“The handkerchief for Cousin Sister hasn’t been embroidered yet. It’ll be sent over as soon as it is finished.”
She pursed her lips and smiled.
Gu Sui’er didn’t expect her Cousin Sister to be present today. Moreover, she had already spoken just now. So, she had no other choice but to start embroidering it upon returning and send it over as soon as possible.”
This Lu QingYi was a good-natured person. Hearing Gu Sui’er’s words, she smiled: “I don’t need a gift. I was originally an uninvited guest!”
When she said this, everyone laughed. Amongst the laughter, Gu Sui’er took out the pillow she had embroidered for the Old Madam. When she saw it, the Old Madam couldn’t help but be surprised.
With her well-maintained hands, the Old Madam reached out to stroke the two character patterns symbolising good fortune and longevity1patterns symbolising good fortune and longevity [福寿] – These two chinese characters— Fu(福) and Shou(寿) are a part of the Three Lucky Immortals or Star Gods(三星). Fu stands for blessings of good fortune, happiness and prosperity while Shou stands for youth, good health and a long life. and also the big, vibrant and plump immortal peach2immortal peach [仙桃] – Referred to as ‘The Peaches of Immortality’, in Chinese Mythology, these peaches are said to be grown by Her Majesty, the Queen Mother. When the fruits ripen every 3,000 years, the event is celebrated by a sumptuous banquet attended by the Baxian (“Eight Immortals”). They are blessed fruits which are considered a symbol of prosperity and longevity. which Gu Sui’er had embroidered on the pillow. She asked: “Sui’er, who embroidered this?”
Gu Sui’er pursed her lips and replied softly: “Old Madam, I embroidered this pillow for you. Although it’s not a precious item, I embroidered it stitch by stitch to show my gratitude and regards.”
“You embroidered it yourself?”
This time, everyone was amazed. “You are pregnant now. How can you embroider so well in spite of that? You are really skilled.”
With that said, everyone discovered that Gu Sui’er had brought gifts for everyone— embroidered shoes for children, embroidered handkerchiefs etc. All the embroidered designs on these gift items were vivid and lifelike.
“This is so beautiful ah!” Bai YuQing got a dudou for her daughter, who was only eight months old. A little dudou like that was most suitable for such a small child.
“Look at these tiger shoes, they are remarkable!” Li XiuRong loved the shoes so much that she could not bear to put them down from her hands. The person who embroidered this pair of shoes was much more skilled than the embroidress of the residence.
“This handkerchief of mine is wonderful!” At this time, Xiao Jin was looking at the embroidered unyielding plum blossoms in snow. She liked to see the paintings of the brilliant red plum blossoms standing proudly in the midst of the snow and deceiving it. It was filled with artistic conceptions.
Xiao Xu clasped the handkerchief that Gu Sui’er gave her. The serene and deep valley embroidered on her handkerchief was filled with orchids. Feeling that it was full of creativity and had a better poetic grace than her Older Sister’s handkerchief embroidered with plum blossoms in the snow, she was immeasurably self-satisfied.
All of a sudden, everyone started praising– some praised the embroiderer’s skills, some praised embroidery, and some pretty designs.
The Old Madam called Gu Sui’er to her side and asked specifically: “Child, did you embroider all of these things by yourself? You have a child in your belly now. Doing all this work might hurt your eyes, so you have to be very careful.”
Everyone recalled this fact after hearing her words: “Sui’er’s handiwork is indeed comparable to that of the embroiderers of the Imperial Palace. But it’s just that Sui’er needs to pay attention to her health and not tire herself out during pregnancy.”
“It must have been tough for you to embroider so many things for all of us.”
When Gu Sui’er saw that everyone was satisfied with the gifts she made for them, she felt pleased.
She just felt that no matter how arduous the needlework was in these few past days, it was all worth it.
One must know that since the time she first stepped into the Marquis’ Mansion, this was the first time when everyone praised her. In the past, all everyone talked about was things regarding her belly.
Now that the ladies in the family had all received something they liked, they happily decided to play mahjong while chatting. The Old Madam also invited Gu Sui’er to come and play with them.
Gu Sui’er refused hurriedly; “I don’t know how to play mahjong.”
She didn’t know how to read much less write. So she didn’t understand the characters written on the mahjong tiles.
The Old Madam insisted her to come over: “Sit next to me and watch me play. This game is not difficult. You can play it after you watch a few times.”
Gu Sui’er was left with no other choice. She forced herself to sit beside the Old Madam and watch, except that she still did not comprehend how to play the game.
After watching a few rounds, she felt somewhat tired. She raised herself up from her seat by one hand supporting her belly while the other supporting her lower back and walked to the side.
As she was walking, she noticed Xiao Jin’s personal maid, Jian Zhu walk in while holding a porcelain bottle. She smiled and said to Xiao Jin: “My Lady, it has all been gathered here.”
When Xiao Jin heard this, she hurriedly stood up to hold the bottle.
Everyone was puzzled: “What did you ask Jian Zhu to collect?”
Xiao Jin raised her eyebrows. She said complacently: “I had specially instructed Jian Zhu to collect some rainwater for me. Others may not be aware of this but we can boil this rainwater and steep tea in it after storing it for two or three years. The tea would taste different from that boiled in ordinary well water.”
Li XiuRong did not understand even after hearing her; “There is no shortage of rain in summer. I didn’t see you collect the rainwater at that time!”
