Chapter 112 Part 1: The Plague Spreads, Fei Yang Hurries Over
"The fourth meimei being loved by grandmother, uncle, and aunt, so naturally she will be innocent and unaffected. It actually makes Meng'er envious." Yun Qian Meng lifted her eyes to look at Yun Xuan Mo. After meeting him this time, she felt Yun Xuan Mo was more enigmatic and impossible to predict compared to the last time they met in Su City.
Yun Xuan Mo laughed and looked closer, carefully observing Yun Qian Meng before him. His mind flipped over his memory of the communication he had had with his eldest son in contrast to the current Yun Qian Meng. His face smiled even more, and he praised Yun Qian Meng in the presence of the old madam, "Mother is quite blessed to have such a bright granddaughter like Meng'er. If Yi Yi were to have half of Meng'er's intelligence, your aunt and I wouldn't be worried at all."
Yun Qian Meng just smiled at Yun Xuan Mo's modesty and replied, "Fourth meimei is indeed uncle and aunt's pearl in the palm. Even though she has been living in xiangfu, who would have reason to make the her suffer? Uncle and aunt need not worry about it, Meng'er shall perform my duty as the older sister and take good care of fourth meimei."
These few words delighted both Yun Xuan Mo and Li shi even more. Li shi grasped Yun Qian Meng's hands, then said in concern, "I haven't seen Meng'er in such a long time. I actually wanted to congratulate Meng'er, for being about to marry into Chu xiangfu. Meng'er seems to be the luckiest one among you children. In the future, you will become Chu wangfei. We might have to trouble her sister for Yi Yi's marriage."
Li shi's gaze swept over the old madam and Yun Yi Yi while she spoke. The smile in her eyes was quite sincere, yet the old madam and Yun Yi Yi's faces were a little upset. The old madam's eyes especially were fixed at Yun Qian Meng, all while wishing her gaze would carve a hole in Yun Qian Meng's body.
But Li shi only held Yun Qian Meng's hands all the more gently.
Watching this married couple who were so different from each other, a light, involuntary smile came to Yun Qian Meng's face, and she pretended not to mind the old madam's glare. Smiling at Li shi, she then said indifferently, "What are you talking about, aunt? Fourth meimei's marriage is to be decided by the elders, and then her two brothers must approve. Meng'er is only her cousin, how could I be allowed to rise above all others and take control of fourth meimei's marriage? Moreover, Meng'er barely has any experience, if by any chance, fourth meimei went into a bad marriage, wouldn't it cause her trouble? Meng'er wouldn't dare take on such a huge responsibility, please forgive me, aunt."
Once it was clear that Yun Qian Meng was not too easily fooled, the smile expression on Li shi's face slightly tensed, and the enthusiasm in her eyes grew weaker. And she was quick to release Yun Qian Meng's hands with the excuse of drinking tea.
"What are you talking about, older sister? When you become Chu wangfei, arrange a good marriage for me. It should be an easy task, why would you decline, sister? Could it be that you can't bear to see me have a marriage better than yours?" Yun Yi Yi immediately spoke harshly after watching Yun Qian Meng use every possible means to reject her, and subsequently, causing her to lose face in front of everyone.
At this moment, aside from Yun Xuan Mo, his wife, and Yun Yi Heng who all had neutral expressions, the other three in the room were staring at Yun Qian Meng hatefully.
"Yi Yi, you are too presumptuous! How dare you use such tone to your eldest sister? An elder sister is just like your mother; in the future, you will need lots and lots of support from her. Don't tell me that you expect your grandmother and your parents to stand by your side forever? What your eldest sister said isn't wrong. You can't continue to be so inexperienced or people will start to avoid you." Yun Xuan Mo sternly reproached Yun Yi Yi's rudeness.
But in Yun Qian Meng's eyes, their acting was really too good.
If Yun Xuan Mo really wanted to reproach Yun Yi Yi, why did he need to wait for her to finish talking?
It was evident that he wanted to make use of Yun Yi Yi's mouth, taking advantage of her words so that Yun Xuan Mo would end up the good guy in the end. This kind of show was seriously boring, yet these people enjoy and never tire of staging these. Do they really think that she could be so easily deceived?
