Sorry for the late post. Busy day, long chapter. Happy lunar new year!
Outside of Yan Yan’s expectations, Concubine Pei didn’t drag Concubine Wu down with her.
Concubine Pei insisted that she and Doctor Chang were the only ones involved in this plot. The involvement of Doctor Chang completely explained everything, including why there was supposedly safflower juice found during the investigation. Since no one understood medicine, whatever the doctor said became the truth.
Only after listening to Matron Zou’s analysis on the way back to the Ningxiang Chambers did Yan Yan understand why.
Concubine Pei knew her outcome wouldn’t be good. Even if she wasn’t put to death, she wouldn’t be able to remain in the estate. She still had two children. Yan Ting was cold and emotionless and the old madam only liked Yan Hong. Yan Qian wasn’t young but wasn’t old either, and she was also a girl. For her marriage in the future, she needed someone to help her financially and to protect her.
Ultimately, Concubine Wu had only been responsible for coming up with ideas and passing on messages. If she was really dragged out, she would at most be confined. Might as well not mention it and make her owe this favor. In the future she could help take care of Yan Qian.
Children don’t realize what their parents do for them!
Because it was already past midnight, everyone went their separate ways. Concubine Pei was locked up to be dealt with in the morning.
Yan Yan saw Shen Yi Yao wasn’t looking too well and sent her back to the Jinse Pavilion. After leaving Yan Mo there as well, she returned to the Ningxiang Chambers.
After a busy night, she was a little hungry. Luckily there was chicken congee, shumai and spring rolls being warmed on the little kitchen’s stove. They didn’t differentiate between mistress and servants. Everyone ate a little to fill their stomachs.
Yan Yan had Ying’er and Yan’er take some food containers and medicine for injuries over to the Jinse Pavilion. Today the Jinse Pavillion was a mess. Shen Yi Yao’s personal maids had all been beaten. Although they weren’t heavily injured, they definitely couldn’t do any work. Yan Yan ordered her maids to give them a hand.
Yan Yan didn’t feel like sleeping at all. Mei Xiang and the few senior maids were also full of energy.
Today’s events were truly too thrilling. The people serving by Yan Yan’s side had all gotten involved.
Actually, this matter still needed to be told from the beginning.
Yan Yan truly didn’t believe Concubine Pei was pregnant. Matron Zou didn’t either.
It was too coincidental. Coincidental to the extent it didn’t seem real.
Also there was that matter with Yan Qian. If Concubine Pei was truly pregnant, why not say it directly and instead have her own daughter put on a performance in front of Shen Yi Yao? Only after it failed did she reveal her pregnancy. Of course it could be said that Concubine Pei only realized she was pregnant afterwards. But as Matron Dong had said, she had already given birth to two kids. Why was she acting like an unmarried virgin? Didn’t she know what it meant to miss her period?
The various points added together caused Yan Yan to have deep suspicions.
However, there was a problem. Yan Yan had people investigate but they couldn’t find any clues. A doctor had taken her pulse and the Ziyu Pavilion brewed pregnancy nourishing medicine daily. Everything appeared extremely normal and there was no evidence. Just her suspicions couldn’t prove anything.
Yan Yan had been very vexed during this period of time.
Afterwards, when Luo Huai Yuan’s routine letter arrived, she had told him about this matter.
Following which, Luo Huai Yuan sent a second letter the very next day asking about the details of the situation. The two of them thus ended up coming with such a plot through their letters.
To put it plainly, they planned on luring the snake out of the hole. It could also be said they dug a pit and waited for someone to jump in.
Even the Zhenguo Duke Estate had been given a heads up. The Zhenguo Duke was a sharp old man. Although he didn’t know the details, he had received his granddaughter’s letter and then all hell broke loose. He also more or less understood what Yan Ting and his mother wanted to do. This was why he ended up saying “if you aren’t satisfied, it’s fine to get rid of her”.
