An Unwitting Confession
“Third young miss! Third young miss, where are you?” Mei Xiang returned with the coat, but she could not find Xiang Rong no matter where she looked. She remembered that Xiang Rong was next to the bridge when she left, so how could she not be found when she came back?
Mei Xiang stood on the small bridge and looked down, but she still could not find her despite looking around everywhere.
She thought that Xiang Rong might have felt too cold and could no longer continue waiting, so she returned first. The two then took separate paths and did not meet up, thus she quickly ran back.
But when she returned to the room, she found that Xiang Rong had not returned at all!
Mei Xiang then became panicked but did not dare say anything. She could only return and continue to search, but she once again found nothing.
The young servant was tired and out of breath, but her mind still worked. Thinking a little, she went towards Tong Sheng pavilion. Upon reaching the moon gate in Liu courtyard and seeing the servant keeping watch, she quickly said: “Have you seen the third young miss come in this direction?”
The servant had received orders and treated the people from An shi’s courtyard rather politely. Hearing her ask, she shook her head and replied: “I have not. Nobody has come by tonight. Why have you come looking for third young miss here in the middle of the night?”
Mei Xiang stomped her feet in a panic, “That’s no good. I need to return to tell concubine mother An. Third young miss is missing!” After she said this, she turned around and ran off.
An shi was originally dreaming, so when she was woken up, she wondered if she was still dreaming. In a daze, she saw that Mei Xiang was crying and could not help but ask: “It’s the middle of the night. Why have you come here to cry instead of watching over the third young miss?”
Mei Xiang was crying too hard, so she was unable to speak properly. She could only rely on An shi’s personal maidservant Ping’er to pass on the message: “Mei Xiang was saying that the third young miss is missing.”
“What?” An shi was extremely shocked. Upon hearing this, she got out of bed. While putting on her clothes, she asked Mei Xiang: “What exactly happened, speak quickly!”
Mei Xiang recounted all of the things that had happened very carefully. By the end, the three had already left the courtyard and were walking towards the lake.
“This servant did not dare shout too loudly for fear of others hearing. Perhaps I did not look carefully enough. Concubine mother, let’s look again!”
An shi was both angry and panicked. She could not help but pinch Mei Xiang then angrily say: “You can’t even take care of your young miss. What is the point of keeping a servant like you?”
Mei Xiang knew that she was in the wrong, so how could she dare argue. She could only say: “So long as third young miss is fine, Mei Xiang will accept concubine mother’s punishment.”
Ping’er also consoled An shi: “Concubine mother, do not panic. Right now, finding third young miss is most important. Let’s move quicker!”
The three trotted to the side of the small bridge, but in the middle of the night, how could there be anyone there.
The more An shi searched, the more she despaired. By the end, she sat down next to the lake. Looking towards the mirror-like water, she felt a sudden desire to jump in. If it were not for Ping’er suddenly noticing something was off and grabbing hold of her, perhaps she would have jumped into the water.
At this time, they heard Mei Xiang shout from not far away: “Quickly come look!”
The two were given a start and quickly stood up, rushing in that direction. When they arrived, they saw Mei Xiang pointed at a spot next to the lake. Her face was pale with fear, as she spoke with a trembling voice: “Take a look at this rock. Does it look like it’s been broken by someone?”
Hearing her say this, An shi and Ping’er also paid attention to take a look. Sure enough, half of the rock had clearly been broken off. The remaining rock shards revealed a shocking scene.
“Ping’er.” An shi suddenly reached a conclusion. Although her body still trembled slightly, she was no longer as shaken as she was earlier, “Go inform elder madam and say… third young miss fell in the water. We request elder madam to come help her.”
“Yes.” Ping’er complied and ran in the direction of Shu Ya courtyard.
News of the third young miss falling in the water very quickly circulated around the manor. Aside from housekeeper He Zhong and various servants, the first to arrive was Chen Yu.
She walked over to the side of the lake and glanced at An shi. She then turned her gaze to the surface of the lake. Startled, she stared for a while then quietly asked Yi Lin: “Tell me, how deep is this lake?”
Yi Lin replied: “This servant once asked housekeeper He, and he said that the lake was nine feet deep.”
“Nine feet.” Chen Yu’s lips curled into a smile, “Water that is nine feet deep, if Xiang Rong fell in with her small body, she would definitely have drowned, right?”
Yi Lin was startled. Her impression of the third young miss was that she did not speak much, and she did not seem to have any conflicts with the eldest young miss. Why did the eldest young miss say such a thing?
On the either side, He Zhong had already sent some servants who were good swimmers into the lake to begin the search.
The Feng manor’s man-made lake had a circulation vent at the bottom, so the water continued to move. Even though it was a cold Winter, it did not freeze over. But the water was cold, and whoever jumped in felt choked. No matter how good they were at swimming, they struggled to handle the freezing water.
When the matriarch arrived, what she saw was servants repeatedly swimming about in the lake. Those who were even better at swimming sank to the bottom to look down below.
The matriarch nodded, “The Feng family needs these kinds of servants.”
He Zhong was a little lacking in confidence and wiped away some sweat. He thought to himself, if it were not for concubine mother An promising money, who would search like this!
Unfortunately, the search and rescue in the middle of the night during the ancient era was rather difficult. Without light, they could only rely on the moonlight. What could they find? The group in the water searched for a long time, but they did not find anything.
