Matriarch He picked up her teacup and took a sip. “Dalang’s wife, it’s your grandfather’s longevity feast tomorrow, isn’t it?”
Madam Zou smiled as she nodded. “It is! Grandmother still remembers such a date! Granddaughter-in-Law thanks Grandmother in place of Grandfather.”
“Child, you’re being too polite.”
While sitting on the other side, Chu Lian hadn’t expected the topic to be diverted to the feast. She tried to shrink into her seat and hide her presence.
Why don’t you guys attend the longevity feast by yourselves? Please, please, please don’t remember to invite me along!
However, the heavens didn’t listen to her pleas.
Matriarch He suddenly changed the discussion. “Sanlang’s wife has just married into the family, but lately, she’s only spent time alone at home. Why don’t you bring her along with you when the time comes?”
Matriarch He would be attending the feast as well, but the old madams had their own circles. It wasn’t suitable for a young lady to join them.
Since Chu Lian was a newlywed and Madam Zou was still young, it would be better for Madam Zou to introduce some of the young madams of the capital to Chu Lian.
Chu Lian’s body stiffened. She hadn’t expected Matriarch He to suggest that she follow Madam Zou to the feast.
She wanted to speak up and reject the offer, but this wasn’t the right time for her to speak.
She could only pray silently in her heart. Madam Zou, please don’t agree to it!
Madam Zou was a sweet-tempered person, so she didn’t hesitate as she replied, “Yes, Grandmother. Please don’t worry. I’ll bring Third Sister-in-Law with me tomorrow and take care of her.”
Matriarch He nodded in satisfaction.
He Changdi had just left home, and there hadn’t been any news of him yet. She wanted to help Chu Lian take her mind off her missing husband, so she had made the suggestion to Madam Zou. However, her good intentions had actually caused more trouble instead.
Chu Lian was suffering inwardly beyond words, but she couldn’t show any of it.
She could only brace herself and agree to the outing.
The two granddaughters-in-law sat with the matriarch for a while longer before they took their leave to visit their mother-in-law.
Countess Jing’an’s condition wasn’t too good today. When Chu Lian arrived for her visit, the countess was still asleep. Madam Zou and Chu Lian sat in the outer room for ten minutes before leaving and returning to their respective courtyards.
The next day, Chu Lian was to follow her sister-in-law, Madam Zou, to the Dingyuan Estate for the longevity feast.
When she woke up in the morning, Senior Servant Gui and Xiyan helped Chu Lian into the dress they had already picked out. Since she was still a newlywed madam, they had chosen a brightly coloured dress. It matched perfectly with the ruby hair ornament Chu Lian had.
Before leaving Songtao Court, Senior Servant Zhong suddenly coughed once. Chu Lian turned around and gave Senior Servant Zhong a weird look before realisation dawned on her. She then ordered, “Xiyan and Wenqing will serve me at the Dingyuan Estate today!”
The two maidservants obediently agreed. Senior Servant Zhong shot a look at Wenqing. Before they left the courtyard, she even whispered a reminder into Wenqing’s ear. “Remember what I said last night. If you slip up, just wait for your punishment when you return.”
Wenqing nodded fervently. Rest assured, she wouldn’t let any men near Third Young Madam at all. For the sake of her delicious meals, she was going to fight with all her might. Any shameless man who wanted to snatch her Third Young Madam away would be beaten down without mercy!
Luckily, Senior Servant Zhong wasn’t able to read Wenqing’s thoughts. Otherwise, she probably would have puked up a mouthful of blood.
Girl, that wasn’t what she instructed you to do last night!
When they reached the screen at the entrance of their estate, Chu Lian was invited by Senior Servant Liu to take Matriarch He’s carriage. Madam Zou boarded another carriage with her two daughters, Little An and Little Lin, while her husband, He Dalang, followed next to the carriage on horseback with the guards.
Their party left the Jing’an Estate and made their way towards Marquis Dingyuan’s estate.
Matriarch He’s carriage wasn’t very big, but it was comfortable inside. Senior Servant Liu sat by the matriarch while Chu Lian sat opposite them.
Senior Servant Liu had a round fan in hand and was gently fanning the matriarch. Matriarch He was wearing a dark purple eight-bolt dress, as well as an emerald green headband embroidered with a pattern for fortune tied around her head. Her white hair was held up by a long hairpin made out of carved jade. She looked like a noble old madam, subtle and dignified.
“Sanlang’s wife, have you visited the Dingyuan Estate before?”
When Matriarch He spoke up, Chu Lian realised why the matriarch had invited her to share her carriage today.
The matriarch wanted to give her some pointers on the connections between the people of the Dingyuan Estate.
Although she knew a little about the events of the novel, there was a limit to how much could be conveyed without diverting too much from the plot. She couldn’t possibly know about the relations of every single family in the capital, so she shook her head honestly.
Matriarch He was very satisfied with her honesty, so she quietly revealed everything she could.
House Dingyuan was Madam Zou’s maiden family. They were flourishing in terms of population, and Madam Zou was Old Marquis Dingyuan’s eldest legitimate granddaughter. Imperial Consort De had come from the Dingyuan Estate, and was Old Marquis Dingyuan’s daughter.
However, it had been many years since Consort De had entered the palace. She had only given birth to a single daughter, who had unfortunately passed away at the age of five.
Princess Leyao looked quite similar to Consort De’s deceased daughter, so amongst the many princes and princesses in the palace, Consort De’s favourite one was the ten-year-old Leyao.
By the time they reached the Dingyuan Estate, Chu Lian had already been given a clear picture of House Dingyuan’s situation.
In summary, Marquis Dingyuan was one of the Emperor’s most trusted officials, and they couldn’t afford to offend them…
When Matriarch He noticed the slightly overwhelmed expression on Chu Lian’s face, she smiled and patted Chu Lian’s hand in comfort. “Don’t worry, Grandmother told you all this just to let you understand what’s going on in the Dingyuan Estate. As for the rest, don’t think about it. Just follow your sister-in-law. She’ll take good care of you.”