Is This Onychomycosis?
Granny Li’s eyes opened wide, staring. How were those were spoken?
Feng Yu Heng continued: “Father clearly said to follow concubine mother’s instructions to help us settle in, yet who knew the concubine mothers of the Feng manor ate this sort of food. These sorts of days are far inferior even to those living in Xi Ping village. You tell me, was father sending us away not for the sake of us living better lives? Father really is loving and just!”
Yao shi and Feng Zi Rui did their best to keep from laughing, while granny Sun looked very pleased. Recently, the second miss had truly changed such that she would no longer tolerate being bullied within the manor. Not only could she not be bullied, she had learned to retaliate. Since returning to the manor, who had come to cause trouble yet left with the upper hand?
Granny Li, Man Xi and Bao Tang collapsed. If things continued like this, how should they manage? This second young miss had completely strayed from the bounds of their pre-planned routines! Wasn’t it said that Yao shi was cowardly and easy to handle? Wasn’t it said that the second young miss’ personality was indifferent towards everything and never retaliated? Yet why was it that the second young miss not only fought back, but fought back with great force like a heavenly steed soaring across the skies?
And Yao shi, was this the look of someone who was weak and easy to handle? Although she did not say a word and was polite towards them, but when something happened, she would turn her eyes towards her daughter. She completely moved to the second young miss’ tempo.
Granny Li’s hand was still being held by Feng Yu Heng, and sweat began to appear on her forehead. She continued to do her best and secretly hid her strength in preparation to pull back her hand in one swift movement.
The result was she exerted too much power, and Feng Yu Heng suddenly released her hand at just the right moment. Granny Li fell to the ground in a sitting position with an “Ow.”
Man Xi and Bao Tang quickly went to help and heard Feng Yu Heng speak: “Quickly get to work. It looks like the amount of light is fading. Let’s get as much work done as possible. For dinner, there is no need to go to the kitchen. We’ll leave this food for you three. Hah, the food the Feng manor gives to concubines and their children are all such low quality, but it’s not clear how well they treat servants.”
She maintained a serious look as she spoke, worry plastering her face. It really looked as if she were worried about the food that was fed to granny Li and company.
Granny Li was completely speechless and left for the yard with the help of Man Xi and Bao Tang. Deep down, she assessed that she must find an opportunity to inform the head wife. This second young miss was completely different from the one she remembered!
Seeing the outsiders had left, Feng Zi Rui finally displayed a wide smile. Even Yao shi and granny Sun smiled.
Smiling, Yao shi shook her head, “A-Heng, you really are… ” She did not know which word to use to describe her, so she stopped halfway through her sentence.
Granny Sun picked up the prompt: “Second you miss really is too proud!” She continued while comforting Yao shi, “Madam, do not blame the second young miss. The three years you have been gone have changed Feng manor greatly. If the second young miss remained the way she was back then-” She pointed towards the dishes on the table, “Starving to death would be our only option.”
Yao shi nodded, “I understand. I did not want to blame A-Heng, but we do need to think about how we will pass the days. If the food is like this everyday, what should we eat?”
Feng Yu Heng clasped Yao shi’s hands and squeezed, “Mother, do not worry. Let them continue on like this. We will not starve to death.” Then asked granny Sun: “Granny hasn’t eaten right?”
Seeing the other side nod with embarrassment, she pulled out another piece of chocolate, “Eat a little, I bought it on the road. We already ate some earlier. This piece was left for granny.”
Granny Sun looked at the thing that was handed over, as tears immediately rushed out.
She had watched Yao shi grow up and personally helped raise Feng Yu Heng and Feng Zi Rui. Not long after, she thought that she would never see the mother and children ever again, let alone eat something A-Heng had personally handed to her.
The old woman quickly turned around and wiped her tears, then she brought the thing she received to her mouth. Only after eating it did she begin to feel stable and asked: “What is this? It’s so good.”
Feng Zi Rui was first to respond, “The things big sister makes always taste good.”
Feng Yu Heng also did not want to overly explain what it was. Thus, she quickly dodged the question. “Granny Sun, please go to the kitchen again, in a little while. See if you can get some raw ingredients. Also bring back some firewood. We will make dinner for ourselves.”
Granny Sun pondered a while then nodded: “Ok.”
Feng Yu Heng added: “If you really can not get anything, then see if they can give you some scraps and seasonings. Anything that has been cut off from vegetables, so long as it’s clean, bring it back. We can make it taste delicious.”
The clean up work in Willow courtyard continued until late in the evening. Granny Li and the two girls were tired and hungry, their clothes dirty. Their make up had also become sticky. They had long lost their appearance as top servants.
Granny Sun brought the dishes that were untouched since lunch to their wing rooms. Their faces made bitter appearances, but they were so hungry they had no choice but to eat.
On the other side, Feng Yu Heng made use of the scraps and seasonings granny Sun had brought from the main kitchen and made some dishes.
From time to time, she would take out some things from her space. First it was two eggs, then she took out some blood replenishing Chinese medicine and added it to the congee. Having spent some years in a mountain village, the mother and children were suffering from a bit of anemia. Restoring the body could not be done in an instant. She also had to make sure that she was not discovered taking things out from her space.
Dinner was fragrant but without a hint of meat. Regardless, it was thanks to the handiwork of Feng Yu Heng. Adding on the small cheat-like items from her pharmacy, it had to be delicious.
