Chapter 139 : To Expose A Scandal
“Sleep-inducing drug?” Ru Mei cried out, “Then what is the cause of the wound on her forehead?”
“This…” the physician muttered to himself, “it probably happened when she was under the influence of the drug and b.u.mped her head somewhere. Or someone intentionally used something to hit her. Fortunately the force was not that hard so all she needs is to rest and apply some medication. She should be fine in a few days.”
“Then when will my daughter wake up?” Ru Mei asked.
“I’m not sure,” The physician gave a cursory look at Guo Meng who was lying on the bed, “We will have to wait until the effects of the drug wear off and then she will naturally wake up.”
Senior Provincial Officer’s Furen hurriedly nodded and offered her thanks before arranging for a servant to go with the physician to get the prescribed medication. Suddenly, the atmosphere came to a standstill.
Jiang Ruan chuckled, “Well… Third Young Master Zhao is a strapping two metre tall young man, so it can hardly be said that he would actually bring with him a ‘handkerchief’ to harm anybody. Moreover it’s obvious that there are flowers embroidered on the handkerchief, and no matter how you look at it… it obviously belongs to a girl.”
When those present heard this, they found the reasoning to be acceptable. Notwithstanding that a young gentleman like Zhao Feizhou would not randomly have on him a handkerchief, and upon closer look at the flowers and leaves embroidered on the fabric , it was undeniable that this was not an item belonging to a man.
Ru Mei’s eyes sharpened, and with a glance she could make out from the appearance of the handkerchief that this was indeed Guo Meng’s. Although she did not know why Guo Meng’s handkerchief was laced with a drug, with things as they stood, if she could shift the blame onto someone else, then naturally she would blame others. Marquis Xia’s family could be said to be a meritorious family among the n.o.bility, so there was a possibility to derive some advantage from them. Otherwise Guo Meng would have to solely and unwillingly suffer the consequences for no reason. Hence, Ru Mei immediately claimed, “That’s right, who would have thought that Second Madame Xia could be so vicious; this handkerchief must have been left behind by your servant. Humph! Your servant used this handkerchief to knock my Meng’er unconscious and even thought to commit murder in order to silence her, thus ‘throwing the dirty water’ onto Third Young Master Zhao! This most certainly is quite a calculated scheme.”
Both Shen Rou and Yu Ya’s expressions changed- Yu Ya’s becoming even more aggravated. As it was, she had yet to recover from hearing about the matter regarding Shen Rou and her husband; never would she have thought that Ru Mei would further tangle her up in this kerfuffle. She furiously looked towards Jiang Ruan because if anyone were to say that today’s incident was totally unrelated to her, then even if she were beaten to death she would not believe it. Without a doubt Jiang Ruan must have hindered and manipulated the events- what a little cheap s.l.u.t!
Jiang Ruan smiled, both welcoming and returning her glare as her brows subtly lifted like a taunting provocation.
Yu Ya felt as if blood was rushing to her head, and her voice involuntarily became shrill, “Why would I have someone murder your daughter to silence her when the person who committed adultery wasn’t me? I have not done anything that was shameful!” In her extreme anger, she spoke these words from the depths of her heart. Her manner of speech embodied all her pent up anger causing the host of furens and young ladies present to be shocked. Immediately their evaluation and expression towards both Shen Rou and her changed.
Shen Rou was teetering on the verge of collapse. If what happened here today was to spread, the reputation of the Xia family would be utterly ruined. What awaited her was still unknown. The fact was that within the Great Jin dynasty, should a brother and sister-in-law from an official’s family commit adultery, then the male would be unable to hold his head up in society forever and the female would be drowned by being stuffed into a pig’s wicker basket. Therefore, should all of this come to a head, then the rest of Xia Jiao Jiao’s life would also be ruined.
Ru Mei was not one to be easily swayed, and immediately she smiled. Utilising the skills learnt from the time when she was performing on stage, in her zealous shrewish voice she spoke, “Obviously you want to protect this secret. While you have not done anything, the scandal involves your husband. If this scandal were to be leaked out, then as a furen, your reputation would likewise be ruined. You planned to harm my Meng’er to cover up Xia fu’s scandal. Then I will definitely speak of this scandal; I will announce it so that everyone will know about it!” As she spoke, she began to raise her voice into a shout. “Everybody listen up! In order to cover up Xia fu’s scandal, Second Madame Xia sought to murder my daughter to silence her. Second Madame Xia is a murderess. Xia family’s Eldest Miss is actually Eldest Madame Xia and Second Master Xia’s—-!”
