No one in the estate was better than Xue-shi at putting on a dramatic act.
The moment she arrived at the Rongan Hall, she pounced over and hugged the old madam’s legs while crying. No one could pull her off.
“….old madam you must mediate, we can’t have such bullying going on. No matter what, Ru’er is still the eldest miss of this estate. As for Ling’er, although I don’t treat her as well as Ru’er since I didn’t give birth to her, I’ve never made her eat her older brother or sister’s leftovers. Isn’t that just humiliating others….”
“…..our eldest branch is poor, but we’ve never shamed the Weiyuan Marquis Estate’s dignity when going out. The eldest lord was also raised by you, and has always been filial. How can we let a concubine’s daughter humiliate us? Does she still understand what it means to respect her elders? Her concubine mom said expenses need to be reduced everywhere, so our eldest branch and third branch suffered in silence without complaining to you. We were thinking that household difficulties can be overcome if everyone endured together. But why are we all eating meagerly when Concubine Pei’s daughter is eating well? She eats only when she feels like it, and is even tired of eating it? Third sis-in-law is trying to adjust her health but has still been cut off from nourishment. The sixth miss just wanted a crab-roe bun but the kitchen gave her attitude….”
Xue-shi didn’t only cry about the eldest branch. She also helped cry for the third branch. When Chen-shi heard her mention that she was adjusting her body, her heart soured and she revealed an aggrieved expression.
She and the third lord Yan Qu had been married a few years, but only gave birth to two daughters. They had always wanted to give birth to a son. The doctor said her health had been affected from giving birth, and should be properly adjusted to make things smoother. When the third branch’s nourishing ingredients were cut off, she had been very angry. However, she had never liked causing trouble, and was also afraid of being accused of making a fuss over food. Therefore, she had endured it.
The old madam’s expression was a little unwell. The cutting of costs had truly been ordered by her. This included the Rongan Hall. Concubine Pei had objected, saying everyone could cut down except her aunt, but she had ignored her and given the orders herself. In summary, only the Jinse Pavilion remained untouched within the whole estate.
There wasn’t anything wrong with cutting costs. The estate needed to last the rest of the year. But while everyone else was living frugally, a silly little girl was wearing new clothes and wasting swallow’s nest. This made the old madam extremely unhappy.
They were all used to living large, so the slightest change would make them feel uncomfortable. Everyone was enduring, including the old madam herself. No one would be able to accept it if an exception popped up.
The old madam looked at Chen-shi and scolded: “Really, you. You just allowed the nourishment for your health to stop? If you came and told mom, you wouldn’t have suffered so!”
Chen-shi was extremely aggrieved, “Mom—-”
The old madam also knew this daughter-in-law was timid and didn’t make a fuss. But although she wanted to make it up to the third branch, she was currently powerless.
She looked at Chen-shi, hating how iron couldn’t become steel, but still didn’t mention any compensation: “The estate cutting costs was ordered by me. The situation in the estate hasn’t been good these past few years. You guys know this as well. Now that the little sons and lasses are slowly growing up, and are about to discuss marriage, we cannot be lacking in betrothal money or dowries. Therefore, we have to cut down on costs.”
Even at this point, the old madam wasn’t willing to tell the truth.
Of course she wasn’t willing. No matter what, the Weiyuan Marquis Estate’s assets weren’t just Yan Ting’s alone. Even ignoring the old marquis and madam’s share, even the concubines and their families deserved a share, let alone the fact that the third lord was also part of the main bloodline. When it came to assets, brothers often fell out with each other. How could the old madam tell everyone that the household’s money had all been used up by Yan Ting? Furthermore, it may have all been for naught.
Concealing it another day was another day gained.
“As for the second lass, if this turns out to be true, such behavior definitely cannot be tolerated. Matron Zhao, go to the Ziyu Pavilion and call Yan Qian and Concubine Pei over for me. Yan Ru and Yan Ling as well.”
Yan Yan naturally didn’t ignore the various movements within the estate recently.
She took notice ever since Xue-shi went to find Chen-shi. When they went to the Rongan Hall, and the old madam called Concubine Pei, Yan Qian, Yan Ru and Yan Ling over, Yan Yan knew something definitely happened.
