After giving Luo Huai Yuan a beating last time, Yan Yan didn’t show it on the surface but she actually felt a little guilty inside.
After returning to the Guiyan Chambers, she felt guiltier the more she thought about it. She thus had Mei Xiang bring over the package Xiao An Zi brought over.
“This was made by a nana in the palace. Apparently the concubines in the palace all use these things. The palace maids in the palace are too much, to actually offer up such a thing to obtain rewards!”
Ah Yan didn’t seem to realize that downplaying the matter only made it worse. Luckily the words “in the palace” and “the concubines” represented a majestic status in the hearts of Mei Xiang and the group of little lasses. Therefore, their eyes were all fixed on the package and didn’t notice Yan Yan’s slightly awkward expression.
Actually, she didn’t want to do this. She wanted to get rid of the evidence but felt like she’d be letting the little fatty’s kind intentions down. Especially since she had beaten him up. But if she didn’t get rid of it, she couldn’t hide something like this from her personal maids. She might as well be true to herself and take it out openly.
“Mei Xiang, take a look. Do you think this thing is really useful?”
Mei Xiang was the best at needlework out of the group. She naturally was better qualified to judge.
Mei Xiang opened the little pacakage. There were only four or five things inside. There were two pieces of triangular shaped objects which were exquisitely made. There were even some cloud patterns embroidered on it. One was bright red and the other was blue. They were both embroidered with pale blue cloud patterns. There were another two irregularly shaped pads. They were soft and seemed to be padded with cotton.
Since they knew the intended purpose, they generally understood how it should be used. Me Xiang’s eyes grew brighter the more she looked and encouraged Yan Yan: “Miss, how about giving it a try?”
Yan Yan gave her a glance and put on a front: “We don’t know if it’s good yet.”
“This servant feels it looks pretty good. We’ll only know after trying it.”
The two went into the bathroom. Mei Xiang helped Yan Yan take off her skirt and carefully helped her put it on. Because Yan Yan didn’t understand what it was used for and was also a little shy, she was in a fluster. Putting on a little pad was more tiring than an entire morning of training.
Once everything was in place, it fit very snugly. The panties also had a thin piece of string that could be tied up. It wasn’t like those menstrual straps which were tied around the waist. Those straps were uncomfortable if tied too tightly but also cannot be too loose.
These private feminine matters weren’t convenient to discuss. After Yan Yan got her period, Shen Yi Yao had personally come to explain in detail to her daughter. She then ordered the maids to make preparations. Such methods were usually passed from mother to daughter, and were all very traditional solutions.
A menstrual strap filled with clean plant ash on the inside. After it was used, the plant ash would be poured out and the strap would be washed and filled with new plant ash and reused.
Yan Yan had several menstrual straps which were all made by her personal maids. Yan Yan had paid attention to how it was made, but still felt it was very unbearable. First of all, even if the plant ash was specially burnt, it was still ash. Ash was black, and just looking at it made the shy Ah Yan feel uncomfortable. But everyone used it, from Shen Yi Yao all the way to the little lasses. At most the period strap would be more finely made, and the mistress’s plant ash was specially burnt.
There was no need to mention how uncomfortable Yan Yan was when her period came for the first time. Not only was her body uncomfortable, her heart felt very embarrassed as well. But she could only accept it since she was a girl. When she was young she felt boys and girls were the same. She was actually more impressive than many boys her age. Only now did she realize that there were differences in their physiologies.
During those days of the month, Yan Yan would be irritable and easily angered. Not only did she feel unwell, she also had to change up her habits. She couldn’t train, couldn’t ride a horse and couldn’t run around. She could only move as little as possible, and sit instead of stand. She was obviously unaccustomed to it.
Yan Yan tried moving around and felt it was a lot easier. She didn’t have to worry about the straps shifting accidentally.
“Miss, how is it?”
Yan Yan put on her pale blue innerwear and let her skirt down, nodding, “Acceptable.”
After washing their hands, they went back into the eastern room. Yan Yan felt better the more she walked. She sat for a while before being unable to resist running over to the Lincang Residence.
Normally the miss did her best to avoid moving under these circumstances. How was this only “acceptable”?
