Resignation rose when Qin Yining heard her mother’s question. “Mother, there may be all sorts of gossip about me outside, but none of it bothers me. I don’t mind what the old dowager says behind my back. But does even my own mother not trust me?”
“Ai…” Née Sun actually regretted her question as soon as it left her mouth. Qin Yining wasn’t at fault in this matter, she hadn’t been willingly carried off. No matter what she’d suffered, she was the victim. A mother not standing up for her daughter and instead, questioning her offspring?
That really was wrong.
“Don't think too much, my daughter. I didn’t mean anything by it.” Pulling Qin Yining into her arms, née Sun patted her shoulder. “Don’t be afraid. We’ll go back and ask your father what to do. He’s so very smart and can handle everything. Your father was already thinking about this anyways. It’ll be fine.”
Hearing the trust and worship in her mother’s tone, Qin Yining nodded with a smile. “I know, I’m not afraid.”
She really wasn’t.
After the events of today, she could see even more clearly the sincerity in Pang Xiao’s feelings, and she anticipated the future even more so.
He was willing to stand against the Lus for her in front of the empress dowager and other noble ladies! While she fretted over how to turn down Lu Heng, he’d already handled everything with a flourish. If this wasn’t a sign of his truest feelings for her, then what was?
But current developments were out of her scope of expectations. It seemed it was indeed time to go home and discuss her marriage with her father.
Though it was slightly embarrassing for a girl to say outright who she wanted to marry, Qin Yining didn’t hem and haw so much when it came to her lifelong happiness.
After returning home, the old dowager summoned both of them with the greatest of curiosity, asking them in detail what they had seen and heard with the empress dowager.
Mother and daughter went over the harmless parts, ignoring with unspoken accord that the Faithful Prince of the First Rank had upended a table.
To be summoned by the empress dowager was a great honor already. The old dowager was actually slightly jealous. Her son was the important official, but the one basking in glory was that née Sun instead of his mother.
Due to her preoccupied thoughts, née Sun didn’t clash with the old dowager for once. She kept musing over the consequences of Pang Xiao’s actions earlier.
When Qin Huaiyuan returned from court, the three gathered in the married couple’s bedroom.
Née Sun dismissed all of the servants and anxiously relayed the events of the day in great detail.
“Milord, our daughter is a pure and innocent girl, but her reputation has been completely ruined by uncultured sorts! The empress dowager obviously wants to bestow our daughter onto that widower, but we don't know anything about Lu. He looks to be pretending what he’s not, so who knows if he’ll offer our daughter a genuine heart?
“And that Faithful Prince of the First Rank, he really is so over-the-top with tyrannical dominance! He’s absolutely nursing a grudge against you from back in the day. Such a personality and hatred from his father’s death means that he’s not a good man either!”
Perturbed, née Sun started crying and tugged on Qin Yining’s hand. “Why does my poor daughter need to suffer so? She didn’t have an easy childhood and must endure all this crude discussion about her after only a few days of peace and quiet! I want to rip all of their mouths to pieces whenever I see them!”
The Qin fourth miss could never bear to see her mother cry, so she quickly rose to hug née Sun in comfort.
Qin Huaiyuan also brought out a handkerchief and handed it to his daughter, indicating for her to wipe away her mother’s tears.
The Qin patriarch sighed and asked, “Daughter Yi, tell me what you truly think. Do you want to marry Pang Zhixi?”
Née Sun immediately bounced to an upright position. “No! That brute’s brought so much pain to our daughter. I won’t agree to it!”
Qin Huaiyuan patted his wife’s shoulder with a smile. “Don’t be hasty, madame. Let’s listen to what our daughter says first.”
“Marriage has ever been dependent on the orders of the parents and word of the matchmaker. Though our daughter is smart, she’s an unmarried girl at the end of the day. What does she know?” added née Sun urgently. “This is precisely when we need to keep tabs on things, so that she won’t tread down the wrong path!”
“You’re quite right.” Qin Huaiyuan smiled comfortingly in affirmation. “However, our daughter is different from the usual simple-minded girl. We should respect her opinions.”
Née Sun’s voice rose. “Spoiling her like this will be the death of her! What good is there about that Pang Zhixi!”
“Don’t fuss, this isn’t something to be fussed about like this,” replied Qin Huaiyuan with equanimity. “Our daughter is different from those typical noble daughters, and she’s seen more of the world. Thus, she naturally has her own thoughts about her marriage. And another is that we haven’t brought much good fortune to her since young. After so many years of hardship, did she return to us only for her life to be allocated by us?”
Struck dumb by her husband’s rejoinder, née Sun couldn’t find a response.
The man turned to Qin Yining. “My daughter, let’s hear from you. Do you want to marry Pang Zhixi? You don’t need to think too much about other things or matters at court. You just need to think about whether or not he’s worth of entrusting the rest of your life with.”
Qin Yining nodded faintly. “Father, I will marry none other than him.”
“You foolish child, you!” Tears spun in née Sun’s sockets.
Qin Huaiyuan took his wife’s hand with his and patted it, successfully stopping the outburst. He turned back to his daughter. “And you don’t plan on changing your mind?
“To be honest, your future will be more stable with Lu Heng. The Lus are an eminent family more than a hundred years old. The roots of their power are complex and interwoven. Even the emperor must show a few degrees of respect. Lu Heng is genteel and noble without any unsavory habits. Though you’d be marrying a widower, he has no official children. And according to my observations, he seems to be interested in you.
“Marrying Pang Zhixi would mean you face more dangers and hardships. Though he has no military power in hand, his prestige in the army is something that the emperor has always been wary of. Throwing your lot in with him means that you’ll face the same uncertainties and trials. It will be a very tiring life.”
Qin Huaiyuan patiently laid out the pros and cons of each choice, yet refrained from pointing fingers or denouncing either of them. He merely waiting for Qin Yining to make up her own mind; his own attitude was clear. He would unequivocally support her no matter what she chose.
Deeply touched, Qin Yining’s eyes grew moist. “Father, I know everything you say.”
But she still chose Pang Xiao.
Qin Huaiyuan nodded with a smile. “I understand. In that case, I may as well facilitate your marriage. Leave the rest to me. You should go rest for now.”
Qin Yining left after taking a look at her bawling mother and her father doing his frantic best to calm née Sun.
She couldn’t guess at what Qin Huaiyuan would do, but she felt particularly at ease having received his promise.
News of Pang Xiao flipping over a table in the Palace of Benevolent Piety swiftly made the rounds at court. Everyone was guessing at what the Lus would do.
The next morning at court, Qin Huaiyuan cut in front of the Minister of Military Affairs and fell to a kowtow in front of everyone’s shocked eyes.
“Your Majesty, this subject begs that you deliver justice for my only daughter!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter