Second Brother Met Me for the First Time
People who held the dinner party mainly wanted Ning Huaijing to get familiar with his brother and sisters. Therefore, Ning Xueyan, Ning Huaiyuan, and their sisters did not leave after dinner. The rarest thing was that Madam Ling did not leave either. Maybe because she had figured it out just now, she did not seem to be angry when she looked at Ning Huaijing.
If people took a closer look, they would find there was a hint of grievance in her eyes!
“How could Madam Ling feel wronged?” Ning Xueyan sneered inwardly, wondering what she was going to do.
Ning Zu’an and his concubines were all gone, so everyone was much more relaxed. They each found a chair and sat down with Ning Xueyan on the right side of Ning Huaijing, who sat below Ning Huaiyuan, and Ning Yuling, Ning Qingshan as well as Ning Lingyun on their opposite side.
“If you don’t feel well, return to your courtyard to rest early!” Madam Dowager said to Madam Ling coolly.
“Mother, I’m fine. Do you feel a little better? Everything doesn’t go smoothly recently. The outsiders always gossip about our manor, and even people from the imperial palace…” pinching a handkerchief between her fingers, Madam Ling let out a sigh and said sadly.
This reminded Madam Dowager of what upset her. She frowned and shifted her gaze from Ning Qingshan to Ning Xueyan. She did not understand why what she had planned carefully turned out to be like this. Both of them lost in the contest and there was also something else that bothered Madam Dowager recently.
What was more, having an illegitimate child was not a big deal, but it happened to have something to do with Madam Ling. Ning Zu’an had told Madam Dowager that he was going to submit the application to the Imperial Clan Court for the Princely Heir issue but as Madam Ling’s old story became the talk of the capital city again, she worried that it was not the right time for Ning Zu’an to do this. He would be asking for humiliation and nobody of the Imperial Clan Court would take his application seriously.
“Mother, it’s just the beginning of the new year, but things are going wrong. How about we invite a mage to practice and ward off evil spirits? Otherwise, we may have bad luck for the whole year.” Madam Ling saw Madam Dowager’s face darkened, so she took the teacup from the maid and handed it to Madam Dowager while speaking.
A whole year of bad luck? Madam Dowager was surprised. She took the cup from Madam Ling and took a sip of the tea. “Yes, we really need to ward off evil spirits. You can leave and prepare for it now.” Madam Dowager nodded.
Nothing went smoothly at the beginning of the year. It was really necessary to have someone do get rid of the evil for them.
“Okay, Mother. I’ll ask someone to choose a powerful mage. Then please give us some advice. I want that mage to check the geomancy of our manor and see if there are some evil spirits in our house.” Seeing that she had reached her goal, Madam Ling showed a smile on her face and said, “Mother, I’m leaving now.”
With that, she said good-bye to everyone before going back to her place with her servants.
Actually, she did not mean to ask Madam Dowager to give some advice. Normally, it was Madam Ling who made the final decision for things like inviting a mage to practice.
Their voices were not loud, but Ning Xueyan still heard clearly. With a sneer on her lips, she suddenly understood what those she felt confused at the beginning.
It was no wonder that Madam Ling only vented her anger through smashing things in her own courtyard after Madam Yu’s coming to the manor, hearing the rumors about Ning Huaiyuan and the revealing of her old disgraceful story. Now Ning Xueyan knew that Madam Ling was planning to get rid of her first before dealing with Madam Yu and her son.
It was hard for Madam Ling to have been so patient. Ning Xueyan realized that Madam Ling would put up with it until she was got rid of. She was surprised that Madam Ling had taken her as her number one enemy.
“Jing’er, are your injuries getting better?” Madam Dowager looked up at Ning Huaijing who was sitting on the same side as Ning Huaiyuan and asked him gently.
Madam Dowager was happy to have another grandson, especially when she saw that Ning Huaijing was a handsome boy.
“Thank you, Grandmother. My injuries are almost healed,” Ning Huaijing answered, with a cold look on his face.
Madam Dowager sighed secretly. “After all, Jing’er was not brought up by me, so he won’t be close to me. If it were not for the fact that Zu’an has too few sons, I wouldn’t have Jing’er return to our manor at the risk of losing the reputation of our family.”
“Forget it. A concubine’s son can’t be that useful. I should have Yuan’er take in charge of the manor in the future,” she thought.
“Second Brother, did the Lord Mayor torture you? How could he do that without interrogation?” Ning Xueyan turned her jet-black eyes to Ning Huaijing and asked in surprise.
Even a woman of the inner courtyard knew that it was improper to torture criminals without interrogation.
For Ning Huaijing’s case, no matter what, the Lord Mayor should have interrogated him at least a few times to hear what he said. How could he ask his men to beat Ning Huaijing as soon as the latter was caught?
“They beat you without listening to your explanation?” Madam Dowager’s face darkened after a short moment of a daze.
“Maybe he was afraid that I would lie to him, so he asked his men to give me a head-on blow!” Ning Huaijing answered indifferently.
“Maybe. I heard from some friends that as long as you were put into the prison, whether or not you actually committed a crime, they would beat you first to take you down a peg. What you heard is official, but in private it’s hard to say how they treat prisoners. Many people died after being caught by the imperial guards, but no one dares to complain.”
