Chapter 9

Of course, the cause of this matter started with Yan Yan.

That day, Yan Yan heard that granny say her own mom ordered her to be confined for half a month. Although she was extremely resentful and disappointed, she still felt a sliver of hope. Perhaps that granny was lying to her. But having been locked up continuously for a few days without anyone asking about her and with only that granny bringing a jar of water and two buns each day, Yan Yan finally realized the truth.

Her sullenness and pain naturally doesn’t need to be mentioned. Without anywhere to sit or sleep, spending every night in darkness, along with poor food, poor clothing and her body smelling poorly, this was essentially a form of capital punishment for Yan Yan who had been raised as a princess.

Luckily she had always been tough, her personality as fierce as fire. Furthermore, she was propped up by the sullen and indignant feelings in her heart, and did not fall into depression.

Night fell once again.

Having spent several days in the dark, Yan Yan had gotten used to it. Although there was still some fear, it was no longer as intense.

Suddenly, a light knocking sounded on the door, following which Yan Yan heard Lady Hui softly calling.

“Third miss, third miss….”

“Aunt Hui, is it you?”

“Third miss, it’s me. Mei Xiang and Mei Xue said you’ve been locked up. I truly couldn’t feel at ease these past two days, and came to see you in the middle of the night. Are you well?”

As Lady Hui spoke, her tone started trembling.

Even as an outsider she couldn’t endure any longer. How could the madam bear to do so, and how could she be so foolish!?

Yan Yan sat against the door and said quietly: “I’m perfectly fine. Go back and tell them not to worry.”

There was a long silence outside.

After a while, Lady Hui’s quiet voice sounded out: “Third miss, it’s just the two of us here. No, no need to put on a brave front. I did some investigating these past two days. I know even grown men end up whining for days inside this small worship hall, let alone a young girl like you.”

The tears involuntarily flowed down Yan Yan’s face.

She felt like laughing and crying.

“In the past I’ve always believed that mom cherished me. Even though she likes to scold me, she still cherishes me in her heart. But why is it that this sort of faith in her is becoming more and more uncertain?”

These words were spoken in fragments, almost mumbled, but Lady Hui heard it clearly.

“Third miss, don’t overthink things. Madam does cherish you.” At this point, Lady Hui didn’t know what else to say.

“Yes, she does cherish me. But she never believes my words, never believes the truth. She only believes those she thinks she can trust. I’ve always thought that one day mom would snap out of it. One day! But I’ve realized that’s just a pipe dream….”

During these idle days Yan Yan had done a lot of pondering. Even if she put all the blame on the old madam and Concubine Pei’s side, she still couldn’t erase one fact: Shen Yi Yao had never believed this daughter of hers.

Every time she was scolded, Yan Yan would feel very regretful. She also wanted to be obedient and make her mom happy. But her nature had been this way since birth, and she also wasn’t willing to turn a blind eye to things. Therefore, she would always make her mom unhappy. Every time she was scolded, she would feel miserable after feeling sullen, and tell herself that she’d just endure things next time. But she was never able to endure in the heat of the moment…..

This was a vicious cycle that couldn’t be broken, and this time with Ah Mo falling into the water, things had gotten even more serious….

Yan Yan wiped away her tears and smiled: “Lady Hui, don’t worry about me. I’m really fine. This is the finest I’ve ever been. From now on, I’ll do whatever I want. I’ll never try to obtain anyone’s approval ever again!”

“Third miss…..”

“Lady Hui, I want to ask a favor and trouble you to send a message over to my maternal grandfather’s side. Just say Yan Yan misses grandfather, and have him send someone to pick me up….”

Lady Hui froze and then said: “Alright. Third miss, I’ll head over right away.”

Yan Yan let out an “en” and said: “The one surnamed Pei will definitely be on guard. You definitely won’t be able to leave during the day. No matter. Whatever she’s afraid of is what I’m going to do. From now on, I’ll have her cry to the heavens for finally pushing me over the edge.”

……

The Zhenguo Duke naturally wouldn’t believe nothing was wrong when Lady Hui came to the Zhenguo Duke Estate in the middle of the night to deliver a message.

Why would she come in the middle of the night, saying Ah Yan missed her grandfather and wanted him to send someone to fetch her?

Who was the Zhenguo Duke? He the left marshal of the five armies marshal estate, commander-in-chief of all the troops under the heavens. He had been involved in politics for several decades. How could he be unable to tell the seriousness of the situation?

He frowned and asked Lady Hui just what exactly was going on. Lady Hui was unflustered, merely saying that the miss had been locked up by the madam for several days. She refused to say anything more, merely saying that it was better for the lord duke to ask the miss herself.

Without wasting any time, the Zhenguo Duke summoned his second son Shen Ding’s wife bright and early the next morning, and had her make a trip to the Weiyuan Marquis Estate. He summarized the situation and told her to bring Ah Yan out no matter what.

Second Madam Shen was surnamed Shi. Her name was Yan Dan. Shi Yan Dan was from the Shandong Province, where the Shi household was a large and influential clan. Although they didn’t appear in court, the clan had profound accumulations which had been passed down over centuries. In theory, a household like the Zhenguo Duke Estate could have anyone they wanted as a daughter-in-law. However, the Zhenguo Duke Estate had never cared about a person’s status, only their character. Rumor had it that the Shi clan’s upbringing was strict and rigorous, and the women that came from the clan were all wise in mind and rich in character, all virtuous talents. After confirming these rumors through several methods, they finally sought out Shi Yan Dan for marriage.

