Chapter 96: A promise, ten days later
Seeing Madame Li's uneasy expression, Han Yunxi's suspicions grew. She didn't know whether it was because she turned back too quickly and startled her, or if Madame Li was hiding demons in her heart.
"Nothing. You have quite a few medicinal ingredients here," Han Yunxi smiled and kept moving forward.
Madame Li released a sigh of relief once Han Yunxi turned back. She didn't miss seeing the latter open those drawers that had held the poison, or how slow her movements have been in comparison. A person who could treat Ten-Thousand Snake Poison naturally knew the poison ingredients as well. Did Han Yunxi suspect something?
All the poison had been cleared away. Even if Han Yunxi opened every single drawer in this room, she wouldn't find anything. Even if Han Yunxi suspected her, she could only give up her suspicions in the end. Third Madame was still Third Madame, quick to find her cool. She continued to follow after Han Yunxi. This time, Han Yunxi didn't immediately open the drawer with the snake poison, but tried some others that were poison-free. She saved the poisonous one for last, and again saw no snake poison, only medicinal ingredients.
"Third Madame, these ingredients are all expensive," Han Yunxi bantered with a smile.
"Esteemed wangfei is jesting. I don't have many materials here, nor are they rare. If you're talking about ingredients, you should see the Han Family dispensary, now those are truly rare. If esteemed wangfei is interested, we could accompany you to take a look?" Third Madame smiled, seemingly unaffected.
The Han Family dispensary indeed had many ingredients, even more than the ones in the storehouse here. But those were all commonplace items and held no interest for Han Yunxi. Even if she found the seven common snake poisons of the ten snake poisons there, it would be perfectly normal. After all, those poisons could be used in medicines. But things weren't so simple with Madame Li's place.
It was possible that Madame Li was using her three snake poisons for medicine. But Han Yunxi didn't believe things could be so coincidental. All three of the poisons had disappeared, to be replaced with other medicinal ingredients. She studied Madame Li's smile as she mused, if I ask her about this now, would it be startling the snake in the grass? After careful consideration, she decided to keep quiet.
"I won't go today, I'm a bit tired. It's about time I went back," Han Yunxi said, stretching lazily as she exited the wooden house.
Outside, Lady Xu, her son, and Han Ruoxue were anxiously fretting over the matter of the storehouse key. Seeing Han Yunxi so carefree, they couldn't help but gnash their teeth in anger, especially Han Yuqi.
"Esteemed wangfei!" he said these words in a strange tone, pausing before speaking again. "You're really going to arrange for us to meet father? You're not trying to trick us, right?"
"What, does eldest young master doubt this wangfei's words?" Han Yunxi retorted coldly.
"Not doubt. I just don't know whether I can believe you," Han Yuqi said in a peculiar tone.
Lady Xu spoke up as well with a chuckle. "Esteemed wangfei, how about this? You set a time so the rest of us can prepare in advance."
"Exactly, with a set time, we can prepare," Han Ruoxue added anxiously.
Of course they needed to set a time, otherwise who knows when Han Yunxi would fulfill her promise? Who knows how long she'd drag things on for?
Han Yunxi sized each of them up before pretending to ponder in thought, as if she was stuck in a difficult position. Seeing this, Han Yuqi gave a cold laugh. "Esteemed wangfei, did you want to say that it'll be hard to bend the rules at the justice courts?"
"This matter is indeed difficult," Han Yunxi sighed.
Seeing this, the crowd was secretly delighted. They thought that they had forced her into an impasse so she couldn't reply. But Han Yunxi sighed and sighed before saying, "How about ten days. In ten days, I'll arrange for you all to see father."
Actually, with just one word, she could have the Han Family immediately meet Han Congan. But these people were so impatient, of course she'd drag things on and make them wait. They were anticipating a joke, expecting to expose her "crafty plot," but she was waiting to see their reactions after seeing Han Congan. Lady Xu and eldest young master would probably have the most spectacular reactions.
They didn't expect Han Yunxi to come up with a timeframe so soon. Lady Xu and Han Ruoxue were both surprised, and Han Yuqi couldn't even believe it. He asked again, "Esteemed wangfei, you're certain? You can't go back on your word and play tricks on us."
Now Han Yunxi was angry. "What, does eldest young master want this wangfei to sign a contract or a written pledge? Doesn't the word of a member of the imperial family count?"
A single 'member of the imperial family' reminded Han Yuqi that he had to act with propriety. If his butt didn't want another beating, he'd better control himself. He shot a furious glare at Han Yunxi before resignedly saying, "I'll trust you this once!"
Seventh Madame was the quietest one. She looked at Han Yunxi, her thoughts filled mostly with worry. She didn't believe that old master would give esteemed wangfei such an important task. What she feared was that esteemed wangfei would stir up a detrimental fuss. Esteemed wangfei spent so much effort to save the young general and the crown prince, finally earning a position in the imperial family. If she did something disgraceful, what would happen then?
Moreover, once esteemed wangfei fell from favor, she and little Yi'er wouldn't have an easy life after how Han Yunxi instigated Lady Xu. Right now, Seventh Madame could only wait for ten days until she saw old master and heard his arrangements for them.
After blocking Han Yuqi's mouth, Han Yunxi touched little Yi'er's head and spoke. "Yi'er, study your medical books well. Don't be like those with neither learning nor skill and just compete for power and profit all day. We want to be the bigger man, which means we need moral quality first. Only then can we have medical ethics, understand?"
