Xiao Jin had been looking forward to visiting the GuiYuan1GuiYuan [桂园] – I think I forgot to add the english translation of this place’s name to the footnotes before. It’s called ‘Osmanthus Garden’. very much, so she made frequent round trips to the TingZhu Courtyard in the meantime.
Even when Xiao Heng was not at home, she would sometimes come over. She would just take a seat to pass the time, or talk with Gu Sui’er. Occasionally, she would stand at the gate of the courtyard, admire the bamboo, read books, or even play with the cats and dogs that came.
Recently, the girls’ school had been closed temporarily. Therefore, she had abundant time; Xiao Jin truly did her utmost to come over to the TingZhu Courtyard.
At the beginning, Gu Sui’er was prudent in taking care of and entertaining the guest. She was afraid that Xiao Jin, the eldest Miss would be dissatisfied but later, she faintly realized something.
In fact, Xiao Jin did not come to the TingZhu Courtyard to spend time with her. Rather, she seemed to have some other purpose.
But what could that be?
After all, Xiao Heng was not always present when she came.
Standing in the yard, Gu Sui’er looked back and forth the whole TingZhu Courtyard, but she still couldn’t find anything that might attract a noble person like Xiao Jin’s attraction.
In the end, she could only assume that it was perhaps because she liked bamboo. After all, didn’t she like the bamboo-embroidered handkerchief she made for her?
Just as she was absent-mindedly thinking about all these things, Gu Sui’er’s eyes fell on the figure standing not far away: Jiang Zheng.
Before, these two subordinates of Xiao Heng did not enter the yard but stood outside guarding the door while he was at home. Later, even if Xiao Heng was not at home, there would always be one of them would still be standing there on duty as a gatekeeper.
It happened to be Jiang Zheng’s shift today.
Xiao Heng and his figure were somewhat similar as both of their backs were perfectly straight. He stood outside the gate without moving his eyes to any side.
Noticing him, she suddenly remembered those things she experienced back in the village.
He was the one who had picked her up from the village and accompanied her to the Marquis’ residence. It could be said that when she saw him, she recalled their journey.
Jiang Zheng seemed to feel her gaze as he turned his head and bowed to her respectfully before returning to his previous posture.
Gu Sui’er smiled and went back to her room, supporting her belly with her hands as she walked.
She found out that, apart from still thinking about her parents and her younger brother, she had gradually forgotten about the time she spent on the road before entering the capital.
The day Xiao Jin was eagerly looking forward to, the day to visit the GuiYuan, finally arrived.
Before setting off, Nanny An busied herself with the preparations.
She wanted to prepare many different kinds of soft cotton-padded mattresses, spittoons and a hand heater for her Young Mistress so that she could stay warm and not freeze from the ‘exceptionally’ cold weather.
Gu Sui’er’s belly was no longer small. Even walking was cumbersome so she felt that it would be better for her to not go. However, Xiao Heng didn’t seem to be ready to listen to her at all.
It seems… she has to go.
While sorting out her things for the journey, Gu Sui’er discovered that it was really very troublesome for a pregnant woman with a big belly to go out. After a long day of tossing around to prepare for their departure, she finally went to sleep.
Early next morning, an enormous carriage entered the residence and was stationed near the TingZhu Courtyard with Jiang Zheng and Hu Tie both standing beside it.
Nanny An took some maids along to serve Gu Sui’er and got into the carriage.
As soon as she stepped into the carriage, Nanny An couldn’t stop praising it: “This carriage is so spacious. It is bigger and wider than the ones normally used by the ordinary Young Madams.”
Hu Tie, who was standing outside, spoke up at this time, “Nanny, I’m afraid you don’t know this. The third Master specially got this carriage because it is both spacious and stable so that the journey won’t feel bumpy at all.”
Jiang Zheng disliked gossiping. He gave Hu Tie a meaningful look, who instantly stopped in his tracks and stood aside obediently like a log of wood, not talking or moving.
Hearing his words, Nanny An felt even happier. She stealthily proclaimed to Gu Sui’er: “Young Mistress, the third Master really treats you well.”
Gu Sui’er also felt that Xiao Heng treated her well. Two rose-tinted clouds floated on her cheeks as she pursed her lips and stroked her belly, thinking of Xiao Heng in her heart.
Nanny An added with a smile: “This old woman is also blessed to be able to serve the Young Mistress!”
After that, she instructed the maid named Jing Yue to serve their Master on the carriage along with her and left Yao Guang back to look after the yard. As for Bao Ya and Jin Fu, they were naturally also left behind in the residence.
