Mei Xiang had been keeping watch at the Ningxiang Chambers. She and Mei Xue were used to it already. Someone needed to guard the house when the third miss was absent.
Mei Xiang and Mei Xue also knew the fourth young master had fallen into the water. But since the third miss remained gone, Mei Xiang had grown worried and ordered Mei Xue to investigate. After Mei Xue left, she hadn’t returned either.
Mei Xiang couldn’t sit still due to her worry.
Suddenly, Mei Xue ran inside with reddened eyes. Mei Xiang saw the situation wasn’t good and grabbed her hand, asking what had happened.
“The fourth young master fell into the water. The miss made a fuss about investigating the truth at Jinse Pavilion. Madam had listened to the miss at first and ordered Concubine Pei and the third young master over. Unexpectedly, the old madam went over as well.”
“What happened then?”
There was no need to ask. Mei Xiang also knew what would have happened. As Yan Yan’s trusted maid, no one knew better than them how wicked that Concubine Pei and the old madam were. One appeared respectful on the surface but did countless disagreeable things in the dark. The other appeared to cherish her daughter-in-law but actually was biased towards her niece.
The key was that these two were extremely good at scheming, and prevented others from seizing any evidence every time. The madam was also simpleminded and would always get played by them.
Although Mei Xiang and Mei Xue hadn’t seen all the many grievances the third miss had suffered in silence, they had at least seen some of it. Only the madam was the fool and could never see the truth. Instead, she felt the third miss wasn’t obedient and would often reprimand her.
Mei Xue wiped her tears as she cried and said: “…..by the time I got there, the third miss had already been locked up in the small worship hall. It was the madam that ordered it. How could the madam be so ruthless? Could the third miss have been adopted…..?”
Mei Xiang hurriedly covered Mei Xue’s mouth and said quietly: “My dear ancestor, you have to watch your words. Don’t you know how many Ziyu Pavillion’s people are here in the Ningxiang Chambers?! Be careful, lest words gets to the madam and causes a rift between mother and daughter. Can’t you see Concubine Pei along with Fang Cao and Fang Cui’s group continuously influencing the madam into viewing the third miss as an eyesore, and making her feel the third miss is too stubborn and unladylike?”
Mei Xue also understood how crafty these people were. The two of them belonged to the third miss, and those people wouldn’t say they were the ones who said it. Instead, they would just say the third miss complained to her maids that she was adopted. Such words were heretical in this age where filial piety was emphasized, especially when people who longed to ruin the mother daughter relationship were added to the mix.
“Big sis Mei Xiang, what should we do? The third miss is still so young. Being shut inside the small worship hall, she definitely can’t endure. It’s not a suitable place for anyone to stay.”
“What about Matron Qin? What does she have to say about it?”
“Matron Qin, Yan’er and Ying’er all suffered a loss. They said it was the third young master who pushed the fourth young master into the water. The old madam ordered for them to be dragged out and slapped, but was blocked by the miss. This was why things got out of hand. When I went over, Matron Qin had just returned. Ying’er and Yan’er’s eyes were swollen from crying. Matron Qin had wanted to ask for madam’s help, but the madam had followed the old madam to the Rongan 1 Hall.”
“What a sham! Did Matron Qin’s group end up getting hit?” Ying’er and Yan’er were like Matron Qin. They were all sent over from Yan Yan’s side, and their relationship with Mei Xiang and Mei Xue had always been good.
“They didn’t. That old woman likes to use a blunt knife to kill others. They were clearly in the wrong but she’s made such a big fuss. Clearly she’s trying to claim she forgot things due to her anger. The third miss has been locked up, and if Yan’er’s group was still beaten, the old woman’s afraid the third miss will definitely pit her life against her after she gets out.”
Yan Yan’s reputation wasn’t that good amongst the servants of the Weiyuan Marquis Estate. Apart from her fierce personality, she didn’t understand propriety and hung out with rabble and servants. The truth became twisted through rumors and even those who didn’t know her would steer clear of her. Only those by her side knew the third miss’s good points. Although she was fierce, she was extremely kind to her servants. Most importantly, she defended them no matter what. If anyone dared touch her people, she would raise hell.
