Xiang Rong was dizzy and in a daze for the entire day. The later the day became, the more uncomfortable she felt.
Not wanting to wrap herself up in a large cloak, the young girl remained in bed under her covers.
An shi sat next to her and would feel her forehead from time to time. A little worried, she said: “It’s becoming hotter and hotter. I think it would still be better to let your grandmother know and bring in a doctor.”
Xiang Rong, however, grabbed An shi and shook her head: “No need. Calling a doctor this late would get too many people involved. It would not be good. It’s just a little bit of a fever. It will be better after sweating a little.”
An shi also knew it would not be good to cause a commotion so late at night. Moreover, Xiang Rong was only the daughter of a concubine, so she was never particularly liked by the matriarch. Thus, she could only Mei Xiang: “Go put in some more charcoal.”
Mei Xiang complied and went to fetch more charcoal, but Xiang Rong held An shi and said: “My mind is still worried and can’t stop worrying about second sister. Concubine mother, will second sister truly be fine?”
An shi was also worried, but she still comforted Xiang Rong: “Didn’t Huang Quan come before? She even said it would be fine, so it will definitely be fine. How careful a person is your second sister. How could it be possible for her to be in such a dire situation. Also, isn’t there still the ninth prince? He will not let your second sister suffer any grievances.”
Upon hearing mention of the ninth prince, Xiang Rong’s mind began thinking once more. Opening her mouth, she wanted to say a few things, but once the words made it to her lips, she was unable to speak them.
An shi was her mother, so how could she not understand her daughter’s feelings. She could not help but advise: “Last time, it was your grandmother who gave you an order, so could only go to the Chun Palace. This time, the your grandmother did not say anything, so you can not keep thinking about it.”
Xiang Rong lowered her head, and her small face became slightly red. She felt a little grief, “Concubine mother, I did not.”
“Whether or not you did, you should be most clear on.” An shi let out a sigh, “Don’t blame concubine mother for being cruel. Perhaps in the past, you could not tell, but take a look at your second sister now. In the past, she received great glory, but because she was unable to heal the ninth prince’s legs, what has become of her now?”
“Concubine mother just said she was fine.” Xiang Rong pouted to express her dissatisfaction, “You also said the ninth prince would not allow second sister to suffer any grievances.”
“But what is the reality?” An shi was a little frustrated, “Whether or not she suffers grievances is one matter, but rumors and slander are another thing. Have you seen what our manor’s current situation is? Have you seen how many people have been sent to stand around the entrance of Tong Sheng pavilion? They clearly do not see her as a member of the family. They clearly see her as nothing more than a scab! To say something that I should not, don’t look at how your grandmother usually treats your second sister so well. When there is any sort of disturbance, she will be the first to abandon ship. She will not hesitate to make the same decision that she did three years ago. Xiang Rong, if you stubbornly follow Prince Chun, you will meet a similar outcome.”
Xiang Rong was already feeling cold, but now that she heard what An shi said, she felt even more uncomfortable. But that was just the way people were, the more you told them not to think about a person or thing, the more they would go think about it. At the beginning, Xiang Rong only had feelings of admiration for Xuan Tian Hua; however, after An shi’s words of advice, it became a bit of stubbornness.
That night, Xiang Rong slept very poorly. From time to time, she would feel cold, then she would sweat, and the weird dreams would not cease. At first it would be about Xuan Tian Hua, then it would be An shi continuing to warn her.
She suddenly woke up and thought it was already the middle of the night, but Mei Xiang, who was keeping watch, told her: “Third young miss only slept for an hour. How come you’ve woken up?”
She was shocked, “It was only one hour?” She thought that the sun was about to come up.
Unable to fall back asleep, she decided to put on some clothes and get out of bed. Mei Xiang quickly covered her in a cloak, fearing that she would catch a cold once more.
“Mei Xiang, do you think second sister has slept?” Xiang Rong sat before the charcoal brazier, her state of mind unstable.
