Chapter 375 An Accident, an Unexpected Encounter with His Schoolmate
Ning Xueyan was sent out to the street by Madam Dowager, but she did not walk through the gate of the Lord Protector’s Manor. She used the back entrance. Ning Huaijing accompanied her. Ning Xueyan did not wear her dress, but was dressed in a Chinese-style jacket and trousers and looked very neat and tidy. No one could tell that Ning Huaijing was walking with his sister in law.
The reason why she was asked to go out with Ning Huaijing was because no one else was available from the Lord Protector’s Manor.
Ning Huaiyuan had been seriously injured and was taking a rest. Although Ning Huajing was a male offspring of the Lord Protector’s Manor, they did not have much affection for him, because he had just returned to his own family. Madam Dowager did not really trust him, so she left the matter to Ning Xueyan. At least in Madam Dowager’s eyes, she had raised Ning Xueyan for many years. Even if she got no credit, she would be rewarded for her hard work.
The Lord Protector’s Manor gave her everything, so she had to do her best to serve it.
As for Ning Xueyan and Madam Ming, who had been neglected and framed, Madam Dowager did not care about them at all. After all, the Lord Protector’s Manor had raised them. The country nurtures its soldiers for a thousand days and all for one day’s battle. Now it was the right time for Ning Xueyan to work for the Lord Protector’s Manor.
Their task was very simple. They were sent to listen for any rumors, secretly, and then had to go back to report to Madam Dowager. What should she do next?
This matter happened in public. Many people had seen it, so there were bound to be rumors. Anyway, Madam Dowager was not willing to let her carefully cultivated granddaughter become a concubine. And, she also cared about the dignity of Lord Protector’s Manor. So, she wanted to find a way to deal with it, according to the rumors. Therefore, this task fell on Ning Xueyan and Ning Huaijing.
At the front entrance there were already people talking. There were a lot of people standing around and gossiping today, so it was not appropriate for her to go out like this. Ning Xueyan disguised herself as a man for convenience. She was going out to seek information about such a scandal, so she had to keep a low profile to avoid being detected.
“Fifth Sister, let’s go to a teahouse, OK?” Ning Huaijing looked at Ning Xueyan. Ning Xueyan’s dressing was too beautiful. They were going to inquire about the news now, so they could not attract any attention. Fortunately, Ning Xueyan was young, so she could pretend to be a young male servant, and kept her head low.
In the beginning, Ning Huaijing had been resistant about the Fifth Sister. Now, he had accepted her. He even felt that she was the only family he had in the Lord Protector’s Manor. These days, it was precarious in the manor, so no one cared about Madam Yu, which saved her from a lot of suffering.
There were no picky, older female servants sent by Madam Ling. And, she would not be summoned to the Auspicious Clouds Courtyard early in the morning to serve Madam Ling.
Ning Huaijing had found his roots, which seemed to be glorious. However, Madam Yu’s life was not as good as those in the manor. There were a lot of reasons for Madam Ling to torture her. Although Madam Ling was not as mighty as before, it was still not a problem for her to deal with a concubine.
Moreover, Ning Zu’an did not care about Madam Yu at all. Besides, Madam Ling finally relented. As for how she would treat Madam Yu next, it was beyond Ning Zu’an’s consideration. The same went for Madam Dowager, so much that Junior Concubine Xu, who was favored at that time, would humiliate Madam Yu, whenever she met her.
She had embezzled part of the things from Madam Yu’s courtyard. Madam Yu did not have much money, so it was even more difficult for her to live after Junior Concubine Xu had taken away her stuff. However, Ning Xueyan had privately sent some silver to Madam Yu so that she could make ends meet. In general, Ning Xueyan was the only one who expressed her goodwill when Madam Yu came to the manor.
Seeing how Ning Xueyan helped Madam Yu, Ning Huaijing subconsciously became closer to Ning Xueyan.
“The tea house? Fine, let’s go there together and help Madam Dowager to check out the situation.” Ning Xueyan nodded to Ning Huaijing and said this with a naughty smile. She had sneaked out before. In order to avoid Xia Yuhang being blamed, she also wore men’s clothes like this. She thought it was much more convenient to wear men’s clothes than women’s clothes.
As a master and a servant, they walked forward, one in front and the other behind. In such a crowded place, Ning Huaijing stopped to protect her, in case someone came too close to her. They turned from the back gate to the main street and passed through the front entrance of the Lord Protector’s Manor. As expected, many people were standing around the front gate. Although they were gossiping from a distance, there was still a large group of people gathered round the front entrance.
However, some people had come out of the Lord Protector’s Manor to drive them away. Now, only the stragglers were gossiping, while walking on the street.
“Hey, have you heard that the Second Young Lady of the Lord Protector’s Manor hugged her brother-in-law openly on the street? And I heard that she was naked.” One older female servant deliberately lowered her voice. No matter how hard she tried, one could hear that she was gloating. Moreover, she deliberately emphasized the fact that Ning Yuling wore no clothes.
“Yes. The Second Young Lady is miserable. If her brother-in-law doesn’t want her, she’ll die.” A passer-by sighed. “I heard that the Second Young Lady was a great beauty. She was engaged to the Third Prince, but now she came to this end.”
