Chapter 5 — Moving Back to Rose Courtyard
The bamboo stalks outside varied in thickness and length, but each and every one stood strong and upright. A gentle breeze ruffled the bamboo leaves, producing an indistinct melody that resembled the murmurs of a beauty.
Mama Fang saw that Yuxi had stood in the back courtyard and stared at the bamboo stalks for quite some time already. The older woman wondered what was so interesting about the green cane-like plants.
“Young Miss, the wind is blowing so strongly, you should go back inside!”
Yuxi turned her head and responded, “I’m not going back inside, it feels stuffy in there. Mama. isn’t it meal time now?”
At that question, Mama Fang couldn’t help but feel a bit helpless. Ever since her Young Miss regained her health, every time she saw Mama Fang cooking, the girl would stay behind to watch and claim that she was learning.
Mama Fang didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. What would a four-year-old child learn culinary for? However, she wasn’t able to dissuade Yuxi, and wanting to learn culinary skills was a good thing anyway, so Mama Fang didn’t oppose much.
After having the midday meal, Mama Fang informed Yuxi, “Young Miss, today Old Cao, who came to deliver food, told me that in about two days, we will be able to move back to Rose Courtyard.”
Rose Courtyard was Yuxi’s own courtyard.
The young girl nodded. In her past life, she’d also resided within the Bamboo Pavilion for around a month before moving back, but when Yuchen recovered from the shock of losing her brother, Yuxi was moved to the Bamboo Pavilion again.
Yuxi hesitated for a moment before asking, “Mama Fang, I want to ask you something. How did I get smallpox?”
Mama Fang answered with a “What’s the matter?”, prompting Yuxi to explain, “Third Brother got smallpox because he went outside, but I’ve always stayed inside. Third Brother and I didn’t come into any contact either, so how did I get smallpox?”
Although smallpox was a dreadful disease, one would be fine as long as they kept clear of the infected. Yuxi had been contemplating on it, and no matter how she thought about it, she felt that something was fishy.
Mama Fang hadn’t really thought about it before. When she heard Yuxi’s words, Mama Fang’s expression fell.
“Young Miss, your meaning is that someone tried to deliberately harm you?” Thinking back on the main kitchen’s previous embezzlement, a weight fell on her heart.
“I’m not sure. I just feel like it’s very strange.”
Eyes glinting harshly, Mama Fang assured, “Don’t worry, Young Miss. If it really was deliberate, I’ll definitely let that person experience a living hell.”
The next morning, three people arrived at the Bamboo Pavilion. The head of the group was a girl with an oval-shaped face and beautiful features. She was wearing indigo-colored clothing, and there were two stalwart old maidservants standing behind her.
Yuxi felt that the leading maidservant was familiar, but she couldn’t remember the maidservant’s name. Mama Fang, on the other hand, excitedly called out, “Moju, are you here take Young Miss back to Rose Courtyard?”
Only then did Yuxi remember that Moju was her own first-rate maidservant. Yuxi hadn’t seen Moju in over a decade, so she’d forgotten.
There were hot tears in Moju’s eyes. She paid a greeting to Yuxi and sobbed, “Yes, the Head Madam told me to come and take Young Miss back to Rose Courtyard. Young Miss was able to survive this disaster. Young Miss must be blessed by Buddha.”
With an indifferent look on her face, Yuxi said, “The reason I survived this disaster is because my mother is watching over me!”
Moju nodded repeatedly and agreed, “Yes, it must’ve been because Madam is watching over Young Miss.” This time, quite a few people had died from smallpox. The dead were burned, lest their corpses bring about future troubles. Her Young Miss being able to escape this disaster really must be due to the deceased madam’s protection.
The knots in Yuxi’s heart unraveled. She was finally leaving this place. There was nothing to pack up since everything would have to be incinerated.
