“You came at just the right time! Having the Third Prince continue to bother you like this isn’t the way of doing things. Little Ninth did not provoke him and he dares to hurt Little Ninth this badly. Little Ninth is your daughter. Whether or not you do anything about this is up to you to decide!”
The old madam was furious and pulled Xiao Yuan into her, overwhelmed with a sense of pity.
Fan’s scalp tightened. This matter was becoming increasingly complicated. She opened her mouth and the old madam glared at her, which enraged Fan and her face turned bright red. The old madam spoke with a mocking tone of voice.
“If someone else was also as unyielding as Little Ninth, the Minister manor’s reputation wouldn’t be stamped into the ground as it is now. Humph!”
The Right Minister frowned, “Mother, your son will go to the emperor’s palace.”
The old madam nodded. The Right Minister turned and left in a fit of anger.
At this time, Xiao Ruo rushed forward and bravely blocked the Right Minister’s path.
“Father, you can’t. The Third Prince still has not woken from his coma. This matter may just be a misunderstanding.”
After Xiao Ruo’s words fell, she immediately went over to Xiao Yuan.
“Ninth Sister. We’re sisters aren’t we? You and the Third Prince have a marriage contract to honor. Sister is willing to surrender to you the position of princess consort. After all, the Third Prince is an imperial prince. If the imperial family loses prestige, it will also negatively affect father’s reputation. As long as you can calm down, sister would be willing to do anything!”
Xiao Ruo unceremoniously fell to her knees and her face revealed her determination.
“Sister Ruo!” Fan took the lead in reacting, “What are you doing? If you have something to say, then say it.”
The old madam was also shocked. She had never thought Xiao Ruo would say these kinds of words. She tightly grabbed onto Xiao Yuan’s hand and took a few steps back.
Xiao Yuan smirked. It was obvious that the Pure Consort had managed to persuade Xiao Ruo and perhaps even agreed to give her a few benefits.
Xiao Ruo’s words made it seem like if Xiao Yuan did not agree then it would be the equivalent of pushing the Right Minister into a pit of fire. If this conversation had happened in her past life, she would have never noticed this hidden meaning.
Xiao Yuan went stark white and she tightly held onto the old madam’s arm. Her delicate, soft voice wavered somewhat as she spoke.
“Grandmother, the manor’s maidservants were saying that Fifth Sister is pregnant with the Third Prince’s child and this is why she is mistreating Little Ninth. Is this true?”
“Ninth Sister, you shouldn’t trust rumors. Nothing of that sort is happening.”
Xiao Ruo rushed to explain. She had never thought that Xiao Yuan would go straight for her weak spot.
Xiao Yuan maintained a foolish, hurt expression. In the next moment, her body went weak but luckily, Wet Nurse Liu reacted quickly enough to catch her.
The old madam was terribly shocked. “Quickly, someone quickly go get the imperial physician.”
A few maidservants, on the old madam’s orders, rushed to help Xiao Yuan inside. The furious old madam glowered at Xiao Ruo with eyes filled with anger.
Xiao Ruo suddenly realized the situation had turned for the worse. She pulled in her neck.
The old madam spoke in a stern voice, “Don’t call me grandmother. I don’t have a granddaughter who is as shameless as you. You who have smeared the Xiao family’s good name. Lord Minister, the Third Prince has gone too far. He has humiliated our Xiao family again and again. Even if he is an imperial prince, we still deserve justice. Even if it kills me, I will bring this matter to the throne room!”
Xiao Ruo was stunned to silence. If the Minister and Lian Jiye had an ugly falling out, she would be the one to suffer the most. Afterwards, even if she were to become the Third Imperial Concubine, she would be unable to lift her head up with pride. This turn of events made her unbearably nervous.
The old madam coldly looked into Fan’s eyes. “I will temporarily manage the family’s affairs. If you cannot teach well, then I don’t mind personally doing some teaching!”
Fan was fearful. The old madam had clearly reached her limit and she was suddenly both angry and helpless. They were both blood related granddaughters so how could the difference between them be this vast?
“Mother, I will certainly carefully educate Sister Ruo.”
For this matter, Fan was stuck between a rock and a hard place. It wouldn’t be good for her no matter who she helped. If she helped Xiao Ruo that would mean facing the Lord Minister and the old madam’s disapproval. The pros did not outweigh the cons. If she helped Xiao Yuan, then she’d be turning her back on her original plan.
The old madam heavily sighed.
At this moment, a young manservant walked forward. “I am reporting back to the old madam and Lord Minister. There is a Commandant Cavalryman waiting outside who is requesting an audience with you.”
“A Commandant Cavalryman? What is he coming here for?” The Right Minister frowned. “Invite him in then.”
