After the Lantern Festival, the empress would bestow various gifts to the imperial consorts as well as noble ladies each year. Last year, Ji Man had received several items. But this year, for an unknown reason, she only got two pieces of finely engraved silver bracelets.
As Dengxin put away the gift, she grumbled, "Has Her Majesty become hard pressed for money? Last year, there were four strings of coral beads, eight Eastern Sea pearls, and two golden bracelets. This year, why was the gift only this?"
With her chin propped up in her hand, Ji Man contemplated for a while and finally concluded, "The annual gifts are based on a person's social status and value."
If Marquis Moyu wasn't still in his three year mourning period, who knows how many people would be trying to push women into this harem? Right now, Nie Clan was being entirely supported by Nie Qingyun. One after another, his cousins and other relatives had gotten implicated with the corruption case over the shoddy armors and weapons. As for herself, she was Marquis Moyu's wife and didn’t have any children yet. Who knows how many saw her as an eyesore?
Dengxin sighed. "How well a woman's maiden family is doing determines her current status in her husband's home, but unlike you, Master, Mistress Yu doesn't see this. She constantly thinks about trying to climb up in status and has been over-the-top with chasing after the marquis during the recent past period. She even pulled the marquis away when he was at Mistress Yun's courtyard."
Nie Chenyu only dared to bully someone like Liu Hanyun, who didn't have any strong supporter. Ji Man sighed. "I should send her a clear warning to be less restless. Without a strong supporter, she really should know when to stop. The one that stands out the most amongst a group is most likely to get shot."
Dengxin nodded. Right after she closed the wardrobe, Chunfeng, a servant girl from Xia-shi's courtyard ran into the room.
"Madam! Please hurry over and save Mistress Xia!"
Feeling as if her heart had just thumped loudly, Ji Man stood up and asked, "What's wrong?"
Chunfeng's eyes had already reddened. "For no reason at all, Mistress Yun came to Cailian Courtyard and said that my master harmed Young Master Xi. With the Heavens as my witness, my master hasn't even taken a step past her doors recently."
As soon as she heard this news, Dengxin knew there would be no peace. She took out Nie Sangyu's cloak. It was the beginning of spring, and there would still be a chill in the air.
Ji Man put on the cloak and as she walked, she asked, "What's wrong with Xi-er?"
Feeling wronged, Chunfeng said, "Young Master Xi was fed some thick congee by the wet nurse. That food was for my master. My master was planning on starting to wean Young Master Haohao off of milk, but a servant girl from Linghan Courtyard made a mistake and took that congee. She was the one that took the wrong thing. How can they blame my master for it? What kind of logic is that?"
Ji Man raised her eyebrows and sped up her pace towards Cailian Courtyard.
When they got there, Xi-er was wailing and being examined by the doctor. Looking somewhat helpless, Xia-shi was standing by the side and holding Haohao. Liu Hanyun was staring at her with an icy gaze.
"Madam has arrived."
A servant girl pushed back the curtain, and Ji Man entered the room. As she took off her cloak, she observed the people in the room.
Liu Hanyun withdrew her gaze and came over to salute. "Madam."
Xia-shi was still aggrievedly standing in the same place. Briefly looking over, she said, "Madam, you came."
"En." Ji Man walked over to look at Xi-er.
After the doctor finished examining the nearby bowl, he cupped his hands and said, "Young Master Xi has eczema and can't eat fish or shellfish. This bowl has remnants of shrimp, and that's why he's covered in rashes.
Xi-er's little face, which was covered in lots of red rashes, looked very pitiful. Ji Man pursed her lips. Looking at Liu Hanyun, she said, "How did that servant girl take the wrong bowl? Xi-er isn't old enough to be weaned off of milk yet."
"This servant doesn't know." Liu Hanyun bit her lip and said, "The wet nurse wasn't watching Xi-er carefully enough and he ate some."
How could a baby that wasn't even six months old crawl over and eat the wrong food? Ji Man frowned. "If the wet nurse isn't doing a good job, then just replace her."
Xi-er's wet nurse stepped forward. Slightly trembling, she said, "Madam, please forgive me. This servant didn't do it deliberately and just wanted to eat something from the kitchen. But, then, Young Master Xi-er pointed at it, and this servant thought that perhaps, young master could start eating solid food sooner than normal. This servant didn't know that young master would be allergic to something in this bowl."
"So then, why is Xia-shi's being blamed for this?" Ji Man glanced at Xia-shi.
"Who knows why, ah?" Xia-shi pressed her lips together before saying, "She brought her child over here and started blaming me. I'm already too busy with taking care of Haohao. Where would I find the time to blame her? All children are innocent, ah. I had a servant making that congee because it's something that Haohao can eat."
Liu Hanyun unwaveringly glared at Xia-shi. "The wet nurse told me that Muyu had given her the bowl. If this food was being made for Haohao, then why would she give it to my wet nurse?"
Muyu paused before kneeling in front of Nie Sangyu and saying, "This servant only had good intentions. This servant saw that Young Master Xi-er's wet nurse had come into the kitchen to get a snack. Thinking that it's not easy to take care of a baby, and there wasn't any other food ready to eat in the kitchen at the time, this servant gave her the thick congee and just make another batch."
Lia Hanyun coldly harrumphed. She stretched her hands out and picked up Xi-er. "The group of you always have an excuse, and it's always related to the heir. Since the marquis and Madam will always be biased in favor of you, there's nothing else for me to say."
"Hanyun." Ji Man stopped her from leaving. "Don't get so worked up."
"Xi-er is already like this. How can I not be upset?" Liu Hanyun's eyes were slightly red. She stamped her feet and said, "She's not an easy person to deal with. Madam, you should be more careful!"
Unwilling to take things lying down, Xia-shi refuted, "You're acting as if you're a straightforward person yourself. Is there a single person in this household that's easy to deal with?"
"You..." Liu Hanyun clenched her jaw.
Marquis Moyu entered the room. Seeing the tense situation in the room, he furrowed his brow and asked, "What's wrong?"