With a shallow smile, she watched these ruthless people before her, and Yun Qian Meng retreated to her own seat then leisurely sat down. Following which, she lifted the teacup beside her and gently took a sip in a composed manner, holding back a smile with the act of drinking tea. After a long while, she slowly said, "Yes. Some words mustn't be said, fourth meimei. Chu wang is currently fit and healthy. If fourth meimei's words were to spread, wouldn't it sound like some kind of curse? This kind of sin can be big or small if taken advantage of by someone determined enough. Worst case, you could seriously affect xiangfu, while a lesser case would be affecting your two brothers' futures. Fourth meimei might be young and inexperienced, but some lines cannot be crossed. Do not be shamed into anger when other people can't accomplish what you ask for, it makes you look too narrow-minded. Grandma is always generous, and meimei has stayed by grandma's side since you were small. I would think that you'd have learned a few things already."
Yun Qian Meng's eyes were cold as snow, and both of her pitch-black eyes were sparkled with quick wit that no person would dare look straight at them.
Her tone, this time in particular, seemed to have a faint murderous aura, causing the room to gawk, not having expected a precious xiaojie who barely stepped out of her house to be so imposing to the point that their hearts trembled.
"Yi Yi has been brought up closely since she was small, of course she can't compared to a xiaojie from an influential family in the capital, in addition to her current young age, when talking about sophisticated thinking, please do not blame her, cousin." The usually silent Yun Yi Heng suddenly said.
The intended meaning in his words was very clear. Firstly, he pointed out that Yun Qian Meng's thinking was overly sophisticated, which set off against the unsophisticated, good, and honest nature of Yun Yi Yi; Secondly, he pointed out that Yun Qian Meng had lost her mother since young, compared to Yun Yi Yi who grew up under attentive care, Yun Qian Meng was more insidious and cunning.
Yun Qian Meng had heard so much of this kind of comparison and evaluation that she was not in the mood to argue with Yun Yi Heng who also seemed young and immature. Her fingers which were lightly holding the lid of the teacup gently loosened, and a sudden sharp and clear bang echoed inside the silent room, causing most of the occupants' hearts to jump. They then stared at Yun Qian Meng, only to see her lips pursed and an expression that was not quite a smile on her face. Those eyes that were bright as stars had a sharp intelligence in them, as if there was some profound mystery to be solved.
"Old madam, xiangye has arrived." In the silence, Rui mama announced as she lifted the curtain. Everyone then turned to see Yun Xuan Zhi walked inside, still wearing his uniform for he imperial court.
Aside from the old madam, everyone stood up. When Yun Xuan Zhi caught sight of Yun Qian Meng upon entering the room, and saw her doing well, his worried heart has loosened a bit. He held back his concern and turned his keen eyes to his younger brother whom he had not seen for more than ten years, then called out emotionally, "Brother!"
"Big brother!" Yun Xuan Mo's eyes were already brimming with tears of excitement. After so many years of not seeing his elder brother, he immediately led Li shi forward to give their salutations, yet he was deftly halted by Yun Xuan Zhi.
"What's this for? You and I are brothers, how can I have you and sister-in-law bow before me? Your health is not very good, quickly get up and sit properly, please do not bother to do that for your brother." Yun Xuan Zhi's eyes flickered disapprovingly, firmly pressing the unwilling Yun Xuan Mo's shoulders into a sitting position before he himself went in front of the old madam and bowed with his hands held in front and greeted, "Your son has come to meet you, mother. Being too busy with official business, I rarely come to see mother. I hope mother will not think too badly of me."
When the expected quarrel had not occurred, the old madam's tensed expression relaxed little by little. Since Yun Xuan Zhi was behaving himself with integrity today, she gave him honor, as she smiled and said, "Of course the matters of the imperial court are more important. I have Yi Heng, his brother, and sister to cater to me to make me happy, along with the service of so many yatou and pozi. You don't have to worry about it, I know that you are awfully busy for the matters concerning the autumn examination. But you must pay more attention to your health, majority of your children are still very young, they still depend on you."
