Real Empress from a Noble Family - Chapter 299
Chapter 299 Hidden Tide Rising Before the Lunar New Year’s Eve Dinner
One day after Jiang Yashuang had a long talk with Qiu Yelan, the charge of the Dou Family was decided. It was like what Jiang Yashuang said. The whole family would be executed. Those who were below sixteen could be exempted by law, but they would be sold and could not be redeemed.
Days ago, they were still arrogant n.o.bles. But the next day, this happened. Thinking about what her husband said, Qiu Yelan felt guilty.
When she went to the third branch to help, she found an opportunity to talk to He Shuijin alone. She said, “Even though Jiang Yashuang didn’t guess the truth, he has been suspicious. Yesterday he hinted at me again. This time he suspected the government. What do you say?”
He Shuijin understood what she meant. She said cautiously, “Rest a.s.sured. I understand we may all be implicated! If I were a careless person, I wouldn’t have asked you to keep this a secret when we were in Mount Dizi! This will always be a secret kept here in the backyard of the third branch!”
Qiu Yelan exhaled a long breath, “Don’t blame me for being too careful. It’s just the Tao Family, the Dou Family, and the Duan Family fell so suddenly. Even though I’m just watching, I feel unsafe!”
“Me, too.” He Shuijin sighed. She understood what Qiu Yelan meant, “High position makes an easy target. That’s why we all need to take care!”
“That’s what I should say to you.” Qiu Yelan looked at her pale face. Even though she knew it was partially because of the powder, her black circles were not drawn by charcoal. Her black circles were caused by days of fatigue, “It’s the Lunar New Year’s Eve dinner the day after tomorrow. Do you want to take a day off?”
With the Jiang Family’s status now, everyone could go to the Lunar New Year’s Eve Dinner as long as they wanted to.
Even though as the Empress’s family, they didn’t need to be on their toes at the dinner. Wearing a full dress to partic.i.p.ate in such a dreary ceremony would consume both time and energy.
With the responsibility He Shuijin had and her health status, she really shouldn’t go.
Luckily, she wasn’t going to force herself. She shook her head and said, “I already sent someone to tell the elders that I’m not going. After all, I have tons of things to do and my health condition really doesn’t allow me to go through too much trouble.” If she could go to the dinner, everyone would know she still had extra strength. How could she relax a bit from now on? If she couldn’t relax, her body would collapse. Then what if she had to watch someone else give birth to children for her husband? Or it may be even worse that she pa.s.sed away and had to give her position to the next person!
Qiu Yelan didn’t know she was thinking about these questions in her mind furiously. Qiu Yelan was relieved for her, “That’s better. You really should have some rest now.”
“If you meet Fubing in the Palace, spend some time with her!” He Shuijin suddenly said.
“Are you still worried that she couldn’t see this through? Last time Zhuang Man and Xing went to see her. Later, when Zhuang Man came to see me, she said Fubing sincerely wished Xing’s brother to live happily ever after with Yongfu!” Qiu Yelan smiled and said, “Oh, are you afraid that she would hate you? She wouldn’t. Fubing was not actually angry with you. She was just angry at the situation.”
He Shuijin shook her head, “Fubing had some temper, but she did know better. Otherwise, my aunt won’t choose her. I’m not worried about other things. But just think about the current situation, Fubing is the fiancee of the Seventh Prince. Who knows whether she will be targeted at the dinner or not?”
She lowered her voice, “Not only Empress Dowager’s people but also people on our side want to be the future Crown Princess! That’s why I asked you to spend more time with her. If anyone wants to hurt her, I imagine you can help her!”
Qiu Yelan understood. She realized she was still inexperienced. She still couldn’t think as thoroughly as He Shuijin, so she immediately asked humbly, “Then is there anything else or anyone else I need to worry about?”
“Jiang Qiyun has been living outside the city on the excuse of being sick and needing to rest since she came back from Mount Dizi. She probably won’t come back this time.” He Shuijin didn’t hide her wisdom. She told Qiu Yelan honestly, “She’s not here. So we lose one to fight with Princess Yan and Princess Zhou. But you know she is not only fierce towards outsiders but also the same as the family! So it’s good that she’s not coming back! But with what happened to the Dou Family, Aunt Yang will be having a bad time! We don’t need to fight with her now. Remember to report to our grandfather in case someone says we’re insulting her! So watch what you say. Don’t provoke Aunt Yang or the biggest sister-in-law!”
She then said, “I don’t know whether the Princess of Lu is coming this time or not. But if she’s clever, she should come! After all, her marriage is the last decency Empress Jiang gave to the Tao Family because of grandmother! If she claims to be sick this time, she will not only irritate Empress Jiang but also miss the chance Empress Jiang gave her. She is the Princess of Lu. If she doesn’t do anything wrong in front of everyone, Empress Jiang will give her some acknowledgment. So if she comes, don’t mention anything that will make her uncomfortable.”
Qiu Yelan thought secretly, “The last decency to the Tao Family? I think it’s just using an unimportant Prince to fool the Tao Family! No matter Empress Dowager’s party or the Tao Family, they surely thought Empress and Madame Tao still think about the Tao Family, seeing them abandoning Zhuang Man and Miss Shi and choosing Tao Yibin to be the Princess of Lu. How would they see that the Jiang Family already decided to dump the Tao Family?”
Luckily like Prince of Qi, Prince of Lu was also honest and weak. Otherwise, Tao Yibin wouldn’t have an easy life!
He Shuijin also told her what she shouldn’t and should do as a daughter-in-law on this kind of occasion. In the end, she said with a smile, “I don’t know if Madame Tao Junior is going. If she is, just follow her. She won’t do anything wrong!”
