Chapter 107 The Concubine Wins in the Wife-concubine Infighting
"You are so…" Ning Zu'an glared at Madam Ling with the two fire-fork shaped veins on his forehead swelling.
Madam Ling had sensed the danger already but was unable to interpose Ning Xueyan's spouting statement or to keep up with her thoughts. When Madam Ling finally took a tumble, it was already too late. Subconsciously, she cried with an affectedly effeminate voice, "Marquis!"
Then she went limp and fell onto the ground weakly, her head colliding against a column beside her and blood bleeding profusely.
Mother Chen went forward to hold her without delay and shouted to the crowd, "Hurry up! Hold Madam back to the yard right now and call a physician. My goodness, she was so seriously hurt. What shall I do?"
Seeing this, Ning Zu'an knitted his brows slightly. He hesitated for a while when hearing the words of "back to the yard". After all, they had been couples for years and he felt a little bit sympathetic for her.
"Marquis," Concubine Ma made two steps forward and with a sound of plop, she kneeled in front of Ning Zu'an, her eyes filled with tears. "Marquis, please leave me a chance to live. I didn't bring anything to this manor, and will not take anything with me either when I leave. In the remaining of my life, I will put an oil lamp before the statue of Buddha and pray for both you and Madam Dowager day and night."
When saying this, she had been choked with sobs.
The beautiful aggrieved eyes, as well as the pale face and a string of blood at the corner of her mouth, generated Ning Zu'an's deep compassion for her and greater fury against Madam Ling. He reached out a hand to pull Concubine Ma up and said to her tenderly, "Why did you say so? You are the concubine of this manor. How can you be a nun? Since it's not your fault, I will sure to send you a good physician to cure you."
"No. Marquis. I dare not to live here anymore. I am afraid, afraid that someday, First Madam will make up another story like this," Concubine Ma said resolutely and decisively with tears rolling in her eyes. The string of blood at the corner of her mouth added to her fragility and wretchedness.
"Father, it's better not to bewilder Concubine Ma," said Ning Xueyan in a soft voice.
"Bewilder?" Ning Zu'an was puzzled and then fixed his eyes on Madam Ling, who was still staying on the ground.
"Father, the truth is that Concubine Ma is completely wronged, but still, she is nearly killed without any chance to clarify herself. Yesterday, a cup of toxicant killed her child. Today, her food was… If this goes on, how can she struggle to survive? It's better for her to leave via this opportunity. At least she can have a chance to survive if she faces the oil lamp before the statue of Buddha." Ning Xueyan let out a sigh. It seemed that she was persuading Ning Zu'an, but only to fuel his flames of fury. As a noble marquis, he should be unable to protect a woman.
"Marquis. I am only a crestless woman. I had even acted in a theatrical troupe before. In no way do I have a good family background. If there are rumors about some man and me again, how can I have the face to live? Now, I've already had no obsession for anything."
After saying this, Concubine Ma turned her head to Ning Xueyan, bowed deeply and cried, "Fifth Young Lady, I'm so sorry for wronging you poisoning me. First Madam required me to say so. I thought I could still serve Marquis if I pleased her. Moreover, she told me that everything would be all right and I could conceal it as long as I made use of my pregnancy. Even the thing happened at the physician's was manipulated by First Madam. But I had never thought she is planning to kill both you and me!"
What Concubine Ma said, no matter true or fake, made sense. All the clues were now interconnected after her confession.
Ning Zu'an was more than furious now. Even the face of Madam Dowager, who was sitting up there, turned extremely black.
"Marquis, it is indeed my fault to occupy your favor. First Madam can't stand me and wants to kill both Fifth Young Lady and me. Fortunately, Fifth Young Lady is a broad-minded girl. Otherwise, I could not have a clean death and would ruin your reputation…"
Hearing this, Ning Zu'an turned his face purple with anger and nearly roared out. He stared at Madam Ling coldly, who was still supported by the servants, and said, "She wants to worship Buddha in the Buddha Hall, doesn't she? Why don't you pull her there? What are you waiting for?"
The maids and old female servants around Madam Ling were all stunned while Madam Ling was still keeping her eyes closed, her heart being hurt badly. How could he incarcerate her in the Buddha Hall regardless of their husband-wife affection, leaving her no face to meet the others in future?
"Get out of my sight!" Roared Ning Zu'an with a malicious and insidious expression on his face never seen before.
This time, no one dared to hesitate. Having no time to deal with the wound on Madam Ling's head, the servants carried her in her fake faint, half holding and half lifting, out of the room towards the Buddha Hall hurriedly, daring not to mention going back to the Auspicious Clouds Courtyard any more.
"Marquis…" Concubine Ma said pathetically, "Marquis, she is First Madam. Any way, I can't put you in such a dilemma all the time…"
"Rest assured. I will never believe any rumor about you again!" Ning Zu'an promised.
That was to say, Ning Zu'an would not believe Madam Ling again even if she made use of people from the theatrical troupe as a threat. Thinking of this, Concubine Ma let out a silent sigh unconsciously.
"Mother, I need to take her back and call a physician." Ning Zu'an turned around to Madam Dowager. A sense of guilt appeared in his eyes when he looked at Concubine Ma. She had suffered so much yesterday, but he had still suspected her and even paid no visit to her just because of Madam Ling's words.
"Go!" Madam Dowager stroked her thick-skulled head and waved her hand. She felt both mentally and physically exhausted and got a bad headache after going through what had happened yesterday and today.
Too worried about Concubine Ma, Ning Zu'an left with her immediately, giving no notice to the unpleasant expression on Madam Dowager's face at all.
Ning Xueyan watched the scene freezingly. She moved to Madam Dowager's back in light steps after Ning Zu'an had left, and started to malaxate her on her temples both sides. In the past, Madam Ming had a headache now and then, and Ning Xueyan would always malaxate her softly.
