Chapter 191 Miss, She Stole Your Bracelet
The palace maids and eunuchs were very cooperative, so after a short while, the investigation of them was over. That hair-pin was not on them!
“Do I really have to search these Young Ladies for the hair-pin?”
Honored Consort Ya was in a dilemma. Her face darkened. All the Young Ladies were from noble families, and it would be an insult to them to search them. But if She did not ask people to search them, she did not know how to solve the problem. Furthermore, the palace maids and the eunuchs had already been searched.
“Are all the palace maids and eunuchs who were present just now here? Could any of them haven’t been searched yet?” None of the Young Ladies would like to be searched, so someone could not help asking.
“Sure enough. There were many palace maids and eunuchs bustling around here just now. Maybe someone has passed by here occasionally and took the hair-pin away,” another Young Lady said, following the first one. If they were searched here, they would feel ashamed to show their faces in public in the future.
“Your Highness, please check again if there were anyone else had passed by here just now,” A Young Lady stepped out the crowd and suggested, bowing to Honored Consort Ya respectfully.
Honored Consort Ya was thinking about this as well. She knew that she could not order people to search the Young Ladies. Otherwise, it would stir troubles up. She then nodded and gestured that Young Lady to sit down.
She ordered the palace maid beside her to bring all the palace maids and eunuchs in attendance at the party, including someone passing by here, someone picking plum blossom here, and someone fetching things here. After a short moment, about twenty or thirty more palace maids were brought here.
Looking at one of the palace maids, Ning Xueyan smiled slightly. It was the one who had given the note to her.
When these palace maids and eunuchs were about to be taken away and searched, Lanning suddenly said, pointing at one of the palace maids, “Miss, she stole your bracelet! Look! It’s still on her wrist!”
There was an uproar when the crowd heard that someone had stolen a bracelet and been caught. They looked at the palace maid who was being pointed at by Lanning and saw an extremely delicate bracelet set with precious gems.
Seeing that everyone, including Honored Consort Ya and Honored Consort Shu, who were sitting on the principal seats turned to her, the palace maid was so scared that she immediately covered the bracelet with her hand, trying to hide it from others. She repeated subconsciously, “This is… mine. I didn’t steal it.”
“It’s yours?” Lanning walked over to her and lifted her wrist in front of everyone. “This bracelet was left by Madam Ming to my young master, and it also bears the name of Madam Ming. Do you want to argue that Madam Ming gave it to you?” Lanning shouted angrily.
Ming Feiyong had given this bracelet to Ning Xueyan, saying that Madam Ming liked it most before marrying to Ning Zu’an. The bracelets were originally a pair, but unfortunately, one was broken, so she did not wear them again since then, and left it in the Ming Manor. Maybe because Madam Ming was still very young at that point, she had asked someone to carefully carve her name on the bracelet.
Madam Ming had hidden herself in Bright Frost Garden for years. She even had never left Bright Frost Garden, let alone coming to the imperial palace. Therefore, it was impossible for her to give the bracelet to a palace maid at imperial palace. Obviously, the palace maid was lying.
Ao Chenyi narrowed his eyes and quietly looked at Ning Xueyan, who was standing beside Lanning with an anxious look. He then looked at the pale palace maid and Ning Qingshan, who was on the other side. His lips curved up and a faint smile appeared on them. “This little girl is not that generous, and she won’t bear to suffer a little loss!”
But that was his type!
“I, I…” The palace maid had just recovered from her panic. She knelt down and said, pointing at Ning Xueyan. “Fifth Young Lady of the Nings gave it to me.”
“Tell me what happened.” As the hostess of the party, Honored Consort Ya felt humiliated for such a thing. She ordered her people to take that palace maid to her and asked.
At the same time, Ning Xueyan and Lanning were brought to her as well.
Ning Qingshan’s seat was close to them, so although she did not move, she could see everything clearly. She had a bad presentiment that made her restless. She was so anxious that she had crumpled the handkerchief in her hands. “What’s Ning Xueyan doing?” she wondered.
Honored Consort Shu sat next to Honored Consort Ya. She sized up Ning Xueyan, eyes shining.
The male guests knew something unusual happened among the female guests as well. Some childes looked in this direction curiously. “How dare someone steal at the palace banquet? Doesn’t she want to live?” they thought.
Hearing Honored Consort Ya ask, Ning Xueyan walked over and bowed to her respectfully. She said in a soft voice, “Your Highness, how could I give such a precious thing to a maid as a reward? What’s more, the bracelet was left by my mother, so it means something special to me.”
Ignore the palace maid’s pathetic pleading eyes, she said slowly.
It sounded reasonable. How could a Young Lady give such a precious bracelet to a maid just because she had served tea and fruit for her? Besides, this bracelet was left by this Young Lady’s mother. Honored Consort Ya looked at the bracelet carefully. It was both delicate and gorgeous, and was exactly as she remembered it. It really Madam Ming’s bracelet.
Honored Consort Ya put down the bracelet and was about to say something.
“Fifth Young Lady, you must have forgotten that I gave you a note. This lord asked me to give it to you,” she said, pointing at a eunuch. Then she turned to that eunuch and continued, “Lord, do you still remember that you told me to make sure that I would give this note to Fifth Young Lady, and you said this note was picked up by someone else.” The palace maid had been carefully watching what Honored Consort Ya was doing and saying, now she found things went bad and became to defend herself. She looked around, and suddenly saw a eunuch hiding behind Honored Consort Ya. She immediately shouted at him.
That eunuch had been standing behind Honored Consort Ya. Obviously, he worked for her. Being accused by the palace maid, he was shocked, then in panic. He waved his hands in a hurry and explained, “I didn’t do it. Third Young Lady…”
He turned his head to look for Ning Qingshan.
“How dare you!” Honored Consort Ya shouted angrily. An old mammy came over and slapped the eunuch hard. The eunuch stumbled and then fell onto the floor. “Those who attended the banquet today were all daughters of the officials. If you dare talk nonsense again, I’ll beat you to death!”
The old mammy looked at him fiercely and threatened.
“Yes, yes! I, I wanted to say that I didn’t know anything about Fifth Young Lady, and I had no idea about what the palace maid was talking about. I didn’t see her today. How could I ask her to give something to the others? She must have stolen Fifth Young Lady’s bracelet and couldn’t explain it, so she tried to shift the blame on me.”
Being slapped, the eunuch became sober. He was eager to correct himself, so he explained and denied that he had asked the palace maid to convey the note.
He regretted. If he had expected that he would be involved in such a trouble, he would not have sent the note for Third Young Lady in order to flatter her. Now he could not tell the truth in front of people. He knew what Honored Consort Ya meant. If he mentioned Third Young Lady, he would definitely die.
“I, I, I’m not lying. He asked me to give the note to Fifth Young Lady, and he even gave me a silver ingot as a reward. Your Highness, if you don’t believe me, please take a look.” Hearing that the eunuch had denied what he had done, the palace maid was in a panic. She took out a silver ingot from her pocket and showed it to Honored Consort Ya, hoping Honored Consort Ya would trust her.
“He… why did he ask you to give the note to me? It’s my first time to visit the imperial palace, and I don’t have acquaintances here. Why did someone write the note to me? It’s not reasonable! You must be lying because you wanted to deny that you stole my bracelet.” Ning Xueyan’s voice was not high, and she looked gentle when she spoke, as if she was talking to herself. However, since there was a sudden silence, almost everyone close to her heard what she said.
Ning Xueyan had never visited the imperial palace before, neither she had attended any parties. If Second Madam of the Lord Protector’s Manor had not died, very few people would know her existence. When someone asked about her, he would be told that Fifth Young Lady had not come out from her courtyard for several years. Of course she could not know any outsiders.
How could anyone in the palace knew her and delivered a note to her? Obviously, the palace maid was lying!
Someone who had sharp eyes suddenly found that the eunuch was the one who had taken Ning Qingshan to Honored Consort Ya’s palace. Then the ‘Third Young Lady’ he had mentioned just now should be Ning Qingshan. If what he had said was true, that meant Third Young Lady delivered a note to her younger sister.
It seemed contradictory and did not make sense.
Many people present were smart. Honored Consort Ya lost her temper after hearing what the eunuch said, and then the old mummy behind her slapped the eunuch. After that, the eunuch suddenly denied what he had said. Everything proved that there was something behind this matter.
“Ha-ha-ha…” Honored Consort Shu suddenly burst into laugh. She said to Honored Consort Ya, “Sister Ya, don’t be angry. The servants mentioned Third Young Lady and Fifth Young Lady. I think they were talking about the two Young Ladies of the Lord Protector’s Manor. It doesn’t make sense for Third Young Lady to send a note to Fifth Young Lady. Since they were sisters, what kind of things couldn’t they talk face to face, but have to entrust these two servants to deliver the note?”
Honored Consort Shu seemed to be talking casually, but what she said pointed to Ning Qingshan. Hearing what she said, everyone’s gazes turned to Ning Qingshan, who was sitting on the other side. With everyone watching, Ning Qingshan stood up and walked to Honored Consort Ya. She bowed to Honored Consort Ya and Honored Consort Shu, and gently said, “Greetings, Your Highnesses!”
“Get up!” Honored Consort Ya said, looking thoughtful. She waved her hand calmly.
“What a polite kid! I heard that Third Young Lady was both filial and loyal. I haven’t seen you for three years. Now you’re even gentler and more beautiful!” Honored Consort Shu said with a smile, covering her mouth with a handkerchief. She sized up Ning Qingshan, as if she liked her from her heart.
Only Ning Qingshan felt the hostility in Honored Consort Shu’s words.
“Your Highness, you’re flattering me,” Ning Qingshan said respectfully. Then she turned to Ning Xueyan, who was standing behind her, and said, “Fifth Sister, since she stole your bracelet, just take it back. It’s just a bracelet. Honored Consort Ya and Honored Consort Shu call the shots here. Besides, we’re at the party now. You can’t behave like you’re in our manor.”
She seemed to be persuading Ning Xueyan. She was generous and calm when she spoke, and very much like an elder sister. She also hinted Ning Xueyan not to speak casually by stressing that they were at the imperial palace. She seemed to do Ning Xueyan’s good, and she looked frank. People who suspected her could not help but hesitate. Maybe the ‘Third Young Lady’ the eunuch had blurt out was not Ning Qingshan?
Ning Qingshan could even stay calm under such circumstances!
And she even had suppressed Ning Xueyan with words. Compared to her generosity, Ning Xueyan seemed to be too narrow-minded. Stirring such trouble for a bracelet showed that she did not take the overall picture into consideration.