Chapter 71 She Would No Longer Be Softhearted to Her Foes
Ning Yuling thought about the whole matter over and over again. Even though she had not been clever enough, she knew that she had been tricked by Ning Xueyan. How could she forgive her?
"Fifth Young Lady, did you do that?" Madam Dowager's face turned black as she shouted angrily at Ning Xueyan.
"Madam Dowager must be planning to sacrifice herself to save Madam Ling and her daughter since she didn't even ask anything, as if she had heard nothing when Madam Ling and her daughter slandered her," Ning Xueyan thought with a sneer. "Madam Dowager always protects those who are treacherous and she's been partial to Madam Ling and her daughter from time to time. But what a pity it is today, since Madam Ling and her daughter are bound to lose face with the whole Lord Protector's Manor.
"Madam Dowager has neither done enough surface work nor was she confident. What else can she do to save face?"
"Grandmother, I was with you just now, so how could I make such a clever arrangement? You expected that my Second Sister would slip out of Buddha Hall, but how did you know that she still had the strength to enjoy the flowers in the Chinese Flowering Crabapple Pavilion? And Second Sister, why are you here now?"
Ning Xueyan asked them calmly, her eyes looking cold. Faced with Miao'er's and Madam Ling's testimonies, she did not lose her presence of mind.
She was smiling slightly and looked magnanimous.
Commandery Prince Li's wife, Consort Dowager, was sophisticated in her old age. She discovered the holes in their testimonies, while what the young lady had said in front of her was infallible. If it really had nothing to do with her, then she had to be extremely scheming. So she suppressed the Princely Heir of Commandery Prince Li for his impatience and watched how the people from Lord Protector's Manor investigated and dealt with it.
Ning Yuling was at a loss for words for a while when she was questioned by Ning Xueyan. Anyway, she could not tell her that she came here to have a secret date with the Third Prince.
"Stop resorting to sophistry, Xueyan. It was you who incited the maid to trick Ling'er and bring her here. The maid had clearly explained that she wouldn't have done this if it weren't for you," Madam Ling said with a sneer while pointing at Miao'er, who was down on her knees.
Ning Xueyan followed Madam Ling's finger and looked at Miao'er. She approached them slowly and smiled. "Miao'er, keep your eyes open and tell them whether or not I incited you."
Miao'er had a bellyful of tricks. But now, she had to answer Ning Xueyan. She looked up at her, clenched her teeth and said, "Yes. The Fifth Young Lady incited me to do that."
"What did I say to you? And when? It appears that I went straight to Bright Frost Garden when I came here and I don't remember having seen you." Ning Xueyan nodded and continued to ask the maid.
Ning Xueyan could not cover up her tracks after she returned to Lord Protector's Manor because people would know where she had been as long as they asked about it.
"It was... Qingyu beside the Fifth Young Lady who ordered me to do that. She said the Fifth Young Lady had asked her to incite me, and she even gave me the silver." Miao'er was determined to make up lies. After all, she had met Qingyu and exchanged some words with her. When Miao'er heard from Qingyu that the Third Prince had made an appointment with the Fifth Young Lady, she rushed to Qingrong Courtyard and told that to Ning Yuling.
After that, Ning Yuling had changed her clothes and rushed here in a hurry. In case Ning Xueyan might arrive at that time, she asked Miao'er to stay outside the door to stop Ning Xueyan.
"Oh? So you listened to me just because Qingyu conveyed my words to you and gave you some silver?" Ning Xueyan sneered.
Madam Dowager, who sat beside them, adjusted her position uneasily while everyone in the room cast their eyes on Miao'er looking puzzled.
If the older female servant had not cursed Ning Xueyan in Auspicious Fortune Hall, they might have believed Miao'er's words. But since that had happened, it seemed that Ning Xueyan had merely a low status in Lord Protector's Manor. How could she order about the first maid of a big shot like Ning Yuling?
Why would the first maid listen to Ning Xueyan when even an older female servant would not take Ning Xueyan seriously? Not to mention, Miao'er had listened to Ning Xueyan when she did not even order her herself. Thus, everyone became more and more skeptical about this.
But Miao'er did not know what had happened in Auspicious Fortune Hall. She still clung to her view and said, "Yes. The Fifth Young Lady gave me the silver and then I believed her."
"How much silver did I give you?" Ning Xueyan noded and asked unhurriedly.
Miao'er thought about this for a long time. She did not have much silver. It would be worse if she made the amount too high. So she told Ning Xueyan the amount of the sliver that she had with her now. She put out two fingers and said, "The Fifth Young Lady asked Qingyu to give me 20 taels of silver."
"Then, where is the silver now?" Ning Xueyan curved her lips into a smile.
"I've hidden it in Qingrong Courtyard." Miao'er was chilled with fear over these questions. Now, she had to continue to make it up.
"Did I give you notes or pieces of silver?" Ning Xueyan continued to ask her.
"Pieces... pieces of silver!" Miao'er responded quickly. Those pieces of silver had been saved by herself and were undoubtedly pieces of silver.
"Pfft." Lanning, who was beside Ning Xueyan, failed to refrain from laughing. When everyone cast their eyes on her, she stepped back and stood behind Ning Xueyan with a mocking look on her face.
"20 taels of silver. This is the first time I've heard that you need just 20 taels of silver to incite a maid to set up her mistress. It seems that the mistresses of Lord Protectors Manor are so worthless. And if I were to set my Second Sister up, why would I ask the maid to bring some pieces of silver? Did I intend to let everyone see that?"
Ning Xueyan was smiling slightly but her eyes looked cold.
