The empress’ father, Lu Yan, was the elder of two dynasties. Though he acted like he didn’t care about the court matters on the surface, his students were everywhere. Because his daughter had died due to sudden sickness, Elder Lu resented Duke An. He hadn’t talked to him for decades and exclaimed to outsiders that Qi Silin wasn’t his son-in-law.
Elder Lu was unhappy with Duke An but he adored his grandson a lot. Qi Zheng’s guard was arranged by Elder Lu in the past and he was one of the few that knew he was pretending to be a fool.
After Qi Zheng left the palace, he had Uncle Qun arrange to leave the city.
Elder Lu wasn’t in the capital but at a village not far from the capital, enjoying his later years.
“You’re leaving the city at such a late time?” Shen Ziqiao was getting ready to sleep when she heard Qi Zheng say this. She sat up straight in shock. Seeing that he didn’t even bother to sit down and drink tea, her heart trembled. Did something happen?
Qi Zheng didn’t want her to worry about him. He smiled and placed his arms over her shoulders. “I need to talk to grandfather about some things and bring him back to the capital while I’m at it. You haven’t served tea to grandfather yet.”
Although he said this in a casual tone, it was clear that Qi Zheng needed to do something important. Shen Ziqiao’s eyes were full of worry. “Don’t lie to me. No matter what, you have to tell me. I don’t want to hear about you from someone else.”
“I’m really fine. I’m just going to pick grandfather up.” Qi Zheng smiled.
He could’ve gone to pick him up at any time but yet he chose to pick him up at this time? Shen Ziqiao clutched onto Qi Zheng’s sleeves tightly.
Qi Zheng comforted in a low voice, “The empress has an urgent matter to discuss with grandfather. Don’t worry, I’ll be back tomorrow.”
It seems like something happened in the palace. Shen Ziqiao hugged him and exclaimed, “Then be careful.”
“Okay.” Qi Zheng smiled and kissed her face. Then he hurried out with his overcoat.
Shen Ziqiao didn’t know but she felt terrified.
The next day, the capital was still peaceful as ever but in Shen Ziqiao’s eyes, it was like the calm before the storm.
Xiao Gu called Shen Ziqiao to her room.
“Do you know what the social ladder is? Why does a concubine receive more silvers than a legal young miss? How did you arrange this?” Xiao Gu pointed at the account book and scolded Shen Ziqiao.
Shen Ziqiao managed each household’s money this month. When Xiao Gu checked the account book today, she noticed that Gu Daiqin received an entire fold more than Qi Yun. Therefore, she immediately called Shen Ziqiao over to scold her.
“Mother, Yun’er always received this much.” Shen Ziqiao was bored of Xiao Gu causing trouble for her. At the very least, Gu Daiqin was Xiao Gu’s niece. It was one thing that she didn’t take care of her yet, she was still nit-picking over the amount of money she received.
If it weren’t for Xiao Gu, how could she possibly be a concubine? She was Gu Family’s legal young miss. Even if she hadn’t gotten married, her days at home were not worse than her days in the Qi family, okay?
“What’s the deal with Qin’er’s proportions then?” Xiao Gu asked coldly. Seeing Gu Daiqin now, she recalled her failed attempt to scheme Qi Zheng and having to pay the consequence of her son marrying a fool. This caused her son to become the laughing stock in the capital.
How could she possibly like Gu Daiqin? She wanted her to die badly.
Shen Ziqiao said faintly, “Qin’er hasn’t been feeling well lately and she needs quite a bit of medicinal ingredients. That’s why I changed the proportions.”
“You changed it? Who gave you permission to? Who do you think you are?”
Shen Ziqiao glanced at Qi Yun vaguely as she questioned her. No matter what, Qi Yun had no right to question her.
Shen Ziqiao didn’t even answer Qi Yun. She didn’t bother hiding the disdain in her eyes.
Xiao Gu was angry. Fine. She’s still acting like she’s doing the right thing. “Okay, okay. It seems like I don’t need to act as the head of the household. First Madam, you have quite the attitude. You’d let a concubine be superior to a legal young miss. This family is really messed up. I can’t manage the household anymore. Have the Old Madam take care of this. I can’t win against my daughter-in-law.”
“Mother, I’ve already told you that Qin’er doesn’t feel good and needs tonics. That’s why I gave her more in terms of proportions.” Shen Ziqiao was speechless with Xiao Gu. Did she think that she’d win the argument by raising this matter to the Old Madam?
“She seems well when she goes to pay respects to me. How did she suddenly end up feeling unwell?” Xiao Gu hmphed. She thought that Shen Ziqiao wanted to use Gu Daiqin to cause Qi Yun to lose face.
“Then let’s have a physician take the pulse for Concubine Qin.” Shen Ziqiao said faintly.
Gu Daiqin’s nanny secretly came to seek her out. She told her that Concubine Qin might be pregnant but she wasn’t sure since she’s probably only a month or so in. She wanted her to help and take care of her. Shen Ziqiao looked at Gu Daiqin’s proportions. Hers was just a little better than main maids. Clearly, someone saw that Gu Daiqin wasn’t favored by Xiao Gu so they purposely made things difficult for her. In the Qi Family, a concubine could receive ten ingots of silver but Gu Daiqin only got five ingots of silvers. As a result, Shen Ziqiao docked the housekeeper’s proportions and gave it to Gu Daiqin.
