Chapter 527 Ning Yuling’s Tryst at the Teahouse
Ning Xueyan did not return right away but went to the teahouse of the Ming Manor. But Ming Yuanhua was not there and she was free, so she simply asked for a box and sat in it, drinking tea quietly and pondering things.
Mother Chen had told her lots of things, but she could not think them through in a short time. She had been feeling that she seemed to have neglected something important in them.
Sitting at the window with her thin, curved brows knitted, she was carefully thinking as she fiddled with the teacup at her hand.
“The reason why Ning Zu’an was so merciless toward Madam Ming is that he suspected that I was not his child. Of course, this is also because Madam Ming had lost the value she once had. If Madam Ming’s father had still been Minister Ming, Ning Zu’an would have never treated her so mercilessly.
“Surely, Ning Zu’an was not a good man in the past. In fact, he had raised Madam Ling as his woman outside the family, and he and Madam Ling had also given birth to Ning Huaiyuan, but he still pretended that he had a deep love and sincerely wanted to marry his cousin. He even swore that he would not marry another woman and would live with Madam Ming wholeheartedly. By cheating so, he made Madam Ming marry him, who, however, had a lower status back then.
“Later, Madam Ling with her two children cried and screamed, wanting to enter the family and live in it. Since Madam Ling had children, Madam Ming was forced to allow her to live in the mansion. After that, concubines sitting in sedan chairs were carried into the house one after another, and then they gave birth to Ning Yuling and Ning Lingyun.
“Not to mention that Madam Ming was the proud daughter of an aristocratic family, even if she had been the daughter of an ordinary family, she could not have borne such cheating, but he even suspected the child in her belly.” Ning Xueyan did feel that this was ridiculous. “How could a noble daughter of an aristocratic family take a fancy to a person casually and have children just after going outside with the person for once inexplicably?”
“I don’t know if Ning Zu’an is despicable himself, so when he treats others, he always feels that others will hide something from him on purpose.” As for treating such a person, Ning Xueyan thought that even if she had had the character of Ning Ziying in her previous life, she would have been cold toward him and despised him, and she would rather have lived alone than with him.
Suddenly, Madam Ming’s look of being indifferent to fame and wealth appeared in her mind. “She always held a light attitude, and her smile was also like this.”
“Since I had memories, I had been feeling that Madam Ming was unwilling to go out of the Bright Frost Garden. It seemed that everything in the Bright Frost Garden was independent of the outside, and what the Lord Protector’s Manor gave to the Bright Frost Garden was the most basic living needs. If the Garden needed anything else, Madam Ming would have to buy them with her silver, but most of her trousseau was taken away by Madam Ling.
“Her life became more and more difficult, but even so, Madam Ming did not show any demands on Ning Zu’an. Was it really because there was nothing to ask for or was she frustrated?”
Ning Xueyan had a memory of the scene when Madam Ming was dying, where she smiled, but the smile made Ning Xueyan shed copious tears at that time. Watching Madam Ming spit blood mouthful after mouthful, she panicked, kept crying, and fell on her knees on Madam Ming’s bedside.
At that time, there were no others in the room. Madam Ming caressed her head as she smiled, looking as gentle as ever.
“Don’t be afraid, Yan’er. If you can’t go on living here, you can leave here and should never return. Over the years, no one has ever come… or really couldn’t come. If I had known this, I would have left here with you that day.” Madam Ming heaved a sigh, stopped smiling, and caressed Ning Xueyan’s beautiful hair, and the latter could not understand the obscure look in her eyes.
Ning Xueyan was only afraid at that time. Madam Ming was her only support, but now the support was about to fall, so how could she not be frightened? She wept miserably and holding Madam Ming’s hand tightly, did not let go of it in whatever condition.
“At that time, I just thought that Madam Ming gave me such an idea because she pitied me for being a weak girl with no one to rely on. Now when I think about it, I realize that Madam Ming meant something else. What’s the meaning of ‘no one has ever come’? Was Madam Ming waiting for someone’s coming?” Her fingers trembled, and the teacup slipped out of her hands and fell heavily on the ground, making a crisp breaking sound. Since the water was the newly brought boiling water, when a few drops were splashed on Ning Xueyan’s foot, she hurriedly took her feet back in pain.
“What’s up, mistress? Were you burned?” Lanning asked hurriedly when she pushed the door open and saw the teacup on the ground.
“Nothing, it doesn’t matter.” Ning Xueyan shook her head, looked at the door Lanning had half-opened just now, and frowned. Just now, she seemed to have seen Ning Yuling.
“Strange! What is Ning Yuling doing here at this time? She seems not a person who can gain peace in her mind and sit quietly drinking tea.”
“Mistress, mistress…” Lanning called Ning Xueyan twice before the latter woke up from her dazed state.
“What’s the matter?”
“Mistress, please raise your feet a bit, and let me clean the shards at your feet,” Lanning said.
“Leave this alone. Lanning, go and ask the shopkeeper if he has seen such a beautiful lady like Ning Yuling?” Ning Xueyan held Lanning’s hand, helped her up, and pointed at the outside. “The person I saw just now should be Ning Yuling, right? Unfortunately, I only saw a back but did not see the person clearly.”
“You saw Second Young Lady, mistress? Okay, let me go and ask now.” Lanning stood up and looked outside in surprise. She only saw boxes outside but didn’t see people outside the corridor, but she usually believed Ning Xueyan’s judgment, so she nodded, turned and left the box, and closed the door carefully behind her for Ning Xueyan.
