Chapter 12: Plain Clothes
Madam Dowager was drawn here after she heard that Qingyu was requesting Frigid Pills, just as Ning Xueyan had planned. She knew Old Lady Qin would be ill at ease after giving Qingyu the Frigid Pills and would inform Madam Dowager about Ning Xueyan’s condition.
After all that racket in the Lord Protector’s Manor yesterday, all eyes were on them. They must not allow rumors of the Fifth Young Miss being abused to spread. With her health, she was like a master who was at death’s door. And they were having guests over this afternoon! What would they say if she fainted inside the mourning hall?
After thinking about it, Madam Dowager decided to check on the situation personally. The family was already at the heart of so much uproar; she must not allow people to continue gossiping about the Lord Protector’s Manor.
To her surprise, she heard a sharp-tongued maid bombarding Ning Xueyan the moment she entered the mourning hall. The maid even mentioned the word “die” inside the mourning hall! She was so furious, her face turned ashen. How dare a lowly maid embarrass her master this way and speak so fearlessly inside the mourning hall! She couldn’t imagine the kind of things people would say if they found out.
Two servants grabbed Qingrui. Ignoring her cries, they dragged her to the corridor and started slapping her.
Another came to help the kneeling Ning Xueyan to her feet. She carefully helped Ning Xueyan walk to the side room, where Madam Dowager was waiting. Ning Xueyan kneeled. Her voice was determined. “Grandmother, please uphold justice for me.”
Pin-drop silence took over the side room!
“What do you have in mind?” Madam Dowager stared at Ning Xueyan, whose head was still lowered.
“These maids go too far in deceiving their master. I don’t have the courage to have them serve me.” Ning Xueyan raised her head and said every word with clarity. Her manner was neither servile nor domineering. “They went to retrieve the food at the same time as Fourth Sister’s maids, but my food wasn’t here even after Fourth Sister finished dining. Moreover, what they served me were their leftovers.”
One look at the dishes provided showed they were clearly food for the servants.
The maids had eaten Ning Xueyan’s dishes and then served her the cold rice and vegetables from the servants’ table. Ning Xueyan knew they’d done this every day, but the old Ning Xueyan had been too afraid to say anything about it.
She also knew the Madam Dowager would avenge her, not because Madam Dowager’s heart ached for her, but to put up a front for others. She must show her adoration of, and compassion for, Ning Xueyan to speedily remove the Lord Protector’s Manor from the ugly rumors going around. The replacement of Ning Xueyan’s servants was exactly the sort of thing Madam Dowager could use.
What Ning Xueyan needed now were servants she could trust!
After a moment of silence, Madam Dowager asked, “Are your words true?”
“Grandmother, you may investigate it if you don’t believe me. Even if I’m weak, I refuse to allow them to humiliate me. That would affect the reputation of our Lord Protector’s Manor!” Ning Xueyan’s every word was purposeful.
Mother Han had already checked on the food, having understood Madam Dowager’s intention. She smiled wryly at Madam Dowager and nodded. “Madam Dowager, the dishes are indeed food for low-level maids, and they have become thoroughly cold. Considering her frail body, the Fifth Young Lady would surely fall ill if she eats such food.”
Madam Dowager’s teacup fell to the ground, breaking into fragments. “To think that there are such wicked servants who dare to bully and humiliate their young master! Fetch Housekeeper Lu immediately! Have him sell off these two wicked women!”
Seeing that Madam Dowager was angry, Mother Han immediately tried to mollify her. “Please appease your anger, Madam Dowager. I’ll immediately send someone to fetch Housekeeper Lu!”
Ning Xueyan was still kneeling. From her vantage point, she could see a shadow flitting behind the white banner. A person wearing a navy blue dress was slowly moving outward. Everyone inside the mourning hall earlier was dressed in pure white clothes. The servants that Madam Dowager brought were dressed in plain, but not pure white, clothes.