Chapter 2: Madame Long’s Birthday
When Lin Qianzi finally got back to her own courtyard, Xiao Mei came up to her and asked “Miss, what do you want to do with this thing?” showing her the black spiky thing wrapped in tattered cloth.
“Take a plant pot and fill it with soil. Then bring it here”, she said. When Xiao Mei brought it, she carefully planted the cactus in the soil then sprinkled some water on it.
“thank you” a small weak voice said. Unconsciously Lin Qianzi answered it “you’re welcome”.
“Huh? What is it miss? We can’t hear you” Xiao Li asked. She was sure that Miss Lin Qianzi had said something.
“You’re welcome. I’m tired. You two, wake me up when it’s time for lunch” she said.
Xiao Li was confused. Why did her Miss say you’re welcome when she didn’t even say thank you?
But she pushed down her thoughts and just complied to Lin Qianzi’s Wishes.
Lin Qianzi let the two take off the outer layer of her clothes and undo her hair. She then proceeded to sleep out her headache. Forgetting about the cactus altogether.
What a troublesome problem I’m faced with right now… Was what she thought while trying to sleep.
A few days had passed since their accidental meet up at the pier, Lin Qianzi was now busy wracking her brain, thinking about how to proceed with her character.
According to the novel she was supposed to present a painting on the old Madame’s birthday, but she was far away from having any talent at painting. Give her a pen and she would be able to draw manga style characters. But brush and traditional style painting? Definitely not her forte.
Sighing deeply in her heart she decided to make something else altogether. A ribbon embroidery.
At this point in time, only silk ribbon could be found so she had to make do with whatever she had at hand.
She faced another problem. The needles used for sewing all had small holes. The kind that she needed does not exist yet. So she had to go to the blacksmith to request the needles she needed.
Luckily she was the renowned eldest miss of Lin Huangfu, that identity made the process easier.
In just a few days her needles were ready.
She started her projects. She framed a piece of plain white fabric and began with a rough sketch flower design. When she became satisfied with the look she started to sew the ribbon, making a beautiful life-like flower on the fabric.
“Miss, how did you make this? It looks so real!” her two handmaid’s squealed.
This kind of art didn’t exists yet in this particular time. So the end product looked spectacularly amazing.
“I just had the idea and tried it out. It’s not that amazing”, she answered. Her modest answers made the two maids love her even more. She already had a good temperament, but now she felt more humble than before as well.
They can’t properly put their finger on what it was, but they could feel that their eldest miss temperament had changed somehow. It wasn’t anything bad though so the two maids did not look into it too closely.
“Miss, Madame Long would surely love this present” Xiao Mei said. Xiao Lin nodded in agreement while Lin Qianzi just smiled at the two.
She was glad to have a diploma in fashion design. She had plenty of embroidery techniques that were exclusive only to her at the moment.
“Wrap it up and have mother gift it to Madame Long”, she said to her two maids who couldn’t seem to look away from the embroidery.
“Yes, miss”, Xiao Mei answered as they carefully held onto the gift.
Seeing her child give the present to another, she knew that her daughter wouldn’t be coming to the banquet. So she just left while not even bothering to look at the gift.
While Xiao Mei was away, she told Xiao Li to get a pair of boys clothing for her.
“Miss, this seems inappropriate doesn’t it?” she asked, trying to persuade against it.
“No, I have to go and take a look at my future husband.”
“Why didn’t you come along with Madame just now?” She felt the answer was quite weird. If she truly wanted to go, then why does she have to sneak around.
“I change my mind. Now go and be quick!” She urged xiao Lin.
Feeling helpless over the situation, she left to find some male clothing for her mistress. It didn’t take long.
Lin Qianzi changed into the clothes and snuck out of the Manor with the help of her two maids. They still tried to persuade against her but she just wouldn’t listen.
She had bribed one of their coachman to bring her to the Li mansion. She knew that a dog hole on the wall existed from the novel she read. So after finding it, she went through that exact hole.
Patting off the dust, she made her way to the garden stealthily.
In the novel she would met Bai Xiangxiu and would try to persuade her about Prince Li. This particular scene is very important if she wanted Prince Li to fall for Bai Xiangxiu. So she had no choice but to try and act like how her character would’ve acted in the novel plot for now.
While she was at the back garden trying to sneak around and find the place mentioned in the novel, in front of the garden her gift was being presented to the old madame.
“oh, my, this embroidery is so exquisite. I haven’t seen anything like it before”, the old Madame truly loved her present. It eclipsed all the others, perhaps only the gift from Bai Xiangxiu could rival it.
“Show this to the Prince”, she ordered one of the servants.
Prince Li looked at the embroidery and couldn’t help but fall in love with it. So did Song Jiaoyue.
He couldn’t help thinking about the frail lady that had fainted from before. His heart raced as he remembered how soft she was in his arms.
Right now both men can’t help but make comparisons of the two outstanding artworks. Bai Xiangxiu had created a tea table. Which had carvings and a beautiful poem on top of it. It was equally beautiful where both men smiled.