She returned soon. When she closed the door, she whispered to Ning Xueyan, “Mistress, the shopkeeper asks us to change to another box.”
Ning Xueyan nodded, stood up, and left the box after Lanning. Outside the box, a shop boy was waiting. When he saw the two of them coming out, he walked past a bend with them, came to another box, and said with a grin, “Please go inside first, you two, and let me go and make some tea for you.”
“Go!” Lanning replied and entered the box after Ning Xueyan.
Compared with the box they were in just now, this one, which was more inside but was not on the same side as the previous one, was one of the few quite covert boxes in the teahouse and also Ming Feiyong’s private box. Although one side of it still had a window view, there were a few more layers of light gauzes in the window, and their arrangement was exceptionally elegant.
When she closed the door, Lanning pointed at the painting on the right, which was named Cold River Fishing Painting. Ning Xueyan nodded, walked to the side of the painting, reached out to the protruding spot of the old fisherman’s fishing pole, and pressed it. Then the painting silently indented to both sides. Immediately, that part of the wall seemed to be missing.
From the empty space, human voices could be faintly heard.
Lanning eavesdropped and then whispered in Ning Xueyan’s ear, “It is Second Young Lady!”
Right, the person on the other side was Ning Yuling, but the voice was just different from Ning Yuling’s arrogant and domineering voice in her memory. Instead, it was soft and alluring. If Ning Xueyan had not been quite familiar with Ning Yuling’s voice, she would not have believed that the woman who had made the extremely soft and alluring voice really was Ning Yuling.
Sitting quietly in the chair beneath the painting, Ning Xueyan propped her head with her hand, sat still, and eavesdropped peacefully with closed eyes.
This teahouse belonged to Ming Feiyong, so it was not difficult to look for a person, especially when the person was Ning Yuling who was so beautiful.
But Ning Yuling did not expect that she was in the box beside Ming Feiyong’s. What a coincidence!
“Princely Heir, I have to go home. If I don’t go home now and I am found, I will again…” Ning Yuling made a soft, alluring, and aggrieved sound, giving others a feeling that she was quite pathetic.
“Don’t be afraid, and this won’t last long. When the time comes, I will think of a way to take you away, lest that you should be bullied in the Xia Manor all the time.” A man’s clear voice came, but Ning Xueyan was not familiar with it. Yet, this showed that the person inside was a man, though she did not know how Ning Yuling had hooked up with this “Princely Heir”.
Hearing this sound, she knew that the relationship between the two was by no means ordinary.
“But I… I am afraid that they will find… I am still afraid.” There was timidity in Ning Yuling’s tender voice, making others pity her very much.
“It’s okay, don’t be afraid, and I’ll help you. I’ll lend a guard you need to you and get the thing done,” the man said with a consoling tone.
“Thank you, Princely Heir. Then I’m going home.” Ning Yuling made a sound of not wishing to part.
“When can you come out again, then?” The man didn’t seem to want to let her go home like this and affectionately asked her the time of meeting her next time.
“Princely Heir, don’t worry, and I should be able to come out in a few days. Could you ask your guard to stay at the gate of the Xia Manor these few days? When he sees me come out of the Xia Manor, he will protect me secretly. When I reach the place, I will ask him to come out and help me. By doing so, a sudden effect can be shown,” Ning Yuling said coquettishly.
“Okay, rest assured. I’ll ask him to stay at the gate of your Xia Manor in a while,” the man promised instantly.
After that, it seemed that Ning Yuling opened the door and left.
Lanning was hoping to tell Ning Xueyan with a signal to put the painting together when another voice suddenly came from the other side, “Do you really want this woman, Princely Heir?”
It turned out that there was another person in the room.
“Yes, why not? I haven’t enjoyed such a beautiful woman enough. I heard that she almost became Third Prince’s woman sometime in the past, but I don’t know how he will react when he finds that the woman who almost became his princess becomes my concubine in the future?” the man said with a little frivolous smile, and the affectionate look he held just now when he talked with Ning Yuling had already disappeared.
“Do you really want to take her away, Princely Heir? The princess will be angry.”
“This is just a game, and I won’t take it seriously. I, your prince, just heard that this woman is quite dissolute. Not only did she have a relationship with Third Prince, but she also hooked up with Ao Xian. After that, she even dared to strip off and seduce her elder sister’s husband on the street. I, your princely heir, have never met a woman who is even bolder than the women in the brothel, so I need to play with her enjoyably.”
The man made lewd laughter without caring about anything, but then he stopped laughing and his voice turned a little gloomy. “The capital is quite a complicated society, and I don’t want to do anything but play with beautiful women. This won’t affect anyone’s business, so I don’t think I am so useless that the emperor wants to detain me in the capital!”
“Yes, I see.”
“You just go and stay outside the gate of the Xia Manor these few days. When this woman comes out, you should secretly protect her and do whatever she asks you to do. Anyway, I’m just a libertine, and it’s quite normal for me to break a few rules of law for women. Asking my guard to help a woman kill someone or commit a crime is not a big deal, but due to my dissolute way of living, my subordinates can’t do anything great,” the man instructed.
“Commit a crime and kill someone?” Ning Xueyan knitted her brows tightly. “Whom does Ning Yuling hate most? There seems to be no one but me, so Ning Yuling should want to deal with me by borrowing the guard this time.
“Besides, Ning Qingshan and Madam Ling have also made contributions to it. It seems that this is a big trap Ning Yuling has set for me. Even if she can’t kill me with an attack, she will ruin my reputation, for sure.”