Chapter 6 — Favoritism
Yuchen lived in one of the side rooms located in the left side of the upper courtyard. All three of the side rooms there belonged to her, actually. The instant Yuxi stepped into Yuchen’s room, she noticed that in the center, there was a long narrawood table, and a three-legged incense burner seated atop it. There was a sickeningly sweet scent in the air.
Yuxi looked down and swept her gaze over the thick wool carpet that embellished the floor. The carpet was embroidered with exceedingly beautiful designs—such a carpet was worth an undoubtedly grand sum.
A gold-spun curtain of red crystal beads hung from the ceiling, preventing a clear view of the room’s inner area. A maidservant, Shi-shui, moved the curtains to let Yuxi and Yuchen in. Yuxi took in the furnishings. Rosewood furniture and priceless treasures brimmed the room, and even the stationery items on the writing table were extraordinary products.
There was a saying that went: sons must be raised in poverty, and daughters must be raised in luxury. Yuchen was the epitome of “raised in luxury,” making Yuxi’s own courtyard seem absolutely pitiful in comparison.
Yuxi still remembered the first time she saw Yuchen’s room. Her past self had a rampant breakdown right after returning to her own residence. The current Yuxi couldn’t be more indifferent toward the disparity, but despite that, there was still one thing in the room that made her eyes feel hot.
It was a piece of two-sided embroidery. One side depicted a beauty in the midst of admiring flowers, and on the other, it showed a flourishing peony flower.
Embroidery was the only skill the past Yuxi could pull out. After marrying into the Jiang family, it became her only pastime. Seeing Yuxi’s eyes shining so brightly that they also appeared to be casting light, Yuchen laughed and said, “If you like it, I’ll give it to you.”
Yuxi asked, pleasantly surprised, “Really?” If she could study the embroidery and its techniques, she too would be able to sew two-sided embroideries. Behind Yuchen, Maidservant Shi-shui was worried. The two-sided embroidery was so valuable, how could it be so casually gifted away? She’d hoped the Fourth Miss would reject, but judging from the expression on her face, Shi-shui knew it was unlikely.
“Young Miss, you mustn’t! This was given by the Old Madam!”
Hearing that, Yuxi’s fervent enthusiasm immediately dissipated, and she started to shake her head, “Third Sister, this embroidery is too precious, I can’t accept it.”
Yuchen’s face still contained a faint smile. “I’m giving it to you, so just take it.” This time, Yuxi didn’t reject. She returned the smile and gave her thanks.
The splendor of Yuchen’s room stretched beyond the furniture and decorations to the exquisite stationeries on her writing table. One glance at the yet-to-dry calligraphy on the table elicited an internal sigh from Yuxi.
Yuchen, at five years old, was already so accomplished in the art of calligraphy. Yuxi herself, back then, was mediocre.
Shi-shui had caught on to where Yuxi was looking and explained, “This set of Sapphire Mandala stationery was awarded to my Young Miss by the Old Madam.” In other words, don’t get any ideas on it.
Yuxi’s expression stiffened. She turned to Yuchen, “Third Sister, I still need to go pay my respects to Great Aunt. I will come again later to pay my respects to Grandmother.”
She would not tolerate herself being treated as though she were a thief, like she would steal something if left unsupervised. After Yuxi left, Yuchen tossed Shi-shui a glance, “Who gave you the guts?”
Heart lurching, Shi-shui hurriedly knelt down and pleaded, “Young Miss, this servant has overstepped her boundaries. This servant was only considering how the embroidery was given to you by the Old Madam, so this servant became worried and forgot her place.”
Yuchen gave an ‘en’.
“On account of this being your first offense, I will let it go, but if it happens again, don’t blame me for being cruel. Regardless of everything, the Fourth Miss is still a master of the House.” Grandmother and Father didn’t care about Yuxi, but Yuxi was a Miss nonetheless. It was not a servant’s place to humiliate her.
The frightened Shi-shui remained on her knees, not daring to utter a word.
