Chapter 10: Giving a Present of a Root Sculpture
Truth be told, Bai Xiangxiu had only fainted for a moment. By the time she’d woken up, that man had already leaning on top of her, staring intently at her. Even with her eyes tightly shut, she could still smell his dense manly musk, which almost caused her heart to stop beating. She was so scared that she didn’t dare move. It wasn’t clear to her what the male lead was trying to pull. This was completely different from the plotline!
In the story, the male lead hadn’t become involved with any of his concubines before he’d met the female lead. Since that was supposed to be the case, how did she suddenly end up beneath him?! Soon enough though, the weight on her vanished as the man strode out. She let go of the breath she was holding, gasping in relief, “”Aiya! He scared me to death. Was the male lead high on something?”
She wiped the sweat away from her forehead. As expected, the scariest one here was the male lead. She redoubled her determination to pursue the supporting male lead. However, she’d overworked herself recently and her blood sugar levels were a little low. Was that why she’d suddenly fainted several times? While she sat there contemplating, Xiao Shi arrived with the physician in tow.
Xiao Shi noticed that the prince had already left, instinctively letting out a sigh of relief. She immediately berated herself for that. She should’ve been disappointed that the prince was no longer here. Her mistress was the prince’s concubine, so it would only be her mistress’ blessing if he bestowed favor on her.
However, she couldn’t help but feel distressed as she looked at her delicate mistress. The prince was such a towering, powerful military man. She was afraid that her mistress wouldn’t be able to take… Xiao Shi’s face flushed as her thoughts began to wander.
Bai Xiangxiu started to drink today’s medicine. She didn’t even glimpse the shadow of the male lead in the coming days. She had the feeling that he’d come in the first place because the old madame had pressured him to. But why hadn’t he gone to any of the other courtyards? Perhaps, he’d come because she’d been too frightened?
One should never try to guess the male lead’s mind. No matter how much one guessed, the correct answer would never reveal itself. Since he was her harbinger of doom, it was better not to be too familiar with him anyway. As for her, her poem hadn’t seemed to seduce the supporting male character Song Jiaoyue. So it turns out that fame was the most important? She sighed and continued to think of another method to seduce him.
That’s right! The old madame’s birthday is coming soon. The supporting male character will definitely show up there, but the female lead won’t because she’s ill. That’s why she delivered a painting which attracted the attention of the male lead and the supporting male. I can’t let the supporting male notice the female lead. I need to scramble for a bit of the limelight. At least, I can’t be outdone by the female lead. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to retrieve his heart later on.
When Bai Xiangxiu recovered, she poured all her energy into thinking about the best present to give the old madame. A painting was obviously out of the question. She was only an expert when it came to gardening. She thought about it carefully for a very long time before asking Xiao Shi, “Where can we find tree roots in the compound?”
“Ah? Tree roots? Madame Xiu, what do you want with that?” Xiao Shi had the feeling her mistress was becoming weirder and weirder recently. The illness caused by her fright was apparently still not healed yet.
Bai Xiangxiu smiled mysteriously, “S-e-c-r-e-t~!”
Xiao Shi, confused as she was, was nothing if not dutiful, “I’m afraid that only the kitchen would have some.” The kitchen chopped tree roots to feed their cooking fires.
“Come, let’s take a look and see.” Bai Xiangxiu set down her cup and decided to take a walk with Xiao Shi. Ever since she’d transmigrated to this place, she’d always hid inside her small courtyard and rarely gone out. Of course, she immediately attracted attention once she left her courtyard, not only because of her appearance, but also because of the way she dressed herself.
Bai Xiangxiu was a modern person, thus there was some modern elements added to her attire, such her makeup style and accessories, which were all different from others. The fusion of ancient and modernity was both clever, and very becoming. However, she had already forgotten her stunning appearance. Her smile lit up her face as she happily hummed ditties all the way to the kitchen. The servants in the kitchen momentarily stopped what they were doing to gawk at her. How could the beautiful and charming Madame Xiu come to such a dirty place like the kitchen?
Xiao Shi saw her mistress about to forget herself and do things in her usual carefree manner. Xiao Shi hurriedly obstructed her mistress before she could rush into the kitchen and said, “Madame Xiu, someone might run into you if you walk in like this. Why don’t you rest inside the pavilion? Your humble servant will call someone over to handle the matter.”
