That middle-aged man took me to a place before instructing me to wait on the side, I too, just acted obedient and listened well. Not long after, he and a middle-aged woman comes out together, I see that that woman’s face is quite square, brows slightly raised, from appearance alone, looks like another shrewd one.
The middle-aged man tells me to go along with that middle-aged woman, and so I know that I have already been sold, just don’t know how much I was sold for?
I quietly follow the woman to a horse carriage, whilst that middle-aged man followed alongside us, trying his best to suppress his smile so that I don’t notice anything strange. And I very cooperatively, pretend to not see anything off about the situation, looks like I am his ‘unexpected fortune’.
I step into the horse carriage, unsurprisingly seeing a good few girls already inside, all approximately aged thirteen or fourteen. Looking at their appearances, it seems that they all belong to the fair and delicate type, I assume that the place I’m going to would not accept any worse either.
All those girls keeps their heads slightly lowered, fingers helplessly winding up their own hair.
I suddenly feel happy, nobody would have thought that I’d actually be happy to sell myself off, eh, no, more like blatantly serve myself up. But no one can blame me for this, spending my days in the palace for over ten years really has suffocated me, I need a surprise, although, this could very well become other people’s fright.
These other people, includes Seventh Brother. Of course, I can also imagine Oldest Cousin raging at Seventh Brother after finding out they had lost me……
Seventh Brother sure is fortunate, one must know, this refined scum that is Oldest Cousin is not one to easily get angry. But occasionally, when the raging flames has been lit, it will definitely cause a painful burn.
Amen, Seventh Brother, may the lord be with you.
I quietly daze out in the horse carriage for a very very long time, until someone lifts the curtains, the blinding light that comes pouring in causes me to squint my eyes. The middle-aged woman and an aunt tells us all to step out of the carriage, and then proceeds to line us up into a little squad before we enter through what is clearly the back door.
I continue to obediently act like a silly girl, oh, I can finally accomplish one of my ten biggest dreams I had in the past, to come to the ancient times and be a maid. My heart felt a little moment of satisfaction.
In front, the aunt in brown clothing who is negotiating with the middle-aged woman supposedly has some sort of role that puts her in charge, those sparkling eyes looks at the few of us as though choosing white cabbages at the market, don’t know just how many times her eyes had circled around us altogether, but in the end, she finally nods her head at the middle-aged woman and says a few words.
I automatically translated her words as: “En, the white cabbages this time aren’t bad.”
And so, it’s time to be transferred over again, the woman dusts off her clothing and was ready to leave with great satisfaction, right before leaving, she even spoke to us with deep affection: “Coming to the Meng Estate is your blessing, remember to listen to Aunt Fu well from now on, understand?” (The Meng here is Mèng / 孟, different to the Méng / 蒙 of the green vegetable boy in the prologue)
A line of white cabbages uniformly nods their heads.
Especially this white cabbage that is I, nodding in particularly sincerely.
Once the middle-aged woman left, Aunt Fu comes. She stands before us and carefully looks us up and down, eyes scanning from one girl’s hair to the soles of their feet, and finally that pair of extremely ghostly eyes sets onto me.
I’m thinking, success, An Ke Lan, you’ve caught her eye.
Aunt Fu very slowly, very slowly walks to me, staring into my eyes for two full minutes, “Young lass, do you know how many this is?”
I am speechless, she actually held out two chubby fingers and waved them in front of my face, of course the dull look in my eyes have succeeded in catching her attention.
“Two.” I softly say, voice and eye flat and dull as always.
Aunt Fu suddenly lets out a sigh, regretfully saying: “A pity, truly a pity.”
I really wanted to tug at her sleeves asking: “What’s a pity? What’s a pity?”
But I cannot, because my character is a fool.
As I was thinking this, I hear someone ask: “Aunt Fu, what are you saying is a pity?”
Aunt Fu turns and smiles at the person: “So it is Young Lady that has come, I was just talking about this lass.”
I glance over from the corner of my eyes, that Young Lady appears to be approximately fourteen or fifteen, blazing red long dress highlighting her little face that is white like jade, clearly a half grown up child yet has a sharp presence, right hand holding a silver long whip. I think about this for some time, I may have encountered the legendary haughty young lady.
Her big eyes glances over us, saying: “These lot are the new arrivals?” Contempt clearly hidden within her slightly raised voice.
Aunt Fu nods, “En, all of them had only just been sent here.”
Young Lady runs her hand along the whip, slowly pacing over. Walking back and forth, and back and forth again, sauntering in front of us for a long time, the fine whip handle lightly tapping against the palm of her hand.
“Aunt Fu, by ‘pity’, were you referring to this lass just now?” Young Lady bluntly points at me with the whip.
Aunt Fu smiles, “Well if it isn’t her I was just talking about.”
Young Lady half narrows her eyes upon hearing this, eyeing me up for a long time, as though observing a creature, then finally comes to a conclusion, “It is indeed a great pity, sure is born with a delicate and pretty face, just that the look in her eyes isn’t too good, similar to my house’s Xiao Hei.”
I am incapable of stopping my fingers from twitching, although I cannot be certain of what the Xiao Hei she speaks of is, my guess can’t be far off.
The short legged sausage dog (Dachshund) I used to own is called Xiao Hei.
Speaking of our dear Xiao Hei, back then, it was also the dominant dog of our area. Everywhere he went, he beckoned other dogs, leading them to attack the chickens in other people’s homes, such a grand air of flying chickens and jumping dogs (a scene of chaos). In the end, grandfather could not tolerate it anymore and so didn’t bother tolerating at all, grabbing a rope, he was preparing to keep it tied up, but who knew he’d put in too much strength and actually strangled Xiao Hei to death. Say, this matter, how sad of a memory it is.
