Chapter 128 The Arrogant Maid
"Xia'er, don't make troubles. Give the hairpin back to the Young Lady," the girl in the hat ordered in a low voice. Her voice was gentle and sweet, and from the way she spoke, everyone could tell that she was well-bred in a rich family. However, there seemed to be a domineering air about her.
In a low voice, she properly expressed her displeasure.
"Yes, miss!" The maid called Xia'er took the jade hairpin reluctantly and put it on the counter with a snort, as if she was giving something to a beggar.
"You're just a maid. How dare you turn your nose up at others in front of your master? Didn't your master teach you to be polite?" A girl of about 15 years old snorted, looking at Xia'er from the corner of her eyes. She and her maid stood on the other side of Ning Xueyan.
She was a beautiful girl with bushy eyebrows and big eyes; such an appearance was pleasing to people.
The girl in the hat turned to her maid and ordered, "Xia'er, apologize to this Young Lady!"
"Miss, I'm sorry. I'm just a maid, not worth your anger. Please forgive me. I didn't notice that you were also fond of this hairpin," Xia'er said, glaring at the beautiful girl. Being cursed by her master, she was angry, but she didn't dare to disobey her master. She bowed slightly to Ning Xueyan to express her regret. However, from her pursed lips, everyone could tell that she was unwillingly to do so.
Moreover, she was hinting that as a daughter from a rich family, Ning Xueyan was being so narrow-minded to argue with a maid.
"We can't afford your apology. Our master won't care about such trifles. Since this hairpin matches your master so well, we will give it to her!" Qingyu was also a sharp-tongued girl. She took several steps forward and bowed slightly to Xia'er's master to show her respect. Making no concession, she retorted sarcastically.
"Hey, how dare you speak that way?" Xia'er shouted angrily with one hand on her hips, pointing at Qingyu. In her opinion, her master was the most honorable person. It was normal for other people to take things that her master left, but she had never expected that someone would have dared to ask her master to take things that other people had left.
"Wow, you're really aggressive!" The beautiful girl who stood beside Ning Xueyan smiled and began to size Xia'er up. She had seen many noble young ladies and their maids in the city, but she couldn't recall having seen anyone like Xia'er.
Hearing what she said, Xia'er wanted to protest again. Ning Xueyan looked at her master in confusion.
"Xia'er, let's go." The calm and gentle voice rang out again. Xia'er kept her anger down and walked out with her master, holding her master's arm. She snorted with a disdainful expression while walking.
Seeing them leave, the beautiful girl murmured in confusion, "It's said that servants always behave in much the same way as their masters. This master seems quite well-bred, but why is her maid so aggressive?"
"Maybe her master is not as tender as we saw, but we have no opportunity to find out," Ning Xueyan answered. She was very much disposed toward this girl who had spoken for her.
"That sounds reasonable. My name is Heng Yuqing, and my father is Lord Guardian. Can you tell me something about yourself?" She seemed to like Ning Xueyan as well, so she immediately introduced herself after sizing Ning Xueyan up.
"Oh? She is Heng Yuqing, the daughter of Lord Guardian?" Ning Xueyan thought. Heng Yuqing was famous among the imperial and noble ladies in the city, and Ning Xueyan had heard that she was a straightforward person. Although she hadn't seen her before, Ning Xueyan had heard Ning Yuling talk about her, saying that she was an arrogant and rude girl and nobody would dare to marry her in the future.
A person who annoyed Ning Yuling wouldn't be ordinary.
"I'm Ning Xueyan from the Lord Protector's Manor," Ning Xueyan said with a smile.
"Lord Protector's Manor?" Heng Yuqing was surprised. She sized Ning Xueyan up again and asked, "What's the relationship between you and Ning Yuling?"
"She is my Second Sister. I'm the fifth daughter of the Lord Guardian," Ning Xueyan explained with a smile.
She knew that Heng Yuqing wouldn't have heard about her because she had been staying at home in recent years and she had never attended parties. Moreover, Madam Ling seldom mentioned her in front of outsiders, so very few people knew that there was a Fifth Young Lady in the manor.
"Oh! You're the Fifth Young Lady of the Lord Protector's Manor whose mother has just died!" Heng Yuqing blurted out, but immediately, an awkward expression appeared on her face, as she had realized her slip of the tongue.
Bad news travels fast. Many people had heard about the news that the Lord Protector's Manor would hold the wedding ceremony shortly after the death of the Second Madam. Not until people heard about the news did they know that there was a Fifth Young Lady in the Lord Protector's Manor. Although Heng Yuqing was a straightforward girl, she knew that she shouldn’t have mentioned the things that made others sad.
"Yes, my mom has just passed away. She'll take care of me only in heaven in the future," Ning Xueyan said, with sadness in her eyes. Then she smiled gently, without a trace of reproach. Looking at her starry eyes and gentle smile, Heng Yuqing liked her even more.
Her kindness eased Heng Yuqing's embarrassment. Heng Yuqing nodded hard and said, "Your mom would definitely bless you in heaven." With that, she held Ning Xueyan's hand and continued, "Let's go over there and have a look. The boss just replenished some new jade ornaments, and they are much more beautiful than this hairpin."
Attracted by her straightforward and generous personality, Ning Xueyan smiled and walked forward with her.
Although she was no longer unknown, Ning Xueyan hadn't really integrated into the circle of the noble ladies yet, so the appearance of Heng Yuqing was a good opportunity for her.
They had not been wandering long when an older female servant from the Lord Guardian's Manor came and asked Heng Yuqing to go home. Her voice was low when she spoke. Obviously, she had something secret or private to tell Heng Yuqing. Ning Xueyan moved to aside to keep a distance from them. Heng Yuqing looked at her gratefully and then turned to the older female servant.
