The Qin Wangfei's incomparably honorable title brought Han Yunxi no end of restrictions. Han Yunxi understood this from very early on. Lady Xu's threat was very effective, but it was a pity that it wasn't new anymore.
Yet, since Lady Xu wanted to play, she didn't mind playing with her to the end!
She smiled and spoke, "Second Madame, with the Han Family in such chaos, you still have time to worry about my mufei's mood. This wangfei will definitely pass on your sentiments to mufei."
This words stirred up Lady Xu. What did Han Yunxi mean? It couldn't be that she wasn't afraid? Why was she using mufei this and mufei that so intimately?
The staid and steady Han Yunxi spoke again. "Since these tangshu are all so worried about the storehouse key and the Han Family's successor, Second Madame should tell them the next time they come that my father's simply in jail. He's not dead yet. The choice for head of house rests clearly in his heart! There's no need for those who eat their fill and do nothing else to take the pains to worry!"
Lady Xu had just used veiled insults against Han Yunxi, but now Han Yunxi was pointing at the mulberry and abusing the locust. How could Lady Xu sit still any longer?! She never thought that Han Yunxi would dare mention Han Congan!
She heard from the Board of Civil Office that Han Yunxi rescued the crown prince and rejected Han Congan's diagnosis. That was his real reason for incarceration. To put it bluntly, Han Yunxi ruined Han Congan! She even placed restrictions on the Han Family to prevent them from visiting him. It was obvious that she'd stolen the storehouse key and was afraid of being exposed! This damned shameless girl still had the self-assurance to use her father as a talking point. Lady Xu unconsciously clenched her teeth. Since she brought up the topic today, she wouldn't give up so easily!
"Esteemed wangfei's words have merit, but as this commoner sees it, esteemed wangfei is still a married daughter. It'll incur gossip if the Han Family storehouse key remains in your hands." Here Lady Xu paused before adding, "I trust that the old master left you the key in a moment of desperation so you could pass it on to the Han Family?"
Han Yunxi didn't speak, but raised her eyebrows playfully to examine Lady Xu. Their surroundings suddenly grew exceptionally silent as tension rose. Lady Xu was previously self-assured, but began to grow insecure under Han Yunxi's scrutiny. Finally, she couldn't take it anymore.
"Madame Li, Madame Helian, you two say something too. There's only us three sisters left in this house, so it's time for us to work as one! The Han Family can't fall to decay at our hands!"
Madame Helian didn't even dare to raise her head, much less agree. Madame Li was as taciturn as before, looking as if the business had nothing to do with her as she refilled everyone's teacups.
Once again, the scene fell into silence.
And yet right at this moment, a murmur carried in from outside.
"Are you all discussing the storehouse key? This young master's is still the Han Family's eldest son, so shouldn't you all respect my opinions as well?"
"Where's the key? Hand it over now!"
First they heard, then they saw, eldest young master hurriedly running over, one hand on a walking stick while the other held his behind. He hobbled over to stand by the courtyard door, looking coldly at Han Yunxi.
Most likely, he'd just gotten news of Lady Xu's plans to discuss the storehouse key, or else he would have rushed out of Falling Serenity Residence long ago. Han Yunxi had already stopped minding Han Yuqi's nasty remarks, but now he'd sent himself over again.
Impatiently she spoke, "The storehouse key is with this wangfei, so what are you muttering about?"
At these words, Han Yuqi was even more agitated. He took large strides forward but misstepped and tripped to fall flat on his face with a bang.
"Aiya!" he cried out painfully, unable to lift his head.
Seeing these, the gathered group was shocked. Little Yi'er was the first to giggle, before Han Yunxi followed in amusement. "Haha! Eldest young master, there's no feces on the ground, so why are you lying there?"
"Son!" Lady Xu shouted, rushing over. "Son, are you all right?"
Lady Xu strained to help him up, finally allowing Han Yuqi to raise his head. But his forehead, cheeks and nose were all scraped red by the fall, looking extremely comical. Seeing this, everyone burst out into laughter. Even the timid and meek Seventh Madame couldn't resist a smile.
By now, Lady Xu had helped Han Yuqi turn over, but as soon as his butt touched the ground, he started hollering. "Hurts...it hurts!"
He turned on his side as if struck by lightning, butt off the ground. Then he pushed Lady Xu aside and grew frighteningly ferocious. "Do you want me to die from the pain?!"
Lady Xu saw that the pain had twisted his face in agony and couldn't help but feel distressed and concerned. "Mother didn't mean it. You're not injured, right? Does it still hurt? Let's go back, mother will apply ointment for you."
But Han Yuqi only turned to glare at the gathered people, still fierce. "What are you laughing at, is it very funny?"
At this, everyone except Han Yunxi stopped laughing, especially Seventh Madame. She shot a glance towards little Yi'er, who could only smooth out his mouth and endure.
"It's very funny, hahaha! I'm laughing so much that my stomach hurts! Eldest young master, why can't you bear a little beating? Just a few smacks and you're hurt this badly?" Han Yunxi grinned.
"You!" Han Yuqi was about to be angered to death. He was ready to rush over when Lady Xu held him back.
"You stop it! Slow down!"
With this reminder, Han Yuqi finally calmed down. One hand held his behind while the other pressed against Lady Xu's hand to stand up. He was naturally tall and strong. Add that to his weighty build, such a gingerly movement made him look all the more hilarious. In the end, Han Yunxi couldn't stop laughing, her stomach aching from the guffaws.
