Hearing the servant’s report, the old madam was a little bewildered.
Concubine Lan was punished in the courtyard in front of everyone. Many servants had seen it so the news was spread over very quickly. The old madam didn’t feel that Shen Yi Yao was someone who would do such a thing. That person had always been soft. She therefore put the blame on that little thing causing mischief, and assumed the servants had misspoke when they said Shen Yi Yao was responsible.
If her son hadn’t asked her to do so beforehand this time, the old madam hadn’t been planning on showing a pleasant expression to Shen Yi Yao. Despite this, she still didn’t feel like she should show that woman a pleasant expression.
She was even a little smug. Don’t come back if you’re so capable. Having hung her out to dry for three years, it seems she figured out how to lower her head and behave. Women weren’t worth anything after getting married. They could only suffer their husband’s households.
Things weren’t like before anymore. The old madam felt Yan Ting had some prospects and he had also gotten connected with Senior Concubine Xu’s side. In comparison, the Zhenguo Duke’s side was weak as a chicken. If Yan Ting hadn’t told her of his plans, she would have long since made a fuss about getting rid of Shen Yi Yao. How could she still show her a pleasant expression?
Xue-shi and Chen-shi were similarly unsettled, though their thoughts weren’t as complicated as the old madam’s.
A little lass came in to report the madam’s arrival along with the third miss and fourth young master to pay respects to the old madam.
The old madam seemed not to have heard, and continued chatting with Xue-shi and Chen-shi a little longer. She asked about the misses of the two branches. In the past, she had never cared about these things.
A ruckus suddenly sounded from the door. Soon, a little lass stumbled over, her cheek swollen as she came in to report the arrival of the madam and her children.
That lass looked like she wanted to cry but didn’t dare to do so. Everyone knew without thinking that this was the tyrannical third miss’s doing. But it wasn’t convenient for anyone to say anything. The old madam deliberately left Shen Yi Yao hanging, and if it was just her she might have succeeded. But she shouldn’t forget there was still the third miss who never suffered a grievance. Wasn’t this just screwing over the servants?
Going against the old madam right after returning. This third miss was really something!
The old madam gave Matron Zhao a glance. Matron Zhao spoke up and asked: “Xiao Zhu, what happened to your face?”
That lass called Xiao Zhu trembled and mumbled: “The third miss said this servant wasn’t diligent and delayed in announcing their arrival.”
Actually there was no need to ask. This was undoubtedly the case.
Xue-shi snuck a glance at the old madam and secretly spat: didn’t she have anything better to do?
Was she really this bored?
In the hallway, Shen Yi Yao quietly scolded Yan Yan: “Ah Yan, why did you hit her?”
Yan Yan didn’t lower her voice at all. “Didn’t you see her trying to put us down?”
“Mom knows, but you still shouldn’t hit people. As someone about to discuss marriage, it’s important to be more careful in the future.”
Yan Mo interrupted on the side, “Mom, don’t scold sis. In my opinion, it was a good slap. If we allow them to step over us this time, our days in the estate will be difficult in the future. I feel sis was very correct.”
For little Ah Mo, his biggest idol was his sis. He was just short of being willing to keep watch for her while she committed murder and arson.
“But she is your grandmother after all. Others will gossip if you don’t respect your elders.”
Yan Yan sneered. “That depends on what sort of elders we have to respect!”
Shen Yi Yao rubbed her forehead. She actually knew her children were correct. But as someone of the older generation, she had to consider more than the juniors. Especially regarding Ah Yan. The estate’s people had big mouths, and any rumors that spread would make it hard for Yan Yan in the future.
Unfortunately her daughter had never cared about this. She also didn’t want to hear anything about it. She had been a little estranged with her daughter previously, and after these years things had finally gotten a little better. Shen Yi Yao also wasn’t willing to argue with her again.
Right as they were speaking, Matron Zhao came out to welcome them, her face full of smiles.
“Madam, third miss, fourth young master, greetings. The old madam has been reminiscing about you for several days. The little lass responsible for watching the door is new, and isn’t sensible. She didn’t dare interrupt the old madam’s conversation with the eldest and third madam, which resulted in this disagreement. She actually caused the third miss to get so angry. That little lass’s cheek is completely swollen. The old madam repeatedly criticized herself for causing this disaster after seeing it.”