Some people were unable to handle the cold and climbed on shore to take a sip of wine. After resting for a while, they immediately jumped back into the water. Seeing this scene, the matriarch also began to feel panicked.
“An shi, come here.” The matriarch sat on a soft chair, and moving was not convenient for her, so she could only call An shi to her side, “I must ask you, why did Xiang Rong run out in the middle of the night? Why did you not keep a closer watch on her?”
An shi was losing her mind from worry, so how could she have the energy to speak about such things with the matriarch. She was not in a particularly good mood either, so she only replied: “She could not sleep and wanted to see the second young miss.” After saying this, she wanted to head back to the side of the lake.
The matriarch angrily shouted: “Stop where you are!”
An shi was startled and stopped where she stood.
“One after another, just how bold are you? You actually dare to pull a long face? An shi, have you gone crazy?”
An shi suddenly turned back to look at the matriarch with an anger in her gaze that she had never seen. This caused the matriarch to tremble in fear “What are you doing?”
“Elder madam.” An shi spoke up. Puzzled, she asked her: “Your granddaughter fell in the water, and you do not care whether she is alive or dead. At this sort of time, why exactly are you fussing over whether this concubine has made a mistake or not? Even if the third young miss is the daughter of a concubine, she is still your granddaughter. Do you not care for her at all?”
“How could I not care?” The matriarch trembled in anger: “Aren’t we all looking for her? No matter how worried, I can’t jump in and look, can I? It was her who ran out in the middle of the night instead of sleeping. After a problem arose, the entire manor is now unsteady, and you still want to question me?”
“This concubine is not questioning elder madam. This concubine is merely feeling sorry for third young miss.” Being born into this sort of family truly is bitterly disappointing.
“Concubine mother, we found something!” Before the matriarch could speak again, Mei Xiang suddenly shouted, “Concubine mother, quickly come look. This is third young miss’ shoe!”
An shi hastily rushed over and saw a shoe dripping with water in Mei Xiang’s hand. It was a pink brocade shoe that she had personally made for Xiang Rong just this year.
She originally still held on to hope that Xiang Rong did not fall into the water. Now that she saw the shoe, An shi’s final hope was lost.
Her nerves, which had been pulled tight, suddenly snapped. Her legs went soft, and she dropped to the ground.
Ping’er hastily rushed over in fear, but at this time, another servant shouted out from the water: “Take a look, does this handkerchief belong to the third young miss?”
Everyone turned to look. Mei Xiang was most familiar with Xiang Rong’s belongings, so she immediately recognized the handkerchief. It was precisely the one that Xiang Rong had taken out tonight.
“My daughter.” An shi snapped and began sobbing loudly.
The servants in the water gradually began climbing out. Either way, there would be a reward, and they had reached the limits of their stamina.
Chen Yu quickly ordered: “Quickly go fetch blankets.” This caused everyone to be grateful.
One of the servants with slightly better stamina was still barely able to respond to some of his masters’ questions, as he said to the matriarch: “I fear that she may have sank too deep, and the size of the lake is too large. It’s also too dark at night, so we truly can not find her.”
The matriarch nodded, “It is indeed quite difficult.” She then looked at the collapsed An shi then remembered how she said that Xiang Rong was also her granddaughter. She could not help but sigh internally, “You guys recover for a while. In a while, go search around again.”
The matriarch had spoken, so what could the servants say. They could only nod and helplessly gather together for warmth.
At this time in Han shi’s courtyard, Fen Dai was standing next to Han shi’s bed and forcefully shaking her: “Quickly get up! Something happened to Xiang Rong. Everyone has gone over to take a look, so how can you continue sleeping?”
A Ju carefully said to Fen Dai: “Concubine mother has slept very deeply these past few days, and she has been feeling lazier than she used to.”
Fen Dai did not understand what these words meant, nor did she give them any extra thought. Instead, she continued shaking Han shi, and she also began shouting even louder: “Get up! Quickly get up!”
These final words were shouted directly into Han shi’s ear. The person who had been “deep asleep” was no longer able to continue pretending and woke up in a daze: “Fourth young miss? Why are you here?” She said this while looking out, “Has the sun come up?”
“The sun’s come up my foot!” Fen Dai angrily rolled her eyes, “I called you for a long time, so why did you not wake up?”
Han shi stretched then helplessly said: “Didn’t you always say that I am pregnant. People who are pregnant will need more sleep. This is considered normal behavior.”
“Is that so?” Fen Dai did not understand.
Han shi nodded, “At the time I was pregnant with you, I was the same.”
Fen Dai’s eyes lit up, “Then if you say it like that, you truly are?”
“I am not a doctor.” Han shi thought a little then said: “In a few days, when my pulse has stabilized, we can invite a doctor in to take a look. Right now, it is too soon, so it might be inaccurate.”
“Right, right, right> “Fen Dai nodded repeatedly, “There’s no need to worry if it’s a bit later. Accuracy is most important. Alright, you lie down then. I will go alone.”
“Un, then be careful. The side of the lake is dangerous. You absolutely must not get too close.”
“Huh?” It would be fine if Han shi did not give any advice, but since she had, it caused Fen Dai to feel that something was wrong, “The lake? How did you know I was going to the lake?”