The Devious First Daughter Chapter 522
Chapter 522 Mrs. Ning's Cousin
This topic fanned Mother Wang’s anger. The children’s birth charts had been proven to be a match, yet the Hua family turned back on their word and sent someone to rescind the engagement. To think that a fine young woman like her lady would have her engagement rescinded! Thinking about it now still made Mother Wang furious.
“The person that the Hua family sent was a domineering one who insisted on breaking the engagement. My Lord was still around then. He got so angry that he agreed to break the engagement immediately, even sending back the bridal gifts. Young Master Hua also left with the person and never appeared again. So, Young Master Hua was never my lady’s fiance. Their engagement was broken some eight to ten years ago.”
To think that there was an incident like this! Ning Xueyan had no memory of this. All she knew was Hua Yunheng’s inexplicable departure. He never showed up in her life again, so what was he doing, appearing right now?
“Did the engagement with Xia Yuhang happened after that?”
“Yes. In a fit of anger, my Lord came to an agreement with his old friend Xia in the capital, promising her hand to Young Master Xia. Everyone was worried that my lady would feel upset over her rescinded engagement, so the mention of Young Master Hua was forbidden. They told her that her engagement with Young Master Xia had been decided since they were children. And the Xia and Ning Manors had always been close. Master Xia would occasionally bring his son to the manor as well. That was why my lady didn’t know about it,” Mother Wang said.
“Minister Xia was at Jiangnan at that time? And he brought Xia Yuhang with him? Who suggested the engagement? The Xia or Ning Manor?” Ning Xueyan asked, her beautiful eyes looking indifferent.
Mother Wang thought it over before saying with certainty, “It was the Xia Manor that brought it up with my Lord. Back then, he was furious at the Hua Manor for breaking their promise and wasn’t in the mood to entertain Minister Xia. It was Minister Xia who asked around and suggested that his son marry my lady. I remember Madam telling me that my Lord was in a bad mood then. Young Master Xia was there as well. I heard he expressed his opinion himself, saying that he liked my lady’s quiet and gentle temper.”
She looked furious again. “Minister Xia and Young Master Xia promised the world in the beginning, repeatedly saying that they’ll treat my lady right once they got married. They sounded like they were going to put her on a pedestal! Who would have thought that they would look down on my lady in the end… and do something not even a beast would do.”
Mother Wang’s tears fell again at the thought of her beloved lady suffering such a fate. How could it not give her heartache?
So, it was the Xia Manor that suggested the engagement and even promised the world to make it possible. Ning Xueyan frowned. She had the feeling that something was wrong.
Minister Xia had been appointed for several years by then, which was to say that he was already a minister when he brought up the engagement. Xia Yuhang had a great reputation since he was a child and it wouldn’t be hard for him to marry a distinguished lady who would suit his status. Why did they insist on marrying a girl from an ordinary family in Jiangnan like her?
“Minister Xia and Young Master Xia would visit Jiangnan occasionally. Whenever they come, they would stay in the Ning Manor.”
Ning Xueyan couldn’t remember when she first saw Xia Yuhang anymore. Her delicate brows knitted ever so slightly. This meant that she was fairly young when Minister Xia brought Xia Yuhang to see her. Afterward, the Xia family would visit nearly once a year. Now that she thought about it, Minister Xia never visited again after the engagement with Ning Ziying was determined.
Xia Yuhang had always visited by himself.
This was pretty strange. Before their engagement, Minister Xia would visit Jiangnan with Xia Yuhang no matter how busy he was. After the engagement, Minister Xia became so preoccupied that he couldn’t even come and could only send Xia Yuhang alone. There seemed to be a certain meaning to his action. Ning Xueyan couldn’t help wondering if the Xia Manor knew Ning Ziying’s identity.
That was even stranger. Even she only learned her identity after dying. This proved that her adoptive parents in her past life were the careful character. Looking at Mother Wang’s reaction now, Mother Wang probably didn’t know her identity either. How did the Xia Manor find out?
They couldn’t have found out about her identity as a princess from the previous dynasty just by visiting Jiangnan and seeing Ning Ziying a few times!
“Mother Wang, aside from Hua Yunheng staying in the Ning Manor for half a year, did any outsider stay there as well?”
Ning Xueyan was tactful with her question. Her long eyelashes fluttered but her eyes were as cold as iced water.
“Let me think,” Mother Wang said. She was determined to avenge her lady, so she was keen to tell everything she knew right now. After thinking about it, her eyes lit up. “Yes! There was another woman who stayed in the manor for about half a year. She was Madam’s younger maternal cousin. She wasn’t from Jiangnan. She stayed there briefly while passing by before returning to the capital.”
“What’s her surname?” Was it the woman whose voice sounded like Ya Moqin?
“Her surname was Wu. Madam told me that in a private conversation. I only remembered because she shared the same surname with Mother Wu, who also served Madam. I think she married someone from the capital. She was supposed to head to the capital, but decided to stay for a while after running into Madam.”
