Chapter 40: Waiting for Compliments
The senior madame and second madame exchanged glances. As expected, this woman was a weakling. She’d agreed so easily!
The second madame began to stroll around the room. As she walked, she discovered a colored glaze decoration next to the cactus plant. It was a simple globe, but it shone with a dazzling light beneath the sun, adding a modicum of color and beauty to the room. Colored glaze was quite a rare product in ancient times, so it was quite precious. The prince must have gifted it to her. In a fit of jealousy, she picked it up and started to play with it as she smiled. “It’s rare to see something like this; where did little sister get it from?”
“The prince had someone send it over. Mistress needs to drink medicine at nighttime, and a single candle isn’t bright enough.” Xiao Shi was a little worried. If anything happened to the item his lordship had sent over, Madame Xiu would definitely be punished.
“Oh? His Highness has really given the matter much thought!” The second madame pretended to put the object back, but purposefully let it slip out of her hand to fall to the ground.
“Ahhh!” At the same time, she let out an ear piercing shriek, as her acting had caused her hand to bump into the cactus. Unexpectedly, the thorns pierced into her flesh. Cradling her hand, she screeched, “What is this?!”
Xiao Shi threw herself over to the pieces of the colored glaze pieces. “Ah, Second Madame, this is something his lordship gave Madame Xiu!”
“What? I was just careless. Your Mistress hasn’t even spoken yet, so what’s a servant like you going on about?” The second madame waved her arm as if in great pain from the thorns, before giving a hostile look to the cactus. “Why is Fourth Sister raising such a horrific thing? You might as well throw it away.” So speaking, she moved to pick it up.
Sensing danger, Huo’er suddenly cried out, “Save me, Mistress! Save me!”
Bai Xiangxiu clenched her teeth. She’d seen shameless people before, but never people this outrageous. After breaking her things, they even wanted to ruin her Huo’er. Do they really think I’m so easy to bully?! She abruptly stood up and closed the distance between herself and the second madame with a few steps, using strength to forcefully push her aside so she could shield Huo’er. “Second Madame, what are you doing? This is something I’m raising, not you.”
The second madame was uncomfortable after getting pricked, but when she saw the pushover, steam bun-like fourth madame suddenly so agitated, she couldn’t help but smile. “Aren’t I just worried that you’d be in danger? It’s a sign of my good intentions. Hasn’t little sister seen how my hand’s been pricked?” As she spoke, she pulled aside her sleeve to show off her hand, though no injury was visible.
“It’s really unfortunate that Second Madame got pricked, but that wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t gone over. It’s not as if it’s a dog that runs around biting people.” Everyone had their own trigger. This cactus that could speak to her heart and existed as the only one of its kind was hers. If she needed it to prick her in one year and send her home, she couldn’t let it get hurt.
The soft and pliable Madame Xiu had completely changed her tune. The senior madame thought it wasn’t wise to provoke her too much and laughed. “Forget it, isn’t it just a prick? Come and let me see, perhaps I can help little sister pick out the thorns.” When she finished speaking, she pulled the second madame over to sit down and look for thorns in her hand.
The two of them were filled with deep sisterly affection, but to Xiao Shi, the situation had just turned worse. Her own mistress had scrambled off the bed herself to protect the cactus even though she’d spent the last few days leaning on others just to walk around. Thus, she gently supported her and asked, “Madame Xiu, how are you doing?”
“Xiao Shi, I think something’s a little wrong.” Hearing this, Xiao Shi peeked at her back and saw darkish red blood seeping out.
“Ah, it’s bleeding again. You must have split open your wound again just now. Hurry back to the bed and lie down.” It was all those two madames’ fault. If they hadn’t come, her mistress wouldn’t have to suffer so much.
When the senior madame and second madame saw the sudden bleeding, they stopped looking for thorns. Neither of them had realized her injury was so severe. Meanwhile, Ye-mama decided to be solicitous and come in, upon which she said, “Madame Xiu, his lordship has sent a doctor and nurse over to help you… aiya, what’s happened?” Her heart grew worried as she saw the person lying on the bed in a cold sweat from the pain.
