Chapter 180: Family Authority
Qin Huaiyuan took a few deep breaths in before he could safely ignore his hot eyes. He suddenly smiled. “That’s true. Death awaits us all in the end. There’s nothing to be afraid or worried of.”
Qin Yining gave a closed lip smile. The two faint dimples in her cheeks made her smile appear exceedingly sweet.
“Let’s go to Garden of Filial Piety first.” Qin Huaiyuan sighed. “The news will arrive soon and I’ll be quite busy in the days to come. We can’t have anything go wrong at home.”
“Understood. I ran out for a ride today, even though the old dowager’s forbidden me from doing so because it’s not what a noble girl would do. She says that it’s an affront to Qin dignity. Father can say a few words on my behalf when the old dowager lectures me later.”
“I’ve spoken more than a few words for you, but you never learn your lesson.” The marquis laughed.
Qin Yining proudly arched a brow, displaying the pride of a little girl but also the greatest trust and dependence she could for her father. She never would’ve done so before. Everything had to conducted with utmost care and discreteness in the wild. If it wasn’t for someone doting on and protecting her, she would’ve never ‘caused trouble’ with such a peace of mind. But who knows how long this protection can last in the face of war and and unreasonable emperor?
Father and daughter made their way to the inner residence and had just reached the flower-hung gate when they heard the thwacks of planks and the pleas for mercy from granny servants.
Qin Huaiyuan stepped through the gate first. The granny servants in charge of administering the punishment stopped to greet the duo.
“What’s going on?” Qin Huaiyuan asked with a frown.
“In response to the lord, the old dowager has given orders for these people to be thrown out after fifty hits of the plank.”
Qin Yining looked carefully over and saw that it was née Sun’s Jin-mama, Caiju, and Cailan! She’d only left the manor for a short while, why were her mother’s people being punished??
Qin Huaiyuan could also tell that it was his wife’s wet nurse and maids being beaten. He commanded unhappily, “They won’t be alive after fifty hits. You should call it for what it is, disposing of the corpse instead of throwing them out.”
He would never speak so bluntly in ordinary times; it was a grave loss of face for the old dowager. But the banners of war were being raised again, and court would once more fall into disarray. Even those who occupied positions of power would find their lives threatened, much less the servants. This wore on Qin Huaiyuan’s tolerance for harshness and difficulties at home. Things were already a mess outside and troubles kept arising at home. It was a highly irritating affair.
He walked off in the direction of the old dowager’s residence with his hands behind his back, leaving behind a befuddled granny servant. Did she continue meting out punishment or what? The servant stood there dumbly for a while until Qin Yining clarified things for her.
“Don’t you understand father’s words? No more beating, have a doctor come look at them.”
The granny servant responded, relieved that someone was issuing clear orders. Jin-mama, Caiju, and Cailan all breathed easily. They were saved as long as Qin Yining was present. They kowtowed to the fourth miss and in the direction of the master’s trail. “Many thanks to the lord and fourth miss’ mercy.”
Qin Yining stooped down to help Jin-mama up. “What happened? I only went out for a short while, how come you were beaten up?”
Jin-mama clenched her teeth from pain, her complexion waxy and sweat pouring down her forehead.
“It, it was Old Dowager, saying, the madame, held back Miss Huining’s monthly stipend in the country manor. The madame, didn’t, and refused to say she did. Old Dowager said that us, us servants did, and grew angry.” The old servant spoke haltingly, a testament to how badly she’d been beaten.
Qin Yining knew that this was the old dowager making trouble for née Sun. The matriarch didn’t dare do anything to née Sun, so she was taking it out on the servants instead. The girl didn’t ask any further and quickly had Bingtang come over for a look.
Qin Huaiyuan had made it to the covered hallway by now. A maid called inside, “The lord is here!” before deferentially raising the door curtains. He entered with a darkened expression to the side hall that the old dowager was usually found in.
The matriarch was sitting cross legged on the luohan bed. Née Sun was on her knees, sobbing, and the third madame was also kneeling next to her speaking soft words of comfort. The second madame was standing next to the old dowager pleading for mercy. Qin Huaiyuan only caught the last few sentences when he came in.
“…they’re senior sister-in-law’s people after all. There’s no one left of the Suns anymore, you should let her dowry servants stay, Old Dowager!”