Shen Yi Yao smiled and thanked the old madam for her concern. She also returned Matron Zhao’s words about reminiscing, but didn’t mention Yan Yan hitting people at all.
Matron Zhao’s eyes flashed and she led the people inside.
The moment Yan Yan entered, she started scolding. “How can such an insensible person be working at the Rongan Hall? What is the granny in charge of servants good for? Matron Zhao, you have to manage them properly.”
Matron Zhao smiled awkwardly and repeatedly agreed.
These words were heard by everyone in the eastern side room. The old madam’s expression became a shade uglier. Xue-shi felt the urge to laugh. Just why couldn’t the old madam act properly? Did she have to provoke them a little?
But if people were so sensible in this world, there wouldn’t be that many conflicts. Unfortunately, the old madam had never been sensible.
Within the room, the old madam was sitting on the large kiln. On the chairs below sat Chen-shi and Xue-shi. Seeing Shen Yi Yao walk in, Chen-shi immediately stood up. Xue-shi however didn’t. She was the older one and didn’t need to stand to welcome her younger sis-in-law. However, she smiled very warmly.
Shen Yi Yao smiled and nodded at the two before stepping forward and crouching to pay respects.
In the past, the old madam would have someone lift her up before she could crouch. This time she didn’t do so, and didn’t even glance at Shen Yi Yao. Her body was turned as she slowly sipped her tea.
The atmosphere was extremely awkward. Shen Yi Yao was still crouched, Chen-shi had her head lowered. Xue-shi wanted to say something but hesitated, and could only glance apologetically at Shen Yi Yao.
Yan Yan was never someone who bothered with others. She directly stood up and then went to support Shen Yi Yao. “Really, mom. Grandmother’s mouth is busy so you shouldn’t just foolishly remain crouched.”
These words almost made the old madam spit out her tea. Even so, she still couldn’t help but start coughing. Matron Zhao hurried over to pat her back and wipe her mouth with a handkerchief.
Yan Yan brought Shen Yi Yao over to sit in a chair. She glanced at the maid on the side and had her bring over two small stools. She and Yan Mo sat next to Shen Yi Yao.
The moment they got back they put Concubine Lan in her place. This was because Yan Yan knew this Concubine Lan was very smug these couple of years in the estate. She was rather like a monkey who declared itself king when the tiger wasn’t home. Therefore, this show of strength was meant for certain people. She thought the old madam shouldn’t be so foolish and ask to be embarrassed. Unexpectedly, after not seeing her for several years, she had become more muddled the older she got.
“Grandmother, really, why the hurry? My mom knows you empathize with her even without you saying it.” She then said to Shen Yi Yao: “Mom, look. Grandmother choked in her hurry to ask you to rise.”
Shen Yi Yao said docilely, “It’s all daughter-in-law’s fault.”
Yan Mo had his head lowered and did his best to hold back his laughter. Sis had more and more of big bro Luo’s manner. She would occasionally say something startling that was actually hilarious.
The old madam finally caught her breath. “Ah Yan has grown more beautiful. Unexpectedly, your little mouth is getting sweeter and sweeter as well.”
“That’s true, your granddaughter is aware of this. Thank you grandmother for the praise.”
The old madam choked up once again. After a pause, she spoke: “But your temper is getting worse as well. Why did you punish grandmother’s maid by the doors?”
Shen Yi Yao wanted to explain but was stopped by a look from Yan Yan. Yan Yan had an angry expression and her words shot out like cannonfire.
“Grandmother, don’t mention this. The people in the estate are lacking in etiquette more and more. My mom had just returned and hurried over with my brother and me to pay you respects, but they actually dared to delay things. Since it’s someone from your courtyard, it isn’t convenient for Ah Yan to say anything. But if it were someone from my Ningxiang Chambers, your granddaughter would definitely give her a good whipping. That way she would keep the lesson in mind, in case she loses your granddaughter’s face.”
