Chapter 224 They All Have an Ulterior Object in View
In plain clothes, Ning Xueyan’s face looked much paler than Ning Qingshan’s, and it made her jet-black eyes even more clear and dark under her trembling, long eyelashes. Her paleness reminded people of purity and niceness and her aloof temperament made her more like a fairy.
Compared to Ning Qingshan, she was more like to arouse Third Prince’s attention. Ning Qingshan had been sensitively aware that Ao Mingyu had looked at Ning Xueyan more than once before they got into the carriage.
It made jealousy spread in Ning Qingshan’s mind, like a frantic viper.
Holding back her anger and gritting her teeth, she squeezed out a smile and talked to Ning Xueyan. She reminded herself to be patient. She would watch Ning Xueyan step by step into the abyss. She had many opportunities to corner Ning Xueyan and she would watch her struggling in the trap and being tortured!
“Third Sister, it doesn’t matter. Let’s bygones be bygones. Since so many people had been there, they could prove my innocence. Third Prince specially asked me about it, so obviously, all the others trust me.” Ning Xueyan smiled slightly. Her faint smile meant that she did not care about what had happened, but her words did not sound friendly.
If everyone believed that Ning Xueyan was innocent, Ning Qingshan, who had been criticizing her could not be innocent. What was more, Ning Xueyan mentioned Third Prince. Ning Qingshan’s smile almost froze and her eyes flashed with anger. She clenched her fists more firmly and her sharp nails almost embedded into her palms.
“She is challenging me!”
She was surprised that Ning Xueyan dared to challenge her to her face. They were all smart, so they knew what each other was hinting although they did not say it.
Ning Qingshan knew that she should not lose temper and argue with Ning Xueyan at the moment. Otherwise, the others would know they quarrel again for what had happened from the manor gate yesterday. And it would set off another round of debate. She would be utterly defeated. Besides, due to Mammy Luo’s eagerness, Ning Qingshan’s intention had been exposed yesterday.
In order to prove that she was innocent, she must maintain sisterhood with Ning Xueyan and made the others think that they were getting on well with each other. Moreover, she had her plan. Once something bad happened to Ning Xueyan a moment later, the others would be suspicious about her!
Ning Lingyun felt something wrong as well. After looking at Ning Qingshan’s frozen face, and then at Ning Xueyan’s relaxed expression, she lowered her head cautiously. She had an ulterior object in view, so she did not dare to say much. She worried that if she said something wrong, Ning Xueyan would see through their plot. She had suffered a lot because of Ning Xueyan, so she was more cautious, trying to avoid Ning Xueyan’s attention.
She blinked at her maid by her side. The maid nodded slightly.
They communicated with each other quietly without making any noise, sitting in the utmost corner of the carriage. It seemed that she knew well that she was a concubine’s daughter and did not dare to make a little noise in the battle between two principal wife’s daughters. Although she was well dressed today, she could not be compared with the other two Young Ladies at all in terms of aura.
“Fifth Sister, are you blaming me? It seems you still don’t believe me,” Ning Qingshan said after hesitating for a while, looking a little annoyed. She knew she could not confront Ning Xueyan to the face, but it would not work to show her kindness all the time. Besides, it might make Ning Xueyan think that she was too weak.
“Fifth Sister, you can put it straightforward if you’re still mad of me. It’s unnecessary to hide it. I’m not good at reading heart, so I’m afraid that I will mistake your annoyance for your forgiveness of me.”
Ning Qingshan spoke loudly with a trace of anger on her face, trying to show that she was really angry. Ning Lingyun moved a little inside, as if she was too timid to do anything, trying to make everyone ignore her existence.
“Third Sister, why are you so angry? I was almost cornered yesterday. Fortunately, the injustice was redressed. Third Sister, aren’t you feeling happy for me?” Ning Xueyan asked back calmly with a faint smile.
“The injustice was redressed? I’m not happy about this?” Each word seemed to hit home. Ning Qingshan had not thought that Ning Xueyan dared to repeatedly challenge her. She felt that she could no longer pretend.
She had deliberately spoken loudly, trying to make Ning Xueyan lower her voice consciously and stop arguing with her. After all, Third Prince was outside.
To her surprise, Ning Xueyan had the guts to argue with her loudly. It seemed she did not worry about their conversation to be overheard. “She spoke even louder than I did!” Being resentful, Ning Qingshan sneered and was about to shoot back.
Suddenly, with a knock on the carriage, Ao Mingyu’s voice rang out clearly, “What happened?”
“Nothing! We’re talking about what happened yesterday. I misunderstood Fifth Sister, so I’m apologizing to her.” Hearing that, Ning Qingshan explained to Ao Mingyu gently. She immediately held back her anger and put on a smile.
She had to maintain her gentle and virtuous look in front of Third Prince, and she would never let Ning Xueyan ruin her image.
She decided to make a concession and give Ning Xueyan the upper hand for the moment. But someday in the future, she would let Ning Xueyan kneel to her and plead her for forgiveness. At that point, Ning Xueyan would no longer dare to contradict her!
Hearing her explanation, Ao Mingyu looked at the carriage thoughtfully and said nothing. He then mounted his horse and rode on.
