Seeing Ning Jing anxious, Mu Linger could only get to the point.
“Big sis Jing, once you use this medicine, you’ll never be able to have another baby again.”
Bai Yuqiao was floored by the admission. “It’s that potent?”
Ning Jing fell silent. Seeing this, Mu Linger quickly scrambled to say, “Big sis Jing, just pretend I said nothing at all! We’re not using it, we won’t!” She almost wished she could slap herself. She too, felt that the medicine was too venomous.
But Ning Jing was very calm. She asked, “Miss Bai, how many days until Jun Yixie’s midwives arrive?”
“Two more days,” Bai Yuqiao replied.
“Good!” Ning Jing nodded. “Linger, help me make that medicine. I’ll use it tonight.”
“Don’t!” Mu Linger refused as tears streamed down her face.
Ning Jing pulled her over and carefully wiped away her tears. “Linger, be good and listen to me.”
Mu Linger shook her head. “But big sis Jing, what about your future? If you give birth to a girl, Tang Li’s parents will chase you off!”
Tang Li was the sole heir to the clan! If Ning Jing ended up birthing a girl, then there would be no one to inherit the Tang Clan’s legacy. Tang Li’s parents and all the Tang Clan elders would never allow it to stand. They would cause difficulties for Ning Jing and even force Tang Li to wed again.
Ning Jing only laughed at the fact that Mu Linger was thinking so far ahead. “They wouldn’t dare!”
Mu Linger didn’t believe that, but Ning Jing grinned and said, “At worst, I’ll steal Tang Li away. It’s not like I need the Tang Clan.”
Mu Linger only burst into sobs. “Big sis Jing, stop smiling, won’t you? Don’t make any more jokes!” How could you be so calm in the middle of a crisis?
Ning Jing tugged at Mu Linger’s hands and grew serious. “This is the only way. It doesn’t matter if they discover my pregnancy, but if Miss Bai is suspected, we’ll never get out of here. The plans for the northern expedition will be exposed too. Mu Linger, now isn’t the time for childish temper tantrums. You should know better!”
Of course Mu Linger knew better, or else she wouldn’t have agreed to Manager Jin’s blackmail in the first place.
“Good girl, go write up that prescription. We don’t have much time,” Ning Jing coaxed.
Mu Linger bit her lip and refused to budge.
“Are you going to not?” Ning Jing turned fierce.
Scared, Mu Linger sprang to her feet as more tears dribbled down her cheeks. If Ning Jing turned really stern, she would be scared.
“Are you going to keep crying?” Ning Jing sounded even more savage.
“I’m going…” Mu Linger had no other choice but to wipe away her tears and write down the prescription.
Ning Jing exhaled before turning towards Bai Yuqiao, only to see the girl gaping at her.
“Miss Bai, I’ll have to trouble you to prepare our own midwife,” Ning Jing said.
Bai Yuqiao creased her brows as her heart grew stifled with pain. She wanted to say something, but words failed her at the sight of Ning Jing’s calm and collected self. In the end, she managed, “Ning Jing, it’s the Tang Clan’s fortune to have a daughter-in-law like you! If they ever chase you off in the future, we don’t need to give a hoot!”
Ning Jing gently caressed her big belly with a chuckle, but didn’t say a thing. Soon enough, Mu Linger returned with the finish prescription. The mix of ingredients and their quantities were all very queer, but thankfully common. Tiger’s Prison had some of its own, while others could be picked out from the array Bai Yuqiao brought in today. Mu Linger reluctantly handed the prescription into Bai Yuqiao’s hands.
“You two should make preparations too. I’ll go collect the ingredients and find the midwife,” Bai Yuqiao said.
Ning Jing nodded resolutely. Since she’d made her choice, then it was time to act. Mu Linger was still rooted to her spot after Bai Yuqiao left.
“Linger, go get ready. I’ll be leaving my life and the baby’s in your hands tonight!” Ning Jing said.
Mu Linger recovered her wits as she realized things had just gotten serious. Childbirth was a huge deal and full of complications, much less when the mother was using a special prescription. Naturally, Ning Jing had chosen her words on purpose to wake Mu Linger to her senses!
“Alright! I’ll go get ready!” Mu Linger cried as she rushed outside.
Once everyone was gone, Ning Jing abandoned all pretenses. She had always been a decisive woman and would never fear or regret any of her choices, no matter how earthshaking. Right now she just...missed Tang Li.
Tang Li, you’re really going to be a father. Do you know?
Tang Li, once you’re a father, you can’t be sloppy anymore. You need to set a good example for the child, understand?
While Bai Yuqiao and Mu Linger had to prepare people and things, Ning Jing needed to prepare her heart.
Everything was ready after an hour. Their midwife was on standby in the room while Mu Linger personally handed the bowl of decoction to Ning Jing.
“Big sis Jing, do you want to think it over again?” Mu Linger still couldn’t help asking.
Ning Jing only pretended not to hear and didn’t reply. She picked up the bowl and downed it in one gulp. Immediately, Mu Linger grew tense. Even Bai Yuqiao was on edge. Silence filled the room until one could almost hear the time crawl by. Contractions would begin an hour after taking the medicine. Right now, they had to wait.
