The following morning, Nanny Qin brought a few servant maids with her to Jingxin courtyard. Shen Ninghua had dressed up for the day long before, and was sitting in front of her mirror.
Bai Ruo came in with Nanny Qin, she gave a bow and reported, “Young miss, Nanny Qin is here to help with your moving.”
“To trouble Nanny Qin this early in the morning, Ninghua apologizes. Hong Lin, serve some tea for Nanny Qin.” Shen Ninghua said with a smile.
Nanny Qin had been observing Bai Ruo’s behaviour since she came to the courtyard, and she was shocked by what she had observed. Nanny Qin had been serving in the palace for some time and was extremely familiar with the proper mannerism expected of servants even though she didn’t hold any important positions. Upon seeing the servants in Shen Ninghua’s courtyard, she realised that their etiquettes were actually more refined and advanced than her own! How was that possible?
Wasn’t Shen Ninghua uneducated and ignored since birth? Her actions recently did not fit the description that she had been labeled. Could she be hiding some secrets that even the First Lady could not find out?
“Nanny Qin, I don’t really have much to pack so there isn’t a need for this many people, after all, I already have Bai Ruo and Qing Que to help me.”
“Nonsense, these menial tasks are naturally under this servant’s care.” Nanny Qin turned to the people behind her, “quickly, go and help the Eldest miss.”
Shen Ninghua remained in front of her dressing table, her lips curled into a smirk as she watched the servants behind her desperately looking for something to do.
Nanny Qin immediately regretted giving out that order. When the First Lady gave Shen Ninghua this courtyard, she did not add any furniture to this place, not to mention Shen Ninghua herself did not have much personal belongings with her. As a result, every servant only had a few things in their hands to carry.
Shen Ninghua did not mind it at all, “since everyone is ready, let’s proceed to Yingyue courtyard.”
Bai Ruo and Bi Zhu walked beside Shen Ninghua, while Hong Lin and Qing Que stayed near their side, keeping an eye on the awkward-looking group of servants behind them. With that, they made their way to Yingyue courtyard slowly.
Jingxin courtyard was located at the northwest side of the backyard, whereas Yingyue courtyard was at the south side. Thus, they needed to walk through the Shen family gardens. Just as they arrived near the gardens, Shen Ninghua saw Su Shi with another lady admiring the flowers.
“Ninghua, why is there such a large group of people with you?” Su Shi called out when she saw Shen Ninghua.
“Ninghua greets Second aunt and this lady.”
“This is the Eldest daughter? Hm, as the rumours say, a rare beauty. What are all these people carrying?” asked Shao Shi, the Military Commander’s wife, a jade fan in hand and wearing a elegant dress.
“Replying to the lady, we are moving to another courtyard.” Shen Ninghua replied with a smile.
“Moving?” Shao Shi spared a glance at the servants who were nearly empty handed, “where are all your belongings?”
Shen Ninghua’s face flushed red and she lowered her head slightly as she looked at Nanny Qin pleadingly.
Nanny Qin rushed forward, “replying to this lady, Yingyue courtyard is already well furnished, we are only bringing the things that the Eldest miss uses regularly. The First Lady is worried that the young miss might not be used to the new furniture and asked this servant to tag along so that we can take note of the furniture to change tomorrow.” If outsiders caught wind of what the First Lady had done, then it would definitely ruin the reputation of the Shen family.
Shen Ninghua gave a pause, her expression blank, before nodding in agreement, “Nanny Qin is right, Mother treats me extremely well.”
Shao Shi took a sip of her tea, and wiped her lips with her handkerchief. “I have heard about Lady Shen’s kindness,” she said with a courteous smile.
“Exactly, Sister Zhao has always been so thoughtful of others. Since we are so free today, let’s go to Yingyue courtyard as well. I heard that the craftsmanship of that courtyard is particularly exquisite.” Su Shi suggested.
