Chapter 209: Allies (I)
Although the prince was a player and his reputation of violence and enjoying ladies well engraved, he treated his wife respectfully. Her position in the household had never been in danger through all these years. Besides, she was one of his. Anyone who dared bully her meant they were looking down on him as well!
And today, the empress had dared dose the princess consort with something? This reached the absolute limits of the prince’s explosive temper. To add insult to injury, the physicians he wanted to call upon had all been summoned to the Caos!
The princess consort made two more trips to the washroom while he berated the doctor. She too was at the end of her tether. The Prince of Ning knew that the situation couldn’t continue like this. “Come, prepare the carriage!”
“Understood!” The servants didn’t venture a peep before running off to prepare transportation.
Only his heir dared offer a question. “Where are you going, Your Highness?”
He was the heir to the Prince of Ning’s position and had once been part of the emperor’s household. Thus, he could only refer to his birth father as Your Highness.
“To the Qins,” the Prince of Ning answered solemnly.
This surprised his firstborn. “Your Highness, you…”
The prince took a look at his wife. Her pale face was tinged with an unhealthy green; she looked like she would stop breathing any second. “Take care of your mother. I’ll come back with a doctor.” With that, he sped out of the manor, whipping his horse for greater speed.
Qin Yining was cuddling Riceball as she read on a reclining seat. The fuzzy Riceball hopped around on the girl’s stomach with its little paws, tickling her despite its lack of weight. The fourth miss split her attentions between reading and caressing Riceball’s round body.
Bingtang, Songlan, Jiyun, and Qiulu were sitting around the octagonal table, working on embroidery and chatting. All was peaceful and amiable inside.
A serving girl’s report sounded at this time. “Fourth Miss! Fourth Miss!”
Qin Yining lifted her eyes and looked out the half-opened window. “What is it?”
“The Prince of Ning’s here. He’s waiting outside the main door and is asking to see you and Miss Bingtang!”
He’s here! Qin Yining jumped up, sending the accidentally forgotten Riceball sliding to the floor, crashing onto its butt.
The girl quickly picked the bunny up again for an inspection, handing it over to Qiulu only when she was reassured that no harm had come to it. She turned to Bingtang. “Go take a look with me.”
“Miss, I’ll go with you,” Jiyun interjected.
The three exited the house to see the other girls and servants in neighboring houses also poking heads out. It was obvious that everyone had heard the serving girl just now and were all curious why the Prince of Ning was here for Qin Yining.
The news also swiftly travelled to Qin Huaiyuan fishing at the pond.
Qin Yining arrived at the main doors with Bingtang and Jiyun to see the prince holding a whip with a deep frown as he stood next to a chestnut horse. Many things seemed to be on his mind.
The Qin fourth miss curtsied. “Greetings to Your Highness. What might you need from this little girl?”
The prince took a look at Bingtang standing to the side. “I’ll be frank. The princess consort isn’t feeling well and I can’t find an imperial physician. I’m here to ask Miss Tang for help!”
Surprise blossomed over Qin Yining’s face and she asked with foreknowledge, “How could you not be able to find an imperial physician? What’s wrong with the princess consort?”
This roused the prince’s ire again. “That piece of whore’s shit Cao Bingzhong says he’s sick. He’s summoned all of the imperial physicians! I say he did that on purpose!” The prince looked at Qin Yining and whispered, “The princess consort was fed something when paying her respects in the palace today. I’ve had a doctor look at her and he wasn’t able to do anything. I can’t find any skilled imperial physicians, so… here I am for Miss Tang.”
Incredulity had replaced shock on Qin Yining’s face. “That Grand Preceptor Cao would… right, right. Bingtang, go grab your medicine kit. Jiyun, have servants prepare our horses. Saving a life is as urgent as putting out a fire. There’s no time to arrange for a carriage, we’ll make faster time on horseback.”
“Understood!” Jiyun and Bingtang sprinted back into the manor.
The prince was very satisfied by Qin Yining’s response. Some empathy stirred in his heart when he thought of how the Qins had been harassed lately. He couldn’t help but curse loudly again. “Ignorant fart Cao is simply too cocky! How dare he have someone poison my princess consort and then call away all of the imperial physicians! He’s looking to doom my wife to death!”
“But why?” Qin Yining asked, perplexed. “What reason does Grand Preceptor Cao have to start anything with you? You’re an imperial prince!”
“An imperial prince? That ignorant old fart doesn’t think so at all! We’ve had some clashes over business lately, but how dare he respond so viciously and use the empress’ authority to oppress people!”
The more the prince thought about it, the angrier he became. He itched to charge into the Caos with his blade unsheathed. Qin Yining compressed her lips, looking caught between a rock and a hard place. The prince didn’t expect the girl to say anything either and concentrated on sulking.