Granny Sun decided that she would always go to the main kitchen to ask for ingredients. Of course, she couldn’t allow the young miss to always make food. She also had to take part.
However, Feng Yu Heng had a different idea. She said: “I will continue to make the meals. I have a bit of medical knowledge, so I know how to prepare meals to help mother recover.”
“Then how about the second young miss teach this old servant?”
“No need for such trouble.” Feng Yu Heng quietly said: “I have gotten used to it after those years at the village. Granny helping take care of mother and Zi Rui is good enough.”
Having heard this, granny Sun did not argue further; however, she did offer her feelings towards eating at the same table as her masters. “Tomorrow, this old servant will eat together with granny Li. This current arrangement will arouse suspicion from others. If word reached the head wife, then things would become troublesome.”
Feng Yu Heng did not insist, but did advise her: “Granny Li and the two servants are not good people. Granny, please do be careful.”
Granny Sun cautiously nodded her head: “Young miss, do not worry. This old servant is normally over there. It also makes it easier to track their smaller movements. If I discover anything, I will come report to the second young miss.” Only hearing this, did Feng Yu Heng relax.
Willow courtyard had three proper rooms and there were three masters, so it was one person per room. Given Zi Rui’s young age, Feng Yu Heng allowed granny Sun to live with him.
Man Xi and Bao Tang were to share a wing room, while a smaller wing room was given to granny Li.
Having experienced poor treatment at lunch, the matter of sleeping was given special preparation by Feng Yu Heng. She specifically made granny Li fetch the bedding, and made sure to mention not to do anything extraneous. The masters and servants would be given equal treatment. Whatever granny Li used, the three masters would also use.
As a result, wanting to be comfortable, granny Li fetched higher quality bedding.
Granny Sun helped the three set their beds. Man Xi and Bao Tang were very obedient and set to work fetching water for the masters to wash their faces. Granny Li also prepared some water for everybody to take a bath.
Taking care of Feng Yu Heng was Man Xi. Previously she had been wary of Man Xi, as her nails were painted with a very fine polish, yet this girl had not expected to be given so much hard work for a day. The polish had long been ruined and in tatters. As a result, the small problems on her nails were discovered when they passed before Feng Yu Heng’s eyes…
The nail on her index finger had pits and grooves, the more serious parts were fissured. The nails on both her thumbs had become thicker and were bruised dark brown. They were also heavily fragmented. The nails on her other fingers were also various levels of bruised and muddy-colored.
Said clearly, she had onychomycosis1.
Except the people of olden times did not understand what onychomycosis was. Especially not the maidservants in this grand manor. Having contracted such a disease, they did not dare go see a doctor. If word got out, they would be chased from the manor. The masters did not care what level of servant they were. They also did not care if the disease was contagious. So long as the disease presented a small risk to their health or was an eyesore, they would definitely chase them far away.
Man Xi poured the water in to the barrel. Seeing that Feng Yu Heng stood to the side and did not undress to bathe, she was a little curious and called out: “Second young miss?”
Feng Yu Heng continued to stare at both her hands. Hm, the water she had poured earlier passed by Man Xi’s finger nails. This girl appeared good-natured by going to check the water temperature.
With this, her reasoning was more complete- “Man Xi, although I am not loved by the Feng manor, and do not make any effort to be liked, but people that see me still greet me with a ‘second young miss.’ If the second young miss of the Feng family suddenly contracted a weird illness, with her nails and skin growing strange ringworms, do you think the Feng family will call a doctor or chase me out? Then investigate the source of my illness?”
She took some revenge with these words. Man Xi subconsciously pulled her hands in to her sleeves, the pale in her hands dropping to the ground. Water sprayed all over the ground.
“Sec-second young miss, where do these words come from?”
Feng Yu Heng violently slapped the table, “Where do these words come from? I did not think my father was so loving and caring that he would promote a woman as venomous as a snake like Chen shi to a high position. The dignified head wife of Feng family, she would really send a servant girl sick with a fungal infection to attend to my house. Isn’t this just hoping the disease will be transmitted to me, sentencing me to death?”
The two words “fungal infection” cleared everything up for Man Xi. If she did not understand, then she truly was too stupid. She was frightened. So frightened, she knelt on the ground, not caring what sort of standing the second young miss had in the manor. Thunk, thunk, thunk, she began to kowtow, her heading hitting the ground.
“Second young miss have mercy! Second young miss have mercy!”
Feng Yu Heng pulled herself a chair and sat down. She remained silent until Man Xi calmed herself a little. Only then, did she speak: “Although I am a concubine’s daughter and accusing the head mother is disrespectful, but the head mother doing this sort of thing is also not much better.”
“This… this has nothing to do with the head wife.” Man Xi was so frightened her legs were shaking. “It was this servant… the head wife had no knowledge. I beg the second young miss not tell the head wife. I beg the second young miss for her grace!” Man Xi once again began another cycle of begging for mercy while kowtowing.
Feng Yu Heng hated this habit of kowtowing whenever possible that the ancient people had. Would they let her continue speaking? If she continued like this, she’d become dazed. At that point, what’s the point in speaking?
“If you keep this up, I will go speak to the head wife now.” She threatened, “Hm, I will also need to tell grandmother about it. This is nothing to mess around about. What if they had all breathed the diseased air, that would be terrible.”
1: Fungal infection. Really disgusting to look at, so I won’t link a wiki page. Google at your own risk.