I am deeply aware that, as a maid, a qualified maid, a qualified maid from the 21st century, I am obligated to starve myself as I go and accompany my master to eat.
When we arrive, someone was already sat at the side of the table, Ying Lu sounds an almost inaudible “heng”, and chooses to sit at the other end of her. I dutifully stand by her side, looking straight ahead, observing the scene whilst at it.
Taking a look at the pair of beauties in front, black silky hair, a light sweep of willow-like brows, a pair of lowered almond eyes reflecting a slightly cold light, pink lips slightly curled up, only one look is needed, to know that’s a cold and arrogant master. She does not pay any attention to Ying Lu either, quietly sipping her tea, behind her, San-er occasionally says something in her ear, and after hearing those little comments, one can see the look in her eyes slightly soften.
I am being very objective here, if I were to say Imperial Sister is an overwhelmingly beautiful and fragrant tree peony, stunningly beautiful, then the one before me appears to independently blooms amongst the frost (refers to the plum blossom), cold and quiet, making people want to pick it. Ying Lu on the other hand, clearly does not view the beauty in a positive light, one hand playing with the white porcelain spoon adorned with blue patterns, looking towards the door from time to time, not knowing what she is expecting.
Tut tut, this lass and the beauty – Young Lady [of extended family] – clearly doesn’t get along.
Furthermore, looking at San-er by the beauty’s side, short fringe covering her forehead, bright eyes slightly carrying a smile, really looks a bit like the innocent and cute female leads in Korean dramas. I don’t like watching Korean dramas, using Beijing words, I just ‘不待见 / bù dài jiàn’ (Beijing slang to express dislike/annoyance towards something), you can directly understand that as I don’t like San-er, as for that Young Lady [of extended family], currently undetermined.
I have always been curious about the little uncle Ying Lu speaks of, I’m thinking that a little uncle that is able to infatuate such a young and blossoming girl, even if he is not of unrestrained yet elegant bearings, he should at least be gentle and culturally refined, this preconceived image has made me deeply feel, I am indeed superficial and bound by the norms.
When Ying Lu’s little uncle and Young Master steps through the door at the same time, the first thing I felt was, wa~, this person is very ‘Zhang Fei’ ahh……en, very manly. (Zhang Fei – one of the famous figures from the three kingdoms period)
Brightly lit eyes and bearded face, a body filled with strength and energy, Young Master’s slender body next to him is exactly what we call straight and slender like a bamboo ah.
Fifth Master (Little Uncle) take big strides towards the table and sits down, lightly speaking: “Ying Lu and Ru Xu are both here ah, serve the dishes then.”
Young Master elegantly sits down, taking hold of the teacup as he ridicules: “How can they not be, when someone here cannot wait to see you.”
Ying Lu fiercely glares at Young Master, not saying a word.
Fifth Master’s cold and stern eyes suddenly softens, looking at Ying Lu as he warmly says: “I’ve found a good cook from Jiangnan, have a good taste and see if the dishes suit your appetite.”
Ying Lu’s eyes that were originally filled with annoyance instantly gives rise to happiness, the corners of her lips uncontrollably curling upwards, but still she insists on trying to cover up such joy, simply responding, “En.”
Young Master glances at her with a seeming smiling, then with a sudden shift in his line of sight, he stares directly at me, eyes deeply black like an abyss.
I remain standing straight, showing no reaction whatsoever.
Fifth Master once again speaks: “Ru Xu, did you like the gift I gave you that day?”
Young Lady Ru Xu’s lips spreads into a smile, like the breaking ice in winter, a sudden dazzling sight, “Thank you Little Uncle, I really like it.”
Once those words were spoken, the eyes of the little master by my side sinks, once again looking dejected.
I recall Ying Lu’s huge explosion of anger a few days ago, and assume it’s related to the gift Fifth Master had given Young Lady Ru Xu, at that time she gritted her teeth, not even caring when her precious vase was smashed, and today her little uncle’s one sentence had her smiling in utter delight, followed by another sentence that cast dark clouds over her head.
Deep inside, I shrug my shoulders, she is indeed still a child.
“What did Little Uncle gift Ru Xu?” Young Master lazily narrows his eyes as he asks.
Fifth Master’s face also sinks, Ying Lu even more so appears unpleased, her eyes seeming to also carry a trace of aggrievement.
I curl my hands into fists, screw you, intentionally mentioning something that should not be mentioned, yet he doesn’t find it awkward at all, faintly glancing at them and then sending San-er an eye signal, San-er slightly pouts her red lips, angrily turning away.
Oh-ho, look at them exchanging eye contact like that.
Fifth Master does not answer, and the dishes had just come out in time, so Young Master does not continue to question it either, leisurely picking up his chopsticks ready to eat.
