Home Post 1801-chapter-8


What Chang Ning desperately desired was an unbearable ordeal for Wang Xi.  

Wang Xi’s voice was clear and melodious; her father often praised her voice as being akin to a “nightingale.” When she was younger, her father used to tease her to make her talk more.  

She took advantage of her good voice and often recited Buddhist scriptures for her grandparents, great-grandparents, and even great-aunts in order to show filial piety to the elders.  

So when the Madam Dowager asked her to read Buddhist scriptures, she happily went along. 

Little did she know that the Madam Dowager was different from her grandparents.  

After bringing her into the Buddhist hall, the Madam Dowager had Shi Mama fetch a copy of the Diamond Sutra and arbitrarily pointed to a page, instructing her to start reading.  

The Madam Dowager herself leaned against the window-side kang, closed her eyes, and played with the sandalwood prayer beads in her hand.  

Wang Xi read several pages of scriptures in a row. Only then did the Madam Dowager open her eyes, smiling contentedly, and said, “Alright, let’s stop here for today!” 

When she used to read scriptures to her grandmother in Shu, there would be a bunch of maids and servants around her, serving tea and fans.  

After she finished a section, her grandmother would worry about her and repeatedly ask her to rest, even personally feeding her honey water and inquiring if she was tired.  

Her grandmother would praise her for reading well. If not rewarded with gold, silver, or precious jewels, she would be gifted antique items or at least some snacks. If she read scriptures for other elders in the family, it was even more exceptional.  

Besides the elders giving her good things, her grandfather and grandmother would reward her again. 

But here with the Madam Dowager, she was only given a cup of tea, which was Madam Dowager’s favorite Lao Jun Mei tea.  

The taste of the bland tea made Wang Xi sigh quietly. Did the Madam Dowager ask her to read scriptures because she liked her or to punish her?  

If there were such opportunities in the future, she would just push them to Chang Ning.  

Wang Xi glanced at the hourglass in the small Buddhist hall. It was almost the time when the Marchioness would usually come to discuss family affairs with the Madam Dowager. She should be able to get away soon! 

Wang Xi’s mood finally improved a bit.  

She pondered how to avoid the Madam Dowager occupying her free time in the afternoons, considering she had to pay respects to the Madam Dowager in the mornings and accompany her for meals in the evenings. She had to find a way to ensure the Madam Dowager didn’t take up her afternoons as well.  

Wang Xi was always quick-witted, and her thoughts sparked an idea. 

Putting down the teacup, she smiled at the Madam Dowager and said, “The Bathing Buddha Festival is coming. How about I transcribe a few pages of scriptures to offer to the Bodhisattva?” 

The Madam Dowager, momentarily forgetting about the Bathing Buddha Festival, felt that Wang Xi not only was lively and cute, able to make her laugh, but also remembered various festivals and managed social interactions tactfully. She thought Wang Xi had the qualities of a good housewife.  

The Madam Dowager’s gaze towards Wang Xi softened a few degrees. “Good, do as you say.” 

Wang Xi’s eyes sparkled with joy.  

She could already imagine the leisure of lying on a reclining chair near the bamboo curtains at noon without going outside.  

Then the Madam Dowager started talking about Miss Shi from the Shi family: “Her given name is ‘Zhu.’ She’s a year older than you. She’s the only daughter of the Shi family’s cousin. She was spoiled growing up, although she has a somewhat spoiled temperament, her character is not bad. If she offends you in any way, just let it go for her maternal grandmother’s sake. Report it to me, and I will punish her.” 

Wang Xi listened indifferently. Was the Madam Dowager afraid they would fight? But who wasn’t a delicate woman? She just wondered how this Miss Shi was so spoiled.  

Even before the person arrived, Chang Ning was already excited as if she had found a helper.  

Did the Madam Dowager start admonishing her in advance because of that? 

Wang Xi was eager to meet this Miss Shi. She asked, “When will Miss Shi return to the capital? Shall we go out to welcome her? What are her preferences? So I can prepare an appropriate gift for her when she arrives.” 

Seeing her open-minded attitude, the Madam Dowager felt even more pleased with Wang Xi and said, “She has already set off. She will definitely arrive before the Dragon Boat Festival. As for what to give, she is quite sensible, just like you. She will like whatever you give her.” 

Really? Just like her?  

She’s quite vengeful.  

When she was little, there was a time when her fourth aunt went to her maternal home and brought lavish gifts for her second brother and her, but only a set of stationery for her eldest brother.  

She complained to her grandfather and grandmother about it, leading to her fourth aunt being severely scolded. Since then, her fourth aunt dared not neglect her eldest brother anymore.  

Not to mention, a few years ago, her fourth uncle came to borrow money from their family for business. She brought up this incident again, causing her fourth uncle to be unable to borrow money from them and losing a significant deal.  

If Miss Shi is like her, wouldn’t she also hold grudges? 

Wang Xi rolled her eyes inwardly, but the Marchioness approached.  

Seeing Wang Xi in the Buddhist hall, she hesitated to speak.  

Wang Xi excused herself and pouted as she returned to the Clear Snow Courtyard. 

Hongchou, holding her telescope, was eagerly awaiting her return. When she saw Wang Xi, she ran over and pulled her towards the backyard. “Quick, quick, quick! That person is practicing swordsmanship again. He appeared shortly after you left. We might still catch the end of it if we hurry.” 

Excited, Wang Xi and Hongchou hurried to the pavilion on the artificial hill.  

Unfortunately, they were a step too late. In the adjacent courtyard, there were only fallen leaves scattered on the ground. 

“How could this happen?!” Hongchou stomped her foot anxiously. 

Wang Xi knew it was because she returned too late. She asked Hongchou, “When did that person appear specifically? How long did he practice swordsmanship?” 

