Since he had returned, Ning Yunzhao had seen her. This was not usual of her son.
"My brother played a hefty sum this time at the Jinyun Hall. He went to go talk to Father and Grandmother," said Ning Yunyan absent-mindly.
The terror and apprehension in Yangcheng had faded away like smoke along with the jolts of the carriage.
Losing money was no big deal.
A girl's good name being completely decimated was also nothing.
Even if heaven collapsed, there would still be some people on top.
As for whether or not Lin Jin'er would say that Ning Yunyan had made her worried, she was even less worried.
Where was the proof? Wanting to be a concubine was her own wish. The Ning Family never agreed.
Ning Yunyan herself was just a young lady. How could she meddle in Brother's marriage? And even if she said stuff like making people her sister-in-law, that was just a child's joke.
A child's words carry no harm. Taking it seriously is much too laughable.
This was all Lin Jin'er's own doing. Wanting to frame Ning Yunyan would not be easy; she was the Ning Family's young miss.
Eldest Madam Ning naturally knew of the gambling that took place on March 3rd at the Jinyun Hall, so when she heard this, she did not care at all.
"What could be so important that is worth talking to me about," she said, not even caring to ask about how much money it was.
Ning Yunyan nodded eagerly.
Yes, Big Brother betting some money was not a big deal. In the future, everything in this family would be Big Brother's.
At the moment, Ning Yunzhao was standing in his own study, his expression unprecedentedly solemn.
"Say, what relationship does Miss Lin and Yanyan have?" he asked, looking at the servant girl kneeling in front of him.
The young servant girl was trembling. She lifted her head to reveal her identity as Ning Yunyan's personal servant, Little Yue.
"Noble Son, there is nothing. Just normal contact, as with other young misses," she said shakily.
Ning Yunzhao turned and walked up to his desk.
Relief flashed through Little Yue's eyes.
Tenth Noble Son was a warm, jade-like, and modest noble son. He did not discriminate between the noble and the lowly. Noble Son had never yelled at a servant.
This thought flashed through her mind when she heard a crisp sound.
A small porcelain brush pot fell off the table onto the ground, shattering.
This brush pot!
Little Yue stared.
Miss Yanyan said that this was her brother's craquelure porcelain brush pot. It was extremely precious. In all of Yangcheng, there likely was not another.
"Tenth Noble Son..." she called out in a shaky voice.
Ning Yunzhao took back his hand and whirled around, glaring at her from above.
"You servant broke my brush pot. What are you going to do?" he asked calmly.
Little Yue's face paled instantly, looking at Ning Yunzhao incredulously.
"Noble Son," she called out shakily.
"Do you not want to be sold? Or do you want me to cover this up for you?" Ning Yunzhao continued his questions in his calm tone.
Tears fell from Little Yue's eyes, and she fell prostrate on the ground.
The gentle, jade-like noble son was scarier than a hoodlum, because there were no people that wouldn't believe him.
"Noble Son, I'll talk, I'll talk," she sobbed.
Spring days grew darker much slower than winter days, though the Ning Family's mealtimes were still not adjusted. Seeing the servants busy outside, Eldest Madam Ning frowned. She looked through the glass outside.
"Why hasn't Yunzhao come back yet?" she asked.
A servant hurried to reply.
"He is probably still discussing poetry with the master," she said. "This servant will go look."
Eldest Madam Ning nodded.
"Master need not worry about this. His uncle already looks over his work," she commented. "He is leaving the day after tomorrow, so he should be more relaxed."
The servant smiled in response, then left. Not long afterwards, she was rushing back.
"Madam, Noble Son has gone out," she said.
"Where?" she asked with a frown.
"To Yangcheng," the servant answered.
Yangcheng? He just came from Yangcheng, why was he going back?
Eldest Madam Ning sat straight up and thought of what Ning Yunyan had said.
"What happened to them in Yangcheng?" she asked. Otherwise, why would Yunzhao rush back.
This definitely was not a small matter.
She was about to send someone to go ask, when Eldest Master Ning came strolling in, twirling his whiskers.
"Yunzhao, I let him go," he said. "Something has really happened."
"What happened?" she asked anxiously.
"It's that Duke of Chengguo," Eldest Master Ning said. "You know that his kid made trouble before."
Duke of Chengguo, the Duke of Chengguo's kid?
Eldest Madam Ning did not care, but she had heard of it.
"That thing about the heir Zhu Zan fighting with someone? Didn't that already end? What else is there?"
"The Duke of Chengguo explained to the emperor that his son did no wrong. He said he was busy with military affairs, and that the military issues in the north were pressing, that sometimes there is no need to bother with such trifles. The emperor then suggested that Zhu Zan should enter the capital to be an imperial guard and so learn the rules," Eldest Master Ning said and chuckled.
"Then he should go back alone," Eldest Madam Ning said, sitting with him in front of the dinner table. She took the chopsticks from the servant girl. "The Duke of Chengguo and wife are also there, unlike other soldiers who are separated from their spouses. They have it good, their whole family living together in the north for over ten years. They take the north as their house. Who knows what the first emperor was thinking."
Eldest Master Ning coughed lightly.
"Don't speak so rashly about the first emperor." He paused his chopsticks. "Well, there's nothing wrong with the Duke. I heard that he agreed to have the Jinyiwei escort Zhu Zan to the capital. As a result, that child ran away en route."
Eldest Madam Ning was shocked.
"Ran away? From the Jinyiwei's hands?" she said. "That child's guts match his ability. "
She shook her head.
"However, such a childish personality, a wild horse that cannot be tamed, could turn this into a big issue. I only see that the Duke of Chengguo's bloodline has ended with his next generation."
A general's wife using the favor of the first emperor in order to become a duke's madam was just like how she was lucky enough to birth a son like Ning Yunzhao.
A smile lifted the corners of her mouth.
"But what does that have to do with us? What are you letting Yunzhao do?"
"Actually, Second Brother planned to impeach the Duke of Chengguo," Eldest Master Ning said quietly. "Didn't the Duke of Chengguo not make the gate guards of Hebei and Shanxi undergo investigation? He was exceeding his place, so all the counties wanted to report him to court, only that would not have had an effect. Right now this thing with Zhu Zan happened. In the end, son and father are not the same. So I want Yunzhao to go and inform the counties to temporarily not report the Duke of Chengguo, so that Second Brother's plans for Zhu Zan can take flight."
Eldest Madam Ning said 'oh' in indication of her understanding.
"It seems that sometimes a son is born in order to topple his old man," Eldest Master Ning said with a sigh.
Eldest Madam Ning smiled.
"What do you take your son for, your son would not topple you," she said. "Was this Yunzhao's decision?"
Eldest Master Ning also smiled.
"Eat, eat," he urged.
"But Yunzhao hasn't eaten yet," Eldest Madam Ning said, her heart hurting. "He hasn't been able to rest either."
Although it was meal time, not everyone was eating. Besides Ning Yunzhao, Lord Lin wasn't either.
To the extent that when Lord Lin entered the study, he seemed a bit listless.
"Tenth Noble Son, what are you doing here?"