The one who spoke was a fourteen- or fifteen-year-old girl.
Just like her voice, she was delicate and frail. In terms of appearance, she was about average in this group of girls. Only her eyebrows were fine, and her skin was white, giving her a more sweet-tempered and refined atmosphere.
When they saw her, the girls in the room rolled their eyes.
"Lin Jin'er, who told you could come?" someone scoffed. "Why haven't gone looking for your Young Lady Fang to play?"
Lin Jin'er was the daughter of Yangcheng County's official registrar. The Lin Family was influential in Yangcheng mainly because of her father's position as registrar. She was on pretty good terms with Jun Zhenzhen, and the only person ever to defend her. Thus, this girl was often scorned.
When she heard the inquiry, Lin Jin'er's face was uneasy, and she lowered her head, tears in her eyes.
"I cannot bear to look at this punching bag. Really, how useless," some of the girls said with sneer.
"How is she pitiful? How is having food, drink, and money pitiful?" Ning Yunyan asked with a smile.
"But later she could become a widow," Lin Jin'er said with her head drooping. "Isn't there a saying, 'there are many scandals in front of a widow's door'?"
These words made the girls sneer more.
"What blind worry."
Ning Yunyan laughed along, but she did not look at Lin Jin'er again. She turned to ask for tea.
"Do not mention this again. It was hard for me to come out for a trip; what did you guys organize for the fun?" she asked.
In order for her to have a good time, the girls immediately called for the actors of a sideshow to come in. For a time, the room was filled with happy cheers and merry drums and continuous storytelling and singing.
After several rounds of tea and food, Ning Yunyan left for the bathroom, accompanied by her personal servant girl. The others did not pay any attention. As for Lin Jin'er, who had been sitting in the corner of the room, she had left sometime ago. Everybody paid even less attention.
The bathroom of the teahouse was situated quite close to the tearoom. It was decorated beautifully, and a simple incense stick burned inside. The warmth of the room was pleasant.
Ning Yunyan stood with her hands spread apart as someone helped her tie on her clothes from behind.
"What are you thinking?" Ning Yunyan asked.
The person behind her went around and straightened Ning Yunyan's sleeves carefully. She lifted her head. It was actually Lin Jin'er.
"For her days to pass well or not will not be limited to whether Young Master Fang is there or not," she said softly. "No matter whether Young Master Fang's body is well or not, whether he lives or dies, the Fang Family will not have the grounds to censure her."
"Of course I know that." Ning Yunyan somewhat impatiently walked forward a few steps in front of the window. She gripped a branch of winter jasmine. "That cheap whore clings too strongly to life. She actually didn't die and is now free in Yangcheng. Really, Heaven does not have eyes."
Lin Jin'er followed her to the window.
"At that time, she never wanted to die, so an accident would be normal," she said quietly.
Ning Yunyan gave her a look and snorted.
"I know. I'm not blaming you," she said, smiling a not-smile.
Lin Jin'er lowered her head in thanks.
"It was my mistake that time. Back then, I was just trying to seize the advantage, but it looks like it was no use against her."
"Then what would be useful against her?" Ning Yunyan complained. Delicate yellow flowers fell from her hand, showing the impatience in her heart.
"From sentiment and reason, the Fang Family pardoned her because she is of the Fang Family's blood. But there is another situation where sentiment and reason can't forgive her, because she is a daughter-in-law of the Fang Family," Lin Jin'er said.
Ning Yunyan looked at her.
"Are you going to seize the chance?" she asked.
Lin Jin'er shook her head.
"For a person like Jun Zhenzhen, you cannot just take the chance as it arises. You have to organize everything so that all she has to do is jump in," she said with a smile.
"When are you planning on having her jump?" Ning Yunyan asked.
"This matter requires Yanyan, and for the best result, a bit of Tenth Noble Son's help," Lin Jin'er answered.
Ning Yunyan was immediately angry.
"If we need to step-in, then what are you going to do?" she whispered forcefully.
Lin Jin'er hurriedly waved her hands.
"No, no, you don't need to specially step-in," she explained hastily. "All you need to do is be in Yangcheng on the 3rd day of the 3rd month, but I don't need to see you. I will just find an excuse to lure her out while you do whatever you want. As long as you are in Yangcheng, it's fine. We won't appear in front of you."
Ning Yunyan spat out a breath.
"My brother and I won't be out before the 3rd day of the 3rd month," she said.
This was an agreement. Lin Jin'er smiled as she made an affirmative sound. Ning Yunyan did not say anything else, obviously intending on ending this vein of conversation.
Lin Jin'er fell silent for a moment.
"When did Tenth Noble Son begin enjoying Go?" she couldn't help but ask.
"My brother always liked it," Ning Yunyan answered. "He likes many things, but at times his interest becomes obsession."
She looked at Lin Jin'er and paused.
"It's none of your concern. And there is no need for you to become seemingly infatuated with Go like those other people. It is much too boring, and my Brother is not an idiot," she added.
Lin Jin'er smiled and nodded.
"Tenth Noble Son could never be so common," she commented.
Seeing her stand without moving, Ning Yunyan wanted to get a few paces closer to her.
"My brother and Miss Yang's marriage is impossible; my mother has refused," she said quietly. "Because my brother does not like it."
Other girls would be indescribably happy upon hearing this, but Lin Jin'er felt regretful.
"That really is a shame," she muttered.
Actually, Ning Yunyan had heard of Miss Yang's family background, and her cousins had described Miss Yang's appearance to her.
Ning Yunyan thought that Miss Yang was very suited to be with her elder brother. For the marriage not to be, she also felt it a shame.
But because she was a good little sister to her brother, when she was thinking about her brother it was pitiful, but if Lin Jin'er, someone who wanted to marry her brother, said such, then it wasn't pitiful.
Everyone was a hypocrite.
Ning Yunyan's lips curled.
"Are you thinking that it's pitiful that my brother isn't married so he can't take a concubine, so you are impatient?" she demanded.
Lin Jin'er's face turned red, but she shook her head.
"Of course not. If it's Tenth Noble Son, I can wait forever." Her gentle expression seemed to firm up.
Ning Yunyan looked at her ordinary face and laughed.
"Don't worry. Becoming a concubine is not like becoming a wife. As long as you want it, and my mother wants it, your wishes will definitely be fulfilled." She then added more quietly, "Especially if you help us with this big problem."
Lin Jin'er lowered her head and blushing face.
"Thank you very much, Yanyan," she said quietly.
Ning Yunyan smiled at her and waved as she walked out of the bathroom without a word.
Outside, the servant girls standing in attendance followed after her.
This Lin Jin'er was very smart. The other girls knew they had to curry her favor, but sometimes all they really did was crowd around her and talk or ridicule and insult the people she didn't' like. On the other hand, Lin Jin'er was someone who could solve her troubles.
Of course, Ning Yunyan knew why she was trying to gain her favor, but she did not mind.