Chapter 27 They Can Forget About Being Happy Themselves
The woman who walked over in an "ordinary" manner kneeled and knocked her head hard on the ground before raising her head fearfully. She wasn't a great beauty but she was petite and had a pitiful look. Tears cascaded down her cheeks as if she had been bullied. "It's a misunderstanding, Young Madam. Young Master Xia saved me, settled me here, and even contacted my family for me. We're not really in a relationship. Please trust me, Madam. Let… Let me die to express my innocence."
With that said, she abruptly stood up and acted as if she was going to throw herself at a nearby pillar and die.
A panicked Xia Yuhang reached out to stop her. The woman's petite body fell into his tight embrace and she cried even harder. "Young Master Xia, you saved me. How could I allow others to misunderstand you? I'm… I'm but a piece of duckweed floating on a pond. I don't care about being mistaken as a lady from a brothel, but… how could I ruin your reputation? I…"
She wept so hard that her words became strangled!
She looked like she would rather die than ruin Xia Yuhang's reputation.
She was retaliating against Ning Ziyan for calling her a prostitute! She seemed to be rather sly. The moment she showed up, she stole all of Ning Ziyan's lines as a fragile, gentle character. Ning Ziyan had always been the one to act the part of a frail lady but the wheel of fortune was always turning. Things were becoming interesting.
Ning Xueyan stepped back. She might as well stand on the sidelines and watch the show. Ning Ziyan believed she had won Xia Yuhang by killing her. She would like to see Ning Ziyan get a taste of the deep resentment she had felt back then.
"Ziyan, how can you say such disgraceful words? She's innocent. You're the precious young lady of the Lord Protector's Manor yourself. How can you say such filthy words?" Seeing the beauty in his arms cry her heart out, a stern-faced Xia Yuhang unhappily berated his wife.
"Innocent?" Ning Ziyan's anger nearly exploded. What innocence when these two were embracing each other in front of her? He even called her unworthy of being the precious young lady of the Lord Protector's Manor for the woman. From this angle, she could even see the unbridled smugness on the woman's face. She was about to crush the handkerchief in her hand into dust.
She had spared no effort in snatching this man and their blissful marriage. Now, another woman was standing in her way. She would never accept this. Moreover, Ning Xueyan was nearby, looking like she was watching a good show. She could barely restrain the perfect smile on her face.
"Eldest Sister, since Eldest Brother-in-law and this lady are innocent, there's no need to conceal their relationship. Otherwise, people will think he abandoned his new bride to frolic with his mistress. This will harm his spring boudoir," Ning Xueyan said softly, trying to placate Ning Ziyan. Her unfathomable gaze landed on the woman standing in the corner and the mirth in her pupils intensified.
She was reminding Ning Ziyan that this was the Cold Mountain Temple. If the latter made a fuss here, it would hurt her reputation. If news broke out that she got into a fight with another woman before the gossip about the Lord Protector's Manor had even subsided, her reputation would never recover.
"Brother Yuhang, Fifth Sister is right. Since there's nothing going on between you two, I will get her settled somewhere in our inner courtyard. She can return when her family comes for her in the future. It's better than her staying here on her own. Even though this temple is tranquil, there are only men here. Some things are easy to gossip about but unpleasant to hear!"
Ning Ziyan had already recovered by now and was barely restraining her anger. Hatred flickered in her eyes, yet she looked like she was wholeheartedly devoted to Xia Yuhang. She even deliberately mentioned that there were only men in the Cold Mountain Temple. After all, monks were also men.
Once the woman enters their manor, she would have to submit to her. Madam Xia didn't like her very much, it was only because the funeral in the Lord Protector's Manor going against her wedding made Madam Xia feel like her son had married an unlucky wife. That was why Madam Xia was unhappy with her. However, this woman of questionable background who had come out of nowhere would drag her son's reputation through the mud. Madam Xia would never like this woman.
When that happens, Madam Xia wouldn't even care if she tramples all over this woman!
Ning Ziyan would torment her so much that she would beg for death!
"Brother Xia, I'm scared. I… I don't want to go…" The woman panicked as soon as she heard she was going to the Xia Manor, and as someone without an identity or status. She tugged on Xia Yuhang's sleeve pitifully, looking so fragile that she was moments away from fainting. It was as if she wouldn't be able to take it if she was agitated even a little. She looked affectionately and pitifully at Xia Yuhang.
Ning Ziyan was unlike that foolish woman. She knew at once that Ning Ziyan wasn't easy to deal with. If she truly followed her to the Xia Manor, she might very well die a tragic death!
Xia Yuhang hesitated. On one end was his delicate confidante and on the other was his legal wife. He frowned, finding it hard to choose. He had been planning to tell Ning Ziyan about this sometime later but their relationship was exposed when they were still newlyweds. No matter what, he was at a disadvantage.
If Ning Ziyan truly wanted to kick up a fuss, he wouldn't stand for reason either. Moreover, this would affect his future career.
Seeing Xia Yuhang's hesitation, Ning Xueyan thoughtfully gave him a reminder. "Eldest Brother-in-law, your spring boudoir…" When she spoke, she deliberately looked behind her and saw several married women who had subconsciously followed her. They happened to witness the show as well. Even though they kept their distance, they didn't walk away either. The women were staring curiously and even pointing fingers at them.
