Luo Huai Yuan spent New Year’s by himself.
Actually he wasn’t by himself. There was Xiao An Zi to keep him company.
The palace didn’t show any signs of inviting him back so he acted as if it wasn’t going to happen. Even if he were invited, he would still end up spending it by himself. At most he would have his mom by his side. Ever since he disgraced himself at a palace banquet when he was seven, the fourth prince lost the right to participate in any future celebrations.
Luo Huai Yuan hadn’t been in contact with his mom since moving out. A low-ranked eunuch came from the palace on the twenty-eighth and handed Luo Huai Yuan a package. Luo Huai Yuan opened it and found a piece of clothing, some jewelry and a few silver ingots.
This low-ranked eunuch served Concubine Ma and was called Xiao Dou Zi. He said Concubine Ma asked him to pass on a message. She wanted to let him know she was doing very well in the palace and that the fourth prince didn’t have to worry. She also said the outside wasn’t like the inside, and was afraid the fourth prince couldn’t get enough silver. She sent him her extra jewelry and said he should cut them up and exchange them for silver if he was out of options.
His mom had always been cautious. She never took the initiative to contact him normally. This time she was probably truly afraid her son was suffering outside the palace, and used the New Year’s celebration as an excuse to have this eunuch come by.
Luo Huai Yuan didn’t say anything before taking the package back to his room. When he came out again, he handed Xiao Dou Zi a bundle. The jewelry and silver were all inside, and there was an additional set of women’s clothing. The clothes were brand new, and while the material wasn’t amazing, it wasn’t bad either. It was suitable for Concubine Ma’s status, and could be worn casually at home.
Before Xiao Dou Zi left, Luo Huai Yuan told him to tell his mom he wasn’t sure of the exact sizes. If the skirt was too short, she should uncurl the hems.
Luo Huai Yuan had someone prepare that skirt a while ago, and the hems of the skirt was stuffed with a few silver notes. Each note wasn’t worth a lot, and there were a total of a thousand taels.
On New Year’s Eve, Luo Huai Yuan put on the new clothes Concubine Ma made for him. Unexpectedly, he realized they didn’t fit. During the time he spent outside the palace, he had gotten fatter and his mom didn’t realize this.
In the afternoon, Luo Huai Yuan ordered General Manager Xi to have the kitchen prepare a banquet for everyone. The servants, palace maids and guards gathered together in various places for the liveliness while he and Xiao An Zi ate by themselves in the room.
The banquet was very sumptuous, especially Luo Huai Yuan’s table which was extremely extravagant. He also forced Xiao An Zi to drink a few glasses of alcohol with him. Good alcohol paired with delicacies, refreshing!
He had always spent New Year’s by himself. Luo Huai Yuan didn’t know the meaning of loneliness.
It was convention for married women to return to their maternal family on the second day of the New Year. Shen Yi Yao had therefore gotten ready bright and early. Even though she had been stonewalled by her parents every time she went back, they couldn’t refuse to see her for New Year’s, right?
Because she had such thoughts, Shen Yi Yao’s expression had a few hints of happiness.
Yan Yan and Ah Mo were supposed to go to the Zhenguo Duke Estate as well. Unexpectedly, Yan Mo caught a cold on the first day of the year and wasn’t feeling too well. Shen Yi Yao had to go so Yan Yan volunteered to take care of her brother at home. Therefore, the siblings didn’t go.
Yan Yan had the feeling her brother’s “discomfort” was a little fake. As expected, he “got better” after Shen Yi Yao left.
“You don’t want to go to grandfather’s place?”
Yan Mo’s eyes were unenthusiastic. “Why go? I don’t want to see people humiliated and furious.”
No matter what, she was still their mom. Even though they decided not to get involved, they would still feel uncomfortable.
Yan Yan was silent.
When Yan Mo spoke, Matron Qin was present as well. She didn’t quite understand the meaning of his words.
Before long, she also understood.
Shen Yi Yao was crying heavily when she returned. Not even the festive spirit and her desire to maintain her image as a proper lady was able to stop her tears.
The news was soon sent over.
