The doors were shut from the outside and locked.
Because there was no light and the lamp held by the two grannies had also been taken away, the entire small worship hall plunged into darkness. The moon was out tonight but the hall had no windows. The doors were also tightly fitted, preventing even the slightest light from shining through.
Being left alone in the pitch black made Yan Yan want to pound at the doors and beg to be released, but her pride refused to let her do so.
As the footsteps outside gradually faded, the surroundings fell silent as well. It was as though the heavens and earth had grown still, leaving her by herself.
Yan Yan regretted her courage a little. She felt she should have made a fuss about not wanting to come here. She finally understood why this small worship hall made those in the Weiyuan Marquis Estate change their expressions when it was mentioned. It turned out that it wasn’t merely a lack of good food, sleep and company. The moment night fell, it truly tested one’s courage and character.
It was pitch black and she couldn’t even see the fingers on her hand.
Yan Yan spaced out for a while and couldn’t help all sorts of distant memories from springing up. They were all various ghost stories told by the maids and grannies.
At the time, Yan Yan hadn’t been afraid because she had never been by herself before. When she heard those stories, she was surrounded by servants and the lights were brightly lit. She had forgotten about it after listening, but she now realized her memories were very clear. She kept feeling that there was a woman in white with long hair and covered face watching her from behind…..
She turned around suddenly but only saw darkness in front of her eyes. There was no female ghost. But after turning around, she felt as if someone was watching her from a different direction again.
Her hands trembled slightly and subconsciously reached for the whip still wrapped around her waist.
She felt a little comforted. She pulled her whip out and swung it in the direction of the presence. She swung her whip again and again based on her memory of the room’s layout…..
After a long time, her whipping told her that there was no female ghost in here. Those ghost stories were all made up!
She grasped her whip as she sat down, hugged her knees and couldn’t help but shed some tears.
All sorts of nonsense ran through her mind. She even wondered if her mom knew what the small worship hall was like. She probably didn’t know it was so terrifying. She still cherished her quite a bit, and if she knew she definitely wouldn’t let her stay alone in such a place.
She then thought mockingly about the old woman’s act of wanting to die. Her mom was so filial, and she had also been disrespectful to her elders. Of course her mom would use her to placate that old woman.
Actually it was also Yan Yan’s first time witnessing the old madam use such a method. Normally she would at most use her identity to suppress others, or put on a sham. Only now did she realize there was still such a method.
It wasn’t as if Yan Yan hadn’t raised a commotion in the past. However, the outcome was the same every time, just like today. Either her mom would foolishly get manipulated into suppressing her, Concubine Pei would act pitiful and smooth things over, or the old madam would personally make a move.
Regardless, Yan Yan had never succeeded and could only get beaten down. Of course, the previous matters had all been trivial and didn’t stab into Yan Yan’s Achilles ’ heel like this time.
Yan Yan thought that if she was in the Ningxiang 1 Chamber at the moment, Mei Xiang and Mei Xue would definitely be taking proper care of her. She would lie in her soft blankets and chat with them before falling asleep peacefully. But instead she had to stay in this terrifying place, both cold and frightened….
Does she regret it?
Does she regret not spending her days comfortably in exchange for turning a blind eye? She was just a child and didn’t need to bother with adult matters!
But how could she turn a blind eye?! This was Ah Mo, the small and soft Ah Mo who always cutely called her big sis!
Matron Qin had once pulled her over and told her: people who are too intelligent suffer more!
Yan Yan understood what she meant. She could just as well act dumb and pass her days. She was currently ten years old, and in six or seven more years she could be married off. All these annoyances would have nothing to do with her in the future!
But Yan Yan also understood that people were greedy, and that their greed knew no bounds. Just like how in the past Concubien Pei would always be respectful towards her mom while only making minor moves in the dark, but now with the old madam’s support, she actually twisted the truth and said Yan Hong didn’t push Yan Mo into the water.
