Qin Huaiyuan grinned at his son-in-law’s words. “You’re probably the only person in the entire court with this much pluck and charisma to say such things.”
Pang Xiao smiled back.
“I’m only at ease to say this much without a filter in front of you, father-in-law. I would never be this brazen if I was out there. His Majesty rules the country with kindness and filial piety. How would he allow such a catastrophe to strike?”
The Qin patriarch and the prince were both highly intelligent. They needed not to spell things out before reaching a tacit rapport. With Li Qitian’s character, he’d keep things under wraps even if he’d erred. He’d try for cover-ups in any way possible.
Qin Huaiyuan paused to think. “I understand what you mean. But aren’t you the one to shoulder the blame if pay is late? This is why I admire your capabilities. You have to lead troops into war and earn their unwavering loyalty. Not only have you never incurred the resentment of your men, but you’ve also inspired them to stay in the frontlines. They steadfastly slay enemies by your side despite not being paid! That’s really something else.”
Pang Xiao smiled despite himself. “Father, that’s actually not that hard. As long as I’m willing to stick with my men through thick and thin, be the first to charge and the last to retreat, my actions speak for me aplenty.”
The look of respect in his father-in-law’s eyes spoke volumes.
“That’s what common sense would reason. But how many can truly stick by those principles? As a matter of fact, the logic and truth behind a lot of things in life are so obvious that it doesn’t take a genius to figure them out.
“Take studying for example. Every examinee understands that he must pour over previous test questions so thoroughly that the knowledge becomes his own. At the same time, he must pay heed to politics as to acquire insights into the thoughts of those in power.
“Eighty percent of the examinees are aware of these simple rules, but only a handful are able to come out on top. That’s because the majority failed to stay disciplined and persistent.
“Most of us falter and waver in our studies, a pursuit that hardly puts our lives at risk, to say nothing of braving a battlefield and besting enemies! You risk your life every minute you’re out there!”
Flustered momentarily by his father-in-law’s praise, Pang Xiao waved a hand in dismissal. “I’m hardly as remarkable as father makes me out to be. I’m just a little bolder, is all.”
“Brave, cautious, yet kind-hearted,” Qin Huaiyuan reached out and patted his son-in-law on the other side of the small table.”You are a very good young man. I have utmost peace of mind in leaving my daughter in your care.”
Qin Huaiyuan’s compliments were the greatest affirmation possible to Pang Xiao.
Growing up without a father, it’d always been Yao Chenggu who mentored and guided him along the path of life. The grand-lord was indeed clever in his own ways, yet his cleverness was at best street smarts that’d be adequate for running an eatery in the marketplace. When it came to navigating the treacherous waters in the imperial court, Yao Chenggu simply wasn’t up to the task.
Now that Wise Pan An was his father-in-law, Pang Xiao felt his confidence grew by a few notches when facing the world. His father-in-law would surely be the beacon he needed whenever self-doubt struck.
Qin Huaiyuan’s complete trust in him was particularly heartening. The minister had trusted Pang Xiao even in Great Yan. That was a tremendous validation that a son-in-law could receive.
Lunch took place as usual in the main house in the old dowager’s residence.
It was a casual family gathering, and the prince couldn’t be bothered with the formalities. A simple room divider was set up between the womenfolk and the men as they ate.
Qin Yining nestled between née Sun and the second madame and obediently ate a few more bites when suggested by the elders. She also caught the enthused discussions on the other side of the divider; the men took turns offering analysis of current affairs.
Pang Xiao wasn’t as talkative as he’d been with Qin Huaiyuan, but he neither did put on the airs that befit his position. He was calm and dignified, simple as that. He hardly spoke, but every time he did, his comment perfectly hit the spot, which earned him showers of praise from the second and third elder masters.
Qin Han, Qin Yu, and several others of the younger generation also refreshed their understanding of the prince. They’d regarded him as an uncultured boor before, but he proved them exceedingly wrong.
On the other side of the room divider, the second madame tugged at née Sun’s hands and whispered, “It looks like daughter Yi’s married into a good family. You can be at peace, elder sister.”
Having received her daughter’s overview and made her own close observations on the sidelines, née Sun couldn’t be happier. She nodded and replied correspondingly, “I only have one daughter. Her happiness most certainly gives me peace of mind.”
Qin Huining was seated not far from née Sun. She caught her foster mother’s iteration about “only one daughter”. It triggered so much ache and bitterness that she wanted to burst into tears.
She no longer had any hope for what little connection that remained between her and née Sun. The Qins were only keeping her as they would a kitten or a puppy, one who’d begged for many years at its owner’s side.
But to actually hear that née Sun cared not a thing for her! Qin Huining was heartbroken to the brink of a breakdown.
She sniffled and forced her tears back, so as not to draw attention to herself on this auspicious day and incur more animosity. As she looked up, she was met with Qin Yining’s merry gaze.
Qin Huining’s pupils constricted immediately, and humiliation worthy of consecutive face slaps descended. She averted her gaze awkwardly.
Qin Yining had hoped to extend an olive branch. After all, Qin Huining was the foster daughter of her father. Despite the unpleasant experiences she’d had with the girl, it was all bygones now. She had her own family now and a husband who adored her. She no longer had to hang on to the negative memories of the past.
Little would she know that her good intentions would be misinterpreted.
Never mind. If she’d acted too friendly, she might scare Qin Huining. In any case, she didn’t anticipate further dealings with the foster girl, so things were what they would be.
Qin Yining kept née Sun company after lunch and the women stole a cat nap in the afternoon, while Pang Xiao remained by his father-in-law’s side to discuss current affairs in a quiet corner.
In a low voice, the old dowager pestered Qin-mama in the main house. “Go check on what the fourth lass is doing. Why doesn’t she come talk to me on her day back to the family?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TROLOLOL what do you think, Old Dowager?
And ding dong the witch.. lives! Herro Qin Huining...