Chapter 86 The People around Concubine Ma
"Young lady, is the First Madam planning a grand feast for Concubine Ma's birthday because she wants to return that concubine's favour?" Mother Han said anxiously.
"No!" Ning Xueyan said that with a smile. Then she turned around and sat by the table. Having poured a cup of tea for herself, she took a sip and said thoughtfully, "If she wants to give thanks to Concubine Ma, she will do it secretly and won't plan so many things."
Mother Han spoke out her guess, "Young lady, I think it is not that simple."
Of course it was not that simple. It was actually a series of plots which targeted at her. These women had really regarded her as a weak girl by setting her up with insidious tricks over and over again.
"Lanning, how's your relationship with the maid of Concubine Ma?" Ning Xueyan asked Lanning who stood by her side.
Lanning's acquaintances in the manor were much more than Qingyu.
Lanning pondered for a while, then she said, "I have worked with Qiufang who works for Concubine Ma. We are quite familiar with each other."
Ning Xueyan nodded. Then she called Lanning over and whispered to her ears. Lanning nodded while giving a smile on her face.
In the evening, Lanning ran into Qiufang at the door of the kitchen. They held hands intimately and went to the corner of the kitchen to chat.
"Qiufang, did Concubine Ma go out today?" As they were talking about daily events, Lanning suddenly pulled Qiufang over and put a piece of sliver in her hand with a smile.
Qiufang was stunned. Then she understood Lanning's intention right away. With her eyes staring at Lanning, she said hesitantly, "Lanning, that's... not appropriate!"
Having sensed Qiufang's struggle, Lanning smiled and put another piece of silver in her hand. She knew that Qiufang had a poor family. With her mother being ill at home, Qiufang always lived on a tight budget.
"I won't ask you too many things. It's only about the Concubine Ma. Our young lady heard that Concubine Ma had some misunderstandings with her and got a bit depressed about that. So she wanted to know who do Concubine always meet and what have they talked about?" Lanning said that with a smile.
"I, I still feel uncomfortable to tell, tell you things about my mistress." Qiufang hesitated.
"We are just chatting. It's not like our Young Lady would really do something to Concubine Ma. Your mistress is the favoured one in the Lord Protector's Manor. So our Young Lady won't provoke her," Lanning said that and put another two pieces of silver in Qiufang's hand.
Those silver that Lanning had presented were nearly equal to six months' wages of Qiufang. Then Qiufang made up her mind while stamping her feet, saying, "Fine. I'll tell the Fifth Young Lady everything about Concubine Ma... in the future."
"Does Concubine Ma go to see the First Madam very often lately?" After Qiufang had agreed to her, Lanning got relieved secretly while asking a seemingly casual question.
The thing she had just asked was not a secret. All the people could see that.
"Yeah, I know that Concubine Ma has always tried to curry favour with the First Madam, but their relationship was even closer than before. These days, the First Lady is always happy to see our mistress, unlike before," Qiufang said.
Before, Concubine Ma always had often got sneered by the maids and older female servants of the First Madam when she had fawned on the First Madam. Also, the First Madam had also given the cold shoulder to Concubine Ma. And a maid like Qiufang could only stay in the lowest status in Auspicious Clouds Courtyard where anyone was able to command her.
However, things were completely different right now. The First Madam was really kind to Concubine Ma right now, which made the maids and older female servants in the Auspicious Clouds Courtyard changed their attitude toward Qiufang and became politely. But this only made the maids of Concubine Ma get nervous because they felt insecure about the change.
The people who stayed in the Lord Protector's Manor for a while all knew what kind of a person the First Madam was and why she treated a concubine so nicely.
That was another reason for Qiufang to risk everything to work for Ning Xueyan.
"I heard Concubine Ma was pregnant. Have you heard her talk about it before?" Lanning asked.
"We are quite surprised about her pregnancy actually. There was no sign of her getting pregnant, but..."Qiufang paused, looking around to see if there was anyone near them. Then she approached Lanning and said in a low voice, "Our mistress always has an irregular period. She has taken the medicines before. But lately she stopped the medications."
Irregular period and the sustained medication?
Lanning already got what she wanted while nodding. After having a chitchat, they came back to their own places.
The manor was very lively on the day of Concubine Ma's birthday.
As the new favoured one in the Lord Protector's Manor who was appreciated by the First Madam and got pregnant, Concubine Ma really had reached the peak of her life. And now there was a huge feast in the Lord Protector's Manor being held for her.
Although a concubine didn't have a noble status, the people still came to congratulate her birthday since the Lord Protector and Madam Ling had already given orders.
The feast was held in the eastern garden where there was a stage being set up.
Of course, this kind of invitation was not qualified enough to be sent to the Prince Yi's Manor. Luckily, Prince Yi was never used to turning down these invitations.
Therefore, after the invitation had been sent to him, he took it over in his hands while looking at the words on it with interest. Then he smiled and said, "Should I go to congratulate to the Lord Protector?"
His words made the eunuch who waited upon trembled. Even the birthday of Madam Dowager might not be able to get the Prince Yi there, today it was just a concubine's birthday. It was so strange that the prince was willing to go.