The implications of her words not only showed her care towards her own children's health, but also gave thought to the futures of Yun Yi Heng and his brother. Yun Qian Meng used the teacup to cover her grimace. These people in front of her were really quite fascinating, to be able to face people they hated yet still be able to talk cheerfully and wittily; she really admired their flexibility.
"Thanks for your concern, mother. But some things you ought to do, while some things you ought not to do. If the imperial matters aren't handled carefully, it will cause trouble for my family, so how can I not strive harder? Contrariwise, my brother has much leisure time that enables him and his wife to live a life like a perfect couple in Su City. Now that Yi Heng and Yi Jie are standing out from their peers, I am actually quite envious." Yun Xuan Zhi's was more or less pointing out that the imperial matters were what ought to be done, while the issues the old madam brought up ought not be done.
But since he had not said it plainly,, the old madam had no choice but to think of a tactful retort, all the while, feeling snubbed.
There was also a special mother and son relationship between the old madam and Yun Xuan Mo who naturally he could not bear to see the old madam unhappy, so he laughed to smooth things over. "Big brother, you have become even more capable now. Unlike your younger brother who stays at home all day. I have aged a lot, yet my knowledge and experience has not had the slightest degree of improvement. No wonder the Emperor respects big brother by assigning such important matters like the autumn examination and feeling at ease about it. Yi Heng and Yi Jie, you two must humbly learn from your uncle. When you become an official in the future, you must be like your uncle and make huge contributions to the imperial court."
"Yes, father." Yun Yi Heng and Yun Yi Jie immediately responded.
But as Yun Xuan Zhi listened to Yun Xuan Mo's statement, his heart was annoyed. He looked at his younger brother with a smile, but faint anger burned behind his eyes.
"Now that the entire family of your younger brother has arrived, you must allow Liu yiniang to prepare the courtyard for them to stay, so as to avoid other people regarding our family as a joke." The old madam quickly interjected when Yun Xuan Zhi continued to smile without speaking. Now that she had her younger son's support, the old madam was fearless. Besides, her younger son had already arrived in xiangfu, it would be unreasonable for Yun Xian Zhi to drive the couple away back to Su City, wouldn't it?
Yun Xuan Zhi laughed at her words and immediately replied warmly, "Mother is right. I had pondered this matter a few days ago. After years of younger brother being separated from my family, if he were to arrive here at the capital to visit, his stay at xiangfu is naturally not a problem. But like mother has said, younger brother has migrated his entire family to the capital, so such a long stay at xiangfu will be sort of an inconvenience. I shall let Liu yiniang tidy up a courtyard in the the north of the capital, and let younger brother and his wife stay there for however long. It will not be too late for them to move out once they find a suitable house. What do you think, mother? Brother?"
"You!" the old madam had not expect that Yun Xuan Zhi would still drive her younger son away and suddenly shot an angry glance at Yun Xuan Zhi, wishing she could swallow him whole. A hand tightly pinched her Buddhist beads, making her knuckles white, showing how angry the old madam was right now, perhaps she even wished for Yun Xuan Zhi to die immediately.
"Big brother's thoughts are more profound and long-lasting than mine. I was only thinking about Yi Heng and Yi Jie's affairs once I arrived at the capital. I hadn't considered that it might bring inconvenience to big brother. Now that you've thought of a method that satisfies the demands, you've actually lessened my embarrassment. Mother, do you think it's alright?" Yun Xuan Mo did not seem the least bit angry, he actually appeared extremely happy to accept Yun Xuan Zhi's suggestions, and was even consoling the old madam, hoping she would accept such arrangements.
The old madam looked away from Yun Xuan Zhi and shifted her gaze towards her younger son who was smiling like spring breeze. After a long moment, she finally calmed her anger, afterwhich she enthusiastically ordered Yun Xuan Zhi, "Since that is the case, you might as well give the deed for the house and land to your younger brother and sister-in-law as gifts. They are not like you who lives the comfortable life of an official of the imperial court. All these years, they have only been relying on rental payments to live, and they still had to provide for an old woman like me. It hasn't been easy for them."
