Within the main residence’s eastern room.
The 4th young master’s wife Qiao-Shi listened to the common maid’s report, twisting her handkerchief in anger. Matron Chen, who was standing to the side, slipped the common maid a few pieces of silver and sent her off.
“Matron Chen, look at the kind of person I married. Not only did he give away the soup I brewed to a maid, but now he’s also fraternizing in a room with the maids in broad daylight.” Qiao-Shi raised her voice and with a wave of her hand swept a teacup to the floor.
Matron Chen gestured for Chun Tao to shut the door before turning to placate Qiao Shi.
“My dear madam, you must by all means lower your voice. This place isn’t our home. We cannot afford being overheard and drawing the young master’s ire.”
Qiao-Shi’s face had turned red from anger, and she couldn’t prevent herself from crying.
“Why does my life have to be so hard? It isn’t my fault I’m not attractive. If he had issues with my appearance why did he come to my house and propose back then? After I married into the family, he argued with me on our wedding night. The entire estate found out about it, throwing my dignity to the floor and trampling over it for good measure…”
No one would want their own husband to resent their appearance. It was the same for Qiao-Shi, but unfortunately appearance is determined from birth. How could one control it? Apart from being angry at herself and being angry at the 4th young master, Qiao-Shi was at a loss.
Qiao-Shi was the eldest daughter of a high ranking official in the Ministry of Appointments. Her parents pampered her from birth and her servants were also full of flattery and praise. Up until now, her only setback in life was the situation of her marriage, where she was disliked by her husband and looked down upon by his servants.
When she thought about how her life had been after marriage, Qiao-Shi was filled with heartache and the tears wouldn’t stop flowing.
Matron Chen walked over, consoling her while wiping away her tears.
“My dear young miss, you mustn’t cry. If you cry your eyes will swell up…”
Matron Chen was Qiao-Shi’s wet nurse and was also part of her dowry. They naturally had a very close relationship. Matron Chen practically loved Qiao Shi as her own daughter, and it was hard for her to see her house’s young mistress grieving to this extent. It wasn’t just Qiao-Shi at a loss, Matron Chen herself was at a loss of what to do. It wasn’t as if she could force the young master to her young miss’s room and forbid him from getting close to the maids by his side. Especially since they were also at fault in this situation.
It’s a bit of a long story.
Upon getting married, Qiao-Shi was resented by her husband. The 4th young master didn’t even consummate their wedding night, moving directly to the guest house. Qiao-Shi endured her anger until the bridal homecoming 1, where she aired her grievances. Only then did her family members tell her the reason.
As it turned out, Qiao-Shi’s parents spent a lot of effort for this marriage. The Jinyang Marquis Estate was a reputable family whose nobility was bestowed due to merit. Their foundations ran deep, their nobility unquestionable. Especially Ruan Siyi, who despite being the main bloodline’s second born son already had a reputation in the capital as a talented scholar. His appearance was also quite outstanding. Although he would not be the one to inherit the noble title, he wouldn’t be lacking in status as part of the Jinyang Marquis Estate.
Since he wasn’t the main heir, their daughter wouldn’t have to become a noblewoman. Everything could be left for her future sister-in-law to worry about. Besides, the wife of the heir was said to be famously dignified and magnanimous, meaning their daughter wouldn’t be bullied by her in the future. The Jinyang Marquis Estate’s madam was also known in the capital as someone who dotes on her daughter-in-law. How could Madam Qiao’s heart not be stirred?
This marriage would be perfect in every way, though Madam Qiao was worried that her daughter was not a worthy enough candidate. For the sake of making the marriage happen, Madam Qiao specially invited someone close to the Jinyang Marquis Estate’s madam to make the marriage offer, and also made some changes to the accompanying portrait of her daughter. The marriage had also suited the estate madam’s intent, and since she had the portrait of the candidate in hand she didn’t ask to meet in person before agreeing to proceed.