“Tell me, what’s going on? Why did both carriages from the Lord Protector’s Manor meet with accidents? I heard that if Prince Yi had not passed by, the Fifth Young Lady of the Lord Protector’s Manor would have died on the spot.” Another person raised this question. It was rare for one carriage to have an accident, let alone both of them meeting with accidents at the same time.
“An official always has three or five opponents in the court. The Lord Protector was the general at that time, so it’s normal for his opponents to stir things up. Unfortunately, the beautiful Second Young Lady became a victim. How could these officials deal with a young lady?”
Some people sighed again, which attracted a new round of sighs. They took their topic too far. They talked about what Ning Zu’an did before he went to the Lord Protector’s Manor. And, they revealed that he had married the daughter of former Minister Ming. Thinking that Madam Ling, the mother of the Second Young Lady, who had an accident, was the official wife in the Lord Protector’s Manor, more people were attracted to stop immediately.
One by one, they continued to gossip about Ning Zu’an, which made Ning Zu’an’s story more dramatic than the tale of Pingshu.
“Pingshu?” Ning Xueyan narrowed her shimmery eyes and her eyebrows furrowed slightly. Something seemed to flash through her mind, but she could not grasp it for a moment.
“Here!” Hearing Ning Huaijing’s voice, Ning Xueyan subconsciously looked up and found that there was a teahouse in front of her. It seemed that business was very brisk. There were many people sitting on the upper and lower levels. It was a good place to chat. She nodded at once.
There were very few seats left below. Ning Huaijing brought Ning Xueyan upstairs and went straight to the empty seats near the window, without asking the shop assistant for a private room. The place was about half the size of a private room. It was separated by a screen as high as half a wall, so that people could hear voices, but could not see anyone.
“Hey, Brother Ning?” As soon as Ning Huaijing walked in with Ning Xueyan, a young man in his 20s suddenly came over. When he saw Ning Huaijing, he was stunned at first and then shouted happily.
Ning Huaijing turned his head and found that it was one of his former classmates surnamed Yan. He hurriedly greeted him by cupping his hands and said, “Brother Yan!”
After he discovered his roots, he left the academy and went to another one that Ning Zu’an arranged for him. It was the first time that he had seen his former classmates, so he felt quite happy.
“It’s you. Last time when we heard that you were all right, we wanted to wait for you to come out and celebrate. However, we did not expect that you would not return. It’s a pity!” This Brother Yan was a natural socializer. When he saw Ning Huaijing heading for the window seats, he knew that he was going to sit down and drink tea.
Immediately, he enthusiastically invited Ning Huaijing to sit down.
“Young Master, Young Master Hua…” The young male servant following him spoke in a low voice as if he had something to say to him. However, Young Master Yan was in high spirits. He waved to the servant behind him and said, “If Young Master Hua is here, let him come over. I’ll wait for him here. Anyway, Brother Ning is not an outsider. It’s livelier with a bigger group.”
It seemed that he was still in high spirits and did not intend to leave.
“Yes, sir. I’ll go to the stairs to keep watch.” The young male servant nodded and answered. Then, he turned around and went to the stairs.
Ning Huaijing sat down, and Ning Xueyan stood behind him automatically. She dropped her hands and shoulders. She was not tall, and was quite unobtrusive when she stood behind Ning Huaijing.
The waiter came over. The two of them ordered two cups of tea and sat together, drinking and chatting. When they talked about Ning Huaijing’s fight, it was interesting. Now, many people in the Qingyun Academy knew that Ning Huaijing had been framed. And, it was said that the one who set him up was the First Madam of the Lord Protector’s Manor.
“Brother Ning, how is your life at the Lord Protector’s Manor now?” This Brother Yan seemed to be a person who chatted without reserve. As he spoke, he talked about Ning Huaijing’s situation. He looked at Ning Huaijing with sympathy. Everyone knew that Ning Huaijing was the son of Ning Zu’an’s concubine, from the Lord Protector’s Manor. Before he officially entered the manor, the Marchioness had planned to kill him. So, he had to be careful after he formally entered the manor.
“It’s okay! Anyway, it’s not much different from the past.” Ning Huaijing had no idea how to tell others about the events that had happened in the Lord Protector’s Manor. Brother Yan used to be a conversable classmate, but he was unwilling to tell him too much about such private affairs, so he immediately answered with a smile.
“It’s the same as before, so you’re having a rough time? To be honest, Brother Ning, do you want to do business with me and help your mother to support the family?” Brother Yan suggested, as if he was an experienced man. He reached out his fan and patted Ning Huaijing on the shoulder.
Ning Xueyan, who was behind Ning Huaiyan, raised her head discreetly and looked at the Young Master Yan, who appeared too enthusiastic. Then, she scrutinized him from head to toe, secretly. When he turned his head, she immediately lowered her head. A trace of doubt flashed in her eyes. “Are you going to do business with Ning Huaijing? Are you going to do it now, or have you thought about it before?”
“Childe, Childe Hua is coming!” The voice of the young male servant rang out. Ning Xueyan followed the gazes of the others. When she saw him, she was shocked, and her face changed greatly. “This man? Is it him?”