Phoenix’s Requiem - Chapter 4
Chapter 4: Trash Deserves To Be Punished
Yun Ruoyan ignored Yi Qianying’s accusation and turned toward her grandmother. “Grandmother, trust me. I promise I’ll help you recover the jade ornament and find the real culprit!”
No one expected the soft and weak Yun Ruoyan to say something so daring, and even Yi Qianying was a little flustered by her words. When the Yun matriarch looked toward Yun Ruoyan once more, there were a few extra notes of appreciation in her gaze. “Are you confident?”
“My name was tarnished today—I need to prove my innocence, and I refuse to be wronged by others! Grandmother, please give me this opportunity.” She understood her grandmother well. Her grandmother was the only one in the family who believed in her, but even she had eventually lost hope.
In the past, the straw that broke the camel’s back was when Yun Ruoyan had been blamed for the theft of the jade ornament.
But this time, she was confident that she could change all this.
Yi Qianying wanted to be praised by everyone and beloved by all, but Yun Ruoyan would ruin her plan!
“Grandmother, I did see Qianying that night, but the one who stole the jade ornament wasn’t me!” At this point, Yun Ruoyan slowly looked toward Yi Qianying, and the crowd followed her gaze. “It was her!” Yun Ruoyan raised her arm and pointed straight at Yi Qianying.
Yi Qianying stilled. She’d never imagined that Yun Ruoyan would accuse her like that in public! Used to Yun Ruoyan’s weakness and silence, she was clearly discomfited by her sudden fiery behavior.
Just as Yi Qianying was about to speak up in protest, Yun Ruoyan spoke over her. “That night, while I was walking by Grandmother’s residence, I saw Qianying run away with something clutched in her lap. At the time, I didn’t realize why Qianying was so flustered. After Qianying recounted the night’s event with our roles reversed, I now understand that what she was carrying in her lap was the stolen jade ornament!”
Yun Ruoyan knelt on the floor, her tone earnest. “Grandmother, I know I don’t receive as many gifts from the household as my sisters do, but I would never steal from the household! I don’t enjoy quarrelling with people, but I also refuse to let the blame for this theft fall on me!”
“Ruo-Sister Ruoyan!” Yi Qianying’s hands shook as she supported her trembling legs. “I’ve not stolen a single thing! What proof do you have, sister? Grandmother, I’m innocent!”
“Proof?” Yun Ruoyan looked coldly at Yi Qianying. “Qianying, if you’re truly innocent, are you willing to have your room searched?”
“You!” Yi Qianying was tongue-tied, a slender finger slightly wavering as it pointed straight at Yun Ruoyan.
The Yun matriarch looked at Yi Qianying’s trembling lips, and then at Yun Ruoyan kneeling on the floor, face resolute. “Let’s go to Qianying’s rooms.”
A whole slew of people immediately rushed toward Qianying’s rooms as soon as the command was issued. The family’s servants began combing through Yi Qianying’s possessions gently and carefully.
Yun Ruoyan couldn’t help but think back to what the search had looked like in her room in the past. Her whole room had been turned topsy-turvy, bedsheets scattered all over the floor. When the servants couldn’t find the ornament, Madam An and the others accused her of having sold it. Yi Qianying’s treatment was miles better than what she had received.
Her grandmother saw and understood the discrimination clearly, but although she sighed in her heart, she said nothing. She was more interested in Yun Ruoyan’s response to this behavior.
A moment later, Yun Ruoyan indeed spoke up. “Madam An, why does it seem like our servants are so lackadaisical, even for such a simple task as searching? If outsiders were to look in, wouldn’t they comment on how improperly the household’s being managed?”
Madam An’s face froze. When had Yun Ruoyan become so glib and eloquent?
The Yun matriarch simply looked on impassively. Despite her being the victim, she didn’t seem to have any intent of getting involved in this conflict. In the end, Madam An could only instruct all the servants, “Search quickly and carefully! Don’t miss even a single corner!”
Yi Qianying’s face blanched as Yun Ruoyan smiled.
All of a sudden, Yun Ruoyan’s gaze lit up as she strode forward. “Wait!”
Before the dresser, a servant held up an exquisite dressing case. She was about to inspect it when Yi Qianying snatched it from her grasp.
This was something that Yi Qianying’s deceased mother had left for her, and Yun Ruoyan had only seen it once. It was filled with all sorts of jewelry and ornaments, and Yi Qianying cherished it greatly.
“Qianying, what’s this?”
A brief flash of panic appeared on Yi Qianying’s face before she forcibly calmed down again. “It’s an ornamental box that my mother left me; both Grandmother and Madam An know about it!”
Madam An clearly didn’t miss Yi Qianying’s panic, because she quickly went over to smooth things over. After all, even though Yi Qianying wasn’t truly a member of the Yuns, she was intelligent and clever, and far better than trash like Yun Ruoyan. “That’s right, we all know about this. Qianying’s a filial girl, and she’s very protective of her mother’s possessions! We don’t have to pry.”
What sort of flimsy excuse was this?
Yun Ruoyan smiled coldly; she couldn’t follow Madam An’s logic. “Given how precious something like this is, isn’t that all the more reason we have to inspect it? If there’s truly nothing inside, then my sister’s guilt will be absolved, wouldn’t it?”
Yi Qianying clutched the box in her arms, her face red. At this point, the Yun matriarch finally spoke up. “Qianying, bring the key over.”
Yi Qianying could only retrieve the key from her pocket. She bit her lips, unable to gather enough courage to open the box.
As the key slid from her grasp, Yi Qianying knelt down on the floor once more. “Grandmother! I know I’ve made a mistake! It was just a moment’s folly, and I don’t dare to do it again!”
Everyone present was shocked. They’d never expected that as obedient and kind a girl as Yi Qianying would really have stolen the jade ornament!
Yi Qianying knelt on the floor, her head almost touching the ground. One could only see her trembling shoulders, as if she would cry at any moment.
Yun Ruoyu picked up the key on the floor and opened the dressing box with a snick.
“Ah, it’s truly the jade ornament!” Yun Ruoyu called out at once. “My goodness, Qianying, you actually stole it?! You even tried to blame it on our older sister…”
Yun Ruoyao was also rocked to the core. Clearly, even she hadn’t known about it, and she was the closest to Yi Qianying in this household! Madam An felt somewhat speechless: after all, she was the one who had been shielding Yi Qianying all this time. She gazed at the Yun matriarch. “Mother, how do you think we should handle this?”
“Do you need me to teach you this as well?” Yun Ruoyan’s grandmother frowned. “Madam An, Ruoyan’s the Yun family’s only wife-born daughter. When did she become someone who could be bullied by an outsider who’s not even part of this household?”
Yi Qianying knelt on the floor, unable to speak up for herself out of fear. Madam An looked at her in pity—she’d initially wanted to dole out only a small punishment, but the Yun matriarch had all but stated that it had to be something at least decently harsh.
Madam An sighed and motioned to the servants. “Come, bring Miss Yi to the ancestral hall, and have her kneel there for an entire day and night!”