Chapter 58: Scapegoat, Task
The senior madame hadn’t expected Madame Bai to personally receive her, much less that she’d have an opportunity to see the prince. Typically, he didn’t like to see the rest of them. Sometimes even the gifts they sent would be tossed out as well.
Recently, she’d angered the prince because of Madame Bai, so she expected that Madame Bai would either cause her difficulty this time, or that the prince would chase her away! Still, she was the daughter of a merchant and skilled in schemes, so she smiled and said, “I don’t dare have Fourth Madame come out and personally receive me. The prince is our highest priority. How is his injury doing?”
“Much better. Senior Madame, please come in.” Bai Xiangxiu treated her as a savior as she hastened to welcome her inside.
Unexpectedly, the male lead reverted to his persona from the novel as soon as the senior madame entered the room. His expression was impassive as he simply raised an eyebrow at the senior madame paying her respects. “It’s just a minor issue, so what are you doing peeking here and poking there? Go back and stay in your courtyard; don’t run about all the time.”
Right right right, this is the male lead’s normal personality! Utterly unfeeling towards his concubines, he neither listened nor asked about them. In the end though, he’d set them free. Actually, he couldn’t be blamed for being so cold blooded. It had been Old Madame who’d brought these women home, so he naturally had to make some sacrifices for the sake of loving the female lead! Thus, he’d chosen to sacrifice these women.
Actually, they could still marry again after being sent away. It was just that they couldn’t bear to leave the prince’s estate, that’s all. The senior madame immediately felt her face burn with humiliation. She cautiously replied, “Your Highness, this concubine only heard that the Fourth Madame hasn’t been sleeping well these past days, so I wanted to see her. I didn’t run about.”
“I never knew you two had such good sisterly relations.” As he spoke, he glanced towards Madame Bai, whose face was full of surprise. She too, didn’t seem aware of when her relations with the senior madame had grown so warm. Long Heng inwardly shook his head. This Madame Bai really was too simple. If she tried to scheme against these women, she’d probably be devoured until there was nothing left. For better or worse, he was her man, so he should protect her a bit.
“Your Highness, little Fourth Sister is a very likeable person. Who in this estate doesn’t have a good relationship with her?” Praising the currently powerful Madame Bai was also a way to leave a good impression with the prince. As it turned out, Long Heng’s mood really did improve after hearing her praise. He liked hearing others compliment Madame Bai, and even felt an inexplicable sense of pride. Even he wasn’t sure what was up with that. But he was still vexed by this woman acting as a hindrance, so he curtly said, “I know. If you really want to help her, then take care of Liu Dajia’s matters!”
When he finished, he looked at Madame Bai. She’d been assisting the old madame with household duties, so she had had a certain amount of authority. How would she feel if it was snatched out of her hands?
This was a good way to sound her out, but he discovered that the expression of the person in question didn’t even flicker. Instead, she seemed to think that it was great news for someone else to help out, so there was no need to fight for anything at all. He really was trying to pick a quarrel when there was none. He shouldn’t have tried to sound Madame Bai out when her heart had long been pure enough to make him set aside all his worries.
The senior madame was naturally happy to suddenly receive an errand. She’d been a thoroughly idle person ever since she’d arrived to this estate. It was obvious that a new estate needed people to manage all sorts of affairs, but Old Madame was firm and staunch in her cautiousness and didn’t call on any of the new concubines to help out. In the end, she finally decided to cultivate an assistant, but it wasn’t the senior madame.
Hearing the prince’s instructions, she agreed to take care of Liu Daijia’s matters without bothering to see whether Madame Bai was willing or not. Liu Dajia’s matter was neither simple nor complicated. He used to be a former subordinate of Long Heng’s father. He’d continued following Long Heng throughout the years, so when the family properties were split up into this prince’s estate, he came along too.
Because he’d gotten used to being raised in the prince’s estate during the past couple of years, he’d grown boastful. Add to that the fact that his sons managed various things in the estate, he’d become further unbridled and unscrupulous to boot. He’d receive his monthly stipend even if he didn’t do anything. When he did, he would buy alcohol instead of giving it to his wife and children. Moreover, the older he grew, the more muddleheaded he became. A man who was over fifty years old still went to dinner parties with singsong girls and even brought back a girl from the brothel to be his concubine.
Liu Daijia’s wife used to be the old madame’s servant girl. When she saw that he was growing old and disreputable, she’d brought along her servant girl to report to the old madame. The old madame felt that it was inconvenient for her to manage this affair, so she’d handed it off to Bai Xiangxiu. Bai Xiangxiu found it difficult as well, so she’d been furrowing her brows that morning when she fed Long Heng porridge. Long Heng had pried the details from her after some questioning, and promptly passed the difficult task onto the senior madame to handle.
The senior madame didn’t care about the difficulty of the task she’d received. She was still young, around 16 to 17 years old. How could she compare to Bai Xiangxiu, who’d read countless books in the modern world and was capable of keeping her composure? Thus, after she received this errand, the news spread around the estate till everyone knew about it. Some people were jealous, while others found it odd. Still others poured themselves a cup of tea and waited to watch the show.
Bai Xiangxiu was one of those waiting for the show to start. She was currently drinking tea and wondering how the senior madame would handle the matter. This Liu Daijia wasn’t easy to deal with. Every time he opened his mouth, it was to talk about Long Heng’s father. When forced to a corner, he’d start cursing randomly, so an impatient person or someone not used to those situations would find it difficult to handle him. If you did decide to rebut his words, the people outside might say the prince’s household couldn’t tolerate their old subordinates or something similar. Then they’d be accused of not showing benevolence towards former subordinates.
However, it was impossible to coax Madame Liu to intervene either. Moreover, if she went to stir up trouble with the old madame, the old madame would definitely be unhappy. So, Bai Xiangxiu turned her attention to the man lying on the bed with his black hair draped all over. Is he helping me?
Actually, he was well worth a second look like this. His coldly handsome face seemed extremely serious and respectable with his hair done up, but when it was loose, he was rather bewitching. This was especially true when he lifted his head time and time again to reveal the sliver of warmth within those fathomless eyes.
Ah...Had she been staring at him for a long time? Her face quietly flushed before she bent her head and continued with her embroidery, but it was too late. Long Heng had long discovered her secretly spying on him. His heart felt anxious as well, so it was only after she lowered her head that he asked, “If it was you, how would you deal with Liu Daijia’s matter?” Technically, he shouldn’t ask too much about internal household affairs, but he was very curious about her views.
“I….haven’t thought it through yet.” Bai Xiangxiu spoke truthfully, though her words were so unenthused that it turned her face a bit red. Long Heng laughed, the sound akin to the ice disappearing and the snow melting away. Even Bai Xiangxiu, who never thought she was the lovestruck type, felt dazzled. Fortunately she wasn’t poking her needle downwards when he smiled, or else she’d definitely have stabbed her own finger instead.
Long Heng’s heart warmed at the sight of her coy self that he actually threw back the covers to get off the bed, hoping to walk to her side. If he could touch her blushing face, he was sure that vivid skin would be a very comfortable sensation. But as soon as he stood up, his brows wrinkled. Bai Xiangxiu also rose to her feet in a rush and shouted for Shu’er. The prince couldn’t get off the bed during his recuperation other than to relieve himself or something similar. Still, he needed Shu’er to help him with that as well.
After calling for Shu’er, she hurriedly withdrew. Her own rooms had an inner chamber that was used for washing her face, rinsing her mouth, and for convenience’s sake at night. It was only separated by a folding screen though, so she had to hide away in a side room.