Chapter 185: Huining’s Background
The old dowager smiled. A daughter Qin Huaiyuan had taught himself was naturally the best. She’d patently forgotten previous unhappiness now that a threatening beast was staring all of them down.
The glum atmosphere dissipated just like this. Qitai was filled with surprised approval and his respect and trust for Qin Yining deepened further. He didn’t dare view her as an ordinary noble girl anymore.
“Fourth Miss, there’s something else we need your guidance for.”
“Please, go on.” Qin Yining looked questioningly at Qitai.
“When the lord sent Miss Huining back to the country manor, he sent me to the Hall of Fosters to inquire about her birth parents. We’ve found them by now. Miss Huining still has a father in this world. He lives in the Li house on the outskirts of town.
“I followed the lord’s orders and paid off his gambling debt, leaving him the rest of the silver to hire a carriage and come into the city. He was supposed to arrive sometime today, but the Valiant Tigers happened to ambush our army. The Li house was close to the watchpoint that was attacked and in the way of the massive flow of refugee. I felt that Li Yuzhu was caught up in the flow of people and sent men to look for him. We didn’t find him, however. Something must’ve happened along the way, or he’s ended up elsewhere and didn’t enter the capital at all.”
There was too much information in Qitai’s report. The picture of Qin Huining’s true family was painted in everyone’s minds. A debt-ridden father laden with gambling debts that Qin Huaiyuan had helped pay off…
The old dowager frowned. “Is there anyone else left of the Lis?”
“In response to Old Dowager, no one else. They have some poor fields but Li Yuzhu is an alcoholic on top of a gambler. The fields have fallen into neglect. They have a daughter called Xiaoya who should be ten this year. When his wife died the year before last, he sold off Xiaoya as well. There’s only him, a widower. I made careful inquiries and found out that Miss Huining is their eldest daughter. A man stole the Li wife’s baby away when she gave birth and left twenty silver for Li Yuzhu. The Li wife’s health declined from sorrow because her eldest daughter had been sold and conditions at home were poor. She died young because she couldn’t reply on her husband.”
“So it turns out that they’re this kind of family.” The old dowager’s forehead was knit together tightly. She was still repulsed when she thought of how Qin Huining had made voodoo dolls to curse her, but the girl had grown up by her side. They’d spent many an afternoon with Qin Huining by the matriarch’s side. The old dowager still had feelings for the girl. What would her life be like if she really is sent back to her birth father’s side?
Née Sun was likewise assaulted by emotion. She hated Qin Huining now, but they’d been mother and daughter for many years. After hearing about Qin Huining’s true circumstances, she actually felt some pity for the girl.
Second master Qin Han was as candid as ever and snorted coldly. “Her home’s like that? Then she landed in heaven after being brought to our family! That’s a shameless gambler who sold his wife and children for a few more tokens. She would’ve still been sold had she remained at home, but wasn’t this nice! She was our official daughter for fourteen years, living in the lap of luxury. But she still wasn’t satisfied and was so wicked that she made a voodoo doll to curse grandmother, just so she could frame senior aunt!”
Qin Yu also couldn’t bear the sight of this kind of person and sniffed. “Legacies are passed down through generations, blood speaks to blood. A dragon gives birth to a dragon, a phoenix rears a phoenix.”
This was precisely the thoughts of everyone present. Someone such as Qin Huaiyuan should naturally have a daughter like Qin Yining. Whereas, Qin Huining’s birth father was someone willing to sell his children to gamble. Someone with that kind of blood wouldn’t be anything good either.
Silence fell over the room. Qin Yining spoke after a moment of furrowed thought. “Alright, I know now. Refugees have been streaming into the capital over the past two days. The country manor must’ve been caught up in it. With her personality, she’ll definitely come back for protection.”
Everyone looked at Qin Yining to see how she would decide Qin Huining’s fate.
The fourth miss thinned her lips and gave orders to Songlan. “Send a message to the granny servant standing guard at the doors. Qin Huining can come in if she comes back, but she won’t have a place in the inner residence. Snowpear Courtyard is completely out of the question. Have someone clean up the guest residence in the northeast corner. She can come back if she wants. If not, show her out according to the rules.”