The few maids whispered to themselves. A couple of them couldn’t resist wanting to try making one for themselves.
On this day, Yan Yan’s mood was unusually good. Before she went to sleep, she ordered Mei Xiang to make a few more based on the samples. Xiao An Zi had said these couldn’t be reused.
After two days, Luo Huai Yuan reappeared with a slightly less swollen face. Despite still being a little awkward, Yan Yan gave him a very pleasant smile.
Luo Huai Yuan was stunned by her beauty until he didn’t know up from down. Looks like the modern saying was correct. If you love her, be a considerate little pad for her! The fact that he put a lot of effort into developing “Little Fatty Luo branded pads of love, version two” naturally won’t be mentioned.
“Yao’er, are you still angry with me? You’ve ignored me for three years over a small matter. It should be enough. Now that I’ve personally come to bring you back, you should more or less leave me some face. Even if nothing else, Ah Yan is no longer young. It’s about time to discuss her marriage. We shouldn’t delay our daughter’s matter.”
In the Jinhua Hall, Yan Ting sat in the black painted chair. His face was full of smiles and he looked earnest and eager.
Shen Yi Yao looked at the person before her, at his smile which was both unfamiliar yet familiar. She looked at the helpless adoration on his face and closed her eyes. “It’s about time for Ah Yan to discuss marriage. I have naturally considered this matter.”
“Then come back with me, alright?”
Yan Ting grabbed Shen Yi Yao’s hand. She moved and used drinking tea as an excuse to pull her hand back. “Let’s wait a few more days. It’ll take time to pack.”
“That’s fine. I’ll come pick you up in two days.”
Shen Yi Yao nodded.
Yan Ting left the Peaceful Garden’s gates and galloped away on his horse.
He was a little smug and was a little disdainful of Shen Yi Yao. No matter what, she was still a woman. After treating her coldly for a while, she was naturally no longer as stubborn. Turns out the Shen household’s arrogance only amounted to this much!
Yan Ting naturally wouldn’t bring up his plans at this time. Ah Yan had to discuss marriage at some pont. Shen Yi Yao would naturally go look around. At that time, he just had to casually mention the matter. Perhaps her own thoughts would end up getting stirred?
After all, that was a prince!
By the time Yan Yan heard the news and hurried to the Jinhua Hall, Yan Ting had already left. Shen Yi Yao was doing needlework on the kiln. Yan Yan went to her side and furrowed her brows: “Are you really going back with him?”
Shen Yi Yao smiled at her and said gently: “You aren’t young anymore. It’s not good to delay your matters. Actually, mom had already planned on heading back to the estate before. I just kept pushing it back, so this timing works out.”
Yan Yan actually understood this as well. It was just hard for her to accept that they were going back just like that. In her opinion, it was best if they could never go back. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem possible.
“But…..do you want to back?”
Shen Yi Yao still had a gentle appearance. “What mom wants isn’t important. Anywhere is the same to me now. It’s just that you cannot be delayed, and your brother as well. He cannot stay at the manor forever.”
Yan Yan pursed her lips tightly. After a while, she said “if you’re willing, so be it!” before leaving.
Shen Yi Yao looked worriedly at her daugher’s back and lightly sighed. She rubbed her brows.
Although three years didn’t seem like a long time, they realized they had to pack a lot of things after really deciding to go back.
From clothes to accessories, the various bits and pieces added together was more than they had brought over when they moved in.
Yan Ting came back once after two days, but Shen Yi Yao didn’t leave with him right away. She had him return with two carriages of their things first. At the Weiyuan Marquis Estate, the Jinse Pavilion and Ningxiang Chambers had their doors wide opened. The servants washed and cleaned, preparing to welcome the mistress home.
These actions shocked everyone at the Weiyuan Marquis Estate.
She was coming back?
The eldest branch’s Xue-shi wasn’t too surprised. She had long expected this.
She was coming back?
The third branch’s Chen-shi was a little startled. The memories of her second sis-in-law and her niece was already a little fuzzy.
She was coming back!
