Looking at Xia-shi's unsophisticated peasant appearance, Ji Man thought that it probably wasn't her. Besides, it had been too easy to catch her assailant. It seemed more like someone was trying to frame Xia-shi.
In contrast, Liu Hanyun seemed especially active today. She was normally a very quiet person, but today she had followed them here and found fault with Xia-shi several times.
Thinking of how Liu Hanyun had tried to persuade her to not allow Haohao to become the marquis's heir and how Liu Hanyun had a son of her own, Ji Man felt suspicion growing in her heart. She pursed her lips and said, "How about we wait until tomorrow and take our time investigating this matter?"
Slightly frowning, Liu Hanyun said, "Madam, it's already reached this point. Why do you want to wait until tomorrow instead of making a resolute decision now?"
Xia-shi raised her head to look at Liu Hanyun and said, "I haven't done anything to offend you. Why do insist on blaming me? This matter really has nothing to do with me. Madam has even said that she wants to investigate this matter more before deciding. Why are you insisting on pushing this crime onto my head?"
"You..." Liu Hanyun pursed her lips and her brow slightly furrowed.
Marquis Moyu glanced at Liu Hanyun and considered for a while before saying, "It really is getting too late, and we're going to disturb Haohao from his sleep if we keep talking. Let's just do as Sangyu said. Let's save this discussion for tomorrow."
Liu Hanyun lowered her head and said, "Since neither my lord nor Madam are anxious about settling this matter, then Hanyun naturally has nothing to say."
Ning Yuxuan added, "En. As for the matter of promoting you to the position of secondary wife that I mentioned before, let's do it at the same time as Haohao's first birthday."
"Many thanks, my lord." Liu Hanyun didn't linger here. After saluting, she turned around and left.
Xia-shi patted her knees as she stood up. Hearing the sound of a baby crying in the next room, she slapped her thigh and said, "Aiya, my Haohao!"
Without saying another word, she hastily left too. It seemed that she was very worried about Haohao.
Ning Yuxuan's brow relaxed. Looking at Nie Sangyu, he said, "Xia-shi doesn't know anything. You have to take extra care of her. Sometimes, you'll have to protect her more too.
Ji Man raised her eyebrows. Clutching her cloak, she coughed a few times before saying, "This servant understands."
In the end, the blame for the extremely ridiculous incident of someone pretending to be a ghost was placed on Xia-shi's head. But, since Xia-shi was needed to take care of Haohao, and the marquis had already signaled that he wanted her punishment to be lighter, Ji Man only punished her with not getting a monthly allowance for the next six months. Still, the food, clothing, and other necessities that she was provided with wouldn't be any less than before.
Liu Hanyun was holding Xi-er, and her expression didn't look good as she said, "Madam, are you thinking that Hanyun is deliberately not getting along with Xia-shi?"
Ji Man silently thought; wasn't that just the simple truth? But, she outwardly comforted her by saying, "You don't have to overthink things. It wasn't a big deal. It's not like a ghost would scare me anyways. Since the marquis isn't willing to perform an in-depth investigation, let's just put it behind us."
Liu Hanyun opened and closed her mouth, but in the end, she sullenly swallowed down the words that she wanted to say. Holding Xi-er, she didn't say another word.
When Haohao's first birthday came, Ji Man was a bit absent-minded. This day wasn't that far from when she had given birth to her own child. Xia-shi had probably conceived her child around the same time as her during the Southern Trip.
Although Wen Wan had been enjoying the living standards of an honored concubine since the day that Marquis Moyu had brought up the topic with Ji Man, everyone still had to wear new clothing that was appropriate to the changes in their status on Haohao's birthday celebration. And so, Liu Hanyun was wearing a light pink dress when she brought Xi-er over in her arms.
Since they were still in the three-year mourning period for Old Madame, the birthday banquet couldn't be too big or special. Instead, it was just the entire household sharing a meal together, then there would be a birthday grab and an official recording of Haohao becoming the marquis's heir.
(T/N: The birthday grab (zhuazhou) is a tradition where parents place a variety of items in front of their child on his or her first birthday, and the child will grab one of the items. Whatever the child chooses is said to determine his or her future inclination and proficiencies.)
After Wen Wan was once again called Mistress Wen, she seemed to very quickly walk out from the shadow of Yun-er's death. Her face was like a beautiful blooming peach flower.
There was also a faint smile on Liu Hanyun's face from her promotion to a secondary wife. And, once Qi Siling had regained control over the household accounts, she also wore slightly more lavish clothing. The only person that was feeling dissatisfied was Nie Chenyu.
Nie Chenyu, who had been quite favored lately, was still only a concubine and had to sit next to Mu Shuiqing. Nie Chenyu's face was livid today, but given Nie Clan's current state, she didn't have the means to demand a promotion in her status. She hadn't been able to get pregnant either, so she could only sit in a desolate corner with Mu Shuiqing and watch.
For some reason, Xia-shi had come to the birthday celebration wearing a red gown. Holding Haohao, she was smiling quite happily. But, as soon as Xia-shi entered the main hall, Ji Man's lips twitched.
During ancient time banquets, only the main wife was allowed to wear red, even a secondary wife or side consort could only wear hues of light pink. But, Xia-shi had casually entered the room wearing bright red.
The room full of people stopped talking, but Xia-shi didn't notice. With a bright grin, she brought Haohao over to the marquis and said, "Haohao has been very well-fed today. He'll definitely grab something good later!"
Marquis Moyu looked at her from top to bottom. With a fake smile, he asked, "Who gave you the clothes that you're wearing right now?"
"My clothes?" Xia-shi lowered her head to look. Smiling, she said, "I made these clothes myself. They said we're going to celebrate Haohao's first birthday today, so I should wear slightly more colorful clothing. Out of all the fabrics they sent over, this one looked the best, so I used this one. My lord, what do you think?"
Ning Yuxuan lightly smiled. He stretched his hands out and took Haohao, then he turned his head to the side and said to Nie Sangyu, "Take her to have her clothes changed."
Ji Man nodded and stood up to lead Xia-shi to Feiwan Courtyard.
Translator Ramblings: Isn't there a possibility that Xia-shi tried to kill or harm Nie Sangyu, and she just wasn't very good at hiding the evidence? Or, it's neither of them, and someone else tried to frame Xia-shi? It’s consistent with Ji Man's character to side with whomever she thinks is the underdog.
Earlier in the story, there’s no doubt that when Liu Hanyun helps out Nie Sangyu/Ji Man, she doesn’t want anything in return. In contrast, Ji Man has always viewed Liu Hanyun as a tool that could be useful to her, so it’s possible that she’s projecting her motivation onto Liu Hanyun. Or, maybe, Liu Hanyun really has changed.