Chapter 54.1: Move Aside, Bad Green Plum
Xiaoqi didn’t turn around, but instead lifted her head to look towards Mother Song.
Mother Song’s displeasure was clearly exposed on her face. Standing to the side, Qiu Tong had already been serving Mother Song for a long time so she understood every slight change in Mother Song’s eyes, so how could she miss the complete change of facial color that Mother Song had right now? She walked over and yelled at the little servant girl next to Zixiao: “Is Madam’s courtyard somewhere anyone can casually enter? If any mishaps occur, be careful of your skin!”
“Re-replying Madam. Y-you said before, that this lady came from wang ye fu s-so must be se-served carefully. This servant, this servant didn’t dare block her path.” This servant had never seen Qiu Tong get angry before, nor had she ever seen Mother Song with such a dark expression. She was so intimidated that she trembled, and for a moment she couldn’t even reply .
After hearing this, Mother Song’s anger dissipated and only disdain was left. Mother Song’s line of sight swept across Zixiao and saw that her brows only imperceptibly lifted at the sound of ‘wang ye fu’. In that instant she didn’t even have the heart to waste on feeling contempt.
Mother Song retrieved her expression of anger without batting an eyelid and said mildly: “Enough, let’s just leave it this time. If you repeat the mistake again, next time you’ll be directly kicked out.”
These words were said for Zixiao to hear. If she continued to roam around like a wandering ghost, what would be thrown into the abyss would be this little maid’s entire life.
This little maid had been promoted just recently to the inner courtyard from outside. Entering the inner courtyard wasn’t easy at all, and not only does the salary increase, if they managed to become favored like Qiu Tong and Dong Mei, Mother Song would even meticulously pick a good husband’s family for them. The maid had long since heard that life was easier as a servant in the inner courtyard. Not only was the workload lighter, Madam was also very magnanimous towards the servants. She didn’t expect that after only half a month something like this would happen. Seeing Mother Song relent, she hurriedly kowtowed and gave thanks before withdrawing, trembling with fear and relief.
Xiaoqi didn’t understand why Mother Song was angry but roughly guessed that this main courtyard wasn’t a place anyone could enter. Just like the main courtyard of Qian fu, other than a few select maids and manservants, other people could only enter during weeding and cleaning times, and they still weren’t allowed to enter the rooms.
Xiaoqi looked at Lin Zixiao who was still standing in the entrance with a faint smile and tugged at Mother Song’s sleeve, calling softly, “Mom.”
Mother Song’s mood went through swift changes, but only a blink later she smiled, “Since you’ve already arrived, come sit. Just remember the rules next time.”
Zixiao smiled as she walked over, “To actually have forgotten Aunt Xue’s rules, Zixiao deserves punishment. How about penalizing Zixiao to embroider a quilt for Aunt Xue?”
Mother Song didn’t reply and turned to give a slight nod towards Xiaoqi, “Then Xiaoqi can keep practicing. Mom will be taking a trip to the Wen family to discuss the details of the weddings with your Aunt Qing. Dong Mei, Qiu Tong, guard properly. It’s currently inconvenient for Young Madam to get around so you must not leave her alone by herself in the room.”
Xiaoqi stared miserably at Mother Song, but Mother Song thought she had given Xiaoqi a good demonstration of how to ignore the other person and left without turning back.
Ignore her! Ignore her! Ignore her!
But she’s standing right in front of her, how’s she supposed to ignore her? Mom already allowed her to teach people(Xiaoqi) embroidery, so how are people supposed to ignore her?! Does she need to act like Mom and first get angry then smile a little? Xiaoqi twiddled her fingers as she thought hard.
“Meimei, have you learned how to embroider before?” Zixiao gently parted her lips.
Xiaoqi bit her lips, casting a glance at the woman next to her that was dressed beautifully and thought: Does treating the other person as an ordinary person count as ignoring?
“Meimei, what are you staring at jiejie for? Is there something you would like to ask?”
Xiaoqi looked at Qiu Tong. Seeing Qiu Tong wink hard at her, Xiaoqi turned around and grinned towards Zixiao and shook her head, “Then go ahead and teach.”
Zixiao softly sat down next to Xiaoqi and picked up some needles and thread for herself. Gesturing at the embroidery circle, she said: “What would be good to embroider?”
Zixiao faintly sighed, “I embroidered quite a few things for Second Older Brother before. Back then, Second Older Brother liked orchids the most and also loved that poem ‘Cool breeze sway emerald green rings, cold dewdrops deep green as jade. Beautiful lady, why not thread? Delicate fragrance fill valley and sky.’* Second Older Brother said that orchids are the most free from vulgarity and refined, it was also just right for the ‘Zi’(violet) in Zixiao’s name.”
The orchid’s jade green leaves lightly sway like jade pendant rings in the cool breeze with ice-cold dewdrops condensed on the pale turquoise petals. Such a beautiful flower, how could there be a beautiful woman that doesn’t want to thread its beauty to herself? A beautiful woman’s moral character is just like the delicate fragrance of orchids, diffusing through the air and filling the atmosphere.
