Chapter 10: Taking Advantage of Power
Ning Xueyan looked out and saw that Qingrui was back. Technically, she was a first maid of Ning Xueyan, but in fact, she was one of Madam Ling’s people. She usually relied on Madam Ling’s influence and had bullied Ning Xueyan often. Qingrui was trying to curry favor with Madam Ling and told her people everything that happened in Bright Frost Garden.
She likely had something to do with Madam Ming’s death.
Qingrui, dressed in a beautiful new satin dress, looked disdainfully and sneered at Mother Han, who was covered in coarse linen and white cloth. “I had something to do. The wedding was important, and I had to help First Miss. You’re lucky — you can rely on the Second Madam to be lazy.”
“Qingrui, how dare you say that!” Mother Han shouted, trembling with anger.
With Madam Ling backing her, she was not afraid of Mother Han.
“Give your fire a rest, old woman! What kind of temper do you have so early in the morning? The Fifth Young Lady needs to get up, and you should go serve her now,” she said dismissively, turning to walk toward her room. She wanted to be ready if the First Madam needed her.
Mother Han was just a dying thing that kept consuming medicine. She wasn’t important.
Ning Xueyan stood silently at the window, watching Qingrui’s brilliant red skirt disappear around the corner. Only then did she raise her voice and call out, “Mother Han.”
Hearing Ning Xueyan’s call, Mother Han, hurriedly put down her things and went inside. “Young lady, do you want to have breakfast? Please wait for a moment; Qingrui is not here today, so Qingyu went to fetch it. She’s a little late.”
Ning Xueyan’s food had always been brought from the kitchen by Qingrui, but this food was often replaced by her. Madam Ming had been ill and Ning Xueyan cowardly, so was there to confront Qingrui?
“Madam, have Qingrui get the noon meal.” With her thoughts turning, Ning Xueyan smiled. Shad a plan, or at least the beginnings of one.
Perhaps she could break Madam Ling’s hold over Bright Frost Garden. She needed to work quickly, while Madam Ling was still dealing with the fallout of the scandal.
White flags fluttered, and cries were heard in the mourning hall of the Lord Protector’s Manor.
Ning Xueyan, gaunt and clad in white, knelt in front of the coffin, burning paper offerings and incense. She was exhausted after having knelt the whole morning, and her eyes had turned red because of constant crying, which made people feel sorry for her! Guests came to pay their respects, giving condolences that her biological mother had lost her life and been treated unfairly. Everyone felt that Madam Ling had gone too far.
She greeted the guests who last came to the hall, then stopped for lunch.
Except for her, the other one knelt in front of the coffin was the Fourth Young Lady, Ning Lingyun. She was the daughter of the aunt, so she naturally had to kneel in front of the coffin with Ning Xueyan as an act of filial piety. Although she was just a common woman, she kept flattering Madam Ling’s daughter, and she also very much despised Ning Xueyan, thinking herself better than her.
At this point, seeing that no one was coming, she stopped pretending to mourn and let her old maid bring some food. She ignored Ning Xueyan, eating on the small table at the side.
It was unlikely that anyone else would come, so the people attending the coffin were slacking off.
Qingyu went to the door, looked outside, and then looked at Ning Lingyun who was eating. She then walked to Ning Xueyan and asked, “Young Miss, why hasn’t Qingrui brought the food yet?”
Her mistress was in poor health and had been busy all morning. If she was hungry, she could even faint.
Ning Xueyan picked up the paper offerings nearby and watched the fire in the stove burn slowly while speaking softly. “Don’t worry, Qingyu; I’m not hungry. Go to Madam Dowager’s yard and ask Mother Qin if she has any spare Frigid Pills. Just say that my chest is congested, and I want some Frigid Pills to lift my spirits. Then, go back to Bright Frost Garden and get some of my clothes. I’m a little cold.”
An elderly lady like Madam Dowager would have these refreshing Frigid Pills at hand, which could lift her spirits and relieve certain symptoms, such as asthma and tightness in the chest.
“Yes, I will go right away,” Qingyu hurriedly replied when she heard that Ning Xueyan was having trouble breathing. She stood up and hurried to Madam Dowager’s auspicious courtyard.
Not long after she left, the maid Qingrui walked in with a teapot, followed by a woman carrying a basket of food. She had donned a plain white dress, but Ning Xueyan, kneeling on the ground, saw a small piece of red underneath, which appeared from time to time when she was walking.
Ning Xueyan pretended not to notice, and silently cursed the treacherous maid.