Chapter 14 “Cousin’s Here”
The situation had suddenly turned around. Concubine Liu’s face was pale and blushed at the same time because of the shock. She immediately did what she was best at and began to murmur in tears, “Sis, don’t listen to Third Miss. You’ve seen it as well just now. Her little actions were quite suspicious, and it’s normal that I suspect her.”
“What about the white jade hairpin? I was not in my yard yesterday. Baochuan is only five years old and he knows nothing. Your hairpin was already found in the stable, and yet you still try to blame it on me. What’s the reason?”
“I’m just, just trying to be sure.” Concubine Liu’s tone sank.
“Oh, just in case,” Qin Yunuan hold the tears that she squeezed out and said to Dou Qing’e, “Mother, you see. Even though I am a junior and have no say in this household, I couldn’t let people suspect me without a course. My birth mother passed when I was young, which makes people think that I don’t have a mother. Mother, you need to uphold the justice here.”
The quarrel between Concubine Liu and Qin Yunuan had made Dou Qing’e feel a bit noisy. Now that Qin Yunuan was seeking her as a protective shield, which had made her even more uncomfortable. However, she had to do it on the face, as she frowned and said agreeingly, “Sis, this is your fault now. Yunuan’s mother had passed early. Since Master entrusted Yunuan to me, I have to say something in certain cases. You did too much for today.”
Right then, Butler Ye from the outer yard hurried in to report that the concierge received a letter saying that the young Master from Jianzhou was about to arrive tomorrow. This had made Dou Qing’e busy again, and even more careless about this farce.
“Alright, off you go. It’s merely a misunderstanding,” Dou Qing’e said to the maids, and turned to Qin Yunuan, and said emotionlessly, “As for the sachet, I thank you for it. Your auntie is clumsy. Don’t blame her too much.”
“Sis.” Concubine Liu was very grieved and wanted to say something. However, Dou Qing’e gave her a cold glare. She could only grip her handkerchief tightly to hold it down. No matter how arrogant she was, she knew who was in charge of the Grand Commandant Mansion.
Just when Dou Qing’e was about to turn away, she was stopped by Qin Yunuan calling her, “Mother.”
“What? What else do you have to say?” Dou Qing’e sounded annoyed. She did not blame her for anything. What else could she be unsatisfied with?
“I didn’t dare to say anything more to annoy you, mother, but I still have a small wish, and I hope you can satisfy it.” Qin Yunuan bowed her head nicely and quietly, “I know that at the beginning of the year, you had agreed to deliver half a bundle of paper to Baochuan each month to practice calligraphy. But now, it seems that it is not quite enough. Baochuan was being more and more hardworking at practicing calligraphy, which is a good thing too.”
In fact, even half a bundle of paper was an empty cheque. Either the accountant did not have it in mind, or he took the paper himself. The head of the accountants was brought here by Dou Qing’e from her family, so there were still quite a few things like this.
“Okay, I know.” Dou Qing’e promised without much hesitation. “Fine, just give this concubine’s daughter a little compensation today.” She said to the butler, “Butler Ye, tell the accountants tomorrow, deliver three bundles of Huizhou paper and two wolf-hair writing brushes to the second young master every month.” She tilted her head and looked at Qin Yunuan again, “Now you’re satisfied?”
Qin Yunuan quickly bowed and thanked her, and she kept the weak and happy smile until Dou Qing’e and Concubine Liu both left.
Qin Yunuan pinched the corner of her clothes and looked at the distance with a clear look. “In the previous life, you punished Baochuan twenty clubs. I just asked for some paper in this life. That’s not too much.” Suddenly, she smiled again. She knew that the best part was yet to come.
When she got back to her room, Nurse Liao served some hot water. Looking at Qin Yunuan wiping her tired face carefully, she said seriously, “You have finally toughened up, Miss.”
“I have always felt that Third Miss is too easily manipulated by others and suffers too much, but I don’t have the chance to say it, now that you are like this,” Nurse Liao couldn’t hold her tears back at this point, but she soon wiped them off. “I am so happy for you.”
Qin Yunuan was a bit stunned. She didn’t tell nurse Liao her plans. The sachet torn by Concubine Liu was originally prepared for Baochuan. Since nurse Liao had said that, she must have known it too. However, she was surprised only by nurse Liao’s attitude.
“You don’t think I’ve turned bad? Or intrigued?”
“You have to protect yourself. You didn’t start this. This is your ability. You can’t say that it’s bad.” Nurse Liao’s tone was sincere and gentle.
Qin Yunuan was a bit touched, but she just called again, “Nurse Liao.” Her soft and delicate hands held the vicissitude and warm hand of her wet nurse. She felt profoundly relieved.
The efficiency of Butler Ye was fairly high indeed. It was only in the evening that the three bundles of Huizhou paper and two writing brushes were delivered. Qin Baochuan liked them so much he wouldn’t let them go. Qin Yunuan let Tong and Maner cut the paper into smaller pieces for future use.