Just as Luo Huai Yuan had said, there was no way anyone would pass up such a good opportunity. This could be said of Concubine Pei, but also of the old madam and Yan Ting.
What ended up happening proved him right.
“Miss, it’s not early anymore. If you don’t sleep soon, the sky’s going to turn bright.” Mei Xiang brushed the candlewick of the eight-petaled lotus leaf ceramic lamp on the desk and said softly.
“Have them all go to sleep. Everyone worked hard today. I’ll go to sleep after finishing this letter.”
Because the letters came frequently during this time, the personal maids all knew there was someone who often wrote to the miss. It was under Shen Qi’s name, but they all knew it wasn’t young master Shen Qi.
No need to ask why. They all knew the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s young master Qi hated reading and writing. How could he change his nature and write to the miss so frequently?
However, they also didn’t overthink it. The miss was still young and she was also opnionated. If they needed to know about it, she would tell them. If they didn’t need to know, it was better not to ask.
Yan Yan’s letter was for Luo Huai Yuan. She would finish it now and arrange it to be sent out early in the morning. Once this person sent it to the fourth prince estate’s backdoor, there would naturally be someone there to receive it.
She knew little fatty Luo was definitely preoccupied with this matter. Before she had left tonight, his eyes revealed this to her. He fell just short of saying that she had to send him a letter after it was over. Otherwise he wouldn’t be able to sleep….
Thinking of that person’s pitiful appearance, Yan Yan couldn’t help but laugh inside.
This little fatty Luo was normally lively and messed around. Who would have expected he was rather resourceful on the inside. Although this plan was hatched by the two of them, the general framework and the details were done by him. She merely went along with it and fleshed out the particulars based on her circumstances. Especially that “all’s fair in war” move was something he had mentioned jokingly in one of his letters. She still remembered what he said.
No need to worry about using old tricks as long as you have enough tricks to use! Little sis Ah Yan, trust me. I guarantee she will spit up blood in anger!
Thinking of his weird manner of speech, Yan Yan couldn’t resist smiling once gain. Her thoughts turned to the Jinse Pavilion and her emotions became a little complicated.
Yan Mo said he wanted to stay at the Jinse Pavilion tonight, and Yan Yan let him do as he wished.
He remained by Shen Yi Yao’s side, following closely behind her. When they went to sleep, he slept with his mom.
Shen Yi Yao’s heart was actually a mess, but for the sake of not worrying her son, she had to pretend nothing was wrong. The two of them ate the chicken congee sent over by the Ningxiang Chambers and then asked how Cui Ping and the others were doing. They found out that there weren’t any serious injuries and that the Ningxiang Chambers had sent medicine over already. They freshened up slightly and went to bed.
Yan Mo fell asleep very quickly, his little hand gripping Shen Yi Yao’s clothes the entire night. Shen Yi Yao’s mind was chaotic and wasn’t able to sleep the entire night.
She had just recovered from her illness to begin with, and after such an ordeal, she fell ill once again the next morning.
This time her illness was much more serious. She rambled incoherently in her feverish state. Although she was clearly unconscious, her tears never stopped flowing. Yan Yan had just fallen asleep when she was woken up. She then called for a doctor, asked for a prescription, brewed medicine and fed medicine.
Shen Yi Yao’s state made Yan Yan feel very worried. She and Yan Mo watched over her for two days.
Only now did Yan Yan realize she cared more about this mom of hers than she realized. She had previously thought to leave her be. If she were schemed to dead someday it wouldn’t have anything to do with her. Only when things got to this point did she realize no matter how angry she was at her, she wasn’t willing to see her get bullied. Not even a little.
When Shen Yi Yao remained unconscious a second day, Yan Yan even involuntarily wondered if she made the wrong decision.
She clearly knew her mom was weak. She clearly knew her mom was incredibly stupid. She clearly knew everything, so why couldn’t she just take a step back? Let her mom do whatever she wanted. It was fine as long as she was happy. Why so serious? They were different people, so how did she know what was good for her? What right did she have to make the decision for her? Her original peaceful life was now such a mess….
