Chapter 267: Good Deeds and Their Just Rewards
After a bit of thought, Née Sun felt that her daughter made quite a bit of sense. She took in a few deep breaths. “You’re right. They’ll all be fine. We’ll have the chance to meet again as long as we stay alive.”
“That’s right. Just focus on taking care of yourself, mother. I’ll take good care of you.” Qin Yining shook her mother’s arm intimately.
Moved, Née Sun smiled through her tears and held tightly onto her daughter’s hand.
Mt. Eternal Spring was located on the capital’s outskirts, about forty miles from the inner city. There was quite a distance between it and the southern city gate. The outskirts were buttressed by the mountain. There was also a spring on the mountain, making it prime location to escape the worries of the world and live one’s days out in peace. Due to it being royal property, there were exceedingly few houses around it. The people usually didn’t dare come close, so the Qins ascended the mountain without obstruction.
Steward Zhong was waiting in front of the park gates with a few leaders within the residence. He’d gotten there bright and early. He hastily brought the rest forward in greetings when he saw Qin Yining help née Sun out of the carriage. “You’re here, miss.”
Behind him, there was a tall and stocky middle-aged man, a woman just over twenty who was dressed like a man, and an elder over seventy wearing worn robes. They knelt and kowtowed when they saw Qin Yining.
“Greetings to our benefactor!”
“Oh please do get up! How many times have I told you to not bow to me? I’m just a little girl, how could I bear such greetings?” The Qin fourth miss went to help the elder up first. “Mister Ni, please get up. I don’t need to help Big Brother Lu and Sister Nine up, do I?”
“This is such an undeserved honor. I am unworthy. Of course we need to bow when we see our benefactor.” The elder Mister Ni bowed.
Ni Liping had been ill and beyond hope when first taking up residence in the park. However, Qin Yining hadn’t given up on the aged and the young. He’d made it past that obstacle and had been a de facto ‘village head’ during this time due to his logical and rational style. He’d also set up a system in which children who could read taught those younger. The elder had quite a bit of authority on the mountain.
“Indeed, undeserved honor, we are unworthy.” The middle-aged man bowed as well. “We must kowtow. I wouldn’t even be here today if not for our benefactor!”
Lu Dehan was thirty two and had attended school when young, but didn’t have much to show for his efforts after spending all of his family’s silver on education. His mind wasn’t the sharpest, so he toiled in the fields for a living.
When he fled the war with his family, his wife and daughter had died along the way. He’d carried his sick mother up the mountain on his back. Mother Lu had been incredibly sick, and it’d been Bingtang who’d brought her back to health. Lu Dehan’s gratitude towards Qin Yining couldn’t be described with words.
But when the surrounding crowd heard Lu Dehan repeat ‘undeserved honor, we are unworthy’, chuckles and stifled laughter rippled through those close by.
The cross-dressing young woman aimed a kick at Lu Dehan. “You big lug! Look at you getting all fancy like Mister Ni. You were just waiting for our benefactor to come help you up!”
The feisty girl had a few hints of Sun Erniang in her  She was a widow and had the greatest authority among the women. She came from a family of hunters and had inherited the skill, earning the respect of most of the men as well.
Open guffaws broke out when people saw that Lu Denan had earned another kick from Missus Nine again.
The rest of the Qins standing behind Qin Yining were stunned by what they saw of the refugees in Ning Park. They’d thought it’d be a bunch of beggars and vagabonds.
Hungry beggars would certainly be as wild and monstrous as tigers and wolves, protecting their last chance of survival. They would definitely compete with each other for food, with only winners able to live on. How would they ever accept outsiders in their midst?
But now now they could see that though the refugees wore well-used clothing, they were all very clean. Smiles graced every face and kindness filled their hearts. Their respect towards Qin Yining was so obvious that the rest of the Qins couldn't remain nonchalant even if they wanted to.
Steward Zhong was standing next to the old dowager and murmured, “The miss has kept them alive all this time, giving them jobs, food, doctors, and medicine. The children can continue their schooling, and the miss hasn’t thrown them back out to be refugees in the streets. She hasn’t let them die of hunger or illness in the drought, and hasn’t given up a single elder or child. You have no idea what a great thing the owner’s done.”
The family’s shock could no longer be described with words.
“Everyone, please come inside. We already cleaned out the best house when we heard the benefactor’s family was coming.” Missus Nine smiled and welcomed them in.
“This won’t do,” Qin Yining protested. “We should follow the rules and leave the best house for the elders and children. We’ll just do as everyone else does.”
