Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
Qiao Ruoshui said in shock, “Qiao Jinniang, not only were you raised by servants, but you had once been married?
“Mom, just for this abandoned woman, you told everyone that I am crazy? How can you be so partial?”
The Duchess said coldly, “If I were really partial, I wouldn’t have tolerated you pretending to be sick and always making trouble! She’s your own sister. What’s the benefit of you insulting her?”
Running the rosary through the fingers of her hand, Old Madam Qiao took a few deep breaths and said, “Jinniang, let me ask you, if the Duke Mansion doesn’t split up today, you’ll leave and never return to the Duke Mansion, right?”
Qiao Jinniang nodded and said, “Yes!”
Qiao Ruofeng was smug. She was always Grandma’s favorite granddaughter. Qiao Jinniang would definitely be disliked by Grandmother for making such a big fuss. “Grandmother, Second Sister really disappointed us. Everyone in our family treats her so nicely, but she wants to destroy this family only a few days after she returned…”
“She is being unreasonable. Where can she go if she leaves the Duke Mansion? If she returns to Lin’an in despair, she’ll become a laughing stock in front of everyone in Lin’an!”
The Old Madam said slowly, “Then break up the family.”
Both Second Madam and Qiao Ruofeng thought they had heard wrong.
Second Madam got on her knees and kowtowed. Separating the family was the worst outcome for her. Although the Duke’s third brother was not born by the Old Madam, he had as many as four sons.
His eldest son was only ten now, so he didn’t need to worry about his sons’ marriage.
But for her family, her husband was just a fourth-rank Deputy Minister of Court of State Ceremonials.
Although this official position was not low, nobles wouldn’t take it seriously in Chang’an where it was full of officials.
Second Madam knew very well that her parents’ family’s respect for her, or to be exact, everyone’s respect for her was not based on her husband’s official position but Duke Anyuan Mansion.
Especially her daughters. Ruofeng and Ruowan, hadn’t been married yet. Moreover, Ruofeng was already of age and it was time to find her a husband…
Ruowan was fourteen, and soon it would be time to find her a husband.
If the family was broken up, Ruofeng would no longer be counted as a miss of the Duke Mansion.
In terms of status, the daughter of a fourth-rank official and a miss of the Duke Mansion were completely different.
Duke Anyuan hurriedly said, “Mother, Jinniang just blindly said some words. If the family is split now… I’m afraid I’ll be laughed at by other officials.”
The Duchess was angry. “Didn’t you see how they insulted Jinniang? Is your reputation the only thing that matters to you?”
Qiao Jinniang said to Duke Anyuan, “Father, I didn’t blindly say some words. If the family is not split up, the damage to your reputation will be even greater.”
Qiao Ruofeng said angrily, “How is it possible? Are you out of your mind?”
Old Madam Qiao glared at Qiao Ruofeng in disappointment and said,
“Except for Ruoyun, among my granddaughters, I dote on you the most.
“You used to be smart and lovely. I don’t know why you have become so unreasonable today?
“It’s good to split up the family lest you get lost in some ridiculous delusions!”
Then she said to Duke Anyuan, “Since you got the title of duke, your two brothers should get more shares of family property.
“Except for the ancestral lands and houses, the rest should be divided equally to your two brothers. Do you and your wife have any objections?”
Duke Anyuan shook his head and said, “Everything is up to you, Mother.”
The Duchess echoed. “You’re right, Mother, but Third Brother was not born by you…”
Second Madam fidgeted with the rosary and said, “Although your third brother is not in Chang’an, he has been quite filial to me. Besides, he has four sons, and the expenses are huge.
Second Madam collapsed onto the ground. She had no son. After the family was split up, she would become the laughing stock of Chang’an!
After finishing speaking, Old Madam Qiao said to Qiao Jinniang, “Come with me.”
Qiao Jinniang went over to support Madam Qiao.
When they got to the Old Madam’s courtyard, the Old Madam waved all the servants and maids to leave.
Old Madam Qiao sat down and said, “Jinniang, let me ask you, is what you said about Junior Duke Rong real?”
Qiao Jinniang lowered her head and said, “Well… yes.”
The Old Madam threw the teacup in her hand beside Qiao Jinniang’s shoes. “Today I drove Ruofeng away not for you, but for the Duke Mansion’s reputation.
“Even if you didn’t tell me, I know that the relationship between Ruofeng and Prince Mediocre is not normal.
“Ruofeng has always been sensible. If it weren’t for Prince Mediocre, how could she possibly search your courtyard just for the sake of an unfamiliar cousin?
“When she looked at you, her eyes were burnt with jealousy.
“But if you don’t tell the truth, I won’t tolerate you either!”
“As for the box of gold that Princess Fu’an gave you, where could the gold hairpin in it be obtained by Junior Duke Rong, a mere dandy?”
“Also, the ambergris tainted on your body can only be used by a few royal family members. Are you still not telling the truth?”
Qiao Jinniang twisted the handkerchief in her hands and said, “Grandma, it’s not convenient for me to tell you the truth now.”
The Old Madam said with a frown, “Not convenient? Your father is now one of the highest-ranking officials. There are only two prime ministers who can sit on an equal footing with your father. What are you afraid of?”
“If you don’t give me a proper explanation now, I’ll give you physical punishment!”
Qiao Jinniang bit her lower lip, knelt down and said, “Grandmother, I can tell you the truth, but please don’t force me to do things I don’t want to.”
The Old Madam snapped, “Speak!”
Qiao Jinniang said slowly, “I went to Duke Rong’s Mansion, not to meet Junior Duke Rong, but the Crown Prince.”
Old Madam Qiao asked, “Did he give you the golden hairpin?”
Qiao Jinniang nodded.
Old Madam Qiao said, “How can you be so stupid, Jinniang! His Royal Highness is interested in you perhaps just because you look similar to the biological mother of the little imperial grandson. Was Ruyu also instigated by him?”
Qiao Jinniang twisted her handkerchief and said, “No, it should be Prince Mediocre. He seems to have some ulterior motive towards me.
“As for the Crown Prince, it’s not because I look like the biological mother of the little imperial grandson.
“But because I am the biological mother of the little imperial grandson.”
Running the rosary through the fingers of her hand, Old Madam Qiao suddenly froze. She looked a little surprised, and then she seemed to take a tumble.
“The Crown Prince came back from Lin’an, so did you. The little imperial grandson mistook Ruoshui, who looks similar to you, as his mother…
“I should have figured it out long ago. When did you discover it?
“Why didn’t you tell me earlier?
“So the bayberries and crabs were for you, which shows that the Crown Prince still has you in his heart.
“Has His Royal Highness told you about your future title? Is it First Concubine or Second Concubine?” 𝓲n𝑛𝓻ℯ𝗮d.＆nbsp;𝚌o𝒎
Qiao Jinniang’s heart was a little sour. No wonder Lu Chen always said that she wouldn’t be wronged. It turned out that even her own grandmother thought she could only be his first concubine or second concubine.
Qiao Jinniang said solemnly, “Whether it is his first concubine or second concubine, I’ve nothing to do with His Royal Highness.
“Her Majesty is also aware of this matter, and she has allowed me to marry another man.”
The beads of the rosary in Old Madam Qiao’s hands were scattered all over the floor, and she asked in shock, “Does the Crown Prince refuse to accept you?
“It shouldn’t be! Although our family is not as powerful as Duke Wu Mansion, we’re still a first-class family in Chang’an.
“And you’ve given birth to a son for him. He is supposed to make you at least his second concubine no matter what…”
“It’s I who don’t want to accept that jerk!”
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