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This girl!

She actually dared to vilify the Old Master like this. And even their Ning Family!

Eldest Madam Ning's ever amiable face frosted over.

Previously, she hadn't met with Miss Jun, finding it beneath her to even ask a question about her.

However, from Ning Yunyan's description, she had imagined that this Miss Jun's past was of someone from a destitute family who was not allowed to enter the public eye. When she had just entered society, it seemed that was an apt image; Eldest Madam Ning also felt that Nin Yunyan had been exaggerating. But now, how could she have not been allowed to enter the public? She had directly skipped to rudeness and acridity [1].

But with just a deep breath, Eldest Madam Ning was able tamp down her anger.

This was normal, just like her trick with hanging herself. It was merely her making a scene to cause trouble because she had nothing left to try.

Did she think that she could destroy the Ning Family's reputation, and the Ning Family would have no choice but to let her?"

"You're just a kid, how could you think those things," said Eldest Madam Ning warmly. "When people do things, their intentions are good. It's just that with the passage of time, things change. It is the same with things passing from mouth to mouth, of course they change."

After she said this sentence, she saw a trace of disappointment flash in Miss Jun's eyes.

"Yes, when people do things, their original intentions are good," she said.

The servant girl had gone completely stupid.

Eldest Madam Ning and Miss were conversing so friendly, so, were the drawn swords and bent bows[2] from earlier her misperception?

Eldest Madam Ning smiled.

"Young Miss Jun, you are still young. You're still thinking that in this world, black is black and white is white. If you continue on trying to dig an already existing hole, you will never be able to change."

When she spoke her tone was warm and caring, like she was a senior devotedly guiding the younger generation.

"Yes," said Miss Jun with a thread of sadness and disappointment in her eyes.

The sadness might have been from the loss of what she had believed to be easily obtainable easy days.

The corners of Eldest Madam Ning's mouth deepened, and her expression became warmer.

"Young Miss Jun, once you become my age, you will realize that black can also be white and white can also be black [3]. Some things will change," she said, her voice slowing down . "And there are also things that won't change."

You Miss Jun looked at her as if she were a junior seriously listening to her senior.

"Take people's lives, for example," began Eldest Madam Ning. "Some people's lives are cheap and lowly, but you can't expect to climb on other people and have your life become worthy and noble."

Even if anyone could discern the insults in her words, Eldest Madam still spoke them with utmost sincerity, as if she were deeply concerned about her junior and was earnestly trying to help her.

Hearing her words, the girl before her did not become angry. Instead, she smiled.

Eldest Madam Ning's eyes flashed.

This girl, who she had only considered to be 'not bad' in looks, was actually quite breathtaking when she smiled.

However, this girl's smile was fleeting; in the blink of an eye, it had already disappeared.

Eldest Madam Ning was also a woman; her awe towards another woman would never last long. She should have been even angrier, but this girl's smile did not contain the slightest hint of mocking. She was just like a junior happy to hear her senior's words.

This, of course, could not be the girl's true feelings.

Eldest Madam Ning was very unhappy.

A girl who was able to hide her feelings in this kind of situation was truly frightening.

Even disregarding her background, she would not choose this kind of girl as her daughter-in-law.

At least in this aspect, Eldest Madam Ning was finally able to agree with Ning Yunyan's words: this Miss Jun was really hateful.

"Eldest Madam is, really, very modest," said Miss Jun. "But even if the Ning Family comes from such low and rustic origin, the populace praises you as a benevolent and wealthy family. Eldest Madam, you are unduly humble."

Eldest Madam Ning was enraged.

The Ning Family's ancestor was a laborer who tended to cattle and chopped grass.

This Miss Jun was insinuating that their Ning Family was part of a lowly caste even to this day.

"A child who peddles woven mats[4] can become an emperor." The eldest madam curbed her anger, making her tone of voice even warmer. "As long as you work hard enough, you can split stone. Our ancestor did not just indulge in riches; with his head hanging from a beam and an awl stabbed into his thigh[5], he achieved scholarly honor. From a lowly existence, he became a government official and worked hard for the sake of the nobility, and the people."

She emphasized 'work hard' heavily.

