Chapter 153: Telling Tales and Overstepping Authority
When she thought of the numerous midnight rendezvous that would happen in the future, Bai Xiangxiu’s heart started pounding very quickly in her chest. She patted her cheeks to clear her mind, and distracted herself by personally taking the cactus over to Apricot Garden. Along the way, she encountered both Senior Madame and Second Madame, who’d seemingly formed an alliance with one another.
They appeared to accidentally cross paths with her, but in reality, they ought to have received some kind of news that Bai Xiangxiu would be passing by. As such, they pleasantly called out to Bai Xiangxiu when they saw her walking in their general direction. They were even waving fans in an attempt to get her to notice them, even though the season for fans had passed. With smiles plastered all over their faces, they asked, “Fourth Madame… Oh, no. We should address you as Third Madame. Where are you going?”
Ever since the third madame had been ineffably kicked out of the prince’s mansion, Bai Xiangxiu had become the third madame. Bai Xiangxiu purposely hid the matter of the third madame from everyone else. She was afraid that Long Heng would find out about it and kill everyone involved. Thankfully, he’d been preoccupied by many things lately and hadn’t had the time to delve too deeply into it. If he really did have free time somewhere along the way, then she couldn’t guarantee that he really wouldn’t do so. Hence, to outsiders viewing this situation, this third madame seemed to have disappeared for no reason at all, which made them even more suspicious about the root cause of it all.
Bai Xiangxiu was well aware of that, which was why she wasn’t bothered by them behaving as if they were just accidentally defrauding her. She only gave them a slight smile as she replied, “I’m going to Apricot Garden.”
Why bother asking such a question when you guys already the answer? You must have something up your sleeves! Sure enough, the senior madame smiled and said, “Oh! Are you going over to tidy up Apricot Garden? I knew that the mistress of the household was going to enter our house after Old Madame returned.”
Bai Xiangxiu silently rolled her eyes. Why bother with all this talk when you already know that I’m going to move in? You’re just stirring up some drama! But, who was Bai Xiangxiu? She didn’t pay the slightest heed to such small tricks. She knew full well that she had the protection of the male lead, so she didn’t bother trying to win these little games.
“No, I am moving in on account of the prince’s orders.” She didn’t bother explaining any more than that and made to leave.
But the second madame blocked her way, a surprised look coming across her face, “How is that possible? Third Madame should know the matters of the manor even if the prince himself doesn’t know. This Apricot Garden is…”
“Please make way. If you have any questions about this matter, please direct them to the prince. Don’t block my way. The flower’s rather heavy. Would you rather help me hold it so we can have a talk?” Bai Xiangxiu didn’t bother being courteous as she shoved Huo’er into the second madame’s face.
Huo’er was shocked, “No! I don’t want this woman holding me! She has a murderous aura around her! She wants to kill Huo’er!”
Black lines appeared on Bai Xiangxiu’s face. This cactus really was devastatingly honest. She was letting the second madame hold it because she had it all planned out! Huo’er had a good many leaves dotting its body. If the second madame really wanted to hold it, she’d need a certain level of courage. However, the second madame was very afraid of Huo’er because of her previous injury. She immediately retreated a few steps back, knitting her eyebrows together.
“I’m just reminding you out of the kindness of my heart. If you don’t know what’s good for you, then do as you please.” The second madame’s acting skills were slightly lower than the senior madame’s, so she revealed her true colors when she was thrown into a panic.
The senior madame smiled to the side, because she assumed that Bai Xiangxiu really didn’t have the guts to move to Apricot Garden on her own based on her current position. However, the old madame would never let this matter go. Bai Xiangxiu’s actions were in flagrant disregard of the manor’s rules. Hence, there would definitely be a scene to watch when the old madame returned from the palace.
The senior madame tugged on the second madame a little, silently signalling that the two had more or less completed their task of advising Bai Xiangxiu. When the time came for the old madame to blame someone, it wouldn’t fall on them.
Bai Xiangxiu also knew that her behavior didn’t conform to the rules, but she’d been following all the rules since she came here to the point where she’d become the male lead’s woman. If she continued following the rules, wouldn’t that mean letting herself down a little? Even though the male lead and female lead were a match decreed by the imperial powers, Bai Xiangxiu could see that the male lead had some feelings for her. On her end, the more attached she became to the male lead, the more she was starting to reveal her true personality.