Why else would the madam and the fourth master’s servants have been pushed down by Concubine Pei’s people while no one dared touch the third miss’s servants?
Once when Mei Xiang was still young, around ten years old, she was serving tea by the third miss’s side. Concubine Pei took advantage of the fact that she had spilled tea to try and get rid of her. At that time, the third miss was only five but she knew to hold onto Mei Xiang without letting go. She had glared and scolded Concubine Pei for being daring enough to act the mistress of the household.
The madam had reprimanded the third miss for being impolite, but she had responded: “I am the Weiyuan Marquis’s direct daughter, she’s just a concubine. Concubines are servants. A servant trying to get rid of the mistress’s people, who gave her such face!?”
Concubine Pei was dumbstruck and in tears. When the marquis returned, he had wanted to punish the third miss. Although the madam was weak and foolish, she still knew to protect her own daughter. Only then did the matter get dropped.
Mei Xiang, Mei Xue and Matron Qin’s group all managed to remain due to the third miss’s protection. The third miss was smart ever since she was young, and having seen a lot, she was able to grasp the situation. She felt uneasy about the fourth young master not having any trusted people by his side and sent her own maids and wet nurse to his side.
It was a good thing the third miss had been on guard. Otherwise, if Ying’er, Yan’er and Matron Qin wasn’t there to support him, the fourth young master probably would have lost his life during today’s event.
Who knows if the madam would still think everyone in the estate was good at that time?
“But what about the third miss?” Mei Xue cried.
Mei Xiang patted her comfortingly: “Don’t panic. Matron Qin will definitely ask the madam for mercy. Let’s just guard the house properly. Madam still cherishes the third miss. Perhaps she’ll already be released by tomorrow.”
Shen Yi Yao had finally placated the old madam and escorted her back to the Rongan Hall where she helped put her to bed before returning to the Jinse Pavilion.
Right as she got back, Yan’er came with reddened eyes to report the fourth young master had caught a fever.
There was a doctor in the estate who was responsible for treating Ah Mo. Shen Yi Yao had someone call him over. After his examination, he prescribed some medicine and instructed them to use a cold towel to lower his temperature. Then he repeatedly warned them to take care of him overnight. The fourth young master was frail and couldn’t afford to be feverish for an extended period of time.
Everyone in the Jinse Pavilion had their hands full, and the lights remained on the entire night.
Only when dawn broke did Ah Mo’s fever slightly fade. Not only did Shen Yi Yao keep watch the entire night, Matron Qin and Yan’er had done the same.
Shen Yi Yao turned and looked at the two whose eyes were red and said: “You guys also stayed up the entire night. Hurry and go rest.”
Matron Qin wanted to say something when Fang Cao walked inside.
“Madam, the third miss’s maid Mei Xiang has been waiting for an audience outside the door bright and early. She said she wants to beg madam to release the third miss.”
Why was it said servants could secretly screw others over? Just this time in relaying the message was an example. Mei Xiang hadn’t slept the entire night and ran over bright and early wanting to meet the madam, but was stopped outside the pavilion and could only relay a message.
Her initial words had been that the third miss was still young and had never suffered before. She wanted to go and see how she was doing and give her some food or blankets. She wanted to use these words to evoke the madam’s sympathy for her daughter.
However, Fang Cao managed to completely twist the meaning. Of course, there wasn’t anything concrete to pick out. She could at most be accused of not knowing how to speak properly.
Shen Yi Yao naturally couldn’t tell something was fishy but Matron Qin could.
“Madam, the third miss is still young….”
Fang Cao interrupted: “That maid is truly impatient. The third miss has only been shut in for a brief period of time but she’s already running over before dawn asking for her release.”
Shen Yi Yao frowned. She already felt that maid was a little insensible, asking bluntly for Yan Yan to be released. How could a servant speak to a mistress in such a manner? Furthermore, Fang Cao’s words made sense. She had intended to suppress that lass’s violent personality to begin with. What good would a single night do?!
“Have her go back. Tell her the madam wants the third miss to cool off in there.”
Matron Qin’s expression was anxious but with Fang Cui present, she knew it wasn’t the right time. She would be interrupted if she tried to say anything. She could only suppress her worry and pat Yan’er’s hand. Yan’er followed behind Fang Cao as she walked out.
