Xiaoshi explained to all inquirers that her mistress was unwell and thus asleep. The granny servants didn’t bother examining matters beyond that and departed quickly. However, a runner came an hour later, bearing a summons for Bai Xiangxiu. Apparently, Old Madame and the lord were in the front courtyard with something important to convey.
As a result, Xiaoshi was forced to awaken her mistress. The latter dressed absentmindedly, curious about this unexpected development. “It’s already so late. What do they need from me at this time?”
Xiaoshi whispered back, “Apparently someone is in deep trouble. I’m not exactly sure of the details, but you’ll find out when you go.”
Knowing she was about see the male lead made Bai Xiangxiu very uncomfortable, but she couldn’t avoid this meeting forever! They lived under the same roof after all. But she actually wasn’t worried about him becoming involved with her after seeing her. The male lead had too lofty an ego for that.
When a certain lead woman had run off to avoid the arranged marriage, all he’d cared about was bringing her back. He’d shown no interest in his concubines. Realistically, he probably wouldn’t even look twice at her. Though now that she thought about it, she was actually a bit curious. She’d had a favorable impression of the male lead when reading the novel. She wouldn’t have kept reading otherwise. Now that she was a spectator in the thick of things, it wouldn’t be terrible to have the chance to ogle him a bit.
Thinking of this, she allowed Xiaoshi to dress and tidy her up. The maid supported her as they slowly made their way towards the front hall. This was where the old madame handled affairs. Although the concubines had been legitimately wedded, the male lead had just returned from battle and they’d only just moved to a new home, so the concubines had yet to be properly accommodated. Normally, each concubine was assigned a head maid and a serving girl. Since Mistress Xiu had just arrived, she didn’t have a serving girl yet.
As for palanquins or similar amenities, the old madame was the only one to enjoy luxury of that kind. The concubines could only rely on their feet. Bai Xiangxiu walked to the front hall, admiring the scenery along the way. Deep down, simple awe suffused her heart. The beauty of the modern world was simply incomparable to that of these ancient gardens. This was her area of expertise. She couldn’t help but slow down to take in the mesmerizing sights. Xiaoshi started to worry, trying to rush her along. “Mistress Xiu, we can’t be late to Old Madame’s summons. Please hurry.”
Bai Xiangxiu could only agree. She decided to hurry, hiking her skirt up with one hand. She had to, it was too long and very inconvenient. Xiaoshi started to sweat profusely when she saw this. She panicked. “Put it down! Please put it down. That’s too indelicate, mistress!” Her mistress had become more and more casual lately not only in speech, but most definitely in behavior.
Bai Xiangxiu wrinkled her brow as she retorted, “You want me to be graceful and walk fast at the same time. Why don’t you just install wheels under my feet then? That way, I can be fast and not lift my skirt.”
“Mistress Xiu, you’re making ridiculous statements again. Why would anyone install wheels on their feet?” Xiaoshi responded patiently as she held onto her mistress’ arm, worried her mistress would step on her skirt and trip again. She’d tripped countless times over the past couple of days due to the long train.
“Aiya….” Bai Xiangxiu nearly fell again. Fortunately, Xiaoshi had a firm grip on her. She couldn’t help but curse angrily, “Whoever invented this long skirt was clearly trying to ruin the lives of women! He should be dragged out to be whipped a hundred times. Whip his corpse a hundred times!” Someone could trip and die, alright? Luckily Xiaoshi held onto me or else I would have smashed my face in.
“Oh, please speak cautiously, mistress. Your servant is here to support you. We’ll walk slowly.” Xiaoshi felt a bit helpless in the face of her mistress’ unpredictable temper. She could only coax her mistress slowly. Bai Xiangxiu was left with no choice. As the saying went, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Freaking bummer.