Little Yi'er was right next to Han Yunxi. He held it back for as long as he could, but seeing Han Yunxi laugh like that, he couldn't help but give out a snerk.
At this, the standing Han Yuqi glared coldly at him. "Han Yunyi, you dare to laugh at this young master?"
He couldn't deal with Han Yunxi, but he could still yell at Han Yunyi!
"You're still young but you have the audacity to laugh at your elder brother. Such an uncultured, uncivilized thing!"
Immediately, little Yi'er grew silent. Seventh Madame's head was bowed very low, afraid to utter a word. To curse a son for being uncivilized in the presence of his mother was a form of humiliation. Coldness flitted past Han Yunxi's eyes as she grabbed little Yi'er in an embrace. Smiling frostily, she spoke, "Yi'er, laugh if you want to. He's an adult but still dares to make impertinent remarks before his seniors, what room does he have to speak of being cultured? Moreover, he can't even walk straight. I think his mother not only forgot how to teach him proper conduct, but how to walk as well! Really, how hilarious! If it was me, I'd hide away so people wouldn't laugh. What's with that muttering?"
As Han Yunxi spoke, she hahaha'd three more times, and teased little Yi'er's face. "Come, laugh a bit for big sister!"
With big sister's protection, little Yi'er wasn't afraid of anything. He slowly split open his lips and gave a beautiful smile towards Han Yunxi.
"That's right. Smile a bit, see how comfortable that feels!"
Lady Xu was so angry that her face turned purple. Han Yuqi had an awkward tongue, so how could he refute those words? Indignant, he started hollering instead. "Qin Wangfei, stop with the nonsense! Give the storehouse key over now! That's Han Family property, it had nothing to do with a married daughter like you! Hand it over immediately!"
In the end, he was still here for that key.
Han Yunxi was quite composed as she raised her chin. "I didn't bring it!"
"You!" Han Yuqi's hands clenched into fists, gnashing his teeth. "Slut, you're looking for a beating!"
Lady Xu wanted to make her move long ago, but she gained calm after countless trials and tribulations. She pressed against Han Yuqi's hand and spoke in a low voice. "Haven't you lost enough the last time? Why be so impulsive? See how your old mother settles things with her!"
At the reminder of his 50 planks, Han Yuqi felt a lingering fear. He grit his teeth and endured for the moment! In any case, he'll wait to get the key first before taking care of Han Yunxi. She doted on Han Yunyi, didn't she? When the time came, he'd definitely 'serve' that stupid brat well!
Lady Xu took a deep breath and supported her son by the arm as she walked over. Han Yuqi couldn't sit down, so he only stood on one side. Seeing this, Madame Li spoke up. "Someone, hurry and assist the eldest young master!"
Two little pageboys ran over and stood on each side of Han Yuqi to support him. Only now did Lady Xu feel relieved enough to sit down herself. She still remembered her question from before!
"Qin Wangfei, I trust that the old master left you the key in a moment of desperation so you could pass it on to the Han Family?" Lady Xu asked again. Today she had to force Han Yunxi to answer this question, no matter what.
But Han Yunxi remained silent. The storehouse key had thoroughly ensnared Han Yuqi like some sort of spell. Seeing Han Yunxi's reticence, he immediately called her out. "Qin Wangfei, why don't you answer? You're not afraid of being found out, are you?"
Yet still, Han Yunxi remained quiet.
At this, Han Yuqi was even more convinced that Han Yunxi had snatched the key from her father's hands. He was about to launch an attack when the taciturn Madame Li finally spoke up. "I think that old master must have left some instructions with the storehouse key in Qin Wangfei's hands?"
Cold satisfaction flitted past Han Yunxi's eyes. She had stayed silent just to wait for Third Madame to speak! If Lady Xu's words could be considered formidable before, Madame Li's words revealed her as the true expert in speech. Her words were clearly made to sound Han Yunxi out.
If Han Congan took the initiative to give her the storehouse key, then he must have told her to who give it to. At this point, she should tell them.
If she stole the storehouse key from Han Congan's hands, she'd be hard-pressed to answer the question now.
Madame Li truly was intelligent. As a general rule, if Han Congan gave the key to Han Yunxi, he would've told her to give it to which house of the Han Family. It was a pity that Madame Li had overestimated the situation of the Han house and underestimated Han Congan.
Han Congan might have been muddleheaded over Lady Tianxin's affairs, but he was shrewd enough in other matters. He was very clear on the disgusting tendencies of the other young masters and the thoughts of his various concubines. He had no favorites in his heart because he placed the Han Family first and foremost. Even if he accounted for Han Yunyi, he never said Han Yunyi had to be head of house. That decision he left to Han Yunxi.
Compared to the Board of Civil Office's influence behind Lady Xu, he much preferred to trust Han Yunxi.
Hearing Madame Li's words, Lady Xu rejoiced in her heart and hurried to add, "That's right. Old master must have given you instructions. Esteemed wangfei, look at these times. Everyone's here today, so just speak."
Han Yunxi had a cold smile in her heart. She was planning to finish investigating the affair of the young general and the enemy agent before dealing with Han Family matters. But since Lady Xu was so anxious today, and Madame Li so impatient, she might as well reveal her hand early.
 tangshu () - a father's younger male cousin, AKA uncle on the father's side.
 pointing at the mulberry and abusing the locust () - saying meaning to point at one but abuse another, or make oblique accusations.