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    It was unclear how Rong Xun had dealt with the matter at Ho'an Hall, but for the past half a month, Madam Rong hadn't sent any servants over.

    Second Aunt Yu, on the other hand, personally delivered an old ginseng root and softly comforted Rong Shu.

    Yu was skilled in social interactions. Over the years, she had maintained good relations with Qiuyun Hall without offending Qingheng Courtyard. Whenever she met Shen, she was always warm and friendly, but that was the extent of it.

    Madam Rong managed the household finances, and whenever she needed money, she would send someone to Qingheng Courtyard to request it. At the beginning of every even-numbered month, a servant from Ho'an Hall would deliver the account books.

    These listed all sorts of expenses, such as repairs for a courtyard belonging to one of the branches, stationery for a young master, or new clothes for a young lady. All these costs were covered by Qingheng Courtyard.

    Shen was generous but also shrewd, meticulously calculating every expense. She would never give more than necessary, and Madam Rong's various attempts to solicit money were firmly rejected by Shen.

    As for the lucrative shops and lands that had made Madam Rong envious for a long time, not a single one fell into her hands. This was another reason why Madam Rong disliked Shen.

    Back then, the Shen family had narrowly escaped being seized by the government. After the marriage agreement with the Rong family, thanks to Old Master Rong's intervention, they had weathered that crisis safely.

    If not for his efforts to mediate that matter, Lord Rong wouldn't have been thrown from his horse, resulting in an illness that took his life within two years.

    In Lady Rong's view, Lord Rong had died because of the Shen family, and the Shen family owed the Rong family a debt.

    If not for leaning on the mighty Rong family tree, how could the Shen family have escaped that calamity back then? How could they have prospered so greatly in business over the past twenty years?

    Rong Shu had heard Lady Rong say more than once that the Shen family's current status and wealth were entirely due to the Cheng'an Marquis Estate.

    Shen lady sneered after hearing this. "When I married to the capital, your maternal grandfather transferred most of the Shen family's assets to the Emperor through your grandfather's hands. The credit for that was given to the Rong family. Without that contribution, how could the Rong family have so easily obtained a marquis title? Not to mention all these years—"

    Shen lady had never wanted Rong Shu to know about the intricate relationships between the Rong and Shen families. She quickly stopped talking.

    In the past, Rong Shu had no interest in understanding the complicated ties between their two families. But now, she had no choice but to care.

    While attending to Shen lady's herbal medicine, Rong Shu would seize any spare moment to study the account books.

    She meticulously calculated how much money the Shen family had provided to Ho'an Hall, Qiuyun Hall, and even the second branch over the years.

    Mother Zhang entered with a bowl of medicinal soup and saw her poring over the ledger by candlelight. Concerned, she said, "Miss, please take a break. You'll damage your eyes if you keep reading like this."

    "Anyway, there's no harm in putting my time to good use by sorting out these old accounts of the Marquis household," Rong Shu said, closing the ledger and washing her hands with water before taking the medicinal soup from Mother Zhang.

    The prescription prepared by Sun Daoping proved highly effective in replenishing blood and stabilizing her vitality. The once pale and lifeless complexion of Madam Shen had now regained some healthy color.

    When Sun Daoping left that day, he wore an expression of great relief.

    "Although Lady Marquis's pulse is still weak, it has become stable. She should regain consciousness within three days at the earliest, or ten days at the latest. However, her body has been severely weakened this time. It will take at least a year of continuous medication and proper care for her to fully recover. She must also avoid mental strain and sorrow; it's crucial for her to maintain a calm and peaceful state of mind, and to refrain from extreme emotions like intense anger or grief."

    Rong Shu was well aware that maintaining a peaceful heart in an environment like the Rong family was no simple task.

    In the past, her mother had endured countless injustices for her and the Shen family.

    From now on, she would not let her mother suffer such indignities again.

    Mother, it's time to leave this place.

    Chapter 28

    Rong Shu finished wiping Lady Shen clean and helped her into a fresh set of clothes. Just as she was about to resume studying the ledger, Amao entered and announced, "Miss, the Marquis has arrived."

    With a composed expression, Rong Shu put down the ledger, lifted the curtain, and stepped out.

    Ever since Mother fell ill, Father visited Qingheng Courtyard every day to see her. He would sit silently by her bedside without uttering a word until Rong Shu urged him to leave.

    Now that Mother's health was improving, Amao had put away her initial cold demeanor and was once again wearing a smile. In Amao's view, as long as Mother remained the Lady of the Cheng'an Marquis Estate, she could not afford to fall out with Rong Xun.

    However, Rong Shu found it difficult to feign happiness. Exiting the inner chamber, she bowed slightly towards Rong Xun and said, "Father, there is something I need to discuss with you. In two days, it will be the Cold Clothing Festival. In the past, Mother would oversee the celebrations, but given her current condition, she can no longer manage such tasks. Therefore, our Qingheng Courtyard will not be able to take charge of this year's festival."

    The Great Yin traditionally placed great importance on the Cold Clothing Festival. On this day, from the emperor to the common folk, all would hold ceremonies to honor their ancestors.

    Ordinary citizens typically marked the occasion by crafting paper clothing and burning them as offerings to their deceased loved ones. However, prominent families, especially those from noble backgrounds, would not settle for such simplicity. Apart from burning clothes, they would engage mourners to cry at the graves, set up stages for performances, and host banquets, striving for grandeur and spectacle.

    For several years, Mother, as the head of the household, had organized the Cold Clothing Festival at the Cheng'an Marquis Estate, with all expenses covered by Qingheng Courtyard.

    But this year, not a single copper coin would be spent by their courtyard.

    Rong Xun was rather surprised. His eldest daughter had barely spoken a word to him these past few days; he never expected her to take the initiative to discuss matters with him today.

    He was not one to casually involve himself in daily affairs, so he had no idea how much effort and resources were required to organize a festive event. Upon hearing this, he nodded and said, "That should be the case. Your grandmother and Aunt Pei are taking care of the preparations for the Cold Clothes Festival, so you don't need to worry about it."

    Rong Shu now lifted the corners of her mouth into a gentle smile and said, "Doctor Sun has advised that Mother must maintain an even temper, avoiding anger or excessive strain. In the future, it is likely that Mother will have little energy to oversee matters within the Marquisate. Father, I heard from Nurse Zhou that Mother's Jiao Wei zither is in your study. Back when I was in Yang State Prefecture, I learned a melody called the 'Purifying Heart Incantation' from Abbess Jingci, which is particularly suitable for playing to Mother. If it is convenient for you, might you have the zither brought to Qingheng Courtyard?"


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