After a short pause, she shook her head again and said, “Besides, a concubine is merely a plaything for her husband in a wealthy family. The mother-in-law can simply punish her with one simple command. The maidservants in the estate will not treat her as one of their masters. Even the child they give birth to cannot address his or her own mother as mother, instead, the child had to refer to her as ‘concubine’... I just don’t understand why some women are scrambling to become a concubine. Sister Huifang, do you agree?”
Liu Huifang saw that the expression on Zheng Xiaocui’s face was becoming more and more unsightly. When she recalled how Zheng Xiaocui had accused her of seducing Yu Hang behind her back in the village, she grinned in agreement, “Isn’t that right? Even though you will be poor and tired, you can still live with dignity and freedom if you’re married to an ordinary family. I heard that sometimes, a concubine’s status cannot even be compared to a maidservant that has some power and influence in the estate. Why would anyone be so desperate to be someone’s maidservant?”
Zheng Xiaocui hated that she couldn’t shred Liu Huifang’s proud face into pieces. She was just blabbering on because it had nothing to do with her. If she managed to snatch Yu Hang back then, Liu Huifang wouldn’t have been able to say what she had just said. It was a pity that Yu Hang acted like a piece of wood. He never fell for her charms; it was like she was acting kind in front of a blind person!
However, this was not the time for her to argue with that cheap woman. Zheng Xiaocui forced out a smile and asked curiously, “Xiaocao, what is the capital like? Is it fun? The farthest I’ve been is to the town. The capital is much bigger than the town, right?”
Xiaocao didn’t really want to talk to her and was about to give her a perfunctory reply when she saw the curiosity in Sister Huifang’s eyes. She picked a few interesting and exciting stories and told them about the prosperous and lively imperial capital.
Zheng Xiaocui had a fascinated expression on her face when she muttered, “I can die without any regrets in this life if I have the chance to stroll around the streets of the imperial city... Xiaocao, now that you’re promoted to a royal princess, will you be moving into a bigger house? Do you need maidservants? Do you think I can be your maidservant?”
In her opinion, even someone as stupid and slow as Erya was bought by Xiaocao’s family to be a maidservant. Therefore, she would definitely qualify as a maidservant. After all, she was clever, nimble, and efficient, so she was qualified to be Xiaocao maidservant.
Wutong, who had finished arranging the gifts and the luggage, coincidentally entered the house and overheard their conversation. She sized Zheng Xiaocui up and down, and then sneered, “A person like you wants to work as a maidservant? You’re not even qualified to be a maidservant that does rough work around the Yu Estate!”
It was fine if Xiaocao treated her coldly, but how can she stand being ridiculed by a mere maidservant? Zheng Xiaocui felt humiliated, she was so angry that her neck had turned red, “Xiaocao, aren’t you going to punish your servant?!”
Yu Xiaocao chided Wutong indifferently since Zheng Xiaocui came from the same village as her, “Xiaocui, Wutong, and Pipa are in charge of all the maidservants in my estate. She took your joke seriously. This maidservant is frank and outspoken, so you shouldn’t take what she says to heart.”
Wutong regretted her words the moment she said them. After all, everyone who came to the estate was a guest. Although she had never heard her young miss mention this lady before, this lady might still be her young miss’s friend since she rushed here the moment her young miss returned to the village. But after she saw how her young miss didn’t scold her, and instead, spoke on her behalf, Wutong was relieved. It seemed like her young miss did not like this lady!
Wutong hurriedly apologized and smiled, “I’m sorry, Miss Xiaocui. I took your joke seriously! But this maidservant didn’t say anything incorrectly. Anyone with a status in the capital would buy their maidservants from an official intermediary. In the capital, all the ordinary girls who want to become a maidservant have to go through two to three years of training. The maidservants in our estate are all the best of the best. Let me say this as a joke. If you really want to work as a maidservant for our estate, then you will have to sell yourself to an official intermediary. However, the official intermediaries don’t usually buy everyone who goes there to sell themselves. They usually accept younger girls around the age of ten because they would be the perfect age to be a maidservant after two years of training.
Zheng Xiaocui was so angry that she was about to cry. She screamed at Xiaocao angrily, “Yu Xiaocao, it doesn’t mean that you can bully other people as you wish just because you are a royal princess! Don’t forget that you used to be impoverished too! You weren’t able to eat your fill back then too. How can you look down at your childhood friends now that you have money and power? I didn’t expect that you would be such a person!!”
“Shut up! Who are you shouting at?” The expression on Wutong’s face changed. She was full of dignity as she scolded her sternly, “You were the one who said you wanted to enter our estate as a maidservant, so I kindly informed you about the situation at our estate! If you don’t want to listen, then you can come at me. Why are you shouting at our royal princess? Our royal princess is someone who cares about the villagers. Otherwise, you would’ve been dragged out and beaten by the wooden board for being so rude to our royal princess!”
“Okay! Come at me then! Fight me then! I want all the villagers to see how you, Yu Xiaocao, humiliate and abuse your friends after you become wealthy and influential. It seems like I misjudged you!” Zheng Xiaocui was somewhat scared; she may appear fierce on the outside, but she was cowardly at heart. After she spat out those words, she turned around to leave.
“Stop!!” Yu Xiaocao held a cup of fragrant tea with a calm expression on her face. She took a sip of the tea and gently wiped the corners of her mouth with a handkerchief. Her voice did not waver at all when she said, “Zheng Xiaocui, it’s true that I went out digging for wild vegetables and gathering seafood by the sea with you when we were kids. However, I did all of that because of Sister Huifang. In the past, you approached Royal Prince Yang more than you’ve approached me. So, please stop tutting your own horn by calling me your ‘friend’!”
Xiaocao had always been amicable, but when the smile on her face disappeared, she suddenly looked like a stranger. The noble and imposing aura that she exuded made it impossible for people not to admire her. Even Liu Huifang couldn’t help but release the breath she was holding while her heart shrank in fear.
The sunlight shone through the glass window and shrouded her body in a golden halo. People were afraid to look directly at Xiaocao because she looked as dazzling as a god with the golden halo shrouded around her body. She had a majestic presence around her, and none of the people present dared to look directly into her eyes. They realized that the girl in front of them was beyond their reach.
“Furthermore, you were the one who offered yourself to become a maidservant of our estate, yet you couldn’t even pass a small test. I wouldn’t take you in as my maidservant even if the villagers asked me to do so, solely because of your attitude and temper. I need a loyal, obedient, and capable maidservant by my side. I don’t need a young lady with an attitude!” In just a few short words, Yu Xiaocao was able to turn Wutong’s deliberate mocking words into a test of Zheng Xiaocui’s character.
Zheng Xiaocui took a deep breath and summoned up the last strand of courage and said, “Fine, I was wrong! I just didn’t like the way the maidservant standing beside you trampled on my dignity as she wished…”
“Dignity? I don’t think you understand your place. A servant has no dignity in front of their master. When the master gets off the horse carriage, the servant has to act like a stool, so that their master can step on them when getting off the carriage. If the master’s shoes become dirty, the servant will have to kneel on the ground and wipe the shoes clean. If the servant makes a small mistake, then the servant will be stripped of his or her pants and whipped in public… Although these actions that you speak of don’t have any dignity to them, they're what a servant is required to do! Zheng Xiaocui, if you want to keep your dignity, then don’t talk about offering yourself up to be a maidservant!”
Chunhua had quickly rushed here when she heard some shouting. Yu Xiaocao picked up a hazelnut and casually handed it to Chunhua when she rushed in. Zheng Xiaocui was stunned——the thin and weak looking maid gently pinched the hard hazelnut shell with her hands, and the shell easily cracked under the pressure.
