Chapter 7 Blindfold Embroidering
At the noon, the warm sunshine spread on the Baiyu Palace softly and clearly, which sparkled the Rosefinch Gate in front of the palace.
At the middle gate, Leng Changxi held the halter tightly and heard the cries of a girl from behind. Now the poker-faced man just wanted to leave quickly, but he heard that those girls cried and cursed, “It’s all the fault of the concubine’s daughter of Qin family. If she did not intervene, I might have exchanged the flower sachet so as not to offend Imperial Concubine Yun. Nanny Liu, what should I do? I offended Imperial Concubine Yun. If She blames all on my father, what should I do? My father must punish me to death.”
“Don’t cry my second pearl of the family. Your father loves you very much, and he would not punish you.” A woman comforted the girl.
“Nanny Liu, no. The Imperial Concubine Yun will revenge anybody who offended her. I am afraid that my father will lose his rank politically…” The girl then wept again.
Looking at the two people who got into the carriage, Leng Changxi on the horse frowned and asked, “Where does the girl come from?”
A man aside him answered, “She is the daughter of General Shang.”
Shang Xianhua? Leng Changxi tipped his mask with all-in-mind expression in his eyes.
“My master, you want to draw General Shang closer to you?” A man with bushy eyebrows asked, “I heard that Shang Xianhua has much experience of wars for about 20 years, but he is still a five-grade official Huaiyuan General. Each time he came back from the frontier, he would hold a luxurious feast or hang out for enjoyment. The other day, according to the report of an informant, he spent thousands of golds to buy a Ferghana horse, but he kept it in his barn for enjoyment instead of riding.”
“Xue Si, you talk too much,” Leng Changxi said words shortly with much solemnity. The saffron yellow sunshine exactly shined on his neck where his adman’s apple was so conspicuous. Leng Changxi curled his finger to tip his nose and asked, “The cinder of Zizhan was taken back?”
“Yes, already in Jianzhou,” Xue Si answered, “Now it probably was taken into the ancestral hall of family Su.”
At the feast, a cold breeze blew.
Qin Yunuan stood in the middle of the feast in a green and moonlight-color skirt, which looked very refreshed and happy. Beside her, there were all colors of threads and all sizes of needles on the embroidering table. The eyes of Qin Yunuan had been covered by a white cloth, but her sensitive smell was not covered at all.
There came the smell of a man’s perspiration and grass, which lingered in the air. It was not like the delicate incense of Sima Ray. This smell was so cold, crazy, and tempting.
“Qin Yunuan, go ahead.” Empress Chen laughed.
The wrist of Qin Yunuan touched the embroidering shelf. She held the needle and started to embroider. After the incense was burned half, half winter jasmine bloomed on the white handkerchief, vivid, tender and lovely.
Qin Yunzhuang felt upset to see that Qin Yunuan was so ingenious. But Fang Ziying aside her could not help but praise.
“To my surprise, sister Yunuan is such an ingenious girl. I can’t embroider with covered eyes even if I train myself for three years.”
After the incense was burned over, the embroidering was down. Qin Yunuan took off the white cloth. The maidservants took the shelf closer to Empress Chen for better appreciation.
On the white cloth, yellow tender winter jasmine bloomed on the green branch vividly, which was so coincident to the season now.
“Nice,” Empress Chen smiled, “It seems that the wife of family Qin taught daughters the needlework well.” The praise also covered Qin Yunzhuang.
“My sister, Empress Chen, you are so generous and kind to those young girls,” The Imperial Concubine Yun glimpsed at the work and said in disdain, “There are some mistakes at the final needle. What’s more, the joint places of those branches also exist some mistakes. If the girl were in my palace, I would be so shameful about this.”
“I don’t think so.” Empress Chen touched the uneven places on the work, “Qin Yunuan is still young, and it is quite tough to embroider with covered eyes. I just wanted to check the embroidering ability of those girls, and she performed it quietly well.”
“Really?” Imperial Concubine Yun said with her higher eyebrows to the Qin Yunuan who stood politely at the table, “Sister Empress Chen is so generous and kind, but you are so rude. You even do not tell us your less-ingenuity, and it may cause a misunderstanding that people all believe sister Empress is so strict, or you submit a bad work on purpose to annoy Empress Chen?”
After hearing those words, Qin Yunzhuang, who had been upset just now, became refreshed, raising her head and waiting excitedly for the punishment on Qin Yunuan.
“I dare not to do that,” Qin Yunuan said with humble expression in her eyes, “I just…”
Just at the moment when Qin Yunuan hesitated to say something, the fat nanny aside Empress Chen quickly found the fingers hiding in the sleeves of Qin Yunuan and whistled to Empress Chen. Empress Chen frowned and waved her hands to Qin Yunuan, “Come forward.”
Qin Yunuan stepped forward.
“Reach your hands.”
Qin Yunuan then did it.
Empress Chen looked at the little hands of Qin Yunuan and felt strange. Sima Ray asked instantly, “What’s wrong with the hands of Qin Yunuan? The dactylus, how… due to the cold winter?”
