"Chen Xiang!" Seventh Madame grew worried and pulled her down to sit. "Chen Xiang, you don't understand. It's better to have less troubles than more. Yi'er is so young and I don't want anything, except for him to grow up peacefully."
"If my mistress hadn't stopped them in time that day, would little young master still be alive? How many times has he been beaten?" Chen Xiang was indignant.
At the same time, little Yi'er was perched on the window, spying on his mother. His clothes were very old and well washed, his trousers noticeably too short. Though they weren't as brightly-colored or well-fitting as clothes of other children, they were still very clean and neat, giving him an indescribable aura. After listening to his mother talk, little Yi'er's face gradually showed disappointment. He gritted his teeth and wanted to speak up multiple times, but in the end he swallowed his words.
Mother's ability to endure taught him to endure as well. He was a very obedient child, but ever since he started to understand things, he'd been in low spirits until today. The more Chen Xiang spoke, the angrier she grew. Seventh Madame could only listen to her urging before changing the topic. Chen Xiang didn't even notice when she started talking about something else. A dejected Yi'er lowered his eyes and gave a pout before sliding off the window. At the same time, a familiar voice carried over.
"Little Chen Xiang, see what tasty things I've brought you all!"
Little Yi'er abruptly stuck his head out the window, only to see the big sister Han Yunxi who had saved him that day. She was carrying two big bags as she walked over.
Little Yi'er would never forget that beautiful face and those steady, brilliant eyes. Neither could he forget the voice he only heard once. On that day, he almost lost consciousness from the cold. He didn't know anything that happened because his back was facing them all, but he heard her punishing Han Yuqi. Her voice hadn't been very loud, but it was powerful and domineering. When he was about to faint, she'd told him, 'Yi'er, don't be afraid. Big sister will definitely protect you.'
Even his most respected father and most beloved mother had never said those words to him.
"Big sis..." Seeing Han Yunxi approach, little Yi'er quietly called out under his breath, both cautious and timid. He had lots of big sisters, but this was his first time calling any one of them.
Han Yunxi had been in a bad mood and went shopping first. Now she'd brought over two bags, one filled with snacks, the other with medicinal ingredients to bolster Seventh Madame and Yi'er's health.
"Mistress, you finally came!" Chen Xiang was especially happy as she pounced over. If Mistress still hadn't come, she might have lost it altogether.
Seventh Madame rose to her feet in a hurry. "Greetings to esteemed wangfei, esteemed wangfei..."
Before she finished, Han Yunxi waved a hand. "You're excused, excused. Where's Yi'er, hurry and call him out. I've brought you all good things to eat!"
A happy Yi'er was about to rush out when he remembered his mother hadn't called him, and so he stopped.
"Esteemed wangfei, you took such good care of Yi'er, and now you're spending money on us too, I..." Seventh Madame was filled with a guilty conscience.
Han Yunxi wanted some fresh air because of her bad mood and hearing Seventh Madame's civilities only turned her impatient. "Seventh Madame, you can say your polite words outside. Yi'er and I will eat first."
With this, Seventh Madame was left speechless. Meanwhile, Yi'er couldn't resist laughing out loud from his hiding place on one side.
Han Yunxi turned towards the source of the noise and little Yi'er immediately ducked out of sight. Unfortunately, Han Yunxi still caught a glimpse of the top of his head. This boy had been so courageous the other day, but was he being bashful now? He was even playing hide-and-seek with her?
Han Yunxi narrowed her eyes, signaling Chen Xiang and Seventh Madame to keep quiet as she silently approached the window. She leaned out to look but saw nobody there. Amused, Han Yunxi scanned inside the room and caught little Yi'er peeking at her from behind a screen. His expression was blank and harmless, even a little timid, as if he wanted to get closer but didn't dare.
Han Yunxi drew back the corners of her lips into a grin as she circled back to the door and went inside. She pretended to run over, startling little Yi'er into bolting for the back door. Now she was really amused!
"Little fool!" she laughed, running to the back to cut him off. But little Yi'er was so fast that he burst out the back doors just before Han Yunxi reached them. Seventh Madame was about to shout at him to stop when Chen Xiang muffled her mouth. It was rare for esteemed wangfei to be in a playful mood, so how could they stop her?
Han Yunxi clutched at air before her eyes curved into a smile. "Yi'er, see who runs faster!"
Seeing her smile, Yi'er pressed his lips together, eyes glinting as he ran even farther away. Han Yunxi immediately gave chase, much faster than before. Scared, little Yi'er ran straight out the courtyard and crashed head-on into Lady Xu!
"Ahhh...!" Lady Xu cried out in surprise, backing up two steps as she narrowly avoided falling down. Luckily, her servant girl was there to catch her in time.
Little Yi'er halted in place, looking up to see Lady Xu's pale face. He immediately backed away. Lady Xu was still stunned, so her servant girl started cursing.
"You little bastard, how did your mother teach you to act? Don't you have any eyes?!"
"Can you afford to injure Lady Xu if you crash into her? You stay put!"
There was a screen of rocks just inside the courtyard door that prevented Lady Xu from seeing who was inside. But the people there could clearly hear every curse of the servant girl. Seventh Madame wanted to rush out, but Chen Xiang held her back.
"Esteemed wangfei is here, what's there to be afraid of?"