Ru Mei was a songstress from birth so she had a good breathing foundation that allowed her to shout that string of words without running out of breath. Moreover, her vocals were so loud and clear that she continuously repeated the gossip over and over until everyone in Senior Provincial Officer fu heard the news.
Those standing around were flabbergasted at the scene. Indeed, this Ru Mei totally disregarded her position, composure and decorum, spouting out whatever she wanted to say. Even though Yu Ya had seen all kinds of behaviours over the years, she had yet to encounter a furen who did not do things according to conventional reasoning and morals. At the moment, she could not even remember to put a stop to the debacle.
Those around were either surprised or found the situation hilarious. Zhao Jin had just about pa.s.sed out from laughing so hard, and whispered into Jiang Ruan’s ear, “What a star performer indeed, those vocals are so moving that the audience is stunned”
In the midst of all the shouting, Shen Rou’s eyes rolled- whatever inward or external prestige and status she possessed had all been lost today- so she might as well strike a pose and pa.s.s out. Her attending maidservants hurriedly supported her when they saw her faint, “Furen, our madame has not been in good health and I’m afraid that she has fainted. Please can we trouble Furen to let our madame enter the house to rest for a while.”
Senior Provincial Officer’s Furen agreed, so there was only Yu Ya left from the Xia family and her heart secretly harboured great hatred towards Shen Rou’s craftiness. She was actually silently elated with Ru Mei’s cacophony. Shen Rou had done such a scandalous thing, that with all that hollering, for sure by tomorrow, the whole capital would hear about it. Where would Shen Rou have any face to enjoy an easy life going forward. Seeing that Shen Rou had retreated into the house to hide out, she too was thinking how she could follow her act. However, Ru Mei had keen eyes and while she was shouting, she also had her eyes pinned on any movement from Yu Ya. So when she saw her getting poised to faint, with quick steps she caught hold of Yu Ya’s shoulder and proclaimed, “Second Madame Xia, you’ve harmed my Meng’er in such a manner, you better not turn around and fall out with us and then not own up to the matter! Why don’t you come with me to the magistrate because even if we end up at the court of law, you will not be found innocent!”
With Ru Mei viciously shaking her, even if she had wanted to faint, it was not possible now. Internally she was very annoyed that Guo Meng would have such a relentless and stubborn person for a mother. To have someone cling and come right up to her face was definitely not at all sightly, and Yu Ya was beginning to become irate. At that moment, there was the sound of footsteps coming from outside, and a voice rang out, “Mother, are you alright?”
At that moment, a group of young gentlemen entered one by one. Most probably they heard the ruckus and hurried over. Leading these gentlemen was a young man attired in a jade white robe, a man that stood out among the men. His expression naturally bore the essence of intelligence, and on his waist was a paper fan. Anyone looking at him would see a man who was wise and astute, br.i.m.m.i.n.g with vitality. This was the Zhao family’s Second Young Master, Zhao Yulong.
Zhao Feizhou followed closely behind Zhao Yulong, and immediately his gaze turned towards Jiang Ruan. Noticing Jiang Ruan’s usual expression, his lips lifted into a smile. Turning his attention towards the other side, he noticed the downtrodden and dismal demeanour of Yu Ya and Ru Mei. He let out a sigh of relief and his posture relaxed.
When Yao-shi saw that her son and her nephew had come over, taking note that there was nothing amiss with them, she was then able to put her worries to rest, “Why did you come over?” In her heart, she did not want her family’s young masters to behold such a disgusting and awkward situation. Just thinking of what these people had originally intended- wanting to shift the blame onto Zhao Feizhou- her anger once again flared up.
Zhao Feizhou and Zhao Yulong both noticed Yao-shi’s anger, so Zhao Yulong replied, “We heard that there was some disturbance and were worried so we rushed over. Hope all the furens here will please forgive our intrusion.”
