Chapter 49

Xue-shi had always been pragmatic and never opposed Concubine Pei on the surface.

This time her sore spot was stabbed. She herself could endure humiliation, but she wouldn’t allow her Ru’er to suffer the same. Especially since with the way Yan Qian’s words were phrased, their eldest branch would have a harder time in the future if she endured it this time. People would trample over them until they died.

She had to let others know they would lose a piece of flesh if they provoked her.

Xue-shi smiled insincerely at Concubine Pei, watching to see how she would get out of this.

Concubine Pei’s body was extremely rigid. She lowered her head and wiped her tears, seeming extremely wronged: “Old madam, this is truly a false accusation. No matter how daring I am, I wouldn’t dare stuff my own pockets. The eldest madam truly wronged this one. The second miss has always been frail, and this one cherishes her. Therefore, I let her eat a bowl every day. Now that the estate is cutting costs, there naturally wouldn’t be any swallow’s nest. The second miss’s swallow’s nests are paid for with this one’s own silver.”

“You’re only worried about that Qian lass? What about Hong’er? Hong’er is currently in his growth phase!”

As expected of Concubine Pei. She truly understood the old madam, whose attention was successfully diverted to whether Concubine Pei also got her obedient grandson nourishment with her own funds.

Concubine Pei relaxed and said while sobbing. “The third young master naturally gets it as well. They are both currently growing. Even if this one has to suffer, I wouldn’t let the second miss and third young master suffer.”

Although her counter was unorthodox, it was extremely effective. First she complained about being wronged before showing that she was clean and noble.

Look, do you see? As someone with a lowly status, I still know to use my own funds to buy the children nourishment. What are the rest of the moms doing? You’re even madams, yet only know to make a fuss with the old madam!

These words weren’t directly spoken but everyone understood the implication.

Chen-shi’s expression was a little unwell and Xue-shi cursed Concubine Pei secretly for being truly hard to deal with.

Everyone understood it was impossible for Concubine Pei to truly have used her own funds for those nourishments. As the manager of the household, just a casual rounding error was enough to make a living. But where was the proof? If there was no proof, they could only listen as she spoke nonsense without being able to refute it.

Xue-shi was a little anxious. Although this matter seemed to have been raised by her and Chen-shi together, a simple investigation would make it clear she was the one who instigated it. If they weren’t able to trample Concubine Pei today with such a good opportunity, based on her character she would definitely take revenge in the future.

Suddenly, a soft and immature voice sounded out. “Big sis, it turns out that swallow’s nest costs money to buy? Then since Ah Mo eats swallow’s nest every day, didn’t I eat a lot of money?!”

“That’s right. It costs silver to buy things. There wouldn’t be food without silver.”

Everyone’s gaze shifted onto the brother and sister pair who had been sitting there as though invisible. There question and answer session seemed to be serious, as though no one else was around. Especially Yan Mo’s question, which was extremely laughable. It naturally cost silver to buy things. Were they trying to make fools of themselves?

It was truly a sin for such a proper true-blooded young master to have been raised this way! This was what Xue-shi and Chen-shi were thinking.

This Yan Mo was truly stupid. A stupid son raised by a stupid mom! This was what the old madam was thinking.

Can’t be compared to my Yan Hong! This was what Concubine Pei was thinking.

“Then that Yan Hong’s concubine mother must have lots of money.” Yan Mo’s words startled everyone.

Yan Yan sneered disdainfully and her words startled everyone even more. “Her? What money could a concubine have? It was said she only had one set of clothing when she married into the estate.”

As a concubine, having a dowry was optional. The families who felt sorry for their daughter would prepare some for her in case of emergencies. This was only the case for concubines with higher status. A lowly concubine belonged to her master. How could there be any dowry?

The Pei household had the foundations to prepare a dowry for their daughter, but for some hidden reason, weren’t able to do so in time back then. There was just a single bridal sedan chair that was hurriedly carried through the Yan household’s gates. Since the old madam was Pei Yu Jin’s own aunt, she naturally wouldn’t be treated poorly. It was fine not to have a dowry.

