Nanny Xu dipped the handkerchief into the water and scooped it up. Then, she sat on the edge of the bed and carefully cleaned Yu Youyao’s face.
After crying for so long, her face was so tensed up that it felt a little uncomfortable. It also hurt from the slap. Yu Youyao stiffened her body and let Nanny Xu wipe her face, who then took a boiled egg and rolled it on her face for a while before applying a layer of medicine.
At this very moment, Nanny Liu came in and saw Yu Youyao sitting on the couch, with her face so red and swollen that it was a little scary. Fortunately, she had applied some medicine and seemed to have calmed down. Nanny Liu finally heaved a sigh of relief. “Eldest Miss, you’ve suffered an injustice.”
Yu Youyao nodded her head. “Don’t worry, Nanny. I’m fine.”
Her endearing behavior made Nanny Liu’s heart ache more. She patted her head and turned to Nanny Xu. “Old Madam wants you to go over.”
Nanny Xu and Nanny Liu arrived at the hall and bowed evenly, showing neither deference nor arrogance.
Yu Zongzheng knew that Nanny Xu used to be from the palace, and was a favored person when she was under the Empress Dowager, so he had to show her some respect.
Nanny Xu said, “Eldest Miss wakes up at dawn every day to learn etiquette. In the mornings, she learns pharmacology and needlework. In the afternoons, she learns about preparing meals, tea, incense, medicine, and so on.”
“How is that possible?!” Yu Zongzheng did not believe it. This eldest daughter of his was very stupid. In the past, she had been reprimanded by many of the female teachers hired for her. Everyone in the residence knew this.
Nanny Xu understood what he was thinking and felt rather displeased, but she smiled and said, “Eldest Miss is talented and smart, but a little lazy. Once she’s serious, she learns everything quickly.”
Yu Youyao was talented and smart? Yu Zongzheng eyed Nanny Xu suspiciously, feeling that she and his mother were working together to fool him.
Nanny Xu took out a piece of brocade, which had the green bamboo patterns that Yu Youyao had embroidered. “It has only been a few days since she has started learning needlework from me, but she’s already able to use the double-sided embroidery technique.”
Yu Zongzheng took it over and looked at it. There was a bamboo stick, a branch, and three bamboo leaves embroidered on it. Although the pattern was simple and the workmanship wasn’t refined, it was indeed double-sided embroidery.
He had heard that this technique had already become a lost skill among the commoners, as it was too difficult for most people to learn.
Yet Yu Youyao had learned it in just a few days?
Was that possible?
Immediately, Old Madam Yu grabbed the brocade from Yu Zongzheng’s hands and studied it carefully. Finally, a smile appeared on her face. “Yao Yao has really managed to learn embroidery. Initially, I thought that she wouldn’t be able to take the hardship, and would give up after a little obstacle. But it seems that I’ve underestimated her. Look, she embroidered this so well…”
Nanny Liu leaned over to take a look. “The jasmine tea and sandalwood in your house were all made by Eldest Miss. She might not be good in her academics, but she’s better than everyone else in other aspects. Soon, you’ll be able to wear the head scarf embroidered by her.”
These words were clearly meant for Yu Zongzheng to hear. Meanwhile, he was still in a daze. He suspected that someone else had embroidered this to fool him.
However, he couldn’t bring himself to say it aloud.
Aunt Xu had come from the palace, and had very strict rules. Since his mother had invited her into the residence, it meant that she was really here to teach and guide Yao Yao.
Hence, her words being filled with affection and fondness for Yao Yao meant that although Yao Yao was slower academically, she was indeed extraordinary in these other skills.
Girls didn’t need to take the imperial examination, so it was better to learn practical skills and better etiquette to help establish themselves.
It seemed that his eldest daughter was indeed not as useless as he’d thought.
In that case, he had really wronged her with that slap earlier.
