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Chapter 393 Madame Dou’s Death and the Grievous News at Last!
Jiang Yahong was puzzled at first and then shocked when he received the message from his sister-in-law. He wandered around the room for a while before making up his mind, “Since the hand-stamped and privately sealed confession has already been written to Jiang Yashuang, how can I refuse his wife’s request?”
This might be a little difficult for him at ordinary times. But now Madame Dou was lingering on with her last breath. Besides, half of the first branch was focusing on her and half on getting justice back from the fourth branch. The chaos was perfect for him to do this.
So, he was quick to finish the job and then asked his sister-in-law to inform Qiu Yelan.
“What’s next?” Zhuang Man personally paid a visit as she pretended to visit her aunt and cousin-in-law. However, she didn’t hang around for long at Madame Zhuang’s place before she was thrown out by Jiang Yashuang with satisfaction. She ran to Qiu Yelan, asking her excitedly, “Is there anything else I can do?”
“None!” Qiu Yelan said lazily, “Next you should forget about it and pretend that nothing has happened!”
Zhuang Man was disappointed, “Is there really nothing I can help with?”
“Absolutely not!” Qiu Yelan knew that she was young and meddlesome and so she warned her with a serious tone, “Even for me, I’m going to get rid of this. Don’t mess around!”
“Is it okay if I listen by the side?” As Zhuang Man heard her words, she begged, her eyes twinkling.
Although Qiu Yelan didn’t agree at first, after failing to drive her away several times, she finally reluctantly agreed as she thought that Zhuang Man was usually very tight-lipped and was now a partic.i.p.ant.
After allowing Zhuang Man to stay behind, Qiu Yelan didn’t delay and called Su He to come up, “What did Senior Concubine Feng say?”
“At first, she was surprised.” Su He said with a smile, “But after thinking about it for a while, she agreed.”
“Senior Concubine Feng?” Zhuang Man asked confusedly.
“It’s the Prince of Qi’s senior concubine, the Empress Dowager’s former senior maid, Nijin, who was later taken by Chief Feng as his G.o.ddaughter.” Qiu Yelan glanced at her, “About Madame Dou’s matter, I originally thought of giving us and the first branch an out together, but they clearly refused. Now they even want to ask for more. However, I have nothing to say. Let’s find our own way to deal with the aftermath!”
Zhuang Man asked, “What does this have to do with Senior Concubine Feng?”
“She’s only a senior concubine. Princess Qi is the princess!” Qiu Yelan said lightly, “But how many days has the princess been recovering from her illness on the farm outside the city? Do you think she will be willing to live like this for the rest of her life?”
“If not, how else would she want to live?” Zhuang Man blurted out and then the penny dropped, “You’re planning to do something to her, right? But why was Senior Concubine Feng willing to help? Although she is the G.o.ddaughter of Chief Feng, she is also known as a real maid, which means she cannot be a princess! Now becoming a senior concubine is all because Aunt Tianhe personally begged for her fate!”
“Prince of Qi is still young and weak. If we get rid of the current Princess Qi, there might be another family which wants their girl to become a concubine to bring fame to the family and thus picks him. Now that Princess Qi has made a big mistake and is being trapped on the farm, she is simply a woman existing in name only! For Senior Concubine Feng, there is nothing better than a princess who can do nothing but only exist in name… Why bother?”
Although Feng Nijin was only made a senior concubine by Qiu Yelan, she was now a senior concubine and served Empress Dowager Jiang. So, even if she had scruples towards Qiu Yelan, it was not to the extent that she must obey her words.
So Qiu Yelan definitely convinced her not only by intimidation but also by other ways. Zhuang Man was puzzled, “Or is it because Princess Qi is already dealing with her and she has no choice?”
Qiu Yelan gave her an approving look, “You’re brilliant enough for thinking of this! But you have forgotten one thing. The first branch is committing daylight robbery this time!”
Zhuang Man was surprised and asked, “What? No mention of the Senior Concubine Feng!”
“It is obviously a daylight robbery. The first branch wants a lot of life-sustaining pills and the entire Western Army. Do you think that’s possible?” Qiu Yelan laughed slightly and said, “They themselves should know that there is no such thing as we agree to whatever they ask for. So, the next step is definitely to negotiate! If they do, no one knows whether Jiang Huizhi’s future position in the Palace or the possibility of Princess Qi’s returning to the Prince’s Mansion will be brought up.”
“If the fourth branch is really willing to talk to them, do you think these two things are important to the fourth branch and grandfather?”
Of course not!
Zhuang Man pursed her lips, “If Jiang Huizhi entered the Palace to be in the high position, the first one to lose face would be Xin Fubing, the granddaughter of Sir Jibei. Although Xin Fubing can get along well with the fourth branch juniors, in front of Jiang Tianchi and his wife, she is just one of the many juniors only!”
“As for Princess Qi’s returning to the Prince’s Mansion, the fourth branch doesn’t mind! The moods of Prince of Qi, Senior Concubine Feng, and Old Princess Tong… Are they worthy of the fourth branch worrying about?”
“So, Senior Concubine Feng agreed to cooperate with you in order to prevent the resurgence of Princess Qi, right?” Zhuang Man mused, “This senior concubine’s reaction was not slow.” Actually, she hadn’t thought of that much.
However, “Does dealing with Princess Qi have to do with Madame Dou’s situation at this time? Even if Princess Qi did something unwise right now, I don’t think she could be condemned at all, given that Madame Dou is dying.”
“What if the unwise thing she did was the very thing that caused Madame Dou to be sick, or even…” Qiu Yelan asked unhurriedly, “thus die?”
Zhuang Man was shocked, “Well…” She pondered for a moment, “Princess Qi once almost forced her own husband to death! Although the incident was covered up, almost everyone among the n.o.bles knew the inside story. It’s quite possible that she can do something more desperate. But why did she do it to Madame Dou? Madame Dou loves her as her official daughter! And in her current situation, without her own mother’s affection, there will be no hope for her in her life, right?”
Qiu Yelan said lightly, “Even with her mother’s love, she’s still recovering outside the city.”
“But there’s always hope, right?” Zhuang Man insisted, “If Madame Dou were gone…”
“And then it will be necessary to prepare for her funeral affairs, and then Princess Qi will have to come back to the Mansion to offer her condolences, which no one can possibly stop!” Qiu Yelan said calmly, “If she came back to mourn and cried miserably and emotionally, mentioning Madame Dou’s love and kindness to her before, and if there are Madame Dou Junior and others to speak for her, maybe she doesn’t need to go back to the farm outside the city. Even if she can’t go back to the Mansion of the Prince of Qi right away, staying at the Marquess’s Mansion is not more than a few steps away from the Prince’s Mansion, and it’s already enough to make influences.”
“Transitioning in the Marquess’s Mansion, she might be able to have a chance to move back to the Prince’s Mansion to be the decisive person. If so, everything that Senior Concubine Feng has now, including her life, would be hard to say!”
Zhuang Man drew a cold breath and pondered sharply, “Was the reason why she was doing it that she wanted to use it to put pressure on the fourth branch and had more certainty of achieving her goal?”
“No!” Qiu Yelan narrowed her eyes and said indifferently, “It was more because the first branch had said surely that Madame Dou was dying, which made Princess Qi think that she was really dying. She thought now that Madame Dou was about to die, she might as well let Madame Dou love her for the last time. Because once Madame Dou died, Jiang Yayue and others would need to mourn, which would be a blow to the first branch! Princess Qi certainly knew that! So even if she wanted to use her mother’s life as a stepping stone, she would have to think about whether the consequences were worth it.”
“But she wouldn’t have to think too much if Madame Dou were bound to die.” Zhuang Man murmured, “So, it was not only Princess Qi who murdered Madame Dou, but also the entire first branch. They were the ones who took the initiative to spread the rumors all over the city, causing Princess Qi to misunderstand and leading to…”
She took a deep breath and looked at Qiu Yelan with a complicated expression, “That would make my aunt’s blame much lighter! After all, if it weren’t for Princess Qi’s matricide, maybe Madame Dou wouldn’t die.”
