The expression on Xuan Li’s face had been slightly perturbed, still, he had yet to speak before he faintly heard a voice . “Second Jiang Miss has yet to see the female’s face clearly, thus how can you be truly certain that it is Eldest Jiang Miss?”
Stunned, Jiang Su Su raised her head as Xiao Shao’s elegant, cold and cheerless side profile appeared right in front of her; yet in his tone, one could not discern any delight nor anger .
On that day when he had helped her on the Ling Long Boat, at first, she had thought that Xiao Shao was on her side . However, later on, once Jiang Su Su went to Jinying w.a.n.g’s fu, she had been given the cold shoulder numerous times at the doorstep . Therefore, she was rather uncertain about what this Jinying w.a.n.g had been thinking at the time . Now that she heard these words that seemed to be aiding Jiang Ruan, this made Jiang Su Su become even more suspicious .
Then, right at this moment, she heard a soft and gentle voice come from behind her, “Everyone, what could all of you present be looking for?”
Hearing this voice at that very instant, it was as if a bolt of lightning flashed across a clear sky in Jiang Su Su’s head, her entire body stiffening in the place that she stood . Xiao Shao raised an eyebrow slightly as his gaze moved towards the direction of that voice .
He turned only to see a young girl with black tresses and red clothes draped in the morning’s clear dew on her shoulders . She was standing just amongst the cl.u.s.ter of flowers a few steps outside as she looked towards them with a smile on her features . She had yet to open her umbrella and the fluttering drizzle of rain had fallen gently on her body . One could see at present, in the midst of that pair of upturned charming eyes, there was merely indifference . Upon seeing that slight smile at the edge of her lips, one could not help but feel apprehensive .
“Da… Da Jiejie?” Jiang Su Su retreated two steps back .
Unhurriedly, Jiang Ruan stepped forward, “So it is actually Second Younger Sister . I’m unclear as to why you have come this early in the morning to the ancestral hall, was there something the matter?”
With every step she took forward, Jiang Su Su took a step back as what remained in her eyes was alarm . Swallowing down with much difficulty the questions she had that were about to burst forth from her own mouth, she then replied, “Da Jiejie, why are you here? Then… then in the hall, who could that be?”
Jiang Ruan smiled slightly, “Oh, the person in the hall ah, that is one of my dedicated maidservants . At around midnight last night, she saw that my body was unable to endure and so volunteered to help me kneel for the rest of the night . Maternal Grandmother said that it must be someone who was born in the fourth month of the lunar calendar to pray for blessings . By lucky coincidence, this devoted maidservant of mine was also born on the fourth month of the lunar calendar . ” With an unphased expression, she lied smoothly and once finished, her expression became slightly astonished, “Why, has something happened?”
Xia Cheng knew that Jiang Ruan was certainly spouting nonsense and it may be a.s.sumed that she had already known about Jiang Su Su’s plan from the beginning . He then gloomily glared at her as he slowly said, “There are people who have done illicit actions in the ancestral hall . I think, that between them, one of them is your maidservant . ”
Jiang Ruan gaped as she shook her head, “This maidservant of mine is definitely a pure and innocent young lady . Usually, she minds her own deeds and keeps out of trouble, and is honest to a fault . It is most unlikely for her to have done such an immoral thing . In all likelihood, someone must have compelled her . Even if she is just a maidservant, on her behalf, I still want to ask for justice . ”
“Da Jiejie, why do you say such a thing? It is obvious that the maidservant by your side is the one whose moral conduct is improper, how could this be blamed on someone else?” Jiang Su Su questioned . If the maidservant beside them had improper moral conduct, then it would be inevitable that people would have some doubts about their master as well .
“Why would Second Younger Sister speak of such?” Jiang Ruan smiled, “This maidservant was one personally chosen by Mother herself for me, how could you harbour suspicions over Mother’s judgement of character? Could it be that Mother had found such a person with immoral conduct to be by my side on purpose?”
