Against Young Master’s scolding, I repeatedly think over it a few times, the conclusion I get from this is, I have not remembered wrongly, my surname is not Cui. Since my surname is not Cui, then Young Master’s meals aren’t my responsibility. Since Young Master meals aren’t my responsibility, then my relation to whether he starves to death or not is just like his relation to Chairman Mao: no relation at all.
But I cannot be like this, I’m a maid, I’m a maid with both rationality and kindness, I’m very generous, really am very generous. After several minutes of performing self-hypnotism, I blankly stare at Young Master’s stomach, then look at my own stomach……
“Young Master,” I speak up, my tone slowed, “In fact……”
Young Master lightly raises his pretty brows, appearing to be waiting for my explanation, “En?”
“In fact……” I sheepishly smile, “This servant is also hungry.”
Young Master’s bright black orbs falters for a second, followed by the dangerous narrowing of his long eyes, “What did you say?”
I maintain my honest smile, “In fact, this servant is also hungry.”
Young Master slightly leans in towards my face, his emotions undetectable in his deep voice, “You’re……also hungry?”
I blink my eyes and sincerely answer: “This servant didn’t eat breakfast, didn’t eat lunch, didn’t even eat dinner.”
Young Master’s pretty lips that were originally tightly pursed, makes an almost unnoticeable twitch upwards, eyes revealing a trace of laughter, and his tone suddenly softens, “Truly a fool, what’re you waiting for then? Quickly follow me.”
I have already grown accustom to his ‘one second of rain and thunder, another second of sunshine and rainbows’ behaviour.
As I see him suavely turn his back to me, I make an unkind speculation, was he not just engaging in a romantic moment with Ke Ren just now, how come he came back so early?Could it be that he’s ‘too hurried but lacks progress’, ‘willing in spirit but lacking in strength’? Aiya, if that is the case then he is so pitiful, I truly feel sympathetic for him ah, this child has such a tragic story.
But, when he leaned in towards me before, his body still only had the faint scent of rosin, added with the fact that he had not changed his clothes, eh, perhaps I can understand that due to some sort of unneglectable reason, he had no choice but to hit the emergency brakes?
In summary, no matter what situation he came under, his nonsensical behaviour just now, can all be understood.
Young Master, I understand you, really, I extremely understand. See, how kind and understanding I am.
I dumbly follow him into the room, dumbly watch him sit whilst I stand, dumbly sniff the waves of fragrance of the dishes that wafts past, dumbly putting on a blank face that completely contradicts my inner thoughts, dumbly hearing him speak with unusual gentleness: “Ah-Lan, you sit too.”
And in the end, I dumbly watch his hand pass over countless mouth-watering, fragrant and delicious dishes, pointing at a bowl of ‘white goose floating on clear water’, saying to me: “You shall eat this for your lunch.”
I believe that my expression must have turned even more blank.
He once again raises his phoenix eyes, holding back a smile as he adds, “Oh right, this has pork filling.”
I look at that bowl of dumplings — that despite being in clear water, also gives rise to steaming fragrance — and fall into a daze, my back tooth suddenly feeling a bit sore……
In fact, I really love eating dumplings, be it in that almost forgotten past life, or this life, and my deep love for this sort of white, big and juicy food, resulted in me suffering a onetime traumatic event that made me stay far from it but remain incapable of hating it. And the memory of that time……
To pretentiously laugh, to bitterly laugh, to dryly laugh, recalling it sure is a beautiful thing.
Going back to when I was seven years old, at that time, it was just the year end, inside and outside the palace was extremely busy and lively. I stay in my own little palace hall, comfortably sleeping in all day, not having it in my mind to participate in the liveliness, nor did I feel any excitement for the bright and jolly coming of the new year. I have always been insignificant, and what I like, just happens to be this insignificance.
On the final day of the year, I went to sleep early, when in a momentary haze, someone softly calls out my name, leading to my hazy awakening, in a state of confusion I see the handsome and fair-skinned young boy before me, “Ah?”
That handsome young boy, is also the eldest cousin that’s four years older than me, Yuwen Rui, who I’ve only just met not so long ago. He gently smiles at me and says: “Ah-Lan, you haven’t eaten dumplings yet, right? How come you’re already sleeping?”
I rub my eyes, dazedly speaking: “Nanny’s cooking isn’t nice, not eating.” In reality, they didn’t cook at all.
“Silly lass.” Yuwen Rui takes off his snow-white fox fur coat and wraps it around me, instantly encircling me in a clean scent, the moment he lifts me up, I was even thinking, what brand of body wash does this pretty male from the ancient times use……?
Yuwen Rui carries me to the table and sits down, using his forehead to rub against my face, dotingly saying: “Look, your face has gotten so warm from sleeping.”
I blankly look at him, pointing at the food basket on the table, “Eldest Cousin, this?”
Yuwen Rui lightly nudges my nose, “Knew you didn’t eat, so I specially brought it over from the estate.”
