Chapter 20 Little Affection between Father and Daughter
"Fa… Father…" Ning Lingyun never imagined that Ning Zu'an would appear here at this moment. Her face instantly paled and she was so frightened that her voice trembled.
Ning Zu'an raised an eyebrow after seeing Ning Lingyun's hesitation and immediately rebuked her. "Apologize at once!"
Even though Ning Lingyun hated this order so much that she was inwardly gnashing her teeth, she was forced to lower her head and say, "Fifth Younger Sister, please forgive me my poor choice of words. I don't mean it. I'm sorry."
"It's alright. I'm sure it wasn't intentional. But the rebel that you mentioned earlier…" Ning Xueyan raised her head and put on a curious expression. However, her pupils were frozen cold.
"Rebel?" She was curious as to why Madam Ming would be considered rebellious.
Before Ning Xueyan could finish her sentence, Ning Zu'an interrupted her with an angry bellow. "Go to the ancestral hall! I hereby punish you to copy Lessons for Young Women one hundred times!"
What was the reason that this matter couldn't be mentioned at all?
Ning Xueyan narrowed her eyes ever so slightly, her pupils ever cold.
"Father!" Having never thought that Ning Zu'an would give her such a harsh punishment, Ning Lingyun looked incredibly aggrieved. The tears welling up in her eyes nearly fell. She looked at Ning Zu'an pitifully.
"Yan'er, come out here." Ning Zu'an didn't spare Ning Lingyun a glance. With a flick of his sleeves, he turned around without looking back.
After being reprimanded by their father, Ning Lingyun felt both humiliated and furious. She was so angry that her entire face was red. After seeing Ning Zu'an leave, she pointed at Ning Xueyan and scolded her in a quiet voice, "Ning Xueyan, you unscrupulous woman!"
"Was I unscrupulous? If you hadn't so fearlessly scolded my mom in front of her coffin, why would I need to do this?" Ning Xueyan smiled. The sliver of coldness buried in the depths of her pupils made Ning Lingyun shiver. She slowly put down her raised hand and the moment it fell completely, she felt an overwhelming cold aura.
When she tried to get a better look, Ning Xueyan had already walked out of the hall.
Outside the mourning hall, Ning Zu'an stood quietly inside a neat circle of blooming chrysanthemums. He looked deep in thought.
"Father!" After walking out of the hall, Ning Xueyan concealed the contempt in her eyes and put on a deferential and gentle look. She would only address him when necessary. This man wasn't worth the title of "Father".
"It was Qingrui who poisoned the tea. Your mum once hit her and that gave rise to hatred strong enough for her to poison her. Your Mother has already ordered people to beat her to death."
Ning Zu'an turned his head and momentarily paused as he took in Ning Xueyan's thin and pale face. Then, looking as if he made a resolution, he ultimately still told her.
"Father, a packet of Intoxicating Peach Blossom must be expensive, yes?" Ning Xueyan looked up and stared emotionlessly at him. She was so calm that she didn't sound like she was talking about something involving her. How high could the monthly salary of a maid be? A packet of Intoxicating Peach Blossom would cost at least two taels. It wasn't something that a maid could afford!
Ning Zu'an's stance was not very clear. After a brief pause, he explained, "Qingrui comes from a decent family!"
Despite knowing that he wasn't being honest, she stubbornly continued to ask, "She wants to kill my mom and I just because my mom once hit her?"
Her head was lowered and her smile was faint and fleeting on her lips. If not for her rebirth, Ning Xueyan would be long dead. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that even if she didn't die now, she would still die at Madam Ling's hands in less than half a year. Being a concubine's daughter in an estate as impressive as the Lord Protector's Manor, her life was even more worthless than a maid's.
"You don't have to worry about that. Your Mother has already got to the bottom of it," Ning Zu'an replied impatiently, frowning. Ning Xueyan's questioning had irritated him.
This was the outcome of the investigation that her "Father" made. Even though she wasn't surprised, Ning Xueyan still despised how Ning Zu'an protected Madam Ling. She sneered inwardly. Were it not for the presence of the Prince today, Ning Zu'an might not even bother giving her such a superficial explanation.
Madam Ling was definitely a crafty woman to be able to pull Ning Zu'an to her side in such a short time! However, it remained to be seen whether she would always be that invincible!
A pale-faced Ning Xueyan dropped the issue. "Since you have already found the reason and also punished the perpetrators, I'm sure my mom will be happy in heaven. I'd like to be a vegetarian at the Cold Mountain Temple for a month after my mom is buried in hopes that she will be at peace. I hope she'll be reincarnated into a decent family and never suffer the pain of being poisoned."
After having her plans foiled again and again, Madam Ling would be undoubtedly so furious that she loses her judgment. Ning Xueyan didn't have to power to go all out in fighting her right now. Dodging her was for the sake of a better return. She would seek her revenge in the end!
Ning Zu'an gaze paused and lingered on Ning Xueyan for a long time. His sharp, observant look seemed capable of penetrating her. She stood there quietly and openly without evading in the slightest.
His gaze softened after failing to detect anything abnormal about her. "I feel ill at ease letting you go to the Cold Mountain Temple in your current state. Why don't we have your Eldest Sister go with you? Now isn't the time for her to make her first return to her parental home after marriage, so she isn't able to help you keep watch by the coffin. But she can accompany you to the Cold Mountain Temple and be a vegetarian for a while. It can be considered her show of filial piety to your mom."
Ning Ziyan's good reputation had been ripped to shreds because of the clash with Madam Ming's funeral. Not only did Ning Zu'an let her off without any punishment, but he even manipulated the matter of being a vegetarian to restore Ning Ziyan's reputation. Ning Zu'an was sure biased!
"Father, Eldest Sister is still a newlywed. I think... it's better for you to ask Mother and Eldest Sister for their opinion!" Ning Xueyan's eyes reddened as if she was moved by the offer, even though she ultimately still declined it.
"Yan'er is a gentle and kind girl. She must be feeling deeply aggrieved after something like this happened. She keeps saying that she must do her filial duty with you. You don't have to worry that she won't agree."
After dropping such a bomb, Ning Zu'an left her with some words of warning before walking away with large strides!
Qingyu took two steps forward and said indignantly, "Young Lady, when Qingrui first arrived in the Bright Frost Garden, Madam would fall ill every now and then. To think that the Marquis would believe that it was she who poisoned Madam!" Qingyu had been serving Ning Xueyan since young; she came to the household several years ahead of Qingrui.
"Ah... you noticed as well, haven't you? But some people are truly adept liars to both themselves and others!" Ning Xueyan sneered. No one was more familiar with Madam Ling and Ning Ziyan's hypocrisy than her. After something like this happened, they would inevitably put on the act of a Bodhisattva and do their filial duty for her mom!
That line of words was what she had been waiting for. After something like this happened, Ning Ziyan had no choice but to show Ning Xueyan's mom "filial piety" if she wanted to recover her reputation! The reason she mentioned going to the Cold Mountain Temple and becoming a vegetarian was to lure Ning Ziyan.
"Cold Mountain Temple, is it? We're about to meet again! Ah, how interesting. There's a 'major gift' I prepared for Ning Ziyan waiting there! I hope Ning Ziyan won't disappoint me too much!"
Suddenly, a panicked-looking Mother Han appeared out of the corner of the corridor. Her typically calm face was drenched with sweat. "Young Lady, there's trouble! Hurry... hurry and return to the Bright Frost Garden!"