Chapter 41 Do You Have Designs on My Cousin?
As soon as they entered the General’s Mansion, before the gate was closed, Qiu Yelan pulled Ruan Qingyan’s sleeve in a rush, “How did you know that letter?” She, who inherited the memory of this body, didn’t remember this letter, but Ruan Qingyan was adopted to the Ruan Family as an heir only half a year ago and he submitted the letter to everyone at the court—even a blind man could see there was something strange about him!
But Ruan Qingyan calmly said, “It was Ruan An who told me!”
“Ruan An?” Qiu Yelan was stunned and looked at Ruan An, the old butler who was coming from not far away.
As expected, Ruan An bowed and asked anxiously, “Was the letter used at the court?”
“Yes,” Ruan Qingyan nodded and made a serious salute to him, “Thanks for your reminding, or we would be caught in big trouble!” If Ruan Qingyan didn’t take out the letter in time, even if Qiu Yelan was articulate, she could only depend on Empress Jiang to muddle up the situation and find other old servants who had taken care of old Princess.
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But with Mrs. Guan’s long experience of serving old Princess, it was hardly possible to find another witness to refute her. What’s more, Empress Dowager would not sit by and let Empress look for the person she wanted.
Ruan An avoided Ruan Qingyan’s salute and heaved a great sigh of relief.
Qiu Yelan asked in doubt, “Mr. Ruan, now that you already knew about the letter, why didn’t you tell me earlier?”
“Alas!” Ruan An sighed, “You don’t know that the letter was originally left by the old Princess as the last weapon to deal with Duke of Xihe. According to the old General, it should be used at the most critical point! Since you are still young and have to be taken care of in the Prince’s Mansion, if it were taken out early, things might change. The old General intended to exchange it for a good husband for you. When you are married, it will be hard for them to rule over you!”
No wonder only last year, when she and Deng Yi were engaged for two years, that Princess Ruan told her to run away from Prince’s Mansion of Xihe. Probably because of the existence of this letter, General Ruan and Princess Ruan thought there was hope. But they didn’t think that Madame Lu was so vicious that she harmed them both directly.
Without the protection of her grandfather and mother, under normal circumstances, what could a young orphan girl do with the letter of old Princess of Xihe?
Besides, as soon as Princess Ruan died, Princess Yang and Qiu Yuqing searched her room completely and blatantly. If Ruan Qingyan was not adopted to the Ruan Family, it seemed that as soon as General Ruan died, the Qiu Family would come with the excuse of helping Qiu Yelan settle the old General’s affairs and search through the General’s Mansion. By then, even if there was some letter, Qiu Yelan would never know.
Qiu Yelan sighed, “Let’s talk about the future later. Thanks to the letter today....”
Ruan An carefully asked, “Did the court decide how to deal with Duke of Xihe today?”
“Not yet,” Qiu Yelan and Ruan Qingyan looked at each other and showed an expression of helplessness together, “My cousin said that the family of my grandmother’s mother, the Lian Family, also had a similar letter, so Empress Dowager said it would not be decided until the letter in the Lian Family was also taken as a piece of evidence. Well, let’s hope the Lian Family keeps that letter well.”
“The Lian Family’s old master has passed away early. Some other masters returned to their hometown for the funeral. Since then, they have been living there,” Ruan An frowned and said, “The Lian Family is in Lanxi, which is not near Jing City! It at least costs more than one month to come here and return!”
Qiu Yelan said, “Yes. Thanks to Empress, I can still live in the General’s Mansion and attend to my grandfather this month.”
“It is really too dangerous for Your Grace to live in Prince’s Mansion now,” Ruan An nodded. “Although if something happened to Your Grace if living there, Prince’s Mansion would surely take the consequences, they may still dare to take risks!”
Qiu Yelan sighed, “There is nothing to do, for I am young.” If she were not of the younger generation, even if there was no evidence and she was only suspected of killing Qiu Mengmin and people around him, her future must have been ruined. She wanted to kill the related people and ruin the evidence more than Prince’s Mansion of Xihe did!