Hongchou answered carefully, “Around the hour of the Rabbit (5-7 AM), he started and practiced for about an hour.” 

“At least there’s someone normal,” Wang Xi said disappointedly, unable to help but complain, “Who wakes up after the hour of the Rabbit? Look at the person practicing swordsmanship next door; he only started at the hour of the Rabbit. However, he woke up so late; he definitely doesn’t have to attend the early morning court session. I wonder if there’s a way to find out who this person is?” 

She sent someone to inquire about matters in the Princess’s residence.  

What if someone discovered and had to be silenced?  

Wang Xi pondered the feasibility of this plan.  

Ironically, Hongchou was still there encouraging her: “The Princess’s residence can’t survive without buying groceries and eating, right? We can ask around in the Eastern Market about the household that supplies groceries to the Princess’s residence. Then, we can send someone to disguise and go inside. We’ll surely find out who this person is.” 

Seeing Wang Xi’s excitement, Wang Mama wanted to advise her a few words but was pulled away by Baiguo.  

She whispered to Wang Mama, “You should accompany the young miss. The young miss has suffered today. She had to read Buddhist scriptures for the Madam Dowager for so long and didn’t even get a cup of honey water.”  

She said, reproaching herself, “It was my oversight. I thought it was the Madam Dowager’s Buddhist hall; the people serving her there should be smart. I didn’t go in with her. Who would have known…” 

“It’s not your fault,” Wang Mama could pinch a mosquito between her eyebrows and said, “Let me go with the young miss. I’ll clarify things. We can’t drag this on any longer. But it’s not a good idea to send people to inquire about the Princess’s residence directly. Go to the head shopkeeper again, ask him to let Wang Xixi delay it for a while. If the young miss does send someone to inquire about the Princess’s residence, let them wait for a bit.” 

Baiguo murmured in agreement.  

On Wang Xi and Hongchou’s side, they were already discussing how to greet the Madam Dowager tomorrow: “The earlier we go, the earlier we can return. If she tries to keep us there again, no matter the reason, I’ll push Chang Ning out. If we can’t see the beginning, at least we shouldn’t miss the end. But in the long run, we still need to figure out a way to skip the morning greetings every few days.” 

Hongchou nodded repeatedly and added, “I don’t know when the shopkeeper can find us a telescope like Master’s. I always feel that this one still doesn’t provide a clear view.” 

“Exactly!” Wang Xi and Hongchou found a common topic.  

“Does that person have servants around him? How many? Do they live nearby, or did he choose that bamboo grove for morning practice?” 

“I don’t know!” Hongchou said dejectedly. “He came out from the bamboo grove, and I didn’t see any servants with him.” 

Another day yielded no results. Wang Xi sighed and instructed Hongchou, “Continue watching. See if he practices swordsmanship at other times.” 

Hongchou requested, “Can I go to the area near the Willow Shade Garden to observe? It’s closer to Eldest Princess’s residence.” 

“Go ahead!” Wang Xi felt that a new telescope might be a distant prospect, as Wang Mama had suggested. If she wanted to know more about that person’s activities, she needed to think of other methods. 

Hongchou happily complied.  

Wang Mama accompanied Wang Xi to change her clothes. Taking the opportunity when the little maids were serving snacks, she inquired about Wang Xi’s plans. “The arrival of three new kitchen maids is a minor issue. It’s just that the kitchen might not be sufficient. If you plan to marry into the capital, why not buy a nearby property? Come to greet Madam Dowager every few days; it might be better.” 

Wang Xi sat by the dressing table, propping her chin, contemplating.  

“Buying a property sounds good. But I won’t marry into the capital. Where to buy the property and whether it’s easy to rent out when unoccupied and sell when unwanted, these things should be investigated by the shopkeeper before making a decision.” 

This is the first time Wang Xi clearly stated that she wouldn’t stay in the capital. 

Hearing this, Wang Mama and the others breathed a sigh of relief. Wang Mama smiled and said, “Young Miss, rest assured. I’ll handle these matters. Everything will be settled neatly.” 

Avoid offending the Marquis’s residence. Wang Xi nodded casually.  

In the afternoon, she asked Baizhu to help her transcribe Buddhist scriptures. “Use the Guange style. Just in case Madam Dowager asks me to transcribe something for her, I won’t reveal any flaws.” 

Baizhu pursed his lips, smiling.  

Wang Xi sat next to her, playing with her large orange cat, Xiangye. Xiangye nestled in her arms, making contented “purrs.” 

Outside the curtain, a young maid named Anan peeked in. Wang Xi waved at her, smiling. “What happened?” 

Anan giggled and ran in, whispering, “Young Miss, there’s a commotion in the Apricot Courtyard.” 

The third branch resided in the Apricot Courtyard.  

Wang Xi’s hand paused as she played with the cat. Xiangye opened his eyes, emitting a dissatisfied “meow.”  

Wang Xi quickly stroked him a few more times. Satisfied, Xiangye closed his eyes again. 

Anan continued, “The Third Young Master Chang’s courtyard isn’t spacious enough. Second Madam went to talk to Third Madam, and Third Madam agreed to vacate the southern room in the Apricot Courtyard. But with this change, the Eighth Young Master won’t have a place to stay. So, Third Madam discussed with the Marchioness to see if Fourth Miss could move to the Spring Shade Garden. But the Marchioness said that she planned to let Miss Shi stay in the Spring Shade Garden. They asked if Fourth Miss could move to the Willow Shade Garden. Although it’s a bit far from the main courtyard, it’s not too distant from the Spring Shade Garden. When Miss Shi moves in, they’ll have companionship. 

“After Third Madam went back and told Fourth Miss, she started making a scene.”