Chapter 254 A Mysterious Middle-aged Woman
Of course, Qingyu didn’t happen to stay at the gate of the backyard. Since Ning Xueyan found the strange item of Ning Zu’an’s account, she cut the cost and let Qingyu wait around the backyard gate where she had seen someone come to look for Ning Zu’an in her last life.
Usually, only a few people would go out of the manor, so it was not easy for others to enter the manor even through the backyard gate. But today was different. In this manor, many people were coming and going. To go the easier way, some servants directly passed in and out of the back door. Thus, these guards at the entrance were much less vigilant than usual. If someone wanted to go into the manor to find Ning Zu’an, today was his or her best opportunity.
Ning Xueyan also checked the background of the older female servant who guarded the back door. She worked neither for Madam Ling nor the Madam Dowager. Instead, she was the mother of Ning Zu’an’s former subordinate, who was disabled on the battlefield. Then, Ning Zu’an took care of all his families and especially brought the subordinate’s mother to his manor to guard the back door.
More than that, her wages were twice as much as that of the other ordinary servants. Thus, in this sense, she was one of the henchmen of Ning Zu’an.
Therefore, she must be the more suitable person who could help Ning Zu’an to do something that he did not want other people in the manor to know.
Therefore, Ning Xueyan let Qingyu stay here to keep an eye for this woman. And obviously, Ning Xueyan got this important news as a result.
“Where is Qingyu?” Now Ning Xueyan was clear about what she should do next. She nodded and asked.
“She is still there, watching the woman.” Lanning replied.
“Tell her to come back. She doesn’t need to tail others now.” Ning Xueyan ordered. After that, she parted company with Lanning and went to the Bright Frost Garden alone. As requested, Lanning went to look for Qingyu around Ning Zu’an’s study.
Just when Ning Xueyan went back to the Bright Frost Garden and sat down, Lanning and Qingyu also returned together.
“Young Lady, that woman has been hanging around the marquis’ study for a long time. Later, she met the young male servant of marquis. It seemed that they knew each other. After they exchanged a few words, the servant went outside. Before long, our marquis came back and brought the woman in his study. They haven’t come out yet.”
Qingyu had been fixing her eyes on the woman who suddenly appeared in the manor, so she knew what exactly the woman had done!
“What does that woman look like?” Picking up the tea that Lanning made for her, Ning Xueyan took a sip. Seemingly thinking of this question all of a sudden, she asked while holding the teacup.
“I followed her. At first, I didn’t see her clearly. But later, it seemed that she could not find anyone to get in touch with her and was anxiously walking around the gate of the study. Then pretending to pass by there, I deliberately walked over and took a glance at her. However, the woman was very timid. When she saw me, she stepped aside shyly to hide. She was about in her thirties and only had an ordinary appearance. I have never seen her. I think that she didn’t live in our manor.”
Qingyu thought that Ning Xueyan only wanted to find out whether this woman was from the Lord Protector’s Manor or not. Thus, she specially added the last two sentences.
Ning Xueyan slightly lowered her head, and her eyes dimmed with doubts. “An ordinary appearance? Then, she looked just so so. Well, it is different from what I have expected. Did I make a mistake about that? But judging by various signs in all aspects, I don’t think that I was wrong.”
She had asked Mother Han to check the item of that account. But it seemed that this secret was kept very tight. Therefore, they found no trace. In any case, Ning Xueyan didn’t dare to let Mother Han check the account openly because it would inevitably alert Ning Zu’an. Well, Ning Xueyan always thought that there was little affection between her father Ning Zu’an and her.
“What’s the look on marquis’ face when he saw the woman?” Rolling her eyes and thinking, Ning Xueyan asked for details.
“He seemed to be resentful and didn’t look well. When he spotted that woman, he just frowned and threw a few glances at her. Then he continued to walk toward the study. Vigilantly glancing around, the woman timidly went in after him as if she were his newly married little wife.”