After Shi Yan Dan married over, she was modest and prudent, elegant and easy-going, dignified and magnanimous as expected. She showed filial piety towards her in-laws and was loving towards her husband. She also got along well with her sisters-in-law. Furthermore, because the eldest lord Shen Dong guarded the nation’s border, his family was stationed there. Therefore, managing the household became Shi-shi’s1 responsibility. She managed things strictly and impartially, and was praised by everyone both inside and outside the estate.

Such a madam was naturally an astute person. Hearing her father-in-law’s summary and seeing his stern expression, Second Madam Shen had already figured a few things out.

She had her carriage prepared and led a group of maids and grannies in a majestic procession towards the Weiyuan Marquis Estate.

Since they were relatives, the first thing upon arrival was naturally to pay respects to Old Madam Yan.

At this moment, the doors to the Rongan Hall were opened wide, and a group of well-trained maids were lined up on either side. They all had their heads lowered respectfully. Second Madam Shen first saluted Old Madam Yan respectfully before taking a seat, partaking in some refreshments and started the conversation.

Before long, Second Madam Shen brought up the main topic, saying her in-laws missed their granddaughter and wanted to bring Ah Yan back to stay for a few days to alleviate their heartache.

One wouldn’t have a guilty conscience if one didn’t do anything wrong! When Old Madam Yan heard these words, she first thought something had to be up. Otherwise, why would they not mention bringing their two grandsons over, and only mentioned Ah Yan?

She couldn’t figure out what wicked wind had brought the news over to the Zhenguo Duke Estate. Perhaps someone had sent a letter over? But then she thought that shouldn’t be possible.

These years the doors to the Weiyuan Marquis Estate had been tightly guarded, and Ah Yan only had those two maids who had no backing in the estate. As for Shen Yi Yao, there was even less need to mention her side. She was the one who ordered Yan Yan to be locked up. It was impossible for her to have changed her mind. Furthermore, Shen Yi Yao didn’t have any trusted aides by her side. Those who had come over as part of her dowry had all been let go for various reasons.

Therefore, perhaps it was just a coincidence?!

Even so, in order to avoid offending the Zhenguo Duke Estate and to prevent any issues from arising, Old Madam Yan gave Matron Zhao a glance. Matron Zhao understood her meaning and found an excuse to leave.

Second Madam Shen wasn’t blind, and naturally saw this scene play out. However, she acted as if she didn’t see anything, drinking her tea while shooting the breeze with Old Madam Yan.

The doors to the small worship hall were opened. Sunlight suddenly flooded the small room, which had been dark for a long time.

A group of maids and grannies entered led by Matron Zhao.

Her face was filled with smiles, her attitude respectful and warm.

“Our third miss has truly suffered. Third miss’s mom doesn’t know this but the old madam hasn’t been able to sleep soundly these past few days. She’s always harping about how the third miss has suffered. But since madam had given the orders, it wasn’t convenient for the old madam to contradict her for the sake of her dignity. Seeing that it has been several days, she hurriedly ordered this servant to come bring third miss back.” After speaking, she said to the servants on the side: “Don’t you see the third miss sitting on the floor? Why aren’t you helping her up? Ju Zi, you’re responsible for sending the third miss back to the Ningxiang Chambers. Give her a proper bath and a change of clothing, and let her rest.”

She actually made no mention of Second Madam Shen’s arrival.

Everyone here was intelligent. Yan Yan had realized something was up right away, and now understood even more. But this was precisely what she was after and she was also full of pent up anger. She naturally wasn’t going let those people have their way.

She waved Ju Zi’s hand away and scolded: “Go away.”

She spoke again: “Since mom has punished me to be confined in this small worship hall for half a month, I naturally have to obey my mother’s orders. It’s only been a few days. This miss won’t go out!”

Matron Zhao’s expression froze. In theory, a small girl being locked up in such a place would be overjoyed at being released. This third miss’s reactions were abnormal! Matron Zhao also knew her nature was fierce and that she had some grievances in her heart. She forced a smile and said: “Looks like the third miss is upset at the madam. Grudges between mother and daughter shouldn’t be held overnight. Madam also regrets having to lock third miss up quite a bit, and always brings up her worries when paying respects to the old madam. But since she’s given the orders, it’s naturally not easy to retract them. As a matter of fact, since the old madam’s relationship with the madam is very intimate and since the old madam also cherishes her granddaughter, she’s asked this servant to quickly bring the third miss back to the Ningxiang Chambers, and also alleviated madam’s heartache for her daughter.”

What a nice speech!

Not only did it clear things up between her and her mom, it even brought up her mom’s worry and also included the old madam’s love for the younger generation. In only a few sentences, it included everything she wanted to hear.

Let alone her mom, even Yan Yan herself had easily believed these people’s words in the past! This was because whenever they spoke, they would speak to the person’s heart.

For example, whenever she was scolded by her mom, she would wish for her mom’s understanding and love. They would then embellish just how much her mom cherished her. However, she was no longer a child, and was no longer foolish.

Yan Yan let out a cold laugh, “Don’t speak any further. I said I won’t leave, so I definitely won’t leave!”

They want to have her leave? Keep dreaming!

Yan Yan didn’t know how to put on an act after all. Someone else would have naturally come up with an excuse or perhaps put on a heartbroken and sorrowful appearance to obscure things. But from her appearance, it was clear she was doing it on purpose.

Matron Zhao’s face fell. She had the maids and grannies keep an eye on things while hurriedly leaving herself.

Second Madam Shen was still at the Rongan Hall, so this matter couldn’t be reported to the old madam. It wouldn’t be good if she noticed something was off. Thinking of this, Matron Zhao hurried over to the Ziyu Pavilion to find Concubine Pei.

  1. The –shi appellation means “maiden-named”, and is a form of address. Translated literally, it means “maiden-named Shi”.

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