Yao Chenggu, on the other hand, inwardly swore at Qin Huaiyuan for being a sly fox. What keep watch over these notes? What wanting the best? He meant that these bank notes were a gift from a father to his daughter. The Yaos could only look and not touch them!
There was also another clearly conveyed meaning to Qin Huaiyuan’s words: the Qins weren’t staying at the prince’s residence for free. They were perfectly in the right—wasn’t it just and proper for them to stay at their daughter and son-in-law’s, even if they didn’t pay rent?
And finally, the third level of meaning caused even greater indignation to Yao Chenggu.
Here I am, offering money. Now it’s your turn to express similar sentiment.
Yao Chenggu dearly wished to be able to make a grand gesture as well—waving off his in-laws with a dismissive flourish would adequately vent his disgruntlement. But that would only benefit others. He lived off his grandson as well, so he didn’t have any personal wealth to make such a grandiose statement with.
When his thoughts traveled here, Yao Chenggu saw even more fully what was going on when he another glance at Qin Huaiyuan’s warm smile. This old guy actually means that since I can’t take out a similar amount of silver, I need to treat his daughter better!
Had the events of the hallways already spread throughout the residence?
Yao Chenggu’s face started burning, as if the three thousand taels had slapped him fiercely across the face. He’s an old fox well experienced with court, alright. Just look at this level of cunning craftiness!
Qin Huaiyuan’s meaning seemed very apparent on the surface. No one would think twice of what he’d just said, even if it was recorded with brush and paper. They would just think that this is a very good in-law, a satisfactory father, and possibly a soft and gentle father-in-law.
But combined with his tone and expression? That cast a different light on things. It was very easy to read several levels of meaning into his words, and most maddening of all was that Yao Chenggu couldn’t find anything to refute. He also couldn’t convey their conversation to Pang Xiao—his grandson would only think that he was sowing discord and telling tales.
Yao Chenggu didn’t think himself slow on the uptake; he also possessed sufficient dignity to command others. But the little girl had just lectured him into extinguishing his pipe and now her father came knocking!
He’d suffered several slaps in a row and hadn’t been able to do anything other than just take them. If he accepted this silver, he wouldn’t be able to explain himself once word got out. There would be no explanation palatable enough for his grandson either.
With that, Yao Chenggu’s smile froze on his face and he sullenly pushed the bank notes back to Qin Huaiyuan. “Yining is a good girl and it’s Dafu’s great fortune that he found favor in her eyes. Our entire family has liked her very much since she crossed our threshold. Her grandmother loves her like she was our own.
“She suffered a great deal in traveling with Dafu and I feel quite guilty as well. There is nothing we can do to make it up to her, or to you. Your family showed us great kindness by sending your daughter to us. It is immensely unfortunate that the situation at court is thus.
“There is no need to worry, our family would never shortchange Yining on her daily necessities or life’s needs. Please take the three thousand taels back. Isn’t it the natural state of things for a family to live together? You distance us with this talk of rent.”
Qin Huaiyuan shook his head with a slight smile and pushed the bank notes back.
“I understand the grand-lord’s sentiments, but rent must be paid. I understand that the grand-lord, grand-madame, and old madame are good, honest people who would never change us rent, but it does no harm to keep clear accounts.
“I was planning on remunerating silver beyond the rent fee. However, I felt His Highness would not accept it, hence I came to the grand-lord.” With that, he merrily rose from the chair. “I will refrain from nattering on given how the grand-lord has made an arduous journey today. Yining is pregnant and she can be a silly girl sometimes. If she gives offense and does not listen to you, just come to me and I will discipline her well.”
We have paid your silver and owe nothing to the prince’s family. Our daughter is the princess consort and the mistress of the household. Come what may, it is not the place of the prince’s family—also tenants of the complex—to bully the mistress of the house.
The Qins pay rent, do the Yaos pay rent?
If any dissatisfaction crops up in the future, come to Qin Huaiyuan instead of browbeating a pregnant woman!
Qin Huaiyuan raised cupped hands and left before Yao Chenggu and née Yao could respond.
Yao Chenggu flushed hotly as he looked at the bank notes on the table. Née Yao was bright red and gnashed her teeth.
“Dad, what does he mean by this?! His daughter doesn’t cleave to the virtues of a woman, yet he has the audacity to confidently find fault with us!”
“Oh no, he didn’t find fault with us. He’s someone well versed in the manners of court—was anything he said out of line?” A glowering Yao Chenggu sat down again and picked up the bank notes, flicking them with callused fingers. “This is a tricky matter. If we clash openly with the girl again, Dafu will blame us if the matter blows up. We need to think of a way to quietly take care of the issue.”
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