Luckily this state didn’t last long. Shen Yi Yao woke up.
The first thing she saw was her daughter whose eyes were completely red.
Yan Yan turned her face away instinctively, and said rigidly. “It’s good you’re awake. Ah Mo is very worried about you. I’ll go call the doctor over.” After speaking, she left like a gust of wind.
Next, Cui Qiao’s pleasantly surprised face appeared in Shen Yi Yao’s line of sight. “Madam, you’re finally awake. You’ve been unconscious these past two days. The servants were all worried sick.”
“I, I slept for two days?” Her voice was so dry it was unrecognizable.
Cui Qiao wiped the corner of her eyes and nodded.
The moment she returned, she heard about the entire series of events. She felt fortunate she hadn’t been caught up in it like Cui Ping and the others who got beaten, but also felt some misgivings. However, there were many things in this world that were better left unknown. Even if she suspected something, she had to pretend not to know anything.
“That’s right, you’ve been unconscious for two days and have finally recovered. Thank the heavens!”
The doctor came very quickly, and took her pulse over a handkerchief. He said overall there weren’t any problems, and prescribed a few more sets of medicine before having the maids escort him out. Yan Yan no longer appeared however. Yan Mo had the wet nurse bring him over, and after checking up on Shen Yi Yao he returned to the Ningxiang Chambers.
“Madam, don’t overthink things. The third miss and fourth young master actually care about you quite a lot. While you were unconscious the past two days, they stood watch over you without going anywhere. The third miss only slept a little during this time, and still had to worry about getting doctors in to treat you. She definitely went back to the Ningxiang Chambers to rest.” Cui Qiao said quietly on the side.
Shen Yi Yao wasn’t overthinking things. She just felt sore all over. Her head hurt and her eyes were sore. She felt indescribably uncomfortable.
“I wasn’t overthinking.”
While she was unconscious, she could only be fed swallow’s nest. Now that she was awake, she needed to eat some actual food. Thick and creamy congee was boiled. The rice was boiled until blooming and a layer of rice oil floated on top. Shen Yi Yao wasn’t able to eat meat at the moment, and could only adjust her stomach slowly with plain foods.
Cui Qiao and Yi Yun supported Shen Yi Yao up to lean against the tawny embroidered soft pillow and fed her one spoonful at a time. Only after finishing a bowl did they take the rest away.
After eating, she had started sweating. But since she was ill, she couldn’t take a bath and could only use a soft, dry towel to wipe the sweat off before changing into fresh underwear.
Shen Yi Yao then drank some medicine and lay back down.
She couldn’t fall asleep right away. Cui Qiao sat by the foot of the bed and spoke quietly with her.
When Shen Yi Yao asked about Concubine Pei, Cui Qiao seemed a little hesitant but still told her the truth.
Concubine Pei had been sent away the next day. She was sent to the Qingpu1 Nunnery.
The Qingpu Nunnery was a Buddhist nunnery on the outskirts of the capital. It wasn’t like the other nunneries, and was also a place where women from major households who commited crimes were sent to. The women who came here were shaven and converted to Buddhism, but not the kind where they would meditate and often make pilgrimages. Not only did they have to do manual labor everyday before they got a meal, they would have to recite scriptures and blessings in their free time. The nuns there had weird tempers, and would often curse or beat them. It was an ascetic and bitter life.
Shen Yi Yao didn’t know what the Qingpu Nunnery was like. She thought it was like in normal households where women would be sent to the worship halls to repent and rid themselves of sin.
She froze slightly before letting out a sigh. “It’s also fine like this.”
Cui Qiao knew a little about the place because it was the major topic of discussion within the estate. She had heard an earful but ended up not mentioning it to the madam.
The madam was soft hearted. No need to let her know.
Sending Concubine Pei to the Qingpu Nunnery wasn’t Yan Yan’s decision. In her mind, Concubine Pei definitely couldn’t be spared.
