What is the Cost of Reputation?
Feng Fen Dai immediately froze. Looking at Chen Yu in disbelief, it was as though she did not recognize this eldest sister in the slightest.
The reason she chose Feng Chen Yu to collaborate was because she had counted on Chen Yu being thrown completely into disarray over anything related to the seventh prince.
But she did not think that she would completely change her tune after clearly agreeing to this! Not only had Feng Chen Yu not worked with her to complain about Feng Yu Heng, she said a few more things to the matriarch: “Second sister is the county princess, and she is already engaged to his Highness the ninth prince. She was already very close with the princes, and this is something everyone knows. Even if his Highness the seventh prince entered and exited the county princess’ manor, it’s not much news.”
The matriarch felt that Chen Yu was much more reasonable and quickly nodded in approval: “Chen Yu is correct. Fen Dai, instead of spending your days going down the correct path, what are you doing staring at your second sister?”
Fen Dai could not be bothered with taking offense to the matriarch saying that she had strayed from the correct path. Instead, she was fully devoted to glared towards Feng Chen Yu. She still remembered the time she deliberately jumped into the water at the palace banquet. That was clearly because she had seen him save Xiang Rong and felt anxious at heart. If she was even willing to jump into the water, why did she not mind the relations between Feng Yu Heng and the seventh prince?
Fen Dai was unable to understand.
“Second sister has always been steady with her work. This was something even the Emperor praised. She definitely has her reasons for closing the gates of the county princess’ manor. If grandmother is worried, we can send someone to go inquire, but fourth sister’s words absolutely can not be randomly spouted.” Chen Yu had a deeply righteous appearance, and her words caused everyone present to nod.
Fen Dai angrily looked around and hated that Han shi’s belly was unable to immediately give birth to a son. If Han shi became to manor’s head wife, and she became the daughter of the first wife, how could she be pushed aside by these people!
“It has been so many days, yet she has not even shown her face once. Me coming to tell grandmother about this is also for second sister’s sake. If nothing happened, then it’s fine. Even if Fen Dai made a mistake in being overly concerned for the wrong reasons, Fen Dai will kowtow to second sister and apologize for the mistake. But if something really happened, then wouldn’t grandmother have thrown away second sister’s life despite Fen Dai’s warnings?” The more Fen Dai said, the more she felt she was being reasonable. She could not help but stand up and advance a couple steps, “Grandmother, regardless of whether or not it is true or false, it is a fact that his Highness has entered the county princess’ manor and did not come out. If someone outside saw this and spread this news, who knows what might happen. Second sister’s reputation is important!”
These words had succeeded in causing the matriarch’s mind to begin thinking. No matter what was said, if word really had been spread, it would not be good for Feng Yu Heng’s reputation. Moreover, if the seventh prince truly did enter the county princess’ manor and did not leave, did the ninth prince know about it or not? If he did not know, if this matter became known…
The matriarch felt a shock in her heart, and a bad feeling crept into her forth. Looking at Fen Dai then looking at the other people present, she pondered for a long time. Finally, she said to granny Zhao: “Send two fast servants over to Tong Sheng pavilion. They must meet with A-Heng.”
Granny Zhao nodded and gave a look to two nearby servants. The two servants then rushed out.
Nobody spoke, as they sat and waited. Like this, they waited for two hours. By the time the two servants returned, their dessert plates had been completely cleaned.
“Have you seen second sister?” Fen Dai was the first to ask.
The two servants did not respond. Very properly respecting the rules, they walked into the room and first saluted the matriarch. Only then did one of them say: “These servants went to the small moon gate in Liu courtyard to reach Tong Sheng pavilion, but we were stopped outside and could not enter. It was Tong Sheng pavilion’s head maidservant Qing Shuang, who personally kept watch. She said second young miss had an important matter to take care of, so Tong Sheng pavilion had closed its gates and was refusing visitors.”