Mother Wang didn’t remember Madam’s cousin very well. Her impression was that the cousin was a gentlewoman who was kind to both Madam and her lady. With her for company and conversation, Madam also became much healthier than before. After she left, Madam’s illness got worse. Now that she thought about it, Mother Wang even told the housekeeper that their Madam’s illness would probably be cured if Madam Wu were to stay longer.
“Lanning, take Mother Wang to see Mother Han. Tell her that Mother Wang will be staying in the Pear Flower Garden from now on. They’ll run this place together,” Ning Xueyan said softly. “Inform Aunt Ruan as well. Tell her I have another older female servant serving me.”
She didn’t know what else she could question Mother Wang about now that she had gone so far. Her mind was a mess, with thoughts of all kind yet no clear conclusion. Right now, all she wanted was to ponder over everything in peace.
Lanning could read her mind, so she led Mother Wang out of the room and took her to report to those in the manor.
Qingyu entered the room to fill her cup with fresh tea. Ning Xueyan waved her hand and Qingyu retreated.
There must be a reason why Hua Yunheng was being raised in the Ning Manor, but this purpose ended up not being met. After the engagement between the Ning and Hua Manors fell through and Hua Yunheng left, the Xia family entered the picture and she became engaged with Xia Yuhang. The “cousin” with a similar voice as Ya Moqin then appeared and married someone from the capital.
Ning Xueyan was certain that Grand Tutor Ya’s Manor in the capital had something to do with this.
They were just an ordinary family in Jiangnan. Even if her adoptive father was a court official who seemed presentable in their local area, his low position was insignificant in the eyes of Minister Xia and Grand Tutor Ya in the capital. Why were Minister Xia and her adoptive father so close, to the point that he would make time in his busy schedule to visit Jiangnan?
This was too unbelievable!
The only plausible explanation was that they suspected her identity. Why would they repeatedly visit the Ning Manor in Jiangnan otherwise, and even betrothing Xia Yuhang to her?
And what game was the Hua Manor playing? Did they order Hua Yunheng to avoid her after discovering her identity? Ning Xueyan couldn’t figure it out. The Hua family was truly distinguished in Jiangnan. Even if the eldest princess of the previous dynasty sought refuge in their manor, they would be able to protect her!
They were unmistakably distinguished in Jiangnan, with a hundred years of heritage. They could stay unscathed even with the changing of dynasties. How could they be affected by a useless princess from a fallen royal family?
“Xinmei, come in!” She touched her aching head, feeling light-headed. She felt that there was a clue or two in this information yet she felt like she was grasping at straws at the same time.
“Master, I’m here.” Xinmei, who was outside the room, lifted the curtain and walked in.
“Tell Liu Feng to investigate the Xia Manor for me. See if he can find any of Ning Ziying’s dowries that were sent there,” Ning Xueyan said, frowning. Since those items were delivered to the Xia Manor alongside Ning Ziyan’s dowries, they should still be with Ning Ziyan. Even though Ning Ziyan was a concubine now, the Xia Manor probably wouldn’t covet her dowries!
Of course, this was excluding the possibility that there was something important among her dowries!
“Tell him to find Ning Ziyan. Those dowries should be with her. No, wait a minute. Go to Mother Wang and get a copy of Ning Ziying’s list of dowries. Get Liu Feng to check the dowries secretly and see if anything is missing,” Ning Xueyan said.
She suddenly remembered something. When Ning Ziying got married, a list of dowries was brought to the Xia Manor and another was left in Mother Wang’s hands. However, Mother Wang hadn’t received the list for long before she accidentally fell into the lotus pond. By the time she was rescued, her entire body was drenched and the writing on the list became muddled.
Fortunately, Mother Wang had an excellent memory. Based on the muddled writing on the list and her guesswork, she re-wrote a list of dowries. Now that Ning Xueyan thought about it, someone must have plotted for Mother Wang to fall into the pond. Why would Mother Wang suddenly slip into the faraway lotus pond otherwise?
Liu Feng was a secret guard that Ao Chenyi gave Ning Xueyan last night. He lived in the outer courtyard, but she could summon him any time she needed him.
“Master, what should we do if the Xia Manor has already taken all these dowries?” Xinmei asked.
“It’s fine if we can’t find it. Let’s just check and see. Oh, and see what Concubine Chen is doing,” Ning Xueyan muttered, her beautiful eyes glinting. The possibility that Xinmei mentioned existed, of course. A majority of Ning Ziyan’s dowries were hers, and Madam Ling added a lot more to it. Ning Ziyan’s dowries were quite a spectacular sight, but now that she had been demoted to a concubine, the ownership of her dowries was anyone’s guess.
“Yes. I’ll go and tell him now,” Xinmei said. She nodded and retreated from the room.
Both she and Liu Feng knew each other, so the task was best left for her. Meanwhile, she remembered that Chen Hexiang had some so-called “evidence” that could frighten Xia Yuhang. Perhaps it was time for her to meet Concubine Chen now…
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