Chapter 47 Greetings and the Poison in the Medicine
"Does Madam Dowager also take tonics?" Ning Xueyan thought for a second and said. In the Lord Protector's Manor, the masters were used to taking tonics in winter. Of course, there was no such rule in the Bright Frost Garden. People in the manor said that Madam Ming and Ning Xueyan had been taking medicine all the time and they couldn't eat other tonics randomly in case the effect of the medicine would be influenced. But Ning Xueyan knew that Madam Dowager started taking tonics in autumn which was useful for old people.
So Madam Dowager had a small pharmacy, small but complete. Compared with the large pharmacy which was in charge of by Madam Ling, there were more precious medicinal materials in Madam Dowager's small pharmacy. Usually, Madam Dowager kept a close eye on her small pharmacy strictly and always brought good things into it, which made Madam Ling jealous.
Ning Xueyan had come up with an idea. Since Madam Ling planned to hurt her, she would let her pay a double penalty.
"Madam Dowager's maids have begun to decoct tonics. Yesterday, I saw a maid decocting medicine in the corner of the corridor. What's wrong, Young Lady?" Lanning had been keenly aware of the problem and urgently asked.
"There is a kind of poison which could make people infertile and die." Ning Xueyan said faintly.
Qingqu was shocked when she was going to take up the lid of the medicine pot to see if the medicine was ready. The lid of the medicine pot in her hand suddenly fell to the ground, making a crisp sound. Qingyu didn't pick it up but asked in surprise, "Young... Young Lady, you said that it was poisoned?"
Under the lamplight, the face of Qingyu was pale. She looked at Ning Xueyan with horror, and almost screamed!
"Qingyu, bring the decoction and come with me." Ning Xueyan walked into the house. Lanning said nothing and followed her. Qingyu calmed down herself, picked up the lid of the medicine pot from the ground, came into the house with the medicine, and closed the door behind her.
The pot was put on the table. Ning Xueyan opened it and smelled a faint osmanthus fragrance. It slowly spread out from the inside, and then dissipated in the wind, leaving no traces. It was very light and dissipated in a very short time. If it was placed for a longer time, that fragrance wouldn't be smelled any more. Then no one would doubt that there was a poison in it. This poison was more powerful than that was used to poison Madam Ming.
Maybe Madam Ling was afraid that things had happened to Madam Ming would happen again and then people would suspect her, so she poisoned Ning Xueyan in a more insidious way.
"What time does Madam Dowager usually take medicine?" Ning Xueyan thought for a while and then asked.
"Madam usually take medicine at around 10 o'clock in the morning. The doctor in the manor said that that time was the best time for Madam Dowager to take medicine. So the maids in Auspicious Fortune Hall decoct medicine for Madam Dowager around that time every day." Lanning had a good relationship with the maids in all the courtyards, so she knew Madam Dowager's habit.
"Young Lady, do you want Madam Dowager to know that First Madam had secretly changed the medicinal materials?" Qingyu also calmed down at this time. Her eyes suddenly brightened, but soon faded down. "Young Lady, the smell is so light that Madam Dowager may not detect it. And she won't check her own pharmacy without any reason. Or do you want to take this medicine to Madam Dowager directly?"
This medicine had been decocted for some time, and Qingyu had never noticed any difference. If they could not find anything, what was the use to bring it to Madam Dowager? On the contrary, Madam Dowager would suspect that Ning Xueyan had a bad intention.
They all knew that Madam Ling was harming Ning Xueyan, but there was no evidence and nobody could prove it. Madam Ling was still the First Madam of the manor as well as Ning Xueyan's namely mother. If she made a false countercharge then, Ning Xueyan would fall into danger.
Ning Xueyan sat down beside the bed and thought for a while, then said, "Don't worry, I'll let people find out that the smell of this medicine is not right. Lanning, you and Qingyu walk to Ning Ziyan's courtyard later while saying..."
Seeing that Ning Xueyan was confident, Lanning and Qingyu nodded and believed that their Young Lady would have the solution. They relaxed and thought in mind, "The Young Lady is quite different now and is more and more convincing!"
After getting up the next morning, Ning Xueyan went to visit Madam Dowager with Qingyu. Her face was paler than before. Madam Dowager asked her to sit down and asked about her situation but found nothing different. She thought that Ning Xueyan looked so pale maybe because she had been weak for a long time.
When they were talking, Ning Yuling came in with her maid. She wore a coat that embroidered gold twisted branches patterns and a skirt in a bright color, which showed her more charming. Compared with pale Ning Xueyan, Ning Yuling was beautiful and lovely.
Seeing that Ning Xueyan was still pale and powerless, Ning Yuling restrained her jealousy. So many things had happened yesterday. The Honored Consort Ya even suggested that Ning Xueyan should marry to Third Prince. Although she didn't mention Ning Yuling, it still alarmed her.
Now Ning Yuling's personal older female servant was sent by Madam Ling. When they returned last night, this older woman told Ning Yuling that Ning Xueyan would not have any children or live for a long time even though they married the Third Prince together. These words made Ning Yuling feel comfortable. Therefore, although she still hated Ning Xueyan, she didn't show it on her face. She even felt a little proud.
"So it's okay that Ning Xueyan seduces the Third Prince since she'll die soon. If she marries the Third Prince together with me, I'll step on her. Look at her, she's so pale and ugly. How dare she seduce the Third Prince?" Ning Yuling thought.