"These things could not have been obtained by climbing on others."

Young Miss Jun smiled.

"Then, your Ning Family's first scholarly honor was obtained by spending money. Using money to open doors for you, and stepping on esteemed scholars to climb up," she said immediately. "If it weren't for those esteemed scholars supporting you, your family's ancestor would still be digging out coal."

Eldest Madam Ning shook with emotion.

This was the first time she had seen such a cheap slut who would humiliate people so wantonly.

At the same time, it was difficult for her to cover up her astonishment.

How did she know these Ning Family secrets?

These secrets were things that had happened a hundred years ago. Additionally, it was confidential information belonging to government officials which hadn't been discovered, otherwise, the Ning Family's road to officialdom wouldn't have been so smooth.

This was something that almost no one knew in the Ning Family, and the people of the Ning family those who did know would not go out and discuss an ancestor's issue from a hundred years before.

The reason why she knew these things was precisely because she was not someone from the Ning Family.

When she was getting married, she asked around for insider information of the man's side. At that time, her paternal grandfather was in charge of writing a book in Chaozhong[6]. Because he had nothing to do, he went out to specifically look through some records related to the Ning Family of a hundred years ago. As it turned out, he found a censor[7] cursing the master of the Ning Family for fraud during the imperial examination. Of course, it came to nothing in the end. After the imperial dynasty changed, no one would care about such a thing.

It happened a hundred years ago. Moreover, it wasn't like there wasn't anyone who spent money to become an official. Eldest Madam's maternal family did not think that the Ning Family was lacking in moral conduct; they just had a good laugh over it.

How did this girl, living the life of an official's daughter all the way in Funing, know about this?

Could it be that Jun Yingwen, that tiny little bureaucrat, was able to ask around?

Or was it the Fang Family?

The Fang Family were merchants. Although, they had money, the current dynasty had always discriminated and oppressed businessmen. The feudal authorities, probably, just wanted to fish money from the merchants' hands. However, they wouldn't have secret dealings with them.

How would the Fang Family have the skills to so superbly find a hidden text from the capital of Chaozhong?

How could it be?

Well, no matter how it was possible, this Miss Jun was snooping into the Ning Family too excessively.

"What do you mean by that?" Eldest Madam Ning's voice had a heavy quality to it.

"What I mean is very simple. There are many things in this word that can be resolved by money," said Miss Jun in a soft voice. "Your family spent money one hundred years ago to buy the positions of government officials and to cast off the cheap peasant life. Right now, you can also buy off this marriage contract and break away from this lowly life."

What did she call a lowly life?

To be humiliated like this in succession, Eldest Madam Ning's good humor could not take it. Her face no longer had her congenial smile.

"I do not understand what Miss Jun's words mean," she said. "A marriage is a marriage, and transactions are transactions."

"What is there to not understand. If you owe someone a debt, then pay them." Miss Jun was still as expressionless as before. "A marriage contract is a marriage contract and may also be a business transaction. Your Old Master Ning did not have any money and did not want to bear the reputation of someone who forgot favors and violated justice, so he used his grandson's marriage as thanks. Today, since you want to renege on your offspring's marriage, then naturally you must pay me in order to not have the reputation of someone who forgets favors and violates justice."

Rubbish, complete rubbish.

Eldest Madam Ning shook with rage, letting go of her calm.

"Is Miss Jun speaking the truth?" she asked.

She thought she had come here to humiliate this girl, but since they had met, this girl had been mercilessly humiliating her.

The girl had said she wanted money to back off the marriage, because she had wanted to lure her here. When Eldest Madam Ning did come, Miss Jun's goal was not to beg and gain her pity, but to tear into her and start a feud.

This Miss Jun truly did not want to marry into their family.

"Of course, it's true," said Miss Jun. "As I said, there are many things that may be resolved with money. And things that can be resolved with money aren't such a big deal."

The room fell into silence.

Eldest Madam Ning's heart was very complicated. She should speak lightly; after all, she would be able to resolve the problem. But, for some reason, she still felt like she shouldn't say anything.

She had imagined that the problem would be resolved once the girl learned how formidable the Ning Family was and backed away. But right now, she felt like this girl wasn't backing off because she felt scared of the Ning Family.