He opens the food basket and takes out two bowls of steaming hot dumplings, pushing the bowl with more dumplings in front of me, “Here, eat now.”
“Eldest Cousin sure is nice.” I sincerely say. Lowering my head to look at the fragrant and hot dumplings, I suddenly reach out and push it back away, shaking my head and saying: “Too much.”
Yuwen Rui’s lips hooks up, a sparkle of laughter circulating in his eyes, “Is that so? I was initially afraid it wasn’t enough for you.” He gives me the bowl with less, “You eat this bowl then.”
I shyly smile at him, “Alright.”
I eat extremely, extremely slowly, because I was in the midst of performing two tasks at once, only a small part of my mind was set on eating the dumplings, the bigger part of my mind was focused on Yuwen Rui who was eating his dumplings in a very cultured manner.
Save your doubts, you have not guessed wrong, the real reason I returned that bowl of dumplings just now was because I spotted that one in particularly huge dumpling, according to my many years of experience, that definitely contains ‘otherness’ in it – a copper coin. I grow somewhat eager, eager to see when he will bite into that copper coin and then let out a clear sound of “ga-beng”. And then I continue to watch him chew slowly, suddenly, and finally, his face stiffens, I try my best to control my overly cheerful feelings and flatly ask: “Eldest Cousin?”
Yuwen Rui sends me a refined smile, then elegantly parts his thin lips and spits out a copper coin, “Looks like great fortune is on my side this year.”
I watch his handsome face appear unaffected and feel slightly disappointed at heart, ah, why……I lower my head and stuff a dumpling into my mouth, unclearly saying: “Good fortune, Ah-Lan also wants great fortune.”
And then, I suddenly hear a sound of “ga-beng”……
Yuwen Rui’s face was instantly washed over with shock, “Ah-Lan, quickly spit it out.”
I obediently spit out the thing in my mouth, then see the copper coin hidden amongst the blood, as well as, my molar tooth. Aside from being struck dumber than usual, I really wanted to cry, but no tears were coming out, ah, why this now?
Yuwen Rui frantically takes out the handkerchief he keeps on him and helps me wipe away the fresh blood that leaked from my mouth, suddenly sounding “ah” before telling me: “Ah-Lan, I had forgotten, both these bowls have fortune dumplings in them.”
My eyes that have always been blank, finally tears up……I swear down I did not see wrongly, I swear down I truly saw from his handsome and gentle eyes, a flash of wickedness sweep past……
I look at the upwards slanting corners of his long eyes and suddenly think of a certain animal, a fox. I then look at his still gentle and elegantly handsome face, and suddenly, a certain thought comes to mind.
A black belly [person] should be killed as soon as possible in their cradle! Unfortunately……I have discovered him too late!
I snap out of my daze, meeting eyes with Young Master’s slightly gloomy handsome face. He narrows his phoenix eyes, “What’s wrong, not satisfied?”
I lower my eyes, “Young Master, this servant doesn’t eat dumplings.”
I have sworn to the heavens that in this lifetime, in the next lifetime, in the next next lifetime, I will never eat dumplings again, I’m not joking! My back tooth feels insanely sore whenever I see them!!!!!
Young Master’s slender fingers taps against the table top, a rare occasion of not making things difficult for me, “Fine then, Zi Ling, bring another bowl of rice.” He lazily glances at me, “Eat your fill, you’ll be attending to me in the study room this afternoon.”
Right after hearing Young Master’s words, I sensitively detect a pair of sharp and cold eyes on me, and then, a fragrant bowl of white rice is placed before me. A gentle smile spreads across Zi Ling’s beautiful-looking face, yet a cold shine faintly circulates at the bottom of her eyes, “Ah-Lan, eat now.”
I take the bowl and blankly say my thanks to her, lowering my head to claw in a small mouthful of rice. Mm, under her watch, my back tooth feels even more sore……
Just as usual, I eat slowly but with an extremely great appetite, the moment I raise my head, Young Master was just leaning back on the chair, lazily watching me with squinted eyes. I place down my bowl and chopsticks, “Mm, I’m full now.”
He lightly laughs out loud, wickedness flashing by in his phoenix eyes, “I have considerably expanded my views today, sure haven’t seen anyone eat so well before.”
I naturally block off his words of offense, tugging up the corners of my lips to display a dull smile, “Tasty.”
Young Master continues to carry a hint of laughter in his phoenix eyes, a face of unpredictable thoughts. Meanwhile, Zi Ling casts me a look of disgust, which I blatantly ignore. No matter who you ill-treat, you cannot ill-treat your own stomach.
Young Master’s slender fingers lightly taps on the table, before standing up and heading out, “Keep up.”
I obediently follow him, not caring for another attack of the cold eyes from behind.
We will always have so many enemies, be it real or imaginary, but most of the time, our biggest enemy, is precisely ourselves.
