Chapter 72: Meeting Again, Miss Lin Appears
Bai Xiangxiu was only too glad to rest. The ankle she twisted yesterday still hurt, while her heart was already tired. She couldn’t help but feel that solving one problem only birthed three more. Looks like it really wasn’t easy taking care of a household.
“Many thanks to Steward Fang, but since I’ve promised Old Madame to help, there can’t be any mistakes. Especially these dishes, they’ll be set as soon as they enter the pot. With a hundred dishes in total, we barely managed to scrape together all the ingredients. They shouldn’t be wasted, wouldn’t you say?” She usually spoke in a soft whisper, but now her voice was unusually firm.
Steward Fang felt snubbed and put out. “Naturally. I’m just afraid that it’ll tire you out as the guest.”
“With so much to do, there’s no difference between guests or not. It’s much more important to finish this task. Hey, that little brother over there, you can’t put the vegetables somewhere too hot… Xiao Shi, tell them to stop, it’s easy for freshly washed vegetables to spoil on a hot surface.” Bai Xiangxiu pointed at a servant in the corner, her voice made louder by anxiety.
Xiao Shi hurried over to tell him, but neither of them realized that Long Heng was smiling as he watched from a corner. So it turned out that this girl had times when she was a glib talker too. But he only looked at Song Jiaoyue and said, “She is doing very well. Even her voice is twice as loud as it is in the prince’s estate.”
Song Jiaoyue forced a smile. “I’ll have someone take her to rest right now. You really do dote on her dearly.” Long Heng had insisted on taking a look at the kitchens as soon as he’d arrived. Even a blind person could tell he was worried about Bai Xiangxiu. Still, he never expected his friend’s heart to be so set on a concubine. Song Jiaoyue’s heart grew even more pained by the thought.
“Nonsense. This prince came on mother’s orders to see if she’d lost face for the prince’s estate.” Long Heng snorted as he finished, flicking his sleeves to leave.
Song Jiaoyue thought to himself, I hope you’re telling the truth. Maybe then I’ll still have some hope.
Both of them arrived in the front yard while preoccupied with their own thoughts. First, they paid respects to the old master and presented their gifts. Old Master was already approaching 70 years of age, but he was bright-eyed and full of vitality.
Still, he didn’t have a good impression of Long Heng. The Song family was one of Confucian classics, so he had difficulty understanding why his grandson would make friends with one who had such a vicious aura. Recently, however, he’d changed his views. And the primary reason behind that was Long Heng’s concubine, who had propped up her husband’s appearances. Thus, he was very polite when meeting Long Heng and much more friendly compared to the times they’d met before.
Long Heng naturally sensed this, but sat down without minding too much.
On one side sat a few eminent monks who were busy drinking tea with the old master and speaking of Buddhism. Dressed in gray monk’s robes and with prayer beads in hand, Old Master did indeed somewhat look the part of a Buddhist monk.
After speaking of Buddha, they were to go to the family hall for worship. As a man of the battlefield, Long Heng really felt like he couldn’t listen any longer. In a small voice, he said, “I’m going out for a walk.”
Song Jiaoyue silently shook his head in his heart. If you don’t like to listen, why come at all? Still, he said, “I’ll have someone accompany you.” He then had a young pageboy lead Long Heng out. Though Long Heng had been friends with Song Jiaoyue since childhood, he was an introvert who didn’t visit the Song estate often. As a result, Song Jiaoyue was very familiar with the prince’s estate, while Long Heng knew little of the Song estate.
The young servant led him outside, and they didn’t manage to get very far before bumping into a most undesirable person.
Madame Lin and Miss Lin, as well as Madame Song, were all walking this way. Most likely, they were here to request a meeting with the Great Master monks, but had never expected to bump into Long Heng. Miss Lin’s face suddenly turned red. Ever since she had been rescued, she’d always thought about his kindness, but due to the rules of etiquette she couldn’t thank him in person. She had never expected them to meet under such circumstances, but now she had no idea what to say.
Right now, her impression of Long Heng had improved somewhat. After experiencing several things, she realized that most of the men in this world were all uncivilized, rude savages. His type could already be considered good in comparison. At least he didn’t tell everyone about what happened between her and that bandit.
She didn’t expect their sudden meeting today to reveal that he really was a handsome man. Though his features were swift and fierce, they had the indomitable spirit of a dauntless male. His posture was straight, and while his actions that day were rough and rude, he could still be considered a gentleman. She opened her mouth to say something, but Long Heng only nodded at them before turning to leave.
Miss Lin’s face turned stiff as her mouth opened and closed. “Prince Li…”
Long Heng creased his brows. He never expected her to have the gall to speak and have him stop. Though he was brimming with resentment, he still paused and turned to face her. A pair of icy eyes stared at Miss Lin, who shivered. She couldn’t say a word of thanks. Moreover, if she said such things in public, wouldn’t it be verifying the rumors that she’d gotten captured by bandits after she’d run away?
In a second, her face turned red as she began to tremble. Her actions naturally inspired pity from others on her behalf. Madame Song didn’t know the details and assumed that the girl was simply shy and scared. “Miss Lin probably wants to ask after the Great Masters’ affairs. Are they still inside?”
“Yes.” Long Heng didn’t waste any more words, but left as soon as he spoke. He detested her from the bottom of his heart. Ever since he started hating strong and overly artificial women, someone like Bai Xiangxiu, who was timid and had no schemes despite possessing some ability, suited him just fine.
Long Heng wandered aimlessly around the Song estate before he spotted a servant girl carrying a flash of wine hurrying past his side. He recognized this servant girl as the one by Song Jiaoyue’s side. If he recalled correctly, her name was Bai He.
“Ask her what’s going on; why is she in such a hurry?” He was just curious and couldn’t help but worry that it was related to Bai Xiangxiu.
The Song estate pageboy called out. “Big sister Bai He, where are you going?”
Bai He was in too much of a rush to see who was asking and replied as she hurried by, “The Mistress Xiu from the prince’s estate said her foot hurts, so I’m going to deliver some wine…” She had already turned the corner by the time she’d finished speaking.
Long Heng naturally heard her and couldn’t help but furrow his brows. When he recalled the chaos of the kitchens, he was certain that she’d fallen. She was so small and delicate, doubly prone to getting hurt. If he knew earlier, he would’ve reminded her not to act so strong. Now she was injured again, wasn’t she?
“Let’s go and see what’s going on.” There weren’t many women at the kitchens, so there was no fear of running into anyone. More importantly, she was hurt!
The servant boy didn’t think it was proper to bring a guest to the kitchens. If the eldest young master found out, wouldn’t he be scolded? But this was his guest’s woman, after all. It was probably normal to have a look. When Long Heng arrived at the kitchens, it was to see everyone busying themselves with work. Ye-mama was standing by a room in the corner, so he strode over and asked, “What happened?”
Ye-mama dropped into a bow at the sight of her family’s master and replied, “Yesterday madame went to the greenhouse and sprained her ankle. She couldn’t tell anyone, so she used vinegar to rub it in private. Today she worsened the injury by working with it, so now it’s swollen.”
“What nonsense!” Long Heng smote the table in his anger. Why didn’t she know to cherish herself? Why did other people’s matters have her fussing to such an extent?