These days, the doors to the Ningxiang Chambers were tightly shut and she remained low-key. But since she lived within the estate, there was still a need to keep track of what was going on.
She tidied herself up and prepared to go to the Rongan Hall.
“Sis, where are you going?”
Yan Yan froze. “Making a trip to the Rongan Hall.”
Yan Mo got off the kiln. Yan’er hurriedly helped put on his shoes for him.
“I want to go too.”
Yan Yan was a pushover when it came to her younger brother. She held his hand. “Then let’s go take a look. Don’t speak randomly when we’re there.”
Matron Zhao returned very quickly, saying Concubine Pei and the second miss would arrive very soon. She then imperceptibly nodded at the old madam. When Matron Zhao went over, that bowl of cold swallow’s nest was still on the table. It could be counted as evidence.
Yan Ru and Yan Ling arrived first, followed by a confused Concubine Pei and Yan Qian.
When Concubine Pei entered, Yan Ru was crying to the old madam.
“…..your granddaughter isn’t coveting those new clothes or the food. Granddaughter is just angry about her attitude. Everyone is living frugally while Yan Qian is higher up than everyone….”
Xue-shi smiled and pulled Yan Ru into her arms, scolding: “You’re so emotional at such a young age. Isn’t the old madam mediating for you now? No matter what, she’s your cousin. As the older sibling, you shouldn’t bicker with her!”
Her daughter was still young and didn’t realize that less was more in this case. Saying too much would annoy others. The old madam already made up her mind. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have called everyone over.
Concubine Pei’s expression was a little ugly. She could tell from the situation that Yan Qian had provoked trouble. She glared at her. Yan Qian shrunk her neck and didn’t dare make a sound.
Concubine Pei and Yan Qian had just gotten settled when Yan Yan and Yan Mo walked in as well.
“Grandmother, what’s going on? Why is there such a ruckus?”
Yan Yan wore a light purple jacket with embroidered lotus petals on branches, and an azure court dress with flowers. Her small face was fair and clean as jade, her pair of beautiful eyes gleaming as she looked around. Yan Yan practiced martial arts, so her figure had always been tall and straight. Not only was she taller than girls her age, her walking posture was also different from others. Her back was straight and her steps were springy. Her posture wasn’t crude, and merely contained an inexplicable vigor.
She took Yan Mo up front to greet the old madam.
It wasn’t time to pay respects, and the old madam couldn’t stand seeing this “troublemaker”. But since she had come and couldn’t be driven out, the old madam could only force a smile, “Ah Yan, why are you here? Mo’er is here as well.”
Her attitude was very intimate.
“Seeing the cool and refreshing weather, granddaughter brought little brother over to visit grandmother. But before entering, we heard there was crying in the hall.”
“Nothing big. Your sister caused some trouble so I’ve brought her over for questioning.”
Yan Yan let out an “oh” and sat down, putting on an appearance of getting ready to watch the show.
The old madam cleared her throat and looked sternly at Yan Qian. She then turned to Concubine Pei, her brows half-furrowing. “You’re in charge of managing the household. Don’t just pay attention to things on the outside. Manage your child as well. I gave orders to cut costs, but why did it become wasteful extravagance when it comes to lass Qian?”
With Yan Ru complaining about clothing and swallow’s nest, and now the old madam talking about wasteful extravagance, Concubine Pei had pretty much figured out the situation. Qian’er that lass had definitely been unable to resist showing off in front of the two misses from the eldest branch. Now they were at a disadvantage.
Concubine Pei wanted to speak but was interrupted by Xue-shi’s slightly shrill voice.
She was seated on the red sandalwood grass patterned chair, her right arm on the armrest. Her lips, which were thin as a blade, continued to open and close as she directly stabbed at the pair of them.
“She wasn’t just being extravagant and wasteful, she also disrespected her elders. No matter what, our eldest lord is still an elder. Even second uncle calls him big bro, but the second miss is filled with disdain towards him? What does she mean by saying our eldest branch is poor? What does she mean don’t assume everyone is like us? I know Concubine Pei’s status is high as the manager of the household, but it shouldn’t involve humiliating others so, right?”
Seeing the old madam only mention wasteful extravagance and not disrespecting elders, Xue-shi couldn’t let it go. If it were any other matter she would have endured it, but not this. If she did, their eldest branch would be trampled over in the future.
