Chapter 21: To Be Loathed
A mama knocked on the door of Winter Garden in the middle of the night. She came in to explain that Mistress Xiu should accompany the retinue to Long Hua temple the next morning. Ye-mama was so delighted that she kept giving thanks to Buddha.
Xiao Shi was also happy. Although she felt that Prince Li was scary, life would be good for her mistress in the future if she was able to obtain his tender loving care. When that happened, her mistress would also be able to lift her head proudly when she visited her parents’ home.
Unfortunately for Bai Xiangxiu, after she heard about the plans for the morrow, she felt rather faint. The plotline was clearly going seriously awry. She hadn’t done anything special ever since coming to this world, except maybe pursue the supporting male lead. But why was continually in situations where she had to only interact with the male lead?
As for the supporting male lead, once she recalled how he’d turned her mandarin ducks perfume satchel into rags, her heart turned cold. He likely already believed that she was a frivolous woman. She must explain this matter to him. Otherwise, her only way out would disappear like smoke in a breeze. It would be good to go out this time as well. She would seize this opportunity to clarify the matter with the supporting male lead.
Thoughts running a mile a minute, she tossed and turned in bed, unable to fall asleep. She lit the lantern and began to cut out more flowers and leaves to craft another bookmark. Since she had practice from the last attempt, this one was quite well done. She placed it in a book to press it when she was done, she certainly wouldn’t let the other party reduced this to powder again.
By the time she was done, she had expended a great deal of effort, and so easily fell back asleep. But it felt like she had only fallen asleep for an instant when Xiao Shi woke her up again. It turns out that the Prince wanted to leave early. Ye-mama and Xiao Shi had actually gotten up even earlier and were already done packing. They even made her bathe in hot water before they left to show respect for the Bodhisattva.
They arranged for a small carriage to come once she was ready. When she entered the carriage, someone asked her, “Mistress Xiu, have you brought the Buddhist scriptures that Old Madame wished for you to copy?”
“Ah?” Bai Xiangxiu didn’t understand. When did old madame arrange for her to copy Buddhist scriptures, and when had she had the time to copy them?
Ye-mama immediately said, “It’s already here with me. The copy isn’t complete yet, Mistress will have to continue copying after we reach the Long Hua temple.”
“Hey! Oh!” Bai Xiangxiu nodded hurriedly when Ye-mama glared daggers at her. No one else asked any further questions or made any small talk, so they all sat in the carriage in silence. With three women, the carriage was a bit cramped, but not overly so. Xiao Shi asked curiously when they were all in the carriage, “Mama, what was going on just now?”
Ye-mama smiled and replied, “This is thanks to the prince. He has truly gone to great efforts this time.” When she looked at the clueless appearances of two women sitting across from her, Ye-mama inwardly rolled her eyes. How can they be this stupid? Can this woman really be able to seduce the prince?
Resigned, she expounded on her answer, “There are three more people coming from the household besides Mistress Xiu, and they aren’t as well-behaved as you. If they knew that you were brought along because of the prince, would it not cause a disturbance? If anything does happen, the most unlucky one would likely be you.” Bai Xiangxiu trembled from head to toe; women striving for favor were extremely frightful.
Because she’d become ill and bedridden after that servant girl was caned to death, and then gone mad, she hadn’t had much contact with the other three women. However, if there wasn’t any valid reason for her to follow the old madame and the prince to Long Hua temple this time, so she would be public enemy number one when she returned. But what’s all this about Buddhist scriptures?
Ye-mama was on the verge of breaking down when she saw that Bai Xiangxiu still didn’t fully understand. She summarized everything, “His Highness told the servants outside that because your calligraphy was very beautiful, the Old Madame has allowed you to copy Buddhist scriptures on her behalf and deliver them to Long Hua temple to sow good karma. Unfortunately, you’re just not quite done, thus you have to come along for the trip.”
“Oh! So, it’s like that.” Bai Xiangxiu immediately nodded, but felt that the male lead was slightly deranged. Not only did he want to bring her along, but he even sought an excuse to do so. Can it be that he likes me?
