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Yuan Shanniang, accompanied by her maidservants, left in a huff, her spirits high and mighty.  

Hua Mama wiped away Qing Shu’s tears and consoled her, saying, “Miss, don’t cry. Madam has always been this way. Don’t take her words to heart.” 

Hua Mama actually hoped that Yuan Shanniang would become even more outrageous. However, it seemed that Yuan Shanniang wasn’t entirely without a brain. 

“I’m fine.” After wiping away her tears, Qing Shu returned to the main courtyard with Hua Mama. 

When Zhuang Mama saw Qing Shu with red eyes, she asked, “Miss, what happened?” 

Qing Shu didn’t want to tell the truth and shook her head, saying, “Some sand blew into my eyes.” 

Zhuang Mama didn’t press further. In the Gu family, the only people who could make the Young Miss suffer were Madam and the Eldest Master. 

Around noon, Grandma Gu returned. Seeing that Qing Shu looked downcast, Grandma Gu asked with a worried expression, “Qing Shu, are you feeling unwell?” 

Qing Shu shook her head and said, “I’m fine, Grandmother. I don’t want to stay in that courtyard anymore, so please don’t have it prepared.” 

Grandma Gu was quite astute and asked with a stern face, “Did your aunt say something to you?” 

Qing Shu hung her head and remained silent. 

Grandma Gu didn’t press Qing Shu to speak and simply said, “If you like it, then go ahead and stay. Don’t be afraid of her. In this house, I’m still in charge.” 

Qing Shu hugged Grandma Gu and whispered, “Grandmother, you have to be well. Grandmother, you must live a long and healthy life.” 

She wanted this courtyard as a test. She wanted to see if Yuan Shanniang was as malicious as she suspected. But now, this woman denied her own words. Such a ruthless person would stop at nothing. 

Grandma Gu joyfully said, “Living to a hundred? Wouldn’t that make me an old monster? But rest assured, I’ll live long enough to see you get married and have children before closing my eyes.” 

Hearing this, tears welled up in Qing Shu’s eyes. Her grandmother must have been killed. Whether it was solely Yuan Shanniang or in conjunction with Gu Heping, she didn’t know. But no matter who it was, she wouldn’t let them get away with it. 

Grandma Gu hadn’t expected her casual remark to trigger such a strong reaction from Qing Shu. “Don’t cry, my good girl, don’t cry. You can trust that your grandmother will definitely live to a hundred.” 

After comforting her for a while, Qing Shu finally showed a smile. 

While Qing Shu was taking her afternoon nap, Grandma Gu summoned Hua Mama. “What did Yuan Shanniang say to Qing Shu that caused such a strong reaction from the child?” 

Hua Mama told Grandma Gu every word of what Yuan Shanniang had said today. 

Grandma Gu’s eyes flashed with anger. 

Hua Mama said, “Madam, Madam Yuan is becoming more and more audacious. Madam, you can’t let this continue.” 

She had been advising Grandma Gu to rein in Yuan Shanniang, but Grandma Gu didn’t listen and allowed Yuan Shanniang to run rampant in the mansion. 

“How should I rein her in?” Grandma Gu had tried before. At the most serious point, she had sent Yuan Shanniang back to the Yuan family. However, just after sending her away, Gu Heping came to plead for her return. When Grandma Gu didn’t agree, Gu Heping visited the Yuan family every day. This only bolstered Yuan Shanniang’s arrogance. 

After a few attempts, Grandma Gu couldn’t be bothered to intervene anymore. In the end, it wasn’t her who suffered the most. 

Hua Mama suggested, “Madam, I think what Madam Qi said makes sense. Madam, you should consider finding a concubine for the Master. That way, he won’t always follow the words of Madam Yuan and her nephew.” 

The Master had always been filial, but with each passing day, the rift between him and his mother was growing wider. 

Grandma Gu shook her head and said, “Don’t mention this again in the future.” She had always disliked concubines and didn’t allow her husband to take one. She wouldn’t stop Gu Heping from taking a concubine if he wanted to, but she wouldn’t do such a thing herself. 

However, Hua Mama chimed in, “Madam, Qing Shu has grown up now. If she keeps being mocked like this, she might not dare to visit the Gu family regularly anymore.” 