“Then I shall take up on that offer,” Shao Shi replied with a smile, carefully observing Shen Ninghua. She was surprised by Su Shi’s actions. Shao Shi and Su Shi were best friends and they maintained their close relationship even after marriage. She knew that Su Shi disliked involving herself in other people’s business. So what was so special about Shen Ninghua, that caused Su Shi to help her like this?
Nanny Qin’s expression turned ugly, and hurriedly gave a signal to a servant behind her. The servant nodded, and rushed to the First lady’s Chunhua courtyard when nobody was looking.
Yingyue courtyard was a lot more exquisite compared to Jingxin courtyard. It’s elegance could be felt even before entering the courtyard. All the flowers and plants were all carefully maintained.
Shen Ninghua’s gaze swept through the bushes, and spotted a grey piece of cloth among the green. “Who is there?” she bellowed.
Su Shi and Shao Shi jumped in fright, and followed Shen Ninghua’s gaze. Before they could process what was happening , a small figure emerged from the bush and charged towards Shen Ninghua.
“Ninghua!” Su Shi shouted.
Qing Que rushed to Shen Ninghua’s side with a small jump, and gave the figure a round-horse kick. The figure flew back into the bushes.
“Ah, you wretched slave, how dare you attack me,” a child’s voice rang out from the bushes after a brief moment.
Shen Xuanlin! Shen Ninghua’s expression shifted, her eyes calculative. The First lady Zhao Yunxiang only gave birth to Shen Xuanhua and Shen Linghan. Afterwards, nobody in the Shen family had any children. Yet Shen Dong’s third concubine somehow managed to give birth to Shen Xuanlin, Shen Dong’s second son. However, when Shen Xuanlin was four, the Third concubine suddenly passed away, and Shen Xuanlin was placed in the care of the First lady. Shen Xuanlin’s personality was terrible, he disliked studying and he was both arrogant and unreasonable. At the young age of nine, he actually punished his personal servant to death. Shen Dong was extremely unsatisfied with him, and thus Shen Xuanlin was utterly ignored in the household.
“Second young master? Where are your servants?” Nanny Qin helped him up, a sense of unease growing in her chest. Shen Xuanlin was away at school for the past few days, and today being his rest day. Did he not receive the order to stay away from Yingyue courtyard?
“Let go of me. Hurry up and take down that wretched slave who kicked me!” Shen Xuanlin glared at Qing Que, his expression dark.
Shen Ninghua walked forward, “ah, it’s you, Second brother. How could you be so careless? It won’t be a big deal if you knocked into me, but it would be bad if you injured Lady Shao. It was Qing Que’s mistake just now, I’d like to apologise in her place.”
“Who do you think you are?” Shen Xuanlin mocked, he ignored Shen Ninghua and stared at Qing Que, “Nanny Qin, why are you not moving? Quickly capture that servant girl for me.”
“Second young master, this…”
Just at this time, the First Lady arrived, the servants behind her carrying bags of items. Upon hearing Shen Xuanlin’s ramblings, she gave a frown, “Xuanlin, why are you causing trouble again? Ah, Lady Shao, I was busy acquiring some items for Ninghua, and did not know of your arrival, do forgive me.”
Shao Shi looked towards the servants behind the First lady, her expression relaxed slightly, as if realising something. “Lady Shen is too polite, I am visiting Sister Su here, it’s just an informal visit, nothing much.” Shao Shi replied with a knowing smile.
The First Lady smiled. Shao Shi’s husband was an official as well. Although his position wasn’t as high as Shen Dong, but he was still a true Second rank official. Just as she was about to exchange a few more pleasantries, Shen Xuanlin’s voice cut through the air.
“Mother, why are you not punishing that wretched slave?”
“Xuanlin, what nonsense are you speaking? Have you finished the homework that your Father has left for you?” Zhao Shi looked at him, her expression kind and a little helpless, “you were always so playful. How many times have I tried to tell you, but you never change. Quickly go back, or your Father is going to punish you again.”
Shen Ninghua scorned at that, the First lady’s words sounded sincere, but if she truly meant well for Shen Xuanlin, he wouldn’t have grown up to be like this!
