Chapter 52

These words cut off everyone’s paths of retreat.

The estate investigating things in private and having the authorities come investigate would result in completely different outcomes.

If the estate investigated, no matter what comes out of it, things could be privately resolved and concealed. But if the authorities came, along with the Zhenguo Duke’s influence, the outcome would be whatever they said it was, and there would be no cover up. Not only would the Weiyuan Marquis Estate’s reputation be finished, the Pei household, which included the old madam and Concubine Pei, wouldn’t get off either.

If this matter blew up, it would definitely boil over.

Outsiders would wonder how a concubine had the guts to steal jewelry passed down for generations, from the Zhenguo Duke household’s daughter no less. Others would say she must have had some backing, since the estate’s old madam was that concubine’s aunt….

Then the Pei household would be put on display. Concubine Pei’s father was a third-ranked assistant minister in the Ministry of Rites. It would ruin their family. Since they produced such a daughter and sister, he would definitely be impeached by an imperial censor. If the Zhenguo Duke then made a move, the Pei household would be consigned to damnation….

The old madam no longer dared to think along those lines.

“Lass Yan. Why let outsiders know about such household matters?”

Yan Yan raised her brows, “Then grandmother means to say we should swallow this grievance?”

The old madam laughed awkwardly, “How could that be? Didn’t we find the thing?”

Yan Yan sneered coldly, and couldn’t be bothered to speak with someone who would avoid the elephant in the room.

The old madam had planned to watch mother and daughter argue, stir up the waters and make it easier to protect her niece. It seemed this would be difficult to accomplish.

Concubine Pei also no longer dared to continue playing dead. She raised herself up and crawled over in front of Yan Yan, sobbing: “Third miss, I beg you. Spare this servant concubine. It’s all this concubine’s fault. This concubine was too daring, too short-sighted. Seeing the madam’s jewelry spawned wicked thoughts….”

She kowtowed with all her might as she spoke. This was the most wretched she had ever been in her life. But she also knew this was the biggest danger she had ever encountered. If things went wrong, there would be no hope of reprieve!

How did things turn out this way? How!

Concubine Pei no longer had the mind to analyze things or be resentful. Her heart was filled with terror. What the old madam had thought of, she had thought of as well.

Bang, bang, bang. Before long, her head was completely bruised.

Yan Qian ran over and held onto Concubine Pei, stopping her from kowtowing. She glared at Yan Yan. “Where’s your humanity? My concubine mother already apologized to you.”

Yan Yan laughed angrily, “Oh? From what you’re saying, I’m the one in the wrong? It’s my fault for allowing her to stuff people by my mom’s side, and steal my mom’s jewelry while blaming me for it? And after the fact, everything should be forgiven after a couple of kowtows? What sort of bandit logic is this?!”

She looked at the old madam, and then at Concubine Pei and Fang Cao’s group. “I always keep my word. If things aren’t clearly investigated today and if I don’t get a satisfactory explanation, then I’ll have the Heavens Abiding Estate’s people come investigate. You guys like avoiding the elephant in the room while focusing on the small things? And aren’t you guys greedy and merely bribed? Keep making stuff up, take your time. It’s only early afternoon. There’s still a while before dark.”

There was no other choice.

The carriage had to be abandoned to save the general.

The old madam forced her lips to stop trembling and no longer looked at Concubine Pei. “Such wicked servants, you dare refuse to own up!? Keep refusing to admit it all you want. Have their entire families brought over and beaten. Let’s see if you admit it or not!”

…….

The rest naturally didn’t need to be mentioned.

Not only Fang Cao, even Concubine Pei admitted everything. The two of them were truly planted by Concubine Pei for the sake of gathering information on the Jinse Pavilion.

The things taken from Concubine Pei’s residence was tallied up and also compared against Shen Yi Yao’s dowry list. It wasn’t only the twin Luan ornament made of ruby and jade inlaid with golden threads. Overall, there were many other various little ornaments. They were all precious objects that wouldn’t be found outside.

