Lu Shi quickly held Old Mistress Zhou back and painstakingly persuaded her while urging the servants to bring Nanny Lin away to have a rest. Any other matter could be postponed to a later time. Nanny Lin did not dare to remain uncooperative and she left after swallowing down the anger within her. Old Mistress Zhou scolded for a while more before all of her anger had been vented out and she stopped. Holding onto Lu Shi’s hand, Old Mistress Zhou cried, “Ah Xian, you’ve seen it! Your sister’s life has been really bitter! Your Father-in-law and I only have her and her brother! It’s so difficult seeing your sister like this! When we, the elders, pass away in the future, you have to take good care of your sister. She mustn’t be bullied by others!”
“Mother! Please don’t say that!” As she helped Old Mistress Zhou take a seat, Lu Shi instructed the servants to bring some warm water to wipe her mother-in-law’s face. She quickly smiled and said, “You and Father-in-law are still healthy, why would you say something so inauspicious? Sister Jingyi is our very own sister; we will take good care of her even without Mother saying! Moreover, Brother-in-law is still young. Everyone has their preposterous times; he will naturally return once he has figured things out! He will definitely treat Sister Jingyi well when that time comes! Don’t be too worried anymore, Mother!”
Old Mistress Zhou sighed and smiled bitterly, “You don’t have to convince me, I’m not holding any expectations for him anymore! I’ve seen lots of ridiculous people, but rarely are they as ridiculous as him! I can only feel sorry for my daughter!”
Lu Shi could empathize as well.
Once a servant brought the warm water over, Lu Shi rolled up her sleeves before twisting the towel which was soaked in warm water. She presented the warm towel to Old Mistress Zhou before helping to wipe her face. Soon after, a servant brought them a mirror. Old Mistress Zhou took a look into the mirror. She tidied up the hair by her temples before gesturing for the servants to bring it away. Then she sighed again and said, “It was all my fault, why didn’t I investigate him at that time? If only I knew about it earlier——Ai!”
“Mother!” Lu Shi let out a long sigh and said, “This daughter-in-law has something unpleasant to say. Although Nanny Lin is abhorrent, she is still right that Sister Jingyi belongs to the Shi family now——”
“What? Are you going to let them bring your sister back to the Shi family now? No! Absolutely not!” Old Mistress Zhou was immediately triggered by Lu Shi’s words and remained resolute.
“That isn’t what I meant!” Knowing that her Mother-in-law was an impetus person, Lu Shi quickly added, “It wasn’t easy for Sister Jingyi to come back, of course she can’t just go back there! It would be harder for her to come back again if she went with them! As long as Brother-in-law isn’t back, Sister Jingyi can stay with us for now! However, we can’t be too harsh to the Shi family. After all, once Brother-in-law returns, Sister Jingyi will have to go back eventually! If we are too harsh with them, the one who suffers in the future will still be Sister Jingyi!”
Old Mistress Zhou agreed with her and sighed, “You’re right, but the anger within me was too unbearable just now! Treat Nanny Lin nicely later. Reward her handsomely too so that she will bite her lips when she goes back!”
Lu Shi quickly accepted. She hesitated a little before smiling, “Mother, I think, why don’t we let Nanny Lin meet with Sister Jingyi? Think about it, Mother, Nanny Lin’s task was to bring Sister Jingyi back; who knows what nonsense she will say in front of our in-laws if she tries to pass the buck? It would be too far for us to reach her by then, so how can we control what she’s going to tell them? We will let her meet with Sister Jingyi and let Sister Jingyi write a letter to our in-laws. That way, Nanny Lin will be able to report on her task, and our in-laws won’t have anything to blame us for as well. Won’t this satisfy both parties?”
Old Mistress Zhou nodded lightly at first but she quickly shook her head and said, “I still think it’s better not to! What if Nanny Lin insists on taking your sister back when she sees her? If her mother-in-law ends up making a fuss about it, how will your sister be able to refuse her?”
“Mother, that’s simple!” Lu Shi pursed her lips into a smile and said, “We will make Sister Jingyi pretend she’s sick!”
“That’s brilliant!” Old Mistress Zhou was pleased and she applauded, “That’s a brilliant idea! We’ll go ahead with it! Let’s get everything prepared right this instant! Bring Nanny Lin to your sister’s room later!”
“Yes, Mother!” Lu Shi answered with a smile; the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law prepared for the plan separately.
Nanny Lin and the rest of the servants who followed her to the Zhou household were resting in the servants’ quarters. Seeing that Nanny Lin did not look too well, the rest of the servants did not dare make a sound. When Nanny Lin asked them for their opinions, they passed the responsibility back to her. That annoyed Nanny Lin and she secretly scolded them for being sly!
But now that things had reached this point, it seemed like Old Mistress Zhou would definitely not soften her attitude. As such, Nanny Lin could only be mentally prepared to receive a scolding when she went back. However, she could never let both parties vent their anger on her! It was impossible to avoid Second Old Mistress Shi’s scolding, but she would definitely complain to Second Old Mistress Shi about the treatment she had received here!
However, she did not expect for Lu Shi to greet and console her in person. With a smile, Lu Shi said, “Nanny, you mustn’t blame my Mother-in-law; Mother-in-law was just feeling sorry for Sister Jingyi. Sister Jingyi fell sick a few days ago and is still taking medication while resting in bed. Your arrival to fetch Sister Jingyi back only added to my mother-in-law’s worries, so how could she not be angry? It would be better if Brother-in-law were here, but with no news about him, it would be impossible to hold back her anger. However, what my mother-in-law said was only out of anger, she didn’t mean anything else! Look here, even my mother-in-law thought that she had crossed the line and sent me to accompany you!”