To not speak whilst eating, to sleep without a word, this phrase is implemented much more thoroughly in noble families.
I dryly watch them eat from the side, listening to the sound of chopsticks knocking against the bowls, I find that my ability to resist is truly strong.
Approximately half a quarter of an hour later, a maid comes carrying in a clear blue tray, looking at Young Lady Ru Xu and Ying Lu, and then takes a step forward towards Young Lady Ru Xu.
This lass — Ying Lu is definitely boiling with anger inside, placing down her chopsticks on the table neither lightly nor heavily, eyes shooting directly at the maid holding the tray, she says: “I’ll eat it.”
No matter how brainless that maid is, she is still able to understand the meaning, unable to proceed with the step she was about to take, unable to head to the left, also unable to head to the right.
The atmosphere instantly turns cold.
Fifth Master’s thick eyebrows locks together, “Ying Lu.”
Ying Lu blinks, lightly speaking yet clearly carrying satire within her tone as she asks: “Little Uncle, what’s wrong, can I not even pick my dessert before her now?”
Young Master watches them with interest, and Young Lady Ru Xu indifferently speaks up: “Little Uncle, just let Ying Lu have it first.”
Fifth Master glances at her and then looks at Ying Lu saying: “Ying Lu, this isn’t for you.”
Ying Lu tightly grits her teeth, raising her voice as she asks: “Not for me? Then what is for me?”
Fifth Master was rendered helpless, “Ru Xu’s body is unwell, this is a supplement I have specially brought back from beyond the borders.”
“Specially?” Ying Lu coldly harrumphs, “Who is she? For you to go through so much trouble? She is but a lost soul taking refuge here, to actually consider herself the Meng Estate’s young lady?”
Ru Xu’s face turns even colder upon hearing this, her body freezing.
Fifth Master also raises his voice, “Ying Lu!”
Ying Lu loudly speaks to the maid: “Bring it over to me!”
The maid blinks her eyes, looking utterly troubled.
That’s when classmate San-er suddenly speaks, “Young Lady, Young Lady, don’t panic, take it slow.”
Turning to that direction, turns out Ru Xu is suffering from shortness of breath, her face pale.
Fifth Master sees the situation and grows even angrier, “Enough of this nonsense, Xiao Ru, quickly bring the supplements to Young Lady [of extended family].”
Hearing this, the maid quickly paces forward, placing down the tray and excusing herself from the hall.
Ying Lu’s eyes slowly turns red, eyes set on Fifth Master, I can see both her hands tightly curl up, her fingernails may have already dug into her skin.
At the table, Young Master’s expression remains unclear, that handsome face showing no feelings whatsoever. Young Lady [of extended family] lowers her eyes, looking a little powerless and weak. As for San-er, she is at the side comforting her young lady whilst angrily casting a few glances over at Ying Lu.
This scene is insanely tense.
“Young Lady.” I woodenly speak up, in this silent moment, my voice sounding in particularly loud, attracting the several people’s line of sight to land on me.
Ying Lu does not say anything, only able to slightly turn her head, looking at me somewhat doubtfully.
I once again speak: “Young Lady, eat this.”
Ying Lu follows my line of sight and sets eyes on a certain dish, “……mushrooms?”
“En.” I answer without looking away: “It’s tasty.”
Ying Lu is presumably confused by my sudden interruption, going along with my words as she asks: “How do you know it’s tasty?”
“Ate it before.”
“……ate it before?” Ying Lu is baffled.
How could I not know what she is finding weird about this, is it not because this cook had only just been hired? And so I very honestly answer, “……snuck a taste.”
Young Master could not hold back from laughing out loud, long and narrow phoenix eyes glimmering with light.
Ying Lu also couldn’t help but to tug up the corners of her lips, “What a great thoughtless lass you are, watch how I punish you when we get back.”
I very seriously repeat again, “It’s really tasty.”
I’m not a deity, able to resolve the tension and cold atmosphere between them by spitting out a few words, but at least Ying Lu has seated herself again with her chopsticks in hand, eyes turning to eat the dish I spoke of.
“Tasty.” She flashes a dazzling smile at me, face like the rising sun.
I look at her happily eat the food bite after bite, look at Fifth Master’s somewhat helpless expression, look at Young Master’s inscrutable expression, look at San-er make slightly pitying glances, and Young Lady [of extended family]’s face that is cold like frost, deep down I find it all laughable.
Every single one of them know that Ying Lu is only acting, yet they don’t show it on the surface, Ying Lu knows she cannot deceive them, yet she can only continue to smile.
