Since they knew that she was faking being unconscious, Shen Ziqiao was embarrassed to stay in this state. Therefore, she went to De’an Courtyard with Shen Xiao and Shen Zikai.
Old Madam Shen long knew that Shen Xiao and his son went to Qiao Xin Courtyard first. This made her feel uncomfortable and upset. Therefore, she leaned against the bed. When she heard a maid tell her that the three were outside, she said that she didn’t feel well and didn’t want to see them.
“The Old Madam feels unwell?” Shen Xiao lifted his eyebrows, not quite believing in this maid’s trembling reply.
Cui Liu lowered her head and responded in a low voice, “Right, Old Madam…”
Shen Xiao didn’t continue to listen. Instead, he walked around her and into the room. He parted his lips and said in a deep voice, “Mother, this son has returned.”
Even after a while, there was no voice coming out from the room.
Shen Zikai and Shen Ziqiao stood behind Shen Xiao, glancing at each other. They both knew that the Old Madam was angry at them.
Wasn’t the Old Madam just angry at her? The old woman was really being unreasonable! Shen Ziqiao criticized inside her heart.
“Mother, where do you feel uncomfortable? Do I need to call the imperial hospital’s Imperial Physician Li over to take your pulse?” Shen Xiao asked calmly. He was already used to his mother pretending to be sick in order to prevent seeing him.
“You can come see me after I’m dead.” The Old Madam said in a fit of anger.
Shen Xiao sighed helplessly. “Mother, this son hasn’t served you for half a year already.”
That was right. He had left home for half a year and now that he finally came back, instead of talking to him nicely, she still put on an attitude and pretended to be sick. Even more, she was jealous of her granddaughter. She had no elegant demeanor nor a generous heart.
Shen Ziqiao suddenly pitied Shen Xiao and Shen Zikai for having such a mother and grandmother, respectively. Even more, she’d raised her granddaughter into a useless person. It was no wonder that Sheng Peiyin had ruined the Shen Family.
Mama Li advised the Old Madam whose heart was already softening, “Look, the Lord still cares about you. Old Madam, you must not be angry with the Lord.”
“Is he trying to please me? No, he’s doing this for his daughter.” Old Madam Shen said angrily.
“No matter what, you should see the Lord.” Mama Li said.
Old Madam Shen humphed and sat up with Mama Li’s support. “Let them come in.”
Mama Li personally turned the curtains to the side and said, “Lord, please.”
Seeing Shen Ziqiao behind Shen Xiao, Mama Li’s smile froze. Her eyes subconsciously swept over Shen Ziqiao’s hand.
After Shen Xiao paid respect to Old Madam Shen, Shen Ziqiao looked around and stood by the side.
Old Madam Shen glanced at her and faintly said, “Aren’t you sick? You look spirited right now.”
“Grandmother, Jiao Jiao fainted due to over exhaustion. She feels better after resting now.” Shen Zikai respectfully answered for Shen Ziqiao.
“Since you’re feeling weak, don’t just run away.” Old Madam Shen said with a taut expression.
Shen Ziqiao answered in a low voice.
“Mother, have you been well these days?” Shen Xiao knew that his mother disliked his daughter, so he smiled and shifted the topic.
“I’m not sick or anything, not yet angered to death either.” Old Madam Shen humphed.
Shen Xiao said, “Jiao Jiao must’ve given you a headache. Don’t worry. This son will be in the capital for a while, so I will personally discipline this little unruly girl.”
“You don’t need to monitor the border anymore?” Old Madam Shen asked in shock, unsure whether she was happy or disappointed.
“I don’t need to personally go for now.” Shen Xiao replied.
Shen Zikai smiled and walked over. “Grandmother, father got you some skins this time. He personally hunted the animals and got it for you.”
“Then what about you?” Old Madam Shen finally revealed a faint smile.
“I got you other good things.” Shen Zikai smiled and talked about the interesting things he encountered by the border, making Old Madam Shen laugh.
It was a warm and harmonious scene.
Shen Ziqiao thought that she shouldn’t be here. After all, the Old Madam Shen didn’t even want to talk to her at all. Only the father and son were in her eyes. Although she didn’t want to please the old woman either, she didn’t feel good just standing there and being a decorative item.
“...Those people were originally chased away from the family. Who knew that they were hiding in the Liu Yun Village and lots of things went missing too. Those people were gone as well.” It was unclear when Old Madam Shen mentioned Lady Meng and the others. She observed Shen Xiao and Shen Zikai’s expressions.
Both father and son were shocked. Yet, Shen Xiao was even more surprised. “Why would Ruowei’s maids be at the Liu Yun Village?”
Shen Zikai shockingly replied, “Weren’t they chased away?”
“So it seems like you guys don’t know either.” Old Madam Shen faintly said. Yet, she knew very well that one of the two had kept the maids at the Liu Yun Village. After all, no one else would dare to.
“Mother, you’re saying that they stole things from the village and ran away?” Shen Xiao asked, but questioned the validity. He didn’t believe that his late wife’s maids would actually do such a thing. When they were chased away back then, if it weren’t for the fact that he was coincidentally away from home, he wouldn’t have allowed this to happen.
He felt ashamed towards his late wife.
“Grandmother said that I was the one that hid Lady Meng and the others; she even made me stand there as punishment and refused to let me go back and rest.” The moment Shen Ziqiao heard Old Madam Shen shamelessly mention Lady Meng, she immediately pretended to be miserable and complained.
Shen Xiao glared at her daughter and said, “Don’t talk while the adults are having a conversation.”