Qiu Tong curled her lips as she smiled, “Lady Lin, earlier Young Master had this servant throw away a bunch of stuff. There seemed to have been embroidered pouches, wrist bands, head bands and that type of stuff in the pile. This servant’s eye is dull so this servant doesn’t quite understand what orchids are , but there seemed to be a lot of little purple wild flowers. Could it be those were the orchid embroidery pieces Lady was talking about?”
Zixiao’s hand which was drawing out the thread froze for a moment. Hooking her lips, she said: “Qiu Tong probably saw wrong. Second Older Brother has never randomly placed the things I gave as presents.”
Xiaoqi blinked her eyes, “Husband said he likes osmanthus flowers, I’ve never heard that he liked orchids. I’ll just ask my family’s husband about it again tonight.”
Qiu Tong smiled and handed Xiaoqi an embroidery circle. Guiding Xiaoqi to string the first needle, she then leaned over and quietly said, “Young Madam, the running stitch is very simple. Young Madam just needs to follow the edge of this diagram and slowly pull together a line. The stitches must be even, alright?”
Zixiao lowered her eyes and pulled a stitch as she hooked the corners of her mouth, “Meimei is bright, she’ll definitely be able to learn well.”
Xiaoqi lowered her head as she carefully stitched around the edge of the embroidery diagram in her hands. At the side, Qiu Tong stared the entire time, extremely worried that she would prick that pair of delicate white princess-like little hands that seemed have never touched work no matter how you looked at them.
Zixiao had her eyes lowered as her needle flew and her seams ran. Not long later she had already finished a leaf. The stitch was done with an original technique, just one little leaf already had several shades to it, causing it to look very vivid.
Zixiao pinched the needle and blanked out for a while. Then, sighing, she said: “Meimei, would you like to hear a story?”
Xiaoqi hadn’t even finished winding around half the butterfly outline in her hand. Hearing the voice, she just subconsciously nodded without paying attention.
Zixiao sighed again, “That year, Eldest Brother entered my name into the register of beautiful girls without letting me know. If I didn’t go, that would have been lying to the monarch, it would be a capital offense that demanded all three generations of the family to be executed. Zixiao was helpless and could only leave Second Older Brother to enter the palace. I yearned for Second Older Brother day and night, but I didn’t dare to write letters for fear that it would implicate the Song family if they were discovered, for fear of dragging down Second Older Brother…”
Zixiao lifted her sleeve to wipe some tears away before continuing, “I thought of ways to prevent the Emperor from noticing me and was finally bestowed to Hao wang ye. Hao wang ye was magnanimous. After learning about my situation, he didn’t force me, but rather set me free and allowed me to come back. Hao wang ye’s grace Zixiao dares not to ever forget and Zixiao promised him that after coming back and fulfilling the previous destiny with Second Older Brother, Zixiao would definitely go visit him to give thanks. Now Zixiao has finally come back and was even able to see Second Older Brother one more time. Even though Zixiao can’t become the Song family’s Young Madam, Zixiao still has no regrets.”
The lies were mixed with bits of truth, but Zixiao still felt quite emotional herself from these words. Zixiao lifted her head to look towards Xiaoqi and saw that Xiaoqi’s brows were currently knitted as she struggled with a tangled piece of thread and Zixiao realized that Xiaoqi completely didn’t hear what she had just said at all. Zixiao narrowed her eyes and something quickly flashed through the depths of her pupils.
Qiu Tong looked over, her eyes filled with strict precaution. Zixiao lifted her eyes and smiled, “Meimei is so focused, you definitely learn things fast.”
Qiu Tong stared expressionlessly at her. She then gave a cold laugh before lowering her voice to say: “If there’s anything, look directly for Madam and Young Master. To say it to Young Madam would be wasting your breath. Lady Lin has always been intelligent, you probably wouldn’t be unaware of where you should be putting your schemes into action.”
“En?” Xiaoqi tugged at the thread that had tangled into a lump and lifted her head dazedly, “What do you need to look for Mom and Husband for? Eh, shoot, why is Lady Lin crying?”
Qiu Tong took the embroidery circle from Xiaoqi’s hands and snipped off the thread before once again stringing the needle with a smile, “When Young Madam draws out the needle, your left hand pinkie should lift some of the thread, that way the thread won’t tangle anymore. Lady Lin seems to be lamenting the spring and grieving the fall; she probably thought of something sorrowful.”
“Oh.” Xiaoqi looked at Qiu Tong, “Actually, I do know how to sew. I’ve sewn buttons before and I’ve even sewn a sandbag before. The sandbag Lu Liu and I played with was something I sewed. But this needle is too small and too thin, I can’t pinch it properly, that’s why I can’t sew properly.”
As she spoke of Lu Liu, Xiaoqi started to miss home. She had already left home for quite a while, so it was probably about time to write some letters home. Xiaoqi recalled the days when she used to play with Lu Liu and smiled, “Lu Liu is a great person. When she comes over to play, I’ll introduce her to Qiu Tong.”
Qiu Tong glanced at the Zixiao that had started to embroider the handkerchief again and smiled, “Young Madam is considerate. That Lady Lu Liu is definitely also an adorable person.”
Xiaoqi happily nodded, “Wonder if she got married to Big Brother Lu yet? Later I’ll write a letter to ask.”
Credits: Translated by Chiyomira, Edited by Ocelot