Little Chen Xiang had been waiting for Lady Xu to come settle accounts at their door. She didn't expect her to come today of all days, when esteemed wangfei was here too. Right now, Han Yunxi was standing behind the rock screen without moving, not very far from little Yi'er. Yi'er didn't refute the servant's words, but gave her a wrathful glare as he backed away step by step.
Lady Xu recovered her senses and glared angrily at little Yi'er. "Han Yunyi, can't you understand the words "stay put"? What kind of look are you wearing? You still have an excuse to look like that even after understanding this consort's words? Is this how your mother taught you to treat your seniors? Uncultured thing!"
These days, Lady Xu had been by her son's side. Han Yuqi's butt had blossomed in brusies, forcing him to lie stomach-down on the bed. His temper was violent and explosive, and he only agreed to take medicine after Lady Xu had spent days with him. Right now, his mood had finally stabilized somewhat. Now that she was free, the first thing to do was to visit Seventh Madame!
She knew that Han Yunxi had left her servant girl here. So what if she was a personal servant? Even Han Yunxi couldn't meddle in Han Family matters. Last time, her son had offended and contradicted his superiors, giving Han Yunxi two strikes against them. Lady Xu could only restrain her temper and yield.
But now, Han Yunxi had no such handles on them. She'd like to see what rights Han Yunxi had as a married off daughter to poke her nose in her family's matters. She came today for the express purpose of making trouble for Seventh Madame. Just when she was trying to thinking of shortcomings to exploit in the Seventh House, Han Yunyi came crashing into her all by himself. As Lady Xu spoke, she signaled her servant girl to go and grab the child.
At the same time, Han Yunxi dragged Han Yunyi aside and revealed herself from behind the screen. In this instant, it wasn't clear whether Han Yunxi crashed into the servant girl or vice versa. In any case, Han Yunxi stumbled back a few steps, lost her footing, and tumbled to the ground!
"Aiya!" she cried out. "What uncultured thing had the gall to crash into this wangfei!"
Lady Xu didn't know Han Yunxi was here and momentarily lost her wits. She gaped dumbstruck as her servant girl's movements turned numb. She wasn't clear what had just happened, but seeing Han Yunxi sitting on the ground turned her face pale. She narrowly avoided collapsing right then and there.
"Your servant...your servant...your servant didn't mean to do it!"
"Whose servant girl is this, so crude and impetuous. I think you did it on purpose!" Han Yunxi denounced, completely ignoring Lady Xu's existence. Her roars turned the servant girl's legs weak as she sank on both knees. She couldn't even articulate her words.
"Your servant...your servant didn't..."
Lady Xu watched from one side. Han Yunxi didn't want to see her, but she wanted to see Han Yunxi even less! What had this little slut dropped by for again? A married off daughter only ran back home if she was divorced. She really was shameless! Of course, she hid all this anger in her heart. After all, she was born as a well-bred girl of a well-off family and managed affairs in the household for years. She knew how to behave in public.
"It's all a misunderstanding, it really wasn't on purpose. Yunxi, when did you come, why didn't I know?" Lady Xu said kindly, hurrying over to help her up.
But Han Yunxi got quickly to her feet and changed her expression into a smile. "Then I think Yi'er didn't mean to crash into you either, right, Second Madame?"
Shocked, Lady Xu finally processed Han Yunxi's intent before hearing 'Second Madame'. Her eyes turned icy as her expression became ferocious.
"Yes, how could it be on purpose? Servants have no common sense, but of course we mistresses won't dispute such matters," Lady Xu forced a smile.
In truth, she'd spoken formidable words. If Han Yunxi still tried to pursue the matter after this, she'd be the same as those insensible 'servants.' Han Yunxi wasn't the type to pick faults when she was full. She just wanted to save little Yi'er, so hearing Lady Xu's words, she dropped the matter. Then she shot Yi'er a glance out of the corner of her eye.
"Second Madame's come to find Seventh Madame, is it?"
"I made a special trip just to see the state of Seventh Young Master's injuries. Seeing him frolic about, I gather that he's fine now? Then I have no more worries," Lady Xu said indolently, her lips derisive.
"It was a good thing that he was treated in time. Otherwise, who knows how much he might have been hurt? He could even be confined to bed for ten days to a month," Han Yunxi wasn't a bit polite.
It was Han Yuqi who couldn't get out of bed for ten days to a month, all right?! Lady Xu lost another round and felt fury attacking her heart. She really couldn't bear it and coldly reminded, "Yunxi ah, ever since I married into the Han Family, even your father called me his consort. There's no Second Madame in the Han Family, only Lady Xu."
"Really? How come I don't know such things? The empress dowager doesn't seem to, either..."
Han Yunxi hadn't finished before Lady Xu heard the threat in her words. She hastened to defend herself. "Yunxi, I think you've misunderstood. I've always respected elder sister, so why would I covet the position of official wife? How would I have the virtue or the ability? I dare not compete with big sister. It's just a form of address. Your father doted on me then and called me his lady, but this 'lady' doesn't equate to 'Lady.' It's still your father's idea, so it's not convenient for me to change it, right?"
Han Yunxi laughed and though, Lady Xu, ah, Lady Xu, so you still know how to be afraid.
"Aiya, isn't it just a form of address? This wangfei's used to calling you Second Madame, it feels more intimate."
"Yunxi, actually this..."
Han Yunxi cut her off, imitating Lady Xu's earlier frosty tone. "Second Madame ah, ever since I married into the Duke of Qin's family, even my father has to call me Qin Wangfei. There's no Yunxi here, only esteemed wangfei."