After a joyous and lively New Year, spring quietly approached. In the Yu Residence’s courtyard at the foot of Dongshan Village’s West Mountain, there was a strong scent of medicine. Yingtao had already become the maidservant in charge of the pharmaceutical workshop. The sense of immaturity on her tender face had decreased quite a bit, and she appeared somewhat more dignified.
Holding a jar of boiled herbal paste, she went through the moon-shaped door that connected the West Courtyard and East Courtyard. She greeted Madam Liu with a smile, and then walked straight into the backyard.
The matrons, who were gathering early-ripening vegetables in the courtyard, all watched her until she disappeared around the corner. Ergou’s wife clicked her tongue and said, “Sister, is she the maidservant that the General’s Estate sent over to serve Xiaocao? Look at her appearance; she looks even more pampered than the daughter of a humble family in town. With how she looks, can she really work?”
Auntie Fugui also curled up her lips, “I’ve seen that girl several times, and she’s always dressed up beautifully. She looked even more like a young miss than the young miss! Dahai’s wife, how exactly is that girl? There are some servants who bullies their master! If she’s not a good servant, don’t worry about offending the general’s wife and quickly send her back!!”
The other women also echoed in agreement. With a gentle smile, Madam Liu said, “You guys are thinking too much! That lass Yingtao is kind and righteous, and she’s also very capable. Without her help, Xiaocao would be so busy every day that she would barely have time to rest! As for her clothes, it was distributed by the General’s Household, and all the head maidservants in the estate dressed in the same way. There are many high-ranking officials and noblemen coming in and out of the General’s Estate, so wouldn’t the masters lose face if their servants were dressed in old and shabby clothes?”
Auntie Fugui sighed and said, “Ay! Even the maidservants of a rich family dress and eat better than us. The comparison really makes one angry ah!”
Yingtao didn’t know that she had become the topic of discussion of others. At this time, she was standing in the rear courtyard in a daze. Under a pink peach blossom tree, there was a young maiden dressed in a pink spring dress and her hair was tied up in two small buns with blunt bangs. With her neck craned up, she had a serious expression on her fair, jade-like face. She stretched out her hands, stood on tiptoe, and tried to pluck the beautiful peach blossom flowers.
“Young Miss, the herbal paste for muscle relaxation and blood circulation is ready, aren’t you going to check it out?” Yingtao, who admired the picturesque view, was unwilling to disturb the beautiful scene in front of her. Young Miss’s homemade skincare cream was indeed effective. ‘Soft and smooth’ and ‘fair and delicate’ were perfect descriptions for her young miss’s skin.
Yingtao freed a hand to touch her own face, and she was very satisfied by the smooth feeling. No matter what her young miss made, she would immediately share them with her. For example, Young Miss had given her a bottle of the skincare cream before she even used it herself (Author’s note: Actually, her young miss is using her as a guinea pig.). She heard that the pearl powder inside could help brighten and smoothen one’s complexion. Sure enough, she had only used it for a little over a month, but her skin had a lot smoother. Her skin, which had gotten tanner from the sea breeze, had also brightened up a lot.
It was really a blessing for her to be able to serve Young Miss. She was already promoted to a supervisory maidservant at the mere age of fifteen. The young miss trusted her so much that she left her in charge of the pharmaceutical workshop, and all the formulas of the pills and herbal pastes were in her hands. Every day, she ate and used nearly all the same things as her young miss. Although she had slightly more work than when she was at the General’s Estate, she felt very fulfilled and happy to be busy in such a manner!!
She felt even more fortunate that she had come out of the General’s Estate with Yangliu, and volunteered to come to Dongshan Village, which the other maidservants had described as a remote, backward village. Based on their qualifications in the estate, she didn’t know how long it would take for them to reach their current achievements. Now, she was in charge of the pharmaceutical workshop, while Yangliu was managing the kitchen of the braised food shop in the capital. It was very rare among the noble household to have fifteen to sixteen year old maidservants supervising a dozen or so subordinates. Would Wutong and Pipa regret not coming out with them if they found out about their current situation?
As Yu Xiaocao turned around, the breeze blew behind her and the pink flower petals on the tree scattered onto the ground. She was full of spiritual energy as if she was a peach blossom fairy, or a flower spirit.
She carried a small basket full of peach blossom petals and walked over to Yingtao. She moved closer to smell the herbal paste in the jar, and then nodded her head and said, “Yingtao, you’re getting better and better. I only wrote down the prescription for this herbal paste and dictated the process of making it, but you have made the exact paste! It seems like you have talent in making medicine! I was right about you. It was indeed a wise decision to hand the pharmaceutical workshop to you!”
Yingtao revealed a bashful smile and her almond-shaped eyes were full of happiness, “Young Miss, it was you who had taught me well! People often say that servants resemble their master. Doctor Sun also praised Young Miss for being talented in medicine. As your servant, I can’t drag you down, right?”
Yu Xiaocao giggled and said, “That little mouth of yours really knows how to speak ah. I’m very satisfied with your flattery! Alright, after sealing the jars of this batch of herbal paste, send them to the Tongren Medicine Hall in town. After that, you can rest for a period of time. There’s no end to making money, so you must balance work and rest. If you fall ill from fatigue, where am I supposed to find such a good right-hand man?”
