Chapter 3

“The pier?” Bai Xiangxiu asked strangely.

“Yes! There are always be some foreign goods arriving at the dock. Perhaps the item you want might be there.” Xiao Shi would have never dared to suggest such an idea if her mistress was the same as before. In the depths of this compound, how could it be easy to just leave at the slightest whim? Xiao Shi was convinced that she had been bewitched by her mistress’ charm.

That’s right! There’s usually a plot development like this in novels. Bai Xiangxiu stroked her chin, fired up with the determination to go out. Who knows what kind of strange things she would come across? She had that feeling that her appearance here had simply been too much of a surprise.

Most people would either suffer some kind of coma or even die before they transmigrated. In her case, there had been nothing wrong. She was perfectly healthy. How could she have ended up in this compound with the fate of being doomed to be cannon fodder? 

Bai Xiangxiu had to walk in circles several times before she could regain her composure. Obtaining the old madame’s permission to leave, that task had a word that could describe its difficulty, “HAH!”. That old madame was highly conservative, and loathed the idea of her son’s women running around attracting bees and butterflies. This was also why she had a bad relationship with the female protagonist. Even if all four new concubines didn’t engage in any relations with the lord, they still wouldn’t be able to take a step out of their courtyard until death. A shiver ran through her as her thoughts came to a stop there. That old madame was a feudalistic old warbird, Bai Xiangxiu mustn't attract trouble!

“Do you think the old woman will allow me to go out?” To be honest, the old woman wasn’t that old, only in her early forties. Of course, in public she would be called Old Madame, her appellation of “old woman” was something only used in private.

Xiao Shi shook her head. The old madame’s character was strict, so it was rare to have anyone in the mansion causing a fuss or not abiding by the rules. Xiao Shi was sure that without a proper reason, the old madame wouldn’t give her mistress permission to go out. When Bai Xiangxiu saw Xiao Shi’s expression, she chuckled mischievously. The laugh caused a layer of goosebumps to run down Xiao Shi’s back.

An hour later, Xiao Shi was holding an embroidery piece while sitting at the doorway. Her eyes were fixed on the corner of the gate not far from her, but she was lost in thought. Just past that gate was a winding corridor which, after a short distance would lead to the outside. That was the entrance which vendors and peddlers frequently used for deliveries or other tasks. I wonder if Madame Xiu has walked out yet in the attire of a servant girl?

Xiao Shi clearly wanted to stop her mistress, but Xiao Shi’s poor heart had melted with merely a wink from her mistress. She couldn’t help but sigh, she truly had been manipulated in that moment of weakness. Those old sayings about femme fatales really held truth!

Bai Xiangxiu really had gone out, and even worse, had done so easily. The traders used many carts to move their goods, thus each cart had one very big basket containing food. She slipped into one of the baskets without difficulty and easily made it out. But when the trader turned the corner, he heard a voice from somewhere shouting, “Halt!”

The trader didn’t expect there to be someone nearby, and hurriedly brought his cart to a stop. He turned, looking at the basket in his cart. With vegetable leaves sticking to her head, Bai Xiangxiu casually climbed out of the basket, not minding her bedraggled state in the least. Her beautiful face broke into a smile as she spoke to the honest-looking forty year old man, “Apologies big brother, I borrowed your cart to get out. Let me explain why.” She’d already thought it through completely, inventing a story whilst hiding in the cart.

In her story, her mistress’ father had fallen ill. However, how would the lord’s estate allowed her lady to leave as she wished? Therefore, she’d taken her mistress’ place to go visit the father. She even took out a tael of silver and gave it to the trader. Don’t think that she was an idiot to freely bring out money just because she was new to ancient times. Bribing someone she didn’t trust with silver? That was clearly courting death. 

She done so precisely because the trader, who was called Sun Si’er, was a filial son. He placed filial piety in the highest regard. In fact, the road she was using had also been used by the female protagonist in the book, who had been planning on escaping the estate when she found Sun Si’er. She then used the path he took to deliver produce to enter and leave the noble estate several times without being discovered.

The female protagonist had yet to make her grand entrance. So when Bai Xiangxiu had stepped out for air earlier and bumped into Sun Si’er, she recognized him. This was why she’d dared to hide in his cart, he had been described as a very soft-hearted character in the book. 