For a girl from the last phase, what she was most good at was not plotting but killing! Killing was an indispensable skill! Qiu Yelan sighed that her strength was not as good as in the last life, so she had to go on the way of intrigue and was oppressed by seniority in the family.... If only she could challenge Qiu Mengmin to a duel to settle this issue....
Of course, Ruan An didn’t know the dangerous idea she had in her mind now and comforted her, “When the two letters of old Princess are put together, will Duke of Xihe still dare to oppress Your Grace as your uncle?”
At this time, Ruan Qingyan looked at the sky outside and said, “Let’s prepare for dinner now and discuss it tomorrow.”
The day ended. All the people in Jing City were waiting for the Lian Family and the other letter left by the old Princess of Xihe.
The next day, Qiu Yelan was awake and was dressing up. Suddenly she heard some noise outside. It seemed to be Deng Yi. She hurried to call Su He, “See what’s going on outside!”
Su He only took two steps when Chunran lifted the door curtain and came in, smiling, “Your Grace, there is no need to send Su He out to see. It is young master Deng. But he has been persuaded back to Cuiwei Pavilion now.”
Qiu Yelan asked curiously, “Why did he come over? Didn’t my cousin teach him martial arts?”
“Young master told him to do horse stance first. Isn’t it necessary for a beginner?” Chunran curved up her lips, “But young master Deng thought it was an excuse to get rid of him....”
“Well, Deng Yi was unreasonable,” Qiu Yelan nodded. “How could a man as restless as him learn true martial arts?”
Chunran said with a smile, “Exactly.”
“Then, how did you persuade him to go back?” Qiu Yelan asked. “After all, he came to my door. It won’t be easy to persuade him.”
Chunran coughed at once, “It’s Dongran who came and got him back.... I was far away from her and didn’t know how!”
The answer soon came—Xiaran, who had picked up some branches of plum blossoms to put in the vase, said excitedly, “Dongran was so clever. As Young master Deng refused to leave, Dongran pulled his sleeve and he was frightened to run away! Ha-ha!”
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Qiu Yelan didn’t pity Deng Yi at all and was laughing back and forth with her hand propped against the dresser, “He deserves it! He shouldn’t have bullied Xishi!”
When she dressed up and went to see General Ruan, she found Ruan Qingyan was not in the outer room. Maid Xisong explained, “Young master has had the room next door cleaned and made it a study. If you have something to talk to him, just go and call him.”
“I’m fine. I won’t disturb him when he’s studying,” Qiu Yelan shook her head.
She accompanied and took care of General Ruan till noon when he fell asleep. After that, she walked to the next room and saw Ruan Qingyan was sitting behind the desk and reading at full attention. So, she signed silence to Dongran and left quietly.
On the way, something came to Qiu Yelan and she asked Chunran, “Deng Yi is still here? Didn’t he leave the day before on the Lantern Festival?”
“He did leave the day before, but he came again in the evening that day,” Chunran said, “It was almost 9 o’clock. He knocked up the man at the corner gate and came in.”
“....” Qiu Yelan turned around immediately, “I will check what his design is!”
Chunran hurried to say, “Please don’t! Young master said you shouldn’t meet him! There are not so many days before the imperial examination in spring. If he knows you go for young master Deng, he must be distracted!”
“Then don’t tell him!” Qiu Yelan said seriously. “You don’t want to disturb his career, so you mustn’t let him know! It’s about the results of his ten years of hard study, about the Ruan Family’s future and also... Do you understand?”
Chunran and Xiaran looked at each other speechlessly!
In the end, they could not persuade Qiu Yelan, and had no choice but to follow her to Cuiwei Pavilion. Before entering, they heard a very embarrassing voice from the courtyard—
“It, it hurts me! Have you done now?” Deng Yi’s voice was obviously with pain and faint breaths!
“Young master, please hold on.... It won’t be long!” This voice sounded unfamiliar and seemed to be a servant.
“I... I can’t! Hurry up!” When Deng Yi said this, he took a couple of breaths.