Nanny Lin felt honored after hearing so and cooled down a little before forcing a smile to give a few polite words. She went on to apologize for her lack of eloquence, which ended up triggering Old Mistress Zhou and that Old Mistress Zhou was not the one at fault.
However, Nanny Lin became worried again after a second thought. What use was her face now? She would still get a scolding if she couldn’t bring her Second Young Mistress Shi back!
“Is Second Young Mistress really sick? Is it very serious?” Nanny Lin asked hesitantly.
Lu Shi sighed and said, “It is! Although Sister Jingyi is back, she still doesn’t feel happy! Nanny, who can be happy after suffering through what she had? A few days ago when the servants were not paying attention, she opened her windows and sat in front for an entire night without any reason. On the next day, she was down with a high fever. Her cough has been really bad these few days and she’s still under medication! Sister Jingyi can’t go back with you in such a state. Her body is really weak; now that she has fallen sick and the weather isn’t good, how can she be on the road? My mother-in-law will be worried! However, since you have traveled across such a long distance, we can’t let you return like this, otherwise, you won’t be able to answer for your task! Why don’t you have dinner first before I bring you to visit Sister Jingyi? I will have her write a letter for you to bring back with you!”
Nanny Lin was highly pleased and gave her utmost thanks, “That’s fine, that’s fine! Many thanks to Young Mistress Zhou! Then that is settled, you will lead this old servant to visit our Second Young Mistress after dinner!”
“Of course!” Lu Shi laughed, “I’ll have the servants serve dinner now. Please eat first! I still have things to do so I’ll be going ahead first!”
Seeing that Nanny Lin was only concerned over her own task and did not show any signs of concern even after hearing that Zhou Jingyi was seriously ill, Lu Shi was secretly disappointed and she let out a sigh for Zhou Jingyi in her heart. How unfortunate! For someone like her who grew up with her family’s affection, nobody would expect her to suffer so much after getting married!
As her problems were now solved, Nanny Lin’s mood became brighter. The Zhou family prepared a sumptuous meal which satisfied Nanny Lin and the rest of the servants with her.
After dinner, Lu Shi really did not break her word. She led Nanny Lin to Zhou Jingyi’s room.
The strong smell of medicine could be smelled the moment they entered the house. Nanny Lin frowned a few times before she barely held her breath as she went into the room.
There rested Zhou Jingyi on a canopy bed, decorated with landscapes and characters traced in gold, with silvery pink curtains hanging over it. She was wearing a pink gown, her hair was messy, and there was a jade tied around her forehead. Her cheeks were slightly red and her lips were slightly pale. She opened her eyes blankly when the group came in, but could barely focus.
“Second Young Mistress! Second Young Mistress! This old servant has come to visit you! This old servant is Nanny Lin!” Nanny Lin moved closer to the bed. She forced a smile and greeted Second Young Mistress Shi.
“Nanny… Lin?” Zhou Jingyi stared blankly at her and forced a smile, “So it’s you! Why have you come?” As she spoke, she struggled to sit up.
Lu Shi worriedly stepped forward to help her before saying gently, “My dear sister, you are still sick, rest well and don’t move about!”
“Right, Second Young Mistress! Rest well! Your health is more important!” Nanny Lin quickly smiled as well before adding, “Second Old Mistress said that it’s going to be the new year soon so she sent this old servant to fetch you back for the new year! Who knew you’d be sick! Ai!”
“Mother-in-law sent you to fetch me?” Zhou Jingyi suddenly shook and she couldn’t help but cover her mouth as she started coughing hard while struggling to sit up.
At this moment, Lu Shi, Su Qing, Su Bi, and everyone else became worried. Even Nanny Lin felt bad seeing how even sitting up required so much effort, so she quickly urged, “Second Young Mistress, please don’t worry and lie down quickly! Of course you’ll have to stay and rest now that you’re this ill. We can talk about your return to the Shi household at a later date! Only that, I’d like to trouble Second Young Mistress to write a letter for this old servant to bring back to answer to Second Old Mistress.”
Lu Shi, Su Qing, and the rest did not seem happy. Although they knew that Zhou Jingyi was pretending to be sick, how could Nanny Lin still request for a letter to be written by someone who was so seriously ‘ill’?. It was clear how inferior Zhou Jingyi’s position was in front of her mother-in-law.
Zhou Jingyi did not seem to think anything was wrong. Her mother-in-law and her servants had always been that way. If her mother-in-law could be half as nice as Aunt Wang, would there be any need for her to plan a return to her parents’ house?
“I, I…Sister-in-law…” Zhou Jingyi said a few “I”, seemingly asking Lu Shi for help.
Nanny Lin could not help but be distressed as her heart tightened: Second Young Mistress, you’ve got to hold on. If I can’t bring anything back to answer to Second Old Mistress, she’ll definitely punish me!
“Sister Jingyi, please don’t push yourself. How about this? Why don’t you tell me what you want to write and I will write it out for you? After I’m done, I will read it out to you to see if anything needs amendment,” Lu Shi patted Zhou Jingyi’s hand gently and said.
Before she could respond, Nanny Lin was already smiling as she spoke, “Right, right, right! That’s a good idea! Young Mistress Zhou is indeed clever! That way, Second Young Mistress won’t have to push herself anymore!”