Upon hearing that the two servants could not even enter, the matriarch could not help but from. She felt more and more that something was not quite right. “Then did you ask about his Highness the seventh prince? Is he in Tong Sheng pavilion?”
The servants both shook their heads, “The people of Tong Sheng pavilion kept their mouths shut and did not speak about it. No matter what was asked, they only shook their heads.”
“Then you returned just like that? If you were not allowed in, you can force your way in! Just say that you received orders from the elder madam. They dare refuse the elder madam’s intentions?” Han shi felt that there was a need to speak up for her daughter, thus she began screaming at the two servants: “You have also taken care of the elder madam for many years. How is it that you can not even complete an errand?”
The two servants did not even look at Han shi. Instead, they faced the matriarch and said: “These servants have been incompetent. Would elder madam please hand down a punishment.”
Granny Zhao quickly advised: “Elder madam, this is not their fault. Second young miss’ side is very strict with their rules. Moreover, you should know the second young miss’ temper. If she says that nobody is allowed in, then not even a fly would be able to get in.”
The matriarch naturally understood this, so she simply nodded and remained silent.
Granny Zhao waved to the two servants and had them withdraw. She then looked around at everyone and gave the matriarch a suggestion: “This old servant sees that you are also tired. How about we not go watch the play today! Just having the young misses and concubine mothers attend is good enough. You have also been sitting for a long time, and your back can not endure it.”
The matriarch nodded, “That’s fine. You may all go.” Her expression was filled with exhaustion. She clearly did not have any intention of keeping them here any longer.
Fen Dai saw that the matter she brought up did not reach her desired outcome, and her heart was filled with resentment. Not feeling reconciled, she spoke once more: “Grandmother will allow second sister to act so wildly and defiantly? In the future, when she ruins our Feng family’s reputation, grandmother, please do not regret it.”
“Who is it that you are speaking to?” The matriarch became furious. Suddenly slamming a table, she could not be bothered with how she had sprained her back once more. Raising her cane, she pointed at Fen Dai and said: “The Feng family’s face has already been almost completely lost thanks to you. You still have the face to slander your second sister here? How could my Feng family have a child like you? If you feel that you can not continue living in this manor, I will not mind sending you off to the suburbs. Or perhaps I will send you off the Pu Du Nunnery to reflect on your actions. Thinking about it, even if your father comes back, he would also approve.”
Fen Dai was shocked, and her small face became pale. She finally seemed to have realized that she had been too anxious. The matriarch was still this family’s most respected figure. Even if her father was in the manor, he still had to show a bit of respect and give her face. How could she have lost control and said such things?
She quickly bowed and hurriedly said: “Granddaughter knows her mistakes. Granddaughter did not intend to say it like that. Would grandmother please forgive this mistake. Would grandmother please be lenient on Fen Dai.” She absolutely could not be sent out. She was only ten years old. If she was sent out of the manor again, then her life would truly be ruined.
The matriarch’s hands trembled, as she pointed at her. This was the granddaughter she disliked seeing the most. She always felt her personality was too similar to Chen shi. Without mentioning her lack of a brain, she also had a large amount of bad intentions. But she also could not truly send Fen Dai to the suburbs. After all, there had been too many children in this manor that have been damaged. The eldest son was dead, the eldest daughter was wasted, so the rest of the children was valuable. They absolutely could not make any mistakes.
Upon thinking of this, she once again felt that something was odd about Tong Sheng pavilion’s side. She could not help but become worried.
“I naturally have some plans for that matter. You are all dismissed.” The matriarch finally spoke while also giving Fen Dai an answer.
Upon hearing this, Han shi and Fen Dai finally stopped holding on to this topic. Both of them saluted then turned and left. Chen Yu also stood up and saluted the matriarch; however, she said: “Chen Yu trusts that second sister definitely would not do anything inappropriate. Even if grandmother must investigate, please be more careful. After all, second sister’s reputation is important. Even if it’s within our manor, it would be best to not allow things to circulate.”