Yuxi was unaware of what had happened. She took Moju with her to the master courtyard. Madam Han —Qiu-shi— lived in the House’s most impressive courtyard. Like the inner courtyard, the master courtyard had five main rooms that were lined with side rooms and storage rooms. Expansive and magnificent.
Maidservant Liuyin welcomed Yuxi with a smile, “Fourth Miss, come. Madam is waiting for you inside!” With that, she ushered Yuxi in.
Qiu-shi was dressed in a set of homely robes, her appearance mellow and rounded, her smile mild and affectionate. One could effortlessly tell that she was easy to get along with.
At first, Yuxi didn’t speak. She lowered herself to her knees and kowtowed three times before saying sincerely, “Many thanks to Great Aunt for saving my life.” The three kowtows were not only for the smallpox affair but also the care Qiu-shi had shown Yuxi in her past life.
It took a while for Qiu-shi to recover from her shock, and when she did, she went forward to help Yuxi up.
“Child, what are you doing? What saving your life? This is what Aunt should do,” she scolded.
Gratefully, Yuxi said, “Aunt, I know. If it weren’t for Aunt, I would’ve lost my life already.” Not only that, Qiu-shi was also the sole reason Yuxi was able to peacefully grow up in her past life.
Relaxing, Qiu-shi rubbed Yuxi’s head and said softly, “You should also thank yourself and your own body for being able to endure.” In reality, she hadn’t held much hope. Inviting a physician over to look at Yuxi was for the sake of settling her own heart, and she hadn’t expected Yuxi to really survive.
Before Yuxi could respond, the maidservant outside announced, “Madam, First Miss has arrived.” First Miss Yuru was born from one of Qiu-shi’s dowry’s maidservants, but the maidservant had passed away not long after Yuru’s birth.
Yuru was wearing a set of pale mauve robes, and her hairstyle was simple: two buns with a jade hairpin inserted in each. Slender eyebrows. Large, bright, and enticing eyes. A slight smile, revealing two tiny dimples on each cheek. Yuru was yet another young but gorgeous face.
After she finishing paying her respects to Qiu-shi, Yuru looked at Yuxi and said, “Fourth Sister, I heard you’ve just about fully recovered. Congratulations.”
Yuxi returned the gesture and responded, “I’ve made First Sister worry.” Yuru was eight this year, meaning there was a whole four-year gap between them. The two didn’t interact much.
“The two of you are sisters. There is no need to be so polite with each other,” Qiu-shi remarked with a smile.
At that moment, one of the maidservants in charge came in with a report for Qiu-shi. Yuru was very sensible and knew to withdraw. Before leaving, she said to Yuxi, “If Fourth Sister doesn’t mind, why not come to take a seat in my room?”
Yuxi was surprised. First, it was Yuchen, and now, it was Yuru. Nothing like this happened in her past life. “Alright!”
Once the Misses of the House became eight years old, they would be granted their own courtyard compound. Yujing, who was still living with Concubine Rong, was an exception.
Yuxi entered the room and saw that inside of an embroidery basket, there was a pair of shoes. The needlework was very compact, and one could easily tell that quite a bit of effort had been put into it. Yuxi smiled and asked, “First Sister, are you making shoes for Great Aunt?”
Yuru nodded, “Yes, it’s for Mother.”
The corners of Yuxi’s eyes curved into two crescents. She said, “Great Aunt will definitely like them.” In truth, as the House’s Head Madam, what kinds of things did her Great Aunt not have? Yuru’s actions implied that she was simply trying to curry favor with Qiu-shi.
The pair of shoes caused Yuxi to realize how terrible she was. For so many years, her Great Aunt had unconditionally cared for her, and yet Yuxi had never done anything in return. She started to reflect on herself.
Although Yuru was a bit surprised, she was still very happy about the compliment.
“The embroidery is not good enough to be praised.”
In response, Yuxi laughed, “First Sister is showing her filial piety. Great Aunt will surely like it.” Her Great Aunt was a very generous person, so despite Yuru being motherless and an illegitimate, her life was not made difficult.
