Chapter One Hundred and Two: No Response
Because the Yuan Family were presently criminals, the Yuan Family members who had been sent as servants to other families were not treated specially. The masters who were kind treated them like normal servants, those who were harsher purposefully bullied them in order to fawn on the Emperor. Consequently, in just one month, several of the Yuan Family juniors who had lived in luxury before killed themselves.
When Yuan Shu Yi heard that her younger female cousin who had been close to her had killed herself, she was so frightened she hid in her room and cried for half a night. But on the second day, she still had to learn the rules with the wang fusteward.
The rules of Xian Wang Fu were strict, and it was rare for the servants to have dissention. Therefore, after Yuan Shu Yi entered the fu, she was not bullied. In the eyes of these people, she was the same as the other low-level servants.
But because she was treated the same, she felt unspeakably uncomfortable and awkward. She could even guess the disdain these people had under their expressionless faces. The honored junzhu had become a criminal servant who was even lower than them in status—how ironic. These people finally had things to talk about over tea—how great was that?
“You have all come into the wang fu for a month. While you are still clumsy, you can manage to serve. Now, I will send you to different departments, and have the stewards arrange your duties.” A steward looked at the dozen or so males and females in front of him. Other than the three who had special identities, the rest had been bought and strictly selected to enter the wang fu. They were smart, close-mouthed, worked hard, had clean family histories, and would be able to be put into slightly more important positions.
As for the three girls from the Yuan Family…
The steward thought of what Chief Steward Mu had said. He said expressionlessly, “When I call your name, go report to the steward.”
Yuan Shu Yi was sent to work under a steward responsible for taking care of the flora in the wang fu. This job was not extremely tiring, and the people were simple. However, they could not easily enter the inner compound. The servants who qualified to send flowers and plants beyond the second gate were all those who had worked in the fu for three years or more. Those like Yuan Shu Yi didn’t even have the ability to touch the second gate.
After working for almost two months in the Flora Pavilion, Yuan Shu Yi finally gave up on the idea of using the excuse of delivering flowers to get near Xian Wang. She became more and more hard-working, but the desire inside her became even stronger.
If she had been bullied deliberately after entering the fu, she would have had an excuse to see Cousin, but no one had bullied her. She hadn’t seen a shadow of Hua Xi Wan’s servants. It was as though her existence was not important at all to Hua Xi Wan.
She didn’t believe that Hua Xi Wan didn’t know anything about her feelings for Cousin. But now that she had entered the fu, the other hadn’t responded at all. Was the other able to keep her composure so well?
Just as she was worrying about the future, a higher-ranked steward came and pointed at them.
“All of you, go to the yard outside and look closely for weeds. In a few days, Wang Fei is going to have a crab banquet for the noble personages of Yi’an Marquis Fuand General Lu’s fu. There cannot be any missteps.” The steward looked at the people he had picked. He put his hands behind his back and then said, “It has been a long time since Wang Fei has married, and this is the first time that she is having such a great
banquet. If there is any mistake which displeases the guests, then all of you will be punished.”
Yuan Shu Yi’s head was lowered but she was sneering inside. What noble personages? The Lu Family was Hua Xi Wan’s maternal family, the Hua Family was her paternal family. They were just her family members—were they worth the wang fu treating them with such seriousness?
She was dismissive inside, but she had to admit deep inside that with how much importance Xian Wang placed on Hua Xi Wan, the members of Hua Xi Wan’s family’s status in the wang fu would rise as well.
Autumn crabs were fat and sweet. After Hua Xi Wan received the tribute from the servants, she had only just planned to send some to her paternal family. But Yan Jin Qiu had to say that he had never received her paternal family, so he wanted to use the crab banquet to get closer to her paternal family.
Hua Xi Wan did not refuse. While she did not know if Yan Jin Qiu just wanted to get to know them better or had other intentions, she had intentions of having her family talk more with Yan Jin Qiu. With the present situation in Jing, even if the Hua and Lu Families wanted to stay apart, they were still on Xian Wang’s side in the eyes of other people.
Now that the situation had become white-hot, she would not naively think that the Hua and Lu clansmen didn’t have thoughts of their own. Therefore, she would have them meet and would not interfere with the results.
The wang fu started to become busy at Yan Jin Qiu’s orders. In the time that Hua Xi Wan took a noon nap, all kinds of beautiful purple and red chrysanthemums had appeared in the wang fu.
In her previous life, chrysanthemums had ranked first among the flowers that had been ruined for meaning. Chrysanthemums had once been the representation of cleanliness and beauty, but had been twisted into such an x-rated word.
“Wang Fei, the chrysanthemums outside are beautiful. Do you want to take a look?” Hua Xi Wan was usually indolent, and when it was afternoon, she liked to curl up on the soft couch and not move. Therefore, her servant girls always tried to think of ways to get her to move. Today, they found the excuse of admiring flowers.
