Chapter 98: Living in fortune without knowing fortune
Only in charge of cleanup? That's not what the Duke of Qin said!
Zhao mama gave a start before speaking earnestly, "Esteemed wangfei, this old servant...doesn't understand what you mean."
Now Han Yunxi was doubtful as well. "What did His Highness Duke of Qin tell you to do?"
Zhao mama didn't know why esteemed wangfei would suddenly ask her this question, but she repeated her self-introduction again. "Esteemed wangfei, His Highness Duke of Qin told this old servant to come and serve you. If there's anything needed in the future, please tell this old servant."
Hearing this, Han Yunxi was shocked. Long Feiye had lied to her! No, he'd seized the opportunity to say he thought her place was dirty! Whether or not her place was dirty had nothing to do with him, so did he have to use such a venomous tongue?
Han Yunxi curled her lip and was about to speak when Zhao mama spoke again. "Esteemed wangfei, don't you worry. Although this old servant is getting on in years, I'm much more easy to order around than those young girls. I've been here ever since the Duke of Qin's residence was built."
"That early? Then you should be counted as one of the senior figures here, right?" Han Yunxi found this unexpected. Little Chen Xiang was brand new with no background, so she didn't have to fret about her. This Zhao mama had so much history that she must have had complicated experiences. She wouldn't by chance be in league with Grand Concubine Yi and the rest, would she?
"Heheh, this old servant's indeed a senior figure," Zhao mama said proudly. "Esteemed wangfei, this old servant used to be from the imperial palace and watched His Highness grow up! His Highness trusts this old servant, so after he was made duke, he only brought me along. All affairs, both big and small in the Hibiscus Courtyard, are taken care of by this one here."
These words were even more unexpected! So there was a servant in the Hibiscus Courtyard after all. She thought so! How could the guards clean the place so well if there wasn't a servant on hand?
"How come I've never seen you before?" Of course, she was most concerned about this question.
"A few months ago, I went to my hometown in the south. As soon as I returned today, His Highness called me over," Zhao mama said. Afraid that Han Yunxi didn't believe her, she added, "Esteemed wangfei, I know all the guards in this Hibiscus Courtyard. If you don't believe me, you can ask them."
Zhao mama didn't even have time to unpack her luggage when she arrived before His Highness summoned her to clean up Leisurely Cloud Pavilion, especially its study. When Zhao mama came and found out the new Qin Wangfei was living here, she was filled with doubts. She never expected his highness to allow such a woman to live in the Hibiscus Courtyard.
Didn't he reject the thought of this marriage often in the past?
When she saw the smelly mess on the study table, she was completely terrified. His Highness had a severe case of mysophobia and hated filth and mess. Yet he still allowed esteemed wangfei to reduce the study to such a state? Only after Zhao mama cleaned everything up did His Highness deign to enter and sit down in the host's seat. His first words were, "Zhao mama, in the future you'll be serving here."
Zhao mama was naturally curious, and tried to probe him with a question. "I heard that Qin Wangfei is very beautiful."
But His Highness didn't utter a word, nor did he look at her. Zhao mama naturally dared to ask no more, but couldn't help but wonder if he doted on this Qin Wangfei. While she cleaned the courtyard, she found a guard and asked him about it. However, the guard wasn't any the wiser. Though Zhao mama was still puzzled and disbelieving after pondering over it for a hundred times, she could ascertain one thing: since His Highness had allowed Qin Wangfei to live in the Hibiscus Courtyard and sent her over as a servant, he'd acknowledged this esteemed wangfei in the end.
A woman acknowledged by His Highness was naturally someone she'd serve with all her heart.
Hearing Zhao mama's explanation, Han Yunxi asked, "Zhao mama, in that case, you've served His Highness since he was young, right?"
Zhao mama smiled and nodded, looking kind and benevolent. "All these years, His Highness is only used to this old servant serving him. This old servant's clearer on his moods than even Grand Concubine Yi."
"If you come here, then His Highness..." Han Yunxi asked.
"Esteemed wangfei, isn't this all one courtyard? Don't you worry, this old servant won't be lazy," Zhao mama smiled.
Han Yunxi remained stunned before saying 'oh' in response. She waved her hand. "Understood. There's nothing else, so you can busy yourself first."
"Esteemed wangfei, what do you want to eat tonight? This old servant will tell the kitchens," Zhao mama was quite conscientious.
"You be the judge," Han Yunxi said simply. Her entire mind was in disorder, so how could she think about what to eat?
After Zhao mama left, she sat unmoving on one side. Long Feiye actually gave her such an important servant? Was there a plot involved? Was she here to monitor her? Quickly, Han Yunxi discarded the idea. She was already within Long Feiye's sphere of influence in the Hibiscus Courtyard, so wasn't it easy to spy on her?
It really was strange!
What did that fellow mean by this?
That night, Zhao mama told the kitchens to cook quite a few meals. She really was a competent servant, doing all sorts of tasks proactively before retreating when she wasn't needed so as to not disturb her masters. Han Yunxi had no idea that Zhao mama was secretly watching her from the shadows, though.
She had a good impression of this esteemed wangfei, but she still couldn't understand. Why did His Highness Duke of Qin take a fancy to this woman? She once made a bet with Chu Xifeng. The latter bet that his highness wouldn't be interested in woman before he reached his 30th birthday. She bet that he wouldn't be moved by any woman for the rest of his life.
But since the Hibiscus Courtyard had a mistress now, Zhao mama was still very happy. At the very least, their Duke of Qin wouldn't be lonely in his old age. Zhao mama decided that she should get closer to this mistress until they were familiar with each other, then teach her how to take care of His Highness.