After they walked by, five men strode in to take shelter from the intermittent rain. Two masters and three servants comprised the group. Song Jiaoyue had a fan covering his face, but his eyes were twinkling, “That’s a woman from Prince Li’s harem alright. She’s... violent.” And she wanted to whip the corpse a hundred times too. She’s panting already just from walking. Her tiny body probably couldn’t even lift the whip.
Long Heng, now bearing the title Prince Li, had a frozen expression on his face. Although he was handsome, it couldn’t conceal his cold demeanor. Song Jiaoyue’s comment caused him some embarrassment. “Sorry you had to see that.” Although they were friends, what they had just witnessed did slightly affect his manly pride. She was just a concubine, what had she been thinking? And whipping a dead body to boot? He raised a handsome eyebrow at his servant behind him, “Which courtyard is she from?”
“That was Mistress Xiu from Winter Garden. Her family has a... scholarly background.” The servant felt like he must have heard wrong! How could a lady with a scholarly background walk around talking about whipping a corpse? That was bizarrely monstrous.
Long Heng didn’t say another word as he lifted his hand to gesture into the distance. “I have some family issues to deal with, wise young brother. Please head to the pavilion and rest there for now.”
“Alright. But today, you’re treating me to wine.” Song Jiaoyue and Long Heng were both legends in civil and martial affairs. They were also friends, so they treated each other very casually. Long Heng nodded and headed towards the front hall after sending Song Jiaoyue off.
Everyone was mostly accounted for in the hall when he arrived. He caught a glimpse of the woman who’d nearly taken a spill earlier, Mistress Xiu, and noticed her head hung so low it didn’t seem it could go any lower. She was focused on her nose, which was focused on her mouth, which was focused on her heart. She looked extremely sincere and well-behaved. If he hadn’t witnessed that scene outside, he absolutely would’ve fallen for her innocent appearance. And her appearance was truly exceptional. Although all the women in the courtyard were attractive, there wasn’t a single one who could surpass her beauty.
However, this type of woman was a disaster. Any history book would inform him so. He looked away and turned to greet the old madame. “Mother.” He sat down next to her as he coldly gazed at the young lady in front of him, who shivered on her knees.
Bai Xiangxiu didn’t know what was going on. But she snuck a look at the male lead when no one was paying attention to her.
Woah! Sure enough, the male lead was a perfect combination of riches, looks, and aloofness. He wore an embroidered black brocade robe that hid none of his physique. Although dressed stunningly, he didn’t look the least bit womanly. He had the aura of a soldier, and he was super, super cool. It was too bad that he was so cold and remote.
She also snuck a look at the old madame. In her forties, she seemed to favor expressions that hovered around the cold side. Together, the mother and son duo looked like a pair of icebergs. With the two together, the temperature in the room plunged, like air conditioning drifting across her toes. The feeling was awful. Bai Xiangxiu shivered silently and continued looking down to count ants. She didn’t dare take another peek.
Although the male lead was talented and cool, and brought his own invincible halo as the main character, she didn’t dare hope for anything. She was too afraid of being beaten to death.
The granny servant beside the old madame spoke up. “I’m sure you’re all familiar with this one. Xi’er was well behaved while she was serving me. That was why she was sent to serve the lord. Yet, this little bitch had ulterior motives and dared tamper with his incense. Who is the lord?! He walks the line of life and death in the battlefield! Did you think you’d be able to fool him with this cheap trick?!”
“Old Madame, Your Highness, this servant will never dare to do anything like that again! Please spare me!” Xi’er really liked Prince Li. What type of person wouldn’t be attracted to a person like him? She’d tampered with his incense because she wanted to be bedded before his other women. She just wanted to gain his favor and care. Yet, unexpectedly, he’d noticed the change immediately and had her arrested, hauling her in front of the old madame. This was supposed to be a private matter, but the old madame chose to turn her into an example for the others. She could tell her chances of survival were quickly dropping with every second, but she had to do her best. She kowtowed repeatedly. The skin on her forehead broke from the repeated harsh impact.