The Bamboo Pavilion wasn’t very close to Rose Courtyard. Yuxi took her time walking and admiring the scenery. Before, ever since she married into the Jiang family, she’d only returned home a handful of times, so now everything seemed somewhat unfamiliar to her.
Moju watched Yuxi, and tears started to fall.
“Young Miss is back.”
Yuxi’s four first-rate maidservants were: Moju, Motao, Moyun, and Moxiang.
Mama Fang chided lightly, “You can talk when we get inside. The sun is poisonous, Young Miss can’t be exposed to the sun.” She could see a sheen of sweat on her Young Miss’s forehead.
“Young Miss, quickly, stride over this brazier. It will dispel the bad inauspicious energy that’s on your body,” Motao urged after lighting the brazier that was situated outside of Rose Courtyard. Without an ounce of hesitation, Yuxi picked up her short legs and did as she was told.
Then, she entered Rose Courtyard.
Rose Courtyard wasn’t big. It had two main rooms that were each flanked by additional storage rooms and side rooms. Compared to the other courtyards in the House, Rose Courtyard was a relatively small one. It was named after the stretch of roses that climbed up the left courtyard wall. It just so happened that it was currently the flowering season for roses.
Mauve and jade-white roses adorned the wall; the sight was breathtaking. A cluster of banana shrubs grew beneath the window. Their fan-like leaves spread out like green silk, casting a sheet of shade over the ground.
Upon entry, Yuxi swept her gaze over the simplistic design and layout of her bedchamber. A six-column shelf was situated against a wall, and her bed curtains were cyan in color, while the bedding was in a shade of autumn. Positioned opposite of her bed were two wooden chairs, and on the side was a folding screen, which hid a small washing area.
Aside from the few pieces of essential furniture, embellishments like jadeware, goldware, and porcelain were nowhere to be seen. Other courtyards had crude exteriors and elegant interiors, but in Yuxi’s case, it was the opposite.
Mama Fang came to her side and suggested she take a bath, so she did.
After bathing and changing, Yuxi’s old clothes were taken away and burned; this was, again, a safety measure.
As Moju used a clean towel to dry Yuxi’s hair, Moju said softly, “Young Miss, you’ve suffered.”
Yuxi threw Moju a glance. Moju said Yuxi had suffered, but the truth wasn’t so. Days of indulging in delicious food had filled out Yuxi’s cheeks, and her complexion was good too.
“One who survives through a great disaster will then meet with good fortune,” she replied mildly. Because she’d developed some misgivings, she no longer completely trusted her four first-rate maidservants.
Speaking of, she realized that her previous life was really quite pathetic. All the way up until her death, she had not one trustworthy person around her.
Smiling, Moju agreed, “Yes. Young Miss will definitely be very rich in the future.”
Yuxi asked, “Where are Moyun and Moxiang?” Out of four first-rate servants, only two were present. Where did the other two go? Without much deliberation, Moju responded, “Several days ago, Moyun’s mother fell ill. Moyun doesn’t know Young Miss is returning today, so she returned home with the Head Mama to look after her mother. Moxiang, she…” Moju hesitated “Young Miss, Moxiang is gone.”
Yuxi’s entire body stiffened.
For a second, Moju paused in her ministrations. Then, she said softly, “Moxiang also died from smallpox.” At that, Yuxi’s face fell. After her hair was dried, she moved to sit in front of her dresser.
The dresser was made from wenge wood, and as far as she knew, all of the slightly well-respected servants, usually the ones in charge, used furniture made out of wenge wood. The shabby furnishing used to upset her, but now, she couldn’t care less about these things.
“Select some clothes for me. Ones with muted colors.”
Motao used a hairpin to divide Yuxi’s hair into two sections before gathering the two sections into two symmetrical buns and then securing them to the sides of her heads. From each of the buns, Motao pulled out a few strands of hair and let them hang down naturally.
Looking at her own reflection in the bronze mirror, Yuxi thought back to how utterly skinny she’d been in this period of her past life and compared it to her current full, pleasing, and rosy-cheeked appearance.
