Zhu Yurun continued to rascally stay in Qian Residence, and Assistant Minister Zhu didn't say anything about it. It was probably because her reputation was already in tatters, so he wasn't concern about that aspect. Besides, she might even be able to gain a proper father for her child by doing this.
But, since Assistant Minister Zhu wasn't aware of the Ji Man's secret, he felt extremely guilty towards Ji Man. Not only did he settle the matter of using Ji Man's rice as the tribute rice for the year, he had also commanded his subordinates to treat Ji Man well. As a result, Ji Man's value abruptly bounded up. Ji Man was seen as a shining star in the rice merchant association.
Regarding the matter of choosing a head for the rice merchant association, the largest rice merchant families had all sufficiently prepared for the occasion. From top to bottom, the fiercest competition was between the Liu family and the Rong family. When the time for the election came, the two sides almost came to blows. In the end, Director Tang was invited over for tea to act as the tiebreaker.
Shopkeeper Liu had been full of confidence, so he was shocked when he heard Director Tang say, "It's always been the same people that get elected in the past years. It's time to give way to the younger generations."
When these words were said, he was looking at Ji Man. Neither Shopkeeper Liu nor Shopkeeper Rong had pleasant expressions. However, these two families had a long history with each other. It was still an easy matter as long as the other party wasn't the winner of this election. And so, in order to ingrate themselves with Director Tang, the title of head of the rice merchant association landed on Ji Man.
For this reason, Ji Man sent over a considerable amount of gifts to Director Tang and those two rice merchant families. She was very attentive in observing the proper customs. For example, she would always remember to send over some trinkets when it was a rice merchant family's legitimate son's birthday. Gradually, no one was dissatisfied that Ji Man had gotten the position.
Ji Man's mood was still pretty good after settled that issue. She happily spent her days inside the estate with Haohao and did activities with him like picking flowers.
As a result, she unexpectedly encountered Ning Yuxuan, who hadn't appeared in her sight for a while.
Ji Man felt a bit guilty.
It was naturally impossible for him to not know that his signature seal had been taken. But, Ning Yuxuan had surprisingly not said anything about that night or the missing signature seal. He had acted as if nothing had happened and didn't keep her from seeing Haohao either.
"Marquis." She properly saluted, but Marquis Moyu acted as if he hadn't seen her. He picked Haohao up and sat down by a nearby stone table. Wiping the mud from Haohao's hand, he said in an indifferent tone, "I heard that your rice business is done well. Congratulations."
Ji Man awkwardly laughed. "It's all thanks to the marquis's favor."
"It's all thanks your intelligence. It has nothing to do with me," Ning Yuxuan said, "Zhangjun Prince will be returning to his fiefdom tomorrow. How about going with me to send him off?"
Her body stiffened. She shook her head and said, "There's no need for this one to send him off. This one has resigned from my position as Zhangjun Prince's subordinate after coming to the marquis's estate. There's no connection between the two of us."
"Really?" Marquis Moyu's tone showed that he obviously didn't believe her.
"Right now, this one only wholeheartedly wants to teach the heir," Ji Man sincerely said, "Marquis, please believe this one."
"En, I believe you, that's why you should come with me tomorrow," Ning Yuxuan said, "Guibai will come to remind you when the time comes."
She kept thinking that he hadn't come here with good intentions. Right now, she was just a teacher. Why did she have to accompany him in sending off Zhangjun Prince? Ning Yuxuan shouldn't know that she was still in contact with Zhangjun Prince, right?
Besides, although she had entered the palace with Zhangjun Prince, and everyone by the dowager empress's side had seen her, no one else would know that she was one of his advisors. If she went with Ning Yuxuan tomorrow to send Zhangjun Prince off, and there happened to be someone with sharp eyes and a loose tongue that spread this information, how was she suppose to keep her low-key status? If the new emperor saw her, it was more likely than not that he would believe she was acting as a messenger between Marquis Moyu and Zhangjun Prince and simply order her death right away.
Was Ning Yuxuan unwilling to tolerate the sight of her and that was why he was insisting for her to come along?
Although Ji Man was feeling upset, she could only acknowledge his command for now and figure out a way to escape from this obligation.
After dinner, Liu Hanyun had taken the initiative of coming over and ended up giving her a way out. Liu Hanyun had come over here like a torrential rush, and her intentions didn't seem benign either.
Liu Hanyun went straight to the point and asked, "Teacher Ji, how long do you plan on staying in the marquis's household?"
During the past few days, she had sent servants to follow Ji Man. She knew that Ji Man had visited a brothel, given lessons to Haohao, and nothing exceptional had happened when Ji Man went out of the estate the other times. However, when she had gone over to care for the marquis when he had been sick during the past few days, she had heard Teacher Ji's name from the marquis's lips.
Ji Man, Ji Man. Wen Wan really hadn't wrongfully accused him. He really was a sly tempter that had bewitched the marquis to such a low level.
As the main wife, Liu Hanyun wouldn't just do nothing and allow this travesty to go on. Since Teacher Ji was going to get married, it would better if she sent him away sooner.
Ji Man looked at this woman, who wouldn’t even say extraneous words to soften her message, and sighed. "This one wants to stay in the marquis's estate for the long-term. It'll also be more convenient to care for the heir this way."
"Teacher Ji, aren't you getting married?" Liu Hanyun frowned. "You're still not going to move out after your wedding?"
"This one isn't moving." Ji Man shook her head. "This one has already discussed this matter with the marquis, and the marquis has agreed to it."
Liu Hanyun really wanted to slap this person. This person was really too shameless. He took advantage of the marquis's affections and had decided to permanently stay here!
She had originally planned on properly sending this person off. After all, she had though he was an honest person without much of a background. But, as it turned out, he was planning on doggedly remaining here. Don't blame her for being harsh.
"Teacher Ji, could you come with me for a bit?" Liu Hanyun stood up. Although she had phrased it as a question, she walked out without looking back.
Ji Man thought for moment before turning around and taking out a bag from a box. She went outside and said to a servant girl that was by the doors, "Please give this the marquis. I'm going out with Madam."
The servant girl straightforwardly made a sound of agreement and left. After that, Ji Man followed after Liu Hanyun.
Right after she had arrived by the back gate, she saw a carriage waiting outside. Just as she was about to ask where they were going, a few servants came out of the carriage, tied her up, and dragged her into the carriage.
Translator Ramblings: I noticed that Liu Hanyun's response to Ji Man is the same as Ning Mingjie's wife's. Both of these wives took that extra step of asking Ji Man about her plans to see for herself what her intentions were. They didn't jump to conclusions and immediately plot to harm Ji Man. They were willing to amicably help Ji Man leave, but they would also take harsher actions if Ji Man wasn't willing to leave their husbands alone.
I though the author was so clever in setting up this situation. In order to do this, she had kill off Ji Man's identity as Nie Sangyu, Ning Yuxuan's first wife. It was an interesting turn around that Ji Man judged Wen Wan as the other woman, who she sees as inherently wrong for stepping into someone else's marriage. But now, she's doing the same thing herself. Of course, from her perspective, she views her actions as completely justified. (She’s only living in the marquis’s estate and tolerating Ning Yuxuan for Haohao. She’s not fully aware of how much her actions unintentionally harm other people.)
From Liu Hanyun's perspective, Ji Man is a completely unrelated to her friendly ally, Nie Sangyu, and is a shameless interloper in her marriage while leading on another woman. If she knew that Ji Man and Nie Sangyu were the same person, she wouldn’t harm her like this.
What do you guys think?