Chapter 30: Coincidence, Overbearing
Song Jiaoyue was a strange man, preferring women who were innocent white lotus flowers, yet disliking those who simply acted like a punching bag. How was she supposed to portray this kind of behavior? She ruminated over this contradiction as she followed the group, keeping a low profile. Her chest no longer hurt that much, perhaps having warmed up from the activity.
She didn’t speak much along the way. While the old madame of the Song family as well as the madames and young ladies didn’t look down on her, they also showed no signs of wanting a friendlier relationship.
Only after coming here did she understand that concubines really didn’t hold any power at all. Although it was a bit different from what was written in the novel, with them being randomly beaten or killed as others liked, their actual positions wasn’t much different.
Bai Xiangxiu didn’t mind as she just silently admired the scenery, listening to the ladies of the Song family sometimes recite poems, or verses, or sometimes even singing songs.
There was a Buddha’s Foot Pavilion ahead of them, built around a very large footprint rumored to have been left behind by Buddha in the past. This was also something that she had heard about earlier when she was sitting at the side. She had thought the story to be rather interesting so she had listened earnestly.
Being men, Long Heng and Song Jiaoyue naturally wouldn’t join in their conversations. An appropriate distance away, they walked and conversed with each other. Long Heng subconsciously turned back to look towards that woman. Seeing her cocking her head to the side as she quietly listened to the storytelling made her look quite cute in his eyes.
“It is hard to find one who is quiet, just so fitting your tastes. No wonder you brought her along,” Song Jiaoyue took out something to feed the fish in the pond with. They jumped to and fro in a vicious competition to snatch the food. Long Heng did not speak, but Song Jiaoyue continued, “How do you intend to handle Miss Lin’s matter? Catching them in the act isn’t possible anymore since that cousin has returned.”
They thought that Miss Lin had only run and not eloped, with that cousin merely having helped her in doing so.
She’d asked her cousin for help instead of her own brother, this clearly showed that the relationship between the two was extraordinary. But escaping on her own and letting that cousin who had helped her run away return, it looked this Miss Lin really didn’t have any other intentions towards her cousin.
“He’s back?” Crackle, a lone hand crushed an originally extremely sturdy wooden statue, the corners of his mouth raising up in a trace of a cold smile. Hurting one of his own and actually still daring to return, how bold!
“This belongs to Longhua Temple, restrain yourself a bit. Otherwise, it will be your fault if you scare away the beauties.” Seldom having the chance to tease his friend, Song Jiaoyue had no intention of easily passing this chance up.
He hadn’t thought that this sentence of his would actually cause Long Heng to be momentarily stunned. Long Heng then turned back to glance at the woman who was still intently listening to the storytelling. Her courage really isn’t that great, can it be that I really need to restrain myself?
Those women on the battlefield hadn’t left a good impression on him, and the women whom he had met ever since he was young were all extremely scheming, their combat prowess not inferior to that of any man. Just his mother alone had engaged in her fair share of suppressing the concubines ever since he was young. What deed hadn’t she committed? Therefore, ever since he was young, he had seen women as creatures with pitiful appearances but extremely venomous hearts, the protection of men completely unnecessary. They were perhaps even stronger than men.
However, née Bai had completely changed his thoughts. He could only see her as a little white rabbit, constantly hiding by the side. Her courage was low to the point of being pitiful, and her person unimaginably frail. She seemed to be made of jade, disintegrating into dust and smoke if he were to be even a little careless.
“Enemies meet on a narrow path.” Song Jiaoyue smiled slightly, his chin pointing towards a group of people slowly approaching from the other end of the path.
His attention taken off Bai Xiangxiu, Long Heng discovered that they were actually of the Lin Family. He had already looked into Miss Lin’s matter very carefully. As for why Madame Lin hadn’t left, it was also to pursue her daughter’s whereabouts. However, from the looks of things, she had failed in finding her and was therefore here to walk off her frustrations.
“Hmmm?” Long Heng made a noise, then turned back to look at the fish, seemingly not having noticed the arrival of his future mother-in-law.
Actually, Madame Lin hadn’t thought that so many people would be congregated around here, and even Prince Li at that. But it was too late to change direction now. Intentionally avoiding him like this would only lead to his suspicions. She absolutely couldn’t let Long Heng discover anything. Otherwise, her daughter’s reputation would be completely destroyed.
“So it is the Prince and Sir Song,” Smiling, she curtseyed lightly to the two, who returned her greetings. To her relief, it looked like they were still in the dark. She turned to greet Madame Song. Also the wife of an official, the two were rather intimate upon their greeting. Bai Xiangxiu’s mouth twitched at the sight. Indeed, like attracted like, with normal people such as her only able to grow old by the side in loneliness, hmm? However, this was also good. This place was really not suitable for her, because not only was she scared of pain, she was also scared of death.
Just as she was minimizing her existence as much as possible, she heard Madame Lin speak in a carefully neutral tone just when she was about to drink a mouthful of tea, “Isn’t this née Bai of the Prince Li Manor? You’re here as well, hmm?”
Ah! Suddenly being mentioned made Bai Xiangxiu accidentally spit out that mouthful of hot tea, causing her to cough until even tears came out of her eyes. She wiped them with her handkerchief, trying to suppress her coughing as she performed a half-curtsy, “Greetings, Madame Lin.” Coughing agitated the wound on her chest, so she hurriedly pressed down on it and sat down.
However, Madame Lin took this manner of hers to be the height of impoliteness, not only coughing as she talked to her, but even sitting down before she had finished speaking. This was clearly overlooking Madame Lin’s existence.
She couldn’t help but cover her mouth and laugh, “I’ve heard that née Bai comes from a scholarly family. It is only natural that you are rather timid. It was my fault just now. I shouldn’t have scared you like that,” Listening to it, it sounded magnanimous and thoughtful on the surface, while it was actually secretly mocking her for not being able to behave properly in important situations.
Bai Xiangxiu was stunned. Was she being bullied? She unconsciously turned to glance at the supporting male lead, instead discovering the two of them looking over at them. She turned back, forcing out a laugh, “Nothing much, Madame Lin is thinking too much.” She then tried to head off to the side. Actually, her temper was really not very good, but she didn’t want to forget to act like a white lotus flower in front of the supporting male lead.
However, Madame Lin didn’t seem to want to let her off, as she began praising her own daughter to Madame Song, sighing when speaking to Madame Song, “Yes, that girl is just too soft-hearted. I only fear that she’ll be bullied after having married over.”
Bai Xiangxiu was speechless. She’d never thought of wanting to bully her daughter! Not being bullied by her will already be an excellent situation!
How would Madame Song not understand Madame Lin’s connotations? She frowned inwardly. Why was Madame Lin acting like this today, actually using her as a foil for a mere concubine? Her son and Prince Li were friends, and she didn’t want her family’s relationship with the Prince Li Manor to deteriorate. While that woman was but a concubine, if Prince Li didn’t like her, why would he have brought her out? Not wanting to follow Madame Lin’s intentions, but also not wanting to offend her, she laughed, “Kindness is a virtue.”
Seeing how she wasn’t playing along, Madame Lin continued to press, “Sigh, a pity that men like a certain type of seductive women.” She paused for a while, “It’s just that however seductive one is, they’ll never advance themselves beyond the official wife, don’t you agree, Madame Song?”
The corners of Madame Song’s eyes involuntarily twitched. Must you be like this? Although Prince Li might not be able to hear it since he’s standing so far away, with you pushing others so hard like this, aren’t you scared that he might be scared off from marrying your daughter?