3 parts for this chapter
Edited by Tnyhy
Chapter 71: Setting Fire to the Ancestral Hall (Part 1)
Naturally the Eastern courtyard of the General residence was very lively. Guests were walking around, those giving their birthday congratulations, those giving gifts, making the entire ambience before the start of the banquet joyous and harmonious.
Old Shen Furen had always put on a generous appearance when she was in front of outsiders, and when the young ladies came up to give their birthday wishes, she would often gift them a valuable gift for the first meeting. Seeing such a scene, those furens’ smiles became more real but Ren Wan Yun clenched her teeth secretly.
Ren Wan Yun was in charge of the public funds and had to manage all the matters of the three households. Old Taitai was extravagant and the amount that she could pocket was much lesser. Moreover Shen Gui usually had to make arrangements in the official circles, and as such, in the following period of time, money was as stretched as pulling the lapels and exposing the elbows.
This side was bustling but the other side was not the same. In the southwest corner of the Shen residence, the ancestral hall was cold and deserted at the moment but outside the courtyard, there stood some guards. An ancestral hall naturally need not require such disposition of forces. The reason for this is because these people are responsible for monitoring Shen Miao so that she would not be able to escape.
The ancestral hall was in the chilliest of land and in the year would often not see the sun, moreover it was currently the winter, thus one would feel the cold penetrating one’s bones when the wind blew. It was filled with a fragrance of incense and the smoke from the joss sticks were still floating up in curls, making the cold ancestral tablets look like they were walking on air.
“Young Lady,” Gu Yu rubbed her hands, “Today is Old Furen’s birthday celebration but they deliberately locked up Young Lady here. This is just too much!”
Not to even talk about letting Shen Miao out, there was not even anyone who came by to ask about her. This was practically as though Shen Miao had done a wrong and the servants were watching her.
“What is with the anxiety.” Shen Miao said while she stood in front of the window. There were bare trees outside the window which looked particularly desolate in the winter.
“How could Young Lady not be anxious?” Gu Yu had held back for these days and finally could not bear it, “They locked up Young Lady here clearly for a forced marriage. After waiting for Master’s and Furen’s return, Young Lady would have already married into the Huang family. Even if Master and Furen want to protect Young Lady, Young Lady’s entire life would be ruined!”
Jing Zhe had been fiddling with the charcoal brazier on the ground the whole time. In the entire cold ancestral hall, there was only this charcoal brazier that was providing some warmth. Seeing a small hanging pole in the house, Shen Miao shook her head, “Bring the few blankets in this house and sun them outside for a Shichen (1 shichen = 2 hours).”
“Young Lady!” Gu Yu stomped her feet and was anxious of Shen Miao’s nonchalant attitude. But when Shen Miao’s eyes swept over, she no longer said anymore and grabbed the few blankets while suppressing her inner feelings, and went out to follow Shen Miao’s instructions and sun the quilts.
“Today’s weather is a rare good one.” Shen Miao looked outside the window. The sun does not reach the ancestral hall and only shone on the middle of the courtyard. She could not leave this ancestral hall courtyard but was also unwilling to walk out of the ancestral hall.
“Young Lady said,” Jing Zhe finally stopped moving the charcoal pieces and continued, “Master and Furen will really rush back today?”
Shen Miao told Jing Zhe that there was nothing to worry about because on Old Shen Furen’s birthday, Shen Xin and wife would return to the Ding capital. Even though these words were absurd to say, because there was no one that came to inform that Shen Xin would be in the capital today, and there was still a period of time before the year ends. Shen Miao was locked in the ancestral hall every day so how would she hear such news? But when Jing Zhe faced Shen Miao, she was unable to ask the questions in her heart. She found a kind of never seen before bearing from her Young Lady. One point was that her words could unconditionally convince others.
Shen Miao said, “In a while, think of a method to stuff those guards outside and make them stay far away from the courtyard. They need not directly leave, but just a further away will do.”
“This servant understand.” Jing Zhe said. Even though she did not know why did Shen Miao arrange it as such, but these past days she has been with Shen Miao in the ancestral all and discovered that Shen Miao did not show panic about the entire scenario. For a person to not panic over the current situation, one was that the person was stupid and did not know of the situation, or the second was that they had a strategy to deal with it. And Jing Zhe did not think that Shen Miao was stupid. So even if Jing Zhe’s heart felt worried like Gu Yu, Jing Zhe trusted Shen Miao unconditionally and believed that she was able to deal with the situation on hand.
Shen Miao took note of her gaze and gave a slight sigh in her heart.
Between her four maids, Gu Yu was the most intelligent, Bai Lu was the most unflustered, Shuang Jiang was the most loyal and Jing Zhe was the most courageous.
At that time, in order to help Fu Xiu Yi consolidate power, Jing Zhen used her own beauty to become that powerful official’s concubine. That official lusted over beauty and Jing Zhe also had many means. Even though at the end she was beaten to death by the Furen, she managed to send the token of authority out before her death and successfully helped Fu Xiu Yi to pull the official over.
As a maid, she was indeed courageous. Jing Zhe was an unusual girl. So for this matter, Gu Yu, Bai Lu and Shuang Jiang were not suitable and only Jing Zhe was slightly better. But once Jing Zhe knew what Shen Miao planned to do, if she would help, Shen Miao had no clue about it.
After all, the things she wanted to do were going to be just too shocking to the world.
“In fact,” Jing Zhe tolerated but still softly said, “If Young Lady wants, it is possible to let Mo Qing think of a way to bring Young Lady out.”
Mo Qing’s skills were above the guards of the General residence. Even though it is hard for two fists to go against four hands, it was not impossible to escape with someone.
“And then?” Shen Miao answered the question with another question. “The skies and earth are big, would peace reign if one escape? The life contracts of you four are in the hands of Old Furen, if I leave, what would happen to you all?”
Jing Zhe suddenly knelt down onto the ground and said, “This servant knows that because of these servants life, Young Lady is then willing to stay here, but if Young Lady fall into adversity because of these servants, then these servants deserve to die ten thousand times. In the beginning, Master and Furen picked these four servants to stay by Young Lady’s side so that these servants would take care of Young Lady. How can now be in reverse and be Mistress that is taking care of these servants?”
There was a trace of being emotionally moved that appeared in Shen Miao’s eyes. Shen Xin indeed knew how to pick people. These four maids never had a trace of abandonment in her most difficult time in her past life. However people were not goods and in this world, things were simple, when there was gratitude pay it back and revenge when there was enmity. One could not give up the personal maids just to win over the hearts of others.
“Do not you worry.” Shen Miao said, “Nothing will happen to you all and me. Today it is Old Furen’s birthday celebration, I heard that Second Elder Sister had sewn a Goddess of Mercy painting for Grandmother, and since they have forgotten about me then I would not take a laissez-faire attitude to it.” She smiled gently, “I too have a large gift for Old Furen but do not know if she will have the fortune to enjoy it.”