How troublesome! Nevertheless, Bai Xiangxiu was forced to sit inside the pavilion. An auntie soon arrived and spoke to Madame Xiu with a careful smile, “Madame Xiu, what instructions do you have for us in coming to this dirty place?”
There were not that many masters in the rear court of the prince’s complex, and all of them just recently moved in. Therefore, the servants were all extremely careful with their attitudes because they had yet to understand their mistress’ tempers.
Bai Xiangxiu replied with a winning smile when she saw that the auntie’s attitude was good, “It’s like this… I’m searching for some tree roots. The stranger the appearance, the better. Can auntie arrange something like that for me?”
The auntie was lost for words, but soon recovered, “Certainly, but the firewood room is dirty and messy. Would it be better if I let someone bring a few for you to choose?”
“You wouldn’t know what kind of tree root I want. It’s better if I go myself. You can just find someone to lead me the way.”
Bai Xiangxiu was quite polite and looked very beautiful when she smiled. The auntie had a very good impression of her. Although her request was a bit strange, the auntie had no issues with it, “Then, please just follow me. I’ll lead the way. This way please, Madame Xiu.”
Bai Xiangxiu followed behind Xiao Shi until they reached the firewood room. After rummaging through the room for a while, Bai Xiangxiu finally found what she was looking for. She had the servants carry it over to her Winter Courtyard. Her heart was filled with satisfaction, and she instructed the kitchen to cook some of her favorite dishes before returning.
The servants were all baffled. A pampered, beautiful and charming madame wanted to eat common food? What on earth? In the end, they were servants and simply stifled their questions. They could only let it go and send over dishes as per her requests.
On the way back, Bai Xiangxiu and her group of servants encountered Prince Long Heng. Seeing the group of servants gamely carrying a tree stump, he frowned, “Why are all of you carrying this thing?”
“In response to Your Highness, Madame Xiu personally ordered us to carry this thing over to Winter Garden. We have no knowledge about its use.” The servants were on one knee, head down, as they replied.
Long Heng was baffled. She was a frail lady who’d fainted when putting even one step on the road. What did she want to do with this kind of cumbersome thing? Although he found the idea strange, he didn’t stop them. He took off after throwing out these words, “Then, on your way!”
He wanted to go out to find a gift for his mother’s birthday today, and was worrying about what to gift her. Looking at that tree stump which vaguely resembled a table made him recall that his mother loved tea. It wouldn’t be a bad idea idea to gift her a set of tea utensils.
The place that had previously been filled with paper and ink was now filled with wood shavings after the crude wood stump was brought back. Xiao Shi personally witnessed her mistress grabbed a pile of carpentry tools and start to shave, level, cut, drill the stump.
She was worried! She feared that her mistress would be injured by those heavy tools. Fortunately, her mistress seemed to be used to this kind of work and remained surprisingly unharmed.
Bai Xianxiu was talking to herself while working, “Ah! This, this is called wood carving.”
“Madame Xiu, who are you talking to?” Xiao Shi asked suspiciously.
“No one. I was talking to myself.” The truth was, she was conversing with Huo’er, the cactus. He seemed to have ten thousand questions and kept asking questions about everything all day long.
She normally didn’t like to respond to him, since she was afraid that her one sided conversation might give off the impression that she was crazy. However, if she was alone, she would sometimes reply with a word or two. She didn’t noticed Xiao Shi coming in with tea earlier and so had been overheard by her servant.
“What’s wood carving?” Xiao Shi asked suspiciously. Surprisingly, both the cactus and Xiao Shi had asked the same question.
Bai Xiangxiu smiled and answered, “Both of you will know when I’m done.”
“Oh!” Xiao Shi nodded. Wait, what did she meant by “both of you”? Who was the other person? Could it be the prince?
It seemed like her mistress still had the prince on her mind. She couldn’t help but feel a burst of distress for her mistress when she thought about that night.
“Oh, how many more days until the Old Madame’s birthday?” She had prepared this for such a long time, it really seemed like a big deal!
“There are still three days left.” Xiao Shi replied.
“Good, there’s still enough time.” Although wood carvings needed a very long time to be completed, she’d expressly chosen a piece of wood that already had most of the finished shape, so it wouldn’t take her too much time to spruce it up to a finished product. It would be done after she put some lacquer on it, something she could easily do herself.