Song Jiaoyue felt jealousy rise up in his heart. This best friend of his truly is lucky to have two of the most talented women in his harem.
“Your fiancee truly is something. I had never seen anything quite like it before.” Song Jiaoyue commented.
“Madame Lin, have your daughter come and visit sometime”, Madame Long said with a smile full of joy.
Seems like the title of most talented lady is true when it comes to this young lass.
“She is but an inexperienced lady, I’m afraid she would only trouble you.” Madame Lin tactfully replied. She knew that Madame Long was interested to know how her daughter made the gift. If she agreed readily and her daughter couldn’t make another embroidery like it, then it would bring shame to her. So tactfully refusing was her best option.
“How could she give me trouble? I would love to talk about this embroidery. I’m sure there’s a lot of people who would want to know where she got it from”, Madame long did not beat around the bush anymore and directly spoke of her intention. Left with no other way out, she reluctantly agreed with her.
“I’ll tell her to come over once she has time.”
After a while, Long Heng walked over to accompany the old madame for a meal. He was her only son, and the old madame was naturally very happy. The two of them shared a table, but didn’t speak much to each other.
However, Long Heng couldn’t help but glance at the girl from the Winter Garden to find that she’d already been squeezed to the very end of the table. The girl she was sharing her table with had already taken up more than half the available space, making it look like Bai Xiangxiu was being crowded out. Although the dishes had just been served, she was already using her handkerchief to wipe her mouth, seemingly already done with this round. Looking at her plate, more than half the food lay untouched. Did this girl have the appetite of a cat?
The banquet was still underway, but Bai Xiangxiu had been crowded out to the point that she couldn’t remain comfortably seated. She felt that since her gift had already been presented, there was no need to continue sitting here and suffer being squeezed out by the other three. She flagged down a nearby elderly female servant to help her ask the old madame if she could leave early, using the excuse that she wasn’t feeling well.
The old madame could clearly tell that she was being ostracized, so she nodded and let her leave. She also had the servants tell the other three to leave. Acting so freely in front of those esteemed ladies without caring for their own positions, it brought shame to the prince’s household. She would need to discipline them more strictly afterwards.
Thus, Bai Xiangxiu and Xiao Shi left the banquet at an appropriate interval. They didn’t walk fast, but as they walked, they spotted a suspicious servant ahead of them. He was a rather short man, doing an awful job of hiding behind a tree to peek at something.
On the other side, a crowd of people was slowly walking over, Long Heng in the lead. She hadn’t thought he’d bring people to walk around the courtyard after leaving the old madame’s place. How leisurely of him. However, the ones with him were all esteemed guests. Other than Song Jiaoyue, there were also a few other young and handsome gentlemen.
Although Long Heng was rather cold tempered, he had a wide variety of friends. At court, he was someone who got along well with every side. She didn’t want to be seen by them, so she shifted towards that suspicious servant. There was a fake mountain that would nicely serve her purposes in blocking the sight of those people.
When Lin Qianzi heard someone approaching from behind, she turned around and spotted a fairy-like beauty walking closer to her. She couldn’t help but stare blankly for a moment before absentmindedly saying, “How beautiful, just like a fairy…”
After she finished speaking, both her and the beauty in front him were startled.
One of them was startled because of the beauty of the person before her. Not only was she beautiful, she was dressed elegantly, yet not gaudily. Upon seeing her, one would surely have a favorable impression of her. She knew it was Bai Xiangxiu. Seeing her up close really was like seeing a fairy to her. The other was startled because she could tell from ‘his’ voice that this servant was female. Looking again at ‘his’ appearance, then at ‘his’ throat, Bai Xiangxiu immediately guessed that this ‘he’ was definitely a ‘she’. Then she remembered having seen this face before..
“You’re…” Xiao Shi hadn’t finished asking who the other was when her own mistress covered her mouth. That servant then put ‘his’ hand by ‘his’ mouth and said, “Be a little quieter.”
After ‘he’ finished speaking, ‘he’ chuckled and said, “I… this servant… was helping the madame retrieve something, but it was lost along the way. This servant is looking for it now, and is afraid that others will find out.”
That was clearly an excuse. Lin Qianzi had to say this line because it is what the character said when she was found out by Bai Xiangxiu.
Bai Xiangxiu looked closely at this suspicious young girl. She looked to be about fourteen or fifteen, with fine and cute features. Especially that pair of watery and beautiful eyes, it looked as if tears would fall at any moment. This girl was so cute and well worth a second look. However, this bold spying, it wasn’t something that a well-bred young miss would do.
“I remembered meeting you at the pier before. How is the cactus doing?” Bai Xiangxiu couldn’t help but ask.
Ah… But this didn’t happen in the original novel did it? How should I reply then?
Seeing how the girl was fidgeting she changed the question.
“What are you peeking at? I won’t tell anyone.”