Right as she finished speaking, she raised her brows at one of the maids: “What, are you all blind? Don’t you see the madam sitting here? Don’t even know how to serve tea?”
No longer looking at the maid, she pointed at Matron Zhao. “Matron Zhao, I must say. Maybe it’s time to admit your age. If you can’t keep going, it’s best to go home and retire properly. To think you’ve allowed the servants in the Rongan Hall to become like this. Don’t take advantage of the fact that you’re part of grandmother’s dowry and flaunt your age. Grandmother is old, but her granddaughter isn’t blind.”
These words were beating the chicken and kicking out the dog. She was scolding Matron Zhao but was actually saying the old madam was both old and blind and muddled. However, it was hard for her to refute anything. Otherwise, she would be admitting to being old, blind and muddled.
The old madam’s face immediately turned purple. Matron Zhao hurriedly laughed awkwardly: “Why would the third miss say this? This servant wouldn’t dare. Recently the Rongan Hall got a new bunch of maids, and it’s true they don’t quite understand etiquette yet. This servant will definitely go instruct them properly later.”
She then pointed at a maid. “Don’t stand there foolishly, hurry and serve tea. Get the third miss and fourth young master some snacks. Why are you still so dense after I’ve taught you for so long?”
It was clearly the old madam trying to put them down, but was now changed by Yan Yan to Matron Zhao being incapable of raising maids properly. It naturally wasn’t appropriate for a junior to criticize her elders, but the Rongan Hall’s servants weren’t elders.
The old madam could no longer maintain her fake smile. Her expression seemed both angry yet not. “Ah Yan, this temper of yours must really be changed. Why are you beating chickens and kicking out dogs the moment you return to grandmother’s hall!? You aren’t young anymore. How are you going to discuss marriage like this!?”
Yan Yan shot her a splendid smile. “Grandmother, you don’t know this yet but your granddaughter’s temper is just like this. It’s impossible to change! Furthermore, granddaughter is doing this for grandmother’s sake. If some noble guests were to visit our estate and get neglected, they would laugh at our estate for not knowing etiquette. As for the matter of marriage, no need to be concerned. Granddaughter wouldn’t have problems getting married off. It’s also fine if I can’t get married. My brother is still young and my mom is also an honest one. Ah Yan is willing to accompany them at home in case some bad characters try to cause mischief. I’ve always felt my family can afford to raise me.”
“Ah Yan, it’s not appropriate to say so.” Shen Yi Yao hurriedly spoke up.
“Your daughter is just trying to explain things to grandmother in case she gets sleepless while worrying about her granddaughter. In any case, grandmother has so much savings. As long as she gives granddaughter a little more, there’s bound to be someone willing to marry Ah Yan.” As she spoke to the end, her voice became that of a spoiled little girl. Yan Yan smiled brightly at the old madam.
Having not seen her in a few years, this damn lass had become even harder to deal with.
You try to put them down but they aren’t receptive at all, and violently break through. She’ll even turn things around on you. In the end, she even managed to bring up her savings. It was still fine when this wasn’t mentioned. But now that it was, the old madam suddenly felt the world had become dull. How could she give any of her savings to this damn lass!?
“Your mom has such a large dowry, why think about your grandmother’s meager savings?”
In order to avoid angering herself to death, she no longer looked at the little moneygrubber. She turned to Shen Yi Yao: “Since you’ve returned, you should move back. There are a few lasses in the estate who should be discussing marriage. You should put some thought into it. You may all take your leave. I’m also tired. I’m getting older and older and my health isn’t holding up. I can’t sit for too long.”
The group all bowed and took their leave.
Before leaving, Yan Yan turned and looked at the maid from earlier. She turned back and asked the old madam: “Grandmother, how about giving this lass to me and I’ll help you train her? Your granddaughter has a matron who’s really good at training servants. I guarantee you’ll see her in a new light after a few days.”
That lass looked pitiful, “Old madam….”
“No need to bother lass Yan. You aren’t young anmore. You need to discuss marriage and prepare for it. How can we trouble you?”
Yan Yan’s eyes flashed and she smiled: “That’s fine, then we’ll trouble Matron Zhao to do it. But you should pay more attention. If other maids like this appear in the future, I’ll deal with them one by one, ok?!”