Of course, there were many who still remembered the terrifying third miss, especially the estate’s servants. There were many people who told their new friends at the Ziyu Pavilion:
“It was fine before, but the third miss is about to return. If that person at the Ziyu Pavilion doesn’t know her place, don’t you go charging in as well!”
“It’s best if you changed your job. Don’t be hesitant over that amount of silver.”
“Don’t go against the third miss. Careful she doesn’t peel your skin off!”
Such whispers spread throughout the estate. Those spreading the news all made sure everyone knew how terrifying that third miss was.
Man’er had naturally heard these rumors but she didn’t believe them. How could a fourteen year old lass make others so frightened?!
She returned to the Ziyu Pavilion and mentioned this matter to Concubine Lan. Her tone was indignant.
Concubine Lan didn’t say anything but her expression was a little frightened.
The madam was returning?
Concubine Lan was Qiong Lan.
Qiong Lan used to be a virgin kept by the brothel. She had been raised there. The matron there saw she was good looking and selected her for meticulous teachings. There were a few other girls with her and they were to become the pillars of the brothel in the future.
Qiong Lan had been sold off by her family. This had happened too long ago and she didn’t have any memories of her home. Her earliest memories were of the brothel.
The matron treated them very well from a young age and Qiong Lan knew why. This was because she expected them to earn her money in the future. She treated them as golden geese.
Qiong Lan grew older day by day. She knew that her days of entertaining guests like her older sisters at the brothel weren’t far off. She knew that the matron was about to sell her first time for a good price, and she cried at night.
Unexpectedly, she was purchased and gifted to Lord Yan.
Qiong Lan felt she was really lucky. No one was willing to live a life where their arms were pillows for thousands and their lips were tasted by tens of thousands. She felt that Lord Yan was her savior.
When she first arrived at the Weiyuan Marquis Estate, Qiong Lan was very cautious. She knew her status was lowly and that the masters here could walk all over her. This lasted until she got pregnant and gave birth to the fifth young master.
Her days as a prostitute gradually grew distant. She was now Concubine Lan of the Weiyuan Marquis Estate.The old madam viewed her highly after she gave birth to a son. She was also usually cherished by the lord. She lived a life of extravagance and was followed by servants wherever she went. Now that she had a son, she had someone to rely on in the future. Since the madam wasn’t in the estate, she didn’t have to go pay respects every day. The servants saw Concubine Lan was becoming powerful within the estate and were willing to flatter her.
She had assumed the rest of her life would be smooth sailing, but the madam was unexpectedly returning!
Qiong Lan had heard about the madam. When she had first entered the estate, she knew the madam was of noble birth and was in a loving relationship with the lord. However, she wasn’t liked by the old madam. Qiong Lan had heard the old madam curse the madam disdainfully, and had also heard the madam had taken the third miss and fourth young master to recuperate at the manor.
She had thought the madam had only done so because she was hated by the old madam. After all, the Grand Xi emphasized filial piety. What could a daughter-in-law who wasn’t liked by her mother-in-law do, even if her husband loves her? Could he choose his wife over his mom?!
Normally when interacting with the lord, she had never heard him bring up the madam. She thus started thinking that mutual affection couldn’t withstand a pretty face. The madam was over thirty already. How could a mature woman over thirty compare to her?
Only when she really saw Shen Yi Yao….
Luo Huai Yuan naturally knew his mother-in-law was taking the little consort and the little brother-in-law back to the Weiyuan Marquis Estate.
He even knew the reason. It was actually to discuss the little consort’s marriage?
This bolt of thunder crashed upon Luo Huai Yuan’s head from the blue, cooking him to a crisp.
The little consort was his! Ah Yan was his!
Looking at the oblivious little consort who was only worrying about the matters back at the estate, he felt like spititng out a mouthful of blood.
Fine. This was the curse of knowing the future. You couldn’t tell anyone what you knew, and could only get internally injured.
Luo Huai Yuan smiled very rigidly. “Little sis Ah Yan, has auntie mentioned which household she wants to match you up with?”
Yan Yan gave him a doubtful glance, “Why are you asking about this? How would I know? My mom is probably clueless as well. She has to go out and slowly gather prospects. I’m still young anyway. Mom says it’s fine to arrange things before I come of age.”
Luo Huai Yuan felt slightly relieved. His heart was a mess as he asked: “Then after going back, wouldn’t it be hard for us to meet?”
“En, that’s true. But there’s bound to be opportunities.”
Seeing her unconcerned appearance, Luo Huai Yuan spat another mouthful of blood internally. He repeatedly told himself “the little consort is still young, she doesn’t understand affection, the little consort is still young….”
However, he couldn’t get rid of the thought that Ah Yan actually viewed him only as a good friend. Previously, he had vowed to himself that he would definitely conquer the little consort’s heart. Now that three years had gone by, there didn’t seem to be the slightest effect.
Would Ah Yan end up liking him?
He was fat, not handsome enough, and he was better off without his prince’s identity…..
Luo Huai Yuan was lacking in self-confidence for the first time.
Even in his past life, despite dying together, his consort hadn’t fallen in love with him. She only treated him as her best friend. He was very clear about this.
It seems he had to go back and properly consider his next move.
“Little sis Ah Yan, I suddenly remembered I have things to do. I’ll head back first.”
Yan Yan was very amazed when the pitiful looking little fatty Luo who was trying to win her sympathy suddenly changed his expression. She had never seen him like this, and her heart even involuntarily thumped.
“What’s wrong? Did something happen?”
That sort of gaze faded in a flash. His usual smile appeared on his face once again. “Nothing’s wrong. I just suddenly remembered there was something I had to deal with in the estate so I must return.”
“Alright then. Send me a letter if something comes up.”
The Weiyuan Marquis Estate got busy bright and early.
The old madam, eldest branch and third branch didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, but the second branch’s people didn’t have such luxury. Concubine Wu and Concubine Lan had gotten dressed appropriately and waited in their residences. Only when the servants reported the madam had entered the gates did they go out to welcome her.
The fifth young master was only two years old. He had just learned to walk. Concubine Lan cherished him and would always keep him by her side. At this time, the fifth young master kept calling for his mom but she didn’t dare pick him up. She was deeply afraid of messing up her clothes and hair and end up disrespecting the madam.
She was already a little fidgety. Yesterday she had wanted to get some praise from the lord and hoped he would protect her in the coming days. Unexpectedly, she had yet to speak when the lord told her to respect the madam properly and be better behaved normally. This immediately smothered the affectionate words she was planning to say.
The fifth young master wasn’t able to get his mom’s attention and started crying hysterically. Concubine Lan’s temples throbbed. She couldn’t bear letting her son cry himself hoarse, and helplessly picked him up and coaxed him.
Right as she was doing so, a servant reported the madam had entered the gates. She hurriedly placed the fifth young master down. However, her hair had been messed up so she hurriedly tidied it up. By the time she hurried over, the madam had already arrived at the Jinse Pavilion so she could only hurry over.
When she reached the Jinse Pavilion, everything had changed. Five maids clad in green were lined up in front of the door. The floor had been swept and not a speck of dust remained. Everywhere had been freshly painted. Only when the mistress was present did the Jinse Pavilion seem like the second branch’s main residence.
Concubine Lan hurriedly tried to enter but was blocked by a maid at the door. That maid didn’t leave her the slightest bit of face and scolded: “You are Concubine Lan? Where did you learn your etiquette from? Is the madam’s place somewhere you can barge into? Wait to be announced!”
Concubine Lan’s face turned red. Man’er muttered indignantly on the side, “As a maid, why are you putting on airs in front of our concubine? You’re the one without etiquette.”
That maid didn’t bicker with her. She merely looked Man’er up and down disdainfully before turning around and preparing to go report.
A maid didn’t even give her face. By disdaining the maid by her side she was slapping her face. Concubine Lan still understood this interaction.
But so what if she understood? What she didn’t understand was that her concubine’s status was a lowly concubine’s status. Even a more reputable maid by the madam’s side had more credibility than her. Unfortunately Concubine Lan had grown up in the brothel and didn’t understand the etiquette of the rear residence. Shen Yi Yao hadn’t been present these years and no one was managing things in the second branch. The old madam only care about the finances. Since she liked Concubine Lan, she had given her some face and didn’t care about anything else. Yan Ting was busy outside daily and he never interfered in the matters of the rear residence. The servants only cared about flattering Concubine Lan and wouldn’t tell her about these things.