Shen Xuanlin got up, his face red from anger. He held his chest and coughed a few times, perhaps from the pain he received after the kick earlier. Then, without warning, he charged towards Qing Que.
Qing Que dodged easily, but Shen Xuanlin did not notice that and continued charging forward, this time towards Shao Shi. Shen Ninghua rushed infront of Shao Shi, colliding with Shen Xuanlin. Hong Lin rushed to Shen Ninghua and steadied her, but her arm was still in pain from the collision. Shao Shi wasn’t as lucky, and she fell towards the floor.
The First lady’s expression turned sour, and hurriedly said, “quick, get Lady Shao up from the floor.”
Shen Ninghua held Shao Shi’s wrists as she helped Shao Shi up. Her brows furrowed and she turned to Qing Que, “Qing Que, quick, get Doctor Zhang Nian.”
“Yes, young miss.”
Su Shi saw the nervous expression on Shen Ninghua’s face, and hurriedly asked, “Ninghua, what happened? Is something wrong?”
“Aunty, if I’m not wrong, Lady Shao is pregnant, I’m worried if something has happened to her from this fall.” Shen Ninghua replied.
“What did you say?” Shao Shi grabbed Shen Ninghua’s hand, her face lit up with joy, before quickly turning anxious, “I’m… I’m pregnant? Is the child alright?” She had been married for many years, but could never bear a child. How could she not be excited after hearing the good news?
“I have studied a little medicine, but it’s safer to wait for Doctor Zhang before making a conclusion. He is recommended by Head doctor Chen.” Shen Ninghua soothed, her fingers are starting to hurt from Shao Shi’s grip, but she wasn’t bothered by it.
Although Su Shi was curious about Shen Ninghua’s medical skills, but she was still happy about the good news for her friend, “get up quickly, the floor is cold, it would be bad if it harms your body.”
“You’re right,” Shao Shi stood carefully, her expression soured as she turned to look at Shen Xuanlin struggling in Nanny Qin’s arms, “Lady Shen may be busy overseeing family matters, but you should still be more mindful about educating your children. He may not be the Eldest, but he is still a child of the Shen family. Such reckless actions is not befitting of the Shen family. Injuring us today may be a small matter, but if he hurts some other people, the Shen family may need to pay a hefty price.” If she didn’t like the child, she could always send him away, a child couldn’t possibly threaten her position in the house. Was there really a need to ruin his life by purposely ruining his upbringing?
Her words were sharp, but the First Lady could not find any words to rebut her, and so she could only suppress her anger and apologise, “yes, it’s my child’s fault. Xuanlin, apologise!”
Shen Xuanlin glared at her, and freed himself from Nanny Qin’s grip before running out of the courtyard.
Shen Ninghua stared at the retreating figure, frowning, “Mother, Lady Shao requires attention, let’s go to Yingyue courtyard for the time being and wait for the doctor’s arrival.” If her eyes did not deceive her, that child’s expression was filled with hatred, why would such a child harbour such feelings?
“Very well,” Zhao Shi’s expression was especially ugly. After arranging for Shao Shi to rest, she immediately ordered the servants to decorate Yingyue courtyard. Zhao Shi had planned to give Shen Ninghua another excuse to delay her. But now that Shao Shi was present, she could not afford to ruin her own reputation. Hence, she furnished Yingyue courtyard according to the list that Shen Ninghua had provided.
In Qinxue courtyard, Shen Linghan could only sit and watch as the servants took away her newly made dresses.
“Mother is actually planning on giving my clothes to Shen Ninghua?”
Rui Xue could only kneel in front of Shen Ninghua and reply, “young miss, the Lady has told us that the Eldest miss is lacking clothes. Since your measurements are similar to the Eldest miss, she wants to use your clothes to fill the closet for the time being. She said that she is going to give you new ones later.”
“Get out!” Shen Linghan screamed angrily, throwing the clothes on the floor.
Sorry for the irregular updates, life is getting really busy I promise I’m not ignoring ya’ll on purpose ><
That being said, my favourite pure boi has made his debut 🙂