Shen Ziqiao returned to Qiao Xin Courtyard. Hong Yu and Hong Ying hurriedly rushed over, glancing at her worriedly.
“Third Miss, are you okay?” Hong Yu observed her, scared that she might be hurt.
“I’m okay, look at me.” Shen Ziqiao jumped a few times to indicate her well-being.
Hong Yu patted her chest and replied, “Third Miss, you scared me so much! When I saw that you were carried back, this maid thought...you can’t scare us like this in the future!”
Shen Ziqiao chuckled out loud. “I just didn’t want to stand there as punishment. Who knew that Mama Li, that old woman, stepped on me. My hand is throbbing in pain right now. She’s going to have to pay for this in the future.”
Hong Ying cupped Shen Ziqiao’s hand and inspected it. She said in distress, “Not only did she step on your hand, she also secretly pinched you a few times. Third Miss, this maid will get revenge for you.”
“Good girl.” Shen Ziqiao patted Hong Ying’s head, feeling touched.
The three walked into the room successively. Not long later, Hong Ying got out and stood by the door, wanting to stop Ping’er from bringing refreshments for Shen Ziqiao.
Shen Ziqiao was walking to Hong Yu.
“...I’ve arranged them to stay in the courtyard outside of the city. That’s the Eldest Master’s place and even the Old Madam doesn’t know. Third Miss, don’t worry. Since the Eldest Master is back, nothing will happen to them.” Hong Yu said in a low voice.
The room was silent with only whispers. If one didn’t carefully listen, they wouldn’t know what people were talking about inside.
“I originally thought that I was just viewing everyone in a bad light, but I didn’t expect the old woman to actually attempt to hurt them. She sent someone in the middle of the night to...kill them, most likely.” Shen Ziqiao still found it incredulous. The baddest thing she’d done in her life was to secretly place chicken poop in the bad tempered old man’s teacup when she was young in the countryside. Even more, she got a beating out of it.
However, she didn’t even dare to think about killing someone to silence them. Yet, this old woman was actually going to kill someone because she coveted her daughter-in-law’s dowry.
Hong Yu said in a soft voice, “Thankfully Third Miss has foresight and told Lady Meng to immediately leave the village after handling the people the Old Madam sent over.”
It wasn’t that she had foresight, but rather she thought that life was just an example of dog blood. It was better to be more careful.
And it did happen.
If it weren’t that Shen Xiao and Shen Zikai had returned just in time, maybe the old woman would’ve forced her to tell her Lady Meng’s whereabouts without a care for her life.
“I wonder how Lady Meng is doing.” Shen Ziqiao rubbed her brows. Life as a female side lead was that difficult. Where was her golden finger? Where was her pendant?
“Third Miss, we have to go to Old Madam’s place for dinner later. Why don’t we get dressed up right now? Eldest Master is back, so he will handle everything.” Hong Yu thought that with Shen Zikai here, nothing was a problem.
However, Shen Ziqiao didn’t dare to think this. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust Shen Zikai, but rather he might not treat her as genuine anymore after being seduced by Sheng Peiyin.
She clearly remembered that Sheng Peiyin destroyed Shen Zikai first. Otherwise, why would her elder brother allow her younger sister to marry a retard?
If her guess that Sheng Peiyin got close to Shen Zikai for Pan Madam’s dowry was correct, then she would have to think about all sorts of schemes and conspiracies hidden behind this. She wanted to scratch herself in annoyance.
Scheming and what not...it was very tiring.
Even when she was showering, Shen Ziqiao was thinking about her fighting attribute. To speak the truth, she was just an innocent girl lacking in power. If she wanted to survive, she needed to work hard.
She just finished tidying things up when Ping’er reported the Eldest Master’s arrival.
Shen Ziqiao hurried out to welcome him.
“Elder Brother!” Shen Ziqiao smiled and glanced at this handsome and bright good-looking guy. He went to tidy up and changed into an azurite-colored robe. He appeared to look fresh and clean.
“Come, sit down with me.” Shen Zikai wore a taut expression and sat on the master seat in the main hall. He pointed at the seat beside him and indicated for Shen Ziqiao to sit over.
Shen Ziqiao wore a guilty and terrified expression, obediently walking over and preparing to listen to his scolding.
Hong Yu pulled Hong Ying out tactfully, guarding the door.
“Say, what exactly happened?” Seeing his sister’s expression, Shen Zikai found it amusing.
“Elder Brother, where do I start?” Shen Ziqiao touched the tip of her nose. Old Madam Shen had just enumerated her shortcomings over the past half year or so in front of the father and son. Even she blushed with shame when she heard it.
Point was that these moronic events had nothing to do with her.
Shen Zikai glanced at her and said, “I’ll let this go. But tell me about Lady Meng and the rest.”
That was the most important matter! Shen Ziqiao immediately became spirited and said, “Elder Brother, I know everything. Lady Meng already told me.”
Shen Ziqiao told Shen Zikai how she was kicked to the village by the Old Madam and how she encountered Lady Meng and the rest, thus finding out about the dowry.
“...Did you know that my mother had left all those things for me from the start? Is that why you arranged Lady Meng and the rest to be at the village?” By the time Shen Ziqiao had finished speaking, her mouth was already dry. She picked up the teacup and took a sip of the already cool tea.
Shen Zikai looked down and picked up the teacup, saying, “Jiao Jia, you used to never believe in the servants’ words, so why did you believe them this time?”
“I believe in my mother.” Shen Ziqiao replied.
