She first went to the temple to chant scriptures, then looked over the household ledger.
This was the first day she did it and would also be the last.
Chanting scriptures had quieted her thoughts so she could understand the thoughts of the people of the household, and reading the ledger could help her see every single detail of the household affairs. For the madam of the house, this was enough. She could look as if she did not understand anything, while in reality, she always had a thorough understanding.
When the sky was truly bright out, people started to move in the courtyards. The silent Ning Family started to stir. Eldest Madam Ning had just returned to the inner room to wait on Eldest Master Ning when he woke up.
Yesterday night, Eldest Master Ning hadn’t rested here. The empty chambers felt somewhat lonely.
Lonely, there wasn’t anything lonely. Was she a young maiden longing for love? She was already old.
Someone called for her out the window. Then a handsome face popped up, like a blooming spring flower.
A smile blossomed on Eldest Madam Ning’s face.
Her son was at the age where he should be interested in getting a wife and getting a matchmaker.
"When did you return?" she asked, looking at Ning Yunzhao in the room.
Although he clearly rinsed his face, lines of exhaustion were still visible.
Eldest Madam Ning felt her heart ache.
"Did you travel even through the night? There was no need to be in such a rush."
"I couldn’t sleep outside, so it was better to go back home."
He gave her a flippant smile.
Eldest Madam Ning was about to summon for dinner when her son stopped her.
"Mother, I have something I would like to say to you."
"So it’s about setting out for the capital." She smiled. "Your luggage has all been packed and the carriage has been prepared."
He thanked her with a smile, but his expression was still solemn.
"Mother, before I leave, I will arrange Little Sister’s marriage."
Ning Yunyan’s marriage?
All of the daughters of the Ning Family were spoiled and pampered. Unlike the poverty stricken families which rushed to marry off their daughters so they would eat less of their food, the daughters of the Ning Family started matchmaking at fourteen, and then were married out after they were fifteen...
This year, Ning Yunyan was fourteen. Preparations had begun for matchmaking; the process would take at least half a year.
But Ning Yunzhao had just said he was going to arrange her marriage before he left.
Three days later, he was going to set out for the capital.
He meant that within three days, he was going to fix Ning Yunyan’s marriage.
This was not concern and care for his little sister’s marriage.
Eldest Madam Ning’s expression was grave.
"Yunzhao, what happened after all? Did Yanyan make trouble?" she asked.
Ning Yunyan yawned.
"Young Miss, it’s so early. It would be better to sleep more," said two servant girls next to her.
How could she sleep. Yesterday Lin Jin’er had met with such a thing at the Jinyun Hall, and Big Brother had spoken only vaguely. She truly could not relax.
Could it be that the Lin Family really did not investigate Jun Zhenzhen? That was much too outrageous.
No way. She would just ask around. Where Mother was was the best place to get news—she would assign people to ask around.
But when she was in front of Eldest Madam Ning’s courtyard, Ning Yunyan was stopped.
"Young Miss, Madam is talking to someone," said the servant girl with a smile. "She can’t see you for now."
As the head lady of the household, Eldest Madam Ning had many people coming to see her.
"I will wait."
Ning Yunyan was unconcerned and tried to walk in.
The servant girl stopped her again.
"Young Miss, this is Madam’s instructions. No one is to disturb them." She smiled, but her voice was firm.
Ning Yunyan stared, wide-eyed. Naturally she knew that this servant girl was Mother’s personal servant girl named Cuizhu.
"Cuizhu, have you gone mad? Am I just anyone? I am my mother’s daughter," she retorted.
Cuizhu still stubbornly refused to let her pass.
"Young Miss, this is Madam’s instructions. Please wait."
Truly, how mysterious. Was she still sleeping and this was a dream? Since she had grown older, this was the first time someone stopped her.
She looked at the servant girl with shock.
At the moment, Eldest Madam Ning was in the room, no servant girl attending to her. It was just mother and son, facing off each other. The atmosphere was heavy.
"My son, do not fear these words. It cannot be taken seriously or constitute as proof," she said after a moment of silence.
"Mother, reason is reason. We use reason when dealing with others, but we must also be clear on the realities of the situation," he replied.
This time, Ning Yunyan indeed did wrong.
Eldest Madam Ning did not doubt her son’s narrative; he was not the kind of person who would randomly frame his own sister.
"Yes, Yanyan did something wrong, but the greater evil was the Lin Family’s young miss. They said Yanyan coerced her, but who's to say it wasn’t the other way around?" she said. "Then there's that Jun Zhenzhen…"
When she thought of Jun Zhenzhen, Eldest Madam Ning’s face turned even paler.
She was the root of evil.
Ning Yunzhao guessed what his mother was thinking from her expression. If it was in the past, he would not react, but now he sunk into deeper melancholy.
She said that afterwards they would not meet again, and then she said she was annoyed.
Who said they were annoyed.
"Mother, she is not the root of evil," he countered.
She went blank and looked at Ning Yunzhao.
She remembered her son saying he saw Jun Zhenzhen. As a woman, she could not help but wonder if her son thought Jun Zhenzhen was beautiful.
Men always held tender feelings for beautiful girls and lost some of their reasoning.
Although she believed her son...
"That wedding contract was," he added. "She used that wedding contract to do evil things, and other people used it to do evil things. Everyone knew that she was entangled with us, so of course she could have used it to hurt us."
He lifted his head.
"Moreover, mother, Miss Jun is not an orphan daughter who can bully as she wishes. At least this time, even the Lin Family did not dare go against her. This time it was Miss Lin who did it; what if it is Yanyan in the future?"
When she thought of Lin Jin’er’s misfortune swapped with Yanyan, Eldest Madam Ning felt a chill pass through her.
"If? She dares, she thinks that we are the Lin Family?" she said, her brows furrowed in anger.
Ning Yunzhao looked at her.
"Mother, probably Miss LIn also thought this way when she did it," he countered. "Could it be mother wants to let Yanyan try it? Is this sort of thing beneficial for anyone? Both sides suffering is good?"
Although she was confident, she of course did not want Yanyan to try it. It wasn’t anything good, and what’s more, that woman was too much of a scoundrel.
She fell silent.
"But, there’s no need to marry out Yanyan," she said.
If they did this now, wouldn’t it represent that Yanyan did wrong, that the Ning Family was scared?
"Yanyan is still young. Staying with other girls makes it easy for her to be used," Ning Yunzhao said. "Yanyan is also not young, and she cannot act like a child. She should become an adult so she would know what should and shouldn’t be done, what can and what can’t be done, as well the consequences of the things she shouldn’t do. This is the logic she should use for the rest of her life. We cannot let her, just because she’s in her teenage years, to recklessly enjoy messing with others’ lives."
Then couldn’t they just keep her in the house and not let her associate with those girls?
Thought Eldest Madam Ning.
Ning Yunzhao stood up.
"Mother, I do not want my marriage to become other people’s bargaining chip," he said calmly. "I don’t want to see this again. I want other people to see that they can’t use my marriage to scheme against me."