Chapter 174 Block the Maid on the Way to Buy Time
A maid in the blue padded jacket rushed toward Foggy Courtyard. As she walked in a rush, she walked so fast that she nearly tripped over a stone.
The maid took a sigh of relief when she found herself at the gate of Foggy Courtyard. She wiped the sweat off her forehead with a handkerchief and was going to walk into the courtyard.
“There are many guests in our manor today. You are walking in such a hurry. What if you disturb the guests?” Lanning walked out from nowhere and said crossly, staring at the maid.
Hearing that, the maid was taken aback. When she found that the person in front of her was the first maid Lanning, she immediately argued for herself, “Sister Lanning, Third Young Lady asked me to find Mammy Luo and tell her to put the account books which Fifth Young Lady had sent here at a safe place so that they won’t be stained.”
“Mammy Luo is at Foggy Courtyard?” Lanning asked, pretending to be surprised. Mammy Luo was very active. She visited many people yesterday and was still looking for others to chat this morning. It seemed she was on good terms with everyone as soon as she returned to the manor.
“It doesn’t matter if Mammy Luo isn’t at Foggy Courtyard. Third Young Lady said she will ask other maids to find her.” The maid thought that Lanning didn’t believe her, so she immediately explained.
Lanning knew that Ning Qingshan wanted the maid to inform Mammy Luo to deal with the account books as soon as possible.
“Since those account books don’t have legs and they can’t run away, you can find Mammy Luo later. Now go to the kitchen first. The kitchen staff prepared a nutritious soup for Madam Dowager and the other old ladies. Take it to them as soon as possible. If you keep them waiting too long, Madam Dowager might be angry,” Lanning said with a nod. She was in charge of the kitchen on behalf of Ning Xueyan, so she knew the last dish, the nutritious soup, had not been served yet.
“I… now…” The maid was surprised. She looked at the road toward Foggy Courtyard, and then the one to the kitchen, but didn’t know what to do. Third Young Lady made a point telling her to run back so as not to lose time.
“Why are you still standing here? Do you think that Third Young Lady is even more important than Madam Dowager?” Lanning scowled when she found that the maid was still hesitating.
“Yes, yes, I’ll go right now.” The maid knew that Madam Dowager was much more powerful than Ning Qingshan, so she turned to leave without any hesitation.
Lanning followed behind her triumphantly toward the kitchen.
Ning Xueyan had instructed her to block the way of the maid, because she knew that the longer the account books were at Ning Qingshan’s place, the more she couldn’t explain clearly if the stained page was found.
Ning Qingshan was abstract-minded when she just went back to the flower hall. She looked out from time to time and it was an hour before she gradually calmed down. She knew Mammy Luo was capable, and if there were anything unexpected happened, she would find a way to send a message to her and ask her back.
Now it was a long time after she had arrived at the flower hall again, but she hadn’t received any information from Mammy Luo yet. That meant nothing big happened, so it was unnecessary to ask her back.
But Ning Qingshan was still confused. She had watched Xia’er stain the account book, but how could it become clean so soon? Furthermore, since the fishy flavor was so strong and the stained area was so big, how could nothing left on that page. “Maybe Ning Xueyan changed the account book,” she thought.
If that was the case, Ning Xueyan was really capable, because it was not easy to copy a new account book in such a short time. But it was useless to do so, as the new copied account book was different from the original one in nature, and the writing ink color of different times would certainly be different.
She didn’t believe that Ning Xueyan was able to make a new account book looked as old as the original one in such a short time.
She had a hard time at Auspicious Fortune Hall just now, but she failed to get the account book, so even though she was suspicious, she had no chance to check it. However, because she had been closer with those account books just now, she was sure that if there was any fishy flavor, she should have smelled it, but she only smelled the fragrant smell there.
She hadn’t thought about it because she was anxious at that point. But when she calmed down, she found it was a slip of Ning Xueyan.
How could an ordinary account book emanate a faint fragrance like this? It could happen only when this account book was special or someone had sprayed fragrant powder on it on purpose.
Thinking about this, she felt relieved. She could take advantage of this flaw of Ning Xueyan to expose her. And she could even make things even more serious by accusing her viciousness of setting up her sister!
After having cleared her mind, she gradually behaved naturally in the flower hall. Mother Qin was very confused because she found that Ning Qingshan had resumed her grace and calmness. She looked generous and behaved quite differently from when she had been at Lucky Garden.
“If Third Young Lady was as calm as she is now when she was at Lucky Garden, Madam Dowager wouldn’t have been so unhappy with her!”
“It seems Third Young Lady takes the account books very seriously,” Thinking about this, Mother Qin fell to silence. Although she had accepted benefits from Ning Qingshan, she understood that Madam Dowager was her master, so she didn’t dare help Ning Qingshan too much. Otherwise, Madam Dowager would be suspicious. Then she gave up the idea of asking Ning Qingshan about the account books.
The coming-of-concubine ceremony of Junior Concubine Xu was held at the gate of the Buddha Hall where Madam Ling was.
Junior Concubine Xu knelt down at the gate of the Buddha Hall. Mother Chen walked out and took the tea cup from her hands and then brought it into the Buddha Hall. After a short while, she supported up Junior Concubine Xu on behalf of Madam Ling, smiling. She passed a golden hair pin to Junior Concubine Xu and said, “First Madam asked you to serve marquis whole-heartedly. You should never be arrogant and make troubles because marquis loves you. Otherwise, even if marquis couldn’t bear to punish you, Madam Dowager and First Madam wouldn’t show mercy.”