Fang Cao revealed a pleased expression as she flicked her handkerchief and left. Mei Xiang stood with reddened eyes by the pavilion doors.
Yan’er angrily glared and Fang Cao and ran over anxiously.
“Mei Xiang, don’t worry. The fourth young master was feverish the entire night and had just gotten better. Fang Cao that little hussy played some dirty tricks so the madam didn’t relent. Go back first. I’ll find some opportunity with Matron Qin to help the third miss.”
Mei Xiang grabbed her hand tight. “Seeing you makes me feel relieved. You guys must definitely ask the madam to let the third miss out.”
Yan’er comforted her some more before going back inside.
When she felt some threads of light shining into the room, Yan Yan had thought she was dreaming.
She hadn’t slept the entire night and was extremely exhausted. It wasn’t clear how she had been able to make it through the night!
To stop herself from being scared, she forced herself to think of all sorts of things. After, she realized that she wasn’t able to distract herself, and did her best to recall everything she could remember since she started understanding things. Only if she was sufficiently focused could she forget her terror.
Of course, that still hadn’t been enough. Yan Yan would swing her whip around her every once in a while, as though it could help relieve some of her fear.
After such a night, she had long been exhausted and lay on the floor unable to move.
Yan Yan did her best to open her eyes, and only after looking for a long while did she realize that the light came from the gap between the two doors. She crawled up with difficulty, but before she could stand, her legs gave out and she fell to the floor once again. After recovering for a while, she managed to slowly walk towards the thin ray of light.
It was weirdly silent outside, as though she had been forgotten in this remote little world.
Now that there was light, she seemed to have recovered some of her strength. Yan Yan sat there silently waiting for someone to come.
Although her mom was a little foolish, she had always cherished her and wouldn’t lock her up for too long.
That afternoon, Shen Yi Yao was invited over to the Rongan Hall.
The old madam’s expression didn’t look too good and Shen Yi Yao’s heart trembled.
Shen Yi Yao saluted and the old madam waved for her to take a seat. She first asked about Ah Mo’s situation, and then told her to take care and not exhaust herself. Then she pulled her hand and asked: “Yao’er, how has mom treated you ever since you married over?”
“Mom has naturally been good to Yao’er.”
The old madam nodded and said: “How have I treated Yan Yan that lass?”
“Mom naturally cherishes Yan Yan extremely.”
“That’s good. I truly don’t have any opinions on yesterday’s matter. I’ll let you make the decision.” The old madam sighed and said with an awkward expression: “Although our household’s ranking isn’t high, our rules have always been firm. You also know what Ah Yan did yesterday. She beat up so many servants, and even kicked them into the water….”
Shen Yi Yao revealed an ashamed expression and said, “Mom…..”
“Let me finish. I was truly angered by Ah Yan yesterday. But since she is my granddaughter after all, I won’t bicker with a child in my old age. Seeing you lock her up inside the small worship hall to cool off, I didn’t say anything out of anger. However, I felt restless last night out of worry, wondering if Ah Yan would suffer. I wanted to have you release the child since it’s not good for a girl to be confined. But today those servants reported that they had quite a lot of issues with Ah Yan, and a few of those who fell into the water are still feverish…..”
“Mom, it’s all your daughter-in-law’s fault for not raising Ah Yan properly….”
“Therefore, I truly can’t bring myself to say that Ah Yan should be released. These people were all born and raised within the Weiyuan Marquis Estate, and their families have served ours for generations. Everyone is human here, but they were whipped and kicked into the water for no reason. Some were even old servants who had served the old marquis….”
Shen Yi Yao was extremely ashamed, saying how she had failed to teach her daughter while also saying she would properly punish her this time.
Old madam Yan comforted her for a long while before having a maid escort Shen Yi Yao out. From start to finish, she had never mentioned punishing Ah Yan.
Not long after Shen Yi Yao returned, she gave the order for the third miss to be confined in the small worship hall for half a month as punishment.
Author’s notes: This author also wants to get this part over with quickly, but the background and foundations are all part of the plot. Someone will rescue Ah Yan soon, this author swears it.