Published at 21st of June 2019 06:22:43 AM

Chapter 105

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The Uncertain Future of Three Sisters (2)

Tears welled up in Hai shi's eyes. She wiped them off and continued, "The imperial army put down the revolt and luckily, the capital was undamaged at all. As many men of the capital had taken part in the war and returned safe and sound, their families all went to temples and nunneries to burn incense and redeem their vows to Buddhas. One day when night fell, the gatekeeper of our mansion suddenly came to report that Marquis Yongchang's Household had their servants send Sister Molan back. Madam was completely stunned. I immediately went to the House of Mountain Moon and found that Sister Molan was not there. I was so angry that I asked my servants to tie her maids up and questioned them closely. Then I knew that Sister Molan had secretly slipped out that morning."

Hai shi sobbed softly. Now she was in charge of many affairs of the Shen Mansion. After this ignoble thing, she must have been blamed by Sheng Hong and Wang shi so that she looked mentally and physically exhausted. Minglan felt sorry for Hai shi and came near her to comfort her by stroking her back.

Hai shi gratefully glanced at Minglan and wiped away tears on her face before she added, "… I went to the gate and brought Sister Molan back. Then I made some inquiries and discovered that… Sister Molan went to Longhua Temple without notice that morning. Coincidentally, Young Master Liang Han also accompanied Madam Liang to the temple. Later, when Sister Molan fell from the carriage and was in danger of rolling down a hill, Young Master Liang Han happened to ride a horse beside her carriage, so he saved Sister Molan in time. Under the watchful eyes of the people, he held Sister Molan in his arms and brought her back."

With that, Hai shi lowered her head. Minglan and Old Madam Sheng looked at each other with complicated emotions in their eyes. In this situation, the possible marriage between Minglan and Liang Han surely fell through. For Minglan, she didn't need to set herself against Sheng Hong and Wang shi. For Old Madam Sheng, there was no need to take a lot of arguing to persuade Sheng Hong. But for the Sheng Mansion, it was an ignoble thing.

Old Madam Sheng stared at Hai shi and queried slowly, "She must have accomplices. Have you found them out?"

Hai shi stopped crying and raised her head. "As soon as we knew this matter, Madam arrested all the servants in the House of Mountain Moon, including Yunzai who posed as Sister Molan and feigned illness on the bed, and the gatekeeper who prepared the carriage for Sister Molan. Madam tortured them during interrogation according to the domestic discipline. Soon they gave the name of the chief culprit. It was Concubine Lin. Master flew into a rage and flogged Concubine Lin and Sister Molan soundly. Then they were locked in the woodshed for three days and nights. During this period, they could eat only one meal a day."

Minglan was left speechless. Concubine Lin was very capable of planning. First of all, she made certain that when the madam and young master of Marquis Yongchang's Household would go to the Longhua Temple and which way they would take. Then she bought off many servants to help her to conceal Molan's whereabouts from Madam and Master for a whole day. She was indeed a very determined and strong-willed woman who elaborately planned this for her daughter with great finesse.

Old Madam Sheng was a little angry, her chest heaving, and asked, "What does Master plan to do with this shameless girl?"

With a pale face, Hai shi answered in low voice, "After that Marquis Yongchang's Household haven't made any promises. Concubine Lin knelt before Master and cried day and night. She begged Madam to visit Marquis Yongchang's Household and bring up a proposal of marriage. Concubine Lin also said Sister Molan could only kill herself if Madam didn't do that. Madam got sick with rage."

Old Madam Sheng sneered, "Your mother-in-law is too useless. She used to be a tough woman but now she was beaten down by such a small threat. Since they dared do that, they have to accept the bad consequence. Just leave Molan alone! She has no courage to die."

A trace of embarrassment flashed through Hai shi's eyes and she said slightly, "It's not the real reason for Madam's illness."

"What's the real reason then?" Old Madam Sheng asked briefly.

Hai shi twisted the handkerchief with her fingers for a few seconds. Then she resolutely raised her head and replied, "Grand Secretary Shen likes Second Young Master of Duke Qi's Household, Qi Heng, the son of Junzhu Pingning. Some time ago, he went to Duke Qi's Household and proposed a marriage between his granddaughter and Qi Heng. Duke Qi's Household readily agreed."

Old Madam Sheng curled up her lips with irony and said, "So what? What does this matter have to do with our family?"

Hai shi looked at Old Madam Sheng in embarrassment and stammered, "A few months ago, Junzhu Pingning gave Madam a hint that she wanted Sister Rulan to be her daughter-in-law. Madam was satisfied with this marriage. Though Junzhu Pingning didn't make a certain promise with Madam, it was a tacit agreement. But Junzhu Pingning suddenly changed her mind. Madam sent people to question Junzhu. She only said simply, 'How is the marriage of Fourth Young Lady in Sheng Mansion?'"