Ning Huaiyuan explained at the right time with a smile.
“Second brother, you’re really unlucky. The fight wasn’t a big deal, but the trouble was that the guy was dead.”
“Enough! Now it’s all over. From now on, you must get along well with each other. We are all family, so no matter what, we can discuss it. Let’s bygones be bygones!” Madam Dowager said, waving her hand.
“Got it.” Everyone knew that Madam Dowager was showing her attitude to them, so they responded at the same time.
“Yuan’er, Jing’er, you’re brothers from now on. You’re all our Ning’s children, so you should help and make peace with each other.” Madam Dowager was very satisfied with their performance and reminded the two of them.
“Grandmother, don’t worry. I’ll be friendly to my second younger brother.” Ning Huaiyuan immediately showed his attitude, but Ning Huaijing’s face was a little stiff.
“Does it mean that I should put the past behind me?” Ning Huaijing looked at Madam Dowager coldly and managed to suppress his anger.
He didn’t want to comment on the past. He would study hard and take care of his mother even if his father did not want to admit what he had to do with her, but why were those people so vicious and tried to kill him? He would never forget that if the person in black had not appeared in time, he would have been killed by the steel spike that almost pierced his heart.
He and his mother had been dependent on each other for years. His mother was kind and weak and never made enemies with others. How could someone want to kill him? After thinking about it, he knew no one would have done this except for this “good brother” in front of him and his “mother” who looked vicious.
Ning Huaijing was smart, or he would not have been appreciated by his teacher. He had not figured out what had happened because he had never associated these things together. Now he knew who was behind the case.
After linking everything together, he was clear that those people meant to get rid of him. Of course, Ning Huaiyuan and his mother would benefit the most if he died. Therefore, when he saw Madam Ling for the first time, Ning Huaijing almost lost his mind and wanted to slap her.
Ning Huaijing and his mother did not covet the wealth of the Lord Protector’s Manor. That vicious woman almost killed him, but his “nice grandmother” was saying to write off the past. How generous she was!
“Second brother, your hand is injured too. It’s better to put some medicine on it so that the injury to be healed soon.” Hearing the gentle voice, Ning Huaijing came back from the trance. He looked down when he found that everyone was looking at him. “Grandmother, I will,” he answered in a low voice.
Ning Huaijing’s answer was too stiff, which made Madam Dowager unhappy. She then stopped talking to him and turned her head to Ning Yuling. While she was talking to Ning Yuling, Ning Huaiyuan, and Ning Qingshan joined them from time to time, which made Madam Dowager laugh so much that the wrinkles on her face were not obvious.
Seeing that everyone’s attention was no longer on him, Ning Huaijing heaved a sigh of relief and suppressed the anger in his eyes. Fortunately, the Fifth Young Lady reminded him in time. Otherwise, he would have lost his composure.
Thinking of the Fifth Young Lady, Ning Huaijing could not help but turn his head and quietly size the girl up in front of him. On her jade-like face were delicate eyebrows, feather-like, trembling eyelashes, a pair of jet-like watery and thoughtful eyes and a straight small nose. The pale lips made her look even more delicate.
She was a beautiful girl who looked both gentle and weak.
Then he turned his head and shifted his eyes from Ning Xueyan to Lanning, who was standing behind her.
He was stunned when he saw Lanning’s face.
He remembered that he should have seen the girl in front of him. Although he did not see her face clearly, he remembered the maid standing beside her very well. But why did she come to him at that time? At the thought of this, he showed a trace of doubt in his eyes.
“Second brother, it’s your first time to see me, so you may don’t know who I am. I’m Ning Xueyan, your fifth sister.” Ning Xueyan interrupted Ning Huaijing with a smile.
Ning Zu’an just pointed at everyone and told Ning Huaijing about their names just now, but said nothing else. Therefore, it was indeed the first time they met. But Ning Huaijing had a feeling that the girl in front of her was stressing “the first time”, so it was obvious that she did not intend to let others know that he had seen her before.
Although he did not know why she did this, he felt that he should cooperate with her just because of her kind “reminding” just now. So he nodded slightly and said, “Yes, it’s indeed the first time we met. Nice to meet you, Fifth Sister!”
“Nice to meet you, Second Brother!” Ning Xueyan answered softly with a smile, her face as brilliant as a flower. Compared to Ning Huaiyuan, she felt that Ning Huaijing was more reliable. After all, she had tested him in person the other day.
“Second Brother, since you have returned to our manor, everything is quite different from before. Concubine Yu lives close to me, so you can come to me by the way when you visit her.”
Ning Huaijing did not expect that Ning Xueyan would have been so kind to him. He paused for a while and nodded with a smile. “Okay!”
Was his fifth sister reminding him that things were different from before and after returning to the manor, his mother had to be especially wary of others? What a smart girl! He never regarded anyone in the Lord Protector’s Manor as his family, even though they were related by blood. They even tried to get rid of him, so he did not have to treat them like family.
However, the reminding from the petite, delicate and smart girl in front of him inexplicably softened his heart. “Is she my… younger sister?”
Ning Huaiyuan turned his head with a smile, fixing his gaze on Ning Xueyan’s beautiful face with a thoughtful look in his eyes. He then turned to Ning Huaijing and said, “What’s so interesting? Let me join you.”