“I will, I will be quick!” The servant comforted him in a hurry. Probably he was too anxious at Deng Yi’s urging, so he put up his force and they heard Deng Yi’s scream of pain at once!
In view of Deng Yi’s reputation, Qiu Yelan and her party immediately had a rich association with the previous dialogue. Qiu Yelan hesitated between “I’d better not go in and disturb them” and “That’s out of line! Under the broad daylight, he did such an immoral thing in the Ruan Family. If this were known by other people, how could the Ruan Family be respected?” for half a second, and resolutely chose the latter, “What are you doing?”
“You finally come!” Startled by Qiu Yelan’s sudden coming, Deng Yi and his servant did not feel ashamed, but Deng Yi almost jumped up. He questioned angrily, “You said you would teach me martial arts, but you not only just left me here but let me do horse stance every day—I feel pain in every part of my body! See these liquor jars there? I have used up two jars of medicinal liquor for bruises, but you still won’t teach me!”
Qiu Yelan stared speechlessly at Deng Yi, who rolled up his sleeves high to let his servant apply medicinal liquor on him....
“Don’t you understand ‘A high building rises from the flat ground’?” Calming down, Qiu Yelan stretched out her hands and rubbed her face into a poker face. “By the way, as the Lantern Festival is over, why are you here again?”
Deng Yi snorted, “Don’t be so ungrateful! If I didn’t live here, you and your cousin, both unmarried but living together, would be harshly criticized!”
Qiu Yelan laughed, “You eat without paying here, and you have someone teach you martial arts. Do I still owe you?”
“Anyway, I won’t pay neither for the room nor the food!” Deng Yi said alertly at once, “I have no money!”
Qiu Yelan thought, “I only blackmailed you once unsuccessfully. Am I such a money-grubber in your mind?”
As Qiu Yelan complained in her mind, she walked over and sat down in front of him, “Why on earth did you come back? Your family and your cousin didn’t prevent you?”
Hearing she mentioned Gu Yan, Deng Yi’s face showed a touch of complexity. He said, “I will participate in the imperial exam in autumn next year. There are still nearly two years before that. What’s the matter of occasionally staying outside?”
“Don’t speak like that,” Qiu Yelan said kindly, “Did you hear what happened in the Imperial Court? Your cousin must be disappointed. If you don’t go back and comfort him, he may blame you for not supporting him!”
Deng Yi frowned and said, “This is Ruan’s house. You are still a guest yourself, but now you want to drive me out?” He thought for a moment and said, “By the way, will your cousin take the exam next month?”
“Yes. He’s terrific, right? A seventeen-year-old Juren! An eighteen-year-old Jinshi!” Qiu Yelan proudly flaunted. “He’s only one year older than you! Even if you could pass the exam next year, you would only be an eighteen-year-old Juren!”
Deng Yi gave her a glare and said, “It’s not wise for him to do so! If someone becomes a Jinshi at 17, it means he is a talent! It’s said that ‘Those under thirty years old rarely pass the Metropolitan Exam.’ At his age, if he can study for more years before he takes the exam, if he can’t be Number One Scholar, he can still be among the first three ranks! At that time, he will still be praised as a talented young man. But if he takes the exam now, I guess he will at most be among the second rank, which is far less honorable than the first rank!”
He snorted again, “You think I don’t have the ability to be a Juren? Those who passed the exam in autumn last year but ranked lower were no better than me! I didn’t take the exam only because I wanted a higher rank! Not only me, that Jiang Yashuang you know, he’s 16 but as early as three years ago, he could write an article that could pass the county level exam. He could have been a Xiucai at that time, but Marquess of Qin wanted to toughen him, so he was not allowed to take the exam. Only next year can he participate in the exam!”
He sighed, “I know the reason why young master Ruan will take the exam this year. He could be among the first rank graduates, but now he only wants to pass the exam. You ruined him. You ruined him!”
He looked at Qiu Yelan and shook his head. His blaming eyes made Qiu Yelan silent for a while. After sending away their servants, Qiu Yelan asked Deng Yi, who was confused, “Tell me the truth—do you have designs on my cousin? Is it why you keep staying here and refuse to leave?”
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