She was actually hesitant and wondered if she should believe in Shen Zikai before. After all, it was possible for him to betray his sister for Sheng Peiyin. Yet, she didn’t know who else could help her.
Rely on Shen Xiao? She wasn’t his only daughter. He only treated her nicely because he missed his late wife. That feeling would soon disappear.
She could only rely on Shen Zikai.
No matter what, she needed to stop Sheng Peiyin from seducing Shen Zikai. She must train Shen Zikai into a filial elder brother.
When Shen Zikai heard her response, he revealed a faint smile. “I almost couldn’t recognize you.”
It was just half a year, but she had changed so much.
“Elder Brother, I...I just don’t want my mother to be disappointed.” Shen Ziqiao dryly laughed. After all, she couldn’t say that she wasn’t the real Shen Ziqiao.
Shen Zikai stood up and patted his sleeves. “I will handle Lady Meng and the rest. As for getting the dowry back...Jiao Jiao, I need to talk to my father about this. If he thinks that leaving it in the Old Madam’s hands is okay, then let’s think of other ways.”
So Shen Zikai believed that the old woman shouldn’t have control over the Pan Madam’s dowry as well?
Shen Ziqiao nodded happily. She had a feeling that in the end, the Pan Family from Minyue needed to step in in order for Old Madam to hand over the Pan Madam’s dowry.
The siblings walked to De’an Courtyard together.
“Elder Brother, you’re not that young anymore. Shouldn’t you find me a sister-in-law now that you’re back?” Shen Ziqiao walked to Shen Zikai’s side intimately and smiled, asking.
Shen Zikai curled his finger and flicked her head. “Aren’t you scared that your sister-in-law will steal me away?”
“Elder Brother pampers me the most. I’m not scared!” Shen Ziqiao held onto Shen Zikai’s arm and smiled, pleasing him.
“Such a bizarre and weird girl.” Shen Zikai smiled and shook his head.
When they arrived at De’an Courtyard, everyone else was already there. They were chatting with Old Madam Shen. Her smile faded when she saw Shen Ziqiao.
Shen Ziqiao seemingly didn’t detect this. After she respectfully paid respect to the Old Madam, she sat by the side.
Not long after, Shen Xiao arrived. The family seemingly ate dinner together warmly.
Old Madam Shen didn’t have the other two concubines serve them food or such. But she had Concubine Gao stay by the side to serve Shen Xiao. One could tell the motive behind this.
What a pity that when facing Concubine Gao’s enthusiasm, Shen Xiao’s reaction was a bit indifferent.
After dinner, Shen Xiao chatted with Old Madam. However, she claimed that she was tired after only a few words and had everyone head back.
Concubine Gao wore a bashful and charming expression, following behind Shen Xiao.
She had been waiting at home for half a year. She needed some action and intimacy with Shen Xiao. Concubine Gao looked at him tenderly. If there weren’t youngsters present, she probably would’ve stuck to Shen Xiao like glue.
“Jiao Jiao.” Shen Xiao seemed to be blind to Concubine Gao’s passionate and enthusiastic gaze. He called for ShenZiqiao to follow him.
“Hm?” Shen Ziqiao lifted her head, in a daze.
“Follow me to the study.” Shen Xiao faintly said.
Concubine Gao’s exquisite face immediately flushed, walking behind them. A flicker of resent and awkwardness flashed through her eyes.
Shen Ziyang looked back and glared at Shen Ziqiao.
“Father?” Shen Zikai looked shockingly at Shen Xiao.
“Come over too.” Shen Xiao said.
The rest of the three children all glared jealously at Shen Ziqiao and Shen Zikai, leaving with Shen Xiao.
“Father is going to teach third sister a lesson, right?” Shen Zifeng bit her lips and said. However, she wasn’t resigned to this because she was an illegitimate daughter. Therefore, Shen Xiao didn’t value her.
In terms of manners and appearance, she thought that she wasn’t any worse than Shen Ziqiao!
Shen Zishou sneered, “When have you seen father teach third sister a lesson?”
Father would only be biased and protect Shen Ziqiao. Only when he was in front of Shen Ziqiao did he act like a real father.
Concubine Gao’s face turned red. She glared at them and said, “Do you think you guys have the right to talk behind your father’s back? Head back to your rooms!”
Shen Zishou and Shen Zifeng left angrily.
“Mother.” Shen Ziyang glanced darkly in the direction Shen Xiao left. “Jiao Jiao must’ve done this on purpose.”
“That bitch!” Concubine Gao cursed angrily in a soft voice. She was always like this every time! She seemed to be purposely going against her. However, the Lord would always take her away at the most crucial point.
“Mother, father just came back. I heard that Jiao Jiao just caused trouble, so he must be going to teach her a lesson. The time will come… father will remember you.” Seeing his mother’s change in expression, Shen Ziyang comforted in a low voice.
Concubine Gao fiddled with her handkerchief. “Yang’er, if your father marries another concubine, we will lose our status.”
Shen Xiao didn’t pamper her that much. She knew that clearly. If the new madam was as powerful as the Pan Madam, she...what should she do?
“No, mother, that won’t happen.” Shen Ziyang held Concubine Gao’s hand, but he wasn’t that confident.
In his father’s gaze, could he not compare to the troublemaker Jiao Jiao?
“The earlier Jiao Jiao gets married, the sooner the family would become peaceful.” Shen Ziyang said to Concubine Gao.
Concubine Gao’s gaze flickered. It was unclear what she recalled, but she looked towards De’an Courtyard’s door.