With this came a problem. The eldest branch and third branch both had their own savings. However, even they were reluctant to use their own money to buy nourishment for their children. As a concubine who came without a dowry, where did she get “lots of money?”

Concubine Pei’s face suddenly twisted, her misty eyes seeming as though she wanted to swallow someone whole.

Xue-shi’s eyes lit up and Chen-shi’s expression turned faintly for the better. The old madam had no expression. She wanted to speak but hesitated.

Yan Qian wasn’t young anymore, and naturally understood the meaning of these words. She hurriedly refuted: “Since you have the money to eat it daily, why can’t my concubine mom provide for me and bro Hong?!”

It had to be said that stupidity was a disease, a sickness!

On the surface, Yan Qian’s words weren’t wrong.

What, are we beneath you? If you can eat it, why can’t we eat it? Of course, concubine born children were truly a level lower in status, but such words couldn’t be said out loud. Otherwise, it would be sowing dissent between siblings.

But these words also had a hole. Moms couldn’t be compared and people couldn’t compared.

Yan Yan couldn’t stand seeing someone provoke her precious little brother, and immediately retorted: “Yan Qian, is your brain working? First of all, Concubine Pei is a concubine, who married in with nothing. My mom is the true Weiyuan Marquis’s madam, and the daughter of the Zhenguo Duke household. She came in with a lavish dowry. Let’s not mention whether or not the dowry is enough to let Ah Mo eat swallow’s nest. The Ningxiang Chambers’ expenses aren’t taken from the estate. What does my brother’s food have to do with you?”

Yan Qian’s face was flushed, but Yan Yan wasn’t going to let her off. One had to be ruthless when beating someone down. That way, they would have to consider whether they could afford to be provocative next time.

“This matter didn’t have anything to do with me initially. Since you’re pulling Ah Mo into it, let me ask this.” Yan Yan patted her skirt and stood up, her slender waist straightening. “What’s a concubine’s monthly salary? If I remember correctly, it should be eight taels. You get two taels and Yan Hong gets five taels.”

She smiled coldly: “Putting it together, that’s merely fifteen taels. Look at what you guys eat, wear and use. It’s so extravagant. Is all the silver in the estate being used on you guys?”

Xue-shi immediately followed up saying: “That’s right, mom. You can’t be so biased!”

Chen-shi also nodded her head. Although she had always been independent, food and clothing were basic necessities. Their third branch was part of the main bloodline, and there was no reason for them to be worse off than a concubine. It would be embarrassing if others heard about it.

The old madam was also very speechless. How did things end up this way? She realized that whenever Yan Yan was present, things would always bet impossibly tangled.

Concubine Pei found it hard to dismount now that she had gotten onto the tiger’s back.

Yan Yan’s few words had her backed against a wall. Cutting costs had truly been ordered by the old madam, but since she was responsible for carrying it out, she had offended several people these days. The eldest and third branch had never gone against her in the past. Xue-shi didn’t dare and Chen-shi wouldn’t concern herself with outside matters. But now this matter concerned their own benefits, and had even been raised to whether she was filling her own pockets.

If this matter wasn’t handled well, she would be facing calamity!

She gave the old madam a glance. The old madam had her eyes half shut and wasn’t speaking.

Her aunt definitely wouldn’t speak up for her anymore, unless she wanted to become estranged with two of her sons. Concubine Pei truly hated her stupid daughter to death at the moment. A single phrase of hers had consigned her to damnation!

Of course, the main culprit Yan Yan wasn’t forgotten as well. She glanced at Yan Yan with hidden resentment.

“I’ve been wondering why the estate had to be so frugal recently. It turns out Concubine Pei embezzled all the silver, and now our eldest and third branch needs to make up for the difference?” Xue-shi lit another flame.