Sun Si’er looked at that tael of silver, stunned. However,  his heart was very sure that the girl in front of him was lying. A single glance at her appearance was enough to cast her identity of a servant girl into question. How could she possibly be a servant girl? She was clearly the mistress! But, from her impatient demeanor, he wondered if perhaps she wanted to go visit her father herself.

In ancient times, it was very rare for people to use their parents’ health as a joke. Thus, he very quickly believed her lie. In the end, he said, “Then, let’s go quickly. I… My cart will be here in the afternoon.” His meaning was clear, he would be here in the afternoon if she wanted to return to the estate. As expected of a good person! Bai Xiangxiu beamed widely at him as she spoke, “Then thank you, Big Brother Sun.” She then put on an enormous hat with a veil that she’d prepared in advance and walked towards the dock.

“Will she really be alright?” That lady’s appearance was too stunning. Although she wore a veiled hat, it couldn’t hide the uncommonness of her figure from people’s eyes. Sun Si’er was a little worried. As an honest and filial person, he was genuinely worried about her without any other feelings seeping in.

Bai Xiangxiu didn’t even realize that her lie had been exposed. Still some silver in her bag, she inquired about the location of the pier as she hurried along. As a result, she reached her destination very quickly.  However, because of the speed she was walking at, she was slightly sweating by the time she reached the pier. Add the veiled hat she was forced to sport, and she was feeling quite stuffy.

However, she knew that if she took off her hat, it would immediately cause a commotion. She could only use her hand as a semblance of a fan. As she walked around whilst fanning herself, she discovered that there were quite a few  people at the docks. Most of them were men, with women few and far between.

Next to the docks was a tiny little bazaar. As a modern person who’d seen scenic gardens and sights crushed with masses of people, the amount of people on the docks was just a mere trifle to the happy tourist -- eh, Bai Xiangiu had really thoroughly adapted. Nevertheless, Bai Xiangxiu didn’t forget the reason she’d come here today. She entered the bazaar and started to take a look at the goods on display.

These goods were indeed novel, but as a modern person, there wasn’t much that could arouse her interest. Because her thoughts were solely occupied by “cactus, cactus”, she only paid attention to any flora she could find. She searched high and low, and asked around plenty, but in end couldn’t find anyone who knew anything about cacti or similar-looking plants. She couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of disappointment steal over her. She took one last look around, about to finish her tour of the place. It seemed that today’s harvest had come up empty.

Suddenly, she heard a small voice saying “Help!”. It sounded like it belonged to a little child, a voice quite lacking in strength.

Bai Xiangxiu was startled. She turned this way and that, looking everywhere for the origin of the voice, but found no trace of small children in her surroundings. It must have been a hallucination from anxiety, she told herself. Shaking her head, she turned around to leave. But at that precise moment, she heard it again, a weak, forlorn cry for help.

This shouldn’t be a figment of her imagination. This time, she felt like the voice had come from below. So she kept her head low, and began to carefully search the crowd, ducking in and out of forgotten nooks and corners. Completely engrossed in her search for the source of the cry, she was oblivious to a group of people making their way towards her. Neither did she notice the crowd around her begin to back away from the group, leaving her blatantly searching the place with her head down. It certainly was a weird scene!

Song Jiaoyue was used to receiving this kind of attention every time he went out, so he walked forward without paying attention to what was in front of him.  As a result, he collided directly into a small figure, who was wearing a very large veiled hat and completely unaware of the surrounding atmosphere. She had her head down, obviously searching for something. Even after colliding into him, the person impatiently brushed him away and said, “Move move, didn’t you hear someone calling for help?” The voice sounded like an extremely young girl, but he truly hadn’t heard any call for help.

He felt her actions were extremely interesting. He asked, “Young lady, are you searching for anything? Do you need my help?”

“I’m searching for someone…” Bai Xiangxiu raised her head, but her words froze in her throat. The scene in front of her was so dazzling, she almost forgot about the cry for help.  The man in front of her was dressed in a white brocade robe, a golden crown holding back his hair. A reserved and elegant bearing complemented his refined and handsome face. Put together, his attire highlighted the noble aura that radiated from his body. She almost felt like she was gazing at an extraordinarily rare beauty that couldn’t even be obstructed by her veiled hat. 

However, when her gaze landed on the jade ornament hanging on his waist, her stomach dropped. Inscribed on the jade ornament, between the dragon and phoenix, was the character “Song”. Wasn’t that the prized possession of the primary supporting male character in the novel?

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