And now, the trash emperor’s whereabouts were unknown. No one even knew if he was still alive. Although, Qin Yining’s pet theory was that the old fart was dead. The famine had been so severe; what kind of survival abilities would someone used to being waited on hand and foot possess?
But even if that person was dead, it still wouldn’t placate the girl’s raging fury.
She kept née Sun company a while longer before leaving with her newly gained allowance. She had Jiyun and Bingtang accompany her out, as well as Jingzhe, Xiaoman, Xiaoxue, and Dahan.
A carriage with turquoise cloth draped over it stood ready at the front door. Qin Yining and her two maids clambered into the compartment while Xiaoman and Xiaoxue hopped onto the shaft. Jingzhe led the horse up front, and Dahan walked alongside the carriage.
They’d just taken a few steps out of the alleyway when a large, spacious carriage draped in blue cotton pulled up to them. The window curtains lifted to reveal the head of a middle-aged woman roughly thirty years of age, of average built and wearing jewelry of precious metals.
“Is that younger sister Qin’s carriage?”
Baffled, Qin Yining lifted her curtains to see that the woman had already alighted from her carriage. Her cape rippled in the wind as an infectious grin spread across her face. “Younger sister Qin, it’s me from Old Liao’s household! Do you remember? Liao Zhibing who sold silks and jewelry back in Great Yan!”
Wasn’t that one of the four hallmasters of Azure Justice, the one with swift and fierce blade work?
The Qin fourth miss instantly understood that this was Azure Justice sending a contact to her. They were approaching her this way so as to evade notice.
She quickly plastered an answering smile on her face. “Aiya, so it’s Missus Liao! Will you look at my awful memory!”
She hastily alighted and walked up for enthusiastic greetings. “I’d thought that your family was staying in Great Yan. What brings you to the Great Zhou capital?”
“Ai. We’re businessmen, so we go where business is good. Old Liao is doing business near the Tartar border and I stay home to look over the family. I felt the weather was alright enough today and decided to go for a walk. But to think I’d run into younger sister Qin instead! What a happy coincidence!”
Qin Yining chuckled gaily as well. Meanwhile, Jiyun and Bingtang exchanged glances of silent speculation.
This woman looks very unfamiliar.
But the miss always knows what she’s doing.
There must be something going on that they were unaware of, so the two remained silent.
Jingzhe and the others determined the lack of threat from the newcomer, so they waited quietly off to the side like ordinary servants.
The Qin fourth miss and Missus Liao engaged in delightful conversation.
“It’s so wonderful to meet old friends in a new place. Do you have some spare time, younger sister Qin? A purposeful invitation is less than a chance meeting, so why don’t I play host? I’ve reserved a room at Smooth Providence. Why don’t us sisters have a nice chat?”
“That’d be lovely. But my father’s settled down in the capital now, which makes me a Great Zhou citizen. Why don’t I play host and Missus Liao can return the favor next time?”
“That’d be even better.” The woman smiled. “Then shall we?”
After a few more pleasantries, the two returned to their carriages and set course to Smooth Providence.
It wasn’t until the two carriages had rolled off into the distance that the window of a third carriage parked on the roadside opened. A jeering sneer hung on Madame Lu’s exquisitely made-up face.
“What a menial, lowly person unfit for the bigger stage. An official daughter of an imperial official befriending the wife of a merchant??”
The maid next to her piped in obsequiously, “Isn’t that so, mistress! Aren’t there many officials who collude with merchants? Perhaps the Qins are doing this because they really are down on their luck and out of money. Weren’t all of their family valuables robbed on the way here? Just look at the small manor they live in now. It’s not even enough to be your fish pond, mistress.”
These words greatly soothed the madame’s heart and she flicked an approving glance at the maid.
“Don’t say that,” she responded lazily. “Costs of living in the capital are high as can be. It’s already not bad that a little family has a place to call home. What else can they find fault with?”
The maid administered a light slap to her own face. “This servant has seen so little of the world. But although I am lowly, I was so fortunate to come to the Lus to serve you, mistress. Having seen much of how the family lives, nothing outside looks right to my eye anymore.”
“Oh you,” laughed the madame cheerfully. “Where did they say they were going just now? Smooth Providence?”
A plan took formation in her mind as Madame Lu turned this detail over. She summoned her pageboy to give a few instructions, sending the boy sprinting off into the distance. The madame closed the window and urged her groom to faster speeds.
Smooth Providence was a tavern three stories high. Qin Yining arrived before the noon rush, a time when there were no other guests on the third floor. To facilitate ease of conversation, she booked the entire floor. She and Missus Liao took a table with an expansive view and had their followers wait at the head of the stairs.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Is that tavern name too awkward? I struggled a bit with choosing the right words. The other option of 'Easy Fortune' sounded even dumber and vaguely brothel-like lol.