"Yes, Old Dowager." Qin Huining and the eighth miss rose and curtseyed before quietly making themselves scarce.
When they arrived at the covered hallway, Qin Huining tugged on the eight miss' hand and murmured, "Do you know what Old Dowager wishes to discuss?"
Thinking back to when the old dowager had instructed her to serve Pang Xiao, the eighth miss flushed red. Memories of how the prince’s handsome face was barely marred by his disheveled appearance made her face burn even hotter. He was so dashing and unfettered!
Noting the reaction, Qin Huining had an inkling of what the eighth miss was thinking about. An indescribable sense of resentment and envy rose from her bones. As the former favorite daughter of the family, she’d once lived in the lap of luxury. Now, she was left in the dust to watch others attain their happiness.
Though she and Qin Yining were of the same age, Qin Yining had gotten to marry a brave hero. Meanwhile, there wasn’t even a whisper about her own marriage, nor did she see the family elders draw up any plans. How was she not to feel any resentment or jealousy?
Qin Huining took a deep breath and with heroic effort, schooled her expression into one devoid of any dissatisfaction or bitterness.
Her numerous clashes with Qin Yining had long obliterated her previously good reputation among the family. Even though Qin Yining was missing, conversation among the household remained in her favor despite her absence.
Née Sun, especially, had never displayed much fondness toward her daughter in the past, yet now spent every day weeping inconsolably and refusing to eat, growing thin from her loss of appetite. Every so often, she sobbed about how sorry she was toward her daughter.
Qin Huining hated most to see née Sun so teary-eyed, what with the current state of affairs. It reminded her of how the mother who’d once treasured her so deeply had abandoned her long ago.
Fine, so she’d made some mistakes in the past. However, wasn't it too heartless for née Sun to abandon her and pretend not to see her, despite the two of them living under the same roof?
Sensing that Qin Huining hadn’t paid her much mind for a good while, the eighth miss looked at the foster girl out of curiosity. The unmistakable venom in her eyes had the eighth miss' heart jolting in fear, her face paling instantly.
Remembering what Qin Huining had done in the past, the eighth miss surreptitiously took two steps back. "I am a bit tired. Big sister Hui should rest as well." With that, she hastily curtseyed and turned in retreat.
Qin Huining gritted her teeth for a moment before spitting out, "Brown-nosing bitch!"
She had seen too many of these grovelling sorts before and was used to the sight of them.
Since she’d learned of Qin Yining's disappearance, she knew it was very likely for the family to send another daughter to the Faithful Prince of the First Rank, so she had to make plans for herself. As of now, the only daughters of marriageable age were herself and the eighth miss—if she didn't take advantage of this fifty-fifty chance, even the heavens would laugh at her weakness.
While Qin Huining stood outside in deep thought, the old dowager had already pulled at Qin Huaiyuan's hand to speak with him heart-to-heart. "Meng’er, your mother knows your heart aches with panic from not being able to find granddaughter Yi. You only have this one daughter—who in this family wouldn’t feel anxious over such a tragedy? However, you must also think of the family."
Qin Huaiyuan stared unwavering at the old dowager for a moment before inquiring, "What do you mean, mother?"
"Granddaughter Yi's disappearance has left the Faithful Prince of the First Rank without a woman to helm the household. Considering how highly His Highness thinks of our Yining, he won’t dislike other Qin daughters. I’ve been thinking, perhaps we should send the eighth lass to them to be a concubine. Though she is low-born, she is pretty, kind and good-natured. Daughter Yi was also closest to the eighth lass before her marriage.
"If she returns, the two sisters would get along well. If… the unthinkable truly befalls her, then the eighth lass will ascend from concubine to second wife and secure the position of Princess Consort. That would greatly benefit the house of Qin."
The old dowager smiled as she tugged Qin Huaiyuan's hand. "Now, this concerns the future of the family, Meng'er. You mustn’t reject this idea out of hand for concern about daughter Yi."
Though the old dowager acted as if she were merrily consulting Qin Huaiyuan, she clearly had already come to a decision.
The second madame remained silent, evidently disinterested in being drawn into the mire of this affair. The eighth miss was a daughter of the third branch of the family, after all, and the third branch currently didn’t have a matriarch. Since neither the third elder master nor the second wife was speaking up, it wasn’t her place as the second aunt to comment either.
The second wife, however, smiled at this point and said, "I think what Old Dowager says makes sense. My sister-in-law is a fine young lady who is pure of heart, and senior uncle is aware of this. She could keep Yining company, as those two sisters get along swimmingly."
Qin Huaiyuan dropped his gaze without responding immediately. Née Sun, on the other hand, had heard enough—she flipped over a nearby side table.
The tableware hit the floor with a dramatic crash. The sound of shattering porcelain was so ear-piercing that it frightened to the ones who were happily plotting away. The old dowager clutched at her chest, dumbstruck. The second madame and second wife also took a few steps back.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
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