Chapter 144 Do You Think I’m So Gullible?
“Xueyan, I’m so sorry! I thought, I thought you were… I wanted the doctor to diagnose for you just because I was afraid that it might be delayed if you weren’t aware of it,” Ning Lingyun said in anxious. She acted properly and looked as if she had cared about Ning Xueyan so much.
Ning Xueyan looked at her quietly. She didn’t speak until Ning Lingyun felt uneasy about showing any more anxiety in front of her. “Fourth Sister, do you think I’m so gullible?”
Hearing that, Ning Lingyun was shocked. She raised her head subconsciously and found that Ning Xueyan was staring at her. Her heart went cold at the sight of the killing intent in Ning Xueyan’s beautiful watery eyes. She turned her head away to avoid the gaze of Ning Xueyan.
“Xueyan, I know I was wrong. I won’t dare to do this again!” she stammered.
Ning Xueyan knew Ning Lingyun wasn’t lying to her. Ning Lingyun put it straight because she wanted to show her weakness. “It seems I underestimated her before. She is flexible and she knows when to yield,” Ning Xueyan thought.
However, Ning Lingyun was too confident. She thought that Ning Xueyan would forgive her if she apologized to her.
Ning Xueyan wondered what made this woman so bold to face her after she had set up her so many times!
“Fourth Sister, you won’t have an opportunity to make such a mistake again!” Ning Xueyan said indifferently. She looked at Ning Lingyun with a sly smile. At the moment, Ning Lingyun had a feeling that Ning Xueyan was able to read her mind at a glance. A strong fear rose in her which made her feel colder even than the cold air outside.
Her intuition told her that Ning Xueyan wasn’t just threatening her. She knew that if she dared to do anything harmful to Ning Xueyan again, she might end up soon like Ning Yuling. Thinking about this, the panic turned to fear on her face. Her legs trembled and she was about to fell to the ground.
Seeing Ning Xueyan from behind, she bit her lips and decided not to confront again if she had any other choice.
The moment Ning Xueyan returned to Bright Frost Garden, Mother Han had just come back. Although it was very cold outside, she was still sweating profusely because she had walked back in a hurry.
“Mother Han, take your time. Qingyu, give a glass of water to Mother Han,” Ning Xueyan ordered, walking into the room.
“I’m fine. I walked fast because I remembered to prepare dumplings for you, miss,” Mother Han said with a nod. Seeing there were some maids and servants in the room, she smiled and followed behind Ning Xueyan into the room.
Qingyu was in the room. When she heard what Ning Xueyan said, she fetched a glass of water and handed it to Mother Han. Then she asked solicitously, “Mother Han, is there anything wrong?”
Mother Han had frequently gone out recently. She told the others that she went out to pick medicinal materials for Ning Xueyan, but in fact, she was connecting with Mr. Lu, the shopkeeper of Tonghetang Pharmacy. The pharmacy was one of the dowries of Madam Ming, but it was taken by Madam Ling later. When Madam Ming had no money to buy medicine, Mr. Lu would have given her some for free secretly.
When Madam Ming married to Ning Zu’an, her parents had given her many shops and a lot of money as her dowry. However, all these had fallen into Madam Ling’s hands. Tonghetang was one of the shops of her dowry. Now Mr. Lu of Tonghetang was the only one who was still kind to Madam Ming. As for the other shops’ shopkeepers, either were changed by Madam Ling, or stood on Madam Ling’s side, or didn’t dare to express their anger.
The dowry list had been taken away by Madam Ling through deceit. Even if Ning Xueyan had known about it, she couldn’t find evidence. Fortunately, her uncle still kept a copy. Until she got this list, Ning Xueyan knew that most of the shops of the Lord Protector’s Manor were left by Madam Ming.
Without Madam Ming’s dowry, Ning Zu’an wouldn’t have been so powerful. However, after Madam Ming had died lonely in Bright Frost Garden, both power and money were taken over by Madam Ling and Ning Zu’an.
What Ning Xueyan was going to do was to get those shops back.