Xiaocao put the hazelnut that Chunhua had peeled for her into her mouth. Her mouth bulged slightly when she popped the hazelnuts into her mouth; she looked like a squirrel with her bulging cheeks. She loved eating delicious and savory nuts, but she hated peeling them herself. When Royal Prince Yang was by her side, he was in charge of peeling the nuts for her.
“I’m thirsty...Wutong, go brew a pot of the Da Hong Tao that was bestowed by the empress, and then bring it here so Sister Huifang can have a taste!” Yu Xiaocao suddenly instructed after she ate a few hazelnuts.
“Yes!” Wutong curtsied obediently and retreated out of the room. She had been a servant for her master for many years, so she immediately understood what her master was planning.
Wutong took out a complete set of Kung Fu Tea. Her movements were elegant, smooth, and natural as she washed the tea, added water to the tea, brewed the tea, closed the lid, poured the tea, and served the tea... The fragrance coming from the tea was extremely fragrant. The scent tickled their noses and made it impossible for people not to enjoy the pleasant scent of the tea.
Qiushi took out a zither and started playing with it with her bare hands in the corner of the room. The elegant and gentle sound from the zither filled the room. Yingchun fetched an incense burner and blended her master’s favorite scent, which was a gentle lotus scent...
“Sister Huifang, have a taste of this. This is top-notch Da Hong Pao. It was picked from a century-old tea tree on the steep cliff from Wuyi Mountain. This tea has a strong orchid scent, and the fragrance from the tea is long-lasting. This old tea tree only produces two to three catties of tea leaves in a year. All of the tea leaves will be given as a tribute to the Imperial Palace, so it’s very difficult for others to have a taste of this tea!” Yu Xiaocao picked up the teacup with three fingers. She lowered her head and sniffed the fragrance in the cup and sipped the tea slowly, finishing the tea in three sips.
Her beautiful fair hands were as white as jade and her movements were graceful when she lowered her head to drink the tea. Xiaocao’s sweet-tempered and charming movements made her fairy-like figure even more beautiful. Liu Huifang stared at her with a blank look on her face. She was so caught up with staring at Xiaocao that she neglected to take the fragrant tea that was offered to her by Wutong.
It was impossible for Zheng Xiaocui to be jealous and resentful towards Yu Xiaocao after seeing her served by four maidservants because she knew that their statuses were very different. She could never reach the status that Yu Xiaocao had reached. Zheng Xiaocui could only stand in admiration and watch the scene from a distance. She didn’t dare to have any other thoughts.
Zheng Xiaocui was too embarrassed to ask Xiaocao if she could be her maidservant again. Perhaps this was because she had already secretly acknowledged what Wutong said to her. She was nothing compared to the four maidservants serving Yu Xiaocao. Perhaps she didn’t even qualify to even become a maidservant that did rough work around the estate.
The maidservants serving Xiaocao, whether it was their appearance or temperament, were more elegant and graceful than the so-called wealthy young maidens in town. Even with their beautiful appearance and good-natured temperament, they were still willing to serve Xiaocao. They sincerely treated her as their master. By now, she realized that Xiaocao was different from the Xiaocao she knew before!
However, if she didn’t fight for an opportunity, then she will be sold to an old man that was older than her grandfather as a concubine. Zheng Xiaocui clenched her hands into fists and made her final attempt to avoid being married off to an old man. She didn’t try to act smart or tried to come up with a sly plan. Instead, she directly told Xiaocao about her current situation, hoping that Xiaocao could point her in the right direction.
Zheng Xiaocui had tears when she slowly shook her head and said, “My father only wants to sell me off right now. This way, he can save up some money for my brother to marry a wife and take over the family business. Unless I can raise the equivalent amount of money that they planned to sell me for, then I can only accept my fate and marry an old man who is almost 60 years old. I will have to become his 12th concubine.”
She didn’t expect Zheng Laojiu to be such a greedy person! Yu Xiaocao frowned lightly, sighed, and said, “There is a limit to how much other people can help you. You can only rely on yourself for this matter.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter