Preparing To Return To The Manor
Zhao Zun, with half closed eyes, looked at the gradually darkening sky. His face was like a jade sculpture, a piece of a precious gem. He was so beautiful that just looking at him dazzled people.
After a while had passed, Zhao Qi knocked on the door, shaking Zhao Zun out of his stupor.
Xiao Yuan was also roused awake. She rubbed her eyes and looked out the window and saw that it was already dark out. In the instant that she turned her head, Zhao Zun had already directed his line of sight to the ledger in his hand.
“Lord, everything is prepared,” Zhao Qi quietly said from outside the door.
Zhao Zun nodded, turning his gaze towards Xiao Yuan who nimbly sat up. In a short while, Hong Xiu also came in.
Hong Xiu had been hurt somewhat more seriously than Xiao Yuan, but all of Hong Xiu’s injuries were just superficial and had mostly healed after medicine was applied. She was anxious to step forward and looked over Xiao Yuan from head to toe.
“I’m fine.” Xiao Yuan stood up and patted her arms and legs to show she had absolutely no problems.
Because of this, Hong Xiu let out a sigh of relief. “If nothing’s wrong, that’s good. This servant was worried to death.”
These two–master and servant–kept talking and as they spoke, they unexpectedly started to wiping away tears. Zhao Zun couldn’t bear it any longer and cleared his throat.
Xiao Yuan was brought back to attention. “Let’s first leave here and then we can talk.”
Hong Xiu nodded and closely followed Xiao Wan, but her heart still carried some apprehensions.
A carriage was waiting outside of the Zhao Manor’s doors. Xiao Yuan looked around in a circle, but did not see the Right Minister and immediately pulled a face.
“You aren’t scaring me, are you? Where is my father?”
The corner of Zhao Zun’s mouth twitched slightly, he was thinking that her alertness wasn’t bad. He pointed to the stable boy. Xiao Yuan directed her gaze and saw it was the Right Minister’s Steward Liu.
“Ninth miss, it is your old servant. The minister asked this old servant to come get you.”
After she heard this, Xiao Yuan’s worries were put to rest and she got into the carriage. The carriage’s curtain broke the line of sight between the two people. The carriage gradually rode into the night. Only when it was out of sight did Zhao Zun finally head back.
Shaking his head, he thought he must have gone mad to be concerned about a half-grown child.
“Lord? In three days, the grand prince will prepare a welcoming feast for you,” Zhao Qi said.
Zhao Zun closed his eyes and nodded his head in tacit agreement. Concerning himself with important matters, he quickly tossed Xiao Yuan to the back of his mind.
When Xiao Yuan entered the carriage, an old woman was already sitting inside, surprising her.
“Ninth Miss, I am Aunt Qin, an old servant who serves by the side of Princess Royal Qing Hua. I came specially to send Ninth Miss back to the manor. Our princess went out of her way to save Ninth Miss’s life. Ninth Miss did not wake from her coma until today.”
(TN: Princess Royal is a title given to the Emperor’s eldest daughter.)
In an instant, these few simple sentences solved all of the difficult problems facing Xiao Yuan just as Xiao Yuan was hesitating about how exactly to explain.
Princess Royal Qing Hua was still a refined daughter of an imperial concubine, and received a considerable amount of imperial favor. It was only ten or so years later when she became a nun and from that moment onwards, she no longer concerned herself with the everyday affairs of this mortal life.
Who could have reached out to Princess Royal Qing Hua for help? Xiao Yuan was curious.
Hong Xiu was excited beyond belief. This was fantastic! With the Princess’s testification, Xiao Yuan’s reputation was as good as secured.
Aunt Qin understood the confusion displayed in Xiao Yuan’s eyes and laughed. “It was Second Lord Zhao.”
It was him? Xiao Yuan was bewildered. Why would this person be so good to her?
However, it was good that he could help. Unbeknownst to Xiao Yuan, she already owed this man two favors. When the opportunity arose, she’ll have to return the favor. But the most pressing matter before her was returning to the manor and figuring out how to confront those people harboring evil intentions.
“Ninth Miss has returned. Come quickly. Ninth Miss has returned.”
Following that shout, the lanterns in the Right Minister’s manor all lit up and things began to become lively.
The old madam was suddenly roused from the middle of her dream. “I didn’t hear that wrong, right? The Ninth Miss has returned?”