Even if it had truly been an accident, a slip up due to naughtiness, those maids and grannies by their side weren’t children. Why did they dare stand there watching the show, and still complain after being reprimanded by her? Wasn’t it because they were influenced by their mistress’s attitude?
Concubine Pei’s influence within the estate grew day by day since she was her dad’s cousin and the old madam’s niece. Her mom was simpleminded and Concubine Pei also managed the estate. Her power flourished.
The estate’s servants could clearly see the old madam and the marquis’s intent, and they all kissed Concubine Pei’s stinking feet. Those who couldn’t see things clearly still followed along with everyone else. Everyone would show a reverent expression when Concubine Pei was mentioned, but any mention of the proper Weiyuan Marquis’s madam was inexplicably avoided.
Watching the bits and pieces as she grew older, Yan Yan understood what was going on but Shen Yi Yao herself had never understood. She was still immersed in her marital bliss and loving relationship with her husband.
In her eyes, her lord husband was good, her mother-in-law was good and even those concubines whom her lord husband took pity on and married were also good. Everyone in the estate was good, and even if they weren’t, there was definitely a good reason for it. The only thing that wasn’t good was this cherished yet troublesome daughter of hers, Yan Yan.
As the only one who saw things clearly, Yan Yan didn’t want to and didn’t dare play dumb. She couldn’t afford to bet on this. She didn’t know what would happen to Ah Mo next if things were downplayed this time.
Misdeeds needed to be punished to prevent them from reoccurring. If they continued to tolerate, the offender would only grow bolder and bolder. Their actions would also grow more savage.
Yan Yan also knew this was merely treating the symptoms and not the root cause, but she was young and powerless. She had a mom who had the right to intervene, but wasn’t astute enough to do so. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have to suffer so.
Yan Yan hugged her knees as she sat there, suddenly feeling so very cold.
This sort of bone-chilling cold had been assaulting her constantly ever since she started understanding things, but at this moment it suddenly spread rapidly.
After the two grannies locked up the small worship hall, they walked away without looking back.
The small worship hall was in the most remote western corner of the estate, and to get back they had to pass through a set of doors. Matron Qin had come back with them, and seeing her hurry off to the residence one of the old grannies couldn’t help but laugh mockingly.
After getting to those doors, Granny Liu turned and locked it. The other granny surnamed Li merely looked on and smiled.
When they reached the gates of the Jinse Pavilion, Granny Liu and Granny Li went their separate ways.
“How crafty. In such a rush to get your reward?”
Granny Liu chuckled: “Go report to the Jinse Pavilion. After I come back with the reward you’ll get your share.”
Granny Li didn’t speak and left towards the Jinse Pavilion.
Of course she was envious and jealous, but Granny Liu was someone who had some say at the Ziyu 2 Pavilion. She naturally didn’t dare fight over merit with her, and could only make up her mind to properly hug onto the Ziyu Pavilion’s leg in the future so she could also muddle along like Granny Liu.
The rest won’t be mentioned.
When Granny Liu arrived at the Ziyu Pavilion, Concubine Pei was in the middle of taking a bath.
After a while, she was summoned to the side room.
There was a large kiln under the window, and on top of it was a crimson carpet, a rouge embroidered mattress and an autumn-colored gold-threaded pillow. Because the weather was warm, a layer of glossy bamboo woven mat was placed on the mattress. On the left was a table with tea sets and various other things as well as a vase of flourishing orchids. Concubine Pei wore a set of pale blue satin clothes and wide-legged silk trousers. Her hair was scattered as she lay on the kiln, plucking at the orchids with her fine fingers.
“This servant greets the concubine.”
Concubine Pei glanced at Granny Liu and said faintly: “Rise.”
“Concubine, this servant has already shut the third miss inside and personally locked the door. Such a large copper lock cannot be opened by anyone, guaranteed. Furthermore, the backdoor on the way there has also been locked.” Granny Liu’s face wrinkled in a smile and took out two keys. “These are the keys.”