The old dowager smacked her hand on the table. “So there’s no one left of the Suns, is there no one left of us Qins either?! We will not let that bunch of heartless servants mistreat my darling Hui!”
Qin Huaiyuan didn’t bother with a bow after entering. He took a random seat on the side and pushed aside the teacup that Qin-mama offered.
“If this continues, we’re not too far away from having no one left of the Qins,” he remarked coolly.
The old dowager looked incredulously at her son after hearing this.
The lord rubbed his forehead and explained wearily, “Mother, things are too much of a mess in the inner residence. I know of your tireless efforts and it’s only right to punish a corrupt servant, but why are innocent people being dragged in as well? War rages again and soldiers will soon besiege the capital. We don’t even know where the future of our family lies. Why can’t you think on your son’s behalf and create some less trouble? What am I supposed to do with all of this?”
The old dowager was stunned by these declarations. Color drained rapidly from her face as she started shaking. “Meng’er, what did you say? What soldiers besieging the capital?”
The other ladies had fallen silent as well, looking at Qin Huaiyuan with horrified gazes. Frantic footsteps suddenly sounded from outside at this time. Regular decorum had flown out of his mind as Qitai sprinted along the covers hallway, whipping through the door curtains and crawled on the ground in front of the room divider. His voice shook as he made his report.
“Milord! Little Prince Pang ambushed our military camp at the stone outpost in the capital outskirts! Ten thousand Valiant Tigers looted all of the supplies and the men stationed there are… all dead!”
Qin Huaiyuan shut his eyes tiredly.
The old dowager shrieked loudly. “Oh heavens! Then the capital…” She started bawling loudly. “What do we do?? Great Zhou is attacking. They broke their word, the bastards!”
The ladies were scared boneless and hugged each other on the ground, filled with panicked sobs.
Qin Huaiyuan rose and went to the outer room, ignoring the crying females. “Stand up and speak.”
“Understood.” Qitai stood and wiped off the sweat on his forehead.
“What’s the precise situation? Where did the Valiant Tigers go after looting the outpost? Are they headed straight for the capital?”
“In response to the lord, our men noted that they didn’t linger and made straight for Xihua after the ambush. Supply lines are cut off between Xihua and the capital now. Ten thousand Valiant Tigers are attacking Xihua from the rear, meeting up with the rest of the Great Zhou army attacking the front of the city from the southern gate. Without supplies, Xihua will fall within the day. The next is the capital!” Qitai lowered his head, both anxious and saddened. The body servant was almost crying.
Qin Huaiyuan sighed. “That Pang Zhixi knows how to fight alright… Have refugees come to the capital?”
“Yes, the emperor knows of the situation and that refugees are headed our way. He’s given orders for the city gates to be opened. The streets are filled with refugees and the capital governor is leading the Warden’s Office in setting up shelters. And…”
Qitai hadn’t finished before another runner charged in frantically. “Milord, milord!”
“What is it?” Qin Huaiyuan stood with his hands behind his back, looking calmly towards the door.
“Messengers have come from the palace with a summons from the emperor!” the pageboy responded.
“I see.” Qin Huaiyuan compressed his lips and gave orders to Qitai. “Go get my court uniform.”
“Understood.” Qitai bowed and rushed off to prepare clothes and a carriage.
The lord of the household turned back in to see an inner room full of crying females. He spoke sternly. “No more troubles may arise at home from now on. I trust that everyone heard what Qitai said just now. If Xihua falls, the capital is next. Refugees are already streaming in. Police yourselves well and increase the amount of guards in the manor from henceforth. Be extremely cautious even if you do have to go out.”
He turned to the old dowager. “Mother, you’re elderly and shouldn’t be troubled with these matters. All inner residence affairs will be handled by daughter Yi from now on.” The marquis turned to the door, where Qin Yining had been standing all along. “Come here.”
Qin Yining quickly walked up. “Father.”
“Mm. Your grandmother, mother, and aunts are kindly folk who panic easily in the face of these matters. I don’t know when I’ll return from the palace. If the emperor is angry with me as well, then the future does not look good. …if I don’t return, then you must keep the inner residence in order and discuss things outside with your second and third uncle. Don’t panic and don’t lose your head, understood?”
Previous Chapter Next Chapter