Honestly speaking, Qiao-Shi wasn’t ugly. She had a small round face and phoenix eyes 2. It was just that her figure was round and full, and her short neck made her look rather robust. The issue was Ruan Siyi, who had a fondness for beautiful things since young, and the maids around him were as lovely as flowers. How could he endure having brought back a wife who was as clumsy as a pig?
After lifting her veil, Ruan Siyi was severely disappointed and disgusted, intending to turn around and leave. Qiao Shi had turned pale with fright and grabbed onto him, causing the two to start arguing. In the end, the news had spread throughout the estate.
Qiao-Shi’s father was also upset his daughter was disliked, up until he noticed his own wife hemming and hawing. Only then did he find out about her absurd arrangements. Marriage was supposed to be a wonderful occasion, but due to their subterfuge things had turned sour. As a high ranking official in the Ministry of Appointments, was his daughter not even worthy of an estate’s second son?
Despite this thought, when all was said and done his family was the one in the wrong first. Since things had already developed to this extent, Qiao-Shi’s parents could only convince their daughter to go back and properly try to coax their son-in-law.
Boys will be boys, preferring a good appearance above all else. By first coaxing her man and then giving birth to a son, Qiao-Shi would be in a much better position. If her man liked beauty, give him a couple of pretty concubines afterwards. Their status would be lower than the principal wife’s regardless. The principal wives of major families in the capital all had to put up with this. A wife is chosen based on her virtue and worth. A concubine is chosen based on her looks.
Qiao-Shi knew her parents were right, and that it was for her own good. She knew clearly in her heart that having gotten married, she could only suck it up if her husband hated her. Her heartache and sadness could only be kept to herself.
After returning, she had intended to make a few small gestures to ingratiate herself to her husband, but cared too much about her dignity, and had trouble thickening up her skin enough to follow through. Only after hearing rumors that the madam was looking to fill another personal maid opening for her son did she, under constant urging by her wet nurse, finally make a gesture of goodwill towards her husband.
This gesture was precisely the bowl of nourishing soup, yet unexpectedly her sentimental gesture was casually given to some scruffy maid. Already resentful and heartbroken at this, she had then encountered the episode of “the young master hanging out with his maids in the study”.
Qiao-Shi sat and cried disconsolately. Matron Chen, unable to calm her down no matter how she placated her, could only curse those maids for angering her young miss.
“Those shameless, lowly hussies. Already unable to sit still, are they lacking men that desperately?”
Hearing Matron Chen’s words, Qiao-Shi cried even harder.
Wasn’t that the case?
Her husband was the Jinxiu Pavilion’s only male, and he wasn’t willing to get intimate with her. Why wouldn’t the maids be falling over each other to get at him?
Matron Chen realized she misspoke and continued to placate her while beating herself up over it, spending ages before Qiao-Shi finally stopped crying.
Qiao Shi sat and pondered for a while before saying bitterly: “No, I can’t just sit here and do nothing! He doesn’t care for me, and no one takes me seriously in the entire pavilion.”
Matron Chen let out a sigh, but did not say anything.
The young miss had just married in and didn’t have any backing in the estate. The 4th young master was also unwilling to sleep in the same room as her. Which maid in the pavilion wasn’t laughing at her? The young miss didn’t go out often so she wasn’t aware, but Matron Chen knew the truth clearly in her heart, though she did not dare mention it to her young miss.
“Those lowly hussies dared hang out with my husband in his study in broad daylight, they’re clearly not taking me seriously. If I don’t put them in check, they wouldn’t know that my position as the principal wife is above them.”
Matron Chen saw that Qiao-Shi had made up her mind to kill the chicken to scare the monkey, but did not try to stop her.
It wouldn’t be a bad thing if she could scare everyone one else by making an example out of someone. Make those silly little girls restrain their restless hearts a little, while also letting them see that this Jinxiu Pavilion was not without a mistress.
“Young mistress, we can’t put all three of them on the chopping block right? Wouldn’t things get out of hand?”
Her young mistress was preparing to deal with those troublemaking wenches. Having been provoked by the maids outside these past few days, Chun Tao was naturally happy to see this development, though she also considered more aspects than her mistress.