Concubine Pei’s face was filled with fury as she glared at Yan Qian, “Did you truly say this? This child, where did you learn this behavior from?”
Yan Qian had long since turned pale from fright. She pulled uneasily at her handkerchief, “Mom, I, I…..”
Concubine Pei could tell from her daughter’s appearance that Xue-shi wasn’t lying.
“Eldest madam, it’s all my fault for not raising the second miss properly. I will definitely punish her properly this time. She’s still young and insensible. She definitely isn’t disrespectful of her elders.” Concubine Pei bowed and said quietly.
Xue-shi smiled coldly without saying anything. Concubine Pei normally appeared gentle and agreeable, but was actually extremely arrogant. Her current appearance was truly rare.
“You child, why aren’t you apologizing to your eldest aunt and eldest sister!?” Concubine Pei pushed Yan Qian forward.
Yan Qian was about to approach when Xue-shi waved her hand impatiently, “A poor person like me isn’t worthy of second miss’s apologies. Concubine Pei, don’t change the subject. Didn’t you hear the old madam say the second miss was being wasteful and extravagant? Precious things like swallow’s nest has long been cut off at our eldest branch. How come it’s something the second miss has grown tired of eating, and throws it aside after a few bites? It seems some in the estate are being stuffed to death while others starve to death. Even mom has been eating frugally. Isn’t the second miss having it too good?”
As expected of Xue-shi. She hit the mark the moment she made a move. First it was disrespecting elders, then it was wasteful extravagance. She even used the old madam as comparison and pointed out the disgraceful behavior. If Concubine Pei didn’t handle this matter well today, and rumors were to spread, Yan Qian would be completely finished.
Yan Yan watched the show happily. Yan Mo also watched with keen interest.
Concubine Pei gritted her teeth, her handkerchief gripped tightly. She knew that she had offended both the eldest and third branches recently due to the cutting of costs. These two branches were clearly teaming up against her.
She lowered her eyes and gently explained: “The second miss has always been frail. This one feels heartache over her so I give her a bowl every day. There’s no getting tired of eating it. The child just doesn’t know to speak properly. Eldest madam shouldn’t bicker with her.”
Concubine Pei’s attitude was extremely humble, but Xue-shi didn’t buy it.
“Since you’ve put it this way, of course I can’t bicker with the miss. However, something just doesn’t sit right. The entire estate is living frugally but your Ziyu Pavilion is well off. Insiders know you manage the household and can take some liberties, but outsiders might mistake you for the marquis’s madam!”
These words were rather profound, and nothing was easy to respond to. Taking liberties meant benefiting herself, and she dared even less assume the mantle of the marquis’s madam. The true madam was still at the Jinse Pavilion. No matter how much Concubine Pei wanted it in her heart, she didn’t dare reveal it in front of others.
Chen-shi added quietly, “Our third branch has stopped getting any swallow’s nest long ago as well. Xia’er had wanted some crab-roe buns a few days ago and was also refused by the kitchen.”
These words were spoken for the old madam to hear. The old madam had wanted to speak up a little for Concubine Pei initially, but now was completely unable to do so.
The old madam was biased towards boys. Of the younger generation, she liked Yan Hong. The eldest branch wasn’t birthed by her. She was biased towards Concubine Pei as well, not just because she was her niece, but also because of Yan Ting’s attitude. The rest was due to Yan Hong being her favorite grandson.
Out of her sons, old two and old three were both birthed by her. Although she focused on old two, it didn’t mean she didn’t cherish old three. Old three and Chen-shi had a good relationship. Therefore, the old madam was also willing to listen to some of this third daughter-in-law’s words.
The old madam couldn’t be too clearly biased towards Concubine Pei in front of all these branches. If there was only the eldest branch present, this wouldn’t be a problem. But since the third branch was here as well, it wasn’t convenient to anger the crowd. Especially since she was also angry at Concubine Pei and Yan Qian. The estate was lacking in funds so much that her dowry needed to be used, but it was used to let others pig out instead.
This made the old madam’s heart drip with blood and made her even angrier. “Concubine Pei, what do you have to say?”
Cough cough, the female lead is the pivotal role here. Things aren’t so simple.