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Chapter 18: Exposing A Failed Plan
The next day, Jiang Ruan woke up at dawn. Bai Zhi had received some freshly cooked corn porridge for the morning meal. The corn was thoroughly mashed, then simmered to a pulpy texture. A faint, sweet aroma wafted from the dish. It piqued Lian Qiao's curiosity, "The kitchen is treating us well today. Why are we having corn porridge?"
The usual breakfast in the residence consisted of plain brown rice congee, which was so watery that one could see one's own reflection in it, and some pickled vegetables. There was never any corn porridge. It was not because the ingredients were extremely expensive, but because the kitchen staff was unwilling to spend more effort on preparing their meal. When they had first arrived at the residence, Bai Zhi and Lian Qiao argued endlessly with the kitchen staff on this matter, but once all was said and done, nothing had changed in the end. All of this was aggravated by the fact that those who were in the capital had never shown any concern towards Jiang Ruan, so there was no one to support her. Therefore, Jiang Ruan had become used to it.
Bai Zhi smiled, "Xiao Yuan sent it here." Ever since she had helped Xiao Yuan with mending some clothes a few days ago, Xiao Yuan was quite thoughtful and knew how to repay their kindness with her own kindness. Also, she visited them more frequently.
Lian Qiao was surprised, "She has a good character." After she finished speaking, she lifted the bowl, "Miss, you should drink a few mouthfuls. It is good for your body."
Nevertheless, corn porridge could not be considered a rare delicacy. As one might expect, its nutritional benefit could not be compared to that of precious medicinal herbs or fish supplements. But now, for them to cherish even a bowl of corn porridge, their days were indeed rather rough. Bai Zhi felt slightly sad thinking about it. However, Jiang Ruan lifted the bowl without any hesitation to take a sip and asked them to eat some as well. Bai Zhi was touched. It was rare to see her own lady remain positive while enduring hardships, after adapting to such a massive change in circumstances. From an early age, she had served Jiang Ruan and grown up with her in the residence. As a maid of a mistress who held no importance in the residence, naturally, she also met with cold shoulders from others. In a short span of a few years, she had seen beyond the facade of a person's warmth and coldness. And because of this, she had matured more quickly than other maids of her age and acted more responsibly. Even so, she felt that her tolerance and steadiness were nothing much when compared to her lady. But, she did not know from which moment it began, perhaps, it was after that serious illness, that her lady had become someone she could not read.
It was unusual that in one's life, one could still retain their ability to remain unshaken in the face of extreme joy or grief. In the past, whenever her lady reminisced about all the happy memories of her bygone days in the minister's manor, she would privately shed tears and feel dispirited about it, but now, Bai Zhi never witnessed those expressions anymore. Jiang Ruan was extremely calm now. After thinking about it, Bai Zhi said to Jiang Ruan, "Miss, it seems that you are becoming happier as the days pass by."
Jiang Ruan smiled lightly, but did not bare herself to Bai Zhi. The stress of living in poverty was nothing. So what if she had previously lived a life of luxury and extravagance? The most terrifying thing was when one did not lack for anything, and yet, felt as if they had nothing; no one to love her, no relatives, no family and no friends. Later, she thought that she had a lover, but his love for her was nothing but a pretense. Besides, these days were far, far better than being trapped in a wooden basin like a human swine and forced to watch her own loved ones being humiliated, and yet, being unable to do anything about it. At least now, she still had a complete body and her freedom. At least now, she was still alive. As long as she was alive, she would have the chance to turn the tables and make a comeback. And since she had crawled out of hell, she would not be mindful of these minor matters.
Right at that moment, they noticed someone dashing towards them from outside. Upon seeing that Jiang Ruan and her maids were all present in the room, she rushed in without even knocking on the door. Lian Qiao was shocked. After she had seen the person clearly, she reprimanded, "Xiao Yuan, why are you in such a hurry?"
Propping herself against the door, Xiao Yuan huffed and puffed, her face swollen and completely flushed red. After a long time, she barely managed to utter, "Miss, oh no!"
"Speak slowly," Bai Zhi furrowed her brows, "What happened?"
"A large number of guardsmen have surrounded the residence. They are claiming that someone has seen you kill a person." Xiao Yuan's eyes were frantic, "Auntie Lan is currently leading them over here."
 Guānbīng ( 官兵 ) – 'guan' means public servant, official. And 'bing' means soldiers or troops.
Lian Qiao widened her eyes, "How can our lady kill someone? It is clearly a malicious slander. How shameless!"
"Don't worry," Jiang Ruan slowly placed her bowl down, "Let's bide our time."
Translated by : togekiss
Edited by : Anks & Ely