In a little while, the Commandant Cavalryman took big steps as he walked in. Behind him was another man who had a white cloak in his hands. At the sight of it, it was obvious that it belonged to a woman. The old madam took a quick glance and felt as if she had seen it before.
“Old madam. This is Miss Ninth’s cloak.” Wet Nurse Liu leaned in and whispered in the old madam’s ear.
When the old madam heard this, her heartbeat sped up.
“Right Minister. This was all a misunderstanding. On the day of the trip to the Dazhao Temple, my son had a chance encounter with the Ninth Miss. My son and the Third Prince have always been on good terms. Therefore, as the Third Prince is a gentleman who helps out his friends in need, he agreed to their union. I never thought that it would have caused such a large misunderstanding.”
“Lord Minister, today I have brought my son with me. If you want to beat or punish him, it is up to you to decide. I just ask that you do not delay these children’s wedding.”
Upon his arrival, Commandant Cavalryman immediately said the reason for why the Third Prince did not want to marry Xiao Yuan. It was entirely because Xiao Yuan and the Commandant Cavalryman’s eldest son, Su Fei, had already been intimate so he had to give up on Xiao Yuan and marry Xiao Ruo instead.
This single move helped preserve the Third Prince’s loyal reputation.
Su Fei bowed and joined his hands together in greeting, “I ask for Lord Minister’s help in accomplishing this matter. Su Fei is willing to formally marry Miss Xiao Ninth.”
Su Fei was wearing a black changshan*. He stood calmly in the foyer. The aura surrounding his body was one of calm and tranquility. His figure was elegant. Su Fei had a decent reputation in the capital. His appearance was especially handsome. Many young ladies in the capital wanted to marry him.
(TN: Traditional Asian dress for men. Similar to a long robe. Example)
The situation had suddenly made this kind of a turn. The old madam was shocked. If it was switched to Su Fei, the old madam actually wouldn’t mind. He was at the very least better than the Third Prince. However, she was somewhat displeased. Things had already advanced to this step, how come people were only coming forward now?
The Right Minister narrowed his eyes and his gaze had a sudden sharpness appear and then vanish. In a deep voice, he said, “Lord Commandant, many days have passed for this matter and it has turned into a massive scandal. Yet the Lord Commandant chooses to come forth now. Isn’t it a bit late?”
Commandant Cavalryman was somewhat startled and embarrassedly laughed. “Lord Minister do not blame me. This matter is all the Commandant’s fault. The girl’s family’s reputation was in danger. Wasn’t this done out of fear that Miss Xiao Ninth would have a poor reputation?”
Commandant Cavalryman originally wanted to say that Su Fei did not know Xiao Yuan, but he swallowed the words that came to his mouth. The more he said in front of the Right Minister, the more mistakes he’d make. He might as well bite his tongue and just agree to everything.
Anyway, Xiao Yuan, who was soon to be a wife, would be unable to run away now. At the most, the Right Minister would beat up Su Fei once to let off some steam.
The Right Minister’s eyebrow twitched but before he could open his mouth, the manservant spoke again.
“Lord Minister, there are three young masters waiting outside. They are each holding a cloak and are requesting an audience with you.”
The Right Minister frowned, “Three?”
The manservant nodded. The Commandant Cavalryman’s face suddenly took on a ghastly expression. Su Fei’s expression also had something unnatural to it.
The Right Minister gave the Commandant Cavalryman a sideways glance and then said in a deep voice, “Bring them all in.”
In a short while, three men who were debating with each other the entire way came inside. In each person’s hands was a white cloak. Astonishingly, the cloak was identical to the one in Su Fei’s hands.
“The ones all of you have are fake. Only mine is real.”
“Stop talking nonsense. Mine is the real one. It’s obvious that I was the one to save Miss Xiao Ninth.”
“All of you stop arguing. Once Miss Xiao Ninth comes out, won’t everything become clear soon after? The fake ones can’t become real.”
The three people stood in front of the Right Minister. The Right Minister frowned. “What is the meaning of all this?”
“Lord Minister, it was like this. A few days ago, I was in the Mei forest by the Da Zhao temple and randomly picked up a cloak. A ‘Nine’ word is embroidered on the cloak and isn’t ‘Nine’ Miss Xiao Ninth’s nickname?”
“You’re talking nonsense. Lord Minister, don’t listen to his lies. I came across Miss Ninth in the Mei Forest. Miss Ninth accidentally lost her footing and I….”
“Impudent!” The Right Minister said with force, his stateliness fully displayed. The three people immediately fell silent.
“Who granted all of you permission to ruin my daughter’s reputation? Someone come and drag them outside for me. Beat them!”
The Right Minister was so angry that his small beard was trembling up and down.