His att.i.tude was refined and courteous, and he was such a handsome man that all the furens and young ladies were happy just to behold his presence. So there was no way they would even think to criticise his actions. Seeing Zhao Yulong’s stance, Yu Ya could not help but think of Xia Jun. She felt her heart ache as her gaze towards Zhao Yulong could be said to have turned malicious.
Trailing behind the group of young gentlemen was a pet.i.te figure. Dressed completely in a fluttering white dress, if it wasn’t Jiang Su Su then who else could it be?
Earlier, while all the young ladies were here, everyone’s attention was on Guo Meng’s situation, so no one took notice that Jiang Su Su was not with them. At this moment, seeing Jiang Su Su entering behind these young gentlemen, everything became clear, and everyone looked at Jiang Su Su with contempt. Looking at this Second Miss Jiang’s aloof and untouchable appearance, who would have thought that she was also restless and thus stealthily visited the young men today. Furthermore, it was one thing to secretly go observe the gentlemen, but to actually appear together with them left much to be said.
Jiang Su Su was nonchalant in front of all the gazes, and if she were to boast, she indeed had reaped quite a bit in returns. A few young gentlemen had already lost their hearts to her and Jiang Su Su couldn’t help feeling rather pleased with herself. It was just that, even though these men were from aristocratic families, they were far below the person that she had set her heart on. Upon thinking about Eighth Prince, Xuan Li, Jiang Su Su felt a sense of melancholy overcoming her. It had been a long time since she last saw him.
Since the Xia family was related to her, Jiang Su Su frowned as she softly inquired, “Second Aunt, did something happen?”
Upon seeing Jiang Su Su, Ru Mei was disdainful in her heart. This Jiang Su Su was blessed with such beauty that she totally eclipsed her Guo Meng. As such, her tone of voice was not pleasant, “Of course. All of this is because of what your Second Aunt has done. If my Meng’er had not been fortunate today, she would have been murdered by this vicious and malicious furen!”
Zhao Feizhou’s eyes twitched, and he subconsciously looked towards Jiang Ruan. Earlier when Jiang Ruan had asked Tian Zhu to knock Guo Meng out, she had told him to hurry back. Zhao Feizhou was initially reluctant to leave, but he could not withstand Jiang Ruan’s frosty disposition so he had heeded and left. Jiang Ruan had instructed him to return and inform Zhao Yulong verbatim what had transpired. Once Zhao Yulong heard all that Zhao Feizhou had to tell, he mulled it over before instructing Zhao Feizhou to not tell a soul. It wasn’t until they had heard the disturbance coming from the west garden did Zhao Yulong pretend to be ignorant while rallying a group of gentlemen to head over to take a look.
Zhao Yulong’s eyes curved slightly as he looked towards Jiang Ruan, and when Jiang Ruan noticed his gaze, she responded with a faint smile. Zhao Yulong was Zhao Yuan Ping’s son, so naturally Zhao Yulong had inherited some of his subterfuge. Therefore, he was most pleased with this biaomei’s way of handling matters. Both of them shared the same look of tacit agreement before averting their eyes elsewhere.
Then one of the young ladies who admired Zhao Yulong quietly explained to him what had happened. After Zhao Yulong listened to her, he frowned and asked, “So the maidservant who was hurt and Second Madame Xia’s maidservant have not been found yet?”
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“They are looking for them,” Senior Provincial Officer’s Furen said, “but it seems as if both of them have vanished.”
Time flew past quickly and in a blink of an eye the skies had turned dark and it was almost time for everyone to take their leave. When Zhao Jin mentioned this to Jiang Ruan, she shook her head, “That Ru Mei Yiniang is really one that cannot rise above her status. Even if she is a concubine, she shouldn’t have taken matters this far. Hearing what she said to Senior Provincial Officer’s Furen was exactly like those poor relatives who only come during harvest time taking whatever they lay their eyes on. Such shortsightedness in a person is really rare and unprecedented.”
Shaking her head, Jiang Ruan laughed, and coincidentally they saw the Zhao brothers, Zhao Yulong and Zhao Feizhou, coming their way. When they saw Jiang Ruan, Zhao Feizhou said, “Biaomei, Eldest Aunt has asked that you come with us in our carriage so that we can give you a ride back to Jiang fu.”