When Madam Ling had been sent to the Buddha Hall for the first time, Madam Dowager just did it to show to the others. But after the scandal between Ning Yuling and Marquis of Ping’an was found, Madam Ling was unable to be released from the Buddha Hall that easily. Furthermore, Concubine Xu got into trouble too. Therefore, Madam Dowager was bound to return to power and run the Lord Protector’s Manor.
Madam Dowager was old and she wasn’t energetic enough to take care of everything of the manor, so she would definitely find someone to help her. Ning Xueyan was a madam’s daughter, so she was obviously more suitable than Ning Lingyun to do this job. Moreover, Ning Lingyun was just a concubine’s daughter who was despised by Madam Dowager and she had robbed Ning Yuling’s fiancé.
What Ning Xueyan needed to do was show her capabilities in front of Madam Dowager and changed her timid image in Madam Dowager’s mind. Fortunately, what Ning Lingyun had done this morning brought her an opportunity to perfectly build up a new image in front of Madam Dowager. Now in Madam Dowager’s opinion, Ning Xueyan had become a smart and aggressive girl, so she would like to give Ning Xueyan the account books.
A few ordinary account books couldn’t mean too much, but they would lay a foundation for Ning Xueyan to get Madam Ming’s dowry back in the future. It was the first step that cost troublesome, but once you went through the difficulties, the rest would be much easier.
“Young Lady, Mr. Lu said all the account books which were checked and signed by Madam Ming had been taken away by First Madam, so there was no account book left by Madam Ming in the shop,” Mother Han frowned and said anxiously after drinking some water and resting for a short while. She had been out these days for the purpose of looking for the account books signed by Madam Ming. With these account books, Madam Ling couldn’t say that Madam Ming had given all her dowry to Madam Dowager as the private property of the manor as soon as she had married with Ning Zu’an.
Normally, the main account book in a store was often the one with the clearest balance. At the end of a year, the shopkeeper would give it to his master to review. Then his master would sign on it to indicate that this account book had been checked. As long as the shop was open, the account would remain in case the master to check it again.
“Mammy, did Mr. Lu search everywhere in the shop carefully? Was he sure that none of the account books has been left?” Qingyu took Mother Han’s tea cup and asked anxiously.
“Yes. Mr. Lu and I have checked everywhere, hoping to find one, but nothing was left. All the account books which were created when Madam Ming had just married with the Lord Protection were gone. Mr. Lu had asked the shopkeepers of other shops, and they told him that all the account books with Madam Ming’s signature on had been taken away by First Madam too when she took over their shops.”
Mother Han said angrily. She flew into a rage at the thought of Madam Ling hogging Madam Ming’s dowry and being arrogant to everyone while Madam Ming and Fifth Young Lady were suffering hardships in Bright Frost Garden. The shops were left by Madam Ming to her daughter. Why should Madam Ling and her daughter have taken them away? And what made Mother Han even angrier was that two of the shops were sent to the Xias as Eldest Young Lady’s dowry.
“Miss, I’ll go to other shops tomorrow to check if they have any. I don’t believe that none of the account books was left!”
“Mother Han, you don’t have to go tomorrow. Because the shopkeepers of the other shops are not close to us, I’m afraid they will tell Madam Ling about this.” Ning Xueyan waved her hand and stopped Mother Han from doing so. It was clear that Madam Ling had expected that they would look for these account books someday, so she had done everything she could to stop them from finding any of them. Besides, it wasn’t Madam Ming who was administrating these shops, so most of the shopkeepers had been changed by Madam Ling.
At such a moment, if she took too many actions, it would arouse the others’ suspicions.
“We’ll give up so easily? So the dowry list that your uncle gave you is useless now?” Mother Han was so angry when she recalled that Madam Ming had no money when she wanted to buy some good medicine for Ning Xueyan. Her eyes turned red and tears almost fell down. She turned her head aside and wiped away the tears in her eyes with her sleeve.
“Young Lady, were those account books destroyed by First Madam?” Lanning asked in confusion.