Who knew that Xiao Gu even dared to criticize her for her actions. Was she scared that no one would find out she had been treating her niece severely?
Xiao Gu was furious with Shen Ziqiao’s casual and nonchalant tone. She thought that she’d end up nervous and afraid with her questioning. Who knew that not only didn’t she recognize her mistakes, she still acted just.
“If Concubine Qin is actually well, then that means you’ve done a poor job at managing the proportions of the household. A concubine is a servant. A servant can have the same treatment as a master? Sister-in-law, why don’t you take care of the servant’s proportions then?” Qi Yun sneered.
Shen Ziqiao’s cold gaze pierced through Qi Yun. Her face stiffened at the gaze, fear in her eyes.
“Hong Yu, invite a physician over.” Shen Ziqiao placed her gaze away in disdain and coldly ordered Hong Yu.
“Yes, First Madam.” Hong Yu answered.
Shen Ziqiao said faintly, “Concubine Qin lately has had a bad appetite and has been vomiting frequently. She enjoys Jiangnan snacks. Concubine Qin always received half of the proportions that she should’ve been. What’s wrong with giving her back what she deserved? Mother, since you think I’ve done the wrong thing, then...I won’t interfere with the household matters.”
Qi Yun knew about Gu Daiqin’s proportions being docked. This was because Qi Yun had taken the majority of the silvers that were docked from Gu Daiqin.
Xiao Gu’s face turned ashen after hearing Shen Ziqiao’s words.
She wasn’t mad with Shen Ziqiao making decisions on her own but rather when she said that Concubine Qin had a bad appetite and vomited frequently. She knew better than anyone what she meant by this.
“Hilarious. A concubine’s proportions are increased just because her appetite isn’t good? Do you not care about the rules in the family?” Qi Yun purposely ignored Shen Ziqiao’s latter half of her sentence, wanting to shift Xiao Gu’s attention away.
“Then what say the rules when the eldest miss coveted a concubine’s proportions?” Shen Ziqiao smiled and asked Qi Yun.
Qi Yun’s expression froze. She stammered, “What nonsense are you spewing?”
“Am I spewing nonsense or are you guilty?” Shen Ziqiao retorted.
“Nee Shen, what evidence do you have?” Qi Yun was furious and inched closer to Shen Ziqiao, glaring at her.
Xiao Gu slammed her hand against the table. “Enough!”
She glared harshly at Qi Yun. “Enough!”
“Mother?” Qi Yun stared at Xiao Gu in shock. Didn’t they want to find a reason to warn Shen Ziqiao to not intervene in the household matters anymore? How come she was the one causing a ruckus?
Xiao Gu disliked Shen Ziqiao very much. How come she didn’t say that Gu Daiqin was pregnant earlier on? She just had to wait until the last moment. She clearly wanted to cause a huge ruckus so that she’d be put in an awkward situation.
She didn’t know that Yun’er had been secretly docking Gu Daiqin’s silvers. However, she gave birth to her daughter. She knew that Shen Ziqiao was saying the truth when she saw Yun’er’s expression.
Naturally, Shen Ziqiao had enough evidence to testify Yun’er if she exposed this. If this news spread, there was no way Yun’er would be able to marry someone good.
“Go see if the physician is here. Let’s go check on Concubine Qin.” Xiao Gu tried her best to wear a gentle smile. She seemed delighted on the surface but she was furious. If Concubine Qin was really pregnant, it was okay if she gave birth to a daughter but if it was a boy...
That was Feng’er’s eldest son but from a concubine. According to her private agreement with the Gu Family, she needed to make Gu Daiqin, Feng’er’s legal wife.
She’d rather die first than to let a fool be Feng’er’s legal wife.
The group followed Xiao Gu to Gu Daiqin’s courtyard. Hong Yu had brought the physician over as well.
Gu Daiqin had been drinking pickled plum soup when she suddenly saw Xiao Gu bringing over a group of people. She hid behind her nanny in fear, her expression as if she was startled glancing at Xiao Gu and Qi Yun.
This fool! There was nothing good about this fool!
Xiao Gu clutched her fists seeing Gu Daiqin like this. She still wore a gentle smile however.
“Concubine Qin, mother is here to visit you. Don’t be afraid, come here.” Shen Ziqiao waved at her and indicated her to come over.
Gu Daiqin glanced at the soup on the table. “Pickle plum…”
Xiao Gu almost wanted to curse. She only cared about eating. What was this?
“I heard that you’ve a bad appetite. Let the physician take your pulse.” Xiao Gu said faintly. Hopefully she wasn’t pregnant.
Hearing Xiao Gu’s words, Nanny Gu looked at Shen Ziqiao.
She nodded at her and indicated her not to worry.
“Concubine Qin, I’ll bring you some more later. Let the physician check on you, okay?” Shen Ziqiao walked over and held Gu Daiqin’s hands, gently comforting.
Gu Daiqin looked at Shen Ziqiao and then Nanny Gu before nodding fearfully.
“Invite the physician in!” Xiao Gu ordered.
Not long later, the physician walked in with his head down. Gu Daiqin blinked her clear and innocent eyes, not knowing what happened.