Ning Yunyan felt that it was too preposterous.
A petty argument and insults between girls somehow implied dissatisfaction with the emperor?
"This is impossible," she blurted out.
"There is no such thing impossible," Ning Yunzhao countered, watching Ning Yunyan. "Yanyan, didn't you say that Miss Jun tripped the Hu Family's young miss?"
"Yes, yes, yes." Ning Yunyan nodded. "So…"
"So probably Miss Jun had already thought what we are thinking now when she did it," Ning Yunzhao interrupted. He smiled. "Maybe right now she is waiting for our family to call on her."
So she had tripped Miss Hu in order to have an excuse for laughing, and then provoked Ning Yunyan, and then, and then took a chance to tarnish the Ning Family.
"I-impossible," Ning Yunyan said in shock.
Jun Zhenzhen? That idiotic Jun Zhenzhen?
"Yanyan, do you remember what Miss Jun said to the crowd before leaving?" he asked.
At that time, she had already been driven mad because of the insults, so why would she care what she said. She only remember that she said if she had the ability, to throw the invitation at her door.
Ning Yunyan didn't respond.
"You may not remember, but the people of Yangcheng do. Everyone remembers that Miss Jun said, 'Because I laughed, you are not happy. Send a written invitation to my face to make me kneel and apologize to you,'" recounted Ning Yunzhao. "You see, she emphasized laughing, and that you were unhappy. These words were not for you, but for the people around her as well as for the Jinyiwei."
Ning Yunyan's lip quivered, feeling like her mind was buzzing. She bit down on her lip.
"Mother, Aunts, the populace only believes that we are unhappy because she laughed. As for why she laughed, you have your story and she has hers. Everything will get muddled through gossip little by little. We cannot let the people discuss this matter," said Ning Yunzhao. "Even if the Jinyiwei in Yangcheng will not truly interrogate us, no one can guarantee that this matter will not be spread to the capital."
Spread to the capital.
Eldest Madam Ning's expression froze.
"You all know what kind of people the Jinyiwei are. The most capable of making trouble out of nothing and the most narrow-minded is the transmitted word. It is most liable to change. When the time comes, this girls' quarrel may become something else…" Ning Yunzhao looked at his mother, his tone even more grave. With a bitter smile, he said, "Probably it really is me overthinking, but Mother, just think. If we really went to the Fang Family to argue about it and that Miss Jun and the Fang Family did not want to lower their heads, would they really break the cauldrons and sink the boats ?"
Eldest Madam Ning thought of how that Miss Jun had extorted five thousand taels of silver, and how she had made her so mad by backing out of the marriage that she could not sleep for three days.
She thought of when Yunyan said that girl had compared Tenth Noble Son Ning to a prostitute in front of everyone.
"There is no point in thinking about it." She breathed in deeply and closed her eyes. "She is a scoundrel. We have been careless this time."
How is it just this time? It's been the past few times.
What's more, this time even Elder Brother had been implicated and had suffered a big loss. And there was nothing they could do about it.
Even Elder Brother was helpless.
Ning Yunyan clenched her fists and trembled as a sob wracked through her frame.
Ning Yunyan cried herself to sleep. Eldest Madam Ning was about to retire to her rooms in exhaustion when Ning Yunzhao, who had been sitting outside all this time, got to his feet.
Eldest Madam Ning saw the book in his hands and the ink and brush on the table. Obviously, he was not just pretending to pass the time but was looking at the future.
A smile crossed Eldest Madam Ning's eyes.
Her son was as steady as a mountain, unaffected by the turmoil of the outside world.
"You must be tired from your journey. Go back and rest," she said gently.
"I am young and my body is strong. I am not tired from traveling," said Ning Yunzhao. "Only, mother, you must pay more heed to Yanyan. Prevent her from fighting with the young miss of the Jun Family again."
Eldest Madam Ning sighed lightly.
"She is young and has a quick temper, especially with that Jun Family's young miss," she said. "She cannot swallow this injustice."
Cannot swallow this injustice was not just limited to Ning Yunyan.
Ning Yunzhao smiled, seeing through her but not exposing her, showing his filiality to his seniors.
He reached out a hand to Eldest Madam Ning to escort her. The servants followed from afar.
"That child is indeed outrageous," said Eldest Madam Ning quietly. "I do not know whether it was our ancestors who did evil or the Jun Family's."
Ning Yunzhao smiled.
"Since it's like that, Mother, the more you must convince Little Siste. Miss Jun may cause trouble like that, but Little Sister may not," he said. "Miss Jun bothers us because she feels that we owe her. If Little Sister cannot swallow this injustice, then Little Sister may cause some trouble or scheme something."
Eldest Madam Ning also smiled. What he said was right. In order to deal with that woman, one must retreat to advance.
"How is your little sister like that kind of person? You don't know, but…" she said. Her voice was soft, but she could not conceal her contempt. She was going to say something else, but she swallowed her words.
Although she knew that that kind of person would definitely never have interactions with him in his life, she still did not want to mention it in front of her son.
Just hearing it corrupted the ears.
"I know what you mean. As long as you have the truth, you do not need a raised voice." She patted Ning Yunzhao's hand and said seriously, "You look after Yanyan."
After she thought of it, she couldn't stop herself from adding another word, "How could fine porcelain withstand the touch of rubble like her."