At night, the water in the stove was still boiling. After Qin Yunuan tucked Qin Baochuan into bed, she couldn’t sleep. Consequently, she went outside to sit by the stove with Tong and Maner.
“The second young master is really happy today. He practiced several pages of calligraphy with the wolf-hair writing brush.”
“Yeah, yeah, he wrote several pages non-stop, and put on the appearance of a little adult, saying that it was necessary to save some for later use. He asked me to put it somewhere safe and away from the mice.”
“The second young master is sensible,” Nurse Liao whispered, and looked at Qin Yunuan, “It’s just that it has been hard for the Miss.”
Qin Yunuan’s face was rosy and shiny being next to the fire. She smiled calmly without saying a word. She was longing for tomorrow, as her cousin from Jianzhou would be here.
Ten years ago, she was four and her cousin was nine. This was the second and the last time that her fourth aunt paid a return visit.
Her cousin blocked the mud ball Qin Linfeng, her elder brother, threw at her, got covered in mud and was scolded.
“Don’t be afraid. I’m here.” At that time, her cousin was as tall as a large tree, guarding her in his shade. Her cousin should be the one she trusted the most apart from nurse Liao and her maids.
However, she was unsure whether her cousin still remembered her now, even though there were differences between men and women and they couldn’t be as close as before.
“I heard that the fourth aunt’s husband is now a senior official in Jianzhou. You have such good relationship with your cousin. This is the moment when you can stand up for yourself.” Tong said cheerfully.
“You silly girl,” Nurse Liao said seriously, “Now everyone is older. It is not like when they were kids.”
“You’re wrong, nurse. Why not?” Maner laughed, “You see. Tong is as silly as she was when she was a kid.”
They chatted and laughed next to the stove, and the atmosphere warmed again.
At about nine in the morning, a carriage with green droopy curtains stopped at the main entrance of Grand Commandant’s Mansion.
A slender hand slowly opened the curtain, and a pair of white auspicious cloud boots took the lead to step out of the carriage. Immediately, a servant sent him the steps for him to get off. The man in the carriage dismounted slowly. The winter sun shined on the visitor’s jade-like face and added a beautiful golden lining to it.
He was such a romantic young man, decent like a jade.
The visitor was the only son of Grand Commandant Qin’s fourth sister, Su Chenghai.
“Master, please.” The butler immediately greeted him, trying hard to please him. “I really don’t know that young master will come today. Madam had promised Madam of Left Chancellor last month to worship the Buddha together at Lingtai Temple today. She can’t decline the visit, so she arranged me here to wait for you, master.”
In short, the mistress wasn’t here today. Suit yourself. This was the statement that Dou Qing’e ordered Butler Ye to repeat yesterday. The reason was merely…
“Why is your father not here with you, master?” Butler Ye was still flattering.
“My father is busy with his work and can’t get away.” Su Chenghai replied lightly. Su Rian was now the transhipment officer in Jianzhou, which was a nice job indeed. Many people wanted to befriend with him. Su Chenghai’s mother, Qin Siniang, was a commoner’s daughter. Su Rian, on the other hand, was a common person too when she married him. However, time had changed everything. He had great luck in the government and reached the position of the transhipment officer finally.
If you can’t befriend with the father, befriend with the son could be an alternative. However, Dou Qing’e heard that Su Chenghai and Su Rian had a great fight that nearly got him expelled from the family. The tiny hope she had was completely gone. She was counting on the nice job of Su Rian to get herself some benefits.
“When will auntie come back?” Su Chenghai asked naturally.
“Well… how would I know?” Butler Ye was trying to avoid the question, “Maybe noon, maybe the evening, or maybe tomorrow.”
“Oh, I have to bother you to show me the way then.” Su Chenghai raised his eyebrows lightly. He did not hear the meaning of the butler at all, but he entered the gate naturally following the stairs.
“Oh, Master.” Butler Ye wanted to stop him for a few more words, but Su Chenghai didn’t look back at all. “Oh right, I forgot. Si, tip the servants and maidens by the door.” After speaking, he went inside without looking back.
With Dou Qing’e’s absence, Concubine Chang and Concubine Liu hurried to the drawing room.
Concubine Chang had a calm personality, and she was still a bit weak from giving birth, so she stayed behind Concubine Liu humbly. As for Concubine Liu, she was quite arrogant. Even though she said, “Oh, the young master is such a torture. With Master and Madam both absent, he still insists to visit.” However, she was really joyful in her heart. Naturally, she wouldn’t have the chance to see the visitors with her status.
As they entered the drawing room, before Concubine Liu even had the chance to speak, she was stunned by a dazzling light of gold. Ha, so luxurious.
“This must be the two aunties.” Su Chenghai was very polite, as he bowed to Concubine Chang and Concubine Liu separately. After that, he pointed casually towards the lacquered gold boxes full of jewelries behind him and said, “It’s just some small gifts. Please accept it.”