White Lotus Flower and Common Nepenthes
The matriarch lived in Shu Ya courtyard. It was definitely a million miles away from Willow courtyard.
Man Xi led the way while explaining: “The matriarch used to live Ming Hui hall, but when second young miss left the manor, the head wife renovated her courtyard, which led to the matriarch finding Shu Ya courtyard to be bigger and better, thus she moved in. Ming Hui hall was given to the third concubine at the time.”
Feng Yu Heng nodded, as her pace slightly increased.
“Second young miss, there’s no need to rush. It’s still early right now. The matriarch has a habit of sleeping in, so she won’t be up early.”
Her lips curled in to a slight smile, “I’m not in a rush to see her, but I do want you to walk a little faster. After you sweat a little, the clothes will become even more colorful.”
Man Xi was roughly the same height as Yao shi. If it weren’t for the fabric being faulty, then this dress truly would look quite good on her.
“Listen well, after we’ve arrived at the matriarch’s place, you just need to act normally. Talk as you would normally talk, act as you would normally act. Do not let anyone think that anything has changed.” She reminded Man Xi, “The problems with these clothes are meant to uncover the perpetrators. If you don’t appear even a little repulsed, then they will think something is wrong.”
Man Xi nodded, “Don’t worry, young miss. This servant understands.” Thinking about it again, she couldn’t help but worry: “The head wife might be said to heavily criticize servants, but she does care about the four of us: Jin, Yu, Man, Tang. Even more, she cares about granny Li. Since we’ve come out, granny Li has definitely passed along word to the head wife. Will… will you do anything to cause the head wife to be unhappy?”
Feng Yu Heng couldn’t help but laugh, “Since when have I let her be happy? Just after I returned, yesterday, she pointed at me and began cursing. If it weren’t for her daughter holding her back, who knows what manners of horrible things could have been said. When I first returned to the manor, there was nothing I feared, but could it be that she had gained some ability after just sleeping one night?”
Man Xi had never come in contact with someone who spoke like Feng Yu Heng. Part of her found it strange, and the other half found it amusing.
Which servant didn’t have at least one complaint about their masters. Add on the head wife’s personality, Jin, Yu, Man, Tang were treated a little better than the others, but they never really received any practical benefits. Now that Feng Yu Heng had said so, Man Xi felt much more at ease.
“Second young miss is right.”
“However, your eldest young miss truly does seem to be a bit of a smarter master unlike Feng Fen Dai.” She thought back to yesterday’s encounter with Feng Chen Yu in the main hall. She recalled the look of pity she had on her face, while helping talk Chen shi out of a bad situation. It seemed that her elder sister had inherited her brains from her father. The battle between the two might really take some effort.
There was a saying, but how did it go again? Those that are barefoot do not fear those that wear shoes!1 She, Feng Yu Heng, had absolutely nothing, nor did she care about anything. Feng Chen Yu, on the other hand, was different. She held the title of the capital’s most beautiful girl, was well known as able, virtuous and pure, and she carried around the weight of the Feng manor. Even more, she had her self-esteem. How could she move unrestrained.
A person that had too much to account for would have a hard time making use of their fists and feet. Even more so against Feng Yu Heng, who had no fear of problems. She only worried when there were no problems. But don’t take this odd person as an example of humanity.
The two people walked for a long while, during which they had taken a couple detours. At least the clothes Man Xi wore finally began to bleed on to her neck. After this success, they slowly wandered over to Shu Ya hall.
As soon as they enterd the yard, they ran in to Feng Chen Yu, who had also come to pay her respects. Feng Chen Yu wore a purple dress with emerald stitching. The dress was embroidered with elegant orchids. Draped over her arm was a thin, jade-green, gauze wrap. At her waist was a single soft belt that hung vertically. These made her already top-tier looks a few points higher.
Seeing Feng Yu Heng, she had no reason to feel animosity over the happenings of the previous day. Instead, she took the initiative and advanced, grabbing Feng Yu Heng’s hand and put on a display of consideration and caring: “Second sister, did you sleep well last night? Although Willow courtyard is quite far, it is also the most quiet location in the manor. Previously, I quite liked that courtyard, and I had asked father a few times, but he did not want to give it to me. It seems that father still loves second sister a little more.”
As she spoke, her eyes gave off a look of sincerity. Anyone that looked would think of her as an older sister who cared for her little sister. Seeing the eldest young miss like this, the servants of Shu Ya courtyard felt a bit of pride. Having such a master in the manor made being a servant a little bit easier.
Only under that appearance of sincerity hid an unknown sort of monster. A pure, white lotus flower entered Feng Yu Heng’s sight, yet it was inferior to the common nepenthes.
“Big sister, what are you talking about? These past few years, I have been in the mountains. It’s all thanks to big sister creating in-roads for me with father. A-Heng doesn’t dare compete with big sister for father’s love. Especially not when father is such a loving and just person. Regardless if it’s fatherly love for a daughter, or the financial aid provided by concubine mother Chen, big sister is always the top stop in father’s heart.”
While she was saying these things, her face had an appearance even more innocent than Feng Chen Yu displayed. Feng Chen Yu also did not know what to make of it, but she now felt under the weather.
“Oh no, I really deserve to die!” It appeared that she had suddenly realized something, Feng Yu Heng stomped around a bit, “How is it that when I open my mouth, it became ‘Concubine mother Chen.’ It seems that it really is hard to change habits in such a short period of time. Calling her mother is correct. It’s good that father wasn’t here, or else A-Heng would have been punished. Big sister won’t tattle on me to father right?”