Old Madam Sheng slapped the table with the palm of her hand and cursed with hatred, "What a shameless girl! She disgraces our family's name."

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Minglan was depressed. In ancient times, if a girl did something dishonorable, it would drag down the reputations of her sisters. Molan went out to seduce Liang Han without shame, which also brought shame on Minglan's name though she did nothing.

Hai shi was still mumbling haltingly. Old Madam Sheng became inpatient and snapped, "What else happened? Speak frankly! This old bone can stand the shock."

Hai shi was once a woman with a crisp manner of speaking. But these days a continuous stream of mishaps happened to the Sheng family, which stunned her. Hai shi took a deep breath to calm herself down and determined to tell Old Madam Sheng everything. "Master asked Madam to visit Marquis Yongchang's Household and propose the marriage for Molan. But Madam firmly refused him. Just when they came to a deadlock, Madam's sister-in-law wrote to say that Cousin Wang had been engaged to Kang Yuan'er (LOL…careful not to confuse this one with Yun'er who is already married to Changwu, this is definitely a new girl), and they had even exchanged betrothal gifts… Madam was greatly shocked. She sent a servant to rush to Fengtian City that very night and ask why her sister-in-law changed her mind. Her sister-in-law wrote back saying, 'Since Madam prefers Young Master of Duke Qi's Household to be her son-in-law, of course I will find another lady for my son.' The servant also brought a message from Old Madam Wang. Old Madam Wang said that she was so annoyed with Madam for chopping and changing. She also scolded Madam for looking down upon her legal grandson. Grandmother, Madam didn't mention it to outsiders that she was consulting with Junzhu Pingning on the marriage. How could the Wang family in Fengtian City know it? Madam soon found out the truth. She couldn't restrain her anger, so she went to reason with Aunt Kang. But she was enraged by Aunt Kang's remarks and finally fell ill."

Minglan took in a large gulp of air. The reason Wang shi took a hard line on Molan's marriage was because she had reached an agreement on Rulan's marriage with the Wang family which was her own family, and she naturally thought that they would overlook the disgrace Molan had brought to the Sheng family. Since Rulan's marriage wouldn't be influenced, Wang shi set her mind at rest. But she didn't expect that her trusted sister, Aunt Kang, betrayed her and robbed Rulan's marriage.

Old Madam Wang was much closer to her grandson than her daughter though she also loved Wang shi. Wang shi's behavior of picking and choosing seriously injured the Wang family's egos, so with Aunt Kang's unremitting efforts, Old Madam Wang accepted Kang Yuan'er as her grandson's future wife. Anyway, Rulan and Kang Yuan'er were both her granddaughter. In this way Kang Yuan'er was betrothed to Cousin Wang.

After hearing that, Old Madam Sheng was in no mood to talk. She sighed and looked at Minglan who lightly pounded her thighs to ease her sore muscles. Suddenly, Old Madam Sheng was thankful that she had a good relationship with Old Madam He who was a person of good character and in the circumstances Minglan's marriage was unlikely to fizzle out.

'Alas! It's a chaotic situation. What can I do to deal with it? Now Wang shi must hate Concubine Lin and Molan to the extreme,' Old Madam Sheng thought to herself helplessly.

"Except for these matters, is everything all right in our mansion?" Old Madam Sheng said in a low spirit and slightly turned her body sideways.

Hai shi put down the handkerchief and forced a smile. "Yes. Quan is getting new teeth. Now he can speak some words. I will take him to see you later… Oh, what's more, I sent gifts to the He family during this Spring Festival as you told. Old Madam He was good-natured and repeatedly expressed her thanks. Not long ago, I heard that Hongwen's aunt and her family came to the capital and the He family was looking for a suitable house for them. My cousin's wife has a courtyard house. There is a gate in front and at the back of the house. It's not very big but it's clean and tidy. They can directly move into the courtyard house. I thought I should consult with you on this matter. Grandmother, what's your opinion?"

Minglan paused for a moment and looked up at Old Madam Sheng whose eyes flickered.

He Hongwen's mother only had one sister, so He Hongwen only had one aunt. In the early days, the two families had exchanged frequent visits. Over the years of contacting with the He family, Old Madam Sheng knew that He Hongwen's mother was concerned about the Cao family in Liang Prefecture. She began to worry about whether the Cao family had good characters or not.

Old Madam Sheng took a long breath, her knuckles whitening as she clenched the rosary so hard in her fingers. 'After returning to the Sheng Mansion, I have to solve the problems one by one. So I must cheer myself up,' she thought to herself.

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