Young Master’s study room is not big but appears extremely refined and clean, on the left side is a clean desk made of sandalwood, with books and letters neatly placed on it, the little Kirin tripod incense burner is currently giving rise to curling smoke, an extremely light fragrance circulating around the room, not far behind from the desk is a long row of bookcases, one passing glimpse makes it appear to be completely full of books. On the right side is a small table and two chairs, in the corner is a little doorway set up but covered with green brocade curtains, presumably a place of resting inside. Young Master walks up to the desk and sits down, causally picking up the celadon cup to play with in hand, “Fool, what you waiting for?”
I show a face of confusion, “Young Master, I-?”
Young Master reaches out, taking out a roll of white paper from a drawing tube, and flattens it, then picks out a good quality wolf-fur brush from the brush holder, half narrowing his phoenix eyes, and lowly says: “Grind the ink.”
I walk up upon hearing this, staring at the ink stone and ink stick for a long time, then holding up the ink stick, I start to grind the ink. Though I have never grounded ink, how could I have not seen others do it? Being good at imitation is also a speciality.
Young Master glances at me, thin lips slightly hooking up. His eyes fall onto the white paper, staring at it for a good while before dipping the brush in ink and starting.
I focus on watching the ink dye the paper, falling into a trance. Why do I feel as though I truly seem like a maid now, dressing him, attending to him in the study room? But this is clearly not what I had imagined ah, I should be like the cute Zhan Lan, always hiding in the back listening to other people’s secrets, carrying numerous poisons and antidotes on me, holding handfuls of preserved fruits and melon seeds, living a carefree and happy life, then meet a powerful and good-tempered Shao Shi San, and finally, naturally go with the flow and become a fairy couple…… (Refers to the novel Guài Yā Tou / 怪丫頭 – Strange Maid – by Xí Juàn / 席絹)
“Dong!” I clutch my forehead that was suddenly attacked, sounding a “-si-” sound, and then look Young Master, puzzled. Scumbag, what are you doing?
Young Master narrows his long eyes, slowly saying: “You sure are capable, to fall into a daze whilst grinding ink.”
The ordinary response should be ‘oh no no, you flatter me’ to return the sarcasm, but my response was to just lightly furrow my brows, continuing to look at him in confusion, to express that I am very ignorant and clueless.
A flash of helplessness passes Young Master’s eyes, then suddenly sparks an interest as he looks at me: “Are you literate?”
I nod, “I am.”
Young Master slightly raises his brows, “Oh? You’ve received private tutoring?”
I then shake my head, “No. The Guan Cai next door taught me .” I add. (棺材 / Guān Cai = coffin)
Young Master pauses, “Coffin……? Scholar……Guan?” (Scholar Guan or 关秀才 / Guān Xiù Cái – playing with the misinterpretation of the similar sounding words, the scholar position mentioned here is more accurately the title of someone who passed the imperial examination at the county level)
I look at him strangely, “Young Master knows Mister Guan Cai? That’s what everyone else calls him.”
Young Master quietly mutters: “Of all surnames it had to be Guan……of all people to teach it had to be this fool……he really deserves it.”
I blink and blink, Grand Tutor Guan, I am truly sorry to you this time.
“You know how to write?” Young Master asks again.
I nod without any hesitance.
Young Master lightly curls up his thin lips, faintly smiling as he passes the brush to me, “Very good, write a few words for me to see.”
I take the brush, looking up to meet Young Master’s gleaming eyes, “Young Master, I really have to write?”
Young Master pulls me to his side, indifferently saying: “Write.”
……fine, I’ll write then. And so, taking an extremely perfect position, I hold up the brush, then with extremely perfect posture, I lower the brush.
And then, and then……
When the first stroke is drawn, Young Master narrows his eyes.
When the second stroke is drawn, Young Master twitches the corners of his eyes.
When the third stroke is drawn, Young Master closes his eyes in defeat.
“Stop.” Young Master’s voice seems to convey complicated feelings.
I obediently put the brush down, “Young Master?”
Young Master points at the character I wrote, his handsome cheeks slightly darkened, “This is what you said you’re capable of?”
I’m really innocent, “Young Master.”
“This servant knows how to write.”
“This servant isn’t good at writing.”
Young Master pauses, “What you mean is, it was Young Master – I – who had misunderstood?”
I cooperatively lower my head as I speak: “Young Master’s words are correct.”
“Then you tell me, what character have you written?”
I follow Young Master’s white finger and see the blob of black ink, “Eh, Meng (孟)?”
“Are you sure it’s not ‘Lan (蓝)’?” Young Master mocks.
I continue to cooperatively speak: “It is whatever Young Master says it is.”
Young Master gently presses his thin lips together, spreading a soft smile, taking a step behind me, his big palm pastes onto my hand, steadily tracing three beautiful characters. He leans in close to my ears and lowly speaks, his warm breath bringing upon a round of shiver.
“Ah-Lan, remember, this is my name, Meng Shao Jue (孟少珏).”
So Eldest Cousin Yuwen Rui has yet to show up, but we finally get to know a little more about him – another black-belly XD