Bao Ya and Jin Fu stood at the side impatiently, disliking the situation, but didn’t dare to say anything.
Since that time Xiao Heng embarrassed them because of the matter with Gu Sui’er, they were much more respectful in front of her.
When the carriage went out of TingZhu Courtyard, both the entrance door had to be opened wide. The threshold was already removed so that Gu Sui’er didn’t have to get off the carriage.
After they were out of the yard, they noticed Lu QingYi and Xiao Xu coming towards their way.
Lu QingYi did not bring a maid with herself but Xiao Xu did.
“I had already guessed that little Sister-in-law would have to take a maid along with her but when I saw that second Sister was also being accompanied by a maid, I was afraid that when the time came, we all won’t be able to fit into the carriage.”
Gu Sui’er was moved by Lu QingYi’s thoughtfulness. She said with a smile, “This carriage is spacious enough to accommodate us all.”
Lu QingYi also noticed that it was indeed spacious; bigger than the one at her home.
After everyone got into the carriage, Gu Sui’er and Lu QingYi were sitting beside the left window while Xiao Xu and Nanny An were sitting beside the right window. Xiao Xu’s maid, Mei Hong took the back seat along with Jing Yue2The author wrote Qing Yue[晴月] but I think it’s a typo for Jing Yue[静月]. so that they could serve their masters properly.
Although six women were sitting in the carriage, it didn’t feel too cramped due to its large size.
By the time it left the residence and finally started moving on the road, the people inside had already become aware that their journey was going to be smooth.
When Gu Sui’er was in the countryside, she had only ridden in ox carts or donkey carts and the roads there were terribly bumpy. That sort of experience was totally different from travelling inside a luxurious carriage moving on such a flat road.
She sat there comfortably while enjoying Nanny An’s meticulous care. But suddenly, she remembered something.
“Did the carriage leave the Marquis Mansion ?”
“Correct. This is the southern entrance of the residence.” Lu QingYi said with a smile: “See there? That is the main entrance. However, it is not opened generally.”
Gu Sui’er lifted the curtain and looked outside the window. This street indeed seemed familiar to her, as if it really was the way Jiang Zheng brought her here.
She has been here for more than a month but this was the first time she was going out of the Marquis Mansion.
“We have already left the residence. Why didn’t the eldest Miss arrive yet?” She felt perplexed. Obviously, Xiao Jin was the one who was looking forward to going to GuiYuan the most ah.
“She ah. She’s riding a horse!”
“Eh? Riding a horse?”
This was out of Gu Sui’er’s expectation.
“En, Xiao Jin loves riding horses. She usually goes out with Cousin Brother. Now that there’s already the three of us in here, of course she doesn’t want to squeeze into the carriage.”
She lifted the curtain to look outside and spotted Xiao Jin in the front.
Today, Xiao Jin’s dress was a bit different from what she usually wore. The simple skirt she was donning made her look nimble, fresh and cool. She closely followed Xiao Heng as she rode a bay horse boldly.
“Eldest Miss is really amazing.” She couldn’t help sighing: “She is different from us ordinary women.”
“What is so good about that? We can also ride horses but we don’t like to put up that kind of ostentatious display in public!” Xiao Xu suddenly interrupted their conversation and said this sentence quite scornfully.
Lu QingYi swept her eyes over Xiao Xu, not bothering to bicker with her. Laughing lightly, she explained unhurriedly: “Our great ancestors had established schools for girls and permitted women to ride horses and practice archery. However, these customs are not as popular now as they used to be some years ago since most women usually stay at home to assist their husband and educate their children or use carriages while going out. It doesn’t matter if women ride horses once in a while, especially if they know how to ride.”
Only then did Gu Sui’er understand: “So that’s how it is.”
Lu QingYi and Xiao Xu could also ride horses but as women, they had to be careful about everything and not rashly follow after their brother for horse-riding.
The carriage continued moving forward. Just as it was turning round a curve at the mouth of an alley, the curtains swayed and Gu Sui’er noticed Xiao Heng’s figure outside the window.
He was riding at the middle of the entourage.
He was wearing an indigo robe today. His sat astride on the horse steadily, holding the reins in one hand and giving off a heroic aura.
While she was watching him quietly, Xiao Heng suddenly turned back and looked over.
She was a little embarrassed, so she hurriedly lowered the curtain and hid inside the carriage.
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- 1GuiYuan [桂园] – I think I forgot to add the english translation of this place’s name to the footnotes before. It’s called ‘Osmanthus Garden’.
- 2The author wrote Qing Yue[晴月] but I think it’s a typo for Jing Yue[静月].