Mei Xiang shook her head, “This servant does not know, but concubine mother An has definitely gone to sleep. Presumably, second young miss has also gone to sleep.”
“How about… we go take a look?” Once these words came out, Xiang Rong immediately cheered for her own idea, “That’s right, we’ll just go take a look. Mei Xiang, I am sick. In this manor, only second sister is a doctor, so me going to look for her is something that can be explained. Thinking about it, second sister should see me.”
Mei Xiang waved her hand repeatedly in fear: “Young miss, that absolutely can not be done! Absolutely can not be done! You were already sick, and it’s cold outside with slippery roads. What if you catch a cold or slip? If you want to see second young miss, we can go when the sun comes up, will that do? This servant will definitely keep track of time for young miss. As soon as the sky brightens up, I will immediately wake young miss up.”
But Xiang Rong had already made up her mind. How could she listen to a servant. Seeing that Mei Xiang did not agree, she decided not to pay any attention to her. Putting clothes on for herself, she directly went out the door.
There was nothing Mei Xiang could do. Trotting along behind, she chased after Xiang Rong and said: “Young miss, if you must go out, you need to say something to concubine mother An!”
Xiang Rong suddenly turned back and glared at Mei Xiang, saying: “I am the manor’s third young miss. You are a servant who takes care of me. If you can not follow your master, then what use is there in me keeping you?” Xiang Rong very rarely used this sort of tone when speaking, but it did cause Mei Xiang to freeze in surprise. “Quickly come along then. If your shouting wakes concubine mother An up, I will send you out of the manor first thing in the morning. When that time comes, I will show you if it’s my words as the third young miss that count or if concubine mother An’s words count.”
Mei Xiang no longer dared to say another word. It was just as Xiang Rong had said. A young miss, even a young miss of a concubine, had a much higher standing than a concubine mother did in the manor. She was the third young miss’ servant, so she should share joy and woe. Not to mention visiting the second young miss, even if it were committing arson, she would have to provide the necessary tools!
Thinking things through to this degree, Mei Xiang also calmed down and obediently followed Xiang Rong out of the courtyard.
The two headed straight towards Tong Sheng pavilion. The two walked all the way to the largest man-made lake in the Feng manor. Before they crossed the small bridge, Xiang Rong’s lips had already turned blue from the cold.
She trembled and hugged herself. Turning around, she said to Mei Xiang: “I was in too much of a rush when I came out and forgot a coat. Quickly run back and fetch it. I’m almost freezing to death.”
Mei Xiang had forgotten this matter. Although she was cold, it was still too much better than the sick Xiang Rong. Hearing that Xiang Rong was cold, she finally noticed that her young miss did not even wear a coat out.
The young girl stomped her feet, so she blamed herself: “It’s all this servant’s mistake. It was this servant that was neglectful. Young miss, wait her a while. This servant will return immediately.” After Mei Xiang finished speaking, she turned and ran back.
Xiang Rong stood alone next to the bridge. The cold wind caused her teeth to clatter. The feeling of cold when she was feverish was different from the normal feeling of cold. It was as though her entire body was cold, including her internal organs.
Gradually, Xiang Rong was no longer able to continue standing. She could only sit down and lean against the bridge. With her arms hugging her body, she shivered and curled into a ball. In her mind, she hoped that Mei Xiang would quickly return. But they had already walked so far, how could she return quickly.
She did not know how long she sat next to the bridge when she suddenly heard the sound of footsteps. They were hurried and carried the sound of someone’s exhausted breathing.
Xiang Rong entirely thought that it was Mei Xiang. In a moment of happiness, she opened her eyes and shakily stood up, loudly saying: “Mei Xiang, hurry up. If you don’t come back quickly, I will freeze to death!”
Once these words came out, she was dazed. Where was there anybody to be found on the small path?
She had sat down backwards, so she faced the road she had already passed. That way, she would be able to see Mei Xiang returning.
But at this moment, the road before her was empty. There was not even a bird to be found.