“She can’t die!” Qiu Yelan sneered, “I previously sent life-sustaining pills to the other side through my grandmother and grandfather, but what about the other side? Instead of being anxious to accept it, they even had the time to negotiate the price with me. In that case, either Madame Dou’s injury was not as serious as they said, or from the young to the elder of the first branch, there was no one filial but one was more unfilial than another! What do you think they would choose?”
Even a fool would choose the former!
Zhuang Man bit her lip, “So you told my brother-in-law to put those things in Madame Dou’s dowry room… And you then asked him to go to Senior Concubine Feng…”
“I was very sincere about reconciling with them, but they thought I was weak and deceivable.” Qiu Yelan said indifferently, “I had to be quick about it. After all, I can’t afford to waste time with them nowadays!” Even if she was in good condition and could squander days with the first branch, she still had to consider Jiang Yashuang’s worries, didn’t she?
Besides, she was really disgusted by the way the first branch had acted this time. Jiang Qizheng’s whereabouts were still unknown and the other side didn’t mention anything about her from the beginning. Once she had just shown an intention to smooth the things over, they immediately acted overbearing! It’s hard for her not to smack them!
“They still want to get the compensation, to take advantage, and to show their authority…” Qiu Yelan sneered, “Let the first branch go play with themselves! I’m not going to accompany them!”
Two days later, Madame Dou died!
The first branch knelt outside Marquess Qin’s study, mourning and asking Marquess Qin for justice!
As for the fourth branch, Jiang Yashuang left his mother in the care of Mrs. Chang and his wife in the care of Mrs. Qu and Mrs. Zhou, and then he went for the battle alone.
He already knew Qiu Yelan’s arrangements and so he questioned her as soon as he reached there, “Two days ago, Ningyi said she was going to send you the pills, but you dragged your heel and refused to take them, which could prove that my eldest aunt was not in a very critical situation! If she had been in the critical situation, could you still have had the mood to dilly-dally? It is only a few days before my eldest aunt died. No one knows why she died! How can they blame it on our mother!”
Naturally, the first branch felt that this was sophistry. However, after a heated dispute, the first branch finally agreed to let the Imperial Academy of Medicine organize an investigation into Madame Dou’s death, under the situation that Empress Dowager Jiang at the Palace heard about it and sent Maid Lin to intervene.
This investigation revealed that Madame Dou’s death was caused by poisoning.
How could the first branch not know they had been plotted against by the fourth branch? But a large group of imperial doctors made that conclusion in full view of the public. It was too late to regret. Since Madame Dou was poisoned by an acute poison which was recognized by the imperial doctors, the first suspect was naturally in the first branch, especially those who had served her and stayed close to her these days!
The suspected stuff that Qiu Yelan had asked Jiang Yahong to arrange naturally pointed at Madame Dou’s dowry maid!
This maid reacted quickly and was loyal enough! Seeing the remaining poison found in her room, she knew that it was basically impossible to be clear of suspicion and so she simply knelt down with a thud, “Young Master, didn’t you say that as long as I did the job, you would leave me a decent end?”
But Qiu Yelan was also on guard against her, and Jiang Yashuang, who had been instructed to do so, gave a wink, and then someone found a secret compartment from the maid’s chamber and took out “the handwritten letter” from Princess Qi!
Jiang Yashuang then asked to send someone to confront Princess Qi on the farm outside the city. With the help of Senior Concubine Feng who had quietly arranged a man there, both human testimony and material evidence were clear. The first branch understood that their family was over and so they just stayed silent.
“Let the idle disperse!” Seeing this, Marquess Qin let out a long sigh and stood up with a gloomy face. Just then, the old servant, who had always been steady, stumbled in and said in a trembling voice, “Old Master!”
It was the first time that Marquess Qin had seen his long-time henchman lose his calmness in such a manner and his heart suddenly sank, “Is it the western savages or Beihu?”
“The Second Young Master and the Sixth Young Master were a.s.sa.s.sinated in Shazhou!”
What a bolt from the blue!
A few moments later, Jiang Tianao had a blackout and soon collapsed to the ground!