Chapter 188: Hearts Together
The grand preceptor waved a hand comfortingly. “Don’t be irritated, Your Majesty. I have my plans. I’ve dominated the political scene for decades, will I be less than a little girl? We’ll let her gloat for a few days. When she gets too full of herself, there’ll be only tears left for her.”
“I don’t want her tears, I want her death!” The empress sniffed and ground her teeth.
The grand preceptor smiled slightly in response, the wrinkles by his eyes and lips proclaiming his confidence. The empress also smiled proudly when she saw how her father was.
Grand Steward Zhong had started settling in the refugees. Although the precious flora and fauna in the residence hadn’t been sold off yet, the refugees couldn’t wait any longer. Besides, he also wanted them to see just what Qin Yining was giving up in order to save them.
On this particular day, the steward paid a visit to the refugee shelters with his men, introducing himself as the Qin fourth miss’ secretary.
The refugees were deep in the throes of despair. They’d slept on the streets for five days and only had a bowl of thin porridge to eat every day. There wasn’t any place they could stay to get out of the wind; bugs and mosquitoes feasted on them at night. Some of children were feverish, but none of the adults or children even had strength enough to cry. It was a scene of heartbreaking suffering.
When they heard that the daughter of the Marquis of Anping had jobs for them, that they could feed themselves with honest labor, and live peaceful lives… well! Wasn’t this their lives before?
Hope dawned for the despondent folk and everyone scrambled to answer the announcement, apart from the minority who was too lazy for labor and wanted to wait out the war with the supplied welfare. Most headed over to Ning Park to work for the Qin fourth miss.
When they followed Steward Zhong to Ning Park, the people were all stunned silly. They’d never seen such an opulent and lavish residence. Even though it was empty now, the palatial main residence still stood. The hot spring was still bubbling and the exotic plants and animals still present. The sight was an incredibly strong visual impact.
“S-sir, did your miss really did sell everything she could here to feed and clothe us?” a sixty-year-old elder stammered.
Steward Zhong sighed. “That she did. The only things left to sell are the plants in the yard. It’s not like we can tear down the house. All the decorations and furniture inside were sold a long time ago. Where else would we get the silver to cook porridge and some other dishes? My lord is a clean official and the miss a girl of the inner residence. Their wealth is limited and this is the extent of the aid they can give. I hope you all don’t find it lacking.”
“Of course not! We’re so utterly grateful for this.”
“That’s right! The Qin fourth miss is a living Buddha!”
“Duh. The Qin fourth miss is the daughter of Wise Pan An. She helped out with the peace talks before, and then that, that Soothsayer said that she has a great life chart, that she can protect our country!”
The refugees chattered interestedly amongst themselves, feeling immense gratitude towards Qin Huaiyuan, Qin Yining, and all of Anping Manor for their kind gesture. But when they thought how someone so nice was locked in the dungeons, they felt inordinately angry. They cursed the emperor and trampress between clenched teeth.
If resentment could kill, the dog emperor and the trampress would’ve died many times over by now.
Steward Zhong was very pleased by their reaction. “Our miss has limited servants to use and she’s still busy with bringing food, mats, and others up the mountain. She’s also looking for pots and pans and all the other bits and things needed for living. She also had people look for doctors and medicine for the children, so she really doesn’t have anyone she can send out to help build houses for everyone.”
“Oh that’s nothing! We’ll have plenty of energy if we have food to eat. We can make the rest ourselves.”
Steward Zhong smiled and pointed at the palatial residence behind him. “But the miss did say that you can live in the house over there. The elderly, women, children, and sickly should get priority. You can build houses as you wish in the yard. There’s a hot spring up on the mountain if you want to bathe and drinking water as well. Use it all however you like.”
“Really?? The fourth miss is really letting us use such a nice house?” A young man asked in surprise.
A brawny man chortled beside him. “What kind of stupid question is that? She’s already sold all the nice things inside the house so we have food to eat. Would she not be willing to let us live in the house after all that? The fourth miss is such a kind person!”
“Yeah, everyone in the Anping Manor are kind people!”
Steward Zhong pressed his hands downward for silence when he saw that the crowd was about to be diverted off on a tangent. Silence swiftly took over.
“There’s one thing everyone has to keep in mind. The empress is our neighbor. Her Oft Spring Garden isn’t too far away. She goes there to dip in the hot springs, and there are eunuchs and Cao family guards looking after it. Don’t go there, no matter what! You can only build houses in this yard. Avoid her residence even when you chop down firewood and hunt in the woods. Don’t anger the empress! Our miss doesn’t have much power or people. Her authority is limited only to this yard. Her words don’t mean anything anywhere else.”
Everyone nodded their understanding. The Caos were powerful and the grand preceptor had held high status for many years. The trampress was the sort to literally eat flesh and drink blood. Miss Qin was just an unmarried girl. It was already great benevolence that she was giving such a big residence for them to take shelter in.
No one was a fool. What kind of jobs could a noble girl possibly have for them? Even if she did want people for hard labor, she’d hire strong and young men and women. There was no need to take in the elderly, weak, mothers, and children. And find doctors for them? And sell her own belongings to pay them wages?
It sounded like a job, but she was saving their lives! What else would she keep around a bunch of commoners for?
She could’ve turned this area into fields or raise pigs on it, but she was hiring them to build houses and wreck such a perfectly fine residence?
She was probably just trying to make them feel better. After all, they all had their own houses in times of peace and could feed and clothe themselves. No one was a beggar in normal times.
When comparing the Qins and the royal family, it was easy to see who came out on top. The empress’ residence was sitting empty, and the imperial couple hadn’t offered any silver to help the people. When it was time to conscript for the army or pay taxes, the emperor always shamelessly said that everything beneath the heavens was his. The people were all his, and everything they owned was his. It was right and proper that they offer it up to him.
But where was he when disaster struck and the people needed their emperor?
Was this how the emperor treated his beloved people? Letting them sleep on the streets, being bullied and mocked by others, and fed only one bowl of porridge a day—porridge so watery that they could see their own reflections in it?
Some of the more sensitive womenfolk and elders were wiping at their eyes. Even the men were hugely touched, their emotions running high. Everyone’s gratitude towards the Marquis of Anping and the Qins rose another notch.
Steward Zhong was infected by the atmosphere, and he too felt emotional as he thought of how generous Qin Yining had been to donate such a valuable park to the refugees and all of her various kind acts before. He shook his head with a sigh and then perked up again.
“Alright everyone, let’s settle in first. Food and doctors will be here shortly. Please follow the rules while we’re here and be careful of open flames…”
The steward had brought several local gangsters with him to help settle everyone in, but unexpectedly, no one tried to cause any trouble. Possibly out of sheer gratitude, they all did what they were told and claimed whatever spot they were given. They were more docile than even trained soldiers.
It looked like appreciation, tolerance, and love would flourish when people were truly thankful.
Qin Yining was just as busy as the steward at this time. She received a message just after listening to all the reports for the morning.
“Miss, Miss Huining’s returned. She’s kneeling outside the side door.”
Previous Chapter Next Chapter