But she had clearly just heard the sound of footsteps?
In the inky black night, the young girl was left standing there alone. Behind her was a bridge, to her two sides was a lake, and before her was an empty road devoid of people. The more she thought, the more she became afraid. Finally, she began regretting coming out.
She really wanted to go back, just sprint back along the path she had taken to her own courtyard. Unfortunately, her legs were powerless, as she was so scared that she could not even stand up let alone run.
Suddenly, the sound of the footsteps could be heard again. This time, Xiang Rong clearly heard that it was not coming from the direction Mei Xiang had left in. Instead, it was coming from behind her.
This time, the sound was slower, as though it were approaching slowly.
But the slower it approached, the more she felt afraid. Her heart was almost in her throat.
Just as the footsteps were three paces away, Xiang Rong gritted her teeth and found some courage from some unknown place. She suddenly stood up and turned around at the same time. Turning to face the “thing” that had come up behind her, she met its eyes.
“How is it you?”
Looking over, Xiang Rong was extremely shocked. She was no longer afraid. After all, ascertaining that it was a living person was much better than guessing wildly.
But this person…
“Concubine mother Han, why are you here?” She sized up Han shi, who was three paces away from her. She saw that her hair was messy and a hair clasp dangled from her hair. Looking at it, it looked as though it was about to fall to the ground. Her collar was also opened wide. In the cold Winter night, she actually revealed a large patch of snow-white skin. Even more importantly, there were multiple red marks on her neck. Han shi wanted to use her clothes to hide it, but not only did she fail to cover it up, after trying a few times, she undid ther lower buckle.
Xiang Rong was stunned by what she saw. Although she was young, it was not as though she did not understand anything. Han shi’s appearance made it too obvious. If she was not meeting with a lover, what else could it be?
But her father was not at the manor!
This Han shi…
“Thir-third young miss.” Han shi’s voice was not at all steady. She never could have thought that she would run into Xiang Rong in this sort of place at this sort of time. No matter how much she thought about it, she could only have thought that she would run into a guard, but she did not think that the one she ran into was the Feng family’s third young miss.
Both of them were scared into a daze. Just like this, they stood there looking at each other. Neither knew what they could still say.
Han shi’s mind rapidly went to work, and in an instant, she thought of hundreds of possible outcomes for her. Which one of them was not capital punishment?
She was on the verge of collapse. This matter absolutely could not be spread. She did not want to die. She still had to give birth to a son for the Feng family. She still had to allow Fen Dai to ascend to the position of daughter of the first wife. How could she come to an end like this?
Thinking of this, her eyes that were staring at Xiang Rong appeared to be shooting fire.
Xiang Rong saw that Han shi’s eyes began to light up and felt that her gaze contained a cruel murderous desire.
Her mind immediately exploded with the thought that Han shi wanted to kill her!
Xiang Rong retreated step by step in fear. She then suddenly shrieked and turned to run away.
But Han shi’s desire to kill her had also peaked, so how could she allow her to run away.
Thus, one ran and one chased. In the end, a small child could not escape from a grown adult. In just a few steps, Han shi caught up and firmly grabbed her collar.
Xiang Rong wanted to scream, but her collar choked her, preventing her from breathing. Like this, she was forcefully dragged along by Han shi. Without any ability to fight back, she was dragged to the side of the lake.
In the end, when they met face to face, Xiang Rong heard Han shi say to her: “Third young miss, if you do not die today, I can not live. Do not blame blame. If you must blame anything, blame yourself for seeing something you should not have seen.”
Xiang Rong desperately shook her head. She really wanted to tell Han shi that she would keep her mouth shut and that she would not tell anyone.
But she was helpless, as the collar was choking her too tightly. She could only open her mouth, but no sound came out.
Just like this, she watched as Han shi went crazy and pushed her into the middle of the lake. The instant she landed in the water, she was thinking to herself, if I did not slack off while training with second sister, would I not have died today?