Yun Qian Meng thought the old madam's words to be ridiculous. Others would not see the situation clearly, but the head of the family was now Yun Xuan Zhi, yet the old madam was still creating difficulties for him by pressuring him in everything to the point that it has become ironic.
Moreover, old madam's words were emphasizing that Yun Xuan Zhi was greedy and was accepting bribes from people. Coming to such a conclusion without evidence would only attract more hate from Yun Xuan Zhi.
As expected, Yun Qian Meng noticed when Yun Xuan Zhi heard the old madam's words, as his eyes flickered with anger when he responded in a cold voice, "Mother, you know very well that when we separated, all of Yun family's farmlands were given to younger brother. All the courtyards here are part of Ruo Li's dowry, which will all become Meng'er's dowry in the future. I really can't give them to younger brother, so please forgive me, mother."
With that one statement, he had blocked off the all old madam's inclinations to accumulate wealth.
After all, even with the support of a son, the old madam would not dare to publicly oppose Fu Guo Gongfu, or else with the emperor's raging temper, it was very likely that she could ruin the future of her two grandsons.
But after being rejected by Yun Xuan Zhi and Yun Qian Meng one after another, the old madam's expression was already quite unsightly when the sound of baby crying echoed from a side room, making the old madam even more distraught with anxiety. Facing outside, she roared, "Are all the wet nurses dead? Can't you look after a child? Having you all here is useless then. Aside from eating, you sleep the whole day, and when you have to work, you use all sorts of excuses. It would have been better off not to hire any of you."
These oblique accusations were still unable to attract Yun Xuan Zhi and Yun Qian Meng's attention, as Yun Xuan Zhi instead gently spoke to Yun Qian Meng, "Meng'er, the big wedding is almost near, you must also make the necessary preparations. If you are lacking anything, just have Liu yiniang get them for you. Make sure you don't lose your dignity as the eldest xiaojie of xiangfu. On day that you don't have any business, you must stay inside Qi Luo Yuan as much as possible. You should know that your status is respectable, and from now on, you must recognize yourself as Chu xiang's furen. Don't give others any way to mock once you enter Chu xiangfu."
These words, though spoken to Yun Qian Meng, were intended for the others to hear in the hopes that they would disturb Yun Qian Meng less which would hopefully keep Yun Qian Meng happy, otherwise they would be indirectly offending Chu Fei Yang and Chu Nan Shan.
"Eldest xiaojie, Hou furen has sent someone to deliver cloth for you, please return to Qi Luo Yuan to have a look." Liu Han Yu entered with a smile then immediately reported to Yun Qian Meng after she had greeted the old madam the others.
Yun Qian Meng glanced at Yun Xuan Zhi, who nodded. So with a faint smile, she stood up, faced the old madam and the others to bow. "Granddaughter shall take her leave now."
Yun Qian Meng then retreated from the room together with Liu Han Yu.
"Has my aunt really sent someone to deliver things?" on the way back to Qi Luo Yuan, Yun Qian Meng asked with a bit of suspicion as she watching Mu Chun and the other two laughing mischievously.
"Of course it's… not! We were worried that xiaojie might get bullied, so we thought this up. Xiaojie, you see how intelligent we are getting now?" Mu Chun boldly stepped forward, laughing as if she were expecting a reward in return.
"Craftily and quick-witted." Yet Yun Qian Meng only stingily gave her a snap of fingers. Afterwhich she laughed when Mu Chen pouted in disappointment. Yun Qian Meng's mood had been much lifted compared to when she had been in that oppressive room.
"Xiaojie, you are so used to bullying us servants." even after being lectured she still had complaints, so even Ying Xia and Yuan Dong could not help laughing.
The moment they stepped into Qi Luo Yuan, Mi mama came to greet them with a face full of smiles. She then turned to Yun Qian Meng and said, "Xiaojie, you have finally returned, this Le Yao girl has been waiting for you for almost half the day."
"Le Yao? Has something happened to cousin?" Yun Qian Meng was somewhat worried, but Mi mama's face was still wearing a smile so it was not likely to be anything bad.