Heng Yuqing turned pale when she heard what the older female servant said. She turned around and squeezed out a smile. "Fifth Young Lady, something's happened in our manor. I can't stay with you any longer," she said.
"All right," Ning Xueyan answered with a smile. Heng Yuqing walked out with the older female servant in a hurry. Due to her haste, she almost stepped on her skirt. Thankfully, her maid held her up. Otherwise, she would have fallen to the ground.
Seeing that Heng Yuqing was in a panic, Qingyu said in surprise, "Miss, it seems that something bad has happened to the Lord Guardian's Manor."
"Maybe something bad happened to her mother," Ning Xueyan answered with a little sadness. If she remembered correctly, the Lord Guardian's wife had been sick these days. She overheard the news when Ning Ziyan and Xia Yuhang talked about it. She didn't take it seriously at that moment because she had never expected that she would meet Heng Yuqing.
After seeing Heng Yuqing off, Ning Xueyan walked around in the shop for some time and bought another two jade ornaments. Then she left the shop and got into the carriage that was waiting outside.
On their way back home, Qingyu couldn't help asking, "Miss, do you think that the Fourth Young Lady will believe me?"
What she had done just now had been arranged by Ning Xueyan. She knew that the Fourth Young Lady would force her to tell the "truth". What she needed to do was pretend to be a timid and outspoken maid and leave the rest to Ning Xueyan. However, Qingyu still felt unsure.
"I guess Ning Lingyun is probably losing her temper now. She might have swallowed Madam Ling and her daughter if she could," Ning Xueyan snorted. She put the gauze curtain down and leaned against the back of the seat. She seemed to be in a good mood.
Ning Lingyun used to be loyal to Madam Ling and her daughter, but now she would definitely become their opponent. Besides, Concubine Xu had gotten involved, so the matter couldn't be over so easily.
"Having been deceived and betrayed, now maybe Ning Lingyun hates Ning Yuling more than she hates me!" Ning Xueyan thought.
Ning Lingyun didn't dare to make trouble in front of Ning Yuling, but it didn't mean that she wouldn't do this behind her back. Obviously, they knew what was waiting for them was to marry someone from the Marquis of Ping'an's Manor, so neither Ning Lingyun nor Concubine Xu would be willing to do so.
No matter how close Concubine Xu and Madam Ling were, they wouldn't be friends anymore after hearing what she said.
Seeing Ning Xueyan so calm, Qingyu heaved a sigh of relief. Although Ning Xueyan had told her to talk and act as she usually did, she still did not feel assured that the Fourth Young Lady would believe her. Everyone knew that Ning Xueyan and the Second Young Lady hated each other so much, so it would be unconvincing to tell someone that these two had joined hands to deal with another person.
"Miss, what shall we do next?" Xinmei asked.
That was what Ning Xueyan was thinking about. She opened her eyes and looked at Xinmei with admiration. Xinmei had been trained, so she looked deeper than Qingyu did. Ning Xueyan had mentioned Ning Yuling's marriage today, and Ning Lingyun would think that way as well, but without an essential prerequisite, the marriage wouldn't happen.
"You can get out at the corner ahead, and then spread the news about the marriage of the Princely Heir of Commandery Prince Li to both the Marquis of Ping'an's Manor and Lord Protector's Manor," Ning Xueyan ordered in a gentle voice.
"Got it. I will get out soon." Xinmei nodded. Although she didn't know why Ning Xueyan had asked her to do this, after a long period of special training, she knew that she had to obey her master's instructions unconditionally. She then went out of the carriage and told the driver to stop at the turn ahead because she needed to buy some osmanthus candies for Ning Xueyan.
Seeing the driver nod, Xinmei went back into the carriage.
Since Xinmei was so obedient, Ning Xueyan decided to tell her the reason. "Ning Yuling and Ning Lingyun were engaged shortly after my mom's death. It will cause trouble if that news gets out. To prevent any trouble, the two manors would do something. They might either say that the young ladies had been engaged for a long time or that they had never been engaged at all. Anyway, they would do something," Ning Xueyan explained, hatred flashing in her eyes.
"So the Fourth Young Lady would get a chance when these two manors made a move at the same time?" Qingyu still felt confused. On the contrary, Xinmei's eyes lit up and she seemed to have understood part of Ning Xueyan's plan.
"If people from the Commandery Prince Li's Manor and Marquis of Ping'an's Manor don't do anything, no matter how hard Ning Lingyun struggles, her engagement can't be canceled. On the other hand, if people from the two manors visit the Lord Protector's Manor openly, they can tell the others that they have long been engaged with the Lord Protector's Manor, and because the Lord Protector's wife just passed away, they can't hold wedding ceremonies at this moment.
Now someone must spread the news to the public to set the stage for the wedding."
Hearing Xinmei's explanation, Qingyu nodded. She understood Ning Xueyan's plan as well now.
Soon after, they had arrived at the turn. The carriage stopped and Xinmei got out swiftly. She then walked into the crowd. Spreading rumors was simple for her.
The carriage moved on. Qingyu handed Ning Xueyan a cushion so that she could rest more comfortably. Seeing Ning Xueyan close her eyes, she sat beside her quietly. She didn't want to disturb her master's rest because she knew that Ning Xueyan was tired. Since the Second Madam's death, Ning Xueyan had to handle everything on her own. She was like a child who grew up overnight.
To her surprise, before they moved on very far, the carriage suddenly stopped. Seeing a person stand in their way, the driver pulled the reins in a hurry and the carriage was jolted twice. Ning Xueyan fell to the left. Fortunately, the cushion that Qingyu had given her slipped to her left side before she hit the wall of the carriage.
"What happened?" Qingyu asked the driver angrily while holding Ning Xueyan up.