“That’s true. But she finally got pregnant and it hasn’t been three months. I’m afraid for the sake of the child, grandmother would let her stay at home!” Qiu Yelan smiled and said.
She guessed correctly. The next day, Madame Tao announced people who were going to the Lunar New Year’s Eve Dinner. Madame Tao Junior, Madame Shi, He Shuijin, and Sheng Shishui were not included.
Everybody knew why He Shuijin was absent. Madame Tao Junior was absent because she was finally pregnant and Madame Tao was afraid something might go wrong. So she decided for Madame Tao Junior to not attend. Sheng Shishui didn’t go because of two reasons. First, her daughter was still young. She couldn’t leave. Second, Madame Tao was afraid that Jiang Yadan’s concubines might make trouble when everyone else would be at the dinner, so she left a granddaughter-in-law to be in charge.
Madame Shi’s reason was more complicated. She claimed to be sick since He Shuijin asked the wives to help her with the accountant business. She would get better when He Shuijin no longer required help. Everybody knew that and they couldn’t really blame Madame Shi. After all, n.o.body wanted to see someone who had been involved in her son’s suicide after it happened.
And Madame Shi didn’t fight with He Shuijin. She just didn’t want to see He Shuijin, so that she wouldn’t get sad.
So the elders just pretended they didn’t know. Madame Tao just understood it as her being sick so she couldn’t go.
Everyone who would be going started preparing. Their clothes were actually already ready. Now the list was settled. They just rechecked it.
The next evening, womenfolk who had dressed all fancy waited for Madame Tao in the back Hall. When it was about time, they went into the Palace with Madame Tao.
Madame Dou and Madame Dou Junior forced themselves to come. Qiu Yelan looked at them. They couldn’t walk without their maids supporting them. Qiu Yelan guessed they didn’t call in sick and insisted to go because they wanted to ask Empress Jiang for her mercy to spare the rest of the Dou Family.
But Marquess Qin had decided to abandon the Dou Family in exchange for Jiang Tianao’s exoneration. They probably would be disappointed this time.
Everyone noticed their abjection which was so different from their usual arrogant persona, but no one said anything. They were not dumb. The Dou Family went down, but Madame Dou and Madame Dou Junior married into the Jiang Family a long time ago. They both had sons. Marquess Qin always valued the bloodline of the Jiang Family. They wouldn’t be abandoned just because the Dou Family went down.
Now if they publicly insulted them, Marquess Qin would get angry. It would just make the first branch look more pitiful.
Unlike the usual noise and chatting, the Jiang Family’s womenfolk went into the Palace in utter silence.
The advantage of going with Madame Tao was that they didn’t need to wait. They could directly go rest in the warm halls and watch Empress Jiang welcoming peeresses. Of course, as granddaughters-in-law, they were all standing.
As the only granddaughter-in-law whose mother-in-law was not here, Qiu Yelan naturally stood behind Madame Tao. Looking around, she was surprised, “Chunfu Princess didn’t come? Now Empress and Madame Tao will surely ask. Qiu Feng you are doomed!”
Indeed, Empress had to talk with peeresses. She looked at the seat prepared for Jiang Qizheng several times yet she couldn’t say anything. Madame Tao was just quietly chatting with the ones nearby, so she easily found the time. She turned around and asked Qiu Yelan, “Why is Zheng’er still not here? Go ask if she is stuck on the road because of the heavy snow.”
If only that! Qiu Yelan was afraid she fell ill because of Qiu Feng and she didn’t want to come!
Qiu Yelan smiled bitterly in her heart. Yet she had to take this.
Luckily when she went out and asked, a servant said, “A message just came from the gate. Chunfu Princess’s Chief of Staff is asking to come in at the gate. He said Chunfu Princess twisted her ankle when she was about to leave, so she couldn’t come. She also said her husband was worried and couldn’t leave her alone, so he’s not coming either.”
Qiu Yelan thanked the servant. She went back and repeated this to Madame Tao near her ears. Madame Tao was surprised after hearing it, “Then was it bad?”
“The servant said it was not. She just couldn’t walk for two or three days.”
“Oh, that should be fine.” Madame was relieved. She smiled, “As long as she’s ok, she doesn’t need to come. It’s no big deal. Seeing her husband caring for her so much, I’m quite relieved.”
Qiu Yelan smiled stiffly, “Of course!” She couldn’t imagine when the truth came out, how outrageous the Jiang Family would be.
“I should have persuaded brother to take Qiu Feng with him!” She thought painfully, “With Qiu Feng gone, Chunfu can better act alone. With Qiu Feng staying around irritating her, no wonder she hides from her maiden family all the time! This won’t end well if it continues!”
This shouldn’t continue!
Qiu Jinglan said he was going to handle it before. But for so long, she didn’t see Jiang Qizheng coming back merrily. Either he failed or he had to leave early so things didn’t work out. Anyway, Qiu Yelan decided to find Jiang Qizheng and Qiu Feng in the first lunar month to get this straight!
When she was thinking about how to persuade them, a clear voice sounded suddenly, “Commandery Princess Ningyi?”
Qiu Yelan turned around. She saw a beautiful woman dressed in royal clothes. She came near and greeted Qiu Yelan. She had a full figure and looked healthy. She was Princess Yan, Tang Xinqiong!
Clearly, she didn’t come friendly!
After greeting each other, Tang Xinqiong smiled and said, “I heard your cousin Ruan Qingyan is still on his way to Shazhou to be the Chief of Staff? You really need to talk some sense into him, so he won’t follow others…” She glanced at Madame Dou and Madame Dou Junior in the near distance and said meaningfully, “Chief of Staff is allowed to enter the storage of Western Army. I hope you can warn him not to do anything wrong to himself or to the country!”