“You…” Jiang Su Su was at loss for words and in a split-second, she harboured a thread of malicious hatred in her heart towards Jiang Ruan . Xia Cheng narrowed his eyes slightly . Even before having the chance to say anything, he had already seen Jiang Ruan abruptly kneel before the Crown Prince, “Even though because of this matter it seems as though Ruan niang’s maidservant will have to suffer some hardships, but after deep thought, she has still helped Ruan niang bear some unexpected misfortune . If this were Ruan niang last night, now Ruan niang could only demonstrate her sincerity by dying . This villain is truly deplorable, Your Highness the Crown Prince would surely be able to see clearly even the downy feathers of autumn; perceptive of even the finest detail . Ruan niang beseeches His Highness to investigate this matter thoroughly and punish the hoodlum who is pretending to be an innocent person!”
With her kneeling as such, Xia Cheng’s temple was faintly throbbing as he could only complain in his heart about this ill predicament . When Jiang Ruan had arrived, she did not know who this man in front of her was . Yet, this Crown Prince had remained stubbornly contrary since birth; this man was temperamental and one could barely perceive with any certainty, his preferences . One could not say for sure that he would be really interested in this matter for any length of time, nor could one know if he would decide to punish Xia Jun .
Xuan Li glanced at Jiang Ruan’s actions as a glimmer of radiance shot through his eyes . Yet, Xiao Shao stood quietly and watched with an unclear expression in his eyes .
Full of spirits, the Crown Prince looked at her, “You are the Eldest Jiang Miss?”
Jiang Ruan smiled as she looked at him, “I greet His Highness, the Crown Prince . ”
“As expected, a charming beauty that is after one’s heart . ” The Crown Prince followed suit and smiled, “You want bendian to take charge of this on your behalf?”
 Běn diàn (本殿) – It literally means this palace hall, but often it refers to a royalty (who owns their own palace, which in and of itself signifies immense status and power) referring to themselves .
Once Xia Cheng heard this, naturally, he became endlessly anxious as he looked towards Xuan Li with a hurried appeal for help . Then suddenly, just at this moment, a maidservant hastily ran forward before him, “Master, it’s terrible, Furen has fainted!”
“What?” Xia Cheng was in great alarm as he turned back to take a glance at the ancestral hall, “Have someone sent out quickly, get them to call for the physician . ” After saying this, he gave a bow to the Crown Prince and his other guests, “My wife has suddenly fainted; these matters in the ancestral hall can be discussed again more later . I request Your Highness to please extend your judgement a little longer . ”
“No matter,” the Crown Prince laughed, “this show today is truly wonderful . Now we will go together with Old Marquis Xia to have a look . ” Saying this, he then walked to Xia Cheng’s side .
Xia Cheng had stiffened as he moved his feet towards the centre hall . Jiang Su Su promptly followed behind while Xuan Li smiled slightly as he went along and left too .
Yet, Jiang Ruan and Xiao Shao remained behind .
Expressionless, Jiang Ruan took a glance at Xiao Shao as she moved her body sideways to walk forward . She then heard Xiao Shao’s voice from above her, “How did you know that he was the Crown Prince?”
When Jiang Ruan had arrived, no one had told her who the Crown Prince was . Yet, when she had knelt down, she had called out extremely clearly His Highness the Crown Prince, it really was something that made one suspicious of her .
Jiang Ruan was startled and inwardly rebuked herself for being careless; to have actually allowed this person to have a handle on her in his hands . Her thoughts abruptly spun for a moment as she looked directly at that elegant, heroically handsome appearance of Xiao Shao and coldly replied, “The bearing between a dragon and a bug is naturally different . For example, the Crown prince has the bearing of a Crown Prince . ” She suddenly showed a bright smile on her face with a sincere tone, “As for sc.u.m, they too would have a sc.u.m-like radiance . ” After saying this, with light footsteps, without looking at Xiao Shao’s expression and without his leave, Jiang Ruan left .
Once she reached the large hall, as expected, she saw a bunch of maidservants and old female servants surrounding her as the eldest wife of the young master and the second wife of the young master of the Xia family stood to the side . In the middle of this whole situation was a small collapsed figure- Xia Furen’s eyes were tightly shut with a wan face as a trickle of fresh and dark blood came from the corner of her mouth .
Seeing this, Xia Cheng immediately hastened his pace forward as he lamentably grieved, “Furen!”
Shen Rou and Yu Ya were standing at her sides as they looked upon Xia Furen rather fretfully . From their mouths, the words were repeatedly uttered, “Mother!”