What she said reminded Ning Xueyan. She thought for a short moment and then came up with an idea. Then she turned to Mother Han and said,
“Mammy, don’t worry. I won’t give up so easily. When you’re free, go to Auspicious Clouds Courtyard more frequently. Since Madam Ling is locked up in the Buddha Hall and Ning Yuling has been sent away, Auspicious Clouds Courtyard has no masters now and the guard won’t be as strict as before. You can chat with the servants you’re familiar with there to see what’s different about Auspicious Clouds Courtyard!”
“Miss, do you mean that First Madam didn’t burn all the account books? But how could she feel assured to hide the account books there?” Mother Han asked excitedly. She was smart and she immediately understood what Ning Xueyan meant.
‘The number of the account books is large, and for such kind of thing, Madam Ling wouldn’t have dared to burn them openly, so there’s only one possibility, that is, the account books are still there, but they have been hidden by Madam Ling,” Ning Xueyan said, a coldness crossing her eyes. It wasn’t because Madam Ling felt assured to keep the account books, but she didn’t dare to rob Madam Ming’s property blatantly.
She had already taken the place of Madam Ming and become First Madam. If the rumors about her robbing Madam Ming’s property got out, even Ning Zu’an couldn’t protect her.
“Got it! Miss, I’ll go to Auspicious Clouds Courtyard to chat with my old friends right now!” Hearing that it was possible to find those important account books, Mother Han immediately brightened up. She stood up and was about to leave.
“Mammy, take your time. We’d better wait for several days, or it will be easy to arouse attention!” Ning Xueyan reminded her with a smile, a coldness flashing in her eyes. She knew that she should be more patient and investigate step by step. Since Madam Ling dared keep the account books, she must have hidden them in a secret place. Therefore, it was impossible to find them easily.
Fortunately, Madam Ling wouldn’t be released from the Buddha Hall soon. At the end of the year, those shopkeepers would come and hand over the account books of this year…
In the following days, Ning Xueyan was so busy that she even had no time to have a rest. Madam Dowager had just wanted to test her abilities. After all, Ning Xueyan had never managed the manor before. However, to Madam Dowager’s surprise, she did a good job. Therefore, Madam Dowager was relieved to leave some other account books to her. Now what she need to do was make sure that Ning Xueyan checked correctly.
“It’s said that the girl was suspected of carrying my child?” Ao Chenyi took the note which handed over by Yu Jian, the guard team leader from a servant, a mysterious smile appeared on his face. He leaned against his chair and looked very relaxed, and a rare touch of softness and interest could be found in his eyes.
“Yes. Prince Yi, do you mean…”
“Just wait and see. I want to know what the little girl will do next,” he remarked. If necessary, he would punish those who tried to set up Ning Xuyan. But it seemed the ‘little wild cat’ was not easy to mess with.
The sun shone brightly outside the window. Ning Xueyan put down a thick account book and touched her head. Madam Dowager almost didn’t do any checking now, and she had asked the servants to send all those account books to Bright Frost Garden. Ning Xueyan had reviewed some of them from the time she got up till now and her brain felt a little dull now. Fortunately, she had finished the work for today.
“Miss, I have found out who Qing’er is,” Lanning lifted the door curtain and walked in. She handed a cup of tea to Ning Xueyan. Then she came up behind her and began to massage her shoulders.
Qing’er was the little maid who had passed out in Bright Frost Garden last time. Her physical condition was poor and she obviously couldn’t do any work. She would pass out even if she had stood a little longer.
“What’s the relationship between Yu Lian and her?” Ning Xueyan asked in a low voice.
“She is Yu Lian’s younger sister. It’s said Yu Lian’s father passed away many years ago. Then her mother married to another man and took Qing’er, her young daughter with her. However, that man and his family members ill-treated Qing’er, and they often beat or scolded her when she was still a kid. Qing’er got injured inside, so she is much weaker than ordinary people when she grew up. When she works for a while, she will gasp heavily and sometimes she will even pass out,” Lanning answered.
They felt strange when Yu Lian had come last time, so Lanning looked into it. Since Yu Lian and Qing’er didn’t share the same surname, she thought there was nothing between them. However, after investigation, she found that they were sisters by blood.