The 4th young master finished his meal and was sent off by the three senior maids.
A few junior maids came in and swiftly cleared the table before stepping out.
Bi Yuan’s expression soured and she fired off the first salvo at Cui Lan. “Cui Lan, you’re so diligent! Even after an overnight shift, you still insist on staying to serve the young master!”
Cui Lan glanced sideways at Bi Yuan and curled her lips. “Well, I guess I better head back and rest.” Since she had already achieved her objective and the young master was no longer present, there was no reason to stay for a verbal spar.
With a twist of her hips, Cui Lan walked out and left Bi Yuan behind to her stewing anger. Liu Ye, who had always been a girl of few words, was also scheduled to be on duty today so Bi Yuan didn’t have an excuse to vent her anger. Seeming unwilling to remain in the same room as Bi Yuan, Liu Ye also left with a swish of her headband.
The usually calm Bi Yuan could endure no longer, and angrily tore her handkerchief. Xiao Hua shrunk her head down and didn’t dare make a sound.
Bi Yuan finished her tantrum before glancing at the silent Xiao Hua.
“Go clean up young master’s bed a little.”
Like a pardoned convict, Xiao Hua entered the inner room.
After taking her time with the bedding, Xiao Hua also took the initiative to take a washbasin and cloth to wipe down the room. Bi Yuan sat for a while before heading outside to the yard, catching and berating a few maids who were chatting around or working sloppily before finally venting her frustration.
Time passed quickly, and noon arrived in the blink of an eye.
Liu Ye appeared out of the blue, and after a moment Cui Lan also arrived at the house. Although Cui Lan had just awoken, she was still meticulously dressed up, complete with painted eyebrows and rouged lips. Her small, tender cherry lips glistened, making it hard for one to resist stealing a kiss.
Bi Yuan gritted her teeth so hard they almost cracked. These two unscrupulous wenches, disappearing as soon as the young master left and reappearing as he was about to return.
Yet she could find no pretext to scold them. Cui Lan was “hardworking and considerate,” forgoing her own sleep and rest, while Liu Ye had finished all her tasks on hand.
Could she point and curse at these ladies for fawning over the young master? She was just the senior maid in charge of overseeing the work. She could fuss over their work, but not over something like this.
After getting there, Cui Lan and Liu Ye sat down without exchanging any words, leaving Bi Yuan muttering darkly at the side.
Having been caught in the crossfire, Xiao Hua could only shrink down and pretend to be invisible.
The scene before her eyes was both familiar and foreign, since she was previously the recipient whereas now she could watch with some amusement as a bystander.
The silence in the room was deafening. Cui Lan suddenly spoke: “You must be Xiao Hua?”
Cui Lan was also 17 this year, with a petite and delicate appearance. Her fair face had two dimples often visible on her sunny expression. The fact was that each of the three senior maids by the 4th young master’s side had their own unique charm. Bi Yuan was composed and graceful, Cui Lan was dainty and cute, and Liu Ye was flashy and seductive. All were considered top-notch amongst the servants.
Xiao Hua glanced at her and respectfully replied: “That’s right, big sis Cui Lan.”
Cui Lan snuck a glance at Bi Yuan and smilingly said: “I see. Learn properly and work properly. If you need any help you can come ask me.”
Xiao Hua’s kept her expression neutral. “Yes, big sis Cui Lan.”
Bi Yuan spoke with an unpleasant tone. “Xiao Hua, go check if the main kitchen is done preparing young master’s lunch. Take two maids with you and bring it over if it’s done.”
Xiao Hua responded affirmatively and left, calling over Xia Zhi and Xia Lan, two junior maids who were in charge of bringing the meals.
Xia Zhi and Xia Lan were in the midst of chatting with a few others, and upon being summoned to the kitchen by Xiao Hua, let out a clear “ai” of complaint before falling in behind her. The other maids were silent, but their eyes were filled with a mixture of sympathy and schadenfreude.
How could there not be schadenfreude? So what if she was promoted to senior maid, wasn’t she still forced to do the same errands as a common maid?
Xiao Hua understood their thoughts, yet had no thoughts of retaliating. In her past life she was not so tolerant, but that just ended up attracting everyone’s hatred and jealousy, causing her to fall into dire straits.
Looking back, their reactions were only natural. Senior maids were supposed to be selected from junior maid candidates. Who expected a stumbling block like her to appear and cut off their path to success? No wonder they hated her.
The three of them left Jinxiu Pavilion and headed towards the main kitchen.
Seeing no one else around, Xia Zhi sidled up, “Big sis Xiao Hua, looks like big sis Bi Yuan isn’t treating you like a senior maid.”
Xia Zhi’s face was full of sympathy and her eyes full of hidden meaning. The words “big sis Xiao Hua” was full of implications.
Within the estate, seniority in status came before age. Despite being two years older than her, Xia Zhi had to call her “big sis” since she was a senior maid. However, her tone made it clear she was unwilling.
“That’s right. She’s clearly treating you like a common maid, making you personally do such a small task.” Xia Lan’s tone appeared to be indignant on Xiao Hua’s behalf.
