Chapter 255 The Qingyun Academy
Xinmei returned in the evening but didn’t bring back many messages.
The friend that the middle-aged woman went to visit was a young student. They seemed to be quite close to each other like they were mother and son. The woman brought him some clean clothes to change his clothes for washing. After chatting for a long time, they parted with reluctance. All their acts unintentionally showed the family affection between them.
“Young Lady, the young man came out through the side door. Right after finishing talking with the woman, he closed the door and left. There was no one around that I could ask for more information.” Of course, Xinmei could not climb over the wall to enter the academy in broad daylight because it would attract others’ attention.
“What is the size of that academy?” Lowering her head, Ning Xueyan touched the cup in her hand and asked after thinking for a moment.
“It has an average size, not as large as those big academies in the capital city. But it looks fairly formal. The academy is located at the west city gate. I especially went around to its front to check and found that the academy is named Qingyun Academy.”
There were many large and small academies in the capital, compared with which Xinmei really didn’t think the Qingyun Academy was large. Besides, she had never heard of the Qingyun Academy before.
The village of Ning Zu’an was in the eastern part of the city, but the Qingyun Academy was in the western part of the city. Thus, the woman almost crossed the entire capital city to see the young man. It was reasonable if the woman especially went there to visit her son. But why didn’t she say it just now? Not only that, but it seemed that she was afraid that others would know this. Also, she refused to take the carriage provided by the manor and chose to go there all by herself.
How could these acts of her be normal? Moreover, the village’s income appeared to be very weird. It suffered deficit year after year, but Ning Zu’an said nothing about it. He even sent money to that village monthly. Ning Xueyan only stopped providing them the money for a month. Someone from the village could not bear it and came to see Ning Zu’an directly.
This matter must be related to Ning Zu’an.
Ning Xueyan flipped through these books to check the time that each cost occurred. “At least, this cost that spent on the village has always existed. Since Madam Ling was in charge of the backyard, there began the record of this cost on the account book. It indicated that this cost must have happened long ago. Moreover, Madam Ling had given tacit consent to this expenditure, but she didn’t have the chance to get it from the manor’s expense.”
Casually, she opened the account book at hand, browsing through it page by page. “The expense of each month is the same.”
“The woman’s son is in the Qingyun Academy. But why does a son of an ordinary servant from the village have the money to go to the academy?”
“Young Lady, how about me going to guard the Qingyun Academy’s gate again? If that young man goes out, I can ask him some questions that you’d like to know.” Seeing that Ning Xueyan remained silent the whole time, Xinmei suggested.
“You don’t need to guard the door. But you can go there again to ask if there is a student surnamed Ning in the academy. If there is such a student, ask for his name only and don’t do anything else.” Smiling slightly, Ning Xueyan closed the account book in her hand, and meanwhile, she had already gotten a plan in her heart.
“Yes, I will go there soon.” Xinmei nodded and retreated.
The Lord Protector was dogged by bad luck this year. Bad things happened in his manor one after another. When the New Year was coming, it came to the rumor saying that the First Madam, Madam Ling, was possessed and fell ill. Those madams who joined the party confirmed it. Apparently, something was wrong with her. Also, it was said that she even vomited blood on the spot.
Of course, some savvy madams maintained a wait-and-see attitude. Sometimes, things were not what they appeared to be. Having experienced the struggles in the backyard, they could instantly understand what was going on without being told. Thus, to the Marchioness of the Lord Protector’s Manor whose reputation had always been good, these people were not as close as before. This time, they only asked a servant to visit her, sending some gifts to show that they were still concerned about her.
Madam Ling indeed spat out blood because she was furious. She failed to set Ning Xueyan up and trapped her daughter instead. Xia Yuhang happened to see the scene that Ning Ziyan stayed with a man, not appropriately dressed. Especially just now, to inquire about more information in the Xia Manor, Madam Ling sent Mother Chen to see Ning Ziyan, but Mother Chen was blocked outside of the Xia Manor. People in the Xia Manor told her that Ning Ziyan was sick now and could not see any guests.