"Fifth sister, you're so early. Did you take the medicine today? I'm afraid you'll faint in front of the Honored Consort Ya if you don't take the medicine. If so, it will irritate the Honored Consort Ya and affect the Lord Protector's Manor!" Ning Yuling proudly raised her chin and said to Ning Xueyan with disdain.
Ning Xueyan smiled lightly and said softly, "Second sister, you came early too. Is it early to visit Honored Consort Ya now?"
If Ning Xueyan hadn't said that it was still early, Ning Yuling also would think it was early. But since Ning Xueling had said, Ning Yuling would not agree with her. She sneered at the moment and said, "It's early? It's just right to go at this time, so as not to make Honored Consort Ya feel that we are used to be idle and there's no rule in the manor. In the manor, everybody visit elders at this time."
Previously, Madam Dowager didn't like Ning Xueyan and never let Ning Xueyan greet her in the morning. Madam Ming didn't trust Madam Ling, so she never greeted anybody in the morning. Now Ning Yuling mocked Ning Xueyan of being unfilial. Sure enough, Madam Dowager became unhappy at once when she heard Ning Yuling's words. But she forgot that it was she who never let Ning Xueyan greet her in the morning.
"Yes, you're right, second sister. Let's go now. But Grandma's medicine..." Ning Xueyan pretended not to understand her meaning. She pointed at the medicine that was being decocted outside and asked, frowning. Usually, Madam Dowager didn't take medicine at this time. But when Ning Xueyan came in, she noticed that the medicine had been decocting for some time. It seemed that Madam Dowager wanted to take some before greeting the Honored Consort Ya.
"The medicine?" Ning Yuling understood at this time. But she didn't want to deny what she said just now and was unwilling to show weakness in front of Ning Xueyan. She took Madam Dowager's sleeve and shook it, saying with coquetry, "Grandmother, we should not take the medicine now. First, it is not the right time and the effect won't be good. Second, I just saw several madams with their daughters going to Honored Consort Ya's courtyard."
"Are they so early?" asked Madam Dowager.
"Yes, Grandma. Tomorrow is the chrysanthemum appreciation grand meeting. Those madams have to go to Honored Consort Ya's courtyard to inquire about it." Ning Yuling muttered, "Grandma, everyone else has gone. It won't be good if we're late."
This remark was very reasonable. The relationship between the Honored Consort Ya and the Lord Protector's Manor was unusual. The marriage between Ning Yuling and the Third Prince was certain. If they were later than others, maybe Honored Consort Ya would be unhappy. Moreover, Madam Dowager had refused Honored Consort Ya's suggestion yesterday, which already had made her unhappy.
"Fine, let's go first!" Madam nodded, stood up, and walked out with Ning Yuling and Ning Xueyan.
"The medicine can't be taken if it's cool. How about asking them to send it to Honored Consort Ya's courtyard. Grandmother can come out to take it and then return to the house. Or else all the medicines you had taken will be in vain! " Ning Xueyan suggested Madam Dowager with concern on her face.
Ning Xueyan's suggestion hit the spot. Madam Dowager had been taking this tonic for some time before and the doctor also told her that she could not stop taking. Otherwise, all the previous efforts would be wasted. Madam Dowager thought Ning Xueyan's suggestion was a good idea. She could then explain to Honored Consort Ya and come out to take medicine. Then she would go back and continue to chat with the Honored Consort Ya.
So Madam Dowager nodded and asked the servants to send the medicine to her when it was ready. Ning Xueyan also specifically advised the servants to pour it into the bowl when it was taken to the Honored Consort Ya's place in case it would be cold and the effect would be reduced. Hearing Ning Xueyan's words, the servants nodded. The Madam Dowager showed a satisfied smile when she saw that Ning Xueyan was so careful.
When they arrived at the entrance of Honored Consort Ya's courtyard, they saw a large group of maids and servants waiting outside. It seemed that those madams were eager to visit Honored Consort Ya.
Knowing that the Madam Dowager of the Lord Protector's Manor was coming, Honored Consort Ya allowed them to come in.
In the house, there were several madams with their daughters. After saluting Honored Consort Ya, Ning Yuling and Ning Xueyan stepped back and sat down with other Young Ladies.
"Madam Dowager Ning, you're so lucky. Look, how beautiful your two granddaughters are." Sitting on the one side of the Honored Consort Ya was the Consort Dowager of the Commandery Prince Li's Manor, who held a snow-white civet cat in her hands. She and Madam Dowager were familiar with each other. She gave a look to Ning Yuling and Ning Xueyan and praised them while touching the head of a civet cat.
Ning Xueyan's gaze could not help but fall on the lazy civet cat.
The snow-white civet cat leaned lazily in the arms of Consort Dowager. There was a lot of meat around its belly. It curled up naturally, head touching its tail. It looked very lovely.
"It's very kind of you, Consort Dowager. They're just ordinary girls. They don't deserve your high praise." Madam Dowager said modestly with a smile. Hearing Consort Dowager's praise, the Madam Dowager was very happy but didn't show it on her face.
"Madam Dowager, you're too modest. Everybody knows that the Second Young Lady of the Lord Protector's Manor is highly cultured and steeped in propriety and also elegant and versatile. She has a straightforward temperament and is responsible. Looking at her appearance now, it's really enjoyable." The Consort Dowager said with a smile and praised Ning Yuling while looking at her.