“My third highness, these are chilblains,” the nanny felt sorry and said, “Only those servants who have no thick clothes and hot water to work will gain chilblains. Why…” The fat nanny did not say the words out, but all were curious about the reason why Qin Yunuan, as the third daughter of the mansion of Grand Commandant, got chilblains so seriously.
Empress Chen glimpsed at Qin Yunzhuang below with complex expression. Qin Yunzhuang was panic and lowered her eyes. She held the rush cushion on the back tightly to vent her anger.
“What’s wrong with you, sister Qin?” Shangguan Yee asked, “You are sweating.”
“I am fine.” Qin Yunzhuang stared at the platform again. Looking at the weak figure of Qin Yunuan, she doubted if her younger sister was really simple and pour? Were all these things the coincidences?
Qin Yunuan showed her tolerance and grievance, looking at the chapped and swollen chilblains on her hands. The chilblains witnessed her tough days when she had no warm clothes and stove in the poor yard of the mansion of Grand Commandant. Today, they were useful.
“That’s not a problem,” Qin Yunuan withdrew her hands timidly, “The chilblains were due to my bad sleep the other day. It was a little bit painful just now when I did the embroidering, so I got some mistakes in needling. Please forgive me, Empress Chen.”
Rome was not built in one day. Such serious chilblains could not be caused by a cold in sleeping. It was so conspicuous that it was impossible.
Imperial Concubine Yun did not give up, “Just the chilblains. Ruoer practices calligraphy daily, and his hands are also painful because of the chilblains. Qin Yunuan did well in the first two needles, but why she got pain later? I think she does that deliberately.”
That was quite funny. Practicing in the warm charcoal-stove room was much easier than embroidering in the air-leak room.
“I am scared. It is my first time to see Empress Chen. You are so beautiful and elegant. So, I just got panic to do embroidering.” Qin Yunuan answered politely and seriously.
Her words delighted Empress Chen.
“Huh, really?” Imperial Concubine Yun rolled her eyes to show her disdain and unhappiness to the low class and words of Qin Yunuan.
“Jinsu!” Empress Chen reproached Imperial Concubine Yun seriously. She waited for half a day to meet a chance to reproach Imperial Concubine Yun. She pointed at the hands of Qin Yunuan with a grieved face, “Her hands are so horrible. Don’t count this little matter.” And then she turned back to ask the fat nanny, “Fetch my Huayulu here.”
Empress Chen always acted as a generous and kind woman in front of others. Qin Yunuan knew it, but she did not predict Imperial Concubine was such a tough role.
In a while, the fat nanny fetched the bottle. Huayulu was an invaluable cure for trauma inside the bottle.
“It’s not serious.” Qin Yunuan lowered her head, “I am just the daughter of a concubine in the mansion of Grand Commandant. I am too menial to use medicine.” The more menial Qin Yunuan acted, the more people believed that her hands were hurt by the mother of Qin Yunzhuang, the legal mother of the mansion.
“Please use it,” Sima Ray said in a soft voice, “Take it since the Empress has granted it to you.”
Qin Yunuan constantly said thanks, and she even saluted to Imperial Concubine Yun who satirized her just now heavily. And then she quitted. The more respect and carefulness the better.
Looking at those gossiping girls, Qin Yunuan felt relieved. The scandal came from those girls. And just a few days later, all people would know that the third daughter in the mansion of Grand Commandant got chilblains. Her legal mother would be condemned by others, and then her younger brother and she would have chances to move out of the poor yard.
In this life, she should not only protect herself but strived for a good future for her younger brother, Qin Baochuan.
Qin Yunuan sat down. Fang Ziying pulled her hands and asked many things in a lower sound. Qin Yunzhuang still pinched the rush cushion more tightly, but her face was normal and kind, “Sister, your hands are so horrible. but why don’t you tell my mother? If you said it, my mother must handle it very well.”
“Sister, I did not say your mother will ignore me.” Qin Yunuan said with her pure and clear eyes.
Qin Yunzhuang felt embarrassed and turned her body without a word. She did not want to see the bottle of Huayulu. She was scratched by the cat, and Empress Chen awarded her Huayulu. But now Huayulu was awarded to the menial girl too. That was the sarcasm that the menial girl was equal to herself.
In the latter part of the feast, it was the section of poetry-singing and flower-hanging. Only noble girls or talented maidens could attend these activities, and Qin Yunuan had no right to attend them.
Qin Yunuan sipped the wine while she was quickly browsing the characters in the poets at the center of the feast.
Those smell existed still with the mixing of wine and plum fragrance, and the lingering smell attracted her.
“What’s wrong with you, sister Qin?” Fang Ziying sent a crystal-clear sweet orange to the saucer of Qin Yunuan, “You look not well.”
“Maybe I drink too much fruit wine,” Qin Yunuan perceived that Qin Yunzhuang now was leaning to hear their talks. She pretended to be drunk, “I feel hot and dry. Let me walk out for relief.”