Being a mature and dependable sort, Qin Huaiyuan always remained calm no matter what happened. He was the compass that kept the entire family grounded.
The old dowager relaxed greatly to hear her son say this. She patted Qin Huaiyuan’s hand. “Meng’er, you need to be more careful in the future. None of these noble children have simple backgrounds. They dare charge their horses in the streets because they aren’t afraid of hurting anyone. Even if anyone was injured or trampled to death, that would only mean that the victim was unlucky.
“These scions have plenty of ways to keep themselves in the clear. That would mean we would’ve suffered for nothing.”
“Mother speaks truly.” Qin Huaiyuan smiled warmly.
“Therefore, go in another direction when you run into this next time. Thankfully, you weren’t hurt this time.”
Upon seeing that the old dowager seemed inclined to further lecture Qin Huaiyuan, Qin Yining interrupted gently, “The old dowager is also tired herself from all the worrying. Why don’t we all go back and rest.”
Anything further that she wanted to say stuck in the back of the Qin matriarch’s throat. She glared at her granddaughter as she wanted to speak on, but none of the intended nagging came out when she met her son’s calm eyes.
Everyone dispersed, and née Sun went off for a private conversation with Qin Huaiyuan.
Qin Yining didn’t want to bother her parents, so went back to her house to rest instead of née Sun’s. With how this issue had blown up today, it was likely that everyone in town knew about it. I wonder how the Warden’s Office and yamen will take care of this.
The boy from earlier was an obvious scapegoat. Whoever it was behind the scenes remained a mystery. There wouldn’t be much of a point in proclaiming a sentence on the boy. A knot of frustration and melancholy formed in Qin Yining’s heart.
This time, even Qin Yu and Qin Han experienced the difficulties of Qin Huaiyuan’s day-to-day. Because their senior uncle usually handled everything so easily, they’d almost forgotten that their uncle was just an ordinary person of flesh and blood.
A surprising development made its way to Qin Yining’s ears on the afternoon of the next day.
Apparently Han Le’an, the son of Vice Minister Han of the Ministry of Personnel, had charged his horse into an official on the streets. He remained defiant and unrepentant of his transgression. Upon confirmation, the Wardens’ Offices of the Five Wards referred the case to the yamen. After confirming the veracity, the yamen sentenced the boy to be banished three thousand miles from the capital.
Openmouthed with astonishment, Qin Yining asked Jiyun, “Banished three thousand miles out? Are you sure you heard that right?”
“I’m certain, three thousand miles.” Jiyun could tell that her mistress didn’t really believe it. “Han barged into our lord, but thankfully milord is alright. If something really had happened, even an execution wouldn’t be enough to make up for it, to say nothing of a banishment. You’re too kindhearted, miss. You don’t need to be sad for someone like this.”
The Qin fourth miss came back to herself and shook her head with a slight smile. “Ah no, you misunderstand. I’m not thinking of this. Han Le’an is just a scapegoat. Being vice minister of the Ministry of Personnel and Rites isn’t a small position. Willingly giving up his own son to take someone else’s blame means that the real culprit occupies a high position.”
Jiyun nodded. “Absolutely. At the feet of the Son of Heaven, there’s no shortage of prominent officials in the city. A falling signboard can smash three of them. There’s a mess of rankings that’s all very complicated.”
“That’s right.” Qin Yining sighed deeply. “Though this matter was investigated by the Warden’s Office of the Five Wards and sentenced by the yamen, it’s all because of father. I’m worried about those noble sons seeking revenge.”
After some thought, she called Jingzhe over. “Go tell the brothers at my father’s side to keep an eye out these days. Don’t let unsavory sorts find an opening in.”
“Understood. Don’t worry, miss.” Jingzhe bowed and went off to carry out his orders.
However, the fourth miss’ concern seemed misplaced. Life proceed as normal for Qin Huaiyuan over the next few days. Nothing out of the ordinary happened.
She began to think that she’d thought too much as well. Perhaps that group also wanted to just have everything blow over. Maybe they didn’t want to cause any further trouble either.
After a few more days of quiet peace, spring arrived in all of its glorious, flower-budding warmth.
Qin Yining attired herself in a spring outfit and gave orders for the carriage to be prepared. “Let’s go for a walk. I also haven’t visited Grand Steward Zhong for a while.”
“Understood.” Bingtang was delighted to hear that they were going outside. “Miss, we haven’t gone out in a while. Xiaozhou’s been heavily bored at home, why don’t we take her with us?”
The manor wasn’t as spacious as before. Though it was livable, it still wasn’t very convenient to move around in. As sensible as Lian Xiaozhou was, she was still a child at heart. Bingtang quite doted on the girl and always brought her out if there was a chance to.
The Qin fourth miss chuckled and took Xiaozhou’s hand. “Big sister Bingtang is so good to you. She thinks of you in everything. Don’t forget her when you grow up.”
Lian Xiaozhou nodded merrily. She still wasn’t good with words, but had grown adept at using nods, shakes, or blinking as substitutes.
The little girl poked Qin Yining’s shoulder. “Big sister good too. No forget.”
Qin Yining blinked, warmth flooding her heart. She lightly pinched Lian Xiaozhou’s cheeks, making the girl break out in giggles.
When the carriage outside was ready, Qin Yining brought Bingtang, Jiyun, and Lian Xiaozhou with her into the vehicle. Jingzhe and the other three hidden guards followed them outside, while Xianyun and Qiulu stayed home to keep an eye on things.
A large carriage with four followers outside made for a modest retinue. They quietly left the Qins and made a circle around the back before choosing to go through a bustling market. Though that made for a longer route to Steward Zhong’s, the group didn’t mind since they were going out for a walk today.
Holding Lian Xiaozhou’s hand, Qin Yining pointed at various things out the window and went over some common sense knowledge. The little girl listened seriously.
Bingtang and Jiyun held a low conversation filled with lighthearted chatter.
Occasional fits of giggles from inside put the four guards outside at ease as well.
Just as the carriage pulled into the market, a frenetic clip clop of various hooves sounded in front of them.
Jingzhe raised his head to see eight men in luxurious clothing astride tall and bulky horses. They charged in the direction of the carriage without slowing down at all.
Seeing that disaster was about to develop, the groom yanked on the reins of a horse spooked by the fast approaching group in front. It reared and whinnied loudly. Inside the carriage, the four girls were thrown every which way. Xiaoman quickly jumped onto the carriage and threw his weight behind the reins, stabilizing the vehicle and placing himself in front of the door.
Jingzhe, Xiaoxue, and Dahan formed a triangular formation in front of the carriage.
The stampeding group had drawn near them. Fury burned in Jingzhe to see the horses almost at their feet. One who’d previously served under an emperor naturally did things different. Since he was in the lead, he raised his hand and smashed it down on the charging horse’s head.Previous Chapter Next Chapter