—-my Xiao Hei that lived a bitter life, forgive your owner I, for not being able to see you in your final moment.
“Young Lady’s words are correct, it is also this girl’s lack of blessing, Young Master does not like this type.” These words contains some sort of regretful meaning, but Aunt Fu’s expression does not change at all.
Young Lady’s eyebrows twitches, contemptuously glancing over us all, “What’s this, has [Older] Brother taken interest in pretty ladies from humble upbringing again, lately?”
Aunt Fu’s lips hooks up into an appropriate curve, “It is as Young Lady says.”
That young lady probably finds it a little uninteresting, eyes circling around a few times, before lazily saying: “Just leave this fool for me, seeing as I’ve been bored to the extreme as of late.”
Aunt Fu nods: “Since Young Lady wishes to, do take her.” She then turns to ask me: “What’s your name?”
I deliberately stall for three or four seconds, then flatly say: “Ah-Lan.” (Lán /蓝 – the colour blue)
“Ah-Lan?” (Lán/兰 – orchid) Young Lady twitches her lips, “This name sure is countrified, from today onwards, you shall be called Ah-Lan (Lán /蓝 – the colour blue), not the Lan as in the orchid flower, but the Lan as in the blue sky.”
I calmly accept, “En, this servant knows.”
See, I’ve always had a good temperament, taking on rough matters as they come, I will never intend to go against the master.
“What’re you still waiting for, want to wait for my brother to come and ridicule you?” Young Lady coldly says.
I have now come to the understanding, that this young master is a master that’s only interested in beauties, thus, will not like a fool like me, furthermore, he could also very well own a venomous tongue.
Young Lady and I follow a maid as we wind around the labyrinth for half a day, finally stopping at ‘Ying Courtyard’.
Ahead, Young Lady’s steps does not stop, behind, I’m also quickly pacing after her, maid rule number one, where the master goes, I shall follow, with the exception of dangerous places.
Without showing the slightest ladylike behaviour, Young Lady pushes open the doors to a room, then hurriedly heads to the bedside, saying: “Xiao Hei, Xiao Hei, where are you? I found a companion for you.”
I start to think deeply, a pet that can go on the bed, looks like this Xiao Hei has a high possibility of being a cat, moreover, it’s a black cat with glistening fur.
But God has always loved to play tricks on me, not long after Young Lady’s words were heard, I see something squirm amongst the bedding, followed by the head — of something that looks like quite the character — popping out.
Young Lady sure was laughing with great joy, holding the little plaything in utter excitement, “Xiao Hei, my little baby.”
Looking into those beady black yet soulless eyes of Xiao Hei, I deeply feel a sense of lamentation.
Never would I have thought that Xiao Hei is a pig, an authentic mini fragrant pig, so ugly that it cannot get any uglier, so expensive that it cannot get any more expensive, such is the “fragrant” pig, although I personally cannot smell what’s so fragrant about it at all.
Looks like this young lady has a hobby of raising a pig.
As I am inwardly making a joke out of all this, Young Lady looks up, “Why’re you still standing over there, are you not going to quickly come over?”
And so, I obediently walk over to her side, “Young Lady.”
Young Lady strokes Xiao Hei’s smooth head: “Xiao Hei, look, this is the companion I’ve found you, although it can’t be said that she’s the same level as you, but at least she resembles you in one aspect.”
And then raising her head, she smiles and says: “Both eyes dull and soulless, a fool.”
Xiao Hei seems to have gotten a little excited, straining to breathe through both nostrils—-a show of dominance?
Deep down I am slightly hurt, maids these days are not worth much, to actually be compared to a pig, moreover, even this pig is looking down on me.
“Fool, what you stalling for, go pour me a cup of tea.” Young Lady orders.
I take dignified steps to the table, eyes fixed on the teapot as I pour out tea, then carefully pass the cup of tea to Young Lady.
Young Lady’s face slightly stiffens, “Fool, do you not even know how to pour tea?”
I blankly raise my head, “Ah?”
The cup is filled up, enough to quench thirst.
Young Lady pauses after seeing my face, then impatiently returns the cup to me, “Fine fine, place it back, go to the table and grab a few snacks to feed Xiao Hei.”
Once again, I carefully carry the tea back, making a fine selection of a snack and walk back over, preparing to attend to Great Pig Master Xiao Hei.
“Baby Hei, open your mouth, come on now, take a bite.” Young Lady says in a pampering manner.
I twist that piece of snack trying to deliver it into Great Pig Master’s mouth as though my life depended on it, but it can’t be helped that Great Pig Master will not cooperate, with one vigorous movement, it turns its head away and avoids it.
I tell myself to stay calm, perhaps these days, even pigs have an adolescence period, and even plays rebellious.
Young Lady raises her head to glance at me, giving me a strange look.
I continue trying to feed it, Great Pig Master, you best not fail me, or else I’d certainly claw open your top and bottom lips and shove half an apple into it.
“Heng heng.” Great Pig Master harrumphs, appearing to be quite unpleased.
Young Lady immediately pulls my hand away, “Stop stop stop, don’t feed it.”
Seeing this, Great Pig Master makes another two sounds of harrumphs, this I can make out, it’s expressing joy this time.
The three of us enter a moment of deadlock, when a deep yet captivating voice sounds from outside the doors.
“Ying Lu, is Xiao Hei feeling any better today?”