Then she spotted the mess on the floor and angrily rebuked, “You chit! How did you look after your Mistress? If she’s frightened or hurt, how will you explain it to His Highness and Old Madame? You’re really no end of worries.”
She had no way of lecturing the senior madame and second madame, so she had to use Xiao Shi as a scapegoat. Xiao Shi felt wronged but couldn’t say anything back. She too knew that Ye-mama wasn’t really aiming for her, so she didn’t speak. Instead, she just let a few tears cascade down her cheeks.
“What are you crying for? The doctor will be here soon. Ah, these two madames, if you would. Our space is small and there will be someone making medicine and doing examinations later. I’m afraid it’ll frighten you two, so why not…” They still hadn’t beat it. All of them would be punished for inferior service; she really was infuriated by these two troublesome demons.
Ye-mama was originally one of the old madame’s people, so the two madames didn’t dare refute her words. They exchanged glances before rising to leave.
The doctor and nurse arrived as soon as they left. As the doctor gave directions from outside, the nurse personally changed Bai Xiangxiu’s medicine. Her movements were very light, but Bai Xiangxiu still felt pain. She lay on the bed, muttering in agony and completely unaware that a man had walked in. The only man in the complex who would walk into her quarters unannounced was Long Heng, who heard her groans of pain as soon as he entered. He glanced over at the doctor.
The doctor immediately kneeled and spoke. “I heard that the injury split open the length of a finger-width. Fortunately, it hasn’t been infected, so the nurse is taking care of it now. May Your Highness set your cares at rest.”
“Then get up!” He wanted to go in for a look, but felt that it was too sudden. After all, the two of them didn’t have any real connections yet. More importantly, he was worried that she’d be startled again somehow.
As soon as he turned around, he saw the colored glazed sphere that he’d gifted her shattered on the ground. When he recalled the two women he’d seen leaving the premises, he wondered whether they were connected to this incident. Then, was her aggravated injury to blame on them as well? It looked like they’d forgotten the bloody scene from last time all too soon. His lips curved up as he gave a cold laugh.
By his side, the doctor was still kneeling, almost completely scared out of his wits. He trembled, not even daring to lift his head. All the stories he’d heard about Prince Li, the one that stood out the most was that Prince Li’s laughter heralded a rain of blood. But Prince Li only laughed halfway before stopping his laughter. Long Heng remembered that this woman had been frightened senseless the last time they’d beat someone to death. Could she bear to see another round?
He kicked aside the shards of colored glaze and sat in a chair to wait until the nurse emerged. She quickly knelt down at the sight of Prince Li, and he asked her about the condition of her injury.
The nurse answered his questions one by one before he dismissed her with the doctor. Soon afterwards, Ye-mama emerged as well, carrying a basket filled with discarded, bloody bandages. Long Heng’s heart quaked at the sight. He’d seen blood before, but why did he feel so uncomfortable after seeing her blood?
“What happened?” he asked, looking at the floor.
“Your servant had just arrived when it happened as well. Xiao Shi should know the details,” Ye-mama replied.
Long Heng nodded. “Oh?” He rose of his own accord and walking behind the folding screen. There was a ceramic stool covered with an embroidered cover by the bed, so he sat on that.
Bai Xiangxiu was all afluster. Fortunately, she was completely concealed by the bedcovers when she spoke. “Your Highness, nothing happened.”
Long Heng glanced at Xiao Shi, who didn’t let her mistress get in another word edgewise as she explained everything that happened from beginning to end. He didn’t say anything after listening, but sat there quietly like a giant mountain before the two women. Finally, Bai Xiangxiu couldn’t take it anymore and asked, “Your Highness, is there something you need?”
Long Heng looked at Bai Xiangxiu, lying on the bed with her head turned his way. Though her little face was a bit wan, those wet, dewy eyes only inspired tender affection. He couldn’t help laugh as he said, “I’m waiting to hear your good words on their behalf.”