Motao retrieved two small boxes and opened them. Half of their contents consisted of silver pieces of jewelry, and the rest were made of gold or pearl, but not one was made of diamonds or other precious gemstones.
“There’s no need for jewelry,” Yuxi said, but Motao dissuaded, “Young Miss, it’s better if you wear some jewelry! Not wearing any is too plain, the Old Madam wouldn’t like that.” The Old Madam already disliked her Young Miss. If her Young Miss dressed as though she was in mourning, the Old Madam would undoubtedly scold her.
Yuxi wanted to tell Motao that she didn’t care whether the Old Madam liked it or not, but Yuxi could only keep that thought to herself. “What do you think I should wear then?” She asked.
Motao picked out two flower-shaped hairpins and tucked them into Yuxi’s hair. The hairpins were blue in color, and the flowers on them were fashioned from beads.
“Young Miss, what do you think?”
However, Yuxi was unmoved. Although she had recuperated for an entire month and her complexion was looking much better, her body was still too frail. To truly be in perfect condition again would take a while. Dressing up now, no matter what she wore, wouldn’t make her look good in any notable way.
Once her hair was properly done up, Moju carried over a set of aqua-blue clothing. With a shake of her head, Yuxi rejected it. Blue was the color she always wore, and she was starting to dislike it.
A while later, she was finally ready to go. Moju accompanied her to the House’s master residence, which was quite a distance from Rose Courtyard. Like before, Yuxi walked slowly in order to refamiliarize herself with the paths.
They passed through the flower-hung gate of the inner courtyard, made some turns, and continued down a hallway until the bright, spacious, and neat courtyard itself came into view. Five main rooms and a great number of side rooms. Everything was magnificently decorated.
A beautiful, violet-robed girl saw Yuxi and smiled, “Fourth Miss, the Old Madam fell asleep just now. After the Old Madam awakens, this servant will report to her.”
There was not a single trace of dissatisfaction on Yuxi’s face. She merely smiled back and reassured, “Then I’ll trouble big sister Cuiyu to do so.”
Cuiyu was taken aback. In the past, the Fourth Miss would react in a gloomy manner, but after her illness, it seemed that she had become more clever.
“It is naturally this servant’s duty.”
Right as Yuxi turned to leave, she saw Yuchen come out of the room. Yuchen was wearing gossamer white clothes and a jade-white shawl. Her skin was pale and smooth, her exquisite face small and oval-shaped, and her eyes large and lustrous.
Although she had a pallor and looked emaciated, she still gave off the charm of a rare beauty. The sight of Yuchen caused a complicated look to appear in Yuxi’s eyes. Even when given an extra chance at life, Yuxi still thought that the Heavens had shown Yuchen too much love. Not only did Yuchen have an appearance capable of overthrowing cities and ruining states, but she was also outstandingly talented.
The pressure of having such a radiant elder sister was not light. Yuxi possessed good-looking features too, but in front of her sister, she would forever serve as a foil. This led Yuxi to lose all confidence in herself, and she’d always felt especially inferior.
Suppressing her peculiar emotions, she called out with a laugh, “Third Sister.”
Another chance at life allowed Yuxi to become more open-minded. Some things were destined to be the way they were. Envy and jealousy were pointless, and self-inferiority was more so. They would not hurt anyone but the person themself.
Seeing Yuxi immediately saddened Yuchen, as she was reminded of her deceased brother again, but Yuxi’s white attire caused Yuchen to look upon Yuxi a bit more favorably.
“Grandmother didn’t sleep well yesterday, so she has fallen asleep. Fourth Sister, why don’t you come visit my room?”
Surprised, Yuxi thought back to her previous life. She hadn’t received treatment like this before, but she was pleased to have it.
The Old Madam adored Yuchen, so Yuchen had been by the Old Madam’s side since birth.