Although she didn’t speak loudly, her attitude was aggressive. Besides, she had even taken advantage of Madam Dowager to suppress Junior Concubine Xu.
She spoke these on such an occasion was like slapping Junior Concubine Xu in front so many people, because it sounded like that Junior Concubine Xu was a troublemaker. Plus what had happened in the manor before, everyone couldn’t help imagining wildly.
Junior Concubine Xu was very embarrassed. She kowtowed twice to the Buddha Hall wrongfully with tears in her eyes, and then was supported up and left. Now the principle wife had drunk the tea served by the concubine. Although Madam Ling didn’t show up, she had given a hair pin to Junior Concubine Xu in the presence of many people. That meant she had already officially admitted her as the concubine of Ning Zu’an.
After lunch, the guests waved good-bye and left in small groups. Since it was only a concubine’s wedding ceremony, and the guests came for the sake of Ning Zu’an, they knew they shouldn’t stay here too long, and left successively.
The female guests left as well following their family members, so the flower hall began to be quiet gradually. After seeing off the last guest, Ning Qingshan felt relax. She breathed a long sigh of relief. Even though she was sociable, she was a little tired after accompanying the guest for such a long time.
However, at the thought of all the praise she had received from the female guests, she felt that it was all worth it!
If nothing unexpected had happened at Lucky Garden just now, it would be a perfect show in public for her on the first banquet after she had left three years. However, everything was ruined by Ning Xueyan! At the thought of Ning Xueyan, a coldness appeared on her face. She wouldn’t let go of Ning Xueyan!
“Mother Qin, can I go to Grandmother’s place after a while? I want to check the account books first and then take them to Lucky Garden. What do you think?” Ning Qingshan said politely and softly with a smile.
She was mentioning the account books again! Mother Qin frowned unconsciously. She wanted to say something, but finally held back the words. She nodded with a smile. No matter how Madam Dowager liked Third Young Lady, she was not related to the family by blood. Madam Dowager cared about this very much. If she were Madam Dowager’s granddaughter by blood that Madam Dowager liked very much, Madam Dowager wouldn’t have agreed to let her stay at the nunnery for three years.
“Yes. I’ll go back and report to Madam Dowager right now. Third Young Lady, you don’t have to check the account book in a hurry. You were busy with greeting guests today, so you should have a good rest first. I’m sure that Fifth Young Lady will understand that,” Mother Qin persuaded implicitly, hinting that Ning Qingshan should not be in a hurry to bring up the account books.
What Ning Qingshan had done today had already aroused the suspicion of Madam Dowager!
However, Ning Qingshan was eager to defeat Ning Xueyan as soon as possible, so she didn’t catch Mother Qin’s hint. Furthermore, she didn’t take her words seriously. Why did she need to care about whether Ning Xueyan understood or not? What if she didn’t understand?
“Thank you, Mother Qin! Then I’ll come to visit grandmother later.”
She would step Ning Xueyan under her feet today by this opportunity. If Madam Dowager knew that the account book was a copy, Ning Xueyan wouldn’t be able to defend herself.
After saying good-bye to Mother Qin, she took two young maids with her and went back to Foggy Courtyard. She walked very fast. At the thought of more than one flaw in the new copied account book, she couldn’t help but laugh inwardly.
When she arrived at an intersection, she suddenly saw Mammy Luo coming diagonally across from her. She stopped and surprisingly looked at Mammy Luo and in the direction Mammy Luo coming. That wasn’t the direction toward Foggy Courtyard at all!
“Miss, you’re back! Did all the ladies and girls leave?” Mammy Luo asked. She had just come out from Auspicious Clouds Courtyard. She was very busy all the time today and got a lot of news. During her three years in the nunnery, Ning Qingshan had kept an eye on what had happened in the Lord Protector’s Manor, but there were still some details she didn’t know.
“Mammy Luo, you…” Smile faded away from Ning Qingshan’s face.
“I walked around in the manor just now and encounter some old friends. It has been three years since I saw them last time, so we had a lot to talk, and I have just finished talking with them,” Mammy Luo said with a smile.
“You were not at Foggy Courtyard and you didn’t see the ‘account books’?” The last words were almost squeezed out of her teeth, and her face turned pale when she spoke.
“Account books?” Mammy Luo didn’t understand. She froze there for a few seconds and looked at Ning Qingshan. Suddenly, she seemed to have thought of something and her look became serious.
“Fifth Sister asked someone to send several clean account books to our courtyard. Didn’t you see them?” Ning Qingshan had a bad feeling, and after asking this, she stopped talking and turned to Foggy Courtyard. She had asked a maid to inform Mammy Luo, but since Mammy Luo hadn’t even been back to Foggy Courtyard by now, it meant the maid didn’t find her just now. In other words, those account books had been in Foggy Courtyard all the time after they were sent there.
Mammy Luo also felt something wrong. She rushed into the courtyard following behind Ning Qingshan. When they entered the room, they saw the account books piling on the table in order. They looked at each other and their heart sank. Gritting her teeth, Ning Qingshan walked forward and picked up an account book.
At the first glace of the bottom cover of this account book, she felt dizzy and she was nearly breathless. She swayed a few times and almost fell to the floor.