“Maternal Grandmother, what has happened to you (spoken in a respectful tone)?” Jiang Su Su pushed away everyone as she walked to Xia Furen’s side with her eyes immediately spilling over with two trails of tears . If she was to be taken seriously, she was extremely worried . Jiang Chao stood aside and spoke in a gloomy tone, “Maternal Grandmother has only become like this just after eating that box of pastries . ”
Astonished, Jiang Su Su looked at that pastry and then looked at Jiang Ruan, “Aren’t those the ones that Da Jiejie gave to Maternal Grandmother?”
*** You are reading on https://webnovelonline.com ***
Jiang Ruan remained unfazed with a light smile on her face . She did not make any justifications for herself at all .
 Dàifu (大夫) – Physician
“Naturally,” the physician replied without the slightest doubt .
Jiang Ruan lightly sighed, “It truly makes one puzzled, why is that for Xia Furen to have ingested poison, it must definitely be Ruan niang who has poisoned her? Wouldn’t it be that Xia Furen had ingested the poison by herself?”
“A bunch of nonsense!” Xia Cheng indignantly flared, “Without rhyme or reason, why would my furen ingest some poison!”
“Da Meimei, you are still trying to quibble now, Maternal Grandmother has definitely fainted because she ate your gift of pastries . Without exception, there is human testimony and material evidence present . ” Jiang Chao spoke in anger .
 Dà mèimei (大妹妹) – Eldest (of the many) younger sister .
“So,” Jiang Ruan thought for a bit and then placed that piece in her hand, “Daifu, does this pastry have poison?”
“You, what else do you have to say!” Xia Cheng spat out, he then looked once more at the Crown Prince who was standing to the side, “I beseech for His Highness to redress this matter on my furen’s behalf!”
 Zuò bì shàng guān (作壁上观) – Similar to another Chinese phrase, it means to be a bystander and not bother to help . In the past, however, (though it may apply to this current scenario as well) it means one stands at a rampart (or at a barrier) while the two parties are fighting .
The Crown Prince remained silent as he stared at Jiang Ruan as if he wanted to see what she would do . Then, he saw Jiang Ruan nip off a piece of the pastry in her hand and shake her head, “If this is truly the case, Ruan niang truly has nothing to say . What is to be done, it seems it can only be to exchange one’s life for another’s . ” Then, she lightly took a nibble of that pastry and unhurriedly swallowed it down .
Everyone looked at her in shock as a trace of radiance flashed through Jiang Chao’s eyes . In her heart, Jiang Su Su had, at once, a burst of glee . Xiao Shao observed that young girl’s action of chewing and swallowing and for some unknown reason, his heart had unexpectedly felt a shred of cold sweat for her .
That physician had not expected that Jiang Ruan would be so brave, just a moment had pa.s.sed and Jiang Ruan had already eaten that piece of pastry . Yet, nothing seemed to have happened .
She blinked and Jiang Chao looked at her incredulously . In his heart, Xiao Shao felt a sigh of relief as Xuan Li frowned . However, the Crown Prince burst out into laughter as he clapped his hands, “Amusing, truly extremely amusing!”
Jiang Su Su and Xia Jiao Jiao were left dumbstruck as Xia Cheng was blank on the spot . Suddenly, he looked at the pastry on the table and then looked at Jiang Ruan .
Shen Rou and Yu Ya’s gazes were thoughtful as Jiang Ruan patted her hands and clapped the remaining fragments away . She then softly spoke, “So as it turns out, this poison is also able to distinguish between people; I and Maternal Grandmother had the same piece of pastry so it ought to have the same identical poison . Maternal Grandmother had only eaten a little but has since lost consciousness . Yet, I have eaten an entire piece but remain unharmed . Indeed, there too is also a distinction between the n.o.bility of a person’s life . With such an ident.i.ty like Ruan niang’s even if it’s poison, after eating a small amount, it is no bother to me too . ”
These words of hers were witty and adorable, they seemed to contain a sort of implication of mocking herself . Yet, it was precisely that each sentence of hers was probing and the provocative words exposed and criticised the thoughts and motives of the people around her . It had directly choked Xia Cheng so much that he could not speak .
Jiang Ruan then cast her head in the direction towards the Crown Prince with a glance and a sudden laugh, her voice gentle as she spoke, “Your Highness, I respectfully and certainly request for you to seek redress for Ruan niang . ”
*** You are reading on https://webnovelonline.com ***