Published at 30th of November 2019 10:05:58 AM

Chapter 178

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After Minglan dressed herself up, Xiaotao, as reluctant as she was, watched Minglan stepping out of the room slowly with the support of Caihuan. The moment Caihuan lowered her head, she saw the bracelet on Minglan’s wrist, of which each of the round pearl was as big as the little finger and as bright as the stars.

Being shocked by that, Caihuan had a further understanding of the wealth of Gu’s mansion. Even Wang shi only possessed a few pearls which were of the same size and quality and could only inlay them on her hairpins or bracelets. However, just now, Caihuan had seen Minglan put on a string of those pearls so randomly.

While Caihuan was still pondering of that, she and Minglan already arrived at the side hall of the House of Auspiciousness. Two crabapple flower trees next to the huge red pillars gave out a pleasant coolness in the early spring. The glass which was rare to be seen in ordinary families was made to be the windows here. As the sun shined into the hall through the transparent windows, the whole place seemed extremely bright.

The moment Minglan stepped into the hall, she saw Fifth Old Madam and her two daughters-in-law sitting there. The maids were serving tea. Having stepped forward with a smile, Minglan gave her obeisance to Fifth Old Madam and said, “Greetings, Fifth Aunt. Pardon me for being late.”

Fifth Old Madam sat upright on her seat. Today she was wearing a purple red brocade Beizi with Ocean Ruyi pattern, looking even more graceful than the last time Minglan had seen her. Hearing Minglan’s words, Fifth Old Madam said in a flat tone, “You are a busy girl today. I only hope you won’t mind an old woman like me bothering you.”

Minglan smiled gently and answered briefly, “I dare not.” Then she turned around and gave her obeisance to the other two. After she had sent her regards to them, Eldest Madam Yang and Second Madam Di both stood up and returned the obeisance.

The four of them all sat down after the greetings. Second Madam Di was a young woman who was around twenty-six or seven. This elegant and noble madam was wearing a beaming smile on her fair and pretty face. Seeing the atmosphere being a bit awkward in the room, she praised, “By the way, this is the first time I have been here! How splendid this mansion is! I have thought that it would need lots of repairs since it has been vacant for so long! Now I feel myself such a shallow woman!”

Minglan smiled modestly and replied, “Second sister-in-law, I have thought the exact same thing as you did. But later I acknowledged that His Majesty has sent someone to guard this place all the time, which saved us lots of works from repairing this place.”

With light flashing in Fifth Old Madam’s eyes, she put on a slightly disdainful look while saying politely, “Since His Majesty has already showed appreciation for your family, why are the decorations in this room so simple? I just feel uncomfortable looking at such an empty place.”

Minglan responded quickly by lowering her head shyly, “It’s your nephew’s idea. He said that we should open the storeroom after all the servants in the mansion have their own duties. He didn’t want to see accidents happen due to the rush. I didn’t want to refute him...”

Second Madam Di covered her mouth and chuckled, “Second Brother-In-Law Ye is always like that! I’ve never seen him change a bit. Don’t blame yourself for this.”

Minglan also grinned as a kind gesture. The tension in the hall was eased for the moment. Then Minglan glanced at Eldest Madam Yang, finding the latter being still quite nervous. During the whole time, Eldest Madam Yang only shrank into herself and drank the tea alone, daring not to say anything.

Minglan found that quite strange. Gu Tingyang was the eldest legal son of the Fifth family, why did...

While they were chatting with each other, Fifth Old Madam was still wearing a cold look on her face. As Minglan talked about the affairs in the mansion, Fifth Old Madam used her handkerchief to wipe the corner of her mouth, saying, “Since there are so many places to be fixed up here, why don’t you order someone to start working as soon as possible? What’s that meaning of doing those useless things?”

Minglan played dumb and kept smiling gently, “I am a silly girl who is afraid of making mistakes. Since we are not in a rush setting up the place, I’d like to take my time and figure out what kinds of people I will hire first.” Minglan was quite curious how this woman who always assumed herself to be a refined madam was going to start a quarrel.

With a sullen look suddenly showing on Fifth Old Madam’s face, she clenched her hand on the table into a fist while asking, “Do you know why I’m here?”

“To visit me, what else can it be?” Minglan gave out an adorable smile.

Having paused a bit, Fifth Old Madam said with sarcasm, “I dare not! Tingye really is a successful man right now. How can I expect him to respect an old woman like me! I only wish that he won’t tread me under his feet!”

Minglan used the teacup lid to skim the tea scums while saying smilingly, “Aunt, don’t tease me like that. What do you mean by treading you? You really have confused me.” Then she glimpsed at the two sisters-in-law, seeing them drinking their tea in unity.

Being choked by Minglan’s words, Fifth Old Madam showed a mixed expression on her face. Then she thumped on the table, saying, “Fine! Hear this, it’s fine that Tingye wants to live in his own mansion, we won’t argue with that anymore. We have worried that the two of you don’t have skilled servants. After all, it is hard to manage such a huge mansion. Don’t you see that we only sent those servants to you with good intentions? But look what you two have done, Tingye has disregarded them for months, and you, it has only been a few days since you have married into our family, and you already started to interrogate those elders as if they were prisoners!” Fifth Old Madam kept snorting while saying that.