It was rare for Chen Yu to speak for Feng Yu Heng like this. Also, she seemed to be very sincere. The matriarch’s heart felt a sense of relief and said: “At least you have the appearance of a sister. If everyone were like Fen Dai… Ah, it’s fine to not talk about it.”
“Grandmother, taking care of your body is most important. Chen Yu will be going.” She did not say anything more. Saluting, she exited the hall.
An shi and Xiang Rong stood up but did not say anything. They saluted then quickly left.
In the end, only Jin Zhen remained. Seeing that everyone had departed, she walked over to the matriarch and partially knelt before the matriarch’s feet. Reaching forward with her small hands, she began massaging the matriarch’s legs.
The matriarch enjoyed Jin Zhen’s massaging of her legs the most, but she did not forget to ask her: “Why do you not go watch the play with them?”
Jin Zhen shook her head, “This concubine feels that accompanying elder madam is best.”
The matriarch recalled the matter mentioned a few days ago and could not help but ask her: “That Han shi is truly that arrogant?”
Jin Zhen lowered her head and put on a grief-filled expression, but she did not say anything.
“Hmph!” The matriarch angrily snorted. The more Jin Zhen was like this, the more she knew it was true. She could not help but become furious, “She truly does not respect the rules at all, and she does not even take a look at what sort of standing she has. A person taken from a brothel actually dares compare her background with a servant raised in my Feng manor? Jin Zhen, you do not need to fear. The next time she troubles you, come and tell me. I will definitely support you.”
Jin Zhen’s eyes lit up. She was waiting for those exact words and quickly knelt before the matriarch. Kowtowing deeply, she spoke with tears in her eyes: “Jin Zhen thanks elder madam for the sympathy.”
Standing to the side, Man Xi slightly frowned. Jin Zhen was clearly looking for a mountain to lean on, and this made her very uncomfortable. Just the second young miss and the master were not enough. She actually went to curry favor with the matriarch. What exactly was she doing?”
Finally, the two also left Shu Ya courtyard. Man Xi could not endure and directly asked Jin Zhen: “What are you doing getting so close to elder madam? If anything were to happen, there is the second young miss and master to support you. Is there any need to curry favor with the elder madam?”
Jin Zhen stared at the ground. Without raising her head, she said: “Husband left the capital, and second young miss lives far away. There is no guarantee what happened last time will not happen again. If second young miss is unable to come to our aid in time, with the elder madam present, at the very least, we will not be eaten up by the others.”
When she said it like this, there was nothing Man Xi could do to refute her. Thinking back to how they had been bullied by Fen Dai and Han shi in the flower-viewing garden, if the matriarch stood by their side, it would be much faster than sending a servant to Tong Sheng pavilion to report to second young miss then waiting for them to return.
Thinking like this, she felt that Jin Zhen doing this was very reasonable. Thus, she said: “That’s also true. You’ve thought it over quite a bit.” But she did not see a different look in Jin Zhen’s eyes.
Only after everyone left Shu Ya courtyard did the matriarch anxiously say to granny Zhao: “A-Heng’s side will need to be observed. Absolutely do not allow Fen Dai to speak about it! I can not get out of bed here, so send someone to go take another look. At any rate, think of a way to meet with her. If it really is not working… just say that I have fallen ill and request her to come take a look.”
Granny Zhao quickly complied and consoled the matriarch: “Do not worry. Second young miss is an attentive person who knows the limits of what she can say. She will not do anything inappropriate.”
“I only hope so!”
The matriarch sent wave after wave of people investigate Feng Yu Heng for two days. On the last day of Tong Sheng pavilion turning its visitors away, Fen Dai finally lost her patience.
Ever since she found out that Tong Sheng pavilion would be closed for seven days, she began to count the days on her fingers. Now that it had reached the final day, she definitely could not allow it to pass by peacefully. Otherwise, all of her effort would have been wasted.
“Pei’er.” She called her personal maidservant, “Make some preparations and come with me.”