“Third Prince, the girl who was speaking is Third Young Lady of the Lord Protector’s Manor. It’s said Third Young Lady was both filial and loyal. I have never thought that she was such a beautiful lady. Third Prince, you’re really lucky!” Ao Xian rode forward with Ao Mingyu on a horse. Following Ning Lingyun’s suggestion, he had come to curry favor with Ao Mingyu. He remembered the rumors about Third Young Lady and Ao Mingyu. And Ao Mingyu specially invited the three Young Ladies of the Ning Manor to visit his greenhouses.
It seemed that what the rumors said was true. So he immediately came over and praised Ning Qingshan in front of Ao Mingyu.
He had not seen Ning Qingshan’s face clearly at all, but it would not prevent him from flattering Ao Mingyu.
Hearing that, Ao Mingyu did not seem to be very happy. He looked at Ao Xian coolly and said, “Princely Heir, you spoke too highly of Third Young Lady!”
With that, he spurred the horse slightly and the horse immediately rushed forward. It seemed he did not want to talk to anybody.
It was true that Ao Mingyu was not in the mood for conversation. He had never objected to having Ning Qingshan become his principal wife. Whenever he thought of the moment Ning Qingshan had saved his life three years ago, he reminded himself not to let her down. In the past three years, he had visited the Lord Protector’s Manor each year. On the one hand, he had paid the visits following Honored Consort Ya’s words. On the other hand, he had really wanted to see her.
The gentle, generous girl used to be his sweetest memory.
But now, she had changed so much! Or maybe in the past three years, she had gotten in touch with Ao Chenyi. After thinking it over, he even suspected that she might have approached him under Ao Chenyi’s command. Otherwise, why had she happened to be injured in the same position as Ao Chenyi’s favorite concubine’s? Besides, she had been trying to hide her wound from the others.
Ning Qingshan had gotten involved in a chain of events after her return. She had been trying to frame her younger sister. Could this vicious woman still the gentle girl three years ago?
If it were not for scruples, he would have taken Ning Qingshan away with the maid at the Lord Protector’s Manor’s gate. His principal wife should be both generous and gentle. Obviously, a vicious woman like Ning Qingshan was not suitable for this role.
But for the moment, not only could he not do that, he had to protect her. He could not let the others know that she had such a jade pendant. At the thought of the jade pendant, Ao Mingyu was so angry that he could not help gritting his teeth. How could she expose the jade pendant so casually? Wasn’t she afraid that the others would investigate her origin? In fact, Ao Mingyu did not believe that Ning Qingshan had such an identity, because it was impossible!
But if it was possible, maybe he would benefit from it.
He must keep the secret.
Being snubbed and knowing that Ao Mingyu did not want to talk, Ao Xian stopped talking awkwardly. He did not dare to chase Ao Mingyu, but followed behind him with Ning Huaiyuan. Led by Ao Mingyu, the team left the city.
After leaving the city, they passed several turnings and arrived at their destination. Ao Mingyu jumped off the horse first and threw the rein to a servant walking over to him.
“Third Prince, we have been waiting here for a long time. Why are you so late?” One of the two people waiting at the gate was Wen Xueran! The enchanting and beautiful man walked over to greet Third Prince, playing with the fan he had taken with him all the time.
“Xueran, you have been here for a long time?” Ao Mingyu asked politely with a smile.
“Not too long. I looked for some time and found my way here. Third Prince, there are so many greenhouses in your courtyard. I have walked in the greenhouses just now and found both the fruit and the vegetable were very fresh. I also have a courtyard near here. I will follow your suit and build up some greenhouses there,” Wen Xueran said casually, an extremely charming smile on his face, as beautiful as a woman’s.
“Good. Ask your men here next time. I will ask the steward here to teach them,” Ao Mingyu answered friendly.
“Greetings, Third Prince!” Another gentle and elegant young childe came over and greeted Ao Mingyu. Ao Mingyu nodded to him.
When they were talking, the carriage arrived as well. The sisters of the Nings got out the carriage in order and walked into the courtyard with the support of their maids.
Ao Mingyu led the way. It was his courtyard, and he was the host, so of course, he should show his guest the way. Ning Qingshan took several steps forward and caught up with him. She walked side by side with him, as if she were the hostess of the courtyard, Ao Mingyu was a little unsatisfied, but when he saw the plain and clean clothes she wore, a gentle look crossed his eyes. He did not say anything, but let her walk next to him.
Ao Xian, Ning Huaiyuan and Wen Xueran walked behind them. Since they were all noble childes at a similar age, they had a lot to talk about.
Ning Xueyan and Ning Lingyun walked behind the three noble childes with their maids.
The man who walked at last in the line was another guest of Third Prince, a delicate and elegant young man. He was distinguished in a manor. When he saw Ning Xueyan passing him by, he bowed to her with a smile. His natural and calm behavior made him like a gentleman, and people could not help being impressed by him. Even Ning Lingyun had given him a few more glances.
But when Ning Xueyan saw his face, she froze for a short moment. The look in her eyes became icy. What a coincidence!
Sometimes, what had happened in her last and current lives made Ning Xueyan feel like she was in a dream. She knew this man because of his special identity.