Chapter 154: A Suspicious Matter
Bai Xiangxiu finally figured things out after listening for a while. The old madame wasn’t blaming her for moving into Apricot Garden, but felt that she shouldn’t have fought with Long Heng over this matter. She was a concubine after all, and had to remember her place.
It was true, she had been all too aware of her place all this time, and hadn’t particularly objected to anything. But things were different now. She actually felt quite irritated by the old madame’s words. But as she thought through things, she felt that she was still beholden to her identity.
“The old madame is quite right. This concubine will take note of it in the future.” This sucks. I want to yell at Long Heng when I see him next.
However, Bai Xiangxiu started after the old madame let her out of the room. What was with her willingness to enter a situation in which her husband was caught between her and her mother-in-law? Could it be that she had truly accepted Long Heng and was willing to be married to him? The thought was so frightening that she couldn’t even stomach dinner. Xiaoshi and the others chalked her inability to eat to the old madame’s lecture. They silently berated the senior madame and second madame.
Bai Xiangxiu fretted all night long and went about her business the next day with heavy circles beneath her eyes. She even had to go pay her respects to the old madame. When the old madame saw her injured face and her pallor, she also felt that too much had happened lately to this poor concubine. It had taken quite a toll on her. Thus, the old madame started talking about Bai Xiangxiu’s face. “I’ve heard this came about because of that female bandit. It must have been difficult for you to escape. Heng’er has already called for the doctor, will your face heal?”
“The doctor has taken a look and says it will heal.” Long Heng had told everyone that a female bandit had done so because he didn’t want outsiders to know what had happened, in order to protect her reputation.
The old madame murmured a response and then rubbed her head, coughing in a muffled manner.
“Old Madame, you should summon a doctor as well!” Bai Xiangxiu knew that the old madame didn’t bear her any ill will. She was only viewing things from the perspective of a mistress of the house handling a matter of a concubine overstepping her bounds.
The old madame sighed. “What’s the use of summoning a doctor? That old man was so much healthier than me but still left suddenly, just like that. No one thought that would happen at all!”
She began crying again as she spoke, and the mamas off to the side and Bai Xiangxiu spent a long while comforting her. The old madame actually fell asleep right where she sat after a while, her puffy face presenting a frightening sight.
It looks like the old madame is quite ill. Bai Xiangxiu walked out with a furrowed brow and wondered if she should use Long Shuting’s method. But she’d only been with Long Heng for around ten days. If she put on an act again, wouldn’t that anger Long Heng?
As luck would have it, Long Heng returned just at this moment. It was evident that he was tired, as a rough stubble covered his chin. Bai Xiangxiu really was a bit worried about him and so performed her wifely duties to the best of her ability, helping him bathe and change clothes. He fell asleep quickly after stroking her face a few times, even saying, “I’ll get up later and have dinner with you.”
“Mm!” She really couldn’t speak of her previous grievances after seeing him like this.
He really did awaken for dinner, but the old madame summoned him over to her residence. He frowned because he’d promised Bai Xiangxiu that he would eat dinner with her, and turned to her, “Come with me!”
Bai Xiangxiu nodded. She naturally knew of Long Heng’s intentions but knew that the old madame would worry about him in his current state. “Why don’t you clean up a bit so that the old madame won’t worry when she sees you?”
That was when Long Heng realized how he must look at the moment and privately lauded Bai Xiangxiu’s conscientiousness. He had Shu’er come over, and the two of them helped Long Heng dress more nicely before heading over to the old madame’s.
None of them anticipated that the old madame would start sobbing as soon as she saw Long Heng, asking between gasps when the body would be placed into the coffin and when the procession would be. These were all very important matters and so had to be clearly understood beforehand. Long Heng spoke carefully, gently telling her that the empress dowager had already been placed in the coffin, and the funeral procession would take place in two days. It would travel from the palace to the royal tombs, and would pass by the front of the manor.
The old madame said to that, “It’s my last chance to see her, I would really like to send her off.” She began coughing again, worrying Long Heng greatly. The mama were also weeping off to the side. “Your Highness, please speak some sense into the old madame. She didn’t sleep all night. If this continues, I’m afraid… I’m afraid…”
But how would Long Heng know how to persuade someone? He only knew to furrow his brow and say, “Don’t be overly sad, mother. You must take care of yourself well.”
“You also need to be careful as you’re accompanying the emperor in the procession.” The old madame was quite despondent, but she didn’t want her son to worry about her. However, she couldn’t help but grow sad at the thought of a sister she’s grown up with leaving her like this.
Bai Xiangxiu blinked off on the side. What to do when one was sad and the other worried? They likely wouldn’t be able to eat dinner at all! She surreptitiously pinched her thigh, activating her acting mode. But I’ve never seen anyone throw up after just getting pregnant! I guess I’ll have to do as they do in dramas!
She clutched her stomach lightly and turned her head to pretend to wipe at her tears when no one was looking. She was actually shoving her handkerchief partially down her throat so that it would make her cough lightly twice. But she hadn’t thought that her throat would be a bit too dry after walking over, and she hadn’t yet managed to sneak a drink thanks to the emotional mother and son duo. The handkerchief actually caused her to start dry heaving to no end.
“Eurp…” Tears were forcing themselves out of her eyes. Bai Xiangxiu tried to walk out because she was afraid that she would actually vomit. However, the urge to heave was really too strong and she only managed to get halfway before crouching on the ground. She hacked and swiped at her teary eyes. It looked like one needed to pay the price for acting!
Women who had given birth before were most sensitive to matters like these, particularly as the old madame was eagerly anticipating a grandchild. When she saw how Bai Xiangxiu was dry heaving to no end, the old madame immediately sprang up from the bed with shining eyes. She asked carefully, “What’s going on here?”
What else could be going on? She was making herself dry heave! But Bai Xiangxiu didn’t dare say this and could only respond whilst wiping her tears, “Nothing much, burp… just that my appetite hasn’t been well lately.”
She pretended to be weak after Xiaoshi helped her up, meeting Long Heng’s concerned eyes. Was that concern she saw in his eyes? She had to explain herself later. What if he really misunderstood?
“We should summon the doctor if you don’t feel well. Hurry and summon the doctor!” How could the old madame sit still at a time like this? She had someone fetch the doctor immediately. The mamas had also reacted by now and were all smiling, calling out for a doctor with exaggerated motions. Everyone knew that their mistress was desperately hoping for a grandchild!
Long Heng had no idea what they were in a rush about. He’d spent more time in the army than at home. The military folk cursed at and fought each other everyday, but perilously few ever got pregnant. He could only frown and ask, “Why haven’t you summoned a doctor if you don’t feel well?”
“It’s.. nothing. I just haven’t felt that well the past two days.” Please stop staring at me, I can’t keep up the act much longer!