In Grandma Gu’s heart, Qing Shu was the most important, and even Gu Xian had to take a step back. Hua Mama’s words struck a chord with Grandma Gu. 

Seeing Grandma Gu’s silence, Hua Mama continued, “Now, the Master is listening to Madam Yuan and her nephew in everything. If this continues, in the future, if Madam Yuan is wronged in the Lin family, Master won’t support her.” 

Grandma Gu remained silent for a while before saying, “I’ll think about it.” 

Although she didn’t agree immediately, her stance wasn’t as vehemently opposed as before. Some flexibility was a good sign, and with a little more effort, she believed Grandma Gu would agree. 

The next few days were calm and peaceful. 

One evening, Grandma Gu said to Qing Shu, “Tomorrow is the County Magistrate’s wife’s birthday celebration, and I’ll be attending. Qing Shu, would you like to join me?” 

Qing Shu nodded and said, “Sure.” 

The next day, while Qing Shu was preparing, Hua Mama entered with a small red sandalwood box in her hands. 

Inside the box was a bright golden jade necklace. The necklace was adorned with several precious red gemstones, with the largest one in the center being as big as a longan fruit. 

Qing Shu was astonished when she saw this jade necklace. Leaving aside the craftsmanship, just the value of those red gemstones was worth several hundred taels of silver. This kind of necklace couldn’t be taken off for less than seven or eight hundred taels of silver. 

Seeing such a valuable necklace, she marveled at her grandmother’s wealth. 

Hua Mama took the necklace out and helped Qing Shu put it on. 

Qing Shu touched the central red gemstone and hesitated, “Mama, maybe I shouldn’t wear this. What if I lose it?” 

In truth, she wasn’t afraid of losing it but felt that the necklace would attract too much attention. If someone with malicious intent noticed it, she might be in danger of being kidnapped. 

Hua Mama smiled and reassured her, “Miss, you don’t need to worry. When the time comes, Xingyu and Jiaoxing will accompany you.” 

Just then, a maidservant outside announced, “Old Madam, Madam has come to pay her respects.” 

Qing Shu had originally been reluctant to wear the necklace, but now she had changed her mind. She had only worn the longevity gold lock and shrimp-whisker bracelet before, and Yuan Shanniang had already resented her for it. If Yuan Shanniang saw this jade necklace, she might become even more envious. 

This time, Yuan Shanniang had a request for Grandma Gu, “Mother-in-law, I’d like to receive five months’ worth of my monthly allowance.” 

“Why do you need so much money when there’s plenty to eat and wear at home?” Grandma Gu inquired. 

Yuan Shanniang tried to keep it a secret, but this kind of thing couldn’t be concealed. As soon as Grandma Gu asked someone to inquire, it would be known. “My younger brother has found a good match, and he plans to propose marriage right after the Dragon Boat Festival. My mother fell ill a while ago and used up all the savings we had, so she wants to borrow one hundred taels of silver from me to prepare the betrothal gifts for my brother.” 

She made it sound like a loan, but it was unlikely she’d get the money back. However, after Mother Yuan and Yuan Shanniang had cried and pleaded for a long time, Grandma Gu had eventually agreed. 

In their family, it was common for the sister to provide financial support for her brother’s marriage. Only the Yuan family, with their lack of shame, would do such a thing.  

Nevertheless, Grandma Gu was well aware of the Yuan family’s character. She didn’t even lift her eyelids and replied, “Business in the shop hasn’t been good lately, and we don’t have much money in the accounts. It’s impossible to advance five months’ worth of allowance.” 

Yuan Shanniang clenched her fists in frustration. She could spend hundreds of taels of silver on trivial expenses for that thieving maidservant, but Grandma Gu wouldn’t give her a few months’ allowance. This old lady was showing clear favoritism. 

Suppressing her anger, Yuan Shanniang said, “Then I’ll advance two months’ allowance, Mother.” 

Grandma Gu waved her hand and said, “This is the last time. You’re not allowed to advance your allowance again in the future. Otherwise, everyone will want to do the same as you.” 

Yuan Shanniang lowered her head and replied with a forced smile, “Yes, Mother.” She didn’t dare to look up, afraid that Grandma Gu would see the hatred in her eyes.