Being massaged comfortably, Madam Dowager opened her eyes slightly and let out a light sigh when seeing Ning Xueyan. "Yan'er, do you blame me for wronging you?"
"No, I don't blame you!" Ning Xueyan replied in a low voice, smiling faintly.
Of course, she didn't blame her. She hated her!
Madam Dowager was pleased with her reply and showed a smile. "Your Mother's brother is the Assistant Minister of War. He is favored and trusted by His Majesty. It's said that he will soon be promoted as the Minister of War. Though your Mother was outrageous these days, she did this for her daughter. Yan'er, be assured, this won't happen again."
Was that a promise to her?
The price of believing it would definitely be a death without a burial place.
Madam Ling's brother was favored by His Majesty at present, so in no way would Lord Protector cut off this relation by marriage. It sounded that Madam Dowager was just sighing with emotion, but the fact was she was warning Ning Xueyan to stop where it should stop!
And there was even a trace of threat.
Ning Xueyan sneered in her mind. Madam Dowager was still protecting Madam Ling even at this time. By blood, Madam Ming was her actual niece, but she had been so indifferent to her even on the day she died. As for the things happened in the backyard, how was it possible that this experienced and astute Madam Dowager be utterly ignorant?
Unless she hoped this to happen!
The Bright Frost Garden had been isolated for many years. Madam Ming and Ning Xueyan had always lived a hard life in the manor. They had been subjected to endless bullying and humiliation, but Madam Dowager had never lent them a helping hand. Now Madam Ling was only lightly punished, but Madam Dowager beat around the bush to warn Ning Xueyan. How could this not chill her?
What on earth made Madam Dowager so unjust?
There must be a reason that Madam Dowager favored Madam Ling instead of loving her own niece!
"I appreciate it very much, Grandmother. How is the situation of the Eldest Sister?" asked Ning Xueyan with a half-smile, her hands still kneading for Madam Dowager.
Since Ning Xueyan had stopped to ask for an explanation, Madam Dowager nodded in mind. Obviously, Ning Xueyan was a clever girl. But when thinking of Ning Ziyan, a feeling of depression came to her again. "Your eldest brother-in-law can't take the Spring Metropolitan Examination next year. The child in Ziyan's belly had gone, along with the manor's reputation…"
"Grandmother, I heard something about sister Ziying from the maid of Xia Manor. Didn't sister Ziying need to avoid arousing suspicion when she met eldest brother-in-law?" asked Ning Xueyan in a seemingly casual voice.
She could feel the jump of veins on Madam Dowager's forehead when the words came out.
"It might be… that your elder sister had a good relationship with Ning Ziying… So there was no need to avoid suspicion." Madam Dowager's eyes dodged slightly.
"Then why sister Ziying killed herself so unexpectedly. Why would she jump into the lotus pond? People in the manor say sister Ziying was murdered. Someone even heard a miserable shriek from the Cloud Reflection Courtyard that night," Ning Xueyan said with her hands still rubbing Madam Dowager's forehead gently. A cynical look crept to the corners of her eyes, but was not seen.
"Who made such irresponsible remarks?" Madam Dowager pushed away Ning Xueyan's hands abruptly, turned her head and asked harshly.
"I, I didn't notice. It was the day before yesterday. When I passed the gate of a courtyard, I heard some maids and old female servants talking about this on the other side of the wall. When I walked around over there, they had already gone." Ning Xueyan seemed to be scared. She paused and cleared her mind before replying.
"If you heard servants talking nonsense next time, don't hesitate to pull them out and beat them to death by rods!" Madam Dowager said mercilessly.
If the truth about Ning Ziying's death was revealed, the whole Lord Protector's Manor would be slaughtered. How could Madam Dowager be not anxious or angry when hearing this. She was even more anxious than knowing Ning Ziyan's accident and that the truth of Madam Ling's death was surfaced. The wrinkles at the corner of her eyes trembled.
Her voice was as cold as ice.
"Grandmother, can't we talk about sister Ziying?" Ning Xueyan showed a gormless look deliberately.
Madam Dowager fell her sharp eyesight on Ning Xueyan, only to find a frank, upright and ignorant look on her face. Ning Xueyan had stayed in Bright Frost Garden for years and had never come out in the past. She was unlikely to know Ning Ziying or to trap the words. Thinking of this, the expression on Madam Dowager's face softened.
"Yan'er, you should not ask about Ning Ziying. She was only living under our manor. Her own business had nothing to do with us. If someone asks you about this, you just need to reply that you have never seen Ning Ziying before because you have always lived in the Bright Frost Garden. After all, it was she who brought those trivial matters here."
"I had no families after the death of my parents, and no one asked about me since I came to live in Lord Protector's Manor. Why now I am told that someone may ask about me?" At this moment, Ning Xueyan realized that her death was not that simple.
"What trivial matters on earth did I neglect in my previous life?"
"Madam Ling, her daughter, and Xia Yuhang didn't murder me until the night before my wedding. Did they put up with me till the last moment just because of my dowry? Did they wait until my dowry had been brought into the gate of Xia Manor before them showing their vile nature?"
"It was valuable but was still nothing if compared with that of Madam Ming's. They have already had deep pockets after taking possession of Madam Ming's dowry. Why did they still keep me alive until the last moment at the risk of letting the truth of the marriage be found?"
"The longer I lived, the more suspicious that thing was. Though I had always kept a low profile in my previous life, Xia Yuhang still visited my Cloud Reflection Courtyard quite often to obtain my trust, which had been witnessed by many in the manor. The more people, the more diverse voices were. Did he take this risk just for my dowry?"
"The answer was definitely 'No'!"