Xiao Jin shook her head and said: “Eldest Sister-in-law, the quality of rainwater actually varies from time to time. The rain that falls during the clear and refreshing weather of autumn has a pure and distinct taste. How could such top-grade rainwater be comparable to the insignificant rainwater of the summer?”
From the side, Bai YuQing couldn’t help but ask: “It turns out that even the quality of rainwater differs based on the season.”
Xiao Jin nodded, “Of course, this is natural. In the rainy season, it is either continuously raining or raining with a little gap in time which makes the water sweet and smooth. On the other hand, in the summer season, there are frequent thunderstorms and the rainwater is often mixed with sand and pebbles. That is why, the water of summer rain is unclean.”
Xiao Jin also explained the process of making tea with rainwater, such as how to store the rainwater, how long it should be stored, how to boil it and so on. The words she spoke were clear and logical.
Hearing her words, everyone sighed one after another. They were all deeply moved: “Our Xiao Jin is really different from other girls. She was admitted to girls’ school and has a lot of knowledge. Those who don’t know this will think that she is a talented girl who only knows poems and history.”
The Old Madam had always doted on Xiao Jin. Hearing their words, she stroked Xiao Jin’s head lovingly: “What are you all saying! Our Xiao Jin has always been a talented girl, not an ordinary woman who don’t know how to read. Only a handful of people can be compared to her!”
Everyone laughed at her words, but they all praised Xiao Jin.
During this time, Xiao Xu, who was sitting beside her, was filled with unease.
She was going to take the admission test of girls’ school in the ninth month of this year but she was still not sure whether she could pass the exam or not.
She didn’t understand. Obviously, both of them the daughters of the Xiao family. Only, she came out from the Concubine’s belly. How could there be such a disparity between them?
On another thought, it was inevitable that she would have some deep complaints regarding this matter. Xiao Jin, who was the eldest daughter of the Marquis, often showed off her knowledge. No one but she, herself, was aware of Xiao Jin’s true face. She knew about it because she was often bullied by Xiao Jin.
Gu Sui’er didn’t understand most of their words. Listening to Xiao Jin as she explained everyone about how to use rainwater for making tea, she increasingly felt that the people and the matters of a noble family like this was different from the countryside.
The people of the countryside also liked the rain, but that was because it provided water for the crops.
Only when the crops were well watered would there be more harvest.
As for the flavor of rainwater, no one has ever tasted it.
Sitting on the low stool amidst the clouds and the mist, Gu Sui’er felt both sleepy and tired. As luck would have it, the Old Madam also felt the same and noticing Gu Sui’er’s weary look, she asked her to go back first.
When Gu Sui’er heard this, she bid farewell to the Old Madam, the three girls, the two Young Madams, and took Nanny An and the two little maids back.
While going back, they walked through the winding corridor and saw the almost invisible, tiny drops of autumn rain falling from the sky. The carvings and paintings in the corridor of the Marquis Mansion all seemed to be covered with a thin layer of mist. One was unable to see through them clearly, they seemed very close yet very distant at the same time.
She stepped on the long corridor and noticed the dead leaves which occasionally flew in from the outside and landed on the wooden floor.
Gu Sui’er expended a great deal of effort just to squat down and pick up a dead leaf.
It was only the eighth month of the year but the trees had already started shedding their leaves.
She raised her head, her gaze passing through the high eaves of the corridor and the drizzle to look at the full moon hanging in the sky.
At this time, the people of the village should be preparing for the autumn harvest.
She didn’t know what happened to her parents. Did they know how their daughter was spending her days in a faraway place?
Just as she was thinking about this, Gu Sui’er heard a voice coming from behind her. The tone of the voice was as cold as the autumn rain.
“Why are you standing here?”
Gu Sui’er turned her head to see Xiao Heng standing close to her with his hands behind his body.
He stood in the long corridor decorated with many complicated and detailed paintings while the dead leaves drifted by. He was dressed in a blue robe and a white cloak was draped over his tall and straight body akin to a pine tree. He had a pair of sword-like eyebrows,3sword-like eyebrows [剑眉] – Refers to straight eyebrows eyebrows slanting upwards and outwards. cold eyes and indifferent lips seemingly made from pink silk yarn.
When autumn rain gently brushed against his expensive and exquisite cloak, Gu Sui’er felt that the man in front of her had become a painting– a painting that was so beautiful that she could unhesitatingly place it at the tip of her heart and even forget to gasp for breath.
All said that she was good at embroidering, but only she knew that even if she were to exhaust herself to death, she would never be able to portray such a man.
Thanks for reading٩(๑❛ᴗ❛๑)۶! If you like my translations, please consider supporting me on:
- 1patterns symbolising good fortune and longevity [福寿] – These two chinese characters— Fu(福) and Shou(寿) are a part of the Three Lucky Immortals or Star Gods(三星). Fu stands for blessings of good fortune, happiness and prosperity while Shou stands for youth, good health and a long life.
- 2immortal peach [仙桃] – Referred to as ‘The Peaches of Immortality’, in Chinese Mythology, these peaches are said to be grown by Her Majesty, the Queen Mother. When the fruits ripen every 3,000 years, the event is celebrated by a sumptuous banquet attended by the Baxian (“Eight Immortals”). They are blessed fruits which are considered a symbol of prosperity and longevity.
- 3sword-like eyebrows [剑眉] – Refers to straight eyebrows eyebrows slanting upwards and outwards.