“Now don’t be so polite with us, Benefactor. Your family will feel more comfortable if they’re all together.”
This made sense to Qin Yining. They wouldn’t only be spending a day or two on the mountain. The family could get settled in first before further allocations were made. She went to support the old dowager with a smile and welcomed the rest of her family in.
Helping each other through the door, the Qins were greeted with the sight of more waiting residents. They’d heard the news and neatly parted to the sides when they saw their benefactor’s family. Friendly smiles were cast, loud greetings lobbed at Qin Yining, and more murmured softly to each other.
“This is our benefactor’s family, we must treat them well.”
“It’s Wise Pan An’s family, then is he here too? Is that tall, old master Wise Pan An?” Someone pointed at the second elder master.
Another with more information responded, “Wise Pan An’s defending the capital right now. He’s a hero!”
“The benefactor’s family are full of good people. We must take very good care of them.”
Thanks to the low buzz of discussions, the Qins finally understood what a tremendous thing Qin Yining had done outside the home. The old dowager even felt a blush rise to her face because she’d once complained that her granddaughter was spending silver on people who had nothing to do with them.
But now it was a case of just rewards flowering from the seeds of good deeds. Because Qin Yining had helped the refugees, they were all quickly coming to the family’s aid after disaster had struck the Qins. This was all thanks to the fourth daughter of the house.
Brimming with emotions, the family entered the residence proper. Ning Park’s tall and sturdy walls housed what appeared to be a small village inside. Houses had been raised everywhere as the exotic flora within had long since been sold off for funds.
As they traveled along the small path to the magnificently opulent main building, a veritable immortal’s palace, Missus Nine said, “We’ve cleaned out all of the rooms on the second floor. Please have your family settle in there, Benefactor.”
Qin Yining thought for a moment and decided not to protest. She asked the grand steward to help settle the servants instead. She herself brought her family upstairs.
“We’re taking shelter from war right now, so it’s wonderful enough that the entire family is together. Later on, we’ll have to learn how to provide for ourselves with the fruits of our labor, so I hope everyone can make do here.”
Unable to immediately adapt to the situation, the old dowager didn’t say anything. It was the second madame who spoke up.
“This is very fine enough already. What else can we want for as long as the entire family is together?”
The second elder master smiled at his wife.
So it was decided that the old dowager, Qin-mama, the third elder master, and Qin Yu would squeeze in one set of rooms. The four from the second branch would take a set. Née Sun, Jin-mama, Qin Yining, and the three maids would cram in one set. The eighth miss, Qin Huining, and the latter’s head maid would be Qin Yining’s neighbor.
The family found it very difficult to adjust at first. Insects abounded on the mountain and there were none of the rules found at home. No maids waited to serve them and the chatter of other voices plagued them during every waking moment. It was as noisy as a market, quite discomforting to a family that had been used to a life of ease and comfort.
With the exception of Qin Yining.
On this day, she rose, washed up, put on an outfit of rough cloth, and plaited her hair into a long braid in front of her. She brought similarly dressed Jiyun, Bingtang, and Qiulu downstairs to help with food preparations.
The enormous Ning Park had roared to life early in the morning. Many men blushed furiously and ducked their heads when they glimpsed four girls, pretty as could be, go fetch water.
Qin Yining and Jiyun busied themselves with chopping up firewood and feeding the flames while Qiulu and Bingtang washed and cooked rice.
As she put the stove in order, the Qin fourth miss laughed and chatted with Missus Nine and few other women. She even received pickled vegetables and salted dried fish from some of them.
When a group of children came back with freshly picked wildflowers and berries, a little boy in patched clothing trotted over with a bright red face. He shoved a bouquet of riotously colored wildflowers and a large variety of berries wrapped in a leaf into Qin Yining’s hands before turning to sprint away. The girl laughed merrily from the antics.
Her crisp peal of laughter, like a silver bell’s, drew the attention of all those nearby. Missus Nine burst out laughing. “Li Gousheng  you brat! You know to give our benefactor flowers, but you don’t give this laydee a single one!”
Seven-year-old Li Gousheng stuck his tongue out at Missus Nine and scampered off.
From the second floor, the old dowager observed the scene thoughts a window, brooding over her thoughts.
The second madame smiled at her husband. “Our niece is something else alright! Us adults shouldn’t fall behind either. Milord, let’s change and go find something to do downstairs. We can’t just sit around and wait for someone to dance attendance on us.”