When Madam Ling heard the news, a mouthful of blood rushed up to her throat. With her handkerchief, she covered her mouth and forcibly suppressed her urge to throw up because of the smell of blood going up through her throat. It took her a long while to calm down. Then, grinding her teeth, Madam Ling said to Mother Chen with a ferocious look. “What did those people in the Xia Manor mean? Yan’er is in such a good condition, why did they say she was ill? Go there again. You must see Yan’er. Tell them that I ask you to see her. If you cannot see her this time, you can never come back to this manor.”
Madam Ling meant that she wanted Mother Chen to break into Minster Xia’s manor by force. But Mother Chen was only an older female servant, how dare her to do that? Minster Xia was an imposing highest-ranking official. How could a servant like her force her way into his manor? Let alone that they seemed to be on the wrong side. Moreover, the Eldest Young Lady’s reputation hadn’t yet been restored. Thus, when Mother Chen heard Madam Ling’s order, she drew back her neck in fear and advised, “Madam, you’d better not deal with this thing in a hurry. I think that you should discuss this matter with the Eldest Young Master first. And you two can consider it carefully before making a final decision.”
“Consider it carefully? If I take my time to discuss with him carefully, something bad will soon happen to my Yan’er! Look at her. She was all right when she came back to the manor. But then, bad things happened to her one after another. I, I… That b*tch Ning Xueyan, I will never forgive her.” With this, Madam Ling suddenly felt that a feeling of sorrow overcame her. She took out her handkerchief to wipe the tears welling up in her eyes. But right after that, her vicious face clouded.
Ning Ziyan would suffer a series of incidents each time when she came back at the Lord Protector’s Manor. But up to now, Madam Ling still had never thought that it was the traps she specially made for Ning Xueyan that brought Ning Ziyan all the trouble, though these evil traps were all crashed at last. Madam Ling only felt that Ning Xueyan did all of this to her daughter.
“Mother, don’t you think it was too late for you to regret now?” An angry voice came at the door. Mother Chen looked up and found that the Eldest Young Master Ning Huaiyuan was standing at the door. Knowing that he must have something to say to Madam Ling, Mother Chen saluted him and retreated with caution, secretly breathing a sigh of relief in her heart.
Thinking of Madam Ling’s crazy attitude just now, Mother Chen knew that Madam Ling must not have been in bad condition.
To Madam Ling, her son was the most convincing person. In others’ eyes, he was the only son of the Legal Wife in the Lord Protector’s Manor who was talented and had a fairly good reputation. In the future, the Lord Protector’s Manor would undoubtedly be in his charge. Also, Madam Ling knew that her son was rather sophisticated and tactful. Merely through the way her son used to deal with the thing that happened yesterday could she know it.
Ning Huaiyuan could quickly come up with such an incident about the “assassin” at that moment and at least maintained Ning Ziyan’s reputation outside.
Now seeing that her son was staring at her in displeasure, she immediately became less overbearing. “I… I was very worried about Yan’er…”
“Did you say that you worry about my oldest younger sister? But Mother, I remember asking you not to take rash actions for the time being. You seemed to have forgotten it again, right?” Ning Huaiyuan strode in and took a seat at the chair on one side. His face was full of anger and dissatisfaction.
“This b*tch girl is too crafty. I… I was accidentally fooled by her and got your sister into trouble.” Madam Ling argued.
“Mother, I think that you must have been living extremely comfortable these years. You always believed that your plots succeeded. But you haven’t yet noticed that you brought trouble to my two sisters again and again. Now that my Second Sister’s face was disfigured and her reputation was ruined. What’s worse, Grandmother has sent her to that terrible place. Will it be my oldest younger sister’s turn to be destroyed next?”
Ning Huaiyuan sneered and stopped Madam Ling from defending herself.
“So these were the traps that you set for enemies. You racked your brains in scheming. But have you ever thought that your son and daughters are enduring the painful consequences of your failure?”