Jiyun and Bingtang came back shortly. The three jumped onto their horses and sped off towards the Ning Manor.
Qin Yining kept careful control over her silvery-white steed, her hovering heart finally able to settle somewhat back in place. Her plans would’ve taken a few more days to come to fruition, needing to latch onto a Cao-initiated mistake before being put into motion. Then she would’ve used the princess consort’s matter to incite trouble between the prince and the Caos, bring the grand preceptor a dual-pronged blow.
But to think that Grand Preceptor Cao had fallen ill and summoned all of the on-duty imperial physicians to his manor!
She’d given orders for the steward to pay close attention any Cao happenings during this period of time and had moved the plan up when she heard that the grand preceptor was sick. She had Qiangwei put the laxative into the almond tea bestowed by the trampress. And even had the prince been able to find a physician today, that laxative was a Bingtang special. No one would be able to cure it because it needed to be combined with the exclusive Tang acupuncture method. The prince would have to come to them in the end, after all was said and done.
When this was set in motion, the first cogs of her plan would started turning. She didn’t want to beg for help on her knees, but instead have the Prince of Ning choose a side himself. She would use this to drive a wedge between the Caos and the prince so that he would would come to Bingtang himself.
Perhaps this was too despicable of her. She did feel some guilt as well. But the circumstances couldn’t be helped and she could only have the princess consort suffer a little for now. Thankfully it was just a laxative and wouldn’t put the consort’s life in any danger.
At the Ning Manor, Qin Yining naturally followed behind the prince with Jiyun and Bingtang to the bedrooms. The princess consort had almost fainted from her diarrhea.
The Qin fourth miss made a curtsey in front of the bed and shifted to the side, taking her place with the prince’s sons, daughter-in-law, and daughter. Bingtang took quick steps forward, put down the medicine kit, and took the princess’ pulse.
The Prince of Ning’s daughter-in-law was a beautiful woman twenty some years old. She was quite curious about the newcomers and had no idea who her father-in-law might’ve brought back, especially as someone who looked to be a teenager was looking after the princess consort.
The Commandery Princess had once met Qin Yining. She asked curiously upon seeing Bingtang, “Does Miss Qin’s maid know some medicine?” Her words enlightened everyone present.
“Miss Tang inherits her father’s skills and is very talented,” the Qin fourth miss responded softly.
Everyone knew who Bingtang was after hearing ‘Miss Tang’. All of the aristocracy had heard of how Qin Yining had taken in Imperial Physician Tang’s orphan. They quieted and looked at the Tang daughter expectantly.
Bingtang carefully took the patient’s pulse and checked the princess consort’s complexion and tongue. She brought out her needles and adroitly placed a few in her patient.
The prince felt free to speak when Bingtang started administering acupuncture. “Niece Meng, can you tell what the princess consort’s been poisoned with?”
Bingtang nodded. “Your Highness, the princess consort hasn’t really been poisoned. It’s just a modified palace laxative. Although it doesn’t put anyone’s life in danger, it’s enough to make one feel uncomfortable for many days. It’s not incurable. I’ll write out a prescription to be taken along with my acupuncture treatment. She’ll be fine in no time.”
The prince heaved a long sigh of relief. The princess consort already felt her stomach stop hurting after the needles, and the urge to run for the washroom wasn’t as great as before. Color coming back into her face, she smiled gratefully at the little girl treating her.
Some guilt attacked Bingtang since she’d been the one to mix up the laxative. She smiled docilely back and left the bed to give orders on what type of prescription should be brewed. But who knew that the manor’s butler would come striding in at this time with an urgent report?
“Your Highness, the empress has heard of the princess consort not feeling well and is here to inquire after her health. The phoenix palanquin has already entered the manor!”
“The venomous bitch! How dare she come after hurting my wife!” The prince snorted coldly through gnashed teeth.
Meanwhile, Qin Yining reached out for the back of a round chair, the color drained from her face. The sudden appearance of the empress had startled her. Her actions reminded the group that there was a long-standing grudge between the Qin fourth miss and the empress. The fates of two imperial concubines who’d been cooked and eaten had originally been meant for Miss Qin!
Pity grew in their hearts when they saw such a charming little girl frightened out of her wits. Princess Jialan pulled on Qin Yining’s hand. “Miss Qin, are you alright?”
Qin Yining shook an ashen face. “I’m, I’m fine. Maybe I’m getting some heatstroke from the hot day. Should I go inside and rest momentarily?”
She looked questioningly at the prince. If she stayed and let the empress see that she was in contact with the prince, it would only deepen the ill will between the two parties. But although the prince was a lascivious jerk, he wasn’t an idiot. He may not be thinking clearly due to his current anger, but once he calmed down, he would quickly realize that she had the chance to avoid the empress today, but had elected to stay instead.
Therefore, she turned the decision over to the prince.
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