“Second sister really knows how to tell good jokes.” Her voice was no longer as joyous as before, her gaze also weakened, “The rules you don’t understand, I will slowly teach you. How did it come to a matter of tattling? Let’s quickly enter. Matriarch will be getting mad from waiting.”
“Many thanks big sister.” She raised her small, smiling face. This smile was even more brilliant than previously.
The maidservant that came with Feng Chen Yu was called Huang Ling. She was the eldest young miss’ top personal servant. She would naturally be close with the head wife’s top maidservants. Seeing Man Xi follow Feng Yu Heng, Huang Ling understood the plans the head wife had. Except when she noticed Man Xi’s neck had become red with some sort of rash, she felt quite curious.
The girl inched towards Man Xi and quietly asked her: “Sister Man, why is the nape of your neck red?”
Man Xi pretended to act surprised and raised her hand to the nape of her neck: “Is it red? I knew it was feeling itchy. It became like this after I put on these clothes this morning.”
Huang Ling stared at Man Xi’s clothes for a while. She had a few guesses, but she was not certain. The two followed their masters in to the room.
When they arrived, Feng Xiang Rong and Feng Fen Dai were already seated. Fen Dai was seated next to the matriarch and was using her small hands to rub her legs. The matriarch slightly narrowed her eyes, her face showing that she was enjoying the moment. On the other hand, Xiang Rong sat stone-faced on a chair, not uttering a word.
Feng Chen Yu carefully advanced two steps then lightly bowed. Her voice was soft and clear, “Chen Yu is late to pay respects to the matriarch, but I hope matriarch will not be mad. It’s just that Chen Yu absolutely had to treat matriarch’s lower back pain today. I made a soft cushion for matriarch. Matriarch, try putting it behind your waist.”
While speaking, she received a number of soft pillows from Huang Ling. Looking at the pillows, she could see that they were very normal, but upon closer inspection, she could see some differences. Originally, the surface was covered with first-class Sichuan brocade, even the embroideries were most exquisite. Having used the matriarch’s favorite tree peonies was one matter, but it also had golden threads.
Feng Chen Yu personally brought it forward and helped the matriarch put it behind her waist. Only after seeing her nod her head, did she relax a little. Her face, however, continued to display some worry, “The matriarch’s waist always seems to hurt during the winter months? How is it that it started hurting at the end of summer?”
“Ah.” The matriarch sighed and waved her hand and sent back Feng Fen Dai. “I’ve gotten old. Each year is worse than the one before.”
“Chen Yu is Feng family’s child. Everything I have was given to me by the Feng family. So long as matriarch likes it, Chen Yu is willing to give up anything.” Her words continued to be beautiful.
The two talked as if there were no one else were present. Doing this left the one who had come with Chen Yu, Feng Yu Heng, forgotten. Yet, she was in no rush. She stood in the middle of the room waiting for the grandmother and grandchild to finish chatting. This was truly acting like a model, following Feng Chen Yu’s example, she bowed to a right angle: “A-Heng pays respects to matriarch.”
Feng Chen Yu had an apologetic look: “Ah, it’s my fault. Just now, I came in with sister A-Heng, yet I was only occupied with giving the pillow to matriarch and forgot about my little sister.”
After she finished speaking, it was Feng Fen Dai that fiercely rolled her eyes and balled up her fists.
She did not like Feng Yu Heng, and she disliked Feng Chen Yu just as much. Rephrased, she hated all of the daughters of the first wife. The reason being that aside from their own concubine mothers, all of the attention in the manor went towards the daughter of the first wife. They did not even make any considerations toward her. She feared that she wasn’t even remembered.
Just like earlier, she had been massaging the matriarch’s legs for a long time, her wrists were even sore, yet not even a single word of praise was said. The moment Feng Chen Yu arrived, however, two pillows alone were enough to steal all of the spotlight.
Feng Fen Dai hated them. It did not matter if it was the leftover artifact from history, Feng Yu Heng, or the current daughter of the first wife, Feng Chen Yu.
The matriarch looked once at Feng Yu Heng, just a glance, and she furrowed her brows.
“How did you end up wearing this?”
Wearing clothes from a few years prior, they were visibly short and small from just a glance. The matriarch truly disliked it.
Feng Yu Heng was not afraid of being given the cold shoulder. This was the result she hoped for, so she quickly began to explain: “Is matriarch saying that the clothes A-Heng is wearing are no good? But… but these clothes were specially given to me yesterday by fourth little sister? Fourth little sister said that she had kept these clothes in storage for me after I left the manor. After I returned to the manor, she rushed to return these clothes to me. Matriarch, A-Heng just returned to the manor and doesn’t want to contradict the things my sisters have said. Since fourth little sister sent the, I must wear them.”
While she spoke, Feng Fen Dai’s anger rose, but sitting to the side was Feng Xiang Rong, who had tilted her head slightly. She thought to herself, “It’s here. It’s here. Second sister, I’ve become increasingly curious as to what you will say.”
Feng Yu Heng did not disappoint her, as she turned around and walked over to Man Xi. She retrieved a dress and moved towards Feng Fen Dai, “Fourth sister, since you like my clothes so much, second sister is very moved. It’s just that the clothes have already been worn by this sister, yet you did not dislike it and wore them these past few years, second sister is truly apologetic. Come, this dress was expressly given to me from the main hall, yesterday. I will gift this to fourth sister. I hope little sister will not dislike it.”
Feng Yu Heng directly stuffed the clothes in to Feng Fen Dai’s waist area. Coming to her senses, Feng Fen Dai reacted and tried to retreat, but when her hand scraped past the fabric, an “Ow” come out. “What is this thing!”
The scream had a remarkable effect. Everyone focused their eyes on the dress.
1: Idiom similar to “Fear a man with nothing to lose.”