Unexpectedly touched, Qin Yining knew that née Ma was doing this because the older woman genuinely liked her. Her grandmother-in-law wasn’t a picky person and cared more about the thought behind a gift than actual skill, but the new princess consort was well aware of the level of her own embroidery skills. The shoes couldn’t really be described as delicate, but they were quite soundly made.
“Mom, please have a cup of tea.” Qin Yining knelt in front of née Yao after taking a teacup from a servant.
Née Yao accepted the cup with a smile and took a sip, returning a heavy red envelope and an intricately carved wooden box.
Qin Yining made a happy bow. “Thank you, mom.” She indicated Bingtang to take the items from her and offered a pair of shoes with both hands.
The gift was merrily received. “Many thanks, do get up.”
“That’s right, come sit with your grandmother.” Née Ma enthusiastically tugged on Qin Yining’s hands and had the girl sit right next to her. No matter how the matriarch assessed her, her granddaughter-in-law was pleasing to the eye.
“Good child, we’ve wished and hoped, and wished and hoped some more. You’ve finally joined our household. Dafu has someone to take care of him now that you’re here. We have more servants than masters and mistresses in the manor, and neither I nor your mother-in-law know how to manage all this. We’ll turn all this over to you.”
“I understand grandmother’s good intentions, but I’m still young and unlearned in the ways of the world. I’m afraid that I’ll lose face for us if I don’t do well.”
It wasn’t that Qin Yining really didn’t know how to keep a house in order. She’d been head of the inner household back in Great Yan. She just felt that it’d be highly unbecoming to, in a way, usurp her mother-in-law’s authority as soon as she married into the family.
Née Yao smiled. “You’re a smart child and will be more familiar with the household affairs the more you run them. You can come to me if you have any questions. You’ll know what to do after I guide you a few times. I’m old now and only look forward to when I can dote on my grandsons. I don’t have the effort to spare for anything else.”
A red flush exploded across Qin Yining’s face. She stammered, “Un-understood. I’ll come ask mom if there’s anything I don’t understand.”
Her mother-in-law nodded gaily. “I’ll have Zhao Kunjia’s wife bring over her verification tokens  to your Park of Resplendent Radiance.”
The girl thought for a moment, then asked with a smile, “Mom, your daughter has a favor to ask. Could you lend me Missus Zhao for a while? I don’t need her to wait on me in the house. It’s just that I’m young and inexperienced, and there’s much about the manor that I still don’t know about. Missus Zhao will be able to help me pick things up, and if there are any messages that need to be delivered, she will lend more gravity to the task.”
Née Yao couldn’t help but look meaningfully at the girl. The look in her daughter-in-law’s eyes was sincere without the slightest hint of reluctance.
What a smart girl!
Rather than wait for her mother-in-law to plant a pair of eyes and ears amongst her staff, taking the initiative was a much better way to handle the matter beautifully. Zhao Kunjia’s wife was also a respectable woman, so the girl could use the senior servant to establish her own footing in the household.
Asking of her own volition like this meant that Missus Zhao could come to and fro in the daytime, but it wouldn’t be seemly for her to stay the night. This meant that the newlyweds’ routine wouldn’t be disturbed. This killed many birds with one stone.
Truth be told, a mix of emotions currently assailed née Yao.
She was happy for her son that he had such a smart wife. This was a great boon, and at least the girl would know the appropriate action for any situation.
On the flip side, she was worried about having such a sharp individual by her side. It was one thing if the two of them remained on good terms, but if any friction developed and they fought, née Yao wouldn’t necessarily come out on the winning side.
Pang Xiao grew more anxious the longer his mother remained silent. He often heard stories of how difficult life became when mothers and daughters-in-law didn’t get along. But if he appeared too protective of Qin Yining in front of his mother, that would also elicit jealousy. Trouble would still fall on his wife’s head when he wasn’t at home. He could only stand there mutely, valiantly trying to guess what was on his mother’s mind.
Née Ma hated to see things drag out. “Dafu’s wife is talking to you, where’s your mind gone off to? If you can’t spare Missus Zhao, I’ll send one of my own.”
“Mom, I think it’s a very good idea to send Zhao Kunjia’s wife. I was just wondering if one person was enough. I need to summon everyone in the household and thoroughly reorganize them all.”
Qin Yining could vaguely guess at what her mother-in-law had been musing over. She gave thanks with a smile; there wasn’t much disappointment in her heart.
Strictly speaking, she wasn’t close to Pang Xiao’s family yet. A grandmother-in-law’s attitude towards a junior would naturally be different from a mother-in-law’s. Her own mother hadn’t been that good to her when she’d first returned home, but see how close they were now after a prolonged period of time?
Time revealed a person’s heart, and it wasn’t like she was scheming after something from the Pang’s. Née Yao would surely like her in the future.
Seeing that the conversation was about over, Pang Xiao suggested, “Mom, we need to head into the palace later to express gratitude for imperial favor. We may not make it back for lunch.”
Anything having to do with the palace made née Yao fret over her son. Thinking of Pang Xiao’s identity and how the family might be ‘invited’ into the palace for a ‘vacation’ whenever he set off to do battle, it truly was a good thing that she had such a smart daughter-in-law.
Née Yao’s eyes softened when she looked at Qin Yining. “Hurry and get yourselves ready. Don’t be late, or His Majesty will find fault with you then.”
“Understood.” Qin Yining rose to curtsey to Yao Chenggu, née Ma, and née Yao before leaving with Pang Xiao.
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I'm slowly getting my life back under control!
I got a bit too caught up in the end of the year madness and forgot to put out a final call for these badass dragon pins, so final call! Last chance to get this pin!