After they left, the room fell completely silent.
The group of maids were all terrified. They knew the old madam was trying to make things difficult for the madam, but since she couldn’t personally make a move, the servants became the scapegoats.
Such methods were frequently seen in the rear residence. For example when you came to pay respects and get left outside for an hour. Afterwards, the master would say it was the maid’s fault for not being diligent and delaying or being considerate and not waking her up. It was clearly the master trying to make trouble but for the sake of keeping up appearances, it would be blamed on the servants.
The person being troubled would only be able to suffer in silence. But the third miss never played by the rules, and this method didn’t work on her. She didn’t bother with those above trying to explain, and merely picked on those below for not being sensible. The third miss’s viciousness was known by everyone. She would have you beaten near death without a second thought. Who would dare provoke her?
Wasn’t what happened earlier a lesson!?
The group of maids sobbed, looking extremely pitiful.
The old madam’s chest hurt from anger, and repeatedly said to Matron Zhao: “Didn’t I say we shouldn’t let them come back? We shouldn’t have let them come back. Look how they came back just to anger me. Just what did I owe them in my past life?”
Matron Zhao sighed: “Wasn’t it because the lord marquis said the third miss has to discuss marriage? Furthermore, there are several misses in the estate who have to as well. Without a mistress of the house to represent them, how can they go network?”
The old madam also understood this. She wiped away her tears: “I’ve finally had a few years of peace and old two also has prospects. Now we’ve brought this jinx back to make me suffer. Just who did I owe in my past life!?”
The more she cried, the more she felt wronged. The maids saw her crying and hurried up to console and coax her before she finally stopped.
“When old two comes back, have him make a trip to the Rongan Hall.”
She was going to complain to her son again. But if this was effective, Shen Yi Yao’s group wouldn’t have come back.
After leaving the Rongan Hall, Chen-shi and Xue-shi said their farewells to Shen Yi Yao. Xue-shi smiled and said she had to let sis-in-law settle down today, and will visit the Jinse Pavilion tomorrow. Shen Yi Yao didn’t refuse.
Over the last three years, Xue-shi had never stopped sending goodwill towards the manor. Even a stone would feel some warmth.
On the way back, Shen Yi Yao said: “Ah Yan, you don’t have to go against your grandmother for your mom’s sake.”
“It’s not for your sake.”
Knowing her daughter was stubborn, Shen Yi Yao’s expression was gentle as she said: “Even if she targets your mom, your mom won’t suffer.”
Yan Yan didn’t believe this at all. Her mom had always been soft. Even if she got bullied to death, she would smile and say it was fine. But she wasn’t able to watch any longer. Although these were her thoughts, it came out differently and was rather caustic.
“You keep crouching if she doesn’t tell you to rise? She has her maids neglect you and you just endure? What’s the use of enduring? Are you still thinking everything can be fine at this point? Let me tell you, ever since we returned, nothing can be fine!”
She didn’t look at Shen Yi Yao’s expression. She said rigidly: “There’s still some things to do at the Ningxiang Chambers. I’ll be leaving first.”
Yan Mo glanced at his sister’s angry figure and then glanced at Shen Yi Yao. “Mom, I’ll also go see if the house is cleaned.”
Shen Yi Yao sighed and waved her hand.
After the two left, Cui Qiao finally spoke: “Madam, the third miss isn’t wrong. You can’t be too kind. Otherwise, you’ll get bullied.”
Shen Yi Yao looked hesitant. “Ai, I’m not. I just feel like there should be another solution.”
“Madam, let this servant say something inappropriate. This old madam is clearly trying to make things difficult for you. Why would you give her what she wants? This isn’t like before. If you endure, you’ll have to endure forever.”
Shen Yi Yao fell silent. She thought about it and felt this was truly the case. Looks like she she had to think of another way.
Yan Ting was tipsy from the alcohol, but after feeling the cold wind outside, he was a lot more awake.
Thinking of the scene from earlier, he felt kind of nauseous.