"Prince, if you send someone there to congratulate, that concubine of the Lord Protector's Manor might have the equal position as the First Madam." The eunuch advised carefully, not knowing if the prince was meant for real or thinking of something else.
A concubine like that would be so grateful even if the prince sent someone there to congratulate her birthday instead of himself.
With his eyes squinted, Ao Chenyi held the tea up gracefully and took a sip, saying, "I heard this new concubine of Lord Protector had some issues with that girl. That girl was so lucky to still be alive after being poisoned a lot. Since she's not dead, I feel that I need to give her a present."
"Prince, do you want to use giving present to the concubine of the Lord Protector as an excuse to send the gift directly to the Fifth Young Lady?" The eunuch who stood by Ao Chenyi's side was his henchman. Thus the eunuch did know some details about the prince and Ning Xueyan. However, he was still not able to get what the prince really meant, so he couldn't help asking that.
"No, I don't want to give her a gift on someone else's birthday! I won't do it. Ask that girl tomorrow if she needs my help to raise this concubine's position to a madam," Ao Chenyi said that lazily, with a mysterious smile in his cold eyes.
Co-wife, that was a madam indeed!
Then his eyesight fell on his arm which was hurt before. He was surprised about that the effect of that little cat's medicine. Though it still couldn't compare to the medicine he had left there, the wound still healed faster than he thought. He hadn't planned to take anything from Ning Zu'an's study at that time when he had broken in there, he had merely wanted to test the defense there.
Actually, he didn't need to do these kinds of things by himself. However, he had suddenly been in the mood of bringing two secret guards there. After getting injured, he hadn't walked out of the manor. Instead, he had headed straightly toward the inner yard, which made the two secret guards helpless. Nevertheless, the two secret guards had been confident that they were able to bring the prince out of there even if they were discovered by somebody else. So the secret guards had decided to let Prince Yi do whatever he wanted.
"Yes, prince, I'll send someone to ask early in the morning tomorrow." They had that conversation so fluently as if going to find a lady straightly was not an inappropriate thing for them.
"Those women who have been sent here, have you finished the investigation of them?" Ao Chenyi said that in a slight but scary voice, with the corner of his bloody red mouth hanged up.
"We are still investigating the ones which were sent by the Third Prince. There are so many things that need to be dug out. And the words from the regions south of the Yangtze River are still on the way." The eunuch said that reverently in a low voice. It was not that he didn't want to speed up the investigating process, he just couldn't. It was not easy to dig out a person who had shown up dozens of years ago in a short period.
What was more, the thing he was looking into was very secret. So the people who knew about this was very few.
"Since it's hard to figure it out in a short time, just stop the investigation and send someone to get rid of those women. It doesn't deserve our manpower. I need my guys to do something else." Ao Chenyi said that, with a gruesome smile on his gorgeous face. He uttered those words in a fierce tone as if he was about to get rid of some flowers of plants instead of human lives.
"Prince, if it is real..." The eunuch asked that raucously.
"The reason why Ao Mingyu sent so many people to me is that he was sure that I'll look into it. If he finds anything wrong, he will come to take these people back. But, I'm not a fool. If I have time, I'll do the investigation. If I don't, I'll just kill those people. Remember to give those people back to Ao Mingyu after you killed them in case he keeps thinking about them."
Ao Chenyi crooked his fingers at ease, with coldness and gloom in his eyes.
"Yes, prince!" The eunuch understood the prince right away, then he asked, "What if the Third Prince keeps sending people to us?"
"Just let him! Since they are so eager to send people here to amuse me, I'll have to make some new inventions. Use some body parts to make some articles. It's better than sending the corpses alone." Ao Chenyi leaned on his chair after giving this order. Under the light, his beautiful and bloody red lips made him look like a powerful monster which was stepping forward on the blood.
No one dared to doubt the possibility of his words.
"Yes, I'll tell them at night to make delicate articles. I can't let your reputation be ruined, Your Highness."
"Fine, just go. Work hard on it." Ao Chenyi waved his hand while the smile on the corner of his mouth turning to a murderous look. Some people had really considered his place as some kind of waste treatment plant. They wanted him to deal with the fake ones and take away the real ones. However, no one who was sent here could walk out of his place alive.
Of course, since that was his nephew, Ao Chenyi wouldn't treat Ao Mingyu randomly. That was why he would send some body parts to Ao Mingyu in case his nephew would complain him for bullying the younger ones and disgracing the royal family. Thinking of this, Ao Chenyi flashed a deep sneer in his deep eyes.
"Yes, Your Highness," the eunuch answered and planned to leave.
"Wait, I also have a letter for that girl. Don't wait until tomorrow, tell someone to throw this letter into the yard where she lives tonight. Don't all the people choose to do those things such as meeting in private, writing letters secretly or eloping at night when nobody's watching?!"
As the eunuch was about to leave, something suddenly popped in Ao Chenyi's mind and he stopped the eunuch.
Meeting in private, writing secretly, eloping? The eunuch showed a reluctant look on his face and thought, "Are you really talking about yourself, my prince? When did you have this kind of interests? You can have anyone you want by simply asking. Why do you bother to do these sneaky things?"
"Prince, well... I did have heard of that." The eunuch murmured that. But how much did he know about dating a woman as a eunuch.