Not only did Concubine Lan not understand, Man’er didn’t either. She started yelling angrily.
“Where do you think you’re going? Come back and speak properly. I still want to ask what etiquette you have. A maid giving our concubine a grimace?”
The other four maids looked extremely weirdly at Man’er, and also included Concubine Lan in their stares, as though they were aliens.
Within the house, Concubine Wu had brought the fifth miss Yan Chan and was chatting quietly with Shen Yi Yao. It was mosly just respectfully asking how she was doing. Yan Yan was sitting on the side drinking tea with a look of impatience. She had thought her temper had improved, but realized it wasn’t the case.
When seeing people she didn’t wish to see, especially when they were acting well-behaved, she couldn’t help but have a bellyful of anger.
Suddenly a ruckus sounded from the outside. Yan Yan indicated with her eyes at Mei Xiang to go see what was going on. Soon, Mei Xiang brought a maid inside. That made had an aggrieved expression and said: “Concubine Lan didn’t observe etiquette and tried to barge into the madam’s residence. This servant stopped her and asked her if she knew etiquette. Her personal maid pulled this servant and wouldn’t let go.”
Shen Yi Yao frowned and asked Concubine Wu: “Has no one taught her etiquette since she entered?”
In the three years they hadn’t seen her, Concubine Wu’s appearance hadn’t changed a bit. She was still as pretty as before. However, there was some caution and restraint in her expression, making her carefree beauty a few shades dimmer.
At this time, she was docile and gently answered: “Concubine Lan is favored by the old madam and cherished by the lord marquis. This one is just a concubine so it isn’t convenient to say anything.”
Actually it had nothing to do with inconvenience. Concubine Wu rarely left her house these three years, and was so low-key she didn’t seem like a concubine. If it were anyone else, they would hurriedly fight for some favor while their boss wasn’t around. When it came to her, she spent her days like a dried well without any ripples. She kept back whenever she could, and was essentially invisible.
Yan Yan knew about this. This was why she didn’t have the mother and daughter pair thrown out when they came to pay their respects.
Shen Yi Yao remained silent without speaking, seemingly weighing how to respond.
Yan Yan however directly spoke up. “Drag that maid out and give her twenty slaps. Have that whatever Concubine Lan kneel in the courtyard. She can get up whenever she realizes her mistakes.”
Yan Yan had gotten used to managing the household for Shen Yi Yao. That maid agreed and took her leave. Shen Yi Yao sighed helplessly and gave her daughter a glance, calling the maid back.
“Say that I was the one who ordered it.”
“Child, something like punishing misbehaving concubines cannot be done by you. If it were spread, it would affect our reputation.”
Yan Yan’s face was rigid and said quietly: “Got it.”
Shen Yi Yao smiled helplessly: “Enough, it’s time to pay respects to the old madam.”
The group of people stood up.
“Where’s Yan Qian? Didn’t come?” Yan Yan raised her brows.
Concubine Wu’s face was rigid for a moment and she quietly said: “The second miss said she isn’t feeling well.”
Yan Yan gave Shen Yi Yao a glance. Shen Yi Yao’s gaze was clear. “Since she isn’t feeling well, have her properly recuperate at home.”
These words could be interpreted in different ways. It could be saying that she should wait until she recovers before going out. It could also be saying that she couldn’t go out even after recovering. Especially under such circumstances when the principal mother returned after several years. If the concubine born daughter didn’t show up, no one would think she was really feeling sick.
“Yes.” Concubine Wu agreed quietly.
After Concubine Pei was sent off, the old madam saw that there was no one to care for Yan Qian and had Concubine Wu take her in. Although she wasn’t placed under Concubine Wu’s name, she was still responsible for her everyday life. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be up to her to respond at this moment.
Yan Qian had always been an emotional one. Concubine Wu was put in an extremely difficult situation. But since she couldn’t refuse the old madam, she had no choice.
The group was escorted out by the grannies and maids. Walking by the courtyard, they didn’t even spare a glance towards that side.
