Chapter 24: A Twist: A Visit from the Crown Prince
Nyoi-Bo Studio Nyoi-Bo Studio
“Why are you in such a panic? You are displaying improper behavior,” Qing Mama chided Zhen Zhu in displeasure.
Although she was a loyal maid, the appropriateness of her conduct still fell short of expectations. Even though Qing Mama had trained Zhen Zhu for a long time, her etiquette was not showing much progress.
After Qing Mama berated the maid, she cowered slightly. When Qing Mama saw the girl’s reaction, she became angrier. She snapped peevishly, “If you have gotten wind of any news, please tell us quickly.”
“Right away!” Zhen Zhu quickly reported, “Old Master has rescinded his order to confine Madame to her residence.”
“What? Rescinded?” Qing Mama was shocked.
“I heard that the Crown Prince himself came to plea for a more lenient punishment. Right now, he is heading to Shuimo Garden with Old Master,” Zhen Zhu recounted the details of everything she had heard in full.
“This truly fulfils the saying, ‘Whatsoever troubles a person the most is likely to happen to them.'” Qing Mama felt uneasy. Before she could finish training the young maids whom she had brought back, Su Yufeng was being released from confinement.
Ye Jiuge smiled coldly. Although she understood that it would be impossible to imprison Su Yufeng in her residence forever, the great Crown Prince was really audacious to meddle and dictate another’s household affairs.
“Eldest Miss, what should we do now?” Qing Mama asked anxiously.
“What are you afraid of? On the one hand, she has only just been released from confinement, so it is impossible for Father to allow her to manage the household straight away. On the other hand, do you think that Qing Hu and Qing Liu are proficient enough yet to prepare the medicine using the recipe I gave you before?” Ye Jiuge asked.
“I think that they are almost skilled enough. Perhaps, I can instruct them to prepare two bowls of medicine for you to taste?” Qing Mama asked.
“Go ahead!” Ye Jiuge had not yet had a chance to try the maids’ concoctions.
Qing Mama passed along the order at once. Coincidentally, Qing Hu and Qing Liu were already practicing, so she promptly fetched a bowl of Tian He Snow Lotus Soup with heart-strengthening and spleen-invigorating properties.
The clear soup was presented in a white porcelain bowl. It gave off a faint fragrance and slid smoothly down her throat. While the taste lingered in her mouth, her entire body felt rejuvenated.
“It tastes decent!” Ye Jiuge felt that the two maids had successfully learned the medicinal recipe.
“By the way, Eldest Miss, a few days ago, I made a trip to the Qiushui Residence and learned that Fourth Miss has caught the common cold. Should we use this opportunity to send over our people?”
All this time, Qing Mama had been preparing to send Qing Hu and Qing Liu into the Qiushui Residence. At first, she thought she had ample time to ensure that all was in place. She had not expected Su Yufeng’s sudden release. She could only send over these two maids ahead of time.
“All right. Ask Qing Hu and Qing Liu to prepare themselves. I will visit Fourth Sister first.”
During these last few days, Ye Jiuge had been busy with matters concerning Ye Yu, so she had not been visiting Ye Ruyi. When she and Zhen Zhu reached the Qiushui Residence, Fifth Concubine was sitting in the main seat with a straight back. A dangling jade hairpin was inserted on a tilt into her thick, beautiful hair. She wore a dress woven with crab apple flower motifs and embroidered with clouds and falling snow. Her face was lightly dabbed in makeup. She was almost unrecognizable.
A pretty girl in a simple emerald dress sat at a slightly lower position beside Fifth Concubine. Her translucent eyes were as beautiful as a clear autumn lake. She was Mu Xianglan, the Seventh Concubine.
“Greetings to the Eldest Miss,” Seventh Concubine said and quickly curtseyed to Ye Jiuge.
“Seventh Concubine, you are too formal with me,” Ye Jiuge responded emotionlessly. Although she had never interacted much with Mu Xianglan, she had the impression that she was a force to be reckoned with.
“I still have other matters to attend to, so I shall not bother Elder Sister and Eldest Miss any longer.” Seventh Concubine tactfully took her leave.
“Younger Sister, if you have matters to attend to, go ahead!” Fifth Concubine personally escorted out Seventh Concubine. Afterward, she waved away the servants who were in the room.
“Fifth Concubine, what are you doing?” Ye Jiuge was amused. Those who did not know any better would have thought that Fifth Concubine had important matters to discuss with her.
“Eldest Miss, why haven’t you visited me these past few days? Having to assert myself here all the time is an indescribable torture.” Fifth Concubine’s previously straight back relaxed.
Others imagined that, since Fifth Concubine had the power to manage the household, she must be very well-off. However, they could not imagine the weight of the responsibilities burdening her.
In the past, Su Yufeng had been the only one who wielded power within the inner residences. At least half of the servants in the residence were her trusted aides. Even if Seventh Concubine and Qing Mama were helping Fifth Concubine, she would not be able to establish her authority overnight.
“Later, I will send over two capable maids to help you. Then, you will not feel so tormented,” Ye Jiuge reassured her.
“They must be Qing Hu and Qing Liu. I’ve been trying to bring them over. Unfortunately, Qing Mama would not allow it. She told me that she wanted them to stay longer so that she could train them to be better behaved. Actually, I think that these two maids are already well-qualified for their jobs.” Fifth Concubine genuinely believed that the two maids were competent enough.
“You know how Qing Mama is when handling her responsibilities. If Madame had not suddenly been released from confinement, she would not be sending them over so soon. By the way, what were you and Seventh Concubine talking about just now?” Ye Jiuge asked.
“Earlier, Seventh Concubine came to tell me that she wanted to take initiative in returning authority for managing the household to Madame. She wished to see how Old Master would react to that suggestion,” Fifth Concubine replied.
“Seventh Concubine’s idea is quite good. I never thought that she would confide in you with such sincerity.” Ye Jiuge smiled.
“Although Seventh Concubine and I seem to get along well, she is hardly an open book,” Fifth Concubine said, shaking her head.
The women had only formed an alliance for now so that they could oppose Su Yufeng together. The only one who had treated her and her daughter genuinely without expecting anything in return was Ye Jiuge.
She was clear about that.
“If you can’t determine what kind of person she is, then remain guarded with her for now. By the way, I heard that Fourth Sister hasn’t been feeling well. Is she better now?” Ye Jiuge asked.
“She is recovering well. She keeps asking about you. Eldest Miss, if you have some time, why don’t you see her?” Fifth Concubine smiled.
“Fifth Concubine, come with me.”
Ye Jiuge walked to Ye Ruyi’s room with Fifth Concubine. Ye Ruyi was reclining on a chaise lounge reading a book. Her complexion looked much better than it had a few days ago. She had fair skin and delicate, beautiful facial features. Those Vitality Strengthening Elixirs had not gone to waste.
“Eldest Sister, why are you visiting me?” When Ye Ruyi saw Ye Jiuge, she was pleasantly surprised. She made a move to get up.
“You are still weak. It is fine for you to remain laying down.” Ye Jiuge sat on the other side of the chaise lounge and eyed the book Ye Ruyi was reading. It was about elixir production for beginners.
Fifth Concubine could not bear to see her suffer. She said, “Old Master has sent over a total of fifteen books about producing elixirs. Ruyi has been reading them all day and night, burning the midnight oil. Because of this, she has caught a cold without realizing it.”
“Fourth Sister, you are still young. Not only that, but your body is weak. You do not need to push yourself so hard. It is not worth it to overwork yourself,” Ye Jiuge said with furrowed brows.
Ye Ruyi smiled without saying anything. With a glance, Ye Jiuge knew that she had not taken her words to heart. This young girl was more stubborn than she appeared. Moreover, she had always been distraught at the thought of being abandoned for being useless. This was the reason she was so zealous—it was as if her life depended on it.
Ye Yuxuan was too cold-blooded. He saw his daughter as a tool.
Just as Ye Jiuge was thinking about how to best advise Ye Ruyi, Qiu Mama came forward and reported, “Fifth Concubine and Eldest Miss, Second Miss and the Su Clan’s eldest son are waiting in the front parlor. They wish to visit Fourth Miss.”
“Who is the Su Clan’s eldest son?” Fifth Concubine blinked. For a moment, she did not realize who he was.
“He is Second Miss’s older cousin and the legitimate son of the Su Clan, Su Junqing!” Qiu Mama lowered her eyes, concealing the disdain in them. If Fifth Concubine could not even recognize Su Clan’s eldest son, she should not be allowed to socialize publicly.