Yu Ya and Shen Rou had quickly fled in defeat, but she and Jiang Su Su still needed to return to their fu. Jiang Ruan nodded. Zhao Yulong looked at Jiang Ruan with interest, and without any avoidance or suspicion merely remarked, “Biaomei is very intelligent. Today’s stratagem was so brilliant that one can’t help but gasp in amazement.”
“Biaoge ought to know the concept of adding flowers to brocade,” Jiang Ruan placidly replied.
 锦上添花 (jin shang xiu hua) – (idiom) add flowers to brocade (idiom) / fig. to give something additional splendour / to provide the crowning touch / (derog.) to benefit somebody who is already well off.
The banter between these two was like a puzzling mystery especially for Zhao Feizhou. As their words flew into his ears, he felt all the more confused and could not help scratching his head, “What in the world are you two talking about, how come I don’t seem to understand a single thing?”Zhao Yulong inspected Jiang Ruan closely, “Regardless, I still have to offer my thanks on behalf of the Zhao family.” Although Zhao Yulong was about the same age as Zhao Feizhou, personality wise, he was much more mature than Zhao Feizhou. All the while he had felt that Jiang Ruan’s personality was overtly cold and indifferent, and she seemed to harbour an ulterior motive of making use of General fu for her benefit. If one were to say it was because of familial affinity, then it was really hard to see that fact. Today she had really lent a hand to the Zhao family because if it weren’t for Jiang Ruan, the person who would have suffered a calamity at this Golden Chrysanthemum Banquet would definitely have been Zhao Feizhou. If Guo Meng really managed to enter the doors of the Zhao family, it was hard to even imagine the chaos and turbulence the family would face. Jiang Ruan’s willingness to reach out and lend a hand clearly showed that she has some affection for the Zhao Family.
“There’s no need to thank me. The Xia family’s intentions were actually directed at me,” Jiang Ruan replied. For Yu Ya to randomly target the people from the Zhao family, it was merely for her to vent her anger towards her(JR). Currently Jiang Xin Zhi was far away and there was no way to touch him, and she was a Junzhu which made Yu Ya somewhat cautious about the consequences. On the other hand, Zhao Feizhou was a simple blockhead who could be easily bullied, so that was why she could concoct such a devious plan.
Zhao Yulong was just about to reply when an ear piercing shriek sounded, “Jiang Ruan! Zhao Feizhou!”
With that overbearing and impertinent att.i.tude, if it was not Guo Meng, then who else could it be. Guo Meng had d.a.m.ning words to say; out of the blue her face was disfigured, and upon waking she found out that something else had happened. As it stood, the bridge that was established between herself and Yu Ya had unravelled, therefore, at this point it was really too late to say anything else. However, when she walked out and saw Jiang Ruan, how could she prevent the anger erupting from within?
Jiang Ruan raised her brows. It had already been over four hours, so it was time for Guo Meng to wake up. But for her to display such an att.i.tude, it really showed that this Fifth Miss Guo was exactly like her mother. Without much intelligence.
Guo Meng dashed to the front of Jiang Ruan and angrily spat out, “You actually schemed against me. You….”
“Shut up,” another female voice interrupted, her tone of voice strict. Turning back to have a look, it was Eldest Miss Guo, Guo Xiang.
“It’s you! Was it you who plotted with them against me?” Guo Meng had seen Guo Xiang and immediately took on an arrogant posture, raising her voice in question. This bore such an uncanny resemblance to Jiang fu’s Jiang Li.
A loud “Pah!” resounded. Guo Xiang had given Guo Meng a slap without any hesitation. Everyone was stunned, and Guo Xiang’s face turned frosty and her tone became a little colder, “This slap is to teach you regarding what you can and cannot say.”
Then turning towards Jiang Ruan, this Guo family’s Eldest Miss handled the matter in a magnanimous way that was befitting the situation and also was clear and definitive. In a solemn manner, she bowed in respect towards Jiang Ruan, “My younger shu sister has been disrespectful, hoping that Junzhu can be gracious and forgive her.”
“Not to worry.” Jiang Ruan smiled lightly.
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