Qingyu recalled the scene at the time. She also felt very surprised. “The whole time, the woman’s behaviors have been very strange. Could she be the maid in our manor? But she didn’t look like one. If she was not a maid, why would the people in the backyard go straight to find marquis when she was here? It didn’t seem to make any sense.”
“Qingyu, let’s go to the backyard to take a look. Just now, the manor was in great confusion. I don’t know whether or not my brothers have already checked the matter out.” After a while of thinking, Ning Xueyan stood up and said to Qingyu.
Initially, the Bright Frost Garden that they lived in was at the remote part of the manor. So it was not a long way for them to go to the backyard.
Today, because of Madam Ling, the news that an assassin appeared in the manor came out. As one of the daughters in the Lord Protector’s Manor, it was natural for her to go to the backyard to check.
Wiping the few teardrops at the corners of her eyes, the middle-aged woman came out of Ning Zu’an’s study and looked again at the cold back of Ning Zu’an. Gritting her teeth, she endured the sadness in her heart and retreated. Along the way, she walked very carefully. Lowering her head, she subconsciously avoided almost everyone who came close to her.
As today was a big day for Marchioness, the Lord Protector’s Manor had many guests who were buzzing with excitement. However, after the previous farce, all those maids and older female servants in the backyard acted with great care because they were afraid of accidentally getting themselves in trouble. Thus, although they saw an unfamiliar woman walking in the manor, they all chose to ignore her.
After all, there was a party today in the manor, and First Madam had specially transferred a few maids and older female servants to the manor last night. Thus, it was reasonable that they didn’t know who this woman was.
People in the manor had heard the accident happened on Ning Ziyan at the Orchid Garden. Ning Ziyan fell into great trouble after she ran into two maids that she didn’t know.
Just like that, the woman simply walked up to the back door. Looking at the door from a certain distance, she breathed a sigh of relief. Out of this gate, no one would know her. Thus, as long as she got out, no one would recognize and stop her, and she would finally be safe.
Thinking of this, she quickened her pace to arrive at the gate as fast as she could. But suddenly, a young girl appeared at the crossing ahead with a maid following behind. At a glance, the woman instantly knew that she must be a lady from a noble family, so she stood on the roadside at once. Lowering her head and shoulder to show respect, she didn’t dare to move a bit.
“Who are you?” A gentle voice with a touch of tenderness came into her ears.
A pair of embroidered shoes with two hibiscus flowers appeared before her eyes, and the skirt covered half of the two flowers.
“I came here to ask marquis for the village’s monthly allowance.” Carefully, the woman said the answer that was familiar to her because she had said before. Thus, she did not hesitate a little.
“The village’s monthly allowance? Which village?” Ning Xueyan questioned closely with a smile, looking at the middle-aged woman who kept her head low and hid almost her whole face.
“It is the village outside the city. This year the village had a bad harvest, so marquis asked me to come over and get some yearly allowance.” The middle-aged woman had never thought that this Young Lady before would be interested in this. Startled a little, but still, she replied respectfully. Facing such a well-behaved woman, Ning Xueyan could not find a flaw.
Behind Ning Xueyan, Qingyu looked the woman up and down curiously, but she couldn’t see what exactly had happened.
“The village outside the city is very close to the capital city. How did you get here?” Ning Xueyan’s attitude was as gentle as ever, and there was always a smile in her eyes. Her eyes landed on the middle-aged woman’s plain cloth gown, her hair, and then the normal style hairpin in her neatly combed hair.
The hairpin that had a normal style was gold, which was unsuited to the cloth gown all over her.
“The village is quite far away. I came by hitchhiking, or I could not arrive at the Lord Protector’s Manor at this time.” When the middle-aged woman learned that Ning Xueyan only asked how she entered the city, she breathed a sigh of relief and answered with ease.
“Will you go back soon?”
“Maybe I have to wait for a while because I still have something to do in the city. I am going to see an old friend.” It seemed that Ning Xueyan only wanted to make small talk with her. Thus, the woman became more natural in chatting and answered without thinking.