She started to laugh out loud when her thoughts reached that point, causing Xiao Shi and Ye-mama to look at her like she was a ghost. After she felt that she laughed enough, she said succinctly, “Nothing, I only felt very happy.”
How depressing. The male lead is supposed to like the bold and interesting female lead. Why would he like me?
She had always shown a completely timid and cowardly attitude in front of him, as well as incredibly dull personality. If the male lead took note of her, that was just because everyone loves beauties. When he sees the female lead, naturally he would know who was the more important.
After a round of rumination, she felt the idea of the male lead liking her was completely absurd. She threw out her thoughts from before and focused on enjoying the scenery outside. She’d been tight on time and had a specific goal to accomplish the first time she went out, so she didn’t have the leisure to admire her surroundings. Now, she had the opportunity to peek at the scenery from the little window of her carriage. However, she couldn’t lift up the translucent cloth curtain to look outside because Ye-mama was watching her like a hawk!
It was a long road to Long Hua Temple, and many nobles were heading there too, crowding the road. One family after another, everyone proceeded forward slowly in a line. Bai Xiangxu almost fell asleep in the carriage as progress slowed to a crawl. Just as she was about to nod off, news came from the front. One of the wheels of a noble’s carriage had malfunctioned and required repairs.
There happened to be a relay station nearby. Therefore, old madame decided to rest there for a moment. After all, she couldn’t endure the dilapidated travel of the carriage for too long in her advanced age.
Bai Xiangxiu was a concubine, so she attended the old madame after alighting from the carriage. Although Bai Xiangxiu was not very familiar with some of the matters, she still gave her best efforts because she had Ye-mama next to her to guide her. The old madame was a bit pleased to see her so earnest and diligent, but still couldn’t understand her son’s decision to bring Bai Xiangxiu.
The Lin family might also come to the unveiling ceremony this time, and it might not be the most appropriate if they learned he had brought a concubine. Fortunately, this Mistress Xiu was well-behaved and knew her place, so there was nothing to be concerned about. The old madame only hoped that the Lin family wouldn’t try to make any problems.
The old madame was also very tired. Her hips were burning after sitting in the carriage for so long. Several servant girls was massaging her with small wooden hammers, but it seemed to be completely ineffectual in alleviating the pain. Seeing the old madame’s discomfort, Bai Xiangxiu took the initiative. “Old Madame, this concubine knows of a few massage techniques. Would you like to try out this concubine’s skills?”
“Oh? Go ahead and try!” The old madame sat down properly.
Bai Xiangxiu responded, “I need you to lie on the bed for my skills to be useful.” Was it a bad idea to make an old madame from ancient times lie ungracefully lie on her stomach? She cautiously and prudently lowered her head, afraid she would be scolded.
The old madame smiled and said, “I don’t know how you learned these weird tricks. Come, help me lie down.” She was highly irritated by her pain, so she was willing to try this concubine’s skills. Bai Xiangxiu had excellent massage skills, and the old madame quickly fell asleep under her massage. It seemed that she was very tired. Bai Xiangxiu left silently, wanting to take a stroll.
The maid and the mama beside the old madame hadn’t expected that Bai Xiangxiu would have this kind of ability. They smiled and let her go out. After all, she hadn’t seen the surroundings after she’d descended from the carriage. Confining a young girl like that to the carriage all the time was hardly a pleasant thing!
Bai Xiangxiu walked out, fully expecting to take a nice stroll to relax her nerves, when lo and behold, she ran into her life’s nemesis: the male lead. Surprisingly, there was another figure next to him, it seemed that the supporting male lead had also come. When the latter saw Bai Xiangxiu, his eyebrows knitted together as he turned his face and refused to look at her.
This was loathing!
As expected of the male lead, those peach blossom eyes of his focused on her body for a while before he asked her, “How is the Old Madame?”
A mama replied, “The old madame is tired. Her waist and back were hurting, but Mistress Xiu gave her a massage and she fell asleep.”