One of the grannies responsible for maintaining the stove fire in the Ningxiang Chambers had a nephew who worked in the stables. Therefore, the news wasn’t hard to obtain.
It was said that Shen Yi Yao and Yan Ting had once again gotten the cold shoulder at the Zhenguo Duke Estate. Even on the second day of the New Year, they were left hanging at the Huju Hall. This time Shen Yi Yao no longer controlled herself and made a huge ruckus at the Huju Hall.
This was the news obtained by the servant boy on the carriage. The “huge ruckus” part was something he conjectured based on the circumstances. Yan Yan had Mei Xue stop by the Jinse Pavilion and ask Cui Qiao. From Cui Qiao, the learned the truth of the matter.
Shen Yi Yao had returned to her maternal household full of expectations, but was still taken to the Huju Hall. The servants were very respectful and very cordial, but she still didn’t see her own family.
Shen Yi Yao couldn’t endure this and started macking a ruckus in the Huju Hall. Yan Ting didn’t try to stop her. In the end, Second Madam Shen made an appearance. She said a few words with a troubled expression.
Her general meaning was that the Zhenguo Duke was getting old and his temper was getting worse and worse. She said things like “no one in the family could persuade him anymore” and so on.
In the grand Zhenguo Duke Estate, the Zhenguo Duke Shen Mao Shan’s word was law. At least this was the case on the surface. What it was truly like couldn’t be seen from the outside.
Regardless, Yan Ting took Shen Yi Yao back.
Shen Yi Yao was devastated and Yan Ting’s expression wasn’t good either.
It should have been a festive occasion but the Weiyuan Marquis Estate was covered in an indispellable haze.
During the remaining days of the celebration, everyone’s smiles were a little forced. Shen Yi Yao was also a little more awkward when going to the Rongan Hall.
Even though they had to depend on the Zhenguo Duke Estate in the future, the old madam found it difficult to maintain a pleasant expression.
No one would be willing to see their own son act like a grandson day in day out. Especially since despite acting like a grandson for so long, there still weren’t any results. If word spread that they were kicked out during New Year’s, wouldn’t they become laughing stocks?
The old madam cherished her own flesh and blood. During this time, she no longer treated Shen Yi Yao the same way. Her expression was a few shades uglier and her words revealed some dissatisfaction.
The old madam felt quite sullen sometimes about playing the part of this mother-in-law. Other mother-in-laws could establish rules with their daughter-in-laws. When it came to her, things were different. She had only done so with her eldest daughter-in-law. When Shen Yi Yao married in, the entire estate wished to please her so it wasn’t done. When old third’s wife married in, the old madam couldn’t discriminate since both were her biological sons. Therefore, old third’s wife was exempt as well.
As of now, the old madam felt it wasn’t a big deal if she put her daughter-in-law in her place. Therefore, she mentioned in front of Shen Yi Yao how the Zhenguo Duke Estate wasn’t giving them any face.
This was truly the case. Normally if a father-in-law was dissatisfied with his son-in-law and his daughter, he would still preserve the dignity of both sides. Who would have thought this brutish Zhenguo Duke would completely disregard the Weiyuan Marquis Estate.
However, what did the Weiyuan Marquis Estate have that required others to give them face? Why would the Zhenguo Duke Estate give them face?
The old madam had said these words before, but they had always been spoken with a soft tone for the sake of pressuring her daughter-in-law. This time however, there was a hint of resentment. Shen Yi Yao hadn’t been mentally stable during this period of time. She had just been shut out of her maternal family’s place and hadn’t recovered yet when her mother-in-law said these words.
She failed to suppress her temper for the first time, and took her leave with a rigid expression.
After returning, she fell ill.
“Would you look at that? Look at what kind of wife you married! I merely said a few words and she’s actually giving me attitude. She’s even pretending to be sick! Ever since she married in, haven’t I treated her well enough as her mother-in-law? I’ve never made her obey any rules, and normally pamper her. I’m just falling short of spoiling her….”
“….those who know about it know I’m her mother-in-law. Those who don’t might think she’s my mother-in-law! Am I wrong to worry about my son? No matter how overbearing their Zhenguo Duke Estate is, they can’t just trample over other people’s dignity….”