This time, little Yi'er didn't refer to his mother, but directly nodded his head and replied, "Understood!"
Han Yunxi rejoiced before instructing Seventh Madame, "Seventh Madame, if there's anything, don't keep it in your heart but tell little Chen Xiang. Seeing her is the same as seeing me."
These words, rather than spoken for Seventh Madame's sake, was spoken more for Lady Xu to hear. She was going to keep leaving Chen Xiang at the Han house. After taking care of everything, Han Yunxi was in a much better mood. She turned back for one last glance at the little wooden house before departing.
She mused that she should get some spring tea for testing. She should find a way to investigate Madame Li's quarters personally; perhaps she'll find other unexpected discoveries. Of course, the sooner she did this, the better. Once Third Madame grew alert, she wouldn't be able to find a thing.
In the middle of winter, spring tea really was a rare commodity. But no matter how rare it was, if Third Madame could get it, then Han Yunxi definitely could as well. The first thing she did upon returning to the Duke of Qin's household was to give a giant bunch of silver to Steward Xia and tell him to use the quickest speed to get her some spring tea and well-preserved summer tea. Previously, she'd experimented with all varieties of autumn tea, but neglected spring and summer tea. This time, Third Madame had inspired her to look into other avenues.
When Han Yunxi left, Murong Wanru emerged from her hiding place and gave a cold look towards Steward Xia. After Han Yunxi saved the crown prince and attended the empress dowager's banquet, Grand Concubine Yi had been ill at ease. These days, she hadn't found trouble for Han Yunxi at all, but repeated exhorted Murong Wanru to keep a close eye on her. If there were any clues on her doings, she was to report it immediately. Naturally, Murong Wanru kept watch, but to her surprise, Han Yunxi had no liaisons with the imperial court. Instead, she'd involved herself with the Han estate instead.
According to scouts she'd sent out, Han Yunxi had gained the storehouse key representing the Han head of house and even beat up the eldest young master. A married daughter was actually meddling in her old home's affairs while holding power equal to the head of house? If this was spread, Han Yunxi would become the the talk of the town. Murong Wanru didn't tell Grand Concubine Yi immediately. She would wait until the Han family made an even bigger fuss! From her understanding, it wasn't easy to provoke the Han Family's Lady Xu. Of course, if Lady Xu couldn't make a big enough scene, she wouldn't mind helping her out on the sly.
"Steward Xia, what did my sister-in-law tell you to do? It seemed to be urgent?" Murong Wanru asked with a smile.
"Esteemed wangfei told this one to buy some tea. Perhaps the kitchens haven't been sending her enough," Steward Xia said, quickly flashing the money that Han Yunxi had left him.
"Heheh, she knows to drink tea too?" Murong Wanru laughed in disdain, glimpsing the shiny silver in Steward Xia's hands. It was enough to make her eyes turn red.
She'd counted all the money and jewels from the emperor's reward and knew it was enough to feed Han Yunxi for the rest of her life! On the other hand, she had to rely on the monthly stipend to live her days. Although it was a fair amount, it wasn't enough for her to spend freely or squander, so she'd always be in straitened circumstances by the end of the month.
Just by comparing them, she felt stifled!
Because of that, Murong Wanru rudely took half the silver from Steward Xia's hands and gave a cold snort before walking away. Of course, Steward Xia didn't dare to complain, but his heart was filled with resentment. In the past, a portion of the bonuses bestowed to the servants by Grand Concubine Yi had been pilfered by Miss Murong as well.
Leaving aside the talk of generous rewards, many of the servants' hearts had been leaning towards esteemed wangfei recently. Esteemed wangfei was kindhearted and never troubled anyone. Many could cast aside Murong Wanru just in light of this single fact. If not for the fact that Grand Concubine Yi doted on Murong Wanru, few would fear this so-called foster daughter.
Just then, Steward Xia spoke on esteemed wangfei's behalf, but only mentioned that he was buying tea leaves. He never told her how much he was buying or that he was looking specifically for spring tea. Though he didn't know why esteemed wangfei wanted so much tea leaves, he understood it was better if Miss Murong had no idea.
Thankfully, esteemed wangfei had given him sufficient silver so he had enough to use even after half was taken away.
Now that her mood was restored, Han Yunxi returned to Leisurely Cloud Pavilion and prepared to clean the place up, especially the study. But as soon as she stepped inside the courtyard, she saw a compassionate looking forty-year-old mama dressed in plain, simple clothes walk out with a pile of trash in her nimble hands.
Han Yunxi was stunned. Who was this?
"This old servant Zhao mama greets esteemed wangfei. This servant was sent by his highness; his highness said for this servant and Chen Xiang to serve wangfei together." Zhao mama hurriedly paid her respects as she introduced herself, not forgetting to steal a peek at Han Yunxi.
Only then did Han Yunxi understand the situation. She sized Zhao mama up from head to toe, inexplicably biting her lip. "Ohhhh..."
This 'ohhh' was drawn out so long that it sounded profound and significant. The uneasy Zhao mama looked at herself, then at the trash in her hands, before hastening to explain. "Esteemed wangfei, these are what his highness told your servant to clean up."
 startling the snake in the grass () - dacao jing she, literally, to hit the grass and surprise the snake, or to act rashly and alert the enemy.