Bai Xiangxiu was still looking forward to the raging romance that ancient times would bring her. After all, that was every girl’s dream. People in love weren’t so calm anymore, so she didn’t bother with what other people thought as she started decorating Apricot Garden. Her first move was to place Huo’er in a nice location and give it some water.
The bed in the main house of Apricot Garden was very soft and very comfortable. She recalled Long Heng sleeping on her bed in Winter Garden. With the two of them, it felt like one of them would fall off at any moment. She felt that she’d really wronged him during that period of time. After she’d tidied up the place, she received news that the old madame had fainted in the palace. What she’d expected had come after all. Bai Xiangxiu ordered the servants to tidy up the old madame’s room and personally went over to arrange a few potted plants so that the ailing individual could relax.
After a day, she heard news that the Dowager Empress had passed away.
The whole country was to mourn for the death of a member of the imperial family, especially if it was the present emperor’s mother who had passed away. Bai Xiangxiu had already made discreet inquiries earlier. Hence, she immediately ordered her servants to hang white cloth and light the white lanterns by the main entrance of the manor at the first possible moment. After that, she ordered them to kneel before the imperial palace and kowtow as they wailed to express that they were in mourning.
The other officials also arranged for their houses to carry out such activities, so for the Prince Li Manor to do something like this didn’t signify that they were lowering themselves, nor did they exhibit anything different between them and others. This was the result that Bai Xiangxiu wanted – she wanted to be mundanely neutral. She’d just about wrapped up the matters in the manor when the old madame returned. However, her complexion was rather pallid and all she did was to sit there, crying her eyes out.
“Old Madame, please mourn no longer for fear of harming your body.” Bai Xiangxiu had already placed herself in the shoes of being a daughter-in-law, so she was naturally more intimate and concerned about the old madame compared to before. Sitting by the elderly woman’s side, Bai Xiangxiu felt that the other woman sincerely treated that bosom friend of hers well.
Old Madame waved her hand. “All of you can take your leave. I don’t want to take over the duties of matters in the manor for the time being. Just don’t bother me with any matters.”
“I understand.” Bai Xiangxiu didn’t harp on matters when she saw that the woman’s ashen complexion. She departed with her servants and personally made some light and refreshing vegetable dishes, sending them over to the old madame. That gesture of hers was considered her fulfilling her filial duties. However, she never would’ve thought that the senior madame and the second madame would arrive to see the old madame just when she had just finished eating her meal. They didn’t beat around the bush and immediately complained about Bai Xiangxiu moving into Apricot Garden. They even added on that outsiders were spreading rumors that the concubine from the prince’s mansion was so spoiled that she wasn’t behaving anymore.
The old madame really didn’t know about this matter, but she was extremely unhappy with their attitude of coming to her to tell tales about another. As such, she waved her hand and said curtly, “I will deal with this matter. You may leave!”
Madame Bai very rarely committed errors that people could use against her, but she really had gone a bit overboard in this matter. Hence, the old madame questioned Ye-mama closely. Ye-mama was aware of each development in the matter, so she recounted how the prince had asked Bai Xiangxiu to move over to Apricot Garden. She even mentioned that the couple had argued about this matter for half a day and that Long Heng was the one who’d actually admitted defeat at the end of the day.
The old madame felt that something was amiss when she heard her son admit defeat. How could a woman from the rear court be stronger than the man? Although she wasn’t in the wrong with regards to this matter, she still had to know her place. Hence, the old madame said, “Summon her.”
Bai Xiangxiu had just finished busying about and her bottom had just touched the chair when she received the old madame’s summons. Didn’t the old madame ask not to be disturbed? Why has she changed her mind in just a short while?
She felt that this had to be related to her moving into Apricot Garden, so she headed towards the old madame’s residence, feeling a little sullen about it. But, she never expected that the old madame would stay silent on the matter of her moving residences, but rather speak of a great deal of principles that she had to follow. These principles were what a concubine should follow, such as treating the prince’s words as her law, and to not think that she could disregard the prince’s orders just because she’d garnered his favor.