Qi Rui (Part 1)
After the meandering walk for a very long time, it seemed that they had arrived at the deepest part of the Qi’s manor, the old head housekeeper stopped in front of the wooden door, that was surrounded by the red bricks and green roofs. It was not tall, but one could not see the scene of the inside courtyard. There was a blue wooden slab on the door, that was engraved with four words, Die Cui Xiao Su, it was pretty and did not lose any elegance.
Opening the wooden door, Yu Shan waved his hand to indicate to the other people to retire, and only let two of the servants to raise the wooden trunk. Leading Murong Shu Qing, he entered the courtyard.
Inside the small door, the courtyard was not big at all, but it was very eye-catching. It was comparable to Sui Yuan’s boundless bamboo forest and the surrounding green lake. It seemed to be more sophisticated here, the two layers of the wooden cabin were not big at all. The room in front was connected to a pavilion that was actually quite spacious, the wooden room above was planted with a small plot of white chrysanthemums. It was just the time of autumn, so the flowers were blooming very well, everything looked green in the middle, and it especially attracted one’s eyes. Apart from this, inside the small courtyard, it was planted by the most distinctive plant in Dong Yu —— the various types of chaste tree shrubs (the actual word uses grass but I think it’s more like a shrub and it’s explained in the next sentence). Saying that it was grass, it was actually the type of short shrub plants, this kind of shrubs were evergreen all year around. Moreover, they emitted some special distinct smells, but they were not fragrance flowers, also were not costus roots (medicinal herbs), they were more like tea fragrance. If one would compare with all of the other tea, their fragrance was more rich and mellow. Even Long Dan (tea) fragrance was not as alluring as them, but these kind of shrubs were poisonous, and could not be eaten. Looking at this big area that was planted by the chaste tree shrubs, Murong Shu Qing also saw it for the first time, that these kind of shrubs usually grew in the depth of the mountain or secluded forest, it was not easy to find them, and was also hard to grow. It seemed that the people who maintained them, must have spent a lot of thoughts.
Inside the small courtyard, one girl who was wearing a servant’s dress, was crouching in front of the white chrysanthemums to trim the branches and leaves. Looking that they came in, she stared blankly at first, but very quickly got up, and was respectfully standing by the side.
Yu Shan asked the people to raise the wooden trunk to bring inside the house, looking one glance at the girl who was standing by the side with her lower head, he thought deeply for a moment, then he said to Murong Shu Qing: “Miss Shu Qing, this is Die Cui Xiao Su’s servant girl, this old person (the actual word is using slave) will look for two clever servants to wait upon you.”
That girl was slightly lowering her head all along, so she could not see her expressions clearly. Murong Shu Qing peered at her for a moment, and faintly smiled and said: “Old head housekeeper, I like peacefulness, she is very good, you do not have to look for more people to wait upon me.”
Yu Shan was somewhat hesitating, but he could only look at Murong Shu Qing’s light smile and persistent expression, so he did not speak any other words anymore. This kind of Miss Shu Qing made him unable to disobey her, and he replied: “Then, alright, if you need anything, you can just instruct this old person.”
“I am troubling you.”
Yu Shan bowed, and said: “Please do not say it like that, this old person asks to be excus
ed first.” After Murong Shu Qing nodded her head, Yu Shan took the servants, and left Die Cui Xiao Su. Before he left, he said to that girl who was at the side and lowly mumbled out: “Serve properly.”
The girl slightly nodded her head, she still lowered her head and remained standing up.
After Yu Shan left, the inside of the small courtyard was quiet, Murong Shu Qing did not speak anything, only walked to the side of that small plot of white chrysanthemums. Fiddling with the branches and leaves, and she continued the unfinished pruning that the girl was doing. For a long time, after thinking deeply for a long time, the girl slowly walked to Murong Shu Qing’s side, she saluted and said: “This slave servant greets Miss.”
Her clear, moisten and gentle voice made people to feel very comfortable listening to it.
Without turning her head, Murong Shu Qing put the branches and leaves that she just plucked with her hand on the side, she continued to tidy up the white chrysanthemums, and asked: “What is your name?”
