The Devious First-Daughter - Chapter 660 - The Rich and Resourceful Madam Wu Yao
Chapter 660 The Rich and Resourceful Madam Wu Yao
Madam Wu Yao was speaking to a man in a wide-sleeved long robe when she saw Ning Xueyan arriving at the banquet. She quickly ended the conversation and walked toward Ning Xueyan.
It went without saying that Ning Xueyan had the high status out of everyone present. Even if Wu Yao belonged to the politically neutral faction, she must show an attitude befitting of a host.
“Is this the Crown Princess? Please, come this way.” Wu Yao went up to Ning Xueyan with a bright smile.
Ning Xueyan glanced at Wu Yao with a smile, concealing the trace of coldness in her beautiful eyes.
Even though she had taken notice of Wu Yao in her present life, this was still her first time meeting her. It had been a few years but Wu Yao hadn’t changed much. She was still the same kind and gentle motherly figure. Perhaps, in her mother’s opinion, Wu Yao was her good-tempered but unfortunate close friend.
It was a pity that Wu Yao was so wicked.
“Madam Wu.” Ning Xueyan smiled.
“I’m glad that you’re willing to come, Your Highness. It’s my honor to have you attend my banquet. Please, take a seat there.”
Wu Yao’s smile was respectful but kind. Her expression was even more so sincere. People meeting her for the first time would have been attracted to her warm smile and considered her a friendly, considerate woman. One would easily let down one’s guard in front of her.
She was especially respectful when speaking to Ning Xueyan, and even led her to the main seat.
It was obvious that the seat was the principal seat of the banquet.
If Ning Xueyan, the Crown Princess of the nation, didn’t take the seat, no one would be able to. Whether it was out of respect or friendship, she ought to take the seat. It was her obligation to.
Yet, when she saw Commandery Princess Muling sitting near her, a thought sparked in her and her eyes turned dark. It seemed that she was truly fated with this princess. It felt as if she was running into the princess at every turn.
“We meet again, Your Highness.” Commandery Princess Muling stood up when she saw Ning Xueyan approaching and shifted her body sideways to make a salute. No matter what, her status was beneath that of Ning Xueyan and she would be in the lower generation after marrying Ao Mingyu. There was a distinction between them as the ruler and the ruled.
Even so, she was not yet married and represented Manor Mu at the moment. Ning Xueyan had to show her some measure of respect too.
She nodded at Commandery Princess Muling and then took the principal seat. Commandery Princess Muling took the side seat, with the host, Wu Yao, taking the other side seat.
It was getting late and most guests had arrived. The men wearing wide-sleeved long robes and tall hats in the men’s area were mostly known for their talent. Few of them took official positions and those who did were just small-time officers, though with a great reputation.
People tended to look at these famous and talented men with respect. Even the propriety between men and women wasn’t as closely observed for they thought that these famous men wouldn’t do anything to ruin their reputation. This was why no one raised an eyebrow when a lady went over to talk to them earlier.
The platform was well-tied to the ground, showing that personal performances were inevitable. One would truly be known as a talented lady after gaining fame at this banquet. Nearly no one would give up on this opportunity, so most had brought their best tricks with them. Their maids were carrying musical instruments like zithers, dance clothes, or brush pen, ink, ink-stone, and the like.
Commandery Princess Muling looked at what Ning Xueyan’s maid, Qingyu, was carrying. In Qingyu’s hands was a zither-like object. The case told her that it was the same Mark of the Moon that she gifted to Ning Xueyan. A sneer silently crept onto her face. To think that an insignificant daughter of the Lord Protector’s Manor would dare to compete with her.
Ya Moqin was also a host in her own right, so she sat right beside Wu Yao. Her gaze would fall on the zither in Qingyu’s hands from time to time. There was a smug expression on her face.
When Ning Xueyan turned to look at her, she looked away and spoke to another lady as if she hadn’t been paying attention to Ning Xueyan. Yet, when Ning Xueyan turned her head again, she would look at the former now and then.
She was paying attention to Ning Xueyan’s every move. Suddenly, she saw Ning Xueyan summoning one of her maids. She was increasingly alert. Though she seemed to be conversing with someone else, all of her attention was on Ning Xueyan.
Unfortunately, she was too far from Ning Xueyan. Though they were only separated by Wu Yao, Ning Xueyan was sitting in the principal seat and she couldn’t very well sit right beside her. Moreover, Ning Xueyan wouldn’t be speaking loudly at this time. Ning Xueyan was giving her maid orders in a soft voice.
