Su Xi-er smoothed out the folds in the pages and properly covered the book before taking it out, remembering to note down the book’s name, ‘Poetry Classics’.
Afterwards, Shu Xian, Tan Ge, and Xiao Yuanzi all came over to help. In less than an hour, all the books had been organised in piles outside.
Chao Mu dusted off her hands. “I planted a Chinese jujube tree in the Imperial Library’s backyard last year, and now it has finally bore fruit. I made some candied jujubes, so let me bring some for all of you to try.”
With that, she instantly sped off.
Su Xi-er remembered the time the female cook from Nanzhao’s posthouse had given her a back of jujubes to eat on the way back to Beimin. Pei Qianhao originally didn’t like eating jujubes, but he snatched quite a few from me when he saw that I was enjoying them.
Soon, Chao Mu came back with a bag of candied jujubes and presented them to everyone like they were treasures. “Everyone, do take more! I even removed the pit so that you wouldn’t have to spit them out on the ground.”
Xiao Yuanzi laughed heartily. “I remember when Chao Mu was eating these in front of Grand Tutor Kong, and didn’t remove the pits in advance. When he saw that she was spitting them out on the ground, he punished her to copy books in the book depository for three days!”
Chao Mu harrumphed. “Don’t mention things of the past! Besides, you also ate a lot of things from me. After dinner comes the reckoning; you have to repay the favour after receiving benefits from someone.”
After being called out, Xiao Yuanzi no longer said anything, and everyone laughed as they ate the candied jujubes. Chao Mu even sent the cook some.
Everyone spent the afternoon basking in the sunlight, and when Xiao Yuanzi brought a bench over with Shu Xian’s help, it only made them feel like taking a nap.
Su Xi-er observed them. Compared to the Palace Side Quarters, life in the Imperial Library is nothing. She sat on the bench as she watched the sun gradually set.
As the sun slowly left her sight, Su Xi-er stood up from the bench and carried the books back into the three book depositories with everyone else.
Another four hours passed before the group of six ate together in the kitchen. They then boiled some water to wash themselves, finally marking the end of the day.
Su Xi-er returned to her room after washing up, but just as she started to take off her shoes, the doors were suddenly pushed open.
She cautiously raised her head and saw Pei Qianhao grandiosely walking in as if the place belonged to him.
“This servant pays her respects to Prince Hao.” Su Xi-er respectfully bowed.
Pei Qianhao closed the door and raised his hand for her to rise. “How’s life in the Imperial Library?”
“Compared to other palaces, it is indeed relaxing, with nobody to disturb you. Su Xi-er this Prince heard that you can write well.”
His certain tone clearly expressed that he had already found out about the examination, and that Commandery Prince Xie had arranged for Tan Ge to be a normal palace maid in charge of sweeping in the Imperial Library.
“Nothing can escape your eyes, Prince Hao. This servant was simply imitating.”
“Pure imitation wouldn’t have allowed you to write in the Lan Script so well.”
Su Xi-er asked, “Prince Hao, the Lan Script was created by Nanzhao’s previous Eldest Imperial Princess, but was banned by Prince Yun upon her death. However, this servant found a new copybook when cleaning out the Imperial Library today. This…”
“When this Prince left Nanzhao, I made a deal with Nanzhao’s Emperor that masterpieces of Nanzhao’s floriculture, craftsmanship, as well as literary arts, are to be sent to Beimin. This new Lan Script copybook was among them.”
Su Xi-er softly replied, “Mmm.” So that’s why.
Pei Qianhao glanced at her before walking closer.
Su Xi-er noticed that there was something amiss with the expression in his eyes, so she nimbly dodged to the side.
Before she could get far enough away however, Pei Qianhao reached out with his long arm and grabbed ahold of her wrist. With a quick spin, she ended up in his embrace, pressed against the wardrobe.
Pei Qianhao looked at Su Xi-er with a deep gaze. “You were born in an impoverished rural county, then entered the imperial palace to become a palace maid in the Palace Side Quarters. Despite not receiving any guidance from a teacher, you could still write in the Lan Script so well just by imitating. Su Xi-er, this Prince has found out that I have underestimated you.”
“This servant doesn’t dare to accept the compliments. Prince Hao, please…”
Before she could finish, Pei Qianhao had moved closer, firmly securing her against the wardrobe door.
1. It may be referring to this book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classic_of_Poetry
Hmm, I wonder if this will arouse PQH's suspicions
But then again, it would have been hard for SXE to hide her skills if she wanted to win Tan Ge, considering that Tan Ge comes from a scholarly background :/