Concubine Pei looked at the keys and knit her brows, saying coldly: “Just make sure to put them away properly.”
“But……” Granny Liu revealed a worried expression.
Concubine Pei sat up and didn’t look at Granny Liu, merely saying: “Granny Liu, since you are responsible for this, you naturally have to carry out your duties responsibly. Just stick to the rules, and make sure not to overstep. Otherwise we’ll provoke criticism.”
Granny Liu had a moment of realization and hurriedly praised Concubine Pei for her wisdom.
Concubine Pei had thought this Granny Liu a little insensible at first, but seeing her quick comprehension and hearing her sweet words, she gave Xiang Liu on the side a glance.
That Xiang Liu walked over and pulled Granny Liu’s hand, stuffing a small silver ingot inside.
“Matron Liu, this is Concubine Pei treating you to some tea. This servant will see you out.”
“Thank you concubine for your bestowal.”
Although Granny Liu didn’t see what it was, she could feel it was at least two taels. She couldn’t help but sigh at Concubine Pei’s generosity and departed in high spirits.
Xiang Liu came back after seeing her off and came to Concubine Pei’s side. “Concubine, aren’t we going to make the third miss suffer a little? Having made such a fuss, if the old madam hadn’t arrived so quickly, concubine would probably have gotten blamed by the madam.”
“Even if aunt hadn’t come, I wouldn’t have been blamed. That Shen Yi Yao is a foolish one, and always gets led around by the nose.”
Xiang Liu stammered in agreement, but still had some resentment on her face.
Concubine Pei lowered her eyes and didn’t speak.
She knew what Xiang Liu was thinking. She herself wanted to use this opportunity to get rid of that eyesore of a third miss as well, but even if everyone else could forget themselves, she still had a trace of wisdom.
The Zhenguo Duke’s name hung over her head like a large knife, making her afraid to take any rash actions. She didn’t forget the words of her cousin prior to his departure. He told her she had to be respectful of Shen Yi Yao on the surface and not do anything she shouldn’t do.
Concubine Pei didn’t forget that her status in the estate was all due to being the old madam’s niece, the Weiyuan Marquis’s cousin and childhood friend, and also due to Shen Yi Yao’s foolishness.
That Shen Yi Yao was truly foolish. If she weren’t a fool, she wouldn’t have messed up her excellent hand of cards to this extent and still be oblivious to being played by them. Apart from her, the entire estate treated Concubine Pei as the Weiyuan madam. All those other madams treated Shen Yi Yao as a piece of meat, wishing nothing more than to take a bite out of her.
She can’t be impatient. It was still best to cut with a blunt knife, so that the victim never realizes anything. She just needed to wait until her cousin obtains some merit and secures their estate’s future glory. Then, she would naturally deal with that Shen Yi Yao.
Thinking of this, Concubine Pei’s resentment from today faded quite a bit.
She turned and looked at Xiang Liu, saying: “Things haven’t calmed down on that side yet?”
That side referred to the Jinse Pavilion.
Xiang Liu’s expression revealed some Schadenfreude as she said: “The fourth young master, that weakling, has caught a fever. The entire Jinse Pavilion has their hands full.”
Concubine Pei let out an “en” and said: “Go make some arrangements later. Don’t let those lowly servants from the Ningxiang Chambers get into the Jinse Pavilion. Say that the madam is busy with the fourth young master’s fever. The third miss is too hotheaded. Have her cool off properly in there. Tomorrow I’ll go find the old madam again. We naturally can’t eat this loss, though of course we can’t be the one to make the move either.”
As she spoke, her eyes rippled piercingly, “We must have the madam make the move. This way, no one would be able to pick out any faults.”
Those who feel this author is bullying Ah Yan shouldn’t worry. When she comes out this time, she’ll turn things around.