Then, she saw the maid nodding and walking out.
Ya Moqin immediately shot a look at a maid who had been standing by for orders. The maid nodded and cleverly followed Ning Xueyan’s maid out.
The one who left was Ning Xueyan’s maid, Lanning. She was walking out in a panicked rush as if she had an urgent business.
When she took a turn, she didn’t see someone coming from another direction due to a blindspot. She crashed into a maid and the two of them fell to the ground together.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Lanning stood up and tried to help the maid up.
“It’s okay. I’m fine.” The maid was dressed in the same clothes as the maids in the manor. Wu Yao had likely brought her here to serve her guests. Holding onto Lanning’s hand, she got to her feet and patted her clothes. She smiled as if she didn’t care for the mistake. She looked like a clever and easy-going girl.
After she patted the dust off her clothes, she looked Lanning up and down and said frankly, “Did you come with your master? Do you need to leave because of an urgent business? Should I show you the way? It’s easy to get into trouble if you go around without knowing the place.”
It was Lanning’s first time coming here, so it was natural for her to appear conflicted. She looked at the path that she came from and asked, “Is this the path out of this place?” It wasn’t a good idea to offend anyone else, after all.
“You can go out using this path but there’s a fork ahead. One leads to the owner’s courtyard. Our master had simply borrowed this courtyard. The owner of the courtyard is a man and he’s currently staying on the other side. Don’t take the wrong path and go there.”
The maid kindly warned Lanning.
There wasn’t just one, but several forks in the path ahead. Lanning hesitated. “Um, elder sister, do you have time? Can you bring me out? My master wants to take something from our carriage.”
“Sure. I’ll bring you out. If you go on your own, you might take the wrong path. It’s not obvious when you’re walking in but when you’re walking out, you might really go the wrong way. But you have to wait for me for a little. I have to go up and send some fruits.” The maid smiled warmly and pointed to a tray that had been put aside.
It was only then that Lanning noticed the bowl of fruits on the stone table beside her. The fruits were washed so clean that they almost sparkled. The maid might have been resting here after putting down the bowl of fruits when she took a turn and accidentally knocked into her.
“I’ll wait for you here then!” Lanning nodded.
“No need. Come with me. There’s a crossing ahead, where you can take a shortcut to the parking space. You must have wasted some time here. If you delay it anymore, your master might get angry at you. We’re maids, and maids can’t anger their masters.”
Wu Yao’s maid pointed to a nearby path. Indeed, there was a path near the arched door and it led to a different direction than where Lanning was heading.
She knew that a maid should try her best to please her master. Lanning had indeed wasted quite some time here. She thought about it for a moment before nodding.
Wu Yao’s maid picked up the bowl of fruits and led Lanning down the shortcut. It didn’t take long for them to reach another place—the banquet. However, Lanning had taken the path near the women’s area earlier but the maid was taking her down the path near the men’s area.
The bowl of fruits was meant for the male guests.
Lanning stopped in her tracks.
Noticing her hesitation, Wu Yao’s maid smiled at her. “Wait for me here. Once I finish serving the bowl of fruits, I’ll show you the way out immediately. It won’t take a lot of time.”
“Okay, I’ll wait for you here.” Lanning nodded.
However, the moment Wu Yao’s maid left, Lanning disappeared as well. She turned around and returned to the crossing from before. Tracing her memory, she found her way to where their carriage was.
It wasn’t her first time here, after all. She had also paid attention to the paths when she came in earlier. Going out wasn’t a challenge for her.
She had just left when she saw a man rushing out with a maid. When they reached the previous spot and found no one there, the man couldn’t help but turn around and look at the maid suspiciously. “Where is she?”
“Huh? Strange! She was still here a minute ago. She summoned me, saying that she wanted to pass on a letter. Where did she go?” The maid was surprised too. She couldn’t believe it, so she looked around at the crossing and even walked a few steps.
“Why don’t you wait here for a moment? I’ll go and take a look. Maybe she thought it was inconvenient after waiting for a while,” the maid explained to the man.
Her explanation seemed plausible.
The man nodded and stood still at the crossing. He took out the letter that he had been holding tightly.
It was evident that the lightly perfumed letter was written by a woman. There was little content in the letter, but there was a painting of a woman inside. It was that painting that made him come out in a rush.
He had seen many lovely women in his life, but that crudely-drawn painting was enough to show how devastatingly beautiful the woman was. What a rare beauty. Thus, he thought all the risk was worth it. That woman was almost legendary in her beauty, and she admired him… How could he not be moved…