"You cousin has sent Le Yao here to deliver an entire set of bridal cloth. It's still in the hall waiting to be inspected by eldest xiaojie." Mi mama immediately explained when she saw Yun Qian Meng still puzzled look.
Yet unexpectedly, the explanation had caused Mu Chun and the other two to laugh heartily.
"These crazy yatou, what are you laughing about? If you keep acting improperly, don't blame me for sending you all out again." But even Mi mama couldn't help from laughing soon afterwards, and the entire Qi Luo Yuan was suddenly filled with cries of joy and laughter.
Yun Qian Meng allowed their willful acts to continue yet she quickly lead the way to the common hall. As was said, they found Le Yao standing inside the common room, who immediately proceeded to greet Yun Qian Meng as soon as she entered. "Nubi greets xiaojie."
Yun Qian Meng lightly nodded her head, wearing a gentle expression when she faced Le Yao and said, "You have waited long?"
Seeing Yun Qian Meng in a good mood, Le Yao approached the table with a smile then lifted open the red silk cloth to expose the set of pillowcases. "Xiaojie, this is the set of crimson silk pillow that my xiaojie had me deliver. My xiaojie had planned to deliver them personally, but yesterday, laotaijun had ordered her to stay inside Ting Yu Xuan so she sent me over instead."
Yun Qian Meng's brows slightly creased once she heard Le Yao's purposefully explain everything, afterwhich she asked, "How's my cousin? Why did laotaijun suddenly forbid her from going out of Hou fu? Don't tell me that she also isn't allowed to walk around xiangfu?"
Le Yao shook her head, trying to say that she did not know the whole story. She then took out a sealed letter from her sleeve and handed it over to Yun Qian Meng, afterwhich she explained, "Our xiaojie requested I hand this to you."
Taking the letter, Yun Qian Meng immediately tore off the wax seal and took out the fine writing paper inside to carefully read. Her expression became more serious than when she had first entered.
Once she finished reading the letter, Yun Qian Meng slowly folded it, then unhurriedly told Le Yao, "You should return and tell cousin that when I have time, I shall pay her a visit. She need not worry over these matters."
"Yes!" Le Yao's tense heart loosened up a bit when she saw Yun Qian Meng's expression go back to it's usual calm and indifference.
"Remember to thank my cousin on my behalf. You've already been out for so long, so I shall not ask you to stay any longer." Yun Qian Meng said with a smile as soon as Le Yao had calmed. Afterwhich, Yun Qian Meng called out for Mi mama to keep the cloth inside the inner room.
Le Yao only bowed to Yun Qian Meng before leading the few yatou with her out of xiangfu.
"Xiaojie, your cousin has a great workmanship; these mandarin ducks playing in the water seemed vivid and lifelike!" Mi mama carefully flipped over the embroidered cases as she exclaimed in admiration.
Yun Qian Meng only glance at them indifferently as she asked Mu Chun to fetch her a lit candle. Placing the letter over the candle flame, she burned it until there was practically nothing left, then she said, "My cousin is a daughter of a noble house, of course her workmanship is naturally great."
Mi mama laughed, then jokingly said, "Hearing these words from you, xiaojie, seems like you are implying that you are not a daughter of the noble house. Xiaojie, you must not undervalue yourself, you possessed gifted intelligence, which is truly rare among people, they must really envy you."
Hearing Mi mama's consoling words, she must have viewed the situation crookedly and assumed that Yun Qian Meng must have felt jealous of Qu Fei Qing's work, so she did not know whether she should laugh or cry. She definitely knew herself to be an expert in handling spears, but if she were to grasp a tiny needle to do embroidery, perhaps she would faint from dizziness.
"Mama, keep them well, don't let termites damage them." Looking at the bright and colorful sheets, Yun Qian Meng's heart tightened. Since they would not allow Qu Fei Qing out of the house or even get in touch with her, then she would just go and visit her personally. Surely they would not go to the extent of locking their door and refusing to see her.
Mi mama gently nodded when she saw Yun Qian Meng occupied with her thoughts, and carefully wrapped the sheets in a silk cloth. Following which, she put them inside a chest, to await Yun Qian Meng's big wedding day.