Third Miss Fang Jinxiu was not in her room, but pouring over the exchange firm receipts with Second Miss Fang Yuxiu .
This was a daily activity of the young misses of the Fang Family. They were not studying feminine arts or the four arts of zither, Go, calligraphy, and painting. Rather, they were learning about the business of the exchange firm.
Young servant girls stood by the window chattering about how everybody was not allowed to go in the garden after Miss Jun had insulted Young Master there. Naturally, the news reached Fang Jinxiu's ears.
Fang Jinxiu threw the book she was holding on the table and scampered off the bed. Fang Yuxiu hurried to grab her.
"Mother has already passed her judgement, do not go and cause a mess," she said, looking at the window. "That servant girl is Concubine Yuan's."
There were somethings that she wanted to say, but couldn't. After all, Concubine Yuan wanted to wholeheartedly protect her birth mother.
Fang Jinxiu followed her gaze out the window.
"I know, my personality is very volatile so she likes to use me," she said. "That is because there are some things Mother cannot say. She is doing it for Mother's well-being, and I am also doing so for Mother's well-being. As long as it is good for mother and the family, I don't mind being used."
Fang Yuxiu smiled.
"Then go and hurry back," she said, picking up the ledger again. "Today's work is not finished yet."
When Fang Jinxiu went to Old Lady Fang's room, Lady Fang and Old Lady were talking about the scholar from Zhao Prefecture.
"... Such an old age, also a widower, I think it's no good," she said. "It's hard to choose a person before the year ends. Wait until the year is over so we can locate a matchmaker to find a fitting candidate."
Old Lady Fang laughed coldly.
"She could choose someone better," she said. "There are other options."
When she said this, she paused.
Zhao Prefecture was too far, as well as in the north.
Lady Fang lowered her head to speak when Fang Jinxiu entered the room.
In front of a young girl, they could not discuss matters of marriage. The two people stopped talking about this topic.
"Grandmother, would you allow us siblings to move to a different courtyard?" she asked directly. "It would be better to let Jun Zhenzhen have free reign of the house, so we won't obscure her vision."
"What did she do?" asked Old Lady Fang.
Lady Fang shot Fang Jinxiu a look.
"Nothing, she just wants to use the garden as a training ground and learn archery." Lady Fang stopped herself from smiling as she said, "This is very good, compared to letting her be bored indoors and indulge her flights of fancy."
"Mother, why are you giving it to her. She doesn't want to learn archery, she just wants to cause trouble. She insulted Chengyu as a cripple in the garden. Now Chengyu is not allowed in the gardens, and just lets her use it," said Fang Jinxiu in a huff.
Old Lady Fang frowned at Lady Fang.
Lady Fang hurried to explain,"It was a lucky coincidence. They only said a few words to each other. I asked, and there was no fight."
"Mother, Little Brother has a good temperament and wouldn't fight, so why does he deserve to be ridiculed?" asked Fang Jinxiu, her eyes turning red "She called him a cripple! Does she have no humanity?"
A cripple, a cripple. How could these words not be a slap to Old Lady Fang's face.
She grabbed a cup of tea, trying to keep her hand from trembling.
"If it's like that, then the family from Zhao is very good." She looked at Lady Fang. "Do your utmost to arrange things."
Lady Fang made a sound of agreement.
"That scholar is returning from a journey and will be sent here after the New Year," she said softly.
Old Lady Fang raised the cup to her mouth.
"Since he will arrive after the new year, then let us not wait till the year is over. Arrange everything before the year is out. Then the husband and wife can go back home together," she said coldly.
Lady Fang made a difficult expression, but still agreed.
Fang Jinxiu didn't know what was meant by the scholar from the Zhao Prefecture. She thought they were talking about the buying-and-selling business of the family. So, she decided to ask her own questions.
"Grandmother," she said hurriedly. "Did you hear what I said? Will you let us leave for another courtyard? I do not want to meet her again. Although the house is big, there is nowhere she can't go. Now she is even bothering Little Brother and being happy about it. She teased Little Brother, saying she would cure him. If she really wants to feed Little Brother some medicine, will you stop her?"
"She will not make trouble like that," said Lady Fang.
Recalling what she had just heard from the little servant boys, Fang Jinxiu became angry. "Mother, what will she not do? She claimed that Little Brother is not sick, but poisoned," she said.
The cruelest joke that could be said in this world was telling a person about to die that 'I can cure you'.
"She really does not have a shred of humanity…"
Old Lady Fang's voice dropped, and a cracking sound could be heard. The teacup shattered to pieces on the ground, tea splashing. The front of Fang Jinxiu's dress could not avoid it.