Shen Yi Yao’s indignation and resentment didn’t need to be mentioned. She had always had a good relationship with Concubine Pei, and they were as close as sisters. But now it seemed like a joke. Not only did she have people steal her things, she even planted people to spy on her

What sort of information were they gathering? According to Fang Cao, it was to gather information on the lord marquis.

Of course, their goal wasn’t so simple, but the three of them didn’t dare say it. Their lives might be spared if they didn’t say it, but if they did, they were dead for sure.

But whether they said it or not, all this was a shock to Shen Yi Yao. It truly opened her eyes. It told her a simple truth: there was no innocent friendship between women in the rear residence. Any friendship would just be an illusion.

All this won’t be mentioned for the moment.

The entire sequence of events dumbfounded Xue-shi and dazed Chen-shi for a long time. The old madam wished she could throttle Concubine Pei to death. Concubine Pei on the other hand seemed to be stable, and had an undaunted appearance.

It started off as a minor issue but dirt was pulled up along with the radish. Concubine Pei’s hypocritical appearance was completely torn off.

Would anyone still believe she was gentle, respectful, modest and yielding?

Only the heavens would know. At the very least, Shen Yi Yao wouldn’t believe it.

After all of Concubine Pei’s “savings” were tallied up, Shen Yi Yao’s belongings and Concubine Pei’s own belongings were taken out. The rest were all added up, and along with those silver and silver notes, she had embezzled over forty-thousand taels from the estate.

This was worth everyone celebrating.

They finally didn’t need to live frugally anymore. This was what the eldest branch and third branch were thinking.

If they used this silver sparingly, it could last several years. The Weiyuan Marquis Estate could finally recover. This was the furious old madam’s only source of comfort.

As for Concubine Pei, the old madam didn’t need to decide how to punish her. Yan Ting had returned from the outside, and hearing about this matter, he was enraged. He personally dealt the punishment.

Since Concubine Pei was a proper noble concubine, and had also given birth to children, it wasn’t easy to heavily punish her. After all, they still had to worry about Yan Hong and Yan Qian’s reputation growing up. Of course, it also couldn’t be too light. Otherwise, it would be hard to placate everyone’s anger.

Concubine Pei would be confined in a small and crude little courtyard by herself to confess her sins to the Bodhisattvas. Since this was a punishment, her days naturally wouldn’t be good. There was only one granny responsible for keeping an eye on her, taking care of her food and drink. Concubine Pei was used to living the good life. Such bitter days couldn’t be called a light punishment for her.

Yan Hong would temporarily live with the old madam. When he turned ten, he would move to the front courtyard. Yan Qian was no longer young, and would be given her own little courtyard.

Yan Ting had also ordered that no one could visit Concubine Pei. This included Yan Hong and Yan Qian.

As for Fang Cao and Fang Cui, they would be directly beaten to death and their entire families sold off!

Concubine Pei had wanted to beg for mercy, but seeing Yan Ting’s expression she no longer dared to make a sound. As for Fang Cao and Fang Cui, they directly fainted from fear.

Her dad was very tactful, Yan Yan thought.

She naturally didn’t want to let Concubine Pei off, but her dad had personally made a move. The punishment wasn’t light, and everything was proper on the surface, making it hard for anyone to find fault. She could only quit while she was ahead. Concubine Pei was a noble concubine after all, and had given birth to a son and a daughter. At the very least, for Yan Hong and Yan Qian’s sake, the old madam and Yan Ting wouldn’t let her fate be too tragic.

The entire matter finally came to an end.

***

Although a few days had passed, everyone present was mentally affected whenever they recalled the events.

Not only were there all sorts of twists and turns, but Yan Yan had also given everyone an extremely deep impression.

At some point, this young girl had become a young lady capable of holding her own. Her actions were decisive and ruthless. Towards her enemies, she would strike true without mercy.

Often times, those who knew the ins and outs of the matter would involuntarily wonder if it was all an accident. But they would then involuntarily refute themselves. What sort of accident could result in such a disturbance? Step by step, seemingly in the blink of an eye, Concubine Pei, who was a dominant figure in the Weiyuan Marquis Estate for a long time, had been torn asunder and consigned to damnation.

But these people couldn’t think it through if it wasn’t an accident. To say the eldest branch, third branch and Yan Yan joined forces truly didn’t make any sense. The bowl of swallow’s nest that started it all, along with Yan Qian and Yan Ru’s disagreement, couldn’t have been premeditated. How could things have been planned so perfectly….

After turning it over in their minds, everyone could only call this event an accident, and lament at Concubine Pei’s terrible luck.

Only the Ningxiang Chambers’ people knew that this was truly an accident. The only thing was that when everyone had been discontent over the cutting of costs, it was Yan Yan who had Matron Zou order the servants to spread rumors.

“Was that really how it happened?” Yan Mo asked with wide eyes.

Matron Zou smiled and said: “Fourth master, it was truly the case.”

Yan Yan tapped his forehead. “Big sis didn’t have you say what you did. You came up with it all by yourself.”

She naturally wouldn’t tell her little brother that even if he didn’t have his stroke of inspiration at the time, she would have also raised the topic. She had never planned on letting Concubine Pei off. Such a good opportunity definitely had to be seized.

While people were asking just what part Yan Yan had played in all this, she wanted to say that she was actually the victim here. Don’t forget Concubine Pei had cut off her food allowance. Therefore, it was natural for her to join the opposition against a common enemy.

The matter of the ornament was an accident. Yan Yan didn’t think Concubine Pei would be so foolish as to keep those things by her side.

Concubine Pei naturally wasn’t that foolish. She just didn’t expect the Ziyu Pavilion would be searched, and also didn’t expect the things she had hidden so well would be found. She didn’t know that Matron Zou had decades of experience in the major courtyards of rear residences. What hasn’t she seen before? The hidden compartment under the bed had been discovered by her.

……

Now that the old madam had silver again, the various parts of the estate returned to normal. Overall, there was still some cutting of costs, but it wasn’t as tight as before.

Concubine Pei was confined so the old madam naturally assumed control of managing the household. As of now, she didn’t feel at ease letting anyone else handle it. Since she was still able to handle it, she felt better about doing it herself.

After the matter, Shen Yi Yao had wanted to say something to Yan Yan a few times. However, Yan Yan’s gaze was always cold which made her hesitate. Along with the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s problem still unresolved, she also wasn’t really in the mood.

Yan Ting’s attitude wasn’t any different from before, but Yan Yan could tell his gaze contained some coldness whenever he saw her. To say she didn’t feel anything about it would be a lie. But for some reason, she didn’t feel any distress. Perhaps she had understood long ago: her father was someone she didn’t feel close to.

Luo Huai Yuan had sent Yan Yan a few letters, and she had told him everything that happened in the estate. Luo Huai Yuan pompously said that little sis Ah Yan had grown more and more quick-witted. It must be known that the most formidable schemes weren’t planned from the start. They merely capitalized on opportunities.

Yan Yan was already used to little fatty Luo’s manner of speech. She laughed in spite of herself, but also felt like she understood something.

Of course, Luo Huai Yuan also told her a little of his own plans. Of course he wouldn’t say he was gathering power for the sake of preserving his life in the future. He could only speak grandly about the importance of controlling one’s own destiny during these times.

Yan Yan’s emotions were stirred. At the same time, she also found out that Luo Huai Yuan had started his first business.

However, the letter only mentioned that he had a plan, but didn’t elaborate.

Yan Yan was extremely curious.

Author’s notes:

Some readers are saying she should have reported it to the authorities, but this isn’t realistic. Even Shen Yi Yao wouldn’t have allowed things to spread outside. If the old madam insisted on protecting Concubine Pei no matter what, then there would still be an excuse to make a bigger fuss. But Yan Ting’s brain was still working.

One thought on “Chapter 52

  1. Heh, the Father must be furious. He’s all about face and gaining prestige. This kind of thing hits him where it hurts. Not only did he lose face, he discovered he had “pig teammates”. Who told his concubine to steal from his wife? From the beginning he warned her not to take things too far. He wanted his wife to remain ignorant and easy to manipulate. Even if she’s an idiot, this incident will put her on her guard.

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