After she finished busying herself in the study, Han Yunxi sat in the courtyard drinking tea, waving a hand at Zhao mama to get her to come over.
"What orders does esteemed wangfei have?" Zhao mama was very respectful.
"Zhao mama, I don't have many rules of etiquette here, don't make things so complicated. Sit," Han Yunxi said, patting the seat beside her.
"Esteemed wangfei, masters and servants differ in rank, this servant cannot sit," Zhao mama was very earnest.
Han Yunxi sighed. This woman really was a servant of the imperial palace, quite different from little Chen Xiang.
"Then you can sit on the low stool," Han Yunxi said.
"Thank you, esteemed wangfei," Only then did Zhao mama sit on one side, lowering her head to Han Yunxi.
Han Yunxi dawdled for a bit before asking in a low voice, "His Highness has a Junior Sister, did you know?"
At these words, Zhao mama's eyes filled with laughter. "I know. It's Western Zhou Country's Princess Changle, Duanmu Yao."
Han Yunxi was just sounding her out, but didn't expect Zhao mama to really know these things and reply her.
"Then which sect do they hail from?" she asked.
"The Celestial Mountain Sword Sect," Zhao mama answered without thinking.
Han Yunxi was surprised that she'd answered so easily.
The Celestial Mountain Sword Sect was one of three great martial arts schools that specialized in sword mastery. Rumors had it that their examinations were extremely strict, so only one disciple was accepted per year. It wasn't surprising that Long Feiye was accepted, considering his inhuman skills. What surprised Han Yunxi was that Duanmu Yao got in as well. If that was the case, her martial arts skills should be top-notch..
Of course, she had no time to ponder over such things. She was curious whether Zhao mama really would answer all her questions. A crafty look flitted past her eyes as Han Yunxi asked again. "Zhao mama, His Highness is often out at night without returning home. He should have other places to live outside, right?"
This time, Zhao mama paused. Seeing this, Han Yunxi's lips curled up into a smile. Looks like she'd sounded out the right question.
But Zhao mama's next reaction exceeded her expectations. She looked around them before lowering her voice. "Esteemed wangfei, this relates to His Highness's personal affairs. This old servant will tell you, but don't say that I did. Neither should you tell anyone else."
Han Yunxi was surprised by the turn of events. As Zhao mama prepared to speak, her eyes widened and she stopped her. "W-wait! Why are you telling me?"
Zhao mama gave a start, all innocence. "Esteemed wangfei, you're the one who asked first."
"You'll say it just because I asked?" Han Yunxi retorted.
Zhao mama looked at her before suddenly smiling like an old urchin. "So esteemed wangfei was testing her servant."
The exposed Han Yunxi was a little embarrassed as she frowned. "Zhao mama, you're overthinking things. There's nothing else, you can leave now."
But Zhao mama didn't go. She grinned and said, "It's only natural for esteemed wangfei to be suspicious. This servant is the Duke of Qin's, after all, and esteemed wangfei hasn't been welcomed here."
Han Yunxi's eyes turned cold at these words. This old mama really wasn't so simple. Was she planning to lay her cards on the table at last?
"What else do you want to say?" she asked coldly.
But once again, Zhao mama exceeded her expectations.
"Esteemed wangfei, you can set your cares at rest. This old servant is definitely one of His Highness's people. I was given to His Highness by the previous emperor and have no relationship with Grand Concubine Yi. This old servant is faithful and devoted to His Highness!" Zhao mama's wrinkles were stretched taut on her face because she was so serious. Han Yunxi didn't expect her to say such things. So there was no connection with Grand Concubine Yi!
But she still didn't understand. "Since you're faithful and devoted, why are you betraying him so easily?"
"Esteemed wangfei is His Highness's official wife. How is it betrayal for this old servant to answer a few of your questions?"
Zhao mama's answer left Han Yunxi speechless, but she only felt like she was being mocked.
"Zhao mama, you're either really muddleheaded or pretending to be. I'm just an ornament at most, but you're treating me like the real thing? You've served His Highness for so many years, so you should know he wasn't willing to marry me."
She probably couldn't even measure up to one of Long Feiye's subordinates. They didn't even count as friends, only strangers who'd made business deals a few times. So much trouble had come from carrying this title of official wife. Han Yunxi's stomach was filled with flames as she spoke. "Zhao mama, I'll be grateful to Heaven and Earth if His Highness doesn't find trouble for me. As for official wife, he can marry whoever he wants. I'm ready to give up my position anytime."
Zhao mama had never heard any woman with the guts to turn her back on His Highness! Not just the Hibiscus Courtyard, but even the gates to the Duke of Qin's residence had long lines of females wishing to get inside that could stretch throughout the city. But this lady disdained it to this extent!
Zhao mama was quite angry and spoke without thinking. "Esteemed wangfei, for His Highness to leave you in the Hibiscus Courtyard and allow this servant to serve you, how could he not take you seriously? Moreover, Grand Concubine Yi wanted to take this servant from His Highness in the past, but he refused! Esteemed wangfei shouldn't live in fortune without knowing fortune!"
At these words, Han Yunxi wrinkled her eyebrows. Even Zhao mama was scared witless and quickly knelt on the ground. "Your servant is muddleheaded! Your servant was impetuous and spoke irresponsibly to offend esteemed wangfei. Please mete punishment, esteemed wangfei!"
Han Yunxi's mouth twitched. For some reason, her heart suddenly started thump, thump, thumping as it quickened its beat.