Grandmother was angry?
Fang Jinxiu hurried to look, only to see not anger crossing over Old Lady Fang's whole face, but amazement. Her hand was grasping air.
It was obvious she hadn't broken the teacup out of anger, but had instead dropped it.
"What did she say?" asked Lady Fang. "Chengyu is poisoned?"
Fang Jinxiu frowned.
"Grandmother, don't tell me that you believe her nonsense?" she asked.
Old Lady Fang did not answer her, but turned to Lady Fang. Lady Fang was also looking at her, and both of their expressions had turned strangely complicated.
It wasn't that they believed her, but it was just that Jun Zhenzhen hadn't been speaking nonsense.
Other people did not know, but they knew that Chengyu's illness was actually because of a poison.
Because the matter was complicated, they had covered it up as a secret. The ones who knew the secret weren't many, and Jun Zhenzhen was definitely not one of them.
How, then, did she know?
When the lanterns were already lit, Concubine Yuan rubbed her eyes in Lady Fang's rooms. She set down the ledger.
"Lady has not returned tonight?" she asked.
Old Lady Fang had not been well for the last few years. Sometimes, Lady Fang would stay to wait on her.
The servant girl in attendance of the room went out to ask. Returning, she shook her head.
"Lady did not say," she said.
Concubine Yuan frowned. That said that there was something going on.
"Did Third Miss go to see Old Lady?" she asked.
The servant girl nodded.
"She went to see her this afternoon," she said.
Then what was going on? Old Lady agreed to Miss Jun's marriage. The family they chose had an acceptable background. It was reasonable to say that Old Lady wouldn't be unwilling to part with that person. Moreover, she had already provoked Fang Chengyu. So, how hard could it be to convince her to make Miss Jun marry out?
When the first slivers of dawn appeared, the people in Old Lady Fang's courtyard were already walking about.
Old Lady Fang was a very disciplined person. Ever since Master Fang had passed away fifteen years ago, she had always slept and woke early. She ate twice a day and would go to train in the garden every three days, uncaring whether it was cold or warm, rainy or windy.
But today, Old Lady Fang, who had gotten up early, was unsettled. It had to do with the reason she had went to sleep late last night.
Lady Fang's spirits were even worse. She hadn't slept at all last night.
"This was a joke, or something said randomly."
When they were sitting at the dining table, Old Lady Fang and Lady Fang talked about what they had concluded after thinking over the events of yesterday.
Lady Fang gripped her chopsticks.
"But she felt his pulse," she had to say.
"That was part of her teasing Chengyu," said Old Lady Fang resolutely. "It's just like when she had brought a rope to the inn in Beiliu."
Yet Lady Fang's expression remained full of frustration.
"It was us who were thinking about it too much. If she really meant what she said, then right now she would be discussing conditions with us," said Old Lady Fang slowly. "Concern makes us go crazy. Because she randomly spoke one sentence, our wisdom and minds became disarrayed. This is truly laughable."
The situation was really too funny. Lady Fang smiled bitterly and nodded.
"Eat up," said Old Lady Fang. "After eating go and arrange Miss Jun's marriage. I will go to the exchange firm and do what we must."
Lady Fang made a sound of agreement. She stood to serve Old Lady Fang food. After sitting down, the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law pair ate in silence.
After eating, Old Lady Fang rode a carriage to the exchange firm, while Lady Fang went back to her own courtyard. As she walked back, she instructed others on the matters of the household and arrangged a carriage. After she returned back to her courtyard and cleared up things with Concubine Yuan, Concubine Yuan immediately left. Once she was gone, Lady Fang went to personally look over the three girls' homework.
This was an ordinary day for them.
But, after passing through a certain courtyard, Lady Fang could not help but take a look.
"What is Miss Jun doing?" she asked.
There was a woman in charge of knowing where Miss Jun was. When Lady Fang asked, she answered in an instant.
"After waking up, Miss Jun had went to the garden for a walk. Afterwards, she hit the stake and practiced archery. Then she went to her room to eat," said the maidservant.
Lady Fang's originally calm expression suddenly turned strange.
"And right now?" she asked, absolutely incredulous.
"Right now Miss Jun is reading a book," said the maidservant. After pausing, she added,. "She is also looking for acupuncture needles."
Only curing sicknesses needed acupuncture needles.
As if needles had pricked her heart, Lady Fang's frozen mood suddenly shattered.
She turned around. Under the eyes of many maidservants and servant girls, she strode into Miss Jun's courtyard.