The old madam was also deep in thought. Just how much silver did Concubine Pei embezzle? It had to be said the silver all belonged to her!

Concubine Pei squeezed her handkerchief, her face rigid.

No, no. She must think of something!

But what could she do?

Concubine Pei had never been in such an awkward position. A moment of inattentiveness resulted in a complete loss without any hope.

The hall was extremely tense. Xue-shi’s eyes contained some amusement and Chen-shi looked dissatisfied. Yan Yan was calm in the midst of chaos and Yan Mo revealed some curiosity. As Concubine Pei remained quiet during this time, even the old madam revealed some dissatisfaction.

Concubine Pei had no other choice, and could only start crying and fall to the floor. “This one is being wrongly accused. I’ve managed the household industriously for so many years without any complaint. I didn’t dare slack off in the slightest. Although I manage the household, all the major things need to go through the madam….”

In Concubine Pei’s panic, she had forgotten Yan Yan was present.

“Don’t try to push thins onto my mom, and stop changing the subject. Everyone in the estate knows that ever since Ah Mo was born, you, Concubine Pei, were responsible for managing things. It’s already been this way for quite some time. How come you’re trying to pin things on my mom now?!”

Concubine Pei choked up. She turned to the old madam for help. “Old madam, you understand your niece. How could I do such things?”

Xue-shi hit her while she was down: “Concubine Pei, you’re changing the subject again. How could mom be aware of what you’re up to? Based on your words, you’re trying to protect yourself by implicating mom? When mom was in charge of the household, the estate was wealthy the entire time. When second sis-in-law was in charge, things were good as well. Why did we end up having to live frugally after a few years of your management? Did you end up embezzling all the silver?!”

This was Xue-shi’s main goal. Getting justice for Yan Ru was one matter and getting justice for the eldest branch was another. What she wanted to know the most was why the estate was suddenly so impoverished.

No one knew better than Xue-shi about the recent happenings in the estate. Having been the eldest madam for so many years, she had quite a few people under her. The old madam had always cared about her own dignity and wouldn’t let those subordinates be discontent without a pressing reason. Of course, it could be Concubine Pei’s personal scheme, but Xue-shi felt that wasn’t possible. Concubine Pei wasn’t someone so frivolous. She definitely lined her own pockets, but it wouldn’t be to this degree.

Just what on earth was the reason?

Xue-shi didn’t forget that part of the estate’s assets belonged to the eldest branch. Even if it wasn’t much, it was still their foundation for the future. Especially since the eldest branch had recently been watching the events unfolding at the second branch with more and more worries. Since they had become unsettled, they needed some cards in reserve to keep their options open.

Concubine Pei couldn’t endure any longer. She said angrily with reddened eyes: “Eldest madam, your words need to be backed by proof. Which eye of yours saw me embezzling the estate’s silver!?”

“What a joke. The one managing things is asking me for proof. All I know is that everyone was doing well in the past, but now everyone is fighting like cocks in the ring over a bowl of swallow’s nest!”

Xue-shi’s words were insulting herself as well, but they described the situation extremely well.

Even Chen-shi looked resentful as she glared at Concubine Pei.

The old madam cleared her throat and spoke. “Eldest madam, words can’t be randomly spoken. Concubine Pei isn’t that sort of person. Don’t slander without proof.”

In the end, Concubine Pei was taking some of the blame for her, so the old madam naturally had to speak up. Furthermore, the old madam was also a little afraid. If things carried on, perhaps some dirt would be pulled out along with the radish.

Yan Yan, who had already taken her seat again, said indifferently. “Isn’t it easy to find proof? Just go search the Ziyu Pavilion.”

Yan Yan’s words once again astonished everyone.

Concubine Pei glared at her openly and Yan Yan curled her lips.

Everyone knew how to hit someone while they were down. She had naturally learned this move as well.

Author’s notes:

Divine intervention is here, mwahahaha.

There will be a lot of dirt pulled up along with this radish.

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