“Old Master Gu’s loyalty is truly to be admired.” Qin Yining sighed with a faint smile. “There are so few like you in this world, those who forget not their old masters, even at the expense of their personal safety.”
“Not at all. This is nothing. There is no future for the path of my career. I am but a candle light flickering in the wind. The truly admirable one is your father Minister Qin. He has yet to return after entering the palace on behalf of the commandery prince, hasn’t he?”
Veneration filled Gu Shixiong’s face.
However, Qin Yining’s mind was clear. This was a threat.
Even if she didn’t want to save the commandery prince, there was no way she wouldn’t care about her father.
These people who cut their teeth on politics at court are really too crafty!
Li Qitian’s spies were certainly keeping an eye on the Qins now; perhaps the emperor already knew of Gu Shixiong’s visit.
The Qin fourth miss also knew that the old official wouldn’t be so dumb as to not surmise his every move was under the emperor’s surveillance.
Yet he’d purposefully done all this today and even made such a request—plainly to drag the Qins down with him.
The girl narrowed her eyes in deep thought.
Was the old man not afraid that she’d spread word he knew the treasure’s location?
Was he really willing to part with such a tremendous fortune, just like that?
Was he not concerned that she’d take the large sum and just give it to Pang Xiao?
Qin Yining didn’t believe for a split second that Gu Shixiong truly meant his words of giving her the treasure so that she could help her future husband defend himself in the future.
But upon second thought, some things grew clearer.
Firstly, if she didn’t agree to help, then he naturally wouldn’t tell her where the treasure was. The he would still be the only one in possession of that knowledge.
Once she revealed his secret knowledge, he could just take his own life. The treasure would die with him, benefiting no one at all. Thus, he truly wasn’t afraid of being outed.
Secondly, if she agreed to help and saved the commandery prince, Gu Shixiong would most likely think of a way to make her give up the treasure in the end. Even more so, he’d meddle in her wedding and have her bestowed onto Yuchi Yan. Then the treasure would be her dowry, and the commandery prince would still end up being the beneficiary.
Lastly, the old man still wouldn’t be afraid if she agreed to help, saved the prince, and gifted the treasure to Pang Xiao.
He could just provoke Li Qitian so that the emperor was even more wary of a moneyed Pang Xiao. Chaos would be stirred into Great Zhou as well.
Therefore, after a bit of analysis, Qin Yining realized that the old official wouldn’t come out worse for the wear no matter what he did.
Even if none of the three situations happened because she’d declined the treasure, his arrival had already planted the seeds of suspicion.
As expected of an experienced official, his plan of attack was flawless!
It took only a quick breath for Qin Yining to analyze all of this. She continued to remain silent for a long while before responding slowly, “Old Master Gu, this is a very serious matter and my father isn’t home. Please give me time to think this over.”
Gu Shixiong felt rather disappointed as he took in the girl’s charming face. It looked like women would be women after all. He really shouldn’t have hoped that a woman would have the same decisiveness and means as a man.
“There’s nothing for it. This old man really does have no other plans at hand. Please think it over carefully, Miss Qin. I await your good news.”
Qin Yining nodded with a beaming smile.
Having run out of things to say, the old official took his leave.
The Qin fourth miss didn’t turn around until she saw her guest to the entrance of front yard.
It was impossible to hide his visit anyways. With Gu Shixiong’s previous status in Great Yan and Qin Huaiyuan’s absence, it would be suspicious if she didn’t receive guests on behalf of her father. People might think she was feeling guilty.
That was the furtherest thing from the truth.
With how shrewd and crafty old man Gu was, and how wholeheartedly thorough he was in dragging the Qins down with him, she was at a momentary loss of what to do.
She knew that she had to think of something, and quick. Otherwise, the next person summoned to the palace would be her when this travelled into the emperor’s ears.
Preparations were underway for her wedding with Pang Xiao; a crushing defeat here was wholly unacceptable!
Qin Yining sat on the heated platform next to the window, cross-legged and her lips pursed. She hugged a soft, pale-purple sateen cushion to herself and sank into deep contemplation.
Also present for the happenings earlier, Jiyun felt this was an extremely troublesome matter. Seeing her mistress confounded by the problem, she whispered, “Miss, the lord isn’t at home now and this isn’t something for more people to know about. Why don’t you go ask the prince? Surely he’ll think of an appropriate solution to help you.”
Qin Yining understood the guard’s good intentions and smiled. “You make sense, and I’m sure the prince will think of something for me. But his identity is special and the times sensitive. If I go ask him now, won’t I drag him down with me as well?”
“Miss, the prince won’t mind.”
“Even if he doesn’t mind helping me with my troubles, I don’t want to add to his.”
Qin Yining paced back and forth with her hands behind her back for two hours before coming up with a response. She turned back with shining eyes. “Jiyun, go search out a simple and old wooden box for me. Find some nails as well. Bingtang, grind some ink. Oh right, I need some vermilion sand as well.”
“Understood.” The girls knew their mistress had a plan and rushed off with their orders.
After getting everything ready, Qin Yining ordered, “Send a calling card to the Gus and say that I’ve thought things through. I have urgent business with Old Master Gu.”
Jiyun bobbed her head and flew out the door.
Gu Shixiong had been waiting on pins and needles when news came that a Qin servant requested an audience.
Joy blossoming over his face, he rushed out and saw Jiyun. Upon learning that Qin Yining wanted to invite him over, he paid no thought to manners and custom. He hastily ordered servants to drive his carriage to the Qins.
This time, Qin Yining stood at the main door in welcome and welcomed her guest to the front hall. After tea was served, she broached the subject apologetically. “Old Master Gu, I’m afraid I can’t do what you ask for.”
Having come with great hope and expectations, an incredulous hammer hit him over the head. His beard shook as the old man asked, “What, what makes you say that?”
“Old Master Gu, a change of sovereigns brings a change of officials. My loyalty belonged to His Majesty the moment I arrived in Great Zhou. Though I think of my old home fondly, I cannot betray my loyalty to the emperor. Even if you tell me where the treasure is, I’ll tell the emperor with my next move.”
“You! You, don’t you forget that you’re a Great Yan citizen!”
Qin Yining smiled faintly. “Great Yan is no more. We are in Great Zhou now.”
“Aren’t you afraid that the emperor will make a move against Pang once you marry the prince? You can help your husband with this treasure in hand!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
What do you guys think Qin Yining has in mind?