Yan Ting sat on the side with furrowed brows. He didn’t speak.
The old madam nagged on for a while, sneaking glances at her son’s expression.
“Alright, you shouldn’t feel vexed anymore. At most, at most mom will go visit her later.”
Yan Ting said comfortingly: “You’re her mother-in-law. How is that reasonable? It’s her fault to begin with.”
“But——–” The old madam spoke and then hesitated.
Yan Ting stood up. “Mom, I’ll go back to the Jinse Pavilion. As for her—–” After a pause, he said: “Don’t bother with her!”
Yan Ting returned to the Jinse Pavilion. The main residence was completely silent.
The maids all tiptoed around. Seeing Yan Ting come in, they bowed in greeting.
Within the bedroom, Shen Yi Yao’s hair was down as she leaned in bed, allowing the maid to serve her medicine. After drinking the bowl of medicine, a maid brought over water and a basin for her to rinse her mouth. They then pulled her blanket over her.
“Husband, why are you back so early?”
These days Yan Ting had been busy with who knows what. He always left early and returned late. Shen Yi Yao never asked about his affairs, and only knew he was busy.
“I came back when I heard you were sick.”
Actually, the old madam had called her son back when she heard the Jinse Pavilion had asked for a doctor after she scolded her daughter-in-law. Yan Ting was called over to the Rongan Hall when he returned to the estate. The old madam immediately aired out her grievances. Since ancient times, mother and daughter-in-laws were natural enemies. No matter how benevolent Shen Yi Yao appeared, the old madam was also afraid of her complaining to her son.
Whoever complained first had the advantage.
Yan Ting’s tone was a little strange, but Shen Yi Yao didn’t seem to have noticed.
“This one doesn’t have any major issues. It’s just a little chill from this morning.”
Yan Ting looked at her a little weirdly and said: “Then you should rest properly. Mom is very worried about your illness. I still have a few things to do, and will head to the study first.”
After Yan ting left, Shen Yi Yao remained silent for a long while before lying back down.
In a daze, between wakefulness and dreams, Shen Yi Yao had the feeling she never fell properly asleep. Her heart was startled and she opened her eyes. In her groggy state, she heard someone talking next to her.
“…..wasn’t it said she was fine? Why did things get worse!?”
She wanted to sit up but felt weak all over. Her throat was dry and she couldn’t make a sound. Her head was also hurting a lot.
“Madam was truly fine to begin with. The doctor came and took a look before prescribing two sets of medicine. After taking the medicine, the madam slept for a bit. Just now this servant came to take a look and saw she was unexpectedly feverish.” This was Cui Qiao’s voice.
“Where’s my dad?”
“The lord marquis isn’t here.” Cui Qiao’s voice contained a hint of a sob. “This servant was truly out of ideas and thus called the miss over. In the middle of the night, the side door was already locked. This servant wanted the granny guarding the door to open it but she said according to estate rules, the Rongan Hall needed to give the order. This door couldn’t be randomly opened. The Rongan Hall’s lights were already blown out. This servant asked for an audience but a little lass said Matron Zhao didn’t dare disturb the old madam….”
“As the grand Weiyuan Marquis madam’s senior maid, you couldn’t even get a side door open? What use are you!?”
“Sis, why are you scolding her? She just started working not too long ago. How could she persuade others?” A soft voice sounded out. It was Yan Mo.
“Matron Zou, go with her to the Rongan Hall. Even if you can’t get the old madam, you can get Matron Zhao. Have her open the side door and call a doctor. Say I was the one who ordered it. Matron Dong, take two people over to the granny guarding the door. Who told her not to open it? Slap her hard for me. I’ll take responsibility if she gets slapped silly…..”
A rustle of movement sounded as they all went their separate ways.
Shen Yi Yao wanted to speak but couldn’t muster the energy. She could only sink back into the darkness.
Some readers are asking why Concubine Pei crawled out again. Did things go back to the beginning? Are we struggling against her again?
Sweat, this author isn’t that boring. Concubine Pei coming out has a purpose. Saying anymore would be a spoiler.