Hearing that line Lin Qianzi heaved a sigh of relief. Finally it was back on track.
“I… only heard that Prince Li is extremely scary, like a demon. I wanted to see if he’s as scary as the rumours say.” Lin Qianzi said it just as she had memorized from the novel. She even knew that there were two men were listening to their conversation right now.
Song Jiaoyue couldn’t help but remember about the girl who had fainted in his arms before. So she actually thought like that towards Long Heng? He didn’t say anything about their encounter before To Long Heng. He even had an expression on him as though he was going to watch something interesting happen.
Lin Qianzi remembered, at this point of the story Bai Xiangxiu still had no intention of fighting with her character over the male lead. Thus Lin Qianzi knew she would try to speak a few words in defense of the male lead
However, just as she was about to do so, two servants came by from the other side of the artificial mountain. They obviously didn’t see the stooping women as well as the male lead and the others who had just passed by earlier, as they talked happily between themselves, standing there and speaking for even longer as though they were scared that people wouldn’t be able to hear their words.
While the world within a novel wasn’t something you could control; the scenarios within were really something that could change because of your thoughts and perceptions!
“I’ve heard that Xi’er’s family has arrived. Choosing today of all days, are they here to make things difficult for Old Madame?”
“That’s right; they’re really looking down on Prince and Old Madame. The Prince already gave the order for them to be dragged away before they entered. I heard them below, the man was almost beaten to death.”
“Sigh, stop talking about it, Xi’er really is pitiful. She just wanted to climb up on a high branch, and which maid in the manor doesn’t dream of that? Even those mistresses of his and young ladies outside also hope for the day that they will be able to get close to Prince, not to mention the maids. Only this time, she was unlucky and paid the price in blood…”
“Yes, the Prince was really too brutal, being so hard on a mere girl…”
“This isn’t some rare thing. I’ve heard people say that while he was at war, the Prince captured women from the enemy camp and forced them to submit to his subordinates until they died…”
“I heard it from the soldiers, how can it be false?”
As they listened to this gossip, Bai Xiangxiu looked at the face of Lin Qianzi opposite her. Her face slowly changed from pink to a pale, and from pale to white, completely bloodless. Her reactions turned from curiosity into horror. Lin Qianzi just realised that her tongue would be cut and she would become a second class prostitutes much later on the story. She realised the price she had to pay for the two to be together were quite high.
When the two servants left, Bai Xiangxiu immediately spoke up for the male lead without hesitation.
Bai Xiangxiu thought, although the female lead would still be captured when she escaped, if they all directly reached a happy ending just like this, wouldn’t she be thrown out of the manor earlier? Right, although the old madame would plead for them at that point, she needed an exit strategy that didn’t involve her coming back to this scary manor! She absolutely needed to seduce the male supporting character to come for her at that time.
In order to plan for her own future, she immediately waved her hands, “You should not listen to them talking rubbish. That maid was killed by staves because she harmed the Prince, while the matter of the army is definitely not true. The Prince is especially caring towards the women in the complex… well, that’s wrong, he’s extremely cold, but he doesn’t randomly beat or kill them as he likes! Or even kill them!” Hey hey hey, why was the female lead’s eyes looking past her head, even revealing an expression of fear?
Looking beside her, even Xiao Shi was kneeling on the ground, frantically tugging at her mistress’ clothes. Sadly, she had been too engrossed in explaining to the female lead to notice. Bai Xiangxiu could only feel a chill within her heart, at the same time deeply believing the law of nature that when the female lead appeared, bad things would definitely happen.
As her head stiffly completed its turn, she found the male lead, the male supporting character and the other young masters all standing in a row behind her. Their expressions varied, but their attention was completely focused on her.
However composed she was, Bai Xiangxiu also felt herself grow limp at that moment as she fell to the ground in a heap. Her face showed deep and complete shock, and it was clear that she wouldn’t regain her consciousness in such a short amount of time.
Long Heng frowned slightly. Earlier, when he had been listening to her fervently defend him, he had actually felt something. While he didn’t need any such defense, he was struck by the thought that this woman seemed to understand as well as trust in him quite a bit. This feeling, was not bad.
Seeing her mistress so shell-shocked, Xiao Shi hurried over to support her, her heart in pieces from worry: Please don’t be shocked till you fall sick again, you only just got a little better recently!
Bai Xiangxiu now knelt down with Xiao Shi’s support, her voice quivering, “Your Highness.”
Lin Qianzi saw how the events in the novel happened right according to the novel so she should act just like what had been written in the novel.
Next was to jump into the pond..
“Wah! COOOLD…” Lin Qianzi hated cold water and that didn’t change even after her body had changed and she seemed to forget about one important thing… She could not swim…
Bai Xiangxiu reached out her hand as if to stop her. She really didn’t want something like this to happen, because she really didn’t want to be beaten to death by staves just because of something like this. Lin Qianzi saw her hand and grabbed for dear life because she was drowning. Who knew that the other was just as weak. She too fell into the pond.