“That may be the case, but just look at how arrogant née Qin is,” née Yao sneered coolly. “What kind of respectable noble daughter is she? She’s just a wild thing who wandered around outside in her childhood! She doesn’t know to respect her elders and doesn’t have the slightest hint of the manners she should have.
“If we were in the general’s manor of old, the senior madame would drill the rules into her until her spirit broke! But ai, she’s lucked out in having such a mild-mannered mother-in-law such as me.” Née Yao felt much better after a rapid-fire round of sharp criticism. She exhaled with ease and continued, “It’s just as well that she doesn’t call me mom, I don’t care to hear it! I didn’t raise her, so how can I expect her to be anything good? She better pay up quickly if she wants to pay rent, I’m worried that our silly Dafu will supplement her income instead.”
Yao Chenggu rebuked his daughter after hearing all of that. “Now this isn’t the thing to say, you need to consider Dafu’s future career at court after all is said and done. Minister Qin isn’t an ordinary person and thought he’s an official at court no longer, he’s still an excellent strategist.
“With his daughter married to our Dafu, he’ll have to wrack his brains for ideas and solutions every time Dafu runs into trouble. So don’t you say this in the future.”
“That’s true enough.” Née Yao thought for a moment and asked worriedly, “Dad, do you think the child in née Qin’s belly is really our Dafu’s child? There can’t be a mistake, can there be?”
“Of course, Dafu is a smart one.” Yao Chenggu spoke no more and continued puffing on his pipe. Inwardly, however, his daughter’s question kindled a new round of questions. With Qin Yining and Pang Xiao’s attitudes, he felt that it was certain the child was Pang Xiao’s.
But who could be sure?
Not to mention, the little girl’s looks could make anyone fall head over heels in love with her. What if Dafu was covering things up for her because he liked her and was entranced by her? Young men were prone to act on emotions; it was understandable if they committed some actions that couldn’t be helped when the mood seized them.
And so what if the child was Pang Xiao’s? What if she’d served another man? To have such an unclean woman service his grandson rather revolted Yao Chenggu.
He put down his pipe and crunched his way through some sunflower seeds, staring off into the distance as he continued to think over present matters.
Pang Xiao was young and it only stood to reason if he was impulsive. But as his elder, Yao Chenggu had a responsibility to keep a weather eye on the lad’s decisions so that he wouldn’t be completely hoodwinked and have no idea about it.
A servant came in with a report at this time.
“Grand-Lord, the lord from the Qin in-laws requests an audience.”
Yao Chenggu and née Yao blinked at each other. What a coincidence!
…too much of a coincidence. Had something made its way to him?
“Show His Grace in.” Yao Chenggu stood up and brushed off the seed husks on him. The maids quickly made sure everything was in order on the table and ground. After a moment's thought, née Yao decided to stay as well. She took a position next to her father.
A middle-aged man lifted the door curtain before long. He was tall and slender, his genteel aura as if an immortal from the heavens. Just his demeanor and looks put one in the mindset of the nickname “Wise Pan An”. Wisdom and intelligence shimmered unmistakably between his brows; his features and bearing were simply too extraordinary.
Qin Huaiyuan immediately bowed in greeting when he entered the room. “Grand-Lord Yao and Old Madame, my guards report that my in-laws have been safely returned to home. Was everything comfortable enough on the trip?”
Yao Chenggu’s heart skipped a beat. Anyone of a more frank and direct nature wouldn’t think twice about these words—there was nothing wrong with them.
But given the recent bout of unpleasantness, Yao Chenggu couldn’t help but dwell on it a little more than he would. As befits someone who spent so many years at court, alright, and he’s called Wise Pan An for a reason. He lightly delivers such a noncommittal greeting, but each word is carefully chosen and stabs straight to the point
That very brief exchange had clearly touched upon two points:
Firstly, Grand-Lord “Yao” had a surname of Yao. This manor was the Pang Manor, and the careful usage of “Old Madame” was a reminder that women had no business sticking their nose in the affairs of men.
Secondly, that they could safely return home was all due to Qin Huaiyuan’s covert protection detail during this time. Without his help, they would’ve been captured by Li Qitian after Pang Xiao’s departure and there would be no happy reunion now.
Yao Chenggu thought this over with narrowed eyes and gave up his seat with a smile. “Of course, everything was wonderful. Your Grace has arranged for everything in a most proper way. We wanted for nothing along the way! Servants, bring fine tea!”
Qin Huaiyuan exchanged a few more pleasantries before taking the seat of a guest of honor. He chuckled, “My daughter is a clumsy one and reached above her station when she married the prince. The days ahead are long, so please instruct her whenever she falls short. As her father, I will not have the slightest word of complaint in return.”
Qin Yining fished out three one-thousand-tael notes from his sleeve. Stamped with the seal of the Great Zhou Dynasty, they could be exchanged for silver ingots anywhere in the nation.
With a smile, Qin Huaiyuan placed them on the table and pushed them toward Yao Chenggu.
“This is the rent for occupying Snowplum Yard and Snowtrace Garden. Though the young couple is newly wed and Yining’s dowry is substantial, my wife and I fear that they won’t act with wisdom given their youth. What if she spends a little too freely? Her dowry will be expended in short order.
“Therefore, I request that the Grand-Lord and Old Madame keep watch over these notes for Yining. That way, the youngsters won’t accidentally spend what they should save. As elders, we all want the best for our children, wouldn’t you say so?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter