Chapter 76 Lanning’s Doubts
Lanning nodded and expressed her doubts. “Most of the things Mother Wang told me happened after Young Lady Ziying was three or four years old. It seemed that she had never mentioned those things that happened when Young Lady Ziying was younger. I felt strange at that time. She was Young Lady Ziying’s wet nurse, how could she not know about Young Lady Ziying’s childhood?”
These words made Ning Xueyan silent for a while.
In Ning Xueyan’s memory, Mother Wang began to take care of her when she was a child. And Xiang’er was the personal maid her mother gave her when she was eight years old.
Ning Xueyan could not recall her childhood clearly; after all, she was a child at that time, but Mother Wang was an adult.
“How do you know that Mother Wang didn’t know about what happened during Ning Ziying’s childhood?”
“I once asked about the burn mark on Young Lady Ziying’s ankle. Mother Wang told me that Young Lady Ziying was scalded when she was a child. But she didn’t know the exact time. She only said that Young Lady Ziying had been scalded before she had arrived at the manor to serve Young Lady Ziying. But when I asked her another time, she said that she had been serving Young Lady Ziying since Young Lady Ziying was born.”
Such contradictory words made Lanning feel strange and doubtful. So she tested Mother Wang from time to time. The result of the test was that Mother Wang was not Ning Ziying’s wet nurse. For reasons unknown, Ning Ziying’s wet nurse was changed when she was still young.
It was very strict when a big family chose a wet nurse. When the Young Lady grew up, her wet nurse would stay with her to take care of her. Generally speaking, the wet nurse would be more loyal to the children she took care of personally than others would be. So if there was no specific reason, it was impossible to change the wet nurse in the middle of her service.
These things were always kept in Lanning’s mind. Now, Lanning trusted Ning Xueyan, who was lying in bed, so she told her everything.
Lanning gradually calmed down. The girl on the bed closed her eyes. Under the candlelight, she looked pale and emaciated, which made her look dangerous. But somehow, she made Lanning feel at ease.
“I heard that Ning Ziying’s wet nurse happened to be absent when she had an accident. Now she’s come back?” Ning Xueyan asked, opening her eyes.
“She has come back. But she felt strange when she heard that it was the Eldest Young Lady who was marrying Childe Xia, so she didn’t come back to Lord Protector’s Manor. When we went to Cold Mountain Temple, I saw her outside the gate of Lord Protector’s Manor. So I went to see her. Now she lives in a house on the east side of the city.”
Lanning had kept this matter in mind for some time and already wanted to tell Ning Xueyan. So when Ning Xueyan asked her now, she relaxed and told her.
Seeing that Lanning became relaxed and replied naturally, Ning Xueyan narrowed her eyes slightly. Lanning was a smart person. And Ning Xueyan now needed such a smart and loyal person to help her. Lanning was a good candidate.
One reason was that Lanning was once Ning Ziying’s maid. Ning Xueyan knew that she was a loyal maid.
The other reason was that Lanning was calm in the face of an accident. She was intelligent and not rash!
But she didn’t want Lanning to disregard the present because of her former master. Ning Ziying had become a thing from the past. Now, it was Ning Xueyan who was alive. Lanning mustn’t question Ning Xueyan’s decisions and had to firmly carry out any of her orders.
So Ning Xueyan needed to shock Lanning and gain her trust.
Now, Lanning had told Ning Xueyan Mother Wang’s story. So Ning Xueyan believed that Lanning trusted her wholeheartedly.
“Lanning, don’t alarm Mother Wang at first. Hire a smart maid to take care of her. Pay attention to whether or not Mother Wang associates with others and what she has done. Let me know if there’s anything. By the way, I’ll pay the maid’s wages.”
Ning Xueyan arranged Mother Wang well.
“Well, I needn’t tell Mother Wang that it’s you who asked me to do those things?” Lanning nodded and asked.
Ning Xueyan looked at Lanning with admiration. Lanning was indeed a wise woman. “I don’t want her to know yet. I promised you last time that I would avenge Ning Ziying. When the time comes, Mother Wang will be needed.”
Since Ning Xueyan and Lanning had talked about Ning Ziying, Lanning no longer hesitated and told Ning Xueyan everything she knew. So the two talked for a while. Seeing that Ning Xueyan had to rest, Lanning blew out the candle, went to the outside room, and was about to sleep.
Bright Frost Garden was quiet all night.
But Madam Ling’s Auspicious Clouds Courtyard wasn’t quiet at all. Ning Zu’an was in a rage there.
How could Ning Zu’an not be angry at such a scandal caused by his favored daughter? Originally, the marriage between Ning Yuling and the Third Prince was certain. Unexpectedly, so many things happened during their trip to Cold Mountain Temple. Furthermore, the daughter, who Ning Zu’an had always valued, didn’t help him at all, but would instead bring many things to Commandery Prince Li’s Manor when she got married.
Madam Ling, sitting to the side, wiped her tears with a handkerchief with grievance on her face.
“You just know how to cry. Look at your daughters, all of them are money-losing propositions!” The more Ning Zu’an looked at Madam Ling, the more angry he became. He felt very upset and threw the cup out of his hands, which greatly frightened Madam Ling who then stopped crying.
“Marquis, this matter… isn’t Ling’er’s fault. Who knew that Ning Xueyan would do such a thing? She knew that Ling’er would marry the Third Prince. So she wanted to seduce the Third Prince. Of course Ling’er had to go and see. Ling’er didn’t expect for such a thing to happen!” Madam Ling said with grievance, her tears falling one by one. She wiped them with her handkerchief and choked at the same time.
It seemed that she couldn’t breathe because of sadness and grievance.
“She wanted to see? Who is she? What qualifications does she have to interfere in the affairs of the Third Prince? And why were she and the Princely Heir of Commandery Prince Li in the same bed together and caught by others? I would like to know the reason. Tell me! Why?” Ning Zu’an scolded, pointing at Madam Ling.
“But… didn’t we come to an agreement that Ling’er would marry the Third Prince? Honored Consort Ya also agreed!” Madam Ling avoided the question involving the Princely Heir of Commandery Prince Li, trying to exonerate Ning Yuling.
“She… she also wishes to marry the Third Prince?” Ning Zu’an was extremely angry. “She misbehaved and even pledged to marry a libertine without our permission. She wants to marry the Third Prince? How can the royal family accept her?”
Ning Zu’an was so angry that his words were very sarcastic. He didn’t save face for Ning Yuling at all and described her as a prostitute, which also made Madam Ling flush.
Besides being ashamed and annoyed, Madam Ling hated Ning Xueyan even more!
How could Madam Ling forget that she planned to send Ning Xueyan’s portrait to the Princely Heir of Commandery Prince Li? She believed that it had to be Ning Xueyan’s plot to replace the painting with Ning Yuling’s portrait. But Mother Chen’s nephew, Chen Qing, had already disappeared since that matter happened.
Now Madam Ling couldn’t find anyone to vent her anger on, which made her even more angry.
“Marquis, since the Princely Heir of Commandery Prince Li consented to the marriage, at least you should pretend to be happy,” Madam Ling ate humble pie and said.
“What’s the meaning of supporting him? He’s a useless libertine. A few days ago, people saw that he fought with others in the red-light district.” Ning Zu’an was angry as soon as he thought that the libertine would become part of his family. And when he saw Madam Ling’s face, he felt she was a hypocrite and he hated her.
“Marquis… it’s Ning Xueyan’s fault. But for her, how could Ling’er… My poor Ling’er, you should have been the consort of the prince, but now…”
Madam Ling sadly cried and put the blame on Ning Xueyan.
“Don’t just blame Yan’er. At least she is the daughter of Madam Ming. When you married me and had your own children, Madam Ming never treated your children unfairly. How could you do such a vicious thing to her child?” Speaking of this matter, Ning Zu’an raged again.
“Marquis, I have nothing to do with that matter. Concubine Ma admitted that she poisoned Ning Xueyan. I have to manage the whole family every day, how could I consider everything? People in Bright Frost Garden seldom obey my rules. So I seldom interfere with their affairs in case that something bad would happen. Unexpectedly, someone dared to poison the Fifth Young Lady.”
Madam Ling spoke with grievance, her tears falling again. Her voice was full of sadness, as if she really couldn’t take care of everyone in the manor.
“Did I blame you wrongly?” asked Ning Zu’an.
Madam Ling knew where the problem lay, and also knew that Ning Zu’an wouldn’t punish her. She had prepared well, so she was not panicked now. She raised her head and looked at Ning Zu’an sincerely.
“Marquis, you are a man. So naturally you don’t know how complex our lives are. I really want Lord Protector’s Manor to be better. Don’t you understand my mind? If Concubine Ma weren’t pregnant, she would have died for the Fifth Young Lady, but… children are innocent, Marquis!”
This remark was really sincere. It seemed that she really took Lord Protector’s Manor into consideration. Furthermore, Ning Xueyan looked to be healthy, so Ning Zu’an felt that Concubine Ma didn’t need to die for Ning Xueyan. Thinking of this, Ning Zu’an became less angry.
But he still wasn’t happy with what Madam Ling had done. Looking at Madam Ling, Ning Zu’an said, “No matter what, Yan’er is my daughter. Now it’s impossible for Ling’er to marry the Third Prince. You’d better see if Yan’er can marry the Third Prince and be the Consort of the Prince. After all, she calls you mother. She will certainly thank you when she achieves a high position. Don’t make trouble anymore!”
Ning Zu’an’s words were stern. Although he didn’t say what Madam Ling had done, he already knew what she had done and what had happened in Cold Mountain Temple.
Madam Ling took a look at Ning Zu’an’s face and knew that he was determined. So she was aware that she couldn’t retort now. She also knew that he was not concerned about Ning Xueyan. He just wanted to form an alliance with the Third Prince by the marriage.
Madam Ling smiled coldly, malice flashing in her eyes, but said gently, “Yes, Marquis. I’ll arrange everything well to satisfy the Third Prince.”
Of course, she would find a “good” husband for Ning Xueyan.