Ying Lu is a stubborn child, she stubbornly eats the food, stubbornly maintains her smile, stubbornly speaks to the air “I’m done eating, enjoy your meal.” And then, stubbornly stands up and walks out.
I am her maid, so I dutifully follow her. The wind that greets our faces is a little chilly, I look at the trembling, luscious branches thinking, so it is summer now.
My Young Lady Ying Lu walks quickly with hurried steps, a little like a soldier ready to rush to death. Upon returning to her room, she does not utter a sound, burying herself into the blanket and then remains motionless. I lightly close the doors, walking up to the bedside, I cannot see her face, and only know that her body is slightly trembling.
Ying Lu suddenly holds out her fist and beats at the blanket, gritting her teeth and hatefully asking: “Why why why?! Why?!”
Bearing with the pain, crying in despair, my mind suddenly went white for a moment, such scene, feels familiar.
“There is no why.” I hear myself coldly speaking.
Ying Lu raise her head and doubtfully asks: “Why why why?”
I look at her, saying: “The supplement is what Fifth Master gave Young Lady [of extended family], and not for Young Lady.”
Ying Lu’s eyes turns stern, her leg reaching out to kick at me. “I don’t need a maid like you to lecture me!”
I simply take a step back instinctively, perfectly letting her foot hit the air. “Young Lady, it’s not yours.”
It’s not yours, hence why you should not forcefully request it, should not hold hopes for it.
Ying Lu freezes, grabbing the pillow and throws it towards me, “Who said it’s not mine!? It clearly is mine! My little uncle, my older brother, my father, my family! What right does she have to fight over them with me!?”
I leave her to vent it out like an immature child, standing indifferently.
Ying Lu suddenly halts all her movements, only asking me with reddened eyes, looking very wronged, “Ah-Lan, why do they not love me?”
I don’t feel I can answer such a deep question, so I only walk up, looking directly at her.
The glimmer in her eyes gradually turns bleak, spreading her arms to hold me, just like last time.
Something wet drips onto my neck, and I myself, find it hard to breathe –– this feeling I have not experienced it for a long time already.
I return Ying Lu’s hug, getting a taste of her pain and sadness over and over again.
Ying Lu, you say they don’t love you, but did you know? Other people’s love are but flowers in the mirror, moon in the water, unable to pursue, uneasy to keep hold of.
In this world, only you can love yourself.
Looking at the entire matter, Ying Lu was indeed in the wrong, her actions were wilful and rude, her attitude arrogant and unrepentant, but I do not wish to reprimand her.
In this world, there are too many that are clear minded and understanding, I like this rare sight of true extremity.
I am someone who defends and neglects the shortcomings of mine and of those close to me, I believe, I have already considered Ying Lu as one of my own.
The days continues as normal, I am the most favoured maid within the Ying Courtyard, my status set in stone.
Such a- such a- person had once said, where there is people, there is Jiang Hu. And undoubtedly, I – someone who is unfamiliar with the waters – is currently in this river ah (江 / jiāng = river), lake ah (湖 / hú = lake), splashing around. Why you ask? I’m a little sad now, I’ve already said I don’t like that San-er, but all I had to do was go to Aunt Fu to pick up some new fabric, yet just like that, enemies are bound to meet on a narrow road.
Ai~, look at this, when is there anyone in the Jiang Hu who does not suffer under the blade, it’s just a matter whose body is struck by said blade.
“Ah-Lan, you came to pick up fabric for Young Lady too ah?” San-er’s crisp voice rings through the air.
I reply, “En.”
San-er glances at the fabric in my hand, laughingly saying: “So this is the fabric Young Lady Ying Lu likes, this fabric indeed looks nice, my Young Lady originally liked it too, just that she later felt it’s too lacking in terms of nobility, not worthy enough to wear out.”
I look at the fabric in her hands, honestly saying: “The fabric in your hands sure looks very nice.”
San-er takes my words lightly, saying: “This colour is what matches our Young Lady best.”
I add: “We all wear that when someone dies in my hometown.”
San-er no longer takes my words lightly, the corners of her lips twitches as she says: “This is top quality soft silk chiffon.”
I nod my head with clear understanding, once again saying: “En, exactly what we wear when someone dies.”
This Lady San-er’s face immediately turns green, after a long time, she quietly says: “Indeed a fool.”
Suddenly, her eyes light up, spreading a sweet smile as she looks ahead, and as expected, I see the handsome male in front.
“San-er.” Young Master curls his beautiful eyes as he calls out.
And then, San-er takes a step forward and runs over, “Young Master.”
I really wish to cover my face, damn, you two really think you’re filming a Korean drama.
When I stretch out my foot to trip her up, I felt no sense of guilt at all, I can confidently say I am not a nice person, I never was.