“This servant understands.” Songlan curtsied.
Qin Yining smiled when she saw the old dowager and née Sun glance at her with baffled looks.
“Honestly, I don’t care if she lives or dies. She’s an ungrateful wretch who tried to frame my mother multiple times. Mother would’ve been greatly harmed if she’d succeeded even once. This kind of person is just like her alcoholic gambler of a father. Utterly shameless and base.
“But even if I have no feelings for her, that doesn’t mean I won’t consider the old dowager, father, and mother. I’m willing to take her in so that my family feels at peace. She’s just a guest to me if she comes back, no longer a miss of our household.”
These words were the epitome of clarity and evoked admiration from Qin Han. They also stirred up a mixture of emotions in née Sun, the old dowager, and everyone else. Qin Yining was doing everything required by humanity and duty for the foster girl. After all, Qin Huining’s actions before had indeed left shadows in everyone’s hearts.
Qin Yining was tired of talking about the foster girl and felt that they’d addressed everything. “Old Dowager, I need to go to the outer study and it’s almost time to listen to the daily reports. I shall take my leave now.”
The old dowager nodded and waved a dismissal. The girl curtsied to Qin Yu and Qin Han before leaving with her people. Her calm mask fell away as soon as they left everyone’s line of sight. She turned back with an urgent frown at Qitai.
“Do we have any ways to contact those in the dungeons so they can make life easier for father? This summer’s been hot and humid, it must be stifling in the cells. Mosquitoes, rats, and ants are the liveliest now. How much suffering will father endure if he’s thrown into this environment!?”
Qitai sighed. “The marquis does have connections in the Bureau of Punishment, but the emperor is raging furious. What he did before is also a bleak example to everyone, so we’ll probably get nowhere if we try to have anyone help. Everyone’s afraid that the imperial temper will implicate their own family.”
“Right, who would dare help senior uncle after that imperial decree?” Qin Han had followed the fourth miss out and was also trailed by Qin Yu. “But even if we can’t get anyone to do anything, we can at least send some things in, right?”
Qin Yining shook her head. “Let’s not do that either for now. I’m afraid that the emperor will be even angrier if we do too much. I’ll think of something later.”
Everyone present was a knowing person and knew that with the Institute of Luminous Charm and the person that the Faithful Prince of the First Rank had left her, Qin Yining would surely have a way. They ceased fretting over the issue.
“Fourth sister, you mentioned just now that you have some thoughts about the grand preceptor’s rise again?”
“Yes.” Qin Yining frowned. “The grand preceptor has communications with the Tatars. Great Zhou is bent on reopening war with us again, so the emperor likely has no other idea other than to cozy up to the Tatars. As we all know, they’ve been invading Great Zhou’s northern border for many years. They’re quite a headache, so if they can send out their troops at this time, Great Zhou’s pressure on us will fall of by quite a bit. In promoting Grand Preceptor Cao, the emperor naturally wants to suppress my father.”
Qitai knew most of this due to his position by Qin Huaiyuan’s side, but Qin Han and Qin Yu were taken aback. They looked at each other and grinned ruefully.
“We didn’t know any of this. No wonder senior uncle treats fourth sister like a son. Your political astuteness puts us both to shame.” Qin Yu reflected seriously.
“Don’t laugh at me, brothers. I only happened to learn about all of this.” Qin Yining smiled and turned back to Jiyun. “Go have Grand Steward Zhong make a trip. I have something urgent to discuss with him, but can’t visit him because of some matters at home.”
“Don’t worry miss,” Jiyun understood the connotations. “I’ll make sure to convey your situation clearly. The steward will understand.”
Qin Yining nodded, and her cousins’ appreciation of Qin Yining’s skills rose even further.
The three arrived in the outer study. The second elder master was still at court, so the third elder master sat alone, worry and anxiety clouding his forehead.
“You’ve heard what’s happened, right?” The third elder master called out despondently when he saw the young folk.
“Yes.” Qin Yining nodded and asked seriously. “Third Uncle, I have a plan that could help father. I’d like to ask what you think of it.”
The third elder master’s eyes lit up and he leaned forward. “What plan? Tell us!”
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