Chapter 11 Slap the Servants Who Slight Their Master
Ning Xueyan sneered inwardly when she spotted the red clothing that maid Qingrui exposed.
To think that mere maids dared to wear a mourning garment on top of a gaudy outfit when her masters did not. It was obvious how badly they treated Madam Ming and Ning Xueyan. Everyone in this manor was brave enough to bully her. Outsiders knew only of the first wife's eldest and second daughters of the Lord Protector's Manor but not the fifth daughter born by Madam Ming.
The two servants came over and lay down the teapot and food basket in their hands. The older female servant poured a cup of water and passed it to Qingrui, who squatted down and handed it to Ning Xueyan. Ning Xueyan was a filial daughter. She had been kneeling for an entire morning and did not even have a sip of water. Yet she saw the cold tea, she found that she had no appetite.
"You must be starving, young lady. Keep calm and have some water before eating. It's better for your body that way." Since there was an outsider around, Qingrui nevertheless would show some respect for Ning Xueyan's status. Her words sounded warm but the sarcasm was obvious when one took note of the steamless tea that she served.
Ning Xueyan leveled a cold look at her without accepting the cup of tea. She then turned to look at the food without a hint of warmth that the older female servant prepared. With a faint smile, she asked, "Is it out of consideration for my health that you deliberately waited for everything to cool down before coming in?"
Late autumn was frigid and the sky today had been murky as well. Ning Xueyan's hands and feet were ice-cold after standing in place motionless for so long. If she drank that cup of "warm" water, she supposed her five viscera and six bowels would freeze. She had always been frail and sickly. Even if she was healthy, eating such cold food so frequently would eventually get her ill.
Qingrui was stunned, having not expected the timid Fifth Young Lady to retaliate. She raised her head and met Ning Xueyan's jet-black pupils that seemed to be a bottomless sea of serenity. Inexplicably, she began to panic. However, she immediately straightened out her expression and chuckled. "What's wrong with you today, Young Lady? Why throw such a large tantrum? Your health is poor and the doctor said that you're not allowed to eat overly warm food. Don't tell me that you forgot, Young Lady!"
"So I'm not allowed to eat overly warm food, but it's fine to feed me cold leftovers?! You people sure are a bunch of self-serving and smooth-talking slaves!"
Ning Xueyan frowned and said sternly, "Kneel down!"
This time, Qingrui got a fright. However, she wasn't afraid and was even audacious enough not to kneel. She started loudly, airing her grievances. "What's the matter, Fifth Young Lady? I know you're upset because Second Madam is gone. But you can't take it out on this lowly servant. If you act this way, how will us servants have the courage to serve you?"
The older female servant, who walked behind Qingrui, immediately cried, "Oh dear!" She pointed to three plates of dishes and one bowl of soup on the side. "You're sure in a bad mood today, Young Lady. It's your health that doesn't permit you to eat warm food. It's not like we're deliberately slighting you."
The two of them echoed one another, insisting that Ning Xueyan was provoking matters.
They caused so much fuss that they drew the attention of Ning Lingyun, who was next door. She set down the bowl and chopsticks in her hands and put on a disapproving expression. She sat on a small wooden stool and watched the show with a grin.
Ning Xueyan looked around and saw that the other maids, as well as the older female servant, looked like they were waiting to watch a show. No one stepped forward to take her side. In fact, they were even looking at her in disdain. It was no wonder that no one bothered even though Madam Ming had passed away. No one in this manor, from the lowly servants to their masters, truly regarded them as masters.
However, she was no longer the Ning Xueyan of the past who allowed people to humiliate her!
A cold glint flickered across her pupils. Without another word, she raised her hand and landed a hard slap on Qingrui's face. The maid was so shocked that she couldn't recover her senses in time and fell to the ground. She was utterly speechless.
With an ice-cold expression, Ning Xueyan sternly rebuked, "I wonder who made the despicable order to have their master eat cold food!"
Her imposing manner frightened Qingrui so much that she trembled. The Ning Xueyan before her eyes was emitting a domineering air that was difficult to describe. Clutching her face, Qingrui stared wide-eyed at Ning Xueyan. For a moment, she couldn't snap out of it.
"Come back with fresh dishes. Get your punishment of 10 canings on your own!" Ning Xueyan said, frowning.
Only then did Qingrui recover her senses. She gathered her courage again upon remembering that she belonged to First Madam. She got up from the floor and straightened her neck. "Young Lady, you're acting as you please, from wanting to change dishes to hitting people! This lowly servant wonders if you have eaten something wrong today. Why are you as explosive as a lighter? Second Madam had just died and you're already tormenting me like this. Even if you want me to die, you need to explain why you want to punish me out of nowhere."
Her use of the word "die" was in complete disregard of the taboo of Madam Ming lying inside the mourning hall. In front of Ning Xueyan who was still hurting from the loss of her mother, this was rude beyond reproach.
Qingrui's voice had just faded when a bellow came from the door. "What's that about dying? Come, men! Drag this lowly slave out and slap her 20 times."
Everyone turned around and saw Madam Dowager standing at the door of the mourning hall, looking so angry that her face was ashen. Qingrui had never anticipated her to show up at this moment. She was so terrified that she trembled and felt her legs weaken. With a loud thud, she knelt on the floor.
Ning Xueyan smiled coldly.