“Elder brother and sister-in-law are heartbroken from losing their child. Furthermore, the political situation in court is truly very tense. His Majesty has tapped elder brother to enter the council, so many factions are watching his every move. Just one misstep and everybody’s lives will be forfeit. It’s me who’s too useless and can only amount to being a petty official in the Ministry of Rites. If I could do more, I would be able to help my elder brother.
“Mother, let’s speak no more of splitting the family. Elder brother and sister-in-law have given a great deal to the family all these years, which we’re all aware of. Third brother and I are truly grateful from the bottom of our hearts. So please, don’t worsen your mood with arguments, that would be distracting elder brother instead.”
The old dowager was deeply hurt. She’d seen the real Qin Huaiyuan today. This son of hers who she had poured all her love into, even at the cost of neglecting her second son for so many years, was no longer the filial son who showed her utmost obedience.
Now in her spell of grief, wasn’t it her second son who came to coax her? Furthermore, the second elder master’s words gave the old dowager a way out of her embarrassing situation.
She couldn’t find any comeback to retort née Sun’s arguments, nor did she dare to really do anything to her eldest son. Her future was in his hands, so all she could do was suppress her anger and endure this affront.
If she stopped speaking now, everyone would think she was being the gracious elder and letting née Sun have her way.
So the old dowager wiped her tears away and didn’t curse Qin Huaiyuan anymore, nor tell him to divorce née Sun. It wasn’t like he would listen to her, in any case.
Qin Huaiyuan’s strained mind finally relaxed a little when he saw how easily the old dowager was coaxed. Likewise, his wife finally stopped sobbing in his arms.
“Mother.” Qin Huaiyuan patted née Sun’s shoulder before turning around. “In your advanced age, you should spend your days relaxing, not worrying. From now on, you no longer need to worry about matters of the house or the marriages of the children. All you have to do is care for yourself and live a long life, letting your son serve you filially into the days.”
The old dowager’s eyes rimmed with red again when she heard Qin Huaiyuan’s words, and she shrieked, “You unfilial son! This is a betrayal!”
This was a blatant warning for the old dowager to remember her place! Her son wanted her to stop recklessly meddling in the family's affairs and keep her hands out of the family’s coffers.
“Mother, this is all your son will say. If you really cannot stand to see us, then we will have no choice but to move out.” Qin Huaiyuan raised cupped fists. “It was the emperor and his men just now, I fear he already suspects me. I am exhausted from all the stress and fear I endure at court. When I return home, I wish for simple relaxation and rest. I hope mother understands my desire to not stir up more trouble.”
After speaking, Qin Huaiyuan left with née Sun.
The news of the emperor’s personal arrival and searching their residence like he wanted to charge them with crimes shocked everyone. The second elder master hadn’t been at the front just now and so hadn’t seen Li Qitian. This was his first time hearing the news.
“Y-Your elder brother said just now… no, that’s not right, they were clearly searching for our in-laws, so why would the emperor come search our home?” The old dowager trembled with fear as she clutched her second son’s hand with a death grip.
Stunned, the second elder master rose in a panic. “Mother, the situation at court is truly tense. I will go talk to my brother about countermeasures. You should rest well and please, don’t cry again.”
“Yes, yes, yes, go!” Compared to vying for influence with her daughter-in-law, the old dowager naturally cared much more about her own life. She hurriedly waved the second elder master away, urging him to be on his way.
The second elder master left with the second madame. When they stepped into the corridor, they noticed that all the courtyard’s servants were standing far away. The eighth miss and Qin Huining were also huddled in a corner far away, engrossed in their conversation and not daring to approach.
“Watch over mother and don’t let her get into any more trouble,” softly reminded the second elder master. “The situation this time is unlike the ones before. I’m going to go and talk to elder brother.”
“That, I don’t dare do,” his wife murmured back. “What if I say one thing wrong and mother tells you to divorce me too?”
The second elder master rolled his eyes angrily, berating, “Nonsense!” before turning to hasten away.
The second madame sucked in a breath of the cool winter air and huffed into her hands a few times. Recalling how née Sun had cursed the old dowager earlier filled her with delight.
The old dowager’s attitude had long grated on her, and née Sun’s lambasting practically mirrored what she’d always wanted to say. It wasn’t just née Sun who loved Qin Yining dearly, the second madame also remembered Qin Yining’s grace. People weren’t unfeeling plants; those as short-sighted and ungrateful as the old dowager were quite rare.
She stood outside for a while before returning inside, only to see the second wife tending to the old dowager. Relaxing happily, the second madame didn’t approach them. She took a seat by the fire pit in the outer room and accepted a cup of tea offered by a servant, warming her hands.
In the study, Qin Huaiyuan, the second elder master, the third elder master, Qin Han, and Qin Yu were all gathered together, discussing what had happened with Li Qitian earlier.
Qin Huaiyuan’s voice was low as he spoke, “My son-in-law has led his personal forces to search for daughter Yi in Tatar. The emperor suspects him wanting to collude with the Dragon Riders to conspire a revolt. He first traveled in disguise to the Faithful Prince’s manor, then grew suspicious of our household when he saw none of the family there. Thus, our manor was searched.”
“I see.” Qin Han said, “I didn’t expect brother-in-law to have such well-meaning intentions.”
“That’s right,” praised Qin Yu. “Brother-in-law also defied a lot of imperial decrees for fourth sister.”
However, the second and third elder masters weren’t as relaxed as the younger generation.Previous Chapter Next Chapter