Ning Yunzhao smiled and nodded. Eldest Madam Ning tugged on his arm and asked him about the details of his travel and the food, fashions, and homes in the capital.
Ning Yunzhao answered all of his mother's questions, but his heart was elsewhere. He was thinking, what kind of person was that Miss Jun?
If Yanyan had not said that she had tripped Miss Hu, he would not have cared about this Miss Jun. It was because of that he had stopped his family from going to the Fang Family. He did not want bigger trouble to be borne from an entanglement with the Fang Family.
Presently, Uncle's career was at the most pressing time. All of them must exercise great caution. Although the Fang Family was a merchant family, a group of women and children wouldn't have lasted until now by being cowardly and timid.
But after he found out that Miss Hu was tripped by Miss Jun, he felt that the one he was looking at probably wasn't the Fang Family, but this Miss Jun.
Did she trip Miss Hu deliberately or not?
Did she think the same thing as him?
What kind of person was she?
However, if she really did it on purpose, she was really a girl who could make others unhappy.
However, it was just a quarrel between girls. It would not go too far.
Scathing? Acrimonious? Malicious?
He shook his head, driving out these thoughts. No matter what kind of person she was, it was not related to him.
This year, he was eighteen years old. Next year, he would sit for the imperial civil servant examination.
Ning Yunzhao lowered his head and concentrated on what Eldest Madam Ning was saying, slowly walking along the path.
Miss Jun was standing in front of the wooden stake, loosening her sleeve while watching Old Lady Fang hurrying over.
"Did the Ning Family send someone to call on us or not?" she asked.
Old Lady Fang heard her words and felt some regret.
Could it be that she was still waiting for the Ning Family to pay them a visit?
She could not stop herself from asking, but she looked to be patient as ever.
"It is already the seventh day. Soon it will be the new years. I think that this matter has passed," she said.
Miss Jun made an 'oh' sound, then struck the wooden stake.
There was a moment of silence between the two people.
"No matter. From now on, you cannot act like this. It was just a coincidence this time…" said Old Lady Fang, her faced pulled in displeasure.
She hadn't finished speaking when Miss Jun turned around.
"It isn't," she interrupted. "It isn't a coincidence, but the fairness of Heaven."
What did this have to do with Heaven?
Old Lady Fang frowned.
"Otherwise there wouldn't be such an opportunity, coincidentally when those people were doing such a thing," Miss Jun said seriously while looking at her. "So I say that this was all arranged by the Old Heavenly Father."
At that time, when the people of the Jinyiwei made the storyteller announce news of the capital, was that not a coincidence?
This child sometimes had very a frightening intellect, and sometimes was as stubborn as a child who did not understand the ways of the world.
Old Lady Fang was still frowning.
Miss Jun did not say anything more. She merely departed politely.
Old Lady Fang shook her head. She felt like letting out a breath as this matter had been dealt with, but she didn't really feel like it was over. There was still hatred between the Fang and the Ning Families.
However, it was nothing. The hatred was there from earlier, it just hadn't been resolved yet.
No, it wasn't that it hadn't been resolved. It could have been if it weren't for this girl...
Old Lady Fang's disorderly thoughts were tinged with an indescribable feeling. When she looked at the wooden stake, her eyebrows immediately shot up.
"Someone come here. This wooden stake has loosened," she said with displeasure.
An old maid servant who had been stationed far away ran over.
"We can fix it, we can fix it," she replied carefully.
Old Lady Fang stared at the wooden stake for several moments.
"Put up a new wooden stake." She then muttered, "How much strength would be needed to hit my wooden stake loose."
She watched the girl who was already walking far away. Though it was winter and she was wearing thick clothing, that girl did not seem to be thicker at all. As she walked along, she was still as elegant and supple as ever.
Miss Jun walked with a very straight back and very steadily. That's right, it was the Old Heavenly Father's justice. Otherwise, why would she still be alive.
That was to make her bring justice.
It was just such a pity that this time the women from the Ning Family did not come for a visit.
It would be reasonable to think that the actions of women and children were much simpler and that this was just a child's argument. There was no need to alert the men of the household.
Then why did they think things over so carefully? From her past contact with the three women of the Ning Family, she had found that they weren't like that.
What person made them understand what she was doing?
It didn't matter who it was, but what a truly loathsome person.
Miss Jun lifted her head to gaze at the winter sky, her breath like firecracker smoke. For the first time, traces of a bitter grudge could be seen on this girl's face.
She was not very old, but she had died one time more than other people, so she felt that she was old at heart.
She had wanted to use this as an excuse to get the Ning Family and Lu Yunqi to meet, to use the Ning Family to deal with Lu Yunqi, but her desires remained unfulfilled.
They had such a high status and thought over things so deeply. For such influential people, her playing a trick like this was probably equivalent to an ant shaking a large tree.
However, there was no point in being dispirited. Wasn't there a saying that said 'a thousand mile embankment may be destroyed by an ant's hole?' Although she was insignificant, her goal was not necessarily unattainable.
Miss Jun shook her head slightly, casting off her despondency. She walked forward steadily.
Old Heavenly Father had let her die and be reborn. Who could stop her from treading forward?
 Break the cauldrons and sink the boats: to cut off your means of retreat