After a brief conversation, Yuxi returned to her own yard. Yuru watched as Yuxi left, a thoughtful look on her face. Her maidservant Qingxuan felt it was a bit odd and asked, “What is Young Miss looking at?”
“Fourth Sister changed a lot,” Yuru murmured. Yuxi used to be a gloomy child, and now she had become a lot more peaceful. This change… might not necessarily be a good thing.
Qingxuan brought over the embroidery basket. “The Fourth Miss has become better. It will be easier to interact with her.”
Yuru gave a wry smile, “I’m an illegitimate daughter. The Fourth Miss is unloved, but she is still a legitimate daughter. Why would she want to interact more with me?” Yuru’s thinking wasn’t unjustified. She treated Yuchen well, but Yuchen’s attitude toward her had always been distant. Qingxuan didn’t know what else to say.
When Mama Fang saw Yuxi coming back, she went up to her and said, “Young Miss, the Third Miss sent over an embroidery. I couldn’t reject it. Young Miss, happened?”
When Yuxi entered her room, she saw the double-sized embroidery. “Third Sister gifted it to me.” She planned on sitting down and studying it soon. Anxiously, Mama Fang asked, “Young Miss, why would the Third Miss suddenly gift you such a valuable item?” Mama Fang couldn’t be blamed for feeling so anxious.
The Old Madam wouldn’t be happy.
“I don’t know,” said Yuxi, shaking her head. She really didn’t know why Yuchen decided to send such a valuable object over, but since she did, Yuxi wasn’t going to reject it.
Mama Fang was in the middle of speaking when she heard someone announce that Liuyin had arrived. Liuyin was also carrying gifts. Qiu-shi had sent over not only precious tonics but also two bolts of brocade. One red, and the other green.
After sending Liuyin off, Mama Fang stared happily at the two brocades, “With this material, we’ll be able to make lots of new clothes for Young Miss.” Yuxi’s clothes were all very plain. She owned six sets for each season. For an ordinary person, six sets of clothes were a lot, but for a Miss of the House, six was a rather pathetic amount.
Moju opened the box of swallow’s nest and cried out in surprise, “Ah, it’s actually blood swallow!” Blood swallows were the best kind of swallow’s nest. They were exceptionally nourishing.
Yuxi was somewhat distracted. She remembered that in her past life, her Great Aunt had only brought her some tonics, so why was it different now? Yuxi fell into deep thought.
Mama Fang wasn’t happy for long because the Old Madam’s maidservant, Cuiyu, also arrived. Cuiyu came not to grant a reward, but to pass a message from the Old Madam, “Fourth Miss, the Old Madam said that you must rest well and that you will not need to go pay respects every day.”
Mama Fang’s face changed slightly. What was the Old Madam doing? Telling her Young Miss that there was no need to go pay respects every day? That was going too far.
The Old Madam was clearly implying that she didn’t want to see Yuxi. When this happened in her past life, Yuxi had felt very sad and even fell ill because of it. Now, she didn’t even falter, but she still plastered a shocked expression on her face.
“Please tell Grandmother that I will see to my recovery.”
Cuiyu said, “I will pass on the message.”
Mama Fang was afraid Yuxi would become distressed and hurriedly reassured, “Young Miss’s body has not fully recovered yet. The Old Madam is worried about Young Miss and doesn’t want you to wear yourself out.”
It wasn’t easy for the Young Miss to become more cheerful. It wouldn’t be good if she started to complain about the Old Madam’s favoritism and became depressed again. Yuxi deliberately gave a bitter smile and changed the topic.
“I saw First Sister making embroidered shoes for Great Aunt today. Mama Fang, I want to learn how to embroider and make shoes for Great Aunt too!”
Mama Fang hurriedly assured, “Yes. If Young Miss wants to learn, then Young Miss will learn.” Having something to do will prevent the Young Miss from thinking about other matters, which was not a bad idea.
VIN: And… this is where I’ll be stopping my translation for this novel! Again, for anyone who wants to pick it up, click here for more information on the novel.