“No, it was not like that. It was because of the extremely good luck of that girl. Next time, I must…” Madam Ling flushed because of her own son’s accusation, and she tried to explain that it was not her fault.
“Luck? The next time? Mother, Did I hear you right? Do you think that Ning Xueyan could escape your traps all because of her good luck? Do you truly believe that you can thoroughly defeat her next time? Mother, I cannot believe that you are really so stupid. So next time, whom do you want to bring trouble to? Me?” It had never occurred to Ning Huaiyuan that Madam Ling was thinking about what to do the next time. Suddenly, he burst into anger.
Bad things had happened to Ning Yuling and then Ning Ziyan. And Ning Huaiyuan believed that it must be his turn to get into trouble the next time. Although he didn’t think that Ning Xueyan could be so capable, he clearly sensed the Fourth Prince was unhappy today. Others might not know whether the matter about the “assassin” was real or not. But as both the Third Prince and the Fourth Prince witnessed the whole thing on the spot, so how could they not see the truth?
Usually, the Fourth Prince appeared to be careless, but he was sensible enough. Afterward, the Fourth Prince only told him that he’d better look out for himself. It was evident that the Fourth Prince had expressed all he wanted to say in this advice.
Lately, people in the Lord Protector’s Manor now exerted great efforts to try to become related to the Third Prince by marriage. It seemed that all of them firmly believed that the Third Prince would be the future emperor of the country. But personally, Ning Huaiyuan had a better relationship with the Fourth Prince. This time, part of the reason that he traveled far away this time was to run errands for the Fourth Prince. The Lord Protector wanted to maintain a good relationship with both the Fourth Prince and the Third Prince.
But of course, there was a difference. To Lord Protector, a daughter could marry someone and represent another family since then. But his son Ning Huaiyuan could not do that. Hence, Ning Huaiyuan only kept a close relationship with the Fourth Prince and helped him to handle some affairs in secret such that others didn’t know all of this. In this way, if the Third Prince became the emperor in the future, Ning Huaiyuan could easily get rid of the Fourth Prince. Anyway, Ning Huaiyuan kept all the things that he did for the Fourth Prince as secrets.
Of course, he honestly told the Fourth Prince that since the Third Prince took a fancy to Ning Qingshan, he could do nothing about it. Therefore, the Fourth Prince didn’t alienate him for this thing. But this time, it was because Ning Xueyan had warned the Fourth Prince, he became so furious. How could Ning Huaiyuan not know that?
“How… how can I do that? I will never make such a mistake again.” Madam Ling shook her head anxiously.
“Mother, you can slowly guide my father and Grandmother to find the fact that the Fifth Sister is a vicious person. Then, they can certainly deal with her. Why did you intentionally give yourself away and make others think that her Mother framed her?” Ning Huaiyuan said.
This kind of thing could not be rushed. Madam Ling was really too anxious.
“But, I will never let off that cheap girl.” Grinding her teeth, Madam Ling said anxiously, feeling very reluctant to let Ning Xueyan go without doing anything.
“Mother, when you deal with someone like the Fifth Sister, you must either show the love between her and you or finish her off with one blow. Since you are powerless now, you should try your best to be nice to her. Only by doing this, others can never blame you for anything that will happen to her in the future. Mother, you haven’t met any opponent for so many years, and so don’t you even understand such a simple truth now?”
Ning Huaiyuan said with a sneer.
Being repeatedly humiliated by her son, Madam Ling became a little angry from shame. Staring at him, she said, “What bullshit are you talking about?”
“Mother, don’t you know whether what I said was bullshit or not? If you go on making trouble like this, you are bound to hound my oldest younger sister to death.” Ning Huaiyuan ignored her unpleasant look and continued to say. Unconsciously, he lifted his mouth corners, showing a trace of sarcasm. “You even asked an older female servant to break in the Xia Manor. Mother, you are afraid that the reputation of my oldest younger sister is not worse enough, aren’t you?”