It looked more like just as the Ning Family was happy to get rid of her, she was also eager to be rid of them.

Eldest Madam Ning was somewhat unhappy, but, soon, she sneered at her unhappiness.

This was how people were. They did not like it when others tried to bother them, but neither did they like it when they left so quickly and easily.. When pursued, they felt annoyed, but when suddenly let go, they felt lost.

The loss was not because they cared about this person, but because of the person's attitude towards them.

No respect, no reverence.

Especially for a girl of her background, she did not have the qualifications to assume this kind of attitude, like she was ignoring their Ning Family.

Eldest Madam Ning's expression turned cold.

"Young Miss Jun is very knowledgeable," she said.

Young Miss Jun shook her head.

"Madam is praising me," she said.

{The devil would praise you!}

Eldest Madam Ning smiled. It looked like this gentle and quiet person was quite a rogue. Not much of a surprise since rogues lived in barren hills and wild rivers[8].

"Because of Madam's reminder, I have become aware of my previous mistake," said Miss Jun, her expression calm as she looked at Eldest Madam Ning.

What mistake?

Eldest Madam Ning was slightly surprised and put up her guard.

Did she want to back out? Or was she saying that she didn't want to get out of the marriage, after all?

Young Miss Jun gently caressed the marriage contract with her finger.

"When I said earlier that I would give the marriage contract to you for two thousand taels, I spoke wrongly," she said, her finger tapping the contract. "It should be five thousand taels."

Five thousand taels?

Eldest Madam Ning was amazed.

She was raising the price?

"You!" she said. "What is the meaning of this? Why should it be five thousand taels?"

"My grandfather saved the life of your Old Master forty years ago. With interest, five thousand taels isn't that much," said Miss Jun.

Eldest Madam Ning's eyebrows twitched.

"How much did the medical fees cost to be five thousand taels with interest," she asked.

Was this girl insisting on being such a pest and doing this for money, or did she wish to humiliate their Ning Family?

"How much were the medical fees?" Miss Jun smiled. "The medical feels for saving Old Master Ning's life naturally could not be cheap. Otherwise, why would Old Master Ning use his own eldest grandson as collateral?"


What are these words!

Eldest Madam Ning frowned again and was about to speak, when she was interrupted. Miss Jun was no longer playing the part of a junior and did not give her the opportunity to speak.

"For the Old Master Ning to have offered his legitimate grandson in exchange for the medical fees and gratitude, Tenth Noble Son Ning must be very impressive. When I heard about Tenth Noble Son Ning's grace, and then saw it with my own eyes, I just estimated a price." She spoke very seriously. "But right now, seeing how Eldest Madam is extremely opposed to the marriage, I understood that I had underestimated him. Tenth Noble Son Ning is more precious than I had imagined, so this marriage contract should not be just two thousand taels, but five thousand instead."

Eldest Madam Ning was dumbstruck.

"You, you," was all she could stammer out.

Young Miss Jun looked at her and smiled, picking up the marriage contract.

"Does Eldest Madam feel that Old Master Ning's life was not worth this much, or does she feel that that Tenth Noble Son Ning is not worthy of this price?" she asked.

[1] Rudeness and acridity: it is implied that upon entering a society the girl is innocent and sheltered. However, Miss Jun skipped right to the next stage of barbed words and veiled insults of social interaction.

[2] Drawn swords and bent bows: means a state of hospitality, everyone has their weapons prepared for battle.

[3] Black can be white and white can be black: the world isn't made up of only right and wrong. It is mainly gray without anyone ever being in complete right, or wrong.

[4] A child who peddles woven mats: a reference to Liu Bei from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, who became an emperor despite growing up in a poor family that had to sell mats for a living.

[5]With his head hanging from a beam and an awl stabbed into his thigh: a saying that means to study hard for a very long time.

[6]Chaozhong: an area in China-North Korea.

[7] Censor: investigating censors were "the eyes and ears" of the emperor and checked administrators at each level to prevent corruption and malfeasance.

[8] Rogues live in barren hills and wild rivers: it means that bad background/upbringing makes bad people.

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