Yan Qian had looked out of curiosity and gripped Concubine Wu’s hand tightly out of fright. Concubine Wu patted her and comforted her quietly.
Over on that side, Man’er was forced to kneel by two maids while another was slapping her across the mouth. With every slap, she was asked if she knew she was in the wrong. Man’er’s cheeks were swollen, and it wasn’t clear what she was trying to say.
Next to her knelt the delicate Concubine Lan. She was wearing a pale blue jacket embroidered with orchids. Her black hair was tied up in a loose bun behind her, with a strand hanging down around her neck. She looked graceful and charming. At this time she knelt submissively, as though having suffered some large grievance.
Unfortunately, no one was looking at her so her charms were displayed for the blind. Only the maids and grannies in the courtyard were looking at her, and most of them looked disdainful. Some of the people had been left behind to guard the pavilion. Having seen Concubine Lan’s smug expression over these years, it was very refreshing to see her get taken down a notch.
After the madam’s group left, these people’s whispers grew louder.
“Heh, isn’t this the monkey thinking itself king when the tiger isn’t home!?”
“What’s a lowly concubine being smug for? Back then Concubine Pei was arrogant enough, but still had to be well-behaved in front of the madam.”
“Don’t mention Concuine Pei. The third miss hates it when others mention her, including the madam. Careful not to anger her.”
“Ai, I won’t mention, I won’t mention.”
Lu Ping cleared her throat on the side and the whispers immediately died down.
Although they all served the madam, there were still differences in status. When Shen Yi Yao had left back then, half of the maids in the pavilion had been taken away. Lu Ping’s group was part of them. These years they had been trained by Matron Zou and Matron Dong, and were now able to hold the fort on their own. They were also extremely loyal.
Her expression was stern as she spoke evenly: “Since the madam asked this servant to teach the concubine etiquette, this servant will daringly say a few things. Our estate emphasizes family and status. Concubines naturally must understand etiquette. Concubines are concubines, and must pay respects to the madam daily. When the madam is eating, you are serving. When the madam is hot, you are fanning. When the madam is tired, you are massaging. Is there anyone as dense as you who would barge into the madam’s residence?”
“Concubine has given birth to a young master. Although your status is low, you must still know how to conduct yourself normally. Otherwise, outsiders will laugh at us. Also, this lass of yours actually dared yell within the Jinse Pavilion. Concubine, you must teach her properly when you get back. Otherwise, this won’t be the only time she gets slapped.”
“This lowly concubine accepts the madam’s teachings, and knows her wrongs.”
Lu Ping nodded. “Then concubine should continue kneeling, and may get up after half an hour.” Seeing that they were done with slapping, she then added: “That maid can come kneel with your concubine. In the future, you must know to mind your words.”
She instructed the maids to supervise from the walkway. Lu Ping then turned and entered the residence.
“Matron Dong, this servant did pretty well, right?”
Matron Dong nodded and her face was filled with smiles. “Pretty good. The madam is softhearted so we servants cannot be soft. Otherwise, it will be like the past and these riffraff will start stepping over us. As servants, it’s important to be loyal. But it’s most important to be able to guard things well. If the master is tough, we can just do our work honestly. If the master is soft, then we must become tough.”
These two scenarios happened to match with what they needed to do when serving Shen Yi Yao and Yan Yan. For those serving Yan Yan, they merely had to greet others with a smile and could treat everyone kindly.
For those serving Shen Yi Yao, Yan Yan had asked Matron Zou to teach them these couple of years. They had all become forceful and knew how to put on airs. When meeting outsiders, their faces would be rigid and stern. They appeared like people who shouldn’t be provoked.
Coincidentally, while Yan Yan had instructed those serving Shen Yi Yao, Shen Yi Yao had also instructed those serving Yan Yan. Shen Yi Yao felt her daughter was too unyielding. If her servants were like her, it was easy to offend others and cause problems. Therefore, it was better for them to be gentler.
This won’t be mentioned for now.
The madam had just returned to the estate and had already punished Concubine Lan. This news had reached the old madam’s ears prior to Shen Yi Yao reaching the Rongan Hall.
She was in disbelief!