Xiao Hua understood their meaning. Due to her stealing their opportunity, they wanted to incite conflict between her and Bi Yuan. No matter who ended up winning, they could watch from the sidelines as tigers fought. Of course, her losing would be for the best. If she offended Bi Yuan and allowed her the opportunity to demote her, everyone else would have a chance to benefit.
Such an obvious ploy, where they underestimating her due to her age?
She was certainly young, and couldn’t be said to be too smart. Otherwise, in her past life she wouldn’t have been urged on by the junior maids, as well as Bi Yuan’s constant attempts to make things difficult for her, to start going blow for blow against her.
Unfortunately for them, she had reincarnated and what she experienced in her past life far exceeded these small schemes. How could things go as they planned?
Xiao Hua concealed the light in her eyes and gently said: “Big sis Bi Yuan is doing this for my sake. I’m still young and have never served by the young master’s side before. It’s only natural for me to try and accumulate more experience.”
Xia Zhi and Xia Lan looked at each other and had no more to say.
Lunch was brought back, and the 4th young master had also returned from the front courtyard.
During this time, he showed concern for Cui Lan and asked why she hadn’t ended her shift and gone to rest. Cui Lan snuck a look at Bi Yuan, and cutely said: “Young master treats his servants so well, this servant only wants to wholeheartedly attend to master.”
These words caused the 4th young master to be even more sympathetic towards her, and caused Bi Yuan to glare daggers at her.
After setting the table, Xiao Hua used the empty food containers as an excuse to leave the room, leaving behind three senior maids locked in silent combat to serve the young master during his meal.
Xiao Hua sometimes wondered just how dense the 4th young master had to be to not notice, or was it that he didn’t feel like dealing with it? After all, the thoughts of men and women were rarely on the same wavelength, and the young master was probably thinking about his future assignments. A teenager’s ambition demanded great assignments and vast undertakings, though unfortunately he might have to be disappointed.
Xiao Hua only understood this after becoming his chambermaid and accidentally finding out about it. Only then did she understand why the previously genteel and refined 4th young master would later change so drastically.
4th young master Ruan Siyi was actually a very outstanding young talent.
Well learned and temperate, refined and elegant, scholarly and of noble birth. Within the estate he was the cherished second son of the master’s principal wife, and outside the estate he was also widely known as a young talent.
It was a shame –
As the second son in the Jinyang Marquis Estate, even if he was a talented scholar he could not take the imperial examination to embark upon the path of an official. This was because of his older brother, the main heir with whom he shared a mother. To avoid instability in the hearts of the household, he was not allowed to outshine him.
To put it plainly, he could be useless if he wanted to be, but he was not allowed to be overly talented. The best was to quietly take care of some trivial responsibilities for the family, and honestly pass his days. He would not lack for food, drink and reputation as part of the Jinyang Marquis Estate, but that would be the extent of it.
To those without ambition, such a life sounded pretty enticing. Unfortunately the 4th young master was not such as person. He may not have visions of grandeur, but he also couldn’t bear muddling along waiting to die.
As a teenager still full of spirit, he encountered setback in his marriage, and then setback in his prospects. No wonder he went off the deep end in her previous life, becoming a useless young master who only drank, ate and played around.
Of course he was not aware of that at the moment, and the situation had not yet come to pass.
Xiao Hua sighed in her heart. Junior maid Xia Tong’s voice sounded next to her ear.
“Big sis Xiao Hua, why don’t you go inside instead of hanging around with us outside the door.”
The expressions of the surrounding junior maids seemed to agree while containing a hint of mockery.
Xiao Hua lowered her head slightly out of habit and said. “Clumsy as I am, having the three older sisters serving inside is enough.”
The surrounding maids no longer spoke, but grumbled in their hearts. We can’t go in because our status isn’t high enough. You have the status but simply allow yourself to be suppressed, wasting this opportunity.
No matter how others felt about it, Xiao Hua had made up her mind. In this life she wasn’t going to interfere in this mess. She’d quietly tuck her tail in and honestly pass her days, waiting until she was released from service.
Riches, honor, status, she wouldn’t consider it. She didn’t have a spare life to consider it.
No matter how eloquently they spoke, she wasn’t going to have anything to do with it. Once the food was finished, Liu Ye called for someone to come clean up. Her eyes flashed when she saw Xiao Hua but she ended up not commenting.
As the three elder maids prepared the young master for his afternoon nap, the junior maids outside the door went off to eat their own lunch, leaving just two at the door. Xiao Hua also left for lunch, and seeing no one pay attention to her upon returning, went to sit in the tea room.
She sat until her shift ended in the evening. The young master had gone to the front courtyard after waking up, but Xiao Hua did not try to participate in serving him.
Bi Yuan was presumably overly angered by Cui Lan and Liu ye, and did not ask Xiao Hua where she ran off to in the afternoon. She waved her hand and allowed her to end her shift.
Whether the three hardworking senior maids planned to end their shift didn’t affect Xiao Hua. They were eager to hang around the young master for a while, preventing others from showing off to him while also avoiding giving each other opportunities.
A senior maid as tactful and unobtrusive as Xiao Hua was something they all wanted to see, and it so happened to suit her wishes as well.