But what to do with her?
At the moment, she really didn’t have any specific ideas. Along with Shen Yi Yao being unconscious, she didn’t have the time to care about it. Instead, it was the Rongan Hall that was more tactful. They sent word that Concubine Pei had to be punished severely and that they were going to send her to the Qingpu Nunnery.
Yan Yan didn’t know what the Qingpu Nunnery was like, but Matron Zou did. After listening to her, she considered and permitted it.
Death was ultimately a form of release. The most painful thing was being better off dead.
Concubine Pei was sent off gagged and bound.
That day she had fainted after spitting up blood from anger.
Since it was the middle of the night, they had locked up everyone involved, especially Concubine Pei and Doctor Chang. Doctor Chang’s hands and feet were bound and his mouth was gagged. He was thrown into the firewood storage room. Concubine Pei was a woman after all, so she was confined in an empty room.
After she awoke, she started cursing like a madwoman. She viewed herself as an expert schemer but was actually tricked by a ten year old girl. She clearly knew that Doctor Chang definitely would have confessed eventually under torture. However, the feeling wasn’t the same and Concubine Pei couldn’t quite accept it.
Along with her “all hope was lost” attitude, she became even more unrestrained. She made a ruckus, fussing and cursing. Luckily she was locked in a remote location so she didn’t bother anyone else.
The Rongan Hall sent word over and Yan Yan permitted it. The old madam hurriedly and impatiently had people send Concubine Pei away.
Yan Yan didn’t trust the old madam and had Matron Zou go supervise. Not only did she have to supervise, she also had to make sure the Qingpu Nunnery wouldn’t let Concubine Pei escape. They also had to make sure her days were rather “good”. Based on the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s power, the nunnery definitely wouldn’t treat this matter superficially.
After Concubine Pei was dealt with, Yan Yan didn’t pay to much attention to the remaining people.
Regardless, based on the Rongan Hall’s attitude, Doctor Chang was dead for sure. As for how he died, it had nothing to do with her. Concubine Pei’s personal maids were all sold off. Yan Qian, who wouldn’t stop making a ruckus, was confined by the angry old madam.
The old madam once again embodied the word “tactful”. Of course, Yan Ting also had a hand in all this.
Shen Yi Yao didn’t ask about Yan Ting and her maids didn’t dare mention him.
He had come by once after hearing she was awake, but she didn’t let him see her. She used the excuse “she was sick and was afraid of being contagious” to avoid him. The Rongan Hall also frequently sent Matron Zhao over to inquire about her health. Shen Yi Yao also refused to meet with her and had the maids send her off.
After two more days, Shen Yi Yao had recovered slightly. She said she wanted to take her two children to the manor to clear her mind.
Since the madam had spoken, the servants naturally started packing.
Cui Qiao initially thought they were just going for a few days, and picked out clothing appropriate for the current season to pack. Unepectedly, Shen Yi Yao started minding the “little things” in this rare instance and asked her carefully about it.
Afterwards, she didn’t beat around the bush and directly told her what she should pack.
While packing, Cui Qiao realized something was wrong. This didn’t seem like they were just going to clear their minds. The madam’s emotional state wasn’t good so she didn’t dare ask too much. Instead, she snuck over to the Ningxiang Chambers.
When Yan Yan heard they were going to the manor to clear their minds, she also had the servants start packing. After listening to Cui Qiao, she muttered to herself and had Cui Qiao just go along with the madam’s instructions without saying anything. She had the Ningxiang Chambers’ people pack according to Shen Yi Yao’s instructions as well.
Clothing for all four seasons, daily necessities, jewelry and makeup case and so on. It seemed apart from the larger pieces of furniture, everything small had been cleared out.
After the Jinse Pavilion was packed, someone came over to inquire about the NIngxiang Chambers’ progress. Then, things started getting transported to the manor one carriage at a time.
When wealthy households took a trip, it was normal to be extravagant.
Even when they were just going to light some incense, they would bring their daily necessities, spare clothing, makeup kit, spit jar, copper basin, kettle and so on. Those who were more extravagant would bring even more things. Especially if they were staying overnight, in which case they wished they could bring their beds over as well.
Therefore, Shen Yi Yao’s actions didn’t attract anyone’s attention. They merely assumed she wasn’t in a good mood and wanted to go out and clear her mind. Since they were in the wrong and felt awkward, how could they say anything to stop her?
Yan Ting had stopped by again to speak some tender and honeyed words, but unfortunately Shen Yi Yao ignored him. Her expression was sickly so one of her personal maids said the doctor instructed that the madam couldn’t be troubled.
Yan Ting couldn’t say anything and could only leave it at that.
Once the carriages had all more or less reached their destination, Shen Yi Yao said they would set out tomorrow.
The next day, Shen Yi Yao took Yan Yan, Yan Mo and their grannies and maids along with some personal items, and left majestically in over a dozen carriages.
Shen Yi Yao’s guards left along with them, each riding a large horse as they stood guard on the side. Outsiders might have thought that some high official was making a trip.
The manor Shen Yi Yao was going to was at the foot of Mt. Xixia2 in the capital suburbs. It was a little less than fifty li from the capital.
Mt. Xixia’s surroundings were beautiful. Two years ago, hot springs were discovered and many noble families built secondary residences here.
Shen Yi Yao’s manor which she got as part of her dowry was purchased early on. At that time the land was cheap so the Zhenguo Duke bought almost a hundred qing3 of land in one go. They connected it all and constructed a manor. A secondary residence would always be useful.
When Shen Yi Yao married out, the price of this piece of land was also rapidly soaring. The Zhenguo Duke cherished his daughter and especially chose this land as part of her dowry.
This manor was built beside the mountain, and the farmland on the way there was all part of it. As they reached the foot of the mountain, they could see the large building with the mountain as a backdrop.
The carriages enered through the main gates and drove for a while before finally coming to a stop. The manager of this manor, Qiao Rong, was already on standby with a group of servants.
Qiao Rong looked to be around fifty. He was dark and skinny, and had a goatee. This was the manor’s manager the Zhenguo Duke Estate had given Shen Yi Yao. He was capable and experienced, and had always been loyal and devoted.
“Greetings to the madam, the third miss and the fourth young master.”
“Manager Qiao doesn’t need to be so formal.”
After entering the main hall, Qiao Rong explained the overall situation.
“The courtyard has been renovated. The madam’s Jinhua4 Hall, as well as the third miss’s Guiyan5 Chambers and the fourth young master’s Lincang6 Residence have also all been cleaned up. The luggage and items sent over from the estate have all been sent to the respective locations. In case madam didn’t have enough people by your side, this lowly one especially picked a few grannies from the manor for you to use. If there’s anything you need, let them handle it. This is this lowly one’s wife. Madam has met her before, so we’ll have her help out the matron by madam’s side.”
Qiao Rong’s wife was a woman in her forties. She was built sturdy and full, and was all smiles. She seemed very refreshing.
Shen Yi Yao and Yan Yan had come to this manor before. Yan Mo had come once as well, but he was still young at that time and didn’t remember much.
Shen Yi Yao wasn’t fully receovered and the carriage ride had tired her out. She had Cui Qiao and Cui Ping support her over to the Jinhua Hall to rest.
Having just moved in, there was a lot of things that needed to be arranged.
Shen Yi Yao didn’t have many people beside her apart from Cui Qiao and Cui Ping. Yan Yan ordered Matron Zou to take some people and get to know Qiao Rong’s wife, and start making the necessary arrangements. As for the rest, it could be left until later.
She took Yan Mo and went to look at their residences.
Those who are worried about Concubine Wu shouldn’t be worried. If it weren’t for Yan Qian threatening her, she had been turtling up the entire time. In the future she will be the same. Of course, she will be punished for her past actions. No need to go into detail.