Hua Xi Wan looked at the descending sun in the sky, and the anticipating gazes of her servant girls. She nodded helplessly and led a group of servants out the door.
The scenery inside the second gate was naturally beautiful. There was a new scene every three steps. The chrysanthemums that had been put out were carefully cared for and were extremely valuable breeds. They displayed the status of the wang fu.
When she reached the second gate, Hua Xi Wan did not plan on going out, but she saw a slightly familiar figure by the corner of the second gate. She looked closely at the person. When she heard the noise outside, she couldn’t help but look into the distance. Yan Jin Qiu was coming with two attendants, and the servants along the way bowed.
Yan Jin Qiu was striding towards the inner compound when he saw Hua Xi Wan standing by the second gate. He sped up his strides to come in front of Hua Xi Wan and easily grasped her hand. “Why are you standing here?”
“Just now, the girls persuaded me to come to admire the chrysanthemums. I couldn’t refuse them, so I came out to see and unconsciously walked here.” Hua Xi Wan smiled at Yan Jin Qiu. “How is it that you came back so late? The soup that I had them make is overcooked.”
“Soup will be more tasteful if it is simmered longer,” Yan Jin Qiu said with a smile. “There are many matters in court. After things calm down, I will accompany you to the estate to soak in the hot springs.” Finishing, he pulled Hua Xi Wan’s hand in preparation to walk inside.
‘Bam!” The sound of a flowerpot crashing on the ground sounded.
Yan Jin Qiu turned around. He saw the shattered flowerpot and the chrysanthemum that had been squashed by the soil. He said indifferently, “Not diligent in fulfilling duties, deduct a month’s wages.”
Yuan Shu Yi looked with an ashen expression at the broken flowerpot in front of her. When she thought of Cousin looking at her with a stranger’s gaze, her expression became even uglier.
Cold stares landed on her from all directions. No one spoke to mock her, but this kind of unspeakable difficulty crushed her self-esteem into the ground.
It should not be like this. Cousin’s character was warm, and she was talented. Even if Cousin did not feel that for her, at least, he would feel some pity. Why would he look at her with that kind of gaze? It was as though he was looking at a true servant, and she had no connection to him.
Discontent chewed at her heart, and she was unable to calmly face everything.
What was so good about Hua Xi Wan? Didn’t she just have a face more beautiful than other women?
Yet no matter how displeased Yuan Shu Yi felt, Hua Xi Wan and Yan Jin Qiu happily finished the evening meal and then started to listen to the zither musician play.
The sound was melodious. Yan Jin Qiu looked with a smile at Hua Xi Wan. “Tomorrow, Maternal Grandfather’s family, Father-in-law and Mother-in-law are coming to our fu. Tell me what I need to avoid.”
“In front of Wang Ye, what do they have that cannot be discussed?” Hua Xi Wan curled her lips. “The only thing to notice is that my maternal family likes to eat meat and only knows to speak straightforwardly.”
“The Lu Clan is full of loyalty, and it is normal for them to have straightforward personalities,” Yan Jin Qiu said emotionally. “If all the officials in the world were like Grandfather’s family, that would be the people’s fortune.”
Hua Xi Wan shook her head. “Wang Ye is wrong. It is a good trait for Grandfather’s family to be straightforward, but if all the officials were like that, it would not be easy to govern.”
For example, in places like the Ministry of Rites, the Ministry of Revenue and the Imperial Academy, if every official acted like her grandfather’s family, there would be fights every day, and the departments would never be at peace.
Yan Jin Qiu had not expected Hua Xi Wan to say this. He smiled helplessly. “You are right; I was thinking too simply.”
Hua Xi Wan smiled but did not speak. How could a person like Yan Jin Qiu not think of this? He was just intentionally elevating her maternal family in front of her. But while Yan Jin Qiu was elevating them, she did not want Yan Jin Qiu to always do so.
The two then talked about some minor gossip in Jing before Hua Xi Wan suddenly said, “You saw Yuan Shu Yi this afternoon?”
Yan Jin Qiu unconcernedly switched Hua Xi Wan’s tea for a hotter one. “What, she is not obeying the rules?”
“She’s all right.” Hua Xi Wan moved her gaze away slightly. “I just feel that she does not have it easy.”
Yan Jin Qiu’s lips curled and seemed slightly mocking. “She was able to come to our fu—how could she be someone without any ability?”
The Emperor disliked the demoted empress, and even disliked the Yuan Family that had been close to the previous empress. How could he be willing to send Yuan Shu Yi to his fu? This wasn’t the Emperor’s style.
The only possibility was that someone in the shadows had pushed Yuan Shu Yi to have her successfully enter Xian Wang Fu.
It was a pity that what he disliked the most was people scheming against him. Even if it was his own sister, he would not allow the other to scheme against him, much less a distant cousin.