There was nothing wrong with men being frivolous. Which man didn’t like beauty? But when it came to homosexuality, Yan Ting felt he couldn’t quite accept it. But Xu Xiang Rong had this sort of taste, so how could he say anything about it? He could only turn a blind eye.
He rode back towards the Weiyuan Marquis Estate. There was a curfew on the streets at night and he ran into patrols. However, no one blocked his party. After returning to the estate, Yan Ting realized it was Shen Yi Yao’s first day back. He had to at least give her some face, so he went to the Jinse Pavilion.
Unexpectedly, the Jinse Pavilion’s lights were off and the doors were also shut.
This sort of situation never happened in the past. No matter how late he returned, she would always leave a door open for him. Yan Ting was drunk to begin with and his blood was boiling. He borrowed the alcohol and forcefully gave the courtyard doors a couple of kicks.
No one opened the door for him. There was a granny who said with a trembling voice that the madam had already gone to bed. She had instructed that if they lord marquis returned, he may go to the two concubines.
Yan Ting frowned. He left with a flick of his sleeves.
Not wanting the face he was offering? He had wanted to leave her some dignity, but was refused at this point. Thinking of the gentle and affectionate Concubine Lan, Yan Ting wandered over to the Ziyu Pavilion.
It was already midnight when Yan Ting returned so the Ziyu Pavilion’s lights were out as well. However, Concubine Lan had also gotten to know his habits and would always leave a door open for him.
When he went in, the little lass on night duty greeted him softly. The lights in the room were gradually lit. After Yan Ting entered, Concubine Lan greeted him with her clothes draped over herself.
Yan Ting was still muddled from the alchohol. Having been angered at the Jinse Pavilion, he no longer wanted to suppress himself at the Ziyu Pavillion. He didn’t notice Concubine Lan’s legs were a little inconvenienced, and directly pushed her onto the bed.
After a round of venting, Yan Ting fell deeply asleep. Concubine Lan on the side however cried the entire night.
She was in pain.
She hadn’t knelt the entire hour in the afternoon. Shen Yi Yao had gotten back from the Rongan Hall and allowed her to go back. Despite this, the delicate and frail Concubine Lan had suffered quite a lot. Both her legs were swollen and it hurt to move. She had never suffered such punishment even back at the brothel.
As if that wasn’t enough, the matron in charge had found a granny to escort her back. After they arrived at the Ziyu Pavilion, the rough granny had scolded and admonished her in front of all the servants.
Grannies weren’t like those little lasses, and they said whatever they felt like. She had mocked Concubine Lan and her words were extremely ugly. Concubine Lan had only heard such filthy talk from the old prostitutes at the brothel when they were arguing.
She had wanted to go complain to the lord, but he unexpectedly came back drunk in the middle of the night. He didn’t mind her body at all before venting for a round. Was it really like that granny said? Was she just a lowly plaything?
The next day when Yan Ting woke up, he saw a haggard woman sleeping next to him, her eyes swollen.
Only after being startled for a moment did he realize it was Concubine Lan.
How did the delicate and cute person become this way?
However, he didn’t think too much about it. Instead, it was Concubine Lan who leaned over crying pitifully, telling him about how she was wronged yesterday.
Only now did Yan Ting find out Shen Yi Yao had taught Concubine Lan a lesson right after getting back. This cleared things up for him. No wonder she refused to let him in the door yesterday. It turns out she was jealous.
Shen Yi Yao got jealous easily when she was younger. Thinking this way made Yan Ting feel more at ease.
As for Concubine Lan whose legs were swollen from kneeling, Yan Ting told her to be more obedient in the future and not to provoke the madam.
After speaking, he put his clothes on and left, leaving behind a melancholy Concubine Lan.
The older sisters at the brothel had been right. Men were all heartless. Luckily she had a son. Concubine Lan needed something to rely on to make her feel safe when faced with such a cruel madam.
After she was a bit more presentable, she limped over with the fifth young master to the Rongan Hall to find the old madam. This naturally didn’t need to be mentioned.
Xue-shi came to visit Shen Yi Yao the next day. It wasn’t that she was impatient. It was just that Yan Ru really couldn’t delay any longer.