Wet Nurse Yuan nodded her head and lifted the old madam up so she could put on her clothes. “That’s right, it is the Ninth Miss!”
The old madam was greatly surprised, so she rushed to put on all her clothes and hurried over.
From the moment Xiao Yuan stepped a foot into the Minister’s manor, everyone whose names could be called on had arrived.
Madam Fan took the lead in collecting her wits and used a handkerchief to wipe at the corner of her eye. “My pitiful child, what kind of crime did you suffer? Thank the heavens, thank the earth. Buddha protected you, you’ve returned at last.”
Xiao Yuan gave Fan a look, her eyebrows restraining themselves. The madam was just like a venomous snake. On the surface, she lied low, pretended to be dumb, and called to the madam like she was calling to her own mother, as if she was closer to her than to her own grandmother. While she secretly was taking Fan to be a fool and teasing her.
Under Xiao Yuan’s sleeve opening, her fist was tightly clenched; she would never be so stupid again in this lifetime. But before she could even open her mouth, she heard a familiar sound come forth and at the sound of it, the rims of Xiao Yuan’s eyes immediately began to redden.
“You’ve returned, that’s good, little Ninth. Call out to your grandmother.”
The old woman held onto Wet Nurse Yuan’s hand for support the entire way and tearfully held onto Xiao Yuan’s hand. She meticulously looked up and down, checking over Xiao Yuan. Only once she confirmed Xiao Yuan was fine did she finally let out a sigh of relief.
Upon seeing the old woman, Xiao Yuan couldn’t control her tears and they started flowing down. In her past life, she had been deceived, but the old woman always cared for and protected her. Before she was wed, the old woman had given her more than half of her dowry and wasn’t even a little bit regretful.
She had been stupid. She had been rendered silent by Xiao Ruo. The news spread, causing many young women to leave her one by one and she was lonely without her children. There was never again the scene of a grandchild circling around her. Her later years were utterly miserable.
“Grandmother,” Xiao Yuan dove into the old woman’s chest like a young swallow flying into the trees. She cried pitifully, “Little Ninth thought she’d never get to see grandmother again. Grandmother, little Ninth was so scared!”
The old woman patted Xiao Yuan’s head. The grandparent and grandchild embraced each other and cried bitterly for a period of time.
The Right Minister gently coughed, and in a deep voice said, “You rascal! Where did you run off to in these past days? Do you know how concerned your grandmother was?”
The old madam’s face immediately straightened, and without consideration for politeness, said to the Right Minister, “It only matters that the child has safely and without injury returned home. Don’t scare little Ninth anymore.”
The Right Minister was rendered speechless. He had a differential attitude towards the old woman and didn’t dare refute even a sentence. He embarrassedly stood to one side, completely lacking the manner the court said he had–of a man who keeps his word.
After Xiao Yuan had cried enough, she wiped away her tears. The old woman was terribly heartbroken.
“Ninth sister, where did you go for the past few days? Everyone was so worried about you. Were you being mistreated by someone? Just say it, your father definitely will not spare them!”
Xiao Ruo stood up, her eyes rimmed with red and her face one of worry.
“Oh yes, don’t be scared ninth sister. You’ve returned home, naturally there will be someone making decisions for you.” Xiao Ying couldn’t keep back her emotional sobs, and appeared to be very concerned about Xiao Yuan’s safety.
In the previous life, it was also like this; Xiao Yuan had been so scared she completely didn’t notice the actual meaning of what was being said.
The great madam walked to the front, filled with indignation at this injustice, said, “Little ninth, mother will certainly make the decisions for you. I will definitely won’t let the traitor off lightly, don’t be scared. Now that you’ve returned home, no one will dare to bully you.”
Xiao Yuan lifted her eyes, with a puzzled face and asked a rhetorical question, “Mother, how can you be this certain that someone captured me? And that I’ve been bullied?”
The great madam was speechless. The old woman gave the madam a dirty look, with an unhappy expression on her face. The madam opened her mouth and looked towards the Right Minister with an innocent expression. But the Right Minister silently did not look at her.
Xiao Yuan pitifully pouted her lip, turned her head to ask Xiao Ruo, “Fifth sister, you clearly said when it is afternoon the mountain of the Da Zhao temple is bathed in Buddha’s light, and if you can see it then your heart’s desire would have to come true, right?”