Title: The Dreamer in the Spring Boudoir
Chapter: 009 out of 513 - Living is the top priority
Ancient embroidery was really a high-level art. A small mandarin duck design required stitching back and forth for five layers. Although the skill was Nie Sangyu's, Ji Man also felt very tired. Her head felt woozy and her eyes felt blurry after only embroidering two handkerchiefs. When she raised her head to look outside, it was almost noon.
Sure enough, her stomach started growling, but Muxu hadn't come back yet. Ji Man put down the embroidery frame and stood at the doorway for a while. The smell of food from the kitchen had already drifted over here.
She had given her breakfast to Muxu. Compared to Nie Sangyu's adolescent chicken-like body, Muxu looked even more pitifully thin. She didn't seem like a servant girl from a noble family at all. She didn't know if Muxu had been this thin in the past or if she had become thin from starving during the previous month.
"Master…" Muxu finally came back. As soon as she stepped into the courtyard, she saw Ji Man standing in the doorway. Compared to the previous days, she wasn't as afraid of her and properly came over while holding a food box. "This servant has brought back lunch."
Ji Man smiled and went inside to sit back down at the table.
As Muxu took out the meal, she said, "This servant seems to have gone too late again. This servant waited at the kitchen's entrance for a long time, but Aunty Zhao wouldn't let this servant enter the kitchen. By the time she allowed this servant to enter, only this was left."
A bowl of rice, a small plate of Chinese cabbage, and a small plate of green beans. She didn't even see any shredded meat with the green beans. Ji Man slightly raised her eyebrow, "Is the marquis's residence this poor?"
However, Muxu didn't seem disappointed. She turned around, closed the doors, and took something out from the chest underneath the couch.
"This servant knows that master won't eat a meal without meat. This servant tore yesterday's chicken into two portions. This servant hasn't touched this leftover portion at all. It's very clean. This servant left this part so that master can eat some meat today."
The young servant girl's eyes were bright as she carefully opened the lotus leaf while still crouched down on the floor. But, she discovered huge hole in the lotus leaf.
A mouse came burrowing out from the lotus leaf. It squeaked twice before climbing down onto Muxu's arm, then jumping down to the floor and towards the chest underneath the couch.
"Ahhh!" Muxu screamed. Her small face was deathly pale. She tossed the lotus leaf and chicken and jumped to the other side. Her face was full of dismay and alarm. Her body started to tremble without stopping.
Ji Man looked. There were only bones left from the lotus leaf chicken that had been secretly eaten by the mouse. She sighed. Nie Sangyu's life was too tragic.
"Why was there a mouse…" Muxu clung to the wall in fear. Seeing the lotus leaf chicken on the ground, she felt so distressed that she wanted to cry.
Ji Man actually wasn't scared about the mouse. When she had been a migrant worker living in Beijing, she had lived in basements and had seen plenty of cockroaches and rats.
She stood up, picked up the lotus leaf chicken, and stuffed it back into the chest to dispose of the stolen goods. Then, sitting in front of the two vegetarian dishes, she helplessly said, "Let's eat first. It's still better than nothing. Later, bring the two handkerchiefs I finished embroidering to Liu Mama. Tell her I want to eat dinner."
"Understood." Muxu closed the chest and slightly relaxed her body. Feeling embarrassed, she went to stand at Ji Man's side.
Ji Man ate half and left the remaining half to Muxu. Then, she casually asked, "Who manages the residence?"
As Muxu ate, she answered, "Steward Qian has always been managing things."
Ji Man shook her head, "No. I meant who manages the concubines' food, clothes, and expenses?"
Muxu said, "It used to be Master Siling. Now that the new madam is here, it should be the new madam."
When Nie Sangyu had been the marquis's main wife, the marquis had criticized her for not being composed enough. He used this as excuse to give Qi Siling, who had always been virtuous and dignified, the authority over the residence's domestic affairs. The book hadn't described in detail the daily lives of the concubines, so she didn't know where to start. In addition, she couldn't leave the residence right now.
After Ji Man's mind went in a circle, her gaze fell on Nie Sangyu's clothing and jewelry.
"Muxu, do you want to eat delicious food?" Ji Man asked with a smile.
Muxu looked at her doubtfully and lightly nodded. "Master, what do you want to do?"
Ji Man gestured at her to come closer. Muxu went over and Ji Man whispered into her ear. Muxu's face paled. "Master, this… these are your favorites…"
"Meat is your master's favorite right now." Ji Man patted her shoulder and said, "As long as we're living, everything is okay. I thought things through. I'm not going to compete and fight with them anymore. But, at the very least, we should have enough to fill our stomachs, right?"
Muxu was silently for a long time before she finally nodded.
The marquis's residence had its own doctors. Muxu coincidentally knew one of the doctors. He was a young doctor with the surname Li. When Ji Man asked about her relationship with this doctor, Muxu hurriedly replied that they were innocent. They were only friends.
Seeing her small, blushing face and hearing her anxious explanation, Ji Man understood and didn't want to put her in a difficult spot. It was fine as long as there was a method to sell some of Nie Sangyu's jewelry.
Thus, Ji Man lied on the bed and pretended to be sick in the afternoon. Muxu went to inform Liu Mama and pleaded with her to call Doctor Li over to examine Nie Sangyu.
A concubine's status was low and couldn't afford a veteran doctor. Liu Mama saw the two handkerchiefs that Mu Xu had brought, so she didn't make things difficult for her. She went to call the doctor over for them.
"There's no need to tell this marquis that she's sick." Marquis Moyu was standing in the doorway. Looking at Liu Mama, he lightly said, "As long as she's not up to any tricks and isn't harming anyone, there's no need to come and inform this marquis about her situation."
"This servant was impudent." Li Mama saluted and decided to withdraw.
Ning Yuxuan thought of something else and opened his mouth to stop her, "Wait."
(T/N: There will be a new chapter each day by 5PM EST for the next two weeks.
Below in the comments, there's a spoiler/caution if you're going to MTL the novel.)