She had looked around for her daughter these past two years, but the people she could come in contact with were at most women from minor official households or noble estates that were even more fallen than the Weiyuan Marquis Estate. Those with status didn’t care for a side-branch daughter of a random household. At best they were the principal sons of some minor officials.
Xue-shi had always cherished Yan Ru. How could she be willing to match her up with a person from such a household? She awaited Shen Yi Yao’s return eagerly, but didn’t expect her to be gone for over three years. However, considering the third miss’s age it also made sense. But Yan Ru was older than Yan Yan by over a year, and was about to reach the age of marriage.
“Second sis-in-law, you must help your older sis-in-law regarding this matter. Your sis-in-law can only beg you since I’m truly out of options. Since we’re both parents, second sis-in-law should be able to understand my feelings. Parents are responsible for their daughters, and we must plan things out well for them. Otherwise, they would suffer outside after getting married.” As she spoke, Xue-shi started tearing up.
Yan Ru was embarrassed and shy. “Mom, don’t be like this.”
Shen Yi Yao was also busy comforting Xue-shi. After she was finally calmed down, Shen Yi Yao told her, “I will take the eldest miss’s matter seriously. It’s just that you should know this matter cannot be rushed.”
The maids brought towels and water and helped Xue-shi wash her face. Only then did Xue-shi lift her face up in embarrassment: “I was momentarily anxious. Hopefully sis-in-law isn’t laughing at me.”
Shen Yi Yao shook her head with a smile. She then turned to Yan Ru. “Eldest miss, can you stand up and walk a few steps for your second aunt to see?”
Hearing this, Xue-shi and her daughter were both confused. Yan Ru still stood up and walked a few steps.
Shen Yi Yao then asked about Yan Ru’s education. Xue-shi answered her questions one by one. She said Yan Ru was not bad at studying. Her poetry and couplet matching wasn’t a problem. Yan Ru liked these things since she was young. She could be called outstanding in her classes at the estate. Her needlework was also passable.
Shen Yi Yao nodded. She muttered to herself and then asked if she had learned household management and things like that.
This time Xue-shi’s expression was troubled. She had wanted to get a nana from the palace to teach her daughter etiquette, but unfortunately didn’t have the right connections. She had mentioned it to the old madam a few times but the old madam had said it would be a waste of money. Those nanas from the palace were all serving others. What etiquette could be learned from them?
As for household management, Yan Ru wasn’t too interested in it. Xue-shi had merely taught her daughter how to read the eldest branch’s accounting ledger.
“Etiquette must be learned. Household management as well. It’s not important if you marry down, but if you marry up or become the household mistress, you cannot avoid making decisions for the household. When major households choose their wives, poetry and couplets are secondary. What’s most important is bearing and ability. Whether your future days are good will depend on your ability to manage the household. How about this? I’ll ask someone and see if we can invite a nana from the palace over.”
Xue-shi repeatedly expressed her gratitude.
Yan Ru’s face had long since turned red. She lowered her face and her expression couldn’t be seen.
Story development spoilers ahead.
The old madam isn’t even willing to put on a nice front anymore. However, she still needs to maintain her dignity. Those who are impatient for the scummy dad to get bullied don’t worry. It’ll happen along with the matter of Ah Yan’s marriage. Those worried that Shen Yi Yao will be dragging her down shouldn’t worry either. Her personality and way of doing things is just different from Ah Yan. Ah Yan likes to meet things head on whereas Shen Yi Yao prefers to use softness to meet strength or perhaps treat others per convention.
This method is naturally effective against reasonable people or those who care about dignity. However, against the old madam who is quite frankly poorly raised, it isn’t that effective. This is because when you bring up dignity, she will bring up filial piety. When you bring up reason, she will still bring up filial piety. Mother-in-laws are innately above daughter-in-laws by a level. This mother-in-law is also a little shameless. Isn’t she hard to deal with?
Of course, things have started getting more and more out of hand. Yan Ting is also counting his chickens before they hatch. As the Shen household’s daughter, Shen Yi Yao would definitely not agree. Neither would Yan Yan and the little fatty. A falling out is inevitable. Please look forward to it.