“Oh, I can call a carriage in this manor for you. Would you like it? Though you are from the village, you are still one of the people in the manor.” Showing some interest to this woman on her face, Ning Xueyan continued to ask and tried to lure her into saying something more.
“No… I don’t need a carriage. I… I will just wander around. I am going to see a friend first and buy some daily necessities.” Upon hearing that Ning Xueyan wanted to send her away by carriage, the middle-aged woman anxiously shook her hands and involuntarily raised her head.
“She has an extremely ordinary face of a woman. Amid all maids or servants in the manor, she didn’t stand out at all. Especially those wrinkles at the corners of her eyes make her look a little older than her age, plus there are traces of hard manual labor on her hands and feet. Apparently, she doesn’t live a comfortable, luxurious life.” Ning Xueyan thought. Quietly, Ning Xueyan landed her eyes on the woman’s little chapped hands.
“It is in winter now, but the skin on her hands looks good, which is not like the rough skin of the servants in the manor.”
“Then, go back earlier, lest you keep others waiting too long.” After giving the woman a kind smile, Ning Xueyan stopped staring at her and just walked forward with the maid.
Seeing that Ning Xueyan left, the middle-aged women breathed a big sigh of relief. “Today, there is a party in the Lord Protector’s Manor, and many guests are here. But this Young Lady doesn’t seem to come from the other manors. So is she the Third Young Lady, the Fourth Young Lady, or the Fifth Young Lady?”
The middle-aged woman’s eyes flickered, but she still could not tell who this Young Lady was. With a sigh, she said to herself, “What has happened is in the past. Even if I know who she is, so what? I became an outsider of this manor long ago.”
Thinking of this, she continued to walk toward the back door. Seeing that she walked over, the older female servant at the gate immediately pushed the gate open and let her go without asking any question. The servant watched the woman go out of the gate in silence. Then she closed the back door, heaving a sigh.
The two of them acted extremely fast and naturally. However, Ning Xueyan didn’t leave. Instead, she was standing behind the tree by the path, watching them. When Ning Xueyan spotted the scene, her arch eyebrows wrinkled a little, and she asked, “Has Xinmei gone out of the manor now?”
Ning Xueyan felt confused. “Ning Zu’an wanted to keep her existence as a secret. But this person, did she feel even more reluctant to be noticed by others?”
“Yes, Xinmei has already gone there. At this time, she must have arrived at the back door. Young Lady, is there anything wrong about the village of marquis? It hasn’t made a profit for a whole year. More than that, the village even needed marquis to make up a deficit. How could it be possible?”
Puzzled, Qingyu said her doubts now as she had heard this matter clearly not long ago.
Ning Xueyan had just found out that the book that was cooked. But now, an unexpected error about the village also occurred. Did these people in the village cook their books too? But the village belonged only to marquis. Thus, even if people in the village also had to report the account, they could just provide a general account of cash flow and didn’t need to report it to the backyard.
Ning Xueyan could not tell whether there was anything wrong.
“Let’s go back to take a rest first. Marquis will certainly give us an explanation. It is just that I don’t know if it is the same as what the woman said.” At this moment, Ning Xueyan had already cooled down. She smiled elegantly, but the corners of her lips slightly lifted with a sneer.
Madam Ming’s marriage to Ning Zu’an proved to be the greatest calamity of her life for Ning Zu’an was a disloyal and ungrateful man. Eventually, she died miserably. Originally, Madam Ming was only a concubine, but she then successfully took Madam Ming’s place. But even after that, she didn’t spare Madam Ming and her daughter. Only because Madam Ling was the marchioness who was the Legal Wife of Ning Zu’an, Ning Xueyan failed to defeat her after many attempts.
Of course, it was also because Madam Ling gave birth to the only son of Ning Zu’an.
If she had not been reborn, Ning Xueyan also could not escape her fate to die, and all the bad things were caused by Madam Ling and Ning Zu’an…