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Chapter 157: Unsuccessful Scheming
Qin Huaiyuan sat wearily on the edge of the old dowager's bed, leaning against a bed post and couldn't be bothered to look at Qin Huining before Qitai arrived. He was even less inclined to talk to the foster girl.
Qin Huining remained curled up on the ground. Every breath she took in tugged at her wound, making her cry with pain. She looked up piteously at Qin Huaiyuan, hoping for a single morsel of attention.
But the lord remained silent.
The second, third madame, and the girls of their respective branches felt on pins and needles. They wanted to leave, but was afraid that doing so would offend the old dowager. But if they stayed, it didn't seem smart to get involved in the main branch's dirty laundry.
As they agonized over what to do, a maid reported from the covered hallway. "My lord, Qitai is here."
"Have him come in." Qin Huaiyuan stood and crossed over to the divider with magpies alighting on plum blossoms, adopting a stance with his hands behind his back.
Qitai was conscious of the rules after entering and took a position on the outer side of the divider. "My lord."
"Mm. Three things. Firstly, clean up the manor on the outskirts of town and set a strict guard on it. Miss Huining has contracted an illness and all of Snowpear Courtyard must be quarantined. No one is to visit without my orders. Secondly, find out where the voodoo doll came from. Confirm who did it and how it was planted. There's no need to report back to me about it, just cut off their hands and send them to the magistrate. Thirdly, contact the Hall of Fosters and continue investigating the matter we'd set aside."
"Understood." Qitai turned and left.
It was deathly quiet inside. Everyone was looking at Qin Huaiyuan and Qin Huining with complicated, inscrutable looks. The foster girl had started trembling like a leaf in the wind at the first sentence, with sweat dotting her brow when she heard the last about the Hall of Fosters.
"Father, father!" She thought she'd called out loudly, but her voice was as quiet as a mosquito's. She raised a trembling hand to clutch the hem of Qin Huaiyuan's robe. "Father, I'm your daughter, your daughter of fourteen years! Why don't you care about me anymore after finding Qin Yining? I'm not sick, so why are you sending me to the country manor for quarantine? I'm not going, I'm not going! I won’t be able to come back if I go!"
Qin Huaiyuan looked down on Qin Huining, his voice so placid that he didn't seem to be angry at all. "Daughter Hui, you've disappointed me so greatly."
The girl violently jerked her head up to look at the lord's composed face, meeting his fathomless eyes. She felt completely exposed in that moment, as if someone had stripped off all her clothes and was parading her around on the streets.
"I didn't, I'm innocent! I didn't make the doll, not me!"
"Even though you're not my flesh and blood, you still spent fifteen years by my side. I know your character, so you don't need to defend yourself now. Since you feel that the Qin clan is unfair and treats you poorly, then leave. Since you feel that my wife isn't worthy to be your mother, then don't call me father either. As for the voodoo doll, let's hope it wasn't you. If it was, life will be difficult in the future without a pair of hands."
Qin Huaiyuan's proclamation was shocking in its swiftness. Although his tone was even and calm, it stirred tidal waves in Qin Huining's life, cras.h.i.+ng into and was.h.i.+ng away all previous towers of glory and honor.
This was the moment she realized the depths of her idiocy. In front of Qin Huaiyuan's absolute authority, everything she'd built up over the years was but sand castles. When she'd gloated in self congratulation, someone else was able to destroy everything she had with a single wave.
"Father, I was wrong, I know my wrongs now. I don't think that the Qins weren't good to me, I just didn't think it was fair…"
"You felt it was unfair and was jealous of how daughter Yi had taken everything from you. Is that right?" Qin Huaiyuan asked gently.
Qin Huining couldn't respond.
"You were innocent in being abducted here, but do you know what your original family was like?"
Qin Huining sweated profusely. So they had indeed found her original family! Qin Yining wouldn't have been so self-a.s.sured otherwise just now! They'd already planned on sending her away, hadn't they??
"You occupied daughter Yi's position and enjoyed a life of luxury for fourteen years, but think that you're the victim? The true victim is daughter Yi! A happy, carefree life was robbed from her and you were rescued from a world of troubles. You're very smart, but overly so and far too selfish. Your only thought that you were a victim in all of this, but didn't stop to think that the easy life you had with the Qins was the compensation that the heavens gave to you."
"Father, I was wrong, don't send me away…"
"Since you call my wife madame, then call me the lord," Qin Huaiyuan continued without pause. "The Qins have not treated you poorly, but you know nothing of grat.i.tude and forget that your mother raised you. This is truly chilling. Spend some time at the country manor and I'll let you meet your birth parents after the voodoo matter is taken care of. Don't you think that the Qins have mistreated you? You can go with them if you miss home then." Qin Huaiyuan yanked the hem of his robe out of Qin Huining's tight grip and raised a salute to the old dowager. "Mother, I haven't slept all night and need to catch up on some sleep."
The old dowager had long since been stunned into silence, but felt that her son made sense upon further consideration. Although she didn't like the overly smart Qin Yining because that made the girl too hard to control, the matriarch thoroughly despised Qin Huining's ungrateful character.
Judging from her son's tone, he was going to send the girl away. The old dowager frowned and looked at the figure weeping on the floor. She couldn't harden her heart, seeing as she'd raised this granddaughter.
"Meng'er, let's hold off on the Hall of Fosters matter."
Qin Huining was completely preoccupied with having a good cry, but at this, suddenly recalled that her grandmother could overrule her father! Hope bloomed and she scrambled over to the bed, kowtowing repeatedly.
"Save me, grandmother! I'm not sick! I'm not going to the country manor! Grandmother, I didn't make a doll to harm you, I'm innocent!"
The old dowager rubbed her aching forehead.
Qin Huaiyuan interjected, "The quarantine is settled. I can't tolerate a source of trouble at home. As for the voodoo matter, I won't let things slide if someone really is trying to harm the old dowager. Let this be the end of things."
Given Qin Huaiyuan's strong att.i.tude, the old dowager didn't have any room to maneuver with. She also felt a chill grip her heart when she considered that Qin Huining might've really created a voodoo doll of her in order to frame née Sun and Qin Yining.
"Forget it, all shall be as the lord says," the old dowager proclaimed. "Lujuan, have someone organize Miss Huining's baggage."
Qin-mama heaved a silent sigh of relief and a.s.sented with a smile. This s.h.i.+t stirrer is finally being sent away! We servants can finally have some peace and quiet.
Some servants helped Qin Huining up; the foster girl's legs were as limp as wet noodles. Those of the second and third branches, including Qin Huining's closest sixth miss, couldn't intervene at this moment either.
Qin Yining and née Sun were both taken aback heard about everyone in Snowpear Courtyard being sent to the country manor.
"Your father is truly angry this time." Née Sun spoke after a long moment of silence.