a hundred times and hand them over for inspection five days later.
Matron Zou added many more words she found appropriate. Speech was an art. Adding a few words to achieve the same result would save a lot of troubles.
Yan Yan hadn’t wanted to make a huge fuss. She just wanted to punish Yan Hong and make him suffer a little.
If a servant directly conveyed the third miss’s words, Concubine Pei and Yan Hong would definitely make a fuss to the old madam. But Matron Zou’s way of phrasing it, mentioning that he was concubine borne, that their father was absent and that the eldest sister was responsible for instructing her brother, she achieved the same effect but the two didn’t dare to make a fuss. If they did, it meant they wanted to lose face for the estate, wanting her own son to walk down the wrong path. Furthermore, they would be disrespecting seniority and social status.
Seniority and social status have always been strictly adhered to in this world. Even Yan Yan, who dared to beat and curse the servants, scold Concubine Pei and punish Yan Hong had to endure despite clearly feeling disgusted by the old madam. Why was this?
It wasn’t just because the old madam could put on an act. It was also because juniors couldn’t go against their elders for no reason. Xue-shi didn’t count. First of all the eldest branch wasn’t of the Weiyuan Marquis Estate’s principal line. Secondly, the eldest branch depended on their principal line for food. Thirdly, Xue-shi couldn’t afford to provoke Yan Yan and the Zhenguo Duke Estate behind her.
Of course, this also meant that seniority could be overturned as long as you were powerful enough. No matter the reason, all that was needed was something that forced them to swallow their anger. Social interactions weren’t set in stone. However, social norms should still be abided by, and it wasn’t good to be too unconventional. One needed to be appropriate.
In this instance for example, Concubine Pei could still go complain to the old madam. But without even considering whose side the old madam was one, Yan Yan using her seniority for Yan Hong’s own good as well as the good of the estate was sufficient to give them a crushing defeat.
Her status was higher, she was older and she had reason on her side. They had nothing they could use to go against her.
Concubine Pei understood these things very clearly, but Yan Hong didn’t. He immediately made a fuss about complaining to grandmother. The moment he spoke, his mouth was covered by Concubine Pei’s maid and he was taken out.
Matron Zou’s brows furrowed and she said: “This old woman is just a servant, but is representing the third miss. Concubine Pei, although the madam is considerate and allowed you to raise the third young master herself, how is the third young master supposed to become part of society based on your upbringing?!”
Concubine Pei gripped her handkerchief tightly as she said with her head lowered: “Matron is right.”
Matron Zou’s expression looked stern as she laughed coldly in her heart. “Then I sincerely hope concubine will make more of an effort to supervise him. Don’t waste the third miss’s considerations. This servant will take her leave first.”
After Matron Zou left, the Ziyu Pavilion’s reception was trashed by Concubine Pei.
“What a great third miss, and what a great Matron Zou!”
Matron Zou returned to the Ningxiang Pavilion to report. Yan Yan and Yan Mo were sitting on the kiln in the western room.
Yan Mo was tracing over characters while Yan Yan watched on the side.
Matron Zou didn’t leave after giving her report, and remained by the kiln. Yan Yan saw this and ordered Yi Meng to bring over a stool for her, and had her sit.
Matron Zou had described everything in detail. Yan Yan sank deep into thought. Yan Mo also quietly placed the brush in his hands down and perked up his ears.
“Did the miss realize something?”
Yan Yan said hesitantly: “The same words seem to have been said differently by matron compared to how I said it.”
Matron Zou smiled in praise. “Miss is exceptionally intelligent, and understood right away. Before this servant came over, the madam instructed that despite the miss being innately smart, you have some weaknesses. You are young, have a fiery nature and do things in a straightforward manner. That’s not to say this isn’t good, but miss needs to understand the difference. In the future, for similar matters, even if this servant handles it, things that need to be pointed out must be pointed out. Otherwise, the same matter would have different outcomes depending on who handles it.” After all, not every servant was as experienced as Matron Zou.
Yan Yan naturally understood this was for her own good, and revealed a grateful expression. “Many thanks to second aunt, and thanks for matron’s help.”
“This servant will panic if the miss puts it that way. This is something the madam had especially instructed prior to this servant coming. Miss isn’t that young anymore after all, and it’s about time to learn these things.” She naturally meant Second Madam Shen, and not Shen Yi Yao when she said “the madam”. Matron Zou was Second Madam Shen’s wet nurse who accompanied her as part of her dowry. Only after she came did Yan Yan find out her second aunt had given her trusted aide to her. She was naturally extremely moved.
“In the future when Ah Yan does things, matron will have to give more pointers.” Overall, despite having a quick temper and a fierce nature, Yan Yan was still a modest and polite young lady.
“That’s for sure.” Matron Zou stood up and bowed: “Then this servant will take her leave first.”
Yan Yan thought of her considerate second aunt, and then thought of Shen Yi Yao who should be the one responsible for teaching her these things. She felt a little bitter in her heart.
However, she quickly pushed that aside and turned towards Yan Mo. He gripped the brush in his little hand as he traced over the words on the paper.
Due to his health being a problem, he had yet to begin his education. Yan Yan would teach him a few words in her free time, and would let him use her character-tracing book. After a few days, despite his words not being pretty, his posture seemed to be quite proper.
“Ah Mo, after your health gets even better, big sis will invite a teacher over for your studies. He’ll teach you alone. We won’t learn with Yan Hong and the others.”
Yan Mo nodded obediently. “Ok.”
This author always felt that EQ was more important than IQ. Ah Yan is too straightforward, but it’s good to have someone instruct her a little. Also, this author also feels that those noble ladies have their priorities mixed up. They are all skilled in reciting poetry, playing the zither and go. However, when it comes to household struggles and schemes, they are helpless. This isn’t to say they shouldn’t learn it, but rather that it’s important to know your circumstances. If one isn’t able to struggle against the negative aspects of society, then one must learn to adapt.