"Miss Chen, please follow Ziyan to our manor. It's not appropriate for a man like me to be always watching over you. When we find your family, I will definitely send you home." In a flash, Xia Yuhang made up his mind and let go of the woman. He even stepped backward, putting in distance between them.
It would be the spring boudoir next year. The triennial imperial examinations would be taking place then. Xia Yuhang had waited three years for that spring and would never allow a woman to ruin his plans. Even if he likes her, he would never gamble his future away! Those with a poor reputation would never be able to enter the Sacred Heart no matter how intelligent and studious they were. Never mind getting one of the three ranks, he wouldn't even get second or third place!
Furthermore, Ning Ziyan had the Lord Protector's Manor to back her up. She wasn't one to be trifled with.
Understanding this, he naturally wanted to wash his hands clean off Chen Hexiang.
Chen Hexiang never thought he would push her away. She stood still with tears brimming in her eyes. Whenever she acted like this, he would answer to her every whim. She never imagined he would stop going along with her wishes today. She called out for him pitifully, "Young Master Xia!" Somehow, she couldn't bring herself to continue speaking.
Xia Yuhang glanced at Ning Ziyan and couldn't stop himself from giving her a reminder. "Ziyan, Miss Chen is a guest. Tell the servants to give her a better accommodation. Don't let others think that our manor is inhumane. Since I have saved her, I must make sure I help her until the end." His words angered Ning Ziyan so much that steam was practically rising from her head.
"So he's afraid I'd torment this woman!"
"Rest assured, Brother Yuhang. I will order the servants to take good care of Miss Chen." Ning Ziyan walked over and warmly took Chen Hexiang's hand in hers. She even used her handkerchief to wipe the woman's tears. She smiled and said, "Please stop crying, Miss Chen. If you keep crying, people will really think you're Brother Yuhang's mistress that is getting bullied by me!"
"Many thanks, Young Madam." Based on their conversation, Chen Hexiang knew she had no choice but to go with Ning Ziyan. She had to humble herself and salute Ning Ziyan, putting on a look of gratitude.
"What's there to thank? You look so adorable and well-behaved, Lady Chen. Don't worry even if you can't find your family. Brother Yuhang and I will surely find you a good husband." Ning Xueyan became increasingly immersed in her role. She tugged Chen Hexiang's hand while praising her. Then, she turned to Xia Yuhang and asked, "Isn't that so, Brother Yuhang?"
Frowning, Xia Yuhang said impatiently, "Hm. Go home after you help her pack up." He turned around and walked away with large strides. It made him feel ill at ease that the group of married women was still curiously watching them. What made him even more uncomfortable was that beautiful pair of ink-black eyes that were both limpid and unfathomable. She stared quietly at him and made him feel like she could see through him.
"Fifth Young Lady of the Lord Protector's Manor? Isn't she considered the timidest and most incompetent daughter of that manor?"
He suddenly felt a wave of frustration, even some inexplicable guilt.
The maids and older female servants acted quickly and packed up Chen Hexiang's things in no time at all. When Ning Xueyan saw the servants carry out a divider carved out of black jade and crystals and fixed with a painting of beautiful women, rage took hold of her. That divider was a relic that her mom left her. She had always kept it inside her room. However, Xia Yuhang once came to her room and sang praises about the divider.
Back then, she believed she would eventually marry into the Xia Manor. Seeing how much Xia Yuhang liked the divider, she gifted it to him. Who knew he would give it away to this woman who nearly killed her? She never thought he would so thoroughly trample her sincere heart. She paid not only with her heart but also her life…
However, she would reclaim everything back little by little! A murderer must pay with his life in the same way a debtor must repay with money. These two had taken everything from her! Her sneer gradually disappeared under her sharp gaze. Then, her expression slowly returned to normal.
Ning Xueyan walked over and smiled at Ning Ziyan, who was angrily watching the servants finish packing up Chen Hexiang's things. "Eldest Sister, why don't you go home as well? You don't have to accompany me. I'm fine anyway, I just plan on reciting some scriptures. But you're a newlywed, Sister, and Eldest Brother-in-law needs to study. More than ever, his inner courtyard needs to be peaceful."
The show earlier was her purpose in drawing Ning Ziyan here. Now that her goal was achieved, she wanted to send her away.
She didn't want to kill Ning Ziyan yet. She wanted to see Xia Yuhang and Ning Ziyan slowly turn against each other until they become nemeses. She wanted to reduce them into two people who couldn't tolerate the other living...
They had ruined her happiness and life, so they can forget about being happy themselves!
With Xia Yuhang gone, Chen Hexiang calmed down as well. Seated somewhere nearby, she secretly dabbed her tears with a handkerchief that covered half of her face. Ning Xueyan didn't know if her tears were real. Chen Hexiang was still watching Ning Ziyan with a glint in her eyes. She was deliberating what she should do to force Xia Yuhang to take her side. Was this woman really Xia Yuhang's new bride?
Why wasn't it the woman from before?
Even though Ning Ziyan didn't look like a pushover, Chen Hexiang knew that she stood a chance from the way Xia Yuhang treated the former. Xia Yuhang didn't seem to care much for Ning Ziyan, which was drastically different from how he treated his former fiancee. But why did his fiancee end up changing?
In the past, she thought she would never win against that foolish woman!