“Jing Shui.” (It means clean/purified water). The woman simply replied with two words.
Jing Shui? Murong Shu Qing was lightly stroking the chrysanthemum’s petals, while she smilingly said: “Good name.”
Getting up to tidy up her skirt, she turned around to see that Jing Shui was still half-kneeling to salute, and had not gotten up. Murong Shu Qing slapped her forehead, staying with Lu Yi and the other girls together all day long, she forgot that in this era, if the Master had not asked to get up, they could not get up. Lightly helping her arm to make her stand up, she asked: “Are you usually the one who is taking care of this place?”
With some hesitations, but with Murong Shu Qing’s help, she stood up, and softly answered: “Yes.”
Even though, this small courtyard was not very big, but taking care of everything like this neatly and tidily, was still not easy. Looking towards Jing Shui again her head was always lowered, was her neck not tired? Murong Shu Qing smilingly said: “Do you always lower your head when you speak to other people?”
Hearing Murong Shu Qing’s slightly ridiculing tone, Jing Shui deeply thought for a moment, then she slowly raised her head.
This made Murong Shu Qing was somewhat curious, was it that difficult to raise her head to see people? Until Jing Shui completely raised her head, she finally knew the reason why this girl was not willing to raise her head. Jing Shui was very elegant, a pair of quick-witted eyes were like moist water and mysterious. But there was a dark red birthmark on the left side on her face, from the left forehead to the corner of her mouth. It concealed her beauty, and at first look, one would feel somewhat dreadful.
After Jing Shui raised her head, she did not dare to look at Murong Shu Qing all along, her eyes were always staring at her skirt. After a good while, she did not hear Murong Shu Qing’s crying out in fear or talking, finally unable to bear it, Jing Shui met Murong Shu Qing’s eyes. There was no alarm, no disdain, no dislike, but there were plenty of tranquility and calmness, and that smile seemed like her (JS) face was no different than any other’s faces. Jing Shui lowered her head again, and covered up the mists that were on her eyes as she (MSQ) did not sympathize with her, also did not have pity on her. This woman with her light and tranquil smile, was the only one who felt that she was the same as the other ordinary people, for the past many years.
Looking that she lowered her head again, this time, Murong Shu Qing did not make her to raise her head again, she only walked to the pavilion and sat down, and asked: “Does anybody live in this courtyard?” This courtyard was very special, she was curious who was the owner?
Slightly calming down her mood, Jing Shui followed behind Murong Shu Qing, she answered in whisper: “Die Cui Xiao Su was originally Miss Yue’s lady chamber, afterwards, it was me and my mother who were taking care of it, after my mother passed away, I have been looking after it. Normally, besides Master who will come and visit occasionally to take a look, there is nobody who will come.”
This was Qi Yue’s residence? Encircling and looking at the delicate and elegant’s small courtyard again, Murong Shu Qing lightly and lowly mumbled a rhyming couplets that was on the pavilion, ‘the white bird forgot the famine, the cloud came and went among the forest, the cloud came and went, the green hills remained silent, looking at the flower that was blooming and falling on the earth, the flower was falling and blooming’, Qi Yue ~ what kind of a woman should she be?
After a good while, Murong Shu Qing laughingly shook her head, was she trying to trace a beautiful woman who had passed away? She said to the two people who were on the side: “Lu Yi, you and Jing Shui go in and tidy up.”
“Yes!” The two people entered the inside room, Murong Shu Qing also came out of the pavilion to see the sunset and lie down at the afterglow next to the chaste tree shrubs. The faint, clear and pure fragrant tea smell, made Murong Shu Qing breathe deeply. She picked one leaf on her hand and gently smelled it, on the contrary, there was no smell. This was some very special plants, only when one was successful to plant them, one could smell their fragrance, the further way one was standing in between the shrubs, the more fragrance one could smell. It would make people feel infatuated again, and they were unable to leave.
Still being infatuated with this simple and elegant tea fragrance, there was an uncertain voice that called out from behind her, and it made Murong Shu Qing to turn her body around.