When she heard that her young miss thought of her as her right-hand man, Yingtao was instantly full of energy. If she had a loyalty indicator on her forehead, it must be rising right now. Young Miss had never treated her like a servant, and she had never given her orders in a commanding tone. When her young miss made tasty food, she would give her a share. In the Yu Family, she felt the warmth of family, as if she was also an indispensable part of the Yu Family!!
“Young Miss, Young Miss!! There’s a group of people and horses outside of the village. Among them, there’s a carriage pulled by four horses. It looks very big and beautiful ah!!” A young girl, who was dressed in coarse cloth, yelled as she tottered over from outside. Her hair was tied into two braids, and she had slightly tanned skin.
“Acting so recklessly! Where are your manners! With your behavior, if we’re at the General’s Estate, you would have already been punished numerous times!! Erya, if you continue to act like this, how am I supposed to trust you to serve Young Miss?” Yingtao brought forth the imposing force of a head maidservant and chided the young girl.
The little girl named Erya was a maidservant who was bought by Yu Xiaocao beside the ox and horse market at the beginning of spring. There was a market formed spontaneously beside the ox and horse market. It was a place where there was no lack of people selling children and women. Erya’s mother was seriously ill, and they needed the money from selling her to save her life. Yu Xiaocao paid five taels to buy this thirteen or fourteen year old girl, having her help the family do chores at home.
Erya wasn’t afraid of her kind and amiable young miss. All the masters in the family… treated her very well. It was just this Yingtao who scolded her every time they met, as if Older Sister Yingtao was never satisfied with anything that she did. Erya was slightly stunned by Yingtao’s stern expression. She looked timidly at her young miss in hope that she could help her.
“Alright, Yingtao, we’re not at the General’s Estate, so there’s no need to be so strict. Relax a little, lest everyone feels uncomfortable!” As expected, Yu Xiaocao spoke up.
Yingtao looked at her young miss with slight aggrievement and said, “Young Miss, the mistress said that, when you’re a few years older, they will take you back to the General’s Estate and help you find a good husband. Since Erya is a maidservant that you bought, she will naturally follow you to the estate. If we don’t change her bad habits now, she will definitely cry in the future!”
Yu Xiaocao glared at her and said, “Who said that I must get married in the capital? There are so many rules in those noble and wealthy families. ‘The courtyard of a noble household is as deep as the sea’, so I don’t want to make trouble for myself! I have already thought about it. In the future, I’ll build a manor in the outskirts of Tanggu Town. I’ll buy and rent out all the surrounding land and rent them out so that I can be a carefree landlady! After my death, the manor and farmlands will be rewarded to my loyal servants to thank them for taking care of me in old age and burying me when I die…”
“Young Miss, what are you saying!! Which young maiden doesn’t get married when she reaches an appropriate age? This won’t do. I need to tell Madam Liu to have a word with you!!” Yingtao stomped her feet and went back to the front courtyard with a pout.
Seeing her figure disappear in the backyard, Erya became lively again. With a flattering expression, she moved closer to Yu Xiaocao and giggled foolishly, “Young Miss, Erya will serve you well! I’m not very greedy, so at that time, you can just give me five mu of farmland and two tiled-roof houses!”
Yu Xiaocao glared at her and sullenly said, “I, your young miss, will live a long life, so you better stay alive!”
Although Erya was a little naïve, she wasn’t a fool. She pondered over her young miss’s words. ‘That’s right! I’m two years older than Young Miss. By the time Young Miss died in bed due to old age, I might have died a long time ago. Even if I’m fortunate enough to be alive, I would already be in my seventies or eighties. I wouldn’t be able to farm even if I got the land ah!’ Erya’s face scrunched up, and she looked as if she was ‘grieving the loss of her parents’.
“Alright! Even if you passed away earlier, aren’t your children and grandchildren still around? At that time, the rewards that belong to you will be given to your descendants. Do you really have to look like someone in your family died?” Yu Xiaocao scolded her for being hopeless in her heart.
When Erya heard this, she immediately became happy and said, “That’s right! When I can’t serve Young Miss anymore, I can have my daughter continue to serve you ah!!”
“How are you so certain that you’ll give birth to a daughter in the future?” Yu Xiaocao teased her.
Erya replied matter-of-factly, “I will just continue to have children until I get a daughter!! Our village’s Old Zhang’s family had nine sons in a row before they finally got a daughter. I won’t be as unlucky as them, right?”
Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes, ‘Most people longed for sons, yet you won’t give up until you get a daughter!’ This shameless girl hadn’t even reached marriageable age yet, but she was already clamoring about giving birth to a daughter. Was this really okay?
“Oh right, you just mentioned something about a caravan of horses and horse carriage?” Erya was slightly stunned by Yu Xiaocao’s sudden change of topic.
“It’s the first time that I have seen such a large convoy and such a luxurious horse carriage. There must be a high-ranking official passing by our Dongshan Village!!” Erya had only arrived in Dongshan Village at the beginning of spring, so she didn’t know that Imperial Prince Jing’s Household had a mountain manor on the West Mountain. Thus, she was very surprised by what she saw.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Seems like Xiaocao is going to train her maidservants to specialize in different areas.