Although Yu Zongzheng didn’t like her, nor did he know much about the internal affairs of the household, and was a little lacking in personal virtue, he had been an official for many years and had a righteous temperament. When he realized that he had hit Yu Youyao wrongly, he couldn’t help but feel a little guilty.
“By the way, you said that Yao Yao was arrogant and overbearing for selling the servants?” Old Madam Yu asked coldly as she passed the brocade back to Nanny Xu.
Now that he had been taught a lesson, Yu Zongzheng’s anger had completely subsided and he behaved humbly, not daring to start anything again. “Because of this matter, there were some bad rumors circulating outside, so I…”
Nanny Liu served a cup of tea.
After talking for a while, Old Madam Yu felt a little thirsty. She took the tea from Nanny Liu and lowered her head to take a sip. “What rumors? Why haven’t I heard about it? Did you find out about it yourself?”
Yu Zongzheng felt ashamed. “At all?”
As the Imperial Censor of the Court of Investigations, it was his job to make accurate judgments, and it was also his duty. If something was just hearsay without any evidence, it wouldn’t be acceptable, even if it was just a family matter.
Old Madam Yu continued, asking, “What did Madam Yang tell you?”
Yu Zongzheng was at a loss for words. Although he knew that Madam Yang did not mean for this to happen, he couldn’t help but blame her a little in his heart.
Old Madam Yu put down her teacup heavily. “I’m afraid you don’t know the truth. Just a day after Linghuai moved into the residence, Yao Yao heard two old maids gossiping in the side courtyard, and they had called Linghuai a mere crippled guest. Yao Yao was furious and ordered someone to tie them up. Was she wrong?”
When Yu Zongzheng heard this, his eyes widened and he instantly flew into a rage. “Such wicked servants—they were punished too lightly!”
Recently, because he had taken in his nephew from Youzhou, many people in the court praised him for his benevolence, which also made him more concerned for Zhou Linghuai.
Old Madam Yu continued, “I was the first to rush over, and I dealt with those two old maids. Madam Yang only arrived late after everything was handled. That was already her oversight. If there were any mistakes in this matter, it was only because Madam Yang wasn’t strict in managing the household. Why did you make it sound like Yao Yao was the one being arrogant and overbearing?”
He was speechless for a moment. Madam Yang had only talked about the matter briefly, probably because she didn’t want to bother him with the trivial matters at home. And he hadn’t asked further either. He had already felt that Yu Youyao was overly spoiled and unreasonable, so he was influenced by his own prejudice and misunderstood the situation.
Old Madam Yu had already made it so clear to him that he had been fooled by Madam Yang, yet he still hadn’t come to the realization. It was evident that Madam Yang really had a place in his heart, and he really thought of her as a gem.
Hence, Old Madam Yu did not beat around the bush anymore. “Madam Yang is in charge of the household. How did something that happened behind our closed doors end up being spread outside as rumors? It’s obvious that Madam Yang was negligent, yet instead of managing the household better, she chose to chatter about such trivial matters to you. Doesn’t she feel ashamed?”
Even though he felt that Madam Yang was a good person, he did also feel that she was in the wrong. However, she was ultimately still his respected wife, so he couldn’t help but defend her. “Madam Yang was just worried about Yao Yao because she’s a caring mother. It’s not that serious…”
Old Madam Yu said sternly, “You’re an official of the court. There are court documents piled up in your study, and you even have to discuss court affairs with your aides from time to time. If the household isn’t managed strictly, wouldn’t it mean that anything you say at home could be leaked and spread outside? Trouble often arises from within the home. Do you still think that this is a small matter?”
Upon hearing this, Yu Zongzheng’s expression froze. How many officials in the past dynasties had been left with destroyed families due to internal troubles within their residences?
His mother was right.
Madam Yang was indeed the one in the wrong regarding this issue.
He looked ashamed. “Mother, Yao Yao wasn’t at fault. I was the one who had misunderstood and wrongfully hit her.”
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