“I’m just saying the truth. Even more, what’s worthy of being stolen in the village? I’ve lived there for half a month. In terms of food and utility, it has always been the worst quality. Why would Lady Meng and the rest leave and steal things at this time? Everyone knows that there must be something wrong.” Shen Ziqiao said moodily.
“You’re saying that I’m brainless?” Old Madam Shen roared.
“Grandmother, you have a generous heart, so how could you possibly stoop down to those people’s levels? You obviously have a brain.” Shen Ziqiao immediately revealed a kind smile.
Shen Zikai looked deeply at her. The little girl had matured quite a bit in the half year. He didn’t know how to feel at the moment. He felt comforted but also bitter.
His young sister grew up in the end.
“Grandmother, I’ll find those people. Don’t worry.” Shen Xiao said this before Old Madam Shen got angry at her. He warned Shen Ziqiao with his gaze, telling her to not offend the old woman anymore.
Old Madam Shen said angrily, “Beat those cheap servants to death. How dare them steal from the village?”
“What did they steal?” Shen Ziqiao refused to give up. She knew why this old woman framed Lady Meng and the rest for stealing things. First, she would sentence the maids to groundless crimes, so that Shen Xiao and the rest would be biased and have a bad impression of them. That way, if Lady Meng and the rest say something in the future, no one would believe them.
“Grandmother, leave this to me. I’ll find them for sure.” Shen Zikai said. He knew where Lady Meng and the rest were.
Old Madam Shen was about to say that men didn’t need to intervene in the internal affairs when Shen Xiao already agreed. “After all, Kai’er doesn’t have anything to do for now. Let him handle this.”
“Okay, you all should head back. It’s best for you two to get settled down since you guys have traveled a long distance. Later on, let’s eat dinner as a family.” Old Madam Shen felt worse now, dismissing them with a dark face.
Shen Ziqiao obviously wanted to leave this old woman.
“Fourth Young Master and Eldest Young Miss, the Second Young Miss is here…” Mama Li smiled and reported.
They heard that Shen Xiao was back, so they specially came over to pay their respects.
Besides Shen Ziyang and Shen Zishou, even the other concubines had come.
Shen Ziqiao had only seen Concubine Gao. Apparently, she was the distant niece of the Old Madam’s family, and a noble one at that. She hadn’t seen the other two before. She curiously observed the two women behind Shen Zishou. They were both graceful and beautiful, different from Concubine Gao’s arrogant bearing.
It might be because they hadn’t seen Shen Xiao in a long time, but the three concubines looked at Shen Xiao with such gentle and tender gazes.
Especially Concubine Gao. She glanced lovingly at Shen Xiao, making Shen Ziqiao feel disgusted.
Although the woman was in her thirties, she was fierce like a tiger.
Because of their arrival, Shen Ziqiao stayed in the corner again.
“As expected, life by the border isn’t good. Look. The Lord and Eldest Master are both skinnier now.” Concubine Gao looked at Shen Xiao and Shen Zikai with a tender gaze, her voice gentle.
Shen Zikai faintly said, “Naturally, the life at the border can’t be compared to life in the capital. However, this is an experience for us.”
The underlying meaning of his words was that her Yang’er was pampered and spoiled, so he couldn’t be compared to the Eldest Master who was hardworking. Concubine Gao muttered in her heart, but her smile became more gentle.
“That’s right. The Eldest Master looks much more stronger and sturdy now.”
Shen Ziyang was scared of Shen Xiao the most in the family. No matter how much Concubine Gao hinted at him, he didn’t dare to talk to Shen Xiao as casually as Shen Zikai.
“Elder brother, where are the foreign-made hairpins you said you’d bring back for us?” Shen Zishou smiled and asked Shen Zikai.
“It’s still in the room. I’ll have someone send it your place later on.” Shen Zikai smiled, but glanced at Shen Ziqiao. He was slightly shocked to see her with her head down, thinking about something.
In the past, Jiao Jiao would’ve stood up and said for Sister Shou to not steal her elder brother.
He didn’t know why, but he had the illusion that Jiao Jiao was different. She was just standing there. Although she was close to him, it felt as though nothing mattered to her.
Shen Zikai’s heart felt heavy. Did something happen?
“You guys can go back for now. The Old Madam is tired. Don’t be noisy.” Shen Xiao received his three concubines’ gazes and greetings before having them retreat.
The Old Madam Shen still had issues to resolve, so she was indeed not in the mood to force a smile and enjoy what was going on.
Concubine Gao lowered her head and said, “Lord, you must be tired. Let this concubine serve you.”
“No need.” Before she finished her words, Shen Xiao interrupted her.
Concubine Gao clenched her teeth, her gaze resentful.
They left the De’an Courtyard. Shen Zikai and Shen Ziqiao walked behind; the siblings glanced at each other. Shen Ziqiao avoided his gaze awkwardly.
A glimpse of a smile flickered past Shen Zikai’s sparkling eyes. He reached over and flicked her forehead.
“It hurts!” Shen Ziqiao glared at him, crying out in pain.
“Jiao Jiao.” Shen Xiao stopped and called her.
Shen Ziqiao shyly walked to his side.
“Do you have anything to do with what happened with Qi Zheng?” Shen Xiao asked in a low voice.
Didn’t he investigate this already? And didn’t the Old Madam tell him too? Why was he asking her?
“It has nothing to do with me.” Shen Ziqiao said in a low voice, not sure whether Shen Xiao believed her or not.
“Ok.” Shen Xiao nodded and walked ahead.