Minglan observed Fifth Old Madam’s action, being not offended at all. As a matter of fact, ever since last time when she had argued about whether Gu Tingye should live in his own mansion in Marquis Ningyuan’s mansion, she found the characters of his aunts quite interesting.

Fourth Old Madam seemed to be a lively woman who liked to tell jokes, but was actually very prudent. She never uttered a single inappropriate word. On the contrary, this Fifth Old Madam looked like a polite and elegant madam. However, deep down she was a rather impulsive woman who would take actions right away once she felt upset or was instigated.

It was true that men could not be judged by their looks.

“So that is what it was all about.” Minglan stopped fiddling with her tea cup and stared at Fifth Old Madam peacefully. Then she said in a loud voice all of a sudden, “Are they all here?”

“Yes, Madam.” A reverent voice came through from the outside.

“Please come in.”

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After the gauzy apricot curtain with bamboos had been lifted, Xiahe came into the room and then held up the curtain. After that came in several middle-aged women who were from the Lai, Hua, Tian and Diao families. The second they saw Fifth Old Madam, the looks on their faces changed right away. They all looked at each other with different expressions. After Xiahe put down the curtain, she took out a stack of papers from her sleeves and handed them to Minglan respectfully.

Having taken over the papers, Minglan took a glance at them and got a bit surprised. Then she laughed inwardly and took back the papers. When she raised her head again, she looked at the four women with a faint smile on her face, saying, “What a good messenger Fifth Old Madam has. You have just been questioned this morning and my Fifth Aunt arrived so soon.”

The looks on the four women’s faces looked even more awkward. The other three women all looked straight at Mama Diao with seemingly reproachful impressions in their eyes. Under the gaze of all the other women, Mama Diao nearly drooped her head to her chest with a purple face. Seeing that, Fifth Old Madam was quite displeased. She never realized that Minglan would act so fast and call those Mamas over during their conversation. It looked as if Minglan was ready to start a confrontation.

“So what? I can’t even ask?” Fifth Old Madam said loudly.

Minglan seemed to find her quite funny and then replied in a sweet voice, “I have just asked them a few questions. Why are you so vexed, Fifth Aunt? Didn’t you just tell me that they were presented to me? Now I can’t even ask them a few questions?”

Fifth Old Madam, flying into a rage, stood up immediately and said, “I wouldn’t have said anything if you just asked a few questions. But you were interrogating them! You almost let them confess who their ancestors were! Tell me this, do you trust us or not? Just say it if you don’t. I’ll bring them back right away. I won’t let them annoy you!”

Minglan chose to play dumb again, “What’s so bad about that? Does asking a few questions have anything do to with my trust in you?”

“You shouldn’t have questioned the servants who were sent by your elders!” Fifth Old Madam refused to reason things out then.

Minglan, having put down her teacup, sat upright and said to Fifth Old Madam reverently, “Aunt, I wonder if you know the first thing His Majesty has done after he ascended the throne? Aye..., he ordered the Ministry of Personnel to hand in an evaluation form of all the officials over the past ten years.”

Fifth Old Madam looked at Minglan in a daze, not knowing the implication in the words she had just heard. Then Minglan continued, “According to your words, His Majesty must be mistrustful of the emperor before him by doing that.”

“Nonsense! When have I ever said that?!” Fifth Old Madam was freaked out. She didn’t understand how Minglan had managed to get on that subject. Fifth Old Madam cried out, “Don’t try to put a blame on me!”

Minglan laughed joyfully and said, “But all the officials were actually left to His Majesty by the last emperor. However, I didn’t see His Majesty quit questioning them. Aunt, weren’t you talking about the same thing?”

Seeing Fifth Old Madam biting her lips with her chest moving up and down, Minglan smiled even more joyfully, “Oh, right, I have heard from Teacher Zhuang that our last emperor has also asked an evaluation form of all the officials from the Ministry of Personnel when he took the throne. Alas, is it possible that... you think that our last emperor also mistrusted Emperor Wu? Well, maybe you didn’t mean for that. So perhaps that is Fifth Uncle’s idea.”

Hearing that, Fifth Old Madam felt her blood freezing. Then, being both startled and scared, she didn’t dare to lose her temper again and only waved her hands, saying, “Don’t talk rubbish. I didn’t mean that!... Ask them as you wish. It’s not a big deal. I, I didn’t say anything! Go ask them!”

Minglan decided to end this thing on good note, knowing that she couldn’t go too far. She sat up straight and stated solemnly, “Although I am a woman, I also find our last emperor and His Majesty extremely wise. Supervising the officials is always good for keeping an honest political system and protecting the happiness of the civilians. That is why the Ministry of Personnel has conducted an assessment every three years and an evaluation every five years. That is all for the prosperity for our nation! Fifth Aunt, do you think so too?”

‘You are asking me if His Majesty is a wise emperor, what else can I say?’ Fifth Old Madam thought of that while agreeing to Minglan continuously with sweats all over her forehead. Second Madam Di who was beside her also helped smooth things over. Minglan only replied them with a tender smile.

The four elder servants who stood there looked at each other with vigilant looks in their eyes. Then they lowered their head.

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