“Taking care of all three of them at once is too obvious. Should we first pick out a chicken to kill for the monkey?”
Xiao Hua was luckily overlooked in this case, though it was also due to her efforts at remaining low key and not provoking anyone.
Qiao-Shi considered it briefly. “Go send that Bi Yuan over later. Tell her I have a few questions to ask her. Didn’t she drink my soup the other day? You can use that as the pretext.”
Chun Tao left with orders in hand, preparing to wait until the young master left before calling Bi Yuan over.
The 4th young master stepped out of the study, and Chun Tao accordingly took Bi Yuan away. Xiao Hua suddenly had a bad feeling in her heart.
Bi Yuan came back not long after. Despite her efforts to cover it with her handkerchief, it was possible to tell that her face was swollen.
The moment she entered the room, she rushed to the bedside and started crying loudly.
The huge commotion attracted the attention of many of the maids. Those with a bit of conscience crowded over and comforted her.
Cui Lan and Liu Ye appeared out of nowhere and crowded over as well, asking her what happened with faces filled with concern. Whether the concern was real or not, Xiao Hua didn’t know.
Seeing everyone comforting Bi Yuan, it wasn’t appropriate for her to continue pretending to be made of wood. She also stepped up and acted along, saying a few words of comfort to Bi Yuan and attentively fetching water and towel for Bi Yuan to cool the swelling.
Bi Yuan sat there with pain and resentment in her heart. Despite being a servant, she had never been hit before in her life. There wasn’t anyone who didn’t give her some face when she walked around. The 4th young master’s wife had called her over, and accused her of duplicitous conduct without giving her any chances to explain herself, allowing the maid by her side to slap her face.
This wasn’t just a slap in the face. This was making an example out of her by hitting her face!
How could Bi Yuan, who was used to things going her way, accept it? She would often put on airs, and cared a lot about her image. No wonder she was crying so plaintively.
The commotion drew a bunch of the pavilion’s common maids. Taking advantage while the other maids comforted Bi Yuan, they crowded outside the door and watched.
They couldn’t be blamed for being drawn to the action. The 4th young master not liking his wife was known to all, and this was his wife’s first time coming out guns blazing. They would certainly try to find out what happened, while also taking the chance to see which way the wind would blow in the next few days.
The fox mourns the death of the rabbit 3. If even Bi Yuan, who was the Jinxiu Pavilion’s most respected senior maid, was hit by the wife, the others would naturally start thinking about themselves, especially since many of them had had similar intentions towards the young master.
Due to everyone’s consolation, Bi Yuan finally stopped crying after a while and let Xiao Hua cool the swelling. With an indignant heart she disclosed the reason she was slapped.
Xiao Hua’s heart was startled when she heard the reason, and the other maids were even more shocked.
The 4th young master’s wife hit Bi Yuan over a bowl of soup? Moreover, it was soup that the 4th young master himself had given to Bi Yuan.
Was she stupid or was she dumb? Wasn’t this clearly slapping the young master’s face?
Of course there were several maids who knew things weren’t so simple. The scene in the study had been witnessed by many. Each pair of eyes in the pavilion were sharp, and the gossip had also secretly spread. Even some of the maids were cursing Bi Yuan’s group for being shameless.
But in this situation they certainly wouldn’t mention it to the person’s face. They all played along and agreed it was due to the soup.
Soon afterwards, the whole pavilion was aware that the young master’s wife had made an example out of Bi Yuan by hitting her, with the reason being that the young master had given her his wife’s soup.
There were even some maids who said that the soup wasn’t made personally by the 4th young master’s wife and that she had only been watching on the side. Those around quickly covered the mouths of these maids whose mouths didn’t have a filter. Wasn’t that how all their masters or mistresses “personally” made soup? They didn’t need brats like you judging whether it was true or not.
Regardless, the rumors spread throughout the pavilion, and there were even those kind souls who spread it outside the pavilion.
Pretty soon the entire estate had heard about it, which of course included Bi Yuan’s mother.