Time soon passed, but it felt like an eternity to the three women inside. Both Mu Linger and Bai Yuqiao never took their eyes off Ning Jing, who remained with her head bowed and nerves stretched taut. It would be a lie to say she wasn’t nervous.
“Aiya, that’s no good. Miss Jing, you have to walk around a bit and do some exercise. Only then will the birth be easy,” a midwife have to speak up.
“That’s right, that’s right!” Mu Linger suddenly remembered.
Ning Jing had a lot of trouble walking with such a big belly, so the midwife hurried over to help. “Just walk around the room. A little more is good, it’ll help.”
Mu Linger ran over to help support Ning Jing as well, who ended up walking in nonstop circles around the room. As she walked and walked...suddenly!
Ning Jing stopped and cried, “Pain, it’s starting to hurt.”
The faint sensation of labor pains were very familiar to her because she’d felt it a couple of times before. The midwife had said they were only false symptoms before, so these had to be the real ones. Everyone grew tense and Bai Yuqiao was left at a loss for what to do. She anxiously asked, “Then should she lie down right now?!”
“Walk! Keep walking! The more she walks, the easier it’ll be to give birth,” the midwife said.
None of the three young women in the room had ever given birth. Even Mu Linger, who studied medicine, knew real childbirth was different from reading it in the books. Furthermore, it varied widely between individuals, so all of them were listening to the midwife’s advice now. Gradually, Ning JIng’s labor pains came more frequently and in more intense bursts until she couldn’t walk anymore.
“Hold on, Miss Jing. Listen to this old woman. If you suffer a bit more now, there’ll be less agony later.”
“Walk a bit more for the baby to come out sooner. You won’t have to suffer as much then. The first baby never comes quickly. Hold on and walk a few more circles…”
The midwife coaxed and encouraged while the courageous Ning Jing grit her teeth and kept talking. If pain had ten levels, then serious burns and slipped discs qualified for level eight to nine. Labor pains topped out the chart at ten. One could very well imagine just how excruciating it must feel, but this wasn’t even the worst of it yet.
Ning Jing froze in her tracks and looked down, only to see a warm current running slowly down her legs. Alarmed, Ning Jing was lost for what to do. Mu Linger and Bai Yuqiao exchanged tense looks. Fortunately, Bai Yuqiao’s midwife was very dependable and didn’t panic. Firmly, she declared, “Her water’s broke. Hurry and lie on the bed, you’re going to give birth soon!”
The midwife and Mu Linger helped Ning Jing out into a smaller room next door while Bai Yuqiao held the door. This space had been prepared especially by Bai Yuqiao under the midwife’s instructions. Different homes and different midwives had varying requirements. Although the birthing room in Tiger’s Prison wasn’t as well outfitted as the one by Tang Li in the Tang Clan, it still showed signs of Bai Yuqiao’s care. Everything inside was exceptionally clean and all of the windows were sealed shut. Two servant girls stood on attendance inside, brought by the midwife to be her assistants. They had already prepped the hot water.
Next to the bed was a small table laid out with candles, scissors, needle and thread, gauze, and a few bowls of medical decoctions. The middle of the second lunar month in the north was the beginning of their spring, but it was still very chilly at Tiger’s Prison. Thus, the midwife ordered two stoves to be placed in the room to maintain a cozy temperature.
Ning Jing was helped onto the bed. After her water broke, pain started washing over her in waves. If she was any else, she’d be screaming by now. But she hadn’t said a peep. Bai Yuqiao assumed a post by the door and reassured Ning Jing, “Don’t worry, leave everything outside to me!”
“Alright”! Ning Jing replied with difficulty.
Bai Yuqiao stood guard outside before she soon heard Ning Jing’s pained screams and the midwife coaxing her to breathe and use more strength. Her heart seized at the sound as she saw the servant girls running in and out to change the hot water. She almost wanted to run in and see what was the matter.
“Almost! Almost there! I can see the child’s head! Give another push!”
Abruptly, the midwife’s surprised exclamations filled the room. Bai Yuqiao released her breath in relief. She was only responsible for delivering messages and had nothing to do with Ning Jing’s life and death, much less the safety of her baby. But for some reason, her heart had been sailing up and down with the entire birth process.
At this moment, another servant girl ran out with a tub of hot water. Bai Yuqiao sprang to her feet and started to ask her about the situation when a guard suddenly rushed inside.
“Miss Bai, bad news bad news!”
Bai Yuqiao startled, afraid to hear what terrible report this guard had brought her. They would never enter these rooms unless it was an emergency. She stared and didn’t ask, hoping in vain this would stave off any catastrophes.
Unfortunately, the guard rushed to report, “Miss Bai, the Duke of Kang’s sent inspectors here again. And there are two midwives with them! They’re waiting in the front courtyard right now.”
Bai Yuqiao’s heart almost stopped at the news! What do I do?
By her side, the servant girl panicked and dropped her tub, sending bloody water all over the floor…Previous Chapter Next Chapter
How's the saying go...when it rains, it pours?