Her words sounded plain but they were sharp and full of and sarcasm. Everyone present, like Consort Dowager, was calculating enough. Why would the first maid beside Ning Yuling who was so pampered care about 20 taels of silver? It would have made sense if Ning Xueyan had set Ning Yuling up with at least 200 taels of silver.
Furthermore, the silver was given to the maid in pieces. Why didn't a mistress like Ning Xueyan bribe her with notes, since notes were more portable and covert than a pocket of silver pieces?
Everyone understood this. Having been exposed by Ning Xueyan, now they knew clearly that Miao'er had to be slandering Ning Xueyan.
But Madam Ling would not let Ning Xueyan get away from this and said hurriedly, "Maybe Miao'er was incited before she got the real benefit."
"What would be the benefit? Mother, what benefit do you think I can give to others in my present status?" Ning Xueyan smiled slightly and defended herself plainly. She was neither humble nor pushy at the moment, looking calm and confident.
In Auspicious Fortune Hall, everyone had clearly seen Ning Xueyan's status, with which Ning Xueyan would not have been able to order Miao'er even if she had given Miao'er any benefits, not to mention that it was just a promised benefit. How dare Miao'er betray her own mistress without gaining any real benefit?
Ning Xueyan's words successfully put Madam Ling down.
"It is you. It must be you. Grandmother... I came here because I heard the slut had a secret date with a man." Seeing that Ning Xueyan was getting away, Ning Yuling lost her temper and cursed, crying and pointing at Ning Xueyan.
"Bullshit! I didn't have any date with you who are so scrawny." Hearing he was about to be dragged into in this matter, the Princely Heir of Commandery Prince Li glared at Ning Yuling and shouted, "It's you who wanted to hook up with me and threw yourself at me. You were so afraid of being loathed and even wore a veil. You said that you admired me so much but now you are trying to frame me."
The Princely Heir of Commandery Prince Li did not intend to help Ning Xueyan out, but he was so sick of Ning Yuling. And he had already understood that Ning Yuling was trying to set up Ning Xueyan through this whole affair. In addition to that, Ning Xueyan looked calm in spite of being framed while Ning Yuling acted like a virago and was so disgusting, so he couldn't help arguing.
His first words had hit the nail on the head. He and Ning Yuling had just tangled with each other and he was clear about what she had said by the bed. Now hearing him say it out loud in front of so many people, Ning Yuling felt extremely ashamed and embarrassed. She blushed and kept her head down.
"Ning Xueyan, how dare you have a date with a man in private..." Madam Ling quickly changed the topic and shouted at Ning Xueyan when she saw that it was going bad.
"Fifth Young Lady, explain it to me." Madam Dowager took over Madam Ling's topic and shouted at Ning Xueyan with a gleam flashing in her eyes.
They were trying to put the blame on Ning Xueyan coercively.
Ning Xueyan was bored and fed up with these people in front of her. "Madam Dowager and Madam Ling, though thinking differently, had the same purpose. That is, to put me on the spot and take the blame for Ning Yuling.
"Ning Yuling is vicious and malicious, just like Madam Ling. Madam Dowager, who looks impartial, had never been impartial actually. She was so partial to Ning Yuling.
"The so-called mismatching of fate must be describing me and the glorious Lord Protector's Manor."
Anyway, nobody cared about her. She was the one that had to be sacrificed.
But unfortunately for them, Ning Xueyan, who always treasured her life so much, would never allow anybody to trick or frame her. Madam Ling would be her foe forever, and she would no longer be softhearted to her foes. There would be only one left alive.
"Mother, I've heard my Second Sister mention the Third Prince. Was the Third Prince also involved in this matter? Should we invite the Third Prince and Honored Consort Ya here to see whether they can make it clear?" Ning Xueyan sneered with indifference and sarcasm in her eyes.
"The Third Prince?" Madam Dowager did not look good and Consort Dowager also narrowed her eyes uneasily.
"Involve the imperial family in the scandal? Who would be responsible for that?"
"Yes, Grandmother. It is the Third Prince..." On hearing the Third Prince, Ning Yuling thought an opportunity had arisen. So she shouted hurridly, "Yes. I thought it was the Third Prince. So I..."
"Shut up!" Madam Dowager burst in anger and hit Ning Yuling heavily with her stick, who leaned over and almost fell to the ground when her words stopped suddenly.
"Guards! Take this lowly maid away and beat her to death with a stick!" Madam Dowager had now made up her mind and denounced Miao'er angrily.
"The Third Prince is His Majesty's most beloved son who has numerous secret powers. How can we implicate him so rashly?
"This is the end of this matter of Ning Yuling's. We can't play up to the Third Prince in case we offend him and his powers..."
Two older female servants came up and dragged Miao'er out. Miao'er went into a frenzy, struggling and trying to scream. But her mouth had already been covered and she was dragged out of the room.
"Madam Ling, take the Second Young Lady to Qingrong Courtyard and don't let her out unless she gets my permission. Ask her to transcribe the Confucian classics 100 times," Madam Dowager said angrily as she glared at Ning Yuling in the harshest tone that Ning Yuling had ever heard.
"Grandmother, I..." Ning Yuling refused to obey and burst into tears.
Seeing that the whole scheme had come to naught, Madam Ling dared not say anything and asked the guards to take Ning Yuling out. It was clear to her that she had to rely on Madam Dowager to save her face. Even though Commandery Prince Li's Manor had relatives of the royal family, they still had to look up to Lord Protector's Manor and take them as their backup force.
So she could not go against Madam Dowager's words.